Thursday, November 13, 2008

RJ-45-sized Linux server

This might not be a full blown PC/Server but it runs Linux and can be used by Electrical engineers to control their boards over a network (both Ethernet and Wifi) without too much work. I came across this a couple of years ago.


Imagine creating your own Centralized Traffic Light Control system. Any electrical engineer can design a board that will turn the lights red, yellow and green. Imagine adding the above shown Wifi or ethernet version of this device and then being able to control and monitor all the lights in your city from your Office room (there is a huge demand for this nowadays).

I am just hoping for a WiMax version of this connector. Here in Karachi we have a very good WiMax wireless network set up by Wateen. Being able to control remote devices over WiMax and GPRS is much easier to do than ethernet here.

Photoshop On Web Revisited

A lot of new Flash based image editing programs usable directly from your web browser have popped up since I last posted about Fauxto. I came across Pixlr recently which is way faster than anything I have tried before.

Fauxto has been renamed to Splashup. Its much more powerful than before.

Adobe has released its own version called Photoshop Express. It gives you web space for hosting your images and also allows you to post your final edited images to photo sites like Flickr.

So what good are these applications? They give you powerful image editing capabilities without having anything installed on your PC (except Flash).

These applications are also a living proof of the fact that full blown powerful and usable applications can indeed be developed using the web paradigm. AJAX and Flash have proven it. So don't be shocked one day to find out that all your applications run through your browser.

Technologies like Mozilla Prism will allow these web technologies based applications to also install on your PC so you can run them when you are not online. The face of desktop application development is being redefined.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Problems with BPM Platforms

A Business Process Management (BPM) platform allows businessmen to create flow charts of their business processes and translates them automatically into a running program. They come with visual designers that allows them to specify users of a process, design forms to be filled, choose the database and tables where the data should be saved, design reports etc. I have looked at a couple of BPM solutions like the uEngine, ProcessMaker and jBPM from jBoss.

I found their process designers to be wonderful. But the one thing I feel they have it wrong is the deployment aspect of their software. Each one them first gives an option to its user to initiate a "process" from a long list of available processes, displaying the path of the process to every user who has to do their part in it.

In the world of software development we know that majority of the users get confused by terms and options that they are not used to or do not understand. So we try to hide the things that might confuse them so that they may concentrate on what they are needed to do. Take the above screenshot for example which covers Order and Shipping of a product. Its currently waiting for a user to review the order. What do you think will go through the user's mind when he/she sees the above user interface (especially the options for Suspend this process instance).

I think he/she will be confused out of his/her mind. All the user wants to do is review the order. I think BPM solutions should give developers more control over the screens displayed to the end users or at least have some defaults which will not confuse the end users.

Monday, November 10, 2008

World's Smallest Projector ($511 only)

A projector that fits right in your pocket, for only $511, same size as an iPod. A resolution of 480 x 320 pixel means that the text on your presentations might show up a little fuzzy but for presentations with more graphics and big text, this is definitely going to work. And then there is also the WOW factor. Look here for details.