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Thoughts on Flash* by Simon Abrams

David Evans in an article on AdAge, once again heralding the demise of Flash:

In short, the "Flashpocalypse" is coming, and it's up to you to decide what your agency is going to do about it.

Sound familiar? This time, though, there might be something to it. Starting in September, Chrome will be the third of the Big Three browsers to idle Flash content by default on load, meaning Flash ads will be paused until the user voluntarily clicks to play them (hah!).

As one who (mostly) still keeps the lights on by creating new things with Flash, I have a couple of thoughts.

Firstly, this was only a matter of time - nobody's really shocked by this, although I think we in the advertising industry have become, as the article says, very comfortable with Flash. People have been proclaiming that Flash is "sunsetting" for years. Fine, we've all accepted that premise, and yet – during those intervening years, I’ve been an interactive/Flash developer at two premiere New York ad agencies with scores of blue-chip clients on their rosters, and I've only worked on one HTML5 banner campaign. I guess media teams just aren't buying it for desktop campaigns? Maybe that's where the education needs to be happening. Even for mobile, the default has been to deliver static images, rather than even the most basic HTML5 animation.

Say what you will about Flash, it does have the advantage of being well-known by a pretty solid number of devs, and we’ve learned to accomplish an awful lot within those absurdly archaic 40k file size specs. On the other hand, the author is right: to this day, I still can't get a straight answer as to what the file size spec is for an HTML5 banner, and you simply can’t replicate the kind of rich animation and interactivity that Flash is capable of in HTML5 in less than 100k (the latest version of jQuery alone is almost 30k, and that’s minified and gzipped).

And then there's QA. There’s no question that we have been spoiled with the ubiquity and predictability of the Flash plugin. Usually, the QA process for most standard banners is to check file size, check that it doesn't exceed the :15s animation limit, and make sure it clicks through to something. HTML5 ads bring with them all the complexity of cross-browser/cross-platform compatibility testing. Also, most of the exacting creatives I know aren't going to be satisfied with what you can get out of the existing ad building platforms (fade in, fade out, slide in, slide out...), so roll-your-own is pretty much the only real option, which means extensive QA time.

It might not sound like it, but having said all that, I'm glad this is happening. It'll force me to get deeper into the vagaries of HTML/JS/CSS, which is a good thing. And, there's really no need to shed a tear for Adobe and the Flash platform either - after all, the Flash plugin might be on its way out, but Flash Professional is still a perfectly viable prototyping tool, able to publish JavaScript animations using CreateJS, export animations as sprite sheets, produce WebGL content, and much, much more.

In short... Flash is dead. Long live Flash.

*With respect to Steve Jobs

Why Website Speed is Important - SixRevisions by Simon Abrams

Let’s do some back-of-the-napkin calculations.

 

Last year alone, Amazon’s estimated revenue totaled $74.5 billion.

Based on Linden’s disclosure, increasing page loading times by just a fraction of a second would cost Amazon $745 million a year in lost revenue!

I'm no analytics guy, but it sounds like we in the business of building websites need to make them load faster.

Except for the AOL case study on the bottom of the page, the article doesn't really mention connection speed, though. I bring that up to say that this seems like a pretty strong argument for improving broadband speeds in America, like the telecoms are supposed to be doing anyway, but are dragging their feet on, because why should they; they already got their National  Broadband Plan money.


Let Me Explain Why Miley Cyrus’ VMA Performance Was Our Top Story This Morning | The Onion by Simon Abrams

So, as managing editor of CNN.com, I want our readers to know this: All you are to us, and all you will ever be to us, are eyeballs. The more eyeballs on our content, the more cash we can ask for. Period. And if we’re able to get more eyeballs, that means I’ve done my job, which gets me congratulations from my bosses, which encourages me to put up even more stupid bullshit on the homepage.

I don’t hesitate to call it stupid bullshit because we all know it’s stupid bullshit. We know it and you know it. We also know that you are probably dumb enough, or bored enough, or both, to click on the stupid bullshit anyway, and that you will continue to do so as long as we keep putting it in front of your big, idiot faces.

So good. And by the way, I'm excited to see what my pageviews look like, just for linking to a story mocking CNN for putting Miley Cyrus in the spot usually reserved for the most important news in the world.

If Politicians Had to Debug Laws Like Software, They'd Fix the Bugs | Wired Opinion | Wired.com by Simon Abrams

In the spring, members of Congress set off to fly home for a holiday—and ran into mammoth lines at the airports. Why were things so bad? Because of airport furloughs caused by the “sequester.”

Critics warned that the sequester would cause hardship throughout the country, but congress-folk didn’t care — until they had to share in the pain. When they discovered that the sequester was eating into their vacation time, they rushed back to the Capitol and passed a law restoring funding to airports, working so fast that part of the bill was handwritten.

In short, when congress has to eat their own dogfood, they get shit done.

I like the idea from the comments, that the laws should be commented, just as code is commented.

Is the GOP stealing Ohio? by Simon Abrams

Funny business going on in Ohio, beginning suspiciously close to the 2012 Presidential Election. At the behest of Secretary of State Jon Husted (R), an unverified software patch was installed on electronic voting tabulation machines in 39 counties to "assist counties and to help them simplify the process by which they report the results to our system."

Re. a sketchy election result from Georgia in 2002:

No one will likely ever be able to prove that the November 2002 election was rigged, but that infamous software “patch,” along with the anomalous election results from 100 percent unverifiable voting systems (which are still in use today across the state of Georgia and in many other states) has cast an everlasting cloud of suspicion over that election.

The more I read, the more this is making me queasy. Even assuming there's nothing nefarious going on here, it's still highly suspect that they waited to install this uncertified patch on these machines only days before the 2012 election.