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OpenDeviceLab.com – a directory to a global movement

Logo OpenDeviceLab.com
OpenDeviceLab.com

Open Device Labs (ODL, ODLs) are a grass roots community movement that enables developers around the globe to easily access real devices to test their work and improve the user experience across the huge variety of internet connected devices.

When I began to compile what appeared to be the first global directory of ODLs on the web in July 2012, only half a year ago, we had 8 ODLs – all of them in Europe. Four months ago I had founded LabUp! together with a bunch of like-minded, to help establish Open Device Labs. And among others, I began to build lobby and raise awareness for the movement wherever possible.

Today, we have 37 ODLs across 18 countries with over 500 devices accessible. Another 15 ODLs are preparing to become established hopefully soon.

In the past two months my mates Christian Schaefer and Anselm Hannemann spent numerous hours of their free time together with me to move the ODL idea forward, up to what we’re proud to announce today: OpenDeviceLab.com, a service crafted to serve three major goals:

  • Help people across the world to locate the right Open Device Lab for the job
  • Explain and promote the Open Device Lab movement – and help ODLs to become more visible
  • Attract contributors and sponsors to help and donate to ODLs.

If you like the project, please help us to spread the word and raise awareness about the ODL idea and the importancy of real device testing. You can tweet or post on your favorite social network, blog about it, or simply comment and rate any Open Device Lab you have used with the respective functionality on OpenDeviceLab.com.

And if you should run into @derSchepp or @helloanselm, tell them they’re the awesomness in person and invite them on a beer, for dinner, and to your house. Without Schepp and Anselm OpenDeviceLab.com would not serve the ODL movement today (you guys rule, and I cannot thank you enough for all your help!).

This is the classic 1.0 release of OpenDeviceLab.com, and I am eager to see where it will take us. And how YOU like it, via your comments. But pick your words wisely, you might end up reading them at http://opendevicelab.com/#comments! ;)=

First European Web Platform Doc Sprint February 8+9 in Berlin

WebPlatform.org is an open community of developers building resources for a better web, regardless of brand, browser or platform. Anyone can contribute and each person who does makes it stronger. WebPlatform.org is convened by the W3C and is made possible through the support of the Web Platform Stewards. You did not hear about WebPlatform.org yet? Watch this short introductionary movie:

WebPlatform.org is a Wiki, and as such it is defined by actual and comprehensive content. Doc Sprints exist to continuosly build up and extend the documentation. At these Hackathon-style events an introduction to the mechanics of the Wiki as well as a lot of inspiration and starting points to begin your contribution are provided.

Experienced experts from both the Web Platform Stewards as well as the contributing community are on location to provide guidance. Your attendance will not only mean a lot of fun and serve the greater good – we will also serve you with drinks and food, there is a nice party and giveaways, and definetely enough time to network with other attendants.

After the first two events of this kind at Adobe in San Francisco and at Google in Mountain View the first ever european Doc Sprint is taking off on February 8 and 9 2013 in Berlin.

The precise location will be selected based on the number of registrations mid of January – we want to provide an ideal setting and definetely get in everybody that is interested to attend. Update Jan 15, 2013: I’ve found a location that I think could not be better for hosting our Doc Sprint:

SUPERMARKT Berlin
Brunnenstr. 64, 13355 Berlin
Subway U8 “Voltastraße”
http://www.supermarkt-berlin.net/

Please help to communicate the event across your channels to ensure everybody is aware and has a chance to register.

You want to run your own Doc Sprint?

Much appreciated! Everything you need to run a Doc Sprint in your own community will be provided at the Berlin event. Please select the respective ticket category when registering, so we can identify you and provide enough “starter packs”.

Please register here:
http://web-platform-doc-sprint-berlin.eventbrite.com/

And please do not forget to click “attend” on Lanyrd:
http://lanyrd.com/2013/wpds/

Please help to spread the word about the event – it needs only two clicks:

G+ Share: https://plus.google.com/100575683580946332118/posts/iLxwzGU6zac
App.Net Repost: https://alpha.app.net/klick_ass/post/2113801
Twitter Retweet: https://twitter.com/klick_ass/status/281775907734167553

I really look forward to welcome you all to Berlin and to a very successful first european Doc Sprint!

Thanks for your help, and have happy holidays!
*Jay

Affordable WiFi Access Point capable to support 50-100 clients (wanted)

When you’re running a device lab to test across a variety of internet connected (mobile) devices, a wireless local area network will be your primary way to hook up your gear to the ‘tubes. When you’re taking that device lab rather seriously and you’re testing across, let’s say, more than 30 devices, you will quickly run into a problem: your WiFi.

Don’t believe the tech spec hype

Some manufacturers publish tech specs stating the maximum connections their access points are capable to support. Yes, most don’t even do that (or talk about the “number of people that can share the same internet connection”), and there is a reason for that. These numbers might be true in some ideal scenario (like: all connected devices using the same chipset, behaving in mixed conditions (some idle, some active), all in vital shape), but having tested a number of these SoHo-style devices we all tend to use at home and in small and medium businesses, I can tell these numbers are very optimistic. At least for the use case we’re after, and that, to be fair, might not be the scenario the manufacturers meant when they published their numbers:

The use case is a tough one

Synchronized browsing, used in web development to easily preview and debug code in production across a farm of devices, implicates X devices calling the same URL at more or less the same time, sometimes several times a minute (code, preview, debug, refresh). There are a lot of variables to take into account and a lot basically “depends” as a rule of thumb around this topic ;). For illustration purpose imagine the traffic produced by 50 devices calling a webpage with 30 requests and a 0.5-1 MB pageload, refreshed continuosly – do the math. That is most likely not what the makers of that WiFi-gear had in mind when they were talking about the number of clients.

A number of mobile devices combined to a device lab
How does your WiFi gear like more than 30 devices?

I cannot find gear that is suitable for the above scenario and affordable for individuals or small and medium businesses, that run (non-for-profit open) device labs. The available product documentation is not comparable (enough). I know there is superexpensive gear used for permanent installations or at events, but this is not even close to the budget range of what I am looking for. I am not a wireless networks expert, and most of the people would agree this to be a black box to most of the typical web or app developers. And the experts I asked also only know the superexpensive gear (and actually don’t know talk too precisely about limitations with the above use case).

There seems to be a huge gap between 30-300 Euro-ish SoHo-style devices and 6000+ Euro-ish gear. Is there an affordable solution, somewhere inbetween?

Call to action

I know that a ton of people is looking for a solution, so this blog post is to find out. Please help, point people that could know more than us to this post, and share knowledge via a comment. If you run a device lab and found gear that does the job, please post your experience and suggestions. If you combined a set of APs to a working solution, please post the details here (I’d prefer a single device for a number of reasons, but, anything is better than nothing).

Thank you!

Update (May 29, 2013 – looong overdue looking at the number of feedback I have received via Twitter and E-Mail in the meantime, my apologies!):

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