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Archive for February, 2007

Microsoft Giving Away Virtual PC 2007

In an effort to make the switch to Vista as painless as possible, Microsoft is giving away Virtual PC 2007 as a free download on their website. The idea is that users can install Vista and then use Virtual PC to setup a virtual environment with Windows XP installed. Then if there are any issues running their favorite apps under Vista, they can just fire up the virtualized copy of XP. I first read about this at Yahoo! News.

To be clear, I was a bit confused at first because my only experience with Virtual PC was in OS X, where you could run Windows on your Mac... before they had Intel processors. But, this one is all Windows, as it requires Vista Enterprise/Ultimate or XP Professional/Tablet PC to be the host OS.

I had been a die hard Windows guy for years until I finally switched about 4 months ago, and I still always have a copy of XP running in Parallels non-stop. But really, with this approach Microsoft sure isn't screaming that Vista is stable and compatible...

This reminds me - hop over to Brendan Dawes' site for a blog entry he wrote about his recent trip to Microsoft headquarters in Redmond:

"I have to admit I didn't know what to expect meeting people who worked at Microsoft - a company that many people love to hate. But without exception everyone was passionate about what they were doing there - with creativity and the love of good design seeming to be at the heart of everything they do. I didn't think I'd ever be using the words Microsoft and creativity in the same paragraph but I've been there and met some of the people who are trying to change the perception of Microsoft and it was very inspiring."

Comcast Interactive Media Labs

It seems like "labs" sites are all the rage these days. Adobe has their popular labs site, and even firms like Big Spaceship have started a labs site. I just found out today that Comcast has been running their Comcast Interactive Media Labs since late 2005 without much fanfare.

The thing that surprised me most was that a lot of the cool interactive projects coming out of Comcast were developed and/or started in their media lab. For example, The Fan 3.0 was launched and won People's Choice at FlashForward 2006 in Austin.

Keep tabs on the cool happenings at Comcast here (http://labs.comcast.net). And if you have a Comcast internet account, be sure to sign in and take advantage of the awesome interactive offerings.

What happened to Wallop?

At FlashForward 2006 in Austin Wallop was all the rage. They threw an awesome kickoff party, were looking for all the Flash developers they could to help build 'widgets' for their platform, and everyone was blogging about how cool it was of an idea.

In the past few months I hadn't heard a word about Wallop. I was wondering what happened, and today I saw a blog post from Ryan Stewart entitled "Signs of life at Wallop". It helps to explain the lack of communication coming out of Wallop/Microsoft (where it was founded -- surprising, I know, considering it is developed fully in Flash).

But, I'm interested to hear if anyone is still using, or better yet developing for, Wallop. It looks like they may be re-developing in Flex and I'm sure with all the hoopla around Flex these days that they'll pick up some interest there.

Check out Ryan's post here:
http://blogs.zdnet.com/Stewart/?p=262

iPod Banner Ad: Abuse of Screen Real Estate?

Earlier this week I was reading Engadget when all the sudden I became extremely distracted by a banner ad from Apple. I wasn't exactly sure why it had caught my attention so I scrolled down to take a look. After all, I, like most seasoned web surfers am able to tune out all but the most annoying of banner ads.

So what was it that caught my attention? Apple's blatant misuse of their screen real estate. Click play to watch the screencast I took of the page:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.jonnymac.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/02/itunes_video.swf" height="730" width="425" /]

I was immediately hit with a ton of questions: Does/will this give Flash a bad rep in banner advertising? Or even worse, Flash as a whole? Will this lead to even more abusive banner ads? Is this even really abuse of their real estate? Are there any standard rules about banner ads absorbing the content they are supporting?

A few minutes later I noticed that NYTimes.com runs the same ad, but without the spillover of animation -- did they restrict it and/or think it was abuse? Content is king on NYTimes.com so I am sure they wouldn't take lightly to a banner ad that, even for a few seconds, covers their articles.

I've worked in advertising, so I understand the need to compete against all the other "distractions" on a web page, but isn't this taking it a bit too far? I can also appreciate thinking outside the box, literally. But I also understand as a Flash Developer that it is abuses like this that give Flash a bad name with the general, non-technical public. To them Flash equals a distracting animation encroaching on the article they were trying to read, not a complex platform that can make their web experience more usable and enjoyable.

 
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