Subject: General Tech | July 31, 2017 - 01:11 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: flash, Adobe, bad idea, open source
Just when you thought it was safe, there is a group who are attempting to ensure that Adobe Flash never dies, just like the killer from a horror movie in the 80's and 90's. These poor misguided fools feel that by making Flash open source, the community will be able to salve the open sores which Flash is covered in. If you can pass a sanity check, you might wonder why anyone would want to keep this application alive. It would seem that the developer who started this petition on GitHub because "Flash is an important piece of Internet history and killing Flash means future generations can't access the past,". One could make the same argument about Geocities and sound roughly as coherent. You can pop over to The Inquirer for a name, as well as a link to the petition.
"A LOYAL but misguided fool has started a petition in the hope of convincing Adobe to take Flash's source code into the open source."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- It Is Easy To Expose Users' Secret Web Habits, Say Researchers @ Slashdot
- The complete history of the IBM PC, part two: The DOS empire strikes @ Ars Technica
- Microsoft won't patch SMBv1 flaw that only an idiot would expose @ The Register
- Microsoft's Windows 10 subsystem for Linux is out of beta @ The Inquirer
- Yeehaw! And welcome to another rootin'-tootin' storage pony wrangling @ The Register
- OpenGL 4.6 Released With Vulkan/SPIR-V Ingestion, Parallel Shader Compiles & Finally AF @ Phoronix
Subject: General Tech | July 27, 2017 - 10:13 PM | Scott Michaud
It’s been a long time in the making, but Adobe, Mozilla, Microsoft, Google, Apple, and others will completely end-of-life Flash Player by the end of 2020. Adobe will not update or even distribute the player after that point, and the browser vendors will block the plug-in. Until then, however, Adobe will continue to ship updates that improve security, fix bugs, and even possibly add features.
Tilt your head 90-degrees left and you'll see why I chose this icon.
Now if only we could agree on a date for IPv6.
Subject: General Tech | December 13, 2016 - 02:47 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: google, chrome, Adobe, flash
Google is about to begin transitioning their users away from Flash, unless they explicitly enable it on a site-by-site basis. This is a step beyond click-to-activate, which refuses to activate the plug-in until the user permits it, that will not even acknowledge the plug-in’s existence unless the user requests it. The difference is that this tells sites to treat the browser as not having Flash, which, for PC Perspective as an example, should load our HTML5 article carousel instead of presenting a click-to-activate Flash one that has an expanding oval transition animation.
Because changes like these could have side-effects, Google is dipping their toe before jumping in. About 1% of users on the current Chrome 55 (and ~50% of Chrome 56 pre-release users) will have this change flipped on any day now, which contains the outrage if it breaks something popular or, otherwise, causes user grief. If it all goes well, though, it will be enabled for everyone when Chrome 56 arrives for the general public in February.
Subject: General Tech | November 8, 2016 - 03:00 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: voco, stylit, premiere pro, clovervr, audition, Adobe
At their annual MAX show, Adobe hosts a keynote called “Sneak Peeks”. Some of theses contain segments that are jaw-dropping. For instance, there was an experimental plug-in at Adobe MAX 2011 that analyzed how a camera moved while its shutter was open, and used that data to intelligently reduce the resulting motion blur from the image. Two years later, the technology eventually made its way into Photoshop. If you're wondering, the shadowy host on the right was Rainn Wilson from the US version of The Office, which should give some context to the humor.
While I couldn't find a stream of this segment as it happened, Adobe published three videos after-the-fact. The keynote was co-hosted by Jordan Peele and, while I couldn't see her listed anywhere, I believe the other co-host is
Elissa Dunn Scott from Adobe. ((Update, November 8th @ 12pm EST: Turns out I was wrong, and it was Kim Chambers from Adobe. Thanks Anonymous commenter!))
The first (and most popular one to be reported on) is VoCo, which is basically an impressive form of text-to-speech. Given an audio waveform of a person talking, you are able to make edits by modifying the transcript. In fact, you are even able to write content that wasn't even in the original recording, and the plug-in will synthesize it based on what it knows of that person's voice. They claim that about 20 minutes of continuous speech is required to train the plug-in, so it's mostly for editing bloopers in audio books and podcasts.
In terms of legal concerns, Adobe is working on watermarking and other technologies to prevent spoofing. Still, it proves that the algorithm is possible (and on today's hardware) so I'm sure that someone else, if they weren't already working on it, might be now, and they might not be implementing the same protections. This is not Adobe's problem, of course. A company can't (and shouldn't be able to) prevent society from inventing something (although I'm sure the MPAA would love that). They can only research it themselves, and be as ethical with it as they can, or sit aside while someone else does it. Also, it's really on society to treat the situations correctly in the first place.
Moving on to the second demo: Stylit. This one is impressive in its own way, although not quite as profound. Basically, using a 2D drawing of a sphere, an artist can generate a material that can be applied to a 3D render. Using whatever they like, from pencil crayons to clay, the image will define the color and pattern of the shading ramp on the sphere, the shadow it casts, the background, and the floor. It's a cute alternating to mathematically-generated cell shading materials, and it even works in animation.
