Friday, December 20, 2019

U.S. Department of Energy Announces Winners of Lighting R&D Workshop Student Poster Competition

Reprinted from the United Stated Department of Energy.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced the winners of the 2020 Lighting R&D Workshop Student Poster Competition.

Congratulations to the winners:


Syed Ahmed Al Muyeed, Lehigh University
Controlled Growth of Self-Assembled InGaN Quantum Dots Using Templates of Quantum-Size-Controlled Photo-Electrochemical Etched Quantum Dots

A.P. Sachintha G. De Vas Gunawardena, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
The Impact of Output Capacitor Aging Under Constant and Cycled Temperature Conditions on LED Driver Lifetime


Ziqian He, University of Central Florida
Swelling-Deswelling Microencapsulation 2.0: Toward Ultrastable Perovskite-Polymer Composite Downconverters for Tailored Lighting

The student winners will be recognized at the 17th annual Lighting R&D Workshop January 28–30, 2020, in San Diego, California, where they will present their research at the Poster Session alongside more than 50 scientists sharing updates on their EERE-funded research projects.
Read more on the US DOE website at

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Canadian Company flies World's First Electric Commercial Airplane

A Canadian company, in partnership with a US high-tech firm,  have successfully completed the first commercial aviation flight with an electric-powered aircraft.  British Columbia's Harbour Air (UK English spelling for those of you wondering about the superfluous "U") and magniX, the company powering the electric aviation revolution, today completed the successful flight of the world’s first all-electric commercial aircraft, announcing it on Dec 10, 2019.

The aircraft was a regular-hulled six-passenger DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver magnified by a 750-horsepower (560 kW) magni500 propulsion system.  The entire flight was video-recorded and much of it can be seen on the Magnix website home page at

The flight left the Vancouver Fraser River terminal in Richmond (YVR South) on the morning of the 10th, piloted by Harbour Air CEO and founder Greg McDougall. He now ranks in my books as one of the greatest test pilots of all time.  A CEO who actually puts himself out there for the cause of humanity?  Can we have a dozen more for a start please?

This historic flight signifies the start of the third era in aviation – the electric age. It will take time to sunset the internal combustion engine and jet engine ages so I won't be expecting to buy any tickets anytime soon.  A lot of this is to to the intense regulatory approval, explained by Greg McDougall on this video.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Free Speech MUST be protected

Recently, I have seen many news articles about people who are either wearing pro-Trump t-shirts or those who have taken drastic action against those who do.  So why am I writing this post?  Simple, Freedom of Speech MUST be preserved, no matter what.

I am no fanboy of Trump, nor do I feel the oligarchy of US politics is something others should emulate.  America is a great country. I have many friends in the US and abroad who carry US passports.  

Here are some examples of attacks on free speech:

4.  NH Student Told to Cover Up Trump T-Shirt at School

The idea of censoring a persons right to free speech is dangerous!  One of the hardest things any human might undertake is to protect the right of free speech for those who have a message they do not agree with.  While it may seem distasteful, I urge you all to consider the alternative, a totalitarian society whereby no one can speak their true thoughts.  Despite the arguments, disagreements, at least we are free to have such conversations.

It is important to remember that free speech is not-aligned with any specific political movement.  While you may find the very idea of Trump offensive (I am not a fan), it is important to recognize that freedom of speech has no limits, no bounds.  As such I will tolerate his statements.  We must also accept his followers messages, even if we do not agree with the substance.

Yes, there are arguments that shouting "fire" in a crowded movie theatre is probably problematic, yet at the end of the day, my personal belief is that it is a very slippery slope.  You start by banning opinion X, next comes a ban on opinion X divided by 0.9, then 0.8 etc etc. Eventually, we are all faced with a few degrees of separation.

Free speech is without limits.  My plea is for all who read this to reconsider their commitment to furthering their own causes, but within the realm of protection of free speech.  Today, we find ourselves in a democracy.  The current leader of the USA, no matter what you think of him, is making decisions that many do not agree with.  Censoring those who think his actions are correct is a very dangerous idea.  Some day, the tables may be turned.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Improve SEO Rankings | Page Speed and Mobile-First Development

It has been official for quite some time, yet very few Website Design Agencies have capitalized upon the recent changes in search engine indexing. On July 1, 2019, Google announced that Mobile-first Designs will play an imperative part in determining Search Engine Optimization Rankings (SEO). Google stated, "mobile-first indexing is enabled by default for all new websites (new to the web or previously unknown to Google Search)". Coupled with this announcement, we also would point out that Google announced in mid-2018 that page speed would play an equally important component of search engine optimization.

