Activating Flash Builder 4.7 With a Serial Number

I've just come off the phone with Adobe support after trying in vain to activate a trial version of Flash Builder 4.7 Premium with a serial number.
No matter what, I was always presented with a prompt that asked me to 'renew my subscription', referring to a Creative Cloud subscription which I do not have nor need.
What I do have is a valid serial number. I tried quitting the Creative Cloud app and relaunched FB 4.7: no joy. I chatted and phone Adobe Support: no joy. They told me to email them, and finally someone called me and fixed the issue. Here's how.

Open your Creative Cloud desktop app. On a Mac it has a little cog symbol in the top right corner. Click it.
If there's a sign out option then use that, but in my case there wasn't so I selected Preferences, then on the popup that opened selected 'Account' and then the 'Sign out of Creative Cloud' option.
After signing out I quit the Creative Cloud desktop app.

After that I launched FB 4.7 which now started properly. I wasn't prompted for a serial number at that point so I waited a minute, quit FB 4.7 and relaunched it. Now I saw the serial number prompt, entered my serial number and was all set.

Hope this helps someone.

Using RDPGuard To Protect Your Windows Server

One of my remaining dedicated servers which hasn't yet been migrated to Amazon EC2 is hosted in a UK datacenter without a dedicated firewall to protect it.

Whilst I knew that the server was effectively exposed to the Internet on various ports I did not realise that despite me setting up the Windows firewall to only allow logon attempts on the RDP port (Remote Desktop) from a fixed set of IP addresses, many if not all logon attempts were still getting through. I'm not sure why, but I seem to recall that the block only kicks in after a successful authentication, meaning bots were still probing my server 24/7. Not good.

What I needed was an easy way (by this is not what exactly easy, neither is that) to block hacking attempts with configurable bans based on IPs.

The best and simplest tool I found for this job was RDPGuard. It runs as a Windows Service and can easily be configured to block brute force logon attempts.

I can really recommend it if you run a public facing Windows box without a dedicated firewall. They offer a free, fully functional trial on their website.

Move An Existing Git Repository Into Bitbucket In 3 Steps

Thanks to my good friend Simon I've been a happy git user for a few months now. I installed my own git server on Amazon EC2 using Ubuntu, git and gitolite and just fired it up once or twice a day to push and pull. This worked out fine but with more and more easy to use git hosting services springing up I gave Atlassian's bitbucket a try since it offers unlimited private repositories which is a bonus.

It took me a little while to figure out how to move my existing repository into bitbucket, especially since it was already tracking the existing remote repo on my server. What follows are a few easy steps that describe the process - but note that you follow along at your own risk.

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Easily Monitor Log File Output in OSX Terminal (tail -F)

Here's a quick tip that is a real time saver in some situations. As a developer you often come across programs, tools or servers that produce output in form of a log file. Or maybe - and this includes myself - you use logs for debugging purposes.

In ColdFusion for example I regularly find myself adding cflog tags to my code in order to get a view into what my code is doing. Having to open and close log files constantly can be tedious at best, but luckily there is a really simple way of displaying a live view of the most recent entries using the standard Unix tail -F command.

Whereas tail on its own simply displays the last part of a file, the -F option will not stop when the end of the file is reached but will keep monitoring the file for new lines and displaying them, thereby giving you effectively a live console view into the file.

Taking ColdFusion logs as an example, here's how you'd monitor a particular log file (mine are typically named according to the site or application I am working on):

view plain
1cd /Applications/ColdFusion9/logs/
2tail -F playingornot.log

As my application runs I can see new entries being displayed in real time in my log file - very handy. This particular log is produced by adding

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1<cflog file="" type="information" text="#arguments.targetPage#">
to my Application.cfc's OnRequestStart handler.

This technique works for any kind of text based log file on operating systems that have the tail command or similar available.

Installing git and gitolite on Ubuntu 11.10

Don't ask me how I did it (ok, you can ask, in fact I'm going to tell you...), but somehow I now have a remote git server and gitolite for repo and user administration installed and running on Ubuntu 11.10 using an Amazon EC2 Micro instance.

I've spent all morning on this, tested it on 3 different instances (I love it how you can just throw away an EC2 instance and start again with a new one in a matter of minutes) and have kept a log of the steps which got me there. Please note that there may be errors or illogical jumps in this summary, but maybe it will be helpful nonetheless - or it may even work outright, who knows.

BEfore we get started, here are some links that helped me (but note I had to pick some steps from some links, and other steps from others...). In particular I did not clone gitolite to my local machine (as this post suggests but ended up using

view plain
1sudo apt-get install git

Links I used:
git + gitolite + git-daemon + gitweb setup on Ubuntu 11.10 server
How to setup git server using gitolite in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric
Install Gitolite To Manage Your Git Repositories

First of all, get yourself an instance of Ubuntu (you may swap this for your preferred Linux distro). If you are in love with EC2 then head over to and click the selection at the top of the page (I'm using the us-east region), and then pick your preferred image.

The neat thing is that if you already have an Amazon Web Services account you can launch your instance with virtually one click, very neat. I picked the Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric EBS boot image, 64 bit.

Once booted, SSH into your instance (consult other blogs for details on this if you need help).

