Archive for March, 2009

Open Screen Project

Last month, a consortium of companies including Adobe and Nokia announced a ten million dollar Open Screen Project fund.  The Open Screen vision is to “enable consumers to engage with rich internet experiences seamlessly across any device anywhere”.

It’s not mobile phone applications that are important – it is the mobility of the user and their information. Ubiquitous applications and services conveniently allow the user to access their data anywhere.  I’ve never regarded the mobile phone as a replacement for the personal computer – but its a complimentary technology.

It looks like a future version of AIR is going to support mobile device deployment.   A unified portable platform, which is can run on any enabled device –  desktop, TV-top, mobile, handheld, fridge-door, or anywhere else.   Exciting stuff.  I’m as excited as I was five years ago when I first read about this idea in the Macromedia Central white paper.  Good to know we’re nearly there now.

I always thought Flash Platform support of Bluetooth was a cool idea.  But I haven’t heard any rumours that it’s going to happen.  Imagine, for example, the user walks up to their computer/console while accessing their service on a mobile phone. The phone AIR automatically tells the desktop AIR what’s going on – enabling the user to seamlessly move from one client device to another.  There are other scenarios too, such as bluetooth conferencing of (close proximity) mobile phones.  If you give developers a Bluetooth API – I’m sure they’d think of all kinds of uses for it.

Ok, snap back to reality…

I’ve submitted some proposals for Open Screen funding.  If we get the funding, we intend to blog and twitter at each stage of this project – so that other developers can learn from our approach.  So let’s start by sharing our proposals…

The first two proposals involve a desktop AIR application that enables the user to make rich content for a mobile client player application.   e2info is like PowerPoint/KeyNote/Hypercard for mobile phones.  e2teach is an e-learning content management system.

My third proposal is the most interesting.  My e2vector application on a mobile phone.  But it’s a sophisticated application – so targeted at future devices that will support ActionScript3.  Possibly AIR++ for mobile.

What do you think of our proposal ideas?  Please leave a comment.


March 28, 2009 at 2:47 pm 1 comment


Everyone has gone twitter crazy, so it was this blog post by David Deraedt that prompted me to jump on the bandwagon.  I’ve always been a little quiet about my AIR application development.  Afterall, coding is an internal meditation thing – what’s to share?  But I’ll give it a go.

March 25, 2009 at 12:53 pm Leave a comment

Come back Josh! All is forgiven.

This is an interesting article (especially for a developer of the quirky persuasion):  “Are quirky developers brilliant or dangerous?

It is written from the point of view of a manager.  It tells the story of “Josh”. (Not OUR Josh, of operatic Flex fame – another Josh).

Josh is a gifted but anti-social Software Engineer and project champion.   An apparently invaluable and over-utlised resource.

In my opinion, Josh worked for knee-jerk managers who react to one crisis after another, but don’t know how to implement or manage something sustainable.   These managers call the shots. Quality or Fast? – they always want the latter.  So Josh works miracles to do what he can in the time allowed.  But if there are issues over quality – they blame Josh.

A large company is like an organism.  It has an immune system.  If your face doesn’t fit, eventually you’ll trigger a antibody response.  Corporate grey corpuscles.

The comments are worth reading.  There was plenty of agreement that management was at fault here.  Other than that, it’s clear that Software Engineers and Traditional Managers are two different species.  From different planets.  With completely different mindsets.

I found the following comments particularly insightful:-

By Turtle   March 16 2009 12:46 PMPDT

MOST of the time — the issue is not with the developers, it’s with nontechnical or insufficiently-technical management swooping in insisting on trying to “lead” a development team. You. Will. Fail.

By Pete   March 16 2009 1:26 PMPDT

Wow. For an inside-the-box guy (xSTJ), Josh is an evil monster. For an outside-the-box guy (xNTP), Josh was just an introverted intuitive and creative problem solver with a bit of an attitude.

Josh, as described, definitely had some issues. My guess is that 95% of those could have been easily been handled by even a mediocre manager or a decent team-mate. Stick him in an office full of robots with an average IQ of 90 and under a manager completely unprepared and untrained to actually MANAGE, and you can easily turn an INTP into a Josh.

 Josh has some real problems and issues in his workplace, but no one was prepared to try to solve them. So Josh just did what he best to get his mission accomplished.

Eventually the company addressed the issues, and got rid of Josh at the same time. I imagine they’d be MUCH more profitable if they had simply addressed the issues and KEPT Josh. Josh wasn’t the problem, he was just a symptom of how incompetent management was. His “convoluted” code was still brilliant. I am certain it formed the basis for the cleaned up version the “in-the-box” coders eventually produced. Good teams and management know how to get the most out their people.

My personality type is INTP. I have first-hand experience of the situation that Pete describes.

I was once a “Josh”.

I didn’t work in a room full of robots. Their IQs were high. Half of the people in my group had PhDs.  I mostly had a problem with one manager who I had most dealings with.

He considered himself to be a logical and rational person.  But his logic was simplistic. A blunt instrument.   He was equally incapable of grasping technologically complexity, or the nuances of human behaviour.  I withheld information and fed him half-truths in order to protect the project.   The more he tried to control and interfere – the more I became like “Josh”.  A quirky and arrogant prima-donna.

There were basically two types of people where I worked.  Lions lead by donkeys.  Lions – Intelligent and capable project champions, motivated by a passion for what they were doing.  And the donkeys – parasitic politically sycophantic ladder-climbers motivated by self-interested ambition.

When I eventually left the company – it was like being propelled forward on a slingshot.   No longer held back by paper-clip counters.  This phase of my life was more creative than ever before.  I expressed myself through writing, theatre directing, film-making, fine arts and programming.  In the corporate world, I had never been promoted.  Although I was a manager myself, I was never trusted with more team responsibility.  But now, in the real world, I set up my own company, and successfully lead ambitious team projects, with noone to stop me.  And this was the REAL world.  Not just political games inside a large protective corporate arena.

March 20, 2009 at 11:24 am Leave a comment

The Doldrums

We all know that demand for RIA and Flex jobs in America and the England have remained high, despite the recession. But that’s little comfort to Flex experts who live elsewhere in the world. (Badu and Marin, for example).

It’s ironic. Within their borders, America and the England are desperate for skilled Flex/ActionScript experts. But all they have to do reach beyond those borders.

I’ve tried applying for jobs in America. Most don’t write back. One sent me a short email, reminding me that I was a British citizen, not an American. The streets of London may be paved with gold – but I’ve no desire to return to England.

I’ve been happy working around Asia. And often busy. I’d lined up two jobs over the next few months.

But suddenly both turned out to be mirages. Now I’ve noticed fewer opportunities. And more local skilled candidates chasing those opportunities than there were previously. The locals are cheaper than I am.

So I’ve been searching the internet for opportunities. In Asia, elsewhere, in industry, and in universities.

Nothing yet.

March 16, 2009 at 7:53 am 2 comments

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