Say “hello” to Personafy

Hi! This is just a quick note to say that I’ve launched a new project. It’s called Personafy, and it’s a place to share interesting links with your friends.

I’ll be posting a longer description about the site soon, but for now here’s a quick summary:

Whenever you find something interesting, you can post the link to your Personafy account, and you’ll also be able to choose a “persona” to share the link as. Each of your personas will be able to build up distinct audiences, so if you feel like posting LOL cats as one persona, and politics as another, you won’t have to worry about people unfollowing you or getting pissed off about the “off-topic” content.

Edit: Personafy is no more. It was a fun experiement, but I didn’t have the resources to keep it running for more than a few months. If you are interested in the topic of social sharing via personas, I wrote some thoughts on it here.

Incredibly nerdy Valentine’s day cards

I’ve been seeing way more nerdy Valentine’s day cards this year than I have in the past. So I thought I would collect some here for you to share with your friends and lovers!

I’ll start with a classic, and one that I first posted here on my blog years ago after tracing the card from a still from the Simpsons. The post still gets tons of traffic each year as Valentine’s day rolls around:

I choo choo choose you

Next up, what nerd doesn’t appreciate science? A fantastic set cards for those types from Ironic Sans:

I select you, naturally

I'm sagan all my love for you I'm falling for you

Economists are huge nerds, too. They can share their feelings through charts!

Our risk of default is zero. Short the market and go long on you.

[Side note: Did you know that Florence Nightingale was a pioneer in the use of data visualization? Amazing!]

If cards aren’t your thing, there’s this great t-shirt:

You are the CSS to my HTML

And of course, what nerd Valentine’s day would be complete without acknowledging the fact that many nerds are forever single. For that, we have Forever Alone Guy. Head over to to see what he’s up to this year.


UPDATE: A late entry, but maybe you can find them next year! These Game of Thrones valentine cards from Chris Bishop are fantastic.

Game of Thrones Valentine cards by Chris Bishop

Flash is dead. Long live the internet.

When I was in high school I didn’t own a computer. I used to read the occasional Popular Mechanics magazine and would linger for a while on the articles about the internet or HTML, fascinated by this new technology that I had barely even used. I don’t know why, but for some reason I’ve always been drawn toward computers, but more specifically, computers connected to other computers. Whether it was playing a video game online or browsing through the millions of websites, I could always spend hours every day in front of a computer soaking up information and experiences, interacting with people on the other side of the world.

Soon after I bought my first computer I started building simple websites. I had all of the best animated gifs you could find, along with those awesome water ripple java applets and whatever other bells and whistles I could find. It was awesome. I wanted to push the boundaries of this new thing. To make something unique that nobody had seen before. This led me to Macromedia Flash 4. My new hobby slowly taught me how to program, and over time I got pretty good at it. Eventually I landed in New York City and found a job at a tiny little web design shop, building websites for big corporations and loving every minute of it.

During this time the internet was recovering from the big crash at the end of the 90’s and as browsers slowly evolved, so were the websites we were building. But browsers were slow to update back then, so Flash filled a need to move faster and give us more options to explore and new technology to use (and abuse!). Around this time I wrote a little javascript utility to detect the presence of the Flash plugin and conditionally inject Flash into a website or not, and I watched as it grew over the years and became one of the most used utilities on the internet.

Flash was huge. Everyone wanted a flashy website and the only way to get one that any meaningful number of people could see was to use Flash. As browsers struggled to keep up, Flash charged ahead allowing us to build some truly amazing websites. Admittedly, there was some abuse of this technology, but we still charged ahead, trying to discover and build the next generation of user interfaces. Most older companies still thought of the internet as just another medium to advertise on. They wanted a flashy website to show off to their investors and clients and cared less about building something useful. The ubiquity of the Flash plugin made it an easy choice to build these new kinds of websites. We weren’t held back by the limitations of HTML any more, and that let us all explore wild ideas and try things that wouldn’t be possible with HTML or Javascript for years to come.

But now, years later, the browsers are catching up. Mobile devices are becoming more important than desktop computers (a trend I expect to continue for years to come). As more people use the internet in their day to day lives, businesses have realized that having a useful website is more powerful than just a flashy animated advertisement.

A few months ago I noticed that SWFObject usage on the top 10,000 websites was declining for the first time ever (I believe usage peaked in the summer of 2010). Last week, Adobe announced that they would halt development of Flash player for mobile devices, and refocus their efforts on HTML. Since this news was announced, I’ve seen many sad and nostalgic tweets from friends and colleagues. Some seem to be taking the news better than others, and it’s understandable that some people are sad to see Flash go. But it’s important to remember that no single technology is responsible for this awesome thing we call the internet.

This brings us back to my younger self sitting at home in Arizona playing with Flash and Photoshop, building new things. I’ve always loved making things, and I suspect many web developers feel the same. The pleasure of making something great is what drives us, not a specific technology. So don’t be too sad about Flash evolving, or even dying. Just keep making awesome things with whatever tools you have at your disposal.

Discuss this post here:

Flashbelt 2009

With Flash on the Beach Miami being canceled, you may be asking yourself “Where do I get my Flash and design conference fix now?” The answer, of course, is Flashbelt! It’s in June, on the 7th to the 10th. You should come!

Tickets are on sale now to this awesome small-ish Flash and design conference. This will be the third year in a row I’ve given a talk here, and it’s easily the best conference in North America.

My talk will be about building and maintaining the YouTube video players, and some lessons and tricks we’ve learned along the way, so if you are interested in very high usage/high performance Flash apps, this should be a good talk for you.