SitePoint Podcast #128: My Least Favorite 10 Year Old

Episode 128 of The SitePoint Podcast is now available! This week the panel is made up of Louis Simoneau (@rssaddict), Brad Williams (@williamsba) and Patrick O’Keefe (@ifroggy).

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Browse the full list of links referenced in the show at http://delicious.com/sitepointpodcast/128.

Host Spotlights

Interview Transcript

Louis: Hello and welcome to yet another episode of the SitePoint Podcast, we’re back with a panel show this week, three out of four ain’t bad, we’ve got Brad and Patrick with us today, hi guys.

Brad: Hey, hey, hey!

Patrick: Hey, Louis!

Louis: So Stephan couldn’t make it today but we will power on ahead nonetheless.

Patrick: Absolutely.

Brad: Let’s do it.

Louis: How you guys been doing?

Patrick: Irene came for us but we’re still here.

Brad: We survived.

Louis: (Laughs) Good to hear, good to hear.

Patrick: Yeah, the hurricane actually hit the — where I live, I mean it was hilarious because I was down in Atlanta for a conference but I was tracking the storm, my family is here as well, they had evacuated. And as it got closer the center line of the storm was actually literally right where I live (laughs), so that’s how I would introduce myself to people at the conference, “Where are you from?” “Well, if you pull up the storm tracker that’s where I live!” (Laughter).

Louis: I’m right in the eye.

Patrick: I’m not kidding, I actually pulled it up on my laptop for some people just to point it out because, yeah, it hit us right on probably at its strongest, but, we are thankfully a little off the water, so we are in good shape here, some others were not as fortunate, but we’re okay here and I came back to a house, which I’m happy about.

Louis: Yeah, you would be.

Patrick: (Laughs) And it fizzled out by the time it reached Brad, right, you didn’t get that much.

Brad: Yeah, it wasn’t — it was still a hurricane but certainly much less severe at that point, so just a really strong storm, but no damage so we made it.

Patrick: WordCamp Philly is still on.

Brad: Still on.

Patrick: Excellent.

Louis: Awesome. Well, let’s kick right into the new from the past few weeks, has anyone got a story they want to kick us off with?

Brad: Yeah, I’ll kick it off, we actually have somewhat of a birthday to celebrate, and it’s a pretty big milestone, I’m sure –

Louis: Oh, boy.

Brad: Well, I’m sure some people might celebrate, some may not, but the birthday is — the big birthday boy is Internet Explorer 6, everyone’s favorite browser turned the big 10 on August 27th, it was released August 27, 2001 if you can believe that. You always hear IE6, you know how we work with it all the time and everybody hates it, blah, blah, blah, but when you put it in perspective of it actually came out 10 years ago it really kind of makes you feel old I guess (laughs); has it really been 10 years? Sure enough it has.

Patrick: Yeah, and the last few years haven’t been kind to IE6, and I think that kind of jades our memories maybe, and when I say last few years I mean maybe the last five, six.

Louis: (Laughs) The last nine!

Patrick: No, not the last nine, see that’s the jaded memory I’m talking about.

Brad: Starting in 2002.

Patrick: Yeah, IE6 is kind of like that friend from school who was real fun, right, at the start, knew him for a while, he was a great guy, you liked hanging out with him but he never changed, you know, he never grew and got more mature as you did. So, he’s still the same guy and you don’t want to hang out with him anymore (laughter).

Louis: That’s a good analogy, I like that.

Brad: Yeah, and actually Craig Buckler has a great article or blog post on SitePoint about it, and he’s quick to point that out as well, like it’s certainly easy to bash and I’ve done my fair share of it, especially on this podcast, but looking back when it actually first came out it really was a revolutionary browser, it introduced some great things like DOM level 1, XML API, some CSS improvements, and it was a sleek and fast interface back then just like Craig says, you know, looking at it now obviously it’s clunky and horrible, but 10 years ago the Web’s evolved quite a bit. So, when it first came out it was the browser, 95% of the Web users were using Internet Explorer in some version, so it certainly helped shape the Internet and especially from the web development standpoint and from the user standpoint I guess, so I think we should pay our respects for Internet Explorer.

Louis: Absolutely. It’s still — I have to say, though, it’s still my least favorite 10 year old.

Brad: Are there any other 10 year old browsers? I was trying to think if there’s any that, outside of being upgraded, are there any other actively used browsers that have gotten anywhere near the 10 year mark, I can’t think of any.

Louis: I don’t think so. Do we know when Firefox 1 was released?