 The rationale is simple to understand. In our previous posts, we have pointed out that the majority of all website traffic is from mobile sources including mobile phones and tablet devices. So how does one check their performance? Simply using the tools available to webmasters from Google (thank you Google!) can give you a strong indication of whether or not you need to update or tweak your website. If you are not comfortable doing this yourself, you can also request a FREE consultation from Webstation.

Pagespeed scores of 90 -100 are optimal for achieving the best search engine results. Before contracting with any prospective digital agency to handle your search engine optimization, we would recommend comparing their Pagespeed rankings to ours. Below is the desktop ranking for (where I now call home).

To compare this to others, we randomly selected a few websites that are not highly optimized for page speed. Here is one (candid) result:

Webhosting technology affects performance and SEO ranking! There are many other factors to optimize websites including optimizing images, placement of scripts, CSS files, minifying files, file formats, and responsive web design. The list is fairly exhaustive.

One of the most critical elements is to have your website developers ensure that Mobile-first enhancements are made to your website. Mobile-first is somewhat of a loaded term however we have created a formula for delivering great mobile experiences using a combination of CSS frameworks like BootStrap as well as newer HTML elements such as the <picture> tag. Rather than force mobile users to load up the desktop version first, then resize everything by requesting additional resources specific to mobile experiences, we highly recommend serving the smaller mobile assets first. Most desktop users will not even notice given our hosting packages are extremely efficient at delivering content coupled with Content Delivery Networks (CDNs). Of course, using a responsive framework is still the easiest way forward for many. To highlight the differences between responsive and non-responsive website, one has to look no further than Try loading this into a mobile device or resizing your desktop browser window. The results are (stating this diplomatically) candidates for some improvement. NOTE: This website was chosen randomly as an example.

Other tactics include referencing common libraries (jQuery, BootStrap, FontAwesome to name a few), from their sources. These libraries are often already cached either on the users' device or very few hops away. These small improvements can greatly speed up performance.

Contact Webstation today for a free introductory call to explore your business requirements. Webstation can deliver the following for you are no cost:

  • A Full Pagespeed report;
  • A Lighthouse Audit trail and report; 
  • Suggested optimizations; 
  • Recommendations; and
  • A quote if requested 

Google Open Source Robots.txt Parser

For those interested in seeing how their websites components are indexed (or not), Googles decision to open source their robots.txt parser is an amazing bit of news.  Webmasters have been struggling with understanding the robots.txt files for many years.  The challenge was not so much how to write and declare the directives in the files; more so to fully comprehend what actions would be taken by each search engine. While there is a single, de-facto standard, the Robots Exclusion Protocol (REP),  the manner in which the corner cases were handled was ambiguous, like when their text editor included BOM characters in their robots.txt files.

On July 1, 2019, Google announced they are spearheading the effort to make the REP an internet standard. Thank you, Google. We applaud your moves thunderously!

<p>Webstation has set up a public Github repository where you can download a snapshot of the full C++ library.  It is an Apache license.  Full instructions on how to build and run the library are included.

<p>Read the full article at

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Neo4J rocks! Why? Well it's not just about the awesome technology


I received a message from my friend Ryan Boyd (at) neo4j.(ext) (see below).  The message is posted for all to read.

Before I present the contents of his email, I want to stress the importance of a few things I believe are very important to all developers.

1. Not many incumbent software vendors care about start-ups. Neo4J is different. I was part of Neo4J as an observer/fan-boy when they launched and I became aware of their technology stack (circa 2002). I ended up becoming a technology teacher for Neo4J. During these times, there were many critics of GraphDB systems, but many of us saw the light and were happy to have an alternative to the RDBMS systems. Most of the critics stated that the concept was old [sigh), but I digress. Graph DBs are simply awesome. I do not want to be corporate specific as there are many great companies (like TigerGraph and AgensGraph/BitNine), that have embraced and expanded upon the ideas of graph databases coupled with advanced data models. Specifically, BitNine, has introduced a mixed-model DB, a technology that could address the shortcomings of pure GraphDBs; and

2. When the first analysts started naming the non-relational/SQL industry as "NoSQL", I saw the inherent flaws in that acronym. NoSQL means "Not Only SQL" (SQL meaning "standardized query language'). In a previous post (2012 - link:, I expressed a concern that the logic of stating (x 'may include' y) but (x may alternatively 'dis-include’ y) was essentially meaningless since it did not actually did not negate anything. It's like me state "the dinner I cooked for you MAY have white pepper but it may also MAY NOT HAVE white pepper".  Are there really any other alternatives? As Homer said ... "D'oh!!!"

