Google App Engine Video Overview

sxswDuring the SXSW conference in Austin this week, Google held an all day hackathon event. The idea behind the hackathon is to allow developers to create applications in one day and also get help from Google employees on applications they are developing.

I recorded the session that discussed Google App Engine and the video is below. You can also download all of the “code labs” which are simple tutorials on how to use a variety of Google APIs and services including Google App Engine.

Minor Bug in Buzz?

A few days ago, I opened the mobile version of Google Voice on my iPhone so I could send an SMS message. While I was there, I noticed that Buzz was available from the list of mobile apps I could utilize while logged in. I popped on over and checked it out. I posted a status message, checked some of the posts that had been made within my geographical area and found a couple of people to follow.

Later, I logged into my Google account on my home computer and headed on over to Buzz in my browser. I was confronted with a button that said “Try Buzz in Gmail.” I don’t have Gmail enabled in the Google account I normally use, but I decided to click the button and see where it took me anyway. As I suspected, I was eventually (after logging in again) taken to a page asking me to sign up for a Gmail account.

PDFmyURL – Convert Your Web Pages to PDF

Anyone who’s spent time looking for solutions to allow their Web site visitors to convert pages to PDF has most likely discovered that the majority of the tools available for doing so are lacking in one way or another. Trying to build one in PHP from scratch is an extremely daunting and unsatisfying task. Using a pre-built library in PHP always seems to carry with it some disappointment (most of the time related to either the CSS implementation or the usage of images on your pages) and using a hosted solution usually means long processing and waiting times or does not allow for any decent customization.

However, a new hosted resource has come onto the scene that seems to do an extremely effective job, allows for a great deal of customization and is fast and efficient. A team known as OpenTracker has put together a resource called PDFmyURL. On the surface, PDFmyURL looks like just another site that allows visitors to enter a URL and get a PDF of that page in return. Even in that task, PDFmyURL does a much better job than most of its competitors (there are a few other sites that claim to allow users to do that, but many of them require you to save the page in Microsoft’s packaged HTML format before you can convert the page). However, by clicking a small link on the PDFmyURL home page, you can expand a list of advanced options that show you some code you can place on your own Web site to seamlessly allow your visitors to convert your pages to PDF.

Firefox 3.6 Released

Firefox 3.6 was released today – the company notes a 20% speed improvement over version 3.5.  Apparently over 350 million users use Firefox as their browser of choice.

Here’s a list from Firefox of the new features in 3.6:

  • Personas: Personalize the look of your Firefox by selecting new themes called Personas in a single click and without a restart
  • Plugin Updater: To keep you safe from potential security vulnerabilities, Firefox will now detect out of date plugins
  • Stability improvements: Firefox 3.6 significantly decreased crashes caused by third party software – all without sacrificing our extensibility in any way
  • Form Complete: When filling out an online form, Firefox suggests information for fields based on your common answers in similar field
  • Performance: Improved JavaScript performance, overall browser responsiveness, and startup time
  • Open Video and Audio: With the world’s best implementation of HTML 5 audio and video support, now video can be displayed full screen and supports poster frames

And here’s an updates list from the developer side: 

  • Support for the latest HTML5 specification, including the File API for local file handling
  • Font Support: In addition to OpenType and TrueType fonts, 3.6 now supports the new Web Open Font Format WOFF)
  • CSS gradients: Supports linear and radial CSS gradients which allow for a smoother transition between colors
  • Device orientation: Firefox 3.6 exposes the orientation of the laptop or device to Web pages

WordPress 2.9.1 Released

WordPress has announced the release of WordPress 2.9.1 today. There were a bunch of major fixes and you can read the full list of changes here. Apparently some hosts weren’t able to properly handle the trackbacks and scheduled post changes in the overall 2.9 release.

You should be able to upgrade by selecting the Tools menu on the left side of the admin interface and then selecting Upgrade from the menu. If you have been using the beta release you should upgrade as well.

A New Alternative to TinyMCE

I came across a post on the Web Resources Depot today referring to a new (to me, at least) WYSIWYG editor similar to TinyMCE. However, this new editor, known as MooEditable, uses the MooTools javascript framework rather than implementing everything with its own libraries and frameworks. It appears to be lighter weight than the full TinyMCE package, but I’m not sure how it compares in functionality.

If you’ve tried MooEditable, please let me know what you think. What are your experiences? How does it stack up against TinyMCE?