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Autism and the iPad: A New Route to Communication?

  • Posted On  2015-07-13 09:56:09 by Blog

Over the last year or so, a “quiet revolution” as the parents of autistic children are calling it, has emerged. iPads and their applications are starting to offer new routes to communication for these children who are otherwise locked within themselves.

Autism is a disease affecting roughly 1 out of every 100 children in the world, according to the Center for Disease Control.  Those with the disease range from brilliantly intelligent if somewhat eccentric, well-adjusted individuals to having no ability to communicate whatsoever and becoming very violent when agitated or uncertain in their surroundings.

A new voice for those without

It is in the area of communication where the technology of the iPad comes into play.  Apple has been very quiet about the use of their new technology as a therapeutic tool for those with communication disorders and special needs.  This is expected: it’s very difficult for a company to make any kind of comment about such things without it sounding like a bold medical claim that can’t be solidly backed up.

It is becoming clear, though, that there’s a groundbreaking impact being made.  Thanks to specialized applications, parents, teachers and therapists are able to work on specific areas of development from behavior tracking and modification to teaching children to spell and do math problems.  The biggest areas of implementation that have been tracked are:

  •     Communication
  •     Behavior Modeling
  •     Activity Planning

The iPad as Assisted Communications Device

Thanks to the many applications on the market for this particular issue, such as Touch2Talk and TapSpeak Choice, those with autism can now communicate with those around them using a device that uses a natural human sounding voice.  This mean the child does not draw attention to themselves with the typical “Stephen Hawkings” type voice one normally finds in text-to-speech and other mechanical devices.

These applications let the user tap stock or uploaded photos of commonly asked for and used items, which is spoken back in a clear voice audible to those around them.  Children and adults who were otherwise unable to have a voice of their own are now able to communicate with others for their basic needs, unlocking a world of experience that was nowhere in sight previously.   All of this comes at the cost of the iPad ($500 – $800) and then the application (free to $200), making it far more affordable than various voice-box type devices that don’t have nearly this level of functionality.

Behavior Modeling

For some with autism, simple things like hand-washing and proper table manners are difficult concepts to grasp.  This can result in anxiety, leading too often to violent “meltdowns” that can last for hours.  Through the use of applications that allow users to create a story with photos, text and audio, a parent or teacher can create a story, modeling appropriate behavior for a given task, such as hand washing.  The person would watch the short story; each step animated to show exactly what is done, broken down into steps and narrated by a familiar voice.  While it must be used with repetition, the fact that autistic people are highly visual learners means this tool will help them to begin learning new skills with a predictable story to go with them.

What causes people with autism some of the biggest problems is anything unpredictable.  For example, people’s emotions and facial expressions are often confusing to autistic people and, because of this unpredictability, frightening.  The iPad offers them the ability to control how fast they receive information about a given task through tapping and touching the screen to progress from one slide to the other.  Children will often find this level of control to be both soothing and engaging, and parents will find it an excellent tool for teaching new skills.

Activity planning and visual scheduling

Because of their low tolerance for change, often handling things like doctor’s appointments or a first day of school after summer vacation can be exhausting for everyone involved.  Applications like “First, Then” allow the parent/therapist to make a visual representation of the day, serving as a reminder to the person with autism of what is to happen each day and in what order.  It gives them a sense of security to know what will be happening around them.  The more predictable each day is, the better off they feel.

Life with autism can be a great trial both for those afflicted and for their caretakers.  Psychologists are constantly on the lookout for anything that makes things easier for all involved.  Even this young into its existence, studies about how the iPad helps children with autism to come out of their shells and experience the world around them are already being released.  The media has already started to notice as well, and online communities are forming around the idea.  The “iPad for Autism” page on Facebook has more than 700 “likes”.

No one is rushing to say that the iPad is any miracle cure for autism.  Autism has resisted anything close to a cure since its original designation.  Yet, there is early evidence that use of it might have the potential to improve the lives of those affected by offering lines of communication that were heretofore closed.  It bears repeating that even if this winds up being true, it will not work for all those with autism.  All cases are different.  There are those so deeply affected that using any sort of computer is simply not an option.

Nonetheless, it would appear that there is a good possibility that those families and educators who are working with autism might now have one more tool in their arsenal.  When combined with traditional therapies, such as speech and occupational therapy, we have the rounding out of a potential new path of approach for these individuals.  It’s no small benefit that this one includes the use of new and “cool” looking technology that will allow them to use it while still fitting in, helping to strengthen their self-confidence.  With increased confidence comes the possibility of future independence and a more fulfilling life.  Whether Apple intended to or not, they may have stumbled onto something greater here than even Steve Jobs might have imagined.

