Tuesday, July 31, 2007

McNucle Public Beta: Serious Update

We just released a serious update to our McNucle v1.0 Public Beta! The update contains a good number of interesting new features and fixes. This is a preview of the most important ones:

1. Super-effective data searching with the Metadata Navigator (aka KeyBlocks)
The Metadata Navigator is an amplifying filtering mechanism, providing maximum efficiency when searching for data. A user navigates through his data set by selecting metadata relevant to the data in search.

Our KeyBlocks only show what is possible and update that with every step to achieve the most powerfull data search available today! Read more here...

2. Interesting usage statistics
In order to understand which parts of our applications are working, and which don't, we have integrated a statistics gaterhing mechanism in both McNucle server and Nucle Browser. The statistics are collected anonymously and include a number of config parameters (number of zones, number of users) and usage statistics for visual components (scope panel, shortcuts, desktops, keyblocks). The information will allow to tune our roadmap and improve our products. Important to you and us: the (anonymous) information is for internal purposes only and will not be sold to external parties. See also our Privacy Policy.

3. Browser starts up to 5 times faster!
The Browser startup sequence has been changed for the application to start in many cases about 5 times faster. The verification of zones being available is now done once the application is launched.

4. McNucle server runs on any port
The McNucle server runs by default on port 12000. In case of conflict on port 12000, this port can now be changed to any port of the user's choice. The configured port is automatically opened on the firewall if UPnP is enabled. In other cases, the user needs to open this port manually.

5. Complete install on port 80
The iNuron Registrar now listens on port 80 for the entire installation procedure. This will allow almost all people to succesfully install the Nucle Browser, and eventually the McNucle server. Even when behind a closed or corporate firewall...

6. Update mechanism
The new upgrade mechanism allows both the Nucle Browser and the McNucle server software to upgrade themselves. From now on you won't have to reinstall the software to get the latest version. All settings (zones and users) will be preserved. This is not yet the case for the upgrade to this release. Find out how to upgrade to the latest version of our software on our product portal.

There's a couple more fixes and features listed in the Release Notes of this Serious Update n°1.

Hope you like it! Give us your feedback on our forum... replies guaranteed.

Kind regards,

the iNuron team

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Will the iPhone change interface design?

With the iPhone, Apple has brought multitouch technology to the consumer market. Ever since people are dreaming, blogging, predicting, rumoring, announcing and hoping that this technology will soon be used in other devices going from cellphones to mediaplayers to multitouch-tablet-computers and even tables ;-) . It is not unlikely that within a few years a large amount of people will be interacting with websites and applications (even OSs) by touching the screen of a device. Let's think of how this hardware evolution could influence interface design for software and websites.

Interaction design:
The beauty of the iPhone is that the sofware is integrated perfectly with the hardware. Each part of the interface is built to be operated directly with your fingers. This is not the case for all the websites, applications and OSs we use today. In the future both mouse operated computers and touchscreen devices will exist next to each other.

One solution would be to split every application/website into a 'mouse version' and a 'touch version'; designing everything so it fits the interface of the user. Digg must have been (one of) the first website(s) to have a seperate iPhone version of their popular website. The site matches the iPhone's screensize and interface animations. Obviously it would be ideal to have a seperate version of each application/website for each device but we all know that's impossible. Even creating one version for mouse-devices and one for touchscreen-devices will take a lot of effort, money and time but it will produce the best results.

Seperate versions for multitouchscreens will probably first be developed in minisites and small applications where creative use of the multitouch capabilities can draw attention and create buzz. Flash designers must be bursting with ideas for multitouch websites with navigation based on zooming, rotating, pulling, twisting, poking ...

For the majority of websites and applications I think it is more likely that the interfaces will be built to suit all devices. How? Let's highlight some aspects that should be kept in mind when making an interface accessible for touchscreens.

No more rollovers:
Like most touchscreens that are operated without a stylus, the touchscreen used in the iPhone doesn't know where your finger is when you don't make actual contact with the screen. This means interface elements will no longer have an 'over' state. It is no longer possible to 'investigate' if something is clickable by moving the mousepointer over it. Therefore buttons and links must be easy recognisable so you immediately now if something is a link/button or not. Apple likes to make use of rollover effects in their OS (dock, exposé, ..) so they'll have to redesign all that if they are working on a touchscreen-powerbook.

The tip of a mousepointer is one pixel by one. The tip of your finger is way bigger and hides the piece of screen you'r interested in wich makes it unsuited for precision pointing. Apple has solved this in the iPhone by adding a virtual extension to your finger. When you drag your finger over text the textcursor appears in a magnifier above your finger. You can imagine this kind of solutions being usefull in image editing where you often want to make selections on pixel level.

Big buttons with lots of spacing:
Because of the size of your finger it is harder to hit small elements. More spacing between elements reduces the chance that you hit two elements at the same time.

The impact of touchscreens on interface design will depend on the popularity of touchscreen devices. Untill today, none of the manufacturers has actually announced a multitouch tablet, operated without a stylus that runs a regular operating system. Time will tell how we will use computers in 10 years.



Interesting links:
design guides for touchscreens (a bit outdated but still interesting)
Bill Buxton's article on multitouch technology
some technical considerations

edit: two more related articles; why do people build custom iPhone website?
on Ryan Irelan's blog

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

100% privacy guaranteed

We dealt with privacy briefly in this previous post, but I wanted to come back on it, since I believe it is crucial to quite a number of our (potential) customers.

It is just that in times like these where we are all in love with web 2.0 services and uploading files at incredible speeds and amounts, people tend to forget about how private files are to them. Or they don't, but then have no way of sharing those files with family or friends.

We built our McNucle server to help in these cases. Privacy to us is crucial (as is providing an answer to your heavy upload consumption in web 2.0 services) and we would not compromise that what makes our solution so valuable: the 100% privacy guaranteed.

We do this by having the Nucle Browser and McNucle server connect over an end-to-end encrypted SSL tunnel. Off course, if you are on the internet, we need to offer a way for your Nucle Browser to find your McNucle server at home. Many people have dynamic IP addresses at home and regularly loose contact with their home network. To avoid this, we have our McNucle servers registar at iNuron, so that when your Nucle Browser comes and asks us where your McNucle server is, we can hand him your latest IP. Very similar to DNS really. And after this negotiation, the Nucle Browser and McNucle server communicate directly with each other...

Anyway, have a look at this comprehensive picture/animation. If there are questions, shoot..

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