Archive for the ‘eLearning’ Category

I’m speaking at Penn State University in June

The title of this blog post is the same as my session for Web Conference. Following the recent security headlines at Penn State, the title of my session is either ironic or prophetic. I think I’ll go for ironic, since the security issue at Penn State encountered was not really like my title, but the FBI really did call!

If you have not already gathered, I work for FireEye, the company that owns Mandiant, the company that the FBI introduced to Penn State to perform incident response. This blog post is not going to be about the Penn State’s security breach. I just wanted to establish some context.

I have been working at FireEye for close to three years. I joined as an instructional designer, and now I am a manager running a team of 7 instructional designers. In the time that I have been at FireEye I have learned the most incredible things about network security, and the lengths that threat actors (the generic name we use for all the bad guys, be they nation state, criminal gangs, lone hackers, or groups like Anonymous) will go to in order to steal your data or interfere with your network.

I expect that if you are interested in security you are still reading. Rather than talk specifically about my session, I thought I could share with you some tidbits that could come up in any presentation of mine, or dinner conversation after I’ve had half a glass of wine. I’ll include links for further reading for the motivated learners among you.


Did you know that Target was breached through their HVAC contractor? Brian Krebs, a well known security researcher and blogger, published this report that goes into significant detail of how the breach occurred and unfolded. In short – the HVAC contractor was pwned when one of their employees fell for a phishing email that enabled the threat actors to steal credentials to Target’s network. Once the bad guys had that access, they were able to scan the network, learn the topology of the full network, and set about exploring servers, workstations and, most importantly, the POS (Point of Sale) terminals where millions of credit/debit card swipes occur daily. The most remarkable thing about this breach was it was the first time that our researchers had seen malware read card data direct from memory, thus bypassing any need to decrypt the data!

APT1 – The Comment Crew

In 2012, Mandiant published APT1: Exposing One of China’s Cyber Espionage Units. This explosive report describes, in great detail, the activities of a threat actor group that they codenamed APT1. The report tells the history of four main characters in the group, outlining their background and talking about their specific roles. It also pictures the building were 3,000 of China’s army are housed and perform worldwide hacking activities full time. And goes on to describe how China employs a total of around 300,000 soldiers in hacking activities. When I first read this report, the first thing I thought was “If this is what they are willing to disclose publicly, what else does Mandiant know that they cannot share?”

Why are they called the Comment Crew Steve?

Oh yeah – because they posted comments in online forums that were used by their malware to self-configure. So they installed malware on a victim machine, and the malware would at some point connect to the internet to discover its instructions for what to do next – download additional files, for instance.

Interestingly, this tactic has been used more recently: Chinese Snoops Hid Malware Commands on Microsoft Technet Site. Clearly the notion of ‘hidden in plain sight’ is not lost on the bad guys.

Clandestine Fox

Operation Clandestine Fox, as it was named by FireEye when it was discovered, is a fascinating case study, and one that shows the importance of keeping your security patches up to date. In brief, users could be attacked through a crafted web page that contained a specific set of files, including a Flash file that exploited a vulnerability in Internet Explorer. The vulnerability actually existed in all versions of IE from 6 to 11, and was considered so serious that Microsoft issued a patch within 24 hours of FireEye discovering Operation Clandestine Fox, and patched IE6 in Windows XP, even though official support for XP was long-ago ended.

Back to the Presentation

What is the likelihood that something that you develop or admin becomes the vector for an attack on your future employer? We can’t say for sure.

What’s the likelihood that something you develop or admin has a vulnerability that could be exploited? Probably 100%!

Is there anything you can do to mitigate such a possibility? Well there’s lots, and that’s what I’ll talk about. Since this is a Web conference, not a network security/admin conference I’ll keep it fairly light and talk about some of your considerations for web and app development, with some general dos and don’ts, best practices and a few little stories thrown in. If you want to learn more about the kinds of things the bad guys do, and what you, as a web developer, can do to defend against them, then come and see my session.

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Justin Mass demonstrates how quickly you can produce a demo video with Adobe Presenter 8 – 2 minutes to record, and 7 minutes to edit:-

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eLearning Suite Launch Party!

Join the Atlanta chapter of the ASTD and the Adobe Users Group of Atlanta for an Informative and Amusing Evening to celebrate the launch of Adobe Captivate 6.  Adobe eLearning Evangelist, Dr. Allen Partridge will share all the latest news and information about Adobe Captivate 6the yet to be released Adobe Presenter 8, and the Adobe eLearning Suite 6released on July 18th.

