Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hear hear: On the us' unregulated Internet telecom monopoly

Captive Audience: Power of telecom, cable industry is growing

BroadbandOpinion: In the first of three excerpts from "Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age," author Susan Crawford examines the growing power of the telecom industry.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Find: Sending this holiday e-card will teach you how to write a little HTML

Sending this holiday e-card will teach you how to write a little HTML

codecademy holiday card screenshot

Codecademy is the most well known and well funded of the startups which sprouted over the last year and half offering innovative ways for normal folks to learn how to program. It attracted investors like Kleiner Perkins and Union Square Ventures, as well as high profile users like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It was this writer's New Year's resolution last year, though sadly I stopped my coding practice after just a few weeks. Today the company is offering a new product themed for the holidays. Pick one of six holiday e-cards and the service will teach you how to create it yourself with a tutorial in HTML and CSS. You can tweak the existing "code cards" or create one from scratch with the help of a few prepared ingredients....

Find: Web Served, part 5: A blog of your own

On using wordpress. 

Web Served, part 5: A blog of your own

We've got a Web server. We've got SSL/TLS. We've got PHP. We've got a database. Now, finally, it's time to do something with them: we're going to set up self-hosted WordPress, one of the Internet's most popular blogging platforms.

Certainly, WordPress isn't the only choice. There are many blogging platforms out there, ranging from big and full-featured content management systems (like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla) to static site generators like Jekyll (and its customized variant Octopress, which I use on my own blog). However, WordPress is extremely popular, and it also has a wealth of themes and plugins available with which you can customize its behavior. So, because it's the platform that first comes to mind when people think of "blogging," we're going for it.

Disclosure, and a word on security

This isn't the first time I've talked about setting up WordPress. Some parts of this article will be taken from my previous blog post on the subject, though the instructions here will contain a number of improvements.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Find: Web Served, part 4: Get your database on

Web Served, part 4: Get your database on

For new readers just joining us, this is the fourth in a series of articles on getting your hands dirty by setting up a personal Web server and some popular Web applications. We've chosen a Linux server and Nginx as our operating system and Web server, respectively; we've given it the capability to serve encrypted pages; and we've added the capability to serve PHP content via PHP-FPM. Most popular Web apps, though, require a database to store some or all of their content, and so the next step is to get one spun up.

But which database? There are many, and every single one of them has its advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately we're going to go with the MySQL-compatible replacement MariaDB, but understanding why we're selecting this is important.

To SQL or NoSQL, that is the question

In most cases these days, when someone says "database" they're talking about a relational database, which is a collection of different sets of data, organized into tables. An individual record in a database is stored as a row in a table of similar records—for example, a table in a business's database might contain all of that business's customers, with each record consisting of the customer's first name, last name, and a customer identification number. Another table in this database might contain the states where the customers live, with each row consisting of a customer's ID number and the state associated with it. A third table might contain all the items every customer has ordered in the past, with each record consisting of a unique order number, the ID of the customer who ordered it, and the date of the order. In each example, the rows of the table are the records, and the columns of the table are the fields each record is made of.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Spotted: Node Summit - The Evolution of Javascript

Node Summit: The Evolution of Javascript

Hear about the evolution of Javascript from a panel of experts who have taken it from an idea to where it stands today, and learn what is on the horizon for the little scripting language that became one of the most popular programming languages in the world.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Project: Library Visualization

Group: Tanya Reeve, Elisha Owen, Allison Hamann, Khalia Braswell, Haleigh Andrew

The Skimmer project, or “All Things N.C. State,” included adding and rewriting code in order to add features as well as optimize existing code.


The main features that we added are:

An additional color scheme 
The new color scheme consists of red and white bubbles.

Sound effects
An additional option was added to the sidebar for sound effects. These sound effects are heard when bubbles two or more bubbles collide.

A “Pointer Bubble”
This bubble is an additional bubble that follows the user’s mouse, allowing for a more interactive environment. Users can user the pointer bubble to repel other bubbles, or on the tablet version, repel bubbles with one finger while attracting them with another.

“Drag and Drop” Bubbles 
A drag and drop feature was also added. This allows viewers to move bubbles around the screen, adding to the overall interactive nature of the bubbles.

We not only added new features, but also improved existing features. Changes were also made to:
Sidebar reorganization
The sidebar was reorganized to reflect the new features that were added as well as some features that our clients did not want, such as the keyword search and toggle between vibrant colors and vibrant images. We also added the option for turning the pointer bubble and sound effects on and off.

