Flash CPU Performance Dependent on Hardware Acceleration

Jan Ozer in this article compares H.264 video playback performance of Flash and HTML5 across Windows/Mac, Chrome/Safari/Firefox and Flash 10.0/10.1.

The conclusion:

Overall, it’s inaccurate to conclude that Flash is inherently inefficient. Rather, Flash is efficient on platforms where it can access hardware acceleration and less efficient where it can’t.

Adobe has responded to the CPU Performance gripes and Steve Jobs finger pointing and done a lot to improve performance in Flash Player 10.1.

With Flash Player 10.1, Flash has the opportunity for a true leap in video playback performance on all platforms that enable hardware acceleration.

But Apple does not expose the necessary hooks to do hardware accelerated video playback on Macs.

I don’t follow the politics of the situation, but after noting significant playback efficiencies in Flash Player 10.1 on the Mac, respected technologist and AnandTech founder Anand Lai Shimpi commented with actual GPU-accelerated H.264 decoding I’m guessing those CPU utilization numbers could drop to a remotely reasonable value. But it’s up to Apple to expose the appropriate hooks to allow Adobe to (eventually) enable that functionality.” So it looks like the ball is in Apple’s court.

iPad and Content Creators

In all the discussions regarding the Apple iPad not supporting Flash, I've seen little mention of the impact of this decision on content creators. What is the cost to companies and content creators of having to re-author their content or buy new streaming video servers? I imagine it has to be huge, perhaps in the billions of dollars?

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MySQL Uninstall on Mac OS 10.6

I needed to uninstall a newer 64-bit version of MySQL to go back to a 32-bit version. Here are the steps:

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# Remove folder with mysql installation
sudo rm -rf /usr/local/mysql-*
# Remove soft link to above folder
$ sudo rm /usr/local/mysql
# Remove receipts
$ cd /private/var/db/receipts/
$ sudo rm com.mysql.*

Thanks to this link for the critical bit on finding and removing the receipts.

Adobe Flash CS5 Versioning and Coding Enhancements

Adobe just released this sneek peak of Adobe Flash CS5. Two nice improvements are:

  • The ability to save projects as uncompressed xml-based text and asset files
  • Tight code authoring integration with Flash Builder 4

A seemingly minor enhancement is that the native .fla project file is now zip and xml based. What is more interesting and progressive is that you can also save the project as an uncompressed project folder where all the assets are laid out in your file system.

The layout within the project folder looks like this:

The two major advantages here are version control and the ability to directly manipulate the contained files with other tools. Versioning text files, as compared with binary files, means that you can diff versions and your source control system can take advantage of diffs between versions to reduce storage requirements. This is particularly relevant when you use git for source control because git keeps a complete copy of the repository on your local system.

A second major improvement in Adobe Flash CS5 is for ActionScript 3.0 developers (ActionScript 2.0 and FlashLite developers are left out here). Flash CS4’s AS3 development environment was rather unsatisfactory. Rather then try to improve this, Adobe has gone the direction of Eclipse. Flash CS5 now includes tight integration with Flash Builder 4, a rich Eclipse-based code development IDE.

Saving Web Receipts Files on Mac OS X

Mac OS X has a handy feature that allows you to, via the print dialog, save PDF files directly to a web receipts folder. This is particularly useful when making online purchases in a browser.

You enact this feature by executing command-P (or File > Print), pulling down the combo box in the lower left of the print dialog, and choosing Save PDF to Web Receipts Folder. This automatically saves a PDF file directly to your ~/Documents/Web Receipts folder. How cool is that!

In Mac OS 10.5 and 10.6, this is now a python script that you can customize. Below I show how to modify this file to change the default save location and prepend the date to the resulting filename.

  1. Navigate to /Library/PDF Services/Save PDF to Web Receipts Folder.pdfworkflow/Contents.
  2. Edit the file tool. It doesn't look like you need to be root to do this, but if you do use sudo -s from the command line.
  3. Towards the top of the file add another import statement import datetime
  4. In main modify destDirectory to be your desired save folder location. I used:
    destDirectory = os.path.expanduser("~/PDFDocs/Receipts/")
  5. Modify these lines from:
    title = safeFilename(title)
    destFile = title + ".pdf"
    to:
    title = safeFilename(title)
    # Create a YYYYMMDD string
    today = datetime.datetime.now().strftime("%Y%m%d_")
    destFile = today + title + ".pdf"
  6. Presto, you are done! At least until a major software update clobbers this file. Which is why I wrote this blog entry: to remind me how to do this again the next time.