Brad: Not off the top of my head but I’m sure we can pull it up.

Patrick: No one’s going to celebrate that.

Louis: Firefox 1.0 was released on November 9, 2004, so not for another three years we’ll be seeing the 10th birthday of Mozilla Firefox.

Brad: And that’s, to put it in perspective, that’s if people are still using Firefox 1 (laughter), so we’re not looking at the current version because there’s obviously newer versions of Internet Explorer, so if in another three years there’s still some Firefox 1.0 users then, um.

Louis: You guys got a lot of Firefox 1.0 in your analytics?

Brad: (Laughs) I can’t say I’ve seen that in a long time. I’m sure it’s still out there, though.

Patrick: Yeah, speaking of active use, I was just pulling up the stat counter, Global Stats, the stat counter in Global Stats only go as far back as July 2008, but at that time, July 2008, IE6 was at 28.36% of global browser market share period, second at that point just to ie7 at 40.08. Now, roughly, what is it, three years, yeah, three years later just about, ie8, or IE6 I should say, is at 3.09% in August of 2011, so a drop of 25% and now of course it’s no longer second, but, yeah, it’s just three years it was still over a quarter of the market.

Brad: I didn’t realize it was that high back in 2008, so yeah, over a quarter of the market three years ago, that’s mindboggling. I’m just glad it’s about to dip under 3%, and hopefully this is the last birthday we’ll be celebrating for IE6.

Patrick: Long live IE6, it’s good for our podcast (laughter).

Louis: Yeah, we’ve really latched on to this story.

Patrick: We milked IE6 (laughter), we should be celebrating like nobody else.

Louis: For sure. So talking about statistics, and I guess analytics indirectly, Patrick, you had a story about this?

Patrick: Yeah, so TechCrunch’s MG Siegler wrote a story provocatively titled, as is the TechCrunch style, “If You Site Compete or Alexa for Anything Besides Making Fun of Them, You’re a Moron,” Compete being Compete.com. And basically he was visiting Quora and there was a question about how TechCrunch’s traffic was affected by there recent drastic redesign that launched in July of this year, just last month. And people were pointing to stats from Alexa and Compete to try to get an idea of where the traffic was, and I guess both services, Compete is cited in this post, showed that they had dropped substantially. MG says that if you flip them around so that it’s actually recent to the past and it shows a gain that’s more accurate, that they are having their best month ever, that last year was their best month ever, that they’re going to break that again this month, and so on and so forth. So, to them their traffic is up, up, up, up, up, yet Compete and I guess Alexa as well just show down, down, down. So, I guess his point here is that they can’t be trusted for accurate measurement, and I think we’ve kind of known that about Alexa for a while, I guess Compete is maybe I thought a little better, but still I guess not that good. So my question is, is it possible to have an accurate analytics measurement tool site, whatever you want to term it, for the general Web? I mean obviously there’s ComScore, but ComScore requires a little bit of money, and they don’t simply measure everyone and make it publicly available like Compete and Alexa do. Can these numbers ever be paid attention to? Will there ever be accurate numbers or is it always going to be about the directly measured analytics?

Louis: That’s a really good question, it’s kind of interesting. So, I’m not terribly familiar with how Alexa and Compete gather their statistics, are you guys familiar with what their — how they go about getting this stuff? I would have guessed that it’s data from ISP’s maybe, but –

Patrick: Yeah, I think I just got the Compete information, now I’m just looking for Alexa.

Louis: Okay, how do they do it?

Brad: I’m on TechCrunch about it.

Louis: Alexa calculates its rankings through data collects from toolbar users, that’s ridiculous.

Patrick: It was like that previously, I know that people who install the toolbar, so that’s why a lot of SEO’s, at least back in the day, would have the Alexa toolbar installed. I never did that and if you search you’ll find tons of complaints and comments about it in forums and in the SitePoint forums talking about how if you just get some people to install the Alexa toolbar you can supposedly drive your numbers up, so I guess that’s still the case there. With Compete they say — there’s an answer on their site to the question “How does Compete estimate site traffic?” “Compete’s experts in the fields of mathematics and the fields of data sciences have developed a proprietary method to aggregate, normalize and project the data to estimated U.S. Internet activity based on the daily Web usage of more than two million members in the Compete community, Compete estimates total traffic, rank and other statistics in the top one million sites on the Web for use by consumers. More detail and granular metric studies are done for clients on any relevant site.” So I guess there are a panel of two million people, and then they use that two million to estimate U.S. traffic as a whole, not unlike the Nielsen TV ratings where a small number of people have the boxes at home and then they use that to forecast what the country watches on TV as a whole.

