Flash on the Beach

Brighton is a nice little town by the sea in southern England. This is my first Flash on the Beach conference, and it’s been great so far…except a few hiccups.

John Davey with speakers

Haven’t had time to sight-see yet, as I had to look for a doctor yesterday (woke up with painful red eye). Of course, if I were in Canada, it’d be much simpler. My first thought was to go to the local pharmacy and pick up some eye drop; unfortunately, they wouldn’t sell it without a prescription. They referred me to a nearby doctor (GP), but when I got there, I learned that the GPs don’t accept Canadians as patients. I was then referred to a local medical chamber, who told me they don’t have an eye doctor. After going to five different clinics, I finally found a private doctor who would take a look. He looked at my eye and gave me a prescription. I went to a pharmacy and was told the prescription is similar to an off-the-counter eye drop, and asked if I would choose the lower cost eye drop instead. Long story short, I wasted yesterday looking for eye drop.

Today was presentation day. I went to the Pavilion Theatre an hour early to set things up. When I got there, the theatre was almost full. It was time for my presentation! What happened? Turns out the clock on my computer was adjusted automatically when Toronto changed the time on the weekend, and I wasn’t looking at the time on the phone (which gets its time from the wireless carrier here). Panic. As I had a lot of devices, DV camera, computer, power transformer, power bar…etc. to set up, it took quite a while to get everything going. The other issue (which I didn’t encounter during tech check) was the technician couldn’t get the video out signal from my Nokia N95. This was a bit of a problem because many of my demos were to be projected to the big screen directly from the phone! Instead, I had to hold up the phone and asked the audience to look at it instead. Glad there were a few laughs or I’d have fainted with these two incidents.

Anyway, the presentation went along and ended at exactly 2:30pm. I managed to cover everything except a demo with a Wii Remote controlling the phone. But the software is free and source code is included; so it’s easy for anyone to go pick it up and perhaps adapt it for Flash Lite using something like KunerLite.

For those who asked for my presentation, you can download it here.

It’s time to eat dinner with the other speakers, and hopefully will enjoy Brighton in post-presentation mode…

P.S. Thanks to Bill Perry from Adobe for providing the Flash Media Server streaming service for my demo of live video streaming to the phone.

Getting to the end of spams

After installing Vista on the laptop (XP had problem with some hardware device on this particular computer), I forgot to activate a email account that catches spams. After close to one and a half month, I got notification from the email server that this account was full. Checking the account revealed 5586 email stuck on the server. It took all night and morning to clear them up.

Crazy weekend of spam

Never had I experienced spoofed email bounce like I did this past weekend. It started on Friday evening, and I received about 7000 bounced email that were spoofed using my quantumwave.com domain.

The problem was, the hosting company did not have SPF (Sender Policy Framework) set up, and I had a catch-all email account that accepted *@quantumwave.com. All the spoofed email were sent using some random account names selling illegitimate software or other goods.

I contacted the hosting company and they suggested that I turn off my catch-all email account and activate SPF on the email server.

One little problem with the catch-all account: Whenever I register email at a website, I usually use their domain name as my email account (e.g. at somecompany.com I’d use somecompany@quantumwave.com as my registration email). This made it easy for me to filter email, track the source of spam and know which company distributes email to third parties (I was surprised by a few big name corporations doing that).

Anyhow, before I could terminate the catch-all account, I had to set up all previously known email aliases I registered at every website I used. The last count is 330 aliases; so it took some time to track all those down and add them to the server. After that was done, I terminated the catch-all account and it was back to normal.

I’m sure I’ve missed some email aliases and those accounts will no longer work (senders will get notification that those email accounts do not exist). A rough estimate of the time I spent on this madness is approximately 5 hours (racing with/deleting incoming email, adding aliases, setting up server-side filters).

One important piece of information I learned: Activate SPF on the email server.

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.

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! ]

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.

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.

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.

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.