Category Archives: Development

Random Development

eBook Review of Mobile Web Design by Cameron Moll

After stumbling upon Cameron Moll’s Blog and site, which is pretty much focused on mobile web design and development, I downloaded his eBook, “Mobile Web Design“. Now that I have finished reading the book I thought I would provide a review. Book reviewing is not something that I have done before, but I hope the review shows that Cameron’s work certainly warrants it.

Continue reading eBook Review of Mobile Web Design by Cameron Moll

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

Apple Introduces the iPhone Dev Center

This morning I received an email from Apple letting me know I could now log into the iPhone Dev Center

The iPhone Dev Center will provide quote.

  • iPhone Reference Library
    Access documentation, guides, and release notes on developing web applications and content for iPhone.
  • Web Development Guidelines
    Get the latest development techniques on mobile browser-based user experience design and development.
  • Sample Code
    Learn techniques for interactive and standards-based design on iPhone
  • iPhone Tech Talk Videos
    Hear from iPhone experts on interface design and processes in optimizing web applications and content.
  • Safari Compatibility
    Download Safari 3 Public Beta and design your web application to create the optimal iPhone user experience
  • Web App Submission
    Once your app is ready, submit it for possible listing in the Apple web apps library.

Find out more at the iPhone Dev Center.

FlashLite Helper Classes for Download. Pt 2. NetworkBroadcaster

Following on from the simple BatteryBroadcaster class posted last week I have put together a second helper class for FlashLite, again built in ActionScript 2, so it should work for any FlashLite 2 or FlashLite 3 project. The NetworkBroadcaster class centralises all network and signal related events, and broadcasts any changes to listeners on 2 separate intervals. One for general signal levels, the other for “other” network status events, for example changes in network generation support.
Continue reading FlashLite Helper Classes for Download. Pt 2. NetworkBroadcaster

FlashLite 2 Helper Classes for Download. Pt 1. BatteryBroadcaster

I have been sorting through some of my old code, commenting up some bits and generally refreshing the grey matter on some of the things I have been working on. I thought I would put some of the helper classes I use out into the wild. First up is a simple class that I used for monitoring battery status of mobile phones or other mobile devices in FlashLite 2, or FlashLite 3, I would think (not tested yet) .

Flash Lite Battery Broadcaster

Continue reading FlashLite 2 Helper Classes for Download. Pt 1. BatteryBroadcaster

Nokia announces N810 Internet Tablet featuring Linux and Flash 9

The N810 features, Wifi, Bluetooth, GPRS and a full slide out keyboard. The screen has a good looking resolution at 800×480, but the thing that grabbed my eye was this nugget.

The Nokia N810 is powered by maemo Linux based OS2008, updatable also on the Nokia N800, the previous internet tablet generation hardware. The Nokia N810 features a highly customizable user interface and contains various novelties such as a Mozilla based browser with Ajax and Adobe flash 9, Bluetooth headset support as well as enhanced video and audio features.

It is expected to start shipping mid November with an estimated retail price of 479 USD (excluding local taxes).

You can see some pictures of the new N810 over at the Nokia Press Site.
Nokia N810 Photos

Flex Solutions, the book: Essential Techniques for Flex 2 and Flex 3 Developers

Following the post by Marco Casario a couple of weeks ago, I was filled with similar excitement. In no way can I claim any of the glory that Marco certainly deserves. But In some small way I am equally as proud to have been Technical Reviewer (thorn in Marco’s side :p ) for his book Flex 2 Solutions: Essential Techniques for Flex Developers, Released by Freinds of Ed.

Marco has put a monumental amount of work into this book. Believe me the 900 hundred or more pages that you read are a slim account of the gargantuan task Marco undertook in documenting the extent of the Flex Application Framework.

I can honestly say I it was fantastic to read the original work. The thing that I found even more incredible as I inflicted my nit picking is that this huge technical resource was produced by Marco in English, not his native Italian. I know i would not be up to the task. Congratulations Marco.

FlashLite 3 Player available for Nokia N95

If you are interested in testing your new FlashLite 3 content on device, as all good developers should be, the there is an interim build of FlashLite 3 availible that has been certified only for Nokia N95.

You must submit your IMEI number by Noon Eastern Time on the 16th of October. Details of the email and how to get your IMEI Number can be found at the following location.