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Standing Triumphant: What we can Learn From the Fall of Citizendium

  • Posted On  2015-07-13 09:54:28 by Blog

Wikipedia is more than just one of the largest and most popular web sites in existence.  It is also a major source of evolution of our understanding of many important cultural concepts.  Wikipedia’s existence alone has forcibly accelerated the debate on a number of topics related to information theory, such as censorship, intellectual property, responsible journalism, the scientific method, and even various issues related to language.

From this, there have been many interesting debates about Wikipedia’s role and effectiveness in pursuing its purpose.  One, in particular, has been quietly raging for years, and has now reached a point in which we feel comfortable declaring a decisive outcome.  This is the none-dare-call-it-a-war between Wikipedia and what has to be considered its primary rival, Citizendium.


Citizendium is a Wikipedia-like project that was first launched in 2006 and released publicly in 2007 by one of Wikipedia’s co-founders, Larry Sanger (exactly how “co” he is, we must point out, is itself the subject of debate).  Sanger had left Wikipedia early in its formation.  The reason was due to an ideological split in the direction that he and other founder Jimmy Wales (who is still with Wikipedia) felt it should take.

Sanger felt that there should be an emphasis on guaranteed expert oversight.  Wales disagreed, stating that knowledge is something everyone has to share.  Debates ensued, with Wales’s vision winning out in the end.  Sanger soon thereafter left the project.  Although at the time he blamed funding issues for his departure, when he founded Citizendium in 2006, he had no shortage of hard words about his estranged brainchild.

A flurry of media attention followed, with Sanger making bold declarations about Citizendium’s future.  While the site’s own FAQ pleaded that he was not trying to shut down Wikipedia, Sanger stated in 2006 press release that “Citizendium will soon attempt to unseat Wikipedia as the go-to destination for general information online.”

An ugly autopsy

Citizendium now marks its 5th anniversary in sort of the same way that a married couple who isn’t even talking to each other might.  It’s a number, not a celebration.  While the site still exists, its state can be summed up by its plea to find some financial donors to cover its $319 a month in hosting costs.  They’ve not hit this fundraising goal once so far this year.  In June, they raised $33.68.

The rest of the numbers are just as ugly, so much so that highlighting them almost feels like kicking someone while they’re down.  The site has a total of 16,027 articles.  Wikipedia cracked 100,000 articles in its second year.  New article creation on Citizendium is down from a high of about 30/day to a mere 2: Wikipedia’s is about 10 times that per minute.

Disapproval of the “Approved”

A more important metric is the “Approved Articles.”  This, after all, was the whole point of Citizendium, to create the finest quality articles as a result of “expert” involvement.  After 5 years, the number of Approved Articles stands at a you-gotta-be-kidding-me 156.  And the quality is as equally underwhelming as the quantity.  The Approved Article for “Prime Number” isn’t 1/10 as long as the Wikipedia equivalent, the latter still only earning a “B” grade from its own user base.

Let’s stop.  This feels cruel.  We’ll just make it official and be done with it: the Citizendium project has failed.

Not without a fight…

Sanger remains defiant, but at this point his protests feel similar to the knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail with no arms and legs left shouting “I’ll bite your leg off!”.  Sanger has stated that the primary reason for this was Wikipedia’s head start.  But this is easily refuted by the evidence of how much has changed on the web since 2006.  Other wikis started around and have more pages than Citizendium.  Also, in 2006 the social networking world was dominated by LiveJournal and MySpace.  How much did their “head start” help them?

Single simply refuses to accept the hard truth that perhaps his original premise was wrong all along.  Wikipedia has been shown through multiple studies to be roughly as accurate and reliable as professional encyclopedias.  It is the #6 site on the web, and has been Top 10 for years.  In short, it has passed all of the tests.  It is nowhere near perfect, but it has roughly achieved what it set out to do.

…but the fight is over…

A look at Sanger’s fist in the air provides us with the lesson that we should take from this experiment.  Even to this day, he continues to decry what he sees as “anti-intellectualism” in the Web 2.0 world.  From the tone of his writings, it seems that the “anarchic” approach of Wikipedia simply bothers him on a philosophical level (and he is, in fact, a Doctor in Philosophy).  When we look at Citizendium today we see the reflection of this obsession: at this point, there seems to be more work being done on its inner political structure than on the articles themselves, like bureaucrats fighting over ownership of an anthill.

