I'm disgusted at Adobe today. It has now well and truly become tradition to have the post-MAX November layoffs. This year reportedly 750 employees got dismissed across North America and Europe (worse than the previous record after MAX Milan 2008). I wish them all the very best.

If you start to see a recurring theme like that, anyone would realize something is going terribly terribly wrong. The hard economic reality hits all of us you say? Adobe backs it up by a press release stating "We expect to report record revenue within the fourth quarter [...]", eliminating hundreds of full-time jobs gets classified under the thinly veiled euphemism of "restructuring".

By now Adobe has reorganized their internal house keeping so many times, Martha Stewart should come take master classes.
 
Things get worse. News starts to trickle out about Adobe abandoning Flash Player on mobile. Not an unusual rumor to see pop up in your twitter stream if you've been around our community for the last year or two. This time it was different and slowly - judging by the roles of people who got dismissed and reading between the lines - it became apparent there was more to the story.

Just 18 months ago at Google I/O 2010, Vic Gundotra bailed out Adobe and the idea of having Flash Player on mobile with the words "It turns out on the internet, people use Flash" and announced Flash Player support on Android. This after Steve Jobs gave it a near fatal blow with his infamous "Thoughts on Flash" letter.

We're refocusing on developing applications through AIR across mobile devices while continuing to innovate on the web. From Flash Player 11 onwards we will not be getting updates on mobile devices apart from bug fixes and security updates.

This whole move seems to me like cutting off the leg of a perfectly healthy patient to save money on shoes, only to realize you have to buy them in pairs. The web doesn't stop where mobile begins.
 
Supporting a runtime across a wide range of devices is difficult and expensive - if it wasn't Flash would not nearly have been so successful. Arguably we came closer to this as a reality than ever before.
 
What bothers me most is the utter disregard Adobe has for its developer community in the way this is communicated. This is not the company I've grown to know and love, this is not how you treat your most loyal customers and passionate evangelists.

Just weeks ago thousands of people came to the annual MAX conference in Los Angeles to hear about Adobe's plans and roadmap. Not a word was mentioned about abandoning development on Flash Player for mobile, is this how confident Adobe is about its decisions it can't defend them in front of their user base?

I'm part of the community programs since the Macromedia days, certified instructor, author, participated in countless prerelease programs - can barely keep track of how many NDAs I've signed with Adobe over the years. I've promoted the technology through good and bad times and this is how they chose to break the news.
 
Bad communication doesn't just piss off your developers - it cuts budgets, causes projects, jobs and livelihoods to be lost. And boy, has there been some bad communication. I've lost all confidence in Adobe as a company through the recklessness they've demonstrated in the last two days.
 

[note] views expressed are mine alone and may not reflect those of my employer.

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AuthorPeter
CategoriesFlash, Rants
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3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).

Just days before the official Adobe CS5 launch, with the now widely reported iPhone packager feature, Apple comes out with a new clause in their iPhone Developer Program License Agreement (see above).

This effectively means that any apps with code not originally written in any of the Apple approved programming languages and are translated, cross-compiled would not be allowed for distribution in the iTunes app store. Obviously this not only affects Adobe but other tools out there such as Unity, OpenPlug ELIPS, MonoTouch, XMLVM etc. and potentially even puts into question the use of any form of code generation or WYSIWYG tools.

There are currently hundreds of applications using third party technologies in the iTunes app store and the question is what will happen with these after this new license agreement comes into affect.

In my view this is clearly a malicious move by Apple to wait until mere days before the CS5 launch to make this announcement and illustrates how communication between Apple and Adobe is sadly at an all time low.

I expect Adobe to come out with a strong statement about its position and a plan of action and hope developers across the board send a clear message to Apple that they are crossing a line here. This goes beyond any form of quality control but dictates how you are allowed to write the code for the application you are submitting to them. The level of control Apple wants to have over their application ecosystem is unprecedented and unreasonable by any measure.

To quote Joa Ebert on Twitter: "Apple forcing people to develop in Objective-C is as if Microsoft would tell you to use MS Paint for your design work".
 
[update] A first official statement by Adobe: "We are aware of the new SDK language and are looking into it. CS5 will still launch on April 12th."
 

