Android 4.4 – KitKat Surprise

Android 4.4

Android, the Google owned OS for Mobile technology has announced that the next version of the Android OS software (version 4.4) will be named Android KitKat.

This is somewhat of a surprise within the industry as previous indications were that the newest version would be named Android Key Lime Pie.  Previous versions have been consistently named using letters of the alphabet in turn. The first version of the software was named Cupcake, then Donut, Eclair, Froyo (short for frozen yoghurt), Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean.

Up until now Google has used generic names of sweet treats to name their OS and this is a bold move to merge with a brand.

While some will view this a simple marketing coup, Google has said neither side will be finically paying the other.

A move such as this …  high profile brands merging in such a way is of course a little risky and should one fall will no doubt tarnish the reputation of the other but both companies appear to have their eyes wide open.

Keeping the name under wraps was no easy task and only a very small team knew of the decision. The project was internally known as Key Lime Pie to make sure nothing got leaked ahead of schedule.

KitKat WrappedThe announcement comes with Google installing a statue of its Android mascot made out of KitKats at its headquarters while Nestle plan to sell more than 50 million chocolate treats featuring the Android mascot.

New Invoicing Policy

Rake Mark Web Design one step Closer According to a survey produced by OKI we, as small businesses are a long way off being the paperless office we once thought was just around the corner. In an effort to get at least one step closer to this goal and reduce the impact on our environment, Rake Mark Web Design have made the decision to switch our Estimates, Invoices and Statements to paperless.

So as of the beginning of September 2013 we will be emailing your Estimates, Invoices and Statements as our primary form of contact.

Please let us know if this is going to cause you a problem and we would be happy to assist you in any way we can.

Help us to make this transition as smooth as possible by making sure that we have the correct email details for the necessary departments or managers.

Thanks
The RM Team

Catching or Caching Internal Issue’s

AmazonAmazon is the most recent of the high profile online businesses to be having “Issues” Services where offline to visitors of the US & Canadian Shopping Emporium and where greeted with “Oops, we’re very sorry” and a “500 service unavailable” error.

The problem did not seem to affect the UK version of the online business.

While no comment was made by Amazon the website was back up and running with about 30 minutes of the problem being identified.

This “very rare” downtime for such a high profile website is followed by Google’s downtime on Friday, affecting its search and email services along with Analytics firm GoSquared, New York Times website and Microsoft’s Outlook.com.

Google has not (as of yet) made any comment on the cause of their outage, while Microsoft simply explain their issue as failure in its “caching” temporary storage service.

Coincidence ?  Maybe ?  “But the questions are building with few believable /likely answers and once the “People” get a theory the bigger problem is convincing them otherwise”

Microsoft Made to Change Name of SkyDrive

SkyDrive name to ChangeAfter a legal battle challenge by BSkyB, Microsoft is to change the name of its cloud storage service worldwide after a “transition period”.
Although Microsoft had originally said that it would appeal the High Court ruling made in June 2013 a joint statement released stated “The settlement of this case reflects the desire of both companies to focus on joint projects to benefit their customers.”
While BSkyB no longer offer a Cloud service the judge noted that confusion was a factor and customers had called the BSkyB helpline in the mistaken belief that they were responsible for the SkyDrive Service, therefore did infringed the broadcaster’s trademark.
We wait to hear what the Tech Company’s new Cloud service will be called.

The Button is Back Windows 8.1 Release

Windows 8-1Announced at its annual developers conference in San Francisco, Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer confirmed that not only was the new release of it operating system Windows 8.1 available to download (in test version) but that the start button has been reinstated after it’s controversial removal in the release in October of last year.

News that they had brought back the ‘start button’ and that efforts had been made to  ’refined the blend of our desktop experience and our modern app experience’ was received with cheering from the audience.

Windows 8.1 includes a improved ‘search’ function, the latest Windows 11 Browser, the ability to personalisation options for tiles including colours and fonts and for the first time, it will be possible to open two windows simultaneously in the new-look Windows 8.1 interface.

