When URL shorteners first came about, spammers used them to disguise malicious links. Now that social networks like Twitter have propelled shortened URLs into widespread use, people are more comfortable clicking through. However, there are still occasions in which you confront possibly dubious links.

Rather than debate the pros and cons of clicking (We’re guessing that ZOMG! video is never worth turning your PC into a spambot), we recommend bookmarking a URL checker to find out just where that enticing link points before you click through.

We’ve found five URL expansion services that will give you some peace-of-mind when browsing. Take a look through the gallery for our choices, and let us know in the comments about any other sites you use.

1. Where Does This Link Go?

The best-looking service for its minimalist design, Where Does This Link Go? is an elegant solution to a simple problem — determining the destination of a disguised URL.

The info this site returns is basic, but it worked perfectly for all the links we threw at it, so we’re happy campers.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Facebook, features, gallery, internet, Social Media, Twitter, url shortener, web

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After we published a primer for using Google Analytics, readers said they were hungry for more.

Google Analytics has since revamped its design, giving it not only a cleaner look but also updated data sets. You can now find everything from real-time stats to details about which mobile device your site visitors come from.

Though the data possibilities seem endless, Google Analytics product manager Phil Mui says the design reflects three core metrics: acquisition, engagement and outcome. Let’s take a closer look at what these numbers mean and how you can track them with one of the most widely used web analytics platforms.


Acquisition


The lowest-hanging fruit of web analytics is counting metrics. This data encompasses the number of visitors that come to your site and can be filtered to show what sites they’re coming from and how many of them have or haven’t been to your site before. In Google Analytics, this is described as “Visits.”

SEE ALSO: 10 New Google Analytics Features You Need to Start Using

The tool has long provided information about where your visitors are coming from (geographically and on the web), what language they speak, how often they visit your site and what computers and browsers they use to get there. More recently, Google Analytics released mobile reporting. As people increasingly access the web from smartphones and tablets, this information is key to optimizing your site for those looking at it from a mobile device. This and most visitor-specific information can be found under the Audience tab. On report pages, the Visits metric can be found in the upper-left, while New Visits — the percentage of visitors coming to your site for the first time — is second in from the right.

Measuring how many people are coming to your site is the most cut and dried — but it’s only one piece of the metrics pie.


Engagement


These numbers consider the quality of your site traffic. Once visitors come to your site, they’ll do one of three things: read the page they came to, click to more pages beyond their entry page, or leave. Engagement metrics focus on these actions visitors are taking once they get to your site — and how good you are at keeping them there.

The three key engagement metrics in Google Analytics are:

  • Pages per Visit: This is the average number of pages a visitor views when coming to your website. The more engaging your site is, the more inclined visitors will be to continue clicking beyond the entry page.
  • Average Time on Site: This refers to the typical amount of time visitors spend on your site, despite whether they continue to stay on the page they came in on or navigate elsewhere within your domain.
  • Bounce Rate: This represents the percentage of single-page visits to your site. It gives you a sense of how many visitors left your site from the entrance page rather than clicking further into your site as compared to total visitors. Like Pages per Visit, Bounce Rate can help you determine the performance of your entry pages based on the actions visitors take (or don’t take) after they’ve arrived on your site.

Engagement metrics are especially important for reports created in the Traffic Sources and Content tabs. On report pages, Pages per Visit and Average Time on site are located at the top middle of report pages, while Bounce Rate is at the far right.

So, how do you know if your site is “engaging?” Ask yourself: Is your site user-friendly? How simple is it for a visitor to click to the next page? Is there interactive content in which your readers can participate? Does landing page content match the keywords in its title? Considering these questions when designing your site is a surefire way to improve the quality of your web traffic.


Outcome


The Goals area is where your data tracking can really help you make a difference. These outcome-oriented metrics help you dive deeper into your site performance and learn whether you’re achieving what you want with your website.