Prevent duplicate images
In the original version, bubbles with different keywords would be linked to the same article and therefore producing bubbles with duplicate images. Having these duplicate images reduced the visual appeal of the bubbles, so we created a check that only allows one image with a particular URL. Also, image bubbles are now separate from their corresponding keyword bubble, allowing the viewer to see more relative keywords.

Improve Runnability
We also improved the overall runtime of the project. This was done by attempting to optimize the code as well as fixing some errors involving how the code requests images. Additionally, the code was optimized for tablets to allow users to interact with bubbles using multitouch.

Increased interactivity within tablets
Not only was the code optimized for tablets, but the project running on a tablet provides an additional feature. The multitouch input of a tablet allowed us to create different bubble reactions depending on whether the touch was the first or second touch. On the first touch, bubbles are repelled while with the second touch, bubbles are attracted. Even though there is no specific “purpose” for this feature, it greatly increases viewer interactivity with the bubbles.

Future suggestions
While our project may look nice on the front end, the code on the backend is extremely unorganized due to the previous developers and designers. As a result of this chaos, the web application uses an extreme amount of memory and processing power while running. Although this may be acceptable for now, a useful project in the future would be to refactor the code completely, allowing it to conform to Javascript coding standards.

Project: NC 10 Percent

Group memebers: Francis Dominno, Joshua Nichols, John Poe, Joseph Costin, Alan Master
NC 10 Percent looks to connect people with locally grown food vendors in North Carolina.
this website collects locations and contact information for each vendor.  visitors to the site can search by distance or by county.  the search results are then broken down into category by eating out farmers and other such types of vendors. in the future NC 10 Percent plans to move into the mobile market and create a more user friendly experience.
working site:  here

voice thread: here 

list of files changed:
NC ten percent\htdocs\genXMLPartnersDetail.php
NC ten percent\htdocs\genXMLPartnersDetail1.php
NC ten percent\htdocs\genXMLParnersDetailHelper.php
NC ten percent\htdocs\partners.php
NC ten percent\htdocs\partners_detail.php
NC ten percent\htdocs\partners_detail1.php
NC ten percent\htdocs\partners_detail2.php
NC ten percent\htdocs\utilities.php
NC ten percent\htdocs\css\layout.css
NC ten percent\htdocs\css\jquery-ui-1.8.7.custom.min.js
NC ten percent\htdocs\css\jquery.slideto.min.js
NC ten percent\htdocs\test\genXMLPartnersDetail.php
NC ten percent\htdocs\test\genXMLPartnersDetail1.php
NC ten percent\htdocs\test\genXMLParnersDetailHelper.php
NC ten percent\htdocs\test\partners.php
NC ten percent\htdocs\test\partners_detail.php
NC ten percent\htdocs\test\partners_detail1.php
NC ten percent\htdocs\test\partners_detail2.php
NC ten percent\htdocs\test\utilities.php
NC ten percent\htdocs\test\css\layout.css
NC ten percent\htdocs\test\css\jquery-ui-1.8.7.custom.min.js
NC ten percent\htdocs\test\css\jquery.slideto.min.js

Project: Sustainable Gardens

Our group was tasked with assisting NCSU's Urban Horticulture department in promoting environmental landscaping via an online greeting card application.  The greeting card app will serve as a vehicle to deliver informative material that spreads the word on themes including native plants, growing food, sustainable landscaping, beneficial insects, garden pests, etc.  Equally, the app enables users to directly email a decorative card with a specified greeting (i.e. Happy Birthday, Congratulations, etc.).
The user of our app should be able to first select the predefined greeting of the card they would like to send.  The app will then display a series of images that are correspondingly themed for the associated greeting for the user to select.  For example, the Happy Valentines Day card will have images such as the "Hearts a' Busting" flower and the Merry Christmas card will have images such as the American Holly.  Each image also contains a descriptive paragraph of text that will be included in the greeting card to help promote that specific idea or concept.  After the user has chosen the greeting and image, they should be able to enter their recipient and a personalized message included in the email.  Lastly, the app should directly mail the card to the user's recipient and include a footer that links back to the NCSU Urban horticulture page.  To protect against spamming, our app implements a Captcha for encryption before the email is sent.   
Additionally, we have added extra functionality to allow our client to modify the greeting card application to her liking.  Using an encrypted online form, the client can update new images to a specified greeting, modify or delete an existing image, and add or modify an associated description to an image.  The client can also add a new defined greeting for selection and its corresponding images & descriptions.  
Ultimately, our app serves two purposes: to promote the client's message on environmental landscaping, as well as provide a beneficial greeting card service to the users.
Team: Sung Hwang, Charles Coble, Kenneth Glenn, and Pareen Patel

Project: WSGreenways

    Our group, WSGreenways, was tasked with handling some upgrades to the mobile website for the City of Winston-Salem's greenways. The site offerend links to google maps of the greenways, some basic information on each greenway, and a tab for events happening at the greenways. The goal of WSGreenways was to create a mobile site that had content more geared toward a user at the greenways, or on the go.

