Friday, July 26, 2002

Bowling tutorial Darrel Plant put a simple bowling simulation up at Director Online. You can't control the ball, but what's cool is he showed the exact steps he used to create this simulation. Shift-click to restart it a few times... notice how very small changes in initial parameters result in wildly different animations. That's one of the advantages of realtime rendering: data can be rendered on-demand, and parameters are _very_ controllable.
Robin Debreuil on FlashCom bandwidth concerns: With these new types of apps, we've got to design them so that the amount of throughput is reasonable. This is a new area -- in the past we had to worry about how much the main site was sending out to visitors, but now we also have to consider how much each of them is sending in to the main server, and how much of that gets passed back to each visitor. If you're designing a virtual classroom then it would be very costly to have each student's cam live all the time, but it can be very useful to have something like a "click to transmit" functionality.
[via Mike Chambers]
Dreamweaver MX: The Hidden Tips: Article by Troy Dreier in Intranet Journal. (Jump up to the directory for related articles.)
Jon Udell on identity: "What hasn't yet sunk in, though, is what can be controlled: identity. You can't be an anonymous yet fully connected cyber-citizen. You can, however, certify your identity. What Ms. Achille and others will eventually discover is that you can't hide from Google, but you can own your words."
Play a CD, PC call home? I had heard of this database, but hadn't realized that data-transmission was so widespread and automated. Apparently many music software applications will automatically tell this centralized site what CD you're playing. That seems a little strange. It may be possible to tie it in for the types of apps we develop, but still, that seems a little strange.... (btw, I really don't care what most other people are listening to, but I would pay to learn what people whose taste I respect are listening to.)
[via Jason Kottke]
Russell Beattie's audioblogging: I haven't tested the implementation yet, but have been wondering about cam-blogging. Whether it's successful or not would depend on the site, the content and the audience. Maybe an implementation of a commenting system via cam, like Phil's answering machine? My gut says it's coming, I just don't know yet how it will manifest.
[via Dave Winder]
Best layering article: Ever since DHTML appeared back in 1998 there have been regular "Why does Flash show through the menu?" posts. This article on is the most complete discussion I've seen of this subject. Mark the link, and never type a "wmode" reply again...! ;-)
[via Clint Critchlow]
CFMX Blog is going strong... written by Robert Occhialini in ColdFusion, it culls ColdFusion news from the world.
BLOGGER - Template Contest - Winners This was posted while I was out of town.I'll be renovating this blog this autumn, and will be re-checking these templates then.
What's New in Pet Market Version 1.2? This blueprint app was changed in a number of requested ways, including support for 800x600 screen res, hosting for demos to your clients, and new comments and ReadMe files in the downloads. The performance metrics have also been updated (great client material, this), and Matt Brown has a new article on creating those ColdFusion Components in Dreamweaver.
Weird SVG advocacy: "SVG is considered by many to be a replacement for Macromedia Flash. In fact, a lot of Flash content on the Internet is being recoded as SVG. Technical sites are now using SVG for animation because it also downloads faster. SVG can do everything Flash can but it's more powerful, more flexible, and it's an open standard." I've always thought SVG is cool, and SVG-Tiny seems even more useful, but I've continually been baffled by why SVG advocates so often bash Flash is such easily-debunked ways. Just go do something cool and useful, that's better in the long run!
Macromedia accepts kidney: Okay, so this is a spoof press release, but when you jump a level up to the directory there are a bunch of other funny false releases there too.
[via Yahoo MACR board]

Thursday, July 25, 2002

Beta video message service: From Den Ivanov of Shockteam. Good recognition of a social need.
[via Jarle Bergersen]

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Pulse shift: I hadn't been to the website of Pulse3D for awhile, and don't know when these changes came about. They're apparently focusing on low-bandwidth virtual characters now... if I'm putting the pieces together correctly, then you transmit a texturemap of a person's photo, and some text (and maybe some synch instructions?) and you end up with what seems to a talking-head video. The only demo I see is on the front page (for Mozilla, at least), and it looks effective, although I don't know either of those guys so don't know how lifelike it is. Worthwhile checking out.

