Best Served Cold


Internet

Laravel Zend Search (Lucene)

So every big site needs some sort of search engine, normally something based on Lucene such as Elasticsearch or Solr, however, these need setting up separately to your web server stuff. The alternative is a Lucene implementation built entirely in PHP: ZendSearch.

We set up a Laravel install and looked around for a ZendSearch package and tried a couple, but the performance was poor and after digging into the code of these packages, there were some bits that were really inefficient, so Best Served Cold build their own super fast version!

You can get it here at packagist.org.
Or just:

composer require best-served-cold/laravel-zendsearch

The source code is on github.com

Happy searching.

WordPress for Android

This is something I’ve only just found about: the WordPress for Android application. As an extensive user of WordPress on a number of websites (including this one) and an Android phone owner I think this could be very useful!

WordPress for Android is an Open Source app that empowers you to write new posts, edit content, and manage comments with built-in notifications. Download it now and get blogging in no time. The latest version of the app has just been released:

WordPress for Android 1.3.8 has been released to Android Market. We squashed some bugs that we received from Android Market reports as well as added a new feature!

You can find out more about the project and download the app here: http://android.wordpress.org/

WordPress for Android is an Open Source project, which means anyone can play a part in its development. WordPress for Android is released under the GNU General Public License. Both our app and our source code are free to download and use however you’d like. In return, if you are able, we’d love it if you contributed your code, your design talents, or even just your suggestions back to the project.

To download the app from the Android app market, follow this link from your phone: market://search?q=pname:org.wordpress.android

If you enjoy using this app, why not vote for it on our very own 101 Best Android Apps

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Geo-location social networks

Now that we’ve all got used to Facebook and Twitter and businesses are starting to realise the potential of social networking and talking to new customers directly there’s a new social revolution just about to hit the mainstream: Geo-location social networking.

This new form of networking has been made possible with the increase in GPS enabled smart phones and faster mobile connection speeds. We can now pin point our position on earth to within a few metres with our phones and we can use that technology to find interesting events, shops, restaurants and places of interest nearby. The geo-location social networks aim to take that a stage further by connecting people who are in the same area and allowing friends to connect to each other via maps.

So, imagine you’re on a night out in London, you’re meeting a few friends but don’t really know the best places to go – simply log into your phone and check the map. You’ll see where you are, recommended restaurants and pubs and even how far away your friends are. If one of the local bars has a special offer on you’ll get an update so you can get a few cheap drinks… while you’re at the bar a message pops up that a restaurant round the corner is offering free starters if you get there in the next 30 minutes. All of this can be worked through your phone and local businesses can connect directly to potential customers.

There are four main location based networks vying to get users and businesses signed up at the moment: Foursquare, Brightkite, Gowalla and Loopt. They have all had a lot of funding and offer similar features but each one has a slightly different focus. And don’t forget that with this much potential revenue and traffic the big guns are also going to be competing in this arena soon enough – Facebook, Google and Twitter all have location based services starting, in the pipeline or already working.

Foursquare

“Foursquare is a mobile application that is a cross between a friend-finder, a social city-guide, and a game that rewards you for doing interesting things. Foursquare lets you “check in” to a place when you’re there, tell friends where you are, and track the history of where you’ve been–and who you’ve been there with. Foursquare challenges you to explore your city in new and fun ways by earning points, winning mayorships, and unlocking badges and specials for trying new places and revisiting old favorites.”

foursquare

Gowalla

“Gowalla.com is a web site and, more importantly, an iPhone application that allows you to check in with your social network from where ever you are. When you use your phone, Gowalla locates you through GPS, then allows you to check in at the location, share a message about where you are and why you’re there and pick up virtual items.”

Gowalla

brightkite

“Brightkite is the simple way to keep up with friends and places. It lets you see where all your friends are, so you can spend more time with them. You can also discover places in your neighborhood and meet other locals along the way.”

brightkite

Loopt

“Loopt is a mobile social-mapping service that lets you use the location of your phone to discover the world around you.”

Loopt

If you’re interested in finding out more about how you can use social networking and geo-location social networks for your business please contact us.

