Monthly Archives: June 2007

Apple’s Rich Internet Application Platform Play (or maybe not)

At the Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) today, Apple made a few very interesting announcements. First, their Safari web browser is now available on windows. Second, developers can create small widgety apps for the iPhone in the same way they can build small widgety apps for the Mac desktop using XML, HTML & Javascript.

What no one seems to be mentioning yet is the connection between the two. You see, mac desktop widgets basically run in Safari. If Safari runs on windows now, it’s a small step to offer widgets. If Apple makes that step then the same rich mini-applications can run on Windows, the Mac, and the iPhone. Apple will be distributing Safari as part of a bundle with iTunes, which suggests that they have big plans for Safari.

Update: Also worth mentioning, WebKit, which is the core HTML and Javascript engine on which Safari is based, is open source (and derived from software in the open source KDE project). Furthermore, Nokia has already used WebKit on some of it’s mobile devices.

Of course, I have no idea what it really means, but it suggests that Apple is providing weight to creating rich internet apps based on existing widely adopted open standards, This is in contrast to Adobe with whatever they are calling Apollo now, which seeks to leverage their Flash product, and Microsoft with Silverlight, which while open in some ways, involves a lot of Microsoft-isms.

Another Update: I misunderstood the initial announcement. The iPhone will have safari, but it won’t support widgets. Disappointing and lame. I hope it’s not a permanent condition.

The Unfortunate Paris Hilton

I have long viewed Paris Hilton as waste of skin. I regret the synapses in my brain that register her existance. I alternate between pity and disgust to see her now (or ever) as she goes to jail over and over.

Like so many celebrities, she is a human sacrifice. The sacrificial virgin with the stolen sex tape. Bloodless blood sport. May her tears bring the rains and the grains, may her cries call the beasts to bloody ambush, may she wither so that our children grow strong.

Webhosting with and Webfaction

A few months ago I wrote about shopping for a new webhost that would let me run Django and other python apps. Pair, my long time web host has been great, but they are pretty conservative in what they support, and python and ruby frameworks that need long running processes, like Django and Rails aren’t something they allow on shared hosting.

I ended up signing up for the basic account at Webfaction, and I’ll be running a couple of feed aggregating “planets” on it soon, and I have a learning project or two that I’ll also host there. In the long run though, I may end up moving our blogs there, and maybe even our e-mail. I haven’t done anything very challenging there, but so far, so good.

Of course, Pair isn’t holding still. Every year, they increase the bandwidth and storage allotments, though the price of the advanced account, which is the cheapest account that will run dynamic applications, never drops. Last winter they added additional options for domain hosting. There used to be a $1/month fee for each separate domain you hosted, though with the advantage that that domain had a unique static IP. Now you can host multiple domains on a single IP without a recurring charge.

They’ve also rolled out a new brand called Pair Lite. There is only one plan, and it’s about half the price of Pair’s Advanced account. For that price you can run PHP apps, get 5 mySQL databases, shared IP hosting for 10 domains, and enough bandwidth and storage for most hobbiest sites. This gives pair an offering at about the same price point as bargain hosters Dreamhost or a specialized host like Webfaction, but you still don’t get what you need to run Django or Rails apps.

It’ll be interesting to see what the future brings though. Pair is using the new service as an opportunity to deploy more modern software, like MySQL 5, PHP5, and Apache2, instead of MySQL 4.1, Apache 1.3 and PHP4. One issue is that the Pair Lite plan offers no real upgrade path. They suggest you should move up to one of their traditional plans, but that’s not going to be a real option for anyone who needs PHP5 and MySQL5 until they migrate their traditional hosting to the newer versions.

Note: Some people have been running Django as a CGI app, but something about that approach feels icky, so I’m not going to do it, but here are some links on how to go about it.