Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

This is the second article in a series about email by our guest writer Lore Dionne Candelaria.

After looking back on the humble beginnings of the communication medium that changed the way we see the world today in the article ‘45 Years of Email – From Military Tool to Mass Market Communication,’ let us try to catch a glimpse of where it is heading at.

Authoritative and comprehensive, yet easy to use, portable and instant—these are just some of the reasons why electronic mailing has been a runaway success for the past years. With the unwavering support of its users and subscribers, the use of e-mail has been a web for communication especially for people trying to bridge the gap of distant locations. Thus, the cycle of email seems never ending and innovative as it grows and grows each year settling new and various controls on the world wide web.

As the future of technology per se soars to greater heights and so is the future of electronic mailing in particular. Adding to the fact that latest trends like instant messaging and video conferencing further improved the ways on how people from all walks of life reach out to the world, such widespread penetration can be seen on the millions of people being hooked in using email as a means to connect to people to whatever technological and communicative endeavors they face: whether it be for personal or for business use. Also, a variety of communication choices have emerged over the past few years and each of the options have their own special appeal—this is made possible because of the discovery and further enhancements of electronic mailing.

Just as electronic mailing revolutionized how the world accessed information and communicated through the years, the ongoing development in speed, bandwidth, and functionality will surely continue to cause fundamental changes on how our world will operate for decades to come. So what’s actually cooking now in the world of innovations? When no one could really tell, but we can always speculate in the light of the trends that we observe today. For one, mobility will be the name of the game. We have already seen wireless networking and we are going to see a lot more broadband roaming in the future. This trend has actually begun! Back in January, Novatell Wireless filled a patent or a technology that allows users to flip back and forth between wireless LAN and mobile phone networks, even at high speed.

Rapid-switching technology

Rapid-switching technology

A hybrid 3G cellular and WLAN device built to this spec should be able to maintain a broadband connection on the speedier of the two networks as you roam from zone to zone. In mid July, NEC’s Ubiquitous Platform Development Division announced a similar technology, which they tested, PT Barnum-style, in the back of a Porsche at a racetrack. They had tested a WLAN-only rapid-switching technology at 330 kilometers per hour, and in May of this year, they showed hybrid technology that jumps between cellular and wireless LAN connections at 200 kilometers per hour. These figures might be overwhelming. But the saga has just began. We expect more of these advances in the years, or maybe even months to come. The implications for this technology are pretty significant. A router that can switch from 6Mbps wireless base stations in an urban setting to slower but more ubiquitous 3G cellular Internet connections as they pass out of WLAN range is pretty thrilling. At speeds like these, high-bandwidth applications such as VoIP telephony and streaming media are quite possible. Despite NEC’s exciting demonstration, the company won’t commit to a time frame for product development. The closest it’ll come is to say “not for a few years.”

With these developments, distance was not the only thing man was able to conquer, even time. Internet and email can be accessed real time, even when traveling—not to mention the impressive speed. This is yet another feat for mankind. The influence of e-mail globalism will generally become the main reason for the stay of e-mail as it continually distributes globally the information and knowledge for the people at lower costs that lift the need of the community for accessible information. Another reason why it will continue to be a popular communication option is because of the emergence of communities that continually unite to provide information networks and different relationships that will be further established in the cyberspace may this be for political organizations or social networking. This will provide increasingly wide choices to individuals who wish to participate in local communities that share their ideals, thoughts and interests. Electronic mailing integration with an increasing number of other technologies is as natural as a musician’s experimentation with notes. These will cause email to become increasingly integrated with phones, televisions, home appliances, portable digital gadgets, and a range of other small hardware and software devices. Hence, e-mail is one core component of an emerging unified messaging solution set as evidenced by convergence of corporate email and instant messaging.

Will email still matter in the coming years? Absolutely! The unprecedented and rapid growth and impact of email with its growing and improving features will constantly evolve and garner significant respects in the future. However there may be some threat to its future use. A concrete example of this is the Google Wave—the freshest and the coolest communication and collaboration tool today initiated by Google. It is not out yet, but it is the most talked about innovation in the world of information technology.

