Monday, April 18, 2005

Adobe & Macromedia

This one's going to take some time to play out, but the implications could be far-reaching. Adobe has a good record of creating standards. PDF wasn't the only candidate for document exchange, but it was handled quite well in hindsight, and Mac users in particular have benefited from this (initially in terms of creating documents that Windows users could read, and now in terms of supporting PDF display very well at system level - and much more to come in Tiger). I never had confidence that Macromedia could really turn Flash into a true standard; they seemed far more concerned with tying it into their proprietary (and frequently Windows-centric) creation tools than in developing it for the common good. Perhaps this will change over the next few years. While Adobe may kill GoLive, it may equally mutate into a tool for creating SWF and SVG on a more equal basis, or provide the basis for merging the two formats. Adobe aren't perfect by any means; their behaviour over After Effects on the Mac has been appalling, but I think they've had their nose bloodied enough by that one, and they won't want to repeat the fiasco of Premiere being destroyed by FCP. Motion 2 HD has a very interesting means of incorporating content into AE, and that may indicate a willingness for the two tools to co-exist to the benefit of all (I'll be incorporating After Effects into our media creation strategy now, so there's a couple of extra sales for them already ;-). I'm optimistic about this overall, but then I'm a futurist, and maybe that's just my orientation.

Friday, April 08, 2005


The first three months of 2005 have flown by with barely a word here, and that's bad. In the meantime however all sorts of things have been happening, including some serious work on the Xserve cluster and the Visualisation side of the project, some interesting experiences with Motion Capture, and even some teaching, amazingly. Of my 2005 Resolutions I've been mostly concentrating buying more stuff, and we've some fascinating new kit to experiment with over the next few months. So what's currently occupying us? Here's a selective update:
  • Remote Configuration: When no-one in your immediate organisation has ever deployed more than a few computers at a time, and when the configuration is usually done ad-hoc, it's a revelation to see how cool tools like Apple Remote Desktop have become. Despite some issues with IP subnetting life here would have been much harder without ARD, and I've not even scratched the surface yet. Remotely deploying OS X Server updates to several headless machines at once is a dream come true, and I'm definitely enjoying accessing my PowerBook screen remotely from my Mac mini :-).
  • Visualisation Toolsets: The hardest part of all of this is pinning down the notion of deep visualisation in an organisation that is necessarily dealing with surface aesthetics. The easy way in for colleagues is through fantastic tools like Shake which start to use the power of the kit we're deploying in the service of comprehensible goals like high-end video (6.8TB of RAID storage helps somewhat too). The ultimate destination however looks increasingly like a Science/Arts hybrid, and it'll be interesting to carve a way through to there from here.
  • Space, Politics, Funding
  • The usual crap, though it's getting easier to handle as we get more successful. We seem to make enemies and allies in fairly equal measures. I just hope that the right people are on the right sides.