As shoppers begin the retail frenzy that leads up to the holiday season, one organization is using the occasion to spread the word about Bitcoin. As if Bitcoin hasn't garnered enough headlines, Fight for the Future, a non-profit aimed at increasing openness via technology has organized Bitcoin Black Friday. The website brings together over 400 retailers that will be accepting Bitcoin for payment this holiday season.
This event was intended to raise awareness for Bitcoin as a viable alternative to traditional legal tender. And it does raise the question of whether given all the headlines, Bitcoin is ready for the mainstream. I look at this in further detail by analyzing just What Can You Buy with Bitcoin?
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The rollout of Android KitKat continues, but only at a trickle. While Nexus 5 customers have been on Google's latest version of Android for almost a month, the update is just starting to be made available to some versions of the HTC One. It looks like many of the flagship phone models will not receive an upgrade to KitKat until 2014.
Android KitKat offers a number of upgrades over its predecessor Jellybean, and in fact some of its most significant upgrades are behind the scenes. I discuss some of the more significant updates in: 5 New Features in Android KitKat.
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I'm a big fan of the ease of use of Google App Engine. The service really streamline the process of getting an app online, and for those who are interested in exploring it, I wrote a step by step guide on getting started with GAE.
As you progress in creating projects on App Engine, one aspect of your applications that are worth considering is data persistence. Data management is challenging for web apps under any circumstances, and Google App Engine has a number of unique features around data persistence that are worth considering. I provide an overview of this in my latest article on: Storing Data in Google App Engine.
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With the full holiday momentum behind the recent launch of Microsoft's Xbox One, I've turned my attention to Microsoft's more behind-the-scenes offering, Windows Azure. Microsoft's cloud platform is not only a public facing Platform-as-a-Service, but also powers a host of Microsoft services, from Office 365 to Outlook.com to Xbox Live. A recent Azure outage that coincided with the Xbox One launch didn't disrupt services for too long, which is good news for the next-gen console.
Windows Azure is Microsoft's huge bet on the long term transition to cloud services. Since its creation in 2010, it has undergone a number of changes to make it more specifically competitive with Amazon Web Services. I highlight some of the aspects of each service in my article on: Amazon AWS vs Azure.
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Arduino has built a very popular brand, and it has still got an energized community of hardware experimenters behind it. New and interesting projects keep rolling in, like Cortado, a lightweight wireless receiver that is Arduino compatible that can remain wireless indefinitely.
Arduino has become so popular that it has spawned a number of spin-off projects that take the open source form factor of Arduino and extend it with various features. One of the most popular recent spin-off projects is Netduino, an Arduino pin-compatible device that uses the .NET Micro software framework. Deciding whether to jump into microcontroller development via Arduino or Netduino as a number of unique considerations, and I provide a rundown of these factors in: Arduino vs Netduino.
Image © Arduino.cc
Mobile ad platform Kiip has recently opened a self-service platform to advertisers. This will allow advertisers to initiate Kiip campaigns, which will integrate with mobile apps much in the same way that Google Adwords allows advertisers to start their own search campaigns.
Mobile advertising has become a lucrative and growing business, and yet few companies have really cracked the problem of how advertising will truly work on the mobile platform long-term. Will it remain display ads in mobile, apps, or is there something more suited to the way we use mobile devices. Kiip has adopted a unique approach by integrating their advertising into events and actions within the mobile apps themselves. You can find out more about this company in my Startup Profile on Kiip.
Image © Kiip
In yet another vote of confidence for the staying power of Node.js, Microsoft recently released Node.js tools for Visual Studio. Apparently there are some Node enthusiasts in Redmond who began this project, and after some help from other open source contributors they have released the tool on Microsoft's open source repository, CodePlex. If you're interested, you can check it out here.
Node.js has received a lot of attention and hype recently, and while opinion is somewhat divided on its benefits, it appears to be gaining traction as a viable alternative to the traditional open source web server toolset. It is certainly a technology worth a closer look. I provide more details in my article: Scaling Websites with Node.js.
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The open source database management software PostgreSQL received yet another endorsement as Amazon recently introduced Postgres support within its Relational Database Service (RDS) product. Amazon Web Services are becoming more feature rich and robust, and offering web developers another option for open source RDBMS will be highly valued by many.
PostgreSQL has been quietly trending up in popularity; though still nowhere near as popular as MySQL in web applications, there are a number of reasons why Postgres may be worth a second look. I present some of the details of the differences between the two in: PostgreSQL and MySQL.
Image Courtesy of The PostgreSQL Community Association of Canada.
As you can see from my last few articles, lately I've been paying more attention to the biggest tech companies in China, and the increasing impact they are having on the tech industry of the western world. Baidu, Tencent, Alibaba and others are engaged in a hotly contested battle, mainly for a dominant position in the exploding mobile market. It's reminiscent of the same battle taking place here between companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook.
Take a closer look at the largest players in the Chinese battle for dominance, and how their strategies of investment overseas will shape the tech industry at large in: Chinese Tech Investments
Alibaba seems to be demonstrating a great deal of financial clout in advance of its rumored IPO. It is potentially shaping the regulatory landscape as the Hong Kong Stock Exchange is moving to accommodate a potential listing. Also, Yahoo appears to be quite pleased that it will be able to hold on to more Alibaba shares as following its IPO. After talks with Alibaba management, Yahoo has expanded the holdings that it will keep, which is good news for a company that has seen its share of recent struggles.
If you are not familiar with Alibaba, find out why it is a force to be reckoned with in - Tech Company Profile: Alibaba.
Image © Alibaba Group