Posts made in July, 2014

The Internet of Things is Apparently a Real Thing

Posted by on Jul 15, 2014

The Internet of Things (IOT) is the phenomenon of everyday devices being connected to the internet; our interconnectivity beyond just using our computers or phones. If you pay attention, more and more household items are starting to become internet-compatible. If you’ve heard of the fridge that’s able to post to Twitter, then you’re already aware of this movement. Some things make obvious sense, such as watches or e-readers, while connecting a toaster or all the lamps in your house may seem far-fetched.   Mostly, the IOT adds value to a product by giving it another aspect—its networked capabilities. Instead of just being a toaster, it’s a smart toaster that maybe interacts with your smart stove and knows to time the toast perfectly, so your toast is still warm the second your eggs are done. That’s a theoretical example, but it gives an idea of what the potential is for a thing beyond being just a thing.   Google owns a fascinating product called the Nest Learning Thermometer that programs itself to change your house’s temperature depending on certain aspects. It can tell when you’re gone, and adjusts to reflect that. You can also change the temperature from your smartphone or another device. A UK-based company is Kickstarting* a project...

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Div Dives into the Web #1

Posted by on Jul 11, 2014

As web developers, we spend a lot of time online, and wanted to share some of the neat things we find each week. Enjoy!   This is an older Oatmeal blog post, but Matt Inman once again shows us the truth in his hilarious way with “How a Web Design goes Straight to Hell.”   If you haven’t already heard of it, Code Oregon is an interesting movement to get Oregonians trained and ready for a job in the tech world, sans degree. I’m excited to see how it influences employment in Portland in the future.   This site is a handy tool to tell if  a website is down just for you or for everyone else—if it’s just for you, then you know to go ahead and fix the issue.   Good script fonts are notoriously hard to find. This is one of my favorite open source script fonts I’ve seen lately.   Well, if I’m replaced by a robot, hopefully the readers of this blog will be able to tell—and can come save me! Here’s an article about how much of the media we consume is written by computers.   Other Div Dives: #4, #3, #2...

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Buying Social Media Fans–Ethical or Not?

Posted by on Jul 7, 2014

One of the most controversial things a business can do in order to try and increase its exposure is to purchase social media followers. Sometimes businesses struggle to gain fans on Facebook or Twitter and resort to buying fake profiles at a pretty cheap price, which then increases their “like” or follower count. The idea behind this is that an account with a lot of fans increases its credibility and then attracts real fans, but the means of gaining these followers is pretty unethical.   Although it might seem appealing, there are some pretty severe drawbacks to buying followers. The biggest one is the crackdown on spammer accounts. Algorithms, such as Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm and Facebook’s NewsFeed algorithm aim to crack down on spam and filler content and promote genuine engagement with the internet, which means fake profiles that don’t contribute anything other than mere numbers are essentially useless. It’s important to have quality content and real fans who actually engage with the material you post.   There’s also the potential image issue. If your real fans find out you’re trying to work the system, they may react negatively and take their business elsewhere. As most people know, negative reviews and comments spread fast, and your other fans...

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Portland’s Trimet: All About Mobile Development

Posted by on Jul 1, 2014

Trimet is the Portland, Oregon metro area’s public transportation. I almost solely take public transportation and am heavily interested in the inner workings of the company, and so I’ve been keeping my eye on recent changes. One of the biggest changes Trimet has made lately has been moving towards a more mobile-friendly business model. This has involved the capability of buying fare using an app, as well as generally shifting towards easy, on-the-go information for smartphone-using riders.   The mobile ticketing app has encountered some issues since its inception, mainly malfunctions that lead to a user not being able to pull up a ticket. The app anecdotally drains phone batteries quickly when running in the background, and has other minor problems. However, the ticket machines placed at every MAX (that’s the lightrail) stop also suffer from malfunctions from time to time, preventing riders from purchasing tickets or stamping non-validated tickets. Ultimately, the move toward mobile ticketing is positive, as long as there are still options for non-smartphone users. Building a mobile application, especially one so large-scale, is tricky business.   Trimet’s focus on mobile has resulted in some changes and current fluctuation. A mere few months ago, if you were waiting at a stop, you could text the stop...

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