September 2012 archive

U.S. White House Website Now On IPv6

Given that the IPv6 mandate for US federal government agencies came from the Obama administration, a few people noted in recent days that the White House website was not available over IPv6 and indeed it was not listed in yesterday’s run of NIST’s list of US government IPv6-enabled sites.

This morning, though, brings the news that is now accessible over IPv6.   A quick “dig aaaa” shows these results:

;; ANSWER SECTION:    2441    IN    CNAME 216 IN CNAME 61    IN    CNAME    7    IN    AAAA    2600:1400:a::1743:fa93    7    IN    AAAA    2600:1400:a::1743:fa78

… which indicate that the site is apparently one of the ones that we mentioned yesterday that Akamai would be enabling via IPv6.

A visit to the White House site using the very cool IPvFoo extension for Google Chrome also shows this graphically:

I would note that the image shows the standard challenge of modern websites that they are comprised of many different components that load dynamically, some of which are available over IPv6 and some still only over IPv4. The key point, though, is that is accessible over IPv6.

Kudos to the White House team and Akamai for making the site available over IPv6.  We look forward to seeing how many more US government sites come online throughout today and over the weekend.

Can we help you get started with IPv6?

P.S. If you like the idea of this IPvFoo extension but are a Firefox user, there is a similar add-on called IPvFox.

With September 30 Deadline Looming, US Government Enables IPv6 For Hundreds Of Websites

This Sunday, September 30, 2012, marks the deadline for US federal government agencies to make their public web services available over IPv6 according to an Obama administration mandate established two years ago.

The reality is that all US agencies will not make the deadline which, somewhat predictably, has generated media stories slamming the government for not moving fast enough.

But that’s the easy path to take, particularly in an election season when attacking the government is basically a sport in the U.S.  However, when you dig a bit deeper, the story is really quite an amazing accomplishment.  Consider these points:

  • Most agencies did not have a plan for deploying IPv6 publicly prior to the mandate being established two years ago. Earlier IPv6 mandates (in 2008) had focused on making IPv6 available on agencies’ network backbones, and some agencies did go further with IPv6 deployment plans but most had not progressed farther.
  • The IPv6 mandate did NOT include any additional funding. There was no magic pot of “IPv6 money.” Agencies were simply directed to make it happen.
  • Agencies already had existing contracts with network operators and other vendors.  These needed to be modified to include IPv6.
  • The US government is a massively distributed, “loosely coupled,” large enterprise with a huge number of discrete entities with different policies, administrations, processes, networks, IT infrastructures, etc.

In light of all those points, the fact that per NIST’s recent snapshot close to 50% of the US government domains have made progress on IPv6 is quite remarkable:

NIST’s list of US government websites [1] currently shows 326 sites available over IPv6 and in a recent Network World article Carolyn Duffy Marsan quoted Christine Schweickert of Akamai saying that they will have “an additional 300 to 400 federal Websites dual-stacked between now and Friday the 27th” so we can expect to see that number grow much higher in the next few days. (To understand how Akamai is helping, view our video about how content delivery networks (CDNs) can IPv6-enable websites.)

Reading the list of US government sites is quite fascinating as there are sites there that I had no idea even existed:

NIST also has a detailed page showing details of the USG sites being tracked for IPv6 deployment.  The page contains the following information:

  • The number of network interfaces configured for IPv4 and IPv6.  Note the nuance here – this graph is not the number of web sites but rather the number of servers that are enabled for IPv6.  Those servers could of course host multiple sites.
  • IPv6 deployment trends over time.  The growth is great to see.
  • Deployment details for each site being tracked.

This last section is quite interesting as it shows the details being the snapshot graph I included above.  Here you see precisely which services agencies have turned on and which are not yet available:

You can also click on the name of any agency to get detailed statistics for that particular agency.  (NIST also provides another page showing IPv6 deployment by agency that breaks down the IPv6-enabled domains by individual agencies.)

There’s obviously a bit more “red” on that chart than they’d like, but it’s encouraging to see the amount of green appearing as you scroll down. As noted in the Network World article, this is more progress at a government level than most countries have made. And, if you look at the stats NIST is tracking for the broader industry and universities, the US government is well ahead of both sectors in IPv6 deployment:

We are looking forward to checking the statistics on Monday, October 1, to see how many agencies did in fact meet the deadline. In the meantime we certainly commend those US government agencies that have made the leap and enabled IPv6.