The release of Adobe Captivate 6 has been heralded by eLearning professionals as the most significant upgrade to Captivate in history and the other Adobe eLearning products aim to match that sentiment.  You won’t want to miss seeing for yourself the latest mobile, video and out-of-the-box solutions in Adobe’s hot new eLearning software.

Register here!

Dr. Allen Partridge is the eLearning Evangelist for Adobe. In addition to his work for Adobe Systems, he serves on the doctoral faculty in the Communications Media and Instructional Technology program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Allen has written several books and a host of articles on topics ranging from 3D game development to Instructional Design for new technologies. He is active in explorations of Immersive Learning as well as traditional multimedia enhanced eLearning and rapid eLearning. Allen works closely with the eLearning Suite and Captivate teams at Adobe, providing a channel to customer needs and concerns and helping facilitate communication among team members.

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Before the sun was even up here in Atlanta, Adobe released eLearning Suite 6 today. Of big interest to me is the new Multi-SCO packager which has been significantly improved. Check it out in the sneak video below!



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I was amused by this blog post – Ballpoint pens… the ruin of education in our country – that Jane Bozarth shared on Twitter. It points out some absurdities from educational resistance to change over the last couple of centuries.

Quoting the book Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America the Nick Sauers has the following list:

  • From a principal’s pub­li­ca­tion in 1815: “Students today depend on paper too much.  They don’t know how to write on a slate with­out get­ting chalk dust all over them­selves.  They can’t clean a slate properly. What will they do when they run out of paper?”
  • From the jour­nal of the National Asso­ci­a­tion of Teach­ers, 1907: “Stu­dents today depend too much upon ink.  They don’t know how to use a pen knife to sharpen a pen­cil.  Pen and ink will never replace the pencil.”
  • From Rural Amer­i­can Teacher, 1928: “Students today depend upon store bought ink.  They don’t know how to make their own.  When they run out of ink they will be unable to write words or ciphers until their next trip to the set­tle­ment.  This is a sad com­men­tary on mod­ern education.”
  • From Federal Teach­ers, 1950: “Ball­point pens will be the ruin of edu­ca­tion in our coun­try.  Stu­dents use these devices and then throw them away.  The Amer­i­can val­ues of thrift and fru­gal­ity are being dis­carded.  Busi­nesses and banks will never allow such expen­sive luxuries.”
  • From a sci­ence fair judge in Apple Class­room of Tomor­row chron­i­cles, 1988: “Com­put­ers give stu­dents an unfair advan­tage.  There­fore,students who used com­put­ers to ana­lyze data or cre­ate dis­plays will be elim­i­nated from the sci­ence fair.”

It’s fun to note that the book could have continued much further into the past, to Socrates who is often cited as lamenting that writing causes forgetfulness, and thus permanently harms the value of education.

For extra giggles, as a constant reader you will remember all the hoohaa a couple of years ago about how Google makes us stupid. There were so many copycat articles, I’m not even sure I could find the original if my life depended on it  🙂

The fact of the matter is that humans are very resourceful, and somehow we keep fumbling along, learning stuff, making stuff, inventing new stuff, in spite of our seemingly constant efforts to destroy education as we know it and make our children stupid. What do you mean we don’t? It must be true, because I read it a thousand times.

So anyway, Nick Sauers‘ blog post inspired me to write the following on Facebook, and I thought it was worthwhile sharing here – it’s high time I stuck with my occasional promises to blog more consistently anyway!

I remember being told that if I didn’t learn to write as beautifully as my sister, then I would never get a decent job.

Thank goodness for computers, phones, tablets!

I think the only thing I regularly write these days are cheques, and my writing is still horrible 🙂

More seriously, it seems that many of us agree that we do have some deep-seated issues with eduction that need to be addressed. Education in America gets constant bad press for being more expensive and less effective than in other industrialized nations.

IMHO, at least some of the cause, as suggested above, is with teachers and their resistance to change. The trouble with many teachers (not all – I am well aware that there are many great teachers!) is that, on average they are an ‘older’ generation, they were taught by an even older generation and they don’t have time or motivation to truly learn, master and integrate new-fangled technologies and techniques into their workflow.

