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Use flash navigation? You're fucked.
March 20, 2006 2:17 AM   Subscribe

Patent squatters Eolas decide to break a significant portion of the websites in the world. (Previously)
posted by Tlogmer (89 comments total)

 
From the linked article.

"Two days ago Microsoft released a preview of the ActiveX update for MSDN subscribers. This update is a workaround - or so Microsoft claim - to the patent, but it also means a very different approach to adding embedded content in Internet Explorer."

So if I'm reading and understanding [the larger article] correctly, Microsoft will be forcing this update on WinXP users via security updates. So the easiest soloution is merely to use a superior browser like Firefox as opposed to IE? Which people should have already been doing anyway? Is this nothing but great news for the makers of Firefox?
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:35 AM on March 20, 2006


Instead you have to first click on the flash object, which activates it, then you can use the interaction controls.

This doesn't even sound like a bad thing. It's pretty much the reason I switched to FireFox and installed flashblock.

Now, maybe instead of Eolas making money by patent trolling, web developers will simply change how things are done. Eolas can then go bankrupt holding their worthless patent.

Then we'll stop seeing huge, clunky, buggy, noisy, noisome and annoying embedded interactive media stuffed everywhere, and content providers will actually have to provide real links to real files, and I'll stop being hammered by unwanted or unasked for "media experiences".

While that'll probably suck a lot for things like flickr and countless other web 2.0 overly designed pieces of often inaccessible crap, I'm all for it if it means less popups, less embedded floating flash advertisements, and less shitty Flash web pages that have no logical reason for being a Flash app in the first place.

But, heh, we don't live in an ideal world. I can still dream, though.
posted by loquacious at 2:39 AM on March 20, 2006


This doesn't even sound like a bad thing. It's pretty much the reason I switched to FireFox and installed flashblock.

The article specifically mentions obnoxious flash ads not being stopped from working by this because they still play. Of course advertising content is generally loaded from external sources anyway, so you probably won't even have to do an extra click to get pulled through by them anyway. Advertising is a multi-headed hydra of annoying crap you don't want. :(

Is this nothing but great news for the makers of Firefox?

So what's stopping Eolas suing Mozilla?
posted by public at 2:44 AM on March 20, 2006


Basically, because Eolas has a patent on an 'automatic' rendering of multimedia, they own embedded movies/music/pictures/Flash/Shockwave anywhere on the Web.

Microsoft is being forced to work around it by making you click on an object before you can interact with it. But they also provide a method by which a website can work around the problem... basically, putting the multimedia control in an external .js file and calling it somehow. (sorry, I'm not up on the details).

So, in other words, we'll now have two kinds of Flash ads... ones we have to click to turn off, and ones where clicking will go to the web site. It sounds as though there may be no visual way to differentiate at all. Great design there. The malware authors and banner-ad companies are going to have a field day.

Firefox hasn't yet been affected by Eolas, but could be in the future. It's possible that Firefox might have to semi-disable their plugins, too.

However. I'm sure someone would do an extension as a workaround. You probably won't be able to get it from the Mozilla site, but it'll almost certainly exist.
posted by Malor at 2:44 AM on March 20, 2006


I'm suggesting much ado about nothing... the web changes everyday, web sites that are not maintained go obsolete everyday with every development.... new technologies are developed, old ones fall by the wayside....

Simple is better...

meh....
posted by HuronBob at 2:53 AM on March 20, 2006


I'm confused. Why can't Microsoft license or buy the technology from Eolas?
posted by cillit bang at 3:06 AM on March 20, 2006


Presumably, this Eolas patent is only applicable to the USA. Does this mean that Mozilla will have to distribute USA and non-USA versions of Firefox?
posted by salmacis at 3:10 AM on March 20, 2006


I think Eolas refuses to sell it to them. I don't have any links handy, but I have a vague memory that they're a bit idealistic, hate Microsoft, and they're trying to hurt them more than help themselves.

'Course, $521mil ain't exactly shooting yourself in the head. :)

Salmacis: so far, it's been claimed that they don't intend to go after open-source stuff, but it would be smart for them to implement a workaround anyway.
posted by Malor at 3:14 AM on March 20, 2006


Providing Microsoft's loopholes (concerning click-to-activate and various methods of writing Flash into the page) stand up to scrutiny, all that'll happen is old, stagnant pages will require a click, and pages that have been updated will require JavaScript as well as Flash.

So it's a pain, but bearable as long as the JavaScript loopholes survive (I'm switching Flash content over to using FlashObject for detection & embedding).
posted by malevolent at 3:33 AM on March 20, 2006


I'm all for it if it means less popups [and] less embedded floating flash advertisements...

