Adobe Flash Ends

Adobe Flash ends support for iconic plugin

On December 31, 2020, Adobe officially stopped support for Flash – the browser plugin that helped define the early internet. The company announced it would be killing off Flash in 2017, but the time has finally come. Adobe won’t provide any new security updates and is actively encouraging people to uninstall it. It will also stop videos and animations running in Flash Player from January 12, 2021.

Adobe Flash Ends after 25 years

The plugin was first created way back in 1996. It became a pillar of the internet by allowing people to stream videos and animations within the browser.

Animator David Firth told the BBC: ‘You could make a full three-minute animation with multiple characters, backgrounds, sounds and music less than 2 megabytes (MB) and viewable from within the browser.’

Adobe Flash Ends

Adobe Flash Player is finally laid to rest, and people are mourning its death with memes.

Why was Flash popular?

When Flash was first released, a majority of Internet users connected via dial-up connections. Thankfully the Internet is now a lot faster thanks to supper fast broadband.

However, Flash let web designers and animators deliver exciting content that could be downloaded relatively quickly.

“You could make a full three-minute animation with multiple characters, backgrounds, sounds and music less than 2 megabytes (MB) and viewable from within the browser,” explained animator David Firth.

His surreal animations and characters – such as the gangly, green hunchback Salad Fingers – enjoyed viral success before the advent of social media.

“I just made the stuff I wanted to see that I felt was missing: dark, surreal comedy,” he told the BBC.

“There were no shortcuts to viral content. No corporate fingers twiddling the algorithms. It was simply attention-grabbing and quality material that rose to the top.”

Sites such as Newgrounds – described as “the YouTube of Flash” by Mr Firth – sprung up to serve the growing demand for cartoons and interactive games.

“It was the first website I’d ever seen that allowed anyone to post content and it be available in real time. If the community felt the content was low quality, it would get removed at the end of the day, so you actually had to take that into account when posting,” he said.

What happened?

Flash was about more than just animations – it also let websites such as YouTube stream high-quality video. By 2009, Adobe said Flash was installed on 99% of internet-connected desktop PCs. But by then the world was shifting towards mobile devices and Adobe was slow to react.

“We had optimised for lower-end phones with Flash Lite,” explains David Mendels, former executive vice president of products at Adobe.

“It was incredibly successful in places like Japan, but it wasn’t the same as the full desktop Flash. It wasn’t fully compatible.”

In April 2010, Apple’s Steve Jobs wrote a blistering open letter headlined Thoughts On Flash. It explained why Apple would not let Flash run on iPhones and iPads.

Flash, he argued, was cumbersome to use on a touchscreen, unreliable, a security threat and a drain on battery life.

He said videos and animations could instead be delivered with HTML5 and other open technologies. This will make Flash redundant on a smartphone or tablet. “When the iPhone came out, Flash wasn’t quite ready,” Mr Mendels told the BBC. “But also, I think Apple wanted to create an Apple-only ecosystem.”

Eventually, Adobe did get a version of its Flash Player working on smartphones.

Technology moves on as Adobe Flash ends

But the internet had moved on. Big brands such as Facebook, Netflix and YouTube were already streaming videos to smartphones without Flash and in November 2011 Adobe ended development of Flash for mobile devices.

It continued to produce Flash for desktop computers, but the software suffered from multiple security flaws.

In 2015, Apple disabled the plug-in in its Safari web browser by default, and Google’s Chrome started blocking some pieces of Flash content.

In July 2017, Adobe announced that it would retire Flash in 2020.

It said other technologies, such as HTML5 had matured enough to provide a “viable alternative”, without requiring users to install and update a dedicated plug-in.

What happens to all the old animations?

It is sad that Adobe Flash will be ending. As of 12th January 2021, Flash Player will prevent content from displaying. There are concerns that years of animations, games and interactive websites will be lost.

Gaming company Zynga closed the original version of its FarmVille video game on New Year’s Eve after 11 years, as it relied on Flash to run.

