SitePoint Podcast #124: The iPhone Snooty Voice

Episode 124 of The SitePoint Podcast is now available! This week the panel is made up of regular members Louis Simoneau (@rssaddict), Patrick O’Keefe (@ifroggy) and Stephan Segraves (@ssegraves). The panel discuss topics from Google’s new Page Speed service currently in beta to Apple’s IiPhone ruling the Mile High WiFi club.

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Episode Summary

Here are the topics covered in this episode:

Browse the full list of links referenced in the show at http://delicious.com/sitepointpodcast/124.

Host Spotlights

Interview Transcript

Louis: Hello and welcome to another episode of the SitePoint Podcast. We’re back with the panel show, not quite a full panel though, Brad is not with us this week, apparently there are heavy storms in his area so he’s got all his electronics shut off, which I guess is a very wise and cautious thing to do.

Patrick: Too cautious.

Louis: But we do have Patrick and Stephan, hi Patrick.

Patrick: Hey, Louis, good to have you back.

Louis: It’s good to be back. And hi, Stephan.

Stephan: How you doing, Louis?

Louis: I am doing awesome, it’s been good having a bit of a vacation, I was on the show last week, I did a bit of an interview, but it’s good to be back with the panel to talk about some news.

Patrick: I’m sure it was relaxing not to have to hear our voices every two weeks for a little while.

Louis: (Laughter) Ah, yeah, well.

Stephan: He’s like I don’t want to get into that.

Patrick: There’s no denying it, notice how he didn’t say oh that’s not true, he just, yeah, okay good.

Louis: No, seriously, it is really good to chat with you guys again. Kevin was on the show while I was away, that must have been fun as well.

Patrick: It was, yeah. Kevin Yank, one of the original four hosts on the first episode of the SitePoint Podcast was back as a guest host, and I believe Stephan was away for that one, right, Stephan?

Stephan: I was, yes, sadly.

Patrick: Yeah, so it was just me and Brad and Kevin, but it was a good time, it was good to have him back on for the first time since he left the show and brought us Louis.

Louis: Cool. Alright, so there are a couple of interesting stories we wanted to talk about this week, we were just talking about it a bit before the show, and we kind of zoned in on some of the same news this week. So, Patrick, do you want to just kick in to the first one?

Patrick: Sure. So the story that caught my eye this week was the Google Page Speed service announcement from, well, Google. And I found out about it on TechCrunch, MG Siegler reported on it, and basically what the service promises to do is first you give Google access to your website files by making a DNS change, Google then takes the files, fetches them from your server, rewrites the pages and applies web performance best practices, that’s their words, and then they serve them to your users from Google’s servers. Right now the service is free but it’s under a very limited testing period, you can request access but obviously it’s, like I said limited, and when they do go live with it, it will be something that you’ll pay for but they say that pricing will be competitive. So now it’s not just Google controlling the purse strings, right, your ad revenue, it’s not just them controlling your traffic or knowing where everyone on your website is with Google Analytics or countless other things, but now they actually want to host your website files and actually look at them all closely and rewrite them with Google’s best practices.

Louis: Yeah, it’s pretty out there. It almost sound like it would be one of those April Fool’s things if it wasn’t published on July 29th.

Patrick: It’s one of those July Fool’s things.

Louis: Yeah, apparently. They’ve done this sort of thing before, they had the mod page speed Apache module which sort of does a lot of this stuff that you can just install on your server, which sort of makes sense, I can see that, but then going out and making it an actual service where all your files are delivered through Google seems a little bit weird.

Patrick: But then who has faster servers than Google, right?

Louis: Yeah, I do see a point, and I see that if you’re a big company and you don’t want to get in there and start rewriting all your stuff and you just want it to go faster and pay someone else to make it go faster, I can definitely see the appeal of it.

Patrick: So, Stephan, are speed issues a problem with Badice.com.

Stephan: No, I don’t get that traffic; I’m not that big yet. But it’s a cool service, it sounds cool, but it doesn’t really explain to me if I’m running say WordPress, how is it going to take my WordPress and rewrite the WordPress code to be optimized? Is it essentially caching everything?