Therefore I think teaching is about to go through a painful revolution as a few things converge, particularly here in America:-

  • The personal cost of higher education, and the return on that investment is just not equating to value.
  • There is a loud hubbub about moving to something akin to an apprenticeship model in education – teaching to a career rather than teaching to a square peg and rarely-used specialities.
  • The Internet means everyone knows they can get great learning resources for free, so why pay $60,000+++?
  • Technologies like tablets really are changing how we interact with information and technology, making learning more instant, and critical thinking more important than Industrial Age teaching methods require (the flaws of Industrial Age teaching wonderfully explained by Sir Ken Robinsonfull version here ).
  • Classrooms make less and less sense.
  • As does the rigid timetable of formal education. More parents work from home these days, so why can’t kids ‘school from home’? I use this phrase as a distinction from ‘home schooling’.
  • It might just require a revolution in education to keep unemployment below 10%. It seems like too many young people leave education without being able to turn their schooling into employment.

I’m not saying anything new here. In the eLearning, Teaching and Business worlds, people are saying similar things and have been for a while.

I really have enjoyed the bloom of technology over the last two decades, and the effect of it in our learning solutions, in particular how we can all now be constant and instant learners. I am excited by the changes that are ahead of us, even as I recognize that for many of us, these changes will bring all sorts of trauma as our view of learning gets turned upside down, inside out and spat out as something new and (hopefully) effective for at least a couple of generations before our next learning revolution.

Do share your thoughts in the comments. This is a subject that fascinates me, and affects us all!

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Frankly, I’m getting pretty excited about it. I’ve read in a few places that the Surface tablet will be like the Surface ‘table’ computer in that it will be able to ‘see’ what it placed on it. If you’ve never seen any of the Surface demos on YouTube, you should go peek now.

I showed this iPad vs Windows 8 (beta) tablet to a colleague and some friends. There are some pretty compelling new features, reminiscent of a conglomeration of WebOS and other tablets that make my wallet nervous …

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Techsmith quietly released Camtasia Studio 8 last week.

Camtasia Studio 8 gains a more complex interface as great new features are added.

I am a big Camtasia fan, so I’ve just downloaded Studio 8 and taken a quick look and I see several things that are exciting:-

  • Grouping objects on the timeline
  • The ability to replace video on the video layer with an image and then zoom the image, same as zooming video (Used to be able to do this with video or image, but not both combined in the same project)
  • Motion animations
  • Smartplayer – bringing interactive Camtasia projects to iOS at last

Since Captivate and Camtasia are close competitors, it is easy to see why certain features are similar in each, but until now I thought that Captivate 6 was going to be an easy choice for video-only demos. However, this latest release from Techsmith has me certain that I will still want to use both products.

Exciting Times

But I suspect I will not be saying this for long. With Captivate’s new subscription model allowing more regular updates, I hope to see new features in CP6 dot releases that enable Captivate to quickly leapfrog Camtasia.

It has been a few years since Adobe/Macromedia’s software releases have generated such a buzz in the Community. The new subscription model has the potential to be both disruptive and stimulating for software users in all sorts of industries.

Camtasia for Mac

Confession: I have been aware of Camtasia 2 for Mac for some time, and even own a license for it but I did not install it until now. It looks like Camtasia Studio 8 for Windows and Camtasia 2.2 for Mac do not have feature parity right now, though I have to do some more research to be certain.

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ImageOn Friday June 15th, Adobe released Captivate 6. This latest version of Captivate has some major new features, including the ability to publish to HTML 5 (concurrently with Flash publishing), a new Video Project, massively improved PowerPoint import and integration, interactive widgets, powerful themes and much more.

If you are heading out for mLearnCon in San Jose on June 19th, I’ll be there talking about the Video Demo workflow with Pooja Jaisingh, one of Adobe’s eLearning Evangelists.

Adobe has published a lot of Captivate 6 feature demos on AdobeTV, and I recommend you take a few minutes to browse them.

Here are some quick Captivate 6 resources:

AdobeTV: What’s new in Adobe Captivate 6

Leive Weymeis (Lilybiri): Captivate 6 – Advanced Actions


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Are you interested in Adobe Course Companion?

Adobe Systems will give a demo of “Course Companion for Adobe Captivate 5.5” on Wednesday 1st February 2012.

Here are the details.