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AuthorPeter
CategoriesApple, Rants
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This morning I read an interesting blog post by John Dowdell highlighting some things that bothered me in the last week or so (and talked about on twitter). We've been seeing some sensationalist headlines on tech blogs like "Open Source JavaScript to Replace Flash?" without seemingly any understanding of the (all be it incredibly cool) project in question.

Gordon is Javascript code that parses SWF files, loops through the frames and outputs SVG that can be played back in modern browsers without the need for the Flash Player plugin -- that means it works on browsers like the one on the iPhone. A fantastic proof of concept and it works really well considering the amount of heavy lifting it needs to do.

The problem here is, this is not a Javascript based Flash runtime as it gets advertised. Its parsing an SWF file and outputting SVG graphics. If you look at the list of supported SWF tags you'll notice these are all SWF version 1 and 2 -- meaning very basic functionality. Search for some tutorials on Flash 1 or 2 if you can still find them and see what that limits you to.

Not to diminish this great project, at this time its practically only useful for very simple banners or animations without any sound or user interaction. It is also - understandably so - heavy on the CPU. Now you get the kicker with uninformed comments like this:

"While the open source Gordon is available to all, it still doesn't solve one of Flash's biggest problems. These SWF files still hog the CPU. One demo, a simple vector graphic of a tiger, throws my desktop browser up to around 100% CPU usage"

 
To be very clear: it is *not* running the SWF file -- its parsing it, converting it using Javascript and outputting SVG. Running that same SWF file on a native Flash Player, even on a smartphone would be a fraction of that in terms of CPU usage.

Then you get people saying projects like this highlight how the Flash Player has become obsolete and its proprietary format is harming the "open web". Somebody hasn't been paying attention since 1998. The SWF format is open and freely available (as are many other formats and protocols used in the Flash Player), that is in fact what makes projects like Gordon possible without resorting to reverse engineering.

There is literally nothing stopping anyone from developing an open source Flash Player, Adobe's implementation isn't fully open source mostly due to some technologies it licenses and can't release (video codecs and text rendering). Saying the Flash Player is a black box or its future is in jeopardy because of its proprietary format is just factually wrong.

I do hope to see more people take up the challenge and start developing code that plays back SWF content, we can only benefit from that.
 

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AuthorPeter
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As many of you will know by now -- I have been in the process of setting up a business in India with colleagues for the last few months and am now back in Belgium for the holidays. While in Pondicherry in December there were rumors of a drastic change in Indian visa regulations and we went to the immigration office to find out about this. We returned with some peace of mind after speaking with the immigration officer that things weren't quite as bad as they were made out to be. Now preparing for my return to India it turns out the situation is much, much worse and is effectively crippling our ability to run our business in India.

Where I was originally going to apply for a 1 year business visa, I was advised to apply for 6 months and will now be (hopefully) issued with a 3 month visa. To say the new visa guidelines are unclear and inconsistent is an understatement. My French colleagues have a condition on their business visa that requires them to leave the country every 30 days which doesn't seem to be the case in Belgium, or at least is not published as one of the business visa conditions.

On leaving India your passport is stamped and you are not allowed to re-enter the country before two months without special approval from the Indian embassy in your home country. To get this special approval you will need to demonstrate that you left India for an emergency (e.g. death of a family member). There are several reports of people getting stopped on immigration for wanting to re-enter before two months of leaving the country while others have gone through without problem.

Calling the visa office helpdesk even they are unsure if this applies only when on the same multiple-entry visa, when on a new tourist visa or regardless even when you have a new different type of visa.

This is where the core of the problem lies -- as a tourist or business person you pay to apply for a particular visa (non-refundable of course) and have no idea whatsoever what you will get back or what the conditions of your visa will be.

All this is being done reportedly to help against terrorism in response to the case of David Headley in particular and his involvement in the Mumbai attacks.

Nobody will argue against strict measures on who you allow into the country and by all means screen people before issuing them a visa, ask more supporting documentation to be submitted on applying for a visa or require them to register on arrival at an immigration office. Simply giving out shorter term visas with additional conditions but little to no background check is not a solution to this problem.

I seriously doubt this new visa policy will have a deterring effect to terrorist activity and hope it will be reviewed very soon. At the very least my advice would be for the government to release an official statement on the exact new guidelines and make sure they are enforced the same everywhere.
 