(Pulse 3D was started by a number of Macromedia folks, and their main technology was a character-based 3D engine for browsers. They had large galleries up at one time. Viewpoint is still attending SIGGRAPH, but the last press release for Cult3D I see on their site is from a year ago. Adobe Atmosphere has been in public beta for a year-and-a-half -- I suspect it was launched just to spread doubt when Director 8.5 shipped. Cosmo Player is back online. Hey, SuperScape's Swerve seems to be focused on wireless devices, cool I'll have to check out what they're doing, particularly since their site uses Flash.... ;-)
WIRED on wifi mesh: Peer-to-peer connectivity, not just hub-and-spoke. "The beauty of meshes? They're bottom-up networks that capitalize on the rise of Wi-Fi and other open wireless technologies. They shimmer into existence on their own, forming ad hoc out of whatever's in range - phones, PCs, laptops, tablet computers, PDAs. Each device donates a little processing muscle and some memory. Packets jump from one user to the next - finding the best path for the conditions at any given moment - and finally skip to a high-bandwidth base station, which taps into the Internet. The result: big boosts to the range and speed of wireless signals."
Nancy Gill on upgrade strategies: "Do I need Dreamweaver MX?" "What about Studio MX?" "What about extensions?" Nancy talks with many people in the newsgroups, and shows how some people may not find advantages in upgrading right now.
SlashDot on Art & Logic: There was a thread about the Device Management Framework announced by Art & Logic yesterday. I was a little slow picking up on the news -- seems like that pricey toolkit is intended for device manufacturers, to make it easier to control their embedded devices from any of various portable devices, using HTML or SWF or whatever. I don't know if this post is genuine, but I was struck by the productive "since it's XML-RPC we don't care what's under the hood line" in this post to the thread:

Hi --
I'm the Chief Architect of the DMF. The problem that we find with Java is the same one encountered by everyone using client-side Java: Write Once, Debug Everywhere. Flash works identically on every platform, and the files are significantly smaller.

Of course, since it's using XML-RPC under the hood, we don't care what language sits at the other end. I did all my testing using Python's xmlrpclib, and lists client implementations in just about every language that's widely used (except COBOL and FORTRAN...)

You want to talk to a device running our DMF from a Java (or C++, or LISP) client, that's cool. Dave Winer could control his router from inside Radio Userland. Whatever.

The important thing (to me, as a designer) is that we've implemented a clean, open, simple protocol that lets us and our customers build richer monitor and control interfaces than we can using just HTML.

But then again, this quote was pretty cute too:

Hope we can get off our Flash high horse and start pushing towards better things. There are but a handful of people who know how to use Flash properly, and you're not one of them ;)

I quote: "Everyone in the universe has a hardon for Flash. There are aliens visiting Earth right now trying to get Flash. Beings from other dimensions are extruding into our four just to have access to Flash. Bacteria are evolving into eukaryotic symbiotes so they can form more complex colonial creatures which eventually specialize and differentiate, developing eyespots and a notochord, eventually transforming into a vertebral column and enlarged anterior ganglion -- developing musculature, skeletal structure and so on, just so they can have fingers so they can use them to work with Flash.
InfoWorld on FlashCom: The main article from Jon Udell is on appservers in general, but the sidebar is about the new communications server. "It's a worthy experiment. If successful, Macromedia will come under pressure to open the protocol, as it has done with the Flash vector-graphics formats. But for now, finding out where this exciting technology could lead is key." Bingo. I'm getting more and more excited by this, as I see the responses from others, the recognition of the possibilities. In this development community we've accumulated a lot of skills over the years, across various software tools and various interface disciplines. Now we have the chance to bring people closer together, to really make a difference in the world. Everything points toward eventual success, but this gradual unfolding has me on the edge of my seat...!

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

New Flash Player 6 viewability audit: I don't know when this went live, but the results of last month's consumer audit by Media Metrix is up on the site now. A third of consumers tested could view Flash 6 content immediately, without downloading anything new. Whew, we're on track to ubiquity for the new abilities.... 8)
CNET on 3D: "The CAD (computer-aided design) 3D Working Group, which includes Microsoft, Intel, ATI Technologies and Dassault Systems, is working on a technical standard that will let furniture designers, car manufacturers and other companies post their CAD drawings to the Web, as well as permit software developers to create standardized software browsers that will let customers read those images, according to Rick Benoit, a technical manager in Intel's Microprocessor Labs."

