A few months ago I finally upgraded my cell phone and went for a Samsung Omnia from Verizon. Before I bought it I read some reviews on it and tinkered around with others in the store and it was one of those “lesser of two evils” things where I couldn’t find anything that was perfect so I picked something that sucked the least.
One of the things about the omnia that I didn’t like was it came with Flash Lite 2.1.. after 3.1 was released. Ah well. So I tinkered around some with packaging some little apps that I created and got 3.1 on it that way.. but it’s basically the “stand alone” player and not used for the browser. I don’t develop mobile apps for my day job, so this sub-par Flash support was more of a nuisance when I was browsing for fun and not something I really needed.
Well, last week I got around to looking at upgrading Opera and saw loads of articles hinting that the beta version would use Flash Lite 3.1.. I downloaded and installed it.. and it still had 2.1. oh well.. In the process of looking for info on the Opera beta I stumbled upon Skyfire. It gives me full Flash 10 (10,0,22,87) support on my little mobile phone. It has some pretty big quirks as far as UI (like entering text in Flash apps), but it’s nice to have another option.
So just for kicks I dug around and looked at some of my old performance tests and some other tests out there on the web.. and whoa.. I was shocked. My cell phone ran the tests faster than my old XP rig (which I was playing Half Life 2 on not long ago..). But on the graphics heavy tests it kind of freaked out.. an example is when I ran this test my little omnia was chugging along at 25fps and then sometimes it would jump to 30 or 35. It wasn’t smooth at all. When I added more objects for it to spin around things would get really exciting. The graphics would freeze up, then the Flash Player would rush to display everything. If I put 7 objects on there it would drop to 10fps for a few seconds, then zip up to 40fps, then stabilize at about 30fps for a few seconds, then drop back. But.. . . the ability to run Flash Player 10 on something I can fit in my pocket? Wow.
Now if the Omnia would just work a little better as a phone.. hehe.
While I was at FlashForward I had an interesting moment.. four of us sitting at a table were asked what one new feature we would wish for in some upcoming Flash Player. This isn't so unusual, but Tinic
was at my table. Umm.. so we kind of had an ace up our sleeve. Heh.
Macromedia and now Adobe have actually listened to a LOT of the requests from the Flash community (they've ignored a lot too, but we'll forgive them for now). So I gave it a few moments to sink in where I was, who I was with, etc...
My first response was "bi-directional text" .. which the others at the table quickly said "it's coming".. and I said.. yep, I've worked with it and I think it's going to be huge and thanks a ton
. That would be the one feature that imho will have the biggest impact on my day to day work for quite a while. It's a huge new feature. I asked for it for years and it's finally coming. I got to thank someone who was directly responsible for making it happen and that's a very rare and cool thing.
My second response was something that I'm sure has been heard a lot in the last couple of years. Flash is getting onto mobile devices at a rapid rate, and many of those mobile devices are GPS enabled. If Flash could provide an easy way for designers and developers to access GPS data then we would see some very cool location aware applications on mobile devices. Sure there are security and privacy risks to be dealt with. Sure it would mean extra weight for the Flash Player.. but it could lead to some fun stuff. And as we saw and heard at FlashForward.. it's all about having fun.
I know getting GPS into Flash (or AIR) is possible already but.. ummm.. here, go take a look at what Andrew Powell blogged about on Saturday
.. watch the video and you'll see what it took for him to get GPS data into AIR. It's very, very cool, but probably more than most Flash designers want to undertake. Bill Perry wrote an article a while back
about getting GPS data into Flash, but it involved saving the data out to a text file and a few other steps.. Even Mike Chambers had some fun with GPS and AIR
for the AIR bus tour.. and gave info about it under "Describe the project in which you have used the most advanced technology
". If it's advanced technology for him.. then it's probably something that could be made easier for us mere mortals.
On the way home from FlashForward I thought about the question a bit more. Is there anything else that I'd rather see? I have a long list of little things that I'd like to see fixed or added, but those have already been listed many times by others (and myself). My day to day work wouldn't really benefit from a location aware Flash Player but I still think it's a feature that could propel the Flash Player onto more devices... especially since Adobe opened up the licensing for custom devices
There is one other feature that I'd like even more, but I'll hold onto it until another day.
