Archive for the 'technology' Category

Published by Fabian on 02 Sep 2008

A new Operating System was born

Google is attacking Microsoft for the future market of Operating Systems.

Already some time ago people started to discuss about the browser being the future application platform, virtual machine, or even operating system. But up to today browsers were designed for displaying web pages.

But today, everything has changed. Google presented Google Chrome to the world.

Google is the first one to do a radical perspective shift. Chrome is no longer a reader for HTML pages, but it is designed as Application Platform for Web Applications, oh and by the way: it can also display HTML.

It includes Google Gears as “registry” for Web Applications, a task manager for everything in Chrome, and blurs the borders of Applications and Web Applications by putting a GMail icon on your desktop that you can open up standalone.

Lets be all excited about the next days, where thousands of web gurus will put their hands on Chrome and see if it has the potential to become THE platform for running future applications.

Be sure to watch the introduction video by the Chrome development team

Published by Fabian on 30 Jul 2008

Myself in a Computer Game

Many computer games just recycle old ideas. Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is the same. Really no new ideas. Old game concept, old game mode, old game engine, even an old storyline. But wait. There is something really interesting.

Rainbow Six Vegas 2 allows you to customize your alter ego. Okay, old idea, many other games do that as well. The really interesting part is that they have webcam support.

You can take a frontal picture of yourself, get quite precise instructions how to set up lighting and how to position your head. The same for a 90degree left turned head. After you are done taking these two pictures the game prompts you to click a few points (about 6) on each picture. After doing so you will get your own head put onto your character. Surprisingly this works really well. I assume the points required try to get the outline and a few spots in between for placing the picture as texture on the head wireframe.

Want to see my picture? the skin is slightly darker as I took it late in the night 8)

The quality is more than I did expect. Of course people are use to my long hair, while this elite soldier does have a nearly shaved hairstyle.

There are many aspects of this feature that are interesting:

  • Was this really on the feature list for the game?
  • Why did this feature make into the game but most of the rest is totally buggy?
  • Why does it work really well?
  • Are we going to see more of this customization in future games?

Published by Fabian on 10 Jul 2008

An attempt to compare Java and PHP on a higher level

I yesterday published my first post in our corporate blog. It was an attempt to compare Java and PHP, using some historic backgrounds and comparing the evolution.

Even if it came out close in favour of Java, its really interesting to see that its pretty hard to compare those langages, because the language actually doesnt matter that much nowadays. I think we are about to reach the next level of programming language. Its the framework abstraction level. You no longer choose cobol for accounting and c++ for games, but you can choose between a financial and a gaming framework in any language.

Please be gentle with that blog post. Its not meant as criticism on either Java or PHP and sure its far from perfect. Thats basically the point of blogging. you can write about things you might have thought through, but which isnt really on a solid foundation :-)

Published by Fabian on 07 Jul 2008

Easy setup of PHP5 with FastCGI

Today I have been really struggling setting up PHP with FastCGI on my Apache 2.2.

I already had a Apache 2.2 with Prefork MPM running using mod_php5 and thought: Oh well lets “just” replace the prefork with worker to see how it performs. I knew that I would have to configure FastCGI for that as well, but there were plenty of instructions on the web, so I gave it a try.

But I ended up with a downtime of 2 hours with no success. All the instructions I found had one or another problem. I got confused with FastCGI, fcgid and tons of vhosts stuff, was frustrated and about to give up.

Then I found this fantastic instructions from Typo3. Here Linux can shine again. If you do it right you can do it fast, without hassle and without interruption of service. Also Kudos to Michael Stucki for writing this up. The instructions work flawlessly.

I did this on a live system with users using it. Noone of the users noticed this successful migration.

I am very pleased with the way its working now. Cut memory consumption and response times by over 50% without any hassle (well at least if i would have had the instructions before my first attempt :-) )

Now I can work out how to tune fcgid and the worker MPM.

Published by Fabian on 27 May 2008

Watch out with OpenID

Yesterday night i finished implementing openID with one of the web applications I am working on. In that case it was PHP based and using Zend_OpenID. At least I thought I finished it.
Today I was discovering that I missed an important part.
I guess it is because I was so happy that I finally got messages back from Google and claimID. But openID is a 4 step procedure, not a 3 step one:

  1. We take the user supplied openID url and validate that it matches one of our users.
  2. We request from that URL and get some HTML back where we need to discover the actual server back (Am I the only one finding this procedure hacky?)
  3. We redirect to the actual openID server, it will ask our user for login and redirect back.
  4. We get redirected back and get some information on the user. Take the openID url and are ready to go.
    What we are getting back is an HTTP-GET request made from an URL which we think comes from the openID provider. Actually the most important part of the openID authentication is to not trust this data. This could be faked by hackers, well actually even simple minded could do that :-) . So the last step is:
    Validate the received parameters against the same openID server.

The nasty thing is that you could think that after step 3  you are done. If you stop there you not just implemented openID, but login for everyone.

An interesting side note is that Yahoo! openID is broken at the moment. It returns on discovery via a valid openID:

<link rel="openid2.provider" href="https://open.login.yahooapis.com/openid/op/auth">
<link rel="openid.server" href="https://open.login.yahooapis.com/openid/op/1.1/auth">

Both actually are nonworking URLs. The first even states that Yahoo only supports the openID v2. Perhaps they should update then their discovery url so their service gets found?

Update:

Well actually Yahoo no longer uses HTML discovery, but they havent removed the discovery from the page. That was confusing me. Yahoo supports however now Yadis XRD based detection, which unfortunalty is not yet adressed in Zend Framework.

Published by Fabian on 06 Mar 2008

iPhone becomes non business smartphone

German IT news site Golem reports that the iPhone will become a smartphone. Mid 2008 Apple will allow users to install custom software. Okay, again: Apple will allow certified software to be downloaded from iTunes. 30% of the price will go directly to Apple.

It seems that Apple still does not target companies. While the model might be suitable for selling games and stuff, I had hoped that with the announced possibility of installing applications we can get VPN software, terminal software and business applications on the iPhone.

As a application developer I would love the iPhone because it is in my opinion superior suitable to hose bussiness applications, either native and web. But until Apple allows us corporate software distribution this will still be the Symbian/WinCE/blackberry market.

Perhaps the iPhone as such shall be only for lifestyle, not for business?

It gets even more interesting, because on the other hand Apple announced that they will support Microsofts ActiveSync for enabling push-email from Exchange servers.

Gosh.. Apple what is your roadmap? Where shall the iPhone go?

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