Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Review: PHP jQuery Cookbook

Packt Publishing recently (December 2010) published a very useful book called the “PHP jQuery Cookbook” by Vijay Joshi.

Over 60 simple but highly effective recipes to create interactive web applications…

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Create Powerful Mobile Apps with HTML, CSS and jQuery

jQTouch is a jQuery plugin for mobile web development on forward-thinking devices. You can create powerful mobile apps with just HTML, CSS, and jQuery. It supports native animations, automatic navigation, and themes for mobile WebKit browsers like iPhone, G1, and Pre.

jQTouch requires one basic theme to make page transitions work which is very small. One could use just the core CSS file to build a completely custom UI. Themes are additional CSS files which provide native-looking styles, mostly centered around the iPhone OS. Themes included are: Apple, jQT and Vanilla.

Apple admits iPhone apps not suitable for business

Commercial programs are solely for non-commercial use

Apple is reminding customers that applications sold through the iTunes store are strictly for non-commercial use: business use is forbidden, which makes one wonder what that section of the store is for.

Apple certainly gives the impression that the iPhone is suitable for businesses, and the Business section of the iTunes Application Store lists 78 pages of apps that we presume are aimed at business use. This makes it all the more surprising that Apple advised one customer that: “The iTunes Store sells only to customers as end-users for personal, noncommercial use.”

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Microsoft responds to our call for standards support

Firstly, I want to take this opportunity to express a sincere thanks to everyone for taking the time to spread the word about the fixoutlook.org campaign today. As we near 20,000 tweets, it’s been an overwhelmingly positive response.

It’s also been fantastic to see William Kennedy, Corporate Vice President of the Office team respond so quickly to the community on the Outlook team blog. There are some positives to take away from the post, as well as a number of issue I think need further clarification.

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Microsoft to ignore web standards in Outlook 2010 – enough is enough

As most of you know, our motivation for starting the Email Standards Project two years ago came from the release of Outlook 2007. Specifically, because of Microsoft’s decision to avoid using a browser to render HTML emails in place of a word processor. This immediately took standards-based email design off the table, forcing designers to abandon web standards for tables and font tags. You can read our original reaction and the subsequent call to arms that followed.

Since that time, we’ve had the pleasure of working with teams at Yahoo!, Apple, IBM, Google and even the Microsoft Entourage team. However, the elephant in the room was always Outlook. For a time things were looking good and we had the chance to chat with a number of passionate Microsoft employees who agreed with our position on standards and to try their best to improve future versions of Outlook. I’m sad to say, it looks like these efforts failed.

After testing the latest beta of Outlook 2010 and seeing the same poor standards support as 2007, a senior member of the Outlook team confirmed they plan on continuing to use Word to render HTML emails. Not only that, but early tests indicate that HTML support in the Word engine has not been improved in any way. Same bugs. Same quirks.

To demonstrate just how bad the Word rendering engine is in Outlook 2010, here’s exactly the same email rendered in Outlook 2000, and then Outlook 2010. Click the image for a full sized version.

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Microsoft explain their position

When Outlook 2007 was released there were lots of theories thrown around about what motivated the switch to the Word rendering engine. Many stipulated that it was a security related decision after the problems they’d been having with previous versions of Outlook. As it turns out, it was much simpler than that.

This was confirmed last week in a discussion with Outlook Product Manager Dev Balasubramanian. When asked why Outlook is using Word to compose HTML emails, this was his response:

“The reason for this lies in the benefit Outlook users gain by having Word as their e-mail authoring tool; rich tools like SmartArt, automatic styles and templates, and other benefits found in Word 2007 and 2010 enable Outlook users to write professional looking and visually stunning messages.”

“I am aware of where this decision on our part places Outlook from a standards perspective – at the same time, we ask that you consider the benefits Outlook users get from having Word tools in their e-mail authoring experience.”

When asked why Word is also used to render HTML emails, Dev explained:

“Having multiple HTML engines could reduce performance, as well as create an inconsistency in terms of what type of content the user is able to create vs. consume.”

Basically, Microsoft are using the Word rendering engine so emails composed in Outlook will look consistent when viewed by other Outlook users (also confirmed in this Microsoft white paper).

Email is not a walled garden

Microsoft’s decision to move away from the pre-2007 approach of using Internet Explorer to render emails clearly demonstrates they are not confident that emails composed using Word will render correctly in a web browser. Remember, for a second, that every other email client on the market today uses a web browser to render HTML email.

Surely Microsoft understand that if an Outlook 2010 user sends a Word formatted email to a friend using Apple Mail or Thunderbird and it’s unreadable, both sender and receiver suffer a poor experience. By aiming to please Outlook-to-Outlook senders, they are punishing Outlook customers who send to those using other email clients. Given the fact that Outlook 2007 only commands around 7% email client market share, it’s easy to see how short-sighted this is.

An obvious solution

To us, the solution couldn’t be more clear-cut. By updating the Word engine so it can compose and render standards based HTML, all of these problems are solved. Microsoft can have its pie and eat it too.

Outlook customers can receive email from outside sources without formatting problems. They can also rest assured that any emails they send to friends and colleagues not using Outlook will display as intended.

