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So watching the tech news sites and blogs this week you might think that Adobe is Inego Montoya and Apple is Count Tyrone Rugen  from The Princess Bride:

Movie style vendetta’s and the argument about 3rd Party Development Platforms for Apple aside, Adobe is an interesting company.

It’s difficult to know exactly what their flagship product is but in terms of ubiquity there is Acrobat and the PDF format.

get_adobe_reader

  • PDF is a fantastic format for document control and distribution of finished product and simply because most of everyone uses it. Occasionally it gets frustrating with fonts particularly Hebrew and other right-to-left fonts but this is more if you want to copy-paste text to an editor. (We had this with an apartment rental contract a few years ago and at the end of the day I ended up retyping 8 pages of Hebrew text to edit and make changes).

In Israel PDF is much loved by the government for online forms etc. but wider use is a subject for another article.

  • In addition I am a huge fan of Acrobat.com I was an early adopter and way back when even wrote a review of it. Back then Adobe called their online, collaborative document editing suite Buzzword.

What impressed me the most was that I received a reply to the review from Tad at Adobe who was working on Buzzword addressing the issues I raised.

Adobe_saysOf course since then this product has matured into so much more and in writing this I am also adding a note to my To Do list to refresh myself with an outstanding productivity tool.

  • If you are a frequent reader of my blog you will also know that I have written two pieces regarding FLASH:

get_adobe_flash_player

First regarding a bug I discovered testing in Windows where Flash and Sun Java Runtime were not playing nicely together – again nice going Adobe for addressing my bug and even thanking me for reporting it to you, as opposed to Sun who didn’t.

Second was my article looking at Steve Jobs harsh criticism of Flash, his take on why he doesn’t like it and my speculation on other reasons too. (Let’s be honest guys Flash everywhere you look on the Web, when was the last time you opened a website and said to yourself "”Great they used Quicktime not Flash for multimedia”? Apropos I am a fan of Quicktime even if that last comment didn’t sound like it).

Flash is one of those technologies that does cool stuff nicely and easily. I have experienced bugs with it but it continues (for now) to be the plugin/ add-on for web multimedia.

  • The online gamers out there are probably thinking “Hey, what about SHOCKWAVE?”

adobe_shockwave_player The last time I had a look at Shockwave, it and Flash were still part of Macromedia; prior to Adobe purchasing the company. I was testing it as one of many 3rd party plugins for a company that developed educational E-Book technologies.

  • More recently I was involved in a testing project using FLEX for the front-end of a rich web application. I was impressed by Adobe’s development of this product and how well the company was able to implement their product using this platform.

flex-logo

  • Which brings me to AIR. Adobe defines AIR as:

“The Adobe® AIR® runtime lets developers use proven web technologies to build rich Internet applications that run outside the browser on multiple operating systems” 

792x150_fma_air_v2I have a couple of AIR applications on my desktop PC, for example the great Twitter client Tweetdeck .

Of course this is not the full extent of Adobe’s extensive product line, merely those I have come into contact with myself. My overall impression of Adobe is they are truly committed to elegantly designed and implemented products that provide the user with great solutions. They have demonstrated to me an interest in what is being written about them at blog and in customer defects (bugs) submitted and a willingness to interact with their consumer base on these issues.

What could be next for Adobe and specifically AIR? AIR has a great deal of potential. Any company developing for the future is looking to the mobile market.

Of course AIR has been strongly tied to Google Android but Adobe has promised that other than the iPhone AIR will be supported on all mobile OS/ platforms.

I know that I am going to continue using Adobe products and watching with great interest where their product-line is going to evolve to; and maybe we will see I’m an iPhone, I’m an Adobe Air Phone  ads in the future.

I’m not an ardent Apple user. Back in the day I worked in a Lawyer’s (we call them Solicitors where I come from) office providing technical support for a suite of Apple IIe’s.

I have done some extensive functional testing on iMac’s too and I have had the chance to fiddle around with my niece’s iPod.

Apple makes neat stuff, it is truly striking in design and seems to do what it promises to.

Probably my favorite Apple product would be Quicktime, Apple’s signature multimedia platform/ application/ player. I have been using it for years and these days it and other competitors reside on my PC’s.