    The original website was hardcoded HTML, with little room for updating or upgrading functionality. Our first, and probably hardest task, was updating the web page to a more robust system. We changed the webpages to use php, hosted on an apache server and utilizing a mySQL database. The database is used to store values relating the events and to store the information on the greenways. The PHP allows us to access these database elements to display on the site, as well as helping create a form for submitting issues, and displaying current weather, and the forecast for today and tomorrow.

    The original site listed accessibility info for each greenway in a separate tab, which we moved to the information tab to reduce redundancy. We also added pictures of each individual greenway to its respective page.

    The report issues page sends an email to the city of Winston-Salem with the problem, and also has a mobile link for calling the city if there is a more pressing matter, or if it is more convenient for the user.

    Some things we would like to have completed were real time GPS tracking translated into the report issues page. We also wanted to have automated driving directions to each greenway from someone's current location. Instead there is just entrance info under each greenway. Some of the greenways can be difficult to get to, and are not easily accessed from major roads. Trying to map it without proper information would be haphazard, especially considering some of the latest tech news regarding people getting lost in huge parks due to faulty mapping software. With the new back end of the site, it can be more easily updated to do these types of things in the future, if Winston-Salem chooses to. 

Screencast Demo
WSGreenways Github

Team: Harendra Patel, Lai Tran, Lance McDonald, Andrew Felsher, Kyle Wrenn

Project: Real Estate Management

     George Properties is a property management company that handles the more complicated and expensive aspects of property management for their clients. We were brought on to help create a website for the company that helps advertise their prices and services to potential clients as well as actually providing services to the company's present clients.
     Our goal was to create a framework and design that looked professional and catered to the needs of both the owner and his clients. We designed the navigational layout and set up the pages that the company would eventually populate with content. Outside of that, we also added some functionality for their existing clients. We added a contact page, a service request form, and created listings of available properties. We also did some small scale work on the mobile display to ensure that the site looked reasonable on mobile devices.
     Overall, our main objective was to create a manageable product for the company moving forward. We needed to create something that was readable, understandable, and repeatable for our client, who had very little html experience. We spent a large amount of time in post production walking our client through the site and making sure he understood what was happening and that he was happy with the direction the site had taken.
   As the project drew to a close, we discovered some potential pieces that could be added in the future. Eventually, the owner wants to be able to receive job applications through the site. Also, the mobile display is need of further work in order to be more appealing to customers.


Team Real Estate : Anthony Ursetto, Dorian Bullerwell, Brian Martin, Christopher Jones, Eric Richardson
Main GitHub Page

Activate Good Gallery

Our client, Activate Good, currently uses Flickr to upload and organize photos onto the web. While they had a functioning company website, they were looking for a way to integrate Flickr’s display functionalities into their website in a clean and concise way while maintaining the administrative tools and interface Flickr provides. The main features they were interested in with Flickr were the ability to upload photos, give them titles, and sort them into galleries.

To maintain the current work flow and make the transition easy for Activate Good, we choose to work with the Flickr API to create a web application that wraps around Flickr’s code base. As a result of our work, Activate Good’s team is able to continue using Flickr as before, but with a clean public display written within their website that they have full control over.

We used PHP to create the front overview of albums a user can choose from. Once he or she chooses an album to view, our web application uses a mix of PHP and jQuery to load photos into a viewer without the need to refresh the page. The page only initially loads thumbnails reducing the strain on the viewer’s browser, and it swaps out the full-sized images as they click through thumbnails. The design is fully scalable so that it will not break with larger or smaller album sizes. We asked friends to test our site and used feedback to make improvements to the user interface, such as adding hover effects to make the site feel more alive.

Any information that Activate Good’s team changes on Flickr is made immediately visible on the wrapper web application we created. This includes organization into sets on Flickr, the ordering of photos, the ordering of sets, set titles, set primary photos, and photo titles.

We developed while closely following the existing web developer’s site structure so that it was easy for him to change details if necessary in the future. Everything is well documented. All of our styling is limited to a cascading style sheet that he can seamlessly append to his existing style sheets with a single reference changing in our HTML code.

We met with Activate Good’s staff this week to walk them through the process of using our application, and they were very satisfied with the result. As a result of this new photo gallery, the public will have a more personal attachment to the non-profit organization. Activate Good’s staff hopes that this will encourage greater participation and improve funding efforts. They are enthusiastic about working with this application in the future.

