Reactions on Paul Shirley’s Piece

I’m deliberately now getting to this. I read his letter/post a few hours ago after hearing about it this afternoon. It merited some thought, because my initial reaction was that I agreed, and felt totally repentant.

You see, for the lack of polish that his statement was – and the resulting consequences all around the web and through his employer ESPN towards it – Shirley spoke with the kind of conviction that demands that he changes, we change, and that Haiti changes. For all of the talk about the history of Haiti, what we (USA) have enabled there in terms of the quality of life, etc., we have a great responsibility not to be so apathetic that we throw money at issues without addressing them.

Maybe the curse that Pat Roberson spoke of really needs to shine on us as an indictment (versus shining on him only, or us distancing ourselves from his comment). Because, if we really cared those people, we would have been more preventive from the knowledge of previous disasters so that this one wouldn’t have been so devastating (or maybe it would have because in trying to prevent, and something occurring, we would have had our ego crushed by God’s actions that don’t need our approval to occur or not occur).

In my opinion, Paul Shirley should not have been let go. At least not for that kind of accountability. He did exactly what mature adults should do in situations like that – look in the mirror and ask the real and heart-wrenching question of maturity: “do I really love my neighbor as I love myself if I allow them to stay in the state they are in that I am empowered to get them out of?”

The Gospels speak of the end of days, and how two groups will stand before Jesus. The group on the right has their deeds spoken of them like an awards letter, “you clothed me, you visited me, you fed me… come and enter into my rest.” However, those on his left get the opposite acclimation letter, “you didn’t clothe me, you never visited me, you left me hungry… depart from me you workers of iniquity.”

Even though we went over there to assist, did we give them the fruit of a life that won’t be the same because we not only fed them, but taught them to eat? Or, did we just package up a microwave miracle, quick to cool off and be no more filling or hot than it was before we arrived?

For those in Haiti, Paul Shirley’s letter was a call to step up and accept responsibility as much as they are able, and when they are able. For us, its a call to stop looking at ourselves as gods, and start acknowledging that we are no better, unless we use our talents to improve the lives of all those we have influence towards.

Mr. Shirley, message received.

Flash and the iPhone (Unmet Journalism)

Today is Apple day it seems, and so here’s one of two posts of mine on the company/subject. This one has to do with the unmet expectations of journalism when it comes to those things relating to the iPhone.

As solid as the user experience is, there’s just too much ignorance from those who should know about mobile when it comes to evaluating what’s possible, versus what has happened. And this article over at Venture Beat is really one of the worst that I’ve seen. The facts aren’t full, and the real issue is skirted for what could amount to an attention-getting headline.

I won’t speak for others, but I did have my piece to say in response:

I have to agree with many of the comments here, this article while starting with the right premise, didn’t really take the technical or philosophical turns that could have been more fruitful for discussion.

For one, Flash doesn’t need “the cloud” any more or less than any other web-based technologies do. The assumption here is that Flash is like other multimedia, however its a platform used for a container for usually incompatible media and for complex interactions through its specific scripting language. If you will, you can call it nearly an operating system, just without the overhead, and with the assumption that many of the interactions are driven through some kind of IP connection.

Concerning these points:
1. Very real device limitations
2. Bandwidth issues
3. Battery life impacts
4. The “moving target” of web technologies

There are no limitations with any of the upper tier smartphones in this wise. Flash Lite has been running successfully on Nokia’s Symbian smartphones, and plenty of others (usually not in the US) for many, many years now. When the iPhone released without compatibility to even Flash Lite, this was seen as a slight for Apple, not Adobe, as the run-time was already well optimized for mobile device hardware/software.

Bandwidth issues are a very real issue with mobile devices, specifically smartphones and cellular-connected laptops. However, their bandwidth issues relate first to the signaling used to maintain the connection, the architecture of the network(s), and then the end-user’s use of whatever web-based media that might be flowing over that connection. Its being increasingly realized that many carriers in the US did not build out their networks for the dearth of persons who are using always-on data connections that they push these same users to. So while Flash can contribute to issues here, bandwidth can’t be cited as a reason for no Flash on mobile devices – especially when the counter argument is that “the cloud” is a better item to leverage. They (Flash and the cloud) are both the same – a media platform – in this case.

Battery life is an issue for all mobile device. Again, though, I will cite the use of Flash Lite for media *and* user interfaces on mobile devices which has been optimized for such constrained hardware. Battery life is no more a limitation than the processor or the user – that is to say, this point just doesn’t stand in this argument either (again, Flash and the cloud are platforms, both would utilize the available physics of a battery the same as usage will determine impact).

Lastly, the section on the “moving target of web technologies” should have been more fleshed out. In light of the recent video which showed that the Webkit-based browser on the iPhone is capable of video play through the use of HTML5, I would say that it is not only well positioned for web technologies, but that the target is moving *towards* the hardware limitations, and not away from them. Flash (again) has been available in three versions of its lightweight Flash Lite format for almost 5 years now (, and happened to have always been ahead of where mobile device hardware was – it tried to emulate the desktop experience as best as possible. These points weren’t raised, and therefore this is where I say in the beginning that this article could have been better fleshed out for discussion.

I agree with your statement, “Mobile internet users should be able to access all the content on the Internet, especially all the good stuff like video and slideshows that are currently only in Flash formats on millions of websites.” The change will come not from “the cloud” though, it will come from content producers creating accessible content (for example: or the S5 HTML slideshow format) which uses plugin platforms like Flash to enhance the experience, not be the only experience.

Its better to speak about the issue fully, and in truth, than to just create buzz about something that doesn’t even get swatted down.

Where are the journalists who write to engage the issue, not just gloss over it?

Going to Miss…

I could probbly live without most of the CMS features of the MWS. But, I’m going to miss most of all the ability to use it as a single point of reference for all my connections. The latest updates to my Presnece page, minus the missing OpenID support, really enabled this to make a lot more sense. If I could keep that part, and my URL mapped to it correctly, then I’d be less sad on moving on.

The Final (Social Networking) Frontier: The Mobile Address Book

I’ve written about this too many times on the MWS version of my site. So, its probably appropriate that the first mention of this concept – post-MWS – is the article that I was blessed to be able to write for the Radvision VoIP Survivor blog. Definitely was a pleasure to pen this piece, and hopefully, it will spark some thoughts and changes towards such a central feature of the mobile phone experience.

Read The Final (Social Networking) Frontier: The Mobile Address Book and see what I’m talking about.