There, then, is the rub: it’s become ceremony before principle.  That is what went wrong, and that is the lesson that we should get from this, especially those in a position of management.  Being dead set on making sure something is done the way that you are personally sure is the “correct” way is a great way to ensure your failure.

The truth is that there is always more than one way to do things, always more than one way to solve a problem.  It’s not just data that everyone has access to, but ideas.  Wikipedia, as a further contrast, doesn’t just has its pages open to debate, but its methods.  Very few rules come from on high.  Most of the internal procedures are user-created, and in a continual state of evolution.

Another angle to take on it is this: respect comes from continual effort.  It is not some commoditive title that one holds forever for obtaining a degree or winning some award.  Moreover, it’s not something that anyone has any requirement to afford some pre-calculated level of deference to.  Milton Friedman and Paul Krugman both won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.  You’d be hard-pressed to find a whole lot of people who would afford the theories of these ideological opposites equal respect.  Or how about this: neither Steve Jobs nor Bill Gates graduated from college.  According to Citizendium’s policies, this would make them unqualified as a “constable”, their term for sysop.  Get it, yet?

…and the hive mind has won.

For managers who cherish their position a little too highly this may be a hard pill to swallow.  Swallow it anyway.  The more that you trust that the people around you have within them to capability to solve problems and the more you untie their hands to do so, in general, the more that they will prove you right.  One final example from the story of Citizendium’s fall highlights this fact.

One of the main incidents which pushed Larry Sanger to create Citizendium was one in which the biography of one famous individual, John Seigenthaler, was altered to state that he was involved with the Kennedy assassinations.  Sanger was contacted personally, and in attempting to address the problem, found the Wikipedia user base response unacceptable.  He concluded that the only remaining response was to start his own encyclopedia.

Yet, while Citizendium has risen, floated, and crashed, new policies were created on Wikipedia to address how this happened.  The result?  While there is always a minor undercurrent of vandalism, there has not since been a single case of defamation that has risen to this level of notoriety.

Yes, the hive mind does tend in the long run to work.  As Citizendium and other “scholar-based” encyclopedias flounder (even Google’s “Knol” couldn’t crack this nut), and Wikipedia in turn approaches its 4 millionth article, this is no longer theory.  This is observable fact, one that passes the victorious Wikipedia’s standard for inclusion in its articles: verifiability.

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A Race to the Top: Streaming Video Services Battle for Top Place

  • Posted On  2015-07-13 09:52:25 by Blog

Recently, it appears that the entire race has been with streaming video as an entertainment choice for most tech-savvy people on the planet. Netflix has been the trusty old friend who was always available, adding multitudes of new content every month while also shipping DVDs to your home, usually by the next day, for those movies and TV shows that they are not licensed to stream. However, that comfortable feeling vanished as the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 came and went. With the New Year came new video streaming options available from Netflix for your enjoyment!

Video Streaming Comparison Chart

In addition to Netflix, there was now Hulu Plus and latest come to the party, Amazon Prime Instant Video. Each of these services has its pros and cons, of course. As time goes by, they all grow, and there is a vast array of changes occurring with each as they strive to become more innovative than their competitors with every new press release. It is our pleasure to provide a guide to the ever-growing world of the top three video streaming solutions.


First to arrive on the scene, Netflix began as a DVD mail rental service, offering individual plans at fair prices in order to meet their customers’ needs. In late 2007-early 2008, the company announced and rolled out an instant streaming option for select content on their site. Users were given about one hour of streaming video per dollar paid on their plan. Of course, this new option took off like a rocket, and toward the end of 2008, Netflix lifted the streaming time limit for all plans with the exception of it $4.99/2 DVDs a month-one at a time plan, which has 2 hours of streaming video included. As time marched onward, Netflix kept trying on new features and options, removing those that did not take off that well and keeping those that the users used most often and enjoyed. Then there came their agreement with Starz, which allowed content that was exclusively shown on the Starz network to be made available to the streaming menu and, once again, the company saw an incredible time of growth and prosperity.

