Flash on the iPhone

Since Bobby Scoble posted a link to a funny video earlier about the lack of Flash on the iPhone, it has sparked more discussion about it on the comments thread. Here’s my take:

If the iPhone had Flash support, then it would be very easy to build fullscreen web-powered applications for the device which *could* look and operate just as good as the native UI – without using Apple’s tools or Safari/js/wigdets UI and platform.

Mobile versions of Flash are an issue due to the differing Flash versions they can support. Eg: FlashLite for many Symbian, etc mobile phone platforms and often PocketPC can only support previous versions of Flash, say v5 or v6, which have limited support for xml and flv stuff people might want these days. Though that’s not to say that a hugely compelling Flash application can’t be built in Flash 5 or 6, because it can! (QuickTime has rubbish support for recent Flash too, btw)

But Flash is VERY GOOD at creating and submitting FORMS – which is more or less what every Web2.0 application does, be it up front or around the back of the scenes via JavaScript functions ie: AJAX.ย  Flash developers who have been building online interactive apps for years have hae the AJAX mindset for a very long time, programming switches and routines to work behing the nice shiny vector graphics, which might then go and hit a web based script and database on the server.

Does anyone know of Apple and Abode are indeed talking or not? Let’s face it, it would make for a great announcement and demo by P.T.Jobsnum! ‘One more thing’

People like ‘Some Guy‘ don’t seem to be able to see the Wood for the Trees (‘Branches for the Apples’?) with suggestions that it’s all about YouTube and the comparison between FLV and MPEG H.264.

Ho hum.

Adobe Apollo Launches Alpha : Desktop and Web move closer

apollo.jpgFinally, Adobe’s Apollo is out for developers to try out their Flash, Flex and AJAX Ninjutsu and build cross-platform desktop apps. Mike Chambers, who runs the excellent Developer Network there (and did at Macromedia before) introduces it nicely.

Previously, I have used a product called Zinc to build desktop apps from Flash, but now a lot of this functionality is in the box with Apollo and has has HUGE potential for a amazingly simple and useful applications being built very quickly. The reason I use Zinc is for the FileSystem and FileI/O functionality, meaning I can read and write files on the local hard disk like a ‘real’ application with proper Setup installs for PC and Mac. With that and the ability to download and upload files, as well as run other processes and languages, it’s pretty useful.

I will be having a go at building some Apollo apps (with their .air extension), when I get the time (how could I not!). To give you some ideas, this is what I would do (and no doubt many others will do) in order:

– An RSS/XML reader
– A Twitter app
– A podcatcher
– A podcast publisher (a la podbat)
– A basic OPML Editor
– Podcast directory widgets
– Web publishing system
– Go to the moon

It should be relatively easy for anyone with existing AJAX, Flash and Flex skills to build any of these now. (OK. Bar one ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Read on to these great resources and the documentation for more info on Adobe Apollo. The desktop just melded that little bit further towards the web. All due to existing skillsets ๐Ÿ˜‰

This is also hitting the blogsphere :

Mike Arrington says “Go build something!” I agree with him when he says that “entirely new classes of companies can be built on this platform, which takes Flash, HTML and javascript completely outside of the browser and interacts with the file system on a PC”.

Scoble says the downside is it needs to be online. Not so, dear Robert. People could write apps which have data persistence, storing stuff locally, which could then be synced on connection ๐Ÿ™‚

Embedding Flash in WordPress.com Blogs?

Hi. Is there anyone out there who knows if it’s possible at all to embed a flash movie in a WordPress.com blog post? I see that not so long ago they added a ‘way’ to post YouTube flash to a post, but that would have had to been done like a ‘deal’ due to demand, and the plugin arrived. Is there no simple Flash plugin for WP.com users? Or am I missing something? Credits?

[WHOA! As I wrote this, my whole template seems to have borked. Hmmm others too. I wonder if the recent WP version is being rolled in? I didn’t touch nuffin – honest! HMMM: Seems back OK now. What could have caused that? Snap.com’s Javascript?]

I really need a way to post my flash mp3 player and movie player, as I am working on a solution to crosspost audio and video posts to my system via XML-RPC. It seems however, that WordPress does not like to accept the OBJECT/EMBED code required.

I could have done a JavaScript file back on my server to write it – given a ‘slugtype’ url in the post, but alas, no JS either (though possibly for good reason) – but why no Flash?

If any one has any ideas, please let me know – as I’m trying to add value to WordPress blogging from mobiles, as opposed to being forced to use another blog platform vendor – ie: Typepad/Vox

Do I need millions of users before I can make this happen? ;p

I do hope not.

Yet Another Flash Video Sharing Clone Gets More Funding

A Clone of the TacksIt's interesting this: that yet another video sharing clone site has got funding. A site called Veoh has just secured a series B round of VC funding – yet it looks EXACTLY like YouTube (who got funded a while ago) – which has many clones, with slightly different ideas on how the person who shared the video can make a cut of the profits from ads too.

Veoh must have some serious content juju through Michael Eisner – ie: Possible deals with the likes of Disney etc to 'share' THEIR content on this type of site. The big media companies have been looking closely at places like YouTube quite alot, since people started ripping off, uploading and sharing their copyrighted content. So, they will probably try to shoehorn their content in there, amongst the dancing schoolgirls and street ninjas, then hope all the rad kids click on the stars, pumping the content up to the top pages. NOTE: No RSS found yet here. Very odd.

What I don't understand though, is when the people at Veoh are asked by the VCs: "So, what differentiates you from so-and-so (YouTube, for example)?" – What on earth do they say? "Errrr….. YouWhat? Never heard of it – *ahem* Video2.0!!! "… ??

I'm sure that people from Spark, such as Bijan Sabet will also bring some clout with their track record when it comes to developing the business partnerships that could no doubt follow soon. He's had his eyes on web delivered media for quite a while.

Maybe people should do a quick search on 'video sharing' on Google and find lots of comparison reviews around like this one, from DV Guru.

People say 'Ohhh, the Flickr of video'.. etc. But that's simply not the case. YouTube for example, lets you upload your videos, which they then run through an encoding server to convert to Flash Video (.FLV) and then serve then up for people to rate, tag and comment on – and them to make healthy ad revenue from all the hits (thank you very much). As far as I know, you CANNOT download the original – or another fomat, like Google video's PSP, Divx, etc format options.

My money is on systems like click.tv, and jumpcut and the like, which let you annotate the content with time-triggered text (eg: searchable mojo) and other media and stuff. [btw: I am also building such a system]. Come back SMIL, all is forgiven!!!

This content needs ENRICHING – by the viewers/listeners/readers.

UPDATE: Just found another great url with a matrix comparison of 40 online video sharing systems. SO MANY are identical! I also note that Revver lets you download the originally uploaded video files.

UPDATE2: Just read this on We Are The Media where it appears that Veoh had once 'hijacked' video podcaster and bloggers' content and pumped the content into thir system with no credit to the original authors/producers. Ooo.. bad! 

Evoca helps Adobromedia

Just reading Mike Arrington's blurb on Evoca. Here's my thrupenny bit : (it was going to be a comment, but it got long enough for a blog post I think ๐Ÿ˜‰ )…

I think they've done another great job with Flash Media Server. The socapp stuff and pips are nice and what you'd expect these days.

You've been able to do this stuff for a while with Flash Communication Server (they changed the name recently) – record audio. And you can do alot with videos too (see Stickam.com : another group of FMS widgets manifested).

Now we're seeing the FLV format break into the mainstream, thanks to the great On2 codecs (and the great work from the WildForm Flix team) and YouTube and GoogleVideo etc. It lowers the barrier to entry for web video, as there are so many Flash players out there granted: for web use, though.

Adobromedia must be feeling quite happy the way things are panning out, what with Flash video and also the slowly solidifying mobile platform they have.

What we now need are Flash apps like this, that enable easy media recording and publishing on devices like the Origami. Then, we will see some incredible things happen. It will be so easy to create and share multimedia, that we'll need better ways to store, organise and share that which we will all consume and create so readily, in the future.

WordPress updates WYSIWYG

I noticed before the weekend that WordPress seemed to hav updated
the WYSIWYG textarea to 'do' the popups in the same window in a 'div',
rather than popup a new window. Nice.

The trouble is, things like linebreaks seem to be going screwy here. Even though I delete them and
don't see them in the source viewer, they still stay there!! Argh!!!
Away, damn tags!!

I'm building a blogging /podcasting system over here for our blogs and podcasts over on podcast.com (yes yes,
coming soon!) and was looking around at WYSIWYG editors. I noticed that
Wordpress uses TinyMCE from MoxiCode, which is the best I have seen so far. Very nice. Also I have been
looking at Flash versions, as I do alot of the rest of the posting procedure using Flash ie: uploading (though I did find a very
interesting Pecl module for progress bars etc) I've started using one
called FlashTextEditor which is nice and also supports image insertion, as well as the usual
styling stuff. but it's still not as nice as TinyMCE.

I think we might get in touch with MoxiCode to see if we can use it
podcast.com. Scanning the licence, we should be able to do so. And also
that will fall nicely in line with some of the other stuff which I have
built for the system which I woul like to get out in the open (source) if we make some mods and sods.

