Friday, May 24, 2002

CNET on 3D visualization: This article focuses on a 96-CPU supercomputer, but it still demonstrates how realtime 3D rendering is often the most effective way to separate data from its presentation rules for visualization. The Shockwave Player on a common desktop computer may not be able to perform 500 billion operations per second, but it still lets you manipulate the model in response to realtime info... to change the camera's view of that data at will... to change the shading rules in response to realtime inputs. "Just as important, the system's total costs are less than $3 million, making it a relative bargain." Tell me about it.... ;-)
New Robots in WIRED discusses upcoming military surveillance & manipulation gadgetry... five-pound self-flying plane with live video feed, a robot lobster for disarming mines, etc. We'll see these sensors and effectors disperse out to consumer technology too. Developing usable interfaces for specialized learning & control tasks will increase.
Geeks go hack to the future is another useful article about self-organizing systems by Ben Hammersley.

Re: the recent O'Reilly conference: "...a main theme was quick to emerge.... the sudden realisation that each of us, no matter which area we were coming from, were all heading in the same philosophical direction: that developers now see the internet as a platform to run applications on, rather than something to connect to."

For me this theme of "evolving communication, navigation, evaluation" is relevant because a big problem we're looking at inside Macromedia is how we all can learn desired things more quickly... how you can get information when you need it, how you can access evaluations from trusted sources about what may be valuable for you. It's more than just software bits... it's the ad hoc and evolving relationships with other professionals which carries the most value.

One thing I don't see in many of the recent writings about spontaneous order is the realization that this isn't new... economists such as Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises established the differences between top-down and bottom-up evolution decades ago. In those systems, the aggregate and decentralized decisions made upon a very simple variable -- a price -- can accurately inform the multiple complex decisions of society. Google works the same way, except its medium of exchange is a link. If the bottom-up signals are not distorted by top-down pressures then the whole organism benefits.

(Another squeezebox guy, Joey deVilla got a mention here too... gutsy busker, he! 8)
News aggregation: I set up an RSS feed for this blog last night, so you can pull the chrome-less text into a different display if you wish. For myself, right now I'm using the "File as Group" bookmarking feature in Mozilla to open a whole set of sites simultaneously -- very cool!

I'm still struggling with the idea of aggregation and categorization across multiple news sources though... it would be great if there were a single page which contained only, say "dreamweaver hot issues" from any of the Macromedian's blogs, this would be a way that anyone could get a live reference source on a single subject....
The Sanctity of Elements by Meg Hourihan on O'Reilly discusses when the client isn't right: " As the designer on the project, I failed in my role. I didn't consider the implications of her request and I just built what she asked for." Don't just ask what they want... ask what they really want, find out what they're trying to accomplish rather than just accepting the first means they propose to reaching some non-explicit goal.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Visions Of a Wild and Wireless Future by Shannon Henry in the Washington Post is an interview with net pioneer Robert Kahn. He points out that we've just seen the "tip of the iceberg" with connectivity and info-on-demand... he draws parallel with the early evolution of the electricity industry... so far we've seen replacements for previous technologies, but soon we'll see the actual novel and fitting uses. (His idea of a "bathroom finder" might be handled by finding the nearest Starbucks, though... people give that company grief for driving out smaller coffeeshops, but it's nice to predict the state of a restroom while travelling.)
[via Lawrence Lee]
Kartoo search system displays the relationships between results. My first 15 minutes says it's incredible, but I'd like to spend a few hours with it before I feel comfortable knowing whether it can help me search. Please check into it if you're in UI work, and check the links that Jarle Bergersen has in his blog about it.
[Warning: I tried the HTML version in Mozilla RC2/Win and got caught in an XML-parsing loop of JavaScript alerts. SWF version was fine for me.]
Flash in ANT Fresco browser: I haven't used a device with this embedded browser yet myself, and would be interested in hearing on the lists if you've had experiences with ANT-enabled devices, thanks! (Here are press releases from Macromedia and ANT, and here's background info on how the ANT Fresco browser is optimized for embedded into new appliances.)

