Category Archives: BitTube Thoughts

General category for random Thoughts and Words from the BitTube.com Blog Author

Welcome to the AppleNet

Your addiction to shiny new consumer electronics will fund Apple in it’s mission to erode your freedom to consume the content you want through the channel you want at the price you want.

You will not be allowed to access some content on Apple devices regardless of its merit. Apple will apply this content censorship at a hardware level based on nothing more than the format content is published in. This censorship will include the music, videos, games, books and applications that you consume, use and own now and those you may want to access in the future.

You will pay whatever Apple tells you to pay for Apple sanctioned content, but will only be able to purchase it through an Apple sanctioned mechanism. You will put up with this because Apple says it’s going to be better that way, easier, it will just work.

This will all be fine, because the content that is deemed worthy will all be based on ‘open’ standards and technology.

Welcome to the AppleNet.

Steve.

Adobe & Flash Hit Main Stream News with TV Deal

Flash Apps On TVThis morning Adobe announced Flash Player will be making its way onto a number of home entertainment devices. Including TV’s, Set Top Boxes and Blue Ray Players. While similar anouncments were made earlier in the year, it is the latest announcement that has seen Flash and Adobe thrust into the main stream news, as the story was featured on the BBC front page and covered in-depth. The article explains this deal could:

create a new generation of connected entertainment services, including streaming video in high definition, and applications that can run in real time alongside video broadcasts, such as interactive news tickers, sport scores, quizzes and the weather.

By embedding the flash player onto chip Adobe and their partners must be solving some of the problems Sean McSharry posted some time ago in regard the challenges on Creating a Flash IPTV System.

On a visit to the IPTV world forum last month at Earls Court both Flash and Adobe were given very little mention. Which I found a little odd. While a large number of vendors were tipping there hat to FLV support, there seemed to be a lack of full Flash based UI’s on display.

Instead most GUI implementations appeared broadly to fall into two camps. First were those using a Microsoft OS implementation, the latest one seems to be Mediaroom (Link requires silverlight). The other choice seemed to use an SVG display layer with some form of webkit or browser based implementation. Regardless, as Serge Jespers mention in his post, most of the interfaces and functionality were a long way away from the slick interfaces and wonderful mashable, connected experiences we have been spoilt by on the web and desktop for so long.

In one conversation I had the problem facing developers was made clear. It will be an issue any mobile developer will know all too well. Limited performance from the device. Even the most recent silicon going into set top boxes or internet enabled television sets is far behind the processing power we are use to on our desktop or laptops these days. For example when using SVG as a display layer on an High Definition Television (HDTV) I was told it may only be possible to re-render a small potion of the screen at a reasonable frame rate, maybe only 1/8th of the screen. Its this limitation that keeps the interfaces simple with very limited animations or transitions.

On television this issue of performance is further compounded by the platform itself. This is not a small screened, only seen for a few minutes, operated by your more technically savvy user, problem that mobile user interface or application development might suffer from. Oh No! This is a 46 inch or larger, always on display, sitting in the corner of the living room, being seen 356 days a year for a couple of hours or more, by any user from 5 years to over 90 years, type of problem. To make things even worse, on a TV the comparisons are not made between “other applications” on the device, as a user might do with an applications on other platforms. No. The comparison is most likely to be made with the main service provided by TV. That would be the full screen video content that the user has been accustomed to recieving and running smoothly at 25/50+ frames a second. Not only that it has worked for the user that way that well for as long as they can remember, well over a two decades.

Lets hope that the flash player talked about in Adobe’s anouncments can really perform on this platform. If it can, it should mean some great performance improvements for any Flash Platform developer. If it can open the door for me to develop the types of experiences Serge discusses as well, were all our modern communication networks can extend and converge into our living room… Well I cant wait!

Mobile Design UK Meeting

Mobile Revolution Last night I attended the Mobile Design UK event held at the RSA Tavern room, near London’s Charring Cross. It was a great evening and the venue was fantastic, a really well equipped space that made the evening feel wonderfully personal. The smaller location really fostered some great discussions following each of the speakers presentations. The mix of content, concepts and ideas presented was really good.

The evening was introduced by Arabella David from Nokia. She outlined the growing importance of user experience in the mobile space and how Forum Nokia is pushing to support Designers and User Experience experts through the Forum Nokia Channel. More information can be found at the Design and Media section of the Forum Nokia Site.

Scott Weiss (@sdweiss) of Human Factors International kicked of the presentations with a dissection and walkthrough of the usability and information architecture considerations when developing mobile applications that use XHTML to reach a broad user audience. It was good to find out that with XHTML as well as many mobile technologies there is often a trade off between features, richness and audience reach.

Antony Ribot (@ribot) from Ribot provided a fantastic presentation on the speed and growth of the mobile information age, and it’s subsequent effects on physical trends, culture and behaviors. Also provided some great ideas on how we as producers might need to change the way we approach concepting, brain storming and designing to target these new user expectations.

