TV Stations: Get a Clue About Adobe Flash

| Particle Debris

The technical community been through the fives stages of grief with Adobe’s Flash. Now, it’s time for TV stations, specifically licensed to serve the public interest, to get a clue about mobility and dump Adobe Flash on their websites. It’s critical during natural disasters.

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Forrest fireThe recent fires in Colorado Springs and near Ft. Collins, Colorado have made it very clear that some TV stations that have websites have dropped the ball when it comes to serving the public interest. That’s because residents, in any geographical area, for any kind of weather emergency, are likely to be on the move, at work, busy evacuating, or already evacuated from their homes. Their typical link to news may be a hastily grabbed iPad (or other tablet) or their smartphone often an iPhone.

During the recent fires, checking the news with my iPad, I was often confronted with a notice that I needed Adobe Flash to view a video. Now when it’s in the course of everyday technology kerfuffles, it’s an annoyance. However, I can see how a family, trying to view local news and weather in an emergency, when confronted with such a notice, would be outraged.

One particular offender during the Waldo Canyon fire was Channel 9/NBC (KUSA) in Denver. More times than not, when attempting to view a news or weather video on my iPad, I got a notice that I needed Adobe Flash. The people who build these kinds of websites need to recognize my browser type and generate alternative formatted content rather than cop out with a nastygram.

The general problem is that different videos on different pages at different sites are enabled or not enabled for the iPad/iPhone. Recently, I was looking at the TV station websites in Denver, Colorado on my iPad. I noticed that Channel 9/NBC (KUSA) was a particular offender while Channel 4/CBS (KCNC) was pretty good. All the videos I tried to view at KCNC played. Channel 7/ABC (KMGH) takes the easy route and doesn’t deliver much of anything in the way of videos when the website, evidently, detects that I’m on an iPad.

So here’s the urgent request to the TV stations everywhere. Make sure that your website videos, especially those related to weather and emergency news, are always viewable on any mobile device that may be connected.  A special weather app to be downloaded is nice, but don’t depend on the viewer, in a crisis, having the time or inclination to go get it. Your website has to carry the load in emegencies.

Channel 9 Denver

Blank windows, with notices like the above, are not what we want to see in an emergency.

Tech News Debris

Here’s a related story. Early in the design phases of various products, managers overlook key insights into how their technical staff is going to implement a service. Then, later, when the shit hits the fan, the managers have to apologize with a “dog ate my homework” excuse and promise to fix it. Here’s a classic tale. “How Flash failed JetBlue, and you.

There are scientists and there are scientists. For example, calling a laboratory coordinator at a small college a scientist is a stretch. Even so, this is is a worthwhile story to see how various technical people are using iPads. “How the iPad helps scientists do their jobs.” As might be expected, the imagination of smart, individual users about how to exploit their iPads foreshadows and trumps the collective wisdom of institutional buyers.

How would a 7.x-inch iPad fit in with Apple’s business plans? Ben Bajarin lays it all out. “The case for 7-inch Tablets.” Patrick Moorhead gets even more specific: “Why Apple Needs a 7-inch Tablet.”

You knew this was coming. It’s a strong social trend to watch TV on mobile devices, something other than a traditional set-top box. Those devices are predicted to account for only 50 percent of the viewing of pay-TV by 2015. Will this social trend catch the cable and satellite providers napping? Will this be Apple’s opening? “TV Set-Top Box Use Dropping.

TNT for ipadTNT on iPad (Image Credit: Turner Network Television)

Kurt Eichenwald with Vanity fair was recently on the Charlie Rose show talking about his new feature article in the August issue: “Microsoft’s Lost Decade.”  The premise is that Microsoft has squandered the last ten years under Steve Ballmer. That’s going to be an article worth looking for and reading. Here’s a preview.

Speaking of Microsoft, I have expressed my own concern about Microsoft’s strategy with their Surface tablet. It’s basically an Ultrabook with a slightly different design. But the agenda remains Windows, and clinging to that is, of course, of immediate interest to Microsoft. It may also be the company’s downfall. Here’s some background that explains why the Surface RT may fail first. “Windows 8 Pro on Microsoft’s Surface: A usability nightmare.”

“When is a search listing an ad? When does an ad need to be disclosed? These are foundational answers you need to know if you really want to conduct a review about anti-competitive actions.” So says Danny Sullivan in a particularly detailed and eye-opening piece. “After A Month, Silence From The FTC On Search Engine Disclosure.

Do we take our iPads and iPhones on vacation because we want to work? I think it’s because these devices are just so darn handy when it comes to maps, restaurants and events when on vacation. Unfortunately, there is still a tendency to sneak in some work. Maybe because we want to be indispensable? Ryan Fass ponders: “iPhones and iPads Are Robbing Us Of Truly Work-Free Vacations.

Finally, Dish Network is going to take this add hopper, The “Hopper” as far as they can take it. However, I’d be prepared for the worst because you never know how the courts will come down on this subject of having the DVR skip the ads during playback — rather than making you do it yourself.