Louis: So I have to say first like this strikes me as absolutely ludicrous, like how can a company make money doing this? First of all, okay, I know a lot of Internet users, do you know anyone who’s like a Compete member and uses the Compete toolbar?

Patrick: I don’t know anyone specifically that knows — that is part of this member panel. Then again I also don’t know anybody off the top of my head that uses an Alexa bar.

Brad: No.

Louis: So they could be fictitious, first of all.

Patrick: They could be made up, sure (laughs). That’s assuming worst faith.

Louis: Yeah, I’m very skeptical to start with. But, okay, let’s go beyond that, though, let’s take it a step further. They’re saying two million people, how many people are on the Internet at the moment?

Patrick: Well, they say Facebook has 750 million members they just crossed, so that’s a good starting point, then add to that.

Louis: Right. So, what, safe estimate maybe two billion people on the Internet, which means their sample size is .1%, and it’s only in the U.S., see that’s the thing.

Patrick: So what would be the error rate?

Louis: Obviously their stuff would be skewed, because if they’re analyzing U.S. usage, as a fraction of the total Internet, U.S. traffic has been declining in percentage-wise for years now, so you’re going to see this — you know, they’re ignoring the rest of the world in terms of Internet traffic, and that’s where the majority of Internet traffic is now.

Patrick: Right. It’s difficult to — yeah, obviously difficult to forecast. I mean what is the error rate on 1% (laughs), you know, I don’t remember this, it’s got to be a wide margin.

Brad: Like your said Patrick, the only way I think you could really have even more accurate stats, or I should accurate stats in this case, without actually installing something on the site to do the tracking, if you’re trying to do it through a third party, would be at the ISP level, I mean that’s really the only way you’re going to get anything that’s more than just an estimate or a guess, just like you said, .1% is what they’re going off of, who knows how spread out that is. Is that techies, is that stay-at-home moms, is that carpenters, who knows what it is; I would hope it’s a good mix of everybody but that would be extremely hard to do.

Patrick: Yeah, if they — I mean if they — and let’s keep in mind it’s U.S. traffic only, right, so it’s not global traffic, but still, if they got the biggest ISP’s in the country together they could do something. Siegler mentions in his post that Quantcast is a little better but they still have their own issues, and off the top of my head I’m not familiar with what those issues are. But one of the reasons Quantcast may be better is because it does allow you to directly measure your stats and include it on your website to report publicly. Now, of course, that can be abused in certain ways, but I would tend to believe that they would be more accurate than just estimating.

Brad: We’ve talked about this before, it’s hard to get accurate stats even when you’re installing tracking code on your site, I mean matching up stats between Google Analytics and some other tracking package, they never add up ever, you know, there’s always differences, and that’s when you’re actually putting the code on your site to do the tracking, so really can you even have accurate analytics when you want them on your own site.

Patrick: Yeah, and one of the issues I guess that Quantcast has, at least in this article that he linked to from January of 2010, is that they found cases where — or this is Comcast CMO at the time speaking, that “Where the Quantcast beacons,” her words, “fire up seven times from a single page.” So, that would imply to me that it might count one page as seven, but maybe they’ve got that sorted out. But the fact remains that these public forecasting tools it doesn’t seem they can be trusted, but the bad thing is that people do rely on them, like I’ve had people who sell advertising tell me that these numbers do mean some things to certain people, so, you’d like to fully disregard them but I don’t know if you can. I know SitePoint has long cited the Alexa rank of being a top 1000 website on their about page, and I would assume in their media kits, for a very long time, so I mean if you have a good number it’s worth citing it I suppose.

Louis: Yeah. It’s interesting. I mean obviously I think it makes more sense, I understand people don’t want to disclose their traffic information all the time, but I think it does make more sense to specifically talk about your traffic information if you’re trying to either sell your site to advertisers or straight up sell your site.

Patrick: Right.

Louis: It just seems like it’s a lot more sensible to talk about real numbers than about sort of this weird rank that takes into account this tiny subset of very geographically restricted traffic and tries to extrapolate some sort of rank on that.

Brad: Unless it says you’re getting twice as much traffic as you really are (laughter).

Patrick: Right.

Brad: Then in that case you probably would want to use it.

Patrick: Then that would be bad for the advertisers.

