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Andy Payne goes to Flexcamp

Andy went to FlexCamp last week and was good enough to write up his observations. He says:

"The new Flash 9 Player puts Flash squarely on par with Java (technology- wise), with a high-performance JIT VM (AVM2), a real programming language (ActionScript), and a mature tool set." (from

Yes , but, I think the biggest, biggest deal about Flash and Flex is that some huge percentage (99%?) of personal computers have a working Flash installation. This is distinctly different from the Java VM. If you are going to build a product that needs a cross platform experience and you are deciding between Java and Flash/Flex, this is a major difference.

From first hand experience this is not true for (see BlogBridge.) True, it seems like Java is more ubiquitous now on desktops than it was 2 years ago, but it's still not at the level of Flash/Flex.

Let me plug Java though at the same time:

  • It does deliver on the cross platform graphical user interface promise. 99% of our code in BlogBridge is platform independent - so "write once, run anywhere" is mostly true.

  • The majority of our testing is also platform independent. I would say that 99% of our testing and quality energy is platform agnostic. We do have the occasional windows-only or mac-only bug - often having to do with installation - so the old Java knock - "write once test everywhere" - is funny but not really true.

Finally a couple of other Flash tidbits:

Making my blog look very busy

TimestampHave you noticed? How frequently I've been posting?

I am using WordPress's 'post in the future' feature so in one sitting I can rattle off 6 or 7 posts (for example I am writing this one on December 8) and schedule them for publication in the coming days.

Very efficient 🙂

32 Places With Funny Names

I discovered a new funny blog: it's the List of Lists blog. For example, check out this post from A List of Lists:

Arsoli (Lazio, Italy)
Bastard (Norway)
Brown Willy (Cornwall,UK) Chinaman’s Knob (Australia)
Climax (Colorado, USA)
Cunt (Spain)
Cunter (Switzerland)
Dikshit (India)
Dildo (Newfoundland, Canada)

Dong Rack (Thailand-Cambodia border)
Hold With Hope (Greenland)
Intercourse (Pennsylvania, USA)

Lickey End (West Midlands, UK)
Little Dix Village (West Indies)
Lord Berkeley’s Knob (Sutherland, Scotland)
Muff (Northern Ireland)
Nobber (Donegal, Ireland)
Pis Pis River (Nicaragua)
Sexmoan (Luzon, Philippines)
Seymen (Turkey)
Shafter (California, USA)
Shag Island (Indian Ocean)
Shitlingthorpe (Yorkshire, UK)
Tittybong (Australia)
Tong Fuk (Japan)
Turdo (Romania)
Twatt (Orkney, UK)
Wank (Germany)
Wankie (Zimbabwe)
Wanks River (Nicaragua)
Wankum (Germany)
Wet Beaver Creek (Australia)

(from: 32 Places With Funny Names)

The blog itself is amusing, I recommend it!

Old wives tale, once more, turns out to be true

Have you had this debate? Does cold weather cause people to catch colds more easily or not? Well here's an interesting article that says there is 'scientific' proof that flu infections do in fact spread more during cold winter months:

"Researchers in New York believe they have solved one of the great mysteries of the flu: Why does the infection spread primarily in the winter months? The answer, they say, has to do with the virus itself. It is more stable and stays in the air longer when air is cold and dry, the exact conditions for much of the flu season." (from New York Times)

I always love it when long-standing 'facts' and 'beliefs' get overturned. ("Coffee is good for you, no, coffee is bad for you, no, wait, it's actually good for you.")

However in fairness:

  • The article is talking about flu ("Influenza") not the common cold

  • The main part of the old wives tale is that you should bundle up in cold weather to avoid getting sick - which is not corroborated by the article

Read the article, it's interesting.

“Iterate in the marketplace, not in the conference room”

Chris Herot tells the story of Convoq (which then became Zingdom) from the very beginning to the very end. An interesting chronology, worth reading if you're thinking of (or are currently) playing the startup game.

"The company formerly known as Convoq, and later as Zingdom Communications, closed its doors Friday, November 30th. It was the end of a five-year run that saw three rounds of capital and a comparable number of CEOs and product strategies.

While the company was an innovator in on-line meetings, and had a core group of enthusiastic customers, it never achieved the traction that would have provided the necessary return on capital, and the investors, patient as they were, eventually called it quits." (from Christopher Herot's Weblog)

The conclusion is a useful set of lessons learned:

  • "Iterate in the marketplace, not the conference room. Agile is the only way to go.

  • Just because you are using agile methods doesn't mean you don't have to plan. Write your stories before you begin an iteration, but don't waste a lot of time on the details that aren't needed until later.

  • Don't spend a lot of time and money naming the company until you have the product and positioning figured out.

  • If you are depending on paid search to generate traffic then your marketing is broken.

  • Raising too much money is almost as dangerous as raising too little - it sets high expectations which then drive high expenditures to deliver the results on time.

  • If you want to do a consumer-facing product on the East Coast, stay engaged with the community in Silicon Valley. By the time you read about something in TechCrunch it's too late.

  • Remember the three stages of building a web property: 1. Attract, 2. Engage, 3. Monetize. Don't skip a step."

(from Chris Herot's weblog)

What’s happening to Google?

You know I am a fan of Google. But lately I've had some conversations which have sensitized me to noticing the quality of Google's search results. As I've written elsewhere, the world of Search Engine Optimization is all about manipulating Google's search results to help businesses make money.

Let me give you a case study. Right now in Boston we have the musical Mama Mia playing at the Colonial theater. If I wanted to find out the times and prices of tickets, I might search for "Mama Mia Boston" or "Mama Mia Musical Boston". Try clicking on those google searches. You get page upon page of ticket resellers and some event calendar listings, but no links to the Colonial Theatre nor to Ticketmaster where the tickets are sold.

This is a testament to the success of SEO I guess, but at the same time clearly a disservice to the consumer.

It makes me more sympathetic than I had been of Google's valiant and continued attempts to defend against SEO.

There may be a real risk that Google's search results get just as polluted by spam as everything else, and some new white knight (=search engine) comes along to take it's place.

“We are the people we have been waiting for.”

Tom Friedman recently had a good column about global warming ("global climate change") and what is, or should be being done about it, where he quotes the Onion:

"“Fall, the long-running series of shorter days and cooler nights, was canceled earlier this week after nearly 3 billion seasons on Earth, sources reported Tuesday."

Anyway, read the whole thing.

Also while you are at it, take a look at the referenced MIT Project, the Vehicle Design Summit.

And while you are at it, here is a collection of the best blogs on Green Tech, from BlogBridge topic expert Al Tepper

Computer Science: Theory and Practice

Joel Spolsky of Joel on Software gave an outstanding talk at Yale which he has written up on his blog. For budding Computer Science majors, people getting into the computer world or business, there is a lot of good wisdom to be found here:

My favorite passage is the discussion about the value put on software, from the perspective of those who are involved in creating it. Here's how he introduces the topic, but you should really read the whole thing:

"Currently, in the battle between the geeks and the suits, the suits are winning, because they control the budget, and honestly, I don’t know if that’s such a bad thing. The suits recognize that there are diminishing returns to fixing bugs. Once the software hits a certain level of quality that allows it to solve someone’s problem, that person will pay for it and derive benefit out of it." (from Joel on Software)

The talk is in three sections, read them all!

  1. Talk at Yale: Part 1 of 3

  2. Talk at Yale: Part 2 of 3

  3. Talk at Yale: Part 3 of 3

  4. Link to site: Computer Science: Theory and Practice