Radical Flash Chat - Video Chat Framework

I've just received an interesting email from Jaromir Sivic, a czech developer who sent me news about a project of his called 'Radical Flash Chat'.
While I haven't tried myself yet, Jaromir describes it as a framework that enables PHP and ASP.NET developers to build and manage their own Video Chats, Flash Chats and other multimedia videconferencing applications easily in a very short amount of time. The configuration screen certainly looks quite promising, listing both Wowza and Red5 as a Media server option. There's also an online demo that you can try (that's if it is online, which seems to be fairly intermittent).

I encourage you to try Jaromir's product and share your feedback with him, or indeed below in the comments.

I'm happy to post any news about similar projects or other news items, just drop me an email.

Installing ColdFusion 9 on Windows Server 2008 64bit

This blog is slowly turning into a ColdFusion site it seems :-) Blame ColdFusion for that, it's the one application server that I know a bit about and I really like working with.
Today I needed to install CF9 on Windows Server 2008 64bit and I ran into a few issues which forced me to reinstall a few times. I've now managed to install it successfully so here are a two tips that may safe you some hassle if you like me encounter a HTTP Error 404.3 - Not Found.

First off, I was using IIS 7.5. As you may know, you need to install the web server role onto Windows Server 2008 first and it seems that everything labeled IIS6 tools and compatibility tools should be installed as well, so do that first. Then when running the CF installer right click and 'Run as Administrator'. Once I did that it was plain sailing, but not much joy without those two boxes ticked.

Installing ColdFusion 9 on OSX Snow Leopard with MAMP

I've had a few issues getting ColdFusion 9 to run under OSX when trying to leverage an existing MAMP install (note: I was not using MAMP Pro. If you are using MAMP Pro then Mike has got some advice for you).

I have not got enough time right now to run the whole install process again and take screenshots along the way but I'll do my best to summarise what I think may help some others who want to use MAMP and CF9 together. I took some hints from this excellent post by Paul Pounder, however my install differed in that I chose a single server installation. Saying that, I think I encountered similar permission issues as the ones that Paul describes.

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Deep Thoughts on Silverlight

Jan just posted a great article about Silverlight, Flash and RIAs in general. As expected, Jan approaches the topic from a video angle, but comes to some of the same conclusions as many of us here in the Flash camp: "If Microsoft dropped Silverlight tomorrow, most web site owners and 'Netizens' wouldn't even notice, or care if they did."

And of course I'd like to give Jan a hug for quotes such as "Flash caught on because it provided design functionality that HTML couldn't match and solved problems that no other technology could. It succeeded because website designers, developers and owners wanted it, not because Adobe needed it."

Very true. And that also means that Adobe gave those designers, developers and content owners the right tools for the job at the right time. Let's not underestimate the foresight Adobe had back in 2000 or so - long before anyone ever heard of Youtube and the like - when the foundations were laid to make Flash the de facto video standard on the web. While I doubt they envisaged quite this level of success they were certainly aiming for it. Has Adobe been able to leverage the success of Flash video and turn it into a money spinner for themselves? Not really. But have they managed to secure the future of the Flash platform for some time to come? Definitely.

It's onwards and upwards from here for Flash video. Adobe is undoubtedly busy cooking new and clever features in the labs, and anyone who has seen or watched the RTMFP sneak peaks at MAX knows that this technology could be another game changer. I can't wait to see more. There are many good ideas still to be had.

PS: I recommend you read Jan's full article, including the first part which focuses more on UGC and H.264.

Producing H.264 Video for Flash

My friend Jan has a great article on H.264 video production on his site. You can read the first part below, and catch the rest on his blog.

As a producer of video on the web, you know that you're judged by the quality of your video. In this regard, many producers are considering converting from the venerable On2 VP6 codec to H.264. H.264 offers better visual quality than VP6, and the AAC audio codec offers much better quality than the MP3 codec paired with VP6. Starting with Adobe Flash Player 9 Update 3, you could play back files encoded in H.264/AAC formats. As of September 2008, the penetration of H.264/AAC-compatible players exceeded 89% in all Internet-connected PCs. No wonder they're switching over.