An open, collaborative project known as Ruffle is working to develop software that can play Flash content in a web browser, without requiring a plug-in.

The Internet Archive is currently hosting more than 2,000 items. Its collection includes episodes of Salad Fingers, although David Firth has posted official copies on YouTube, which he considers having been a “Flash killer”.

“As time went on and YouTube offered higher and higher-quality video formats, there was simply no reason to post in the Flash format,” he explained.

But since Flash was also used for interactive websites and games, there was “every reason to preserve the format”, he told the BBC.

Many of the feature’s animators used are still available in Adobe Animate. In its final update, Adobe said: “We want to take a moment to thank all of our customers and developers who have used and created amazing Flash Player content over the last two decades.

“We are proud that Flash had a crucial role in evolving web content across animation, interactivity, audio, and video.”

How can I remove Flash from my computer?

Adobe has provided instructions for removing Flash on Windows and Mac computers on its website.

It has warned: “Uninstalling Flash Player will help to secure your system. Adobe does not intend to issue Flash Player updates or security patches after the end-of-life date.”

Alternatively, please contact the LIS Help Desk and speak to our knowledgeable technical support team. We can assist you with updates and health checks for your computer systems. Now is the time to review your IT requirements. Make sure you have the latest software and security. This will provide the most effective solutions for your team and let you customers have the best experience.

LIS – DIGITAL SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#AdobeFlash #Plugins #ITsupport #Upgrades

New aircraft opportunities

New aircraft opportunities amid aerospace industry woes have emerged from Vertical Aerospace. Michael Cervenka traces his interest in engineering back to his grandfather’s influence. “He was an organ builder and had me sorting out screws on his workshop floor when I was 18 months old,” he says.

That interest literally took off. He is now the boss of Bristol-based Vertical Aerospace and has progressed to electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) machines. With the potential to be quiet and economical, these aircraft have been touted as the next big thing in passenger aircraft.

Vertical is working on the VA-1X, an aircraft intended to fly between regions. That regional emphasis matters as eVTOL machines have often been promoted as air taxis, whizzing around our cities under the banner of “urban air mobility” (UAM).

New aircraft opportunities

Michael Cervenka says pilot-free aircraft are a long way off

New aircraft opportunities could mean electric flight for everyone

Some even suggest these vehicles could scoop up passengers and whisk them along pre-arranged flight corridors without a pilot. Vertical dismisses this as a fantasy. “Our aircraft will be heavily automated,” says Mr Cervenka. “But both regulations and the public will require a pilot for years to come.”

An automatic response to an obstruction on a landing pad below will pull VA-1X up and away from a collision. However, people still want to see a highly trained aviator in charge of their flight. Using multiple propellers that point skywards for take-off and then rotate to tilt forward to fly horizontally, the VA-1X aims to carry four passengers and a pilot over short distances more cheaply than a helicopter.

Airlines operate within a framework of strict regulation, so how will this entirely new category of machine pass the scrutiny of international safety bodies? Mr Cervenka says he is working closely with UK and European regulators.

Excellence in engineering

The technology behind VA-1X has been tested at a remote airfield in Wales using a prototype called Seraph. This is a piloted black box surrounded by six arms mounting rotor blades. These new design ideas are helping create new aircraft opportunities that help climate change.

Seraph’s chunky appearance belies its role in proving the systems that should keep VA-1X’s eight electric motors pointing in the right direction. And if a motor fails Seraph can still hover and land.

With a winged design, as opposed to some of the wingless flying car proposals in the eVTOL world, Vertical’s VA-1X gains lift. So, the wings take pressure off its electric power source, which is derived from a car battery. Vertical employs 25 ex-Formula 1 engineers and a battery engineer from Jaguar Land Rover.

The company claims its aircraft will be 30 times quieter than a helicopter. In theory it will make more use of existing heliports where the frequency of landings is restricted by noise regulations.

It spies a market for travel between locations not served by high-speed rail networks and regional airlines. Regional connectivity is the name of this game.