Louis: (Laughs)

Patrick: I think what might happen, this is just speculating, is that some people might look at it as impartial, right, and the numbers that you get from the webmaster or the ad seller for that website or that publisher is their numbers internally that they’re sharing with you, and there might be a level of bias there where there’s this presumptive non-bias with a third party service, but it could just bias in a different way, in an inaccurate way either up or down. So, I guess the bottom line is there’s just not anything out there right now that can be, you know, everything has to be vetted, there’s just not a service out there from a third party that you can wholeheartedly trust at this time. There are estimates and there are certain sites that may seem better than others, but at the end of the day the best way to figure out the traffic is just to buy an ad, I guess, for 30 days and see how much you get.

Louis: (Laughs) I guess that’s true. I mean on Flippa.com where I’m developing now we have a due diligence page for website auctions, and some of the data that we include in there is Compete and Alexa data just because people want to see it when they’re considering buying a website, so we aggregate it there, but I guess it is worth thinking about or at least providing information for people about how seriously can you take some of this information.

Patrick: Yeah, you can put a little question mark icon there, click on that! What does it tell you; don’t trust this ad at all! No, I’m just kidding.

Louis: Well, at that point you may as well not be showing it, right, I mean.

Patrick: Yeah, no, I don’t know, some say it’s useful for trending.

Louis: And I think possibly comparatively as well, like if you’re comparing two different websites and you want to see which one of them is the most trafficked then you can compare their respective Alexa ranks, but maybe it’s, I don’t know, if there are people out there who have experience like TechCrunch have described where you’ve got your analytics telling you one thing, and your Alexa rank or your Compete rank telling you something completely different we’d love to hear from you in the comments, and we’ll bring it up in a further show if there’s a lot of examples of people having the same experience.
&nbsp One of the things I wanted to talk about this week was a blog post on Boag World by Paul Boag which got a little bit of buzz in the Twitter sphere, at least the people I follow, and in the web design arena, the title of the post is “Are Media Queries the Answer to the Fold?” So this ties into a couple of sort of perennial design questions, and one more recent technology. So the fold, if you’ve ever had to interact with the marketing manager if you’re a designer you’ll know that this concept of the fold in a web page is the bit that appears above the — or the bit that you don’t have to scroll to see, and everyone thinks that the most important content on your website has to be above the fold because otherwise people will never see it because they don’t scroll. So this blog post was a description of some techniques that Paul’s, the agency Paul works for, Headscape, has used to sort of adapt websites based on CSS media queries so that if you’re viewing the web page in a very short, I’m not talking about the width of the website but the actual height, so if the height is very low, like if you’ve got a screen that doesn’t have a lot of vertical resolution, the layout will adapt so that the most important information will still be above the fold, but if you’ve got more space then it will make the, you know, the feature spot bigger with bigger images because it knows it’s got more room. So this is really interesting because there’s been all this talk about responsive web design, and you know I’ve talked about it with Jeremy Keith when he was on the show, and it’s really a hot topic in web design now, and seeing as it matures people are starting to use it for different purposes.

Patrick: Yeah, I like how Paul doesn’t simply disregard the idea of the fold, you know, while he talks about the issue of designers saying there is no fold, there is no fold, I think it’s fairly clear there is, and at least if we want to change the name of it there’s an area of the page that is more likely to receive attention, right, it is the first area that comes up (laughter), you know, that — it’s good to have some statistics that he cites here from Jacob Nielson, but, I think it’s a reasonable conclusion to come to either way, so I think this is great. And I think that the propagation of additional devices, especially for web browsing, has led to a revolution in billable hours for web designers (laughter), because now you don’t just get one design, you get to design four or five different layouts! No, I’m just kidding. It makes perfect sense and this is a great implementation of the idea, so I think this is definitely a great thing and we’re going to see this more and more, especially you know mobile is already huge but it’s only going to continue to get bigger.

Brad: Yeah, it’s really — I mean it’s, going back to what you said, Patrick, you know as developers and designers now a lot of us are building multiple templates, you know you have your regular site then you have your mobile, you know, your mobile theme or template design; a lot of people are going to iPads and getting Tablet designs, so I honestly could see this as being, you know, responsive design, and I’ve heard a lot about it too in the last year or two, it’s certainly one of the hot topics, like you said. I mean I can see this as essentially replacing the need for that mobile development, I mean if it says, hey, you’re on a screen that’s x-by-x and it’s a mobile device and your design automatically fits and works into that and readjusts as it needs to for that size, then that is your mobile site, you know, there’s no additional separate site or separate design layer needed, that becomes your mobile site. So I mean I think this is a great thing, I’m really excited to see a lot more websites utilize this.

