Monday, May 24, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Adobe's founders fume mindlessly in public

The biggest problem with the open letter released by Adobe's founders is there's no there there, no substantive argument.

They warn against the web fragmenting into closed systems, but in fact the exact opposite is happening, the web is unifying into an open system with a common language; it's reaching maturity.

One Adobe creation, the Portable Document Format will constitute an important part of the new web reality, in no small part because it is no longer proprietary. When Adobe turned PDF over to the ISO, all objections against its use disappeared. Had they done the same thing with Flash, the result would likely have been the same, and Flash would now be joining HTML5, the DOM, CSS, and Javascript as part of the emerging standard. In that alternate reality, even Apple would likely be happy to support it because they would be writing their own implementation to their own high standards, and Adobe, having had a huge head start, could continue to dominate the market for tools to create Flash content.

Instead Adobe chose to keep Flash a proprietary format. They should not be surprised that others' reactions run from lukewarm acceptance to outright rejection.

That Flash can be made to run acceptably on mobile devices, and that some web developers would prefer to keep using it rather than learn to use the open standards, doesn't even remotely constitute evidence that the future of the web is at risk unless every platform vendor were to allow it on their systems. Flash is common, yes, but its percentage of installation has already peaked and is beginning to dwindle. It is not and now will never be part of the standard, even if Adobe were to finally see the light and turn it over to the ISO or W3C; it's too late for that.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Simon Sinek at TED

This speech was delivered last year at a TED conference in Washington state.

Click here for full frame.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

using physical brushes with touchscreens

Bill Gates says pen-based tablets will beat the iPad, at least with students.

Something like a decade ago, one of my favorite rant topics was ‘where oh where is the electronic brush?’ I was referring not to brush gadgets such as are common in drawing programs, but to a physical brush that could be used in conjunction with an electronic display. At the time I imagined a brush composed of optical fiber, along with some internal electronics to detect the hotspot of a CRT as it passed beneath the bristles, and more electronics in the computer itself to correlate the signal generated by the brush with a position on the screen.

Well, CRTs are hard to find these days, and LCD screens don't have hotspots. On the other hand, touchscreens have become quite common, and at least those used by Apple are good enough to use for drawing.

The trick would be to find a bristle material, or the combination of a bristle material and the internal design of the brush, that would sufficiently mimic the capacitance of a finger to be detected as such. You can use as fine a brush as the touchscreen will reliably detect.

The difference between such a brush and a pen-input system might appear negligible, to the casual observer, but would be far more pronounced to the person actually using the device, due to the difference between the gradual contact of a brush and the sudden contact of a pen. Moreover, a brush would provide pressure information directly to the device, via the touchscreen, without need for a Bluetooth connection, and clues to nuanced movement via the rolling or rotation of the triangular area contacted by the tip, so you'd be able to use it to move sliders or rotate dial gadgets using very small motions of your fingers.

Also consider that the written language used throughout east asia is traditionally drawn with a brush, and is still more legible done by brush than with with a pen.

Besides which, there's an elegance to brushes that no pen can match, and the main reason for using a hard pen, multipart forms, simply isn't a consideration on a touchscreen.


Click here for the full-frame version.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

not quite the Holy Grail, but...

There is now some reason beyond vain hope to think that AutoCAD will be coming to Mac OS X!