Speak up against the new India visa policy

Posted
AuthorPeter
CategoriesRants

"Is QuickTime X The Missing Link For Flash On The iPhone?"http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/06/15/the-missing-link-for-flash-on-the-iphone/

The author suggests that QuickTime X supporting FLV playback is somehow an indication that the Flash Player will come to the iPhone. While I'm sure that is what many of us would like to see happen it is one of the most ridiculous statements I've heard in a long time. This is not unlike saying that because your home entertainment system supports JPEG images it'll soon run Photoshop (or because its a technology blog its authors will research what they publish for that matter).

Flash Video (FLV) is an open container format that can contain other codecs, such as H.264 and AAC for example. Since QuickTime supports playing back H.264 video, it is already able to play back FLV encoded with that particular codec.

What I find most disturbing is that the original article gets edited multiple times without a clear indication of exactly what the author has changed.
 

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AuthorPeter
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I've been doubting whether or not I should blog about this, seeing controversy seemed to me what he was after, and this post would only be adding to that. Jonathan Harris' session at Flash on the Beach blew me away with some of the most inspirational art projects I've seen to date, I was genuinely moved by the work he presented. At the same time this talk left me incredibly frustrated after hearing his perception of the Flash community and a message that seemed devoid of any sense of reality.

He started off by saying he was going to present a different session than was previously announced and he had "something important he wanted to say to the Flash community for a long time now...". That line came back at regular intervals during his talk, seemingly building up to his big message. It almost felt to me as if he was after a "Michael Moore addressing the Republican National Convention" moment.

Photo taken by schobiwan
 
Then it came, a rather longwinded presentation on how the Flash community is too occupied with experimenting and tinkering, too depended on the tools and language they work with and fail to deliver a genuine message. We were presented with a checklist.

I can appreciate some thought provoking sessions and constructive criticism but this just seemed so out of touch and dismissive of the work we all do on a daily basis.

Experimentation and tinkering is what leads to people like Joshua Davis and Erik Natzke, experimentation and tinkering is what made Papervision3D possible and pushes the envelope for the Flash Player.

The next time I'm building a Flex based configurator tool or scripting a transition I'll think of Jonathan Harris and keep in mind if the code I'm writing is going to be relevant in 25 years or if it feels special like a love letter. I'll also remember the agony of working with designers over the years too occupied in their own little worlds and form over implementation.

I invite you to come out of that Bhutanese cave Mr. Harris, there is a whole world of Flash based content and a community outside of the artistic realm that is worthy of some recognition.

My apologies for this rant and rather irreverent look at Jonathan Harris' session. I was disappointed Flash on the Beach ended on this note.

Posted
AuthorPeter
CategoriesEvents, Rants
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I don't think I'm alone in seeing Twitter's service deteriorate to the point where euthanasia seems like the only humane option. Without any obvious intimate knowledge of how the service is architected, these are my three easy steps to hunt and kill the fail whale.
 
1. Stop accepting new registrations

In the current situation I can't for the life of me understand why they are still accepting new people in. It is obvious the system can not handle the strain on peak times (its bad enough throughout the rest of the day).

Also worth noting is that a significant portion of those new registrations are spambots, I've got at least 5 or 6 new ones of those following me each day.
 
2. No friends timeline on the home page

When you're logged in, the first page you see is the "what are you doing" input box and your friends timeline, how many followers, direct messages you have etc.

Just think of the amount of excess queries that is for people that just want to use the web interface to leave a new message. Why put strain on the database for that? Keep it simple and use a Google like interface with just the input box and a submit button on the home page.
 
3. Enforce caching

Many people use Twitter clients like Twitterific, Twhirl etc. and get annoyed about the API limit that gets enforced. There doesn't appear to be anything like that in place when using the Twitter web interface.

By enforcing caching you can make sure database queries only get run every x minutes, this can be throttled based on the current server load (much like there now is an API call to determine the request limit).

 
These three steps are nothing more than common sense really but should go a long way into making Twitter usable again. Moving forward though they should really start looking at data push strategies to optimize things further. I've had some interesting discussions about that possibility and hope to do a separate blog post about it.