Date – Wednesday 1st February
Time – 8:00 AM PST (Pacific Standard Time)
11:am Eastern
Duration – 1 hour
Connect meeting URL – https://my.adobeconnect.com/giliyaru

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From the horse’s mouth, so to speak

What is it that Adobe is announcing?

Adobe announced to increase its efforts on HTML5, use of the Flash Player for applications (packaged with AIR) and specific desktop browsing use cases including premium video and console-quality gaming. As a result, Adobe will no longer develop Flash Player for mobile web browsers. See this Flash Platform blog post for more details: http://adobe.ly/sbokei

Does this mean that Adobe is no longer supporting content publishers focused on delivering content via a browser on a mobile device?

Adobe offers world-class tools and technologies including HTML5 tools like Edge that allow content publishers and developers to bring rich content and experiences across mobile web browsers using HTML5.

What does this mean for Flash Player support on desktops?

Adobe is fully committed to providing a great experience for use cases not yet well supported by HTML, including console quality gaming and premium video. In fact, Flash Player 11 just introduced dozens of new features, including hardware accelerated 3D graphics for console-quality gaming and premium HD video with content protection. We are already working on Flash Player 12 and a new round of exciting features which we expect to again advance what is possible for delivering high definition entertainment experiences.

Why is Adobe making this move now?

All the major platform providers (Android, iOS, Windows 8) are betting on HTML5 for browsing, some even to the point of excluding third party plug-ins such as Flash Player. Adobe sees this as the right time to increase our focus on accelerating the development of HTML for in browser experiences, especially on mobile (phones and tablets), and general purpose apps, while using Flash to drive whatʼs possible in advanced interactive entertainment areas like console-quality gaming and premium video so that it can continue to serve as a blueprint for further work on HTML. Flash developers get the greatest reach by targeting mobile devices with apps packaged with AIR, and that is where we are investing while helping the mobile browsers advance the state of the art of what can be done in a browser. Our new strategy allows us to maintain leadership in web content and give developers the best tools to create content across all platforms.

Will Adobe continue to support AIR? On Mobile? On TVs?

Adobe is fully committed to enabling Flash based apps via AIR on mobile and digital home devices.

Will the Flash Player continue to be available on the Android Market?

Yes. The current version of Flash will be available on the Android Market in the near future.

When will Adobe stop supporting Flash Player for browsing on mobile?

Adobe will release one more version of the Flash Player for mobile browsing, which will provide support for Android 4.0, and one more release of the Flash Linux Porting Kit – both expected to be released before the end of this year. After that time, Adobe will continue to provide critical bug fixes and security updates.

What will happen with Flash Player support on RIMʼs BBX platform?

Adobe will continue to support RIMʼs use of the Flash Player on the current PlayBook configurations with critical bug fixes and security updates. RIM has done a great job optimizing the Flash Player for their platform and as a result the RIM playbook provides a great experience for consuming Flash content. RIM is expected to leverage their expertise with Flash to continue to support and ship the Flash Player on BBX devices for the foreseeable future.

Will the current version of Flash Player support smartphones and tablets that are
coming to market over the coming weeks and months?

It depends on the version of the OS, silicon, and browser supported on the device. We are working with OEMs to determine the appropriate support and transition plan for their current and planned devices.

Will Adobe stop OEMs from shipping Flash Player on devices?

No, Adobe will not stop OEMs from pre-loading and shipping the Flash Player. We expect some of our OEM partners to opt to continue working on and releasing their own implementations of the Flash Player. However, Adobe will be recommending mobile OEMs discontinue pre-loading new devices with Flash Player due to expected OS and browser compatibility issues. However, existing licensees can continue shipping Flash Player at the manufacturerʼs discretion.

Will 3D support and any of the console-quality Flash games you demoed at MAX come to mobile devices?

Yes, game developers will be able to bring console-quality games with hardware-accelerated 3D graphics to mobile devices as Flash based apps packaged with AIR. On the desktop 3D games can be delivered with Flash within the browser or as a Flash based app via AIR. However, 3D content will not be supported in Flash Player on mobile browsers.

What does this mean for Flex?
Flex SDK 4.5 supports the development of mobile applications that target, or are packaged with AIR. Mobile applications built with Flex SDK are installed on phone or tablet devices and do not rely upon the browser or Adobe Flash Player to run; as such, they are unaffected by this announcement.

How does this affect other Flash Platform tools?
This news has no impact on the Flash platform tooling offerings (e.g. Flash Builder) from Adobe.

