HTTP/2… why you should care!

HTTP/2 (originally named HTTP/2.0) is the second major version of the HTTP network protocol used by the World Wide Web”

Now we have that out of the way, there are a few reasons to take notice of this and a few things you may want to do in order to take advantage of it.

What is wrong with normal HTTP?

HTTP is old… in terms of the Internet it is very very old indeed. It was standardised in 1997, when a lot of web developers were still learning learning to walk! It did the job, but as websites became bigger and more complex it was a constant struggle to get the site to display at a reasonable speed, even with modern high-speed connections.

The crux of the issue is the fact that sites are made up of lots of files and the HTTP protocol only allows a certain amount of transfers at the same time. This increased over time but there has always been the situation whereby files sat in a queue waiting to be downloaded by the browser.

What web developers started to do was use techniques such as merging multiple CSS files into a single one, using CSS sprites so icons were downloaded in a single file. All this to get around the queueing system. There was also the problem that if some files got “stuck” then everything else had to wait in line, causing very erratic behaviour at times.

How does HTTP/2 help?

HTTP/2 does away with the queuing system by using something called multiplexing. Without going into the finer details it basically means that browsers can download a lot more content at the same time (if the browser and server both use HTTP/2) and things should perform a lot faster.

Server pushing is also used in order to speed up the rendering experience. In the pre HTTP/2 world the browser downloads the full HTML page first, then starts grabbing the assets it needs such as CSS files and javascript. With HTTP/2 the server is able to send over files it knows the client needs into the cache, so by the time the HTML file is loaded the assets files have also started to arrive. Add in header compression and you have a much more streamlined method of loading pages

So what’s the catch?

While technically there is no requirement for encryption to use HTTP/2, several implementations have said they will only support HTTP/2 over a TLS encrypted connection. There are several reasons for this, which may or may not change over time, but for now you must use an HTTPS connection to take advantage of HTTP/2.

What this means to most users is they must have an SSL certificate for their domain, if not their users will get nasty messages about unsecured connections and/or mixed content.

Should I use HTTP/2?

Google have already stated they are starting to give sites using HTTPS a slight advantage in the ranking mechanism, so now is a good time to at least consider using HTTP/2 for your sites.

That said, HTTP/2 is very new and currently only supported by a hand full of hosts. For now if you convert your site to use HTTPS you will be in good shape to enable HTTP/2 as soon as it is supported on your host, and thus take advantage of a very real boost in performance!

Jailbreak for ALL IPHONES coming soon

It looks like a member of the Dev Team called pod2g has discovered a vulnerability in the booting mechanism for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices meaning that a jailbreak for iOS 4.1 is just around the corner.

The Dev Team have been producing jailbreaks for the iOS devices for a long while, but what makes this exploit extra special is it is hardware based, meaning that Apple cannot simply update the Operating System and fix it. Any of the aforementioned devices can (and will always be able to) be jailbroken.

This is a major coup for the jailbreaking community, as there has been talk of Apple clamping down on jailbreaking and making it much harder to do.

One thing that may hamper their future efforts is the advent of the Gaming community on iOS. This is something that has enforced legality in the gaming community in the past, as once a device has been detected as being exploited it could (in theory) be black listed from the gaming service. That said, if they had the ability to do that with games, then they also have that ability in Apps too, but as yet Apple have not played that card.

Some cynical people also believe that behind the scenes Apple don’t really mind the jailbreaking going on, providing the majority stay towing the Apple line.

Rumour has it the jailbreak will be with us within a day or so.

New iPhone 3GS

So I have finally jumped on the bandwagon and purchased a 16Gb iPhone 3GS in black. Those of you that know me will already know I have become somewhat of an Apple “fanboy” ever since purchasing my Macbook Pro a year and a half ago. It was only a matter of time before I jumped on the iPhone bandwagon too.

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Firstly I am ashamed to admit I was one of the first people the first person in line at the O2 store in Harrogate, waiting for the new iPhone. I got there at approximately 7:15am, hoping in the first instance to go to the Carphone Warehouse (who opened at 8), but only to be told by their manager they will not sell them on Pay & Go on launch day.

