HTML5 & the Future of Media on the Web

When Apple solidified its stance regarding Flash on the iOS platform (or, the lack thereof), an up-and-coming web standard was suddenly cast into the spotlight.  HTML5 was a new open source and standardized version of the HTML standard (HyperText Markup Language; the basis for all modern web browsing) which had been in development since mid-2004, with the first tentative release in 2007.  Incorporating features of HTML 4.01 and XHTML 1.1, the previous mid-life additions to the HTML standard, as well as features of Adobe’s Flash and Microsoft’s Silverlight.

Notable additions were drag-and-drop site interaction (very common on the web, thanks to XHTML, developed throughout the mid-2000s) and, more significantly, audio and video playback.  Instead of requiring a 3rd party plugin, such as Flash or Silverlight, or a 3rd party playback codec, such as Quicktime or Windows Media Player, HTML5 could play properly encoded audio and video straight from the browser.  This significantly simplified the prospective future landscape of media on the web.  Instead of being dependent on the development pace of Adobe or Microsoft, web developers were freed to contract their own web plugins taking advantage of the new standards. Continue reading

Performance – And Performance Appraisals

Intellectually, everyone gets the value of performance appraisals.  Yet every client I’ve ever encountered usually bemoans the process and most employees criticize the appraisals.  Why is something that should have so much value end up being so belittled?

Organizations do lots of things wrong when it comes to reviews.  There is a tendency to spring the final evals on employees as a surprise.  I have lost count of the number of people who told me that they came out of their appraisal session in shock—having heard things they didn’t expect.  One basic rule of the formal appraisal is that nothing in that session should come as a surprise to the employee—it’s just a formal meeting to review and sign-off on informal coaching and counseling that went on earlier during the year.  Another issue is the tendency for managers to put off appraisals until the last possible moment.  There are lots of reasons this happens.  In some cases, it’s about avoiding unpleasantness or confrontation.  In others, it’s because it’s a hassle to do the appraisal paperwork and prepare for it—often because the criteria are so subjective. Continue reading