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iFolder for iPhone now available!

UPDATE: The first release is now available in the app store. At the moment it’s US only but we expect to do a global release by the end of February 2011.

Available in the US App Store

We’ve just put the finishing touches to our iFolder for iPhone app and are recruiting enterprise beta testers who have their own iFolder installation. The easiest way of describing iFolder is probably to say that it’s dropbox for the enterprise – it’s a cross-platform secure file sharing system originally developed by Novell and now open sourced. There are existing open source clients for Windows, Apple Mac and Linux, but mobile support is currently limited (well, non-existent).

You can check out the app and apply for the beta programme over at ifolder.mindsizzlers.com

Posted in Development, Featured, iPhone, iPhone Development, News0 Comments

MP Finder iPhone app released

MP Finder iPhone app released

Our latest iPhone application is a small demonstration of what can be achieved using the newly released data from The Ordnance Survey under the Open Data initiative combined with public domain data on Members of Parliament and Constituencies.

MP Finder locates where you are and then drops a pin on the map identifying your constituency and MP. No entering postcodes, searching for addresses, simply turn on and find your MP!

Visit the app store

Posted in Featured, iPhone, iPhone Development, News, Products0 Comments

Golden Hour comes to iPhone

Golden Hour comes to iPhone

Mindsizzlers have released their latest iPhone application. The Golden Hour app’ puts a sun clock in your pocket and allows you to plot the position of the sun for any location on earth and time of year. Of particular interest to photographers, the application highlights the so-called “Golden Hour” much appreciated by cinematographers and photographers alike.

Featuring a comprehensive database of over 45,000 locations around the world, accurate astronomical calculations and different views of the data, both graphical and numeric, the application is designed to accompany and augment the existing website at www.golden-hour.com.

Full Features;

Next event alert for the current location.

Sun clock display showing not simply the day-night terminator, but a coloured shadow highlighting the areas of the planet currently in golden hour, civil twilight, nautical twilight etc. Click on the map to instantly change locations.

Sun Angle display showing the Azimuth and Elevation for any time on the current day.

Golden Hour display, familiar to website users this is the core display of the solar altitude during the day. Users can scroll through the year or nudge the current date up/down with a tap. From this screen users can also access a comprehensive numeric data view showing the full range of astronomical,nautical and civil twilight times.

Huge drill down location database complete with full colour flags of the world for each country and population data for each city, town or village.

Particularly noteworthy is that the application does not require any network access and is therefore perfect for iPod touch users.

Posted in Featured, iPhone Development, News, Products0 Comments

How Amazon’s cloud saved the Golden Hour

How Amazon’s cloud saved the Golden Hour

Roger created and runs an educational site about the science of the so-called “golden hour” – the time around sunrise and sunset that has the most fantastic light for taking photographs. Although there were lots of websites giving tables of sunrise and sunset times, I wanted to create something more visual that showed the golden-hour visually and allowed you to explore how it changes with latitude and time of year.

It was an interesting project as it ties together various libraries such as the poly9 3D flash globe and openlayers mapping alongside astronomical algorithms and geolocation work. I was quite pleased with the site, put it online and then went back to work …

The Golden Hour Website

The Golden Hour Website

For a few months, there wasn’t really much interest in the site until all of a sudden in July, my traffic spiked quite significantly.

July Traffic Spike

July Traffic Spike

Nothing too dramatic, a peak of 2,000 page views per day, so in the real world not really a “peak” at all, however I was intrigued to discover that the traffic came from a mention in a Canon newsletter. With enough traffic now to make it worthwhile, I spent some time adding in some advertising to the site, some Amazon widgets to sell Canon camera gear, and again, just left it and went back to work, this time pleased that other people were enjoying the site.

My headache however arrived a month later when all of a sudden I received a terms of service violation notice from my hosting company with a note that I had exceeded their CPU allowance and had disabled the site.  Nice!

It became clear that something had triggered a much larger traffic spike and to get back online I needed to act fast.

Amazon EC2 to the rescue!

It just so happens that my work at Mindsizzlers has been exploring and evaluating cloud computing and I had been building applications in Amazon’s compute cloud for several months. This meant I had an account ready to go and was able to spin up a suitable server instance, upload the appropriate cgi scripts other resources that the golden hour required and have an alternative server up and running, literally within the space of 15 minutes or so.

My other good fortune was that I’m in the habit of using short DNS time-to-live values on many sites through DNS made easy (daft name, great service). This meant I could change the A-records for the golden hour and get the traffic flowing across pretty quickly. In the meantime I was able to put a redirect in at the old host to bounce the traffic into the cloud until things calmed down.

Incidentally, this was the traffic spike. It’s the first one in the graphic.

First spike took the site down, the second I was prepared for.

First spike took the site down, the second I was prepared for.

The spike was due to a mention on www.lifehacker.com and generated an intense burst of visitors that I had absolutely no warning about.

Without Amazon’s computing cloud, I’d have been sunk. My hosting company were fast to turn the site off, but then unacceptably slow at responding to any follow up. It took over 4 hours to restore even limited access and in fact it turned out that I had a widget that wasn’t delivering cached output which was the real cause of the problem in the first place.

