Saturday, May 23, 2015

App Idea: CircleDJ

The Idea

So you have music you are listening to, you like a piece of music so much you take out your ear-buds and press them on your friends to listen to the part of the song that you like so much. You guys start chatting about how cool the song is and how some other band is equally cool. You go back and forth pulling things from your individual play lists and having fun chatting about music and friendship.

The way you go about it seems rather old-school in the age of mobile tech, doesn't it? What if you had each an app loaded that could make this sharing easier, better and even more fun? What if you could comment on parts of pieces of the song as it was being played?  Even bring in other friends into a "circle" to listen to the same song as it is being played. No more sharing of ear-buds while being able to comment and recommend a dynamic playlist? Everyone in the "circle" could assume DJ duties, putting things on a queue or taking over playback directly?

Initial idea assumes that songs are owned outright by all participants, but alternatives are possible where this is build to work on top of premium subscription services that give people already access to all songs in catalog.

More Features

  • Users can invite friends into special purpose circles, e.g. School, Workout etc. 
  • You can see who is being DJ in which circle
  • Listening and comment history is available for circle members
  • Circle members can compare their song libaries
  • Allow in-app purchases of "missing" songs
  • Record snippets with comments to post on twitter or Vine

Techno Mumbo Jumbo

This is the section I am trying to sound edumacated.
  • The basic principle is based on synchronized playback (stream or local) of media  (audio or video) with shared playback control.
  • Dymanic content and control of media, e.g. different users can control speed, and location of playback and this can by dynamically changed either via an election or granting scheme.


  • Build on a music streaming service, e.g. Pandora or Spotify
  • This idea of "social-sharing" and "active" commenting can be extended to field of  any stream-able media, e.g.Video. If you are wanting to do similar App on the basis of YouTube or other video streaming services.
  • Bots could partake in playback control to make recommendation to groups and playback parts or tracks.
  • The potential exists to "redefine" radio as we know it in this format. "Radio" users could take alternate control and "DJ" or curate for specific group or at specific times for other listeners. 
  • Feedback loop and control look can be build via twitter like services. If enough of a hastag is tweeted alongside another song specific hashtag, a bot can put the most on demand songs into the play-queue.

Social Implications

  • Circle songs and comments can be shared on twitter, facebook, etc.
  • Big Data: comments can be analyzed for trends (frequency language, power parts in songs etc.)
  • Song Ratings for activity types
  • Extract snippets to post with comments

Related Competitive Ideas

  • It would be expected that streaming services will build something like this into their apps to ensure higher level of stickiness for their premium services. This could be only available for premium subscribers, inviting others to their listening circle would require subscription. Or, in a modified form without the subscription you cannot participate actively (no commenting, no DJing)


  • The assumption here is that everyone owns a copy of the song, if not friend that wish to listen in will have to purchase the song. An affiliate payment system can be used or direct resale of music.
  • Recomendation engines to build suggestion to the circle members for purchase.
  • Advertising (I do not like to mention this since this seems to be overused)
  • Subscription element to unlock features, e.g. ability to DJ for the circle
  • In app purchase of songs
  • DJs could be hired to remote play and interact

What are these post about

So, like seemingly, everyone I have been collecting ideas about apps that would be "next big thing" and promptly putting them on a shelf based on time and resource demands. I am fleshing things out in bullet points. Rough bullet points! You are free to do with it whatever tickles your fancy.

I have decided to break with the cycle of selfishness and just post the ideas for anyone to use. Though I am not opposed to gazillions and instant nerd-fame, I have come to the conclusion that I rather have the idea be turned into action when I know that I will not be able to.

Also I am sharing in the hopes that, even, if marginally, I am preempting the people that like to patent just about everything including how my shoe laces tie together from stifling innovation. This is prior art people. Booyah!

Do you expect a return?

In one word, yes! I am hoping that I get attribution credit or free coffee for life whenever one of these makes it big. You don't even have to tell me, just send me my platinum Starbucks card!

Fool, this already exists!

If such an idea has already been turned into reality, the world is a better place ! Share it in the comment section. I do not do exhaustive research though I try to look through the app stores trying to find apps with these features. If you think my ideas are a bunch of doodoo, no need to comment, just create better ideas and make the world an even better place.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

CF: Allowing different extensions for scheduled task log files

This is a quick post for people that run into this dilemma where there scheduled task stop working upon upgrade. They may receive this type of error in their browser:

Initialization Error: Valid extensions are : log,txt. - Invalid extension of the file name.

At first you go "What the Heck!". Then, look through gazillion lines of code to find where we could have produced this error and could not pin-point it.
Then, more digging to find the culprit:
With the advent of ColdFusion 10 & 11 and the exposure of the scheduled task vulnerability there was a change to what extensions where supported for your log files when you schedule tasks. As a security element these files can only be log and txt files.