Someone didn't read the second link:

Since the ActiveX update does not prevent playing it does not prevent any flash ad from displaying. And, before you could simply click the close button to remove the flash add, now you have to first click the flash ad to activate it, then you can close it. This effectively makes ads twice as annoying. (emphasis added)
posted by chrominance at 3:34 AM on March 20, 2006


(and on post, I obviously didn't read this whole thread. Apologies!)
posted by chrominance at 3:35 AM on March 20, 2006


What a fucking huge pain in the arse... I kind of like things evolving, NOT devolving.

We build a lot of interactivity into our information acceleration studies, that is, we actually make good practical use of flash, embedded media (although this doesn't look like such a major problem), et al, to condition/show realistic stimuli to our respondents.

A lot of the data collection software we use relies on fairly rudimentary browser based delivery - which has been sufficient for our needs.

The overall implication of this looks tedious in the extreme.
posted by strawberryviagra at 3:44 AM on March 20, 2006


huronbob, I think you're missing the point a little bit. All this ruling adds is a layer of retarded to the web. It isn't a new technology at all; it's a very, very old patent dealing with a fundamental part of web architecture.

Consider how many flash only websites exist right now. Once this update goes live, they'll all have to add a "click here to begin" start page (or something) in order to remain functional. From a user experience point of view, it just doesn't make any sense. (Although ironically, this may result in the elimination of activeX based vulnerabilities).

This very much is a "much ado about something" type situation. The patent doesn't deal with just Flash or embedded windows media, it basically deals with any media object that exists in browser. Can you see the immense roadblock here? This affects everything, especially as we move away from conventional website design and into the web 2.0 generation. What about web 3.0? 4.0? Web 672.0.112.3 RC2? This is a big deal, because it stifles creativity by imposing ridiculous and arbitrary design obstacles. The fact that the patent held up at all is an even bigger deal.

What would happen, if one day I successfully challenged the idea of "hyperlinks" and asked Microsoft for $1.50 per browser install? Microsoft would do exactly what it is doing now. And if they could find no workaround? The end of the web. It wouldn't even be a web. It would be a series of parallel lines! How would I go from one porn site to another? HOW? It’d be a mess. Court decisions like this one set precedent for terrible, terrible happening in the future.

But anyway, I digress. I'm a huge nerd, and I'm upset. Can you tell?
posted by Drunken_munky at 3:45 AM on March 20, 2006


Consider how many flash only websites exist right now. Once this update goes live, they'll all have to add a "click here to begin" start page

Or download Firefox.... sorted. Of course, if they then go after Firefox it'll be a bit of a nightmare. If it is just some vendetta against Microsoft then fair enough, would make my job much easier if IE died a horrible death.
posted by twistedonion at 3:59 AM on March 20, 2006


If this kills flash websites then good for Eolas.

Long live html, death to flash.

Long live html, death to flash.

Long live html, death to flash.

Long live html, death to flash.
posted by caddis at 4:03 AM on March 20, 2006


Use flash navigation? You're fucked.

If only that were true. I'd love to see the flash navigation of the world disabled.
posted by grouse at 4:04 AM on March 20, 2006


Anything that rids the world of Flash - no matter who it inconveniences - is a good thing. Period.

I'm betting that due to Eolas' anti-MS streak they won't go after Firefox, but I wish they would just so that people had no alternative at all, and the regularly updated web was swept clean of it.
posted by Ryvar at 4:13 AM on March 20, 2006


Would they really sue Mozilla? Suing MS would make sense in that you have a shot at making some major cash. Suing Mozilla would just guarantee that their browser gets crippled. That doesn't help Eolas at all.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:15 AM on March 20, 2006


Couldn't agree more with the anti-flash sentiments. In my mind the use of flash and embedded objects is harmful to the development of an open internet.

Think how cool it would be if we didn't have to rely on these pos applications for our 'media rich' experience.

How about using HTML, css and javascript etc to create meaningful interactive content. That's what it's for isn't it?
posted by twistedonion at 4:21 AM on March 20, 2006


Is this going to be a US-only version of IE? Since over here in free Europe the Eolas patent doesn't apply, surely our browsers don't need to be changed?
posted by winjer at 4:41 AM on March 20, 2006


Has nobody read the second link? Do you not realise that anybody who cares will just use the JavaScript based workaround to avoid the whole issue? Any website maintainer with half a brain will figure out how to make this a non-issue for their users. No functionality has really been removed, it's just a bit less convenient.