Google Wave demo

Google Wave demo

With the increasing and anticipative hype surrounding Google Wave, one question remains, will Google Wave ever change the way we see email today? Some says that Google Wave is a great platform. Though it looks like it actually addressed the current problems or loopholes of emailing, is it actually capable of ‘replacing’ electronic mailing? Let me enumerate the feats: One of the coolest features — real-time. When you thought that Instant Messaging is quick enough, think again. With Wave, you could see each character as it is typed. You wouldn’t have to wait. And this does not only apply to chatting, anything concerning the wave is done in real-time. Take for example Google Docs. Wave takes Google Docs a notch higher. It allows several participants to edit a document simultaneously. And speaking of editing, if you are wondering if there is a better way to upload files and photos, with Google Wave, all you have to do is to drag and drop. This drag and drop feature saves you both time and energy. It also is open source, meaning anyone can look at the actual code for Google Wave in order to contribute to it or build an application based on it. Besides the technical advantages for the community, this shows that Google might be more interested in pushing web innovation forward than simply making a dollar off of their web dominance. It is also embeddable. You can simply embed it on any website or blog. Google Wave also transcends the language barrier that exists between and among nations. It has a unique feature named Rosy. Rosy is a robot created to translate your conversations. Just add Rosy to the wave and you suddenly speak any language you’d like.

With Innovations such as Google Wave, which by the way is expected to be released later this year, it is interesting to see how people will embrace the new features that Google Wave is promising. For sure, it will serve as a global and worldwide virtual and technological resource that will cater to the information and communication needs of the humankind. Furthermore, e-mail applications will not only become better and better to reflect the natural world, they will also have the fluidity, flexibility, and speed of the digital world. E-mail architecture has definitely just begun as the new horizons set to its future needs are being driven by the constant need for humans to interact, to communicate and to connect to every part of the universe.
It’s unquestionable then that surely we will foresee the growing success of email as the primary hub for communication, media and networking in the future. Indeed electronic mailing catapulted the unsettling success of information technology with its’ generatively and innovative character. It has gained a respective mainstream acceptance from the people and this acceptance will be the bread and butter of its’ future and will determine its life span as the provider of secure methods of communication, especially now that such thing as Google Wave is coming out. We could only gauge its success once it is fully launched

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

In the past six years or so, I’ve been arguing that thin clients is the next big thing. About two and a half years ago, I wrote an article named The Future of Mobile Computing, that argued just this. Nobody really believed me back then, claiming that thin clients with and mainframes was something of the past. Today, we are pretty much there. Maybe you didn’t think of it, but a Netbook with a 3G card makes the perfect thin client and the cloud is the new mainframe.

The most solid evidence of this is how Google is investing vast resources on becoming the biggest player in this game. About a week ago, Google introduced Chrome OS, which is basically a stripped Linux distribution with a browser. The very same day, they also announced that they have begun working on their own version of NoMachine’s FreeNX, named Neatx.

So what does this mean? Think about it. A Netbook makes a perfect thin client. It does not consume a whole lot of energy (great battery life) and it is built to be connected to the internet. Hence, it is the perfect candidate for Chrome OS. Now, since all applications cannot run inside a browser, we need something to bridge the gap. That’s where Neatx comes into play. With a FreeNX installed on the Netbook, the machine becomes can connect to a full-scaled desktop where normal applications can live. This server can be either hosted in Google’s cloud or in a private cloud.

This is is huge! Imagine a life where your computer is completely disposable. It’s just a dumb terminal. All your data lives in the cloud. Yet, the most amazing thing is that it is available today, and we are yet to realize it.

Ps. I also wrote a few other article on the topic of thin clients here and here Ds.

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

Scalix Admin

Scalix Admin

When we added support for Scalix in YippieMove, we created a Virtual Machine in VMware. While the process of installing Scalix is quite straight-forward, there are some minor tricks to it (more info about adding support for Scalix in YippieMove is avaliable here). For instance, CentOS is not officially supported by Scalix (Enterprise). Because of that, you need to trick it into believing that you are running Red Hat Enterprise Linux (which is what CentOS is ‘based’ on).

Ok, let’s get started.

First, install CentOS 5.3 as normal. In the software selection, we only selected ‘Server’ and deselect everything else (why people run X-windows on a server is beyond me). The only other thing to keep in mind is to use a static IP and a fully qualified domain name (FQDN).

Once you got your system up and running, we need to make a few changes to the default setup. Login using SSH or the console and run:

# system-config-securitylevel-tui

You will need to disable ‘SELinux’ as well as configuring the firewall according to your needs.