Patrick: That’s a great point actually; maybe it won’t be more billable hours, maybe I’m just a cynical fool. I think that’s a good point that you won’t have to develop mobile sites as much, and I could definitely see, Brad, opening the closet where you keep your designers and yelling, “What did I tell you guys, responsive design!” “Responsive design, do it!”

Brad: I’m going to check this on my iPhone. It actually, um, going back to we talked about this being extremely popular now and a buzzword, it is, because actually even in WordPress 3.3 one of the ideas that they’re working on is making the dashboard responsive so that you could login to a WordPress dashboard from any device and it will still be usable, whether it’s something as small as an iPhone or something as big as a 50 inch screen, you know it would adapt to the size of that screen and make it usable, so it would — you know they have all these different apps for WordPress right now, but essentially I mean I’m assuming they will still have those apps but it would make it where you wouldn’t have to use one of those apps, you could just login right from your phone.

Louis: Yeah, that’s a great idea. There’s a lot of really fantastic responsive designs, I don’t know if you guys saw this, I interviewed Chris Coyier from CSS-Tricks on the show last week, and if you pop open the redesign of CSS-Tricks in the browser and resize it a little bit it’s really amazing the amount of flexibility that the design has as you resize the browser.

Patrick: Holy Mackerel, it floats!

Louis: You know, so the search box is in a different position and then you get this one-column narrow design, it’s really, really impressive the kind of stuff you can do.

Brad: It is slick.

Louis: But, what I was interested in, in Paul’s article, was that he takes it a step further and it’s not just about the width of the device but also about the height, so, you know, there’s a lot of different laptops out there, especially your widescreen PC laptops that have a decent amount of horizontal space but not a lot of vertical space, and that, for example, Netbook’s are another good example of that where a lot of times you’ve got over 1000 pixels wide, so that’s plenty of room to show most website layouts but very little horizontal space, and if you wanted to try and put that key information on the page without scrolling then you can play around with media queries for that.

Patrick: Wow, this CSS-Tricks design is ridiculous.

Louis: I know it’s insane isn’t it? (Laughs)

Brad: It’s really good, that’s great, it’s a great example of it, I mean because it looks like there’s about three different layouts if I saw right, it may be four.

Louis: I think there’s three main ones, so there’s one with the search bar in the top left, and then a medium one with the search bar in the right, oh no, there’s four because then the dates of the posts are either popped out on the left.

Patrick: An exponential number of differences (laughs), no, I don’t know; every time I move something changes.

Louis: (Laughs)

Patrick: And I assume this is Chris at the bottom here when you mouse over his head, I don’t know if you caught that in the footer, and he pops up drinking an adult beverage I believe that is.

Louis: Yeah, I did see that (laughs), yep. There’s a lot of cool Easter eggs in this design, I’ve been looking at it for the whole week since I interviewed him like, wow, this thing’s awesome!

Patrick: His time on page per visit has to be pretty good.

Louis: (Laughs) You’d imagine so, yeah.

Brad: I was just playing with his tricks.

Louis: Like dragging the browser size around. The other thing that caught my eye this past week was an article on Smashing Magazine by Luke Wroblewski, and I know I’m going to pronounce that wrong, but he must be used to it; he goes by @LukeW on Twitter. So it’s about the UI of form design, I know this is a topic that a lot of people might think has been done to death, but this article really does bring in some interesting points, and it’s specifically about the login form. And the login form is something that when you’re designing an application or website you might tend to overlook, you know you figure you’ve got a username field, the password field and a link to remember your password, that’s all you need to know, but he cites some statistics from user interface engineering analysis, and they did analysis of a major online retail and found that 45% of all customers had multiple registrations in the system, 160,000 people request their password by email everyday, and 75% of the people who did request their password by email never completed the purchase they started once the requested their password.

Patrick: Wow.

Louis: So there’s definitely reason to be paying attention to this. And then he gives a bunch of really cool examples of ways that people who’ve played around with interesting login forms. So one of them is from Gowalla, have you guys seen this particular form?

Patrick: I have now.

Brad: Not till now, yeah, I’m FourSquare.

