02.27.07

Jake Hilton has a great article on Optimizing Flash Media Server on Linux

Posted in Flash, Media Server at 4:24 pm by Curtis J. Morley

Jake Hilton - Flash and Server Guru

A good friend of mine Jake Hilton just posted another article on the Macromedia(Adobe) website entitled Performance-tuning Flash Media Server 2 for live webcasts using Linux. For anyone that is trying to get the best performance from Media Server this is a must read. Jake is truly an expert in this field as evidenced by his development of Huddle (a very cool web conferencing tool). He should be speaking about Flash and server technologies at conferences like FlashForward, Max, FITC, and DX3 (Lynda's new gig).

Even if you are not setting things up on Linux this is a great article that can help you understand how to optimize Media Server. Go check it out and as always,

Happy Flashing.

02.26.07

Windows Vista Comes with IE7 and Flash Player 7

Posted in Flash at 4:46 am by Curtis J. Morley

As a Flash developer you need to be aware that people upgrading to Windows Vista will not be ale to see your work until they upgrade the Flash Player also.

At work and on my new personal computer Toshiba P105-s9339 I have installed Windows Vista. At work it is Windows Vista Enterprise and Windows Vista Ultimate is installed on my personal laptop. An average of 92.68% of the worlds connected population already has Flash Player 8 and over 60% already has the Flash 9 player. See below.

Flash Penetration Statistics

Even though the adoption of the latest versions of the player are the fastest yet, the default install of Windows Vista has Flash Player 7. This is definitely a throwback.

So what can you do? The best thing to do is put in the SwfObject Express Install that is part of SwfObject. This is the quickest way to get people into the latest version of Flash.

This worked great for me with the exception of the having to restart my browser to properly use the new plugin.

Here is one of the best articles I have read on Embedding Flash into Web Pages. It is written by Bobby van der Sluis who created (UFO) Unobtrusive Flash Objects which is another methodfor embedding Flash into web pages. He is also working jointly on a project with Geoff Stearns on a project called SWFFix. You can bet that I will be watching this one closely.

Good Luck Guys!

As always Happy Flashing.

02.23.07

Flash Remoting Server works locally but stopped working on the server

Posted in Flash, Remoting at 4:42 pm by Curtis J. Morley

In the latest and greatest project that we are doing we are using Flash Remoting for the communication between the application and the server. We downloaded the Flash Remoting Trial Version and it seemed to work great on all local machines and across local machines and went very well. As soon as we put Flash Remoting on the server everything decided to stop working. There is a technote that says we may have to buy Flash Remoting it in order to get it working on the server. The same technote
I know that many of you are saying why are you trying to use Flash Remoting instead of AMFPHP? This is a very valid question since AMFPHP has always worked in the past. The answer is simple we have an fantastic .NET programmer. AMFPHP doesn't work with .NET so we decided to use Flash Remoting.

After over 5 hours on the phone yesterday and an hour and a half today I asked the adobe support agent, "So there is no way to get support for this?" The Adobe rep replied, "That is correct". He then directed me to a page that I might possibly get help from
adobe.com/support/portal which resulted in the following page

Adobe Support Page for Flash Remoting

Finally, after 2 days, more than 7 hours total, 2 hours 36 minutes on hold, 11 transfers, 5 departments, 2 disconnects and 1 404 page error. I got a received a call this morning from Jim Schley at Adobe. I was very happy to hear from Jim and he actually assigned an engineer to me that should be calling back to help solve the problem. He even gave me his personal line so that I could call him back directly if needed. (No I won't post this number)
Thank you Jim for caring enough to find a solution to my problem and not passing the buck to someone else. I look forward to hearing from your engineer.

Here are the numbers that I called or was transfered to for support:
(800)833-6687 Adobe General Support (These guys were not helpful at all in regards to Flash Remoting)
(888)649-2990 Adobe Pre-Sales Support (These guys also didn't know or were "not trained for this sort of thing")
(888)715-4687 Adobe Download Support (This isn't even Adobe. They were baffled when I was transfered because they only host the download site and support getting the zip files onto your desktop)
(866)335-2256 Adobe Enterprise Server Support(They couldn't help me but actually spent the time creating a ticket that resulted in the call from Jim Schley)

So the end result is that I look forward to a call from Jim's engineer that should be able to help with the problem. I will let you know the result.

If you are also having issues with Flash Remoting then these links may be helpful alternatives to the Remoting service.

AMFPHP I can vouch for this one. It is great. Plus it is Free. I highly suggest that you use this. This is only for PHP.

WebORB I haven't used this yet but plan on installing this as a backup in case. WebORB is a platform enabling development, deployment and runtime execution of Rich Internet Applications. The product facilitates connectivity between rich clients created with Flex, Flash or AJAX and server-side applications developed with .NET, Java, Ruby on Rails, PHP or XML Web Services.

StarWolf I can not vouch for this at all. I don't even know if it works but it is out there so I thought I would list it.

PHPObject Flash Remoting for PHP. Looks promising haven't used it.

OpenAMF - Flash Remoting for J2EE. Again, looks promising haven't used it.

RubyAMF - Flash Remoting for Ruby, Seems to be gainging popularity.
Good luck and I hope that you have some successful Flash Remoting.

02.13.07

Valentines Day – Quick gift

Posted in Flash at 4:48 pm by Curtis J. Morley

Did you forget to buy Flowers and now you are wishing you had a last minute Valentine's day gift. Well if you are here you are in luck. Just fill in your name and your loved ones name below and from your printer will come many Valentines Hearts that you can cut out and put on your love's car walls, mirrors, house, etc... I suggest putting red, pink or bright pink paper into your printer. Each Valentines heart comes out with a unique saying.

Flash application that prints multiple Valentines hearts, each with a personalized Valentines saying. Create your own valentines. Give your love a heart attack(the good way).

Have fun and spread love.

02.06.07

Minority Report Advertising (Mini Cooper style)

Posted in Interactive, Marketing at 2:18 am by Curtis J. Morley

"Good afternoon, Mr. Yakamoto," the interactive poster states loudly for Tom Cruise with newly implanted eyes and everyone else to hear. "How did you like that three-pack of tank tops you bought last time you were in?"
Minority Report - Retinal Scan

Earlier in the movie a sign in the subway senses the emotion of Tom Cruise in the subway and says "John Anderton, you could use a Guinness right now." Very similar to what Ogilivy did with interactive billboards in Belgium. Only they had a person in a control booth manipulating the action(see below). In Toronto they are doing a slightly different idea where you can opt in to receive a free ringtone via bluetooth.
Minority Report - Advertising

Jeff Boortz the creative lead for the film and President of 3 Ring Circus had this to say about the content, "Originally, the whole idea, from a script point of view, was that the advertisements would recognize you -- not only recognize you, but recognize your state of mind..."

Ogilivy did a great job of creating interactive ads but added the human (or Wizard of Oz) effect in creating billboards that interact with the person in front of the sign. The face on the sign changes and interacts with the person standing in front of it. It is an actor that views the people through a video camera in the sign and reacts to them(and at times makes fun of them).

Ford Campaign in BelgiumInteractive Poster in Belgium designed by Ogilivy

So how is Mini cooper doing this today? They have sent out approximately 4500 RFID key Fobs that are activated when the driver gets within 500 ft of the billboard.  It is getting a ton of publicity and the drivers of the little speedsters are loving the personal attention that only comes by being part of "The Club."
Mini Cooper Interactive Billboard Mini Cooper Interactive Billboard

This is obviously an opt-in style of personalized advertising. But how real is the possibility of "Minority Report Advertising?" In Minority Report "identification of consumers happens via retinal scans, which are presumably matched with names in a global database."

Will we need to wear sunglasses some day or specially designed contacts to prevent the advertising from
announcing personal or embarrassing items. The grocery stores already give you a coupon on the bottom of your reciept that allows you to buy milk at a discount if you bought cereal or salad dressing if you purchased lettuce. I would hate to hear the computer announce to myself and others as I walk into my local Albertsons, "Welcome Mr. Morley, your favorite brand of tampons are on sale." Just because the last time I went shopping I happened to pick up some things for my wife.

So how could they identify us currently?

  • Cell phones - It has a unique number, it is with us constantly and the French are using cell phones to do location advertising currently.
  • Key Fob - Most employees will carry around an electronic key card that allows them into a building these have personal identifiers on them such as name and company.
  • PDA - My PDA has Bluetooth, IR, and Wifi and much personal information.
  • Gaming Device - PSP among others have wireless capabilities. Why not send a simple signal out to the advertising terminal as a kid walks into target to display a companion game or upgrade for the game that is currently being played?
  • Credit Cards - Newer cards are containing RFID and can be scan rathered than slid.
  • Medical Devices - Medical devices are being tagged with personal identifiers in case of theft.
  • Medical ID tags - A simple scan of a necklace or wrist bracelet with a small amount of OCR and the person is easily identified.
  • Cars - GM and OnStar, Honda, Infiniti etc... all have a GPS device within the car. This data can be read and matched with DMV records at any time.
  • GPS Devices
  • Facial Recognition software - The creepy big brother devices that I saw at ComDEX. The camera took a picture of me and from that point on any time I was even close to booth the camera locked onto me and displayed my name and info.
  • Retinal scanners -already at use in some airports
  • Watches - Fossil, among others, are now carrying a bluetooth line of watches.
  • Pets - Most pets are now carrying an identification chip inside of them that could easily be used to change an interactive poster into an advertisement of dog food or the latest in neutering.

How could they identify us in the future?

  • Gene scans - This is a scary thought but some day could be a reality.
  • Drivers License - Technology here continues to advance. Why not embed an RFID into the license so that officers have instant access to your info without putting themselves in danger by getting out of their car?
  • mp3 Players - Go iPhone

So what are your thoughts?

Should we be looking out for "Big Brother" or is this just a natural progression of technology and advertising?
How will corporations and governments start advertising/tracking us in the future?
A great link to a blog by Steve Smith and Phil Leggiere about Behavioral Marketing and Behavioral Targeting