Worse, when it comes time to negotiate agreements for carrying content, I don’t see how Dish can avoid problems. But, of course, customers love it, and it just goes to show how dated, obsolete and rationalized the whole TV advertising business is. “Ad-Skipping DVR Household Penetration to Grow 22%” This appears to be another opportunity for Apple. When’s the last time you sat through an ad while watching content on an Apple TV? I thought so.

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Forest fire image credit: Shutterstock

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16 Comments Leave Your Own

Joe

maybe the message should be to Apple and tell them to allow Flash on their devices.  HTML5 is no more secure.

geoduck

maybe the message should be to Apple and tell them to allow Flash on their devices.  HTML5 is no more secure.

Flash is obsolete technology. It is a resource hog and fewer and fewer devices come with it, not just Apple’s. Even Adobe has recognized this and is no longer supporting Flash on portable devices. Notice how quickly video sites have been moving away from Flash, which is what JM is getting at. Local TV stations are behind the curve.

Actually I see a parallel here. A decade ago web sites were coded to be compatible with IE. A lot of them even would just give you a banner saying “This Site Requires Internet Explorer 6” or “You Must Upgrade Your Browser. Click Here To Get The Latest Version of Internet Explorer”. After a few years businesses, and the people building their web sites, learned that was unacceptable and they changed.

mateo

Maybe you should get a clue as well:
Flash platform roadmap.

Lee Dronick

Is the HTML5 video element a security risk, it just streams the movie. Other HTML5 elements may be a different story.

geoduck

Maybe you should get a clue as well:
Flash platform roadmap.

From the article you linked to:

Flash Player 11.1 is the last release of the Flash Player plug-in for mobile browsers. Adobe will not add support for new mobile device configurations (chipset, browser, OS version, etc.)

and

Flash Player is not supported on Android 4.1 and users should uninstall Flash Player prior to upgrading to Android 4.1.

The Mobile world is walking away from Flash and Adobe is moving Flash away from the Mobile world. With the increase in mobile browsing, this increases the importance for sites, especially critical sites such as local news outlets, to move away from Flash.

mateo

Flash is obsolete technology.

Again:
Flash platform roadmap.

Adobe is moving Flash away from the Mobile world.

From the article I linked to:

Adobe AIR is a desktop and mobile-based runtime built on top of the core Flash functionality that allows developers to create and deploy Flash based content as stand-alone desktop and mobile applications across personal computers, operating systems and devices.

geoduck

Adobe AIR is a desktop and mobile-based runtime built on top of the core Flash functionality that allows developers to create and deploy Flash based content as stand-alone desktop and mobile applications

We’re not talking about either AIR or freestanding Apps.
The article is about Flash on web sites containing critical information and trying to view those web sites containing embedded Flash on mobile devices.

mateo

We?re not talking about either AIR or freestanding Apps.

I’m actually glad to know that you think the two are so very different.
smile
Thanks for your comments.

wab95

John:

Many thanks for including that section on scientists and the iPad. I think penetration into that market may be discipline specific, as I see iPads aplenty where I work and travel - at least amongst international scientists in medicine and related health disciplines. One still sees more MBAs than iPads at most conferences and meetings, however.

I recently attended two back-to-back meetings at a retreat in the French Alps (I know, a hardship post, but someone’s got to do it for humanity). Not only were the majority of laptops Macs (more MBAs than MBPs), but the slides were all being run on a MBA.

I decided to only bring my iPad to these two meetings. It was gamble i was willing to take, as I was not slated (no pun intended) to give any presentations, therefore was not concerned about making slides and re-analysing data on the fly. That said, because of both Drop Box (which I had encouraged the organisers to use, so that they would not need to distribute all meetings materials in either paper or flash drives) and Sugar Sync, I was able to not simply download all conference materials, which were being updated in real time, but my own files from my Mac that had been synced through Sugar Sync. I did end up making presentations at both meetings (it nearly always happens), however any material I needed that was not on my iPad was available through Sugar Sync, which made it all simple, and with the wifi network available at the retreat, I could forward my materials to the conference MBA as needed.

I too use the iPad for recording in my personal science journal (I still find Pages consistently the most robust platform for this, particularly now with iCloud syncing), and do a substantial fraction of my scientific journal reading on the iPad - the rest being done on my Mac - as I am often referencing these while writing/reviewing manuscripts (for which I need to sign off shortly and get back to now).

The two pieces you cite by Ben Bajarin and Patrick Moorhead, respectively, do make credible cases for a 7” tablet; particularly Bajarin?s argument of viewing this as an extension of the iPod and not so much as the iPad. In my professional use of the iPad, I find its current dimensions just right for both web access, but more importantly manuscript review and content creation. Any smaller would be too small for writing, of which I do quite a bit on the virtual keyboard (I?ve now ditched tactile keyboards as they add bulk with little gain in performance, now that I am proficient in position-sense virtual typing). In this sense, a 7? iPad is less of a patch in Apple?s tablet ranks than it is in their iPod ranks, or perhaps even a general reinforcement to the ecosystem. On that score, I am less persuaded by Moorhead?s argument that the Google Nexus 7 will substantially erode sales of Apple?s $399 iPad; as we do not know what fraction of iPad clients are buying it as a stand alone device (vulnerable) and what fraction are buying into the Apple ecosystem (not-so-vulnerable - perhaps even Google-impervious). It is primarily amongst the gadget-seeking, media-consuming, ecosystem agnostic that this battle will be fought and decided.