Louis: Yeah, I’m a FourSquare user as well. But on Gowalla, so if you try and signup with a username and an incorrect password it’ll show you an error message, “Oops, you entered an invalid username and password, try again,” but then below that it shows you the avatar of the username you entered, it says “You’re trying to login to Gowalla as,” whatever, “as Louis,” and then it’s got a button, “This isn’t me” or “I don’t know my password,” so it gives you that feedback of like, oh wait, was this — am I using the wrong username or did I just get my password wrong, so that’s an interesting one. Another example is from Quora he gives where when you start typing in an email address once you tab to the next field it will say “No account found for this email address” if it’s not an email that exists on that site. So just this kind of feedback that can help people avoid those mistakes, because it happens to me, you know you’ve four or five different email addresses and then some places ask you for a username rather than an email address, so when you get to the site you just try one, and you might even have the right password but because you’ve got the wrong email address you can’t login.

Brad: Yeah, that’s a good point with the email and the username, like I would really love to see usernames just go away altogether, I mean most sites are doing that now, typically it says username/email or just email altogether, I mean email is unique, so I think trying to remember usernames, and sure, typically everyone has a username that they can remember, but sometimes you hit a site and your username is taken so then you got to go to your backup, or maybe your backup backup, and then once you start doing that you’re going to easily forget what your username is, so I absolutely love the sites that just stick with email, it’s simple, it’s easy, and I would bet if they did — you know, if they compared sites that forced you to use your username versus an email they would probably see more people having login issues on the sites requiring the username versus email.

Patrick: I’m not sure how I feel about this because on one hand it is definitely helpful, it’s definitely helpful, but, I feel like I need to point out the creeper factor here, or, I don’t know, maybe a slight privacy issue where this may be good on some sites, but I’m not sure that it makes sense to have a searchable list of your user bases names in the username field or email field, or whatever, for a lot of sites. And speaking of the email, the validation of whether or not this account exists with an email, I don’t know; if there’s an opportunity there to give away email addresses that people would not otherwise have out there, and also a lot of accounts that get “hacked” are hacked through the email address associated with the account. And I’m not saying that’s the website’s fault, like I’m not saying that’s Quora’s fault, but, I’m just saying that it happens; it happens in the music industry especially where people will trade clips or trade music songs or other things via email accounts and they won’t practice good email security, so people hack into their email account and then they get access to other things. And if you can confirm what email address someone has on a server simply by typing it in and not even logging in, I don’t know, I just think there’s a potential here for abuse and maybe at the cost of making things easier it’s not always a wise decision.

Louis: Yeah, I totally agree with that, I think there are security implications for a lot of these things in terms of privacy, the example he gives of having like a searchable list of usernames, that works for a service that is public, but for services that aren’t public I can totally understand you wouldn’t want to do that.

Patrick: If you saw Facebook, because a lot of people have private Facebook accounts, I mean obviously you could then make it permissions based; only public Facebook accounts would show up, but then that sort of defeats the purpose.

Louis: It does kind of defeat the purpose. And the other thing is the fact that you have two things to guess makes brute force hacking attacks exponentially more difficult; if you have to figure out what someone’s email address is and what password they have and you’re not getting feedback on which of the two you entered was incorrect, then the brute force will take you, you know, the power of two longer than if you get feedback; you try an email address and it just tells you, oh, yeah, there’s definitely a user with that email address and it’s this person but that’s the wrong password –

Patrick: So try again! (Laughs)

Louis: — then it makes the — yeah, you know, I mean you’re getting that feedback. So, providing that feedback to users makes things easier for users, but you’re also providing that feedback to any kind of malicious software or any kind of attacker.

Patrick: Yeah. I think that’s a good point. And I don’t know that I necessarily want to curb the evolution of login forms, but, that’s the first thing I thought of when I did see this.

Louis: Yeah, I mean there’s a lot of considerations that need to go into this kind of thing, but I think it’s definitely worth having a read through this article, there’s a ton of stuff he talks about, the sort of single sign-in, like sign-in with Twitter, sign-in with Facebook, and different ways that that can be made more useful. He’s talking about the issue, for example, of you know a place can have four or five sign-in with this service and you don’t remember which one you used when you created your account. So if I — the first time I signed in with Facebook and now I sign-in with Twitter, all of a sudden I’m creating a new account because the website or application has no way of knowing that that Twitter account is the same person as this Facebook account, so that can be a concern there as well. There’s a good discussion of all these different current trends in login form design and great ways of approaching it, and it’s a really well thought out piece, Luke has always got really great insights into this kind of stuff so it’s really highly recommended, although, of course, as we’ve mentioned there are other concerns so you can’t just sort of take this stuff as a given and run with it, I mean think about what’s right for your users and your site and your security.

