Posts tagged Little

Little Fanfare as Yahoo Leaves China

The announcement that Yahoo will close its Beijing office has had almost no impact on the digital community in China.

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OpenStack’s Dirty Little Secret: It Doesn’t Scale

OpenStack remains the open-source community’s cloud of choice, mustering tens of thousands of minions as it marches on toward cloudy relevance. That same community has turned OpenStack into a morass of competing projects and priorities, but there’s one area where OpenStack dearly needs even more community:

Helping it scale.

I talked with Mirantis co-founder and CMO Boris Renski this week in advance of his company’s announced partnership with Juniper Networks to improve OpenStack scalability. It quickly became clear that as popular as OpenStack is, it has a long ways to go before it’s truly enterprise class.

That is, without additional help.

Don’t Drink, Don’t Scale, What Do You Do? 

As popular as OpenStack has been to talk about, it has been less impressive in terms of deployments. As the October 2013 OpenStack user survey reveals, while companies were shifting from proof of concept to production, that production was relatively small.

Source: OpenStack User Survey, October 2013 

Similar data doesn’t appear to have been released in the November 2014 survey results, and perhaps with good reason: The scale isn’t very impressive.

In fact, according to Renski, “A dirty secret of OpenStack is that it starts to fall over and [can’t] scale past 30 nodes if you are running plain vanilla main trunk OpenStack software.”

That’s a pretty damning indictment, though perhaps less cause for concern than originally appears. After all, as OpenStack pioneer Randy Bias has suggested recently, there’s no such thing as “vanilla OpenStack.” As such, he posits that those interested in running OpenStack should “Dial into the right level of ‘lock-in’ that you are comfortable with from a strategic point of view that meets the business requirements.”

Juniper To The Rescue

OpenStack adopters may cite “ability to innovate,” “open technology,” “cost savings,” and “avoiding vendor lock-in” as their top four reasons for embracing OpenStack, but the cloud technology’s inherent scalability problems means that anyone that wants to run it at significant scale is going to need to “dial into lock-in.”

See also: Software-Defined Networking: What It Is, How It Works, Why It Matters

As Renski tells me, one significant, but necessary, area of lock-in is giving OpenStack users a software-defined networking (SDN) fabric to deploy OpenStack clouds at scale. SDNs basically take over the role of directing network traffic between the physical servers used in cloud deployments, rerouting packets on the fly depending on demand and congestion.

Though Mirantis initially chose VMware to help power this with NSX, they’re now adding Juniper’s Contrail Networking, as well as OpenContrail for those that want to minimize lock-in.

While OpenContrail lags Contrail in terms of functionality, it’s still a step up from Mirantis’ past dealings with VMware. As Renski told me, “Companies needed NSX to scale. They had to pay the VMware scale tax. No longer.”

Of course, now they have to pay the Juniper scale tax, but at least they have choice, right? Renski continues:

NSX is an Achilles heel because Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and networking in the enterprise is typically a big decision traditionally driven by independent groups in the organization, not necessarily the same groups that are making OpenStack-related decisions. Many companies will choose NSX, but many will choose Juniper or other fabrics. And in cases where NSX was not chosen, VIO will end up getting locked out. Hence it is an opportunity for Mirantis to win more business as the Switzerland of Openstack by being pure play and partnering with Juniper Networks    

In other words, Mirantis is positioning itself to benefit whichever SDN a company may choose to use to scale OpenStack, though they don’t obviate the lock-in problem.

The Myth Of No Lock-in

Which isn’t really a big problem. No matter the software you choose, and whatever its license, there is always lock-in. As my former MongoDB colleague Vijay Vijayasankar notes:

Going back to Bias’ point, the trick is always to determine the amount of lock-in you’re willing to accept. For those companies that want OpenStack at scale, they’re going to need to embrace a certain amount of lock-in, at least where the SDN is concerned. 

Even if they elect to go with open source pure-play Red Hat, which I’ve encouraged in the past, the minute a company opts for a particular distribution, there is lock-in. It’s not a simple matter of rip-and-replace to dump one vendor for another, not in a world that has no vanilla distribution.

In short, you’re going to need to lock yourself into some technology to make OpenStack work for you. Better get used to it.

