The Internet: Why Flash is fading and Adobe doesn’t care

As a start I will say that I have never had much use for Flash. I don’t really care much for web video in general and I don’t play web games. That being said, I have seen some very creative design, photography and videography sites that did employ Flash. For me, the fading of Flash feels like it has been a while in coming and iPads, iPhones and Android phones were just the last nail in a pre-made coffin. Actually, make that second to the last. What of Adobe, the owner of Flash technology? Surely they will keep Flash going and rescue it in some dramatic fashion?

That simply will not happen. Flash Player, the app that Flash web contents need to run, is simply a marketing tool for Adobe. They give away Flash Player only to make content easily accessible and get content creators buying their creation tools. Flash Player is a piece of software that has to be adapted to multiple platforms, needs constant updates and development work on the part of Adobe. If Adobe had an alternative way to sell content creation tools that didn’t involve all of that extra budget maintaining a player that brings in no direct revenue don’t you think they would drop it? Considering everything they have invested in it they will not do it over night but as HTML5 and other open source code grows traction they will definitely transition towards it. Their Flash-to-HTML5 demo showed that existing Flash content could be converted to HTML5 with reasonable fidelity. This is not proof that Adobe is going to drop Flash anytime soon, but it does show that they recognize the potential need to accommodate HTML5, SVG and other technologies as an alternative.

There is no reason that Adobe can’t create a great web tool kit that can create Flash and HTML5 content in a manner that will appeal to Flash developers and other content developers alike. In fact, they will likely have to as HTML5 video continues to gain ground on the web, now making more than 54% of web video available and gaining ground on Flash video in a rapid fashion. With tens of thousands of games available cheap or free on iOS and Android, web-based Flash games have surely seen their peak. As HTML5 and the other open source tools are not controlled by one company and are in fact being supported by many (including long time rivals Apple and Microsoft) as the new standard, Adobe has to move forward and adapt to a web where their monopoly is soon to end, and I am sure that they will make a go of it.

Maybe it will even end all of the Adobe vs Apple stupidness. One can always hope.

Sitting by the fire

No matter how high-tech and efficient life seems to get, nothing really seems to replace the feeling of sitting in front of a fire and relaxing. Whether making love or loving a book, a more comfortable place to do those activities is hard to image. Central heating or space heaters just can’t replace the experience. Although it is true that I might just be sentimental as it is an increasingly rare experience, I believe that it is more fundamental than that. Our link to fire goes back a long way and I can see no reason why we should so quickly lose such a long relationship due to quick progress in heating technology. In truth, I hope we never do lose the ability to appreciate the simple things as we embrace the future.

Mac Mini Server and Apple TV (2nd gen): The New SOHO?

When the new Mac Mini Servers were released many saw their potential for the small office as well as larger enterprise applications. With the services of larger more expensive servers (albeit with less redundancy) and a very small footprint they have a very flexible role. A small office can run two of them (one active and one on standby) and run their basic services such as file storage, mail and collaborative services for around $2000 and if they need more than the 1TB of internal storage the can always use a NAS or attach a RAID solution to the servers and have as much storage as they need. For most small offices who are doing mostly administrative, financial or sales functions this is enough.

Now come the computers. Desktops or laptops, they most likely cost more than $750 without the necessary software and tend to require some form of regular IT support. That is a very conservative estimate of the computer costs. What if you could replace the desktop or laptop with a smart phone that required very little support and could simply be restarted to fix most issues? Or even a tablet, such as the iPad? For most who work in offices either of those solutions would be too small and not really add to their productivity while in the office. They are great productivity extensions but are not the best backbones. There could be one inexpensive solution that would be a happy medium: the $99 Apple TV.

It is not as strange as it sounds. Although Apple TV is marketed as a media device to be added to the home theatre experience, that is by no means the limits of its potential. Built on the same core as the iPhone 4 and the iPad it has all of the hardware needed to be a great productivity tool. The HDMI port allows connection to a monitor of any size, the Bluetooth hardware can be adapted to allow keyboards and touch pads to be wirelessly connected, the network connectivity can give it access to files on a server and the USB port could allow for direct maintenance access. Assuming Apple will build some form of app support into a future update, the addition of a browser, productivity suite and any other business apps needed could be ported and sold for low cost in an app store. Like iPhones and iPads, you would have a stable platform for productivity that used very low amounts of power. Add to that a wireless keyboard and touchpad with an HDMI monitor, you have a 4″ by 4″ machine that stays cool, only has 2 wires attached to it and yet can do everything you need in an office for around $500 including the keyboard, touchpad and monitor. Without the monitor it is very portable.

So you put together a Mac Mini Server with a few Apple TV’s and you can run a small office with a very small carbon footprint that requires minimal regular IT support and costs a fraction of the normal cost of a small office setup. Throw Google Docs and other online services into the mix and you will find the Apple TV’s will perform even better with less local processor load.

Apple has treated the Apple TV as a hobby, but is it a hobby or an experiment? Following their recent success with iPhone and iPad in the enterprise environment they could be positioning themselves for a new kind of enterprise and home market penetration. For users with more demanding graphic and processing needs the Apple TV would not be suitable in the near future, but for those who can use thin-clients or netbooks in their daily work there is no reason not to consider it. I can see Google taking a similar path with its Android OS, Google online services and a small device. It will be interesting to see the way things develop in the next few years as iOS and Android evolve. It is definitely something to watch.

Bike Fashion

Yesterday evening I did one of my favourite activities; I went out for a road ride. My brother and I had a really nice ride along the seaside and enjoyed the beautiful late September weather. My brother recently took up road riding and has really taken to it, he even wears bike gear now. I can understand his initial resistance to wear Lycra; how many guys feel comfortable putting on Lycra and hitting the streets? But like any other activity it is better to wear what is comfortable and works, and on a ride of any length nothing really beats proper bike clothes. Having worn pretty much every combination of clothing on mountain and road rides in pretty much every type of weather I have to say that nothing can really beat the old tight shorts and jersey. It just makes more sense to wear the right clothes for the right sport. Think jeans, Vans and a hoodie on a competitive Olympic swimmer or a guy wearing a Speedo in a skate-park riding a rail and you might see my point. Clothing should be situation appropriate, and fashion sense is relative to the activity or situation (so-called “fashion sense” is by it’s nature really subjective in the first place)

My Daily Courier Bag 2.0: Timbuk2 Custom Messenger

New Small BagFor the second time, I have bought a small Timbuk2 courier bag for daily use. My last custom built Timbuk2 survived 3 years of daily use in many conditions, and I expect the new one to last even longer. Hand-built in San Francisco to order, they do not seem to suffer from any build quality issues. My last one only had to be retired because the primary fabric I chose for it was more fancy that durable, but at 3 years I think it did pretty well. I have several other Timbuk2 bags for riding and for my laptop, but I generally prefer a small one for daily use. Carrying my street camera, iPad, a light jacket, snacks and sunglasses, I generally feel ready for pretty much any daily situation.

Why a courier bag? Some of us are too hot to always wear jackets, too moderate or fashionable to always wear large pocket combat-style cargos, and not willing to carry everything in hand all the time. Actually, the main reason I switched to courier bags is that they are easy to commute with, whether on a train, a bus, on foot or on a bicycle. They are pretty useful.

Well, here’s hoping that the new bag holds on for at least as long as the old one!