That still leaves open the question of whether or not there really is a market for an Apple-branded 7? tablet. What is described is a consumption device for parallel markets at Google and Amazon, and now one for Apple. The gains could be marginal, as those who want an Apple iPad for ecosystem support appear to be buying them as quickly as they hit the shelves. Will they move fence-sitting Apple clients? Will they create an exodus amongst Amazon and Google clients? I think we will need to wait for hard data to answer such questions, but about one thing we can be more certain. Senior leadership in Redmond have got to be concerned about the future.

diverreb

It’s time for Apple to kiss and make up with Adobe.  All I hear from the faithful is how Flash is dead or obsolete….  Been hearing it for years now.  Maybe in the minds of the Tech Guys it is, but in the real world it gets very tiresome not being able to view a great deal of content on iPads & iPhones…..  For normal users Flash is very real and still very much alive….  Get over the BS & bring it to the iPad & iPhone! 

Richie

Paul Goodwin

Flash is unsuitable for mobile devices, Apple knows it, Adobe knows it, Google knows it, Microsoft knows it, and all the Android device provider/developers know it. It isn’t necessary, and all the major sites have already either moved away from it or provide alternate solutions. The sites that require Flash at this time are in the same position as the buggy whip makers were 10 years into the rise of the automobile industry-nearly extinct. The population is moving toward mobile browsing at a torrid pace, and the web site owners that don’t provide alternate solutions will either add them or be gone because their advertisers know it too.

I have a standard Note on my iPad that I copy/post to the feedback on sites where the Flash required message pops up. I do this on sites that I’m interested in, and the feedback from them comes back that they are working or they haven’t enough money to upgrade yet. The ones with the money problems though many times forget that their money comes from their advertisers, who pay for viewers, who they’re missing because they’re floundering in obsolete technology.

Flash will be around for desktop computers for a long time. But Flash on websites ( where soon the majority of web surfers will be mobile device users), is already obsolete. Those developer/providers that fail to upgrade their sites are also obsolete, and obsolete things gently (and sometimes sadly) fade into oblivion.

Paul Goodwin

The next time you open a web page and it won’t work because it requires Flash, ask yourself how badly you really needed to view that page anyway. Life’s too short to get frustrated over it. I used to, but now I move on and it’s their loss not mine. If the site is really interesting I’ll post feedback.

John. I agree with your article. At this point in time, Flash based TV websites are unconscionable. Only the clueless at this point would provide a website that required Flash for video and/or page controls.

Mikuro

maybe the message should be to Apple and tell them to allow Flash on their devices.? HTML5 is no more secure.

The point here really isn’t about security, but in any case I would say HTML5 is more secure, if only because it is less homogenous. You would most likely need to exploit individual browsers rather than one universal plugin like Flash.

Flash is one of the most-exploited products on the market. That’s why its update reminded is so obnoxious; it has to be constantly patched because it’s under constant attack.

When HTML reaches that level of ubiquity, will be just as vulnerable? Ultimately that remains to be seen, but I really doubt it. More likely, people will need different attack vectors for every browser and platform. On OS X, QuickTime would probably be the prime target (it’s been exploited before).

Agee

John, with the ever-increasing number of portable devices not being able to view Flash, have you possibly forwarded your article to all the Denver TV stations, and possibly others?

N8nNC

How to fail at the 21st century:

1. Require Flash.
2. Require IE.
3. Force mobile view on iPads & iPhones that can handle the full site, if they only could access it.
4. Prohibit scaling.
5. Prohibit selecting & copying text or images.
6. Don’t date posts.
7. Show comments in any order other than chronological.

Bonus for this site: 8. Enable spellcheck for captchas.

ctopher

about the Hopper. I used to use a ReplayTV with auto-skip. It worked really well, but the software clearly “looked” for a blank screen (fade-out) to determine that a commercial was up coming. Then it would look for another blank screen (fade-in) to know that the program was on again. Some shows fooled the software with muddy scenes and their own dramatic fades, but for the most part it worked well.

I’ve since switched to a cable-box DVR with no auto skip and no 30-second skip, just fast-forward. Even so, I personally used the fade during my fast forwarding. My “software” has gotten pretty good at skipping commercials too!

So now I see that the cable companies are upping their game. I watched a Movie on FX on the DVR and I had trouble fast-forwarding through commercials because there was no transition between the movie and the commercial. It was a disjointed jump-cut.

Also, I’ve seen shows that insert little ads that contain pseudo-content with the same characters that entice you to stop.

The arms race is still going on!

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