Gil Kahana of Seren Partners presentation provided an enthusiastic insight into the challenges faced when dealing with the barriers that mobile applications present to users and the ways developers should research, test and experiment to break down those barriers. There was some great discussions that followed Gil’s presentation around the fragmentation of some of the technology in the mobile space.

The final presentation by Marek Pawlowski (@marekpawlowski) from PMN – Mobile Industry Intelligence showed some brilliant dissection of the minutia of user value that can be extracted by mobile users and audiences from some of the most innocuous of details, the value of battery life conservation, the range of colours a phone or application is available in or how an application provides user feed back when scrolling.

The Mobile Design UK group offers a refreshing and much needed alternative view of mobile development. At the end if the evening I caught up with Bryan Rieger, one of the event organisers, to find out what types of content they were hoping to present at future meetings,

we don’t want to show code

was his first reply. I for one think that’s a brilliant mantra to hold true to. In a space dominated by massively varied technologies, huge numbers of acronyms and a huge range of user audiences and platforms I found it a very comfortable evening of knowledge sharing in a format that felt like a well organized brainstorm.

If you are interested in designing & producing content targeting any mobile platform I would look out for up coming Mobile Design UK events. Thanks to organisers for putting together a great line up os speakers and also a big thank you to Forum Nokia for the sponsorship of the evening.

Using MTASC to compile Flash Lite (FSCommand2) on OSX


For some time I have used Eclipse, FDT and MTASC as my preferred weapon of choice when doing AS2 development, I switch to Flex Builder for AS3 , Flex or AIR. One spanner in these works when using Mac OSX had been when producing mobile content for FlashLite 2+. Flash Lite 2 and FLash Lite 3 can both use ActionScript 2 and so as MTASC should be able to compile FLash Lite content. However on OS X MTASC still appears to have an issue compiling the FSCommand2() function, this was fixed in teh 1.13 version of the win32 version of the compiler but It seems the OS X version does not include the same fix for FSCommand2(). The FSCommand2() function used in Flash Lite development to control things like the SoftKeys or forcing an application to display at full screen on mobiles or devices.

Last week I took the time to find a way to work around this issue in order to get back to my development tool chain when developing Flash Lite content. For those users that are more experienced with this form of development the only answer seems to be to create a symbol in the library of your fla associate any classes that make use of the FSCommand2 to the new symbol. Make sure the Clip is exported in some fashion, either by physically placing it on the stage, or setting it to export for ActionScript. Next export a stub SWF from the fla. In eclipse, or when using MTASC you will need to use the ‘-keep’ switch on the command line when you run MTASC to compile your Flash Lite content, this will also make sure the Flash Lite swf header will remain in tact as well. This forces MTASC to keep any assets that are already in the target output swf.

It is also worth mentioning that in your application code you will not be able to refer to the class that contains functionality using the FSCommand2. So applications like FDT will think there is an error as you will be unable to define the ‘type’ of your class. A second note is that MTASC will flag that there is a movie clip associated with a class, but that is has not been compiled.


Warning : The MovieClip KeyController needs the class { Class path containing FSCommand2() function } which was not compiled :
Please force compilation of this class by adding it to the commandline.

I have not been able to completely remove the FLA or the Flash IDE completely from my tool chain, but in all honesty I think there are alot of use cases in Flash Lite development that still require a level of timeline usage, so I happy with this compromise.

I have created an example package of files that you can download from here or in the download area.

FOTB 08 and a question of Art.

Flash on the beach this year for me was fantastic. John thanks to you and every one involved in putting the event together. This year I found the practical sessions were very informative, and the presenters did a fantastic job of convincing me to look at some areas of Flash I have been shying away from. Thanks particularly to Koen De Weggheleire, Seb Lee-Delisle, Chris Orwig and Dr. Woohoo! (Drew Trujillo) whose sessions I found to be full to over flowing with information and inspiration. There were 3 sessions that stick out in my mind. The reason for this was not only for the content that was displayed, but also for the discussions the presentations generated afterwards. In no particular order, Erik Natzke, Jonathan Harris and Robert Hodgin.

This was my first time seeing Robert Hodgin’s work and the first time seeing Robert present. I had heard the glowing reports from the previous year, but believe it of not FOTB08 was the first time I saw his work. In hind sight I am so glad I got to experience his work first time on ‘the big screen’. It was a fantastic show.

I saw Erik Natzke’s work and presentation at last years FOTB, and was really looking forward to seeing his session this year. Last year his presentation felt like a teaser, a peak in side the early stages of his work. This year I felt the presentation showed where that journey had taken Erik’s work over the last year.

The final session of the conference was given by Jonathan Harris. I had not previously heard Jonathan speak before nor had I seen Jonathan’s work. I found some of the projects Jonathan presented very interesting but his work did not affect me to the same degree as Erik’s or Robert’s did. But then after the main body of his presentation, Jonathan kept talking. What he said really interested me, it made me think. I think it was this last 15 minutes that ‘made people gasp’ and generated the most discussion.

To provide some context to the rest of this post, the core of all the discussions I have heard, read or been involved in largly related to one, some or all four of these slides to some degree or other.