P.S. Want to learn more about how you can get started with IPv6, check out our online resources to help?

[1] This page is called “World IPv6 Launch Sites” as that was what it was originally created for, but NIST has continued updating it as new sites come online.

Alec Saunders Is A Rock Star In RIM’s Strange New Blackberry 10 Video

BlackberryOh... my. As anyone who knows me can attest, it's extremely hard to render me speechless... but I admit to sitting here this morning staring at the screen with a rather uncomprehending expression on my face and with my mouth hanging open...

Sometime after my friend Alec Saunders joined RIM last year as their VP of Developer Relations, I said to someone that while I admittedly did view his new mission as somewhat akin to tilting at windmills, he was perhaps just the kind of "rock star" that RIM needed. A very passionate and dynamic presenter... a very charismatic leader who could rally people... a creative guy with a theatre background... someone who thinks differently...

... never in my wildest ideas did I expect that we would be seeing Alec AS an actual "rock star" in a music video! But yes indeed, here he is with two other VPs from RIM in a remake of the famous REO Speedwagon song. (Alec is the main singer.)


My speechlessness soon gave way to laughter ... and appreciation for them for doing something rather different. If they were looking for a way to be "remarkable" and memorable, they found it.

Now, somewhat predictably, some of the tech press are calling this an act of sheer desperation and I'm seeing comments in social networks calling it "painful" and "cringeworthy."

But that's the point, really... the video is getting people talking about Blackberry!

Even me, who hasn't really written about RIM and Blackberry here since, oh, last year shortly after he joined RIM. :-)

The video is over the top... I did cringe a couple of times as they twisted lyrics to fit the tune. But it made me smile. And laugh. And I'll remember it!

Will it attract new developers to the BB10 platform? Will it keep existing developers staying loyal to the platform?

I don't know. They have a huge uphill battle to fight. But hey, at least this was something fun and different!

Kudos to Alec and all the folks at RIM for what was obviously a great amount of time, energy and talent into doing something definitely unique!

And here's the full video for those who want the experience:

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Video: What Is WebRTC/RTCWeb All About? How Does WebRTC Work?

Do you want to understand what WebRTC / RTCWEB is all about and why so many people are passionate about its potential for extending real-time communications (voice, video, chat, data-sharing, etc.) into web browsers?

I recently wrote about some of the larger issues of how WebRTC will disrupt telecom, but in this video, "RTCWeb Explained", Cullen Jennings, one of the co-chairs of the IETF's RTCWEB working group, dives down into the technical details to explain how it all works and what the various different components of of the solution are. I particularly like how Cullen covered some areas like "identity" that I haven't seen stressed as much in other pieces about WebRTC. The video comes in at about 39 minutes and is well worth viewing:

For more information, I've put together a page about the broader WebRTC / RTCWEB initiative with links to relevant resources.

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Got an IPv6-enabled app? Enter this Application Contest for a 10,000 Euro prize!

Have you created an application that does something unique or interesting with IPv6?  Or makes use of new capabilities that come with IPv6?   Or have you expanded an existing application so that it now works with IPv6?

If so, consider entering the International Application Contest 2012 sponsored by the IPv6 German Council.  As noted on the page about applications, the contest is open to “companies, groups or individuals of any nationality” and has a first prize of 10,000 Euros!  The deadline to apply is October 24, 2012.

Do note the judging criteria listed further down the page:

  1. What contribution is made to create a new Internet experience?
  2. How will the contribution promote and spread IPv6, the next Internet protocol?

It’s great to see contests like this out there – and we look forward to seeing what applications are submitted.

Want to get started with your application? Check out our suggestions for developers!

FIR #670 – 09/24/12 – For Immediate Release

Neville speaking at CIPR Wikipedia-and-PR panel; Quick News: Digital Ireland Forum coming up, Gnip offers full Twitter feed, Boeing outfitting planes for in-flight mobile calls, interactive quizzes coming to YouTube; Ragan promo; News That Fits: plagiarism is a big deal for content marketers, Dan York's report, Media Monitoring Minute, rethinking the rules of social media in contemporary society, listener comments, retweeting the same tweet, TemboSocial promo, Michael Netzley's Asia report; music from Elijah Tucker; and more.

