Friday, January 23, 2009

Silverlight vs Flash: Did someone get paid off?

Working for Adobe, I have heard a few rumors that Microsoft has been willing to pay people to use Silverlight (R). This webpage evens quotes a former analyst with Directions on Microsoft:

"...if Microsoft is willing to pay, computer makers will be willing to include Silverlight."

Others have written articles exposing that Microsoft is willing to woo developers to Silverlight. I guess if I ran the program, I would jump start it the same way if I had a big blank check and a brand new un-proven technology.

Today a colleague at Adobe sent me a funny email. Apparently Flash gurus XPLANE ( built a brilliant Silverlight application which slightly echoed the Adobe MAX developer theme posters. I installed Silverlight 2.0 to view this one - great work!!

When you zoom in on the poster however, there is what appears to be a payoff going on. One character identified in the keys as the "Client Business Owner" (see below)....

appears in the picture to be handing a large bag of cash to the Account Manager (identified in key) as shown below:

Could it be a clandestine clue of a secret payoff? What do you think? Or maybe the development shop is paying Microsoft to use Silverlight?

Disclosure: I do work for Adobe and yes - we have paid people to do Flash projects for various reasons.

This makes me proud to work for Adobe!

LEED Registration pdf

LEED, for those of you who do not know it, is a set of standards for building to certain codes for environmental benefit. LEED was established by the United States Green Building Council. There are various levels (Platinum, Gold etc). While the council was set up to help the environment, it itself had a footprint. Adobe helped reduce that footprint as Tom found out--the LEED certification process has been streamlined using Adobe software.

From the whitepaper:

Traditionally, applying for LEED certification has been time-consuming and paper-intensive. For example, a manager seeking certification for a new or existing structure would have to complete a complex spreadsheet with up to 69 tabs and submit thousands of pages of supporting documentation for various building components, such as heating systems, landscaping, and interior finishes. After receiving an application, USGBC copied the materials to share across a review team made up of staff and third-party experts. The entire process—from the initial submittal of materials to achieving LEED certification—could take years.

Because of the perceived difficulty in achieving certification, many organizations did not apply. To address the problem and streamline its internal operations, USGBC adopted Adobe LiveCycle server software….

Ultimately, USGBC used Adobe LiveCycle software to create and deploy more than 400 two-page intelligent Adobe PDF forms that building-project teams can download from USGBC’s website….

After applicants have completed the Adobe PDF forms, they can attach supporting documentation—such as landscaping plans, details about construction materials and interior finishes, and other information—to the application as Adobe PDF files or in native file formats from programs such as AutoCAD®, Pro/E, and Microsoft Office. All the materials are uploaded to USGBC’s online workspace, LEED Online….

Because USGBC linked the submitted Adobe PDF forms with SAP, data is automatically captured in SAP as application forms are received, eliminating the need for USGBC staff to manually key application data into back-end systems. The enhanced process helps reduce costs and improve the accuracy of data, and it also makes it easier for USGBC to track and report green-building trends….

Chris Smith, USGBC’s Chief Operating Officer said:

We estimate that the automated workflows supported by Adobe solutions will accelerate the process of submitting LEED application forms by as much as 50%.

while, Joseph Diianni, director of technology for USGBC said:

Best of all, we believe the new solution will encourage even more organizations to seek LEED certification.

Tom summed it up nicely:

So Adobe not only is the world’s first commercial enterprise to achieve a total of three Platinum certifications under the LEED program, but its software now makes it easier for others to be certified too!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

MixMatchMusic Widget

Which Microphone is best for field use (Interviews etc.)?

I had a colleague at Adobe write to me today about Duane's World TV and ask the following:

"Hey Duane,

Can you tell me the specs of the microphone you use for your videos.
The shotgun mic on your camera, that is.


This is a complicated question as every interview I have done has had distinctly different conditions. Sometimes wind, rain, or background noise ruin the audio. Nevertheless, here is what I have used to date and what I think I will do in the future.

Duane's World is shot with an HDTV Canon HV20. This is a very compact, yet full featured camera. The shotgun mic I used in Milan to capture audio is a Rode model N3594 VideoMic.

While it is good, it picks up tons of background noise. Here is a background noise problem example (forward to interviews in Duane’s World Episode 2)

(and the wind problem in this episode interview)

As a fix, I started using a Beyer M58 Dynamic Omnidirectional mic

This is a professional quality broadcast mic and really good for interviews. It has a long handle, which allows you to control the interview better (when you move the mic back to you, it cuts the person off). The BBC uses these too; since they have a long handle you can interview people a meter away. For the difference see this interview in a noisy environment:

It is highly directional and picks up no background noise. The problem is it needs phantom XLR adapter (power) so you have to buy a phantom power provider like this: to plug the mic into. This uses standard 9-volt batteries (same as the Rodes mic).

For voice overs in my studio, I use the Shure SM7B, which is the ultimate studio mic:

This uses XLR connectors too so you need a midi device to interface with your computer. I use the TonePort UX2 which has tons of preset vocal tones and plugs into USB. This can allow you to record to Live, Cubase, et al.


None of these is the best solution. The better solution for an all around, small portable and perfect mic is a wireless/wired with long cable lavalier mic. I would highly recommend going with the XLR phantom power adapter plus two wired lavalier mics. They work in all situations. This is the model I am buying:

The problem is that you need one of these for every person so if you are interviewing 4 people, you need 4 mics. Since most of mine are two-people interviews, I will use the two mics but record each on a separate channel so I can control the volume in the event the interviewee speaks with a lower voice.

I'll update this blog post after I experiment with the lavaliers.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where 2.0 - May 19-21 San Jose. Confirmed as Speaker!

I just got my notification that my session "Building Map-based RIAs in Adobe Flex and AIR" has been accepted for Where 2.0 2009. This year's Where 2.0 event is going to be a killer conference.


This is a hands on lab where students will learn how to use Adobe's open source Flex and AIR compilers to build interactive Flash-based maps. The lab will include a brief intro to Flex and AIR followed by mostly spending time coding. No prior experience is necessary and all skill levels are encouraged to attend.

Session type: Workshop


Where often begins with the notion of a location. Service Oriented Architecture allows mashup clients to use location-based services for building rich, interactive media clients. This session will focus on a hands on approach where attendees will build 6 map-based projects in a largely (85%) hands on learning environment using Adobe Flex and AIR.

The session materials will be available prior to the class to download and examine and attendees can use their own computers.

Rather than think up my own words, I'll reprint part of the press from O'Reilly here:

Subscribe today

"Where 2.0 2009 delves into the emerging technologies surrounding the geospatial industry, particularly the way our lives are organized, from finding a restaurant to finding the source of a new millennium plague. Maps are everywhere now, from your desktop to your iPhone to your car to your oil rig, and presented as realistically or as representationally as suits your needs. Thanks to the launch of Geo-Eye and other projects, location information makes devices more useful, and is therefore becoming a given.

The barriers to building location-based online and enterprise apps have been lowered, and the field is crowding with players. Now that consumers—from the home seeker to the environmental scientist—have access to incredible amounts of data and the tools to visualize it, what's considered cutting edge? Where is the next mapping frontier? Is it data collection and visualization? Innerspace? Who are the hackers and early adopters backing? How will big companies jumping in change the rules in mid-game? Is there still a first mover advantage? And again, where is the money?"

Register Today!!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Microsoft loses a great guy

I was saddened to see that my good friend of old XML days Norbert Mikula has passed away. 37 is far too young to leave this world, even as messed up as it currently is. I worked with Norbert on many projects and learned to embrace the Austrian sense of humour, often with a glass of beer or wine that I would bug him was much too young to be consumed. We shared a lot of knowledge and points of views while participating on projects for ebXML and later working on some of the United Nations work.

With this blog entry, taking a pause to reflect the more meaningful aspects of life seemed needed. Norbert's legacy is what has now become to be known as SOA. His early pioneering work will live on and future generations will benefit from it.

Rest in Peace my friend.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Has this Press Photo been Photoshopped?

I saw a news story about a mysterious fire on one of Vancouver's main bridges today. I know the press use Photoshop on a daily basis and I always try to spot the fake aspects of images. This one really looked like someone added a couple of city workers but forgot to align the layers before flattening the image for publication. Either that or the guy is really good at "pogo-ing". In case it gets fixed, I reproduced it here (Photo copyright owned by Vancouver Sun).

Does it look real? I mean if the guy on the left is really jumping, the guy on the right must be really tall considering from this aspect, the left hand side guy is at least 15-24" off the surface (maybe he should try out for the NBA?). Can you jump that high without a hard hat falling off? Do their faces look like they are in mid-air?

If you enlarge the real photo, there is some distortion around the people. Perhaps they have some sort of magnetic frequency gravitational force disruption device that shows up on digital negatives? LOL!

What do you think?