Category Archives: Web Development

Limiting jQuery Mobile Page Size

jQuery Mobile is great for adding mobile functionality and good-looking widgets when developing mobile apps or development. It can also be extended to use your own layouts, design and theme.

One instance I’ve found is that jQuery Mobile’s layout stretches the entire width of the browser. This is great for mobile devices, but not so much for the desktop or tablet.

If you’re okay with limiting the page to a maximum width, then the CSS is easy. Using CSS3 media queries, we can use the following:

@media only screen and (min-width: 600px)
{
.ui-page
{
width: 600px !important;
margin: 0 auto !important;
position: relative !important;
}
}

This will limit the page size to 600px for any browser or device whose viewport is larger than 600px.

Google Chrome OS and the Future of Internet-Only Operating Systems

Originally published for my current employer at the Whatever Media blog

Background

As a Web Developer and Computer Scientist, I’ve had to deal with research on both web browsers and operating systems and how each piece of software deals with hardware (memory, hard drives, processors, etc.), users, security and the interaction between all three. What has only been a recent development, with the invention of smartphones (iPhone, BlackBerry, Google Android), tablets (Apple iPad, BlackBerry PlayBook) and netbooks (more compact versions of Windows and Linux), is the merger of the web and operating systems.

Internet in its infancy

Computer research exploded during World War II when we needed faster ways to calculate artillery trajectories and later, a way to exploit the German message-encrypting machine called The Enigma.

Later, but before the Internet was invented and exploited by the public en masse, operating systems handled many scientific and business operations, such as intensive mathematical computations, spreadsheets, accounting ledgers and maybe the occasional game.

When the Internet was in its infancy, it was still used for manly scientific purposes – researchers sharing scientific documents – but it didn’t take long for companies and organizations to setup homepages for their businesses with contact information, store hours and store locations.

By the mid-to-late 90s, websites began to display and work with relevant information of user’s interest, including news websites and online stores. Think CNN, BBC, Amazon, eBay, Google and so on.

The Internet today

By the mid-2000s, smartphones such as the BlackBerry and iPhone began to take foot and now, in 2011, are the main source of communication between individuals in the Western World. We text, e-mail, check Facebook, write Tweets and catch up on the latest news, all from this little magic box attached to our hip. But have you ever encountered a data-outage where you can no longer use these services? Many people feel lost without their smartphone, especially when its Internet capabilities are disabled. It’s how we keep connected.

Enter Google, Chrome & Chrome OS

Google entered the web browser war in late-2008, against Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple’s Safari and Opera by releasing Google Chrome. Many people wondered why the world needed yet-another-browser, but little did they realize the importance of such a development. Google postulated that in the next few years, the majority of citizens in first-world countries will completely rely on the Internet for day-to-day operations. Google is a web firm, with their income entirely based on the web through their online search engine, online advertising, e-mail (Gmail), office suite (Google Docs) and so on, so why wouldn’t a company that relies entirely on the Internet, create a program to view and explore the Internet, the way they want?

Google is now going one step further and releasing their own operating system based on Google Chrome, called Google Chrome OS. As you may have noticed, operating systems have slowly been merging with the Web for some time. Although researched since the mid-90s and before, Google is the first major corporation to put their money on the further integration of the two and to start selling devices based on their software.

Will Google Chrome OS do everything I need?

You are probably already using a device that is heavily reliant on the Internet, such as your smartphone, tablet or workstation at work. However, your workstation at work probably has a lot of other important applications other than your web browser, such as Photoshop, Microsoft Office, Quicken and so on. So what good is an operating system that is only a web browser?

Well, did you know that most of those applications now run on the web? Adobe Photoshop has been replicated to a great deal of accuracy through a website called Pixlr, there are online applications that mirror Microsoft Office like Google Docs (with many others following suit), and Quicken has been emulated by your bank (CIBC, Scotiabank, BMO, etc.) and third-party websites such as Mint.com.

So, not only will you be able to use all the same applications you’ve been using since the 1990s, the data you work with will be saved by these third-party websites, so if your laptop gets lost or stolen, none of your data will be lost and will in fact be safe from unwarranted parties so long as they don’t know your password. Even further, Google has a sync program that will allow all your bookmarks, extensions, themes and data to be synced across all your computers, so long as you’re using Google Chrome. So you can have Google Chrome on your home and work PC (running Windows, Mac or Linux), on your phone or on your tablet and your experience on one computer will be the same as any other computer or device you use.

No lost data and seamless integration across your devices. Sounds pretty good to me.

The future

With technologies such as HTML5 bringing patent-free video to our fingertips (which means streaming Netflix for Canadians) and the integration of OpenGL-3D for 3D data display (think engineering, computer animation and 3D video games), there’s no telling where the Web will go. One thing is for certain and that is our reliance on the Web will not be lessened by this evolution, but rather tightened, hopefully making a less painless computing experience for everyone.

Firefox is Enterprise Ready says IBM

As noted by Bob Sutor, an IBM employee, Mozilla Firefox will now be the default browser for the entire staff at IBM. He stated that a few thousand employees used Firefox by choice on their Linux, Mac and Windows machines, but the browser will now be installed by default on all their laptop and desktop images, extending to their ~400,000 employees.

Sutor has even stated,

Any employee who is not now using Firefox will be strongly encouraged to use it as their default browser. All new computers will be provisioned with it. We will continue to strongly encourage our vendors who have browser-based software to fully support Firefox.

This is significant because, working as a computer technician for a local school board in the past, we had to run software such as IBM/Tivoli Remote Deployment Manager and IBM/TLC School Connect to provision Windows images to broken thin-clients and manage their Active Directory set up, respectively. When I used my Ubuntu laptop to connect, Firefox would struggle to display a couple pages and I would be forced to use a working thin-client just to connect.

Did it make sense that School Connect only worked with Internet Explorer? Well, maybe, since it connects to a Windows-only Active Directory server, but that’s really restricting your audience, like DRM for web browsers (you buy an MP3 on an iPod and you can only play that MP3 on an iPod, not any other music player or device). Was this Firefox’s fault? No. I looked at the source code (don’t forget, I’m a web developer) and noticed the software’s dependence on archaic Microsoft technologies and closed standards. IBM pushing Firefox internally will only force this software monolith to program web-based software with open standards, which will allow fair competition between web browsers and not lock any user out from using their software (including us dolorous computer technicians). I am hoping this will also push my local school board and former employer into not only adding Firefox to their Windows images, but making Firefox their default browser for thousands of students and staff in due time. I have noted to the Manager of Information Technology, my former boss, that Google has dropped their support for Internet Explorer 6, so at least they’ll be getting rid of that non-open-standard-complying piece of &%$! technology.

I find this not only a win for Firefox, but a win for open standards in web development, allowing us web developers to breathe a little easier while programming and designing web sites, knowing that all our features are supported once it is released into the wild.