Enter the Dev:unplugged HTML5 Contest

The Internet is a beautiful thing, and the advent of HTML5 has made it more so. In conjunction with faster browsers, HTML5 is giving devs the tools needed to create amazing applications and experiences on the web. The team at {Dev:unplugged} wants to encourage this type of development by providing a pretty sweet contest, including a whole lot of cash in the prize packages. “The Grand Prize winner will receive $9,000 in cash and a fully-loaded trip with a Golden Ticket to the Future of Web Apps Conference in Las Vegas on June 27th.”

There are three main rules to this contest:

  • No Plugins – The submission must stick to HTML/CSS/JS on the client-side (no restrictions on the server-side).
  • Browser Compatibility – The submission must work in Internet Explorer 9, Firefox 4 and the latest stable version of Chrome.
  • Making the Web Native – The submission must be amazing! We will be keeping an eye out for submissions that push the envelope and blur the line between a web app and a native app.

You can enter in any of three categories: Games, Music and Innovation. Each of the categories will have a winner and runner-up with one project being chosen as the Grand Prize winner. There will also be prizes for each of these mentioned, as well as for a few people chosen to receive an Honorable Mention.

The Grand Prize is seriously sweet: You’ll receive a trip (airfare and hotel accommodations) to the Future of Web Apps Las Vegas Conference, along with a “Golden Ticket” pass. This ticket allows you access to a dinner with the speakers and more. You’ll receive $9,000.00 in cold, hard cash. And you’ll be prominently featured on the main page of the host website so that people from all over the world will be able to see how YOU pushed the limits of HTML5 on their behalf.

Each category winner will receive five thousand dollars and a mention / placement on the host website. Those who are a runner-up will receive an awesome laptop. The Gaming category runner-up will have a new Alienware M17x, and the Music runner-up will receive an HP Envy 14 Beats edition! All Innovation Award Winners will receive an ASUS Eee Slate. Those who receive Honorable Mention aren’t being left out in the cold! Each of those people will not only have bragging rights, they’ll also receive an Xbox bundled with Kinect.

Get your coding fingers ready, and submit your best effort. The deadline to enter is May 8th, 2011. A panel of expert judges will be choosing the winners.

Good luck to everyone who enters! If you decide to throw your hat into the ring, let us know so we can keep an eye on the outcome!

Internet Explorer 9 Launch


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Ari Bixhorn is the Lead Product Manager at Microsoft. We were fortunate to catch a few moments of his time during the Internet Explorer 9 launch party during SXSW. The browser launched today amidst much ,a href=”http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Enterprise-Applications/Microsoft-Internet-Explorer-9-Arrives-10-Reasons-to-Use-It-851132/”>fanfare from reviewers. I even happened to see a Tweet earlier which said “IE 9 isn’t your momma’s Internet Explorer. Give it a try!” Strangely worded, perhaps – but true.

The first major difference that Ari pointed out during the interview is the sheer speed of this iteration. It is noticeably MUCH quicker than any previous version, which is important in today’s browser wars. We demand that our pages load instantly, and we don’t settle for anything less. From all reports, IE 9 actually performs up to par. The browser has an improved JavaScript engine named Chakra and uses hardware acceleration to deliver Web pages to users sooner.

Microsoft also drastically changed the entire user experience this time around. They have placed the focus onto the web sites you are visiting and shifted the focus away from the browser itself. In past versions, Microsoft forced users to deal with too much clutter around a Web page. You’ll find that ugliness is gone now.

There are some hefty privacy and security updates, things that are crucial if the Redmond company is to survive amongst other offerings on the market. Some of the updated features include tracking protection and control over ActiveX filtering. The tracking protection function allows you to place a limit on which websites are allowed to communicate with your browser. The tracking protection list blocks certain sites from monitoring what you are doing online. Having control over your ActiveX filtering gives you the ability to select which sites you trust to access information to create your interactive features when surfing the web. Additionally, IE 9 introduces “hang recover” in this version, which will isolate a malfunctioning tab while letting other open tabs continue to work properly and independently.

