Making the case for ActionScript - my take

Peter Elst posted his thoughts about ActionScript and where it's going. I agree with him and prefer to have simplicity we had once with ActionScript and Flash Platform.

I wrote my two-cents as comment to Peter's post, that's how it goes:

Nice post.

We have witnessed how Flash Platform evolved over the years, it has got more attention by people but at the same time, it has lost a lot of attention of those attached initially (as Keith said above).

Jeff Raskin, in Humane Interface, said something like that – complex tasks would require complex user-interactions but that’s no excuse to make simple tasks complex.

I believe, that’s what has happened. It’s not any more simpler to do simple things.

Adobe must think why they are doing it and for whom they are doing. If ActionScript is going to be clone of Java or C#, then why a new language – why not just use one of those?

There must be a philosophy behind a language and platform, what is that behind Flash Platform and ActionScript?

I had more fun in old days than now, just enjoyed the company of everyone (designers, developers, trainers, etc). It was because of simplicity that brought all of us together. I agree a lot of bad implementations were result of ease of doing things in Flash, but hey – there were far more good stuff then than now. A lot of innovation, cool stuff and apps to showcase. How much do we have now?

Open Source Media Framework (OSMF)

A few days back, Adobe announced Open Source Media Framework (OSMF), which was known as Strobe earlier.

A few minutes back, I received an email confirming that Open Source Media Framework website is up with all the information, specification, developer-documentation, source (Subversion repository), downloads (binary and source) and bug-database.

Open Source Media Framework (OSMF) has an interesting list of features and goals. I like it's plug-in architecture, that would allow a lot of extensibility and various amazing plug-ins from different providers in coming time.

If you are a developer spending a lot of time developing various work-flows around online media-players (audio, video, images - players), I strongly recommend you to check out Open Source Media Framework (OSMF). I am sure, you would find it worth start using it and also contribute back whatever you can.

Following are the reasons, I am going to use OSMF and give up my existing frameworks:

  • It's open-source
  • It would solve core issues (video playback, delivery and workarounds for various limitations in Flash Player, etc)
  • It would adopt various standards (playback, cdn, advertising, etc)
  • Larger developer base, that means bug fixes and various features would be available very often
  • I love open-source and see myself contributing to OSMF in future, beyond my current projects.

Adobe India's support to community

Mrinal Wadhwa started a discussion, in Adobe India Community Champions mailing-list, to raise concerns about Adobe India's role in Flex India community, he raised some good points.

It's unfortunate to see how one of the Adobe evangelists took it personal and reacted publicly and made some personal attack on Mrinal.

You can check out Mrinal's post to read what happened.

This is what I posted during discussion in the mailing-list.

My two cents after reading entire thread.

1) Adobe India works differently, the hierarchy and culture is different. More focused one engineering and marketing (to whom - God knows) than anything else. So any such event is aligned with sales and marketing needs. A lot of people who work enjoy their work but beyond that they don't do much. A lot of them even maintain low-profile for various reasons.

2) Adobe India Evangelist team works differently compared to their counter parts in USA. In India, they report to engineering director of Flex or platforms team, which is not the case in USA, if I am right.

3) Expecting Flex team engineers to participate would be too much, it's individual's curiosity/passion to do that. If their managers make it as on objective/gaol, most of them would show up for sake (performance review, appraisal, etc) - we don't want that. I have been through it and opposed the idea when my manager wanted entire team to do what we (Manish and I) were doing our own, due to our own curiosity.

I have always asked these questions (what Mrinal is asking) to myself and during discussions, but could never really understand. I have learnt that it's better not to expect much from the Adobe India, it's not really Adobe USA. Culture comes from top to bottom, and top management is not really anywhere close to what it's in USA.

I like Evangelists in Adobe India, most of them are passionate and are there because they love technology and what they do. Unfortunately, when you work for a boss who got a different agenda or things, you can't do much. As said earlier, Evangelist team reports somewhere to engineering director or someone like that, now you can imagine things.

These are some of my random, but based on my observation and experience, thoughts. No offenses meant to anyone.

I am keeping kind of low profile myself in Flex community, I realize community is doing good - there are far more developers than we had couple of years back. I also see there are far more passionate developers than before, you can judge that by seeing some regular names in lists/forums.

I am also sure, there would be far more people who are religious about Flash Platform and one can see tears coming out of their eyes while they talk about technology. As it used to happen with me :D

Expect the unexpected - the formula for peace of mind. Let's talk, inpsire and act to spread the words about things we believe in and love. I have been working hard to find a smart Flash Developer for my team, yet to find. I want to contribute in my way, I would love to have people in my team contribute to SDK and other opensource projects, now that's what I can afford to do now :-)

Thanks

-abdul

I expressed above based on my observation and experience, might not have been put properly as I wrote it quickly. But you might get my point there.

