YouTube now streams HTML5 video

With YouTube now streaming HTML5 video, does it mean that Flash is dead? Well, whether or not Flash as a platform is dead, is debatable. One thing for sure, though, this move by YouTube, one of the biggest video content delivery system on the web will mean that it is now possible to disable or uninstall Flash player from one’s browser without experiencing a lot of inconvenience.

This move is definitely a positive one in light of all the security issues that Flash player has experienced. In the last year alone there have been multiple 0-day exploits being used by cyber criminals to install malware onto the computers of unwitting victims. From the computer security perspective, this means there is potentially one less vector for attack.

Hopefully this will mean that other video content providers on the web such as Facebook, Vimeo, Dailymotion and the others will follow suit and shift away from using proprietary technology to deliver their content. Without Flash, the web will have one less way of reaching into parts of your computer you don’t want it to.

It must be said, though, that the delivery of HTML5 video by YouTube is enabled by the use of the Widevine DRM plugin which is not in the spirit of the open source movement, but if I were to choose between Flash DRM and WideVine, I probably would choose Widevine as it is a compromise that Google had to make to appease content owners.

If you have been a long time Flash user, don’t be disheartened by the beginning of the demise of the platform that once had a claim of 95% install base. Flash is still a great tool for creating animations and it either will evolve new abilities (it partly has) to export to standards compliant open technologies or new tools will emerge. New Javascript animation tool anyone?

 

How to block private number calls on Android

One of the annoyances of having a mobile phone / cell phone is the fact that people sometimes call you but they block their number so you do not know the number that they are calling from. While this could be one of your friends, most of the time this technique is used by less than desired callers. Marketers, banks and other less desirable characters often use this technique to catch you unawares or to prevent you from calling them back.

Most Android handsets in the market are not equipped to block private number calls but there are things you can do to take control of this situation. Here are some of the things that you can do:

  1. Flash your phone with Cyanogenmod ROM (can be hard and time-consuming)
    If you are OK with rooting your Android handset and then installing a custom ROM, this is a  good solution. Not only you gain the blacklist feature, but you also gain a custom ROM that lets you customise a lot of aspects of your phone. The blacklist in Cyanogenmod allows you to block private number calls, SMS, or any number you add to the blacklist or numbers not on your address book. It also allows you to decide to drop the call or send it to voicemail.
  2. Install app such as Call Control or other similar apps (easy)
    If you are not comfortable with rooting your phone and installing a custom ROM, this is a quite effective way to block private numbers or any number you do not want to receive. Call Control offers similar features to the Cyanogenmod blacklist by simple installation of an app. This app also offers in-app purchases (not sure what they are, so you had better read their description carefully).

Choose your options wisely.

How to make Chrome faster in OS X Mavericks

Ever since I upgraded to OS X Mavericks, Chrome has been running a little slow. It seems to struggle in opening and closing tabs, as well as populating auto-fill lists when I am typing a URL or a search query. I could not quite put my finger on it. At first I thought it was to do with the new updates and other enhancements. Then I started to think about getting a new laptop.

Just recently, while I was optimising a few aspects of my old Macbook Pro (circa 2010), I discovered that one could speed things up by turning off the Dashboard (does anyone use this anymore?). The Dashboard is one of those features that I hardly ever use on OS X.

During my search on how to turn off the Dashboard, I discovered another tip, that allows you to disable the “App Nap” setting of apps on an individual basis. Curious, I tried this on Chrome. I went to open Finder and then open the “Applications” directory. I right-clicked on Google Chrome and selected “Get Info”. In the Get Info window, I ticked “prevent App Nap”.

This has resulted in Chrome working as fluidly as it did before I upgraded to Mavericks. Although this worked for me, your milage may vary. Good luck.

Hamburger Icons

I have recently been reading quite a bit on the use of the “hamburger icon” in UI design and navigation patterns and I though I would contribute to the discussion by making a few of my own. These are free to use under CC Attribution Licence. You can download the SVG icons here svg-icons and the PNG icons here png-icons.

Burger01
The full burger

 

Burger02
Traditional burger
Burger03
Traditional rounded
Burger04
Ham sandwich
Burger05
Cheese burger
Burger06
Burger with lettuce
Burger07
Steak sandwich

 

Burger08
Hotdog

Creative Commons License
burger icons by j muljana is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Is Everyone Leaving Facebook?

In the last couple of years, various pundits have predicted the demise of Facebook as the social network of choice among the younger generation. Headlines have been published implying that Facebook is not cool anymore and that the younger generation are abandoning it for newer and cooler networks. If you believe the headlines, the impression will be that young people are moving to either Snapchat, Whatsapp, Ello and various other newcomers in the crowded social networking app market.

From my observations, though, it seems that a lot of the current proclamations and announcements of the death of Facebook are premature (or visionary?). Many people still use Facebook on a daily basis and that seems to span many different generations. Facebook seems to realise this with the inclusion of better privacy and social interaction settings.

I work as an educator with high school students as well as with adult education. My students range in age from the late teens, young adults all the way to semi-retirees. From what I have observed in the classrooms, the late teens and the young adults are all quite heavy Facebook users. When I am lecturing, I see a lot of students who have several tabs open on their browser windows and one of them is very likely on Facebook.

I think there is still quite a large number of people on Facebook. A lot of people say they are leaving Facebook, but not many people carry it through simply because of the connections they have built. Even though I got an invite to join Ello, most of my friends are still on Facebook.