Not that it's a good thing it's still one of the lamest things to happen online for quite a while.
posted by public at 5:06 AM on March 20, 2006


Perspective.Filter: the linked blog entry is dated 18. January, 2006.

I.e.: This is old news.

Nitfilter: Eolas didn't break the sites; they merely made it necessary for MS to break the sites. Which didn't have to be designed that way in the first place.

twistedonion: I tell you what. I'll take two developers, give them the same project -- let's say, a movie with a lot of vector animation -- and have one code it up in AJAX DHTML while the other one codes it up in Flash. Which one do you think will be done faster?

Anyway, it's a deeply bizarre world where you can patent a self-evident concept. Next thing we know, they'll be applying it to AUTORUN capability in CD-ROMs.
posted by lodurr at 5:06 AM on March 20, 2006


break a significant portion of the websites

Huh. Notice a lack of tears.

Flash doesn't exist for my platform. People who use things outside of standard HTTP for content mean, to me, their content isn't worth seeing.

To claim 'breakage', it's been broken for quite some time. NOW *you* happen to notice. If you are worried about 'breakage', place your information in a format that is actually readable.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:12 AM on March 20, 2006


Lodurr -

Is speed of development everything?
posted by twistedonion at 5:14 AM on March 20, 2006


it's a deeply bizarre world where you can patent a self-evident concept.


Metabolite's primary assertion: they not only own the connection between homocysteine levels in the blood and vitamin B12 deficiency, but also any thought connecting the two


I not be suprised when the vote is for corporate interests.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:29 AM on March 20, 2006


twistedonion, rough ashlar:

Hey did you guys see this video of a dog riding a skateboard?
posted by cillit bang at 5:36 AM on March 20, 2006


truly best of the web cillit bang. That's not the point of all this. Flash movies as movies (or indeed animations) is a great use of the technology. Flash web sites, different story.
posted by twistedonion at 5:41 AM on March 20, 2006


While that'll probably suck a lot for things like flickr and countless other web 2.0 overly designed pieces of often inaccessible crap

Why hate on Flickr? I use it all the time and have found it to be a really nice web app that does some very nice things--and it's really not overdesigned at all. It's usually pretty responsive on whatever machine I use it on and requires no plugins.

It has a simple and intuitive interface that everyone I've showed it to (including my mom) "gets" almost immediately, which I thought was the goal or interface design.
posted by illovich at 5:42 AM on March 20, 2006


I must have missed the memo where it says what is allowed to be transferred over HTTP and what not, who declares those rules, who is forced (yes, forced!) to suffer from the disregard of them, and who owns this Internet thing in the first place.

This thread clears up quite a bit of those questions ;)
posted by uncle harold at 5:57 AM on March 20, 2006


strawberryviagra : "What a fucking huge pain in the arse... I kind of like things evolving, NOT devolving."

Evolving means "changing in such a way that you are more likely to survive". We're on the fence regarding how this issue will turn out: if it makes flash stuff so annoying that it goes away (not likely), that will be devolution, and I'll be happy. If it makes annoying flash more prevalent (not likely), then it's evolution, and I'll be unhappy. If it makes annoying flash more annoying, but doesn't affect its survival (most likely), then it's neither evolution nor devolution, and I'll be unhappy.
posted by Bugbread at 6:09 AM on March 20, 2006


Patent law is sooo fucked. Eolas is just one of many companies riding the patent gravy train.

Here's one trying to sue anyone who uses JPEG imaging in their app. They didn't invent it, they don't make anything... they're only reason for existence is to collect or sue.

And for all you people complaining about flash, somebody call teh waaaaahmbulance. It's 2006. Get a decent computer, tightwads.
posted by fungible at 6:13 AM on March 20, 2006


I'm all for killing flash, but doesn't anyone else think that patents on software are stupid, dumb, obnoxious, irresponsible and pointless?
posted by blue_beetle at 6:13 AM on March 20, 2006


Patent ethics aside, anything that prevents websites from doing things automatically without being explicitly requested by the user is great, great good news. ESAD, activex. ESAD, flash.
posted by jfuller at 6:20 AM on March 20, 2006


I'm all for killing flash, but doesn't anyone else think that patents on software are stupid, dumb, obnoxious, irresponsible and pointless?