Flickr that demo pulls from:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Project: Mobile Search Library.

        Mobile Library Search is a NCSU mobile web that allows user to search and get the basic information of the current books and medias in library inventory. Our task is to improve the mobile interface for searching the library's catalog to to support "faceted" search, essentially menu-driven refined search.

         Basically, this is a mobile web, very similar to a web app. This mobile web allows user searching the library database and displays the results. Everytime user performs a search, there is an API call that sent to the live search service. The live search service then reads the API and returns a XML file that contains the results information. The mobile web will process XML file and display results to user.      
         For this project, we completed many works: adding refine search, changing interface and layout, correcting some limitations, and adding additional option for user's conveniences.Generally, we finished the initial plan to improve this mobile web.
New version

         However there are things that could be improved in future: quick option performing an "on-the-fly search"; improving the mobile web to be able to work on more devices; display only a few of the sub-filter options while giving the option to expand the list further; optimize choice of provided filter list; and more.

Links to Voicethread and GitHub repo:

Team Mobile Library Search CSC342:

Taylor Hickey  Daniel Narmi
James Beavers Tomer Shvueli Danh Huynh

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Announcements: visitors during our final presentations (updated)


Currently scheduled as visiting us during final presentations are:
  • Ravi Devarajan, SAS
  • Alan Cox, David Motsinger & Lee Eason, WebAssign (updated to include Lee)
  • Cory Lown, NCSU Digital Library Initiatives 
  • Tom Miller, NCSU Entrepreneurship Initiative 
I'll let you know if more decide to come.



Announcement: screencasting tools


Just added some pointers to screencasting tools on the site here.



Monday, December 10, 2012

Reminder about projects


See you all at 8a Thursday for final. 

As a reminder, you can find pointers about what we're looking for in presentations here:

Also, grow to turn in your projects here:

Best, Ben 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Find: Russia, China, and other nations draft proposal to give ITU greater influence over the internet

Individual countries with control of their domain naming?

Russia, China, and other nations draft proposal to give ITU greater influence over the internet

WCIT conference

A proposal introduced Friday at the World Conference on International Telecommunications would lend the ITU and its member states greater control over the internet. Changes outlined in the document would transfer many duties related to the web's backend — IP address and domain name allocation, for example — away from ICANN. Instead, that power would be placed in the hands of individual governments. A leaked copy posted on WCITLeaks reveals that Russia, a longtime proponent of such ideas, has also rallied the support of the United Arab Emirates, China, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Sudan, and Egypt in drafting the document.

"Member states have the right to manage all naming, numbering, addressing and identification resources used for...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Announcement: last day for course evaluation!

Hey folks,

This is the last day to do online course evaluation! Please do take the time to evaluate this course, it really helps make the course experience better for your fellow students.



Monday, December 3, 2012

Spotted: Node Summit - The Importance of Cross Platform

Node Summit: The Importance of Cross Platform

Joyent's Ryan Dahl, Microsoft's Gianugo Rabellino and Rackspace's Paul Querna discuss why Node.js is so important for the future of cross platform application development.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Find: Good idea - Music Hack Day project maps out lyrics to Johnny Cash's 'I've Been Everywhere' in realtime

Music Hack Day project maps out lyrics to Johnny Cash's 'I've Been Everywhere' in realtime

Cash I've Been Everywhere

In 1996, the legendary Johnny Cash recorded "I've Been Everywhere," putting his signature on an old-time country classic. The song, which rattles off dozens of locations throughout North America, was an appropriate fit a musician that toured rigorously throughout his storied career. Now through the magic of Google Maps, you can listen to the song while each one of those destinations is labeled with a Johnny Cash pin — all in realtime before your own eyes. Developer Iain Mullan whipped the project together for Music Hack Day London 2012 using MusixMatch (for lyrics), Toma HK and his own programming know-how. In all, mapping out "I've Been Everywhere"'s itinerary results in 112515 miles of travel. Cash undoubtedly crossed through many of...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Spotted: The Web Won't Be Safe or Secure until We Break It

The Web Won't Be Safe or Secure until We Break It

Unless you've taken very particular precautions, assume every Web site you visit knows exactly who you are.

Spotted: Browser Security Case Study: Appearances Can Be Deceiving

Browser Security Case Study: Appearances Can Be Deceiving

A discussion with Jeremiah Grossman, Ben Livshits, Rebecca Bace, and George Neville-Neil

Competition: apps for NC State EI's Silicon Valley trip due tomorrow

NC State EI (@ncsuei)

11/26/12, 10:01 AM

Don't forget! Applications to participate in the EI's Spring Break trip to Silicon Valley are due tomorrow at noon!