Another important factor to note is that IE 9 was built from the ground up to support HTML5. This is good in that developers can build upon HTML5 across multiple browsers. Consumers can experience sites in ways they never could before using HTML5, such as with videos and games. This will have a huge impact on what you can do when you are online.

Believe it or not, the demo shown during SXSW proves that IE 9 can run with the big dogs when it comes to speed: several sites were demo’d which ran smoothly in IE 9 but were choppy and slow in both Firefox 4 and Chrome. Don’t believe me? Ask Dave Wolf – VP of Strategy at Synergy. They produced a neat little game in HTML5 and showed off a short demo of it in this video. It renders at about ten times the framerate in IE 9 as it does in Chrome. Again, don’t take my word for it – watch for yourself.

As already mentioned once – give it a try before you simply write it off. I think Internet Explorer 9 is going to surprise you.

Have you played around with the new Microsoft browser offering yet? What are your initial thoughts?

Internet Explorer 9 Thoughts


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The IE 9 beta is definitely something you should try. We uploaded a screencast not long ago to much positive response. There are good things coming down the pike, and Microsoft is definitely getting back into the game.

In four earlier platform previews, aimed primarily at developers, Microsoft has already shown off some of what it’s delivering in IE9: dramatically improved performance, thanks to hardware acceleration and an improved JavaScript engine, along with a relentless emphasis on compatibility with modern web standards.

Even Ed Bott is happy with what he’s seeing. Nothing – and certainly no browser – is perfect, and this is no exception. However, I do believe that we are going to see Internet Explorer start to increase its hold on the market once again.

What are your thoughts?

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How to Convince Someone to Switch Web Browsers


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Someone in the live chat room recently asked how they can convince a relative to stop using Internet Explorer. The answer is that you really can’t – and you shouldn’t. They use what they use because they like it. It’s a matter of personal preference, folks. How would you like it if someone told you you need to stop using Chrome, Firefox or Safari? You’d not be a very happy camper.

If they aren’t happy and are looking for suggestions, then go ahead and give them your ideas. When you try to convince someone to change – whether it’s Web browsers or even religions – you’re superimposing your experiences onto them. You’re forcing your own opinions and perspectives on someone’s life.

If they’re using IE for all the wrong reasons (such as using a very old version), that’s a bad reason. Explain to them why it may not be safe. It may work well and look good to them, but it isn’t safe. Tell them the dangers, and help them understand why they should upgrade or look at a different browser.

If you are going to insist on trying to get someone to change, don’t simply say something is better or faster. You will never win them over. Point out specific features you feel they would appreciate and need that they cannot get in the browser they are using now. The same can hold true if you are talking about phones, gadgets or computers.

Show them something they will be able to do outside of the limitations of what they have now. Ask them what they want their browser (or anything) to do, then show them what fits best with their needs – even if it is Internet Explorer.

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What's New for Internet Explorer 9


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The beta for Internet Explorer 9 was officially released this morning during a press conference. This streamlined version has a better user experience and is far faster than any previous iteration of the application. With this release, Microsoft is asking us to “unlock the beauty of the web.” The team in Redmond feels that a browser should be focusing on a website – not the browser used to access it. IE 9 contains a lot of design changes and new features to make visiting websites an efficient process.

The new streamlined user interface features minimalized focus on the Home, Favorites and Settings menu buttons. They aren’t right in your face and larger-than-life anymore. There is a new position for Tabs and a new design for the URL bar. The speed is a drastic improvement, making it a competitor to other browsers once again.

The scrolling feature is a much smoother experience than in previous versions, assisted by new hardware acceleration. There is better Flash and HTML 5 integration. You will find that you now have the ability to easily see which add-ons might be slowing down the browser as it launches. There’s also a download manager to warn you if the code you’re trying to nab is potentially malicious.

Keep in mind that IE 9 will only work on Windows Vista or Windows 7. If you’re still using XP, you’re out of luck and unable to experience the actual goodness that we’re seeing out of the Microsoft camp today.

Thanks to Matthew for this excellent screencast and first peek at Internet Explorer 9.

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