Photo by JD Hancock

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Your Nosy Little Brother Will Love Yahoo’s “Secure” Disposable Passwords

Yahoo just launched a new login process that does away with static passwords in favor of single-use versions sent to smartphones on the fly.

The company says its new approach, which is similar to two-factor authentication, is designed to boost ease and security. When it comes to strangers, it just might. But it could also give anyone in your life—like roommates or family members—some souped-up snooping powers.

See also: Meet Yahoo’s Play To Help App Developers Make Loads Of Money

Are Disposable Passwords More Secure?

Instead of relying on a fixed password, Yahoo’s system sends a temporary access word or code on demand to your smartphone. This should bypass the use of easily guessable passwords or hard-to-memorize character soup like “K7jl3nwes0f.”

The on-demand passwords are also disposable; once they’re used, they won’t work again. That should be comforting for the large swaths of people who ignore security experts and use the same login across multiple accounts. In other words, attackers can’t get their hands on a single key that could unlock your whole kingdom.

The premise relies entirely on you having your smartphone by your side. In that way, it’s similar to two-factor authentication protocols that kick into action when you try to log in (first factor) and text you an unlock code (second factor). Numerous services—including Gmail, Facebook and Twitter—offer two-factor options.

Yahoo itself also offers two-step verification, but to use the new on-demand system, you must disable it. Once you do, you forego the secondary layer of protection for your Yahoo Mail (and presumably Flickr and Tumblr accounts, too). Now, anyone with your phone may see your on-demand password, and unlocking the device won’t even be necessary in most cases. 

Text messages, after all, are often set to show up directly on phones’ lockscreens.

Dogging Snoops

Of course, the system still requires you to enter your Yahoo username. That may make it more tempting for the prying eyes of the people you already know—those loved ones likely in view of your smartphone and who already know your username—more so than strangers.

According to a recent survey of 13,132 respondents conducted by anti-virus software company Avast, one in five men and one in four women confessed to checking their partner’s smartphone. Those are merely the participants who admitted to spying. Add in attentive parents, prying roommates or nosy siblings, and you might wind up with a whole lot of unauthorized access.

Whether the threat comes from strangers or loved ones, password management applications and services still seem like the best bet. Users have plenty of options now, including those from LastPass, Dashlane, 1Password and others. These can act like iron fortresses for your logins, without clamping them down so tightly that you can’t share some when need be.

See also: How To Safely Share Passwords With Others Who Need Them

You can’t blame Yahoo for trying to improve email security. The company, which serves more than 80 million users in the U.S. and more than 270 million users worldwide, announced these changes following a well-publicized email security breach last January.

Last year, Yahoo announced that it was working with Google on an end-to-end email encryption plugin, and it just showed off the fruits of its labor at SXSW. Like with its new on-demand passwords, the company hopes to make email encryption more commonplace by making the process simpler.

Featured photo by Karen Roe

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How Google Made It A Little Harder To Reach Google.com From Outside The US

Google says the change is meant to help local searchers, but does the Right To Be Forgotten play a role?

The post How Google Made It A Little Harder To Reach Google.com From Outside The US appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

View full post on Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

HTML5’s “Dirty Little Secret”: It’s Already Everywhere, Even In Mobile

HTML5 has never really lived up to its potential. As VisionMobile posits, this is partly a problem with performance and partly a question of tooling. 

But it’s also a problem with marketing, as EmberJS co-founder and JavaScript evangelist Tom Dale (@tomdale) tells it. As he informed me in a far-ranging interview, “The dirty little secret of native [app] development is that huge swaths of the UIs we interact with every day are powered by Web technologies under the hood.”

JavaScript Hipster Tom Dale

So who is to blame for the HTML5 community twiddling its collective thumbs while native mobile development gets all the glory? I sat down with Dale to get the skinny on mobile development.

HTML5 Is Already In The App

ReadWriteBrowser development lags native development, perhaps in part because Apple and Google have invested so much in their SDKs. Why hasn’t the world rallied around the Web for mobile in the same way it has for Linux (OS), analytics (Hadoop), etc.? In fact, Firefox excepted, it seems that the Web breeds plenty of innovation, but not necessarily the concentrated innovation that’s needed right now to make HTML5 a real force in mobile. 

