Christian Heilmann

Posts Tagged ‘flash’

FUD again – Flash vs. HTML(5) – yes, open things are easy to retrieve

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

I am very disappointed with a post released today by Serge Jespers, Adobe Evangelist entitled Stealing content was never easier than with HTML5.

I am mostly disappointed by the headline which I hope is there for link-baiting and Google juice. In other words, really cheap and lame propaganda.

The post has a good intention: there is a problem with open media standards in HTML5 that there is no way to protect premium content from being downloaded. There is no DRM, there is no encryption or watermarking. If we want premium content publishers on the bandwagon, then we need to think about that. Posts like this with this headline make it hard for us to even reach people to talk about the options. It is FUD and Adobe as a company that claims to support HTML5 should know better.

Right now, I do tell people who are paranoid about their content to use Flash as it has a certain degree of protection against simple downloading. If Adobe’s official spokespeople keep spouting messages like this, I will move to tell them to use Silverlight.

The argument that it is easy to download video in HTML5 as you can see it in the source is like saying that it is easy to steal newspapers in train stations as they are easy to reach. It is invalid – that you can steal it is not the issue here, the issue is what you do with the paper. Do you take it from the stand and go and pay it without looking at it? Do you read it on the spot and then put it back? Do you leave with it without paying? Or do you check the headlines and when you are intrigued you go and pay for it? Do you take the paper, go to a copier, copy it and then try to sell the copies? Fact is – it is dead easy to get the paper, the same way it is dead easy to get a video online.

I find myself many a time downloading YouTube videos as I am on the go a lot. Being on the go (and considering data plans and roaming) means I have no connection, or I have a flaky connection that downloads the movie to minute 3 and then stalls while the fan of my laptop spins. Instead, at home when I got my fat connection I download some talks and screencasts and watch them offline using VLC. Then I delete them – or I blog about them first linking to YouTube and advertise them that way.

To download these extremely well protected Flash movies I use one of the dozens of services, browser extensions or apps out there.

Allowing people to download a movie means you get a bigger audience. If you make people jump through hoops to watch a movie or make them watch a 5 minute ad for a 10 second film you shouldn’t be surprised if they use P2P filesharing or Hotfile, Rapidshare, Fileserve, Megaupload and dozens of other services to download the movie in 10 seconds and then watch it at their leisure.

Recognise something? The mere fact that there are thousands of downloaders for YouTube and paid for hosting services that offer easy to download pirated copies means that there is a demand for that feature. A feature that would make me damn happy to have on YouTube and I would pay for it.

So instead of demonising HTML5 as the backdoor that will allow evil doers to steal your goodies maybe it is time for premium content providers to open up to the needs of web users, and find a way to publish previews of content and the full content for subscribed users. There are ways to make money and share your products – but not if you spend most of your time and money on things that seemingly give you protection but in reality are just a glass shield.

Slideshare embeds without Flash

Friday, November 12th, 2010

I’ve said it a few times before, but I love Slideshare. For a professional speaker like me it is a great way to share my decks and get feedback from people allowing them to re-use. The thing that some people complained about is that the embed is Flash based and as we all know Flash makes kittens cry and Ninjas visible so we can’t have that.

Don’t fret though as there is a way out. Say you have a presentation on Slideshare at
Reasons to be cheerful - Fronteers 2010 by photo

Simply add a /mobile/ before the user name to see the mobile version which is images with a bit of HTML:

Slideshare Mobile by photo

You could just slap this in an iframe but the chrome of the mobile version can be a bit overwhelming. No worries – the open web can fix that. Looking at the source code, you find a JSON object with all the info:

The interesting parts here are the baseSlideUrl and the totalSlides. To get the different images, just add —slide—{n}.jpg to the baseSlideUrl with {n} being the number of the slide.

Putting this together, adding some styling and a dash of YUI3 for functionality I can now present you with the embeddable HTML version:

Go to and simply enter the URL of the slides to convert them. The source code of the converter is on GitHub so you can host it yourself.

See the flow in the following screencast:

I love open web technologies and clever converters, don’t you?