Next we need to trick Scalix into believing that you are running RHEL instead of CentOS. This is pretty easy:

# cp /etc/redhat-release /etc/redhat-release.orig
# echo ‘Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server release 5 (Tikanga)’ > /etc/redhat-release

We also need to make sure your hostname is listed in /etc/hosts under its IP (and not under An example of a proper line is :

xxx.yyy.zzz.nnn server

Now, let’s get started with installing Scalix. We start by upgrading the system and installing a few dependencies.

# yum -y upgrade
# yum install -y tk cyrus-sasl-md5 cyrus-sasl-plain sendmail-cf postgresql-server postgresql-libs mx compat-libstdc++-296

Assuming you’ve already downloaded Scalix onto the machine, all you need to launch the installer

# chmod +x scalix-11.4.4-GA-enterprise-redhat-intel.bin && ./scalix-11.4.4-GA-enterprise-redhat-intel.bin

After you are done answering all the questions, you should be able to access your brand new Scalix installation from your browser.

Good Luck!

Update: As Michael points out, the step of ‘tricking Scalix that you are running RHEL’ is not necessary. Thanks Michael.

Update 2: If you want to take Scalix for a spin without actually having to install it, we have created a Virtual Machine with Scalix installed that can be downloaded here.

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

We have today added support in YippieMove for the popular groupware Scalix. We are proud to add Scalix to our long list of supported groupware, which includes other popular solutions, such as Google Apps, Microsoft Exchange and Zimbra.

“Adding support for Scalix was pretty straight forward. It basically came down to filtering out a few unsupported IMAP flags,” says Alexander Ljungberg, head of YippieMove’s software development team.

With Scalix added to the list of supported groupware, YippieMove now supports migrating emails between all major groupware. Combine that with our Batch Migration service and jumping from one groupware to another could not get easier.

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.
Activate the Developer menu in Safari 4's preferences.

Activate the Developer menu in Safari 4's preferences.

Apple’s Safari web browser was upgraded to version 4 yesterday and with it came an update to the developers tools first introduced in Safari 3.1. The new version is set to give Firefox’s FireBug plugin some very serious competition. Not only does the Development environment look and perform very well, it’s also very full featured.

In the toolset we find inspection of HTML and CSS, JavaScript debugging, page load profiling tools and a Databases inspection tool presumably for HTML 5’s offline storage support. There are also tools to disable caching, spoof user agents and more from the handy Develop menu.

Inspecting Pages

When designing a new web page frequently plenty of time is spent making minor changes, updating the server and then checking the results in the web browser. This three stage process slows down the design process and hampers the creative flow. Page inspection tools allow you to review and edit your page live in the browser, allowing you to easily try out different CSS rules or HTML edits until you know what you want. And what you see is literally what you get – your preview is the actual web browser.

A line of HTML highlighted in the rendering.

A line of HTML highlighted in the rendering.

Safari 4’s “Web Inspector”, shown with Develop / Show Web Inspector, is Apple’s take on page inspection. Reminiscent of Firebug’s equivalent, the inspector area attaches to the bottom of the Safari window. On the left hand you get the HTML for the page and on the right hand you get the full hierarchy of CSS affecting the currently selected element. By choosing the magnifier icon you can click on any element in the page – a headline, an image, a paragraph – and bring it into focus in the HTML view. The same can be done by selecting tags in the HTML source code directly.

When an element is selected it is outlined in blue in the page. A light blue box shows the dimensions of the element itself and a darker blue box behind it outlines the element with margins included. This is helpful when an element is not positioned where you want it or it’s the wrong size. The blue boxes will let you know if the problem is with the margins or if there is something else going on.

Once you have a theory of what you’d like to change you can go in and edit the effective CSS directly using the Styles panel on the right hand side. For instance you could tweak the font-size by double clicking the font-size value and typing in a new number. A set of checkboxes also allow you to toggle individual CSS rules on or off to see how that affects the page as a whole. A great tool for hunting down what CSS rule is doing what. For each section in the Styles panel you also get the responsible selector and the CSS file it comes from, making it easy to copy your changes back to the original style sheet when you are done with your edits.

The CSS editor is well designed but it does not seem to allow adding new CSS rules live, a feature available in FireBug.

What’s Taking so Long?

