Friday, July 12, 2002

Blog list at This is focused on CF- and DW-related blogs, but it seems a good format. I shudder at that "Rate this Blog" feature though.... ;-) (Be sure to jump up a level to see the range of other resources Wayne Lambright offers.)
Anarchitect: Flash Blog UI: It's nice to move things around, but the first thing I reached for was to see if it had a memory -- I dismissed a bunch of items, and kept some flagged for later review, but when I came back I got the fresh feed again. I have the feeling there can be a lot of usefulness... colorcoding for subjects, etc.
[via David Burrows]
Fusion Authority Weekly News Alert: Good roundup of news, opinion in the field.
Blogger outages: In case you hadn't heard from other sources, Blogger has had difficulties publishing and resolving permalinks recently... nothing is wrong with your television set.
SWF for LINK display: Nate at Web-Graphics is looking at ways to display info about various types of linked documents in a SWF file. I'm not quite sure of the intent (dynamic display? interrogative display? other?), but if you're interested in this area of displaying meta-data about a document then you might want to take a peek here.
Site service assistance: Article at MSNBC about having customer reps ask site visitors if they can be of help. This isn't appropriate for all sites, but can be tremendously profitable in certain situations. If you're doing work with the Communications Server then this might be a good article to bookmark for subsequent client discussions.
Web video article by Jens Brynildsen: It's a good analysis, definitely worth reading. I don't think the Macromedia Flash Player attempts to fill the same niches as the larger video players, though. The focus here is on making a toolkit, where developers can create customized solutions for things such as live cam conversations. It's possible to make a high-quality non-interactive presentation in Flash, but that has been the focus niche of the larger video players, and they retain advantages in that area. I suspect we'll see people use Flash video in new ways, rather than just head-to-head in the old ways. Matter of fact, because Player creation and distribution is such a huge cost, I wouldn't be surprised if other Player makers used Flash for interactive video content too... Microsoft, Real, and Apple already each work with SWF. There's no money in giving something away, but I suspect we can all find value in these new abilities. As Jens points out, "All the players will probably coexist."
Convert PowerPoint to Flash: I haven't used this, but it sounds sorely needed... this kit adds a button to PowerPoint so you can export directly to SWF, reducing filesize and increasing viewability dramatically. I'll be interested in hearing how this works out in the field, thanks!
Flash survey: Those who fill it out will be entered for a chance to win a copy of Macromedia Studio MX.
Kevin Lynch interview: Tom Sullivan of InfoWorld writes of the keynote presentation at FlashForward: "Lynch broke Macromedia's strategy for better Internet communications into three parts: emotion, context, and interaction. He said that each experience can be improved considerably over what it is today."

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Going to SIGGRAPH? If so, and if you've done Shockwave 3D work, then you might want to show it at the Web3D Showcase.
World Cup location visualization: This solves various problems: "Where were the stadiums located?", "What were the surrounding terrains?", "Where did teams travel from game to game?" and more. It uses the realtime 3D rendering in Shockwave to interactively navigate. Try clicking the "Teams" page to see their itineraries. Key concept: When the data can be rendered on demand, you have more visualization options than when data is tied up in presentation.
Worm masquerades as Flash5.exe ZDNet UK carries a story about how filesharing networks are being hit by evil code masquerading as popular files. Note the paragraph about later remote control of your machine via IRC, facillitating a potential massive denial-of-service attack when the zombies awake (see "warhol worm"). Software companies may not be perfect about security, but we have a stake in protecting your machine. You'd have to be a moron to accept instructions from just any person out there, and a dangerous moron at that. Know whose code you're executing!!
UDZone expansion: New portals dedicated to ColdFusion, Macromedia MX, and ASP.NET, to join the ones they have already set up. Many articles, tutorials, extensions... put it on your browsing list.
[via Nancy Gill]
I'm not on mailing lists now... I've unsubscribed from a couple of dozen lists because I'll be travelling on & off throughout the summer. (I'm still on web-boards and newsgroups.) Just a reminder in case you posted something on a list and are awaiting a reply from me... I'm playin' hooky until the fall! 8)
Firefly for Flash I haven't evaluated this yet myself... seems to be a set of components to retrieve, parse, and display XML data in columnar format. There are QT/Real presentations here, and development team here.
This is why I'm so impassioned about increasing communication: "The environmental factor is the key - not the socioeconomic situation, or whether they're working or unemployed, or the years of oppression and built-up frustration, or whether they're educated or not. These parameters have weight, but it is marginal. Above all, it has to do with the person's character and how susceptible he or she is to pressure and persuasion... Here we have a female...who came to her senses at the critical moment. She realized that they had sold her a virtual world that doesn't exist at all...." The more we can increase the range of communications each person can choose among, the less we have to worry about such cults exploiting the temporarily vulnerable.
[via Jason Kottke]
Full As A Goog: Chock Full Of Macromedia Goodness is an aggregating blog from Geoff Bowers. It is driven by ColdFusion and aggregates items from two dozen blogs Geoff finds interesting. He offers a filter at the top where you can display posts from CF-oriented blogs, from Flash-oriented blogs, from "other"-oriented blogs. (This is one of the reasons I wish RSS supported some type of dynamic keyword category, so we could get greater granularity when filtering news.) There's an active wishlist section. Looks nice, I'll be interested to see how this is used and evolved.
[via Jeremy Allaire]
Phil Torrone in WIRED I'm waiting for auditory sunglasses with an overlay screen and voice detection myself... ;-)
[via Jarle Bergersen]

