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May 28, 2009

Welcome to the Developer Shed newsletter. Many of us are looking forward to the long summer ahead, but those of us in the tech business have something to look forward to beyond summer: the release of Microsoft Windows 7. Apple is planning a new operating system release in the same time frame. Should it be worried about Windows 7 We're so glad you asked, the article we're highlighting this week from eWeek addresses exactly that issue. If you're a Windows hater or major fan of Apple, you might be in for a surprise.

We published fewer articles this week due to the Memorial Day holiday on Monday, but we think you'll still find it's an excellent assortment. On Dev Shed we kicked off two new series: one on magic functions in PHP 5, and one on building loader applications. Meanwhile, on ASP Free, we continued our series on solving everyday problems with graphs. If you've been looking for a way to find the shortest path between points, or the shortest path that spans all points, you may want to take a look.

Web site designers and developers reading Dev Articles this week learned more from our various ongoing series. If you want to build a web page calendar, a menu that will work in all browsers, or nested HTML tables, you should check these out. We also continued our exploration of the Blueprint CSS framework. Dev Hardware took a turn for the practical this week, as we went shopping for external storage, showed you how to secure your iPhone (and no, we don't mean by using a Kryptonite lock!), explained how to load an operating system that can be booted from a flash drive, and more.

SEO professionals reading SEO Chat gained some tools for their specialized toolbox (hey, we live up to our motto: "tools for geeks!") as we covered how to use advanced search operators in the search engines to help you with your optimization efforts. We also ran an obituary of sorts, now that Yahoo is closing Geocities, with some consideration of the lessons to be learned from this latest development. Speaking of time marching forward, Dev Mechanic pondered whether e-zines are still relevant, and offered up some domain name tips you'll want to check out on Friday.

We're not done by a long shot. Continuing with the domain names topic, Web Hosters went into the basics of buying a domain name. If any of this is sounding redundant, maybe you'd like to check out Codewalkers, where we discuss loops in UNIX. And as always, Tutorialized and Scripts offers plenty of excellent content from our readers and visitors.

As always, thanks for reading. Until next week,
Developer Shed Staff

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Building Loader Apps in PHP
by Alejandro Gervasio, 2009-05-27

Loading sources on the fly is one of the most common tasks that PHP programmers have to tackle during the development of web applications. This typical situation must be faced independently of the scale of the programs being created. This means a loader mechanism must be developed. Keep reading as we take a close look at these mechanisms in this eight-part article series.
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Magic Functions in PHP 5
by Alejandro Gervasio, 2009-05-26

It is not breaking news that the release of PHP 5 drastically changed the way that many developers build their web-based programs. The incorporation of a much more robust object model, along with the introduction of native exceptions, type hinting and so forth (add your own improvement to the list) has given the language the maturity that we see in it today. This seven-part article series will explain an important new feature: magic functions.
Read the full article
Using PHP to Create Relevant Title Tags in osCommerce Websites
by Codex-M, 2009-05-21

If you use osCommerce for your site's e-commerce, and you're not happy with the quality or quantity of visitors your site receives, keep reading. Though osCommerce provides some excellent features, its weaknesses could be getting in the way of giving you the number of visitors and conversions you expect. Fortunately, there's a solution, hidden in something as simple as a title tag.
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Shortest Path Algorithms in Graphs
by Gabor Bernat, 2009-05-27

I need more time. I do not have time for this. These are probably the two sentences that we use the most these days. It has often been observed that time is money - and accomplishing a task in fewer steps can save time (and thus money). With graphs, this can be expressed as finding the shortest path, and has a number of practical applications. This eighth part of a 13-part article series on graphs takes a close look at ways to solve this common problem.
Read the full article.
Minimum Spanning Tree
by Gabor Bernat, 2009-05-26

At some portions in our life we arrive at a situation where it is no longer enough to be average, or to perform at an average rate. In order to succeed we need to bring forth the best solution possible from the circumstances. If this means finding the shortest spanning tree inside something that may be represented as a graph, then you've come to the right place. Today, we are going to examine two techniques to achieve this: Kruskall's and Prim's.
Read the full article.
Articulation Edges and Vertexes
by Gabor Bernat, 2009-05-21

In the lives of each of us there exist some key moments that uniquely define us and become symbolic. These are the critical points; without these, all that we know now would drastically change. Articulation edges and vertexes are something like this to graphs; however, finding them is a lot more complicated than it may seem at first.
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Table Attributes for a Menu for all Browsers
by Chrysanthus Forcha, 2009-05-27

