Lifes too short – write fast code!


This is the second talk that follows-up on the 14 best practices from YSlow and “High Performance Web Sites”. The first talk presented three new best practices: Split the Initial Payload, Load Scripts Without Blocking, and Don’t Scatter Inline Scripts.

The most important of these is loading external scripts without blocking other downloads and preventing page rendering. One complication is this may introduce undefined symbol errors if inlined code uses symbols from the external scripts. Luckily, there are several techniques to workaround this problem. That and other topics will be covered in this presentation of three more best practices:

* Coupling Asynchronous Scripts
* Use Iframes Sparingly
* Flush the Document Early

Much of this talk discusses material from Steve’s book, High Performance Websites: Essential Knowledge for Front-End Engineers. The talk is full of great advice, I found the discussion around loading scripts both synchronously and asynchronously and the performance gains that can be achieved. However this has to be combing with understanding that you also have to couple scripts together in order to preserver the order they are loaded in, as well as understanding that by default loading external scripts blocks download of other elements on the page. Steve discusses a number of techniques that can address these issues as well as the pros and cons associated with each. His discussion around John Resigs idea of using degrading script tags is extremely useful.

This is a hugely useful tech talk and a must for anyone doing serious Javascript development.

Drop-in JavaScript Performance

Browsers are continually upgrading – providing new features from the latest specifications. We’ll look at modern JavaScript and DOM techniques that you can easily drop in to your applications for instant speed-ups.

This is a great tech talk by John Resig that covers features in upcoming browsers such as new javascript engines in the major browsers, audio and video tagging in FF3.1 and Opera 10, total ACIDIII Compliance in Safari 4 as well as desktop integration; dramatically better performance in IE8 over IE7 etc.

We’ve started doing a lot of RIA work using JavaScript at Talis so understanding how to write cross browser, performant scripts its a must. This talk is great food for thought for anyone who wants to understand modern browser architecture and benefit from some great tips.

Designing Innovation Networks on Life’s Origins and Evolution

Highly innovative organizations face a constant challenge to process a flood of good ideas, both generated by employees and submitted from outside. In the wake of Google’s Tenth Birthday Competition, this talk describes how innovation networks apply principles found in life’s origins and evolution to “processing innovation.” Debates about how novelty emerged in the origin of life and its evolution toward complexity demand revising assumptions that we’ve taken for granted. Steven Jay Gould said that “Darwinism” misrepresents Darwin.

A more complete interpretation of Darwin’s theory of evolution could inspire new problem-solving methods with a range of practical applications, from multi-agent systems able to learn and improve their performance to cross-disciplinary decision support systems designed to address environmental sustainability challenges. Objective. To discuss nine principles of innovation networks and the problem-solving method they support.

A very interesting talk! It also reminded loosely about some of the ideas discussed in Swarm Creativity.

Changing China one loan at a time

As financial institutions melt down, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about credit–who gets it, from whom, and what it means for the global economy. There are very few bright spots in today’s economic environment, but the good news is that in many parts of the world, loans of just a few hundred dollars still have the capacity to change people’s lives. Join Casey Wilson, nonprofit startup entrepreneur, to talk about her work with Wokai, the first foreign-funded microfinance organization in China. Casey will share her experiences building an organization that gives the poorest of China’s poor the financing to build businesses that lift them from poverty.

A possible future of Software Development

This talk begins with an overview of software development at Adobe and a look at industry trends towards systems built around object oriented frameworks; why they “work”, and why they ultimately fail to deliver quality, scalable, software. We’ll look at a possible alternative to this future, combining generic programming with declarative programming to build high quality, scalable systems.

… a very interesting talk, that raises some important questions, about the very nature of software development.

JQuery: Dmitri Gaskin – yes he’s only 12

Dmitri Gaskin drinks code with his cereal for breakfast every morning. He’s a jQuery whiz and a Drupal know-it-all. He contributes patches for both Open Source projects. In the Drupal world, he maintains many modules, is on the security team, and is involved in the upcoming Summer of Code as a mentor and administrator. Dmitri has given many talks on Drupal and jQuery, in such places as Logitech, Drupalcon and live on a radio show out of L.A. When Dmitri isn’t coding, a very rare occurrence, he is playing and composing contemporary music. And attending classes in the 6th
grade. (He’s only 12.)

… a truly amazing individual and a wonderful presentation on jQuery.

Gears and the Mashup Problem


Mashups are the most interesting innovation in software development in decades. … all » Unfortunately, the browser’s security model did not anticipate this development, so mashups are not safe if there is any confidential information in the page. Since virtually every page has at least some confidential information in it, this is a big problem. Google Gears may lead to the solution

… very interesting tech talk, I think I need to play around with Gears a bit more!

Science Commons

James Boyle gives a very interesting talk on Science Commons, which is a project within the Creative Commons movement which strives to remove unnecessary legal and technical barriers to the sharing of scientific materials in order to facilitate collaboration and innovation. Boyle gave another similar talk about 7 ways to ruin a technical revolution, and its well worth listening to both of these talks.

Science Commons was launched to expand the Creative Commons mission into the scientific … all » realm. James Boyle will be talking about two Science Commons projects: The Neurocommons and the Materials Transfer Project. The Materials Transfer Project uses standard machine readable licenses so that one day sharing biological materials between labs might be as easy as buying books from Amazon. If these words weren’t forbidden at Google, he’d describe the Neurocommons as a first draft of an open “semantic web” for neurology. The overall goal is to take some of the ingenuity we devote to allowing teenagers to flirt with each other online, or people to share and find mashups, and use it to reduce the transaction costs of science and make it selfishly beneficial for scientists to share more, and more easily.

Google Research Talk: Semantic Web

Google have recently launched that will provide information on research activities at Google. There’s a series of video talks that are associated with these research activities.

This is a talk by Eyal Oran, Sebastian Kruk and Stefan Decker entitled “Semantic Web”.

Our development group has been doing a lot of semantic web related work here at Talis, in fact we have built a semantic web platform that we have built several applications upon, so the entire research area is something we are all very passionate about.

The talk covers some of the basic principles of the Semantic Web but also takes about FOAF, RDF and introduces ActiveRDF:

an object-oriented API for managing RDF data. ActiveRDF can be used with different RDF stores and integrates with Ruby on Rails. An addition to ActiveRDF is BrowseRDF, a faceted metadata browsing library. Faceted browsing is a natural technique for navigating that graph. We developed an expressive faceted interface that allows navigating arbitrary semi-structured data and formally show the improvement over existing interfaces.

I found the talk quite interesting, and it’s given me a fair bit to think about.