Another important consideration when designing a website is the page load time. Safari 4 boosts a slick looking Resources inspector which gives the developer a breakdown not only of how long each JavaScript, CSS or image file took to load but also when each download started. All of this is shown in the context of the whole page load from the first millisecond to the last.

Timing the bits and pieces of a web page.

Timing the bits and pieces of a web page.

By laying the load time out in a timeline various sources of delay can be tracked. For example in the screenshot above the main document takes just short of half a second to load. We can also see that the CSS file request goes out even before the main HTML is finished loading, as Safari finds the CSS link in the header almost immediately. For each bar the semitransparent section is the latency – the time until the first byte of the response. So in the above case we can see that the latency makes up the majority of the load time. We can also see that the two images used on the page are loaded concurrently and that they start loading immediately when the CSS has been retrieved. Finally the colorful bar on top breaks the total load time down by type and lets us know the whole page finished loading in 1.2 seconds.

Individual resources can be inspected, allowing the developer to review the size and contents of each resource. In the same section the request and response headers can be reviewed. This is useful for the web server administrator in order to determine compression status and cache expiration headers. Strangely enough POST parameters don’t seem to show up which could be a serious problem for debugging.

This CSS file was gzipped and comes with a far future expires header. Great!

This CSS file was gzipped and comes with a far future expires header. Great!

Breaking Into the Source

Tracing the execution of JavaScript.

Tracing the execution of Javascript.

In the web 2.0 age, JavaScript is almost as important as the HTML and CSS that make up a page. Luckily Safari 4’s JavaScript debugging facilities give you a window into your code as it runs. You can set breakpoints, step through source code and inspect the call stack and variables as you go along.

When a page has been loaded the Scripts tab shows the various JavaScript resources available on the page, by source filename. When a file has been selected the JavaScript is displayed with syntax highlighting and line numbers. Clicking on a source line number sets a breakpoint. Once the targeted code executes Safari automatically launches into single step mode, allowing for the usual controls: Step Over, Step Into and return (called Step Out). At each step you can also inspect the values of the variables available in the scope.

There is also a Console feature which not only shows console messages and errors generated by your JavaScript during runtime but allows you to run commands live. Need to see what happens if a certain variable has a different value? Just set it using the console and watch the results unfold in the active web page.

Executing a JavaScript command in a live page.

Executing a JavaScript command in a live page.

Step Behind the Scenes

Safari 4's Develop Menu.

Safari 4's Develop Menu.

Safari 4’s Develop menu reveals additional tools and utilities useful for debugging and inspecting a web page. Enable or disable caches, images, CSS or JavaScript to see what the page looks like in a degraded state. This allows you to make sure the web page looks good even without images for instance, a great utility for making sure your website is accessible for persons with disabilities. Toggling JavaScript is also an obvious boon when you need to make sure your software runs in text browsers or where JavaScript has been disabled for security or performance reasons. There is also a “Snippet Editor” which seems to allow easy previewing of HTML snippets.

There are some flaws. Two were mentioned above: there does not seem to be a way to inspect POST data, important especially when debugging AJAX, and it does not seem possible to add new CSS rules dynamically as you could in FireBug.

There is also a selection bug: when the Web Inspector is revealed, selecting any text on the page causes the window to immediately scroll to the bottom. This subsequently selects all text on the page below where you started to select. Another bug is that if an element is selected such that the blue outline boxes show up, switching tabs sometimes left the outline hanging around in the other tabs too, now not highlighting anything in particular. Finally the JavaScript debugger seems to freeze up JavaScript in every Safari page – not just the one you are working with. This makes it hard to work with say an online reference in a different window.

A more minor flaw is a missing feature. There is no page optimization analysis tool such as Yahoo’s YSlow or Google’s Page Speed. These tools help analyze pages for performance problems. For example they check for additional compressibility in images and for correct headers.

These flaws aside the Development tools found in Safari leave little to be desired. All the features you expect are there and the package is polished far beyond what’s ordinary for web development. Apple has clearly been looking to FireBug when picking their features and that’s a good thing. FireBug has for a long time been setting the standard for these kinds of tools, but has been suffering from engineers’ syndrome: heaps of features but with little mind to UI design and detail polish. Safari 4’s development environment meets nearly all the same requirements and does it in style, bringing an excellent choice to the web developer’s toolbox.

Read more about the new developer tools at Apple’s What’s New page.

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