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How Meebo Works, and There Will Be Boredom!


I logged on to Meebo this morning at work (since trillian was ripped off my machine), and a update window popped up, titled “How Meebo Works”. It gave a pretty interesting high-level overview of how their AJAX magic works. In case you aren’t locked into using online IM like I am, check this out:

Step 1: When you type in “http://www.meebo.com” your browser finds the nearest DNS (domain name service) server and maps the name (e.g. “meebo.com”) to an IP address (e.g. 1.2.3.4). You can think of “meebo.com” as “Sandy’s Place” and the IP address as a destination like “215 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA”.

Step 2: Your browser requests meebo’s default HTML file and that file tells your browser how to display the page. HTML is a simple language that tells the browser how to paint a page and JavaScript is a language that browsers understand and can execute inside the webpage.

Step 3: The HTML file that you load from meebo’s servers instructs the browser to download the JavaScript from meebo’s servers and voila, you have everything you need to start a meebo session.

Step 4: When you hit the “Sign On” button, the whole page changes and all of a sudden you see a buddylist, draggable windows, and neat background skins.

What happened there?!?

It’s important to know that when you switch from the login screen to the buddylist screen, and back to the logout screen, it’s still the *same* webpage. With the instructions in meebo’s HTML and JavaScript code (that you downloaded in step 3), your browser knows how to repaint the page so that you can do things like drag IM windows around and bring up new dialogs. Lots of people might think that’s “AJAX” but it really isn’t — it’s mostly JavaScript and DHTML at work.

Back at meebo’s servers, your browser has sent us a message to initiate a server process that lives for the duration of your meebo session. That process takes care of things like connecting to your MSN or AOL account, sending messages to your buddies, and setting updates like your away status. How does that data get passed to your broweser? That’s where the magic of AJAX happens…

So what is AJAX?

You know how when you’re waiting for a package from UPS and you go to the tracking website to figure out where it is? Some of you might hit the refresh button on your browser every 5 minutes (or 30 seconds if you’re really impatient) to get the newest update. It’s kind of a pain right? AJAX is a way to solve that very problem.

AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is just a fancy way of passing data back and forth between your browser and web servers (in meebo’s case, running your server process) without having to refresh the page. So when you receive IMs, buddy list updates, and room conversations, all of that data is being transferred back and forth using an object called an XMLHttpRequest. Neat huh? This way, you can happily stay on the same webpage for hours and hours and enjoy a long and chatty meebo session without having to navigate to new pages or refresh the page for updates.

At least I can say that I learned something this morning! In other news…DO NOT SEE “There Will Be Blood“! I sat down last night around 8, tired after an awesome weekend of wakeboarding at the lake and on the bay (Pics to follow), and threw on this movie, stoked for, well, Blood! Unfortunately, I was severely disappointed. This movie sucked so much ass – I want my two and a half hours back. I could have done so many things other than suffer through this bore-fest.

I had heard good things about Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance, and his acting alone was good, but god damn the plot is extremely boring if not nonexistant. Check out the wikipedia page

“The film received significant critical praise and numerous award nominations and victories. It appeared on many critics’ “top ten” lists for the year, namely the National Society of Film Critics and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Many Best Actor Awards (BAFTA, Golden Globe, Screen Actors’ Guild, etc.) went to Daniel Day-Lewis for his performance. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, two of which it won: Best Actor for Day-Lewis and Best Cinematography for Robert Elswit. ”

These endorsements alone should have been enough of a warning that I would not enjoy this movie. (similar to when interviewing an ex-roomate for a room in our house, upon finding out that her dream was to be in the peace corps – I should have known immediately – NO!) Anything that the FAG (Film Actors Guild) supports is sure to be a bomb with me. But, alas, with the title basically guaranteeing me that THERE WILL BE BLOOD – I began to watch. After an hour in with little to no blood ( I think someone got a nosebleed), I started to get disappointed. This was cutting in to COD4 time. At the two hour mark, when the most blood I had seen was a guy getting accidentally crushed by a falling oil drill…I was pissed. I was just hoping for him to strike oil again because the sight of oil gushing up out of the ground was the most exciting part of the whole damn movie.

So, Please, Hollywood, don’t name your movies with such misleading titles. I expected blood. Lots of it. You guaranteed it. When I heard the title, I reacted just like I did upon hearing about “Snakes on a Plane”. It promised, it delivered. Unfortunately, There Will be Blood had too little blood, and too much wasting of time. NEXT!

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