Archive for February, 2010

Adult web site uses my name

I used to own the domain name  But I lost it years ago, and it got snapped up by one of those parasitic companies that stockpiles promising domain names to sell on at a premium.

Well, It appears now that someone else is using it.  An “Adult” dating site.  Don’t bother looking it up – suffice to say that the “e2easy” branding has become somewhat sullied – and I’m going to have to change it.

So what should I call myself now?  How should I rename my applications?  Perhaps I can keep “e2” suffix to my applications, or the “e:” logo.

Any ideas for a name and branding?

(The most awkward change will be changing the name and URL of this blog.)

I still have an Australian company, under the same name, that I set up years ago.  At the time, I was optimistic about the commercial potential for consumer-oriented RIAs.  Air applications like e2publish.  But I never did find a way of monetizing this kind of thing.  I failed to attract any development funding.  So I tinker with my application ideas in my spare time – and I’m in the process of shutting down my e2easy company anyway.  Does anyone want to buy it?  One careful owner – never left the garage. 🙂

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I have no moral objection to the adult entertainment industry.  At first, I was irritated that the name was more appropriate to my objectives than theirs.  “e2easy” with connotations of Australian “Too easy mate!” (although I’m British – I just lived in Australia when I set this up). “e”-electronic, internet-related information sharing hi-tech “e”xperiences, and easy-to-use consumer-oriented intuitive interfaces.

What has an adult hook-up site got to do with “e2easy”?  …  The answer is that what they do is so more “easy” than what I’ve been attempting to do over the last ten years.  I should have just stuck some pictures of breasts up on a website, then sat back and counted the money.

Instead, I got excited about the pioneering new world of RIAs.  I struggled with sophisticated algorithms and applications, pushing the limits of what the Flash platform could do.  I had frustratingly ambitious ideas, into which I invested my own time and money.  Admittedly, I make a decent (day-job) living prostituting my talents as a Flex expert.  But having tried to plug-away at much more technologically challenging projects in my spare time – perhaps there is simply no market for what I’m trying to do?

e2publish will allow enthusiasts of all kind to collaborate on creating their own e-magazines.  But maybe this activity is too niche to be worthwhile.  Perhaps Richard Alston (prior Australian minister for technology) was right when he said that the internet was just for porn.  A lot of people branded him a luddite.  But perhaps he was just pragmatic.  Not an idealist, and idiotic visionary, like me.

February 28, 2010 at 2:56 am 1 comment

Wrapping text around a giraffe

It’s 2:00am Monday morning.  I’ve just spent all weekend obsessively wrapping text around giraffes.

If you’ve been following my blog, you may remember that a few weeks ago I was blown away by Apple’s presentation of the new iPad.  Particularly iWork and “Pages”.  Having watched a demonstration of text wrapping around a picture of a giraffe – I only wished that I had time to implement this kind of text wrapping in my e2publish AIR application.

Then another developer left a comment on this blog, that he and his team had done this in an application they’d made.

Not wishing to be outdone – I locked myself away this weekend, deprived myself of some sleep, and implemented a much more powerful text wrapping algorithm for e2publish.

It’s more computationally intensive than the previous way I did things.  It takes longer to refresh a page.  But the old (fast but less versatile) scheme comes into play when it can.

You won’t be able to play around with the fruits of my weekend labours yet.  I have other significant enhancements to make to e2publish before I release a new version with the ability to wrap text around giraffes (or other oddly-shaped pictures).  But you can still download the current version here.

February 21, 2010 at 4:02 pm 3 comments

Adobe Refresh Roadshow tomorrow in Brisbane

I’m attending Adobe’s refresh roadshow tomorrow in Brisbane.  I’m looking forward to it.  I get so busy and engrossed in my own little microcosm of  Flex, ActionScript, and AIR development – that it’s going to be good to see demonstrations of other Adobe technologies that I never find the time to play with.

And it’s a healthy change for me to be interacting with people, rather than just coding all day.  Chatting in “meatspace” with other developers, and exploring commercial opportunities.

So if you’re attending too – say hi!

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Incidentally, there have been several minor updates of e2publish – so make sure you’re running the latest incarnation.  (And I’m still looking for beta testers!)

February 15, 2010 at 6:28 am Leave a comment

Further thoughts about the iPad, Flash, and what Jobs said.

They are lazy, Jobs says. They have all this potential to do interesting things but they just refuse to do it. They don’t do anything with the approaches that Apple is taking, like Carbon. Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy, he says. Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it’s because of Flash. No one will be using Flash, he says. The world is moving to HTML5.” (quote extracted from here).

I’ve always had a lot of respect for Steve Jobs.   If Jobs says something – I listen.  And so does the entire computing industry.

If Steve Jobs were to say something that challenged my world view – I wouldn’t get defensive or upset.  I would listen very carefully to the message.

I’ve said this before: I’m not a fan boy.  I think evangelism is unhealthy.  But I have tremendous loyalty to the Apple brand based on technical merit.

My other foot is firmly planted in the Adobe camp.  I’ve been dedicated and involved in the Flash Platform for the last ten years because I was excited by its ubiquitous nature, its consumer saturation, and its potential for mobile deployment.  ActionScript 3 is a joy.  Most of my waking hours are spent using Flex commercially or coding sophisticated Pure ActionScript.  (resolution 2010 – I really must get out more).

There are three parts to Steve’s message.

I fully agree with the first part of Jobs’ statement.  Think of it as a wake-up call.

I’m not going to talk about “Flash is buggy” accusation .  I think Flash on a Mac is better than it used to be.  There’s a lot of speculation elsewhere about this issue. I won’t add to the noise.