I guess you could call this a... 3D studio to the MAX... ... Mayabe?
The Stylit demo is available for free at their website. It is based on CUDA, and requires a fairly modern card (they call out the GTX 970 specifically) and a decent webcam (C920) or Android smartphone.
Lastly, CloverVR is and Adobe Premiere Pro interface in VR. This will seem familiar if you were following Unreal Engine 4's VR editor development. Rather than placing objects in a 3D scene, though, it helps the editor visualize what's going on in their shot. The on-stage use case is to align views between shots, so someone staring at a specific object will cut to another object without needing to correct with their head and neck, which is unnecessarily jarring.
Annnd that's all they have on their YouTube at the moment.
Subject: General Tech | November 1, 2016 - 12:49 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Adobe, linux, mozilla
Apparently I missed this the first time around, but Adobe has decided to continue supporting the NPAPI version of Flash Player on Linux. They have just released their second update, Flash Player 24 Beta, on October 28th for both 32- and 64-bit platforms. Before September, Adobe was maintaining Flash Player 11.2 with security updates. Adobe has also extended NPAPI support beyond 2017, which was supposed to be the original cut-off for that plug-in architecture on Linux, and pledge to keep “major version numbers in sync”.
This took me by surprise. Browser vendors, even Mozilla, have been deprecating NPAPI for a while. Plug-ins are unruly from a security and performance standpoint, and they would much rather promote the Web standards that they work so hard to implement, rather than being a window frame around someone else's proprietary platform.
So what are Adobe thinking? Well, they claim that this “is primarily a security initiative”. As such, it would make sense that, possibly, and again I'm an outsider musing here, the gap between now and 11.2 was large enough that it would be easier to just maintain two branches.
Whatever the reason, Flash on Linux is continuing to be supported for all browsers. If you find yourself at the intersection of Linux, Firefox, and hobbyist-developed Tower Defense games, you can pick up the latest plug-in at Adobe Labs.
Subject: General Tech | June 4, 2016 - 10:55 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 10, uwp, Adobe
So a company, who refuses to port its applications to Linux, is experimenting with UWP for future products. Adobe's Experience Design (XD) CC is going to arrive on Windows later this year, and a representative from Adobe claimed on Twitter that it will use Microsoft's UWP platform. Granted, we're not talking about something like Photoshop or After Effects, but rather a UX mock-up tool, sort-of along the lines of Pencil Project.
It's unclear whether UWP will be a choice.
The logo looks like it's laughing at us with its tongue out.
I still find UWP a concern as Microsoft, while responding to some feedback, still has some key restrictions in play that limit free sharing. Until it becomes technically (or legally) unfeasible for Microsoft to lock down the platform, there will always be the concern that they could, for instance, revoke people's ability to develop software or remove (or prevent installation) of existing software. Even if they don't want to do it themselves, someone with authority over them may just compel it, such as a government who is against encryption.
If you build it, someone will abuse it. The only thing preventing Microsoft from realizing their Windows RT vision, if they still choose to, is the popularity of Win32 applications and how incompatible they are with that framework. We, as a society, want them to remain popular enough that Microsoft cannot afford to abandon it. They want to. They hate the stigma that Windows is where viruses are. That's reasonable, but they're not just throwing out the bathwater.
As an aside: they also want a platform that is less reliant upon x86, and could be recompiled for other hardware if Intel doesn't go where Microsoft wants to be. This is kind-of ironic if you think about it.
Subject: General Tech | April 15, 2016 - 02:37 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: apple, quicktime, Adobe
So TrendMicro has published a blog post that lists two unpatched vulnerabilities that affect QuickTime for Windows. Worse? They announced that Apple will no longer provide security updates for that software, either. These exploits will continue to exist until you uninstall the software (unless Apple has an abrupt change of heart). Basically, uninstall the software.
OSX users are unaffected. QuickTime is still supported on that platform.
For most users? This shouldn't be a big deal. There really isn't anything that the free QuickTime Player does which cannot be accomplished with VLC. Then again, I'd expect that many of those users (who would also be reading our website) have already moved on.
QuickTime Pro and Adobe users will likely be more affected by this. The formats and utilities that Apple provided are very useful in professional applications. For instance, QuickTime is one of the only reliable video formats (unless something came up that I was unaware of -- correct me if I'm wrong) that had an alpha channel for transparency. This allows you to share translucent footage between applications without resorting to some frame-by-frame solution, like a PNG sequence. It is also required to handle QuickTime footage in Adobe Premiere, if you need to collaborate with a Mac user or you have QuickTime-centric hardware.
This is mighty annoying of Apple, but that's a downside of relying upon proprietary software.
Subject: General Tech | October 1, 2014 - 08:07 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Adobe, photoshop, cloud
The Creative Cloud subscription service from Adobe allows users to pay a monthly fee to have access to one or every available product. This ranges from Photoshop, to Illustrator, to After Effects, to Audition, to Dreamweaver. This one subscription follows you, via your Adobe account, through every platform... that they support. Currently, that's Mac and Windows.