Steve Ballmer also promised that Microsoft would continue tweaking it’s Windows 8 versions  of the software to improve user-ability, with plans to update Windows 8 periodically, rather than waiting three years or so between big releases.

You’ll also be able to uninstall the preview when it’s finally time to upgrade to the final version of Windows 8.1. Keep in mind that in order to install the Windows 8.1 preview, you must already be running Windows 8.
A word of warning: Windows 8 is still a work in progress and perhaps installing on a secondary device would be prudent … but that’s probably just the developer in me talking. Have fun and don’t forget to feedback your experiences.

Twitter Expands User Notification Features

Twitter Notification UpdatesTwitter has added yet another feature to it’s notification process. The micro-blogging website now notifies a user when another micro-blogger (twitter user) favourites a tweet they were mentioned in. This update alone is nothing grand nor does it require a big media frenzy but does expand on the already solid notification process and will without doubt assist in the analysis of tweets beyond the original tweet (when a direct connection is not present) so great news for business users of twitter.

This isn’t far behind the announcement earlier this year that Crashlytics was merging with the Twitter team.

Crashlytics develop a tool that helps fellow developers get reports on issues (known to us as crashes) with apps and what exactly was causing them, a very long standing thorn in the side of every developer I know.

So exciting times all round.

Apple 1 to be Auctioned at Christie’s

An Apple®-1 Personal Computer

The auction is an online exclusive auction and ends July 9 2013. The Apple 1 is part of a number of  other Apple antiquities, including the company’s first attempt of a word processing and spreadsheet program (on floppy disk of course), as well as a prototype portable computer that is somewhat much less ‘lightweight’ than modern day notebooks.

One of the First 25 Computers

According to a specialist at Christie’s Auction House the Apple 1 appears to be among the first 25 computers to be produced. The specialist notes that “It does not have a diamond NTI logo (the PCB manufacturer) etched into the front copper layer” which places the timing of production.

 Signed by Steve Wozniak

With approximately just 200 Apple 1 computers being produced  at its launch in July 1976, it’s a rare find but for it to be working and signed by Steve Wozniak it has a whopping estimated price tag of somewhere in the region of $500,000 ($300.000 already bid). A far cry from it’s original tag of $666.66 (monitor and keyboard not included).

 

WordPress CMS websites targeted by hackers

Wordpress TargetedThe well-known and well used WordPress CMS System has been the latest victim of the hackers.

According to an article written by W3Techs “Usage statistics and market share of Word Press “ the well-established CMS is used by 17% of website across the globe.

A botnet attacked ‘Tens of Thousands’ of individual computers last week, according to server hosting providers Cloudflare and Hostgator.

This attack is brute force attacking the admin portals within the url (myaddress.com/wp-admin). By using the default username ‘admin’ and guessing (on mass levels) the password.

Chief Executive and co-founder of Cloudflare, Matthew Prince, commented on his blog “One of the concerns of an attack like this is that the attacker is using a relatively weak botnet of home PCs in order to build a much larger botnet of beefy servers in preparation for a future attack. These larger machines can cause much more damage in DDoS attacks because the servers have large network connections and are capable of generating significant amounts of traffic.”

Sarah Brassington MD of Rake Mark Solutions said “Media Hype and fears of future attacks are obviously doing the rounds but please stay calm. We advise that all our clients’  double check that passwords are kept strong and to try and include characters within the password”.

She continues with “if any of our clients have any issues at all, please feel free to contact us. A email will be going out to all our clients using the word press platform later today”

 

Rake Marks Home Town Stafford

The West Midlands town of Stafford is not generally considered huge, the town’s population numbering a relatively modest 55,700 – according to the 2011 census – and the wider borough estimated in 2011 to have a population of about 130,900. However, the town makes up for its relatively small size with the beauty of its many historical buildings, including the Elizabethan Ancient High House, Stafford Castle and St Chad’s Church. Such buildings can, perhaps surprisingly, hint at the merits of the web design Stafford services provided by Rake Mark.