The first step is defining your business objectives: Are you driving visitors to make online purchases? Getting them to view a specific piece of content? Aiming for more newsletter signups? Once you’ve pinned down your site goals, make sure your site administrator enables Goals in Google Analytics in the Account Settings page. Then you can choose one of four Goal types to track:

  • URL destination: This metric is best if your goal is to get visits to a key page of your site, such as your homepage or a post-purchase message page.
  • Time on Site: If you’re looking to measure engagement, this will track visitors spending a defined amount of time on your site.
  • Pages per Visit: Also important for engagement, Pages per Visit will keep tabs on a defined number of pages visitors view in a session on your site.
  • Events: Released in the most recent version of Google Analytics, Event Goals allow you to track specific actions visitors are taking on a page. This includes anything from downloading a PDF to watching a video.

Goals reports can be found under the Conversions tab, which will provide information about goal completions and conversion rates. You can opt to track goal value and abandonment rates (the percentage of visitors who fail to convert on the goal) as well.

If you’re an online retailer, it may make more sense for you to set up Ecommerce in Google Analytics, which allows you to track transactions and order values. It’s a more complicated setup process, but will provide more actionable metrics for visitors’ purchasing behavior on your site. For Google Adwords users, linking your account to Google Analytics goals can help you keep a closer eye on your marketing campaigns.


Other Noteworthy Features


One problem with the analytics industry, Mui says, is that tools give users so much information — but they’re not as good at telling users what they need to know. That’s why Google Analytics improved its Intelligence product in the most-recent update. It searches your site traffic for anything out of the ordinary and then alerts you to the anomaly. You can see all your alerts in a simple graph, where you can drill into and annotate specific events.

If you’re running a dynamic website that frequently publishes new content, Google Analytics Real-Time helps you understand what content is working best and what sites are sending you the most traffic at any given moment. It’s less useful for providing more long-term actionable insights.

For more useful v5 products, check out our top 10 features of the new Google Analytics.


Conclusion


While your level of interest in these key numbers and features may differ depending on your role and organization, these data points have become the standard for web analytics today. Whether you’re strategizing for a massive corporation or bolstering your personal web presence, understanding acquisition, engagement and outcome metrics is a must. “If content is king, then context is queen,” Mui says.

Which of these metrics and features are most important to your business? Has tracking them helped you improve your site? Tell us in the comments below.

More About: features, Google, google analytics, How-To, web

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icons image

Weekends at Mashable mean the weekly features roundup is coming at’cha. You ready to rock this list?

This week, we spent some quality time with Siri, and now we can’t live without her. Then, we moved on to the Motorola Droid Razr, following the past week’s event with Verizon. Curious about our review? Read on. Then skip over to a gallery of rapture photos — or rather, what’s going to happen when the world ends. While you’re waiting for the apocalypse, we suggest you catch up on your reading…


Editor’s Picks



Social Media


For more social media news and resources, you can follow Mashable’s social media channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.


Tech & Mobile


For more tech news and resources, you can follow Mashable’s tech channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.


Business & Marketing


For more business news and resources, you can follow Mashable’s business channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Image courtesy of WebTreats Etc.

More About: Business, Features Week In Review, List, Mobile, Social Media, web





There might be a trick to vastly improve the performance of most data centers and, consequently, the web itself — simply throw out the hard drives in data centers and replace them with dynamic random-access memory (DRAM).

John Ousterhout, research professor of computer science at Stanford and head of a new project called RAMCloud, proposes exactly that: Create a data center storage solution “where information is kept entirely in DRAM and large-scale systems are created by aggregating the main memories of thousands of commodity servers.”

It sounds simple, but also preposterous. Everyone would like to be able to keep all the information in fast, random-access memory, but it’s too expensive. Hence, for long-term storage, we use hard drives.

And indeed, in terms of cost per gigabyte, Ousterhout estimates 2,000 servers could provide 48 terabyte of DRAM storage at $65 per gigabyte, meaning that RAMCloud-based storage would be a 50 to 100 times more expensive than hard disks.

Cost per access per second is another matter, however. Ousterhout claims that, when measured by this metric, DRAM is 10 to 100 times cheaper than disks.

Of course, price is not the only issue at hand; there are questions about durability, availability and scalability, most of which are addressed — but not entirely solved — in this white paper.

Nevertheless, the implications — if the model proves to be a success — are very interesting.

The team behind the project estimates that RAMClouds can provide storage with 100 to 1,000 times lower-access latency, and 100 to 1,000 times the throughput of disk-based storage systems. This, the RAMCloud team claims, would pave the way for “a new breed of data-intensive applications,” which, in turn, would mean a faster web for everyone.

