Become a Super Ninja with Firebrand

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Firebrand, but they’re one of the top IT trainers around with training centres all around the world! They offer intensive fully-inclusive courses, with accommodation and food supplied on-site, 12 hr training days and labs available 24-hours a day. This means there are no distractions, it’s full on learning designed for those who want to learn!

Anyway, Firebrand are running an awesome competition with a prize that’s worth over £1 million. One lucky winner will get access to ALL THEIR COURSES. Yes, you heard that right, a chance to attend all their courses and become the most qualified person around!

Interested? Sign up here: Training for Life

Code Club in the paper!

There are defining moments in every initiative where an idea in someone’s mind slowly becomes an inescapable reality. And nothing captures that as much as seeing your idea in local media.

It’s pretty exciting to see the local press pick up on the Code Club Launch and run an article about it. It’s been picked up by a number of people who have been in touch and should be joining us this Saturday.

At this point, it’s all about encouraging support and making sure we have enough Volunteers to make sure this is a success, so the more coverage we get the better. Make sure you tell your friends, colleagues, family about the Launch Event. The more the merrier!

What’s next for my Android app

Well, I figured out how to write an application for the Android platform and how to push it onto the market. And now I’m facing the problem that many developers found themselves facing when the Android ecosystem introduced support for multiple display capabilities on devices. Yup, the application that looked great on my Nexus didn’t appear on my friend Dan’s HTC Tattoo market. I added support for the device and now the application looks a bit crappy on both.

The images on my phone are now tiny and on the Tattoo are all jammed up together. This is caused by the fact that the images sizes are set to 100 pixels across. I’m going to have to rethink how the pictures are sized and use the display width to figure out the proper width for the images. In retrospect this is what I should have done in the first place, but hey, I believe in learning through doing and you can’t learn without making mistakes.

So, onto reading about density independence and the other joys of supporting multiple screen types.

Isle of Man Views : My first Android app

I’ve been playing with writing an Android application, with the explicit intention of learning how apps work, get my teeth into Eclipse and Java and get some understanding of how the Android developer ecosystem works. It’s been a great journey so far, and the fruit of my effort is now up on the Android Market.

It’s a pretty simple application that shows you some of the sights around the Isle of Man, together with a small description of what you”re viewing. I’ll be adding more functionality to it in the future, but in the meantime you can see it on the Market view on AppBrain: Isle of Man Views

Next feature I’ll be working on is to show a map of the photo you’re looking at.

Top 25 Most Dangerous Programming Errors

Here’s an interesting read if you work in or with a team that’s responsible for building public facing systems. It’s a collection of the top 25 programming errors that have been responsible for most of the major security breeches and system outages over the last few years. Some of them are pretty well known, some a bit more exotic, but it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re aware of the risks you’re facing and familiarise yourself with them.

Here are the top 3, which I’m sure most people are familiar with:

  • Failure to Preserve Web Page Structure (‘Cross-site Scripting’)
  • Improper Sanitization of Special Elements used in an SQL Command (‘SQL Injection’)
  • Buffer Copy without Checking Size of Input (‘Classic Buffer Overflow’)

Get the whole list here: Top 25 Most Dangerous Programming Errors

What I like about the list is that there’s a plain English description after each vulnerability (further down in the document), which you can use when explaining to non-programmers what the risk is all about. So next time your website gets hacked, you can use this to explain to your CEO exactly how it happened.

On a side note: My mate Noah maintains that the single Most Dangerous Programming Error was demonstrated to us by James Cameron in the Terminator series: Giving complete control to machines results in disastrous consequences which includes them ruling the world and going back in time to kill your mother. I have a plan for that though; if we take down the satellites they won’t have access to internet satellite services and therefore will get lost as soon as they’re out of Bluetooth range of each other. Reckon that will work?

Sponsored Tweets API Challenge – Our entry

Hyder and I spent the weekend putting the finishing touches on our entry on the Sponsored Tweets API Challenge, a competition for developers and designers to make use of the Sponsored Tweets API. The competition aims at rewarding the best entry judged on

  1. Creativity
  2. User adoption potential (or actual)
  3. Revenue generation potential (or actual)

So, what did our entry consist of. Well, you might have heard of TweetRoll, the Twitter widget we had created some time back. We’ve used the Sponsored Tweets API to add functionality to the widget to automatically detect if you’re signed up to Sponsored Tweets. If you are, the widget will display a special section that shows your price per tweet and invites viewers to the widget to purchase a Sponsored Tweet. The new functionality embedded itself really nicely into the existing plugin and the upgrade will be transparent to all users.

What the marriage of functionality really results in, is to give Tweeters a platform to monitise their Twitter stream and to use their online presence to do so. The widget itself is available as a line of JavaScript, a WordPress plugin or even a Widgetbox widget. You can see the new functionality running on the left hand side of this blog; just run your mouse over the “Sponsor a Tweet” link in the TweetRoll widget.

Is it good enough to win? Well, keep an eye on the competition page and we’ll know in a few days. In the meantime, you can read more on the TweetBurn blog: Making Money with TweetRoll

Getting a 360 degree view

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. And if that’s the case, you can just imagine how great a video can be. And the great thing about the online world is that anyone has a choice of media they can use. You could be using it to market your product, you could be using it to sell a service; you could be using it to make a point. But there’s one thing that is better than a video. Have a look at this 360 view below:

It’s a special applet that shows you a 360 view of any object you want, a perfect way to learn more about an item. In this case the subject is a car; and it’s a perfect example of what can be implemented, for example, on a website dedicated to selling cars. But you can see the potential for any product you may want to sell online.

The website include instructions on how to produce the 360 views, which involves creating two points which are used to align all the images, and then taking photos at 15% angles around the item on display. This should give you 20 photos, but you can take more if you want to make the animation a bit smoother. Once the photos are taken, you can log into the 3D Bin website and use the website to upload your photos and make your video. Once the animation is created, the website will give you some code you can insert anywhere you want the 360 view to be displayed. You can use it on your website, on eBay or anywhere that lets you embed your code.

The beauty of this animation is that the person viewing the website has full control of the visual experience. They can spin around the object to their heart’s content, see it from any angle and even zoom in and out to examine individual details. It’s impossible to know exactly what someone is after, but this way, they can just pick antyhing they like.

Want to give it a try? Here’s a coupon for a 6 month trial: S1PWA-SNLYD-HIJQS-3K23T-NECVZ