Beautiful buildings in more ways than one

Of course, though, all of the aforementioned attractions have more than just their beauty to recommend them. The Elizabethan Ancient High House, for example, is a museum with regularly changing exhibitions, while Stafford Castle has a visitor centre with audio-visual displays and hands-on items. St Chad’s Church, meanwhile, hosts “Timewalk”, a computer generated display which relates the journey of history and mystery within the church. Crucially, however, many people would be unlikely to look inside these attractions if it weren’t for their exterior aesthetic appeal. Now, here is where we begin to explain the relevance of all of this for Rake Mark’s web design Stafford services…

Attract more customers for your business with a well-designed website

Your business could offer many amazing things to many people; however, if few people are even tempted to learn about your business to learn about such amazing things, such things could be – at least to some extent – pointless. This begins to explain why your company could benefit hugely from Rake Mark’s web design Stafford services. If your company has a well-designed website courtesy of our web design Stafford services, more people who could benefit from your company are likely to stay with and peruse that website to learn about your company.

 

Mixed feelings on Google’s Newest Feature – Data after Death

Google will allow users to configure what happens to data stored within their Google associated account after death (or after a period of inactive time on-line)

The feature will apply to email, social network Google Plus and other Google products you may use within your Google account.

For many years concerns have been raised about how much privacy we actually have when surfing the web, how much is stored, what is stored and the impact this has n our privacy.

On the Official Google Blog, Andreas Tuerk (Product Manager) posts that “making plans for what happens after you’re gone is really important for the people you leave behind.”

The new feature can be found under the Google accounts settings page and while Google themselves don’t seem overly “wow’ed” by their choice of name the ‘Inactive Account Manager’ section will allow you to configure your data management options e.g. Delete my data after three, six, nine or 12 months of inactivity.

The launch of this feature on Thursday April 11 2013 has churned up many feelings as you would expect. This is certainly a topic that many people have an option on. What’s yours?

 

#MusicalTwitter or just a #rumour

Twitter Music AppTwitter, our friendly micro-blogging website has caused quite a stir of excitement after buying the music discovery site ‘We Are Hunted’. Twitter are rumoured to be launching a new music service and with #Music displayed on the newly-launched (late Thursday) sub domain music.twitter.com we can see where all the excitement is coming from.

‘We Are Hunted’ announced on http://wearehunted.com/ that yes it is true the “We Are Hunted” Team are joining Twitter and while they are staying quite tight lipped “We wish we could say but we’re not yet ready to talk about it. You’ll hear more from us when we are.” the worlds media is putting 2 and 2 together.

Reports, Rumours and the media Hype (along with a few celebrity tweets) suggests that the plans of this new service will be personalised recommendations on music through its own dedicated app.

An announcement for the new app could be made as soon as the end of the week … but we’ll all just have to wait and see.

 

Happy Birthday Twitter

Twitter celebrates its seventh birthday today and while some still (yes even now) don’t fully see the benefit of 140 character micro-blogging, twitter is used by 200 million users worldwide and is thought to tweet about 400 million messages every single day.

Back in 2006 it was something that @jack, @ev and @biz had ‘maybe’, ‘possibly’, ‘in their wildest dreams’ thought possible but today it is a reality.

Over the years it has become a platform for business, hobbies, ideas, judgement and jokes. Twitter is used by all walks of life, from the teenager on the beach telling the world how good the ‘surf’ is, to members of parliament giving us a sneak look and what to expect in the budget.

Some may love you and some may hate you …. but either way …. Happy Birthday Twitter!

Concerns over possible libel fines for bloggers under new press regulation

The Government’s recently announced intentions to replace the current voluntary self-regulation of the press through the Press Complaints Commission with a new independent press watchdog for England and Wales has been well received by many. However, the plans have led to concerns that bloggers could face hefty libel fines due to rules to be imposed by the watchdog, which will be backed by legislation.

Political blogger expresses his concerns

Political blogger Iain Dale has declared that he would “certainly” be covered by the regulations of the new watchdog, which would be established by royal charter, adding that the situation “stinks”. After reading the royal charter, he despaired that “If I don’t sign up and I am successfully sued, a judge would award exemplary damages against me,” adding that “This is madness. All that will do is encourage people with a grudge to make a complaint in the full knowledge that they will never be held responsible for what they are doing”.