I'm back from FlashForward and thought I'd jot down some random thoughts. I'm not going to attempt anything cohesive because.. well.. I didn't get a lot of sleep this week and then got back home on one of those cross country red-eye flights that seem to suck clear thoughts right out of me.
I checked The Goog
for the responses of other people and saw that Caleb was blogging. He was swapping name tags with folks after the "supper club" party Wednesday night and I ended up with his name tag and one of his Fire business cards so it was cool to see that he posted some info about Jared Ficklin finally getting to play with some fire at the dinner
Jens from Flash Magazine has a short article about the festival winners
saying he'd heard that the single track format went well.. and Keith Peters seemed to enjoy it
.. but Alex Bustin didn't totally agree
Marty and Anthony blogged about the conference
and gave a rundown of some of the sessions..
My thoughts on the conference?
Whew.. um.. this was the first FlashForward I'd been to since I presented at the SF FF back in 2004.. that was ages ago. I really enjoyed seeing the people who inspired me, pushed me, helped me, etc.. to get to where I am today. It was cool that most of those folks recognized me (or at least pretended to), and spent a good bit of time talking to me. Oh, and even cooler was being included in activities outside of the main conference with those folks. It was a real honor.
I thought it was interesting that one of the presenters asked how many people in the audience had Computer Science degrees and only about a dozen people raised their hands. The crowd hasn't changed since the early days, and I expect many of the newcomers with CS degrees are showing up at the Flex conferences. ? I came to Flash through art (yeah.. the design of my site sucks.. I know..) and was taught that to be an amateur is perfectly fine. I have no doubt that many folks out at the conference with Masters or PHDs in CS would consider most of the presenters at FlashForward to be amateurs at coding. I'm cool with that. How many inventions were made by amateurs in their basements? How many discoveries in astronomy and chemistry were made by amateurs? And it seemed like at least 4 of the presenters made a point of saying that they came from some totally different background besides CS and don't consider themselves to be experts in programming. I think it goes back to what a lot of the presenters who have been at this a long time said. In the early days of Flash everyone was learning this from scratch and it was all total experimentation. That sense of adventure and hacking is what kept the creative (and masochistic) types interested and scared away the more traditional.
The single track program worked for me because I only saw a couple of presentations that didn't really interest me or do anything for me. Having to sit through a few 20 minute sessions that I didn't connect with was fine because the rest were interesting. It's all about passion. I had a teacher in art school who told me that if you're going to survive in art you must be passionate about it. It has to be the first thing you want to do in the morning, and the last thing you want to do at night. I'm pretty sure most of the presenters (if not all.. well. . now.. Todd said he was lazy but I don't believe him) have that kind of passion about their work and it showed.
I heard a few people (both newcomers and old veterans) who were disappointed in the amount of code or "tutorial" style presentations there were. I can understand that because I'm the type of learner who learns from watching others do stuff.. but I also remembered from past conferences that the real value is in who you meet and connect with at the conference. I went to the bowling party and saw almost everyone there really enjoying themselves and talking to other people. It's those live and in-person connections with other people from all over the world that can make going to a conference worthwhile.
The party Thursday night at Ruby Skye
was great.. especially if you were able to find the quiet room up on the second floor where the pool tables were. I got to talk to Rob Bateman
(of Away3D fame) and it was nice to be able to carry on a conversation without having to yell over the music. But.. Now, I did enjoy that bass they were cranking out.
I'll be going to FlashForward
in S.F. this year. It's been a while since I've been to FlashForward so I'm looking forward to it, and I'm curious to see how the new single track format works out. My prediction is that it'll work out great because the "networking" aspect of the conference will be emphasized and .. well.. given the economy there will probably be a lot of networking going on.
I can't wait to see the wild stuff people are working on with all of the new features in Flash/Flex/Air. The last time I went to a FlashForward I had several of those "holy crap..... I can't believe they did that with Flash" moments and I heard the same thing from one of the developers from Macromedia. To me that's the fun of FlashForward.. seeing how far people have pushed the boundaries of Flash and getting to talk to the folks who are doing the pushing.
Oh.. and if you're thinking of going but haven't registered yet then get in touch.. I've got a discount code for $200 off.