Neo4J did not let this affect them as they knew they were on to something much grander! Of course, their idea of a graph database was far before the social networks where it is obvious that (friend -> hasFriend) is an essential component of every graph (trust me that it gets a lot more specific than this).  Since social networks are so prevalent in every system, I found Neo4K ahead of its time by major factors; and

3. Neo4J was/is_still a start-up. They never forgot the people who helped them while they were trying to get on the map of IT. This makes the character of Neo4J far greater than other start-ups a.  If you are a new start-up, think about how you can emulate Neo4J’s methodology; and

4. They have invested most of their early revenue (see news release below) back into building a stronger community and helping developers> This builds a stronger eco-system of developers who help each other and a more productive environment to work within. Over the years, I have watched this grow in leaps and bounds!

On the latter note, I must disclose some facts.

- Peter Neubauer, is a friend. He was a co-founder of Neo4J. I have worked in a startup with him and come to love him as a brother-from-a-different-mother. Great guy, very smart and ahead of his time!

- I have met with Emil Eifrem on multiple occasions and have come to admire him, both as a human and as a leader in IT.

- Michael Hunger surprised us all by being the single most responsive Technical Evangelist any company has ever had.  I must juxtapose this to my own previous employment experience at Adobe Systems.  As a Tech-Evangelist, we were expected to answer any developer requests as soon as possible. The actual timeframe was stated as "as soon as you can" and Adobe is a very excellent company when it comes to terms with their developer/designer relationships.

The startling fact was that when Peter N., Matt MacKenzie, Moshe Silverstein and I had an issue with the core Neo4J BD system while building a new idea and we reported it to the Neo4J Dev/issues list. Neo4J would acknowledge the issue (if in fact, it were an issue vs. ourselves failing to read the manual), but Michael would have often fixed it prior to us receiving the email and uploaded it to GitHub. I've never seen a company respond so quickly!

I have never dealt with another company that could address developer issues within a week, nevertheless doing it within a day. Fixing issues within 30 minutes was literally unheard of. NOTE: I do not wish to set any unrealistic developer expectations. YAMMV. Mine was awesome! From what I understand, the same level of commitment still exists.

All of this is why Neo4J is special to me. They care about developers. I know I introduced many of you  (reading this post) to coding and/or Neo4J (source: Google Analytics; personal emails).   The truth is that I now want to express just how special Neo4J is.  Many other companies (whom I will not mention by name), could win big time by understanding why Neo4J is helping developers like myself while incumbent giants see themselves losing market share each year to niche players.

Just my (CAD) $0.016534  worth (today's exchange rate).

Duane Nickull

Appendix "A" - Ryan's Email:

Hi there,

We believe in startups as early innovators and disruptors in their respective industries, so we wanted to make it easier to get access to the powerful features in Neo4j Enterprise. We're super happy to let y'all know that we've dramatically expanded the Neo4j Startup Program.

“I’m always struck by the breadth of disruptive business models built around graph technology. Our Startup Program aims to give back to the startup community and make graph technology available to data infrastructures that thrive on connections and drive innovation. It’s gratifying to see our Startup Program members in action and witness their success.” – Emil Eifrem, CEO and Co-Founder of Neo4j

Are you building a product and have <= 50 employees and < $3mm in revenue

You can get Neo4j Enterprise for free, including Causal Clustering and online backup for scale and availability.

But wait, there's more

Qualifying startups also get access to Neo4j Bloom 2 for data discovery and visualization.

Apply today 2 or learn more about the Startup Program from my blog post 2.

Best of luck building your applications and businesses!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Why Using Facebook's OAuth functionality Might not be Wise

I've worked in the tech industry for 25 years. I’m NEVER going to use Facebook to log in to third-party apps and sites online. You should pay attention to the reasons why.

First - who wants FB to know what else you're doing on the internet? It's none of their business. Don't blame the authors of OAuth (Open Authentication). They have done a great job of making it easier to access the web by not having to set up yet another set of login credentials. OAuth is a good idea. It is the implementation, or more precisely who implements it, that scares me.

I use Google OAuth but may rethink this as well. Luckily, Google (to my knowledge) has never revealed my date to malicious entities.

Facebook has, on the other hand, had numerous beaches with accounts being hacked reaching tens of million accounts.  Facebook’s announcement last fall that a security breach allowed hackers to infiltrate the accounts of at least 50 million users, and possibly tens of millions more. The attackers could have gained access to Facebook and possibly, ipso facto, any other accounts you use OAuth for.  This had been noted in a New York Times article where the author states the true magnitude of the danger.  At the time of the article, neither Facebook nor third-party sites seem to be able to measure the true extent of the breach.