Find: How mobile is taking over our computing load, hour by hour

How mobile is taking over our computing load, hour by hour

Although mobile has been coming on strong as a primary means of computing, it still lags overall desktop internet usage. But for some publishers who started on the web, there are already moments during the week when mobile drives the majority of traffic or sales.


The Guardian’s traffic by hour

The Guardian’s Anthony Sullivan, group product manager for Guardian Core products at Guardian News & Media, said Monday that mobile — both smartphones and tablets — now contributes about 35 percent of traffic overall. That’s up from 10 percent at the start of 2011, when it was primarily smartphone traffic. (See disclosure below)

But at 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. in the morning local time, the Guardian gets more traffic from mobile devices. It also sees more mobile visitors than desktop visitors on Saturdays at 3 p.m. when the Premier League is under way.

Meanwhile, online design store said late last month that on Saturdays between 12:00 a.m. and 6 a.m. local time, it sees 53 percent of its sales from mobile devices. On recent weekends, sales from mobile devices are now up to 40 percent, with weekend mornings before noon leading the way. Saturday evenings are also very popular with mobile users, with 44 percent of users buying on mobile devices between 6 p.m. and midnight.

The numbers are still early and these two properties are pretty popular with mobile users. Sullivan said in a Guardian story that the tipping point in favor of mobile might still be two years away. Fab’s CEO and co-founder Jason Goldberg, however, said based on the fast growth of mobile sales, he believes that Fab will see more parts of the day in which traffic from mobile devices goes over 50 percent in the coming months. And he said mobile will contribute more sales than desktop on certain days “soon.” Currently, 33 percent of Fab’s sales come from mobile devices.

The numbers underscore why mobile is so powerful. And it highlights the continuous nature of computing these days. The reality is today we are constantly on some type of computer throughout the day, moving back and forth between devices for different tasks and different settings. Mobile devices fill in the times when reaching for a laptop or desktop is more difficult, including early mornings, during lunch, as we settle in for the night and during the weekends....

Find: The state of broadband in the U.S.

The state of broadband in the U.S. [infographic]

For many people, their broadband connections are their lifelines. So what is the state of broadband in the U.S.? Well, when it comes to speed and price and adoption, we’re certainly not a leader — “middling” is a better way to describe our position.

Currently 119 million people that live in the U.S. don’t have broadband connections (for many reasons, including not wanting it or not being able to afford it) while 19 million don’t even have the option to get it. Our rate of broadband adoption (62 percent) lags behind countries such as South Korea, the U.K.,and Germany, according this year’s Federal Communication Commission report. (We’re closer to the penetration rates to Japan, Finland, and Canada.) These numbers are not likely to change soon, given that broadband growth is slowing and providers are moving away from wireline infrastructure.

Pricewise, we’re not in the top 10 in any speed tier, and in the in the highest tier — 15-25 Mbps — we’re 26th out of 32 countries. Hong Kong and Denmark both have cheaper internet — and faster average broadband speeds.

In this infographic, we highlight some key facts on broadband in the U.S. We obtained the data from the FCC, the National Broadband Map and Akamai.


196.7 million (62%)

Americans who have broadband


rank in wired broadband adoption per capita

Green denotes areas with at least two wireline broadband providers. Click to see how well your area is covered by both wireline and wireless broadband providers. Source: National Broadband Map.


6.6 Mbps

average U.S. broadband speed


U.S. broadband speed rank worldwide

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Find: Google rallies opposition to UN takeover of Internet governance

Google rallies opposition to UN takeover of Internet governance

The world's leading search company has decided to come out swinging against an effort by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the telecommunications arm of the United Nations, to seize a larger role for itself in Internet governance.

"There is a growing backlash on Internet freedom," Google says on its website. "Forty-two countries filter and censor content. In just the last two years, governments have enacted 19 new laws threatening online free expression."

Google worries that these censorious governments could use the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications, which starts December 3, as an opportunity to grab more authority over the Internet. "The ITU is the wrong place to make decisions about the future of the Internet," Google argues.

Find: How Team Obama's tech efficiency left Romney IT in dust

How Team Obama's tech efficiency left Romney IT in dust

Aurich Lawson

Despite running a campaign with about twice the money and twice the staff of Governor Mitt Romney's presidential bid, President Barack Obama's campaign under-spent Romney's on IT products and services by $14.5 million, putting the money instead into building an internal tech team. Based on an Ars analysis of Federal Election Commission filings, the Obama campaign, all-inclusive, spent $9.3 million on technology services and consulting and under $2 million on internal technology-related payroll.