Of course they are. Problem is that Microsoft, Apple etc all play the patent game so in my mind it's nice to see them get a taste of their own medicine.
posted by twistedonion at 6:20 AM on March 20, 2006


Clearly the patent systems need a concept similar to the concept of eminent domain whereby patents like this that are causing genuine harm to the general public and were enforced well after their subject matter had become the defacto standard are somehow nullified with appropriate, one-time compensation to the patent owner. It pains me to say that, given some of my political leanings, but it's pretty obvious that the way it is now is not good for business or the general public.
posted by incongruity at 6:21 AM on March 20, 2006


Patent ethics aside, anything that prevents websites from doing things automatically without being explicitly requested by the user is great, great good news. ESAD, activex. ESAD, flash.

Ok, there have now been several posts clearing up that this is not the case. Not only that, but it will actually become worse. See Malor, et al..
posted by uncle harold at 6:26 AM on March 20, 2006


fungible : "And for all you people complaining about flash, somebody call teh waaaaahmbulance. It's 2006. Get a decent computer, tightwads."

Good computers make annoying flash less annoying? I always thought blocking flash did that; I didn't realize that the more you pay for your computer the less annoying it gets.

"Punch the Monkey" must be fucking rad on a topped out Alienware computer.
posted by Bugbread at 7:03 AM on March 20, 2006


Well that's a fucking terrible patent. Can we scrap all patents with the word "internet" in them now?
posted by Artw at 7:14 AM on March 20, 2006


Either GIF is just as bad, or you are already using an adblocker anyway. So ads can't be it.

Unless we are talking geocities level stuff, I can't remember when I have seen the last Flash navigation. And I browse a lot, and a lot of different types of sites. So the often cited Flash navigation can't be it either.

As for whole Flash sites: I dare you to show me one important information resource (i.e. essential stuff you have to go to), that uses it. For all other sites: It's the site of the owners/publishers, and they can do what they damn well please. They also do not force you to watch their stuff. So ads can't be it.

Business: I am a freelance web developer doing HTML and backend stuff (I also don't like Flash, btw). I don't notice any part of my business being taken away by Flash. So that can't be it either.

So what is it? Just general hate for the sake of bitching, or a deep regret that *your* web doesn't belong exclusively to puritan geekdom anymore?
posted by uncle harold at 7:19 AM on March 20, 2006


*So ads complete Flash sites can't be it.
posted by uncle harold at 7:20 AM on March 20, 2006


What is this "it" you're asking about?
posted by Bugbread at 7:22 AM on March 20, 2006


What is this "it" you're asking about?

The beef you (and others, not you personally) have with Flash.

I agree it is often misused, some people like it, some don't etc. But you guys always seem so... obsessed.
posted by uncle harold at 7:27 AM on March 20, 2006


So are work arounds such as the UFO method of embedding flash ok?
posted by 13twelve at 7:31 AM on March 20, 2006


Is speed of development everything?

Of course not. But time is money. Failing to account for that fact is foolish.
posted by lodurr at 7:39 AM on March 20, 2006


Failing to account for that fact is foolish.

As is failing to account for users who may not like or are capable of running flash.

I don't have much of a problem with sites that deploy flash when it is the best technology for the job. Most of the time it isn't though.

But I am starting to sound obsessed. Flash is way cool when used right and so are animated gifs.

Shite is shite no matter how you dress it up.
posted by twistedonion at 7:50 AM on March 20, 2006


13twelve, I have been given to understand that UFO was originally conceived to deal with this issue when MS originally announced they were going to do it -- sometime early last year.

As for "FLASH IS EEEVIL!": Flash is a tool. It is neither evil nor good at a moral level, but like other controversial tools (guns, drugs, military/economic/legal force [e.g. patent law]), it is often used badly or for bad ends. This discussion is mostly about it being used badly.

The discussion gets complicated by the fact that Macrodobe pitch Flash as a solution to problems it's not very good for, like navigation and rich software-like UIs. In some ways, and for some things, Flash is a really good tool: As a way of presenting vector graphics and creating interactive content, it's pretty sweet, and unless you're delusional or operate at a much higher level of sophistication than 98% of content developers, it's going to let you put your stuff up on the web much, much faster than the currently sexy alternative, AJAX/DHTML.

But Flash has some really serious user interaction flaws that Macromedia has never seemed interested in solving (or even perceiving) -- most notably the fact that it can't do useful right-click context menus, which I feel compelled to point out have been ubiquitous since the mid-90s for everyone not using a Mac. Which means most of us. [Pre-emptive disclaimer: I am a Mac user. But one-button mice are barbaric anachronisms that should have been eliminated by 1995.]

The frustrating thing for me is that EVERYONE HAS KNOWN ABOUT THESE PROBLEMS FOR YEARS, and yet (forgive me for repeating myself), Macromedia doesn't want to see them. Aside from the frustration, I find that fascinating, and can't help but believe there's some kind of organizational/political reason for it.
posted by lodurr at 7:54 AM on March 20, 2006


As is failing to account for users who may not like or are capable of running flash.