However, the raw capture of the task run is normally neither, more often than not, especially with debug for the local IP enabled the output is HTML.
Thus, we have, now, for many years, used htm as the preferred extension, since the raw capture of the task run is HTML, thus, easy to view in the browser.  Forcing it into txt would only makes us rename the file before opening in the browser again.

Nightmares of unneeded code change ensued...

Fortunately, the solution seems simple enough.
a) Stop the ColdFusion instance
b) Find the neo-cron.xml
c) find the line that read like txt,log
d) add your extension to that line, e.g. txt,log,htm
e) start instance

Hope this helps others who give themselves the "Duh" slap.


Friday, June 6, 2014

CF: CCFML or Making the Case for a Different CFML Future

Looking at the demands of our enterprise and the product road-maps as far as they have been disclosed by either Railo or Adobe we discovered a gap between what we are trying to achieve and what the technology is going to offer.

So, I have taken upon me to summarize a few thoughts and suggestions that I would like to share to see whether we can sway the Railo/Adobe general product direction.

I believe that focusing ever more innovation resources on the concept of RAD (Rapid Application Development) and language improvements, though interesting and useful, are not making CFML standout sufficiently to make a long-term difference and detract people from leaving or encouraging  new people to join.

In my opinion, the next level of server improvements need to be substantially different from other offerings and, this, in turn, requires a rethinking of what Railo/ACF offerings are.
Abandonment of the concept of Application Servers
Remove the need for download/installs
Remove the need for server administration and management
Redefine offering as packaged “infrastructure” with smart policy and deployment
Use clear convention based guidelines for subsystems (cache, application, storage, db)

Ok, now you say, what the heck are you dreaming about?
Good question, that.

In short, I am proposing that we work towards a true Cloud CFML platform === CCFML.

Let me explain:

We come from a heritage of dealing with individual servers and have embraced that concept wholeheartedly for many years. However, in the age of the cloud we should question those expectations.
How much more attractive could CCFML be when you only need a github/subversion account to deploy your code and a few policy definitions on how large you want your Application to scale and how fast.
When there are application problems, you can define policies how much CPU a process may consume, add more CPU cycles specifically for it, and/or cache. All automatically.
You application works automatically, fully scalable, across the globe on CFML.
You are kept abreast of any problems, bottlenecks and are given options to upscale CPU, refactor code, or add instances. But, best of all, you let the Cloud CFML take care of everything that a global CFML service should.
You want to push a new version, just change code and click deploy/schedule button.

Whatever decisions need to be made to get us this platform nirvana should be in the forefront of cfml future enhancements. This would require more standardization of convention so that we can have auto- configuration over coding whenever possible.
Behavior for deployment will need to be defined and “standard conventions” documented.
Here is just a selection of things that need to be answered on the way towards such a CCFML platform:
- Which distributed cache to implement and deploy
- Deployment system magic (version, install, upgrade, start, stop, pause engines)
- How do you scale session across servers
- How to communicate among cluster members
- How do you join servers to clusters
- How do you create a unified lightweight Application scope across the cluster,
- How to measure and set time,
- How to define and use a shared file-system
- How do you delineate code files storage vs. user assets
- How do you provide Application policy definitions for scaling
- How to manage and analyze code performance
- Create Application Manager (instead of Server Manager)
- Assigned Server roles, e.g. stateless vs. statefull servers
- Global logging and analysis
- Etc., etc.
There are probably many elements I don’t quite understand or have not considered. This is where I would ask for the smart people of the community to jump in, but, the point I am trying to emphasize is that future innovation should be directed towards creating such a platform rather than focusing on the minutiae of the language syntax.

The CFML language is quite mature and tweaks on syntax can only have limited impact on stopping developer attrition while an easy to use application platform has the potential to attract developers.
This model also provides a clear path for providers of this tech to charge for the services with the value recognition they are looking for.

The good news is that we have many components already; the next step is to create the working package and provide CFML as a first class cloud service.

We would not be the first, others like Microsoft with Azure and .net and the Java/Scala Play! Frameworks have already started the thought model and are getting traction. I fear that if we hesitate too long we may miss an opportunity to reverse course.

I hope this is not too confusing of a ramble and I am looking forward to feedback.


Friday, October 25, 2013

AWS: Cache Me If You Can! Getting Started with Elasticache.

Here are the presentation slides from our monthly Charlotte Cloud Computing Meetup and AWS Charlotte Meetup meeting.