Connecting people with places

“We will offer an ability to connect places that are not well connected today,” says Mr Cervenka, who is eyeing up a London-to-Brighton service, a route notorious for rail delays and traffic jams.

Covid has slashed airline passenger numbers. It is important for the aerospace industry to investigate new aircraft opportunities. So, Mr Cervenka reckons new purchases of large airliners are off the menu. But airlines might use eVTOL flights from a major airport into the centre of a city to attract business or first-class flyers as part of their fare.

The 150mph (240km/h) VA-1X will need a full battery recharge every 100 miles, but a 25-mile short hop from an airport to city centre would allow for a fast recharge and quick turnaround.

Pilot free aircraft

Vertical Aerospace is testing technology on its Seraph aircraft

The legal view about new aircraft opportunities

David Tait, a lawyer studying emerging technologies for the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, says he expects eVTOL craft to gain regulatory approval for certain services. However, he also pours cold water on the wilder promises of flying taxis.

“Consumer on-demand services are a long way away,” he says, citing the air traffic management challenges of putting too many machines into the air above a major city.

Designs such as the octo-engined VA-1X have no single point of failure, unlike a helicopter where the loss of rotor blades or power can be catastrophic.

“Our view is that eVTOL should be at least as safe as existing vehicles,” Mr Tait says. “Our expectation is that these will be quieter, cleaner and safer.”

Approximately 300 eVTOL projects are under way around the globe and Germany’s Lilium is one of the most advanced, attracting engineers from Boeing and Airbus.

New aircraft opportunities are the future of air travel

Its distinctive eVTOL machine has 36 electric engines buried inside slender white wings and tail planes. These are ducted fans, sucking in air and blowing it out in the manner of a jet engine but without mixing it up with fuel. This mass of fans creates a strong current that will push the little five-seater jet to 300km/h (186mph) and give the pilot control over direction.

Remo Gerber, its operational chief, says that despite this radical design Lilium is “following a classic aviation approach”, with safety dictating design features such as the Kevlar shell around the fan blades, ensuring that if a blade flies off it will be contained within the tough material.

A technology demonstrator flew at its base outside Munich in 2019 and the larger production machine is intended to carry four passengers and a pilot like the VA-1X. These light passenger loads reflect the power limitations of electric motors.

Mr Gerber shares the view that UAM has been oversold: “We struggle with UAM. We don’t see the benefits.” He argues that very short distances make no sense for eVTOL. The final section of the trip still will have to be made by road. Lilium is also focussing on the regional transport market.

European ideas

Lilium plans a regional network based around Dusseldorf and Cologne airports in Germany’s densely populated North Rhine-Westphalia area. The idea is to connect smaller cities such as Aachen and Munster to the airports via Lilium aircraft by 2025.

It is also designing eVTOL airports – what it calls “vertiports”. With a relatively small footprint these present an affordable alternative to airports and railway stations. These could link up a region with hundreds of daily flights and multiple high-frequency flights from different locations, and would carry more passengers than rival first-class rail services at equivalent fares.

Vertical say, manufacturing will see components such as the VA-1X’s cockpit displays arriving to be integrated in a final assembly. So, Mr Cervenka’s very early experience putting many parts of a machine together may still pay dividends.

IT support with business development in mind

We are not experts in new aircraft opportunities. Where our clients benefit working with us is future planning. What do we mean by that? We are nearly at the end of the year. What are your plans for 2021? Are you moving office? Are you opening a new branch? Do you need to upgrade your systems? Are your systems secure?

Contact the LIS Help Desk to speak to one of our Support Technicians. We will undertake a complete IT audit of your business. Work with you on your future goals and make recommendations to improve your systems. Whether you need IT Support, Telecoms, cloud services or security, we are here to help. We can’t fly planes, but we can help you get to your business destination and achieve your goals.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Aerospace #PassengerAircraft #LooksABitTerminatorToUs

NHS data saved

NHS data saved by Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s pilot to reinvent web

The founder of the World Wide Web may have come up with an answer for one of the NHS’s biggest challenges. How do you give patients some control of their medical data? Whilst making sure it can be shared with doctors and other healthcare workers. Does the creator of the web have the answer? Yes, he has, and Sir Tim saves NHS data, enabling patients and doctors to share access.