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AuthorPeter
CategoriesGeneral, Rants
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... or a look at ColdFusion from a Flash/Flex developers perspective. I just got back from four days in beautiful Edinburgh for an event I would likely not have attended were it not that I was invited to speak there. Scotch on the Rocks is one of barely a handful of what I'd call real "community driven events" out there, while not as polished as other more commercial counterparts I had a sense that this is the place to be if you want to get a real feel of what is happening in the ColdFusion community and want to network with fellow European developers.

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, I've only had very limited exposure to ColdFusion and even that was year ago which made it all the more interesting to see what its current state of affairs is.


  A couple of observations:
 

ColdFusion is growing up - while it always seemed to me that it would be difficult to architect CFML in a more OO structure, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of frameworks out there that promote best practices and allow for an MVC type approach. Indeed its not too similar from what we're seeing in the ActionScript community.
 
ColdFusion and open source - alternative ColdFusion engines are flourishing, notably Open BlueDragon, and Railo who announced going open source and joining JBoss.org during the second day keynote.

I honestly think Adobe needs to take ColdFusion in the direction its going with Flex -- open source it and focus on creating commercial tooling and broadening the ecosystem. I'm sure that would do wonders for adoption for people coming from a Java background and create a more obvious path for companies to start moving towards enterprise LiveCycle solutions.
 
ColdFusion adoption - pricing and availability of hosting have always been the main obstacles I've had when considering building something on a ColdFusion backend.

The integration between ColdFusion and Flash/Flex front end's is really well done and would be a fantastic time saver considering the built-in Flash remoting gateway, LCDS etc. unfortunately that is something I've rarely been able to take advantage of.

Now with Open BlueDragon, Railo becoming viable alternatives in terms of licensing, pricing and them offering Amazon EC2 images this is looking increasingly tempting to get back into ColdFusion development and consider it for upcoming projects.

 
Congrats to Andy, Kev, Jatin and the rest of the team for a fantastic event. I'm looking forward to polish up my ColdFusion skills and attending again next year!

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AuthorPeter
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Yesterday, I download the latest MacBreak video and what do I see --

<rant>

This is probably the worst description of any product I've ever seen. First of all, Bordeaux is not Thermo -- secondly there's already quite a bit of information out on Thermo since the MAX conference last October.

Two minutes of research or just checking with someone at Adobe would've been welcome (they're standing right outside the stand for goodness sake).

I'm sorry to see the LA Flash user group being mentioned here, sure as hell they're not spreading that kind of misinformation. I don't mind the occasional speculation on a podcast but if you're at NAB, in a position to easily confirm with an Adobe representative, and then present this dribble as 'breaking news' you lose my vote.

</rant> http://www.pixelcorps.tv/macbreak148
 

Posted
AuthorPeter
CategoriesRants

[update] Turns out it isn't quite as bad as I thought -- the pay as you go is 0,26 Eurocent or 0,0026 Euro vs 0,00099 Euro buying the extra monthly blocks. Still wish Telenet had better package options and did something about those ridiculous download limits.

Telenet consumer malpracticeTelenet is one of a few broadband internet providers here in Belgium and as such have been a customer of theirs for several years. One of the painful facts of life is that we have to deal with monthly download/upload limits and have our upload speed capped at 256Kb.

Your monthly limit depends on the package you've chosen and goes from a mere 400Mb for BasicNet (20 Euro/month or some 30 USD) to TurboNet at 35GB (61,32 Euro/month or 90 USD). I've got the ExpressNet package which means a 12GB limit at 42,92 Euro/month (63 USD).

So far so good, this month I've had the first occurrence where I went over the limit and they give you three options:

  1. continue surfing at slower speed Seems like a pretty good option but in practice this at best reaches 5kb/s and wouldn't even allow me to retrieve my email without it timing out.

  2. pay as you go This option allows you to continue surfing at full speed and you'll be charged for your additional bandwidth

  3. increase your monthly download limit With this option you can choose to add from 1 up to 95GB of extra download allowance charged monthly

Having tried the first option which was unworkable, I chose to try pay as you go -- we're half way through the month anyway, right? Now for the interesting bit, sure I expected pay as you go to be slightly more expensive than buying an extra download block but lets do a little math:

Pay as you go is charged at 0,26 Euro/MB (or 0,38 USD), in the day or so that I had this option turned on I used up 119MB which comes down to a whopping 30,94 Euro practically doubling my monthly fee. Going for option three costs you 1,02 Euro/GB (or 1,49 USD).