Tom Dale: I disagree with the premise that the Web lacks concentrated innovation. In fact, if you look at the majority of “native” mobile apps written in 2014, how many of them contain significant portions authored using HTML and JavaScript? The dirty little secret of native development is that huge swaths of the UIs we interact with every day are powered by Web technologies under the hood.

See also: Congrats, HTML5—You’re All Grown Up Now

When people say Web technology lags behind native development, what they’re really talking about is the distribution model. Let’s be clear about what the Web is: an open, standardized platform, accessible to everyone, that allows users to run completely untrusted code from multiple vendors, where applications are “installed” on demand just by visiting a URL. You’ll forgive me for thinking that app stores are an easy problem to solve in comparison. (This XKCD comic comes to mind.)

It’s not that the pace of innovation on the Web is slower, it’s just solving a problem that is an order of magnitude more challenging than how to build and distribute trusted apps for a single platform. As we saw on the desktop, it may take a few years to catch up to all of the capabilities of a native, proprietary platform, but in terms of the impact it will have on humanity, forgive me for not losing sleep if we have to wait a few years for it to arrive.

RW: Tim Bray recently said that JavaScript isn’t good enough; that it’s a crappy language. Are there viable alternatives out there that just need a touch of luck and corporate (or community) involvement to get them to a point that they can reasonably compete with the closed alternatives?

TD: Tim is just wrong. There’s no other language runtime as widely distributed as JavaScript’s. Getting a runtime installed pervasively is the high-order bit, and I don’t see anything on the horizon that will supplant JavaScript in that sense for at least the next decade.

See also: Google Needs To Double Down On HTML5—And Soon

Furthermore, the pioneering work by Mozilla Research on asm.js opens the door to JavaScript becoming not just a language but also a substrate for other languages to build upon. Already we see projects like Emscripten taking advantage of this work, allowing developers to compile any language with an LLVM frontend (and there are many!) to run with adequate performance inside the browser.

Again, adoption is the critical aspect. JavaScript is everywhere. Anyone who tries to replace JavaScript without treating adoption as priority #1 is fooling themselves. In my opinion, that’s why Mozilla’s let’s-improve-JavaScript strategy has been so much more successful than Google’s myriad efforts to replace it (both with Dart and NaCl).

Google, Apple And The Web

RW: Why hasn’t Google been a stronger advocate for HTML5? Yes, it has much to gain from Android, but it arguably has even more to gain from a common platform that makes the web the center of the mobile experience. And yet Apple has been a stronger advocate of HTML5 than Google has, at least in my estimation. 

TD: Google is a strong advocate for HTML5, or at least particular teams within Google are. But the Google of 2014 is an adolescent behemoth, with accompanying growing pains and identity crises. It’s not surprising the signals out of it have been so mixed.

See also: HTML5 Has A New Best Friend—And It’s Apple, Not Google

My theory is that there was an internal battle inside Google: Fight against Apple on its own turf, with an app store and a proprietary SDK, or go all in on the Web?

With Andy Rubin out and Sundar Pichai taking over both Chrome and Android, I think it’s obvious wiser heads have prevailed. Expect to see a much tighter integration of Chrome (and, therefore, Web technologies) into Android over the coming years.

Google’s only significant source of revenue continues to be search ads; anything that drives users away from the Web as the starting point of every interaction is the wrong decision, in my opinion. All indications are that, after some political battles, the executives at Google have realized the same thing. I’m excited for what the newly-rejuvenated Google can do for the mobile Web.

As for Apple, it’s definitely a different company under Tim Cook. I’m cautiously optimistic about the future of Safari on iOS. In particular, the work they’ve been doing on JavaScript performance is just stunning. Many people still think of V8 as the fastest JavaScript engine, but in our benchmarks, Apple’s JavaScript engine Nitro is smoking them.

Working with Apple can still be frustrating at times, as a culture of secrecy still pervades the work. We recently had a very difficult time tracking down a bug in iOS 8 that Apple engineers refused to work with us on. But hopefully the higher-ups will eventually realize that working closely with the Web community leads to a better experience for their users.

Making HTML5 A First-Class Citizen In Mobile

RW: What will make the Web a first-class citizen on mobile devices? What needs to happen, and who is most likely to make it happen?