Louis: It’s not caching, my understanding is it’s the same idea as what they do with mod page speed which does a bunch of different things. For example, it will compress and combine all the JavaScript and CSS files, optimize images, it also does like there were some options in Mod Page Speed, remember we talked about it I think it was with Kevin on one of the first shows I was on; some of the stuff they do is crazy, they’ll omit unnecessary attributes, like when you have a checkbox disabled equals disabled, that second disabled isn’t actually necessary, and all browsers will render the same anyway, so you can just cut that out and make the files a little bit smaller. So there’s a lot of stuff like that, just rewriting the actual output in HTML, compressing, combining and optimizing the JavaScript in CSS.

Stephan: Hmm, okay, that sounds cool. It’d be neat to have it; it’d be neat to have it so that it’s spread out across multiple Google servers all over the world. If my website, Patrick, got that much traffic, then yes, I would use the service (laughs).

Patrick: Yeah, you kind of brought up the point I was thinking of. Is it possible for this sort of thing to break your website?

Louis: See, that’s a really good question, I don’t know. I think that you’d have to — I remember in the original release of Mod Page Speed again, I’m going to go back to that, they gave you the defaults which were the sensible things that it could do and it had no risk of breaking your site, and then you had some other options that you could turn on that were potentially riskier things; like compressing JavaScript in theory sounds fine, but sometimes you never know exactly — there’s a lot of moving parts on a big website, right?

Patrick: Right. I mean you could have a database driven website, it’s interfacing with the database, and obviously all the JavaScript, external JavaScript, Ad Network code, etcetera.

Louis: It’s hard to say exactly, I imagine that they’re probably being pretty conservative with what they’re doing in the service, and maybe they also give you a similar set of options as to what you want it to do. Yeah, it’s interesting, I mean I can see that, I don’t know, for me all this performance stuff is so important, and I think a lot of web developers are still at the point where we know it’s important but we don’t always do it right, you know. Like looking at Sitepoint.com, we’re a blog that’s all about — or a site that’s all about teaching web developers how to do the right thing, and when you look at the code there’s so many places that there could be optimizations, combining CSS files and all sorts of things to make it go faster, and it’s just not a priority because we’re busy rolling out new things and trying to develop new sites, and I think that’s probably the case for a lot of sites out there is that this optimization stuff kind of gets pushed back a little bit. And having the opportunity to just sort of pay some money up front and have it all go through Google is interesting.

Patrick: Yeah, and if you want to find out more about what it does or what it doesn’t do there’s a section of their documentation, Rewriters, that kind of goes through the different things that they do with CSS and images and JavaScript and other things, and it’s way above my head, but for anyone interested in that.

Louis: Yeah, it’s definitely worth checking out. I’m looking forward to seeing like once they’ve actually rolled it out as a service and they’re charging for it, I want to know what the pricing’s going to be, first of all; I imagine Google’s pretty clever with this kind of thing, they’re probably going to make it a pricing where people are going to want to use it.

Patrick: Yeah, maybe like is it going to be like an S3 type pricing perhaps?

Louis: Yeah, I imagine something like that, like a minimal charge per request and then for bandwidth and that’ll be it.

Patrick: Yeah. Is this kind of an inadvertent play at S3 in some way do you think?

Louis: Well, it’s hard to say, S3 is not very fast, see that’s the — if you’re serving images off S3, even with CloudFront, like I wouldn’t want to serve large files off of S3 if speed was a top concern, it’s great because it’s cheap but it wouldn’t be my primary go-to for serving files really quickly. It’s good because it’s targeting stuff that Google is good at and not trying to get into other people’s markets, right, because if you look at what Amazon is doing they’re doing a lot of stuff with regards to providing Cloud hosting and services for website owners, and Google rather than competing with that like, oh, we’re going to make an elastic Cloud compute, or whatever, they’ve gone and done something which is really more focused on what they’re good at which is this stuff, which is sort of in contrast with what they’ve been doing lately with Google Plus and Wave and Buzz and all that stuff.

Stephan: It’s just one more way Google’s taking over the Internet. Oh, man, I’m going to get some bad comments about that one.