1,02 Euro / 1024 MB = 0,00099 Euro/MB vs 0,26 Euro/MB with pay as you go

If my math is correct what this boils down to is one option is 26100% more expensive than the other.

Telemeter

While it may be unethical what bothers me most is that these three options are presented as if they are equal and an unsuspecting consumer is faced with a ludicrous bill at the end of the month.

Just to illustrate, the 5GB extra monthly allowance that I ended up taking cost me 5 Euro whereas it would have been 1331 Euro (5 x 1024MB x 0,26 Euro) using pay as you go.

The whole thing seems so extreme that I hope I'm making some sort of obvious mistake in my reasoning here. If not, I definitely won't leave it at this. Test Aankoop, are you reading this?

http://telenet.be/423/0/1/nl/thuis/internet/tarieven/diensten-opties.html

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AuthorPeter
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Its no secret that, being in the business of developing software for creative professionals, Adobe has traditionally had a proportionately large chunk of Mac users. With Adobe acquiring Macromedia and going all out to extend its reach to web, desktop, mobile and beyond (hosted services seems to be their next big thing) it seems that the business relationship with Apple and others is not as straightforward as before. I think its fair to say that on a number of fronts Adobe is becoming serious competition to the established companies, just look at the potential of word processing with something like Buzzword -- despite its current limitations of being run in a browser (the desktop AIR version is coming soon) it is in my mind already the clear winner. Web development has always centered around user experience and bringing that skill set to the users machine is paving the way for an entirely new desktop experience.

While it might not always be heads-on competition like Silverlight vs Flash, I can see how it is a bit unsettling to find all these software giants suddenly going for the same market space. In one sense this competition is a good thing, on the other hand it does lead to some unfortunate situations where the lack of foresight and strategic relationships causes issues.

I think nobody expects Microsoft to take an effort to distribute the Flash Player or AIR with its operating system, but what about Apple -- what is happening there? Just a couple of recent examples.

- Universal binary of Creative Suite - Apple TV - YouTube H.264 content - iPhone - Flash support - Leopard - CS3/Flash Player/AIR issues

This all seems to come down to Apple keeping Adobe in the loop about their plans. Now Apple isn't the most open company and likes the "one more thing" shock approach but you'd expect them to have a interest in working closely with companies like Adobe.

The whole move to Intel processors for Apple must have been a few years in the making and as far as I understand Adobe only learned about this late in the Creative Suite development cycle. Does Apple do this with everyone? It doesn't look like it -- they successfully partnered with Google and got them to serve their YouTube video content as H.264 rather than the FLV format for Apple TV, the iPhone and iPod Touch.

I don't know what the whole momentum was here but only recently have we started hearing about the Moviestar Flash Player release supporting H.264, was this in the works or is it Adobe playing catch-up, who knows?

Then there's the Mac OSX 10.5 "Leopard" release, Adobe apparently did not receive a final copy of Leopard resulting in issues with some CS3 products, one major issue with the Flash Player that cripples a lot of Flash applications (FileReference upload - scheduled to be fixed in Moviestar) and reportedly also issues with AIR (not as huge a problem since its still in beta).

In my opinion this is extremely serious -- Flash Player has always been about 'not breaking the web' and making sure things stay compatible to the point where we now have two virtual machines in there. How can the lack of communication between Apple and Adobe cause a couple thousand people to deal with broken software? How could Adobe miss the opportunity of getting embedded Flash and/or Flash Lite players on Apple TV, iPhone, iPod Touch.

It doesn't make sense to me, nobody has anything to gain from broken software and you'd expect Apple and Adobe to stay on top of things and prevent these situations from happening. I can hardly imagine this attitude has anything to do with Aperture vs Lightroom and it is rather an organizational problem with getting the information out there than a structural failure of the two companies to work together.

There are opportunities for everyone and Adobe and Apple have everything to gain from a close strategic relationship.

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AuthorPeter
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...or what is all the fuss about? If there's one controversial topic in the community its speaker arrangements with regards to covering their expenses for conferences. In the last few years several people have been pretty vocal in expressing their opinion on the issue. Just to put this into context, I'm not pointing the finger at any particular event or organizer nor am I suggesting that its in any way unethical for a conference to make a profit. I want to put some information out there for those of you that might be wondering how things are handled by various conferences.