FlashLite 3 Developer Edition for Nokia N95

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.

Adobe Provide FlashLite Side by Side Comparisons

Along with the news of updates for CS3 and Device Central to support FlashLite 3 Authoring from within the CS 3 suite of products. The FlashLite product website has a side by side comparison of various Flash player specifications that are currently being used in Mobiles and other devices.

see the Flash Version Comparison Chart

Some Points of interest for me were the following:

  • The FlashLite 3 player is actually smaller than the FlashLite 2.1 player
  • The minimum memory requirements for the FlashLite 3 player is un-altered
  • The recommended memory is un-altered for for the FlashLite 3 Player
  • There is no improvement in the worst case memory usage of FlashLite 3 content over FlashLite 2.1
  • Added support for meta data in FlashLite 3 Content

Also I see that the FlashLite 3 player has “External API for browser scripting”, assuming there is a mechanism to update the players within device web browsers this may well offer a clean interface for the detection of screen orientation I have been experimenting with lately.

Another interesting point FlashLite 2.1 and FlashLite 3 seem to both offer support for “Complex languages (Thai, Arabic, Hebrew, etc.)”. Yet this is still not supported by the desktop player? Yet.

FlashLite 3 update availible for Flash CS3 & FlashLite 3 update for Device Central

Following the press release announcing FlashLite 3 I proceeded to do some more digging. Wondering how I can start producing this new fangled FlashLite 3 Content, I followed some links through from the new Nokia Mobile Developers Site mentioned in the previous post and found new downloads for updates to Flash CS3 and Device Central at the Adobe Developer Connection Web Site

FlashLite 3.0 Update for Device Central

Flash Lite 3.0 Update for Flash CS3

Interestingly the download for Flash CS3 is rather cryptically called “RobRoy_9_0_0_d156_patch.dmg“? or “RobRoy_9_0_0_d156_patch.exe” for windows?

Adobe Announces FlashLite 3 at MAX Chicago

Adobe have posted a press release today, it seems that they announced the release of FlashLite 3 at Max in Chicago. Included in the release is the well know news from a previous press release that the new Mobile FlashLite player will support the Flash Streaming Video Format .FLV.

Also mentioned in the release is the news the new “community for creative professional” from Nokia. This looks like it could offer a great resource for developers looking to deploy to mobile handsets, and devices.

The Full Press Release can be Found on the Adobe press release site.

Adobe Announces FlashLite 3

The full press release from Nokia covering their support for FlashLite 3 can be found on the Nokia Press Release Site:

Nokia Announce Support for FlashLite 3

Fix for TanTan Flickr & Reports Plugin on WordPress 2.3

Earlier this week WordPress 2.3 was released, and I was quick to upgrade. However it seems two of the plug ins I use on my blog had problems with the new version of WordPress. Both Plug ins were produced by tantannoodles.com / silaspartners.com

Flickr Photo Album for WordPress This needed a line commented out and replaced with an alternative. in the file:

wp-content/plugins/siliaspartners/flickr/admin-options-load.php

Make the following update around line 15.


//changed since WP2.3
//require_once(dirname(__FILE__).$tmpPath.'/wp-admin/admin-db.php');
require_once(dirname(__FILE__).$tmpPath.'/wp-admin/includes/user.php');

Likewise TanTans Google Analytics and Feedburner reports required a similar update. It to referenced the wp-admin/admin-db.php file that has been removed in WordPress 2.3.

in the file:


wp-content/plugins/tantan/wordpress-reports/tantan-reports-load.php

Make the following update around line 14.


//changed since WP2.3
//require_once(dirname(__FILE__).$tmpPath.'/wp-admin/admin-db.php');
require_once(dirname(__FILE__).$tmpPath.'/wp-admin/includes/user.php');

These 2 fixes have been mentioned in other locations but I needed to dig through comments to find them on the TanTan Reports Page and also on the TanTan Flickr Forum Page.

Ultra-Edit Text Editor Goes Portable, But at a price.