Language – Flickr Link
Questions – Flickr Link
Masterpieces – Flickr Link
Insights – Flickr Link

Or the conversations centered around how Jonathan delivered the last section of his presentation (PlayPen has the audio and also as a download.

It would also be worth reading the post Jonathan has made as a more detailed explanation of his presentation.

The discussions that have taken place since Jonathan’s presentations reminded me of my days in College or University. They are the conversations of people with fire in their bellies, opinions to be voiced and ideas that they needed to be heard. The discussions have often been heated, fiery even.

At university after any of the students presented work to ‘the group’ there would always follow a period of discussion and dissection of the work and also the ideas behind the work. Unfortunately Jonathan left no time at the end of his presentation for questions or discussion. As a result I feel slightly cheated that Jonathan left no time for the crowd to talk to him and provide him feed back on his work, ideas, and the assumptions he may or may not to have made. So here are some of the things I would have liked to discuss with him.

Personally for me one of the failings of the last 15 minutes of Jonathan’s presentation was the feeling of an underlying message that Art should have a message, a story or something to say to the viewer. That for our work as practitioners of ‘new media’ to be considered Art it must move beyond the tools that are used and say something of value about the world we live in today.

I don’t believe this is true. Yes i agree that throughout art history there have been artist and art movements that concerned themselves with providing a commentary or message on the society of the day, but there have also been great artists and works of Art that are nothing more than the realization of the ideas, concepts, emotions or any aspect of the human condition. We call it Conceptual Art, Art that investigates a concept or an idea rather than presenting a message, story or subject that the viewer must interpret and understand. Additionally and slightly more cynically there are HUGE quantaties of Art works that may only exist because someone was willing to pay for them to be produced, they were commissioned to the artist that went on to produced them. It is no coincidence that Art is referred to as ‘Works of Art’ or ‘Art Work’, Artist coming from the original Artisan.

One trained to manual dexterity in some mechanic art or trade; and handicraftsman; a mechanic

( Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary. MICRA, Inc. 16 Oct. 2008)

Art was generally a paid profession. I defy you to name an artist that has not received some form of payment for their work, and not been considered a failed artist.

On talking about the adoption and application of new mediums into the artistic relm Jonathan had this to say (Time Stamp 1:05:59 from the MP3).

Artists grope with the new medium to say something that needs to be said about the world, to process reality in some way.

I feel this is a sweeping statment that is only I belive is only partly true. I feel it misses the concept of the artist as artisan. Historically new tools, mediums and techniques are embraced by artists artisans or crafts people as ways to better complet their work, expressing their ideas, and bringing their concepts to life, or to a state they are able to call ‘complete’ . For example its been shown that early photographic methods were employed as a tools by painters so they could more closely depict the reality of a scene by way of ‘tracing’ a projection, thus speeding up production. Technology, tools and mediums are not always about the message, they can simply be the means to an end product. The most direct or natural way for the artist to reach a creative destination.

On talking about Language Jonathan said this (Time Stamp 1:08:47 from the MP3)

We speak a new and powerful language, capable of saying things no other language can say.

Once again I have to disagree with Jonathan at a very basic level. I feel that we, as modern society, do not speak a new language. We do have new tools, techniques and technology with which we are able to conceptualise, express, externalise, present, publish and disseminate our ideas, concepts, emotions and yes our messages. But the language is still the same. We use the language of human creativity, a very raw and base form of communicating. It allows us to express ourselves externally to any number of others humans that happen upon us, or that in some cases will explicitly ask us to externalise some aspect of ourselves. This expression is regardless of form these aspect of ‘us’, ideas, concepts or opinions, feelings, emotions might manifest themselves. For example through speech, dance, mark making, or any other activity or action that we as humans embed on the reality unfolding around us. Its a big subject, far bigger than I am able to express. Maybe I could draw it.
😉

I will cut this post short(er). I very much look forward to a future opportunity to talk in person with Jonathan, I feel there some fantastic conversations to have with him, great ideas and opinions to chew over, I only regret I missed the chance in Brigton. As way of closing. Jonathan posed these questions, among others.

Can it make someone gasp or cry

Will it be relevant in 25 years

and

Does it compare to the masterpieces of other mediums

On the first question, I believe it is incomplete. I would prefer.

Can it make someone, gasp, cry, laugh, shout, spit, scream, kick or even kill. For me in order that the products of Artisans to be considered Art, the viewer, user or audience should be unable to contain there own emotions and will find any way they can to express a reaction to that ‘other’ idea which they are experiencing.

On the last two questions, if any of people that we consider masters today had asked those questions would they have bothered to produce the work that we, today, now consider master pieces. Would Picaso have produced Les Demoiselles d’Avigno having compared it to La Grande Odalisque by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, would Jeff Koons have had his Michael Jackson produced having compared it to Michelangelo’s David. Could Leonardo really have know that the Mona Lisa would be such an iconic image today. Would Duchamp EVER, after any of Jonathan’s questions, have conceived his Fountain?

