Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Research Works Act

I'm a little late to the party but recently heard about the Research Works Act. This is an effort out of the house to directly contradict an NIH policy that requires any research produced with government funding (e.g. taxpayer dollars) to be available for free to said taxpayers 12 months after publication.

Needless to say this is a horrible idea. It would constitute a bit of a blow to the open access movement. Now I've already established that I'm no fan of Springer so take this next bit with a grain of salt, but their statement about this legislation is cheeky at best. You want some measured, intelligent and constructive debate? Fine.

Your current value to the world of academic publishing is copy editing and typesetting. That's it. The research, the peer review, the editing--that's all done by academics who you don't pay. So in exchange for making sure our page numbers are in the right spot you have the highest profit margin of any US industry at 53% (or at least you did when I wrote this--looks to be an interactive dataset.

Now onto my favorite part. Your support for RWA in essence is that so called "green" open access is an unfunded mandate. That's really your position? That's your line in the sand? That NIH is requiring authors to do something when it's not clear where the money is coming from? Well your idea of "gold" open access is to charge me, an author, $3k to make my article free and open. I have a response to that:


I guess in a way, I can see why you think it would cost too much--because you charge $3k and all, but USU is perfectly capable (and already has been for several years thank you very much) of hosting it's own repository and they do it for considerably less than $3,000 per article. In a measured debate, you look bad.

I'm going to go investigate buying futures in your demise. Stop selling ice, the refrigerators are already in the kitchen.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Flash is not dead (yet)

So I fell into the trap. The trap of thinking that Flash was dead. It started, for me with the war between Jobs and Adobe. I wondered, when the iPhone and iTouch first came out without flash support how long the war could last. Flash had a huge developer/user base but Apple had huge market share in the mobile market. Not on a per device basis, but on sheer volume of Internet throughput (still no excuse for AT&T).

Then came what I thought was the final nail in the coffin. Adobe cut the Flash player out of mobile development. I thought they had basically given up. Here's the thing that few people are talking about. Adobe had a solution months ago: Adobe Air. The ability to build native iOS Apps from within Flash, or Flash Builder, or Flex. Boom. iOS done right? But last April Apple went out of their way to shut them down.

Now it's back. Here's a screen capture of an app I built in Flash CS 5.0 (old school I know) during faculty senate in about 20 minutes. I wanted to make sure the integration was meaningful so I experimented with connecting to the GPS data received by the phone. It works. And presumably the same functions would work on an android or a blackberry.

What took considerably more time was setting up the certificate and provisioning profile so that apple could know who was writing code, what device they were writing for, and have a record of what the app name was. Keep in mind that all of this was purely for testing purposes--not for distribution either at an enterprise level or in the app store.

My takeaway from this experience is that apple is a much bigger barrier (did I mention it costs $99/year to even get on the testing ride?) to app development on iOS than Flash is but time will tell if that continues to be the case.

Note that the flash player is still dead dead dead, and that means no seamless integration with web browsers. No flash video players as the ubiquitous media wrappers. But as someone who uses an iPhone religiously I generally prefer native apps anyway.

I am now officially astounded at how long Flash has persisted. I've been teaching it for 9 years. It remains in my mind one of the best IDEs for people with no programming background, because you can engage in so much GUI development. I'll be curious to see when someone finally sticks a fork in it.