Louis: (Laughs) but I mean it’s true, because this is taking it on to another level, right, you’re entrusting Google with the complete delivery of your website.

Stephan: Yeah, exactly.

Patrick: And if you view code as intellectual property, in the case of, I don’t know, maybe a web app or something, you’re giving Google access to your code if that means something to you. I don’t know that it really means something to most people who might be interested in this, but I think this is something where I mean let’s look at it from a startup perspective, right, so they have this website I mean versus using something like an S3 or something or just normal kind of web hosting; you’d only have to worry about necessarily writing the greatest code, just signup with Page Speed, it’ll rewrite some of the performance issues for you, maybe not all of them, but I’m not saying to write bad code, but –

Louis: Yeah, I don’t think it would actually help with any kind of backend inefficiencies like if you were doing inefficient database queries or anything like that, you’re still going to get hit by that; this is really just sort of front end optimization.

Patrick: Yes, right. No, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Which, hey, a lot of programmers aren’t necessarily that good with, right? (Laughs)

Louis: Yeah, exactly.

Patrick: But, yeah, it will be interesting to see if any startups start to use a service like this or we hear of one or two, I don’t know, it’s another business for Google to get into, and in some ways I feel like they’re getting more an more spread out, but I guess that’s part of being a conglomerate.

Louis: Yeah, for me I think it might play out more for your sort of established corporate sites that either don’t have the IT infrastructure or don’t have the expertise in-house to do this kind of optimization.

Patrick: Right.

Louis: For them, just paying some money to have their website suddenly go faster is going to be a no brainer.Alright, so that’s that, I had another story, although Stephan, did you have another story you wanted to bring?

Stephan: Yeah, I just got a real quick one. According to a new study, this was on All Things Digital, according to a new study Apple rules the mobile mile high club. Gogo, the in-flight Wi-Fi service, they released their numbers and Android devices make up about 12% of their users, and the iPod Touch accounts for 20% of handheld connections on their flights; the iPhone makes up about 2/3. So, it’s just interesting to me to see who’s using one in-flight Wi-Fi to begin with and what device they’re using to connect. They didn’t really talk about PC’s or Mac’s much or the iPad, that’s included in their computer numbers, but I just thought it was interesting, the Windows phones and the — I think it’s the Windows phone and there are a few others, they’re so small it’s not even — it’s negligible, and the Blackberry accounts for 6% of users. So, just interesting numbers I thought; do you guys use in-flight Wi-Fi?

Louis: We don’t even have in-flight Wi-Fi here, come on (laughter).

Patrick: I’m not sure, I may have been on like two planes that have it in my life, and it’s always pay to play, so I just can’t bring myself to pay $4.95 or $9.95 or $12.95, which is a Gogo non-mobile rate tiers, or even $4.95 or $7.95 which are their mobile tiers, to just go online for a couple hours; I have to shut it off when they order me to anyway, so it’s like I’m just going to sit here and stare at my non-Internet life for a few hours and save my nine bucks.

Louis: That brings up exactly the point that I was going to make, which is that I think that because this is pay to play that’s what’s skewing it, right, because we know that the actual usage numbers of iPhone and Android aren’t that skewed, so why would it be so different in-flight. And I think it’s because iPhone users are used to paying for stuff all the time (laughter), and the reason they have iPhones it’s like, hey, I got a lot of money, let’s buy an iPhone (laughter).

Stephan: That’s the funniest explanation I’ve heard.

Patrick: I like that voice, it’s like the iPhone snooty voice (laughter).

Louis: But, no, seriously I’m going to explain it to that because Android makes up more than 12% of Smartphones in the U.S. so what’s going to account for this skew in-flight, is it that Android users don’t even fly, that doesn’t even make any sense. So I’m going to go with Android users are like whatever, I’ve got Angry Birds, I’ll just play that, I don’t need to go online (laughter), $7.95, what are you kidding me?

Stephan: Well, and you have to remember too –

Louis: $3.00 for pretzels!

