The Blog of Maxim Porges

Archive for May, 2009

  • More “Flex” to “Flash” Worries

    Pursuant to the renaming of Flex Builder to Flash Builder, I just posted the following comment to this article on The Flash Blog.


    I don’t really care what Adobe calls the tools, but it goes without saying that there is a clean separation of skill set between Flex and Flash developers. In fact, Adobe and Macromedia both did an admirable job of pointing this separation out at length when promoting Flex to the enterprise development community. I can only imagine that the companies chose to do this because of the Flash IDE’s image in the developer community as a tool for making animations and non-enterprise apps – a perception which frankly still holds true for Flash developers not using the Flex toolset.

    For everybody who already uses Flash and Flex, renaming Flex Builder to Flash Builder is not going to cause any serious issues; we understand the roles of both tools and can differentiate. Where the name change will be confusing is with future students and professionals evaluating Flash and Flex for the first time, and trying to decide which tool set they need to master and for what purpose.

    What I am most concerned about as a Flex developer is Adobe’s recent moves to blur the previously-clear definition between Flash media and Flash enterprise development skill sets. If Adobe continues this trend and decides to abolish the Flex name altogether and call it “Flash Enterprise” or something like that, people like me who develop purely with the Flex framework are going to have a much harder time targeting relevant employment opportunities. This will be just as difficult for Flash developers targeting rich media/non-Flex opportunities. The two specializations are individually necessary and distinct for different kinds of work, regardless of the platform’s capabilities.

    You stated the following in your post: “We as a community need to spread the word about what Flash really is now.” So, what is Flash now? As far as I can tell, it’s the same as it has always been: the most pervasive platform for running rich, interactive applications. There are two common ways to do that: using the Flash IDE and working in a media-centric fashion on the timeline, or writing script-and-tag-based applications using the Flex framework. There are other less-common ways, such as generating Flash content programmatically using any of the many commercial and open-source authoring libraries. Renaming Flex Builder to Flash Builder doesn’t change any of these facts, doesn’t change what the Flash platform can do, and doesn’t spread the word any further about what the Flash platform is capable of.

    I must ask: is this apparent need to change perception about the capabilities of the Flash Player really the purpose for renaming Flex Builder to Flash Builder? Is this the same reason behind renaming Flex Camps to Flash Camps? If so, then I’ll ask Adobe to please stop now. Adobe and Macromedia poured tons of marketing dollars in to promoting Flex development as a different activity from Flash development, and with good reason: they are different activities targeting different skill sets. Clearly Adobe agrees that this is the case, or they wouldn’t have two separate tools targeting each activity.

    Call the tools whatever you like, but unless the goal is to merge all the Flash-related tools and skill sets altogether (a horrible idea for reasons already outlined), please keep the differentiation between Flash and Flex development apparent.

    2009.05.18 / 2 responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • Apparently I’m Becoming a Flash Developer

    I just found out that Flex Builder 4 is being named Flash Builder 4, and the micro-conference that I’m speaking at this month that would usually be referred to as a Flex Camp is instead a Flash Camp.

    WTF? Unless they are integrating the Flash tools from the Creative Suite in to Flex Builder, I have no idea why they are calling it Flash Builder. Once again, marketing defies logic.

    Perhaps Adobe will explain the situation at some point.

    UPDATE: The Flash Blog attempts to clear up the matter here. I still don’t get it. This statement in particular by the author (in the comments) puzzles me:

    “@Everyone I can guarantee that the Flash IDE is not going away. I don’t know what else to say to convince you. I’m not one to BS my readers so I hope you will trust me on this.”

    So, now we have two products, the Flash IDE and Flash Builder… great. That’s not confusing at all.

    2009.05.16 / 2 responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • Crystal Method @ House Of Blues (May 15th, 2009)

    Kyle and I caught The Crystal Method show yesterday. I forgot my little Sanyo HD video camera that I usually sneak in to concerts, but I got a few half-decent shots with my phone.

    I saw these guys at HOB about seven years ago, and they put on a decent show then, but the one last night was arguably the best show I have ever seen. The guys had loads of energy, and they played a great mix of tracks from their new album while mixing in the old classics.

    Performing Live
    For a hobbyist electronic musician like myself, it was interesting checking out their kit and the way they set up their live set. We were up in VIP so I got a pretty good picture of their kit from the side of the stage. Scott Kirkland is stage right, and Ken Jordan stage left.