I don’t agree with the last part of Steve’s message.  I’ve heard all about the demise of Flash before.  I’ve seen Flash-killers come and go and fade into obscurity.  Flash has a strong legacy and following and I don’t see it disappearing.

Mac users have often been treated as second-class citizens by Macromedia/Adobe.  Initial releases of software such as Flex and ColdFusion were released for PC only.  I remember having to wait ages before I was able to obtain the first pre-release version of Flex that I could run on my Mac.

Yet, back in the pioneering days – I noticed something about the people who were getting most excited about using Flash to write applications.  Most were Mac users like myself.

The performance of Flash on the Mac has been an issue for all the time I’ve been using Flash.  It IS implementation laziness.  Every software development project I’ve worked on (both commercial and personal) has involved an optimisation phase to make things to run faster.  I do this a lot in Flex and ActionScript.  To improve the user experience on a PC as well as Mac.  Working on my code to compensate for the feeble Flash runtime, or Flex framework.  I wish Macromedia/Adobe had done more optimisation at their end, as it would have saved me a lot of work at my end.

I’ve heard the excuses.  That this is a consequence of executing something in a ubiquitous runtime rather than natively.  That Flash or Flex provide a higher-level authoring experience (compared to Pure ActionScript), so I must accept the consequences .  I don’t accept these excuses.

Flash was probably fast enough for “conventional” uses.  Banner animations, web-sites, e-commerce, simple stuff dragged together in Flex.  But now people are writing applications that resemble the kinds of applications that run on your desktop.  The bar has been raised.  Users expect capabilities more like they get on the desktop, and developers like myself want to be empowered by Flash more than we are currently.

As a developer, my intimacy and familiarity with the ActionScript classes provide me with a unique vision of what the platform is capable of, and what is lacking.  TLF textflows for example.  In 2003, I described this idea (except my name for them was “linked text boxes”).  For many years I was frustrated by the limitations of the TextField object and the lack of control over text on the screen, until eventually we got the flash.text.engine class.

I could mention numerous other examples of enhancements and capabilities that we waited too long to happen – but at least we got there in the end.  The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  What was the point of ActionScript 2? – superseded so quickly.  Or a bloated, slow, and badly conceived Halo Flex framework?  Every time that Adobe flounders – they weaken their competitive stance.  And that’s a pity – because I’m really on their side when they’re on-track.

I only wish that a little of Apple’s culture, attention to detail, boldness and vision could be injected into Adobe.

To develop AIR (or even browser) applications with Carbon-like capabilities would be incredible.  It’s an almost incomprehensible vision, compared to what’s possible currently – we’re still dragging our knuckles along the ground.

But if Flash is still dragging it’s knuckles along the ground, then conventional web technology “standards” (canvas, javascript, etc.) have hardly evolved from single cell organisms.  JavaScript!??  Don’t make me laugh.  While I admire the tenacity of developers who’ve created powerful applications in JavaScript (particularly Google’s applications) – I’ll stick to the powerful real language capabilities of ActionScript 3, along with the powerful libraries and complimentary technologies that Adobe have released over the last few years.  (Derrick Grigg has cited some examples of what AS3 can do that JavaScript can’t)  I’m not even sure that an application like e2publish, with its control over text formatting, is even possible in JavaScript.

So despite my frustrations as a developer about the limitations of Flash – it’s still better than the web standard alternatives.  In fact, Adobe shouldn’t even be competing with these lesser technologies.  They’re unworthy adversaries.  Be like the Samurai.

Instead, I wish that Adobe could raise its sights to see the potential of Flash in a similar way to how Steve Jobs sees the potential of Flash.

Unfortunately, Adobe sees the world very differently to Google or Apple.  I notice this every time that Adobe runs a competition, derby, funding scheme or incentive to support developers.  It’s always too much about image and eye-candy and not enough about functionality.  Sometimes, Adobe throws its support and money into a mediocre idea, and biasses the playing-field against much more ambitious visions.

Adobe is an eye-candy company.  Apple is much more about functionality – yet they always present it beautifully.  That’s an important difference.

I wrote something else here.  But I deleted it.  What I had to say would have seemed too much like Kanye West (Gay Fish) at an awards ceremony.  My comments may have upset another developer – and I didn’t want to do that.  Suffice to say that Adobe have often supported ideas or developers that demonstrated very little merit beyond an initial and very superficial “wow” factor.

It’s no wonder that the “web standard” fan boys think they have a shot at the title.  The real capabilities of the Flash Platform are Adobe’s most closely guarded secret.

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On a related issue:  I mentioned how the RIA bar has been raised.  As developers, we’re increasingly aiming for a user experience that resembles the slickness of applications that run on the desktop, rather than the primitive tables, buttons and forms of a traditional web application.

I watched the iPad keynote presentation.  I was so blown away (uh oh, I’m starting to sound like Steve Jobs now) by the iWork demonstration that it almost made me weep.  Not because it was impressive.  Indeed it’s very impressive.  But it’s so impressive that it raises user expectations.  Our Flash based applications will be expected to compete with this level of experience.  That’s daunting – almost defeating.

The part of the video where the text wraps around the giraffes head was particularly daunting for me.  Actually, I know how to do this.  I know exactly how I’d implement that in ActionScript.  I’d love to bring that feature to e2publish.  But that would take time, and divert me from my commercial Flex work that I get paid for.  So that feature probably won’t make it for a while.

While I have lofty ambitions about pushing the envelope of what can be achieved with the Flash Platform – the downside is that I don’t really have the time to realise my vision.

(I tried to embed a link to the youtube video.  It didn’t work, probably because it’s the beta test HTML5 youtube service.  Try part 3 of 4 here.)

February 1, 2010 at 8:50 am 5 comments

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