There began to be some troubled waters, however, in the summer of 2011 when Netflix made it known that they were investigating splitting the services into two separate companies and services, renaming the DVD rental service and effectively creating two different services with two different sets of subscription options. The Netflix customer base was utterly outraged by this announcement! They began calling, e-mailing, writing and just otherwise bombarding the already slightly confused company with demands that they not make this change. As their customer base viewed the situation, streaming and DVD rental belong as one service. Thankfully, in early October, 2011 they relented.

Netflix Streaming Device Options:

1. Traditional computer or laptop running Windows or Mac

2. iOS devices and handheld phones

3. Set-top boxes such as Roku

4. Video Game Consoles such as Xbox360

5. Internet Ready TV’s

Amazon Prime Instant Video

While the shock was going on over at Netflix Headquarters, Amazon got the impression that perhaps now was time to move on an idea that they had in the pipeline for some time now. Out of almost nowhere, Amazon Prime Instant Video was born! Amazon Prime, for those who might be a little behind the curve right now, is a valuable priority shipping service Amazon began to offer a long time ago. For 79 dollars each year, your family could be upgraded to free second day air shipping on all eligible purchases. This service has enjoyed a marvelous, long standing relationship with its members. Along the way, Prime began to make available video streaming rentals and purchases of digital versions of movies and TV shows that were available. Now that their main competitor was scrambling though…out came the announcement with much FaceBook sharing and Google + posting: Amazon Prime Members now get video streaming for free! That’s right Amazon Prime Members were getting “Netflix-like services”, without paying anything more. This meant that quite a few Netflix members jumped ship to Amazon. As they saw it, there might be less content, but why pay for two of the same service?

Now in all honesty, Amazon’s service has nowhere near the number of movies and TV shows that Netlfix has. However, their selection continues to grow and new options become available for the user. There is little doubt that they will be 100% in line option-wise with its biggest rival and the runner up: Hulu Plus.

Amazon Prime Video Device Options:

1. Traditional computer or laptop running Windows or Mac

2. Television set top boxes such as Roku

3. Internet Ready TVs

4. Android device streaming

Hulu Plus

Definitely a runner-up in the streaming video race, Hulu Plus would not even have warranted mention with these two well known names if it were not for the deluge of advertising dollars that have recently been spent to bring Hulu Plus into the public eye. It probably sounds as if we have an extreme dislike of Hulu Plus, and honestly the answer to that is, “No”. Hulu Plus service is excellent for keeping in touch with currently running TV shows as well as accessing past episodes of old off air favorites like Babylon 5.

When it comes to a pure numbers game for TV sitcom lovers, Hulu Plus will win out. Offering 16,000+ TV sitcom episodes available for viewing their selection of titles interests even the idle browser with past episodes of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “Happy Days”. Now, certainly 16,000 is not higher than the 23,000+ episodes that Netflix offers, the episodes of currently running TV favorites are available the day after the first live network broadcast. This is truly the one thing that they excel in. Hulu Plus has the know-how and the potential to become one of the big time players. Unfortunately, there is one serious flaw holding them back. That flaw is that users who pay $7.99 a month, which works out to $95.88 a year, will not continue to do so if you keep interrupting their videos with advertisements! If they wanted that, they would remain with a cable company! Hulu Plus needs to stop using advertisements in their videos or else they will remain a runner-up or be replaced by whatever the next video revolution might be.

Hulu Plus Video Device Options:

    Traditional computer or laptop with access to a web browser. (Yes, this means that those running Linux can indeed use this service on their systems.)
    iOS devices and handheld phones.
    Some Set Top Boxes

When it comes down to choices, it will all depend on if you are shopping for a wide variety or if you are satisfied waiting on a service that is still building its library or a service that will run on your Linux computer. These are the Major dividing lines. There is also the option, however, that for a little more than that extra large pizza and bottle of soda that was going to be dinner one night last week you can just subscribe to all three services and use personal experience to find the winner.

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DARPA: The Internet’s Midwife

  • Posted On  2015-07-13 09:50:23 by Blog

In the late 1980’s, early 1990’s, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) of the US began to see how the Internet could become a significant player in the nation’s defense. These exact visionaries were so proud of their creation because the internet did exactly what it was supposed to. They were ahead of the rest of the world technologically speaking, and they celebrated the birth of their newest baby. Soon, various communications and activities began taking place within the internet. It was then found that this was by far a faster and more accurate way to work.

