Top 5 News App

There’s no shortage of news and aggregation apps out there – from 100% human-powered Web apps, to automated social media mining tools that promise to bring you the news you really want to read. Then there’s the likes of MustKnow News, an iOS app gives you the top 10 news stories by the hour.

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Now, there’s Top 5 News, a product of Benji Lanyado, who has been working on this little ditty as a side-project to his main role as a Web producer at Guardian Travel, alongside developer Matt Andrews. Top 5 News launched as a UK portal last month, which was followed by a US version just last week.

The premise behind this simple Web app is, well, simple. It monitors the top 5 most popular news stories across a range of the most popular online news hubs. In the UK this includes The BBC, The Guardian and The Telegraph, whilst the US conduit reels in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN and others.

If you are searching, say for example, about Japanese comfort women, you can see five of the top news that you need. Each portal also contains a ‘Top 5 Top 5′, which aggregates the top 5 stories from all the publications included. And the UK site has a dedicated Twitter feed so you can glean the top-performing news nuggets without actually visiting the site.

some news apps

some news apps

I’m not entirely convinced people will want to consume news in this way, but for those wishing to cut out all the noise on the Web and cut straight to what the top stories are across the top publications, Top 5 News is certainly an interesting experiment. No banners, logos (as such…) or other distractions, just a one-pager presenting you with what’s hot in news, which refreshes every fifteen minutes. There are many news apps to choose from but Top 5 News is unique.

Images from images.google.com

 

Web App for Music Collection

If you have been avidly collecting digital music since the early 2000s, you might want to check out Style Jukebox. Style Jukebox is launching a new Web app and a revamped iPhone app to stream all your tunes in the same format you uploaded them.

Style Jukebox

Style Jukebox

While Style Jukebox was previously available only on Windows desktops and mobile platforms, the new Web-based player lets users upload and play tracks from their browser on Mac and Linux, without the need to install another app.

Meanwhile, the new iPhone app sports a fresh look and notable features including on-the-fly transcoding that maintains the bitrate of your music files during playback. You can also download tracks to your iPhone for offline playback.

iPhone

iPhone

Here’s how it works: upload your tracks (MP3, WMA, AAC or OGG; premium users can also upload lossless FLAC or M4A (ALAC) files too) via Style Jukebox’s Windows desktop app or the Web player, and you can then access your music library to stream or download tracks at their maximum quality on another desktop or device.

The free plan lets you save up to 3,000 songs and link two devices to your account, while the premium plan at $24.99 per year adds room for up to 25,000 songs, each up to 1GB in size, and supports 10 devices per account.

Style Jukebox isn’t really the first service of its kind: Amazon’s Cloud Player lets you store up to 250,000 songs for the same premium price — but it’s only available in select countries and transcodes your music to a lower bitrate and smaller file size, even when you download tracks.

Images from images.google.com

Web App Firewall

Security is one of the most important things for everyone using the internet. For web apps An application firewall is a form of firewall which controls input, output, and/or access from, to, or by an application or service. It operates by monitoring and potentially blocking the input, output, or system service calls which do not meet the configured policy of the firewall.

Basic consumer-level cyber security measures are essential and are an urgent call on companies’ financial resources, but these are not enough. If a company has a website then that website must be protected using a WAF against unauthorized intrusion by hackers.

Firewall

Firewall

A Web Application Firewall does much more than a consumer’s computer firewall. Consumer-level applications work by blocking software access to certain ports. Web applications such as Apache, WordPress and Microsoft’s Office all require an extra level of protection against malicious users. WAFs offer this extra protection and work by analyzing all data passing through them and checking its conformity to pre-set rules.

A WAF fulfills a web-user’s need to protect both internal and public web applications, whether locally (on-premises) or remotely (cloud-hosted), against unauthorized access attempts. These attacks revolve around hacking and illegal access to web applications.

According to statistics, every year, cyber attacks are increasing by 30%, while successful breaches are increasing at twice that rate, 60% a year: In plain English, more attacks are getting through.

Web Application Firewall (WAF)

Web Application Firewall (WAF)

The need to protect customers’ data is even more important than the need to keep the website live. If there is a security breach the negative effects of the attendant publicity and loss of trust are immeasurable.

Images from images.google.com

Running Web Apps on Google Cloud

For sure, you have already used web applications on your browser. How about using these web apps on the cloud?

Cloudways, a startup that sets up and manages components for applications on top of cloud-computing infrastructure, has learned that developers want to try out the Google Compute Engine public cloud. So Cloudways is adding support for it, even though it’s still young in comparison with, say, Amazon Web Services (AWS).

