Archive for January, 2008

FMS goodies courtesy of Mr. Towes

A few Flash Media Server related items, courtesy of Mr. Kevin Towes, technical product manager extraordinaire for FMS:

Here’s a tool to help you calculate bandwidth for Flash Video:
http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flash/apps/flv_bitrate_calculator/index.html

Also… a beginner’s guide to Flash Media Server 3
http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flashmediaserver/articles/beginner_vod_fm3.html

And… a great article by Desiree Motamedi, product marketing manager for FMS
http://www.adobe.com/devnet/logged_in/dmotamedi_fms3.html

Enjoy!

Flash Media Server 3 Ships Today

Adobe announced the Flash Media Server 3 family of products back in December last year, and today the products are actually shipping! I think the FMS product team did a great job with this release, not only in terms of adding features and improving performance, but also in listening to customer feedback and revising the pricing & licensing for the product.

So now we have three different editions for FMS:

  • Flash Media Interactive Server 3 (FMIS) – list price $4500US
  • Flash Media Streaming Server 3 (FMSS) – list price $995US
  • Flash Media Development Server 3 (FMDS) – free!

Flash Media Interactive Server
Adobe Flash Media Interactive Server 3This is the full-featured server that can be deployed as a pro server (a la FMS2) or in an origin/edge architecture, so a lot of flexibility in terms of deployment. If you’re looking to build social media applications that require 2-way communication between the end user and the server (e.g. capturing a webcam stream, video blogging, collaboration apps, etc.), or you need an industrial-strength, scalable solution, this is the edition for you.

Flash Media Streaming Server
Adobe Flash Media Streaming Server 3FMSS is an economical option for those customers who want to upgrade from progressive download and simply start streaming their video content. FMSS ships with applications for live broadcasts and on-demand playback that allow you to start streaming content out of the box. At this price point, you still benefit from features like improved performance, H.264/HE-AAC support, encrypted streaming, bandwidth detection, reporting and enhanced seeking.

Flash Media Development Server – Free!
FMDS is identical to the full blown FMIS, so you can build any type of streaming or social media applications without paying for the server technology upfront. Once you build the proof of concept for the ‘next big thing’ but it limits you to 10 concurrent connections. Pretty good value for a free download!

Not sure which edition is right for you? Try this comparison table at Adobe.com.

Abbas 3.0 Released Today!

After a decade of development, it’s reported that Abbas 3.0 was released today at 12:01am ET. Unfortunately, similar to the previous 2.0 and 1.0 releases, Abbas 3.0 will not ship with with any release notes or documentation of new features or updates.

Based on past performance, analysts expect that Abbas 3.0 will be slower, heavier, and generally less responsive, with no significant feature enhancements or bug fixes. The only new module that has been publicly announced to date is the ‘parenting add-on’ – whether this new functionality is a success still remains to be seen.

The 3.0 release party is scheduled for tonight, with a very limited invite list.

(Well, I thought the above would be kind of funny, in a technology/geeky kind of way, but now that I re-read it, it’s really not that good.. but what the hey. I’m 30, it’s my birthday and I’ll do what I want!)

Analytics Reporting Suite – Awesome AIR app!

If you use Google Analytics for your web or blog traffic, you have to check out the Analytics Reporting Suite developed by Boulevart of Belgium.

Built on the AIR platform, the tool lets you access your Google Analytics data from your desktop, the UI is a vast improvement over what Google offers, you can export to PDF, Excel or XML — and it’s super, super fast.
You’ll need to download AIR from Adobe Labs first, so what are you waiting for? Hit up Adobe Labs and then install the Analytics Reporting Suite!

BBC iPlayer a huge success


I’m at the airport early, waiting for a red-eye flight from San Francisco to Toronto (via Las Vegas – ugh), so thought I’d share an interesting story that landed in my inbox.

BBC, the largest broadcasting corporation in the world, had been using Windows Media Player and Real for years to stream video to their online visitors – that is, until Christmas ’07 when they launched the new Flash-based BBC iPlayer. The iPlayer allows the online viewing public to choose from over 250 BBC shows from the past seven days and either stream the video or download to their desktop. In the first two weeks of launch, the iPlayer was accessed by a million visitors for a whopping 3.5 million streams/downloads.

That is an 800% increase over what their online video traffic was with the WMP/Real solution! Just goes to show you that if you build it (with Flash Video), they will come. :)

Read more about it at the BBC site.

Live at Macworld!

Today is the last day of Macworld and I’m in the middle of one of my last sessions on Adobe Creative Suite 3 Web Premium. It’s been a great conference (see the recap of the keynote below), but I’m ready to go home and sleep in my own bed.

For those of you that missed my sessions, here are some web resources to help you learn more about the new features of the web suite:

A few other sites I referred to during the week:

Macworld Day 3: Celebrity Sightings at Macworld!

It’s been an interesting couple of days at Macworld – more because of the people I’ve met at the conference than anything else. Today, I was scheduled to do 4 theater sessions at the Adobe booth, along with several customer meetings, so the day flew by.

It seems like Macworld attracts all kinds of people – even celebrities. While there were no Brangelina, Tomkat or Britney sightings, I did see Richard Dreyfuss (near the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus) and Sinbad (near the Apple booth). I didn’t have a chance to talk to Mr. Holland’s Opus, but I did get to listen to Sinbad rave about Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. I didn’t realize that the guy was so into technology, and specifically, Adobe technology! To top it off, he was quite entertaining, so definitely one of the day’s highlights.