These pieces are considered Masterpieces now, but what evidence is there that they have always been Masterpieces to every age though history. When does a Natzke, a Harris or a Hodgin turn from a piece of modern virtuosity in the medium of ‘New Media’ into a Masterpiece of our modern time? Who has the right to declare they haven’t already? The term Masterpiece is as subjective as the term Art.

I very much enjoyed the presentation Jonathan gave, I may not have agreed with everything that he said, but I love the fact that it brought back some of that fire, there is nothing like a conceptual conflict to get the mind racing.

Today, I feel like an Artist.

Apple’s App Store heads towards Orwellian Nightmare for iPhone Users

Following my recent post musing as to The Real Reason Flash Isn’t on Apple’s iPhone?, more news of how Apple is tightening its grip over the iPhone, its developers and its users began to filter through. I don’t think there could be any confusion as to the intentions of Apple and the control they have over App Store and the Applications that they sell on or through it. Apple are willing, ready and able, to block any trouble makers that might upset Apple’s new ivory tower.

First came news of Apple’s ‘Kill List‘ that could allow Apple to remove ‘unwanted’ apps from the iPhone. While it is said to be for the removal of malicouse applications, there is no real reason it would not be used for any iPhone application. This could presumably be regardless of wether users may have paid money for them or actually want the applications them on their iPhone.

Second came the news that Apple had removed Nullriver’s NetShare application from the app store, and that it was unlikely to return in North America. The application provided a way for iPhone users to ‘tether’ there iPhones to a laptop, while iPhone user may have found this functionality useful. Unfortunately Apple felt it was best not to allow its iPhone users that choice.

Finnaly came news of the removal of the “Podcaster” application from App Store. This time the reason would seem to be it competes with Apple on its own platform! There are som many comments and comparisons that could be made here with another software company that took a step to far in flexing its anti competitive muscles thats its not even funny. Cough “M$” cough “anti-trust” cough.

If iPhone users want to spend $999 on a red ruby application. I say let them!

In the real world if you can’t find the product you really want in one shop, you walk next door, or up the road, or go online until you find it. But what if there is only one shop? you don’t have a choice! Apple’s App Store is that one shop as far as iPhone applications go. Unless you jail break your iPhone and invalidate you warranty.

All the control Apple are now beginning to wield over its iPhone, iPod Touch and App Store developers and users is, of course, in the best interest of the consumer and their user experience. It is certainly NOT a terribly slippery slope that is already eroding consumer choice. Where does it end?.

Flash Lite 3 Training est Bonne!

This week I took 3 days to attend a Flash Lite 3 training course being provided by Adobe software that was presented by Dale Rankine from Moket . It was a fantastic training course, very well presented and chock full of useful information. Thanks to Dale, Suzanne and Adobe for arranging, organizing and presenting the training course.

The training course was held in Paris which meant a broad mix of different european mobile developers were attended. Its the first training course I have attended and I was surprised at the breadth of experience of the other attendees. A range of backgrounds from designers, lectures, flash developers, service operators and also mobile Java developers.

The wide range of knowledge and experience made for great discussions regarding development practices, the future of mobile, and also the part that Flash, Flash Lite or Flash Platform might play in the emerging mobile data and services market place. I imagine it also made for a real challenge to present to us at times!

These are exciting times to be involved in Flash Lite and mobile development in general. Battle lines still seem to be being drawn between a number of companies, technologies, services and a whole mix of different mobile phones and other devices. Training courses and conferences and gatherings like this and LFPUG which bring together such mixed skill sets offer a great chance to get under the marketing hype and speak to the people actually involved.

Very enjoyable and informative, thanks everyone involved.

The Real Reason Flash Isn’t on Apple’s iPhone?

Recently Wired posted an interview with The Mozilla CEO John Lilly. Towards the end of the interview Wired asks the question.

Wired: Are you going to develop a version of Firefox for the iPhone?

and the response?

Lilly: No. Apple makes it too hard. They say it’s because of technical issues — they don’t want outsiders to disrupt the user experience. That’s a business argument masquerading as a technological argument.

After dwelling on this I thought, this response could be applied to any number of technologies and applications. Not just Fire Fox. Everyone is now familiar with Apple’s response to the Flash Player going on the Apple iPhone. What if that response was also nothing but “a business argument masquerading as a technological argument”?

On the flip side if Apple were to make it easy for any such ‘outsiders’, as Lilly puts it, to get on its beloved new device then it could be the thin end of the wedge. For arguments sake if Apple were to allow Fire Fox with its XULRunner offline runtime engine on to the iPhone, then surely there is room for Adobe (Flash Player), Sun (Java Runtime) and even Microsoft (Silverlight) to all call foul play?

I dont know the technical capabilities or requirements to each of these runtime technologies. But making it diffiicult, or saying it technically cant be done does make for an easy way to keep a platform closed. I am not sure the advantage to Apple to shut these other technologies out? Is Apple acting in the best interest of its iPhone users and the user experience they receive? Or is something more sinister going on? Is it an attempt to lay claim to the mobile web, blocking out the competition while pulling those lovely user experiences and interfaces over our eyes?