In previous parts of this series, we discussed the style and ID attributes of the menu's tables. As I said, a lot of the design in this series lies in the configuration of the tables. In this part of the series, we have to talk about the other attributes. This is the last part where we shall talk about table configuration. Attributes affect the characteristics (nature) of a table.
Read the full article
Modifying a Web Page Calendar
by Chrysanthus Forcha, 2009-05-26

Welcome to the seventh part of an eight-part series that shows you how to construct a web page calendar that will display the current month, the current year, any specified month, or any specified year. In this part of the series, I explain how the user can display the calendar of any year. To avoid writing too much code, you will have to do some modification of the previous code.
Read the full article
Styling Elements of Nested HTML Lists
by Alejandro Gervasio, 2009-05-22

Welcome to the second part of a three-part series on designing with nested HTML lists. This series shows you how to nest HTML lists by using a hands-on approach, and demonstrates how to use them for building standards-compliant drop-down menus.
Read the full article
Appending Grid Units with the Blueprint CSS Framework
by Alejandro Gervasio, 2009-05-21

If you are searching for a friendly guide that shows you how to utilize Blueprint CSS for building your own web page designs with a grid-based approach, then begin reading this series of articles now! In this this third part to a seven-part series, you will learn a new way to use the framework's background grid with the help of the append-x class.
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Securing Your iPhone
by Bruce Coker, 2009-05-27

The home-key security flaw in the Apple iPhone 3G has met with a mixed reaction. In case you missed it, this flaw allows personal data, including e-mail, SMS messages and contact details to be accessed on some locked and passcode-protected iPhones with just a few simple key taps. To some people this was evidence of a major security oversight by Apple, while to others it was a non-issue with a trivial workaround. If it has you worried, keep reading; we'll show you how to secure your iPhone.
Read the full article
Shopping For External Storage
by Katie Gatto, 2009-05-26

The wonders of modern technology allow us to store tons of movies, photos, songs, and even novels in the same physical space as a paperback book (or even less). Despite this, we still have storage problems. What kind of storage do you need? If your PC is running out of space, it may be time to invest in some external storage. Keep reading as we discuss the pros and cons of the various available external storage solutions.
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Buying a Prebuilt Computer
by jkabaseball, 2009-05-22

Not everyone likes to buy PC hardware and build their own PC. Perhaps you do not have the time or the knowledge to build it yourself, or maybe you like the warranty that comes with prebuilt PCs. It is pretty easy to make a desktop by yourself, but have you ever seen someone building their own laptops? It is a little harder to do, and few actually have the ability to do it. We have talked a lot about building your own PC here at Dev Hardware, but not so much about actually buying one. This article is for readers who prefer to buy their own PC rather than build it.
Read the full article.
How to Flash Your BIOS with Flash Drives
by Barzan "Tony" Antal, 2009-05-21

Floppy disks have definitely gone out of fashion. This makes sense given their low capacity. But computer users have become accustomed to flashing BIOS with floppy diskettes; moreover, lacking them, a dilemma arises. This article will be a brief guide to setting up and creating a bootable USB flash drive and hooking it up with the flashing utility and new BIOS files.
Read the full article.
Yahoo Closes Geocities
by Terri Wells, 2009-05-27

Falling victim to the hazards of competition from up-to-date blogging and social sites, Geocities will no longer exist later this year. Yahoo announced its decision in late April to shutter the ancient web hosting site, inspiring a range of responses. Keep reading for a look at Geocities' history, purpose, reactions to its closing, and the lessons we can learn.
Read the full article
Advanced Search Operators and SEO
by Ivan Strouchliak, 2009-05-26

In this article we will share with you a couple of cool hacks to use in search engine optimization called advanced search engine operators. To use this article you must already be aware of your core keywords (the main keywords for which you're trying to rank). If you are not sure which keywords you want to target, use the Google Keyword Tool or Wordtracker for some research.
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Domain Names 101
by Joe Eitel, 2009-05-27

When deciding to build a website, there are many factors that come into play. Aside from the look, feel and content of your site - which is surely the bulk of the work - there is also the tricky issue of obtaining a domain name. In this article we'll discuss the purposes of a domain name, how to acquire one, why you might want to get a premium name, and how and why to use an escrow service.
Read the full article.
Webmaster Security Threats for 2009
by Katie Gatto, 2009-05-20

When you deal with the world of the web, especially when you do so professionally, it is not at all easy to forget that that you will be facing a bevy of new security challenges. After all, the Internet is a place that was founded on the principle of innovation, and it is highly unlikely that its innovation will stop any time soon. For the most part, the changes that occur are apt to be good things that help to improve sites. Some, on the other hand, turn out to be bad things done to help those trying to engage in illegal, unethical and downright destructive actions against your site.
Read the full article.
The Evolution of Phishing
by Katie Gatto, 2009-05-13

When you run a website, whether it be an active blog or a large static site, keeping on top of everything can be more than a little bit of a challenge. There are a lot of aspects to be managed if you want your site to be successful. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools out there to make your job a little easier.
Read the full article.