Google Apps - Too many simultaneous connections error

Somtimes Google would lock your IMAP account due to too many authentication tries using wrong password or too many IMAP simultaneous connections. I have not been able to figure out a solution to unlock it.

What I noticed, it gets unlocked after five days, yeah that's right you would have to use webmail for those days. It's also important to make sure, your email clients have right passwords otherwise they would keep making requests and getting IMAP locked.

BSNL 3G configuration - new access point name

It seems BSNL secretly changed the 3G access-point details around couple of weeks back, so my 3g connection stopped working. I looked over internet to figure out the latest configuration details, I couldn't locate one.

I talked to BSNL 3G technical guys in Kanpur and to my surprise, most of them were also not aware of the change. Thankfully, one of the guys from BSNL Bangalore office, confirmed the latest access-point details, as shown below:

Access point name: gprsnorth.cellone.in bsnlnet

In case you are wondering, what all other changed, that's it. JFYI! Old access-point name was gprsnorth3g.bsnlmobile.in, which doesn't work anymore.

So if you have been unable to use BSNL 3G during last couple of weeks, perhaps new access-point name can work for you.

I am not sure, if there are different access-point name for different parts of country (north, south, east, west)?

TVersity: Media Server

I am sharing my experience while finding a good media-server (software that can store, transcode and serves various media formats to devices - computers, mobile, apple-tv, etc).

We all (parents, brother, sister-in-law, sister and myself) stay together, which means we have got more than one TV, various devices (mobile, computers, laptops, etc). We realized, it's useful to host the media at one central computer.

  • Storage
  • Wiki - to jot down the links and ideas
  • Development and Testing - when we work at/from home
  • Media Server (software that serves media to various devices in home)

Most of the requirements (above) are sorted out except the last one "Media Server". I looked at various options, some of these are listed below:

I found myself more comfortable with TVersity, though it's not opensource and only runs on Windows, for following reasons

  • Ease in administration:
    • anyone in my family can add/remove media using it's easy to use administration interface.
    • admin tool runs using Adobe Flash Player, has been built using OpenLaszlo framework and executable has been created using Zinc like tool.
  • Ease while using:
    • Web based interface for administration - runs on Adobe Flash Player
    • Web based interface for media library
      • Simple HTML
      • Flash based (built using OpenLaszlo) - where media is transcoded and played using Flash Player, awesome, isn't it?
      • iPhone friendly interface
  • Support for Open DLNA and UPNP
  • Automatically detects (most of) devices, transcodes and serves media, if required
    • That means, ffdshow and other tools can be used to add subtitle and apply various filters before serving the videos.
  • XBMC/Boxee that runs on my macbook and apple-tv worked really well with TVersity

You can find the complete list of features on TVersity website.

So now life is simpler and easier, we all store our media at one place and can see it anytime and on most of our devices. Having web-based access to media makes life easier. I also feel, it's lot easier to extend web-interface, which I plan to do in sometime.

I would love to post about detailed comparison between various options (media-servers and tools) mentioned above, perhaps in another post, sometime in future. Another post would be there to share how our home network looks like. Hope, I can spend sometime drawing diagrams which would be lot easier to understand.

HR and Payroll for small companies in India

Running a company in India is not an easy task, not because you don't know what you are good at. One has to know a lot more to do things - laws, acts and statutory requirements. It's easy for anyone with just technical background to make mistakes (i.e. unintentionally not being able to follow things) unless one is surrounded by people who are either domain-experts or professionals.

For last one year, I have been spending a lot of time reading about basics of accounting, acts, laws and such things. Thankfully, there are some good resources (listed below) which proved super useful to anyone like me (technical guys with hardly any background in accounting, laws, etc). I am listing some websites (forums) below, which really helped me a lot.

Though I missed doing things (programming, development, flash/flex, etc), I love to do, during last one year. But I realize, as an entrepreneur, I would have to learn things sooner or later. I hope, in long term I would feel it was worth spending time (almost an year).

(If you are interested in more resource, keep looking at my delicious bookmarks.)

Anyway, let's talk about things which are related to the subject of this post.

Towards an attempt to be more organized and productive, we started looking at various software/SaaS options for accounting, HR and Payroll. In a small company like ours, which is located in a city where it's hard to find many good consultants and professionals in these domains, SaaS might be super useful.

At first, we thought of using and customizing some opensource software like openerp for our requirements. But we know, we don't have domain experts in these areas (accounting, hr, payroll, etc), hence can not keep changing the software the various compliance and statutory requirements by law/government. On the other hand, the total cost (time, money, etc) of ownership for such things is lot more. We find there is more value to use professional services offered in the form of SaaS . That would allow us to focus on things, we should be i.e. innovating, doing great work, building great team and providing great services to our clients.