Friday Humor(?): The Register – “How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love IPv6″

IPv6 as a topic for fiction? Seriously?  As we continue our ongoing efforts to scour the Internet for the best IPv6 and DNSSEC resources to bring to you, every now and then we run across an article that just causes us to go… well… “hmmmmmmm”.  Such is the case with this piece at The Register named “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love IPv6” with the subtitle “You make my heart go Ping“.

The short story begins:

Somewhere in the near future…

There were more than 50 people in the room, so it was hot and airless, and it smelled of stale sweat. Government-sponsored crisis posters, tatty and torn, were sticky-taped to the yellowish walls. One urged its readers: ‘Don’t let your selfishness come between little Johnny and his Wikipedia’, another enquired: ‘Do you NATter with your Neighbours? Don’t squander the nation’s resource!’

… and goes on from there…

I will admit that I did smile a good bit and a number of the various references… kudos to whomever is the writer behind this piece as it is certainly an, um, “creative” way to think about a future where IPv4 is exhausted. :-)

P.S. Seen any other stories/fiction like this on the theme of IPv6? If so, please send them our way and perhaps we’ll feature them in another Friday post…

Updated List of IPv6 Resources for Application Developers

Recently I noticed that my list of IPv6 resources for application developers had not been updated since the second version of Migrating Applications to IPv6 was published in June 2012.  I’ve now gone ahead and updated the list to have all the links that I added to the second release of the book.

Now, granted, some of the links may not make much sense without the context of what is in the book, but they are all there so that you can easily visit them.  (And hey, if you want the context, why not buy the book? 😉

If you have suggestions for additional resources I should add, please do contact me as I’m always open to considering new content to add to the book.  From the beginning this has always been conceived as a collection of guidance for application developers looking to move their applications over to IPv6, so please do pass along any thoughts you think I should consider adding to the book. (Thanks!)

Github’s “Command Bar” Makes Site Navigation So Much Faster

Recently Github introduced a new “Command Bar” into the site that I simply have to comment on because I find it so useful. It’s sitting right up there at the top of the site looking like your garden-variety “search” box:

Github command bar blank

But in truth it is so much more than just a search box. As explained in the Github blog post, this “Command Bar” lets you perform tasks such as:

  • View a user’s profile
  • Go to a repository
  • List a user’s repositories
  • List issues
  • Search open issues
  • Jump to the wiki associated with a repo
  • See the graphs associated with a repo

As an example, I started typing in the name of one of the repos with which I work (a WordPress theme). You can see in the screenshot below the available commands that I can add to jump to various parts of the repo:

Github command bar

You can also enter a user’s name with the “@” sign before it to jump to that user’s profile. For example, I am “@danyork“.

All in all it’s a very cool way to quickly navigate through the Github site. Thanks to the Github team for adding this functionality… if you are on Github, give it a try!

Evernote Destroys The Old Skitch With New 2.0 "Update"

This morning brings a collective "What the ______?" moment to the world of many Mac OS X users as we try to absorb the impact of the new Skitch 2.0 released by Evernote. Perhaps the reaction is best summarized by tweets like this:


[Screenshot of that tweet taken, by the way, with Skitch 1.0, immediately resized by dragging the corner, and dragged/dropped into MarsEdit where I'm writing this post.]

And articles are popping up on this same theme:

Evernote's support forums are full of criticism and tweets are exploding with commentary.

Perhaps more importantly for Evernote, existing users are well on the way to decimating the app's ranking in the MacOS X AppStore:

Skitch ratings 1

Note the difference from before - and realize that those 200 one-star ratings at the bottom includes the 135 from above. So basically you are seeing a complete inversion of the app ranking going on right now.

There is somewhat of an irony to this as Skitch is getting heavy rotation right now as a "featured" app in the Mac AppStore.

A Very Happy - And Paying - Skitch v1.x User

I should preface these comments by saying that I have valued Skitch so much over the years that I have been a paid "Skitch Plus" user. I am also a paying user of Evernote. So this is not a rant of someone who expects something for free. I've paid for this software because it is so crucial to what I do.