Which would be what percentage of users, twistedonion?

80:20. Actually, more like 95:05, but who's counting?
posted by lodurr at 7:55 AM on March 20, 2006


clarification: 80:20,
posted by lodurr at 8:03 AM on March 20, 2006


I find it interesting that this thread has so rapidly devolved into a discussion of the technical or aesthetic merits of Flash (with sidelines into the moral rectitude of Microsoft v. Eolas), rather than dwelling on the amazing stupidity of being able to get a patent for something as vague as this.

Sure, a few people are commenting on the idiocy of the patent; but they're being overshadowed by people howling with glee either at Microsoft getting forced to do something they don't want to, or Flash being disadvantaged as an interactive medium.
posted by lodurr at 8:06 AM on March 20, 2006


Just to let you know. I just patented pissing.

Everytime you piss, you now owe me $10.
posted by 13twelve at 8:15 AM on March 20, 2006


I always knew there must be someone profiting from all these pissing matches around here.
posted by uncle harold at 8:20 AM on March 20, 2006


uncle harold : "The beef you (and others, not you personally) have with Flash."

First, mad props for the "and others, not you personally" part. Very conscientious of you, and conscientiousness is something we could us more of around here. Plus, it was accurate, because I don't have a problem with flash (note that I always used the phrase "annoying flash" in my evolution/deevolution comment, because my comment wasn't about flash in general, but one subset of flash). My beef was just with the misuse of the phrase "evolve", and flash was completely incidental to that.

lodurr : "Sure, a few people are commenting on the idiocy of the patent; but they're being overshadowed by people howling with glee either at Microsoft getting forced to do something they don't want to, or Flash being disadvantaged as an interactive medium."

Makes sense to me. Everybody pretty much agrees that the patent is idiotic; not everyone agrees about flash being bad/good. There will be more discussion about things which people don't agree about than about things people agree about.
posted by Bugbread at 8:25 AM on March 20, 2006


Anyway, it's a deeply bizarre world where you can patent a self-evident concept. Next thing we know, they'll be applying it to AUTORUN capability in CD-ROMs.

It wasn't exactly self-evident when Eolas came up with it. The internal combustion engine is "Obvious" now since we're so used to it.

I have no problem with someone attacking Microsoft. Die IE die. If they go after anyone else then I'll worry.

So far, Eolas hasn't even asked for money from any other companies.
posted by delmoi at 8:28 AM on March 20, 2006


Sure, a few people are commenting on the idiocy of the patent; but they're being overshadowed by people howling with glee either at Microsoft getting forced to do something they don't want to, or Flash being disadvantaged as an interactive medium.

Because we all pretty much agree that patents are bollocks we need something to bitch about.
posted by twistedonion at 8:28 AM on March 20, 2006


Also, is Eolas actually a patent squatter? They actually came up with this themselves, rather then buying up dead patents and trying to screw people over.
posted by delmoi at 8:31 AM on March 20, 2006


And for all you people complaining about flash, somebody call teh waaaaahmbulance. It's 2006. Get a decent computer, tightwads.
posted by fungible


Athlon 3700+, GeForce 7800GT 256MB, 2GB Corsair PC3200 DDR RAM w/2ns cache latency, Asus A8N SLI motherboard, WD Raptor 10K RPM 74GB HDD . . .

I'd say I've got a decent computer, fuckwad. There are bigger e-penises, sure, but I'm doing okay in the hardware department.

Here's a short list of things about Flash that annoy me:

Flash-based pop-ups. Floating ads scrolling sideways over the site I'm reading. Heavily animated ads. Unselectable text. No context menus. No view source. ADVERTISEMENTS WITH SOUND AND VIDEO. The horrible Photoshop work - rivaling vintage CNN.com graphics - that anything involving Flash is festooned with.

Also the rare legitimate, useful sites that want me to put up with all of the above so that I can use their shit (YouTube, mostly). I've finally settled on not installing it for Firefox and using IE when I actually need to view a Flash site.

Flash is poorly-designed near-malware used by idiots who think the Internet should be TV 2.0. Fuck it and every developer that uses it.
posted by Ryvar at 8:46 AM on March 20, 2006


Lol will you personally be fucking us then?
posted by 13twelve at 8:49 AM on March 20, 2006


With a fire extinguisher
posted by Ryvar at 8:58 AM on March 20, 2006


haha dope!

