Technology dead-ends

My web browser’s been telling me for a while about how Adobe Flash won’t be supported after the end of the year, but I haven’t given it much thought.  Some minor inconveniences in accessing certain websites, I figured.  But a newsletter I came across last week reminds me that there’s more to it than this, and that Flash plays a pretty important role in some of our larger projects.

We’ve all been building remote management capabilities into our systems for years.  In my work, these have generally taken the form of support tools, where a manufacturer provides both a piece of equipment and some supporting software.  If something needs upgrading, the manufacturer handles it in the background, and it’s pretty seamless.  But I’ve also done projects with multiple classroom control panels replicated in shared control rooms, and though I hadn’t stopped to think about it, Flash has been part of the architecture.  In a few months, these won’t work anymore.  There are solutions, but we didn’t think we had to worry – these were supposed to run reliably for years.

This brings to mind the Y2K concerns of a while back, another example of a technology decision that became a blind alley years later.  There’s a good Wikipedia article on this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_2000_problem and also a video https://youtu.be/1xWNm_w8uVg, and while these may be entertaining for us now, the issue was taken quite seriously at the time.  A great deal of money was spent in replacing equipment (including A/V equipment), and people worried over what might happen come January 1st.  We got through it, though at a cost.

Technology dead-ends like this will continue to be part of the landscape (wireless spectrum reallocation is another example).  We can’t always see these coming, but keeping ourselves and our clients informed, engaged with manufacturers and with the industry, is how we manage them.