So, I trundled sprinted down to the O2 store, who opened at 9:02 (O2… gettit?!.. sad, I know!). I was so early that passing builders looked at me like I was some strange character with nowhere else to be. Little did they know I was a strange character who was WAITING FOR AN iPHONE!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I got my iPhone then high-tailed it to work (another long story).

First impressions

My first impression of the phone is it feels very nice to hold, albeit a little on the smooth side which makes you feel as if you are always one slip away from dropping it. It does feel like it would not do to well in a phone vs pavement battle!

I have not owned an iPhone before, so some of the improvements were lost on me a little. 100% faster… err…ok, it feels quite fast, but I really don’t have a benchmark for that one. Copy and paste… did the previous model (or rather OS) REALLY not have that… Apple, you should hold your head in shame!

The activation process was pretty simple really, just plug it in and let iTunes do it’s thang! It sounds like it went a lot smoother over here than in the States, where people were waiting up to 48 hours for activation. One good thind about being ahead of the timezone race, I guess!

Killer Appz

The main reason I bought the iPhone is some of the apps that you can get for it, for free or for very little money. Surprisingly when I looked up most of the flagship apps that Apple features on their adverts the feedback was always very negative. The app that divvy’s up restaurant bills had one small bug… it couldn’t DIVIDE! Call me picky, but #AppFail on that one!

As my text usage is 99% international I wanted to find a way of sending texts via the Interweb. I found the solution, although it was a little tricky to setup. There is a better one which only runs on jailbroken phones, but as mine is not one of those, I settled for JellySMS.

It is a straight forward concept. You register an account with Clickatell, give it some credit, then hook up JellySMS to it. It works just as normal SMS would, it even pretends to be your number, so replies come to your phone. This could save a fortune on SMS bills. If you wanted to use your 100 free web texts from O2 (UK only) you can also register it to your O2 account!

There are a few TV guide apps that I like, the best so far is Tioti TX+. It is really easy to navigate and you can even record Sky+ on it. Damn… I was trying to find a reason to bin off my Sky+ and this has just given me a reason to keep it.

I haven’t had too much chance to pay games yet, but I had a quick go on copter (addictive) and Wolfenstein 3D (a blast fromthe past… literally!). Apparently the Tower Defense games are really good too, Field runners especially!

I won’t go into details about every app I have on there, but I will list them and you can feel free to ask questions:

  • The BMW Z4 game (had to be done!)
  • Tweetie (Twitter client)
  • Tweetdeck (another Twitter client)
  • AroundMe
  • Facebook
  • Google Earth
  • Evernote
  • Wimbledon (starts tomorrow)
  • F1 2009 (live stats etc)
  • iPint (really crap, but had to see it)
  • JellySMS
  • Remote (remote control your Mac itunes)
  • Skype
  • AIM
  • Copter
  • Dictionary
  • Dog Whistler (piss off the neighbors dog!)
  • ezShareLite
  • Flashlight (turns screen white… mmm)
  • Google App
  • Ebay
  • Handy Level
  • iTranslate
  • MultiConvert
  • News24
  • Sky News
  • RSS Runner
  • Paper toss (it’a a GAME!!)
  • Nearpics
  • Photobucket
  • Speed Test
  • Swine Flu Detector (dont ask!)
  • Tioti TV+
  • TVGuide
  • Translator
  • Whitenoise
  • GPSLite
  • POI Lite (speed cam alerts)
  • Truphone
  • Weather Maps
  • Wiki How
  • Wolfenstein
  • Sudoku

Blimey, that was quite an extensive list, considering I have only just got the thing. Luckily most of these are really small, so they take up next to no room.

A great feature for me is it is compatible with my iPod kit in my car, as well as the bluetooth phone, meaning it is an all in solution whilst I am in the car… I can take podcasts with me and listen to them as I drive.

I will post more when I have had it for a week or so. I have ordered a leather case for it (a slim, non-offensive one) as it looks to be a bit fragile. I will let you know about that too.

If any of you have one of these iPhones (and you know I know some of you do!), feel free to add your comments about how you got on with it, killer apps you found etc. It seems like it is definitely going to be a fun phone to live with!