Codecademy is an Interactive and Accessible Way to Learn Programming

Codecademy lesson

Codecademy has made learning to program, currently only with Javascript, accessible to almost any computer user by using simple prompts which guide you through lessons and a console to type code in. Codecademy is similar to the style of Try Ruby! and Hackety Hack by Why the Lucky Stiff, who is today commemorated in Whyday.

The website currently has eight lessons but is likely to expand quickly. The creators, on a forum, said “we should have more lessons up within the week. We’re going to get on Python as soon as we can”, adding that “hundreds” of people have offered to make courses for the website. Programmers can offer to help by contacting the website owners.

At first, users are not forced to sign-up to the service but later into the lessons an account is needed. Accounts store user achievements and also track progress. The friends mode allows you to “keep tabs on your friends’ progress” by connecting with a Facebook account.

Codecademy was created by Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski who built the website using Ruby on Rails. The new website was also posted to Hacker News in a Show HN thread where the creators got feedback. The terms of service sheds some light on the future of the new service which says “everything on Codecademy is currently free, with premium services a possibility in the future”.

Google Launches iPad App for Catalogs

Google has brought catalogs to the iPad with an expected release for Android later. The app, Google Catalogs, adds an “interactive layer” of features such as buying items from the virtual catalog, creating a collage of products and viewing extra information related to products.

Kinnari Jhaveri of the Google Commerce team said “for years, shoppers have enjoyed flipping through glossy print catalogs to be inspired, discover new trends and find great products. Today, mobile technologies can make catalog shopping more engaging, social and creative”, in a Google announcement.

Google has 50 partners and more than 100 catalogs available though say they are continuously looking for more and are willing to accept submissions which are viewed by the editorial team. Starts Testing Email Addresses Email
Snippet of email from, a website for personal profiles, has started beta testing with selected users a new email address previously only available for staff. The email will be powered by AOL Mail and the email address is given as your username and the extension.

The new email address will be integrated into from the dashboard but other than that all features will be the same as found in the normal AOL Mail. are updating their Terms of Service and Privacy Policy to reflect the new email service.

AOL purchased in 2010, Business Insider reported that “well-sourced gossipers tell us AOL paid about $25 million”, however this figure was not confirmed.

Minecraft Goes Mobile with New Pocket Editon

Minecraft Pocket Editon logo

Mojang’s Minecraft, a popular indie sandbox game, has been released as an exclusive to Sony Xperia Play before making it onto other Android devices. The Minecraft Pocket Edition is in the alpha stage of development which has a “focus on the creative aspects of Minecraft.”

The game is based on “building anything you want” using blocks which represent different elements such as water and dirt in computer-randomized worlds. Currently the mobile game lacks the “survival mode” where gamers fight off mobs to survive, though the game does have a wireless mode to play with friends.

Mojang said that they were “we’re planning to continue developing the Pocket Edition for a long time with frequent updates” and that they were looking forward to getting feedback on the game.

Minecraft Pocket edition is available as a full version (around $7) or demo (free) at the Android market. Mojang are also selling a custom Sony Xperia with a Minecraft theme on eBay with proceeds going to charity. Mojang explaining “we’ve given away some fantastic Minecraft goodies in the past, only to see it cheekily pop up on eBay auctions.This time, we thought we’d beat you guys to it”.

Google Buys Motorola Mobility for $12.5bn to Bolster Mobile Business

Motorola Defy+
New Motorola Defy+ running Andriod

Google has announced that it would buy Motorola Mobility, formerly the mobile division of Motorola, for $40.00 per share amounting to a total of $12.5 billion with a large 63% premium from August 12 shares. Google say that the acquisition would to bolster its patent profile to prevent patent litigation and would help expand Google’s mobile business into new areas.

Larry Page, CEO at Google, said in a blog post that the purchase would “not only supercharge Android, but will also enhance competition and offer consumers accelerating innovation, greater choice, and wonderful user experiences.”

Larry Page mentioned that Microsoft and Apple were working together to purchase patents, he hopes that Android would be better protected from the “anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.” Google previously criticized Microsoft of imposing a “tax” for Android buyers by making companies pay licensing fees for each device sold.

The acquisition would not effect the open-source Android operating system which would remain open. The two sections of Google’s mobile business would be run separately, Google said “many hardware partners have contributed to Android’s success and we look forward to continuing to work with all of them to deliver outstanding user experiences.”

Both companies iterated the benefits for shareholders with Sanjay Jha, CEO of Motorola Mobility, saying “this transaction offers significant value for Motorola Mobility’s stockholders”.

Motorola Mobility also yesterday announced a new edition of their “water resistant, scratch resistant and dust proof” Defy+ phone featuring Android.

Adobe Releases Muse for Code-Free (and Messy) HTML Websites

Muse website
The Adobe Muse website was created entirely using the software.

Adobe has created new beta software for designing and publishing HTML and CSS websites code-named Adobe Muse without the need to learn HTML mark-up or CSS. This WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor uses elements from other Adobe products to bring a degree of familiarity to users of the new software.