What ever the reason, currently the message seems clear, with Apple and their iPhone, regardless who you are. Its do it Apple’s way or not at all. Maybe iPhone doesn’t need flash, but as a flash platform developer and an Apple user, it seems a shame that its missing to me.

Does Apple’s new 3g iPhone Still Suck?

Back in November I posted a post titled “9 reasons the iPhone Sucks!“. It was a quick link to some comments a friend made regarding the iPhone being ‘a little disapointing’ when he first took delivery of Apple’s shiney new device. At the time I only had 3 gripes with Apple’s original mobile device.

Since Apple has released the 3g iPhone I have read a number of online posts & articles as well as hard copy newspapers & magazines all detailing the new device. To be fair you couldn’t read much else than stories about the iPhone for a while.

Also, since November I have ben using my trusty Nokia N95 more and more, despite its age. As a result I feel I know more about my personal mobile usage requirements and am more knowledgeable about my expectations of a mobile device now as well.

Following a new comment posted on my original “9 reasons the iPhone Sucks!” post I thought I would revisit the subject, referencing the 3g iPhone this time.

In my original post the three issues I had with the iPhone were as follows.

  1. 2 mega pixel camera with no video. Nokia N95 has a 5 mega pixel camera and full screen video recording and tv out playback. Result.
  2. No 3g internet connection. Nokia N95 once again comes up trumps in this department with 3G and HSDP access. Result.
  3. No decent Data package, 18 month contract. N95 on T-mobile with web & walk max. 10 gb data voip and 3g. Result

Ok so the lack of 3g connection is now null and void, well done Apple. Or is it. Over the last 9 months only a small percentage of my 3g connection usage has been ‘On Device’, most of my mobile 3g usage has been by hooking the N95 up to my Mac Book Pro as a 3g Modem, either over BlueTooth or USB. Despite the iPhone being from the same company as my laptop, apparently there is no easy way to make it work as a 3g modem? DOH!

You could argue I may be able to complete some of the tasks I use my laptop for on the iPhone, for example email and web browsing. I remain unconvinced they will be as easy to complete though, I fudge the on screen keyboard alot for one thing, I know I have tried many times in store.

There are however tasks I know full well I will not be able to accomplish, Flex development linked to a live data source while traveling on the train down to Devon for example. For those tasks I will still need a 3g modem connected to my Mac Book Pro.

The next thing is the 2 mega pixel camera on the Apple iPhone versus the 5 Mega pixel camera on the Nokia N95. Well Apple havent done much there the camera is still 2 mega pixels, despite reports that say the chipset should support 5 mega pixels. Over the last 8 months I have been using the camera on my Nokia N95 more and more. As with anything, you can never go backwards to an inferior product. In addition I quite like sending photos of the surf down in Devon to people I know are still in London 😀 . Sorry Sean. I understand this isnt so easy on the new 3g iPhone either?

Finnaly the data package. I will be honest, I am not sure if I even need the 10gig of data transfer I currently have availible on my current mobile tariff, I havent looked too much at the new mobile data tariffs from O2 to compare them to t-mobile either.

So there is no way I will be getting the new phone either, right? Weeeeeell there is one issue. As Tink mentioned in the comments on the original post. The coverage of t-mobile is sketchy, particularly in Devon. It might be that the fact I need to be able to do a simple thing like call people on my mobile phone, regardless of which device it is, means I swap to O2, wich has great coverage ‘down south’. If I was doing that anyway, it would be rude not to upgrade 😀

Moving Application Windows in OS X via Apple Script

Those of you lucky enough to have multiple monitors hooked up to you MacBook or MacBook Pro when you work may have come across this issue. When you remove that extra monitor some applications don’t get re-positioned back on to your laptop display. I had this with one particular application that I use frequently, KeePassX. Well somewhere along the way I dug up this use full terminal/apple script that solves the issue.

property processesToIgnore : {}
tell application "Finder"
	set _b to bounds of window of desktop
	set screen_width to item 3 of _b
	set screen_height to item 4 of _b
end tell
tell application "System Events"
	set allProcesses to application processes
	set _results to ""
	repeat with i from 1 to count allProcesses
		set doIt to 1
		repeat with z from 1 to count processesToIgnore
			if process i = process (item z of processesToIgnore) then
				set doIt to 0
			end if
		end repeat
		if doIt = 1 then
			tell process i
				repeat with x from 1 to (count windows)
					set winPos to position of window x
					set _x to item 1 of winPos
					set _y to item 2 of winPos
					if (_x < 0 or _y < 0 or _x > screen_width or _y > screen_height) then
						set position of window x to {0, 22}
					end if
				end repeat
			end tell
		end if
	end repeat
end tell

I don’t recall where I may have dug this up, but if you think you know, please let me know in the comments so I can give credit.

DVI != DVI

A few weeks ago as I was preparing to present at the OnAir event I had a rather untimely hardware failure on my Apple MacBook Pro. As a result I had to rather hastily prep my wife’s MacBook Black to present from. One of the preparations was to make sure I would be able to connect the machine to a projector, as any apple laptop owner will know its important to carry a DVI to VGA connector at all times.