More About: Data Center, RAMCloud, storage, web

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Mollie Vandor is a product manager at BetterWorks, and the former associate product manager at Cooking.com. Prior to that, she helped launch Ranker.com, where she served as the product manager, amongst many other roles. You can reach her @mollierosev, on her blog, or on her latest addiction – Words With Friends, where she plays under the username “Mollierosev.”

Search engine optimization isn’t exactly something you can major in — at least, not yet. In fact, many professional search engine optimizers are self-taught. They’ve supplemented backgrounds in marketing, computer science and the like with self-education via online courses, videos and blog posts.

Whether you’re looking to build your knowledge of the basics, master more intermediate material or get to the head of the advanced class, a wealth of online resources can help you graduate your SEO skills to the next level.


The Basics






Intermediate


  • Congratulations, you’ve passed freshman SEO. Now it’s time to take that knowledge to the next level by applying broad basics to specific situations. The SEO Theory blog has a whole section devoted to posts about intermediate SEO techniques like nofollow links, making the most of microsites and smartly using subdomains.
  • If you’re a small business owner, web design company GNC Web Creations offers a free SEO course run through Yahoo groups. It’s aimed at helping small business owners get their hands dirty with in-depth SEO techniques.
  • Visual learners should check out SEO firm Vertical Measures, which has a compendium of free webinars and videos covering topics like content optimization, keywords and sitemap. Similarly, SEOBook publishes a series of SEO videos covering content creation, keyword choice and more.
  • If you’re willing to spend some money, SEO expert Kalena Jordan runs a very well-reviewed series of classes online through Search Engine College. The curriculum includes courses on PPC Advertising, copywriting, usability and more. With fees ranging from $200 to $1500, there’s something for everyone.
  • For the price of a few fee-based SEO tutorials, you could also start attending SEO conferences, where you can engage in group learning and meet other search-minded scholars. Search Marketing Expo is definitely the most popular SEO conference in its class, with conferences happening all year long around the world, but there are also numerous other conferences covering SEO, including Web 2.0 Expo in October and PubCon in November.

Advanced Placement


  • Now it’s time to sink your teeth into some serious advanced placement SEO, specifically, by tackling really technical knowledge and encountering the breakneck pace at which the industry grows and changes. The best place to start your advanced placement training, believe it or not, is actually by turning off your computer and picking up a book. Try SEO Warrior or The Art Of SEO, both of which provide fantastic in-depth SEO techniques and analysis, perfect for SEO professionals, or anyone who wants to master professional-level skills.
  • Since SEO is an industry that changes faster than the Google trending topics list, the most important advanced skill to master is staying ahead of the curve. The best way to do that is to stay plugged in to the places where people share day-to-day insights on the industry. There are plenty of SEOs to follow on Twitter, as well as SEO blogs that publish in-depth articles and analysis on a regular basis.
  • Quora has a fantastic SEO community, as does Stack Exchange. Both sites are Q&A based, so you can find answers to commonly asked questions, or post SEO queries of your own.
  • WarriorForum and SEOMoz also have thriving communities of hardcore SEO geeks who share advanced search secrets every day. In particular, SEOMoz’s Whiteboard Friday series is a wonderful way to get a weekly dose of in-depth analysis on topics like link building on Twitter and Mobile SEO. They also offer an advanced training DVD series to really help you round out your skills.
  • There’s also no better place to go than the source. And, in SEO, the source is Matt Cutts, Google’s guru of search, who also happens to post a regular blog covering everything from sculpting pagerank to his latest vegan diet. While you’re bookmarking advanced placement blogs, be sure to also include the Google WebMaster Central Blog and YouTube channel.

Graduation


Ultimately, since SEO is such a rapidly changing field, you can never really be done educating yourself on the latest trends, topics and tactics. It’s truly a skill set that requires continuing (and continuous) education. But, with resources like these and a willingness to learn, you’ll be graduating summa cum SERP ranking in no time.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Jeffrey

More About: contributor, education, features, resources, SEO, web

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Where were you in 1996? If you were in cyberspace, surfing the World Wide Web, chances are you were waiting a long time for pages to load, laughing at the first Internet meme and suffering through some god-awful graphics.