This article first discusses the issues involved in such a changeover, including the potential requirement for royalties. I then describe the H.264-specific encoding parameters offered by most encoding programs. Finally, I cover how you can produce H.264 video with Adobe Media Encoder CS4 and Adobe Flash Media Encoding Server 3.5.

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H.264 - Critical Links and Information

My friend Jan was recently asked by a client for a list of H.264-related references. And Jan figured that if these references are worthwhile to his client, perhaps they might be worthwhile for you, so here they are. For much more great content around all things streaming check out Jan's Streaminglearningcenter.com.

General H.264

Wikipedia - it all starts with Wikipedia, but you probably knew that. Here you can find all you need to know about profiles, levels and entropy encoding (oh, my!).

The Future's So Bright: H.264 Year in Review. Before you recommend H.264 to a client, or for internal use, you need to know that H.264 comes with some baggage, in the form of royalties (yes, royalties). In fact, depending upon how you're currently deploying H.264 encoded video, you might already have triggered a royalty obligation. Read all about it here, as well as why H.264 adaption has been relatively slow among major broadcasters and corporations.

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Adobe Media Player - R.I.P.

Adobe is to discontinue the content syndication through the Adobe Media Player (AMP), essentially laying the whole initiative to rest reports NewTeeVee.

Personally I'm not surprised. The shows that were available in AMP did not really appeal to me and the format of a desktop media player was also not what consumers seemed to want or indeed need - Joost anyone? The 'iTunes for video' concept simply did not catch on.
Strobe, the new media player framework that was recently announced, now appears to be taking center stage and is being pushed as the way forward when it comes to building media players (initially for the web but we all know how easy it is to turn a Flex based application into an AIR based client), and the coverage on NewTeeVee seems to suggest that even Adobe had their problems when building AMP, contributing to the birth of Strobe.

R.I.P. Adobe Media Player, I won't be missing you though.

Why MLB.com Ditched Silverlight

I know I know, I really should not feel as much Schadenfreude as I do over this topic but it's just too good to miss (and hey, any chance of something like this happening to Adobe and I'm sure the dark side would be all over it ;-)

Some may argue that this is not a big deal - you win some, you lose some - but MLB.com is no small fry. Cnet describes it as 'the Web's most successful subscription service' serving half a million (!) subscribers.
What went on behind the scenes is now starting to emerge as - according to Cnet - Microsoft points the finger at 'a series of glitches and conflicts between the companies'. Moreover, the lawyers are now apparently involved which sounds like a major fallout to me. MLBAM's CEO is even heard talking about an 'ongoing dispute with Microsoft'. Oh dear. Can it be worse than Adobe and Apple banging heads over Flash on the iPhone? Maybe.

I guess we'll have to see how things progress for Silverlight, but I still fail to see the real advantage of the platform, at least from a user's point of view. Sure, it must be great being a .NET developer now being able to hack away at a new platform, using new (and existing) tools, but what problem is this plugin really trying to solve? What does it offer that Flash hasn't been doing for years? I'm a developer myself and naturally curious, but so far I have had next to no urge to even install the Silverlight development tools (which ideally require you to run Windows as you desktop OS).

I know I keep asking this, but where are the impressive Silverlight apps built by the Silverlight community, I mean those that did not make the showcase pages (yes, we;ve seen the Olympics now. And Netflix. Next?), and why does it seem that all the existing showcases are built around a video experience? It's not all about video you know!?
Let's revisit this topic in a year. What do you think the RIA playing field will look like then?

H.264 Year in Review

My friend Jan Ozer has released a very interesting article over on Streamingmedia.com. Jan covers H.264's year in review and makes some notes about it's future too. Highly recommended reading.

Tracing Multiple Variable Values in One Trace Statement

Here's one of the category "how come I didn't know this?". At least that was the case for, I guess I have been living under a stone.
Consider this code snippet in AS3:

view plain
1var i:int = 123;
2var foo:String = "foo";
3var wtf:Object = {prop:"rad"};
5trace(i, foo, wtf);
What happens when you compile this and watch the Output window or Console? I thought it'd fall over, but in fact you get
view plain
1123 foo [object Object]

Neat, I know. But I haven't known for long (it took Tink's code for me to notice).

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