We are trying to move to a smart SaaS that helps with our HR and Payroll stuff. I have been playing with following websites that offer SaaS for Indian companies.

There are other companies but they don't allow you to quickly signup and check out their services, before you can make a decision.

I also found one interesting software (windows desktop application), it's not expensive and actually allows most of things for small companies like ours. The only issue I see, it's desktop based  and requires windows.

I was expecting Zoho might have payroll solution, it seems they are still working on it (I got a confirmation via email). Zoho seems to have HR (HRM, HRIS) stuff:

After spending a lot of time during last week checking out and playing with various services/software (some listed above). I realize,  greytip is the most mature, flexible and smart solution but user-interface in greytip can be improved a lot.

On the other hand, evetan (thanks to Swaroop for pointing me to it) seems to have a simple user-interface and workflow. It can be improved a lot too while keeping the simplicity.

Hopefully, I would choose one very soon and start using it for our company. If I get some time, I would love to post a detailed comparison of these SaaS/Software (listed above).

Entrepreneurship Resources - India

These are some of the sites from my list, I visit quite often:

I have more sites bookmarked in my delicious, but I want to create a list and put it here just for an exercise. It seems due to productivity tools, I hardly remember website URLs or names. So keep watching this space, you might find more links over the time.

Job Opening: Flash Platform Developer

We are looking for some smart Flash Platform Developers who can be part of our team in Allies Interactive Services Pvt. Ltd., Kanpur, U.P.

We are a design and development company in Kanpur, though we are small but we are ambitious and have a great vision.

I posted the details on Flex-India sometimes back, pasting the same (edited the typos and formatted) over here:-

I have been meaning to post this for sometime but thought would it be appropriate to do that here?

I am part of a small design and development shop in Kanpur, U.P. Where, we mostly do web development using FOSS, mainly LAMP.

I moved to kanpur around 10 months back with a desire to build a great Flash Platform Team that would work on non-trivial type service projects and some great product ideas.

I could now start doing it, after we have managed to fix a lot of issues mostly a nice office, a good culture and some projects and a product in pipeline.

I need an experienced Flash Platform developer in my team, who can help us to make our vision, desire and dreams a reality.

Since Kanpur is not a metro or fancy place to live, it takes more than just technical aptitude to be here. That is some more strong reason f.ex. A desire to be part of a growing team, desire to be close to family, desire to contribute in the development of IT ecosystem in North and/or a desire to prove, hell yeah we can do great stuff from anywhere, even cities like Kanpur :-)

If you think, you want to help me by being part of my team and understand what I meant above, please don't hesitate to contact me on [abdul dot qabiz at gmail dot com] off-list i.e. Direct email to me, please don't reply here on this list.

As far as job description goes, I have already given an idea. However, we are looking for someone who understands web very well that is HTTP and other standards. Fundamentally good at problem solving, the real world ones, ActionScript, Flex Framework, Adobe Flash Player and AIR fundamentals and APIs.

Of course, good experience that says about in your behalf. We would also talk to you so things would get clear, i.e. If we are match for each other.

If you want to know more about company, please check out http://www.alliesinteractive.com

MovableType to WordPress - Migration

Yesterday, this blog successfully moved to WordPress from MovableType 3.2. I have been procrastinating this entire migration work for quite long time, I tried many times but left half way.

Existing posts and comments were easily migrated i.e. export from MovableType and import in Wordpress, that's all. The challenging part was retaining permalinks of posts published using MovableType. I didn't have to do anything for monthly-archives beacuse the url-format being used in MovableType was exactly same I chose for WordPress so I just removed old directories  (created by MovableType).

Category and individual archives' permalinks were taken care by putting some code on top of MovableType templates for those archives. So request still goes to old archive pages, where code on top constructs the new wordpress page URLs and redirects there. Which means I am going to maintain old MovableType installation (at least php pages) until I figure out other way. This bit is tricky because MovableType generated filenames (permalinks) in very inconsistent manner, perhaps due to configuration issues back then.

Feed permalinks were taken care by simple rewrite rules in .htacces. Over the time, I would be fixing the look and feel of the blog and other minor issues (line-breaks and all that). Please let me know, if you find any broken links (from your bookmarks) on this blog or any other things. I would appreciate that.

I could share the code and .htaccess stuff here, but it's not really very clean. I would do it once I am done figuring out a better of doing category and individual archives' permalinks handling. However, if you really want to see the stuff, please leave a comment and I would send you whatever I have :-)