Author Archive | David A. Sampayo

Google’s Latest Browser Venture: Yet Another Plug-In?

Flash…Java…Silverlight…Google Gears…Yahoo BrowserPlus…it seems like the list of additional stuff you need besides your browser just to use the Web keeps on growing. For better or for worse, Google’s latest project announcement adds another contender.

Native Client is Google’s latest plan to change the Web, and this time it comes in the form of a browser plug-in. Admittedly, as a technology, there’s nothing incredibly interesting to the average web surfer, but, like many Google projects, the project’s promise is where this development becomes interesting. The best description I have found of Native Client is on the Google Code Blog post describing the project. The post defines Native Client as “a technology that aims to give web developers access to the full power of the client’s CPU while maintaining the browser neutrality, OS portability and safety that people expect from web applications.” In other words, Google is trying to make a platform for Web developers that does what Java aimed to do back in its heyday. Like Java, Native Client will be completely cross platform and work in almost every browser, with the major difference being that Google’s plug-in will run at native processor speeds, giving programmers access to even unprecedented resources on your computer.

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Six Ways Lala Can Be an Even Better Music Service

On Monday evening, when Harry published a review of the newest incarnation of the Lala music service, I opened a new Firefox tab and headed there to see if his praise was justified. After over 72 hours of using Lala, I can say that I’ve found the music store I have been looking for since the Internet began.

Lala looks like it’ll meet success just the way it is. But it still lacks some features that could take it from a valuable Web 2.0 newcomer to a household name in digital music distribution–one that could be just as powerful and popular as Pandora or Last.FM. It is in that spirit that I offer these ideas for an even better Lala.

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Why the Kill Switch Makes Sense for Android, and Not for iPhone

”Gasp!” went the collective Internet on Wednesday when the IDG News Service spotted a clause in the terms of service for Google’s Android Market stating that:

Google may discover a product that violates the developer distribution agreement … in such an instance, Google retains the right to remotely remove those applications from your device at its sole discretion.

In other words, Google has a built-in “kill switch” to remotely disable applications that violate their developer agreement.

While the terms of this agreement certainly seem reasonable, tech critics thought back to February, when Apple explained its own terms of service for the iPhone, which also seemed reasonable at the time. As we know, Apple’s developer agreement turned out to be much more trouble than initially anticipated, causing a storm of criticism around the developer NDA and Apple’s disqualification of apps that “duplicated functionality” of other Apple applications.

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The Trouble(s) With Google Chrome’s Security

It’s been more than a month since Google Chrome first hit our desktops. The blogosphere is still pondering its features and performance, and making predictions about Google’s future in the browser business. But amidst all of the commentary about Google’s latest venture, very few have taken the time to examine the new browser’s security. Browser-based attacks in the form of phishing expeditions, cross-site scripting, plug-in exploits, and other techniques should give even the most tech savvy among us pause when considering which browser to make the workhorse of our daily online activities. A significant number of users have chosen Chrome–but the security measures Google has implemented in Chrome are subpar for a modern browser.

There are many simple steps that Chrome could take to further protect its users. To be fair, many of the complaints I have could also be directed at Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari, so I’ve decided to break things down into a feature-by-feature comparison.

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Google, Apple, and the War for Developers

On Tuesday morning, months of anticipation, speculation, software controversy, and hardware rumors came to a head as T-Mobile executives and Google’s top brass unveiled the G1, the first “Googlephone.” As reporters and bloggers got their hands on the detailed specifications about the device, the software, and the terms of service, hundreds of inevitable comparisons were drawn between the iPhone and this fledgling product. But the differences between the two platforms go far beyond simple differences in specs.

Google is pursuing a decidedly different market strategy with Android. The brilliance of Apple’s iPhone strategy–besides the fact that the phone itself is so compelling–was in the sequence of announcements. You can bet your last share of Lehman stock that Steve Jobs had the App Store and iPhone SDK planned from the start, but did not release them initially on purpose. Apple first announced the iPhone in January of 2007, wowed the tech community, built up six months of hot anticipation, and released it in June of the same year. Its market share immediately exploded, well beyond initial predictions, grabbing percentage points in the double digits within months.

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