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Adobe vs Microsoft

Adobe have just released a load more source code as open source. A little while ago they gave the source code of their ActionScript engine to Mozilla, which will dramatically improve the performance of JavaScript in Firefox, making XUL an even more interesting platform to develop in. Now they've released the source code for the Flex compilers and debuggers.

This is certainly in response to Microsofts Silverlight. These technologies have an awful lot in common.

It's about time there was an alternative to Adobe/Macromedia in that space (I'm ignoring Java) and the competition should be healthy. But which one will prevail? Will there even be a winner? I suspect not, the whole point is that the embedded players are small, lightweight and portable, so pretty soon everyone will have both. Flex will most likely become the choice of the open source fans using LAMP/RoR backends, and Silverlight will be for the MS developers integrating with .NET. The users won't even see the difference.

I've not invested a whole lot of time in Flex, it looks very impressive and powerful though. I'm probably going to just keep an eye on Silverlight and move into using that for the shallow learning curve. Sorry flash fans!

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Media Scaremongering

It should be an offence! If only print media adopted some of the standards of institutions like Wikipedia. TV and newspapers with massive readership/viewership regulary abuse that position of power to commercial or political ends. Now of course these are generaly commercial organisations, and perhaps I'm being naive in thinking people want their newspapers to tell them the news, the sales figures of The Sun show that. And I've often heard that newspapers is the one industry regulary run at a loss because owning a paper gives you so much political power (I really need to find a citation for that!)

I'm a regular reader of BBC news and often click into the Technology section. They seem to be constantly writing about computer security threats, and they rarely seem to be in proportion. As for the beebs motivation, money and politics really shouldn't come into it, I suspect it's more likely that on a slow tech news day they turn to recent security releases and alerts that steadily stream out of organisations like Symantec, Microsoft and others.

A recent example of this is the covereage over the last couple of days of the supposed harmful effects of wi-fi networks. I saw something about this on newsnight lastnight but the article that's really wound people up is from the Independent. Ian Betteridge has written a great come back.

This leads me onto my next idea. In this age of blogging and wikis, the new user generated mass media, we should be able to combat the misinformation coming out of these media giants. How about a website dedicated to either debunking, or perhaps in some cases supporting issues that are currently in the media, using citations to real research. Perhaps it would be a simple wiki, with a digg type interface to bring currently relevant articles to the front page. People could visit it to verify whatever they've just been reading in their newspapers, or at least hear another side to it.

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Yahoo! and BBC Hackday

As Tom was the first to announce, Yahoo! and the beeb have joined forces for the first Hackday in europe. Imagine X-Factor for geeks, competing to be the biggest geek, except at the end we get some decent music (at the US one they had Beck!!!)

If the possibility of someone like Beck turning up isn't enough, it's happening at Ally Pally. The only venue cooler than that would be the ISS.

There are 500 places, you have to submit your details along with a few links to some hacks you've done before, I'm hoping my few greasemonkey scripts and other bits and bobs will be enough to get me in. I've also read that at the US one they had 500 hackers, but only 100 projects, which would suggest you really need to get into a team.

I've got a few ideas for hacks, so is there anyone else out there who's planning on going and would like to join forces? I'm a .NET developer (C#, ASP.NET, Compact Framework etc) and also do a lot of JavaScript (GM, YUI, bit of XUL) and know my way around Flash. So come on, don't be shy, doesn't matter if you're not "shit hot", who is? I work much better with someone to bounce ideas off.

This is all assuming I get an invite!

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Greasemonkey leads the way

I noticed a little while ago that Flickr added an "Invite to group" link under the comment boxes. Clicking it loads in a list of groups you are an administrator in, you can choose one and inserts some text into the comment box.

What's interesting is how closely this functionality mirrors this popular greasemonkey script. Now perhaps it's just a total coincidence that the flickr developers had exactly the same idea. But it's much more likely that they saw the script in use, looked at the interface and the feedback of it. Perhaps it's also worth noting that they didn't reuse the group list popup from the toolbar over the image and went for a simple combo box instead, just as the gm script uses.

This looks like a pretty good example of greasemonkey leading the way in improving the usability of an application, prototyping the interface and testing the market. I'm sure flickrs usability team pay a lot of attention to the greasemonkey scripts on the hacks group. I wonder if they'll implement my comment tools?

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Thom Shannon's background in making chips gives him a unique insight into the web development industry. As the Technical Director of Glow New Media he works with clients across the UK to deliver high quality web marketing solutions using the latest techniques, accessibility practices, and web standards in both straight and crinkle cut.

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