However the MackBook black uses the mini DVI connector, as a result I thought it would be a snap to just pick up a Mini DVI to CVI connector, and then from there I could use the DVI to VGA connector I already own. Not so. Despite the packaging suggesting otherwise, the DVI result from the apple mini DVI connector is not a standard DVI out. There are 4 pins “missing”. The pictures Below explain better.

BitTube Goes Over the Air

Thats right, its all very last minute but I will be presenting a session at the upcoming Over the Air event in London this week.

My session is scheduled for Friday afternoon.

Flash Video Nokia Masterclass – Dave Williamson (Adobe)Learn how to create live video applications with the most popular online video format on Nokia devices.

Over the Air is all sold out now, but you can find all the information about the event over at the Over the Air Blog

I look forward to catching up with you if you are there.

Nokia N95 Firmware Update to 21.0.016 and adds FlashLite 3 Support

As many people will have seen yesterday Nokia release a fairly major update to the N95 firmware. One of the major bonuses for flash developers is the inclusion of FlashLite 3 as standard onto the device, both as a standalone player and within the browser. For those using detection scripts the player version reported in the browser is:

PlayerVersion: FL 8,1,55,0

You can see a FlashLite version test movie here..

Related to this I found myself in the situation where the Nokia Software Updater would not allow me to install the new firm ware, my t-mobile branded phone was just such a device. A quick search and it seems that devices on certain service providers are locked from the update. However there are always round such restrictions. Below is how to modify your Nokia N95 product code so that it is unlocked for applying new firmware updates.

WARNING THIS PROCESS MAY BRICK YOUR PHONE, VOID YOUR WARRANTY AND ANY NUMBER OF OTHER TERRIBLE THINGS. DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU ARE IN ANYWAY UNSURE OF THE CONSEQUENCES. I ACCEPT NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY NASTY THINGS THAT HAPPEN TO YOU, YOUR DEVICE OR ANY ACTION YOUR SERVICE PROVIDER TAKES AFTER FOLLOWING THESE LINKS AND INSTRUCTIONS

That said, I only had one minor hiccup in the whole process, and it seems I am not the only one to have experienced it. I for got to mention that to Mike on MSN 😀

Right with that out the way, on to the fun.

1. First off BACK UP YOUR DEVICE! make sure you have a back up of the memory card and also the device memory.
2. In order to install the new 21.0.016 firmware you will also want to make sure you have the following software.

* Download the latest version of Nokia PC Suite.
* Download the Nemesis Service Suite.

3. Next read this post, it provides a list of the available product codes for the N95.
4. Finally you should make sure you read this post, it covers how to update the product code on the N95.

As I began to progress through the steps outlined on changing the product code of my Nokia N95 mobile phone there were a couple of items where I was left to ‘take a leap of faith’.

  1. When installing Nemesis Service Suite I left the device connection as the default virtual USB device. And that seemed to be the right thing to do.
  2. When deciding on a new product code for the device I chose the one for EURO1 Plum, this appears to have worked fine for my location and device. I have a silver/grey Nokia N95 and am based in the UK.

Once the product code was updated on the mobile phone the Nokia Software Updater worked fine to allow me to upgrade to the latest 21.0.016 firmware.

Curse my slow blogging skills, beat to the post. 😀

How to create a portable, cross platform encrypted drive using TrueCrypt

I posted a few days ago regarding the release of the new Macintosh OS X version of TrueCrypt. For those that don’t know, TrueCrypt is a free, open source application that enables you to create an encrypted files that, using the TrueCrypt application, can be mounted as a drive on a host machine. The exciting thing is that this new version of TrueCrypt makes it possible to create a cross platform encrypted volumes! This post is a step by step instruction on how to create a portable, cross platform, encrypted volume that will allow you to carry your data securely and access it on any Windows, Mac and I assume Linux based computers.

Before we get into the main instruction, I want to highlight some points.

  1. [[** UPDATE **]]
    See this comment Sorry I was wrong, thank you for clearing this up
    [[** UPDATE **]]
    Currently the Mac version of TrueCrypt does NOT support hidden volumes, so if you need data to be available on Windows, Mac and Linux, you will have to forgo hidden encrypted volume functionality for the time being. Remember hidden TrueCrypt volumes you have previously created will NOT work on Macintosh computers.
  2. Currently the Mac version of TrueCrypt only seems to support the FAT file system. This is actually pretty logical . There is no native support for NTFS on Macintosh computers yet. If you already have a Windows based NTFS formatted encrypted volume, you may want to set up a new encrypted volume and format it to FAT so that you can mount the volume on multiple operating systems.
  3. Remember you will need to download the latest version of TrueCrypt

Below the fold is the full step by step instruction on how to create a free, portable, cross platform encrypted drive using TrueCrypt. The encrypted volume you create should allow you to move a secure encrypted file across windows, macintosh and linux computers. As long as you have the TrueCrypt application with you on something like a USB drive or TrueCrypt is pre-installed on your target computer you should be able to mount your encrypted file as a standard drive.