In previous posts I have espoused the virtues of portable applications, and provided a list of applications I keep installed on my USB Drive. One application I have used for a number of years is IDM Computer Solutions Ultra Edit. This feature rich text/hex editor has now been updated to be compatible with the U3 portable drive system. I haven’t installed it yet though. Why? Well I think the price is a bit steep, especially since I currently hold an unlimited upgrade license for Ultra-Edit, Ultra-Compare and Ultra-Sentry. I just cant justify the extra expense for another copy of Ultra-Edit, just for the privilege of having it run from a USB Drive. Since switching to a Mac I guess I feel spoiled by all the fantastic free software that is availible. The idea of paying for 2 copies of one application seems a little alien now. 😀

Google introduces Worldwide Caching Proxy. Sort Of.

Last week Google launched the new Gadget Ad, these seem to be some pretty 2.0 ad deliveries. Allowing a kind of cross between RIA/Widget that users can have installed on their iGoogle page. Google are offering an caching proxy, presumably this will allow more geographically relevant delivery of the ads that are produced. Speeding up the delivery time. The interesting thing is that is seems to be completely open at the moment.

I ran a quick check to see what I was able to access, bearing in mind I have provided no other personal information, and it all and sure enough no problems with my header image.

image_bg.jpg

I would assume this proxy could be put to use for any of the media that is supported by the Gadget Ad Format. Which of course includes Flash Files.

More information can be found over at the google gadget ads help pages

So there you go Google Content Delivery Network, ideal for speeding up your RIA, semi connected AIR applications or how about your mobile application? It seems like a workable CDN solution, for now at least.

AirPress. Desktop video blogging comes to WordPress thanks to Adobe AIR

The Weblog Tools site has a link to an AIR application aimed at blog authors, its called AirPress. AirPress seems to offer similar functionality to other blogging tools I have seen such as the ScribeFire add-on (used to be called Performancing) for FireFox. The major interesting addition in AirPress is the inclusion of webcam support to allow authors to publish FLV formatted video to there WordPress blog. AirPress still seems to be in an early stage (betr) but could be worth keeping an eye on.

Rather amusingly “AirPress requires Adobe AIR beta (Download Adobe AIR)”. Thats a Beta that needs a Beta to run. Beta2

Adobe Unveils Technical Communication Suite

I stumbled across this on the Adobe.com press area. The suite looks like it contains all the products you could need from Adobe if you are required to produce Technical Documentation, Training Material, Help files for products and even E-learning courses.

Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) today announced Adobe® Technical Communication Suite software, a first-of-a-kind, integrated solution for authoring, managing, and publishing technical information and training content across multiple formats and languages

The Full Press release can be found on the Adobe.com Website.

Adobe Unveils Technical Communication Suite

Bill Perry presentation availible for download, Creating and Selling Your Mobile Flash Content

Bill Perry has posted a very interesting presentation, the subject is Creating and Selling Your Mobile Flash Content. You can down load the presentation from Bills Site.

Creating and Selling Your Mobile Flash Content

I also noticed Bill has a document linked at the very top of his site, under the banner “Addressable devices for developers“.

WordPress 2.3 Released

I have just seen on my WordPress dashboard that the new release WordPress 2.3 was released today. Code named “Dexter”.

This release is named for the great tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon

Download WordPress 2.3, “Dexter”

Also today I found this useful article on using Subversion for managing your WordPress installation.

Installing/Updating WordPress with Subversion

Detecting Screen Rotation in Nokia N95 Browser

Continuing my work with Web Development for Mobile Phones and other Devices I updated my very simple early FlashLite 2 tests that I showed on in screen shots on my N95.

In those posts I discussed the problem of detecting screen rotation detection on the Nokia N95. I could not get the FlashLite player to register a change in Stage size when switching from portrait to landscape viewing modes. I have since added a little JavaScript function that I thought might be able to detect this change in lieu of the FlashPlayer not working.

Unfortunately all methods I have attempted so far to register a change in orientation have failed. The browser does not seem to support the onResize event which I assumed would provide the answer. This limitation appears similar to information I have found from iPhone web developers that have encountered similar issues.

SmugBlog Makes Reference to it on there site. There is also a couple of links to a Framework that provides a work around of sorts using an interval.

joehewitt, the developer responsible for the facebook I belive, has published the iUI as a google code project.

In addition to the resize problem it seems that the FlashLite 2 player within the browser does not offer support for the FlashVars parameter of the Embed and Object tags, it also does not appear to support appending variables on the SWF path name. These limitations would not allow values to be passed into the SWF file at run time.