Moving Onwards from Adobe

I spent the last 16 years working at Adobe Systems. I was pretty quiet there, not writing much publicly about what I worked on. I'll say a few things about that here, and then give a hint as to where I am going next.

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SSH on a ReadyNAS NV+

Running SSH was a step along the way of me becoming more familiar with SSH and running a remote git repository on my ReadyNAS NV+. Note that there are security concerns with opening SSH on your ReadyNAS device and exposing password authentication. It would be fairly trivial to launch a password attach over the SSH connection.

SSH defaults to use passwords for authentication. The password is set to your ReadyNAS admin password at the time you install SSH on your ReadyNAS. If this password is to be saved on disk somewhere, for example as part of an SSH configuration on the machine from which you are contacting the ReadyNAS, you may choose to temporarily change your ReadyNAS admin password before installing SSH, and then change the ReadyNAS admin password back afterwards. If you ever need to change the SSH password on the ReadyNAS, just reinstall SSH from System > Update in the ReadyNAS admin browser application.

  1. Get the SSH bin file from the ReadyNAS web site. Click the Add-ons for RAIDiator 4.1.3+ link and scroll to the EnableRootSSH link. Download the bin file and store it on your local computer.

  2. Log in as admin on your ReadyNAS using a browser

  3. Update your ReadyNAS firmware (optional). This is under System > Update. Just click the Check for Updates button.

  4. Click the Local tab and click Choose File to find the EnableRootSSH.bin file that you previously downloaded. Upload this and follow the prompts.

After a reboot SSH will be installed and ready to use. To login execute the following:

# Use the hostname or IP address of the ReadyNAS
$ ssh root@readynas-hostname

Then type the ReadyNAS admin password that existed at the time SSH was installed.

On my ReadyNAS, my share volumes are under /c and user volumes are under /c/home.

$ cd /c; ls -1

SSH can be configured to use public private keys as well. Refer to my later post and OpenSSH Public Key Authentication for more details.

Security Alert: Opening up your NAS to SSH with password authentication on a public network is a bad idea. In my situation I'm behind a firewall and simply using SSH for the convenience and to play around with the protocol.

Git on a ReadyNAS NV+

Git is a "free & open source, distributed version control system designed to handle everything from small to very large projects with speed and efficiency".

Installing git on a ReadyNAS NV+ is fairly straightforward if you are familiar with the linux command line. First you will need a remote shell with which to login and execute commands. In my previous post I described installing SSH on ReadyNAS.

You can then use the linux APT (Advanced Package Tool) command to install git. APT is a convenient way to install software packages using the command line. Before you do that you need to install APT, but it's easy to do and worth it. Finding and installing APT is the same as it was for SSH, which I described in my previous post (so go read that post).

Now that APT is installed, ensure that your /etc/apt/sources.list contains the following:

deb http://www.readynas.com/packages readynas/
deb http://archive.debian.org/debian-security sarge/updates main contrib non-free
deb http://archive.debian.org/backports.org sarge-backports main contrib non-free
deb http://archive.debian.org/debian sarge main contrib non-free

deb-src http://archive.debian.org/debian-security sarge/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src http://archive.debian.org/backports.org sarge-backports main contrib non-free
deb-src http://archive.debian.org/debian sarge main contrib non-free

If you know how to use vi, editing this file won't be difficult. I've never been desperate enough to learn vi, so I cat'd the file into a new file under /c/home/<myuserfolder> and edited there with emacs, then copied it back and verified the permissions.

Then:

  1. apt-get update
  2. apt-get install git-core
  3. apt-get clean
Oh my gosh, it's that simple. Now execute git:

$ git

Thanks to this forum post for the above information.

To read about setting up your remote git repository over ssh you might want to look at one of these two posts:

Configuring Eclipse for Servlet and Flex Development

During the past few months I’ve been doing Flex and Servlet development in Eclipse on a WinXP machine and simultaneously on a Macbook Pro running Mac OS 10.4. The tools and set up are pretty much the same on Win and Mac.

For newbies, figuring out the correct tools to use and how to configure them can take a bit of time and a bit of guess work. It isn’t always obvious from searches on the web which are the best options, and what information is up to date. I started capturing configuration details on an internal wiki, because we have a few people on my project at Adobe that have needed to simultaneously come up to speed on these procedures. I’ve publicly posted this information here to help others that may be in the same situation that I was a few months ago.

Click here to see the full article

What I'm Reading - Lynda.com

Lynda.com isn't exactly what I'm reading, but this site's collection of training videos and sample code is a learning resource that is worth checking out. Lynda.com covers a wide range of development topics and software products, including most Adobe products. They are an interesting alternative to sitting through days of not-always-suitably-paced classroom training, or reading technical books.

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