Flex 2.0 RSS Reader in 25 lines of code


I’m building a new Flex based front end to my website. Not for any other reasons than I am learning Flex 2.0 and my front page really needed an over haul. One of the things I’m shooting for iis an RSS reader that points to my blog. After searching around the web, I really didn’t find anything instantly usable, a lot of out-dated Flex 1.5 stuff out there with improper syntax for Flex 2.0. The example that Adobe provided with Flex was great and cetainly functional, but seemed more complex than what I needed. So I took it upon myself to write my own simplified 2.0 version.

Just as I thought, you can acheive a great looking, functional reader in Flex in an amazingly small amount of code. The example I posted also has some extra code that applies drop shadow filters at runtime to several of the compnents, just to give it a little more style. I think one of my goals with my new front end is to make a Flex application without it looking like Flex. Although that loader is always a dead giveaway.

Here’s the application.

Here’s the source.

Special thanks goes to Peter Baird for the runtime filter code.


Skype on Symbian Mobile Phones

skype_phone.jpg skype_logo.png

I like it but I don’t get it.

I love Skype, especially with this free calls to any line in North America promotion going on. When my cell phone isn’t charged or if it’s just in the other room, I can make a quick and convenient, anonymous call. By anonymous, I mean the caller ID comes up with a return number of 00001234, which has tempted me to revisit the fine art of prank calling I had mastered in the pre-caller ID days. I love the fact that it’s got the old legacy phone carriers skaking in their boots. I’m sure they never envisioned that the broadband service they offered as an after-thought to phone and cable-television would then be used to cut them out of the process. Between that and cell-phones, Old Ma Bell in the traditional sense is done. I even bit the bullet and got rid of my land-line early this year and rarely have even noticed it gone.

Okay here’s the part I don’t get. You can already get Skype for mobile on handsets when using Windows Mobile 5.0. Why would a mobile operator allow for users to use a Skype mobile version on it’s supported handsets when it circumvents their service plan model? I know, they charge for data as well, but you would think that they would learn the lessons of the landline folks they would have their eyes on things. Data plans of course are still more expensive than traditional voice ones, but those prices are only bound to go down. It of course would not be economical to place a local call via Skype for a half hour when you could use your voice plan for free. Of course it may not be a matter of whether or not the mobile operators allow this or not, after all, in some sense it’s just a data packet like ones for streamng audio or websites. You may remember when cable operators began to block Vonage’s service ports, preventing their customers from using their IP based phones. Some pretty swift lawsuits popped up and it became an anti-trust issue. Still, it wouldn’t suprise me though if mobile operators somehow disabled or limited Skype usage, the same way they limit bluetooth functionality here in the US.

Anyway, a Symbian build for Nokia phones has been rumored to be around the corner. In the meantime don’t be suprised if you get a caller ID of 00001234 and some guy asks to speak to I. P. Daly.

(thanks to Alessandro for pointing this out)

The 1% rule

I read this in the Guardian the other day and it has really stuck in my head. To paraphrase:

It’s an emerging rule of thumb that suggests that if you get a group of 100 people online then one will create content, 10 will “interact” with it (commenting or offering improvements) and the other 89 will just view it.

That seems like a stunning ammount on non-interaction out there. Though while I am by virtue of this blog and my job, part of that 1%, I do have to admit that I am chronically a lurker when it comes to most things. I do read a lot of specific subject matter based blogs and tech sites when I do my daily rounds, but I rarely post reactions unless I feel it will open up any doors. My approval or disapproval is not enough, I’m someone who at least likes to add something.

I do think that as it becomes easier and easier for people to share themselves (and it has, just look at MySpace and youTube) That 1% will continue to grow. Either way, a great little meme which seems to be right, at least at this moment.

Luckyee Sells the Clix up the iRiver


I saw this browsing around on Engadget today. Let’s face it, all PMP’s are in essence similair and I’m open to interpertation of what qualities all portable media player’s should have. Small in size, light in weight, and intuitive in design are some. But this little guy is such an obvious rip, you really have to wonder, did they even try do any industrial design of their own? Sure they managed to eek out some better video performance, 25fps is definitely preferable to 15fps. Maybe iRiver can just buy these hacks and pool their resources. The sad thing is that since the company is in China, they are off the radar in terms of legal action. If they offer the product in the US, well that’s another issue.

The one interesting interesting thing is the UI, which looks kind of cool. The initial question? Is that UI Flash Lite based or is it a F.L.E.D. (thanks Scott) at all? Something tells me no. Adobe seemed to have their handds in the development of Clix, even helping to create a custom Flash Lite implementation. I doubt they would of helped these rip-off artists. Though I have to admit, at $62 for a 1gb, I am tempted to try and get my hands on one of these for, er, research.

Flash Lite for Brew out on Adobe labs


So Adobe labs has finally put out an update that will allow you to export your Flash Lite content to the Brew Simulator environment and test it. The interface is similair to the one that is included in Flash 8 when you publish content for Flash lite 1.1 and 2.0. Note that at this time, the update is Windows only, no Mac support yet.

In order for this to work you need to download not only the Flash update, but the Brew SDK, and also become an authenticated BREW Developer. It was a little tricky to get the publishing settings right as the Brew environment has to be just right in order for it to work, but I found Adobe’s SDK to be pretty clear and easy to follow and I was able to publish out content from Flash to the emulator within a half hour. So far so good though I haven’t really been able to test performance and fps. It’ll be interesting to see how these phones compare to their Symbian counterparts. In order to test on a real supported handset you need to download and install the Flash Lite 2.1 for BREW Extension to your phone. This is what I assume takes the place of the Flash Player application that you have to purchase from Adobe for Symbian.

One thing that has me a little suprised is the lack of handsets this will work on so far. Adobe specifies only two handsets in this beta release, the LG VX9800 and the Samsung SCH-a950. Right, I know it’s in beta. But when I saw this list when the whole Brew thing was announced, that’s what really blew my mind. Look at all those phones! Obviously, the number of phones will NEED to grow as I think that Adobe really needs to focus on more saturation in the market through the support of a larger ammount of handsets. One good thing to note is that even these two handsets tend to be more typical and less espensive than the latest Nokia offerings. But no rush to conclusions here. I think this is a great step in the right direction and look forward to seeing where this goes.