Emulation is nothing new: as soon as 16-bit computers like the Atari ST or Amiga came on to the scene, coders attempted to emulate their 8-bit forebears like the Spectrum or Commodore 64. Nowadays both 8-bit and 16-bit machines are themselves emulated on PC and Mac, while Windows has gone so far as to now emulate its own predecessor, DOS, in the form of DOSBox.
It’s now becoming possible for Windows users to emulate certain mobile devices on their desktop. BlueStacks App Player lets Windows users emulate Android, while a brand new open-source app aims to do something similar for Apple’s iPad. Enter, stage left, iPadian.
The app itself requires no installation, but you will need to install Adobe AIR before you can use it. Once AIR is in place, simply unzip the downloaded archive and double-click iPadian to get started.
iPadian will overlay itself on top of your desktop, with your existing taskbar still accessible. Cleverly, it’s capable of logging in automatically to various apps such as Facebook if you’re already logged in through your computer. At the present time, however, you’re limited to simple point-and-click with the mouse -- there’s no touch-screen support here, nor can you use the mouse in a gesture like fashion.
There’s no access to the official Apple App store, too, which means you’re relying on iPadian’s own store for apps, which is incredibly limited seeing as it basically only works with apps that use the web or their own web-based API. Neither is there any meaningful documentation to be had, perhaps unsurprising for a program that’s only at version 0.1.
Despite these drawbacks, iPadian is still well worth a look, particularly if you’ve already got Adobe AIR already installed on your PC. iPadian 0.1 is available now as an open-source download for PCs running Windows XP or later with Adobe AIR.
The web page actually says "Android devices that have accessed Android Market within a 14-day period ending on the data collection date". Most people load apps from the Android Market when they first purchase a device. After that, they only occasionally dip in to see if there are new apps. I know some (typically busy) people who never visit the Market again unless they are looking for specific app. Hence, just showing a "14-day period" probably causes the actual number of older devices to be under-represented.
Does this matter? If you are a typical developer creating an app, visitors to the Android Market are the way your app will probably get discovered. Hence, your target market is the same as the chart. However, if you are a large brand or if you have some other way of marketing your app, your target market is probably includes those people who don’t visit the Market any more and you might have to make an allowance for a larger proportion of people with older phones.
With the upcoming transition of social features in Google Reader to Google+, I thought this would be a good time to look back at the notable social-related events in Reader's history.
Late 2004 to early 2005: Chris Wetherell starts work on "Fusion", one of the 20% projects that serve as prototypes for Google Reader. Among other neat features, it has a "People" tab that shows you what other people on the system are subscribed to and reading. There's no concept of a managed friends list, after all when the users are just a few dozen co-workers, we're all friends, right?
September 2005: Ben Darnell and Laurence Gonsalves add the concept of "public tags" to the nascent Reader backend and frontend. There are no complex ACLs, just a single boolean that controls whether a tag is world-readable.
October 2005: A remnant of the "People" tab is present in the HTML of the launched version of Google Reader, and an eagle-eyed Google Blogoscoped forum member notices it and speculates as to its intended use.
March 2006: Tag sharing launches, along with the ability to embed a shared tag as a widget in the sidebar of your blog or other sites. On one hand, tag sharing is quite flexible: you can share both individual items by applying a tag to them, and whole feeds (creating spliced streams) if you share folders. On the other hand, having to create a tag, share it and manually apply it each time is rather tedious. A lot of users end up sharing their starred items instead, since that enables one-click sharing.
Summer of 2006: As part of Brad Hawkes's summer internship, he looks into what can be done to make shared tags more discoverable (right now users have to email each other URLs with 20-digit long URLs). He whips up a prototype that iterates over a user's Gmail contacts and lists shared tags that each contact might have. This is neat, but is shelved for both performance (there's a lot of contacts to scan) and privacy (who exactly is in a user's address book?) concerns.
September 2006: Along with a revamped user interface, Reader re-launches with one-click sharing, allowing users to stop overloading starred items.