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

More blogs: While prowling referral logs I found two more Macromedia-related blogs which I haven't seen on other lists yet: Stand Out Training in Australia offers various web-related tips, and Robert M. Hall has a short blog titled "Feasible Impossibilities: a Flash-related blog". (By the way, I'm impressed by the number and quality of commentaries out there, and feel that I'm dropping the ball by not promoting them to the wider community as strongly as I might, but I know that there's a lot of attention being paid inside Macromedia about how to do this better, and I strongly suspect we'll see better connections formalized soon.)
More HomeSite info: Sho Kuwamoto, Macromedia VP, offers a bit more info on HomeSite here, in response to "Will there be new versions of HomeSite?": "In general, we do not talk about these kinds of things. Why? Well, in the past, we have been burned by talking about plans, and then having those plans change. This isn't good for the company, or our customers. However, this is a pretty unique situation. HomeSite users are understandably nervous. By not talking, we're making things worse. This is all the more frustrating (to me, anyway), because we know what our plans are, and they're not changing. By not talking, people are assuming the worst. HomeSite is a great product. We are continuing to work on it. We're committed to HomeSite, and we'll be updating it at some point in the future."

I can testify that this is hard to talk about... as a publicly-traded company there are strict rules on what types of forward-looking statements can be made. We also put ourselves very much on the line if we publicly talk about things that aren't yet close enough to delivery that we can guarantee it. During times like this, when there's a lot of press about the recent announcements, it's particularly hard on people who use other tools and wonder about news for them. It's just tough to deal with similar "prove you care" types of threads, but in this case Sho found a way to do so, which I personally appreciate.... 8)
Shared cookies? XMethods offers a new XSpace service: "XSpace is a multi-user shared 'key/value' space that allows you to store arbitrary string values that are easily retrievable with an associated key. It is essentially a simple, flexible, globally-accessible database service." I don't recall anything quite like this before... I wonder what the implications may be...? (btw, check up on their main page for an excellent and varied list of current web services.)
Macromedia Flash Communication Technology I'm putting this link here because I keep on forgetting the address of this document about the upcoming audio/video communications server, and I don't have a bookmark category for my browser yet.... ;-)
"Don't leave stuff lying around" There's a thread on CF-Talk where Richard Meredith-Hardy describes how forgotten code in an application can cause later problems when environmental conditions change. If you bounce up to the replies you can see various ColdFusion techniques to avoid this, but it's a big problem in general, across apps -- deadlines can sometimes prevent final clean-up stages, which can cause implications for the later maintainence of the app. Maybe negotiate a maintainence clause with the client, where you specify that there needs to be time to do a final clean-up of the code...? Dunno.
SWF in perspective, an article by Jacek Artymiak at O'Reilly's Web Development Center. It seems to focus on debunking some of the anti-SWF evangelism: "Many supporters of SVG like to criticize SWF, because they consider it to be closed, unreadable to humans, and unfit for the enterprise. That's why it's high time to present a different view that will help the readers who are evaluating both technologies decide which one best fits their needs." Good plain talk there.
[via Flazoom]

(Sidenote: I know the SVG-Developers list will be going ballistic today, but that's one of the Yahoo Groups which currently thinks my mailbox is full... I can't post there, and because they've made it a closed group for some reason I can't even read whatever they're saying about my personal mores today... ;-)

