It Done Broke.

Smokescreen Javascript Flash Player

I’m intrigued by this.  On my system, the Flash player plugin is 31MB of top-quality Adobe-compiled code.  How can it be that Smokescreen, a Javascript implementation of a Flash player that weighs in at 175.1kB (minified) can fully replicate the functionality of the Adobe player?  Either (a) it doesn’t (perhaps a work-in-progress, but still…), or (b) Adobe’s plugin is a steaming pile?

More Adobe Hilarity

Choice quotes from Adobe’s CEO in this article:

“Considering the amount of content on the Web that uses Flash — not allowing your consumers to access that content isn’t showing off the Web in all its glory.”


“Apple’s business model is more trying to maintain a proprietary lock.”


“the 10.1 version will do what Jobs wants it to do.”

I can hear the canned laugh-track as I read it.

Adobe: Too Little Too Late?

I’m not particularly fond of Steve Jobs’ accusations that Adobe devs are lazy.  It sounds a bit peevish and personal and just because he thinks he’s Superman doesn’t mean he gets to be a dick.  I did like him calling BS on Google, though, there are a lot of things that Apple’s done under his command I think were questionable (“evil” even).

I’m also not saying that Adobe is a shining star when it comes to some of the choices they’ve made but overall, I’d say they’ve done a pretty good job at holding up the bar in the design world (even if they’re responsible for making drop-shadowed text ubiquitous).

It takes a lot of guts for Emmy Huang, the Project Manager for Flash Player, to write this post.  It displays a humanity, although I’m sure Jobs wasn’t implying they’re lazy robots.  It also highlights problems in their process.  But I do wonder about this:

“I want to reiterate that it is our policy that crashes are serious “A” priority bugs, and it is a tenet of the Flash Player team that ActionScript developers should never be able to crash Flash Player. If a crash occurs, it is by definition a bug, and one that Adobe takes very seriously. When they happen, it can be the result of something going on purely within Flash Player, something in the browser, or even at the OS level. Depending on where an issue occurs we work to resolve the crash internally or with our partners.”

She then goes on to outline the timeline of how the wheels fell off the wagon.

Some points:

  • crashing bugs should be fixed and released immediately, i.e. the day they fixed it.  Telling me that it was fixed 3 months ago and we’re only going to see it with the next release which is…when?…only makes me froth.
  • it’s not as if Flash 10 is the first version where the player has had serious issues and caused crashing.  It’s almost a defining characteristic of the platform since version 1.

No amount of denials from upper management is going to make the existence of problems untrue and no amount of apologies from the developer level is going to change the fact that if it’s not in our hands, it’s not fixed.

Adobe needs to fix their process, like a decade ago.  I know it’s complicated, and I know the software’s a crazy rat’s nest.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think Flash will ever completely go away.  Flash as a video delivery vehicle always kind of bother me as over-engineered and overkill.  But as a platform for other things I think it will still have a place, albeit with a much lesser presence.  Nonetheless, Adobe, I don’t think it had to be this way.

ClickToFlash For Safari

ClickToFlash is a nice little Flashblock-type plugin for Safari with one big problem.  Two, actually.

  1. you can’t leave feedback for the developer without creating a (free) account on the project website.  Dude, I just wanted to tell you about #2…
  2. the only way I could find to get into the whitelist and preferences for the plugin is via a page with Flash that isn’t already blocked (there’s a little control on the blocker that gets you in).  However, if you’ve already whitelisted the page there’s no way to get back in and un-whitelist it without going to another site with Flash.  Worse, if you’ve whitelisted it in Fluid (a single-site browser application instance of Safari) there’s no hope at all of making any changes.  You are stuck.

You need to get a preference pane in the main application fast.

One thing about ClickToFlash compared to Flashblock: as I’ve cranked about a few months ago, the Flash media player on MySpace doesn’t load properly in Firefox when you tell Flashblock to unblock.  However, with ClickToFlash in Safari there’s no such problem.  You click, it appears.  Flashblock developers say this is a known bug in the Mozilla code which I should point out nobody seems to be working on.  The Flashblock bug was logged October 2008, the Mozilla bug March 2009 and the feedback comments run in circles.  It’s also suggested that the problem is with the Flash player but ClickToFlash on Safari doesn’t have the same issue.

Score one more for Safari.

Flashblock & MySpace

Flashblock 1.5.8
Firefox 3.x+

I find MySpace is only tolerable if you have the Flashblock add-on in Firefox.  My primary complaint is the preponderance of Flash media players assaulting your senses all on auto-play.  Some clowns have auto-play on all the media on their page and the hilarious cacophony of their favourite Daily Show clip blasting along side a Slipknot/SystemOfADown/Gwar medley is just sometimes too much.  My secondary complaint is with the Flash Player in Firefox 3.x+ on a Mac which, for some reason seems to wind up the CPU making any other activity on your computer a chore.  So Flashblock allows me to whip around the site without slowing down unless I really want to hear MGMT again (which seems to be inserted into every second page) .

Recently, MySpace’s media player started doing something strange with Flashblock on Firefox.  If you click on the Flashblock placeholder icon, the <div> where the media player should re-appear goes blank and nothing fills the space.  However…music will start playing (if it’s on auto-play).  So you can’t stop it, nor can you change songs.  Whitelisting in Flashblock works…but that’s not a solution.  MySpace is the whole reason I installed Flashblock in the first place.

It’s not Flash dependent: I’ve tried it with Flash 9 & 10 and on Windows and OSX.  I haven’t tried it with many versions of Firefox – just 3.0.5 and 3.1b2.

A related issue has been flagged as a bug in the Camino Bugzilla database.

There is some speculation that there is some code in the new MySpace player that can be addressed by the MediaWrap plugin. This didn’t solve anything for me.

Update: One of the Flashblock developers, Philip Chee, has gotten back to me about this and they’re looking into it.  They’re not pointing fingers since it’s not obvious who’s side of the court this ball is in.  However, if anybody knows how to actually get ahold of the MySpace admins it would probably help to get to the bottom of this (do you just send Tom a message on the site?  After all, he’s “friend”, right?).  The Flashblock Bugzilla report is filed here, but Philip recommends tracking the bug on the Camino site.

Update 2: I’m running AdBlock Plus as well, as I’m sure a lot of people are who don’t like noise in their browser.   I tried disabling AdBlock Plus for that page and the player reappeared when I refreshed the page.  However, it doesn’t behave consistently and sometimes loads, sometimes doesn’t.

Update 3: Seems like Philip may have found a solution described on the Mozdev site.  The Flash player settings manager has a tab called “Global Storage Settings”.  Follow Philip’s instructions but if your “Allow 3rd party…” checkbox is already checked (like mine was), toggle it off and then on again.