Friday, September 13, 2002

MX Developer Resource Kit: Thanks for your support on this -- the initial week's sales have been higher than expected. If this project does well, it will show that there is a real demand for tested tutorials, examples, and components... that the Macromedia Designer & Developer Center can eventually pay for itself rather than be included in the price of each tool.

We're definitely finetuning the approach -- so far the frequent requests include per-item pricing as well as overall subscription pricing, a better product mix among components, optional download abilities for fast access -- lots of these were being explored already, so the validation is great -- further feedback welcomed, thanks.

One more favor I'd like to ask of you: If you find that the DRK saves you time or money, then passing that word to friends face-to-face or online would really help us out a lot. Thanks! 8)
Clientside Java UIs: Interesting op/ed piece at O'Reilly on opensource Swing. Flash takes a different approach: there's a small core player, but the instructions and components it uses are open to community enhancement. In effect, the choice of builds is decentralized to the document level... UI implementation isn't one big monolithic engine. (Of course, that means we see some dysfunctional UIs out there in the world too, but Sturgeon's Law applies to content as well as UIs.... ;-)
FlashComm-enhanced blogging: No specifics, but John Robb thinks he sees a potential use.
Potential IE6/Win SP1 rendering issue: There are reports that this week's Service Pack 1 updater for Microsoft Internet Explorer for Windows is having rendering difficulties on some pages. Not sure yet if it's just certain .CFM pages, other. Under investigation. See above link to CF-Talk for more info. (btw, I like the new UI to the House Of Fusion mailing list web archives... great stuff! 8)
Adaptive Path tour: Free plug here... I haven't attended myself, but have been picking up good comment from those who attended the first few sessions... the emphasis is on designing something that actually fits the problem. If you're near Dallas or San Francisco you can catch the final two sessions.
Clients think you charge too much? A Wharton professor did a study of whether consumers thought prices were "fair". Most of the article talks about their studying process, but they concluded that -- when asked about "fairness" -- most college students concluded that other people's pricing decisions were not fair, and were "greedy".

This study seems to suffer at least two vulnerabilities... they used only college students as sample, and focused on "fair" rather than "desirable" pricing. (The term "fair pricing" carries a raft of implications, the biggest of which may be the assumption of objective and universal truth and which discards the possibility of differing relations between consenting adults... wacky religious stuff, that.) For sampling problems, that study may have benefitted from comparing results from college students who had not had a job from those who had, and from those who had entrepreneurial experience.

Anyway, if you're negotiating prices with your own clients, it may be better to stay away from conversations about "fair" and "unfair" and instead focus on what they want, and how much it would be worth to them. This study is interesting reading, but I'm not sure about its assumptions and conclusions.
Smiley Turns 20: I've used 'em a lot... next Thursday, September 19, this emoticon celebrates its 20th anniversary. ;-)
[via The Register]
Java 1.4 and Macromedia "Help" search engine: There are multiple reports that upgrading to clientside Java 1.4 causes the Java search engine in the pre-MX Macromedia help systems to always return an empty result set. Reverting to Java 1.3 has addressed it in those cases. I don't yet know if the symptom persists in Java 1.4.0_02 or in the beta Java 1.4.1. Issue is under investigation internally... keep an eye on Macromedia technotes for updated info.
Update: Early reports are that the beta Java 1.4.1 fixes the issue... we have a small sample size, but this path looks promising.
Side-effects of digital theft: This BusinessWeek article has a section at the end showing how the increase in music file-sharing has led copyright holders to speed the evolution of bots which scour the net for particular files. These bots, and their use, aren't perfect, and so expose other people to potential action. It reminds me of how the murderous deeds of certain religious fanatics results in increased government surveillance of all. I've got issues with the length of music copyrights and the way that industry is structured, but that's a separate issue from how the costs of digital theft are eventually dispersed throughout the population.
Odd QuickTime/ActiveX advisory: This states that the QT ActiveX Control could execute arbitrary instructions if an evil HTML page includes bad "pluginspage" info. This reads oddly to me because it's Netscape Plugins which use the "pluginspage" attribute of the EMBED tag, rather than ActiveX Controls. This info is used by the browser (not a control or plugin) when it doesn't have the plugin installed. Even in the browser, it reads those instructions for an URL to go to, rather than executing those instructions. There may be a vulnerability there, but I can't make sense of it from the security firm's press release.

(Related: I was very happy to see the Macromedia Security Development Center spring up while I was on sabbatical, to join the Macromedia Security Zone. The latter deals with security issues of the applications themselves, while the former deals with security issues each developer should consider when creating your own applications with the Macromedia toolset. If you see ways you'd like the Security Development Center to change in the future, then please drop a note to DesDev feedback, thanks!)

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Windows Media Player beta: If you're considering testing this, then CNET has accumulated some of the things to be aware of before installation.
huh? is "the world's newest and most dynamic e-business solutions agency." Pretty cool, huh?
[via Greg Smith on Blueworld's Dreamweaver-Talk list]

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Usability study, Redwood City CA: Hi, if you live in the Bay Area and are interested in helping guide future directions, there will be some focus group work next week... the link above can get you connected. Thanks!
Atomz Enterprise Search analyzes SWFS: Atomz has gotten text and links inside SWFs for awhile now, but they've updated this for latest versions and have migrated it to their enterprise-level offerings too.
Flash text editors: Todd Hopkinson gives an overview of three current pieces of Flash work which can provide enhanced text-editing functions within a browser page. (Aside: I am very excited to see what people are doing here.)

