All posts by brooks

Transparency Means Little Without Integrity

LibraryThing’s Tim Spalding might just have renewed my belief in transparency. Skip the spin, deliver the truth and stand by your convictions with competitors and users.


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Transparency has been a trendy web 2.0 business tenet for awhile and I’ve been a huge fanboi, but after reading Tim’s post I realized I had only seen half the value. The ingredient that’s been missing and always made transparency feel like just another slimy sales / marketing technique was integrity. Eschewing pr and marketing is an attempt to engage users and win trust by being direct and genuine. However, kowtowing to the whims and arguments of customers breaks the trust and voids the contract.

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The mantra, “the customer is always right” is often interpreted as, “I’ll say anything to get / keep your business” and that’s, well, slimy. Part of the “transparency” movement is an attempt to completely cut the bullshit and broker honestly. We’re telling the customer directly about our our motivations, roadmap, financial health and products / services–everything the consumer needs to make an easy and effective evaluation. Implicit is the guarantee that customers will be treated honestly and fairly throughout the relationship and that means the courage to stand by your convictions.

Must Kill Interlacing: Getting Quality h.264 Screen Video Out Of After Effects

While converting a Jing swf to h.264 with AfterEffects I was really struggling to get video that looked reasonable using the h.264 profile built into AE. I was massively ramping up bitrate settings without any noticeable improvements. Strangely things looked ok when played back in QuickTime, but not so great in Flash Player. After a few false starts I finally realized that by default After Effects was interlacing the video.

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Interlacing delivers half the lines of vertical resolution per frame. This is never a good thing for computer / web based video and was especially noticeable at the low framerate (10 fps) the Jing swf was recorded at. After switching to progressive (no interlacing) and taking the bitrates to the floor I got the pristine quality and small file size that h.264 is known for.

Its bizarre that interlacing is on by default and the encoding options dialog in After Effects isn’t exactly Adobe’s best UI experience ever, but at least the option is there and visible if you squint hard enough. Hope this saves someone else the frustration.

Hyperlocal Snackr – Effective Workplace RSS Communication

I’ve got a bit of a love hate relationship with Snackr, Narciso Jaramillo’s AIR based rss ticker (watch the screencast below to see Snackr in action). Watching feeds roll along the ticker fuels an already dangerous information addiction, but I’ve never quite been able to justify having the constant bombardment of external information while working which makes use problematic.


It seems obvious that Snackr is too distracting to be allowed in the workplace and would only appeal to information junkies like bloggers and journalists, but the more I use it the more inclined I am to believe there’s some real value here when the right context is applied.

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Lots of people less obvious than bloggers and journalists are highly dependent on the free flow of information. For instance most managers at their core are communicators responsible for managing the constructive flow of information and instruction between members of their team and the company at large. Imagine a software development company where the developers are microblogging their work related activities and managers are posting their teams progress, objectives and roadblocks. To the manager the information flow is time and context sensitive which is why an almost real time ticker approach makes sense (much as a stock ticker makes sense to a broker).

It’s long been predicted that RSS would replace email, but for non-geeks its always been a little fuzzy why and how this would happen. I see the blogging, microblogging, lifestreaming as hyperlocal trends precipitating the shift. It’s clear that most of our conversations have historical value and the aggregation and public (heavily scoped) availability of these conversations can be of enormous value when delivered effectively to the appropriate audience.

Obviously there are privacy concerns, but the difference between public / private has been rapidly disappearing as the world has gotten smaller and flatter. Planes, trains, automobiles, radio, television, cell phones, cell phone cameras, email, IM, etc. have increasingly given us the ability to view and invade what was once personal. We’re not going to put this genie back into the bottle. Instead the race is on to see how we can effectively channel the technology and corresponding cultural shifts. Through that lens a hyperlocal Snackr seems very intriguing indeed.

Flash Player 10 = Platform Ubiquity?

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Just saw the news about Flash Player 10 64bit Linux, 64bit FreeBSD and 32bit FreeBSD come across the wire. At this point it looks like Tinic is actually not a human. Can we get him on the iPhone player pronto? Loan him out to Apple or something…tell him he can’t do it or threaten to make him watch synchronized diving on Silverlight… ;-) Really, is there a Tinic beer fund I can contribute to? How about a live web cam feed of him coding–nerds would dig that.

Flash Player has long enjoyed ubiquity on the dominant desktop operating systems, but this news means Flash is pretty close to having ubiquitous platform penetration. Any comments from the Adobe crew? Can’t wait to hear what the actual release plans are.