May 2007: Brad graduates and comes back work on Reader full-time. His starter project is to beef up Reader's support for that old school social network, email.
Fall of 2007: There is growing momentum within Google to have a global (cross-product) friend list, and it looks like the Google Talk buddy list will serve as the seed. Chris and I start to experiment with showing shared items from Talk contacts. We want to use this feature with our personal accounts (i.e. real friends), but at the same time we don't want to leak its existence. I decide to (temporarily) call the combined stream of friends' shared items "amigos". Thankfully, we remember to undo this before launch.
December 2007: After user testing, revamps, and endless discussions about opt-in/out, shared items from Google Talk buddies launches. Sharing is up by 25% overnight, validating that sharing to an audience is better than doing it into the void. On the other hand, the limitations of Google Talk buddies (symmetric relationships only, contact management has to happen within Gmail or Talk, not Reader) and communication issues around who could see your shared items lead to some user stress too.
Spring of 2008: With sharing in Reader picking up steam, a few aggregators and leaderboards of shared items start to spring up. Louis Gray comes to the attention of the Reader team (and its users) by discovering the existence of ReadBurner before its creator is ready to announce it.
May 2008: Up until this point sharing has been without commentary; it was up to the reader of the shared item to decide if it had been shared earnestly, ironically, or to disagree with it. "Share with note" gives users an opportunity to attach a (hopefully pithy) commentary to their share. Also in this launch is the "Note in Reader" bookmarklet (internally called "Tag Anything") that allows users to share arbitrary pages through Reader.
August 2008: Incorporating the lessons learned from Reader's initial friends feature, the preferred Google social model is revamped. Instead of a symmetric friend list based on Google Talk buddies, there is a separate, asymmetric list that can be managed directly within Reader. The asymmetry is "push"-style: users decide to share items with some of their contacts, but it's up those contacts to actually subscribe if they wish (think "Incoming" stream on Google+, where people are added to a "See my Reader shared items" circle). This feature is brought to life by Dolapo Falola, who injects some much-needed humor into the Reader code: the unit tests use the Menudo band members to model relationships and friends acquire a (hidden) "ex-girlfriend" bit.
March 2009: After repeated user requests, (and enabled by more powerful ACL supported added by Susan Shepard) comments on shared items are launched. Once again Dolapo is on point for the frontend side, while Derek Snyder does all the backend work and makes sure that Reader won't melt down when checking whether to display that "you have new comments" icon. The ability of the backend and user interface to handle multiple conversations about an item is stress-tested with a particularly popular Battlestar Galactica item.
May 2009: Bundles are launched, extended sharing from just individual tags to collections of feeds.
July 2009: Continuing the social learning process, the team (and Google) revamps the friends model once again, switching to a asymmetric "pull"-style (i.e. following) model. This is meant to be "pre-consistent" with the upcoming Google Buzz launch. Also included in this launch are better ties to Google Profiles and the ability to "like" items. In general there are so many moving parts that it's amazing that Jenna's head doesn't explode trying to design them all.
Also as part of this launch, intern Devin Kennedy's trigonometry skills are put to good use in creating an easter egg animation triggered when liking or un-liking an item after activating the Konami code.
August 2009: Up until this point, one-click sharing had mainly been for intra-Reader use only (though there were a few third-party uses, some hackier than others). With the launch of Send to (also Devin's work), Reader can now "feed" almost any other service.
February 2010: The launch of Google Buzz posed some interesting questions for the Reader team. Should items shared in Reader show up in Buzz? (yes!) Should we allow separate conversations on an item in Buzz versus Reader? (no!) With a lot of behind the scenes work, sharing and comments in Reader are re-worked to have close ties to Buzz, such that even non-Reader-using friends can finally get in on the commenting action.
March 2010: Partly as a tongue-in-cheek reaction to social developments within Google, and partly to help out some Buzz power users who were complaining that all the social features in Reader were slowing it down, I add a secret (though not for long) anti-social mode.