The conference that always used to get brought up is Macromedia MAX -- they didn't pay any external speaker for travel, accommodation or expenses. This year with Adobe running the show things have changed somewhat in that everyone got their hotel paid for.

There is however still the issue of 'inspire' vs 'non-inspire' speakers (Adobe is aware of this and are looking at resolving this for future editions). In an effort to bring the conference closer to the community, various well-known designers and developers were invited to come and speak and do in fact get all expenses reimbursed. There were other perks like not having to use the Adobe template for their session notes and only having to present once.

I have several friends and colleagues that did the inspire track at MAX and I'm not suggesting they shouldn't have been paid, but I think its fair to say that Adobe recognized they wouldn't have come if they didn't get expenses paid.

Other conferences like Flashforward, FITC, Flash on the Beach (a newcomer since last year) do pay for travel and accommodation. One of my favorite conference so far webDU (previously known as MXDU) in Sydney, Australia did not use to pay any expenses. Last year that policy was revised and they started paying hotel accommodation for speakers.

To me speaking at conferences has always been about meeting the community and sharing my ideas. I've probably spent well over 20,000 USD of my own money on flights and hotel rooms in the years that I've been freelancing just to go and speak at conferences in the USA, Europe and Australia.

I was always happy to do so and its not as if you don't get anything in return (appreciation, contacts, miles on my frequent traveler card). In all seriousness though, no sane freelancer speaks at five or more conferences a year and I'm currently in the situation where I will need to cut back. Even if expenses get paid you're away from the job for several days which costs you money.

I'd like to be in the situation where I could just go out to all these conferences to speak and not worry about the backlog of email that is accumulating or finding excuses about why its taken 5 days to send a reply to a client because you're dealing with crappy wifi. Unfortunately it doesn't work like that -- I can't keep justifying the cost attending all these conferences if it all needs to come out of my own pocket. If I'm spending my time presenting at a conference I do feel that organizers need to do everything in their power to at least contribute towards speakers expenses as a general rule for everyone.

I've had people tell me that you 'get to speak' at a conference and should be paying for the whole deal including your ticket because you're just like any other attendee that gets to see the sessions. Well let me tell you -- conferences also aren't always as much fun as they used to be if you've seen the same talk over a dozen times. I can mouth along with certain Adobe sessions verbatim... "tragic wand hehe, here comes the internet exploder joke... ooh after effects puppet tool still getting applause, where have these people been?"

This is admittedly a bit of a rant post but I just wanted to put my point across. I love the community and want to be able to do as much as I possibly can but the way things are looking it seems like it'll have to be less conferences and more blogging.

OK, so where is this all leading up to? The 360Flex team is bringing the conference to Europe and Tom Ortega is looking for feedback from past and future attendees on how to deal with speaker expenses, provide or not provide lunch, what to do with a conference party etc.

If you've got a minute please take the time to fill in their survey and let them know your thoughts on the subject:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=yGMLUk_2f4IRYXqoobzijRuQ_3d_3d

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AuthorPeter
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power adaptor burning Just half an hour before I need to head out to the airport and what do I see? My MacBook Pro power adaptor is at it again -- what the heck is wrong with these things? Last time it burned through at the magsafe connector, this time its happening at the base.

First stop in Chicago will be by the Apple store getting another piece of expensive hardware that will probably last me just a few months.

Just have to hope it doesn't burn down the house next time round.

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AuthorPeter
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Just read an interesting post by JD where he talks about how little Microsoft staff have commented on Apollo compared to the rest of the blogosphere -- Scott Barnes, seems to be one of the few that is open to some debate on the topic and, although his position is pretty clear, he does at least come up with some valid arguments (as opposed to Parvez Ansari's recent post which caused a bit of a stir ;) )

Is this corporate strategy? Possibly. It'd be painful to see staff blogs censored or dictated to by its employer but guess its fast becoming a fact of life we'll have to deal with (and more importantly be aware of). Should your opinions be heat welded to the companies latest marketing campaign, let me vote NO. Those "views are my own and not those of my employer" notices on blogs are not just there as decoration or to create a public diversion.