    The duo seemed to run 85-90% of their set off of sequencers, mainly the beats and the bassline/backing and vocal samples. Scott had two microphones, one set up with a vocoder where he did a little yelling on one of the new tracks. Scott spent most of the set playing the lead parts of TCM’s various tracks, while Ken played supporting parts, except for a few tracks like “Keep Hope Alive” where Scott was playing the driving arpeggio and Ken played the lead. Between lead parts, Scott would also go to the rack and twiddle the filters on a filter bank of some kind; I know I have seen the model reviewed in Sound On Sound before but I couldn’t remember the name of it.

    TCM are huge fans of two synthesizers that make up the majority of their set, and have defined their sound for years: the Nord Lead (the red synth to Scott’s left) and the Alesis Andromeda (the big one with loads of knobs to Scott’s right). Scott also has what looks like either a drum machine or sampler between the Andromeda and his mixer, and then both guys had M-Audio Axiom controller keyboards. Scott also had an M-Audio Trigger Finger (hidden under his controller keyboard in my shot), presumably for firing samples. Finally, they had some guitar effects pedals/pedalboards, most notably a ProCo RAT that Scott had balanced on top if his Nord Lead and was firing off by giving it a solid bash occasionally.

    One synth that Scott had that I did not recognize was an Arturia Origin (mounted above the drum machine in the shot). I couldn’t really tell what sounds this was producing during the set, but I imagine they were using it as a filter bank.

    Running the Set
    The duo seemed to be set up with their whole rig time-synchronized, and since they didn’t seem to do much set up between songs I can only imagine that they program their set in to their sequencer, and have it fire off program changes to all the synths on stage at the appropriate time in order to have the lead/support sounds ready to roll.

    Each had a late 2008 MacBook Pro on their rig, so my guess would be that Scott’s was running the sequences and Ken’s was running software synths, unless they had both computers slaved to each other and playing sequences which I would find unlikely. As for the sequencer, it looked like Scott had Apple Logic’s mixer view up on his laptop, but it could also have been Ableton Live – I wasn’t able to get a good enough shot to zoom in and figure it out. Ken’s screen was not facing the audience.

    Scott really drives the show with the lead synths. He’s a big fan of filter tweaking on stage, and used his mixer to manage the volume of whatever he was messing with so that the audience could hear it as he was doing it. Most of the interaction for the show came from Scott, and I must say he did an awesome job.

    Overall, it was an awesome show, and most of what I have posted up here is a guess about their set, but an educated guess at least. Enjoy the pics, and make sure you check out TCM on their tour and their new album Divided By Night (links to iTunes) if you are so inclined.

    2009.05.16 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • Honeymoon Pics

    Jessica and I toured the Western Mediterranean for 10 days for our honeymoon, visiting Italy, Spain, Monaco, Tunis, and Capri on the way. We had a great time everywhere, although Capri was our favorite.

    If you are so inclined, I invite you to check out the pics. We had two days at sea, which I didn’t take many pictures during, so the links below are mainly for the ports of call and the time we spent in Rome on both ends of the cruise.

    Day 1: First Day in Rome
    Day 2: Transfer to Civitavecchia
    Day 3: Florence and San Miniato
    Day 4: Monaco/Monte Carlo
    Day 5: Barcelona
    Day 6: Carthage and Sidi Bou Said
    Day 7: Sicily and Palermo
    Day 8: Capri
    Day 9: Last Day in Rome

    2009.05.14 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • Access Virus OS 3.1 Released

    Access Music just released the latest OS for their Virus synth line, which totally rocks. I’m getting ready to install it now so I will let you know how it goes. It’s been in beta for a few months so I expect it is stable by now.

    Access has also set up a Vimeo channel, including some great jam sessions with their gear from past music events. This is a link to the shorter one if you want to get a sampling of what to expect.

    2009.05.12 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • Flash Camp Orlando

    After a great event in Miami, the Flex community is doing it again with Flash Camp Orlando. Don’t be put off by the name – this is a Flex conference through and through, with the name being driven by some arcane motivations from deep within Adobe’s marketing department. However, since Adobe is sponsoring the event, they could call it Giant Lollypop Tomfoolery and I’d still be happy to support it.

    The event is taking place on May 29th, 2009 with an early bird special available until 5/15. There are going to be some great speakers there (with the exception of me, since I am a total ass hat). You’ll get to see brand new content plus a few popular topics being repeated from the Miami event.

    So what’s the vig? We’re talking $35 with the early bird for an all-day event including parking and lunch. That’s a steal – even more so if you get lucky and you end up with a prize worth more than the entry price, and Adobe always comes through with loads of great prizes so the chances are high that you will walk away with a little something-something (or even a big one – some lucky fellow got a full Adobe Creative Suite package at the Miami event!).

    If you are even remotely interested in or involved with Flex development I highly recommend you register right away. I’ll see you there!

    2009.05.12 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized