Haven’t posted for a while. And reason is that was busy “changing sails” so to say and hmm feeling down I guess a little. But things are getting better and here is somewhat big post about many things.

So, what’s I am up to for last half of the year.

In short. I am freelancing. Doing flash mostly on that side. But its half time at best that allows me to stay a float with money.
Other half time? Learning new stuff. Server side technologies. HTML front end, basics mostly. So expanding my skills  to be a more broad web developer then just interactive Flash based RIA.

And now more elaborate parts.

Flash platform

I guess I haven’t done any for fun Flash projects since last October. And even then it was small stuff.
But I still am doing as I mentioned above some freelance stuff with it.

So why?
I somewhat lost interest at the moment and concentrated on other stuff. Am thinking to do some things with Flash but mostly am finding more interesting or useful things to do elsewhere at the moment. So Flash projects and ideas are not at the top of the list.

Also, Flash is aether dying or is in transitional state to something else. I switched sides on this question after Adobe mobile browser decision. Anyways here are some points:

  1. Adobe discontinued support for mobile browser Flash last year. And last year there were more smartphones sold then PCs. What that means in long run that Flash is not ubiquitous anymore, and never will be, so its unprofessional to pick it for simple projects. But I am web developer, don’t like platform stores ideas etc so… Flash is not enough anymore if I want to stay in web application segment and participated in projects of all kinds
  2. Flash right now is repositioned as game platform in desktop browsers. Here it is still ubiquitous, and has chances to stay that way. Also now it has hardware 3D with great tools support like Unity and Unreal engine. So cool. Flash is good games platform for desktop web. And that’s almost only thing that is left for Flash.
    I love games so why I don’t like it all? Well Unity and Unreal engine. I haven’t seen and probably never will see native Flash developer tools to compete with Unreal engine. What this means is that great games will come to Flash platform almost passing native Flash developers in a “slow lane”.  I mean those games will be developed using C# and C++ which are better languages for high profile games, and they will use incredible tools and pipelines for development that Unity and Unreal have. And competition for attention will demand getting more immersive results.

So good for Flash as a platform but not good for Flash developers.

Case in point. Recently Adobe announced “tax” on usage of premium Flash features. If you want to use high performance Alchemy features that are used by Unity and Unreal engine to expert to Flash + you want to use hardware GPU 3D you need to register a license. If your project over its lifetime earns 50K or more you need to start paying 9% of your profits as part of the license.
Why Adobe did that? Well I mentioned above. All those high profile games will not use Adobe tools for their creation. And Adobe business model always was selling tools. But world has changed. Small company who bought 10 software packets can server hundreds of millions of customers earning millions. And what Adobe gets? Couple of thousands for their software.
So Adobe envies Apple and Facebook business models where developers are taxed trough various means so that platform owner gets a cut on everything that happens.

Yoke is that 50K is not that much. Team of 10 people working for 6 months(average game project) with salary of 1000$ per month(really on a low side) will spend 60k$ only in salaries. So they will need to make it back. Including 30% tax from Facebook and now additional 9% tax from Adobe. So may be it will not touch some indies but it will touch everyone with scale reaching “small” business.

So that’s all about Flash I guess.

Expanding my skills and free university level courses

I have been playing with PHP and HTML for looong time but never liked both. PHP is like some student party that is still cleaned up and HTML/CSS/JS are a mess that is cleaned up still too. Though HTML/CSS parts are almost cleaned up, I guess in few years they will become good enough for me not to swear all the time when I use some parts of them. But JS will stay :(

Anyways, with this Flash situation since summer I started to spend significantly more time playing with server side(no swearing there at least :) ), and a little bit more with client side.

Soo… Half time I work, half time I do stuff for myself learning + courses.
Thing is that ice started to move in education sector. Finally :) One of those things is movement for free, open, international university level education.
There are many things happening there, Stanford Coursera platform and former Stanford teacher and Google R&D labs supervisor Sebastian Thrun venture Udacity, or already famous Khan academy that at the moment targets school education.

Mind blowing future vision of education

I wrote before that I participated in AI class last fall which was done by Sebastian Thrun. After doing it he said that it was like Matrix moment for him. He was given blue and red pill. And after trying red pill(teaching class of 160 thousands of people from school children to elderly, from poor in Africa to rich in his own Stanford class who preferred it instead of real class) he said that he can never go back… So he left Stanford.
And he has a vision of education future. In my view a very strong and disruptive vision. Vision that in 50 years there will be only ~10 universities who will teach whole world for free.
Why?

  • Such universities will hire pop teachers with clearest and brightest visions of their disciplines, giving chance anyone to learn from them for free
  • Those learning tools will go trough computers giving them ability to collect, harness, analyze data on the process and allowing continued incremental improvement based on deep real data, same Google does now for search, same Facebook does for social, same last.fm for music discovery, same Amazon does for improving their trading and providing you with best things you don’t knew you wanted :)
  • Most curios is business model of free education. Thrun has mind blowing idea… In the end of AI class he sent emails to 10% of best students asking them to send a CV if they want a job.
    Only recently I learned why. Large firms pay for talented workers. So bring them good worker for hire, if they like him they will pay you. But imagine if teachers get % of what their students earn in first years.
    Imagine the implications. Now its in “university” interests to teach as many students as they can to a level for which firms will pay good salary, because that’s only way they are getting payed! And firms get good worker! And you get education for free and a job in the end if you were good at it!
    That’s that win-win-win situation where all three sides get what they want from this!!! That’s what I would call 21 century education. Its only a dream at this stage, but dream that started to try to become a reality… And its inspiring and hopeful :)

So courses I am taking

After AI I registered to:

  • Courseara Human-Computer Interaction (interfaces)
    Sadly postponed :(
  • Courseara Software as a Service
    In 5 weeks I learned about Ruby/Rails/Amazon web services/ Behavior driven and test driven development/Cucumber and other stuff
    I learned a clear vision, a lot better that anything in my 6 years of real education about clean code and test drive development
    Loved Ruby. In short. Ruby is what JavaScript should have been. Clean, transparent, powerful in expression. Sadly there is price to pay, performance, issues with IDEs
    Anyways loved it a lot more then PHP.
    P.S It starts a new in May
  • Technology entrepreneurship (was Courseara but for some reason is now independent now)
    Just started, cool class about brainstorming business ideas, planing business, teamwork, finding funding etc. Only just started. Seems promising.
    It already made me brainstorm ideas and I come up with some that I don’t want to share lol :D Am thinking of starting doing one myself in summer because its that promising :D
  • Udacity Web Application Engineering
    Starts soon. Apparently will be “develop your own blog with Python in few weeks”. Also thought by Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman ;) Talking of pop star teachers :)

And I guess that’s it :)

P.S Ouh and one more thing, Pinterest

Registered recently to Pinterest. Simple, clean and cool idea. At minimum its about collecting pictures as boards. Like pined to wooden board photos.
But going further its about collecting inspirations. Photos of places you want to visit, things you want to learn. Things that inspire you and make you creative.

We all do it in different forms. Like I was storing links for some such things in Evernote. But doing it in a way that Pinterest suggests… Its not only collecting what you like, its collecting it in form of inspiring, jaw dropping pictures that motivate you more then just links. And community that shares, curates and filters most awe causing pictures.
Inspiring idea for a project :)

I also like viral side of it. Its win-win-win.
Everyone has selfish reasons to use the service:

  • Collect things you like in inspiring way
  • Use for marketing

Everyone has reasons to invite certain type of people:

  • Invite people who will collect interesting stuff that overlaps with your stuff
    This would allow you to improve your collections

And win for Pinterest is obvious. More users.