06 May

Senate passes Internet sales tax in final vote, 69-27

The US Senate passed an online sales tax in a vote this afternoon after a heated final round of debate. A small group of anti-tax Republicans, as well as Democratic Senators from states without sales tax like Montana and Oregon, argued vociferously against the bill—but to no avail.

The final vote was 69-27, not much different than the 74-20 procedural vote that took place two weeks ago. The proposal has hardly changed at all in two weeks. The Marketplace Fairness Act, S.743, would allow states and localities to make Internet retailers collect sales tax from their customers if they do more than $1 million per year in out-of-state online sales.

The bill would allow states to write laws that would force e-commerce businesses to collect sales taxes. Right now consumers are supposed to keep track of any online sales and then report them to their state government and pay sales tax on the purchase. It still has to go through the House where passage is a little more rough but don’t be too shocked if in a few months you have to start investigating adding sales tax to any e-commerce software.

30 Apr

Hex Color Tool

I needed a tool that either added white or black to a hex color. Launching Photoshop just to drag a color picker around wasn’t cutting it. I looked around for a web app that would do this but unfortunately most good programmers are terrible designers. I built HexColorTool to fill the gap. It’s responsive too! Launch it on your smartphone or tablet and use it as you please.

Just added it to my list of web design tools, I know I’ve needed something like it more than once.

30 Apr

How To Make Your Open Source Project Really Awesome

If you plan on releasing a library as open source, please make sure it has

  • Clear dependency/installation instructions
  • At least one brief documentation guide
  • A change log and tags in the repo
  • Some information about supported language/runtime/tool versions and project maturity
  • A mailing list where users can ask questions and help each other

Doing anything less than this will cause some of your users grief and anger. And likely some wasted time.

Nice suggestions on improving open source projects and making them actually useful to more people than just yourself.

30 Apr

Users’ Pagination Preferences and ‘View All’

When providing a choice of display options, the computer should almost always respect the user’s stated preference and employ it as the default the next time around. I am amazed at how many sites and applications don’t do this and instead force users to repeat their choices again and again.

In short do pagination but if you offer different options remember what the user selected and use it throughout the site.

24 Jul

App Cubby Blog – The Sparrow Problem

Given the incredible progress and innovation we’ve seen in mobile apps over the past few years, I’m not sure we’re any worse off at a macro-economic level, but things have definitely changed and Sparrow is the proverbial canary in the coal mine. The age of selling software to users at a fixed, one-time price is coming to an end. It’s just not sustainable at the absurdly low price points users have come to expect. Sure, independent developers may scrap it out one app at a time, and some may even do quite well and be the exception to the rule, but I don’t think Sparrow would have sold-out if the team — and their investors — believed they could build a substantially profitable company on their own. The gold rush is well and truly over.

via App Cubby Blog – The Sparrow Problem. There is a real problem going to occur with regards to the App Store and desktop/mobile software in general if pure software businesses aren’t able to sustain themselves in the long-term. Apple can get away selling software for cheap thanks to hardware profits, what is the option for software only firms?

22 Jul

DataGenetics – The Two Egg Problem

You are given two eggs, and access to a 100-storey building. Both eggs are identical. The aim is to find out the highest floor from which an egg will not break when dropped out of a window from that floor. If an egg is dropped and does not break, it is undamaged and can be dropped again. However, once an egg is broken, that’s it for that egg.

If an egg breaks when dropped from floor n, then it would also have broken from any floor above that. If an egg survives a fall, then it will survive any fall shorter than that.

The question is: What strategy should you adopt to minimize the number egg drops it takes to find the solution?. (And what is the worst case for the number of drops it will take?)

There are no tricks, gotchas or other devious ruses. Don’t rat-hole with issues related to terminal velocity, potential energy or wind resistance. This is a math puzzle plain and simple.

Think about the puzzle for a few minutes, and then read on.

via DataGenetics – The Two Egg Problem. Like brain-teasers and computer science algorthims, read on indeed.

22 Jul

The Word of Notch – On Patents

But there is no way in hell you can convince me that it’s beneficial for society to not share ideas. Ideas are free. They improve on old things, make them better, and this results in all of society being better. Sharing ideas is how we improve.

via The Word of Notch – On Patents. Notch (the guy who started Minecraft) has a really good piece on why patents are a bad idea. My opinion on patents has slowly changed from thinking that just software and business process patents to getting more convinced that patents in general are a bad idea.

28 Feb

Absolutely No Machete Juggling – The Star Wars Saga: Suggested Viewing Order

Now I’d like to modify this into what I’ve named Machete Order on the off chance that this catches on because I’m a vain asshole.

Next time you want to in­tro­duce someone to Star Wars for the first time, watch the films with them in this order: IV, V, II, III, VI

Notice some­thing? Yeah, Episode I is gone.

via Absolutely No Machete Juggling – The Star Wars Saga: Suggested Viewing Order. Really enjoying this idea, going to try it out I think this weekend, as I’m due for a Star Wars marathon. The arguments in favor are really strong, both in terms of the order and in throwing out *shudder* The Phantom Menace.

21 Feb

Mailinator(tm) Blog – How Mailinator compresses email by 90%

Given the title of this article, the first thing that should pop into your mind is probably – “well, use a compression algorithm – right?”.

Right! Well, yes, well, not exactly. Read on.

via Mailinator(tm) Blog – How Mailinator compresses email by 90%. A fun journey through algorithms to find a solution to getting some awesome compression stats.