My, how times have changed! While some of you weren’t even born yet, I was working on the web back then, and it certainly did feel different from today. Most comments came via email, servers were rickety and crash-prone, and even though HTML coding was a lot simpler, it still took a lot of patience to get things done.

SEE ALSO: AOL Eyes Merger With Yahoo [REPORT]

But you know what? We knew this Internet thing was going to be big. Even then, many of us were predicting that the web would soon be the home of every major publication, TV network and retailer, accompanied by services we hadn’t even imagined yet.

Did you see this coming? Let us know in the comments about your experiences in the old days on the web.

UPDATE: Thanks to commenter Bill Vandermark for pointing out that Go Daddy was in fact founded in 1997, and would not become Go Daddy until 1999. We regret this error and appreciate our community for letting us know when we make a mistake.




Infographic courtesy Online University

More About: 1996 vs. 2011, design, infographic, web


Dan Dao is a Reporter at Fueled, an iPhone & Android app development agency based in New York City, where he writes about the tech industry. You can follow him on Twitter @da0_o and read the blog on Fueled.

Employers who hire designers are often not designers themselves. That reality can cause a disconnect between what designers display in their portfolios and what employers are actually looking for.

If you’re curious about the types of design portfolios that shine at job interviews, why not learn from the employers who loved them? Below, three employers share useful tips about maximizing the appeal of your online portfolio.

1. Choose the Right Hosting




Make sure you choose the right hosting and content management system (CMS) to feature your work. Whether you’ve built your own website or plan to use a portfolio service (like Carbonmade above), make sure your site will translate identically across all web browsers (Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.).

Image courtesy of Veronica Pisano

2. Simple, but Professional Presentation

The goal of your portfolio is to make your work accessible. Fancy, animated designs may look interesting, but they can distract from the actual work you’re attempting to showcase. Simplicity will translate as professionalism more often than fancy, overdone graphics. As far as aesthetic and visual presentation, keep it simple and neat, and let the work speak for itself.

  • David Lifson, CEO of Postling: “Oftentimes, designers will have brochure websites, and I find that those are not helpful. I look for data-dense examples, something where there’s more usability than visual design. That’s what I would say highly functional websites are built on.”

  • Merill Stubbs and Amanda Hesser, co-founders of Food52: “Whatever you’re shown, whether it be a website or a specific presentation…[it] should be very professional.”

  • Carter Cleveland, CEO of Art.sy: “Although it is an opportunity to show your chops and do something fancy, I’ve seen more examples of people failing to pull it off…I’ve seen more ‘fancy’ websites done badly than done well.”

Image courtesy of Alastaire Allday

3. Make it User-Friendly

Stubbs and Hesser warn that although employers may like a designer’s visual work, the designer “might not understand the user experience implications of their designs.” By making your design portfolio user-friendly, you’re displaying an understanding of navigability and user experience. If your portfolio is user-friendly, chances are the product you design will be user-friendly as well.

Start by reducing the number of clicks and links, as well as the amount of scrolling needed to access all of your content, suggests Cleveland.

Image courtesy of We Are Sofa

4. Know Your Audience

Determine the specific skills your potential employers are looking for. For instance, bonus expertise in product management, web development (HTML, Javascript, and CSS) or marketing adds bonus points to the portfolio of a clearly talented designer.

Each employer will have different hiring needs, and you need to adapt accordingly. Food52’s Hesser and Stubbs needed a designer with experience in building social sites due to the strong social aspect of the company, while Lifson and Cleveland were looking for someone with experience in product management as well as design. Smaller companies in particular will seek designers with versatile experience, which can include knowledge of different programs like Photoshop and Fireworks.

Seen above, designer Jordan Fretz provides a full list of tools with which he is familiar alongside a detailed description of his background.

Image courtesy of Jordan Fretz

5. Have a Varied Portfolio

Hesser and Stubbs say, “A portfolio that is varied is important so you can work with as many different types of clients as possible.” Food52’s designer Camillia Benbassat features works in her portfolio that use different types of media. Dragging your mouse over each photo in her showcase reveals the name of the company, the type of media, and a few essential details about the project. Each is clearly labeled and categorized, whether by web design, mobile app, user experience, identity, print or packaging.

