Technology

Vagrant Setup

February 19, 2016
Development Environments Made Easy

Vagrant is a tool to help launch development environments. In the old days developers would use tools like WAMP / MAMP or perhaps more advanced programs like VMWare to launch their development environments. They were clunky and often multiple projects would share the same environment because it would be too much effort to replicate an environment for a new project.

Tools like Vagrant and Docker have changed the way development and even production environment works.

I use Vagrant to setup my local development environments. I’ve spent a bit of time to configure a vanilla workable system which comprises of Nginx, PHP FPM & MySQL. It works great and allows me to get new projects started with three console commands.

 

clone https://github.com/sketchthat/vagrant-lemp.git my_project

cd my_project

vagrant up

Check out my GitHub repo to use my Vagrant Provisioning script.

https://github.com/sketchthat/vagrant-lemp

 

Instagram Experiment

September 21, 2015
instagram-square

Recently I developed a small application which helped Instagram accounts gain traction in their space. It assisted in getting accounts more followers, likes and comments.

It started as an experiment to see;

a. How easy it was to use Instagram APIs.
b. See how popular an inactive and active Instagram account can be with little effort.
c. Build a membership without any hands-on marketing.

The experiment came to an end today because Instagram have updated their API Terms of Service and what I was doing is no longer allowed.

I started a website an associated Inactive Instagram account and Active Instagram account.

In nine months I was able to get 1,395 followers to my inactive Instagram account. Inactive means I hadn’t posted any photos, comments or even logged into the account since I started it.

On my active account the story was different. I gained over 5,149 followers and on average had over 200 likes and many comments per photo posted. In nine months I posted 104 photos. Averages out to roughly one every 2.5 days.

My application received over 300 registrations and was responsible for liking 7.2 million Instagram photos.

This was all without any advertising, I simply setup my application to like other users Instagram photos, then the traffic started coming to my pages and website.

I’m wanting to explore this space a bit more and plan on updating the site with some different functionality to see what other metrics I can pull from my data.

Road Legal Autonomous Truck

May 6, 2015
Freightliner Trucks

It’s fair to say that I have an odd interest in autonomous vehicles, particularly autonomous cars. Companies like Tesla are on the road (Please excuse the pun) to make autonomous cars come alive in the next few years. They’ll make every day life easier, they’ll end the road toll but also they’ll kill the taxi industry over night.

Freightliner just announced their first truck that is capable of towing semi trailers over the country – and it’s already doing so in Nevada. It makes sense for the trucking industry to invest in autonomous vehicles, having their trucks on the road 24/7 with drivers and human error is a huge expense. If you can remove the human touch, the trucks will be much more effective and arrive in better time and safely.

Right now, the truck does need a driver, but  it can read road signs and obey traffic signals. I can only assume moving forward once it’s been better tested and trusted that drive will be removed and it will drive itself.

Read more about it on Twitter. @freightliner

Google loves mobiles – especially Androids

April 22, 2015
Android-Device-Manager

More information from Google about mobile handsets, but this is different. We’re not talking about mobile-friendly websites we are talking about finding a lost Android Handset.

iPhone users might be a bit jealous about this, but Google now have a smart features to find your handset by simply searching on Google for it.

If you’ve got an Android and it’s got the latest update installed, jump into Google and search “Find my phone”.

Their Android device manager will pop up and show you the location of your phone, allow you to ring, lock or erase all data from the handset.

Ring Handset

Thanks Google, I’ll never need someone to call my phone again so I can find it.

 

 

Want more visitors? Is your site Mobile Friendly?

April 21, 2015
Mobile Friendly - Google

Google are updating their smart sorting algorithm every day by constantly A+B testing and making minor tweaks to improve their search results.

As it’s been for a while Google are focusing more and more on Mobile Friendly websites as they give the user the best experience.

On Wednesday Google is going to put more priority on companies that have mobile friendly websites. Is your site mobile friendly? Are you ready to disappear from the search results?

How can you check? It’s fairly simple to check if your site is mobile friendly. If you go to Google on your smart-phone or tablet then find your listing, does it have a little tag ‘Mobile Friendly’

mobile-friendly

 

If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, get in contact with us today and we’ll be able to help you out.

 

 

Read more about the upcoming changes.

Back to the Future is here. Hover Boards on Kick Starter

October 22, 2014
hover-board-image

This post needs no introduction. Hendo has a Kick Starter campaign running at the moment to back their project a real life hover board. For a lump sum of $10,000 you can own a hover board (Looks like they are all sold out!)