The Shockwave Player is a standard, because 40% of consumers tested by Media Metrix in June could view it. But I suspect that this new initiative is for manufacturing accuracy rather than efficient visualization -- two very different sets of needs that happen to share the term "3D".
WIRED on FlashCom: I hadn't seen Lisa Delgado's Saturday article until CHris pointed it out. This may be the first article which addresses these capabilities from the people's perspective... what such communication may mean to real people, instead of just to the technology field. I didn't know about using it at Sundance and at major hotels, and they're right-on about cross-device communication. There's definitely a chicken-and-egg situation here, but the adoption costs are so low for visitors to use such an app, and then the word-of-mouth enticements would be so high -- with the amount of excitement so many of us feel I'm pretty durn sure we'll see productive realworld use very soon, but gosh, it's been almost half-a-month already...! 8)

Monday, July 22, 2002

CARP, RIAA, 'casts: Technology is just accumulated brainpower, and can't be stopped. Social and legal structures do eventually evolve to change with technology. But sometimes these evolve in a clumsy way, one which entices further changes in technology....

I can't bear to read legalese, but am curious what now happens under US law if you sing a song under copyright into a telephone. Does it matter if the receiving party is on a speakerphone? And what happens if you sing into your webcam, do you have to pay rent on those copyright words now...?
MACCAWS is "Making a Commercial Case for Adopting Web Standards", with a site, mail list, and wiki. I don't have much experience with this group yet, but I like the concept of providing compelling financial reasons for "doing the right thing" -- reaches a more disparate audience, more deeply, than using only moral arguments. If you handle client negotiations then this seems like it could be a good resource to track.
[via Jeffrey Zeldman]
Phillip Kerman's answering machine: If you do any application development, whether with Flash or not, then I think you need to check into this. What happens when you can store messages of text, audio, or video? How will people use it, how will they want to use it? We're seeing some of the early steps with this example.

(Phillip, be sure to keep this app, and the data... I know sociologists will want to trace this by 2007! 8)
David Doull on FlashCom: Excellent article on the possible social aspects of this change -- notes how portable SMS messaging took off even though it's awkward -- how audio/video chat is so very different from text chat -- how we can now create apps which blend synchronous and asynchronous communication -- explores a number of usage scenarios -- he shows how this technology may be able to help us humans become more like humans.

He echos some online concerns about pricing, but brings up the additional valuable datapoint about classroom scenarios. (I have a hunch the company will be able to find a good pricing model here. ;-) If you come up with additional specific scenarios where the current pricing models won't be successful for all concerned, then you can for-sure post them to the lists, boards, or newsgroups, but it would be better if you let the team know directly, thanks! (Specific realworld situations usually have stronger leverage in pricing discussions than do hypothetical "it should be" posts.)
[via Jarle Bergersen]
Daily News Monkey: Todd turned me on to this too... it's a single-window RSS reader for multiple sites, and I believe the author is Nicholas S.-Roy of Logient in Montreal. I know lots of folks have been working in this area, but this particular piece suggested a unique social value to me -- it's easy to browse someone's personal bookmarks, and quickly retrieve the news of varied strange sites within a single scannable interface. (It also makes me realize I might want to put some study into the variants of the RSS spec to find a nicer way to use the helpful VoidStar RSS service.0
"Asteroids" tutorial for Flash: This article appealed to Todd Hopkinson of, and it resonates for me too -- it's not just that Aaron Silver has created a game, but that he breaks the task down into individual problems and shows how to solve each one. This makes it easy to generalize his solutions to other situations. (Todd also has an article on using ID3 identity data in MP3 audio files in his blog, linked above.)
First components for Macromedia Flash Communications Server: These make it very, very easy to create communications applications. In some situations you may want to hand-write tighter code, but these general solutions offer an efficient and predictable way to move from concept to execution.

This set is freely available to anyone, even trial users, but future component sets will only be available to registered owners of the tools -- we're moving to a model where it's not just the bits, but the relationships which are of real value.

More info is on the support page and FlashCom Dev Center, and feedback to the team can be sent directly at the wishform.
Back at keyboard. Howdy ya'll! I'll still be off mailing lists most of the summer, but am back on websites and newsgroups now.