Image courtesy of Camillia BenBassat

6. Be Organized

While including many examples is a plus, you still need to clearly sort and organize your work in the porfolio. On Elliot Jay Stocks’ website, the top header showcases featured work, but the remainder of the showcase is organized by client and project type.

Image courtesy of Elliot Jay Stocks

7. Be Accessible

Your contact information should be the easiest thing to find on your site. Include multiple forms of contact, if possible. Designer Jared Christensen nicely presents his LinkedIn profile next to his resume, in addition to other social networking sites under his About Me page.

Image courtesy of Jareditigal

8. Keep it Current

Frequently updated portfolios show that you take enough pride in your work to actively produce more. Even if your portfolio contains a few unfinished projects, provide samples alongside a “work in progress” note, as designer Matt Bango does on his portfolio.

Image courtesy of Matt Bango’s Portfolio

9. Credibility

It’s important to build and maintain credibility. This means you should be able to reproduce and tweak everything in your portfolio. Part of Postling’s hiring process involves contracting the applicant to complete a small (paid) work assignment. “I want to see that [the designers] can actually produce what their portfolio says they can produce,” Lifson says, “because you never know if sometimes they get some help.”

Hesser and Stubbs look more at past experience. They believe a designer’s former employment indicates whether she is accustomed to deadlines and memos, and maintains a level of professionalism.

Cleveland also looks for what he calls “social proof,” in other words, past work credentials or testimonials. Providing links to these things on your site makes it easier for the employer to get an immediate sense of your professionalism.

Image courtesy of Jamie Kim

10. Share Your Portfolio

Once you’ve created a stunning portfolio, share and advertise across multiple platforms. Postling says designers need to “get their work out in the open, whether on Forrst, Dribbble or Tumblr. Provide links to your portfolio from various social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as in the signature of your work email. You’ll get more views of your showcase, which can lead to more interviews.

Image courtesy of Postling

More About: design, jobs, MARKETING, web design

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Mollie Vandor is the Associate Product Manager at Cooking.com. Prior to that, she helped launch Ranker.com, where she served as the Product Manager, amongst many other roles. You can reach her @mollierosev, on her blog, or on her latest addiction – Words With Friends, where she plays under the username “Mollierosev.”

While summer vacation winds to a close and students prepare to go back to school, the days of brand new backpacks and crisp notebooks are long gone for many adults. Although classrooms, teachers and tuition might be off the table, it doesn’t mean education needs to be.

In fact, the Internet itself provides a wealth of educational opportunities. Furthermore, long summer days and relatively relaxed offices might provide the perfect setting for web education. Just think, while other people are rounding out their summer tans, you could be ringing in autumn with a whole new skill set — in this case, web design expertise. Tans fade. Beefier resumes keep shining.

Here’s a look at some of the best web resources for web design education.


101


Design 101 is all about the basics: master the lingo, learn the software and familiarize yourself with the driving principles that govern good design. To that end, your first stop should be a survey course of sorts. Try the Psdtuts+ self-study curriculum, where you can soak up the basics of shape, spacing, rhythm, typography, color, texture and more. To reinforce those basic skills, check out the Albany Library Design Tutorial, a sort of interactive “design for dummies.” While the tutorial is a bit old school, technologically speaking, design-wise, it effectively covers the basics.

You may also want to learn a little bit about the grid system while you’re at it. The system is exactly what it sounds like: a grid or set of guides on which the elements of a web page are built. Working with the grid can help in mastering the art of clean, cohesive web design. And speaking of cohesiveness, you may also want to review Web Pages That Suck for examples of how not to utilize your newly minted design skills.

Once you’ve tackled design theory, get practical with Adobe Design Center. It has all the tools you need to turn that theory into design reality. If you’re more of a visual learner, investigate this collection of helpful YouTube Photoshop tutorials.


Upper Division


You’ve mastered the basics, which means you’re ready for some fresh challenges and inspiration. For example, participate in The Daily Design Challenge by pledging to take on one design-related task per day for a full year. Whether you design a new font, doodle a small graphic or create a new logo for a beloved brand, set aside a few minutes every day to keep your skills sharp and your creative juices flowing.

