Bart Allen as the FlashI’ve just launched, a companion blog to the website, Flash: Those Who Ride the Lightning.

Since I started adding news items to the front page of Ride the Lightning, it’s started to get a bit crowded. I thought about converting it to a Delicious feed, but then I realized it really ought to be a blog. There hasn’t been a major Flash-focused blog out there since Crimson Lightning shut down, so I figured I’d step in and fill the gap. And I could use the domain I picked up last year!

I’ll be posting Flash-related news there, including a weekly round-up of Flash comics, as well as articles that might not fit into the existing site structure, and (eventually) reviews as well. Some stuff that I would have posted here will end up on the new site. Certainly Flash news, but I may start shifting more comics-related commentary over there as well.

I’ll be refining the look and features over the next couple of weeks, and cross-linking it more into Ride the Lightning. I might keep the current theme with a few tweaks, or I might try to match Ride the Lightning, or I might build something else entirely.

So please, check it out and let me know what you think! I’m open to suggestions as to content, design, etc. And of course bug reports.

The WaSP Buzz’ article on a new mobile web browser test made mention of phones that can read QR Codes—one of several types of 2-D bar codes that you see on things like shipping labels. In this case, the idea is that you can point your phone’s camera at the QR code and it’ll decode it and send you to the appropriate URL.

My first thought was that this was just like the CueCat, which was a bar code scanner that you could plug into your computer’s USB port, then scan bar codes in magazines, or on cans of soda, or whatever, and it would tell your computer to bring up relevant information. It was marketed in the late 1990s, during the tech boom… and it was a total flop. No one wanted them. The company went under and had millions of the little scanners sitting around unsold.

But now there are multiple schemes in use for object hyperlinking. In addition to graphical codes, there are RFID tags, GPS coordinates, and short text codes that you can easily type into an SMS message or a web portal.

So why is this sort of thing working now, 10 years later? Is it a societal change? Was the CueCat ahead of its time?

I think there are two reasons:

  • CueCat was a single-purpose device. All the applications listed involve smartphones or other multi-purpose handheld devices. No one wanted a device that would only scan bar codes, but a phone/camera/browser/MP3 Player/bicycle that also scans bar codes? Sure, why not?
  • CueCat was tied to the desktop. Sure, you could plug it into a laptop computer, but you’d still have to take the object over to your computer to scan the bar code. Unless you’re a lousy typist, swiping the CueCat across your can of Coke isn’t that much easier than typing in As a home user, you’re not likely to be scanning a dozen objects in a row (unless you’re cataloging all of your books for LibraryThing).

All the applications listed on that page are mobile. A tagging scheme does give you an advantage when you’re out walking down the street and see something interesting. It’s much easier to punch in a short number than to try to type a URL on most phones, easier still to point your camera at a graphic, and dead simple to pick up an RFID tag or pull in GPS coordinates.

I had an interesting thought looking at the Blog Action Day, um, blog, which remarked on what, for me, was Sunday:

And so we come to it at last… Blog Action Day has now officially begun for the first countries closest to the International Dateline.

I realized that it wasn’t going to stop after 24 hours the way that, for instance, Slashdot’s April Fools days run (GMT midnight to midnight). The event was designed to be October 15—not October 15 in a particular time zone. If you start with the first zone to reach a date, and run through the last zone to finish it, “October 15” would last about 48 hours.

I’m too sleepy to do the math myself, so I’ll trust Wikipedia’s entry on Time Zones:

Because the earliest and latest time zones are 26 hours apart, any given calendar date exists at some point on the globe for 50 hours. For example, April 11 begins in time zone UTC+14 at 10:00 UTC April 10, and ends in time zone UTC-12 at 12:00 UTC April 12.

So there you have it: a worldwide event tied to a calendar day but no time zone lasts 50 hours.

And here you thought things moved faster on Internet Time!

The FlashI just discovered that the domain name was available. I couldn’t pass it up. Now I have to figure out what to do with it.

I’ve toyed with the idea of separating out all the Flash stuff from this blog and creating a dedicated comics blog. I’ve also thought about renaming the site, Flash: Those Who Ride the Lightning (it’s an awkward name*, no matter how you slice it), though it’s got enough mindshare that I’d rather just simplify it to “Ride the Lightning.”

Any suggestions?

*Come to think of it, I have a history of picking names that seem perfect at the time, only turn out to be awkward later on. The Alternative Browser Alliance seemed like the perfect name, but I got so sick and tired of typing that I registered just so I could use it more easily.

Overly-cute fox with puppy-dog eyes, captioned: Please don’t hurt the web. Use open standardsThe Mozilla Developer Center has just posted some desktop wallpaper promoting open standards, (and the MDC itself) with the theme, “Please don’t hurt the web. Use open standards.”

Apparently the design was a big hit as a poster at SXSW.

For those who haven’t seen it, the MDC is a great developer resource for web developers, describing lots of standards along with Mozilla-specific information.

(via Rhian @ SFX, who notes that the image is available for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license. These wallpapers are also covered by the Mozilla Trademark Policy.)