Tech-Notes

Geolocation

HTML5 now provides interesting ways to determine your location.
This opens the door to some novel website customisation. For example, it is possible to display content based upon the visitor location, perhaps to offer local phone numbers, or to display restaurants in close proximity to the user.

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Mi Mug

Mi Mug
Capital Inventions Silver Award

Mi Mug is a frivolous use of user customisable QR Codes. The mug’s owner "grabs" the mug and associates it with their free Google account. They may then program the QR-Code to go to any web page or display a simple message and image. The message or destination can be changed as often as the owner wants. (A QR code reader and an internet connection is needed to read the code).

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Website Rescue

Website rescue

A problem is that many people have access to someone who will “set up your website” for a nominal fee because they are thinking of running their own business as a “web designer”. Some of these people while be highly talented and you will get a bargain. Unfortunately this is not always the case, and you will get a site that does not perform to your expectations. At some point your budding web designer will admit defeat, or you loose confidence in them and decide to seek help.

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Mobile Friendly Websites

Mobile friendly

Many websites are not at all friendly for visitors using mobile devices or tablet computers. The current craze for QR codes reveals that many website owners are being very lazy in this regard: when the QR code is scanned using a smartphone your are nearly always taken to an mobile unfriendly landing page. This tech-note describes the approach we chose when updating the Tech-Trends website to make it more mobile friendly.

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The Google App Engine

Google App Engine Trademark

The Google App Engine (often referred to as GAE) is a really good low cost method to run web apps. Currently the google policy is to allow a generous low usage for free, only charging once usage has exceeded well defined thresholds.

Apps can be developed in several languages, but we favour developing apps in Python due to the availability of excellent documentation. However, it probably would not be hard to use exactly the same argument in favour of Java so really it is matter of personal preference. The Google datastore is a useful storage facility and a range of APIs are available to links to other Google services.

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What are QR Codes?

QR Code to PJP Linked In profile page

QR Codes (Quick Response Codes) are starting to appear in magazines, shopfronts and other imaginative locations. When scanned with a QR reader (a small software application on you smartphone) they can start an action such as automatically taking you to a web page on your browser. QR Codes can also carry text information for contact details, geo location codes, email addresses and more.

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Availability of Mobile Phone Boosters

Google Trends in mobile booster searches

Poor mobile phone coverage is often a problem to; users in rural locations due to distance from base stations, in built up areas due to building obstructing line of sight to base stations, and inside buildings due to the opacity of walls and windows to radio-waves. A the number of mobile phone users has gone up and in some areas reached 100% market penetration. The number of Google queries relating to signal boosters has followed a similar trends as users have sought an answer to the problem of poor reception.

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Web Standards

Standards for the web are set by the World Wide Web Consortium www.w3c.org. Essentially the W3C set standards for both the webpages that make up the internet, and the web browsers used to view those pages. Websites and browsers that meet the standards are often described as compliant. We have seen the look of horror on the faces of some website owners when they realise just what unusable means in practise. Meeting standards really does matter, and this does not include any legal obligation that organisations may also be under to ensure accessibility of information to all users.

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Content Driven Websites

A content driven website is a bit like a bookcase or set of display shelves. There is an overall style and structure which is more or less constant. But content is grouped by broad headings and comes and goes as required. The content may be authored by one person or many. in a well designed content driven website, all the navigation menus and groupings are automatically updated as new content is added, and out of date material archived deeper into the site (but never deleted).

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