If you’re really looking for a challenge, Layer Tennis is the web’s most creative competition. Sponsored by Adobe Creative Suite, Layer Tennis pits two competitors against each other in a weekly match-up. Every fifteen minutes, participants swap a single design file “back and forth in real-time, adding to and embellishing the work.” A writer provides play-by-play commentary while an active community of design aficionados looks on, providing a great forum to witness inspirational creative design in action.

Next, use that creative inspiration to fuel some serious studying. MIT offers free online coursework in comparative media, in which you learn about the design principles of different mediums. Similarly, iTunes offers podcast lectures about aesthetics and the philosophy of art. Vimeo’s Smarthistory videos discuss everything from Representations of David and the Florentine Renaissance to Duchamp and the Ready-Made, because there’s nothing like a little art history to help you create design history of your own.


Ongoing Education


Once you’ve gained a comprehensive understanding of the basics, a background of art history and a fresh set of advanced skills, ongoing education can provide you with the tools necessary to showcase your talent, not to mention the additional innovation to advance your craft.

According to Smashing Magazine, “The résumé is the first portfolio piece that potential employers see, and if they’re not impressed, chances are they won’t look at the rest of your portfolio.” Smashing offers a great tutorial to ensure that your résumé showcases your design skills. While you’re at it, make sure your portfolio illustrates the best of your aesthetic abilities.

Nothing inspires your future work quite like taking in current innovative design. To that end, check out the creative collection at Designspiration. Tumblr is also a great resource for finding fantastic designers, and Quora’s active community of graphic designers engages in dynamic conversation about the industry. Finally, Twitter has a plethora of design people worth following.


Whether you’re looking to get a grip on design basics, or you want to sharpen your advanced skills, web resources can help you construct the perfect creative (and flexible) curriculum. And with the right smartphone or tablet, you can even study while soaking up the last of the summer sun. Now that’s what we’d call an advanced placement course!

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, enviromantic

More About: design, education, web

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Martin Odersky is Chairman and Chief Architect of Typesafe and creator of the open source Scala programming language. This post was co-authored by Chris Conrad, an engineering manager who is part of the Search, Network and Analytics team at LinkedIn.

While interacting with social media and other consumer websites has become routine for many of us, ensuring a seamless, positive user experience is still the Holy Grail for web developers. The volume of queries and messaging on websites increases every day, as does the challenge of keeping the underlying infrastructure running smoothly for millions of users.

Below, we’ll highlight key challenges facing web developers of high volume sites, provide examples of how to address these hurdles, and discuss the role of emerging open source platforms as a modern approach to overcoming them.


Three Key Challenges


  • Performance: While web application developers of high volume sites face many challenges, performance tops the list. With consumers now demanding blazing computing speeds and uninterrupted service, a wait time of 250 milliseconds can mean the difference between a successful service and a failed one. For key user operations, such as interactive, real-time slicing and dicing of large data sets, performance is essential. The application needs to perform flawlessly and logically in order to attract and keep consumers.
  • Efficiency: When operating services on a massive scale, it’s essential to make the most efficient use of hardware assets. For example, optimize the use of memory and available processing resources. In practice, this often means using event-driven and distributed architectures like node.js, versus previous generation thread-based models like traditional Java Servlets. Developer productivity programming languages are further facets of efficiency. Fewer lines of code, made possible by concise languages like Scala and Ruby, generally translates to higher productivity for application developers.
  • Reliability: Systems need to remain resilient against component failures, including hardware, software and network crashes. An ever-expanding ecosystem of applications depends on reliable access to user-generated content, like LinkedIn’s, for instance. As such, the network needs to target “five nines” availability goals that have previously been benchmarks for the telecommunications and electrical power industries.

  • Real-World Applications


    LinkedIn faces these challenges every day and is always looking to incorporate the most advanced technology to keep its services running smoothly, reliably and efficiently. For example, to support the Signal product introduced last year, LinkedIn created a high performance web service written in Scala. This service is accessed through a REST/JSON-RPC model that enables quick ad hoc data manipulation and fast iteration from the web-based user interface.

    For its real-time people search service (with a peak demand exceeding the hundreds of queries per second), LinkedIn uses a scatter-gather approach that distributes search queries in parallel across a large server farm. This approach balances quick response time with efficient use of server resources.