Origami is childsplay

Now, I’m not in the habit of posting links to videos of young girls playing with toys, but this time I’ll make an exception. WhatIsNew’s Lora has posted a video interview she made with her 12 year old, after spending the day playing with the TabletKiosk Origami mini-tablet PC.

This is great! And this is why I think this device is going to make a huge impact to alot of people. Not just kids. There are ‘executive’ models on the way and the one in the video is one of the prototypes.

Very impressed with the corner-placed thumb keyboards for input without the stylus while holding it in both hands.

Also, I can’t wait to try some of my fullscreen Flash kiosk applictions on that device! Cool!

Bonus: Hop on over to channel9 and watch Otto Berkes, who is the architect (now general manager) behind the Ultra-Mobile PC team, code-named Origami, give Scoble all the nifty details.
Excuse all the double-entendres! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Heh.

Hey check out the metachannel9guy!

Flash Beauties

Check out the finalists and winners of the FlashForward conference. Some AMAZING stuff here. My Flash skills are nothing compared to these guys. These are the sorts of people I want to work with to help build some great products.

These past few weeks, I have been switching back and forth from PHP to Flash Actionscript, out to Javascript, back again, out to MySql, etc, etc ,etc. Sometimes you have to be able to understand how all parts and ingredients work together through experience. It really helps. Actually it’s quite good fun. It feels rather like a game with different play modes. I think (and hope) this will help me to translate workable ideas and concepts to super talented people who can build them AS WELL AS add their own creative flair and deeper understanding of the particular scripting language and client.

I would say that Flash developers are able to do alot of ‘thinking outside the box’ while actually ‘in’ it. There’s something great about the images, objects, code and connections in Flash that help the ideas flow from within the interface and out to the external world and its feast of code and data.

Another great thing about Flash and Actionscript, I would say, is that when you learn to code scripts based around actual ‘things/shapes/components’ you can see, and you go go and throw functions and properties at these ‘things’, you really begin to get a hold of the concepts in Object Oriented programming. Becuase you can actually ‘see’ them and interact with them.

It’s a great way to help learn coding in most languages, IMHO.

Ones, Heroes and Zeros

Dave’s been pointing a guy called Phil Jones recently. He has some interesting ideas and clearly thinks alot about stuff. He’s a professor. Probably paid to. Cool! Today Dave posted a response to some of the points Phil has been raising.

One snippet here caught my eye:

I think DMOZ and Yahooโ€™s directories are the wrong model, that this all needs to be opened up. Thereโ€™s no single home page on the web, so why should there be a single home page for the global directory. Let a billion flowers bloom. May the best root win. May there be as many roots as there are points of view.

Now, I like that. Alot. It’s actually more or less the very model I am trying to work towards in thinking about and building a ‘platform’ on which to run a system like podcast.com, for example. Or ‘treedia’ – or feedgang – or feedhive – whateverlist (hmmm). Also, I’m trying to build it based upon ‘standard(ized)’ formats which already exist.

I have built many systems in the past based on made-up bespoke xml formats which I created to do what I needed an app to do – this for example, uses ‘OPML’ and ‘RSS’ (and time events), but none of it actually IS OPML or RSS. But they would have done the trick in retrospect. As would a load of other formats : SMIL, etc.

SMIL gets me thinking about the multimedia systems on the web I have always envisioned (I wrote and sold a SMIL based multi-user publishing system call Smibase a few years back – that’s how I ended up at the Beeb). MPEG4 does this too, or will more once we see more tools to ‘orchestrate’ content. Quicktime also has huge untapped power as a multimedia application wrapper – did you know you can embed Flash inside Quicktime and have the QT ‘talk’ back and forth to the Flash ‘track’? You can. It’s pretty cool. BUT the tools out there to manipulate such formats are few and far between. LiveStagePro was one I used a few years ago to come up with a solution to put up-to-date news on massive screens in UK railway stations. I ended up going back to Director10 (which I hadn’t used since version 4!!) and built it in Lingo, with a WYSIWYG Flash based back end.

The point I’m trying to make is that there’s all these great formats out ALREADY. But people will keep reinventing the wheel and trying to come up with new formats, when I think what we should be doing is building TOOLS to test/evolve/bolster/work the formats we already have. I’m usually pleasantly surprised when I do that. But I admit to ‘making stuff up’ if I can’t find things or am pushed to find a solution (which I know can be fixed later on by someone who rally knows that part of the system – if need be)

And about ‘winning’: Dave and I once had a chat where the subject of ‘heroes’ came up. I think Dave would like to be ‘a hero’ of sorts. And to many he is. My take on it is that you don’t need to be the winner to be the hero or the ‘legend’.

It’s about hearts. Not prizes. They last longer (we pray).

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