Skitch is one of the applications that I use each and every day. Constantly. I take screenshots for blog posts and articles. I resize images and change their formats. I drop them into PowerPoint presentations. If I have a JPG and need a PNG, I drag an image into Skitch v1, change the format and drag it back out. If I want to crop an image, it's a simple action. If I want to show someone remote something on my screen, I snap it and then copy/paste the URL into an IM or email message (or tech support web forum).

I use Skitch all... the... time!

And over the years I have turned many people on to the tool... as have many others judging my the fact that there have now been over 10 million downloads. Skitch has been truly one of the absolute best tools for Mac OS X.

The "Paring Down"

The issue is that Evernote didn't just "update" the application - they pretty much recreated the user interface. As they state in the blog post:

We pared the application down to it’s most-loved, most-used, most-essential features, then made those features as great as they could be. We also focused on creating a unified experience across all platforms. So, whether you’re using Skitch on your desktop or mobile phone, you’ll know exactly what to do.

The problem is that the list of "most-loved, most-used, most-essential" features apparently doesn't include the ones that many of us use. :-(

As an example, here are four features I use the most that are simply gone:

  1. Ability to rapidly resize images - In Skitch 1.0, all you did was go to the lower right corner of the window and start dragging it. Boom! Resized image. Super simple. Super FAST! Truly awesome.

    Now it's hidden under Tools->Crop/Resize where you have to go through a dialog box to do the editing. Also, it seems I no longer can enter numerical values if I have an exact size I want to enter. (At least, I couldn't find it.)

    So what was an instant task now becomes a series of dialog boxes and menu choices (or pressing "Option+Command+K" to get to the window).

  2. Ability to rapidly crop images - In Skitch 1.0, all you had to do was go to one of the sides or corners of the image and start dragging to crop an image. Super simple. Super FAST! Truly awesome.

    Now you have to go yet again into this Crop/Resize dialog box and go through the steps.

  3. Ability to rapidly change image types - In Skitch 1.0, there is this wonderful drop-down menu box that lets you choose the type of file you want to export:

    Skitch export

    With this one menu, you can export an image to whatever format you want. If I want a JPG, PNG, TIF or even a PDF. Just choose the type and drag away:

    Skitch export 2

    Super simple. Super FAST! Truly awesome.

    Now this, too, requires additional steps. You have to go to File->Export where you then go through the standard Mac OS X dialog box to save the file. The choices have also been dropped to PNG, JPEG, TIFF, GIF and BMP... although those were honestly the ones I pretty much always used.

  4. Ability to take a timed screenshot - In Skitch 1.0 there was this truly awesome capability where you could hold down the Shift key while taking a screen shot to get a countdown timer:

    Skitch timer

    This is tremendously helpful if you want to do a screenshot of a menu command, a pop-up or hovering menu, or just anything you want to re-create using the pointer.

    In Skitch v2.0 I can't find this feature at all.

These are just four of the features that I commonly use that I have seen in the 2.0 version after I upgraded one of my systems. The forums are full of other features people used... the menu bar icon... custom hotkeys... the ability to share to your own SFTP server... the list goes on...

Destroying the Speed

Now, as I noted, with the exception of the timed screenshot these "features" are not truly "gone" from Skitch 2.0. They are just now buried in menus and take extra steps.

And that's the point.

The most awesome part about Skitch was that it was insanely FAST.

In a few moments I could have screenshots that were resized, cropped, annotated and then dropped into articles or shared online. Simple. Fast.

And that's gone.

Did We Ask For A Unified Experience?

Why would Evernote do this to Skitch?

I think the answer can be found in part of that blog post that I quoted earlier:

We also focused on creating a unified experience across all platforms. So, whether you’re using Skitch on your desktop or mobile phone, you’ll know exactly what to do.

And therein lies the problem.

I completely understand what they are trying to do - and on one level I applaud them for trying. Make it so that an app can work on the iPad and iPhone very much like the app on Mac OS X. Provide a common look-and-feel so that users can move between them easily. Even better, with Evernote syncing (more on that below) you can edit and use the same images across your different devices.