Stephan: For me flying is like my disconnect from the world. So, when I get on an airplane and they tell me to turn off my phone I’m kind of happy. So, the fact that I don’t have the Internet and I don’t have email coming in all the time, it’s kind of nice, so maybe a lot of these people are just like I don’t want to get an email while I’m flying around the country, so I’m not going to pay for it, why would I pay to get something that annoys me, sometimes. So, it’s just interesting, and they did actually, reading more of the article, they did actually release the computer numbers; Windows was 41% of all users and OS, MacOS was just under 20%.

Patrick: 40 and 20, what was the rest?

Stephan: Just I guess it could be Linux.

Louis: Large screens, so that’s total of large screens and that includes Tablets.

Stephan: So any Windows Tablets or even Android Tablets. So that’s interesting. So what you have is you have 41% of these iPhone users, you have 41% Windows folks who 2/3 of them use an iPhone, which is interesting, right, if we put the numbers together it would be interesting to see.

Louis: Well, it’s not necessarily people, right?

Stephan: True, true, it’s not; but it’s just interesting to see.

Patrick: Because they pay twice, I mean what kind of monopoly guy pays for the mobile access and the computer access, does he just have money falling off as he gets off the plane? (Laughter) Like I really need two devices connected on the plane!

Stephan: But, no, coming back to Louis’ point though, if there 41% of these are Windows users for the large screen then it’s rich people with Windows computers and rich iPhone users that pay for it (laughs).

Louis: Well, no, no, no, I think — I’m not sure, look at this, so in the large screens the iPad is more than 1/3 so it’s 30-some odd percent or whatever, Windows 41%, MacOS X 20%. If you compare that to the actual distribution in the wild, two Windows computers for every one Mac computer, that’s actually a skew in favor of the Mac, right?

Stephan: No, no, I agree, I’m just trying to be funny and it didn’t work.

Louis: Alright, okay. Alright, I’m sorry I killed your joke.

Stephan: I don’t want to get into a statistics argument with you, Louis (laughs).

Patrick: Louis is not amused!

Louis: (Laughs) I’m sorry, guys, I’m sorry.

Stephan: That’s okay, but that was my quick story.

Patrick: Well, that’s a nice mobile tie-in for the next story.

Louis: Cool. So the one I had is this article which was on — it was just on Tumblr, I found it I think via Hacker News, it’s a post on Tumblr by Nick Farina who is the co-founder of Meridian Apps and Spotlight Mobile, so they’re developing mobile apps, and he’s talking about the process of developing the Android version of their iOS, their sort of core iOS application which is Meridian which is a platform apparently for building location based apps, I hadn’t heard about it before today. Have either of you guys heard of this?

Stephan: Never have.

Patrick: Absolutely not.

Louis: Okay. Anyway, he’s just explaining that they’d been developing iOS and they went to develop the Android version of the application, they didn’t use a cross platform tool like Titanium or PhoneGap, which we’ve talked about before on the podcast, so they wrote it from scratch in Java as an Android application, and it’s just a really interesting well written article. I’d recommend if any listeners are in to sort of mobile development and they’ve been working with iOS before and they might be considering Android, anything like that, I’ve read stuff like before which just comes out as sort of rabid fan boys on one side or the other which is, “I tried developing Android and everything sucked,” or “I tried developing for the iPhone and everything sucked,” but this guy’s actually really just sort of explaining what his experience was like and his experience on the whole he says was pretty positive, you know, just really breaking down all the differences between the platforms but sort of saying this is what we learned working in Android, and it’s just a really nice breakdown, so recommended reading. I don’t know if there’s anything for us to talk about in this story.

Stephan: One thing I did see interesting was he has a piece of code that he compares the Objective C to the Java version and it’s amazing how close they are.

Louis: Yeah, yeah, I saw that, you sort of mouse over it to see the –

Stephan: Yeah, you mouse over it and it shows you the two different codes kind of just flipping back and forth. The syntax is different, of course, but the look and some of even the calls are very similar, and size-wise they’re pretty similar, so it’s interesting; he even says it’s freaky a little bit how close they are. I thought that was a little tidbit out of there I thought was kind of cool.

