Bye bye Zite - How to Switch from Zite to Flipboard

Somehow I managed to miss the fact that a terrible thing is about to happen – Zite has been acquired by Flipboard and is about to be killed off. I use Zite daily, and find it an invaluable source of articles to read. It manages to recommend content from blogs that I wouldn’t ordinarily read with a surprising rate of relevance.

Given that Zite will be merged into Flipboard, the obvious next step would be to give Flipboard a go, if you haven’t already. If you want to do this, you might want to read about How to Switch from Zite to Flipboard.

I tried Flipboard a couple of years ago and it didn’t really take with me, so I really hope that they manage to use the best parts of the Zite service well or I’m going to be left with something of a gap in my life in the area of recommended reading.

posted @ Sunday, December 21, 2014 9:23 AM | Feedback (0)

“What is the Lotus Notes of today?”

Ned Batchelder asks "What is the Lotus Notes of today?" I’ve asked this question a few times myself, because in many ways (i.e. ways that don’t include UI/UX) Lotus Notes was ahead of its time in terms of a flexible NoSQL secure document storage. Of course, pro IBM people (and there’s 2 in the comments so far!) will say “use IBM Notes!”, but unfortunately in 2014 its many cons can’t counter the things that it does/did well.

It will be interesting to see what Ned ends up using.

posted @ Sunday, December 07, 2014 8:47 PM | Feedback (0)

7 Principles of Rich Web Applications

7 Principles of Rich Web Applications is a worthwhile read for any developer with any level of involvement in front end UI/UX.

posted @ Saturday, November 29, 2014 4:52 PM | Feedback (0)

A Gallery of Horrors from a Data Recovery Company

Backup your stuff! The whole thread is interesting reading (assuming you enjoy reading about hard drives and data recovery).

posted @ Wednesday, November 26, 2014 8:44 PM | Feedback (0)

Facebook Fraud

An interesting video. If you believe it (there’s no reason not to, and you could easily setup your own test for a few bucks if you don’t trust his metrics for whatever reason) then there’s something very wrong with Facebook’s paid advertising.

posted @ Tuesday, November 11, 2014 11:31 AM | Feedback (0)

Friday musings about… Lotus Notes?

Lotus Notes/Domino isn’t something I’ve thought about much lately at all. I’ve not been working with it for the past few years (which I’ll comment on later in this post, because, reasons), however this week coming across a conversation on a popular social media platform got me thinking about a few things.

The post was asking for suggestions for an on-premises email solution that “isn’t Exchange”, and it didn’t take long before some comments about Lotus Notes crept in (image heavily edited, lots of other replies removed, I only left in the anti-Notes ones):

I found this interesting for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, these were technology people, and they didn’t know the difference between the Lotus Notes client and the Lotus Domino Server. How many “IT Professionals” (I hate that term so much) would have a hard time differentiating between Exchange and Outlook, even if they didn’t work with it regularly? I’d wager that most people would be able to make the Exchange/Outlook distinction, but Notes/Domino are always conflated – branding fail there, IBM.

Secondly and more interesting is that Domino server would probably be a great choice for the stated requirements. You can connect any email client up to it, it has great webmail (well it did last time I looked) and would give you the ability to have a nice non-Exchange option without having to resort to a lesser known brand name or product. “No one ever got fired for buying IBM” and all that, you’d think that support should be easy to obtain (which is not really the case here in New Zealand, although again a disclaimer should be issued that I’m a little out of touch here) compared to some of the lesser known and open source options. It also has a very good track record in terms of security, even if some people might say that’s “security through obscurity”. Of course I can’t comment on cost, because IBM’s licensing changed every few months when I was working with it, however based on the state of play when I last looked they were making progress in providing better licensing options so I’d wager that there’d be a competitive pricing option available now.

(Mini musing – it’d be very interesting to know which version of the Notes client people above had been exposed to.)

My point being that it’s interesting to see a good server product being automatically dismissed because of people’s conceptions about the client (which you’re not forced to use, except for admin, although even that can all be done on the web now).

A final internal musing was made was on how little I miss having anything to do with running an on-premises mail server. I understand that cloud hosted email isn’t for everyone, but these days I’m very thankful to take any opportunity reduce the amount of infrastructure that I’m responsible for.