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Macromedia MX Developer Resource Kit: It was launched last week -- Friday launches are usually low-key, but this has already had impressive sales. It collects recent resources from the Designer & Developer Center and adds some unique resources too. There's another reason I think you might find it advantageous to invest in this, though... you'd be proving there's a market for additional documentation, components, articles, and tutorials, you'd be proving that the DesDev Center is useful for you. It's a vote.
Dan Short on TODCON: I've uniformly heard that this year's TODCON was something special. Dan notes some of the things that made it for him. (Me, I don't get to conferences much, can't afford it.... ;-)
Bitmap plugin future? I came across this story about changes to the accessibility of the Photoshop Plugin SDK, but haven't yet found rebuttals or additional info. If you've got further links on this info, then a post in the article's "comments" section would send it to the widest range of interested parties, thanks.
Classic flame: While doing a web search I came across this old SUCK column on why Shockwave is a bad thing for the web, and how Kaleida's ScriptX, mTropolis, Java and Microsoft's Blackbird all have advantages. Viewing the HTML source is fun too... ah, the good old days.... ;-)

Monday, September 09, 2002

Politicians adopting teleconferencing: Colombian President is making an official move to using webcams and other tele-presence tools. Politicians usually have a bit of insulation from such budgetary constraints... personal security may be a little bit higher in their personal calculus. Still, the article points out the increasing efficiency pressure for development of such applications.
Ortho_Demo is a good example of why realtime rendering can offer more than predefined rendering. This Shockwave example lets you choose various human movements, and then examine what the bones are doing from any angle. When you can't predict how the visitor will want to examine visual data, then realtime rendering is the way to go.
New stats on net use: This study was from Arbitron and Edison Research, and the sample was 2500 people who keep online radio diaries.

Notes: TV was still perceived as the most "cool and exciting" medium, at 35%, while net was a point behind at 34%. But among those aged 12-to-34 the stats were 46% net versus 29% TV. (There's a definite perception difference between pre-1968 and post-1968 respondents.) Among all respondents, 20% listed the net as the "most vital" medium in their daily lives.

Broadband home use has doubled over the last year, now up to 28% of respondents, with significant anticipated adoption over the next year. Two-thirds report concern over recent webcasting restrictions. Pay-for-play interest has risen from 14% to 22% over the last year. Overall access remains at about 70% of all Americans, but daily time spent online has increased from an average of 41 minutes to 58 minutes over the last year.

Those who use more streaming media tend to use more media as well -- those who use audio and video on the web tend to buy more CDs, visit movie theatres more often.
[via MacCentral]
Macromedia: Java Script Guide I'm not sure when this went live, but it seems like it could be a useful intro or refresher when scripting browsers.
ColdFusion evolution: It's more a set of known abilities which runs across various environments than it is a particular native-code application server. "Learn once, run anywhere"?

Sunday, September 08, 2002

China blocks Google: Old news, but still significant. I've come to deeply believe that attempts to mechanically control organic systems will not be sustainable. Linear control processes come under increasing strain with nonlinear growth, and increased communications and abilities encourage decentralization more than any policy statements ever could.
Nancy Gill on PHAkt: Nancy has two short articles on personal experiences using the new PHAkt extensions for PHP in Dreamweaver... good orientation if you're considering this path, in addition to reading the docs.
Scott Barnes' "MacroFun" blog: I like how it focuses on using various technologies together, and will be keeping an eye on his experiments over the coming weeks. (The Player can't access different servers because that could let it guess server paths behind firewalls; more info's available by searching "security domain" in the technotes.)

Aside: I haven't mentioned many of the fine blogs that have come up recently... frankly, I'm behind the curve in learning about what folks are doing! ;-) My own blog here needs some renovation (comments, categorization, more), so I'll figure out the shape of what it should be as autumn progresses. If I haven't mentioned your own work it's almost certainly oversight rather than slight!
Timothy Appnel on rich internet applications: This article at O'Reilly discusses the differences between documents and applications. Pull quotes:

  • "The browser has served us well and continues to do so. (Long live the browser!) So why do we need an application-centric complement to it? Evolution... The fact of the matter is the browser is not a panacea for all solutions...."
  • "Flash is not perfect, but it's the best, current solution for developing and deploying cross-platform, lightweight Internet applications."
  • "Comparing SWF and SVG is not like comparing apples and oranges, but rather apples and a fruit basket."
  • "Once streamed to the client machine, the application would only need to pass simple messages to the banking system's backend... When you factor in the weight of each page in a browser-based solution you can see how it is worth the initial startup cost. This is less than 1K compared to the 25K to 60K that a typical HTML page would consume. This also translates to reduced loads on the bank's servers."
  • " While I propose what may be a radical notion to some, with additional consideration the value of lightweight Internet applications starts to become apparent. I am not proposing that the browser is dying, but rather that it would be enhanced by an application-centric complement."

[via Matt Rice]
Gizmodo: Gadgets blog: "Gizmodo is a weblog dedicated to everything related to gadgets, gizmos, and cutting-edge consumer electronics. It's edited by Pete Rojas, a journalist who writes about technology for Wired, Salon, Red Herring, and the Guardian, and backed by Nick Denton." I haven't seen discussion about development possibilities (HTML support, SWF support), but it is well laid-out and categorized... seems a useful resource for keeping track of new devices.
Back at keyboard: Hi, apologies if you may have visited here during August, but I'm back in action now, and will be getting back into the swing of things as the week progresses.