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June 17, 2003 10:00 AM

C|Net asks, is the "Bell tolling for PNG graphics format?"

I don't think so, because it's already dead due to weak and incomplete support in Internet Explorer. I've speculated before that the support for PNG's 8 bit alpha mask was intentionally left in a broken state by MSFT to placate or otherwise help out Unisys who owns the LWZ patent that the GIF file format is based on.

To recap, Unisys owns the LWZ patent. MSFT and Unisys have a deal where they try to sell people on the idea that linux/u*nix is bad for their business. They are probably aiming this at Sun and IBM, but the fact that they are in bed together fuels my conspiracy theory that PNG has been stifled on purpose.

The LWZ patent expires on Friday, making it cheaper for applications makers to support LWZ (in Photoshop for example). But this doesn't really mean much, because GIF still has 1 bit alpha masking, and requires us to deal with anti-aliasing manually. PNG is still compelling technology, even if C|Net thinks otherwise, but it will always be stillborn if MSIE doesn't fully support it (and I know there's a hack to get it working right, but hacks are a "significant barrier to entry").

October 23, 2002 8:34 AM

Open email:

Uh, Hi. I didn't know you had my email address...
Excuse this informal mailing. I'm planning on sending our a more "official" news email soon with a bunch of updates about what we've been up to. But before doing that, I wanted to send a quick note about a little project just uploaded to our own website.
Official? Um, ok, this seems pretty official for the type info you are communicating...
Title: Triplecode Munsell Palette

What is it? It's a color picker based on the Munsell color system... something I used ages ago when I at the MIT Media Lab. The page gives more information about Munsell - and why it's cool. It's still under development, but hopefully it'll be of some interest.

Let me know what you think.

Ok, well, I'm still trying to figure out how you got my email address, 'cause I don't think I've ever sent you email before, but the Palette is pretty cool.

March 7, 2002 8:52 AM

They both output SWF files that can be read by the Flash Player plugin, so there's the interoperability that we need. They both tend to adhere to their parent company's way of doing interfaces, so that helps those who know the other apps they produce. Unfortunately, Macromedia keeps changing the interface for Flash in dramatic ways (which was needed in my opinion, once. New interfaces for each version is not a good thing).

The major difference will be the work flow (pretty vital in my opinion) and the features supported (of course). Here's Adobe propaganda about the differences. I think it's pretty funny that Adobe has this sort of thing on their site and Macromedia makes no mention of LiveMotion on their site.

At any rate, one of the most important features available in both development environments is the XML support. Adobe's Scripting Guide (a PDF on the install disk) says the following...

LiveMotion also supports transmission and reception of eXtensible Markup Language (XML) files. Using XML, a LiveMotion application can take input from the user, generate an XML file, and send the file to a server application that parses the XML and stores the data. The application then responds with either an XML file for processing by a movie clip or with an HTML file for display in a Web browser window.
Sweet. So, now it's time to start using Flash for web applications instead of interstitials that offer 'skip intro' as a merciful escape module.

February 25, 2002 9:24 AM

Adobe will finally release OSX native versions of Photoshop in April, and LiveMotion and GoLive, today. I don't really care about GoLive because I am a BBEdit kind of guy, but LiveMotion 2.0 is something I've been waiting for. The reason being that Macromedia products have always been quite difficult for me to learn and use. Their interfaces just don't work for me, but Adobe interfaces do. Learning to use Flash 4 was just a terrible experience in terms of using the damn production app, and Flash 5 was just a bit better, but still not good. (I've seen betas of Flash 6 floating around recently, but I don't have high hopes for its level of application usability. If anyone out there has tested the betas, please to post a comment).

Finally getting a native version Photoshop is a great thing, even if it's a year too late, because I was considered going over to The Gimp.

February 9, 2002 3:33 AM

MPEG4 could be the raster equivalent of Flash. Early this week the first consumer grade MPEG4 decoder card was announced by Sigma. Two days ago, word got out that Apple will be supporting MPEG4 in software via Quicktime. Yesterday we found out that a potentially high licensing cost might keep wide spread adoption a hope instead of a reality. In the C|net article, Douglas McIntyre, chief executive of On2 Technologies comments about the cost of the license and it's impact on the standard...

"I don't think (the fees) are commercially viable," said Douglas McIntyre, chief executive of On2 Technologies, a video-compression provider. "To come out with very high usage fees undercuts the whole concept of having a standard."

If you want to compete with MSFT, you need give it away folks (especially when you want to call it a standard).

January 14, 2002 9:01 AM

In usability circles, Flash gets a lot of bad press and for the most part, I have to agree that Flash gets used in useless ways. At other times, Flash can be a pretty compelling medium for new media art. There's no doubt that the format has a great future since there is support for things like XML underneath the vector graphics. People just have to leverage it in compelling ways.

Macromedia has a site dedicated to Flash usability, but I still can't stand the user interface in the Flash 5 development application. In my humble opinion, Macromedia interfaces have never been usable and have been a barrier to learning the application. Too bad for Macromedia, because Adobe just announced LiveMotion 2.0. I'd count down the days if I could, but there's no date available yet.

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