I mentioned in the opening paragraph that I’m no longer working with Notes/Domino, and I’m really REALLY glad about that - which probably makes the rest of this post seem a little strange, so I feel compelled to offer an explanation of sorts. As a developer/company owner, working with the technology in this region (NZ) felt like an exercise in legacy support and very little else. Developers like shiny new things! Company owners like interesting opportunities! Notes/Domino in NZ did not have much of those things. However, I worked with the products for around 15 years, and I know its strengths as well as its weaknesses. The Domino Server is a pretty robust and reliable creature, and having compared notes (!) with a few Exchange Administrators (can you restore an individual mailbox in Exchange without having to restore the entire mail store yet? Serious question!) I’d probably be choosing Domino Server if I ever had to administer an on premises mail server again in my life (please no, please no, please no).

I also spent a few years working with ASP.NET/Visual Studio at the same time as doing some occasional Domino Development, and the time period in which that overlap occurred offered some very interesting comparisons in terms of innovations and changes introduced in each technology over said time period.

So yeah, I don’t miss Notes/Domino, but I can still acknowledge that it does some things very well, and I’d certainly never dismiss its server technology simply due to some pent up rage about the (non-mandatory to use) client software.

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posted @ Thursday, October 16, 2014 6:17 PM | Feedback (0)

Really, Registerdirect? Really?

Nothing like seeing your customer’s username and password in the clear like this. Yes, it’s over HTTPS, but still.

posted @ Monday, October 13, 2014 8:14 AM | Feedback (0)

12 HTML5 tricks for mobile

12 HTML5 tricks for mobile could just have easily been called 12 HTML5 hacks for mobile, and indeed the author switches between tricks/hacks a couple of times in the text. Some of these look useful, others questionable (although I’m sure there’s going to be scenarios where they’re applicable).

I think that mobile sites need to own the fact that they’re a site and not a native app, and stop trying so hard to look like they are. Personally, I’ve never added a site to my home screen – I can see that it might be handy, but it’s just something I’ve never had to do.

Regardless, there’s some useful tips in there, especially the reminder that type=”number” doesn’t actually work as expected.

(Secret 13th tip - take it from Captain Picard that if you’re going to be doing a lot of mobile development then you should plan on owning a lot of devices)

posted @ Saturday, August 30, 2014 2:55 PM | Feedback (0)

A Better Netflix Queue

My usage of Netflix so far has seemed to follow a pattern that’s well known amongst Netflix users – that is, that I spend more time browsing and trying to decide on what to watch on Netflix than actually watching anything.

I did get some help from the handy flowchart which was doing the rounds a while ago:

However it’s pretty clear that the flowchart isn’t something that’s going to be easy to keep up to date.

Enter The site gives you a few simply options for filtering by genre/age/rating to help you find something that might tickle your fancy before you get to the couch. The rating data comes from Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer, so it’s a pretty well known source. You can add results to your list from the site and/or click to view the reviews.

Very simple, very handy.

posted @ Saturday, August 30, 2014 2:20 PM | Feedback (0)

Facebook Bans Like-Gating

From the “I hate Facebook” Desk comes the news that they’ve banned like-gating (the process of exchanging a “Like” for some free content – often seen with music artists). It’s probably about time, as it really is a sign of subverting the intent of a “Like”.

So in theory I support this.

However thinking about it, I really like action-gating (the suggested replacement) even less. With a “Like” it was easy to simply click the button and get what you want (and then undo the like later if you cared – I suspect most people don’t bother with that though), but with an action it’s going to feature more prominently on your wall even if just for a once off.

The real question is this – when will social media “experts” start naming Facebook’s changes as they do with Google’s? Google has had penguins and hummingbirds, when Facebook makes a change can we call it getting Zucked? These are the important questions we have to ask ourselves.

posted @ Sunday, August 10, 2014 5:26 PM | Feedback (0)

About me

My name is Ross Hawkins and I'm a developer, consultant, business owner and writer based in Auckland, New Zealand (pictured below!). My current work revolves around ASP.NET, C#, jQuery, Ajax, SQL Server, and a mix of other Microsoft development technologies.

I also have about 15 years of experience with IBM Lotus Notes/Domino and associated technologies. While Notes/Domino is no longer my primary focus I still like to dabble and keep my skills up to date.

I own and run 2 businesses - Hawkins Consulting Services, and Ignition Development.

Bethells Beach, located in sunny West Auckland, New Zealand


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