Category Archives: Web 2.0

Adobe to incorporate Voice-to-Text capabilities into Flash Video. SEO Video?

Update: via The Universal Desktop, it’s getting closer.

Before you’ll get too enthusiastic, it’s not like the next Flash Player will get a real-time Voice-to-Text engine. Instead, Adobe is working on tools to automatically transcribe the speech from a video and embed it into that video metadata when it’s published as FLV (Flash Video). Probably not something that you can’t already, painfully, do manually with the current FLV and it’s metadata. The key point here is simplicity.

This can be used, for example, to easily create subtitles for our videos. But, the main goal of this technology is to let search engines index video content and even deep link into a video relevant time.

Personally I’d prefer a native real-time engine inside the player that weights only 50kb, but, this is also nice :)

http://www.beet.tv/2008/07/huge-adobe-read.html

Adobe fight fire with fire

Recently Adobe has been needing to deal with a massive force attacking its main domain of dominance, we can call this domain – the highly interactive web or RIA. I don’t refer to Microsoft SilverLight which is supposed to compete with Adobe Flash on the same ground, but to the brutal MS marketing machine. This machine can make every boy and girl blindly recite fallacious facts and numbly say things like “Yeah, but, SilverLight is search engine optimized”.

It took Adobe some time to understand what it is dealing with, and I think I’ve noticed a change in their PR brutality lately, generating big PR out of small things.

This last SEO announcement from Adobe, which claim that Flash will be more searchable by search engines, might have some substance in it, as opposed to the similar one from Microsoft, but, it’s still mainly a marketing battle. I just hope it doesn’t take too many resources out of the real development of the products.

Google were probably working on their own humanoid crawler that has a broader vision then just the Flash Player and can work with any RIA applications even if its written in AJAX or SilverLight. Apparently searching and indexing RIA is not an easy thing to achieve, and it doesn’t seem that even google has managed to do it yet.

The main problem of indexing Flash websites or any other RIA website, is to understand the context of the data and then link to it directly, aka deep linking. The fact that google can now read the text from within Flash even better then it did before, don’t yet solve that problem.

Even so, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be optimistic, and there is a possibility that this will improved the indexing of Flash content. We’ll have to wait and see.

OSE instead of SEO

The promise of google to have a human like understanding of the Internet it crawls has yet to reach reality. My point is that, we should start to expect Optimized Search Engines (OSE) instead of painfully optimizing our content for them (SEO). Currently search engines can’t understand RIA (Rich Internet Application), websites written in Ajax Flash and SilverLight, and the authors of these websites need to invest a lot of resources to make it SEO. As RIA become bigger and more significant part or the Internet daily, what use is a search engine that can’t understand it? It’s the age of obscurity all over again, the age before google.

This clip (02:22) has reminded me of the old promise that google will see and understand the web the same as we humans do, a promise which wasn’t really fulfilled. I know there is a big technological challenge in that, hey google can’t do it yet, but the one that will do it the best might be the next google.

The search engine game might be open again since the late 90th.

Thoughts about the pug dog screen cleaner

If you haven’t seen this cool pug cleaning your screen then click here. This cool Flash video embed inside a simple swf was floating all over the web for the past month or so.

The first think that came to mind was, lets turn this into a screensaver. Which introduced me to this great 100% freeware, swf to screensaver, Instantstorm. Only then I’ve realized that, it fits too perfectly as a screensaver to not already be a screensaver. indeed, after googleing I’ve found it here and a similar concept here (I wouldn’t install these, might contain ad-wares).

The most interesting thing bout this is, how something that had almost no existent became as viral as hell when it was re-distributed as a simple link to a swf file. No play button, no scrubber, and no nothing, follow the link and you get it filling the whole browser space and the experience starts immediately. Sometimes a link to a swf may be the best way of distribution.

I have finally closed all of my TABs

This happens to me once in a few months, I managed to clear all of my FireFox tabs. Read ‘em all, all the stuff I “have to” read later, some wait there as an opened tab for weeks before it gets read and closed. It feels like a fresh start every time I managed to do so. Just the FireFox starting page without anything else. I’d better not go to any interesting website right now, especially not one of these aggregators that can lead to tenths of opened tabs in a minute. Lets savor the moment.