To expand that, they are now experimenting with a streaming service, bringing Photoshop to Chrome.
How it works is simple: send Currently, it is limited to Google Chrome on Windows and ChromeOS. Also, the servers do not currently support GPU-acceleration, but Adobe has already announced plans for that in the future. I assume that when this is a consumer product, or shortly thereafter, it will be a fully-featured application. Who knows, maybe they will even bring the rest of their products there? "Streaming access to Photoshop with other products coming soon" ...
People may remember that I was very much against services like OnLive and Gaikai. These do the same thing as Adobe, but for video games. Being an outspoken (to the say least) supporter of art, I found this to be an unacceptable sacrifice for intrinsically valuable content. It is a terrible idea to allow a service to pull your content and replace it, especially for scholarly review in the future.
This is different. While I would always prefer a local application, and would be upset if they stopped offering those, I do not mind having a utility be served from a virtualized instance. If I was working on serious, trade-secret-level content, then I would want to avoid it. On the other hand, getting it to work in one web browser might encourage them to bring the service to all browsers.
From there, Linux and other platforms might just have a valid way to access Adobe's Suite.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 14, 2014 - 09:56 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ultraviolet, mozilla, DRM, Adobe Access, Adobe
Needless to say, DRM is a controversial topic and I am clearly against it. I do not blame Mozilla. The non-profit organization responsible for Firefox knew that they could not oppose Chrome, IE, and Safari while being a consumer software provider. I do not even blame Apple, Google, and Microsoft for their decisions, either. This problem is much bigger and it comes down to a total misunderstanding of basic mathematics (albeit at a ridiculously abstract and applied level).
Simply put, piracy figures are meaningless. They are a measure of how many people use content without paying (assuming they are even accurate). You know what is more useful? Sales figures. Piracy figures are measurements, dependent variables, and so is revenue. Measurements cannot influence other measurements. Specifically, measurements cannot influence anything because they are, themselves, the result of influences. That is what "a measure" is.
Implementing DRM is not a measurement, however. It is a controllable action whose influence can be recorded. If you implement DRM and your sales go down, it hurt you. You may notice piracy figures decline. However, you should be too busy to care because you should be spending your time trying to undo the damage you did to your sales! Why are you looking at piracy figures when you're bleeding money?
I have yet to see a DRM implementation that correlated with an increase in sales. I have, however, seen some which correlate to a massive decrease.
The thing is, Netflix might know that and I am pretty sure that some of the web browser companies know that. They do not necessarily want to implement DRM. What they want is content and, surprise, the people who are in charge of the content are definitely not enlightened to that logic. I am not even sure if they realize that the reason why content is pirated before their release dates is because they are not leaked by end users.
But whatever. Technical companies, who want that content available on their products, are stuck finding a way to appease those content companies in a way that damages their users and shrinks their potential market the least. For Mozilla, this means keeping as much open as possible.
Since they do not have existing relationships with Hollywood, Adobe Access will be the actual method of displaying the video. They are clear to note that this only applies to video. They believe their existing relationships in text, images, and games will prevent the disease from spreading. This is basically a plug-in architecture with a sandbox that is open source and as strict as possible.
This sandbox is intended to prevent a security vulnerability from having access to the host system, give a method of controlling the DRM's performance if it hitches, and not allow the DRM to query the machine for authentication. The last part is something they wanted to highlight, because it shows their effort to protect the privacy of their users. They also imply a method for users to opt-out but did not go into specifics.
As an aside, Adobe will support their Access DRM software on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Mozilla is pushing hard for Android and Firefox OS, too. According to Adobe, Access DRM is certified for use with Ultraviolet content.
I accept Mozilla's decision to join everyone else but I am sad that it came to this. I can think of only two reasons for including DRM: for legal (felony) "protection" under the DMCA or to make content companies feel better while they slowly sink their own ships chasing after numbers which have nothing to do with profits or revenue.
Ultimately, though, they made a compromise. That is always how we stumble and fall down slippery slopes. I am disappointed but I cannot suggest a better option.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Shows and Expos | April 8, 2014 - 03:43 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, NAB, NAB 14, iris pro, Adobe, premiere pro, Adobe CC
When Adobe started to GPU-accelerate their applications beyond OpenGL, it started with NVIDIA and its CUDA platform. After some period of time, they started to integrate OpenCL support and bring AMD into the fold. At first, it was limited to a couple of Apple laptops but has since expanded to include several GPUs on both OSX and Windows. Since then, Adobe switched to a subscription-based release system and has published updates on a more rapid schedule. The next update of Adobe Premiere Pro CC will bring OpenCL to Intel Iris Pro iGPUs.
Of course, they specifically mentioned Adobe Premiere Pro CC which suggests that Photoshop CC users might be coming later. The press release does suggest that the update will affect both Mac and Windows versions of Adobe Premiere Pro CC, however, so at least platforms will not be divided. Well, that is, if you find a Windows machine with Iris Pro graphics. They do exist...
A release date has not been announced for this software upgrade.