The bottom line is that the Obama campaign's emphasis on people over capital and use of open-source tools to develop and operate its sophisticated cloud-based infrastructure ended up actually saving the campaign money. As Scott VanDenPlas, lead DevOps for Obama for America put it in an e-mail interview with Ars, "A lesson which we took to heart from 2008 [was that] operational efficiency is an enormous strategic advantage."

The Romney campaign spent $23.6 million on outside technology services—most of it on outside "digital media" consulting and data management. It outsourced most of its basic IT operations, while the Obama campaign did the opposite—buying hardware and software licenses, and hiring its own IT department. Just how much emphasis the Obama campaign put on IT is demonstrated by the fact that the campaign's most highly paid staff member was its CIO, Michael Slaby, with an annualized salary of about $130,000...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Announcement: Course evaluation is up!

Hey folks,

Course evaluation is up and running for Fall 2012! Please make sure to go there soon and evaluate this course; it'll help me make improvements for your fellow students in the next course.

Evaluation closes on December 5 at 8am.



Thursday, November 15, 2012

Guest: More from Jason Casden in-browser storage talk

browser-storage-presentation-slides.pptx Download this file

Hi Ben,

Thanks for inviting me to talk about in-browser storage today. To give a bit more context to the browser vendor fragmentation, here is a browser storage discussion involving Brendan
Eich from Mozilla:

The most publicized objection is that WebSQL was a standard bound to
just a single underlying implementation (SQLite). It seems that there
might have also some architectural objections, since the replacement
(IndexedDB) implements such a different model. I think they can both
work well from a technical perspective--it's just the fragmentation
that can be frustrating. By the way, can be useful when
sorting our browser support issues:


Guests: Alan Cox and David Motsinger of WebAssign will visit on 12/13


Alan Cox (director engineering) and David Motsinger (CTO) of WebAssign will visit us during final presentations on December 13.

Guests: Lee Eason and Brendan Blackwood of WebAssign visit on 11/29


Lee Eason and Brendan Blackwood (both software engineers) will visit us from WebAssign on 11/29.

Guests: Chrissy Justice and Ben Clark of WebAssign on 11/20


Chrissy Justice (QA analyst) and Ben Clark (UX designer) of WebAssign will sit in on critique next Tuesday, 11/20.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Announcement: all crit feedback now online


All critique feedback should now be online at the usual spot.



Sunday, November 11, 2012

Find: OpenNews - the future of reporting is at the growing intersection of news, storytelling and web tech

OpenNews: looking back, moving forward.

This is the second of three posts about the state of development in journalism, where we’re at with the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project, and where we’re going. It caps off on Thursday with the announcement of the 2013 Knight-Mozilla Fellows, an announcement that then launches us into the Mozilla Festival in London, starting Friday

With the Mozilla Festival approaching in just two days, and the announcemnet of our 2013 Fellows happening tomorrow, it’s a nice moment to reflect on how far the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project has come in 2012 and where we’re going in 2013.

Writing this in the looming shadow of a trans-Atlantic flight to London for the Mozilla Festival, it’s actually pretty overwhelming just how far our project has transformed since I “thought out loud” about opportunites in the intersection of journalism and tech prior to last year’s Mozilla Festival. So it’s time for a little more thinking out loud, both about where we’ve been this year, and where we’re going next.

OpenNews 2012: there and back again

Back in February, we announced a new name and an “evolved” focus for the newly-christened Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project. The idea was to keep our Fellowship program intact, but to build out a much larger program dedicated to growing the community around coding and journalism. Here’s how we did:

Hack Days: We went into 2012 with a new initiative to sponsor, promote, and support hack days around the world that adopted journalistic themes. I firmly believe that if you want to grow the community around tech and journalism, you need to engage people in a way that demonstrates this is a place hackers, developers, and engineers want to play. Hack days are incredibly effective in doing that, and here as we approach the end of year, we will have helped sponsor more than 20 hack days around the world, with over 2000 participants.

Source: Throughout 2012, I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with the talented Erin Kissane and Ryan Pitts to create Source, a website designed to be a centerpoint for the journo-code community. Launched last month after being in a public beta since the Summer, we’ve been able to collect looks at how news devs reacted to Hurricane Sandy, dis...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Find: GDL Presents - Women Techmakers

Find: Get started at no cost with a faster, larger Cloud SQL database

Free 100gb MySQL DBs on google. 

Get started at no cost with a faster, larger Cloud SQL database

Author Photo
By Joe Faith, Product Manager

Cross-posted with the Official Google Enterprise Blog

You want your applications to be fast, even with millions of users. Anytime your user tries to retrieve information from the app or update settings, it should happen instantly. For the best performance, you need faster, larger databases - especially if you have a growing user base to serve.

