RIP Flash

This topic has been blogged about lots and lots but I thought I would mix a little university background in there.

It is now (and has been for sometime) possible to completely ignore flash and instead use native web browser technologies. Sure there are a couple exceptions with the more advanced features for flash but I am sure by the end of 2012 flash will be gone – completely.

Is this sad? Kind of.

I learned flash relatively recently at university (2008). Yes that is right. I took a paper that taught adobe flash and action script 3 less than four years ago. The same paper has since shifted its focus more onto web design.
The sad part is that these skills are now useless. That is the way practical computer science works though right? You learn something and then keep on adapting and updating as new technologies emerge.

Am I happy? Very!

Flash was cool. It worked, and you could make cool visualisations, animations and applications. But why! Why do we need this extra tool grafted onto something that is purely capable of handling this itself? Well we no longer do. HTML5 is here and in its pure and native form it can handle rich and interactive web applications.

We still see some people (from adobe) sticking up for their software but the fact of the matter is that with the existence of tools now to convert flash files to pure HTML5. Tools like swifty by google and intelligent and bold moves by apple to cut support for flash on their mobile devices WILL spell the end of flash.

RIP Flash. You had your time.

(Yes I used Photoshop to make this image :-P)

Vodafone and Telecom Twitter Relationship

Vodafone and Telecom had some entertaining tweets between them today.

They were talking about the following picture taken of the Vodafone office in Auckland.

looks chilly over there. any body home @vodafonenz or did you... on Twitpic

View Telecom and Vodafone offices in a larger map

The tweets:

Telecom Tweet to Vodafone 1

Vodafone Tweet to Telecom 1

Telecom to Vodafone Tweet 2

Edit: More tweets

Vodafone to Telecom Tweet 3

Telecom to Vodafone Tweet 3

Telecom to Vodafone Tweet 4

Vodafone to Telecom Tweet 4

Vodafone to Telecom tweet 5

It is good to see a friendly relationship between the two telecommunication rivals.

Network Bandwidth Visualisation for Graphs

Part of my honours project consists of visualising network bandwidth utilisation on a node/edge graph.

Basic information visualisation techniques can be used to make simple, effective and communicative network edge graphics. Current network packages that produce such graphs, from what I have seen, do not attempt to communicate very much information through graph edges.

Lets go through a quick process of making an effective edge.

Say that we have two nodes A and B.Bandwidth 0

A simple way of showing that both A and B are connected to each other in each direction would be a double sided arrow between the two.

Bandwidth 1

Lets change the arrows so that they face towards each other and converge in the middle of the two connected nodes.

Bandwidth 2

So far this just indicates a bidirectional link between the two network devices A and B. Let us use the basic idea that wired networks are essentially just a series of tubes.

Connect both A and B with an empty pipe and a divider in the middle. Then draw arrow heads along the respective pipe sections to show the percentage of the total bandwidth that is currently in use.

This is using the length of the line to indicate the percentage utilisation which is a quantitative variable. The use of length is effective for human recognition of quantitative values. The length clearly shows that about half of the A->B link’s bandwidth is currently in use.

Bandwidth 4

We are not making use of the vertical dimension. Make the height adjust according to the total bandwidth available on a link. For example 100Mbit, 1Gbit, 10Gbit etc.

Again, line thickness is effective for displaying quantitative values. It is obvious that the link A->B has about twice the bandwidth as B->A.

Bandwidth 5

You may have noticed that up to this point I have been avoiding the use of colour for bandwidth quantities. Colour is actually one of the most least useful means for visualising quantitative variables. However it is effective for categorical variables.

Lets say for example that green is good, yellow is intermediate and red is a bad network state. These categories are shown well by adding the respective colours to arrows within the pipe sections. Alternatively the pipe section colours could indicate these network states.

Bandwidth 6

Putting all of this together, we get as our final product:

Bandwidth 8

Google 2 Step Password Verification – Get It!

I just discovered an awesome feature by google for their account login process.

Google Apps Ring

What is 2 Step Verification?

Google’s 2 Step Verification secures your account by requiring you to enter in an additional, randomly generated code which is sent via a txt message to your mobile phone.

Why use it?

This makes it difficult for someone to hack you google account (gmail, document, photos, g+, calendar etc) unless a hacker is able to also steal your physical mobile device.

This in my opinion is extremely important if you are anything like me and keep a lot of important and confidential information locked away in your google accounts. If I were to lose control of this information, I would risk loosing my: web hosting accounts, domain names, credit card details, paypal, trademe, facebook, confidential client information etc.

The 2 Step also service lets you generate application specific passwords that are designed for one time use. So for example, if you use gmail notifier (the small program for windows that lets you know when you have new emails), you can generate a one time use password that grants it access without the 2 Step code.

What if my phone gets lost or stolen?

This is important to note. When you are signing up for the service, it is recommended that you fill in an additional backup phone for use if your’s is not available.  I used a family members phone for this. Also, you are provided with a list of  10 backup codes. These are codes that can be used once only and can be used instead of the txt verification code. Print out these numbers and put them in your wallet or somewhere else safe. Remember that even if someone obtains these number, they mean nothing without also knowing you original google password.

What does a 2 Step TXT look like?

This is all it is:

“Your Google verification code is 123456”

Does it cost?

From what I can tell, the service doesn’t cost you anything in New Zealand. I have not got any charges through to my phone for incoming txt’s received from the google service. I was not even charged for the voice call back service. With the call service you actually get an automated call that reads out the code!

Is it a hassle?

Yes it is. However, you stay logged in to google accounts for 30 days so you will not have to keep generating codes each time you use your computer. I think the added hassle is well worth it considering the security benefits gained.