    To support reliability, LinkedIn created a cluster management and workload distribution library called Norbert, which it implemented in the open source Scala programming language. It then incorporated open source technologies from the Apache ZooKeeper, Netty and Protocol Buffers projects. Norbert is a key component of several mission-critical applications at LinkedIn, most notably its social graph engine, which fields a high volume of requests per day.


    Open Source – Solving Today’s Modern Programming Challenges


    In the last few years, many new open source technologies have emerged to help web application developers. Open source projects such as Norbert, now available under the open source Apache license at sna-projects.com, are readily available to web developers charged with tackling such challenges.

    Open source programming languages and frameworks that enable parallel and distributed computing can be especially helpful in keeping today’s most trafficked websites running steadily and smoothly. Below are key considerations to keep in mind when programming for today’s multicore paradigm:

    • For applications that benefit from highly interactive user experiences, like LinkedIn Signal, developers should consider breaking data-intensive functionality into asynchronous web services that can be integrated into the web-based user interface using REST-style APIs.
    • To encourage “efficiency by default” for today’s web-scale applications, developers should look to modern frameworks like Akka and Norbert that incorporate capabilities like event-driven processing, asynchronous I/O and cluster-aware fault tolerance.
    • For applications that can truly scale up and scale out, developers should favor languages like Scala that provide first class support for functional programming, which discourages the use of mutable state. This allows applications to more easily scale hundreds of cores on a single server, and thousands of servers on a network.

    In summary, web applications and their supporting infrastructure need to be robust and efficient as more of society shifts its everyday interactions online. Fundamental advances in technology, many driven by the open source community, are making it possible for today’s web application developers to stay ahead of the scalable computing needs of consumers.

    Image courtesy of Flickr, Fon-tina

    More About: apps, linkedin, programming, Web Development

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In the same way that bar codes don’t have to be boring, quick response codes can also be creative. Thanks to a 30% tolerance in readability, you can have some real fun with clever designs. Besides looking good, this can also make them more successful.

“Designer QR codes are not only a way to make your 2D barcode stand out, but they also add a more human element to the otherwise cold and techie appearance,” says Patrick Donnelly, QR code designer and expert. “This could be the difference between someone scanning your code or not.”

Take a look through the image gallery for 15 brilliant designs created for a range of businesses from big names such as Disney, little names such as local restaurants and even conceptual ideas. Let us know in the comments if a clever design would make you more likely to scan a code.

1. Ayara Thai Cuisine




Designed by Paperlinks, a charming elephant drawing adds a dash of Asia to this LA restaurant’s QR code.

2. True Blood

HBO’s True Blood season 3 was the first TV series to get a designer QR code in an ad, thanks to a collaboration between Warbasse Design, .phd agency and SET Japan.

3. Magic Hat Brewing Company

This clever code from Patrick Donnelly is made up of bottle tops and links to the beer company’s mobile optimized Facebook page.

4. Help Japan Now

Chances are you’ve already seen SET’s “Help Japan” design. As well as extending the code to make an instantly recognizable red cross, the faux parts of the code contain related symbols for an arresting overall effect.

5. Louis Vuitton

Another SET creation, QR codes get playful with a dose of Takeshi Murakami-influenced design for Louis Vuitton’s mobile website

.

6. Corkbin

Cliffano Subagio spotted these awesome Disney codes in Japan where QR is a well established marketing tool.

8. Discover LA Tourism Bureau

This Paperlinks code is both cool and calm with made-you-look palm trees that add a special design touch.

9. Pac-Man

An experimental design from Patrick Donnelly, we love the witty, retro appeal.

10. Greenfield Lodge

The dots from Greenfield Lodge’s floral logo are replicated throughout the design to great effect.

11. M&Ms

Anther concept design from Patrick Donnelly, we like the idea of arranging real-life objects into a scannable code.

12. The Fillmore Silver Spring

Paperlinks added musical instruments into this concert venue’s design, a neat way to tease consumers into reading the code.

13. Burtonwood & Holmes

Artists Tom Burtonwood and Holly Holmes have fun by extruding the classic code design with a code-within-a-code concept.

14. The Wine Sisterhood

As well as integrating elements from the group’s logo, we like how Paperlinks made the design appear painted with wine.

15. TIME

Patrick Donnelly is such a QR code enthusiast, he spent months on Farmville “growing” a design!


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