Archive for the ‘Web Protocols and Specifications’ Category

Stacking Up – part 2

In the first Stacking Up I looked at the bedrock of Internet/Web technology and showed that far from being stable it is more like flowing lava. Now I’m taking a quick journey through the frameworks that are layered on top of this lava, where naturally things are on fire.

Part 2 : Frameworks

First let me clarify what I mean by “framework”, as this is often a source of confusion. This definition is only in the context of Web-related technologies:

A framework is a set of generic software elements whose behaviour or characteristics are intended to be customized through extension, configuration and/or combination in order to assist the typical developer in the production of application-specific solutions. Through such customization, the [click title to read more…]

Stacking Up

Part 1 : Bedrock

Having been in the network/software business for a long time, it is tempting to assume that certain familiar technologies are essentially stable and don’t need so much as a second glance. Of course, thinking that something is stable is probably the first warning sign. I’m reminded of how character sets had stabilized (mainly US-ASCII) by the mid-80s only to have the boat rocked by this new upstart of the late 80s known as Unicode. Today, ASCII, ANSI and its variants are mere throwbacks.

With this in mind, I cast an eye over the technology stack that has been the mainstay of the Internet and Web for many years to see if there are some new upstarts [click title to read more…]

Bleeding hearts

It’s the first weekend after the announcement of CVE-2014-0160, aka “Heartbleed” and if you were to believe even a small fraction of what’s been written about it you’d think the world had come to an end. There’s a lot of nonsense. A lot of dumbed-down explanations seem to add more confusion (Randall Munroe’s angle is a notable exception). The detailed investigations will be read by many, but only understood properly by those who already understand.

As a consequence of this bug I’ve been particularly busy with many of the systems around the world in which I have a role (always behind the scenes). All is a bit quieter now, so I’ve had a chance to peruse what has been written, [click title to read more…]

QR Codes, the easy way

For no reason whatsoever, I was looking at QR code generation and had delved into some interesting paths, such as a recent contribution to CPAN that generates QR codes in spaces and asterisks. Not much use, perhaps, until you use those characters to feed some graphics processor and then you really can work some magic. The error-correction built into the codes permits quite a lot of intentional errors without destroying data, and one can arrange the intentional errors to form interesting pictures within the codes. ISO 18004 has all the details (if you have the money to buy the spec).

If you are interested in lower level implementation details, check out the libqrencode library (in C). This recently added Micro [click title to read more…]

Transparently obvious

I find myself trying to do something simple: making an image 100% opaque when in a div that is set to 80% so that the background shows through (a little) on the div but doesn’t interfere with the image.

I’d demonstrate here, only it turns out to be impossible. Not with the latest CSS, and not with any current browser. What might help is a jQuery plugin called Transify (easy to find). It’s not 100% compatible with my case, but close enough to be worth a bit of exploration.

Since proper opacity controls for backgrounds wont appear until some future incarnation of CSS3, for now we have to resort to hacks involving semi-transparent PNGs, Z-axis hackery, floating layers, etc. Actually, [click title to read more…]