Can I stick dick in the spurting end and have the big red end up my ass?
posted by 13twelve at 9:03 AM on March 20, 2006


delmoi: Some things in the patent are self-evident, some are not. The patent looks as though it was designed to pertain to a way of showing browsable dataset renderings. That's not self-evident. But what they describe with regard to "objects" is, AFAIAC, inherent in HTTP. Putting that into a page and having it launch automatically seems to me to be how one would expect something like that to work.

As I read the patent, the only thing novel w.r.t. to display and automatic execution is that the object is in a remote location. If it's not on a networked computer, it's not applicable. So you could have a word processor document which did not run afoul of this. Which is a damn good thing, because MS, WordPerfect/Novel and Lotus were all doing that c. 1993 in their flagship word processing and presentation products.

As for whether they're a squatter or not, per the Wikipedia article that's debatable, but a bunch of people apparently think their claim to primacy on the concepts is demonstrably false.

My question would be: Why the wait? If they had the IP, and it was as obviously being ripped off, why wait until 1993? Their claim seems to be that their patent applies without regard to the technology used to implement the automatically-launched objects -- as long as it's not baked into the browser (and baked in at what point I suppose you'd have to read the ruling to know), their patent applies. So any plugin-driven architecture is vulnerable.

So, this doesn't just apply to web browsers. It could also apply to iTunes, MS Media Player, cable TV set top box UI layers, or any application that loads objects across any network which it doesn't itself have the capability to display. See my example of AUTORUN CD-ROMs, above: If the CDs are mounted across the network, and AUTORUN is executed, then the file BROWSER is in violation of the Eolas patent.

AFAICS, this is a case of Eolas being used as a front to extort money from software companies.
posted by lodurr at 9:04 AM on March 20, 2006


"why wait until 1993" => "why wait until 2001"
posted by lodurr at 9:06 AM on March 20, 2006


Setting my vitriol aside, that was an awesome post, lodurr. Autorun example in particular.
posted by Ryvar at 9:16 AM on March 20, 2006


CuriosityFilter. Will this affect plugin scripting interfaces (ie LiveScript)? As in, the project I work with uses the Quicktime plugin to render video content. The video playback is controlled via JavaScripted widgets I create using HTML and image files. As I understand it, if I were to use the native controls on the QT plugin then users would have to click twice. Is it the case that they would have to click twice to use the HTML widgets I provide instead? Will they even be able to use these lovingly hand-crafted widgets born from the sweat of my overworked and poorly compensated brow?

This could really piss me right the f*ck off. I'm a Flash hater and totally pedantic about multi-media crapware when plain old HTML + CSS + JavaScript will do. OTOH, when one is developing a multi-media driven site where the subject matter itself is multi-media then how the hell can one help but use a plugin?
posted by Fezboy! at 9:27 AM on March 20, 2006


uncle harold writes "Unless we are talking geocities level stuff, I can't remember when I have seen the last Flash navigation."

There are quite a few all-flash sites. Take this one for example - you get nothing without flash. (Haven't tried loading it in a non-flash browser so can't say whether they check for that and offer a text alternative or not.) This is a fairly large restaurant chain - 90+ restaurants in 17 states. You can't even see what's on the menu without flash. On the upside, the interface is pretty well done, proof that flash can be useful at least. I'd prefer a text-only alternative, but this one doesn't make me want to shoot the designer.

It's not the technology that's the problem, folks - it's how it is used. Flash can be effective, and plain old HTML can be downright aggrivating (remember the blink tag?). In any case, when any small player tries to stifle our use of a common technology, people will get pissed about it. I'd prefer that Eolas be forced to drop this bull, even if it means that I will be dodging flash ads in the future. Imagine browsing the homestarrunner site with this click-through shit: One click to activate the home page, click to enter. Click activate the menu page, click to choose subsection. Click to activate subsection, click to choose the sbemail you want to see... what fun! Thanks, Eolas!

As for the gif and jpg patents, well, companies should really start giving better support for png. End of story. It's a better format than either gif or jpg to begin with (would be nice if fucking Apple would quit forcing them to open in browsers using Quicktime by default - otherwise the Eolas patent would apply to them! Bastards... even IE can show a png natively, although the transparency is generally screwed up.)
posted by caution live frogs at 10:03 AM on March 20, 2006


Here's a better solution, guys. Or perhaps this! Then you'll never have to deal with those pesky pictures, sounds, animations, games, or videos ever again!
posted by fungible at 10:24 AM on March 20, 2006


How about using HTML, css and javascript etc to create meaningful interactive content. That's what it's for isn't it?
posted by twistedonion at 7:21 AM EST on March 20 [!]