Is Flash getting more and more replaced by HTML5? How will Adobe advance Flash Player on desktops and stay relevant?

We are continuing to invest in Flash to deliver the most advanced web experiences on desktops, focusing on features that are not yet available in HTML5. Flash Player 11 just introduced dozens of new features, including hardware accelerated 3D graphics for console-quality gaming and premium HD video with content protection. Flash developers can take advantage of these features, and all that Flash has to offer, to reach more than a billion desktops through their browsers and repurpose their content to hundreds of millions of mobile devices through popular App Stores using Flash based apps packaged/enabled with AIR.

We are already working on the next future version of Flash Player and a new round of exciting features which we expect to again advance what is possible for delivering high definition entertainment experiences across the Web and devices. We will continue to leverage our experience with Flash to accelerate our work with the W3C and WebKit to bring similar capabilities to HTML5 as quickly as possible, just as we have done with CSS Shaders. And, we will design new features in Flash for a smooth transition to HTML5 as the standards evolve so developers can confidently invest knowing their skills will continue to be leveraged.

How many Flash-based apps are available on App Stores today?

There are thousands of Flash based apps available on App Stores like Android Market, AppWorld, or Amazonʼs App Store. Popular and top rated examples include Machinarium, Politifact, Dr Stanleyʼs House, Facebook on BlackBerry, WatchESPN etc.

How are Flash-based apps different from HTML5 apps?

Flash based apps deliver features and capabilities not yet supported in HTML5 such as 3D graphics or content protection for premium video. Developers are able to deliver high-end entertainment experiences as Flash based apps packaged via AIR on mobile platforms and within the browser on desktops.

What about Flash Player and support for web browsing on TVʼs (Google TV, Samsung SmartTVs and other connected Digital Home devices)?

Adobe will continue to support existing licensees who are planning on supporting Flash Player for web browsing on digital home devices and are using the Flash Player Porting Kit to do so. However we believe the right approach to deliver content on televisions is through applications, not a web browsing experience, and we will continue to encourage the device and content publishing community down that path.

What happens to Flash browsing support in the Google TV solution?

We recommend you talk with Google, but we believe Google has no immediate plans to remove the Flash Player from the Google TV browser.

Do you regret having waited so long after Steve Jobs predicted that Flash Player wonʼt work on mobile devices 1.5 years ago?

HTML5 has matured and is able to deliver a great web browsing experiences across mobile devices. At the same time users consume rich content almost exclusively via apps on smartphones and tablets today.

At Adobe we are focused on delivering the best tools and technologies for our developers and content publishers so they can offer the best possible experiences to their customers across platforms – from desktops to smartphones, from tablets to TVs. We are proud to lead the industry with HTML5 tools while offering new, cutting– edge features in Flash that are not yet supported in HTML5.

Is this expected to improve the relationship between Adobe and Apple?

Adobe and Apple have a longstanding relationship and Mac and iOS users are very important to Adobe. Like with any other company in the industry we work closely with Apple in specific areas like support for our Creative Suite products on Mac OS while we compete in other areas like video editing tools.

What platforms and browsers will Adobe continue to support with Flash Player for browsing?

Adobe plans to continue to support Apple Mac OS X and Safari; Google Chrome Browser for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows and Intel-based Chrome OS; Microsoft Intel based Windows and desktop Internet Explorer; and cooperate with other third-party browser providers such as Mozilla and Opera.

How will content publishers serving premium video reach mobile devices?

Content publishers can continue to stream premium, Flash based video content across platforms and devices including the iPhone and iPad using Flash Media Server 4.5. Additionally, content publishers can deliver premium video experiences as Flash based applications packaged with AIR across platforms including connected TVs.

Does Adobe intend to bring HTML5’s capabilities to full parity with Flash Player? If yes, then why continue supporting Flash Player for desktop?

HTML5 today cannot replace the Flash Player as a platform for delivering console gaming or premium video experience on desktop computers. Adobe plans to leverage its expertise around these use cases to help HTML5 catch up to the Flash Player, but even with the rapid pace of innovation for HTML5 it will take time for HTML5 to catch up to Flash.

Will Adobe create Flash Player for Windows 8 on ARM and Windows 8 on X86?
Adobeʼs plan is to continue supporting Flash Player for browsing on desktops going forward with Windows 8 on X86 only.

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