Key points

Tim Berners-Lee, known as the inventor of the world wide web, has revealed that Inrupt has launched a privacy platform for enterprises.

The U.K.’s National Health Service, the BBC, NatWest Bank and the Flanders Government are among its early adopters.

Berners-Lee has become increasingly concerned that today’s digital giants are exploiting citizens around the world.

For two years, Sir Tim Berners-Lee has been working on an idea called Solid. A web platform that allows users to store their data in what is called a Personal Online Data Store – or Pod, according to BBC News. With this solution Sir Tim and his team have changed the way we use the Internet and store sensitive data.


NHS data saved: The eureka moment

Far from just being an academic project, the technology behind this platform is being developed by a company called Inrupt with some major venture capital backers. Now Inrupt and its chief technology officer Sir Tim have announced what he calls a major milestone – the release of its technology in the form of the Solid Server, with a handful of clients already piloting possible use cases.

John Bruce, CEO & Co-Founder of Inrupt wrote in a blog that the NHS, for example, was using the platform to allow patients to store their personal medical data on Pods, as well as data from health apps on their phone or other devices.

NHS data saved

Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s latest project explores patients’ medical data storage and how it could be better shared

A ground breaking opportunity to save NHS data

“It’s going to drive ground breaking new opportunities that not only restore trust in data but also enhance our lives,” claimed Berners-Lee, who is Inrupt’s chief technology officer.”

“For all the good we’ve achieved, the web has evolved into an engine of inequity and division; swayed by powerful forces who use it for their own agendas,” he wrote in 2018. “Today, I believe we’ve reached a critical tipping point, and that powerful change for the better is possible — and necessary.” With this new breakthrough in technology, other large organisations will likely want to use this platform.

How do you store your data?

Cloud data storage offers valuable IT solutions for businesses of all sizes. This was originally used for personal use. However, cloud storage solutions for business are crucial in today’s world.

Now the NHS data is saved securely, this technology can help businesses of all sizes. Our clients also benefit from cloud storage and security. Cloud services are taking over almost every aspect of technology and are an important part of business life. Many businesses can benefit from comprehensive cloud services and will help to streamline their operations. Despite its accessibility, data stored via the cloud is extremely safe and secure. Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss cloud storage, hosted applications and security.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#technews #internet #NHS #TimBernersLee

 

QR codes go mainstream

Who would of thought, one year ago, that an app reliant on QR code usage would get 12.4 million UK consumer downloads in just four days. The app has helped QR codes go mainstream. The app in question is, of course, the NHS Covid-19 track and trace app.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought about many changes to the way we live, work and play. Among all those remarkable changes, the acceptance of the previously much-maligned QR code is being used to great effect.

Although the NHS app has had its criticisms, it has suffered from the usual launch bug fixes. There have been several challenges caused by handset OS upgrades. As well as, millions of people who have never used a QR code before. Many users have never installed a QR code reader. They arrive at venues, pointing their camera phones at the QR code and are amazed at the immediate recognition of where they have just ‘checked-in’.

QR codes go mainstream

Create an NHS QR code for visitors to scan using the NHS Test and Trace app.
For businesses, places of worship, community organisations and events.

Opening up opportunities as QR codes go mainstream

The same users are also surprised that without even needing to use a specially downloaded app, pointing their camera at a QR code can immediately bring up the menu for the pub or restaurant they have visited. Of course, some of those hospitality venues take the process beyond the instant menu delivery – allowing you to order and pay for your food and drink order without leaving the table. An entire process triggered by a simple QR code working in combination with a smartphone camera.

The upsurge in QR code awareness and availability caused by the pandemic has seen many more people become comfortable with their usage. Businesses recognise the flexibility and scope of QR technology to make online interactions and transactions quicker, simpler and more secure.