Google App Engine is designed to scale. And now Google Cloud SQL—a MySQL database that lives in Google’s cloud—has new features to meet the demand for faster access to more data. With today’s updates, you can now work with bigger, faster MySQL databases in the cloud:

  • More Storage: We’re increasing the available storage on Cloud SQL to 100GB – ten times more than what used to be available.

  • Faster Reads: We’re increasing the maximum size of instances to 16GB RAM, a 4 times increase in the amount of data you can cache.

  • Faster Writes: We’re adding functionality for optional asynchronous replication, which gives the write performance of a non-replicated database, but the availability of a replicated one.

  • EU datacenter availability: Now you can choose to store your data and run your Cloud SQL database instance in either our US or EU data centers.

  • Integration with Google Apps Script: We’re making it quick and easy for businesses using Google Apps to use Cloud SQL. Publish and share data with Google Sheets, add data to Google Sites pages or create simple Google Forms without worrying about hosting or configuring servers. 

Introducing a new trial offer 

Many of you have requested a trial offer to test out Cloud SQL. Today, we’re introducing a 6- month trial offer at no charge, effective until June 1, 2013. This will include one Cloud SQL instance with 0.5 GB of storage. Sign up now and get started on Cloud SQL at no cost.

Joe Faith is a Product Manager on the Google Cloud Team. In a previous life he was a researcher in machine learning, bioinformatics, and information visualization, and was founder of charity fundraising site Fundraising Skills.

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Find: applying animation principles to mobile UI design

We spoke about the temp of animation and ui in class. 

The illusion of life: applying animation principles to mobile UI design


In 1981, Disney animators introduced the world to the 12 basic principles of animation. For many, the 12 rules are held in the same esteem as Dieter Rams' ten principles of good design, and are seen as something of a bible to would-be animators. In a chapter in her book, The Mobile Frontier, Rachel Hinman looks at how the Disney principles can also be applied to mobile UI and game design, pulling in examples from Apple, Microsoft, Google, Palm, and more. Hinman believes that motion is all-important in mobile design, and highlights how transitive animations and other techniques can help bring a little "magic" into a mobile user experience. The full chapter has been published online by Smashing Magazine, while the book itself is available.

Find: applying animation principles to mobile UI design

Guest: Jason Hibbets of Redhat on Nov 20


Jason Hibbets of Redhat will visit us for critique on November 20. Jason is a project manager and involved in open source and community activism, including CityCamp and Southwest Raleigh.

Example: ESPN Fantasy Football

ESPN Fantasy Football is a web app that NFL fan use in order to compete against their friends using their favorite NFL players. You get a group of 10 or so friends together before the NFL season starts to form a league. You have a draft in which you pick the players that you think will be most successful during the season. You compete against your friends each week to see if your players can outperform theirs. ESPN Fantasy football is used purely for entertainment.
I love this app because I am a big sports fan. It brings a whole new aspect to sports for the fans. Along with watching your favorite teams, you can now participate in the action through your favorite players. Sports fans like me usually love to compete, and there is a lot of strategy involved. Not only is ESPN fantasy football a great means of entertainment, the website is very well made. There is a ton of information on every page, but it is very well organized.
There are other sites that host fantasy football, such as NFL and Yahoo Sports. I have not personally tried these sites, but I really see no reason to. I love how ESPN conveniently provides you with stats and easy navigation between pages. If you are a fan of the NFL, I highly recommend joining an ESPN Fantasy Football league with some friends next year. You will be glad you did!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Find: HUB Raleigh Contributes To The Evolution of Co-working in Downtown

When you turn your idea into a startup....

HUB Raleigh Contributes To The Evolution of Co-working in Downtown

Office space at HUB Raleigh

Last week, HUB Raleigh had its official grand opening. This co-working space on Hillsborough Street adds to the growing startup scene and Innovate Raleigh initiative that continues to spread around downtown Raleigh. The space is set up for established startups in the area to work from so that they can tap the greater HUB network for future growth. I went to the packed grand opening party and returned the next day for a visit.

We’ve talked about co-working before and while I myself do not work for a startup, the community aspect around a co-working space is a natural fit for downtown. Both sides can benefit from the social aspect at HUB and the close proximity to the services in the downtown districts.

I like to compare co-working to the idea of our “third place.” There’s where you live, (first) where you work, (second) and your regular place to socialize. (third) This is a theme that is very alive and true for downtown regulars. With co-working, the community aspect of a third place is weaved into the work aspect of the second. For most, this creates relationships, personal and business, that really help create new businesses and bring ideas into creation.

