Archive for the ‘ Life of a web geek ’ Category

Your mom’s web hosting

So…it’s that time again. The end of another project just a bit over deadline (ah..yeah. ūüôā ) and it’s time to go¬†ballistic. It’s time to take out the axes, the¬†chainmail and the scolding hot oil. Web development is like sex in a lot of ways. In the beginning you get naked, everything’s clean, you create atmosphere or in this case set up privileges, create a basic folder structure. And for a while it’s good. The “sheets” (get it? cause you have scripts in….umm…nevermind) are still clean. But then it goes on….and on….and on and some times you’re asked to do things you really really don’t wanna do but have to because you’re obligated or the other party’s gonna get pissed…..*couch*

And after a while you either get bored of it or things just get crazy and out of hand and the whole thing becomes one huge mess.

But when it’s all over you stand back, take a deep breath and either get a huge smile on your face just thinking about it or go “Ah…damn. Ok, that never happened.”. Thankfully this time it ended up being the former but looking back I can’t help but think about how much I’ve evolved and how much I’ve learned along this project as probably is the case for my¬†colleagues as well and how much I’ll be taking with me to the next and how I could make it work better, In the end I guess there aren’t any bad projects just a right time for each one. We live, we learn and in the very end it’s what separates a professional programmer from a good one.

Digitalized || How to view the internet

In my last post I talked about the internet, social media, new media, everything-media. But what exactly does all of this actually have to do with everything? The answer: I honestly don’t know. Why in the world would anyone be interested about someone else’s baby pictures or the fact that they’ve just come out of a horrible relationship with a guy that beat her to a pulp every weekend? Why would you want to share a video of yourself getting hurt and post it on Youtube and then posting it on Digg? So many questions that honestly have no clear answer. Man is by nature a social creature and feels he has a constant need to be sought, watched and praised for his actions. I don’t know if it’s in our genes or if it’s just a childhood phase that somehow never got out of our system but by god it’s there. But then again I’m rambling. The point here I guess is that for the children of the 21st century (yes, myself included) don’t so much use the internet as they themselves fuel it.

This is how I see the internet: Imagine having a puppy. Now this puppy can’t clean, change or feed itself without your help, much like the internet doesn’t function if it doesn’t have so many people who would actually use it, update their content or add new photos of themselves in front of the bathroom mirror. But you keep the puppy around because you need the attention and affection it gives you in the cold nights on the streets (yes Timmy, you’re homeless!). Every time you give Spot cookies he gets just a bit fatter and a lot more cavities and why? Because while the internet feels so right it can hate you. It can hate you so much at times. Much like when the police tell you “anything you say can and will be held against you in the court of law” the internet (here we speak of the community of trolls out there) get another way to play with your private stuff because let’s face it, they have no life and live in their mom’s basement.

Now don’t get me wrong. Spot’s not a bad puppy, he’s just not very well-bred. But that’s exactly what makes him so special. And at the same time Spot can also teach us so much, like drinking sewer water is poisonous, or that your socks smell. The same way the internet has blogs, video tutorials, sites like Lynda.com and eHow, websites of your favorite bands tour dates…….Chat Roulette. Just putting it out there…

So at the end of the day I guess we really don’t have a choice in the matter. The internet as dangerous and filthy and perverted as it might be we’re all in it. And if we’re not we should be cause all our friends are in it. We have so much to offer it and it has even more to offer back. It’s our own personal frenemy. That….and it has TONES of porn.

So you wanna be web savvy

Now as we go further each day into the XXI century it seems that the internet is becoming the most active place in the world. More people go through a website every given day than anywhere else. More people visit their national railway companies website for information about incoming and outgoing trips a day than the actual station itself. It’s cheap, efficient and let’s face facts, you don’t have to spend 10 minutes in a line and another 5 just to find out you’ve missed the last train to your destination just because your operator types slower than your grandma.

Yes sir…..or ma’am ( depending on your preferences ). The internet sure is a swell place. I honestly can’t say myself that I’m all that. After all I’ve only been a programmer for about a year and I still have much to learn. But one thing I was quick to learn is that people have expectations. A few years back if a website could update content without having to recode a portion of the website they were happy. Nowadays it’s all about social media networks, ¬†APIs and real-time updates. We have this strange notion that if we spend 2 more seconds waiting for a site to reload we’ve lost 2 more seconds of our lives. And let’s face it….that’s two less seconds I spend crying in the bathroom crying in shame.

So what turns this…..

into something a bit more comprehensible? Why is it there? What does it mean and more importantly do we need it?

The answer: Of course we do. As society slowly creeps into the technological era we find ourselves in need of constant information flow. From the earliest times a message¬†arriving¬†early or late would mean either victory or defeat to the kings army. Not thankfully we no longer have to wage so many wars but the industrial era brought with it a new kind of war. One that doesn’t use guns. The weapons are bylaws. The soldiers are lawyers, accountants. It’s generals corporate executives. Much smaller wars are waged the same way no matter if it’s in an office building, your local pub or high school. But let’s forget about that for a moment.

Why do we feel the need to constantly be in control. To constantly be informed about our lives as well as the people around us. Is it the sense of control it gives us? Could be…could be. But there is so much more. Evolution creeps up on us in manners we wouldn’t have even imagined even so much as a hundred years ago. As time progresses we become so much more than reliant on technology. We form a symbiosis with it. Our cellphones become an¬†extension¬†of hands, ears and mouths. Computers become an add-on to our brains. The ’90s brought us MTv, video games, the internet. The world was in chaos. From weird hairstyles to new ways of structuring information.

