Silverlight


You know, I’ve got to stop reading PC World. Every article I read reminds me of how much I don’t know about computers. It’s gone past humbling to embarrassing. Today’s issue was entitled: “Microsoft to Heat Up Battle vs. Flash in ’08” and is at: http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,140683/article.html?tk=nl_dnxnws.

Now, I had heard of Silverlight but to think that it would become a major competitor to Adobe Flash?

The web is certainly changing. Everywhere you go, you’ll run into streaming video instead of the text and picture presentation from the past. Typically, developers of this content have been converting their documents into Flash Video (.flv) files. The reason is obvious when you take a Quicktime or AVI file and look at the size of it. It would have to be a pretty compelling documentary to expert that visitors to your website or blog will take the time to allow the movie to download and then play. However, when you convert the file to Flash video, you end up with a movie that is greatly reduced in size. There is a price; the quality is greatly reduced through various compression features. However, the bottom line is to get the video to play in a variety of browsers and get it to do so quickly. There have been all kinds of recent enhancements as you’ll note with the frequency of updates and the number of developers that are producing for the Version 9 Player, forcing us to upgrade.

Then comes a competing standard. You’ll need to download a new player to play Silverlight videos and the Microsoft website talks about the “small size” of its player 2MB in size. The trick will be to convince the drive by surfer that it’s in her or his best interest to take the time to install the player to view the content. How do you make it appealing?

It appears as though Microsoft’s plan will be to get popular sites to switch. In the article, they make reference to NBA.com as an example. So, if we have all of these basketball fans with the plug-in installed, who’s next? A quick visit to NBA.com indicates that it hasn’t happened yet that I can see.

It will be an interesting trend to follow. If the net result is that you’ll have a better streaming multimedia experience on the web, it will be worth the 2MB download. Hopefully, the lessons learned about software vulnerabilities will be learned and incorporated into the product.

A Community for Cars


PCWorld reports on IBM’s five predictions for the future at: http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,140683/article.html?tk=nl_dnxnws.

The one intriguing prediction surrounds making your car one with the road. For years, the infrastructure has been been laid along with road construction. This prediction sees cars communicating with the roadway with the result being more efficient and safer travel. Street lights that adjust to traffic patterns and alternative routes.

It makes sense. Over the past couple of years, there has been a huge surge in sales of GPS units. Once the domain of the hard-wired geographer, they are now commodity units for everyone and are standard on many new vehicles. I know that with my unit, it has discovered the secret paths through the city of Windsor for me. Ouellette Avenue and Tecumseh Road are now not my only options for travel and it does result in faster travel.

Before Christmas, I was waiting at one of our schools and there was a notice posted outside the kiss and ride area that indicated that if you’re going to idle your car for more than 10 seconds, you save gas by turning off your car and waiting.

So, if the logic is extended to more reasonable travel patterns, think of the gas that can be saved by alternative routes or traffic lights that do react to traffic patterns. This, to say nothing of the tempers that flow over when you’re sitting and sitting and sitting and idling.

If some form of technology taps into the community of cars and gives us better alternatives for travelling, there’s a great deal to be gained.

Netherlands adopts Open Source Software


From the AP, comes this story: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gK-eb7SFzG8QLvOOlfdt_cPMnFmwD8TGNLJ80

I can’t begin to agree wholeheartedly with organizations that take this approach. One of the biggest reasons why you’ll hear people talk about this approach (and it makes so much sense) is the cost savings. After all, why would anyone pay the huge fees when there is an equally as good or even better solution available as Open Source. The biggest example that often gets tossed out in these examples is Open Office. While it’s a terrific example, there is so much more.

Many people are available of the high quality alternatives. You hear of the Audacity or Firefox products to a lesser extent. But there’s so much more. If you’re new to this whole concept, take a wander around http://sourceforge.net/. You’ll be able to find free alternatives written by terrific programmers. Not only that, but you’ll have a shorter path to contact the developer for whatever reason. My favourite home browser is Flock, which is based on the Firefox product. When I had a question, I just fired off my query to what you might think is your typical faceless point of contact. I received a response with suggestions for what might resolve the situation overnight. You can’t get that anywhere else.

If you aren’t new to this area, you’ll undoubtedly feel good for the taxpayer and the computer using clientelle in the Netherlands.

Even the casual computer user requires more than one or two applications to survive these days. When a solution is just a download away; when support is just an email away; when quality and usability are constantly under revision; where user needs determine the development pattern of the product, it only makes sense.

The best solution isn’t necessarily the one that you might think of first.

Disconnected


We’ve returned home from the annual trip to Clinton and the family homesteads. It was great to see everyone again and the food was excellent. It’s a real shame though that turkey doesn’t get served more often. Why does it take a special event for turkey? It became obvious when Bub and I spent 45 minutes doing the dishes. Man, the turkey can sure make you go through every cupboard.

And, if you read between the lines, we did wash and dry by hand. None of those new fangled dish washing machines.

Same thing for internet access. There’s nary a computer at either place and at one should I open my laptop, it draws all kinds of piercing stares. From an educational perspective, Avon Maitland prides itself on being one of the more progressive boards in terms of getting its students connected. In fact, they have their http://www.gsc.amdsb.ca/ GSC Projects which is a terrific resource. Sort of like http://www.gecdsb.on.ca/d&g/art.htm my resources! <grin>

So, here I am in my father-in-law’s rec room with my laptop open, searching for a rogue access point. A couple of really weak ones. At dad’s place, I figure to have better luck since my old bedroom is on the second floor. Nothing in sight.

If there ever was a community that needs to have an internet project with access points on the telephone poles, this one is it.

The net result was that I ended up being disconnected. Three days of no Scrabulous, over 200 email messages unread, virus checker left un-updated, and goodness knows how many Microsoft Windows updates that I missed. (it appeared to only be one though…)

It’s amazing how much you miss when you are disconnected. I thought of Scotty’s “quaint” comment from Star Trek as I read a physical newspaper. Hyperlinking on paper just doesn’t cut it. The London Free Press had quizzes on each section with the answers all linked to Page 21 in Section D. These links involved finding the actual section, flipping through to Page 21 (who knew that it was the back of Section D?) and getting ink on my hands. Then, following the link back to the original article?

I think I’m just too deeply engrained in digital media.

The story does have a happy ending. We got to see everyone again and when I got home, the internet access was indeed live and I got a great opportunity to get caught up!

Merry Christmas.

A Blogging Host


I’ve been looking at a number of places to do blogging and keep returning to the FirstClass system. I want something that’s responsive and fast to visit. I’ve tried so many and they are either slow or have a bunch of advertising to them. FirstClass is very fast, but I’m frustrated with the inability for people to comment upon my ramblings.

What to do; what to do?