What if you've disabled Javascript because, guess what, it can be abused too? Even under Firefox, still.

What if you use the web for other things in addition to information, like watching media files (videos), or viewing a technical animation (Flash). Last I checked, I couldn't code a video in XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript, nor would I want to.

Let's ban HTML as well. I've hit sites that have poor navigation and annoying .GIF animations. Let's ban everything I hate and bugger anyone else who has a different opinon than me!
posted by juiceCake at 10:30 AM on March 20, 2006


It wasn't exactly self-evident when Eolas came up with it.

I still can't understand why the Viola browser prior art (incorporating embeddable objects and scriptable actions including triggering during an on_load event) wasn't considered as sufficient by the USPTO to invalidate the Eolas patent. That's just fucked. If anyone "deserves" the $500M it's Pei-Yuan Wei.

I was not allowed to demonstrate Viola to the jury. It was explained to me that the judge had decided that my demonstration, of the Viola browser from May 1993 showing interactive objects embedded in a web page, would have been too "prejudicial" against Eolas. I was also not allowed to tell the jury that Doyle knew about Viola.
posted by meehawl at 10:39 AM on March 20, 2006


There are quite a few all-flash sites. Take this one for example - you get nothing without flash. (Haven't tried loading it in a non-flash browser so can't say whether they check for that and offer a text alternative or not.) This is a fairly large restaurant chain - 90+ restaurants in 17 states. You can't even see what's on the menu without flash.

Yes - but your example falls into the "non-essential" category. While I agree completely that using Flash for a site like this is unfortunate at least, it is also the owners own business, in both senses of the word.

I don't object to criticism of Flash at all. I am just put off by the fact that most people who do it act like somebody owes them an internet with content as they like it, and as if it is an outrage and a personal offense if people make use of the net as they see fit - which is exactly what it's there for.

Acting like one invented the internet and can tell people how they should use it if doesn't affect one self really doesn't help convincing people how to use Flash properly.
posted by uncle harold at 10:44 AM on March 20, 2006


What if you've disabled Javascript because, guess what, it can be abused too? Even under Firefox, still.

If the site has been designed well then it will degrade gracefully. This can be achieved with Flash also, by providing alternate content - it's rare though. I agree with a lot of the comments that Flash is a very useful tool. I wouldn't have spent ages learning to use it otherwise.

The problem I have is appropriate use. Using flash to develop a complete site (or the navigation system) is foolish. It renders the site completely useless unless you have a plugin installed.

That's my main gripe.
posted by twistedonion at 10:54 AM on March 20, 2006


Get a decent computer, tightwads.

My quad AMD 48VDC system is 'decent'. If the idea of the internet is information communication and you pick a tool that the tool maker has decided to not make work on the platform *I* use, then I'm not gonna cry a tear when someone else's platform becomes broken.

Learn how to write HTML, marketing/design majors.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:05 AM on March 20, 2006


Learn how to write HTML, marketing/design majors.

Learn how to rebuild a carburator, techno-weenies.
Learn how to paint with oil and use pastels, graphic designers.
Learn how to use a drafting board, CAD operators.
Learn how to ride a horse, car drivers.

... I'm lost, here -- what was your point?

"In my day, we didn't have 1s or 0s. We had to do with small-l and capital-O."
posted by lodurr at 11:31 AM on March 20, 2006


lodurr : "'In my day, we didn't have 1s or 0s. We had to do with small-l and capital-O.'"

Dot and dash, motherfucker, dot and dash.
posted by Bugbread at 11:34 AM on March 20, 2006


Rough ashlar, et al: Flashblock.

You're welcome, have a nice day.
posted by mullingitover at 11:47 AM on March 20, 2006


Shit, I had to program my CoCo by shooting electrons into the right places with a blowgun. And I tell you I was glad when I finally got that blowgun and a bag of store-bought electrons! It beat the hell out having to build electrons out of second-hand quarks and then drop them into place with my stubby, twitchy fingers.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:50 AM on March 20, 2006


Here's a better solution, guys. Or perhaps this! Then you'll never have to deal with those pesky pictures, sounds, animations, games, or videos ever again!

You got a problem with Lynx, motherfucker? I'll fucking cut you, bitch. Take you out like a 3 item special with wontons and eggrolls.
posted by loquacious at 11:59 AM on March 20, 2006


ROU_Xenophobe:

Did you know? your own body contains literally upwards of a thousand electrons which can be had for free!