The software to targeted to users with no experience in HTML and CSS. Brian Wood, an Adobe trainer, said “using Muse graphic professionals can create compelling websites just like you create print content” in a video explaining Adobe Muse.

Adobe Muse code
Example of Adobe Muse generated code from the Muse-created website. This can be seen be viewing source code on the Adobe Muse website.

The Adobe Muse websites shows a sample of the power available to users though, unfortunately, does not use many semantic HTML5 elements falling back to wrapping most elements in a div tag and giving every paragraph an ID for no clear reason. Therefore, the end product created by Adobe Muse would be very hard to update by a professional web developer who uses HTML and CSS without using the Muse software.

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in the draft HTML5 specification said that “Authors are strongly encouraged to view the div element as an element of last resort, for when no other element is suitable. Use of the div element instead of more appropriate elements leads to poor accessibility for readers and poor maintainability for authors.”

The software will be free until the early 2012 release after the testing period the software will only be available by buying a yearly subscription (US $15.00 per month) or a month-to-month plan which allows the subscription to be stopped and started after each month for US $20.00 per month.

Adobe Muse will work on both Windows and Mac OSX though Linux will be left out. Adobe Muse developers saying “At the time of this writing, there are no plans to certify Muse for Linux. However, Muse is an Adobe AIR® application and AIR does support Linux. Therefore it may be possible to install Muse and run it on Linux, but there will likely be Linux-specific bugs.”

Anonymous Hacks myBART in #opBART

Anonymous, internet hacking collective, has compromised and defaced the myBART website leaking the phone numbers and passwords of customers. The group targeted BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) after a decision to block cell phone communication to prevent co-coordinated protests.

Anonymous members, in a statement with leaked information, said that these actions were unacceptable saying “they violated the people’s right to assembly and prevented other bystanders from using emergency services by blocking cell phone signals in order to stop a protest against the BART police murders.” They also said that they used a simple SQL injection, mockingly saying “any 8 year old with a internet connection could have done what we did to find it. On top of that none of the info, including the passwords, was encrypted.”

BART said in a statement that they decided to interrupt the cell phone service on selected train stations as “a civil disturbance during commute times at busy downtown San Francisco stations could lead to platform overcrowding and unsafe conditions for BART customers, employees and demonstrators”. BART say that they “made available certain areas of its property for expressive activity” and that paid areas such as train stations and carriages were not available to “conduct or participate in assemblies or demonstrations or engage in other expressive activities”.

Concerns about the legality of blocking cell phones have been reported by San Francisco Chronicle who point out that a 1967 ruling found that non-disruptive political activity could not be prohibited.

The myBART website has been taken down and currently says “this site is currently under renovation.” BART representatives saying “BART’s website infrastructure is wholly separate from any computer network involved in the operation of BART service”

Mozilla Authenticates Users Using Browser With Sign-in Button

The Identity team at Mozilla has released Browser Sign In, an experimental add-on, which places a button to authenticate users using the browser in the address bar. The addition to the BrowserID project will make it easier to log in to websites by having a uniform location for the button.

Lloyd Hilaiel from Mozilla explained that the BrowserID experiment had several key design features including that it will use email addresses instead of usernames, no third party network transactions would be made,  authentication be browser-side and it would be easy for other browser vendors to add.

Hilaiel says “BrowserID is hoped to ultimately become an alternative to the tradition of ad-hoc application-level authentication based on site-specific user-names and passwords.” Developers are able to start using BrowserID by adding the BrowserID JavaScript and API library as detailed in documentation.

Red button for signing into websites.
Example of Mozilla Sign-in button

The Mozilla team have set-up a demo website called MyFavoriteBeer which allows users to test the add-on by clicking on the sign-in button in the toolbar and setting up BrowserID which will verify your email address.

Google+ Games Breakdown [Screenshots]

Wondering what the Google+ Games looks like? Here are some screenshots from the new Google+ games feature which can be seen in selected profiles. The feature is now being rolled out and is accessible from the top buttons in Google+.

Click on each image for a description of the feature in Google+ games, which looks into the social aspects the games have built in and some game-play.

Meanwhile, Facebook has started to revamp its own offering for games with new interface updates such as full-screen for certain games, dedicated feed and a “most used apps” section.

Omegle Creates New Spy Mode

A question in Omegle Spy Mode

Omegle, a chat site which allows users to talk online anonymously, has officially released a beta of Omegle Spy Mode. The new mode allows you  to ask questions and watch responses from two other strangers.

Currently under the beta arrangement users can ask questions but to answer a question from a  stranger you must have several normal conversations to get invited to the feature.

The mode has been available on certain websites in an unofficial form as a Java applet which allowed users to read and manipulate the conversation of two others. Although the developer says that such activity is legal as Omegle does not have a Terms of Service it is highly inadvisable to “tap” internet conversations.