TD: I think the competition between Google and Apple will make it happen. As I mentioned before, Google has a very strong incentive to keep users on the Web, as search ads continue to be their lifeblood. I expect to see Google integrate the Web more tightly into the Android experience, and Apple wants to remain competitive.

Of course, there are still huge missing gaps in the web platform before it can truly compete with native. Efforts like the Extensible Web Manifesto have been largely successful at overhauling the historically glacial pace of standardization. Instead of trying to standardize high-level features with large API surface areas, browser vendors and standards bodies have shifted their focus to small APIs that expose just the capability primitives.

See also: How HTML5 Crashed, Burned And Rose Again

These small primitives allow the larger community to build libraries and ecosystems on top, rapidly increasing the pace of innovation. The Service Workers API is the most recent success. Service Workers allow web apps to add functionality people assume are only possible in native apps—push notifications, offline support, background syncing, and more.

Perhaps surprisingly, Service Worker support are already starting to land in browsers. And because all modern browsers auto-update without user prompting, the era where you have to wait years to take advantage of new features in the web platform is coming to end.

Take these auto-updating “evergreen” browsers and pair them with newly reinvigorated and competent standards bodies, and new technologies like asm.js that squeeze every ounce of performance out of JavaScript, and it’s not hard to see that the future of the Web on mobile is a happy one.

What HTML5 Has Already Achieved

RW: What are the best app experiences you’ve seen built with HTML5/EmberJS? In other words, what is the state of the art?

TD: There are a ton of great examples. Vine is a great example of a modern JavaScript app. It’s lightning fast on desktop and on mobile, and shares the same codebase for ease of maintenance. It has great URL support and feels like a web app; users have no idea it’s pure JavaScript, it just feels really fast.

It’s a mistake to think the end game is Web apps that look and feel the same as native apps. While it will be possible, I think we’ll see a convergence: the interaction patterns of the Web, with a sprinkling of native where it makes sense.

For sheer impressiveness, there are few programs more demanding than games, and Mozilla is really pushing the envelope here. For example, Unity and Epic both recently announced that developers who build games on their platform will be able to export to the Web, thanks to asm.js and WebGL. Imagine a world where you never have to install games; you just visit a website and, boom, you’re playing a AAA first-person shooter.

Angry Bots is a game authored using Unity that you can play on the web. I’ve shown this demo to many people by now, and I still can’t get over how cool it is.

Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock

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3 Reasons Why the Little Things Matter

The little things, like match types, ad groups, and geo-targeting, can make all the difference in your search marketing tactics. Here are some examples that show why it makes sense to dig into the details.

View full post on Search Engine Watch – Latest

The Little Known Black-Hat SEO Tactics That are Putting Your Site at Risk – Business 2 Community


Business 2 Community
The Little Known Black-Hat SEO Tactics That are Putting Your Site at Risk
Business 2 Community
So, your SEO strategy is working just the way you hoped it would – your organic traffic is increasing and your organic rankings are on the rise. What you may not know is that there are several little-known, black-hat SEO tactics that could be putting

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How A Little Competition Made Thermostats Sexy

Guest author Alex Salkever is head of product marketing and business development at Silk.co. An earlier version of this piece first appeared on his Tumblr.

Until the Nest, the thermostat had no sex appeal. Then Tony Fadell and his team built something beautiful and functional that also happened to save money and make a house more livable. It was so sexy that Google bought it for $3 billion. The pull of the Nest was such that a significant chunk of buyers came from design-conscious European countries—well before Nest sold or marketed in the EU.

Now we have the Lyric from Honeywell, and it looks pretty good. What’s most interesting about the Lyric isn’t its Wi-Fi connectivity and remote control via smartphone, but geo-fencing. While the Nest “learns” user behavior, the Lyric will change your home’s temperature as you approach, based on your smartphone’s location. This is smart, because while people’s behavior may be generally consistent, it isn’t always so.

Boring Got Cool—And Fast

The most important thing about all this to me is the impact of competition and innovation. For the most part, the innovation around the Nest and the Lyric is industrial design, user interface and smartphone integration. These devices don’t boast breakthrough new materials or hyper-fast chips.

But they both use existing technology to tackle boring markets previously deemed unaddressable. (Sexy thermostat? Pass the oatmeal, please). What’s more, Nest drove Honeywell to answer with a comparable product.

I don’t doubt Honeywell has had Nest-like devices in testing labs or even on store shelves for ages. But they obviously couldn’t have been that Nest-like because, well, we never heard of them. So with Apple-like marketing genius and gorgeous design, Nest cracked the code on how to get people excited about thermostats. Seeing this success, Honeywell had to respond and has now done so forcefully.

The company also aspires to great things in the Internet of Things. And unlike Nest, Honeywell has decades of experience putting thermostats and other home-management devices into the hands of contractors, construction firms, and home improvement retails who will ultimately drive the nascent Sexy Thermostat Market.

I love this story because it has a huge upstart winner (Nest), a challenged incumbent with some fight in it (Honeywell), a happy customer (you and me) and a great societal benefit (more efficient energy usage). In fact, one guy—Tony Fadell—could end up single-handedly instigating a massive shift in an enormous but previously stagnant multi-billion-dollar industry.

The other key lesson I take from this, and something I see everywhere? The solutions to most great social challenges lie well within reach.

Maybe it’s rockstar marketing of the Nest. Maybe it’s better distribution of water treatment technologies. Maybe its special financing to help alternative energy technologies with long payback cycles get over the hump. Maybe it’s ways of leveraging lightweight distribution technologies like Uber or social sharing apps like Relay Rides to better utilize existing transportation capacity.

And just maybe it’s something so boring that we can’t imagine it will be sexy. Like the thermostat. Which no one will ever look at the same way again.

View full post on ReadWrite

Facebook’s Dream Of Sharing Every Little Moment Of Your Life Is Effectively Dead

If you’ve ever been annoyed with Facebook posts that say, “Your friend just pinned to a board on Pinterest,” or “Selena is listening to Britney Spears on Spotify,” here’s some good news: You’ll be seeing fewer posts like that in the future. 

Facebook has given up its dream of having everything you do shared with all your friends. The company is now encouraging developers to eliminate auto-sharing, and provide clear and concise information as to how, exactly, the information collected is being stored and shared.

When Facebook announced Open Graph in 2011—the tool that let developers connect their apps to the social network and automatically share what users were doing to Facebook—the idea was that auto-sharing features would make it easier for users to “tell more of their story,” and share every life detail with friends. While app developers benefitted from explosive growth thanks to Open Graph, many Facebook users weren’t so thrilled.

“We’ve found that people engage more with stories that are shared explicitly rather than implicitly, and often feel surprised or confused by stories that are shared implicitly or automatically,” the company wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

Facebook said it will start burying automatically posted content lower in the news feed because so many users regularly mark auto-shared posts as spam. Instead, the company said, it will focus on prioritizing updates that friends actually took the initiative to share over those generated by an app. 

Last week, Facebook disabled automatically sharing likes, comments or posts from Instagram, its flagship photography application. The move marked a big shift in Facebook’s tradition of collecting and sharing as much information as possible. Now it’s pushing developers to stop auto-sharing, too. 

A Dream, Crushed

When Open Graph was first announced, application developers loved it, because it helped drive downloads and increased the time people spent on their apps. So everything from Spotify tracks to Nike+ workouts to Pinterest pins ended up on timelines everywhere—but users themselves didn’t share the excitement.

I remember the first time my friends and I downloaded Spotify, only to realize one day later that every track we listened to (including that horribly embarrassing Spice Girls album) appeared on our Facebook profile. As more and more applications began sharing to Facebook, I got in the habit of periodically checking my Facebook timeline to make sure everything on there was explicitly shared, and began reading the fine print before downloading apps. 

It wasn’t just entertainment apps that annoyed users; news publications that implemented social reader apps—tools that forced you to opt-in to auto sharing before you could read an article from a participating site—saw a heavy decline in traffic

In the past few years, many people have become increasingly wary about how much information they share with both friends and Facebook or other third-party mobile apps. Though Facebook has taken strides to clear up its muddled privacy policies and put an increased emphasis on making features opt-in rather than opt-out, some people still don’t trust the social network.

Though if Facebook is willing to admit its auto-sharing practices are flawed, and encourage mobile app developers to stop posting on our walls, we could begin to see a shifting vision from Facebook—one puts people in complete control of their data.

Lead image by Kris Krug; All The Things meme generated by Selena Larson.

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