Others just want to get out of the house and that’s fine too.

Grand opening party at HUB Raleigh

Grand opening party at HUB Raleigh

HUB Raleigh is slowly trying to create that community between visitors and users. For example, they have a calendar where anyone can post an event from business to social. The Click Cafe is the HUB’s on-site gathering space for breaks over food and drinks. And as community goes, HUB has members that are active in Durham’s startup scene and other places around the triangle. HUB contributes to what is going on in the triangle rather then compete and possibly take away.

I mentioned the HUB network that members are a part of. HUB is part of a 28 location network, mostly with locations in North America and Europe, where members have access to those locations and the community around it. If a startup in Raleigh decides to work in San Francisco, HUB San Francisco is now a place for them to reach to if needed. This network helps startups ease into different areas and HUB Raleigh helps visitors ease into here.

Growing startups like The ...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Find: 'Pinch' connects multiple smartphones and tablets together to make a display

An idea we've played with in class. 

'Pinch' connects multiple smartphones and tablets together to make a display


Not content with synchronizing your phones to make one giant speaker? Researchers at the Tokyo University of Technology have developed "Pinch," an interface that lets you connect multiple devices together to form a giant disjointed display. Although the technology behind the interface remains a mystery — described only as a Wi-Fi based system — a video posted by DigInfo TV shows Pinch in action. To connect two devices, a user simply needs to pinch two adjacent screens together. The screens can be linked together in whatever alignment you choose, as the position and screen size of each display is communicated on a successful pinch. It's not the first time developers have managed to link together multiple smartphone displays, but this...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Find: Firefox gets strict about enforcement of HTTPS protection

Firefox gets strict about enforcement of HTTPS protection

Developers of Mozilla's Firefox browser are experimenting with a new security feature that connects to a specified set of websites only when presented with a cryptographic certificate validating the connection is secure.

A beta version of the open-source browser contains a list of sites known to deploy the HTTP Strict Transport Security mechanism that requires a browser to use the secure sockets layer or transport layer security protocols when communicating. HSTS is designed to provide an additional layer of security by mandating the channel is encrypted and the server has been authenticated using strong cryptography.

But there's a chicken-and-egg problem with HSTS. "Man-in-the-middle" attackers, who are positioned in between a browser and website, have the ability to prevent browsers from receiving the server code that enforces the additional protection. That makes it possible for HSTS to be circumvented by the very types of people the measure is designed to thwart.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Guest: Jennifer Capps of NCSU's Entrepreneurship Initiative visits


Jennifer Capps of NCSU's Entrepreneurship Initiative will visit us on November 8 to give a short talk about the Initiative and its Garage.



Guest: Tom Miller of NCSU's Entrepreneurship Initiative will be at final presentations on December 13


Tom Miller of NCSU's Entrepreneurship Initiative and Garage will visit with us during final presentations on December 13.



Guest: Ravi Devarajan will be back for final presentations on December 13


Ravi Devarajan of SAS will be back with us for December 13 final presentations.



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Guest: David Millsaps visits Thursday November 1


David Millsaps of NewRaleigh will visit us on Thursday November 1 to give a short talk on the design of websites.



Find: Why choose Git? (compared to SVN)


Below is a link explaining why you should choose Git over SVN as your version control system, and why Git is so useful, in general (as compared to traditional version control systems which are not distributed VC systems).

James Beavers

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Competition: Chancellor's Innovation Fund


Consider this competition, deadline end November. They pay special attention to students.



Benjamin Watson
Director, Design Graphics Lab | Associate Professor, Computer Science, NC State Univ.
919-513-0325 | | @dgllab

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Billy Houghteling <>
Date: Tue, Oct 23, 2012 at 3:13 PM
Subject: Chancellor's Innovation Fund
To: Benjamin Watson <>

Dear Benjamin Watson:

If you are interested in submitting a proposal to the Chancellor's Innovation Fund, the disclosure deadline is quickly approaching. Disclosures should be submitted using our electronic invention disclosure submission tool ( Inventions/ideas previously disclosed to the Office of Technology Transfer are also eligible. Please review the full solicitation for specific instructions related to proposal content, submission, and review criteria at A total of $450,000 is available during the FY 2014 cycle. I encourage you to consider those projects and/or ideas that could benefit from proof-of-concept funding and make sure your invention disclosure is submitted no later than November 30, 2012. The Chancellor's Innovation Fund program is highly competitive and aimed at funding technology development projects that can be translated into partnerships with industry or result in the launch of a new company. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.


Billy Houghteling
Executive Director
Springboard Innovation Center
North Carolina State University
Ph: (919) 515-7199
Fax: (919) 515-3773