A very solid strategy that sounds great on so many levels. Consistent user experience. Consistent support requirements (ex. documentation, tech support, etc.)

It's a perfect plan..... for a new application.

And for new users.

Anyone completely new to Skitch will probably try out the app and perhaps love it.

The problem is that to get to that "unified experience", the Evernote/Skitch team had to pare down the Mac OS X app... to get it down to the least common denominator across all the various platforms.

And so we who had come to love Skitch on Mac OS X so much have to lose many of the features that were the reasons why we used Skitch in the first place... so that iPhone/iPad users can have a consistent user interface.

The Evernote Connection

One of the big features of this Skitch 2.0 release is that all your snaps are stored in Evernote. In fact, you can't store them anywhere else... gone is the ability to (S)FTP images to another server. No more WebDAV... no more Flickr support... it's all stored in Evernote. (Well, you can choose NOT to use Evernote and only store your images locally, but the only way to put the images up online where you can share them is through using Evernote.)

This makes sense from Evernote's point-of-view and may very well be attractive to many users.

For me personally, though, there's this basic issue:

I do not need (or want) to store my images!

The vast majority of time my usage of Skitch is to take a fast screenshot to drop into an article, blog post or presentation.

They are disposable images.

I don't need to save them... or in fact I have saved them by using them in an article or presentation. But the image itself is no longer necessary.

So why do I want to clutter up my Evernote account with these unwanted images?

Now I guess that if I proceed with the upgrade I'll have to plan some time to go in and occasionally delete out all the useless images.

I will admit that in some situations it would be helpful to be able to obtain the image from other systems... so I can see some value in the Evernote sync. But I still can't think why I want all my images in Evernote.

What's Next?

So now what?

I should note that Skitch 2.0 does bring some new features that are positive:

  • The new "pixelate" tool is something that I've wished Skitch would have for ages. It's excellent to see! (Although I can't seem to figure out how to undo/remove pixelation once it's done. The standard "Undo" command doesn't seem to remove it.)
  • The highligher tool is another excellent addition.
  • The way you can change the font size by dragging is nice.
  • The simple sharing to Twitter and Facebook is welcome.
  • As noted earlier, the Evernote sync (and search) may be welcome by some.

Will we as users come to appreciate those features as being useful enough to warrant all that is lost? Will the Evernote team come out with a 2.1 release that adds some of these features that we all are missing?

We've certainly seen other companies make similar moves. Apple did it with iMovie many years back and then recently with Final Cut Pro. Skype made a huge change with move from 2.8 to 5.x on the Mac. Twitter completely rewrote Tweetdeck. In all those cases a great amount of functionality was lost even while new features were added.

New users of Skitch may again find much to like in the new capabilities.

But what about the long-time users? Will they stick around to see if a newer version of Skitch 2.x comes out? Or, as I'm seeing in the Twitter stream, will people search for alternatives:

2 Twitter  Search  skitch  All Tweets

For me, I'm sticking with Skitch v1.x on my primary laptop where speed is essential. On another system I use less I've made a backup copy of Skitch 1.x but then have gone ahead and upgraded to Skitch 2.0. I'll try it out and see if I can learn to like it (really not sure on that) - plus I can use the pixelate tool.

But... if some other tool does pop up that delivers the power and speed of the original Skitch, I could very easily see myself moving to that other tool.

This "upgrade" has completely burned any loyalty I had to Skitch... and I can no longer really recommend it as strongly as I once did.

It's too bad. Skitch is a truly awesome tool that is an integral part of my daily workflow. It's truly disappointing to see all that power and speed destroyed for the sake of trying to get to a unified cross-platform experience.

What about you? Are you disappointed in this new release? Or do you like the new Skitch 2.0? Are you going to stick with it? Or hunt for a new alternative?

P.S. All the images used in this post were touched by Skitch v1.x. The two tweets and the AppStore image were taken using Skitch, resized and dragged out of Skitch. The three images of Skitch itself were taken with the native Mac OS X screenshot keyboard shortcut that dropped an image on the desktop. I then dragged those screenshots from the desktop (individually) into Skitch where I then cropped, resized and annotated (in one case) the images before dragging them out to MarsEdit for this post. Super simple. Super fast. Truly awesome!

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either: