Silverlight on Mobile Devices

Here are some information on Silverlight for mobile devices: Microsoft .NET Compact Framework product manager demonstrates early Silverlight prototype on Windows Mobile device.

My first question is: Will they port Silverlight to multiple mobile platforms or just Windows Mobile?

One major difference between the mobile and desktop world: Microsoft doesn’t own most of the mobile OS/platform market. If Silverlight only supports Windows Mobile, it’d be a tough sell for Flash Lite developers. Unless the deployment platform is not a factor and the development team relies on Microsoft products or languages, I see little reason to invest in a new development platform if the options for deployment are limited.

However, two potential advantages I see in Silverlight: It *may* have better device hardware integration – something the current standard Flash Lite Player lacks, and the use of .NET programming languages.

From a development standpoint (as devices get faster and more powerful), there should be little difference in development between Flash for the desktop and Flash for devices. They should both be using the same high performance virtual machine and ActionScript 3+, and support 2D/3D hardware acceleration (many devices have embedded 3D chipset already). Developers shouldn’t have to rely on third-party solutions or hacks accessing hardware and system resources – the standard player should provide these with a common API.

I’m sure Adobe is aware of these issues. Hopefully we’ll see better performance and support for device hardware integration in a near future version of the Flash Lite Player.

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Flash on the Beach

Flash on the Beach

Keith Peters leaked the speaker list of Flash on the Beach, to be held from November 4-7 in Brighton, UK. According to the list, I’m one of the confirmed speakers.

Here’s the list so far:

Andries Odendaal
Aral Balkan
Branden Hall
Brendan Dawes
Carlo Blatz
Carlos Ulloa
Carole Guevin
Chris Allen
Chris Orwig
Craig Swann
Dave Williamson
Dave Yang
Erik Natzke
GMUNK (Bradley Grosh)
Grant Skinner
Hillman Curtis
Hoss Gifford
Jim Coudal
Joey Lott
John Grden
Joshua Davis
Keith Peters
Kristin Henry
Lisa Larson
Marcos Weskamp
Mario Klingemann
Michael Ninness
Mike Jones
Neville Brody
Niqui Merret
Renee Constantini
Rich Shupe
Richard Leggett
Rob Chiu
Robert Hodgin
Robert Reinhardt
Seb Lee-Delisle
Tink (Stephen Downs)

Confirm or deny? (Sounds like Apple’s Vista ad…)

[ May 7th update: The Flash on the Beach 2007 site is now live. And I can confirm that I’ll be speaking there this November. Looking forward to it! ]

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FITC presentation posted

After the presentation at FITC on Flash Lite and Mobile Development, a few people asked for my presentation file. I’ve converted it to PDF, grab it here. This is only my part of the presentation – i.e. not including Dongyub’s (his presentation was created using fancy 3D authoring tool; mine is plain basic).

We ran into some technical difficulties (what’s new?) at the conference: No Wi-Fi signal and no mobile phone signal (room was in the hotel basement level!) – both were needed for some demos (Chumby and apps on the phone). Luckily, I had some files on the laptop that were available.

Our own “Elmo”:

Another thing people might have noticed: We didn’t use the Elmo (device projector) provided by FITC. I tried it last year and found the quality was less than desirable. During this year’s technical rehearsal, we noticed it had issue projecting some device screens and produced moire patterns. So I decided to use my own method.

Instead of using the Elmo that outputs S-Video signal, I connected my Sony TRV900 3-CCD DV camcorder to the laptop with a firewire cable, and created a simple Flash Video Viewer (Flash Player 9) to display the video on screen (so everything is projected digitally with the rest of the presentation). Because of the way the camera was positioned, I added code to flip the image upside-down (which is projected right-side-up).

Here’s the (ActionScript 3.0) code:

Perhaps other presenters may find this useful as well.

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FITC, IdN and newspaper interview

To those who are attending this year’s FITC festival, take a look at the IdN booth and the Two Faced exhibition. I wrote some articles for IdN many years ago (in 1993, when it was called MdN – Macintosh Designers Network), and interviewed the President & CEO of Macromedia (Bud Colligan) back then. IdN is very popular in Australia, U.S., Europe and Asia. It’s about time Canada finds out more about this designer magazine and their other publications.

For those who read (traditional) Chinese, here is the Sing Tao newspaper interview of me (楊光) at FITC (click to view full size at Flickr). They asked about my experience, work, this year’s presentation and the festival. I was a bit surprised they used almost 1/3 of the page on this article.

Newspaper article of me at FITC

My presentation is on tomorrow (Tuesday) at 2:45pm. It’s on Flash Lite and mobile development. I invited Dongyub Lee from Seoul to join me to talk about some of his projects on device UI and games development.

Thanks to Shawn Pucknell and the FITC team for another great festival.

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New version of Opera for the Wii

Just finished updating to the latest version of Opera / Internet Channel for the Wii. Nice to see the option to hide the taskbar – now browser content can now go full screen.

A new set of preferences is also added to the browser (e.g. use Google or Yahoo for searching, show/auto-hide/manual hide the taskbar, proxy settings…etc.). One thing I find missing on that screen is an indicator to show up/down scrolling.

Parental control for the browser is also added, although I was expecting more than a general yes/no entry point to the browser. Hopefully some sort of content filtering will be implemented in the future.

Another improvement is easier scrolling using the B button with visual aid of the scroll direction.

Flash developers can now use the whole screen for their apps or games, although the user has the choice to show or hide the taskbar. The extra pixels will certainly be useful.

To get this latest release, make sure to first update the system software and then update Opera from the Shopping Channel. More information can be found in the letter sent to the Wii.

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Google Earth images of schools I went to

Below are three images (from Google Earth) of the school / college / university I went to:

School

College

University

I haven’t been to any one of them for many years, and it is nice to see them again. Lots of good memories of these places. Who can tell me the names of these schools?

Hint: They are in three different continents. Click to view larger versions at Flickr.

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Just arrived in Seoul

What? Again? Some of my friends are probably jealous that I’ve gone to Korea again since last November. The plane arrived at 2:40 am, my friend Dongyub picked me up and we went for latte at a 24-hour cafe.

Dongyub told me there’s good news and bad news. I wasn’t sure which to hear first. We were supposed to have a 3-day meeting with Adobe Korea and a phone company on Flash Lite UI design & development, but someone/something got postponed and I’m not sure if the meeting/workshop will go ahead as planned. Interesting news after 14-hour flight.

If that is the bad news, the good news is I probably have to return again!

Random notes:

  • Nice to see 3G working on my Nokia N73 with HSDPA
  • WiBro is interesting
  • iRiver Clix2 is fast
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My first Chumby widget (update)

The BBC News Reader widget I uploaded earlier has been updated. Something I noticed in the Virtual Chumby display: the pixel font text is blurred. Compared with the same file displayed in the standalone Flash Player 9, the text is not blurred (see below).

Virtual Chumby blur

Looks like the Virtual Chumby control panel or its loader is not lined up at exact .0 pixel. Can anyone confirm this?

What’s new: I added left and right manual advance to view the next or previous news item without delay. When a news item is displayed, press either the lower left or right side of the screen to advance/rewind. To start auto-advance again, press the Menu area to bring up the panel, press Go to view the same feed, or choose a new feed and press Go. News items are looped around at either end (i.e. advance from the last news item goes to the first, and vice versa for the other direction).

You can view the news reader from the original post.

P.S. I should mention that the widget running in the real Chumby does not have this problem.

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My first Chumby widget

Yesterday I received my Chumby! Thanks to the folks at Chumby Industries and FITC‘s Shawn Pucknell. I spent a few hours this evening creating my first Chumby widget – a BBC News reader.

A couple of notes on developing Flash Lite 2.1 for the Chumby:

– Chumby widgets are SWF files loaded by the Chumby control panel.

– Using setInterval() is not recommended because the control panel switches widgets and memory leak occurs if the interval ID is not cleared.

– The Chumby control panel is also a SWF, running at 12fps; so all loaded SWFs are running at the same fps. Therefore it is recommended to set the widget fps to 12.

– Widgets are loaded from chumby.com. Accessing external data requires the crossdomain.xml policy file be set up properly. Or use a server proxy script.

– The Chumby is supposed to be used as a desktop gadget, not something one would hold on to. Text size should (in most cases) be larger than normal mobile applications.

– This widget is designed to be used as a single application in the Chumby channel. Because of the nature of the news reader, having it run with other widgets wouldn’t be very useful as the Chumby control panel loads widgets in preset intervals from the selected channel. It would be difficult to use the menu when one doesn’t know when the widgets change. One can, however, create many channels.

I only spent a few hours on this as a first test, created the (really basic) UI from the same app I developed for mobile phones. Because there is no keyboard on the Chumby (it has a touch screen and some sensors), key events are unavailable. You can use the mouse to click and explore. The news feed is reloaded every 6 minutes once it starts. Each news item is displayed for 10 seconds. Please let me know if you find any bugs.

As a reminder, I’ll be speaking at FITC on Flash Lite and Mobile Development. Check out my previous post with a discount code if you’re interested.

P.S. Don’t worry about the bottom/right of the Chumby not visible. I don’t want to pop up another window or have it hanging over the sidebar.

Update: Added manual advance/rewind to the next and previous news item. Just press the lower left or right side of the screen while the news are auto-advancing. Press the left side of the screen to show the previous news item. Press the right side to view the next news item. News items loop at either end. To start auto-advance again, bring up the menu (top-right corner) and select Go (for the same news feed), or select another news feed and press Go.

Update 2: See issue regarding blurred text in this virutal chumby.

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Wireless number portability

Today marks the first time mobile phone numbers are portable in Canada. However, this is not implemented in all of Canada today. According to the Canadian government’s CRTC website:

By March 14, 2007 Bell Mobility, Rogers Wireless and the mobility division of TELUS Communications Inc. will be required to provide WNP to their customers in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Québec. This means that customers in any of these provinces will be able to switch to any service provider in that province (wireline or wireless) and keep their phone number.

Throughout Canada, all wireless carriers will, by the same date, be required to release a phone number to another carrier (port-out customers) and by no later than September 12, 2007, to accept a phone number from another carrier (port-in customers).

It’s about time. I know some people are holding off switching wireless carriers until this day. This is likely to open up more competition among carriers – good for consumers.

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