A final test I performed was to export my test movie not as FlashLite content, but rather as Flash Player 6 and Flash Player 7 content with ActionScript 2 support. The thinking behind this was that this would offer me some lowest common denominator for publishing mobile flash content on a broad range of devices. Sony’s PSP of course uses the Flash Player 6 as its platform while Nintendo’s Wii uses the Flash Player 7. Both versions of the file ran within the FlashLite 2 Player. Although no the IDE did complain about using FlashLite specific FSCommand2 functions. In addition there was some issues with the image loader in the Flash Player 6 version of the swf when loaded by the FlashLite 2 player, the image was rotated through -90 degrees for some reason.

Developing Applications and Sites Accessible from Mobile Devices

Recently a large portion of my time has revolved around development for Mobile and Devices. This has predominantly been focused on FlashLite version 1.1 and also some FlashLite 2 or FlashLite 2.1 . This new area of development, and also the purchase of a Nokia N95 has bought a new appreciation of the requirements for more content that is accessible from mobile phones and also other mobile devices, for example the PSP. As part of the re-design of this blog I have begun to experiment with mobile and device specific web and application development.

The first step was pretty easy. Taking this blog mobile. Because Blog.bittube.com is published using the WordPress the first thing I did was to look for a plug in. I only found one. which rather surprised me. You can get it here.

WordPress Mobile Edition

I am no PHP master (neophyte even), but what this seems to do is to re-theme the site in a more Mobile Friendly manner. Removing all the gloss and leaving a rather inelegant simple text list version. As a result of this I began to hack around at some thing that might be a little kinder on the eyes, while still working on more limited devices. This is still very much a work in progress but I hope to find time to continue these experiments to a more complete result.

Screen shot of the current development of a mobile version of blog.bittube.com

mobile.bittube.com/blog

Is the first attempt at providing a mobile and device specific theme and presentation for my blog. The theme is very closely based on the PlainText theme, All I have done so far is to any ‘extra’ blog decorations in an attempt to learn more about CSS and XHTML,my how HTML has changed since I trotted off in my new fangled FutureWave Splash spurs all those year ago ;).

To finish this post Here are a set of links that I have dug up and Found useful as I have begun investigating development for mobile and devices further.

* I have been using fire fox to test some content in lieu of my N95, its just quicker and easier than testing on device ALL the time. In order to do this, I have simply used the User Agent Name of Nokia, this seems to be sufficient for testing. However if you need the full user agent string for the Nokia N95 then the consensus seems to be:

Mozilla/5.0 (SymbianOS/9.2; U; Series60/3.1 NokiaN95/10.0.010; Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 )
AppleWebKit/413 (KHTML, like Gecko) Safari/413

A break down of an example of this user agent string can be found over at allaboutsymbian.com the breat down is at the bottom of the page in the ‘Flash and User agents’ section.

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

Nokia N95 FlashLite 2 Browser Support Screen Shots

Following my initial post last night detailing some of the player information of the FlashLite 2 support in the N95 web browser, and also one of the issues. I thought I would take a quick look at the files from last night with fresh eyes over lunch. I have included a couple of screen shots to show the rotate issue more clearly. The page that is in these screen shots is at the following location.

http://www.bittube.com/flashlite/index.html

In the file I am simply reporting to screen the Player version, the stage width and height, and then also loadin an image thumbnail from my new gallery of animal themed photography

The bottom 2 fields are reporting the FlashLite players fscommand2("GetFreePlayerMemory") and fscommand2("GetTotalPlayerMemory")

In the first screen the FlashLite movie from this URL loads has loaded in the Vertical page format at a resolution of 240×320 (wxh).

Nokia N95 FlashLite 2 Browser Support

In the second screen shot below the browser has been rotated into its horizontal format. This operation does not seem to cause the Stage.onResize event to fire, and the flash movie still reports a resolution of 240×320 (wxh).

Nokia N95 FlashLite 2 Horizontal Browser Support

A side effect of this rotation of the flash movie is that it seems to get scaled down in order to view it in the new format. This means the text becomes unreadable. Very frustrating.

The N95 does support JavaScript in its browser, next step i suppose is to see if that can be used to detect the change in format.