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Yahoo Groups lists: We may know each other from one of these mailing lists -- I'm subscribed to a dozen or so Macromedia-related mailing lists through Yahoo Groups -- but last week Yahoo apparently closed me out from all accounts, saying messages sent me were bouncing back. (To my knowledge the Macromedia mail servers did not change any filtering or bouncing mechanisms then... not sure how the machine reached that conclusion.) Their escalation path was to use my Yahoo Groups membership, but I subscribed as a non-member through email, and don't have such an account. Attempts to resubscribe have been met with stony silence by the distant machine. I'm still trying to get re-connected with these groups. Anyway, if we're on one of those mailing lists together, and you haven't seen me for awhile, then that's the reason why....
Google Sets I just had my first practical call for the experimental "Google Sets" in their lab. I was trying to link to a good definition of RCA versus USB signals, but my regular searches were turning up too many extraneous hits. I tried their "Google Sets" to find related terms, and it did generate useful results such as "firewire" and "BNC". What would have been useful would be to give some type of checkboxes on each of the results, so I could easily make a complex search term from all the relevant terms.
ColdFusion X10 control: On one of the lists today Jeremy Allaire brought my attention to the CFX-X10 tag from Rafael Fiol, which lets your server communicate with an existing home-automation system. On a related note, X10's recent webcams provide an RCA video signal, as opposed to the USB used by the upcoming Flash communications technology, but it should be possible to convert one type of signal into another. It would be nice to have a wireless cam's output directly viewable on your PDA, so that you can then interactively control some other device out there, yes...? 8)
Macromedia Flash Player 5 for PocketPC download! I just learned from Mike Chambers' blog that there's a Player for PocketPC available for anyone's download here. I know that a lot of people have been asking this for a long time, because it was previously only available from licensing hardware manufacturers. I don't yet have more info on this but will report back when I do. I know that handheld stalwarts like Bill Perry, Phil Torrone, Ian Chia and others will be as cheered by this news as I am...! 8)
Flash Help system in MacOS X: I haven't tested this yet myself, but I've heard a credible report that the latest update to MacOS X appears to break the Search function in the Help system for Macromedia Flash MX. The problem appears to be a space in the folder name holding this set of files, and renaming the folder to remove the space appears to resolve the issue. It's still under investigation, and it's too early for even a technote yet, but if you stay on top of MacOS X updates and notice problems with your Help system then please see if removing spaces in folder names will address it. Thanks!
Jon Udell's Hyperlinks Matter InfoWorld article on transforming the Macromedia news feed has extra links to resources available here.
"Let's Get Animated" in the Online Journalism Review is an analysis of current topical cartooning from J.D. Lasica (no relation ;-). If you do any type of visual display there could be some useful technical and business nuggets here... very link-heavy, good as a gallery too.

Monday, May 20, 2002

URLS in email by John Rhodes examines ways to move addresses intact through various email systems. This isn't directly MX-related, but it is definitely interface design and usability testing, and application developers tend to pay huge daily costs in parsing email anyway.

By the way, when I want to include a web address in an email, it always somehow seems to naturally end up at the end of the paragraph, like this:
Robert Penner Bezier conversion code in FlashCoders is good high-tone nerdy stuff... check later in that thread for additional comments.
16 Futures in New Architect polls industry leaders on what they see just up ahead in the road. Kevin Lynch of Macromedia sees interactive connectivity, ecosystems, and usability as biggies down towards the bottom... the entire set of quick interviews is worth a read.
Is your PC a zombie? If you came here looking for "dreamweaver mx crack" or "flash mx crack" or "macromedia warez" or whatever, then read that Salon article I linked to very carefullly... there really are people out there actively trying to insert monitoring and control software on computers around the world, presumably for a massive coordinated denial-of-service attack during this time of war. It's stupid enough to try to rip me and my friends off, but you're dangerously stupid if you're willingly installing executable code from admittedly-criminal sites. Wake up, please, wake up!!
[via Lyle Kantrovich]
Now playing: There's an interesting bit of automation on Todd Dominey's blog... he has connected his music player to his publishing system so others can read what's now playing. This isn't significant in itself (although ya do get two points for Mongo Santamaria), but does show that trend of new ways to share experience across arbitrary distances. Suppose your portable music player has an IP address and can synch with others, and it has a digicam/viewer built in, or...?

Sunday, May 19, 2002

Sho Kuwamoto on HomeSite: "You guys are the hand coding experts. If you don't like DWMX, tell us how to make it better. And if there are things that you want in HomeSite, tell us that as well."

David Deming, Macromedia Product Manager, has also posted an updated HomeSite FAQ: "We think handcoding is an essential part of web design (which is why we've added so many hand coding features to Dreamweaver!) and we want to build great products to make you happy. At this time we cannot comment when and if a future version of HomeSite will be available."