With Amazon and EC2, I was able to get a new server on-line in minutes and the best part is I only needed to pay by the hour I was using it. Actually it’s even better than that. One USP about the Amazon cloud is that I’m not tied into having a particular operating system ( think Azure ) or writing my application in a particular language ( think Google Appengine ). This really is a killer feature of Amazon’s cloud, I can pick from hundreds (if not thousands) of machine images or build my own from a basic starting point, but at all times I am in control, I can pick the operating system, how much memory I need, what sort of CPU power I want – it really is the perfect instant on-line server shop and what makes it even more amazing is that it comes from a company that started life as a book seller.

Anyway, as things calmed down, what I did was have round robin DNS so that half the visitors are served by my original hosting company, and half are served by a cloud instance that I use for other projects too.  This was very handy a few weeks later because the more observant of you will have noticed a second traffic spike on the chart – this time it came from being voted “cool site of the day” by America’s Digital Goddess  (no, really, I’m not making this up). Two great things about that. Firstly they were kind enough to warn me a day or so in advance – thanks guys, and secondly with the round robin DNS in place, and the cloud humming away nicely, the servers barely broke into a sweat.

Posted in Cloud Computing, Featured, Personal0 Comments

Mindsizzlers launch first iPhone application!

Mindsizzlers launch first iPhone application!

Following on from our news about the launch of www.dodadog.com, we’re delighted to announce the release of our first iPhone application which complements the site by tracking users’ walks and giving them access to a special mobile web version of the website.

Written entirely in native objective-c for the iPhone, this is the first of a range of iPhone applications that Mindsizzlers has planned for the coming months, but if you have a project you would like to see realised on the iPhone, please don’t hesitate to get in touch as this is very much a space we are now confident working in.

Launch Screen

Launch Screen

Posted in Development, Featured, iPhone Development, Products0 Comments

Got a dog? Join DODADOG!

Got a dog? Join DODADOG!

We’re delighted to announce the release of www.dodadog.com which is our new gregarious network for dogs and their owners. The site has discussion groups, breed information, photo galleries, news and articles and uniquely, the ability to track your walks using our related iPhone application.

DODADOG was the brainchild of TV producer / director Colin Brewer and has been developed by Mindsizzlers who are joint partners in the new venture.

Built entirely on Amazon’s compute cloud and utilising Amazon’s SimpleDB infrastructure as opposed to a conventional relational database, DODADOG is at the cutting edge of new web technologies and we wish it every success.

www.dodadog.com

www.dodadog.com

Posted in Featured, News, Products0 Comments

Memcached and Clouds

Memcached and Clouds

I’ve been spending a lot of time with Amazon’s cloud database SimpleDB recently and was invited to give a presentation in July on how Memcached and SimpleDB work really well together. We’ve made a copy of the presentation available online and you can view it below. If you want a PDF copy of the presentation, you can order it for free on the same page.

www.mindsizzlers.com/presentations/amazon_simpledb/

Posted in Cloud Computing, Development, Featured, News, Presentations0 Comments

Announcing Web Trends Now

Announcing Web Trends Now

We’ve been working on a little research tool that helps keep you in the loop of what’s going on in cyberspace and are pleased to launch www.webtrendsnow.com

The site works like this.

Ever hour, Google trends publish data about the hot search terms as determined by analysis of their US based users.

We then run a search against each of the top 100 search terms to find the top sites that web users will be visiting as a result.

We show you this information, together with a thumbnail of the website (made by another mindsizzling service we will soon be launching to the public) which makes it very quick and easy to see if the site is something you are interested in.

If you find it useful, do let us know …

Posted in Featured, News, Products0 Comments

SimpleDB backup solution launched

SimpleDB backup solution launched

We’re a fan of Amazon cloud computing and have been using SimpleDB within some projects that we will be launching soon. The problem though is that there is no backup solution for the service and whilst Amazon’s redundancy etc means that we should never lose any data anyway, that doesn’t protect you against the accidental deletion of data (been there, done that) or the desire to have data in files that you can import into other databases (eg Mysql)etc.

I was a bit surprised that this hadn’t been addressed by the Amazon community at large so I took a few days (well, a week) out of my schedule to pull togetherwww.backupsdb.com – the world’s first online backup solution for Amazon SimpleDB.

We launched it last week and you can read more over at the backupsdb blog

Posted in Featured, News, Products0 Comments

Quickmaps fixed by Mindsizzlers

Quickmaps fixed by Mindsizzlers

There’s a rather neat mapping tool over at http://www.quikmaps.com/ which allows you to doodle on google maps and draw trails, add markers etc. We liked it so much that we’re using it in a new site we’re working on but this week we hit a problem when adding marker text caused hangs and crashes.

The author of the tool has gone on to pastures new and seems hard to track down, so it was down to us to come up with a solution if we wanted to keep our project on track.

Detailed analysis of the google maps groups led Roger to discover that only this week, google had deprecated use of any api version prior to 2.140 and it transpired that quikmaps was developed with version 2.(0)50 although we had it running with 2.(0)85. This was a clue, and reading through the change logs for each api version gave a further clue with the discovery that the markerinfowindow code had been taken out of the main google maps api and modularised so it would load on demand … in theory!

The way that quikmaps manipulates the DOM with prototype meant that the google api wasn’t realising that the markerinfowindow module was in fact being demanded and so the solution turns out to be to force the map to pull in the infowindow module by simply adding in editor.map.getInfoWindow().show() after the map is instantiated in the browser.

Full details here;

http://groups.google.com/group/Google-Maps-API/browse_thread/thread/77feb23b5f004dac#

:D

Posted in Featured, News0 Comments

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