My encounters at the conference inspired me to try my hand at the ol’ Six degrees of Kevin Bacon game.. and thanks to IMDB.com and Google, I found a link!

  • Richard Dreyfuss was in Stand By Me with Kiefer Sutherland
  • Kiefer Sutherland was in A Few Good Men with Kevin Bacon
  • Kevin Bacon hosted Saturday Night Live when Phil Hartman was a cast member
  • Phil Hartman worked with Sinbad in Houseguest.

The conference has also been good in terms of seeing some of the Adobe celebrities – John Nack (Photoshop PM), Richard Galvan (Flash PM), Chris Orwig (photographer extraordinaire and all around nice guy) and some others.

Kuler integration with Flash, Fireworks and now Dreamweaver!

After one of my CS3 Web Premium sessions at Macworld, I had a customer ask me about Adobe’s plans to integrate Kuler into the other CS applications (it’s already integrated with Illustrator CS3 through a Flash-based panel).. For those of you who may not be familiar with Kuler, it’s essentially a hosted web application from Adobe that allows the creative community to create and share color themes. You can read more about Kuler here.

Anyway, I didn’t have a definitive answer for the customer in terms of what Adobe’s plans were, but I know of a number of third-party extensions that enable some integration between Kuler and our web apps.

Pixelfumes released a couple of (free!) extensions for Fireworks and Flash last year – check the links below:

And more recently, WebAssist launched a Kuler extension for Dreamweaver that allows you to pull Kuler colour schemes directly into DW. This is definitely an improvement over taking a screen capture of a colour scheme and manually entering the hex colour values into a site’s CSS.. and best of all, it’s free!

While you’re at it, check out the Kuler Desktop application built using Adobe AIR. The download link is near the bottom of the page.

Macworld First Impressions

Today was my first official day at the Macworld conference in San Francisco. I got into town yesterday afternoon, visited the Adobe booth while it was being set up and then went for dinner with my colleagues, Adam Pratt and Colin Fleming. I’m sorry to report that I reneged on my promise to visit Shalimar in the Tenderloin, and went to Naan ‘n Curry on O’Farrell instead. The food was actually pretty good, although Shalimar definitely has a better ambience – whereas Naan ‘n Curry felt like a Pakistani/Indian restaurant in a US city, going to Shalimar is like visiting the Indian subcontinent.

But I digress. I showed up at the Adobe booth this morning around 9:50am while the Steve Jobs keynote was going on in another building. The Apple booth was right behind Adobe’s, entirely hidden by a ceiling-to-floor black curtain that ran along the perimeter of the booth. As Steve made his announcements, portions of the black curtain would fall, revealing a giant poster of whatever gadget had just been shown on stage in the next building. I suppose it was like a striptease for geeks.

While this was going on, members of the media started gathering by the black curtain so they could be first to touch the MacBook Air or whatever. They got their chance once the keynote ended – all the curtains and other physical barriers came down and media & joe public alike rushed the Apple booth. It was fun to watch, but I can’t say I wanted to join the masses.



In terms of the keynote itself, I have to say that I was a little underwhelmed with what Steve & Co. had to show – and I’m willing to bet that a lot of attendees would agree with me. A few people suggested that maybe Apple is working on something huge and just couldn’t get it done before the show, so they went with whatever they had. Others observed that Steve wasn’t his usual self, and himself seemed less excited than he normally is.

As for the rest of the conference, I had a chance to walk around the floor a bit today and plan to do some more of it tomorrow and Thursday. I can’t believe that there are so many different companies making iPod/iPhone cases and covers!

On a positive note, Adobe has put up its staff at the W, which is right across from the conference venue (Moscone Center). I ended up in a standard room, but like every other W, the furnishings are very interesting.

Get Buzzed!

It’s been a harsh winter in Toronto this year (although this week has been very mild), and since I could never bring myself to wear a toque (Canadian for winter hat) lest it ruin my hair, I decided to buzz it off a couple of weeks back.

Ok, so maybe not the best segue to talk about Buzzword, by far the best online word processor on the planet, but you’ll just have to forgive me. Naturally, this stunning Rich Internet Application (RIA) was developed using Flex (by a small startup called Virtual Ubiquity, one of the original recipients of funding from Adobe’s $100 million venture capital fund announced at MAX 2006). Fast forward to MAX 2007 last October, and we had Adobe announce that it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire Virtual Ubiquity. Yay for us!

I think this acquisition could prove to be a game-changer for Adobe as it dives deeper into the ‘knowledge worker’ market, currently dominated by Microsoft. Not an easy task, but considering the sheer size of this market, it’s certainly worth the old college try. Plus, the trend of people increasingly making use of online applications in favour of desktop applications (I’m thinking of Facebook here) bodes well for RIAs as a whole.

To actually get to my point: if you haven’t already, try Buzzword today. I think you’ll be amazed! Aside from the brilliant interface, one of the things I really like about Buzzword is that it is truly a collaborative authoring workspace.

And while you’re here, check out SlideRocket, a Flex-based RIA for building presentations. Now, if somebody can just develop an Excel-like RIA, I think we’ve got a little suite on our hands. :)