Cloud Computing then and now; a look at how far we’ve come

About a year ago (specifically last February), “Cloud Computing” was a fairly new techno-buzzword. In fact, when Jori blogged about it then, we got a fair few comments asking what it was. At the time, the “cloud” was a nebulous thing true to its name; when something went into the electronic “cloud,” just where was it going and how were you supposed to get it back?

For those who don’t know: the “Cloud” is the general name for the dynamic, functional space on the internet (so on servers all over the world) where data can be stored and accessed by anyone through the web. Think of your Gmail account; your messages live online somewhere, and when you log into Gmail to get them, you go out to the web instead of the messages coming to you. The same functionality can be applied anywhere, and we see it being used more all the time. Apple’s MobileMe (formerly .Mac) essentially rents subscribers a chunk of space on Apple’s servers to post photos, host a website, send and receive email, etc. Practically, the user doesn’t really do anything she or he didn’t already; you still put in a username and password and there’s your stuff, whatever it is–the difference is that all of that stuff used to have to be on a hard drive somewhere, and now it’s in the aether, floating around between computers, easy to access but impossible to locate-and for some, this is troubling.

But not everyone sees it that way; many respected institutions including universities, government agencies, and even corporations are beginning to see Cloud Computing as a way not just to maximize investment but a way to reach more people. In September of this year, the White House announced a multi-billion-dollar initiative aimed at streamlining the transition of much of its data into “cloud-accessible” form. Even NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) uses the Cloud, and in a way that would have been impossible without the architecture built by Google, IBM, Apple and others; Satellite data from multiple government agencies are aggregated together in “constellations”, or mini-clouds, so that anyone behind the firewall can see it all at once.

Speaking of making our jobs easier, I’d love to mention the success we’ve had at Ascend using Adobe’s Acrobat Connect, which in addition to being incredibly cool (think of a Wiki, only everyone can work on it at the same time), is incredibly useful. Ascend uses Acrobat Connect to hold online training sessions on Adobe’s own software–so now, thanks to the “Cloud” in which the class data and all the various users’ information can be temporarily housed, students in London can tune in and take a Photoshop class with students in Phoenix, which is good news, since most companies are going global faster than we can keep up.

Personally, I think the Cloud is awesome; I use MobileMe and Gmail for my email, PhotoBucket to share photos, and YouTube to express myself and get my daily dose of entertainment–but you know what? For the moment, I’m still making back-ups of it all on my external hard drive, and that sits on my desk…so I can keep an eye on it. Know what I mean?

For further reading:

White House unveils cloud computing initiative

Microsoft’s Azure

Adobe Online Training Classes

online-press-release999- by Jori Curry…

In addition to our hands-on classes, Ascend is now offering Adobe training online by Adobe Authorized instructors. Ascend is dedicated to providing companies a convenient, cost-effective training solution, and the Adobe Online division of Ascend Training offers an affordable and results-driven online solution.

Using Adobe Acrobat Connect, students interact with the instructor online for a user-friendly, interactive experience. Students can ask questions, and interact with both the instructor and the rest of the class. Benefits to Online Training: Live, interactive experience with Adobe Authorized Instructors,Elimination of travel costs, Delivered on a Macintosh or Windows platform.

Upcoming Online Training Dates:

Online: Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 Level 1, Beginner to Intermediate
Jun 17 – 19
Jul 29 – 31
Sep 30 – Oct 2

Online: Adobe Flash CS4 Level 1, Beginner to Intermediate
Jun 24 – 26
Jul 22 – 24
Sep 16 – 18

Online: Adobe Flash CS4 Level 2, Actionscript 3.0
Aug 26 – 28

Online: Adobe Photoshop CS4 Level 1, Beginner to Intermediate
Jun 11 – 12
Aug 20 – 21

Online: Adobe InDesign CS4 Level 1, Beginner to Intermediate
Jun 29 – 30
Sep 21 – 22

Online: Adobe InDesign for Quark Users Level 1
Jul 27 – 28

Online: Premiere Pro CS4 Level 1, Beginner to Intermediate
Sep 9 – 11

Online: Adobe Flex 3 – Developing Rich Client Applications, Beginner to Intermediate
Aug 10 – 12

Online: Adobe Illustrator CS4 Level 1, Beginner to Intermediate
Aug 5 – 6
Nov 9 – 10

Facebook and Adobe Partner with Flash

- by Jori Curry…

Flash, FacebookAdobe and Facebook have proposed a marriage between Flash and Facebook to give developers a whole new set of tools with the Client Library, a free open source programming language. An announcement that comes after MySpace’s partnership with Microsoft’s Silverlight. Using Actionscript 3.0 Client Library, the new Facebook Connect will integrate the power of Facebook into individual websites using Flash, Flex and AIR. A good example is Red Bull that is engaging customers through Facebook Connect.

Adrian Ludwig of Adobe recently told MacWorld, “We are seeing that it’s becoming quite easy for traditional developers to start using Flash,” said Ludwig. “That’s quite a change from where it was five to eight years ago when Flash was focused on animation.”

This marriage is a library that provides Flash developers a much easier process without the Facebook platform. Many developers have built their own libraries using Ruby on Rails that tie into Facebook, but now will have a much easier time plugging into the Facebook platform through Flash. On the Adobe Developer Connection, there are pages dedicated to tutorials and videos to help get developers started.

“Combining social functionality with the Adobe Flash Platform gives the millions of Flash developers the tools to create Web experiences that are truly differentiated,” said Bryant Macy, Director of Platform Product Marketing for Adobe.

While Facebook Connect is available for the iPhone, we are still unsure if Flash will come to the iPhone anytime soon. One can hope that the recent Adobe Open Screen Project, which is designed to partner with companies to use Flash as the RIA platform is the first step in enabling Flash on the iPhone.

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iFrame Facebook application

iFrame Facebook application

Flash Breaks into TV

- by Jori Curry

Adobe Flash headed for television!

Adobe Flash headed for television!

Flash for Televison

With 98% of all computers having Flash installed on them, it was only a matter of time before Adobe migrated to television. At the recent NAB conference, Adobe announced a new, optimized version of Flash for televisions, set-top boxes,  Blu-Ray players, and other entertainment devices. The goal is for your provider to deliver Flash content without the use of a computer. 

In the 2nd half of 2009, Atlantic Records, The New York Times, Intel, Disney Interactive, Comcast, Netflix and others are thought to be on board to deliver content through Flash TV. 

“Comcast is constantly working to deliver richer user interfaces and services to our customers,” said Labeeb Ismail, Comcast vice president of Technology. “As an active participant of the Open Screen Project, we are working closely with Adobe to integrate the optimized Flash runtime with tru2way technology, enabling a new range of engaging, interactive services to consumers.”Viewers will be able to participate with their television in new ways by switching between television programming and Web content. 


The History of Adobe Flash

Flash began as the brainchild of Jonathan Gay, who was looking for a better way to visualize sketches of houses he was drawing. 

“If you ever think Flash is difficult to use, you should try drawing with a joystick on an Apple II before the concept of undo was invented. That will test your patience.” Jonathan Gay, Creator of Flash.

After a variety of software ventures including gaming and SuperPaint II, Future Splash Animator  was developed and were looking for a buyer and nearly sold to Adobe in 1995. In 1996, Future Splash Animator was sold to Macromedia, and became Macromedia Flash 1.0. Just like Xerox neglected to take advantage of the Apple GUI interface, it seems Flash nearly slipped through Adobes’ fingers.