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Archive for February, 2019

iPhoneDevCamp to whip developers into shape

While there's currently no real SDK for the iPhone (and little chance of one to boot), it's important to remember that developers at least have some ability to write applications for the iPhone. The use of web applications for the iPhone has been debated and criticized any number of times, but some developers have been busy writing sample iPhone applications with some excellent results. HangZhou Night Net

There was a lot of discussion about iPhone development at WWDC this year and even a session about creating iPhone-friendly sites. But there are lots of aspiring developers out there who didn't attend WWDC, as well as those who did attend and are craving more knowledge. For everyone interested in iPhone development, the iPhoneDevCamp is shaping up to be the cool place to go. It's more of an intensive boot camp than a conference, since the primary goal seems to be to get as many people as possible together to talk about, learn about, and write applications for the iPhone. There will be a few presentations in the beginning as well, but most of the time will be dedicated to actual development. And developers, if you don't have a shiny new iPhone by July, don't worry: it's recommended but not required.

The good news is that the DevCamp is free, and will be held from July 6 to 8 in the Bay Area. No venue has been picked yet, but the organizers are trying to nail that down quickly. The organizers are also actively seeking sponsors and a few presenters, so if you can help out in either of those capacities, you might want to let them know.

It seems like a great idea, but everything is a bit tentative for now, and there are only a few weeks left until July 6. There are 27 attendees so far, but I'm really hoping that everything will come together and the iPhoneDevCamp will be a big success and a big step for iPhone development. If you're interested in dropping by, the iPhoneDevCamp wiki has all the details, but you can follow the status on Twitter and a few other sites, as well.

In the Internet traffic race, P2P used to be way out in front. For years, P2P traffic eclipsed HTTP traffic as broadband users slurped down music and movies, some of which were actually legal. But P2P fell behind this year; for the first time in four years, HTTP traffic is out in front. HangZhou Night Net

Ellacoya Networks, makers of deep packet inspection gear for carriers, has pulled together some statistics on one million broadband users in North America, and its findings show that HTTP traffic accounts for 46 percent of all broadband traffic. P2P applications now account for only 37 percent.

Data source: Ellacoya Networks

Chalk it up to YouTube and other Internet video sharing sites. The surge in HTTP traffic is largely a surge in the use of streaming media, mostly video.

Breaking down the HTTP traffic, Ellacoya says that only 45 percent is used to pull down traditional web pages with text and images. The rest is mostly made up of streaming video (36 percent) and streaming audio (five percent). YouTube alone has grown so big that it now accounts for 20 percent of all HTTP traffic, or more than half of all HTTP streaming video.

Looking over all the numbers, one of the most surprising result is the continued success of NNTP (newsgroups) traffic, which still accounts for nine percent of the total. Clearly, newsgroup discussions (and, ahem, binaries) are still big business.

The data may provide some ammunition for companies that favor traffic shaping on their networks. Between P2P, newsgroups, and streaming HTTP video traffic, the vast majority of Internet traffic is non-critical (i.e., no one's going to die or lose $20 million if they don't download a YouTube clip or a new song in under a minute). Networks that want to ensure priority transmission of VoIP calls, traditional HTTP web browsing, medical imaging, etc., have a strong incentive to throttle back that flood of non-critical traffic when the network is experiencing heavy loads. That could bring them into conflict with proponents of strict network neutrality, though, who don't want to see any sort of packet prioritization.

Frank's big Canadian crush on Dr. Cameron aside, the 360 port of Command Conquer 3 was a solid game. A solid game that let you taunt people using video—an idea that sounds great in print but scares me in reality. While the PC version has enjoyed one or two patches, the 360 version is about to get its first batch of downloadable content from Live Arcade. Here are the packages that are going live: HangZhou Night Net

Name:Ground Zero Map
Price:Free
Availability: All Xbox Live regions
Dash Details: Ground Zero Map Lead your army against a rival commander in this 1v1 map featuring a huge meteor impact crater. Download this free map now! This map is also playable in single-player skirmish mode.

Name:Map Pack 1 Developer Interview
Price:Free
Availability: Not available in Japan
Dash Details: Get the developer’s insider tour of the five intense map designs available in Command & Conquer 3 Map Pack One. Discover the key strategies to dominating the Tiberium fields and securing victory, whether you play GDI, NOD or Scrin!

Name:Map Pack 1
Price:500 Points
Availability: Not available in Japan
Dash Details: Map Pack 1 What kind of commander are you? Are you a defensive specialist, an air-superiority junkie, or a clandestine operations fanatic? Whatever your preferred strategy, test your skills and your wits against other commanders in five new multiplayer maps. Ranging from brutal 1v1 shootouts to gigantic 2v2 showdowns, this pack has something for every commander. Includes: Black’s Bigger Battle | Tiber River Valley | Frontier Fracas | Tiberium Gardens III | Tournament Desert Redux. All maps are playable in single-player skirmish mode as well.

