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In the Lab: Assumptions

A picture is worth a thousand words - if you can get Flash downloaded and installed so you can see the pictures...
While testing SOA Management products I discovered that it isn't always that easy to get Flash downloaded, let alone installed.
Products displaying real-time performance metrics - SOA Management, load balancers, etc... - started using Flash to display graphics several years ago. It's nearly ubiquitous, having something like 90% penetration across browsers, and it allows for real-time updating of a single "control" on a web page without requiring a reload. In that sense, it's very much in line with the current Web 2.0 mania, only it's been around a lot longer.

Maybe it was because I didn't have a live chicken to sacrifice for some strange archaic ritual required. Maybe it was because the machines I installed the SOA Management product on were running a fresh install of Windows 2003 R2. Or maybe it's just that the scripts on Adobe's site that determine what OS you're running to make sure you download the right version of Flash aren't working properly.

Whatever the reason, I found it impossible yesterday to download Flash from Adobe's site onto the server so we could view the real-time performance metrics of the Web Services being managed by the SOA Management product I was testing.

Like many sites that offer downloads of products for multiple platforms, Macromedia, now Adobe, tries to determine what OS you're running and directs you to the appropriate download page. Unlike many sites, Adobe doesn't allow you to specify the proper download if it incorrectly determines what OS you're running.

I'm not sure how "Windows 2003 R2" translates into "MacOS X", but apparently there's some strange linguisitic impediment in Adobe's scripts that make this translation, because no matter how many times I went to Adobe's site to "get flashplayer" I was directed to the MacOS X page with no way to choose the right OS.

After multiple, frustrating attempts I moved to a machine running XP on which Flash was already installed, disgusted by the errors in this automatic script that couldn't figure out that any browser agent field containing the substring "Windows" is running on, well, some version of Windows.

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