This aside I was reading the reports online about the developer restrictions that Apple have imposed locking out such platforms as Adobe’s Flash to iPhone converter in the impending CS5.

The fantastic Download Squad has an article where Steve Jobs replies to a developer, Greg Slepak,

“We’ve been there before, and intermediate layers between the platform and the developer ultimately produces sub-standard apps and hinders the progress of the platform."

If I understand this Steve Jobs is clearly stating that quality and the process of ensuring quality in application development for Apple products can only be assured by cutting out 3rd parties and their Development environments.

I am not sure of the standards of software/ hardware QA imposed and adhered to within Apple itself but surely creating an approved standard that 3rd Parties must adhere to and thus receive some Apple Stamp of Approval would be a little less draconian.

If even one major bug (defect) creeps through Apple’s QA process into their SDK this sort of statement could have severely negative ramifications and not just on a PR level.

Whilst I doubt that this will cause users to look elsewhere for the kind of products Apple creates it might just affect the undecided consumers who are torn between these and their competitors products.

More importantly, isn’t this the kind of thing that got Microsoft first and later Apple themselves (with iTunes) in trouble with the EU regarding antitrust / anti-competition?

Is the EU even a major factor in Apple’s decision? Will the continued sales heavily outweigh any fine such a case may impose on Apple?

As someone with QA experience I can relate to the idea behind this decision as a way of attempting to keep levels of quality under in-house control. However, as I mentioned earlier I am a fan of defining required standards of testing leading to an Approved Stamp of Approval for an application; it’s a little less draconian.

How long for example were Adobe investing time, money and effort in creating their 3rd party solution all the while we must assume that Apple knew they were going to impose these restrictions?

In a previous blog I addressed my understanding and possible interpretation of Steve Jobs tough comments regarding Adobe Flash again this decision seems to focus on Adobe.

It’s going to interesting to see if the EU is consistent in their legal outrage.

Web 2.0 and my Resume (see earlier article)

Well last week was the hi-tech job fair in Tel Aviv and even knowing what to expect (it used to be in the main hall of the Tel Aviv Conference Center; about 5-10 times larger) on walking in I was a little shocked to see 5 companies recruiting there instead of the usual throng. Yes, it was just a little depressing and worrying for even the most positive of us. Many of us standing there in queues to get to the recruiters discussed this but really, no one knows what will happen next.

Regardless, I had prepared for the event doing more work on my resume and business card. As I have said both had to be memorable and I wanted the business card to leave an impression. Whilst I haven’t taken the time and invested in getting a print house to run me off a batch I have created, designed and printed a bunch myself using Word and Office Depot’s marvelous Business Card Inkjet Paper.

The card has my name, job description or title, email, linked in, blog address, twitter and cellular phone number on the front. On the back I wanted to put a tag cloud describing me and my skill-set. To this end it behooves me to give credit to a great web app that allowed me to create my personal Tag/ Skill cloud: http://tagcrowd.com/ – TagCrowd takes free text, a file or URL and with various options allows the user to customize their very own Tag Cloud.

But (big but) this is a Java app and there is no export feature to allow the user to take the Tag Cloud and make something off it in a textual format. Enter the trusted screen grab or Print Screen button. Alternatively you can use a PDF driver like Cute PDF to print the Tag Cloud to PDF.

Needless to say with a little magic and a dash of luck my Skill Cloud now resides in my resume and business card (as seen below).

It is a definite sign of intelligence when you find other smart people who have the same idea as you but it’s also a sign that you need a stronger coffee blend in the morning if you have the idea five minutes after them.

My resume has been a challenge to me on several levels; as my job hunt progressed in the past I have had positive responses to the design and layout even though I broke one of the cardinal rules that all the people in the know, blogs and books tell you: it was a two page document.

I didn’t see how to pare down the level of detail to one page and still maintain confidence that I was showing my full skill set to prospective employees. In my moments of doubt I wondered if maybe I was simply overwhelming them with detail and not presenting a polished personal brand.

I have been the one recruiting in the past so I tried to get my head around being the recruiter who needs to understand the terminology and can grasp my brand in a short glance yet have a resume that still stands out from the pack.

I have a rule of thumb for productive brainstorming to solve any problem: –

Use a pencil and pad and do the brainstorm away from the computer.