Along with some other issues like, CSRF, Tab surfing mainly hurt our time management (lake of) skills. With the old browsers, though you could have opened a lot of windows, but, it felt crowded after 10 and when it crashed and it generally did (i.e. IE), it didn’t gave you the “favor” of restoring all the windows. These days when using a browser like FF it’s easy to open tons of tabs without even noticing. The only thing that could have saved us, is the small memory leakage in FF that force us to restarts the browser every so often. Sadly enough there are add-ons like Tab Mix that will restore all of the tabs. Or what I generally do is just kill the process and launch FF again to get back all of my tabs with a clean FF memory. You can’t just lose the tabs you need to read it!

I was starving for something that will help my condition. There are lots of tab related addons for FireFox that do all kind of tricks, but look at this one I found here named, Read It Later. Look at the name, it’ll help me to, you guessed it, read it later. I don’t need my tabs to sing or be colorful I just won’t to be able to close the tabs and not feel like I’m loosing anything.

So far so good, but, will I really read these tabs later coz sometimes it’s worth it, reading later, that is. And I believe I wont because Read It Later reminds me too much of this “uber” technic I have of dragging all the links from the address-bar into a folder. This way you clear the tabs, you have it all saved, but you never even open this folder again. Read it later generates a plain list which has no appealing, and doesn’t really convince me to get back to it, especially when it gets crowded with lots of links.

Luckily there is yet another tab saver that focus on tab saving named Taboo. The obvious benefit of Taboo is that it generates thumbnails out of the saved links. Which helps to distinguish between the good saves to the lesser good ones. Taboo also can show you the saved tabs inside a calendar. For me that’s all I wont, give me the saved tab and tell me how old it is. The only thing that is missing from Taboo is that you can’t right click on a link and save it, it has to be an opened tab. And also no offline reading but who needs it anyway, just open the tabs before you go online if you ever do, go offline. Taboo adds just two buttons near the address bar, and been working fine for me so far.
Taboo buttons

There are other tab savers that try to do too much, they wonna be more then a simple tab saver, and loose their purpose by doing that. For ex. scrapbook, which do too much IMHO. Scrapbook has the nerve of adding itself in too many places and even in my FF main menu, just after my bookmark menu button. Does the Scrapbook saved tabs are equal to my main FF Bookmarks?! I don’t think so!

ScrapBook

Maybe I need to sell my Ferari, not that I own a Ferari (yet), you know, metaphorically speaking. Unplug the switch, disconnect, get a life, bring a hammer and break my laptop into tiny pieces. Wait, that’s the company’s laptop, I don’t think they’ll like that.

Anyway, this post has become quite of a rant and, I would finally say that tab surfing is a too good feature, maybe I was better off without it, but it’s here to stay and I’m not gonna quit using it so I’d better find some way to complete it. I have all of these add-ons and more still installed and I’d let you know how it’s working.

Seeing a website being hacked in real time

You always hear about these stuff, a website has been hacked and its landing page has been changed by the hacker. But, what are the chances you’ll get to see that, as it happens, on a large website.
It was 48 hours ago. I went to checkout weeworld.com, a cool avatars creators which recently released a nice new feature for theire avatars called weeRooms.

To my surprise this is the page that was loaded:

Weeworld hacked 1

After rechecking that I got the URL right, I opened the website in IE as well and got the valid weeworld website. This likely happened, and I’m only guessing here, cause their load-balancer served me with a different weeworld server, one that hasn’t been hacked yet. When I refreshed a minute later, this server gave me the hacker page as well. It gave the feeling that this is a hack in progress and the hacker is going through all of their servers and changing the landing pages (index.aspx).

IT try to fight back:

Weeworld hacked 2

Server is down:

Weeworld hacked 3

Website is down:

Weeworld hacked 4
It took another few minutes and the website was completely down (probably by weeworld IT). It took a few more hours and the weeworld website was up and running again. Congrats to the IT for getting a hold of this hack and fixing it in a short time which probably felt like eternity.

I guess it’s satisfactory for the hacker to hack a relatively large website like weeworld. But, what with these 1990′s styled hacker landing pages?! Don’t they want to update it to something more contemporary? Something more Web2.0′ish with gradients and reflections and a little bit of Ajax, or better yet write it all in Flex. A guy who can baffle the minds of full security crews can’t come out with an appropriate web page? The same way developers became design / usability aware interactive developers, I think we should have also usability aware hackers.