With the web slowly growing it becomes more structured. Today we no longer have to write our information down 50 times a day. Most websites allow you to sign in using your Facebook account, Google account or an OpenID used by many websites including WordPress, Microsoft sites, Digg and many others. We can go faster than ever before, farther than ever before from the comfort of our own homes or that cafe you like so much. But……!

If evolution has¬†thought¬†us anything it’s that when you’re in the water you swim with the sharks. And you either swim fast, fight the sharks or drown and get eaten. The internet holds its own shark pits in many forms. Forum posts about life changing experiences, pop-ups with get rich quick schemes, chat partners asking for your name, birthday and social security number because friends just tell friends these things. Identity theft, fraud, child abduction. There’s no way around it. There’s no way of escaping it. It’s inevitable. Not because there are so many but because in the XXI century you can not ignore the internet. You can’t bypass the internet. You can’t say you don’t use the internet. Everyone uses it in some way or another. So the only thing left to do is to know the internet. To understand how it all works. Why some websites are better than others. Why social media networks are so similar and why some things are best left alone no matter how enticing they may appear to be. But that’s a story left for another time.

Social Networking and U

So I’m guessing this isn’t a really new topic for most of you out there since these days almost everyone is mixed up in this moronic yet somehow satisfying thing called social networking. But surprisingly enough most people I’ve talked to either don’t know social networking by its name but uses it on a regular basis or hints at what social networking might be but doesn’t like the concept of it. So let’s dive right in and see what a a pile of shit can do for you and vice versa.

So what exactly is social networking? Well, starting with those of you that don’t know the name of it it’s basically every single website where you get to literally sift through shit, whether it’s people, articles, information or commonalities, to find things that are most relevant to you. It’s Tweeter, it’s Facebook, it’s Myspace, it’s Hi5, it’s Digg, it’s Youtube, it’s….well, you get the picture. So it’s basically dynamic content filled with personalized information. But why is it different from every other website that has frequently updated content? Well let’s delve deeper.

Now I really don’t know how much of an impact this would have on most people but you’ve all (or at least most of you) hear of the term “Web 2.0”. I’ve actually spent quite some time looking into this and I have to say that I’m really inclined to ask for my money back. I mean with a name containing “2.0” you’d think that they’ve actually re-released the net in a newer, better form, right? WRONG! What a rip off, right? So what is it then? Well as far as I understand it it’s actually a term coined by Darcy DiNucci and made famous by O’Reilley Media and it was an early speculation back in the day when JS and Flash were only used as presentation tools rather than content management. It sounds like a movie trailer actually. “In a world filled with static content, a few people dared to dream..”…aham. Sorry.

So back to the point. Believe it or not even as far back as a few years ago the internet was mostly static. Web pages were all tables, information rarely changed and let’s face it, it was boring. With Web 2.0 the internet changed. But how? Well it’s pretty simple really. It let people, like you, me and anyone else, add a touch of personal to a website. Basically Web 2.0 is what lets you add info to Wikipedia, add and comment Youtube videos and, why not, let’s me give you all this info on my blog. But we’ve gone far enough.

So now that we have a basic concept of what social networking is let’s focus a bit on what it can do for us. Now most people that have actually heard of social networking limit the concept to websites you join to find friends, family and co-workers but this is rarely the case. As most people have probably have already noticed, most websites like Facebook, Hi5 (but not Myspace…Myspace sucks balls and resembles the mentally retarded emo kiddies it houses) have already started selling, managing and implementing programs to their already growing network.

“So now really…what CAN a social network do for me?”

Well obviously the most basic answer would be discovering new things about your existing friends, their friends, what they do and finding out what their birthday is without having that awkward discussion when you forget. Also you can meet new people. Friends of your friends, find people interested in the same things as you, finding a date for valentines for those of you that need something like that. But social networking can do so much more that most of you probably miss. I bet 60% of you have no idea that Facebook takes up 2% of the global bandwidth. A glossary of world facts on the CIA website ¬†shows that in 2008 1.6 billion people are connected to the internet through computers, 4 billion people have mobile phones and let’s say that’s 2 billion overall connected to the internet. Now that would mean that there are 40 million (that’s 40.000.000) users on Facebook at any given time. So why all the hype? Well this is what 80% of all people that use the internet have no idea about. Facebook is one of the social networks involved in the universal social network project meaning that it’s built on the same framework as a bunch of other networks.

And this is where the fun part of Web 2.0 comes into play. I’ll walk you through how it works. For example I currently have a Facebook account but I need friends. So I link my Yahoo account to my Facebook account. Now, not only do I get my friends from Yahoo on my Facebook page but I also get updates on what I do on Facebook on Yahoo so it’s like having a co-worker in the office that acts as a medium between me and my boss. I do my spreadsheets with my co-worker, he takes it to the boss, the boss reviews what I’ve done and my co-worker gives me back the information. Now I have friends. So what do I do with my friends? Well, I bet everyone had videos on Youtube they’d like to share with friends. So I connect my Youtube account to my Facebook account. Now not only can I freely share all my videos with my friends on Facebook and Yahoo but I can also get recommendations on videos I should watch based on what my friends watch. So in just a couple of clicks I’ve managed to filter all the information on my webpages to find things that might interest me based on the people I share commonalities with. With a minimal effort I’ve managed to get 70% more relevant information on 2 different websites. I could do the same with websites like TV.com or gamespot.com or the entire CNET for that matter. So welcome to the digital age. We accept men, women, small children for every pedobear, stalkers of every age, gender or race and don’t forget to unsubscribe from Myspace cause nobody needs spam from bands and every friend suggestion ever made because of Tom.

Till the next time this is Uncle Medicated reminding you to brush your teeth after every meal.