Stories by Peter Wayner

  • First look: Internet Explorer 9 beta makes waves

    One of the best ways to see what's changed with the ninth and newest version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer is to tune into beautyoftheweb.com and watch the words, images, and DIVs bounce around, luring the world into pretty images and information that can't sit still. "Tune in" is the appropriate verb because the experience is closer to consuming television than what the Web was once supposed to be, an endless library filled with serious knowledge that might come from an underground physics bunker in the mountains.

  • First look: Firefox 4 Beta 1 shines on HTML5

    While it's impossible to sum up the thousands of enhancements and bug fixes both big and small, the Firefox 4 beta version brings the browser that much closer to taking over everything on the desktop. There are fewer reasons for anyone to interact with an extra plug-in or the operating system. Remember when people cared about whether a machine was Windows or Mac or a Commodore 64? Remember when software needed to be written in native code? Those days are fading away quickly as the browser is more able than ever before to deliver most of the content we might want.

  • Where Android beats the iPhone

    Can Google Android phones compete with the Apple iPhone? A few weeks ago, Google loaned me a Nexus One smartphone for experimentation, and I've spent the time since downloading applications and writing my own code. The good news is that the platform is not only competitive but is often a better choice than the iPhone for many programmers and the enterprises that employ them.

  • Android apps for business users

    The BlackBerry may be the most popular phone in businesses today, but the openness of the Google Android platform is attractive too. Most of the big-name apps from the iPhone world are now available for the Android.

  • Android apps for developers and IT pros, at a glance

    These eight apps allow you to open a shell, run a shell script, tap the Linux command line, or otherwise put your Android-based smartphone to productive use. Most are available in free editions, and none will set you back more than a few dollars.

  • The best free open source software for Mac OS X

    Most Mac lovers love the Mac for the carefully wrought user interfaces and the crisp design, and never pay attention to the open source at the heart of the operating system. But underneath this beautiful facade is a heart built upon the rich - if often chaotic - world of open source software.

  • Sun Cloud looks beyond Java

    Sun Microystems, which announced Sun Cloud in March, is taking a different tack than the Java clouds from Google, Aptana, and Stax because it wants to be more than just a Java provider. The new cloud will create new clusters of machines from any disk image, including some of the most popular versions of Linux and Solaris. Java, of course, will be found in most of these images, but you don't need to use it if you want to, say, run some emulated version of Cobol on a version of Puppy Linux. Unless Sun Cloud is interrupted by Oracle's acquisition, it should be available in a few months.

  • Cloud versus cloud: A guided tour of Amazon, Google, AppNexus, and GoGrid

    Who wouldn't want to live in a "cloud"? The term is a perfect marketing buzzword for the server industry, heralding images of a gauzy, sunlit realm that moves effortlessly across the sky. There are no suits or ties in this world, just toga-clad Greek gods who do as they please and punish at whim, hurling real lightning bolts and not merely sarcastic IMs. The marketing folks know how to play to the dreams of server farm admins who spend all day in overgrown shell scripts and impenetrable acronyms.

  • Denodo brings old-school polish to new mashups

    In the collective imagination, the computers are busy merging into one grand, expansive database filled with minutiae about those pesky, emotive humans so that the machines will be ready for Sarah Connor. The database administrators and programmers know that the reality is more than a little bit creakier than this image -- even though they might use the image to pry some funding if they see a glint of malice in the eyes of the pointy-haired bosses.

  • Product review: WaveMaker

    There was a moment in history when assembly coding and the knowledge of it largely disappeared from the world. Before it, the programmers knew and cared about the binary code the CPU saw, even if they relied upon a compiler to build much of it. After that moment, the IDEs came along and did so many things automatically that programmers stopped caring about such things as linking or op codes.

  • Open-source reporting goes corporate

    Just a few years ago, the world of open source packages for generating database reports was a quiet secret shared by programmers on a deadline. Anyone could spend a few minutes linking in a library to start generating relatively clean tables filled with data pulled from an SQL database. I've personally made a few clients happy by adding JasperReports to some projects with just a bit of XML and a JAR file.

  • Open source databases on the rise

    Databases were once the forgotten stepchild of the open-source family. Companies like Red Hat included database software with their Linux distribution disks, but the main focus was on the operating system, the kernel and the graphical interface. A database was just another add-on, like a Minesweeper clone. But now, companies and users are scrambling to realise the value locked up in quality, open-source database software.