I decided to sketch a “map” of how the resume should look. I used to be a cartographer at one time so maps of any kind always appeal.

Whilst doing this I wondered what was missing from my resume and how the resume fitted into all the information on the Internet about me. I wanted it all to jell into a cohesive picture that did represent my personal brand. My attempt at creating a business card for networking events helped me realize I wanted my LinkedIn, Blog and Twitter addresses in there; (I also wanted my Facebook link but since I feel that I use Facebook for my Social Networking more than Business I have left it out until I can revamp my profile there sufficiently) I also added a head-shot photograph to the personal information section.

I was (surprise, surprise) having a cup of coffee when it occurred to me that this was evolving into a Web 2.0 Resume; something was missing and still trying to reduce the document down to one page my Management and Technical Skills sections leaped out as important but in need of reducing in size drastically.

Today I took a metaphorical meat-cleaver to some of the details having realized that the ultimate Web 2.0 component needed adding: a Tag Cloud based on my technical and management skills and experience. 

The act of ensuring the tags I felt were the most important and thus prominent in the cloud made me look long and hard at my skill set which in turn helped me refine how I describe myself.

What is left for me to do?

    1. Translate to Hebrew: this I am going to post online and add a link to the English version for the more and more infrequent occurrence that someone in hi-tech requires the resume in Hebrew.
    2. Revamp my Facebook profile and add the link.
    3. Create a ready to go PDF copy of English and Hebrew resumes.

The resume is down to one page and I am hammering out the formatting so that I can insert the tag cloud as a vertical sidebar in both the Word doc and PDF alike.

In away the process of doing this has been more about self-awareness and interview preparation than just redefining my resume. Now I just need to get some good hits and sit down in the interview calmly and confidently knowing that I am the best person for the job. Wish me luck.

I test software, it’s what I do and recently I have been testing a fantastic implementation of Adobe’s Flex as a front-end web-site for various web services running on IIS and MS-SQL.

I am investigating a dead save button in the browser (the Flex implementation) and I discover in the Flash Player Active X a dependency on Sun Java; specifically what it refers to as damaged Java files. (Without the Sun Java installed Flash displays the Flex implementation perfectly)

The scenario occurs and reproduces consistently on PC’s where multiple versions of Sun Java have been installed without uninstalling the older versions thereof. Even when no Java is enabled in IE or MS JVM is enabled instead.

Workarounds: I have tried disabling the Active X add-ons, uninstalling all the Sun Java versions and using registry cleaners, uninstalling and resinstalling Flash, installing the latest version of Sun Java only, searching for a repair tool on the Adobe or Sun site (Adobe has a KB regarding a similar issue that is resolved using the MS SubInACL tool but this did not help).

Luckily, the developers take this bug seriously and seem to have fixed it as it does not reproduce as of yet. Still is the problem here that apps that require Sun Java are compiled for a specific version and as such newer versions do not ask the user to uninstall older versions first?
Or is Flash player just a little too sensitive to SUn Java’s presence?

I am going to keep my eye on this and ensure our test-plans reflect this.

Last post I raved about the winning features, design and functionality of Microsoft Shared View. Now don’t get me wrong it’s amazing, I’m still using it and my on-the-PC version of Office 2003 in concert.

However, since then I logged into my scarcely used account on Buzzword, now Acrobat.com and remembered why I liked it and why I didn’t.

Buzzword is Adobe’s online Word Processor and so much more. When I was in the throes of job hunting I imported a copy of my resume and discovered that at that time there was no save as PDF option; now resolved – you can just about save to every major format including PDF. Furthermore, the GUI and interface is nothing short of gorgeous; in a beveled black. Adobe have gone to lengths to ensure that the Macromedia acquisition is not for nothing so of course there are implementations of Flash technology there.

For the font junkies out there a plethora of non-Office fonts are just waiting to be tried but, I have not checked if they are True type or not yet.

The user may share documents and create online meetings to discuss these much akin to the Shared View paradigm.

This is competes nicely with Office/ Shared View and Google Apps but, my resume was laboriously slow in loading and why does Acrobat.com insist on loading a Microsoft Scripting Component to work?

So, will I be using this beautifully designed, elegant offering from Adobe? Yes, but if you are reading this at Adobe, remember the P-word … performance!