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Hello World: WebSphere Service Registry and Repository
Manage, govern, and share services across your organization by using WebSphere Service Registry and Repository. Follow the hands-on exercises to learn how to navigate the Web interface to publish, find, reuse, and update services.

Building JavaScript applications with JSEclipse
Using JSEclipse, JavaScript programmers now have their own Eclipse plug-in that provides many important features to aid in the development of JavaScript applications. JSEclipse gives JavaScript developers the same ease of use that Eclipse has been providing in the Java language and others for years. Learn to use this tool, while creating a colony of evolving "creatures" on your page.

Learn how to install and use the Rational Asset Manager Eclipse client
In this tutorial, you can learn how to install and configure the IBM Rational Asset Manager Eclipse client, explore the different views in the Asset Management perspective, learn various search techniques, work with existing assets, and submit a new asset.

Improve your build process with IBM Rational Build Forge, Part 1: Create a continuous build and integration
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Build Web services with transport-level security using Rational Application Developer V7, Part 1: Build Web services and Web services clients
Build secure Web services with transport-level security using IBM Rational Application Developer V7 and IBM WebSphere Application Server V6.1. Follow this three-part series for step-by-step instructions about how to develop Web services and clients, configure HTTP basic authentication, and configure HTTP over SSL (HTTPS). This first part of the series walks you through building a Web service for a simple calculator application. You generate and test two different types of Web services clients: a Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE) client and a stand-alone Java client. You also handle user-defined exceptions in Web services.

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Application development for the OLPC laptop
The XO laptop (of the One-Laptop-Per-Child initiative) is an inexpensive laptop project intended to help educate children around the world. The XO laptop includes many innovations, such as a novel, inexpensive, and durable hardware design and the use of GNU/Linux as the underlying operating system. The XO also includes an application environment written in Python with a human interface called Sugar, accessible to everyone (including kids). Explore the Sugar APIs and learn how to develop and debug a graphical activity in Sugar using Python.

Test terminal-based applications with Rational Functional Tester
Regression testing -- in which code is thoroughly tested to ensure that changes have not produced unexpected results -- is an important part of any development process. But many testing environments neglect the terminal-based applications that still form the backbone of many industries. In this tutorial, you'll learn how the Rational Functional Tester Extension for Terminal-Based Applications works with other Rational Functional Tester to help test terminal-based applications quickly and easily.


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Actionscript Mouse Events
Learn to respond to different mouse events like clicks and hovers.
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Simple Photo Flash Menu
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Tips on PhpLib
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Replace a String in a TXT File
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Are E-Zines Still Relevant?
by KC Morgan, 2009-05-27

Remember when the Internet was new, and everything with the e in front of it was still very exotic and exciting? E-mail, e-marketing, e-tail, e-store, ebook and yes, the e-zine. They swept the Web, they became hugely popular and then, they began to slowly disappear. Blogs became the new thing, streaming video was suddenly all the rage, online forums began to get filled with interactive comments. Some trends are always destined to disappear. Is the e-zine, once such a fad, now passé? Are e-zines still relevant - and still read by Web traffic?
Read the full article
Rewriting URLs and Doing WordPress Redirects Without .htaccess
by Codex-M, 2009-05-22

Rewriting the URL is very important in any WordPress blog. The simpler the URL, the better it will be remembered by your site visitors. And the better it is remembered, the greater the chances of increasing the fan base and readership of your blog.
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Loops in the UNIX Shell Loops in the UNIX Shell
by Gabor Bernat, 2009-05-27

History is repeating itself. How many times have you heard this? Unless you live isolated inside of a cave on a mountain top, with no information source around, you've probably heard this countless times. But never mind history; you've probably found that it would be convenient to make your computer repeat the same tasks over and over. Within a programming language, we refer to this structure as a loop.
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The Test in the UNIX Shell
by Gabor Bernat, 2009-05-20

Tests occur on a daily basis in our life, from seeing if you can get up early enough to get to your job to seeing how good you are at passing tests. When you start to do shell programming, tests will be just as important. You want to test files, expressions, variables, strings and more for certain traits. To make this easier, a command was introduced, which we will learn how to use today.
Read the full article
Control Mechanisms of the UNIX Shell
by Gabor Bernat, 2009-05-13