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HTML5 and new web standards

HTML and CSS are the basic building blocks of any website, the HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is the code and content of a site and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is used for setting the layout and making it look nice. Over the years these languages have evolved and changed with new versions of web browsers and new demands by web developers and designers.

The next version of HTML is currently being finalised and gradually implemented into new web browsers and it’s causing a bit of a fuss among web developers. So, what is HTML5 and will it affect average web users?

Most web users don’t know how a website is put together – and that’s probably a good thing, it shows that the internet has moved on from it’s hand-made, amateur days to a point where sites are becoming integral parts of everyday life and run seamlessly on multiple platforms and browsers. One of the resons for this is the separation of content and design – the HTML and CSS – that allows developers to use the same content but show it in different ways on different platforms eg. mobile phones, televisions, laptops.

From W3 Schools:

HTML 5 improves interoperability and reduces development costs by making precise rules on how to handle all HTML elements, and how to recover from errors.

Some of the new features in HTML 5 are functions for embedding audio, video, graphics, client-side data storage, and interactive documents. HTML 5 also contains new elements like <nav>, <header>, <footer>, and <figure>.

The HTML 5 working group includes AOL, Apple, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Mozilla, Nokia, Opera, and many hundreds of other vendors.

Once HTML5 becomes more widespread and can be used as a foundation for all websites we will start to see web development move into an even more professional realm. Currently it’s still possible to design and code a fairly good looking website from home using basic tools. Obviously an amateur wouldn’t be able to produce a Faceboook or Twitter but a simple 4 or 5 page site is still possible. With HTML5 that is still the case but there’s more to learn and understand and much more is possible.

As more sites begin to use HTML5 in their code we’ll hopefully begin to see a reduction in the number of users browsing on old, outdated web browsers. Using an old web browser such as Internet Explorer 6 can really affect how you view the internet, most websites don’t support this 10 yr old browser any more and you’ll find that you’re often seeing reduced versions of websites – cutting down your usability and options. The other problem with older browsers is safety and security. It’s much easier for a hacker to break into your computer via the internet if you’re browsing with IE6 rather IE8, Firefox or Opera.

HTML5 can already be used and their are lots of websites starting to make use of the new standard. Often it’s combined with a new CSS standard CSS3 – which allows web designers much more freedom and expression in internet design. We’ve recently set up a website that showcases HTML5 sites: 101 Best HTML5 Sites – we’ve written the site in HTML5 and used some CSS3 to help us learn and understand the new language and start to show what’s possible.

Some other resources:

HTML5 -A vocabulary and associated APIs for HTML and XHTML
HTML5 from Wikipedia
HTML5 reference from W3 Schools

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So, just what is Twitter?

Everyone has now heard the term “Twitter” and “Tweeting” but really, what is it? What’s it for and why would anyone want to use it?

Over the last 12 months Twitter has popper up everywhere – from the US election to the UK election, on topical TV shows and even Jeremy Paxman having to say “Send us your Tweets” on Newsnight! But there’s still a lot of confusion about why should any normal person should actually use it… As a bit of a geek, I have a Twitter account – but that’s to be expected, t’s my job to know about such things and you can follow me here. There might not be much happening on my Twitter feed, mostly I talk about work stuff, music and what I’m up to. I use it to talk to friends and generally let people know what I’m up to and what we’re doing at Best Served Cold. But back to my original question: What is Twitter?

From Wikipedia:

Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the author’s subscribers who are known as followers.

Twitter was created way back in 2006 and it took a few years to reach the mainstream. The original idea was to let users create friends groups and talk to them simply about what was in their mind, if they had questions or just to arrange their social life…. Some time in 2007/2008 certain public figures and celebrities started to take notice and realised they could set up Twitter accounts and use it to talk directly to their fans about whatever was on their mind.

Very quickly the power of celebrities took Twitter from it’s geek roots to the mainstream. In the UK people like Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross popularised the service and in the US Ashton Kutcher became the first user to reach a million followers.