Louis: Yeah, it is cool. And one of the things that I think this sort of thing might do, and as Android becomes a little bit more mainstream, is sort of entice some of the people who started developing for iOS as soon as that hit, and haven’t looked at Android, to think about actually developing natively for it rather than maybe trying to use one of these cross platform tools, which can only be good for Android because we’ve had — I mean as an Android user I can say that there are still issues where the apps aren’t as polished as what you get on iPhone because I think a lot of developers jumped on iPhone when it came out and then haven’t been willing to make that extra jump to learn Android on top of that, so it might be good to see more developers coming across and learning both platforms.

Patrick: Okay, so I guess we’ve got a few promotional notes here on the SitePoint Podcast, the first one and the less important one is that I have some upcoming speaking engagements that I’ll be at, and if you are in any of these areas I’d love to see you at the conference and meet you, so please let me know in the comments on this podcast. I will be in Atlanta on August 26th for Social Media Masters Atlanta, I’ll be in Los Angeles September 9th for Social Media Masters Los Angeles, and I will be in Kansas City October 21st for Social Media Masters Kansas City, and for all of those dates and tickets you can visit Socialmediamasters.com; I’m going to talk about online community building. And the final conference is in Raleigh North Carolina on November 19th, it’s IndieConf, Indieconf.com, it is the conference for web freelancers, so if you’re looking to grow your business, get more clients or even handle the financial stuff and the business stuff, it’s a great event to check out. And, again, if you’re going to be at any of those events or in the area please let me know. Louis, what’s the more important note?

Louis: The more important note (laughs), it’s not more important, it’s an equally important note, let’s be fair, is that yet again this year the SitePoint Podcast is honored with a nomination in the .net Magazine Awards, yay us!

Patrick: Excellent, tank you for the nominations, everyone.

Louis: Absolutely. And so what we’d like listeners to do is to go and vote for us which would be great. So if you go to thenetawards.com you can go and cast your vote for SitePoint Podcast, and there are a bunch of other cool categories as well, so head over there and check it out because you can vote for the Redesign of the Year or Best API Use of the Year or Open Source App of the Year, all that kind of stuff, so if you get off on voting on cool things then do it.

Patrick: Yeah, and if you’ve nominated us already we want more from you, we want more, much more; we need your votes, we need your money (laughter), but start by going to thenetawards.com and voting in the fourth category, Podcast of the Year. If you want to vote in those other categories that’s fine, but just don’t forget that one category, it’s very fierce competition, I, myself, am very scared, but hopefully with the support of our listeners we’ll be able to make it to the next round, yes, there are three rounds to the .net Awards.

Louis: Yep. Awesome, so thanks for your votes everybody! It’s spotlight time?

Stephan: I believe it is.

Patrick: My host spotlight is, well, first 90’s Nickelodeon. (Laughter) You guys a fan?

Louis: Alright, I can see where you’re going with this.

Patrick: Okay, Louis, where were you — what was your TV as a child, was it Nickelodeon, did you have any of that?

Louis: I don’t even know if we had Nickelodeon; I grew up in Canada and Canada was weird. I can’t even remember really.

Patrick: Stephan?

Stephan: Yeah?

Patrick: Did you watch 90’s Nickelodeon TV? Am I the only one out of the three of us?

Stephan: Yeah, no, I was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles guy.

Patrick: (Laughs) Okay, I liked them too, but 90’s Nickelodeon, so there’s so many great shows from that era, and it’s taken on a life of it’s own online that is bringing them back to television, so you’ve got shows like Doug and Keenan and Kel and All that!, and Rugrats and The Adventures of Pete and Pete, so on and so forth, and there are so many shows and they have Facebook pages, fan sites, dedicated to bringing these shows back to television Well, now after years and years and that interest continually growing, Nickelodeon has decided to bring back a number of those shows to the Teen Nick lineup at 12:00 am midnight to 3:00 a.m., I believe it’s on the weekdays as well, and it just started up, it’s been going now for about a week or so, but there’s a story in the New York Times about it and about the, you know, it’s kind of the online effort that drove it to where finally Nickelodeon is saying there’s a lot of people interested in that, a lot of these people that were younger then are now adults, like myself, and we can definitely cater to those people, so it’s interesting to see that first, of course, as a fan myself, but also the Internet driving some programming decisions here, not the first time we’ve seen it, but certainly maybe the first meaningful time for me (laughs).