The major concern for me is that tech giants security departments tend not to make their processes and procedures public. Once an attack has occurred, all OAuth tokens of affected accounts should be immediately invalidated.  This would require automation to expedite the response as hackers can automate the attack vectors.  A clever attacker could feed each compromised account into a process that forked several new processes to try accessing other targetted accounts.

Complicating this further, many friends I know have admitted they use the same passwords for multiple systems.  Some change their online banking, eBay and PayPal to higher standards, however many do not.  The belief here is that online banking is an A1 priority target for hackers.  Of course, anyone who has read Mitnick's articles on social hacking knows that Facebook and other social media sites can easily be leveraged by clever hackers.

The takeaway here is to take an inventory of which sites you have relied on OAuth for and with which account, then perform your own security audit.  After digesting the contents of this post, I hope it will illuminate some of the potential risks.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Are you working on 64 bit versions of your native Android Apps?

Google recently made a blog post outlining a new requirement for any Android application written in native code to provide a 64-bit version by August 2019.  The requirement is only for those apps using native code and app developers should note that Kotlin/Java source code will not be affected.

The 64-bit CPUs deliver faster, richer experiences and it is imperative to understand the ramifications of this requirement.  Note that  Google is not making changes to 32-bit support.  Google Play will continue to deliver apps with 32-bit native code to 32-bit devices. The requirement means that those apps will need to have a 64-bit version as well.

There is plenty of prepared documentation on how to check whether your app already supports 64-bit and how to become 64-bit compliant.  Technoracle encourages all app developers to understand the requirements.  Briefly, here is a synopsis.

Starting August 1, 2019:

All new apps and app updates are required to provide 64-bit versions of any 32-bit native code they provide.

Extension: Google Play will continue to accept 32-bit only updates to existing games that use Unity 5.6 or older until August 2021.

Starting August 1, 2021:

Google Play will stop serving apps without 64-bit versions on 64-bit capable devices, meaning they will no longer be available in the Play Store on those devices. This will include games built with Unity 5.6 or older. The requirement does not apply to:

  • APKs or app bundles explicitly targeting Wear OS or Android TV, which are form factors that do not currently support 64-bit code.
  • APKs or app bundles that Google Play won't install on Android 9 Pie or later (support for 64-bit does not need to extend to APKs that are only on Android 8 Oreo and below).

We are here to help.  If you have doubts, please contact us directly.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Why Responsive Website Designs Matter

I had previously blogged about my prediction that one day more than 50% of all web traffic would be from "mobile devices".  At the time, I blogged Smartphone adoption marches on, with 44% of mobile phone users owning a smartphone, compared with 18% in 2009, according to Nielsen” (Post link here - )

While this prediction was shared by most analysts, no one at the time had predicted that it could rise to over 85%.  During the process of building a recent website for Canadian Cybertech, I perused the server logs to review how the website was being used. To my surprise, we recorded 86% of all engagements were on phones or tablets in November 2018.

So what is a responsive website and why is it critical to have?  Responsive website templates and layouts adjust dynamically to be viewed on almost any sized screen.  They also adjust their layout based on screen orientation.  The opposite pattern of responsive design was once called "keyhole browsing", a term used to denote the rather unpleasant experiences of trying to view a statically laid out website using a small screen.

Most websites you can find today using Google, Yahoo or Bing will be responsive as all three have been known to elevate search engine rankings higher for a responsive website.  Not using a responsive layout can cost you dearly in terms of potential traffic.

So why else is it so important?

To help people understand the differences, here are some examples.  The first graphic shows the opening layout of the Powell Street Salon website on a normal sized computer screen.

The background graphic is shown fully, the menu and other elements are scaled accurately for the screen size and the site has a very spacious look.  The same website on mobile automatically adjusts, as shown below.

Note the menu has collapsed into the three bar icons and the background photo has been cropped without compromising the integrity of the layout.  The font sizes have been adjusted to be readable on the device and the text flows to a more practical layout.

The anti-pattern of responsive can be quite horrible for any mobile user.  Here is a website I found that does not use a responsive design.  First the normal sized computer screen view.

Note that the page elements are not very well aligned as the HTML and CSS code has not taken into account that computer monitors can range from the archaic 640 X 1080 pixel resolution to newer Ultra HD screens with resolutions of up to 4K.  The real horror comes from the first view on a mobile device.  More than half the content disappears.

When the mobile phone is re-oriented into landscape mode, the trouble continues.

Consider now how your business would be perceived if your website was not responsive.  Using the same ratios as the Powell Street Salon, 86% of all your websites visitors could have been so riled up by a bad website experience they likely would have likely clicked on one of your competitor's websites.

The key takeaway here is that most businesses cannot afford to alienate four out of every five of their potential customers.

If you are not yet using responsive designs, please contact us and we can help.  Packages range in price from $500 and up.