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FMS/Wowza/Red5 Broadcaster App For Android

As one of the main contributors to the Red5 project, Paul Gregoire is a well known name in the community. Yesterday he posted a link to an AIR for Android app he built to the Flash Media List and I'm republishing his link here as I think many of you will find this app quite useful.

The Broadcaster Android app allows you to broadcast audio and video to an RTMP server such as Red5, and also works with FMS and Wowza. What's more, the app is free and will run on pretty much any Android device with Android 2.2 and up.

You can download the Broadcaster app from the Android Market.

But apart from being useful, the app also shows that AIR for Android can be quite versatile and allows you to easily publish what is essentially a Flex application to a mobile platform.

Converting And Editing AVCHD (.mts) Files On OSX

A quick note about this article: I chose a slightly misleading title in order to help people find it more easily as most would not know that a search for 'rewrapping .mts files' is what they may be after.

This post is about rewrapping .mts files to make them compatible with QuickTime; it is not about re-encoding or editing .mts files (but rewrapping will make them editable using most common video editing tools).

Many common camcorders and digital cameras - in particular Panasonic and Sony models - produce video files in AVCHD format, with file extension .mts, .m2ts or .m2t. These files often do not play back natively unless you install a third party video player such as VLC.

I was getting a bit annoyed at the fact that quick preview in Finder would not work with .mts files and that the format is generally a bit of a nuisance (iMovie for example won't find any compatible files if you tell it to look in a folder that only contains .mts files). Moreover I was looking to stitch some clips together which in turn was made more difficult by the .mts format.

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Apple HTTP Streaming Support Added To OSMF

Matthew Kaufman, one of the engineers who brought us RTMFP but who is no longer with Adobe, has written and published an AS3 library which adds support for Apple HTTP Streaming (draft-pantos-http-live-streaming) to OSMF. The classes constitute a plugin for OSMF's HTTPNetStream that supports Apple's m3u8 index files and MP2 transport stream media file.

Matthew outlined his efforts on the FlashMedia List:
"I've put the initial commit of this code up at with an open-source license (MPL).

No guarantees that it is complete or optimized, but it does appear to play most of the things I've been able to throw at it. Supports H.264 video and AAC audio... adding MP3 audio support is on the list, just need a sample stream to test with and a couple hours to do it."

Thanks Matthew!

VP8 Delivers Better Quality Than H.264 - But You Won't Notice It

Jan Ozer was quick on the mark to deliver a side-by-side comparison of video encoded with VP8 (the codec which Google open sourced as recently as two days ago) and H.264, the de-facto codec standard for web video and beyond.
You can check out Jan's tests here on but in summary it is safe to say that any differences in quality are negligible. What remains to be seen is of course how the same codecs perform across a range of bitrates; maybe VP8 does excel once you throw higher resolution, higher bitrate content at it? Or maybe it will distantiate itself at low bitrates?

But regardless, the mere fact that VP8 is open source now and that it is a serious contender in the codec wars that rage around the web in the past few months is a great thing. Remember that H.264 is a patent encumbered format with a patent pool overseen by an organisation called MPEG-LA, and license fees are payable for certain types of usage. It is the uncertainty about these fees and their possible future rise that give organisations like Mozilla cause for concern - and they are not alone. By open sourcing VP8 Google is obviously prepared to call the bluff of anyone who may claim to hold patents on which the VP8 codec may infringe. Now that the sources are open for anyone to see it is now possible to inspect them, and quite likely sue Google for patent infringement. Of course we don't know yet if that's the case, but I truly hope that this big questionmark will once and for all be cleared up by a court. Hopefully VP8 is either free of patent infringements or Google can strike agreements that shield anyone from being sued if they use the codec. No doubt the web would be a better place if we had a free to use, patent free, high performant codec available for everyone to use with no strings attached. Google is definitely up for it and saying: "Bring it on, whoever you are."

I'm sure Adobe is totally loving this, for various reasons :-)

Another Live Flash Encoder Is Available For Free Download

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Unreal Streaming Technologies

Unreal Streaming Technologies have recently released version 7 of Unreal Media and Live servers, adding H.264 encoding and the ability to stream to Flash player through the support of the RTMP protocol.

Anyone can download these products from

The Unreal Live Server which serves as a video encoder similar to Adobe FMLE, is completely free of charge, while Unreal Media Server has certain concurrent connections limitation in its free version, and requires licensing.

These streaming tools have a very small download size and small footprint on your system when installed. They have GUI front-end and easy to operate, although they have slightly different concept of operation comparing to other encoders such as Adobe FMLE or Telestream encoder.

The main feature that differentiates Unreal Live Encoder from Adobe FMLE and others is unmanned, automated operation. You configure the system and leave.
Adobe FMLE generally requires a presence of the operator who opens the encoder and presses 'Start Encoding' button. This is good for broadcasting events but may be unacceptable for a system that needs to start broadcasting anytime when somebody wants to watch/listen, such as IPTV, radio, video surveillance, digital signage apps, etc.
Unreal Live Server running as a Windows service will start encoding and streaming when a first viewer sends request for live video by opening a player. It will stop encoding and streaming when a last viewer disconnects.

The latest version of Unreal Media's software adds itself to a small family of free software tools for live Flash streaming.

Unreal Media Server overview:

Unreal Media Server architecture:

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