The hacker landing page also included two prank scripts that i don’t think even work since windows 98.

This VB script is supposed to open your CD drive. VS script?! What is the computability of VB script?!

[vb]Set oWMP = CreateObject(“WMPlayer.OCX.7″ )
Set colCDROMs = oWMP.cdromCollection

if colCDROMs.Count >= 1 then
For i = 0 to colCDROMs.Count – 1
colCDROMs.Item(i).Eject
Next ‘ cdrom
End If[/vb]

This Javascript is suppose to shake your browser:

[js]function shake(shakes, vibration) {
for (i = shakes; i > 0; i–) {
self.moveBy(i, vibration);
self.moveBy(-i, -vibration);
}
}

shake(’100′,’100′)[/js]

Both scripts look like they were created by some program.

I’m glad that weeworld.com is up and running again and probably in a more secure way, check them out they have some cool stuff.

Apparently iskorpitx is a famous Turkish hacker who’s been doing this for a long time, he even got a promo video in youtube. Is that a Web2.0 hacker or what?!

Call me now! Jajah new Flash widget

We’ve just released the Jajah Buttons which enables you to receive calls from your website, blog, online community, email, etc’ directly to your phone and all that without revealing your phone number. Check it out, call me now.

The Jajah button let’s you determine when, where and to whom you are available for calls. It also give you a permanent short link that leads people straight to your phone. You can always reach me with this url – jajah.com/guy

The Flash widget is completely customizable in size, colors, supports multiple languages and have a unique look and feel. The widget was developed in Actionscript 2.0 mainly for compatibility reasons, it was intended to be released some time ago, before the Flash 9 Player reached 90%. Over that time it was overdeveloped with many features and a complete set of controls that were developed from scratch. Many of these features did not make it to the final (first) release, but, are ready to be put back in when the time is right, so stay tuned if you’re interested in this kind of stuff.

The Jajah Button graphics were designed by the uber talented crew at Ichiban.

Jajah widget colors

Call animation:

Jajah widget call animation

Developing Actionscript 2.0 controls is a tiring and unappreciated task. Show it to a non-flash developer and they’ll tell you – “thats nice but I have that in HTML also, I simply write an input tag…”, they simply can’t see the difference. This strengthen my feeling that some people, mainly developers, are color blind and can’t differentiate between a circle and a box ;). If Microsoft is expecting these guys to do something appropriate with Silverlight, then they shouldn’t, cause it ain’t gonna happen.

Using the macromedia’s V2 components, as always, didn’t seem right. The Flash CS3 Actionscript 3.0 component set, although modest, looks like something that is more reasonable to inherit from. To complete your set, take a look at yahoo’s Flash components.

This is the code I used to embed the Jajah flash widget inside this post using the Kimily Flash Embed wordpress plugin. There are more parameters you can add to make its colors look more like your style, check the editor for that. The Jajah Buttons Editor also gives you the code snippet suitable for your needs.
[code] [/code]

Screenshots from the editor:

Customize colors and size

Editor - Customize colors

Set your availability

Editor - Availability 1

Countries you wanna get calls from

Editor - Availability countries

Callers blacklist

Editor - Availability blacklist

For more info go here…

Akismet has saved my blog from over 100,000 spam comments

Since I’ve installed Akismet last year it saved my blog from 100,425 spam comments. It seems to me like an insane amount of spam for an easy going blog like mine, and though I haven’t counted it, I guess only a few hundreds have managed to passed through its defenses. Over that year I kept on reading about other spam plugins and it doesn’t seems to me that there is a better solution yet for bloggers. If you run a wordpress blog or any other comments driven website then you should install it, it’s fast and easy.

Hostlynx 2.0 – Serious Flex app

There is a claim that there isn’t enough serious Flex applications out there. I’ve recently had the honor to preview an impressive one, and also to conduct a short interview with Dima Gutzeit the Project Manager of this app, named Mailvision Hostlynx 2.0.
This is another one for you to showoff when arguing for the right technology for your next application, currently there are only some information and screenshots, but, I’ll let you know when a full demo is publicly available.

Hostlynx 2.0 - Screenshot2 small

Hostlynx 2.0 - Screenshot1 small

Q: What is Hostlynx 2.0?