However, as with all children, the internet grew up. Other governments began implementing the code, began connecting themselves across the network of fiber optic cables that had now been laid and they “went online” doing many of the same things the US government did. Then, it was that the creators of this marvelous invention learned that, as a teenaged creation, it had many of the problems a normal human teen had.

The Internet and its Growing Pains

Fast forward to present time, the internet as we know it is about 20 years old right now and is experiencing the issues that many young adults do when they are given their first taste of freedom. They start letting in friends that their parents don’t like (Viruses). As people are taught to understand how to program and code for the military also for civilian causes, there was going to be those people who learned how to get around systems security and how to exploit weaknesses in code. In fact, there are hundreds of people hired annually by various governments that this is their only talent. They affect the system that has been created so that those who own the system can make it stronger. As was only expected though: there are those who do not put their skills to such use and, either through actual malicious intent or just idle curiosity, they begin to do things such as hack into satellites and take control of them. Perhaps they just wanted to peek in on the young women who are skinny dipping in the ocean. On the other hand, they might have been testing their ability to do so in order to go ahead and hack into one of the spy satellites and gather valuable classified information and use it against that country. Unfortunately, in this day and age we dare not take any chances when guessing the motives of the individuals in question.

Those are the Money Words, my friend.

The knowledge of an assault that occurred some years ago was finally released to the public last week, in which it was suspected that Chinese nationals hacked into 2 satellites and took total control of them. While china denies the allegations made, the fact remains that someone did. This means that, as a nation, we are vulnerable in a way that no one thought would happen. So it was that military and government agencies have begun to reach out to what they are calling the “visionary hackers” for assistance in the matter. A visionary hacker, from what I can conclude, is a hacker who is capable of doing all of these things but only does them in order to:

    See if they can
    To sell their knowledge to governments in order to secure paid positions

What better way to do combat in the world west than to hire those who would be outlawed by the rules of “more civilized society”?

The phrase of the time seems to be the desire to “converge with the threat” which can only be done by getting into the heads of those who are capable of launching these types of attacks.

Where did we go wrong?

After some advanced analysis, it was shown that the governments’ security systems are based off of huge banks of code, running into tens of thousands of lines. In comparison, most malware is only a negligible 125 lines. Short, clean, simple and to the point seems to be the key to their effectiveness. Most coders who choose to do this as a living, either legally or illegally, pride their ability to deliver what they call “elegant” code. This means that the code is well notated so that others can see exactly what the code is supposed to do. The longer that a program’s code is, the more chances for failure present themselves.

Unfortunately, it would not be the logical thing to totally disable nations system of protection protocol and software in order to clean up the system and to make it simpler. There is only one option left to those in power and that is to engage in those who can get into the base of the code and clean it up while it is still doing its job. This is not a simple task and presents its own dangers, of course, but at least it would not leave the entire nation unprotected while it was being worked on.

Where does this leave us as a country?

First, we need to make sure that we are not just looking at this as a one country only problem. We are actually experiencing the birth of a global community and global economy. Never before in our history have so many countries been interdependent for basic needs such as defense and economics; if one link fails, the whole house of cards will be tumbling down.

Once that viewpoint is strengthened and we are looking at the situation with those lenses, we can begin to work on the actual problem at hand. We have a need for simpler, more stringent code. We also need to make sure that we do not take so many human positions out of the picture that we leave ourselves open to attacks that were not possible before. When you replace a human soldier on a reconnaissance mission with an unmanned drone, you open yourself up to hack attacks and, potentially, will lose control of that drone. When that occurs, on whose head are the deaths caused by the drone firing on the people of the country that created and deployed the drone in the first place?

Simpler code, more human positions and common sense will be the answers to these problems, if ever those in power can come to see it.

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Adobe abandons Flash plug-in for mobile devices: report

  • Posted On  2015-07-13 09:48:41 by Blog

Apparently experiencing what Adobe Systems called the “full Web” on mobile devices isn’t so important after all.

In what appears to be a momentous about-face, Adobe Systems is scrapping its high-profile effort to bring its Flash Player software to smartphones and tablets, Jason Perlew at sister site ZDNet reported today. Such a move would mean Adobe’s pragmatism won out over ambition.

Adobe did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The browser plug-in is widely used on personal computers but only reached a fraction of the mobile phone market after years of work on Adobe’s part. The move, if confirmed, would undermine a selling point many Android phone makers had used in an effort to stand out above Apple’s iOS devices, which barred the plug-in.

