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Original author: 
Jon Brodkin


Can Google's QUIC be faster than Mega Man's nemesis, Quick Man?

Josh Miller

Google, as is its wont, is always trying to make the World Wide Web go faster. To that end, Google in 2009 unveiled SPDY, a networking protocol that reduces latency and is now being built into HTTP 2.0. SPDY is now supported by Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and the upcoming Internet Explorer 11.

But SPDY isn't enough. Yesterday, Google released a boatload of information about its next protocol, one that could reshape how the Web routes traffic. QUIC—standing for Quick UDP Internet Connections—was created to reduce the number of round trips data makes as it traverses the Internet in order to load stuff into your browser.

Although it is still in its early stages, Google is going to start testing the protocol on a "small percentage" of Chrome users who use the development or canary versions of the browser—the experimental versions that often contain features not stable enough for everyone. QUIC has been built into these test versions of Chrome and into Google's servers. The client and server implementations are open source, just as Chromium is.

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When I wrote about TN LCD panels 5 years ago, I considered them acceptable, despite their overall mediocrity, mostly due to the massive price difference.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of LCDs on the market now are TN. You can opt to pay a little bit more for one of the few models with *VA – if there are any available in the size you want. *-IPS is widely considered the best all around LCD display technology, but it is rapidly being pushed into the vertical "pro" graphics designer market due to the big jump in price. It's usually not an option, unless you're willing to pay more than twice as much for a monitor.

But when the $499 iPad 3 delivers an amazingly high resolution IPS panel that's almost reference quality, I found myself a whole lot less satisfied with the 27" TN LCDs on my desktop. And on my laptop. And everywhere else in my life.

I'll spare you all the exposition and jump to the punchline. I am now the proud owner of three awesome high resolution (2560x1440) 27" IPS LCDs, and I paid less than a thousand dollars for all three of them.

Three Korean LCDs

(If you're curious about the setup, I use Ergotron monitor arms to fit everything in there.)

I won't deny that it is a little weird, because everything is in Korean. I replaced the Korean 3 prong power cord in the power brick with a regular US power cord I had laying around. But a monitor is a monitor, and the IPS panel is stunning. The difference between TN and IPS is vast in every measurable dimension. No bad pixels on these three panels, either. Although, as my friend Scott Wasson of Tech Report fame says, "every pixel on a TN panel is a bad pixel".

How is this possible? You can thank Korea. All three of these monitors were ordered from Korean eBay vendors, where a great 27" IPS LCD goes for the equivalent of around $250 in local currency. They tack on $100 for profit and shipping to the USA, then they're in business. It's definitely a grey market, but something is clearly out of whack, because no domestic monitor of similar quality and size can be had for anything under $700.

I wanted to get this out there, because I'm not sure how long this grey market will last, and these monitors are truly incredible deals. Heck, it's worth it just to get out of the awful TN display ghetto most of us are stuck in. Scott Wasson got the exact same model of Korean LCD I did, and his thorough review concludes:

Even with those last couple of quirks uncovered, I still feel like I won this thing in a drawing or something. $337 for a display of this quality is absolutely worth it, in my view. You just need to keep your eyes open to the risks going into the transaction, risks I hope I've illustrated in the preceding paragraphs. In many ways, grabbing a monitor like this one on the cheap from eBay is the ultimate tinkerer's gambit. It's risky, but the payoff is huge: a combination of rainbow-driven eye-socket ecstasy and the satisfying knowledge that you paid less than half what you might pay elsewhere for the same experience.

There are literally dozens of variants of these Korean 27" LCDs, but the model I got is the FSM-270YG. Before you go rushing off to type ebay.com in your browser address bar, remember that these are bare-bones monitors being shipped from Korea. They work great, don't get me wrong, but they are the definition of no-frills:

  • Build quality is acceptable, but it's hardly Jony Ive Approved™.
  • These are glossy panels. Some other variants offer matte, if that's your bag.
  • They only support basic dual-link DVI inputs, and nothing, I mean nothing else.
  • There is no on-screen display. The only functional controls are power and brightness (this one caught me out; you must hold down the brightness adjustment for many, many seconds before you see a change.)

Although the noise-to-signal ratio is off the charts, it might be worth visiting the original overclock.net thread on these inexpensive Korean monitors. There's some great info buried in there, if you can manage to extract it from the chaos. And if you're looking for a teardown of this particular FSM-270YG model (minus the OSD, though), check out the TFT Central review.

In the past, I favored my wallet over my eyes, and chose TN. I now deeply regret that decision. But the tide is turning, and high quality IPS displays are no longer extortionately expensive, particularly if you buy them directly from Korea. Is it a little risky? Sure, but all signs point to the risk being fairly low.

In the end, I decided my eyes deserve better than TN. Maybe yours do too.

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The BostonGlobe.com on mobile, tablet and laptop screens

Responsive design is no longer something confined to the portfolio websites of the designers and developers who pioneered the idea. Using CSS media queries to adapt a website’s layout to varying screen sizes is fast becoming a standard part of web development.

Today’s case in point is the newly launched BostonGlobe.com, which uses the adaptive layouts, font resizing and image scaling of responsive design to deliver an elegant, readable website no matter what screen size you’re using.

The Globe’s new website is attracting more attention for the fact that it will soon be behind a paywall (it’s free until the end of September), but for web developers the much bigger news is that one of the larger news sites on the web is embracing responsive design.

It’s not an iOS app; it’s not in the Chrome Web Store. No, the new BostonGlobe.com is just a good old fashioned website, but one that looks good no matter what you’re viewing it on thanks to its use of responsive design. Depending on the size of your screen — whether you happen to be browsing from a phone, a tablet or a desktop monitor — BostonGlobe.com will adjust its content to fit the pixels available. It will reflow its text columns according to screen size and also scale its masthead logo, the section menus, images, videos and even the weather graphic in the masthead.

Of course it makes sense that the BostonGlobe.com is a flagship example of what’s possible with responsive design given that developer Ethan Marcotte, who coined the term responsive design, was one of the architects behind the new Globe website. If you’d like to know a bit more about how the site was created, including some of the challenges any responsive site faces, head over to Marcotte’s blog and read his write up on the new site.

Also part of the team that helped build the site are the design firm Upstatement and the Filament Group, which helped pioneer the concept of “responsive” or “adaptive” images. That is, serving smaller images to mobile browsers and then using JavaScript to serve larger images to desktop browsers. Be sure to check out our earlier coverage of adaptive images.

While the Globe may have had the cash and cachet to hire big names in the field, that doesn’t mean you need an extensive team to create a responsive website. We won’t lie to you, building a good responsive website is more difficult than just slapping up a fixed width design. But, provided it fits with the goals of your site, it’s much easier than many of the alternatives, which often require building and maintaining two entirely separate websites.

If you’d like to know more about how the Globe team built the site there’s a video on the Globe’s other website, Boston.com, which gives a behind the scenes look at how the responsive design works. At around 1:22 you’ll see a shot of the design being tested on multiple devices simultaneously. The tool that makes that possible is Shim, a node.js app that enables simultaneous, synced web surfing across devices and browsers. You can check it out over at GitHub.

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The platform that a game is on dictates a lot more than many game designers realize.  Epic Battle Fantasy III has been out for a while, but I thought it was worth analyzing because of the unusual venue it chose … Continue reading →

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