The benefit for me is not so much that I don’t have to carry the rating manuals, dollar value charts, and date wheels. Unlike these tools, my phone is not something I’m going to misplace or loan and never see again.
The best part is that if I want to refer back to the calculation I just performed, I can just e-mail it to myself!
Since launching this website I’ve given a lot of thought to support for cell phones. There just are not many phones that can run these calculators.2 The glaring and notable exception is the iPhone.
Amusingly, one of this website’s users has asked for an “iPhone app” version of this site. Seriously, you’ve got one of the few phones that can use this site and that’s not good enough for you? (Thanks Chris!)
Last week a website user notified me of a problem he was experiencing with this website’s rating calculators. He’s been a regular user for nearly a year now. When he tried to perform a calculation the calculators would just show waiting indicators without showing the answer. If he closed the browser window and reopened it, it would sometimes fix the problem. To complicate matters, his coworker was having a similar problem.
Worst of all, this problem had been plaguing them for two weeks. If you have a problem with this website, let me know as soon as possible so that I can track down the last change to the site to see if its causing a problem.
My troubleshooting went like this:
Get a detailed description of the symptoms.
Try to replicate the problem.
Reiterate the problem to make sure I’ve got it right.
While working to diagnose and fix the problem, offer a temporary fix (putting up a temporary site for their use).
Look into recent changes in the website (going back two weeks).
Since I couldn’t replicate the problem, ask additional questions.
Does the problem occur at a particular time of the day?1
These browser helper objects are notorious for interfering with normal browser operations. Worse, you can’t rule them out based upon when they were installed because they’re constantly downloading and installing updates to themselves. [↩]
Double clicks send two requests to the server – and might be confusing the browser. [↩]
Two computers on a single network could be a coincidence, a sign of a problem with the website, or a sign of a problem with the client’s network. [↩]
If not, its a problem with that computer. If so, could still be a problem with either the website or their computers/network. [↩]
Tell them how to tell if there’s an error and how to give you the error code information. [↩]
They may not care for the constant updates, but they will know you’re on the case. [↩]
Most people don’t even realize that they’re trend setters. With the increase in online or website based programs, more and more people are turning to “cloud computing.” This term refers to a process where all the computational heavy lifting is not performed on a user’s computer but rather an external computer.
The most common example of cloud computing is probably “Google Docs,” which is Google’s online suite of office productivity software. It includes programs for spreadsheets, presentations, and of course document editing. It can open and save in its own format, OpenOffice format, and Microsoft Office formats. Even Adobe released a free online version of Photoshop.
Cloud computing is basically the process of outsourcing your math. There are a lot of situations where this makes a lot of sense:
Money. Lower computing requirements mean you don’t need as powerful a computer, saving you money.
Money. Lower computing requirements also mean you won’t need to purchase an upgrade or new computer as often, saving you money.
Time. Nothing to install, upgrade, or troubleshoot.
Money. Web server updates mean you don’t have to purchase software upgrades, saving you money.
Scaling. Need another copy of a program? Just fire up a new computer and launch a new web browser.
Fewer Resources. When the program never actually runs on your computer, it uses no memory. When your computer isn’t working hard running a program, it uses less power.
More Resources. When the program is never installed on your computer, it uses no hard drive space. On the flip side, many cloud computing programs allow you to save your work or files online – giving you more hard drive space than what’s on your computer.
Google jumped head fist into the browser war last week.
The big players at the moment are Internet Explorer, Firefox/Mozilla, Opera, and Safari (Mac). From Google’s information about Chrome, it looks like it was designed based on Apple’s popular Webkit and Mozilla’s very popular Firefox. An added benefit is that this new browser is open source. Google’s online comic about Chrome and their new vision of how a web browser should look and behave is actually fairly interesting.
The other bit of good news is that I’ve downloaded and installed the beta version of Google’s Chrome in order to see whether it is compatible with this website and its web apps.