Patrick: AKA, Patrick’s the wet blanket (singsong). (Laughter)

Louis: No, I mean I agree with this, and if there’s anything — like these kinds of issues do matter and you know the past month has been rife with discussion on the Internet about Google Plus’ real name policy.

Patrick: Right.

Louis: And that’s kind of an example of that, it’s this, you know, this trying to take a stance on what information is public, what information is private, what we require from our users, and that kind of thing has to be really carefully considered.

Patrick: Is it time for spotlights?

Louis: It is time for spotlights.

Patrick: I’ll go first, my spotlight is an article at ReadWriteWeb by Marshall Kirkpatrick titled “Trailblazer Gary Vaynerchuck Retires from Daily Wine Videos.” Gary, who I interviewed on the SitePoint Podcast I think January of 2010, he is retiring from Daily Wine Videos, he’s done it for over five years now, and first with Wine Library TV, then with The Daily Grape, which just signed off on episode 89, and he’s hanging it up for the Daily Wine Videos. He says he’ll still produce wine content, just not on a regular schedule, and he posted a final farewell video and Marshall covers it, and yeah, I think it’s inevitable, good things come to an end and obviously Gary’s got other things going on, but he’s definitely led the way I would say when it comes to video content and producing a video show, I think he’s a great example to follow as far as consistency and quality of programming, so best of luck, Gary.

Louis: Absolutely. I remember watching the Wine Library TV videos back in the — I think it was in the sort of low-hundred episode numbers. And just the amount of energy and work that went into producing these things everyday is amazing, and that he’s done it for this long is amazing.

Patrick: Yeah, and Gary is — he’s legit, he gets a lot of snarky comments here and there, as you do when you reach a certain level of audience (laughter), but, he’s an example I cite a lot in my presentations; I just gave a conference talk in Atlanta and, you know, because he’s legit community. I mean when he got started building that show he would just answer wine questions on Twitter, search for questions, just to get his name out there and then help people, and he’d do the same and post on wine forums. So, you know, everyone has to start somewhere and he did, and most people might not reach this level of success, but he’s a testimonial to the fact that if you try some people will succeed, and he has. Brad, what do you got?

Brad: I have a very cool site, it is called Codecademy.com and it’s Code, no A on the academy, Code c-a-d-e-m-y.com, and it’s a website developed by two developers, Ryan Bubinski and Zach Sims, and it’s actually an interactive way to learn a programming language, in this case the default test as they’re calling it, or course, is based around JavaScript. But it’s very — it’s a very unique way to learn coding and I wanted to share this, I actually found this on Reddit, so I’ll give credit where credit is due, not trying to steal anything from Reddit.

Louis: (Laughs) Sorry, man, credit to Reddit where credit to Reddit is due is –

Patrick: Developers, developers, developers!

Louis: It’s great; you hit the site and the first thing it says is “Hey, let’s get to know each other,” type your name in quotations, and you type your name in quotations it says “Well done.” So the next thing you type your name in quotations.length and then you can determine the length of your name, and so it goes through these very — it starts very, very basic and works its way up to where you’re doing, you know, if L statements and learning about variables and comparing variables, but it does it in a very, very simple approach; I really think anyone can probably dive into this and walk away learning something from — especially if you don’t know JavaScript, obviously if you’re an expert you may not learn much, but to dive into it it’s a great site. So I’m really hoping and anxious and they’ve talked about bringing in some additional languages for tests and stuff, so it’d be great to really see this site expand, and it’s gotten a lot of press and a lot of great reviews and comments, so definitely check it out, you can even earn badges as you go through these courses.

Louis: It’s got badges I was just gonna say, I was waiting for you to finish so I could say there are badges!

Brad: You see badges it’s like a — it’s like a challenge, it’s like I must have every badge even though it means nothing.

Patrick: So, Kevin Yank who regular listeners know is a former co-host of the show is now over at Learnable leading the way, and this is a potential acquisition target I think (laughter). I was going to say, this is a pretty cool thing, so yeah, I think it’s following in that same sort of educational mindset, but I could see myself playing around with this and maybe even learning something, but I don’t know if I want to call myself a programmer so I might just stay away from this.

Louis: Yeah, I think that’s probably safe, otherwise people will start asking you to fix things.

Patrick: (Laughs) Oh, gosh. No, I’ll just start not logging in to Skype or AIM and just kind of, you know, just staying offline.