May 2010: Up until this point, it was possible to have publicly-shared items but only allow certain friends to comment on them. Though powerful, this amount of flexibility was leading to complexity and user confusion and workarounds. To simplify, we switch to offering just two choices for shared items, and in either case if you can see the shared item, you can comment on it.
As you can see, it's been a long trip, and with the switch to Google+ sharing features, Reader is on its fourth social model. This much experimentation in public led to some friction, but I think this incremental approach is still the best way to operate. Whether you're a sharebro, a Reader partier, a Gooder fan, the number 1 sharer or someone who "like"-d someone else, I am are very grateful that you were part of this experiment (and I'm guessing the rest of the past and present team is grateful too). And if you're looking to toast Reader for all its social
stumbles accomplishments, the preferred team drink is scotch.
Thanks to the public domain, Creative Commons and free distribution, there are lots of horror movies that can be downloaded and watched legally this Halloween.
Here is a short collection, all either obtainable from services like VODO, The Pirate Bay or Public Domain Torrents.
For those who prefer to watch via their web browser, YouTube has a selection of free horror movies here.
Night of the Living Dead
The plot of the film follows Ben Huss (Duane Jones), Barbra (Judith O’Dea), and five others trapped in a rural farmhouse in Pennsylvania while the house is attacked by reanimated corpses, commonly known as ‘ghouls’ or ‘zombies’. Night of the Living Dead is the origin of six other Living Dead films directed by George A. Romero. (IMDb)
Download from Public Domain Torrents here.
In 2007 the New South Wales government suddenly scrapped a plan to utilise the water in the disused underground train tunnels beneath Sydney. In 2008, chasing rumours of a government cover-up and urban legends surrounding the sudden backflip, investigative journalist Natasha Warner led a crew of four into the underground labyrinth. They went down into the tunnels looking for a story – until the story found them. (IMDb)
Download from VODO here.
The Little Shop of Horrors
Classic black comedy about young schnook who develops a bloodthirsty plant and is forced to kill in order to feed it. Directed by Roger Corman, the film was the basis for the later hit stage musical.
Download from Public Domain Torrents here.
An artist slowly goes insane while struggling to pay his bills, work on his paintings, and care for his two female roommates, which leads him taking to the streets of New York after dark and randomly killing derelicts with a power drill. (IMDb)
The Phantom of the Opera
A mad, disfigured composer seeks love with a lovely young opera singer. (IMDb)
To see the full range of Public Domain Torrents’ free and legal horror movies, click here.
If you’re not building an email list, you should be. You may well have heard the popular phrase, “the money is in the list”. But even if money isn’t your priority, you should be building a list. Why? Here are a few good reasons:
- A list of highly targeted people is an asset to your blog
- Traffic can fluctuate – your list is far more constant
- You can use your list to promote services and products
- You can generate repeat traffic to your blog by utilizing your list effectively
I am just scratching the surface here. If you’d like to know more about what a mailing list can do for you, check this article out. I am not here to try and sell list-building to you. I am here to compare the two most popular email list services available – AWeber and MailChimp. So let’s do that!
For those who are just dipping their toes in the water, MailChimp wins hands down. It is free to use whilst your number of subscribers remain under 2,000 and your emails sent per month remain under 12,000. Once MailChimp does start charging you, it remains cheaper than AWeber until you get into five figure numbers of subscribers, at which point, the price plans are pretty similar (AWeber | MailChimp).
Whilst Aweber does charge $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers, you do have the opportunity to trial it for a month for just $1 (and if you decide it isn’t for you within the first 30 days, Aweber will refund your precious dollar!).
Both AWeber and MailChimp are powerful services. As such, the learning curve is pretty steep. There are a lot of functions for you to get used to, and the number of tools and options can be overwhelming at first.
AWeber cuts to the chase and puts relevant information straight in front of you.
MailChimp has a very user-friendly and colorful interface.
