Tweet Ideas, Win a Kindle Fire

Win this!If I had a nickel every time someone pitched me an app idea, I might have enough to buy an Amazon Kindle Fire.

Unfortunately for me, nobody has given me a nickel. But you, however, are in luck.

We’re running a contest to find the best idea for an application that uses the OpenTok API, and were giving away a spankin’ new Amazon Kindle Fire.

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The good, the bad, and the…beautiful

It’s been an exciting few weeks for video quality. In the world of the wild, wild web (www), a stranger riding into town could be good, bad, or something else…

That’s what we thought here at TokBox when Adobe Flash Player 11 galloped into the land of OpenTok last week. From a distance, the stranger looked like a bandit, triggering an old hardware acquisition bug that threatened to break the OpenTok API. But we squashed that bug right quick. After the dust settled, we realized that Flash 11 was actually one of the good guys. There was a new sheriff in town—and Flash 11 was gonna use his H.264 revolver to bring justice and a new dawn for OpenTok video quality. Thanks to Flash 11, the OpenTok API now offers beautiful images that are clearer, crisper, and sharper than ever before.

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SF Startup Weekend EDU

Last weekend I and ~50 other developers, businesspeople and designers attended the SF Startup Weekend EDU hackathon at Grockit HQ, located right around the corner from TokBox here in SoMa. The event marked the first in a series of events in a new Startup Weekend track (EDU) focused on learning and education.

This was the second Startup Weekend I’ve attended since starting here as a Developer Evangelist, and it was noticeably different from the first one I attended which was Startup Weekend MEGA, at Microsoft HQ in Mountain View. Even though SW Mega is generally regarded as a sexier Startup Weekend event due to its visibility, prizes and the three startup tracks it features, this smaller event was more fun for me because it was more focused and seemed to be a more cohesive and intimate.

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Peer to Peer Video has arrived!

Here at TokBox we’re always trying to find ways to improve the quality of your video experience.  We’ve pushed out H.264 support with the new Flash Player 11 plugin. We’re learning how to pump more bits down the same bandwidth pipe to make sure your video is clear and crisp. And now, we are excited to enable Peer to Peer video for two party video chats.

What exactly is Peer to Peer (P2P)?

Traditional OpenTok sessions stream video via our servers. With P2P,  participants stream video directly to each other, resulting in better video quality!

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Localize or Fail

I used to think that localization meant translation. As someone who has lived in the US my entire life and has no experience with international business, I didn’t know any better. I assumed that to enter a foreign market, all a company had to do was slap up translations, register a local domain, hire a US celeb to pimp the brand, then boom—10 million new users.

I wasn’t that naive of course, but I never knew what localization really meant. I never knew until I learned how unsuccessful US consumer internet companies have been at entering China. Google, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter—all the giants. They all tried and failed.

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What I Learned From Steve Jobs: At A Distance

Many years ago, I came to Silicon Valley to work as an engineer at Apple and got my start in video with QuickTime 1.0 and QuickTime VR.

Apple was where I found out that design and technology can not only co-exist, they can multiply together in a marvelous kind of fusion.  Even though I worked at Apple in the wilderness years – when Steve wasn’t with the company – that vision and focus on user experience was already deeply embedded in the DNA of the company.

Of all the things I learned at Apple, the fusion of design and technology, and the creative process that drives that fusion, were the most fundamental.  For me, working at Apple created a deep-seated belief in the transcendent impact of a beautifully integrated user experience.  That belief is why when I talk about my time at Apple, I often say:  “You can take the engineer out of Apple, but you can’t take Apple out of the engineer.”

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Video Hack Day SF

Last Saturday at TokBox HQ in San Francisco, 40 awesome and friendly hackers (and 1 mascot) came together to create 13 video apps built with a variety of video APIs. Six out of 13 projects incorporated OpenTok, including:

You Got Served: Two videos went head-to-head to compete for votes to see which one is the crowd pleaser.  One of the hackers presenting deftly showed off his dance skillz vs a football game; dance was the winner there.

8sec.tv: App that integrated OpenTok video archiving and RottenTomatoes to let users record video reviews.

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Quick Note Regarding Session ID Changes

A few weeks ago we sent out an email regarding changes to our session IDs (they are now longer, up to 255 characters).  If you are storing session IDs for re-use, make sure that your database field supports this (we recommend a length of 512 just to be safe).

Also, when you switch your app from staging to production, make sure to also modify the client JavaScript src URL and server-side API URL to point to production!  You’ll also want to make sure that you start using production and not staging session IDs.

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Good news & Bad News with Adobe Flash Player 11

Update #2: We have just pushed the fix for this issue. Please let us know in our forums if there are any problems with hardware acquisition for end users on Flash Player 11

Update #1: Google Chrome has updated their built-in version of Adobe Flash to Flash Player 11. We have not yet released our fix for this issue, but we are hard at work to make it happen.

Let’s play the good news/bad news game.

The good news is that Adobe’s Flash Player 11 brings with it a lot of new goodies including support for the H.264 video codec. More on how that will improve video quality in the OpenTok API in another blog post.

The bad news is there is a very old bug in Adobe’s hardware acquisition flow which Flash Player 11 has resurfaced.  Specifically, the release of the Flash Player 11 plugin has broken the work-around that we have had in place since the release of OpenTok.

What does that mean for you, the developer?

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Live Virtual Town Hall – How Addiction Impacts Society

Today (9/27) at 5:00 p.m. PT, InTheRooms.com is partnering with Drugfree.org and TheFix.com to host the first ever virtual town hall for their You Are Not Alone Campaign. During this virtual town hall, a panel of experts will gather to discuss how addiction impacts different segments of society.

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