Simperium is technical magic. It’s a data layer which, as simplified as I can make it, provides real-time syncing. If you were to open the Simplenote app on your phone right next to the app on your computer (or the web app), you could type on one device and see the letters appear instantly on the other screen in real-time. Simperium isn’t limited to just text, and you can tie it into any application or service you’re developing. I won’t get into the technical aspects of Simperium, because I wouldn’t do it justice, but please watch the video embedded below for more details.
Without Simperium, Simplenote wouldn’t be what it is today, and I’m sure you’ll be seeing Simperium as the backbone of more top applications and services in the years to come.
Update: On July 13, 2015 (almost a year after the publication of this post), Firefox 35 was released, finally bringing native H.264-encoded MP4 support to all desktop platforms.
I really want to love Firefox again, I really do. It’s open source, the add-on library is massive, and (because it’s open source) it’s really easy to get involved. I had used Firefox for everything for quite a long time, but then I got tired of Flash, and that’s when Firefox fell apart for me.
You see, it’s 2014, and videos online are a very popular thing. Probably 20% of the pages you view on a daily basis have a video embedded somewhere. Most of these videos are H.264-encoded MP4s, fewer are WebM (either VP8 or VP9), and even fewer are OGG (seriously, try to find an embedded OGG video outside of Wikipedia). To get an idea for the magnitude of this situation, YouTube (the largest online library of embed-able videos in existence) still has not finished transcoding their entire library (all currently available as H.264-encoded MP4s) to WebM, and Vimeo (the second largest) only uses H.264-encoded MP4s with no plans to transcode their library to WebM or OGG.
Well, can you guess what Firefox on a Mac still doesn’t support? If you guessed H.264-encoded MP4s, you’re right! You also get a lesser prize if you guessed VP9-encoded WebMs, which really aren’t all that popular yet.
If you really want to view the most popular online embedded video format with Firefox on a Mac, you will need to install Flash. Firefox on Windows and Linux has supported H.264-encoded MP4s natively without Flash for quite some time, but not Firefox on a Mac. The people behind Firefox on a Mac don’t want to support H.264-encoded MP4s natively without Flash, because H.264 is a proprietary codec, meaning it’s not open source.
Well, I ask you, what is Flash then? Flash is proprietary software, it’s not open source either. Firefox’s solution to viewing the most popular video format online is to install proprietary software, which brings me to a very important question. If I need to install proprietary software to view the most popular video format online, why don’t I simply use a proprietary browser (like Safari or Chrome) instead of Firefox and continue to not use Flash?
Really, Firefox, what is the point if not to spread the value of open source software by making the web a better place through a free and open source browser which simply offers the best possible web experience to the average user? If you do not provide the ability to view the most popular video format online without the help of proprietary software, you have made the web a worse place for your users and damaged your efforts to promote open source software by promoted a piece of proprietary software as the only solution to a problem which almost every single one of your users will face.
Now, to be fair to Firefox and anyone reading this article searching for a solution, you can install Greasemonkey and ViewTube to view videos on the video sites themselves (YouTube, Vimeo, etc) without the need for Flash, but due to the limitations of these types of scripts, it will not work for videos embedded elsewhere, like the Vimeo video embedded below. This is not a solution, as more videos are consumed via embeds elsewhere than on the video sites themselves. The solution is to bring native H.264-encoded MP4 support to Firefox so that users no longer need to rely on proprietary software to view the most popular video format online.
(Note: The content of the above video from The Sunday Times: Culture is not related to this rant, except for the fact that it’s an amazing embed-able H.264-encoded MP4 video that you still can’t view on Firefox without the help of Flash.)
Your move, Firefox.
I have always been a proponent of product placement. It doesn’t interrupt a show like commercials do, and if done tastefully, it serves to further ground the story in reality. What’s more real to you, a lead character drinking a Coke or a “Cola,” or a family a stopping for food at a Subway or “Sandwiches?” Real products make shows real, and they provide real money to the content creators who then either increase production or consider running fewer commercials.
The problem with product placement is that it’s not viable for syndication. Ford isn’t going to pay for your lead character to drive a car that’s four years out of date, and Subway isn’t going to pay for the camera to swing by a billboard for a sandwich they stopped making three years ago. What if the car and the billboard could be changed?
A company called Mirriad is seeking to do just that, and if the technology takes off like it rightfully should, we could be seeing a future filled with commercials replaced by a future of constantly updating product placement. We deserve a future with uninterrupted shows on regular TV, and content creators deserve to be compensation for their work’s on-air lifetime. Product placement with something like Mirriad’s technology could make both happen, and that’s pretty cool.
Last year, Automattic made two amazing acquisitions, and one of those was Cloudup, an incredible file sharing solution with a variety of unique features that really let it step out and shine as a must-have tool.
At its most basic, Cloudup allows you to quickly upload files and provide a simple URL to view them, but it’s much more than that. Cloudup allows you to organize files into “streams,” like folders on your desktop, where you can share the whole stream via one URL without having to share multiple file URLs. Cloudup also provides a URL for your file or stream as soon as you start, so you can share the URL immediately if you’re in a hurry and can’t wait for the upload to complete. If the upload is still going when the recipient views the URL, they will simply see the same realtime progress indicator that you see. Plus, if you’re handy with the command line, Cloudup even has its own command line tool.
I use Cloudup for a variety of things every single day. Usually, I’m either using Cloudup to share a screenshot with someone who wrote in for WordAds support, or I’m sending along a single Cloudup stream URL in an email instead of attaching multiple files. Cloudup’s app and mobile-friendly site make file uploads and sharing so easy that I sometimes use it to quickly share a screenshot or screencast in Automattic’s internal communication platforms. Speaking of which, did you know that you can embed any Cloudup file or even an entire stream in a WordPress.com blog by just pasting the URL into your post? Well, now you do, and if you have a self-hosted WordPress.org blog, you can use Jetpack to add the same functionality.
Cloudup changed the way I work and the way I email, it’s just that good. Cloudup is 100% free, though it is currently invite-only, but I really want it to make a difference in your lives too, so
here’s a magical link which will automatically fill in a code allowing you to sign up without a direct invitation. Hurry, this code is only good for 50 uses!
Update: As of September 2017, Cloudup is closed and no longer accepting new accounts.