Friday Grab Bag: Open Adobe, Cloud Standards, and Why I Hate Timezones

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back in business

Originally uploaded by sogrady

So I’m not in Denver, as some of you are aware. The original plan was for me to speak at a panel at DU this evening, but as could and perhaps should have been anticipated my schedule got in the way once more. Attempting to fly from real Portland to Denver last night, I was misplaced just long enough to make trying to get to my connecting gate futile in the amount of time available. Rather than fight those long odds, I cancelled the Denver leg of the trip, and hung a quick u-turn back to Portland.

Which is not the worst thing that could have happened, frankly. I’ve been so run around what with travel and moving and getting settled that a quiet weekend here in Maine is probably just what the doctor ordered. Especially since the parents are up for the weekend and the boat, as you can see, is in the water.

Anyway, the usual Friday grab bag of items that may deserve their own entries but aren’t getting them.

Adobe Opening Flash

A much belated congratulations to Adobe for their decision to open the Flash specification among other assets. Many will argue that it should have been open from the start, but I do not necessarily agree; much like I’m actually of the belief that it was necessary to initially open Solaris under the shield of the CDDL until it could stand on its own two legs, the closed nature of the Flash specification afforded Adobe the opportunity to cement the status of the asset in order to prevent potentially damaging forks (see Microsoft v Java). That said, it was time to lower the gates and transition to a new phase of Flash’s existence, and credit Adobe for seeing that (and Anne for prodding the conversation along).

The news, however, is likely to disappoint those that were seeking an open sourcing of Flash, or a standardization of the format. On the latter question, CTO Kevin Lynch told us that there were no plans at the moment to submit Flash to a formal standards body, in part because the format was still evolving quickly and standards bodies evolve…less quickly. Which is a fair point. As is noting that even if Flash is open, Adobe by controlling all aspects of the format and its direction can act to limit competing players if they so choose.

What interests me about all of this, however, is the growing sense that by not have a multimedia runtime like Flash or Silverlight, some of the bigger technology players in the industry may have missed a trick and an opportunity. Unless they can exploit the newly opened SWF spec.


Standards in the Cloud Area

Clouds have been dominating not only recent coverage but the conversations I’m having at the moment. Even last week’s JavaOne featured literally dozens of cloud oriented discussions and plays.

One thing that I remain convinced of: the cloud world needs standards to guide it, and these standards are too important to let Amazon, VMWare or others dictate them. Which is undoubtedly what will happen, given current directions.

But eventually we’ll see standards – probably from the market laggards and likely based on open source virtualization technologies – and those players will be rewarded. The differentiation should not come from proprietary packaging approaches, but in how efficiently you can run your infrastructure.

I want, just like many potential cloud customers I’ve spoken with, the opportunity to snapshot a running system and run that not on one player, but many. It’ll take a while to get there, but I think we will.

Timezone Troubles

Like Caroline, I am no fan of timezones. I’d prefer, in fact, to see the planet on one single timezone. Not in the derivative UTC -5 case, but quite literally. I’d also like for high speed trains to criss-cross the country, and I’m not sure which of those would happen first.

Anyway, here’s a classic example of why timezones suck (and why it’s good to get to the airport as absurdly early as I do). Back on the 25th, when I was returning from the Web 2.0 expo on a morning flight out of SFO, I showed up at the Frontier counter, plugged my credit card into the check-in kiosk and was told that the flight was too close to boarding and that I needed to speak to an actual person.

Which was obviously wrong, because the flight didn’t leave until 10:20 and it was 8:55.

Or at least it didn’t leave until 10:20 on my TripIt/Dopplr calendars, which were of course on Mountain Time rather than Pacific Time, making the actual time of my flight…you guessed it. 9:20 AM.

Not to try and deflect blame for the error – I did end up making the flight thanks to my CLEAR card – onto either Dopplr or TripIt, as this is clearly my fault, it’s still true that most software handles timezones poorly. While my phone automatically knows what timezone I’m in, my calendar doesn’t, nor does my email, or my IM, or any other piece of software I use in which time is a consideration.

It would be nice if we do away with timezones permanently, or failing that design software that handles them more gracefully. I’ll hold my breadth, sadly, for neither.


  1. And that’s where Fire Eagle integration should come in handy, where your cell phone reports your location and other sites (e.g. Dopplr) use it.

  2. So what is the “right way” for it to be handled? I like the Fire Eagle pointer, that looks like a great basis for it, but I operate in a couple of timezones often enough I want to be able to view the calendar in one of my choosing, which isn’t always the one that I’m in. It’s a nice drop-down in iCal which is pretty decent. Outlook allows for multiple timezone strips to be on the reference side of the calendar for you (doesn’t help that the idiot security policy at the company won’t let it sync to any other timezone without all sorts of chaos, but that’s a separate issue), but it seems to me the general interface problem is just different when you need the flexible timezone interpretation vs. a single-location homosapien.

    What are you looking for in your needs? The as-is current or the plan/future or both? Where’s your pain, other than the understandable user error you outlined? šŸ™‚

  3. Yeah. Timezones are a pain although I’m unconvinced that any alternatives are better. I missed a doctor’s appt a month or so back because somehow it ended up entered as Pacific in my calendar. And a briefing gets messed up at least a few times a year. Outlook 2007 is better than prior versions but I still either make mistakes or have sync issues with my Treo.

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