So off we go!!

Continue reading How to create a portable, cross platform encrypted drive using TrueCrypt

Free, Portable, Cross Platform Encryption Solution with TrueCrypt 5

True Crypt 5a was released on a few weeks ago on February the 12th, one of the major new features is the release of a Mac OS X version of this free encryption application. A quick test confirms that creating a TrueCrypt 5 encrypted volume as a FAT32 formated volume using the new OS X 10.5 Leopard release of produces an encrypted file that can be mounted and used on a Windows XP machine that also has the new version of true crypt installed or availible.

Personally I find this new version wonderful. My previous cross platform encryption solution was to use bcrypt a command line application availible for both Windows and Mac OS X, however this was really only useful for file encryption. Alternatively I could use an encrypted drive image in OS X, But then this was no use if i needed the files on my Windows machine.

True crypt 5 allows a user to set up an encrypted volume that can be mounted as a drive, in the same way as an OS X drive image, only now of course its cross platform, and if you run truecrypt in traveler mode, its portable too! Bonus!

In addition if you happen to have a Linux box, or maybe one of the shiny new Nokia Internet Tablets you ‘should’ also be able to run TrueCrypt 5 on those as well, TrueCrypt has supported Linux for a while I believe.

You can Download TrueCrypt here.

Using Compact Data Formats in FlashLite 1.1

Recently I have been involved in some FlashLite 1.1 development that requires a certain level of online data interaction. With memory being at a premium on Mobile devices I have been spending many a spare moment looking at efficient data transfer methods.

Stepping back into FlashLite 1.1 (flash 4/5) scripting has been a nostalgic experience. The halcyon days of ActionScript 0/1 were where I broke my teeth, so to speak, on flash. It has been an eye opener also to return to using Perl as well in order to format data efficiently for consumption in my simple FlashLite 1.1 applications.

In these days of XML, SOAP, SQL, and huge component frameworks, it has been nice to go back the the “demo days” of flash and try and eak every byte out of my data format. Remember of course, no XML or SWX support in FlashLite 1.1.

So what have i been playing with? How about a Live London Tube Status FlashLite 1.1 application?

Continue reading Using Compact Data Formats in FlashLite 1.1

9 reasons the iPhone Sucks!

Macca has posted a nice concise list of reasons the iPhone sucks. Personally I don’t have one of the devices, I don’t see the need when I can get an iPod Touch to do development testing on, its cheaper, and I wont be tied in for 18 months. At any rate here are my reasons for not buying “This years must have gadget”.

  1. 2 mega pixel camera with no video. Nokia N95 has a 5 mega pixel camera and full screen video recording and tv out playback. Result.
  2. No 3g internet connection. Nokia N95 once again comes up trumps in this department with 3G and HSDP access. Result.
  3. No decent Data package, 18 month contract. N95 on T-mobile with web & walk max. 10 gb data voip and 3g. Result

Macca’s list is longer. See 9 reasons iPhone Sucks.

Result.

Flash on the Beach 07 Presentation Files

FOTB 07. What can I say. Incredible. First off let me say a very big thank you to John Davey. John did a great job, I can only guess the amount of organization involved in Flash on the beach, the speaker list and session line up were brilliant, and the shwag was top draw, both for attendees and speakers. It was a pleasure and an honor to have the chance to be involved in a presenting capacity. Thank you for inviting me John.

At the event I presented a session that discussed the issues of Localisation, and to a lesser extent my new love, Mobilisation. This was my first time presenting at a larger event like this. Certainly I was nervous, and I am sure that there were tell tale cracks in my voice a few times as I went through my slides. As I got in to the flow of the presentation I think I settled in a little.

I did have a slight issue with timing, which meant I rushed the last few slides, unfortunately, as a result I had to drop one of the examples. It also meant that I missed the opportunity to ask questions of the people that attended if they had any. So my apologies there.

Any way below is the link to my speakers notes, and also the examples from my session on Localisation.

Flash on the Beach 07 Localisation Presentation Files

On a related note I have uploaded to Flickr a few of the images my little lomo camera captured of the event. You can see them over on my Flickr stream

British Airways Ban Surfboards

I have just read over at magicseaweed.com that as of November 6th this year British airways have decided they will no longer carry certain sporting equipment for their passengers.

Most worrying for my self, and I imagine a number of friends will be the inclusion of surf boards on the list of banned equipment.

Watergate Bay, Cornwall

Due to the large size and handling complexities, some sporting equipment cannot be accommodated through the airport baggage system or within the aircraft hold. Therefore we no longer accept the following equipment at check-in as part of your sporting equipment allowance.

  • hang gliders
  • windsurfing boards and sails
  • surfboards
  • kayaks or canoes
  • pole vaults
  • javelins

Any surfer will tell you carrying boards is a difficult and worrying process at best. The wait at any airport collection waiting to see if your pride and joy made the journey in one piece is never a nice one. However, surfing in great waves on your own equipment is the best feeling you will have.

