Skype is pretty good

I rarely do software reviews, but thought I’d quickly give a mention to Skype.

Skype is not VoIP, but allows you to voice chat with other users. For free. But it’s better than it’s competitors.

AIM has “talk” but it doesn’t work behind any firewalls. Quality isn’t great. Yahoo works behind some firewalls, but quality is even worse. Skype works behind firewalls and has excellent quality. I’d say better than most phones. It’s also encrypted for your protection (using AES) Skype is overall very sexy in performance. Minimal bandwidth, and optimal quality. My hope is that they manage to keep PC to PC calls free forever (without ads).

I do hope however that some open source alternatives become available. This technology will be big in the next year or two. Just as VoIP is kicking off, this going to be something worth looking into for many people. But I hope it will be open protocols like Email, rather than a closed protocol mess like IM. This has the potential to be a real golden internet tool. Hopefully it won’t loose out to patents and proprietary networks.

Anyway. It’s a great product to look at, and give it a shot. I’m personally convinced this concept has finally come of age. It’s just a matter of them opening the protocol so others can build clients to use their network (and perhaps subscribe to their paid services), or if the open source community needs to create their own universal network.

MovableType 3.1

Sweet, perhaps blogging won’t suck for much longer. Looks like MovableType is working on some stuff.

Some things l think are pretty interesting:

Dynamic PHP publishing, controllable on a per-template basis: You can control whether you publish a dynamic or static page on a per-template basis, letting you balance the publishing and traffic for your weblog. For example, high-demand documents like XML syndication files can be static, for maximum speed and lower server load, and individual post archives can be dynamic, eliminating the need to rebuild pages when making a global template change.

Now being a PHP developer, this sounds pretty good. But I’m curious about performance. I personally prefer static pages whenever possible. But I wouldn’t mind having some PHP in there.

Subcategories: A new category management interface gives you fine-grained control over the organization and display of your posts. You can even easily move a subcategory from one parent category to another.

Where have you been for so long?

Then of course this plugin pack:

  • MT-Blacklist: a comprehensive spam-blocking and management system for comments and TrackBacks, with an advanced interface and remote importing of blacklist entries.

My prayers are answered.

  • XSearch/Plus: A system which allows you to plug in alternate search engines for Movable Type. This includes a working implementation of a powerful Plucene-based search engine.

Very cool, but again I question performance and server load.

  • KoalaRainbow: A visualization engine for Movable Type which uses its own query language to generate graphics based on arbitrary queries of data in your Movable Type system.

Cool. Personally I would vastly prefer out-of-the-box Gallery integration.

  • Markdown: A simple text markup language which allows you to create posts in plain text and have them display in semantically correct valid XHTML.

People who know me, know I love HTML, and find it geeky to play with. But I wouldn’t mind seeing what this is about. From looking at the webpage, it really kicks butt. So I would love to take a spin. And considering it’s GPL, I might just use that elsewhere.

On a little tangent, that would be pretty spiffy for bugzilla.

  • Notifier: An email notification system which lets your readers subscribe to be notified whenever an individual post, a category, or even an entire weblog is updated. There’s also a complete system for managing subscriptions.

Would anyone go for this if I set it up?

RealNetworks files can play on an iPod

This is going to make some shockwaves this week. Apple shot them down not to long ago, now they are working on the iPod regardless.

Personally I hope Apple embraces it. I think it would remove a major barrier some potential iPod customers face. If Apple locked in a deal with Real, it could become the premier hardware provider for two popular music services. Customers of either provider will still want an iPod.

Together, they are stronger than separate against Microsoft.

Just like Mozilla is a lot stronger with Safari, and Opera working together, than separate.

Comment Spam is driving me nuts

Come on Jay. We need 2.0. We know it’s good.

Seriously. I’m sick of deleting all these spams. And I don’t want to give up on it.

Problem with TypeKey is that people hate signing up for things. So it limits people from commenting. I hate that. I love when people post comments here. I really do. It’s my favorite thing about this site.

Ugh. No more Spam.

And my email inbox is 100X worse.

We need real laws against spam now!

XHTML FAQ

A grreat FAQ on XHTML is available, and I encourage all fellow web developers to read up. I found a few interesting things:

First read this:

strong>Why is it allowed to send XHTML 1.0 documents as text/html?

XHTML is an XML format; this means that strictly speaking it should be sent with an XML-related media type (application/xhtml+xml, application/xml, or text/xml). However XHTML 1.0 was carefully designed so that with care it would also work on legacy HTML user agents as well. If you follow some simple guidelines, you can get many XHTML 1.0 documents to work in legacy browsers. However, legacy browsers only understand the media type text/html, so you have to use that media type if you send XHTML 1.0 documents to them. But be well aware, sending XHTML documents to browsers as text/html means that those browsers see the documents as HTML documents, not XHTML documents.

Then read this:

Why is it disallowed to send XHTML 1.1 documents as text/html?

XHTML 1.1 is pure XML, and only intended to be XML. It cannot reliably be sent to legacy browsers. Therefore XHTML 1.1 documents must be sent with an XML-related media type, such as application/xhtml+xml.

Now in the source of that webpage, I see:

< ?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
< !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN"
      "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd">
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
</html>

but Mozilla says:

Type:  text/html

Does anyone taste dogfood? Will the net ever move to towards xml? Not even the W3C feels it’s safe to move.

I don’t think we will ever see websites that say:

Type:  application/xhtml+xml

On a sidenote: Does anyone know what versions of Internet Explorer support this trick? Is it 5.0+? Or just 6.0?

Extensions Manager finally comes of age

Well, today was something. I downloaded a nightly Firefox build and decided to see about breaking the Extensions Manager. So I went to update.mozilla.org and found a few of my favorite extensions: Gmail Notifier, Checky, LiveHTTPHeaders, Web Developer, User Agent Switcher, among others.

Installed them all (at once), then quit Firefox. Restarted Firefox. All worked perfectly. Checked for updates, no updates found. Everything worked without a hitch.

This was the first time it’s been a good experience with the feature for me. And this time, it was flawless.

So hats off to the dev’s for a quality job. The move towards 1.0 is a looking good.

iPod coming Tuesday

iPodThat’s right. There’s a new iPod coming most likely on Tuesday. And we know about it thanks to the boneheads at Newsweek screwing up and printing the story a little to early. Anyway there are some new things:

  • A ‘clickwheel’ combines the buttons and the wheel, to make the interface even more compact and streamlined. As you can see in the picture.
  • “more efficient menu’s”
  • “Multiple on-the-go playlists”, ability to delete songs from mixes.
  • Audiobooks can be listened to at normal, slower or 25% faster without ‘sounding like a munchkin’
  • 50% boost in battery life
  • Lower price: $399 for 40GB, $299 for 20 GB. No 15GB.

Score one for Apple. I’m sure Jobs is pleased with the results, he’s got another winner in line.