Louis: So we can get Nickelodeon back but we can’t get Firefly back, is that what you’re telling me?

Patrick: See, that’s where we’re talking about the different tastes, I don’t know anything about Firefly, that’s your area, work on that.

Louis: Alright, alright. I will, maybe –

Patrick: Get to work! I’ve heard you have programming skills.

Louis: (Laughs) Awesome, thanks, Patrick. My spotlight for this week is a JavaScript plugin called Chosen which is developed by the guys at Harvest which is, I’m not sure if you guys are familiar with Harvest, it’s a time tracking web app. So, what it is, it’s either a jQuery or Prototype plugin, it’s available for both libraries, and what it does is turns your select boxes into really, really slick usable boxes with built-in search windows and multiple select, they’re really, really, really slick, and I would definitely consider using this anytime I needed to use a select box on a web page because they’re really, really pretty.

Stephan: That’s pretty nice, I like it. That’s cool.

Louis: Yeah, did you see the multiple select at the bottom where you can just sort of — it adds them in and you can just delete? Anyway, it’s gorgeous.

Stephan: It’s really well done, I like this a lot, that’s cool.

Louis: So this is at Harvesthq.github.com/chosen.

Stephan: Alright, mine’s kind of a goofy spotlight.

Louis: Is it goofier than Patrick’s?

Stephan: It’s goofy, yes, be prepared. It’s a documentary called My Other Me, and it’s about Cosplayers, which I’m not really into the lingo and I’m probably butchering what it is, but the way I understand it is it’s costume playing, dress up; you see a lot of them, a lot of these people at anime festivals and things, they dress up as a character, but it’s a documentary about that and I think the name is genius, My Other Me, it’s awesome. So the teaser for it looks great and they’re actually looking for some extra funding, so the website’s Myotherme.ca.

Louis: So they’re actually producing the thing at the moment, you’re not linking us to the documentary but –

Stephan: No, it’s to a teaser for it and the website, they’re prepping for it; they’re getting ready to produce it.

Louis: Ah, very cool.

Patrick: Put it together, I think they’ve already done the recording, now it’s just editing it, producing it, getting it out there. They have a goal on Indiegogo.com of $3,000.00, and right now they have raised $935.00.

Louis: Alright, well maybe we can give them a bit of a SitePoint Podcast bump as well.

Stephan: Agreed.

Patrick: Here’s an extra ten dollars, enjoy it. (Laughter)

Louis: Awesome, that looks really cool. Alright, well that’s a wrap for this week; do you guys want to go around the table? We don’t really have a table; I don’t even know why we say that.

Stephan: We have three tables.

Patrick: We have a figurative table we sit around, yes. And I am Patrick O’Keefe of the iFroggy Network, iFroggy.com, on Twitter @ifroggy, i-f-r-o-g-g-y.

Stephan: I’m Stephan Segraves, you can find me on Twitter @ssegraves, and I blog occasionally at Badice.com.

Patrick: Very occasionally.

Louis: (Laughs) You can find SitePoint on Twitter @Sitepointdotcom, that’s SitePoint d-o-t-c-o-m. I’m Louis Simoneau, you can find me @rssaddict on Twitter, and you can go to Sitepoint.com/podcast to leave a comment on this episode or find any of our previous episodes to download, and thanks for listening!

Theme music by Mike Mella.

Thanks for listening! Feel free to let us know how we’re doing, or to continue the discussion, using the comments field below.

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  • http://www.ruhnufoorum.com Klamber|ext.

    Fregin love this podcast! :D Here i was playing it as a background for my designresearch and was searching for plugin or css to make my selectboxes a little more “Chuck Norris” and here it is.. :D
    And it’s not the first time..
    Host spotlight is a really cool part of the podcast.

    Thank for that awesome show and
    keep up the good work!

    - Klamber|ext.