When it comes to interface, there is not much that can be said, objectively speaking. I have a personal preference for AWeber (which I would consider less intuitive, but more powerful), but I know plenty of people who swear by MailChimp. Ultimately, there is not enough difference between the two to make a clear decision either way.
AWeber has really got you covered when it comes to custom form design. The interface is slow and clunky, but there are a plethora of form designs for you to choose from and shoehorn into your blog.
Aweber presents you with a huge number of customizable opt-in forms for you to use on your blog.
There is a downside however. If you want to just take the “guts” of the opt-in form and customize it yourself with HTML and CSS, you have to go through the same process as you would with a customizable form, copy and paste the HTML code, then strip out of all of the unnecessary code and start from scratch. It’s both messy and a pain.
Whilst AWeber is all about inbuilt opt-in forms, MailChimp majors on external opt-in forms. They give you lots of lovely options for creating a branded standalone opt-in page which is then hosted on MailChimp’s site.
MailChimp offers powerful customization options for your offsite opt-in page.
The problem with MailChimp is that it offers very little when it comes to onsite forms. Just three options in fact: “Super Slim”, “Classic”, and “Naked”. The first two are pretty darned similar. However, the third one is very useful for people who want to design their own forms manually (it is something that AWeber should offer).
Overall, AWeber has the edge with powerful onsite opt-in form customization. The concept of someone having to click on a link to then sign up is a step too far for many bloggers. You want to make signing up to your list as easy as possible.
Drafting & Designing Emails
There is no contest here. AWeber’s text editor is awful. If you are like me and write your emails in Word or another word processing program before copying and pasting it, you are in for an unpleasant surprise. AWeber does some very strange things to text that has been copied and pasted. In fact, it does some very strange things, full stop. I emailed AWeber and to their credit got a quick reply:
We are planning to release a new message editor in the upcoming months. This new editor fixes many of the problems that our current editor has and is much more friendly to our users.
This email was received on 6th September, and the new editor has yet to make an appearance. Until it does and is demonstrated to be a big improvement on the existing editor, there isn’t much good I can say about it.
Just looking at it makes me angry.
Only a slightly more positive note, AWeber does offer a pretty good selection of templates for you to choose from.
Meanwhile, MailChimp’s ‘Campaign Builder’ is very sexy indeed. You have a choice of an enormous number of templates, or you can also strip it right back to basics if you so wish.
In a nutshell, the whole process of drafting emails when it comes to using MailChimp is far more user-friendly.
AWeber has excellent features for analyzing and managing both your autoresponder messages and your list. For instance, you can actually see which email any subscriber last received. This can be especially handy if you start fiddling with your autoresponder series and want to delete/edit emails. You can also filter your subscriber list by a huge number of variables. With AWeber’s powerful filters, it becomes very easy to target specific subsets of your list and generally manipulate your database to suit your needs.
MailChimp’s autoresponder management features are more straightforward, but also more basic. MailChimp simply isn’t as powerful as AWeber when it comes to managing your list and manipulating your autoresponder series. Its features are more than sufficient for the start-up list builder, but if you are setting your sights on a big list and targeted marketing, AWeber has so much more to offer you.
AWeber has an excellent reputation when it comes to delivering emails. Their success rate is reportedly in excess of 99%, and my experiences do not contradict that claim. AWeber also features a built in “Spam Score”, which judges how likely it is that your message will be considered spam by an email client. In this way, you can alter the content of your email in order to reach the maximum number of readers.
MailChimp has a very cool little feature known as Inbox Inspector, which submits your message to various email clients in order to see whether or not they treat it as spam. With this tool, you can drastically reduce the chances of your messages being intercepted by over-zealous spam filters.
Although it is a good tool, it takes time for Inbox Inspector to return the desired information. Aweber’s spam score is instant and in my experience is highly effective in guiding you to create emails with very high delivery rates.
AWeber’s tracking capabilities are without parallel. When you have built a sizable list and rely upon such data, Aweber’s tools are invaluable.
With AWeber, you can see exactly who clicked on what.
The features are comprehensive – AWeber tracks opens, clicks, conversions, and more.
MailChimp has some great tracking features as well, but they just don’t go as indepth as Aweber. The tracking from reader to reader is much more limited. When it comes to rolling up your sleeves and analyzing reader engagement data in order to tweak your campaign, AWeber definitely gives you a far better depth and specificity of information for you to work with.
AWeber offers wonderful support options. You can reach them by telephone (7 days a week), instant message, or email. They also have a comprehensive knowledge base, webinars, and video tutorials. I have only heard good things about Aweber’s customer service.
MailChimp’s support is more limited. They have a live support chat option which is open on weekdays. Beyond that, you can only reach them by email. If you are having a major issue with your list, the delay in support from MailChimp can be costly.
Both services are popular with good reason. MailChimp’s no-cost entry level service is a huge attraction to many. But the general consensus leans in favor of AWeber when it comes to the most important aspects of list management, such as tracking and spam management.
If you are just starting out with your list then you may wish to test the waters with MailChimp. But when it comes to the heavy hitters with huge lists, they are almost always using AWeber. That in itself should give you a good indication of which is the best service.
Over the past couple years it has been impressive to see Facebook craftily grow its influence beyond the Facebook.com domain and expanding all throughout the internet. For example, it seems just about every major website now allows you to login using Facebook. With Facebook’s growing influence over the internet it isn’t surprising many WordPress developers have really stepped up, providing a number of great free and premium WordPress plugins to help improve WordPress and Facebook integration.
Once of my most recent Facebook plugin discoveries came from the developers at Premium Coding, a website which builds quite a few things, including a series of premium WordPress plugins. The plugin I want to talk about today is called Facebook Page Themes, and the title pretty much sums up what this plugin does. With this premium WordPress plugin users can generate a custom designed theme for your Facebook page, giving your business a professional look that promotes your product or service.(...)
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When we looked into the recent wave of WordPress site hacks, our investigation took two separate paths: uncovering the TimThumb vulnerability and the Black Hole Toolkit used to exploit it.
Now it is time to talk more in detail about what the Blackhole Toolkit is.
For starters, the Blackhole exploit kit is used to spreading malicious software to users through hacked legitimate sites. It was most likely made by Russia developers. The big clue for this is that operators can switch between Russia and English languages. The full version of this toolkit costs around $1500 on the black market. However, bargain hunters can find a stripped down version for the free online.
But, much more important than acquiring Blackhole is finding out how to get rid of it. More precisely, simply finding out if you have been infected. So, how can website owner recognize that his page was infected and has been blocked by an antivirus program because it is being misused as a redirector to site with Blackhole exploit kit? And how do they compromise your site?
The bad guys are using a security vulnerability in non-updated TimThumb. This allows attackers to upload and execute arbitrary PHP code in the TimThumb cache directory which will download other malicious files. But this is not the only way for example they use stolen passwords to direct FTP changes.
In your FTP, alongside other site files, a new file will appear that looks like this: ./wp-content/w3tc/min/a12ed303.925433.js or ./wp-includes/js/l10n.js
These files contain code that looks really suspicious.
In bottom part of code, there is a request to http://184.108.40.206/url.php where only one line of code is stored: assa =’Domain with Black Hole exploit kit’;
In function Make, you can find the first iframe to a legitimate site.
element.src = “hXXp://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.4.2/jquery.min.js”;
This iframe will be replaced by a malicious iframe in next step.
When a computer user moves his mouse, this starts ‘Function MakeFrame’ where a malicious iframe is built from variable assa: ‘http://Domain with Black Hole exploit kit’.
This iframe is served to the user and the user is subsequently redirected to a new site where the Black Hole exploit kit is located.
Now, a really good question is what will happen to next to the user. The unsuspecting user will download a JAR (Java Archive) file and one of the classes within this JAR file will decode its parameters into a text URL. This URL will be concatenated (two character strings joined end-to-end) with an HTTP GET parameter to download other malicious files to user’s PC.