The project goal is $250,000. So far they have raised $195,003. They’ll easily reach their goal. Interestingly enough it doesn’t look like they want to develop hover boards but instead a smarter more efficient mode of transport to move goods around. In their video they state ‘Imagine a vehicle with all the freedom of a car but with the efficiency of a train’. They are trying to produce frictionless movement.

The hover engines unfortunately don’t work on any surface, from the looks of the video I would guess some sort of copper or metal base.

They’ve done a great job of getting attention by producing a hover board.

Passwordless – Token Based Passwords

October 17, 2014
Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 10.49.22 am

It has been a while since my last blog post. I want to start writing regularly again so I’ll start of with an interesting concept I stumbled across today.

Passwordless is a concept Florian Heinemann has implemented into Node.js

It’s a token based authentication method. Instead of remembering usernames and passwords you simply need to enter your email address into their registration/login box and you’re sent a one time link which will allow you to login to your account.

The main benefits of the concept are users don’t need to remember application specific passwords and accounts can’t be brute force attacked to gain access.

One time passwords greatly strengthen account defences,  I use Google Authenticator (GA) on every 3rd party website I can. A while ago I put together a very basic Symfony2 example and posted it to GitHub to show how to implement GA to your project because I really believe it’s a good idea to include on your projects.

The passwordless concept would work great in conjunction with GA. If an attacker gains access to your email address there is no stopping them from accessing all your passwordless sites, however if you have GA linked with your passwordless authentication then they only have one key to the puzzle.

The workflow wouldn’t differ too much, generate a one time link through passwordless, click the link and be directed to a GA prompt, enter the one time password and you’ve logged in.

It will slow down user interaction with the site as they have to use two methods to get in, but it would greatly secure the service.

Over the coming weeks I’ll try and update my GitHub page and show a working implementation with my Symfony2 example.

Chrome Start-Up Tabs

July 3, 2014
Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 12.27.51 pm

Every time I open a new tab on Chrome I look at a blank page – it’s so boring.

I just installed a Chrome Plugin called Startup Tabs, now each time I open a new tab an exciting new startup is loaded into my new tab which helps me try to keep up with the ever evolving start up scene and discover new helpful applications and websites.

The plugin boasts that it has 1000s of users, I’m unsure of how many start-ups it has on record, but I believe they get vetted before going online which reduces spammy pages being served to your new tab.

I highly recommend you check it out – and if you have a start up, submit your details to the website so you can start reaching a large audience.

HEXO+ Drone follows your movements

June 17, 2014
e62e20f75590671a30cbd55bbd9c9197_large

HEXO+ launched on KickStarter a few days ago and it’s already exceeded it’s $50,000 goal, it’s raised $368,000 $841,828 with 28 22 days left of funding.

The drone is being marketed as an autonomous aerial camera. After pairing the drone with your smartphone it will follow you around and record your extreme sports moves.

Having seen a few years ago a video on YouTube where a wake boarder has his friend follow him around with a drone to record his boarding, I’ve been interested in the technology. I recently used on of my friends Phantom Drones I’ve been keeping my eyes on the market to wait for a good entry level device.

The Hexo+ is this device, for a very modest price of $499 (all sold out) you could have gotten your hands on one of these devices. Next time you go mountain bike riding, snow boarding, wake boarding or any other type of outdoor activity, you could have this little machine follow you around so you can critique your style, or simply post extreme selfies on Facebook and Instragram.

After watching the KickStarter video I’ve been tempted to pledge, but I’m thinking I’ll hold off until they create some sort of sensory device that makes it aware of it’s surroundings. Incase I take it snowboarding and it collects a tree, or ski lift. Or if I’m outdoors and it collects itself with a bridge.

Skype Real Time Translation

June 2, 2014
i-gWRqJW7-X3.jpg-550x0

Microsoft announced last week an amazing research product. They have been building programs that learns languages and continually evolves it’s understanding of those languages.

They’ve (Microsoft) have been able to implement this research piece into Skype and have done something amazing.. They can translate voice calls in real-time. In their demo they have a Skype call between an English and German caller and Skype translates the call allowing the callers to speak to each other without the language barriers.

This is amazing, no doubt it could evolve and be put into mobiles and other devices to help with international travel – both for personal and business. Tying it in with an app like Word Lens the future is a single language for everyone.