The Government attempts to refute these concerns

However, the Culture Secretary Maria Miller has insisted that the criteria which determines the liability of a publisher to the new regulations protects “a single blogger”. She has explained that this is because, to be affected by the new regulations, a “publisher would have to meet the three tests of whether the publication is publishing news-related material in the course of a business, whether their material is written by a range of authors … and whether that material is subject to editorial control”.

The history leading up to the formation of the new watchdog

Press regulation
The new press watchdog has been set up following the recommendations of Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into press ethics. The inquiry was held in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal and examined the ethics and practices which allowed journalists to hack thousands of phones. The inquiry ultimately recommended the formation of a new independent press watchdog which would be backed by legislation to ensure that it was doing its job properly. However, many of the implications of the new watchdog could be yet to be widely realised.

Google Reader Faces Retirement

bye bye Google Reader
Google announced (late Wednesday Evening) that it will soon be retiring its beloved RSS Feed Reader! The well-loved (and quite long standing, been around since 2005) RSS Reader has been given the retirement date of July 1st 2013.

According to the official Google Blog, Google have two reasons for their actions.

Firstly the usage of Google Reader has simple declined and Secondly, Google are focusing their efforts and energy on fewer products. The idea being that, by not spreading themselves to thinly they can give the user a superior product experience.

The July “Fond Farewell” date is set a few months in advance to give us all Google RSS Feed users chance to re-group (and get their affairs in order) and move on to an alternative solution.

Google also went on to offer Googletake out as a possible Alternative and thanked us for using the reader as an RSS Platform.

Other options are Feedly, Omea Reader, or The Old Reader.

Facebook faces legal action for the use of the ‘Like’ button

Lawsuit for Rembrandt Social Media

Lawsuit for Rembrandt Social Media

Fish & Richardson a global law firm has filed a Patent Infringement Lawsuit on behalf of a dead Dutch programmer called Joannes Jozef Everardus van Der Meer.

According to legal papers filed by Fish and Richardson, ‘Surfbook’ was a social diary that let its users share information with friends and family and the mechanism used to approve information was a “like” button.

Rembrandt Social Media who now own the patents for the technologies used to build the Social Media Platform ’Surfbook’ where granted to Mr Van Der Meer almost 10 years ago, well before Social Media Giant Facebook came crashing onto the scene.

Rembrandt’s comment is simply that the patents were used without permission and possibly contributed to the massive success of Facebook.

Facebook declined to comment on either the claim or the Lawsuit.

It is documented in the legal paperwork filed by Fish & Richardson that Facebook knew of the patent (and therefor potentially the infringement) as Facebook themselves makes reference to it in its own social networking technology patent applications.

“We believe Rembrandt’s patents represent an important foundation of social media as we know it, and we expect a judge and jury to reach the same conclusion based on the evidence,” says attorney Tom Melsheimer, counsel for Rembrandt and managing principal of Fish & Richardson’s Dallas office.

Responsive Web Design is not the Answer for e-Commerce Websites

An article published on the Internet Retailer online magazine warns against the use of responsive web design for e-retailers, claiming eCommerce websites suffer when using web design style, citing drawbacks for image heavy sites.

Responsive web design is a web design style that aims to take a customers required web design and then craft it in such a way as it will display on a number of different screen sizes, computers and devices. This means that the web designers don’t need to create an alternative design for different devices, like smartphones, tablets and other computers.

The article discusses the views of Raul Justiniano, a web developer for the Original Penguin brand. He claims that although there are benefits to having one site that that works on every device there are limitations when the site has a large number of images and this has a knock on effect with e-commerce websites.

If you consider the appearance of a product thumbnail list on the small screen of a Blackberry you really can see his point. Finding the product you’re looking for could become difficult if this is the primary navigation and it uses text and visual clues to help users find their products.