Rimshots for all – using HTML5 audio and CSS3 to make

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

I’ve been annoyed with the plethora of articles lately showing off HTML5 vs. Flash and building actually worse solutions using open technology. Therefore I thought I’ll have a go at it myself, too.

Instant rimshot is a fun site that has a button that plays a rimshot (the “babumm-tish” after a bad gag at a comedy club) when you press a large red button. I thought this is a good target to convert to CSS and HTML5 and I give you HTML5 instant rimshot.

HTML5 instant rimshot by  you.

In essence this was fun, although Remy had beaten me to it some time ago.

As the background for my work I used HTML5Doctor’s Audio in the browser article and Robert Nyman’s CSS gradient example and I have to say a few things about this:

  • There are not many HTML5 audio tutorials out there – if you Google for HTML5 audio you get video examples – and a lot of them not working.
  • HTML5 articles do not seem to get many fixes – the audio one above for example has a bug in the detection code (mentioned in the comments)
  • I had a hard time making the button work with the sound playing from start to end when you click the button. If you try the “version that loads the audio once and then calls the play() method onclick”: you will find that the second time you hit the button it plays the “badumm” twice in Firefox – why I don’t know. Therefore I needed to create a new audio object every time you click the button – which in Safari means it keeps loading the MP3.
  • The necessary browser support forking and the repetition of the file in MP3 and OGG format is simply annoying – if there is a new technology we should demand from browser makers to bloody well do it right and not as a repetition of the late 90ies madness. I guess the latest announcement on I/O solves that issue – but Safari would still need a plugin to play.
  • The same applies to CSS gradients – progressively enhancing the button (on Firefox < 3.6 and on Opera it gets a plain colour) was another annoyance. Westciv’s gradient generator was a good helper for that.
  • Another interesting bug I found was that you cannot position things absolutely inside a BUTTON element in Firefox. Originally I had the button link as a button but gave up soon enough – see the example here.

All in all I love the idea of the open web and HTML5 leading the way into the future but I am seeing us wasting a lot of time trying to make things work cross-browser and if the final result for the end user is not much better then it will be hard to convince our bosses that the effort is worth the time and money.

What we need for that first and foremost are good examples and not “look what we can do” tutorials that neither use HTML5 nor CSS3 but jQuery to simulate the lot whilst we still call it “HTML5 solutions”.

TTMMHTM: 8 bit lego animation, blind phreaker, code collaboration, uk postcodes and SVG for IE

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Things that made me happy this morning:

TTMMHTM – Paul Carr at LeWeb, Stacking Game and a christmas message

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Things that made me happy this morning:

But I’m not being entirely fair to LeWeb. Not all of the speakers were dull (some were just batshit weird)
Earlier this week, just before the start of LeWeb, Lord Drayson, Britain’s Minister for Science and Innovation, announced plans for a £1billion investment fund to support technology startups in the UK over the next few years. The plan was initially greeted with excitement by those startups, but already British cynicism has kicked in and questions are now being asked about how exactly the money will be divided up. Fortunately, my plan takes care of that too. I’m all about 360-degree thinking. ... A few hours ago I sent an email to Lord Drayson applying for all of the money. Every single penny of the one billion pounds. And when it arrives, I intend to spend it all organising the most earth-shatteringly brilliant two-day conference Europe — and the world — has ever seen. Unlike LeWeb, there will be no panels, no “fireside chats”, no goody bags, no live webcasting and absolutly no keynote speakers. Instead I’ll blow the entire budget by constructing a gigantic sauna, right in the middle of London … and surrounded by a moat of liquorice vodka. ... Every entrepreneur in Europe will be invited, and encouraged to bring a long straw … it’s almost impossible not to network when you’re crammed into a giant sauna with ten thousand entrepreneurs, investors and industry journalists, wasted on liquorice vodka. A ton of business will get done, a thousand partnerships will be made and after two days everyone will go home hungover, happy and filled with enough morale to easily ride out the recession And even more satisfying than all of that is the fact that the idea of a huge state-sponsored piss-up is such an anathema to Americans that there’s no way they can outdo us. Instead Kara, Michael and all those other smug Valley dwellers will be forced to look on enviously as Europe drinks, sweats, networks and bonds its way to a new dot com boom.