As the market upgrades from Outlook 2007 to 2010, HTML email design can move out of the pre-standards era of the 90’s bringing all the benefits that come with it.

Microsoft want your feedback on this decision

Outlook 2010 is still in beta and a year away from public release. Either we make it clear this is a bad decision now, or the disconnect between Outlook users and the rest of the email world will continue to grow. Email designers will be stuck building emails using the same clunky combination of tables for layout, inline CSS and font tags for many years to come.

Thankfully, Microsoft want to hear your feedback about this. From the Outlook Product Manager Dev Balasubramanian:

“The Office team, and Microsoft in general, is always open to and interested in customer feedback so we can prioritize the various needs of our diverse user base in product planning and development.”

“This conversation alone has reignited the topic within the Outlook and Word teams and in and of itself will contribute to future design considerations… We want to hear feedback on this position, and I’m sure you and your readers will provide it.”

It’s time for us to send the strongest message yet to Microsoft, and we need your help to get started. To make this happen, we’ve built fixoutlook.org.

Click to visit fixoutlook.org

All you have to do is tweet your thoughts about this issue, and make sure you include the fixoutlook.org URL somewhere in the tweet. We’ll be pulling together every tweet that includes this link on the fixoutlook.org site to send a unified message to Microsoft. The more tweets, the more impact, so please start spreading the word today and encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same.

To get started, head to fixoutlook.org for all the details.

Microsoft issues patch to fix IE

Microsoft has issued a security patch to fix a critical vulnerability in its Internet Explorer browser it said has attacked over 2m Windows users.

The flaw is believed to have already infected as many as 10,000 websites.

The “zero day” exploit let criminals take over victims’ computers by steering them to infected websites.

Microsoft’s Christopher Budd said the software giant “encourages all IE customers to test and deploy this update as soon as possible”.

He also said the threat lead Microsoft to mobilize security engineering teams worldwide to deliver a software cure “in the unprecedented time of eight days”.

The company’s security response team said the patch consists of more than 300 distinct updates for more than half-a-dozen versions of IE in around 50 languages.

“Even with that, the release Emergency Response process isn’t over,” said Security Response Alliance director Mike Reavey.

“There is additional support to customers and additional refinement of our product development efforts.”

Microsoft stressed that the flaw was proven to exist only in IE 7 on all applicable versions of Windows, but that IE 6 and the “beta” release of IE 8 were “potentially vulnerable”.

Users who have automatic updates turned on will receive the patch over the next 24 hours while others can access it via a download.

‘Wildfire’

The AZN Trojan has been making the rounds since the beginning of December but became public knowledge in the last week . Unlike other exploits, users only have to visit a malicious site with Trojans or other malware in order to become contaminated.

Firefox update

The update is something of an unusual move for Microsoft and underscores the seriousness of the zero day flaw.

The company rarely issues security fixes for its software outside of its regular monthly patch updates.

Meanwhile Mozilla has released a scheduled update for its open source Firefox web browsers for at least 10 different vulnerabilities.

The bugs in the browser could have been “used to run attacker code and install software, requiring no user interaction beyond normal browsing,” said Mozilla.

It is also reissuing calls for users to upgrade from Firefox 2.0 to Firefox 3.0 as soon as possible and said it is “not planning any further security and stability updates for Firefox 2″.

This means Mozilla will no longer support the Firefox 2 browser against future online scams and attacks.

Source: BBC News – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7788687.stm

Serious security flaw found in IE

Users of the Microsoft’s Internet Explorer are being urged by experts to switch to a rival until a serious security flaw has been fixed.

The flaw in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer could allow criminals to take control of people’s computers and steal their passwords, internet experts say.

Microsoft urged people to be vigilant while it investigated and prepared an emergency patch to resolve it.

Internet Explorer is used by the vast majority of the world’s computer users.

“Microsoft is continuing its investigation of public reports of attacks against a new vulnerability in Internet Explorer,” said the firm in a security advisory alert about the flaw.

Microsoft says it has detected attacks against IE 7.0 but said the “underlying vulnerability” was present in all versions of the browser.

Other browsers, such as Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Safari, are not vulnerable to the flaw Microsoft has identified.

As many as 10,000 websites have been compromised since last week to take advantage of the security flaw, said antivirus software maker Trend Micro.

The websites have been mostly serving up programs that steal computer game passwords, but the flaw could be “adopted by more financially motivated criminals”, a Trend Micro security researcher said on Monday.

PC Pro magazine’s security editor, Darien Graham-Smith, said that there was a virtual arms race going on, with hackers always on the look out for new vulnerabilities.

“The message needs to get out that this malicious code can be planted on any web site, so simple careful browsing isn’t enough.”

“It’s a shame Microsoft have not been able to fix this more quickly, but letting people know about this flaw was the right thing to do. If you keep flaws like this quiet, people are put at risk without knowing it.”

“Every browser is susceptible to vulnerabilities from time to time. It’s fine to say ‘don’t use Internet Explorer’ for now, but other browsers may well find themselves in a similar situation,” he added.

Source: BBC News – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7784908.stm

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