Displaying product detail can also be problematic, especially if your site is programmed to shrink 50% when displaying a web page on a mobile phone. This is going to affect the quality of the image output to the website visitor.

Philip Brassington of Rake Mark Solutions support this view with a clear image of your product is a minimum requirement when selling online.

“When you have no image your sales of that product shrink to practically zero” he said.

Raul Justiniano recommends that e-retailers create different images for smaller screens.

“For example, a home page image that shows PC users six fashion models might be cropped to show just four models, so that a smartphone user still sees the apparel with sufficient detail.” he says.

Justiniano coins the phrase ‘adaptive design’ rather than ‘responsive design’. In his explanation of this he states that parts of the site should remain responsive where  appropriate with substitute elements to ‘adapt’ the websites design where appropriate.

The cost of adaptive design to the website owner would depend on the site, but would probably remain outside of the budget of most small to medium eCommerce website owners. So until it is included into an eCommerce website package it will remain a web design discussion over a requirement.

Power Users Hate Fancy Web Design

An article on the MIT Technology Review asks the question ‘Why Power Users Hate Fancy Web Design’ citing recent trends in web design to prove the point.

Macworld.com is sited as being so in the face of conventional design that it is described as ‘confrontationally un-designed’ with a news feed dominating its home page over the current convention of carefully selected image signposts, headlines and white space.

This layout is reported by the Technology Review to be a deliberate choice from its editor in chief Jason Snell. He is reported to have said that his readers had been trained to expect a straight river of news — no embellishment, no frills, nothing but the text itself.

His reported comments to Technology Review, “When we moved that list to a lower-down news index, that became the biggest traffic page on the site instead of the home page. They didn’t even like it when we added thumbnails and summary blurbs.”

The challenge is getting both website users and website owners to consider design changes and often when you are putting valuable startup money into your new site there needs to be an element of safe.

Is Plain Web Design the New Fancy in Web Design

Commentators muse that maybe the answer to the question lies in providing the appropriate layout to the intended audience. If you are aiming at experienced computer users, or ‘Power Users’ then this very simplistic design will work for you.

Others comment that mainstream sites like the US news site MSNBC.com are now stripped down and looking ‘spartan’ and better for it with other ‘loathing’ unnecessary bells and whistles in the websites they visit.

Clean and clutter free websites have been on the rise for some years now. They are easier to adopt for mobile devices and keep signposts clear allowing users to find their way around your site quickly and easily.

But this is article is suggesting something different to clean design. This article promotes function as the primary concern. It isn’t saying that ignoring the rules of good design, rather that these web design rules are not needed it seems in some situations.

British Legion Create Social Media Thunderclap For Remeberance

At 9am on Sunday 11th November a UK first will occur. The Royal British Legion will unleash a social media Thunderclap to promote Two Minutes Silence in remembrance of all the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

A Social Media Thunderclap is a ‘crowdspeaking platform’ that allows a single message to be mass shared simultaneously. The Thunderclap organisation describes it as being like a social media flash mob, helping the single message to rise above the noise of social networks.

The subsequent retweeting or Facebook ‘liking’ of the original simultaneous Thunderclap message, serves to ensure that important causes achieve global recognition by harnessing the power of social media.

“Twitter is a wonderful way to say something, but it’s difficult to be heard,” says Hashem Bajwa, De-De’s CEO. “Thunderclap lets people be heard by saying something together.”

Join the British Legion Thunderclap and Show Your Support

As the first UK organisation to use the Thunderclap social media tool the British Legion will use the Thunderclap to encourage the UK’s 10 million Twitter and 33 million Facebook users to observe the Two Minute Silence on Remembrance Sunday (11am on Sunday 11 November).

On Sunday morning, 11 November, in advance of the traditional Two Minute Silence at 11am, a ‘stockpile’ of tweets and updates made by British social media users will be unleashed.

The message, ‘I’ll be remembering the fallen at 11 o’clock #2MinuteSilence #LestWeForget’ will be broadcast across the social media websites of twitter and Facebook in a simultaneous expression of support.