A: Hostlynx 2 is the next generation of MailVision Class 5 SoftSwitch for VOIP telephony (SIP protocol). The product allows a system provider to setup a telephony network and offer advanced telephony services to its subscribers (IPCentrex). System management of the solution is based on Flex+Webservices.

Q: Who is the audience of this application?

A: Service providers and corporates who wishes to enter the fast evolving VOIP market.

Q: Why do you think Flash is the right technology for this project?

A: During the research for the project we have considered several technologies, including various AJAX toolkits, JSF and etc. The following convinced us to go with Flash/Flex: Flash player is installed on 98% of desktop computers so in majority of cases it will not require any client side installations. We wanted to deliver the best user experience we could and flash allowed us to do that.

Q: Generally, how is this app structured, client, backend, architecture etc’?

A: Our application uses webservices to communicate between client and server, where Flex application is used as a webservices client and JAXWS on the server side. When we started working with Flex (2.0) its webservices implementation was very weak and basic, so we had to create many workarounds on the server side to compensate. Flex 2.0.1 Hotfix 2 changed that, since we were part of the beta program for Hotfix2 and Adobe staff were kind enough to listen to our requests and enhance the webservices implementation.

Q: Have you used Cairngorm?

A: Yes, we do. Our application uses MVC, and this is done by using Cairngorm (2.0). ServiceLocator is responsible for all the webservices related stuff – sending requests and etc.

Q: How many people worked on the project?

A: Project development involved 2-3 developers and one designer. Project duration was around one year.

Q: Did any of the developers had previous experience with Flash or Flex?

A: That was one the “negative” factors when we decided on technology, since none of our developers had any previous experience not with Flash nor ActionScript. The learning curve was not a short one, since all the developers were from Java/JSP world.

Q: Will there be an online demo of the app?

A: We are on Beta 2 release, and a full featured demo will be available as soon as the application is stable enough.

Q: Do you have plans for creating similar apps?

A: I believe that the majority of future web/desktop projects of Mailvision will use Flex/AIR.

Q: What do you think is the future of the Flash platform and RIA in general?

A: Flex rocks :-).

So Microsoft is interested in Flash ?!

No, not another conspiracy theory about Microsoft, and not another rant about Silverlight, just my latest, somewhat delirious, job search. Few months back I’ve sent my resume to only one HR company. In my resume I’ve clearly stated Flash as my top skill, and oddly enough my first call was from Microsoft. It’s not exactly Redmond but Microsoft Israel also has it’s standards, I guess. I surprisedly asked the person on the other side. – Microsoft is interested in Flash ?! – You’ll be surprised… he replayed. Microsoft, as expected looks like a very nice place to work in, with extremely nice people, there were also some open XBox and joystick boxes that were probably being plugged somewhere. Though there were many motivations, I had to move on, since this was my first offer I had to check some others.

I was overwhelmed by the amount of offers I got, but really got surprised when I’ve asked for a salary which wasn’t that modest at all and got offered more then I’ve asked for. After that I’ve continued to raise the numbers with every job interview and was still getting the flattering OK. It reached to the point when I was uncomfortable to name a figure and felt the need to deeply apologize before doing so.

Another interesting aspect is that even if the company currently isn’t using Flash at all, they seem interested in this “new” cool technology that no “serious” developer seem to know much about. It goes something like “we’re also interested in doing some stuff in flash” or “do you know, what is it called, Flex… ?” and then I start babbling about Flex 2 and Flash 9. Just give me a chance and I wont stop :D.

Obviously it seems like the most interesting places to work in are these risky startups. You can sometimes get to these by using something like jobs@companyname.com. At the young companies there is probably no HR department and this email address is routed to the CTO or even the founders. See an interesting startup on techcrunch in your area? just send ‘em your resume to the jobs address.

At the end it become too stressful to handle, with too many good options and my ex-employer pushing all of my sentimental buttons in order for me to stay. I’m glad I’ve made the right decision and signed up with JAJAH, an exciting Austrian-Israeli-American VOIP 2.0 / Web 2.0 startup. While my original role is an AJAX developer, we’re already looking at ways we can leverage the Flash technology to our needs.

You may call this Bubble 2.0 and you’ll be somewhat right, but theres a big difference this time it is much more realistic. For once, we now have a deadpool.