(blowgun substitute not really suitable for public discussion)
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:00 PM on March 20, 2006


mullingitover: Flashblock is unfortunately buggy as fuck, otherwise I'd be using it.
posted by Ryvar at 12:16 PM on March 20, 2006


Just to let you know. I just patented pissing.

Everytime you piss, you now owe me $10.
posted by 13twelve at 11:15 AM EST on March 20 [!]


Sorry, but I was practicing your invention long prior to your application for patent. Obviously, MS is having a hard time establishing prior public knowledge of the Eolas invention.
posted by caddis at 12:49 PM on March 20, 2006


"Flash is poorly-designed near-malware used by idiots who think the Internet should be TV 2.0. Fuck it and every developer that uses it."

LOL @ Ryvar. What do you really mean? Don't hold back now....
posted by login at 12:50 PM on March 20, 2006


... I'm lost, here

Common problem with Marketing Majors.

-- what was your point?

If the idea of the internet is information communication and you pick a tool that the tool maker has decided to not make work on the platform *I* use, then I'm not gonna cry a tear when someone else's platform becomes broken.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:27 PM on March 20, 2006


Ryvar, I thought I was a pro-quality Flash hater but you've shown me levels beyond the reach of my muddy dreams. I totally defer to you.

posted by jfuller at 1:29 PM on March 20, 2006


"Flash is poorly-designed near-malware used by idiots who think the Internet should be TV 2.0. Fuck it and every developer that uses it."

Hm. I think the new Yahoo Maps is pretty freaking cool and useful -- surpassing Goole Maps -- and the thought "TV 2.0" never crosses my mind when I use it. It works flawlessly for me, and I figure it took some hard work by pretty smart people to create it.

Just sayin'.
posted by Tubes at 2:55 PM on March 20, 2006


BugBread

Evolve: A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form.
Devolve: To degenerate or deteriorate gradually.

Eg: This thread has devolved.

I undertake a lot of academic studies that seek to understand individuals' interest and understanding of future technologies, government policies, etc. We build instruments that find practical uses for embedded media and most importantly Flash based interactive environments.

For instance, electric cars. We want a respondent to have as tactile experience as possible without having to present them with an actual car. We are able to do this quickly and cost effectively using Flash. We've built a business around the ability to do this.

I don't believe this is the end of the world - but this type of action has far reaching consequences to many legitimate businesses.

The figure of $521Million should be paid, and the patent subsequently invalidated. I believe that would be a fair outcome.
posted by strawberryviagra at 3:01 PM on March 20, 2006


Why should the $521MM be paid? The fairest outcome is to allow the prior art to be recognized as it should have been--with full prejudicial force--against the Eolas patent.

I think MS is well within their rights to modify the browser to sidestep the patent.
posted by bz at 3:40 PM on March 20, 2006


I assume that these figures (generally) amount to the sum of the trespass - and are designed to resolve the prior art issue in a mutually beneficial manner (I'm fairly naive when it comes to these types of legal matters - so I'm probably oversimplifying it). Having said that, the Wiki article isn't clear on what this figure was claiming to do (it also said that MS had to pay licensing fees - was that additional to this fee?).

My concern is the consequence (it's effect on the rest of us) of the MS workaround rather than their right to sidestep.
posted by strawberryviagra at 4:02 PM on March 20, 2006


Why should the $521MM be paid?

Because MS lost and a judgement was entered against them in a court of law.

The fairest outcome is to allow the prior art to be recognized as it should have been--with full prejudicial force--against the Eolas patent.

It appears that the PTO and courts have found this so called prior art to have very little prejudicial effect. What am I missing here?
posted by caddis at 4:37 PM on March 20, 2006


I love Flash and everybody that uses it. They are the smartest people in the WORLD!

The force is now balanced.
posted by tkchrist at 5:34 PM on March 20, 2006


rough_ashlar: If the idea of the internet is information communication and you pick a tool that the tool maker has decided to not make work on the platform *I* use, then I'm not gonna cry a tear when someone else's platform becomes broken.

Ah. So, "Learn how to write HTML, marketing/design majors" didn't mean "Jump through hoops to please me, marketing/design majors, even though I'll inevitably piss on you for making the effort, because I regard you as an inferior form of life."

... and this Anthropology major (and web developer) already knows HTML, thank you. Not necessary to learn it.
posted by lodurr at 7:17 AM on March 21, 2006


This stupid change auto-updated in my IE the other day and has completely wrecked a hosted app that I rely on for work. I AM READY TO PULL MY HAIR OUT. Firefox isn't an option, because it only runs on IE. Hooray.
posted by VulcanMike at 1:32 PM on March 21, 2006


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