Can You Own a “Standard?”

Most peripheral devices these days use some form of USB connection to communicate with your computer.  USB is a universal, open specification for device communication, and it’s become the de facto standard for all things tech.  My fancy new Droid phone even uses a micro-USB port as a combination tether/charge port.

The thing about standards, though, is that they can’t become standardized unless everyone can use them.  VHS killed Sony’s Betamax because anyone could use it, not because it was the superior technology.

But now, Apple and Intel have been squabbling over the rights to a new “Thunderbolt” data port.  It’s a high-speed port capable of bi-directional communication on the order of 10 GBPS (for comparison, that’s more than 20 times faster than USB).  According to AppleInsider, the trademark for the “standard” was just recently awarded to Intel.  But here’s my question, can a “standard” really become the industry standard if it’s owned by one organization, or does that inherent ownership limit the pace of general adoption?

Thunderbolt trademark rights will be transferred from Apple to Intel

By Sam Oliver

Though Apple originally filed for ownership of the “Thunderbolt” trademark associated with its new high-speed data port, the rights will be transferred to Intel, the company with which it cooperatively developed the new standard.

Intel said that though Apple filed for the original trademark, the Mac maker is currently in the process of transferring the rights to chipmaker Intel, according toBright Side of News. The report also noted that Apple “will continue to have unrestricted use of the technology.”

Continue reading this article at AppleInsider.


How to Publish a WordPress Plugin – Git

Last week we covered how to publish a WordPress plugin using Subversion.  But many of us aren’t using Subversion.  I know that after I started using version control, I quickly graduated to Git and Mercurial for managing distributed development.  It makes it easier for me to collaborate with others, and makes it easier for other people to take my ideas and run in new directions.  givenchy dresses   givenchy dresses

Actually, those two reasons most of us like Git and Mercurial are probably the two reasons keeping WordPress in Subversion.  But I digress …

Here is a step-by-step tutorial for publishing a WordPress plugin using Git.  To follow along, you’ll need:

  • A WordPress plugin to write
  • Git
  • A account

[Read more...]


How to Publish a WordPress Plugin – Subversion

Subversion Checkout

After a discussion on the WordPress Answers Stack Exchange yesterday, I thought it would be a good idea to explain the different ways you can develop plugins for WordPress.  Since the official plugin repository uses Subversion for version control, that’s the obvious first choice when you’re just starting your development stack.  So here is, step-by-step, a tutorial on how to get started using Subversion to track changes in and eventually publish your WordPress plugin.

Things you’ll need to follow along:

  • A WordPress plugin to write
  • TortoiseSVN (Mac users see my note about SCPlugin)
  • A account

[Read more...]


Self-Funded Line of Credit

I was thinking this past week of ways to save money, and I realized lately how “odd” my primary strategy seems to other people.  I’m in the process of paying off my credit cards, so when I need to make a large purchase I give myself a self-funded line of credit.

Basically, I give myself a loan.  A loan that I pay back.  Think of it as my checking account taking out a credit card from the Bank of My Savings Account.  I make monthly payments, charge myself interest, and actually make money on my purchases.

Think about that.  I make money when I buy things! [Read more...]


The Mind Share Market

I recently had the opportunity to review a copy of The Mind Share Market, by Nicolas Pujol.  It’s the one of the better straight marketing books I’ve perused lately, and I wanted to give it a fair shake.  Unfortunately, my schedule and the heavy technical nature of much of the book made this review take longer than it should have.

The book on a whole is a clever combination of case studies, anecdotal illustrations, and technical evaluation.  For a lay reader this might be a bit intimidating, but you can easily skip most of the technical analysis and discussion – the graphical illustrations and prose-format case studies are more than informative enough to bring home a point.

One of the best illustrations, though, is the concept of price.  Pujol takes the reader through a careful analysis of a real MIT experiment regarding customer purchase behavior.   [Read more...]


Development Fail

I know, “fail” is a disallowed word in this day and age, but it’s still very appropriate for this situation.  Earlier today, fellow developer Travis Northcutt alerted us all to a problem with the Pearson Higher Education website:

Wow. loads a ~165,000 line .css file. Yes, you read that right. ~3.5MB. I don’t know what to say.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

I immediately launched Firebug so I could track down the issue.  It turned out, the main stylesheet – the file that determines the look and presentation of the page – was over 3MB.  That might not seem like much in the day of high-definition movies and large hard drives, but a 3MB text file was preventing anything else from loading on the page.

A few other developers gave up loading the site after 10 or 15 seconds.  I sat through the entire download and, 30 seconds later, was looking at the clean, polished Pearson Higher Education website.

I was a bit confused, though.  The site is well put-together, but nothing about it should require a 165,000-line stylesheet definition.  I took a look at the source and discovered the problem.

The entire stylesheet was comprised of a 165-line block … repeated 999 times!

My first instinct was to email the developer directly (he was kind enough to leave his email address in the stylesheet) to alert him of the problem.  Since the stylesheet listed its creation date as 2009, and since I wanted to be extra nice, I even tracked down the “report an issue with our website” page on Pearson’s site.

Unfortunately, the form was broken and refused to submit!

I did notice that, by the afternoon, someone related to the site had cut out the extra 998 repetitions of the stylesheet, reducing it back to something resembling a sane document.  But this still shows how quickly a website can be destroyed by a developer or system administrator not paying attention.