The flip side is that if you decide to buy boards at your destination to use, you may well get so attached to them you want to bring them back, something I have done myself.

It is worrying to think that if other airlines were to follow British Airways lead then neither of these choices would be an option. In some cases that may mean waves just are not available. Without a way to transport equipment they might simply be off limits.

If you want to voice your concerns over this, head on over to the British Airways contact form and let them know.

Link to British Airways Contact Form

via: magicseaweed.com and British Airways Information

Mobile web usage nearly equal to PC web in Japan

Via Cameron Moore & Comscore: Over on Authentic Boredom, Cameron Moore draws attention to the huge numbers of mobile web users in Japan. Almost as many web users accessed the web in one form or another using their mobile phone as accessed the internet from a home or work computer in june apparently.

… an estimated 53.6 million people are using a mobile device to access the Internet [in Japan], a figure nearly equaling the 53.7 million who accessed the Internet from either a home or a work computer in June 2007.

However even with such huge usage, user experience seem to be being overlooked.

Only 12.6 percent of respondents accessing the Internet via a mobile device stated that they were either “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied”, with 52.1 percent stating that they were either “very dissatisfied” or “somewhat dissatisfied”.

An interesting point to note in the article is which devices are being used.

Sharp has a 21 percent share of the handset market, followed by NEC and Panasonic with 15 percent and 13 percent respectively.

While the numbers I have seen at various web sites are a little old, the devices we seem to favor here in Europe are far different from those quoted above. I imagine though that with the release of more powerful and feature packed phones such as the “Nokia N95” (Nokia) and the iPhone, along with more reasonable data contracts from the likes of T-Mobile and Vodaphone in particular. We should expect to start seeing a greater mobile web usage moving westward.

I know my use of the web has definitely taken a more mobile bent over the last few months.

Who made the .mobi domain so long?

I have been examining how I use ‘tinternet on my phone more and more over the last few months. Ownership of the N95 really has altered how I view the web, and also how I use it. I have read a couple of posts recently regarding the good (contains harsh language) and the bad of the mobile web. Most of the issues I have revolve around the limited user control I have through the phone, in particular this makes text entry difficult. So why add insult to injury by making the .mobi domain one of the longest top level domain extensions for a user to enter? Just a thought.

Renaming 13,000 photographs and XMP Files. LightRoom Wins.

As I mentioned not long ago I have always been a huge fan of Adobe PhotoShop LightRoom (Although its full name can be a real mouthful!). I Love the non-destructive transforms and its great at organising my photos straight from the camera. I read today of a different challenge from the National geographic digital photography blog. The author had been sent the following challenging set of files.

  • I received 13,000 images from a photographer. The files are named incorrectly and many hundreds of images have the same name.
  • All files need to be sorted by the time they were created and renamed from 1 through 13,000.
  • The files are located within more than 140 sub-folders by file category and in no apparent date order.
  • Each of the images has an XMP file containing the caption information and this file needs to be renamed exactly as the file is named.

The Author seemed to think LightRoom is the only program up to the job. Understanding XMP Files, and allowing the user to sort by date. One thing I didn’t see mentioned was its ability to remove suspected duplicates.

Read the full ‘task-off’ over at National Geographic.

Also this evening Ihave fallen on a couple of use full links that offer some free Presets for LightRoom users to make use of.

LightRoom-Extra.com – Has everything from templates, to presets.
lightroompresets.com – Only seems to provide downloads for development presets in LightRoom

Dreamhost Servers Suffer Security Breach

Sometime last night (07/06/2007) the DreamHost Servers suffered a security breach. Apparently the exact problem relates to a fairly large number (about 3500) of FTP accounts on the DreamHost servers. I discovered one of my accounts was involved. As a result some pages within my site are now unreachable and others may have nefarious links in them. While I have done my best to remove the spam links if you do find anything untoward please let me know.

I would be lying if I said this has not concerned me, for the following reasons.

  1. I only every use/used SFTP or SSH to connect to my domains and for file transfers
  2. I only ever use SSL/https for connecting to my email
  3. I use very secure passwords 20 character mixed case, special character, alpha numerics, I figure they are about 160+ bit
  4. Every user account has a different password of this strength
  5. I change them pretty regularly
  6. As I mentioned to my friend Macca, I dont even know the passwords. They are generated randomly and stored encrypted by KeePass (or KeePassxX on the mac). So how did someone else manage to get them?

As a result of the breach all account passwords and some key user names within the domain have now been altered. I can only hope this single account has been compromised. Fortunately the account involved only had SFTP access, but that still makes it very worrying.

If you use DreamHost I would recommend a full user account and or password update, just in case, and check, double check your sites and client sites if they are hosted with DreamHost for spam links.

Files that seemed to be affected on my domains were index.php and index.html files.

This is the first serious problem I have had with my hosting at DreamHost so am waiting for the dust to settle on this before making any switching plans.

The “full details” of the breach from DreamHost are in the email below.

Continue reading Dreamhost Servers Suffer Security Breach