James Cook and Matthew Field from The Telegraph, explore QR codes: What are they and how do you use them?

The pros

Space comes with a price when you invest in printed marketing materials like brochures, catalogues, adverts and signage. QR codes are a simple means to direct an audience to more information about a product, service or promotion while ensuring you don’t waste valuable print space on unnecessary details.

Track audience response with ease

You can assign and track any number of QR codes based on your specific objectives (and there are plenty of online tools that allow you to do so for free).

These are some benefits of QR codes to take into consideration:

  • Easily generated
  • Can be custom sized to fit promotional items
  • A cost-effective way to segment your audience
  • Provide insight into audience interest over multiple campaigns

The cons as QR codes go mainstream

QR codes were originally designed as a shortcut: The customer snaps a photo of the QR code with a mobile device, which theoretically takes him/her directly to relevant and more detailed information. However, QR codes require a hurdle that businesses must ensure they have accounted for before they will provide a benefit.

For example, the user must already download the necessary app to support the reading of the code. With so many different types of mobile devices supported on different platforms, it can be tough for business owners to predict which apps the customer has likely downloaded, to ensure the QR code works easily.

How can we help your business?

Implementing QR Codes for your business can be beneficial. Especially when it comes to promoting the services you offer to get new clients. Make sure your systems are secure and up to date. Contact the LIS Help Desk to speak to one of our support technicians. We offer a FREE IT audit and can discuss your requirements to help your business. You can improve the efficiency of your team and client experience.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGTIAL WORLD

#QRcodes #Covid-19 #Technology #ITsupport

 

SpaceX teams with Microsoft

SpaceX teams with Microsoft for Space Development Agency

A digital environment will allow the user to visualize an entire satellite architecture, test satellite designs and artificial intelligence algorithms. It was announced earlier this month that SpaceX won a $149 million contract from the Defense Department’s Space Development Agency to build four satellites to detect and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles. SpaceX teams with Microsoft Azure’s as they were interested in the orbital emulator.

Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president and chief of operating officer, revealed in a pre-recorded interview released Oct. 20 that Microsoft is a subcontractor working on the SDA program with SpaceX.

Shotwell in the video spoke with Tom Keane, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure Global, about a new agreement to use SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband to connect Azure cloud computing data centres deployed around the world. Keane also asked Shotwell to discuss the companies’ other partnership for the SDA contract.

SpaceX teams with Microsoft

Microsoft teams up with SpaceX to launch Azure Space to bring cloud computing into the final frontier.

The new space race

“We were pleased that Microsoft was on our team,” said Shotwell. “We will be delivering to the government a number of satellites that host a capability to protect against ballistic weapons. Microsoft will be doing quite a bit of work as a subcontractor which I think was kind of a funny twist to the relationship here.” Shotwell did not discuss what specific role Microsoft will play in the SDA program. SpaceX is vertically integrated and does not work with many subcontractors.

The SDA satellites will be delivered by September 2022. They will have a “wide field of view” overhead persistent infrared sensor capable of detecting and tracking advanced missile threats from low Earth orbit. The spacecraft will have optical crosslinks to pass data to relay satellites.

SpaceX teams with Microsoft forming the dream team

The orbital emulator “conducts massive satellite constellation simulations with software and hardware in the loop,” according to a Microsoft blog post. “This allows satellite developers to evaluate and train AI algorithms and satellite networking before ever launching a single satellite.”

The SDA satellites are being designed to process data on board and re-task themselves autonomously. The Azure emulator tool allows the user to see what the satellite sees, which helps model scenarios and simulate the architecture.

To infinity… and beyond!

Like Buzz Lightyear, we are huge fans of space adventures and new technology. We love helping our existing and new clients achieve their goals and stay ahead of the competition. Managed IT services do not have to cost as much as a space mission. Contact the LIS Help Desk for an IT Audit. We will make sure you avoid viruses and steroids. Stay on the correct flight path and make sure you have a safe landing.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#AzureSpace #Microsoft #SpaceX #Technology