Louis: Cool. My spotlight for this week is a blog post that I found on Hacker News, it’s from Pud’s Blog, which is this coder who writes this Tumblelog, and the name of the post that got all this attention is “Why Must You Laugh at my Backend.” And what it is basically is, you know, he’s built a couple of websites and applications and iPhone apps and all this stuff, and you know people will ask him, oh what do you code in or what do you use for the backend, and whenever he tells them he gets either blank stares or derision or laughs or whatever, so he’s written up this post just explaining all this –

Patrick: I know what that feels like.

Louis: — all the stuff he uses. And it is pretty funny, like it’s stuff that obviously we work in the office here in PHP and a little bit of Ruby, Learnable is built largely in Ruby, so you know there’s a sort of a sense in the developer community that some languages are cool and other languages are uncool, and this guy has really like if you’d gone out and picked the most uncool thing. So, OS window server 2008, web server IIS, language CFML, which is Cold Fusion Markup Language, which I didn’t know still existed, but is apparently still going strong, and he talks about it sort of saying that Adobe’s price tag for the Cold Fusion server is very high but that there are open source alternatives that interpret CFML so you can run it for free. He’s using Zeround.com for a database, which is like I guess a scalable database service, EC2 for web hosting, which isn’t that surprising really. The one that got the most attention is synching which his servers all synch with Dropbox, so all of his servers are set up with Dropbox account, and when you set a file on one of the servers it just propagates to the other ones via Dropbox which I guess no one had considered doing, but it’s interesting and if it works, great.

Patrick: Yeah, Pud is Philip Kaplan who was behind a number of different companies, maybe most notably F’d Company and Ad Brite, so he’s kind of a veteran not only programmer but entrepreneur and investor and so on, so, yeah, I think this is funny to read the sort of solution for synching; I’m not anywhere technically near him but I do make some creative choices sometimes in the backend, and probably things I don’t want to tell other people, so I can appreciate this post on some level (laughs).

Louis: I just think it’s legitimate to say, look, if you build something that works and you can sell it to people that’s really what matters, like all these — the choices of what technology you’re using to build it, it doesn’t really matter if you build something that works and that you’re happy working on.

Patrick: Yeah, definitely.

Brad: I say hats off to him, I mean I know a lot of people — I mean obviously I do a lot of work with open source, and the fact though with open source is a typical LAMP stack, but the majority of open source software out there will run on any type of operating system and web server, so they’re trying to be platform independent, so a lot of these, you know, WordPress, Drupal, they’ll all run on Windows just like on Linux, but if you ever meet someone that says, hey, I run WordPress on a Windows server then you know everyone just starts laughing and it’s just like, ah, you do what? It’s just like, hey, you know what, if it works for you then it works. So I mean hats off to this guy for kind of saying this is what I do and it works, so why change it.

Patrick: Yeah, and I think Tempire in the comment thread for this article maybe says it very succinctly when he says, “Your stacks sucks only because subjectively it would be painful for me to work with. If it works for you and you enjoy working with it, then don’t let the man get you down, go forth and make cash,” (laughs).

Brad: That’s the force to live by right there.

Louis: Yeah, I’ll buy that. If I went for a job interview and they told me this is what I had to work with I would just walk out (laughs), but if you’re happy working with it then awesome. Cool, so I guess that’s a wrap for this week.

Brad: I’m Brad Williams with Webdev Studios and you can find me on Twitter @williamsba. And if I can really quick I’d like to make a quick little plug, I’m one of the co-organizers of WordCamp Philadelphia this year, WordCamp Philly. And actually Patrick is going to be there speaking, so you’ll get to see him, and hopefully Stephen will make it too, so there’s a chance that three out of the four hosts will be at WordCamp Philly, so if you get the chance it’s November 5th and 6th in Philadelphia obviously, so check out 2011.philly.wordcamp.org if you’re interested.

Patrick: It’s a lot of dots (laughs).

Brad: Or just search WordCamp Philly, you’ll find it.

Patrick: And I am Patrick O’Keefe of the iFroggy Network, iFroggy.com, I tweet @ifroggy, i-f-r-o-g-g-y.

Louis: And you can find SitePoint on Twitter @sitepointdotcom, that’s SitePoint d-o-t-c-o-m, and you can go to SitePoint.com/podcastto keep up with the podcast, all our new shows are posted there, you can leave comments, you can subscribe to get it automatically, of course you can also subscribe through iTunes. I’m Louis Simoneau; you can find me on Twitter @rssaddict. Thanks for listening!

Theme music by Mike Mella.

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