Could it just be the case of Microsoft not being very excited about the latest Adobe offerings? Possibly. Can't say I've seen a huge amount of WPF posts on Adobe staff blogs either (though probably a lot more than we've seen the other way round). The time of honest discussion and friendly competition between Microsoft and Adobe seems to have come to a close.

I'd like to call for some open debate and not have the current antagonism escalate -- innovation happens through competition and closing your eyes to what is happening outside your own small world does not help anyone. Lee Brimelow recently had a useful blog entry clearing up some confusion around the latest Microsoft and Adobe technologies coming out.

Its not a win or lose situation here, there is no reason to think Microsoft won't be successful if Adobe's Apollo initiative takes off or that Apollo will fail if WPF gets widely adopted. In the end, is this all about perception of who dominates the niche of the web/desktop crossover?

On another somewhat unrelated note, reading through the comments on John's post made me think about the need to have some insight in commenter reputation. This might be an interesting area for OpenID initiatives to get involved with.

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AuthorPeter
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Twitter has rapidly become my new addiction -- its a really cool way to stay in touch with friends and if you turn off text message notification and use something like twitterific I've found it is actually quite usable. One thing I just don't get is the AS2 and AS3 libraries they released, instead of simply parsing your RSS feed for messages it uses a JSON parser class. Talk about overhead -- that doesn't make any sense to me. This is one of those situations where they try to shoehorn an AJAX approach onto Flash. The example FLA that comes with the library also has code embedding your twitter username and password to get hold of your friends timeline.

While I understand they want to keep the example easy to read and understand, that's not a smart move! How easy is it to decompile a SWF, get hold of account details and start spamming away?

If you need to do anything other than what the RSS feeds can get you, I'd really recommend using a server-side script to proxy the calls rather than running the risk of exposing your account details client-side.

www.twitter.com

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AuthorPeter
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I've seen my fair share of Flex projects over the last year but lately can't help thinking there's a distinct lack in innovative uses for the technology. Sure there are cool things out there like the Noise Monitoring System Schiphol (note that its Flex 1.5) by MediaCatalyst or the hybrid Flex desktop sync apps like the what the guys from Nascom did for Sony Vaio.

Both of these were well received at our last user group Flex showcase event and illustrate there are real world uses for Flex applications outside of the scope of your typical product configurator / filter.

What really gets me is that practically everything I see coming past my mailbox is 'old school' Flex (its so 2006 man!), nothing but pimped up copies of the default Flex demo's you get, and presented as if its the best thing since sliced bread. No offense to those of you that sent through project proposals in the last few weeks but there is more to life (and Flex) than slider components ;)

I might be raising the bar a bit too high as I've been lucky enough to work on an incredibly challenging AS3 and Flex 2 project (with some of the most talented developers I've ever met I need to add) for the last 6 months now and many other companies are just getting fired up and taking their first cautious steps with Flex 2.

We've got all these wonderful technologies at our disposal with AS3, Flex 2 and later this year Apollo (not to forget Flex 3 getting in the starting blocks) so I for one want to push it as far as we can possibly get it. Please join me in trying to achieve that goal!

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AuthorPeter
CategoriesFlex, Rants
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I'm not a difficult person but is it too much to expect support to do its job? For a few months I've been struggling with my old Acer Travelmate notebook (overheating and randomly shutting down when not plugged in).

Having taken an extended warranty on the thing I finally decided to get in touch with their service center before it expires (not that I use it all that much with my wonderful new MacBook Pro). First challenge was getting hold of them, twice hanging on the line for 15 minutes trying to get through I decided to submit a support ticket via the web.

Slightly annoyed by the length of the form I need to fill in there, with the exact version number of the machine, the serial etc. -- why the heck did I need to register all that information with my extended warranty number? Surely they can just ask for my Acer Advantage number and cross check that with my address details rather than have me fill in all those details again?

Finally the form is submitted... but then, no email confirmation, no support ticket ID. Four days later I get an email stating its something I need to send in the notebook for and they would pick it up the next morning. Good thing I took the time to completely back up my machine that afternoon, because as I expected they did the standard format and reinstall without prior warning (still had some software installed on it).

Today, a week later, I get the notebook back and the report says they simply cleaned the fan and reinstalled the OS. Why the heck do they reinstall the OS for a clogged up fan? Sure it fixed the problem with overheating but did they bother to check if it could now run for 10 minutes straight without being plugged in... nope of course not.