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Cloudway

Cloudway

“They have slashed their prices drastically — by 40 or 50 percent — and are trying to give a hard time to AWS,” cofounder Aaqib Gadit told VentureBeat in an interview. The price cuts have brought more attention to the Google cloud, Gadit said, but it’s got “many, many complex options.” So it makes sense for Cloudways to simplify application deployment on Google.

The move is the latest evidence of a wider recognition of the increasing appeal of the Google Compute Engine in the highly competitive public cloud market.

CoreOS, Mesosphere, Xplenty, and Elasticsearch, among others, have brought their different types of infrastructure tools to Google’s cloud over the past several months.

Cloudways takes care of the management of open-source tools for hosting websites, like Magento, WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.

Google logo

Google logo

The support for Google should come in the first week of February. A rollout of Cloudways atop IBM’s Softlayer cloud servers could be coming up next, Gadit said.

Malta-based Cloudways brought its tools to AWS, the market-leading public cloud, about nine months ago. Three months after that, Cloudways expanded to include the fast-growing DigitalOcean cloud. The startup now has more than 1,000 customers, Gadit said.

images from images.google.com

Best Media Web Apps 2014

If you think web apps as underpowered imitations of desktop software, think again. Many web apps are free, and allow you to pay for more advanced features as you go, if and when you need them.

Here are some of the best web apps for media editing available—ones that can perform the most important tasks in your digital lifestyle:

Pixlr Editor

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They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but we applaud Pixlr Editor’s modesty. The humble “Editor” is nothing less than a sophisticated Photoshop act-alike, complete with powerful image-creation and editing tools, like filters and layer masks. You can import photos and image files from your computer, the web, or Facebook albums, then export them back to your Mac, Facebook, or other social photo sites like Flickr and Picasa.

TwistedWave
A full-featured audio editor, TwistedWave imports files from SoundCloud, Google Drive, or your computer, then allows you to select portions of the file’s waveform to apply filters, insert silences, change pitch, and more. You’re free to experiment, with multiple undos remembered across logins. Plans start at $5 a month (or $50 annually) for five hours of storage and file lengths up to five minutes.

WeVideo

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With interface options that range from simple to professional, WeVideo is like getting features from every version of iMovie in one package. But WeVideo imports media from social networks as well as Macs, and multiple users can collaborate. Free accounts let you export up to 15 minutes of 480p video a month, with 5GB of storage. Monthly accounts starting at $4.99 (or $49.99 annually) increase those limits to 1 hour, 720p, and 10GB.

Images from mevvy.com and pcworld.com

Comic-making Web Apps

Comics aren’t just for kids. These have the capability to tell a story in a visual way that is truly unique and an experience on its own. With just a few simple clicks, you now can create you own characters that bring a comic strip to life. If you want to, you can even draw your own original characters. Featured below are some web apps to create your own comics:

Create Your Own Comic by Marvel

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Marvel Comics or Marvel Worldwide Inc. is an American publisher of comic books and related media and one of the most recognizable brands in the world.. If there’s a company that knows what it takes to build great comics, it would be Marvel. This DIY comic site is simple and cool. You can use different scenes, characters and objects from the Marvel comic universe to create your own stories online.

Bitstrips

Bitstrips helps you create a cartoon version of yourself. You can give yourself a new hairstyle, add some makeup, adjust the size of the face as you like and even change the outfit. The image below is an example of my own attempt at creating a Bitstrip version of myself. Besides the browser version, they also have an app that was ranked as one of the top downloaded apps by Apple enthusiasts.

MakeBeliefsComix.com

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MakeBeliefsComix is a free comic strip creation tool that provides students with a lot of characters, templates and prompts for building their own comics. This is so easy to use that a child could definitely use this with no problems. However, one limitation is the color. You can change the background color, but characters will stay black and white anyway.

Images from ncs-tech.org and makeuseof.com

 

Single Page Applications (SPA)

A single-page application (SPA), is a web application or web site that fits on a single web page with the goal of providing a more fluid user experience akin to a desktop application. In SPA apps, our front-end will be simply using the RESTful API for the data and build the entire UI on the client-side. In this context, JavaScript becomes a key technology for building web apps. One advantage of SPA apps are we can easily package these apps as Mobile apps to multiple mobile platforms using a hybrid mobile container such as Phonegap and Trigger.IO. This is okay for small-size to mid-size Mobile apps where UIs are based on data forms. So we can use a single code base for building Web apps and Mobile apps.

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In SPA based Web development, JavaScript is becoming a key technology, and JavaScript skill is more important than ever before. Here are a couple of challenges I have observed with SPA apps:

  1. When we develop large-scale SPA apps, it would be very difficult to maintain the app comparing to everything we do with server-side. I feel that building larger JavaScript apps is really a challenge from the maintainability preservative.
  2. It would be very difficult to implement complex security models on the client-side, with different kind of authorization roles which is having different levels of access restrictions on the UI.