But why should a “normal” person use Twitter? At it’s heart Twitter allows you to publish your thoughts about anything at any time. If you have something to say, why not say it on Twitter – someone might hear you and want to find out more. A group of friends can use Twitter to talk to each other and discuss what they’re up to. Likeminded individuals can use Twitter to debate ideas and share links to websites and thoughts from around the world.

Businesses have started to get involved with Twitter to talk to consumers and actually have converations about products and services, if this is done correctly it can drive a lot of interest and traffic to the business at a low cost.

But still, Twitter is best for just mindless chat and finding interesting links and just discovering what other people are up to! There’s a certain vicarious thrill from checking out what your favourite celeb is doing or even what your friends are up to at work… There’s also a serious side to Twitter, the spreading of information quickly and easily around the world. In 2009 riots in Iran were tweeted to the outside world when traditional news media couldn’t get into the country.

To find out more about Twitter and some of the many applications and widgets available to get you started Tweeting from your computer or your phone, take a look at 101 Best Twitter Apps

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Apps jobs

Do you have a requirement for an app? Do you want your services to be available on an iPhone or Android phone? Or perhaps want something developed for the new iPad?

Apps Jobs is a brand new site where you can advertise your development needs for any type of mobile or web based application.

Advertise your app job here!

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101 Best iPad Apps and more…

That’s right, we’ve been busy over the last week or so building another 101 site! This time we decided to follow the hype and set up 101 Best iPad Apps. There’s been so much discussion and media interest surrounding the release of the iPad that sometimes it’s hard to follow what it means and what it’s for… Is it really a defining moment in modern computing? Or is it just another gadget that makes a big splash but sinks fairly rapidly?

I was fairly cynical about the iPad when I first read about it last year and agreed with the dismissive comments:

“It’s just a big iPhone”

“Why do I need a computer without a keyboard?”

“The resolution isn’t good enough for media but it’s too much like a netbook for reading books”

But now it’s been launched and the reviews have started to come in from people who are actually using it and maybe I was wrong in my initial assesment. Yes, it is a big iPhone (sort of) and at the moment the resolution isn’t the greatest but remember the first iPod? A black and white screen and 4 hours battery life (if you were lucky). This first iteration of the iPad might just open the door to a new way of using the internet for everyone – a pick up and browse gadget that doesn’t need any computer knowledge or skill to find what you want.

According to a recent survey found that 59% of Americans use the internet while watching TV which is an increase of 35% in the last year. Products like the iPad make that even easier, there’s no logging on, finding somewhere to rest a laptop and using a fiddly keyboard on a netbook. It’s like using the internet on your smartphone, straight onto your wifi network, click through to your favourites and off you go – except you actually have a decent sized screen to read from.

Now, I don’t want to sound like an Apple fanboy but there’s a lot to be said for the concept – but there are potential problems. Will enough people actually want to read books on the iPad? Anything with a backlit screen makes it difficult to read for long periods of time – and you certainly won’t be able to see it properly in bright sunlight while sunbathing on holiday! Is it something that most people need regularly? Using a laptop isn’t reallt THAT tricky… and for any serious business user there will always be a need for something with a bit more flexibility and power.

Overall, it’s an interesting concept and I’d love to have a go but I think we’ll need to wait for version 2 to really see the potential and what we can do with it.

Check out 101 Best iPad Apps to see what’s available already!

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101 Best Twitter Apps

After using twitter for some time now in our work, we often found it hard to work out what was the best application for each purpose. There are a wealth of apps and widgets out there for your desktop, browser and phone, but which is the best?

We created 101 Best Twitter Apps exactly for that reason! Here you can submit, vote and see what others thought of the apps you are going to use. See an ordered list of what others have voted on and submit your vote for the applications that you have been using.

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How to make a iPhone App

Ever wondered how to make an iPhone Application?

Well so did we! Having never really even used a Mac, this is going to be some challenge!

Check out the 101 iPhone Apps Blog for more information

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CSS Naked Day

It’s that time of the year again – when sites go naked to promote web standards. This year we’re taking part and Best Served Cold will be naked on the 9th April to show the world what we’re made of!

You can find out more about CSS Naked Day at the official website: http://naked.dustindiaz.com/.

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