To join the Thunderclap and show your support simply visit the Thunderclap page – www.thunderclap.it/projects/547-two-minute-silence. Once there you can then support the effort by clicking to authorise your Twitter and Facebook accounts to send this message simultaneously on Sunday 11 November with every other participant.

If you have opted-in to participate, Thunderclap will automatically send out the message at 9am on 11 November.

Helen Hill, Head of Remembrance at The Royal British Legion comments, “We hope to create the largest ever show of online Remembrance by using the communicative power of social media to remind millions of Britons that they have a very personal opportunity to honour the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

Rake Mark have joined the Thunderclap to show their support and will be observing the two minute silence.

British Legion Promotes Social Media Two Minute Silence

The British Legion have, this year, launched a campaign to highlight twitter and Facebook use during the traditional two minute silence, reminding us that remembrance is about pausing for two minutes rather than simply observing the silence.

We remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms by falling silent at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For two minutes offices, shops, train stations and broadcasting organisations all fall silent as we pause and reflect as a mark of respect.

But Facebook, twitter and other social media websites continue with tweets and status updates continuing without interruption.

The British Legion Website reminds us of the importance of remembrance stating,

‘Remembrance is not just about those who fought in the two World Wars of the last century, but also about those involved in the many other conflicts worldwide since 1945 and those still fighting for peace and freedom today. It is also about learning from the past and resolving to make the world a better place to live in the future.

The act of observing a Two Minute Silence began in 1919 following the Armistice at 11am on 11 November 1918 at the end of the First World War.’

Rake Mark Observes the Armistice

Rake Mark are supporting the remembrance via our twitter feed and Facebook page, by posting
‘I’ll be remembering the fallen at 11 o’clock #2MinuteSilence #LestWeForget’,
but our feeds will fall silent at 11am.

The Rake Mark team would also like to remind our customers, clients and callers that as a part of the remembrance that they do not answer calls, emails or support requests in the run up to eleven and during the two minute silence.

More than three quarters of the UK population are expected to pause for the Two Minute Silence at 11am on 11 November, the moment the guns fell silent at the end of the First World War.

Staffordshire Web Designers Friday Rant: Remember the Little Guy

All over the news at the moment is one titan social media web company fighting some other Goliath search company. Or two popular mobile device manufacturers going head to head over who’s allowed to use rounded corners and bouncy scroll.

Through all this it is easy to forget about the little guy. The small firms that work tirelessly to bring you the SME’s of the world many services you rely on. And while the tech giants are fighting it out it easy to forget that these other smaller tech firms that need column inches too.

I am of course talking about Microsoft.

Even when Microsoft bought a company worth 2 billion for about 8 billion it only got a few column inches but it was still a huge amount to spend on a VoIP company.

The recent release of Windows 8 doesn’t seem to have brought in the vultures to slag it off. This may be because it’s a really solid piece of software, or more likely, no one really cares any more.

The company that still commands the PC operating system market with Windows and the office software market with Microsoft Office has never really challenged in the areas that are beginning to matter more and more and are going to be the only things that matter in a few years.

This area is namely anything mobile.

With most people needing a web browser and a few novelty apps to supplement their games console, who actually needs a PC any more? Well I do for one, and office based workers tend to still sit in an office with a nice meaty screen and tower but is that about it? Is the PC doomed to be replaced by lightweight netbooks, chromebooks and tablets?

I doubt it.

This is a fad. And like all fads it will pass. Workers trying to create, share and memos and documents on a 4 inch (10cm) screen will soon realise that the box on their desk does that particular job better. And the sooner people realise that an actual keyboard is faster for typing that a touch screen the better. I’ve seen a salesman trying to input an order onto his iPad that will ‘interface’ directly with the company accounts (at what cost) one… character… at… a… time (blessed that at least there was no annoying little boip after each frustrating keypress).

How long would it take you to actually type 400 words for a friday rant using a touch screen? Unless I’m on a plane an iPad is pointless (I actually struggle to see the point of tablets anyway) and a laptop if far superior.

So remember the little guy. Remember Microsoft. There is still a place in this world for desktop