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

More ColdFusion blogs: Sean Corfield (a Macromedia staffer) links to five independent ColdFusion-related blogs. Maybe at some point we could make some kind of Daypop-like Top40 index, to really reap the harvest of the Group Mind...?
Dan Short's blog on Dreamweaver and related subjects. Ignore the undies, he's a good guy.... ;-) (What to say? I'd suggest things you see that may be useful to others. You know the people, you know what's interesting, trust your instincts.)
Web Standards Project on Dreamweaver MX An assessment of Dreamweaver MX. Summary: Pretty good, although there's still room for improvement.
[via Jeffrey Zeldman]
CNET article Good soundbite from Kevin Lynch of Macromedia: "There are other technologies that are delivering parts of this experience, but it tends to be very segmented," Lynch said. "You've got a video conferencing application, a collaboration application, an instant messaging application, and everything happens in a separate silo...We've been working on creating a single way to bring that all together. Instant messaging as it works now is cool, but you can't really build anything on top of it."

For me, this feels like one of the most significant releases Macromedia has ever done. Dreamweaver 1.0 seemed more of a gamble, but it's hard for me to think of anything else in the same league. It brings people together, and it does so easily. That's the killer possibility.

Of course, technology is just technology. It really depends on people designing solutions for separate problems. That's what will determine how important this eventually becomes. Fortunately the developer community around here is incredibly smart and varied. I think the chances are pretty good we can change the world here.

Monday, July 08, 2002

Deja Vu Browser emulator: See how current pages appear in early Netscape, IE, and other browsers. This is almost as fun as Elmer Fudd....
CNET on wearable computers: I have no idea whether fiber-based devices will be the form factor we'll eventually use, but I do know that there are great evolutionary pressures towards getting more people more connected more easily. One way or another, similar things will happen. I think it's useful to read articles like this, even though such clothes are far from production, because reading encourages thinking about related app-development niches which will open in the next few years.
Flash-based email service: uses a SWF UI to their web-based mailer. I haven't evaluated it myself yet, but it seems a useful link if you're working along similar lines.
Are you a student? If so, then a special Back-to-School offer may be interesting. (If you've already purchased as a full commercial developer, then there's a link to Customer Service at the bottom of that page.)
Nancy Gill's Dreamweaver blog: Nancy has been in the Dreamweaver community for years, and knows the field, the people and the issues. I get the sense that, in addition to her own work, she'll also be highlighting work done by others in the community. I'm not sure whether she has met the Flash bloggers yet...? ;-)
"Sticky" versus "Elastic": Excellent short article by Jason Kottke on making things useful for your audience, rather than just useful for yourself. All of us are imperfect here, but I have the feeling that this concept is becoming more and more high-profile among us.
Macromedia MX for ASP.NET There's a new "Macromedia Application Development Center for ASP.NET" section up in the Designer & Developer Center. This is a portal page, linking in to various new and old articles on the Macromedia and Microsoft sites, and with links to independent resources too. (Personally I like this kind of approach, because it makes it easier to navigate the available info if you have a particular goal in mind. Although you could go to, say, the Dreamweaver center for info, sometimes it's easier to think in terms like "macromedia and .net" or "flash and devices" or whatever.)
Mike Chambers at FlashForward: He has created a special section in his blog for notes from this conference. If there's info you want, then drop him a note in the "Comments" section there.
Protecting Your Flash and Shockwave Content from Thieves: Gary Rosenzweig of CleverMedia discusses ways to make it more costly to steal intellectual property. He knows his stuff. There's also that useful concept of intermittent negative reinforcement... if you make something that fails only once every X times then that's more expensive for a thief to notice or debug than if it fails predictably every time.
Peter Merholz on relationship visualization: I'm scanning the week's blogs right now, and this article caught my eye. Peter shows how complex verbal data can be understood more readily when visualized. Now, when you know the outcome of the result ahead of time you can craft an illustration manually, but if you don't understand the final picture you'd need some type of interactive illustration approach. Flash could be used here, but I really think that Shockwave has untapped potential in data visualization -- its realtime 3D rendering can have any parameter changed at any time, so it is much more flexible for discovering relationships in a complex data set.
Joe Sparks "Dickey and Jackie" coming: Radiskull & Devil Doll may have suffered the same fate as Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, but the guy behind it is as pleasantly twisted as ever. This Associated Press article talks about web cartooning in general too.
Browser-dependent sites: Paul Festa on CNET talks about how some sites test only certain configurations. This is the same type of issue as accessibility, and localization, and even usability -- how well does your message reach how much of your audience? The article leaves unstated whether browser-dependent sites have actually increased or not... I'm not sure who measures such a thing or how they'd do it anyway.
Howdy, I'm back at the keyboard, and will be blogging and on newsgroups this week. I'll be travelling again the week of the fifteenth, and so may not re-sign on to all mailing lists in the meantime.