When I booted up the machine had to reconfigure Windows, first thing I did (with the battery fully charged) was disconnect the charger and just leave it on for 10 minutes. Low and behold the machine dies. How difficult was it for that support engineer to give that a test run while getting a cup of coffee?

It looks like anything outside of their routine gets the generic fix treatment, reinstall the OS and it'll be fine - no need to do any additional tests. Needless to say I'm not very pleased and have just had to go through that painful web form again and send it in for a second round of repairs.

Good job Acer, you join the ranks of Apple in my black book of extended warranty support. You're better off going to a third party repair center these days, I am yet to come across any support program that actually does what you pay for.

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AuthorPeter
CategoriesRants
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... I certainly believe so, if I didn't see it posted on John Nack's blog I honestly wouldn't have believed this was for real. I won't profess to be the worlds greatest designer but the whole look and feel doesn't work for me at all. Particularly the two-letter icons just look horrible. Not sure if its the typography, the uppercase/lowercase combination or something else.

Letters don't get across the same message you want to convey as an icon can do, not to mention that they can have different connotations in different languages.

Square shapes work in certain situations but for Creative Suite products this does seem like a strange option. It doesn't really come across very well, I'd associate squares with words static, reliable, unmovable; not creative, flexible, open you might think of for products like Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.

The only differentiating factor in products ranging from a LiveCycle document policy server to something like Audition audio editing software is the letter combination and the background gradient color for the square. Sure it might make it recognizable as all being part of the Adobe brand but does it give the user any indication of what the product is about?

That said, there do seem to be a few icons that don't go by the letter combination, things like the extension manager and what I can only assume is Flash Lite (naming conflict with the Flash product letters?). There is something to be said about consistency, even consistency of something horrible is better than none at all. By breaking the rules for certain of these icons it takes away even more from the whole approach.

Then there's the "don't make me think" directive - it almost felt like doing a mind game figuring out what the letter combinations stand for: Fl for Flash, or is it Flex or FlashLite? Oh no, Flex is Fx and FlashLite has an icon. Makes perfect sense? Not to me.

What happens in the next release of Creative Suite with these icons? I for one would prefer to see a reference to CS3 in the icons and go with a regular glyph approach.

To summarize I think there are some fundamental flaws in these proposed icons and hope Adobe takes this to heart and thoroughly reviews them. I'm sure you can do better.

http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/2006/12/the_other_cs3_icons.html

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AuthorPeter
CategoriesRants
4 CommentsPost a comment

[update] Got the problem resolved today, managed to do a direct trade-in of the broken magsafe at a local Apple retail store and bought another spare adaptor. All's well that ends well... I've been a very satisfied switcher with my new MacBook Pro and Parallels setup, until the inevitable happened over the weekend. First my magsafe adaptor cable started to show some abnormal bending near the magnet connection and a little while later it started to go brown with the insulation wire melting away.

Definitely not a good thing to happen with something plugged into a 2000 USD piece of equipment you love (and rely on on a daily basis). Being a Sunday Apple telephone support was unavailable.

I called them today and after walking through the problem with the support engineer (followed by some 20 minutes of holding music) was told my best chance was to head out to an Apple retail store and hand the thing in for *repair* which would take approximately 2 weeks.

Luckily did some research beforehand and told him Apple support generally sends out a new adaptor right away and let's you return the broken item. "We can do that..." was the answer but it would take them a minimum of 5 days. I can't believe it - they seriously expect you to go without your Mac for close to a week, since there is now no way to charge it.

Now for the best bit -- I can *buy* a new magsafe adaptor on their online Apple store and have it shipped within 24 hours -- apparently the same doesn't apply to hardware covered by their seriously overpriced and apparently useless AppleCare extended warranty.

With Flash on the Beach coming up I wanted to play it safe and bought a second adaptor online (unfortunately went for the wrong model, a 60 Watt version for the MacBook whereas MacBook Pro needs 85 Watt -- will have to check if it still works). If worst comes to worst I'll just have to drop in at the London Apple store and buy another magsafe adaptor there.

Meanwhile its back to a very dodgy PC notebook... I am not amused Steve Jobs!

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AuthorPeter
CategoriesMac, Rants
6 CommentsPost a comment