You can consider most of the things happening around you to be a stream of data. Your girlfriend loves you; two cars crash in a corner; your mother calls you to wish you a happy birthday; etc. Everything is just a stream of data that your brain takes and processes. The quality of your life very much depends on how your brain interprets this stream, however this on its own depends on what streams arrive there. In UNIX, things are very much the same. The tools just interpret and filter the data. Nevertheless, how these streams get from one place to another can very much influence the result.
Read the full article

Chipping in for More Solar Power

Advocates of clean, renewable energy have long eyed solar power as a way to move forward. The technology's problems, however, include inefficiencies that cause loss of power. Partial shading and the power lost from converting direct current to household alternating current reduce the yield of solar panels, effectively raising the price of solar energy. A three-year-old startup company thinks it can solve these issues by harnessing a different kind of power - namely, computer power.

Israeli-based SolarEdge produces a junction box for solar panels, an inverter, and web-based monitoring software. The junction box features a computer chip that fixes the voltage coming from the panels, making it steady rather that erratic. This reduces issues with power degradation. The inverter is smarter than your typical device; it not only converts electricity, but it also collects data on the temperature and output of each panel. All of this information can be viewed with the company's software, so users can better understand the dynamics of their array, including degradation issues.

SolarEdge believes that by using its products, solar power consumers at both the single household level and above could see their solar arrays become up to 25 percent more productive. Several solar companies are testing the systems, and CEO Guy Sella hopes to line up deals with manufacturers to fit the junction boxes onto the panels during production, rather than afterward. SolarEdge has competition from other firms trying to tackle the lost energy issue, but Sella says his company's system costs less and solves the same problem.

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Flying in the Face of Flu

When people fly, their germs fly with them, which means that flu variations can spread around the world within hours, sometimes even before the carrier shows any symptoms or suspects they might be infectious. Epidemiologists believe that future pandemics will spread via air travel, leaving many countries faced with the challenge of containing the spread of disease. But how can a country such as Mexico deal with this threat

CAPSCA "the Cooperative Arrangement for the Prevention of the Spread of Communicable diseases by Air travel" thinks they can help. The organization tries to help airports in developing nations work out plans for containing the potential spread of communicable diseases. It helps them think ahead. When faced with an aircraft suspected of harboring a disease, for example, CAPSCA makes sure the airport has thought about where to park the plane, how to handle the luggage, what to do to maintain contact with passengers who appear symptom-free, and so forth. This is in addition to figuring out which passengers are most likely to be infected and whether they need preventive treatment, or even to be taken to a hospital. The protection of customs officials and airline personnel must also be considered.

CAPSCA hopes to see the development of automated systems that can be used at airports to detect potentially infected people. Turkey succeeded in spotting its first case of swine flu with such a system; infrared cameras installed at its airport detected a passenger with a high temperature. It's not an ideal solution because infections develop at different rates depending on the bug producing them; some flus become infectious before the host develops a fever, for example. One company is working on a microphone system that can detect and locate people suffering from persistent coughs, and determine whether that cough indicates the person may be ill. More precise technologies, such as a breath test, however, remain to be developed.

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IBM's New Product: Could it Win at Jeopardy

A machine that could truly understand human language - that could "get" the meaning of words - would allow us to make tremendous advances in areas such as search. So far, though search algorithms have improved tremendously over the years, we haven't achieved this holy grail. But IBM thinks Watson, its new computer system, could bring us much closer. In fact, it's so sure that it plans to pit the system against human contestants on a televised episode of the game show Jeopardy!

The show will be hosted by Alex Trebeck, as always, who will read the questions out loud while the text is fed into the machine. David Ferrucci, the IBM computer scientist who leads the Watson effort, said the system works by breaking a question down into its component parts, searching its databases for related information, and then putting the connections together to get the result. As an example, he explained that the system would break the Jeopardy! Answer "It's the opera mentioned in the lyrics of a 1970 number-one hit by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles" into four parts initially: an opera; an opera mentioned in a song; a song that was a hit in 1970; a hit by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

In its current incarnation, Watson does not search the web; IBM hopes to sell the product to its corporate clients, who often have to find specific information in large data warehouses. Ferrucci says that Watson is much more likely to get the right answer than a system based on natural-language processing, which could be strongly influenced by keywords. Even so, that field is advancing rapidly as well, to the point that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is launching a five-year research effort to advance the state of natural-language processing.

Read more about this

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