According to an Adobe e-mail briefing sent to business partners quoted in the ZDNet report, though, the Flash Player technology will live on as a cross-platform programming tool through Adobe’s AIR technology for packaging Flash-based apps into standalone apps. The e-mail stated the change in plans this way:

    Our future work with Flash on mobile devices will be focused on enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores. We will no longer adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version, or device configurations. Some of our source code licensees may opt to continue working on and releasing their own implementations. We will continue to support the current Android and PlayBook configurations with critical bug fixes and security updates.

Such a decision must be extraordinarily difficult at Adobe. The company’s pride was at stake, having mounted a strong defense when Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs lambasted Flash. Adobe and its partner Google argued that having Flash support on mobile would mean people could see the “full Web,” including the countless sites with Flash-based animations, online games, and streaming video.

But the move also would make a lot of sense. Adobe increasingly is aiming Flash at higher-end uses: 3D games, premium video, and corporations’ in-house apps. That higher-end direction is at odds with the spread of Android to lower-end devices, many of which simply don’t have the horsepower to run Flash.

At the same time, Adobe is aggressively if belatedly embracing Web standards such as HTML and CSS.

And as yesterday’s announcement that Adobe will lay off 750 employees shows, the company doesn’t have infinite resources to pursue an agenda that faces serious headwinds.

Ripple effects
The reported change is with the mobile version Flash Player, but it raises doubts about the personal computer version, too.

That’s because abandoning Flash for mobile means ditching a big part of Flash Player’s cross-platform promise. The holy grail of cross-platform programming is being able to write one piece of software and have it run everywhere–in this case by running atop the Flash Player virtual machine. But the more limited a cross-platform technology’s reach is, the less reason there is to use it.
Adobe is working on Web standards technology such as CSS shaders let this Google Maps page be folded like a real map.

A programmer still will be able to package up a Flash game with the AIR technology, thereby reaching the mobile market, so some of the cross-platform advantages remain. But what of a photographer building a Web site with a Flash-based photo gallery? A financial Web site with a Flash-based tool for displaying stock charts? A Web-based e-mail reader using Flash to let people easily select multiple attachments for a message? With a Flash Player for mobile cancellation, all these real-world uses of Flash are guaranteed to fail not just with iOS devices, but with all mobile devices.

Adobe developers had their work cut out for them as they tried to squeeze Flash onto mobile phones that, compared to PCs, have feeble processors and very little memory. Adobe was betting that steadily increasing mobile computing power would intercept Flash’s computing requirements.

Lots of devices made the Flash Player cut, including smartphones and, perhaps more importantly given their more PC-like screen size, tablets.

But just how far Flash Player could have spread in the mobile market became something of an academic question, because Apple effectively held–and exercised–veto power.

By banning Flash Player from iOS, Apple made Flash Player on mobile a moot point for programmers making sure Web sites worked on mobile devices. Apple is powerful in smartphones with its iPhone line, and dominant in tablets with the iPad.

Even though Android smartphone shipments collectively rival iPhone shipments, the scales of browser usage where Flash Player usage is relevant tip heavily in Apple’s favor. According to Net Applications’ measurements from October, 62 percent of mobile device users on the Web used Apple’s Safari, more than three times Android’s 18.7 percent share of usage.

Moving to HTML and Web standards
What Adobe needs to do now is throw even more fuel on the Web-standards fire: develop its own technology, advance the standards for the industry overall, and explain to Flash developers the advantages of HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), and the JavaScript programming language.
Adobe hopes Edge and other design tools using Web standards will attract developers. Edge is due to ship in 2012.

To this end, Adobe has real work afoot. For example, it’s pushing improvements to CSS so it can be used for significantly wider array of formatting, interactive, and special effects. It’s advancing the jQuery Mobile library to help programmers use JavaScript on mobile-oriented Web sites. Alongside the ages-old Dreamweaver Web site design tool, it’s building the new Muse and Edge tools for creating Web sites and apps. And it’s buying start-ups relevant in the Web standards world.

But Adobe is late to the game, and it doesn’t have a standalone browser that it can use to help shape the agenda the way Google, Apple, and Microsoft can. AIR and Edge include a version of the WebKit browser engine that also powers Chrome and Safari, but when it comes down to it, Adobe must persuade partners with browsers to implement its ideas.

So far it’s had success rounding up allies–even Apple–but the Web standards chaos is a big change compared to how Adobe controlled Flash Player. Adobe is taking the plunge into a much more uncertain future.

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