Application cache has the potential to tremendously speed up your response times. Putting a cache infrastructure together on the other hand may not be for the faint of heart. 
In this meetup we will investigate the use of Amazon ElastiCache. Amazon ElastiCache is a web service that makes it easy to deploy, operate, and scale an in-memory cache in the cloud.


Friday, June 28, 2013

AWS: Amazon CloudSearch -- Find This!

Since we experienced some issues with this month’s meetup I am publishing the presentation slides here.
We may be able to run through this at a different time again.

From our meetup description:

So you have used SOLR and think that is the only way to go for anything search related. But, (isn't there always a but?) you are tired of maintaining infrastructure or attempting to scale this thing. 
Well time to look at alternatives specifically made for the cloud. 
In this meetup we will look at AWS search, which is based on A9 search technology acquired by Amazon. It does all the dirty work for you so you can focus on your facets ;o) 
We will discuss the good and the bad while attempting to use examples and build a search domain.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

CF: Railo: Using VisualVM tool to monitor running Railo servers

I had written a Adobe ColdFusion specific article on how to use the free VisualVM tool to get insight into the workings of the Java Virtual Machine. I have since been asked to provide similar guide for Railo CFML engine.

The good news is that the implementation is very similar and mostly follows the same path. I will demonstrate this using Windows OS example. I assume in this example that you have used the standard Railo installer for windows.

If so, here are some simple steps to use this great tool set working with Railo.

1) download java jdk also referred to as Java SE Development Kit. You can use 1.6.38 or later or 1.7.13 or later.  Again, Important to get the JDK not the JRE.

2) Download Visual VM:

3) Configure Railo jmx access:
On Windows, best way is to go to Tomcat Service Control, open the Java panel and add the following to the Java Options text box: (you can change the ports etc. this is is my sample):

You can decide whether to use ssl or not, and also on the port to use. If you want to use jmx authentication I would recommend you read:

You will need to restart your server after you have completed your changes.

4) Configure your Visual vm start up to point to your jdk if you have not set environmental variables:
e.g. on Windows
if you extracted the visualvm files into C:\visualvm135
Your JDK is located in C:\Java\jdk1.7.0_13
then you can use the following command line:

C:\Java\visualvm_135\bin\visualvm.exe --jdkhome "C:\Java\jdk1.7.0_13"

You can also add a batch file shortcut for reuse, e.g.

5) Start up the VisualVM tool (it may have to go through calibration first, simply acknowledge), then, and establish a connection a JMX connection by right clicking on the local node and choosing "Add JMX Connection..."

6) Add connection parameters:
If the server is local you can use: localhost:[port] in our case: localhost:8701

Now you should be able to monitor basic statistics of your Railo environment as it runs, and do some nifty things like forcing garbage collection and dump heap files for later analysis.


Monday, February 11, 2013

CF: cfObjective() 2013... talk is cheap (relatively ;o)

I decided to submit my slew of topics to this year's cfObjective conference. I had many things that I wanted to investigate or thought were worth sharing... never can pick really...
Fortunately for me the selection committee picked two of my submissions and, thus, if you time it right and have no better place to be, come join me at cfObjective in Minneapolis to dig into the mobile development realm ...

"Hey Bilal, come to the point", you say. "What are you going to yak about, since I am biZy! With a capital Z".
Well,  ok, here are the things I am going to talk about:

Design MVC Mobile App Visually In Hours

HTML5 / CSS3 / JavaScript Mobile Apps are becoming more popular. Unfortunately, the tools that we use to design them have not changed much. This talk is centered on using more advanced design tool such as Sencha Architect 2 to visually create front-end MVC mobile prototypes quickly in WYSIWYG fashion. We will step through the elements and create our own app and discuss native deployment options as well.
We will learn how to navigate the common UI of Sencha Architect, how to start and structure an Architect project, how to create a common mobile app with navigation pattern , how to link components, how to bind data, how to deploy generated code in your project, the difference in prototyping levels and the fit of rapid prototyping tools such as Architect, and we are going to have fun creating a real working mobile app.

Mobile but Secure

HTML5 CSS3 applications are becoming increasingly popular for mobile platforms. An assortment of applications makes use of the mobile devices to run, but when it comes to mobile security it is a wild west, the next frontier. What can you do to create mobile or web apps with a more solid security stance and prevent your mobile software from becoming another way to hack into your servers, your customers’ data? If you don't want to be in the news as the next mobile app whose weakness a hacker group used to get sensitive data you should familiarize yourself with the mobile security tips and tricks.
We will take a look at the mobile security top ten and discuss the juiciest elements such as   Insecure Data Storage, Weak Server Side Controls, Insufficient Transport Layer Protection, Client Side Injection, Poor Authorization and Authentication and ways and how to mediate them effectively.

So there you have it.
Hope to see you at the Mall of America in May !