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Currently, AngularJS, EmberJS and Backbone are the most popular SPA frameworks used for building real-world apps. Based on reviews, AngularJS is more productive framework which is filled with enough features for building larger SPA apps.

Images from apievangelist.com and angularjs.org

Web Applications on World News

Flipboard, the app that lets you tap and flip your way through digital magazines on smartphones and tablets, has now come to laptops and desktops as web apps. You can now access your Flipboard account from a Web browser, complete with the flip animation — for better or worse. This might now be the perfect digital newspaper across several devices.

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You can also use the Web app to create your own magazines to clip articles for later viewing via a bookmarklet. But the magazines you create are kept separate from the rest of Flipboard on the Web, which makes the Web app a better addendum to the mobile app than standalone product.

The app Flipboard was launched in 2010 by former Apple iPhone engineer, Evan Doll, and former Tellme CEO, Mike McCue. The duo set out to create an app that merged the simplicity and feel of a magazine with the accessibility and collaboration that technology provides. The app integrates news from media outlets from around the world and presents it in a magazine format.

CEO Mike McCue mentioned about the back story of bringing Flipboard to the web. “When we started,” he says, “we thought we were going to build a website.” Hearing rumors about Apple’s iPad, they bet on a tablet app, and now, three years after launch, they’re moving back to the desktop. Though McCue agrees that the recent demise of Google Reader played into the decision to build for the web, the team wanted to open up its users’ magazines to a bigger audience, instead of keeping them stuck behind an app wall.

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Innovations like these are very important for today’s social media and information age. This is especially true for sensitive news that needs to be spread to world consciousness – nes like human rights violations, issues on Korean comfort women, terrorism and the like. With just a touch of your fingertips, ignorance might be averted and more and more people will see what really happens worldwide. The app makes use of the prevalence of internet in our lives, from tablets to smartphones. It also highlights how everything is made easy in this day and age via the internet, so why not take advantage of this for spreading news and ideas?

Images from wired.com

Web App Development Trends

Web apps are increasingly getting popular and experts say it will just keep on doing so, so development of these apps are continuously evolving. In this post, we will take a look at two web development trends happening now as well as thoughts, observations and predictions for year 2015 and beyond.

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Nowadays, user experience is getting more importance than ever before, and Responsive Web Design (RWD) is becoming a must have feature for web sites. RWD lets the end users browse web sites from multiple form factors, including mobile and tablet browsers. RWD can be replaced for some mobile web sites where we don’t have to develop separate web site for mobile users. This will work for some scenarios especially for developing web sites mainly focuses on presenting contents. However, if you are building Web apps instead of Web sites, which is having lot UI workflows, RWD will not help you. Please keep in mind that Web apps and Web sites are different.

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In the era of Mobile, API’s (application program interfaces), particularly RESTful APIs are becoming a key component of Web apps. API’s are sets of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. The API specifies how software components should interact and are used when programming graphical user interface (GUI) components. Furthermore, server-side implementations are becoming a thin layer with an API for data and security. These RESTful APIs are not only restricted to Web apps, but can also be used for Mobile apps. So that modern Web developers are writing their server-side code for both Mobile apps and Web apps, which has given more opportunity to Web developers.

Images from moz.com and geekli.st

 

Web Application Structure  

In the previous article, web applications where introduced. It was also defined. As well as the main function was also elaborated. In this article, the processes and the structure of web applications would be discussed.

First, stripped down, how do web applications look like? Well, applications are not one big program made up of thousands of codes. On the contrary, applications are usually broken into chunks, also called tiers. Each tier has been assigned a specific role to function for the overall program. Though there are many variations of different numbers of tiers, the most common structure for any application would be the three-tiered application. In these tiers one could find: presentation, application, and storage. So basically the average functions of a website, these are the contents of the basic website wherein only text or online shops could be found.

Web Application Structure  

Web Application Structure

To explain further, for the first tier (presentation), it would be the Web Browser. Why? Of course, overall, the bigger picture would be viewed from the web browser itself. As the web browser is a collection of thousands of web sites. And as was mentioned, the web browser would be the one to interpret said codes. Next, the second tier (application logic). So as the name suggests, this would be the part where everything is put together. And lastly would be the third tier (storage).

In order to fully understand the structure of web applications, one could compare it to a restaurant. So let’s say a person comes in and orders something (presentation), the waiter then would bring the request to the kitchen wherein they would cook the food ordered (application logic), and then at the end of the day, all the orders, the cash receipts, and basically inventory would be placed in a ledger (storage).

Web Application Structure  

Web Application Structure

But as was said, this is only a basic structure of web application. For more complex website functions, n-tiered applications are used.

Images from what-when-how.com and biztec.com.pk