Name:Factions Picture Pack
Price:80 Points
Availability: Not available in Japan
Dash Details: Whose side are you on? Support your favorite Command and Conquer 3 faction with these gamerpics! Includes 4 gamerpics: GDI, NOD, Scrin, and unique Tiberium EA logo.

A free map? Our cup runneth over. $6.25 for five new maps is an okay deal, but the dollar for that picture pack…are people buying these things? I'm glad that EA is still supporting the game—and these downloads aren't nearly as annoying as some of the other EA offerings in this area—but I think I'll keep both my nickel and my dime in my pocket.

When Ars last examined the state-of-the-art in gecko mechanics, researchers were measuring the strength of single fibers from the bottom of their feet, hoping to gain insights into how these translate weak van der Waals attractions into the ability to scamper up walls. Since then, researchers have been making pretty good progress in fashioning carbon nanotubes into fibers with similar adhesive properties, allowing them to make adhesives that approach the ability of geckos to stick to surfaces. HangZhou Night Net

In a paper that should show up at PNAS later this week1, a research team has discovered that the lessons of the gecko go well beyond the properties of the individual fibers. It turns out that the biological version of these fibers are arranged in hierarchical clusters, and the research team involved sought to mimic this organization. They experimented with creating various bundles of carbon nanotubes, and compared their adhesive properties with both unbundled nanotubes and live geckos (join me, if you will, in imagining the gecko harness involved…).

Unbundled, their nanotube tape was nearly as adhesive as a live gecko, but as these same tubes were clustered into bundles, their strength went up. By the time the authors optimized the combination of fiber length and bundle width, their tape was over four times stronger than a gecko: a square centimeter was sufficient to support nearly four kilograms. Although this was weaker than the initial strength of a standard piece of adhesive tape, the "gecko tape" had staying power. Its adhesive properties remained stable over time, while those of the adhesive tape dropped below those of the gecko tape after about five minutes.

Because of its reliance on van der Waals forces, the gecko tape had some unusual properties. These forces can work between any two surfaces, allowing the tape to stick to Teflon with roughly half the efficiency of its adhesion to a charged surface. Because the forces are proportional to surface area, peeling the tape works remarkably well: for most angles, peeling gently reduced the surface area, allowing the tape to come off with little force and no damage.

The only downside seems to be the consequences of overloading the tape. The failures tend to be catastrophic, and many of the fibers break and are left behind on the surface. Long term, this will degrade the performance of what is an otherwise reusable adhesive.

A second paper that should also be released soon2 has a potential solution to that. Instead of having the nanofibers contact the surface directly, it uses them to support a flat surface of similar material. That flat surface maximizes the area capable of undergoing van der Walls attractions, while the fibers create many individual points of failure that have to be overcome before the surface peels away. In tests, having the nanofiber backing improved the adhesive properties of the surface by over nine-fold compared to the surface alone, while failure of the adhesion left the fibers involved intact.

1: When PNAS releases the paper, it should appear here.

2: The draft of this paper uses a DOI that has been assigned to an unrelated paper, so I cannot link to it. Those interested can watch PNAS for Glassmaker et. al., Biologically inspired crack trapping for enhanced adhesion.

YouTube has launched localized versions of its video-sharing site in nine different languages. YouTube co-founder Steve Chen made the announcement at a press conference in Paris this morning, saying that the sites now have custom-translated pages and interfaces and that more local features were coming in the future. Those features will include channeling country-specific videos, categories, and sections onto each site, as well as displaying country-specific ratings and comments. HangZhou Night Net

Localized versions of YouTube now exist for Brazil, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the UK. Noticeably missing is a version localized for Germany, which the company says should be in the works soon, along with localized versions for other unannounced countries.

Along with the announcement came news that YouTube also signed partnership agreements with various content providers, including the BBC, French news channel France 24, France Televisions, and several Spanish channels. Additionally, YouTube has struck deals with football (soccer) clubs in Europe such as Chelsea, AC Milan, Barcelona, and Real Madrid.

In addition to the nine localized versions of the site, YouTube also made a foray into the mobile space this week with the launch of YouTube Mobile. Previously, the company had launched mobile services with specific carriers (such as Verizon and Vodafone), but launched a (mostly) universal mobile version of the site over the weekend. The mobile version of YouTube can be accessed at m.youtube.com from most major carriers. However, although the site itself loads for almost anyone with a data plan, the video player is not entirely compatible with all phones. BlackBerrys, for example, cannot play the videos from YouTube Mobile.

These strategic moves show that YouTube is still focused on expanding itself in other markets, despite holding the number-one position among video sharing sites in the world. Expanding into the mobile space is the popular thing to do these days, with companies like Google and Ask rushing to port their content to mobile phones before the offerings get too crowded. And localized versions of the main site might split up the otherwise unified community of YouTube, but will also help the company strike deals with smaller, local content providers and offer more targeted videos to its users.

Why the targeting? It's all about the ad dollars, of course. International targeting will allow YouTube to charge higher rates for their international traffic, which itself should grow as a result of localization.