back to article iPhone ego clash costs Flash at Virgin America

Update: This story has been updated to show that although Virgin American is not using Flash on its home page, it is using Flash elsewhere on its site As Silicon Valley titans Apple and Adobe System deck it out over the weakness of Flash, one Valley-based outfit has put Adobe's Flash in its place - and that place isn't …

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Happy side effect of this foolish wazzing contest

While I do think that Apple are being dicks over Flash (and showing the sort of control-freakery that means I'll never own any Apple kit more elaborate than an MP3 player) a large site ditching Flash in favour of (gasp) HTML can only be a good thing.

Flash: good for games, good for video, catastrophic for any "serious" webbery.

All IMO of course...

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Go

Oh yes!

Having to deal with those lazy Flash-only sites from time to time, this is one thing I can actually thank the iPhone for. Flash is for games, anything more complex is a job for HTML, JSP, ASPX, PHP, whatever.

Good riddance!

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Point of order

Flash is utter rubbish for video as well. Roll on HTML5 (and Ogg Vorbis [On2 v3] or license/patent free On2 v8 support; you can shove your H264).

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FAIL

Errrr. theres flash on the site

Check out the route map:

http://www.virginamerica.com/va/travelInfo.do?pageName=routemap&rightBar=routemap_right_bar

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got there second

You got there before me. First thing I wanted to look at was where do they actually fly, and the way to find out is apparently to install flash.

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Yeh but

look at the free publicity they got!

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is that the mobile site?

as per the article?

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FAIL

Fail yourself?

Maybe they didn't feel like sitting up all night following the announcement changing the site just for the benefit of pendants - maybe it was intended as a announcement of corporate policy that will be implemented over time?

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Go

Adobe got what....

it deserves.

we're witnessing the demise of a technology that could've been much better if well developed.

I guess Jobs was right to say that Adobe was lazy on Flash.

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Rob
Unhappy

Adobe are lazy...

... with a lot of things, not just flash.

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The vast majority or web content ... are built using the technology? Really?

You state:

"But Flash still dominates the web: <snip> the vast majority of web content <snip snip> are built using the technology."

I thought the vast majority of web content used text and images. I guess I go to the wrong sites.

Richard

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JMD
WTF?

What a visionary...

Look at me I made a site in HTML, I am CTO/CIO of the year! On to open standards stardom! What a joke... Or a slow news day?

It's good practice to always provide alternative content when using Flash, no?

:)

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Anonymous Coward

Heavy-handed

When the web was just kicking off, there was something called the Bandwidth Conservation Society. The premise was to use some very simple techniques to vastly reduce the size of graphics and images to speed up page load-up times, without any noticeable visual degradation in the page appearance. Recall that then, even major corporations often only had a 56k pipe to the Internet.

Some very content rich and visually appealing web-sites are Flash-less. Lightweight and agile, easy to code, quick to load. You don't need resource intensive and heavy-handed tricks to build pages. Try elegance over brute force instead.

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JMD
Megaphone

Correction...

Most of the content on the interwebs (including rich and visually appealing) is not Flash and I routinely see:

- poorly optimized images

- sloppy copy and pasted code

- "spinning wheels" pre-loaders on visually rich html sites.

Just because it's flash doesn't mean it's bad and just because it's html-css-js doesn't mean it's good!

Funny you mention the issue of size:

- Flash actually compresses all the assets (including code) in it's swf file format.

- Transparent PNGs are encoded in JPG with an alpha channel to further optimise size.

- Adobe started a caching system of it's Flex RIA framework to reduce initial load

- Just have a look at banner ads to see what you can squeeze in 35kb of Flash content.

:)

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Headmaster

It's not flash

While I sympathise with the sentiment I don't agree with the facts. In many ways Flash is more efficient than HTTP + HTML because it provides state and transfers byte code. This makes it significantly better for animations. And a few years ago there was no choice at all. Video support came much later but made Flash the "killer" in more bandwidth abundant times as there was no need to encode for RealPlayer and Microsoft Media Player and Quicktime. Of course, video isn't what it was designed to do; plugins will always be second class citizens and running on multiple platforms (Windows, Mac, Unix, mobiles) often means compromises on performance. To that one must add the often woefully inadequate skills of the web generation.

But, I would argue that it precisely Flash's ability to be the universal media provider that has given HTML 5 it's chance because it harmonised and, thus, commodified media content.

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Flame

Yeah but

normal HTML web pages don't sit there sucking the life out of my CPU.

I keep lots of tabs open on lots of sites I regularly & occasionally visit because it's easier than doing bookmarking them and then loading up the page from scratch every time I want to view it, and the thing I've noticed is how much CPU load flash needs just to sit there doing fuck all.

Open a few tabs which have embedded YouTube videos and your CPU usage will increase even though you haven't actually stared playing any of the videos.

The 'web' needs a better, more efficient method of streaming video in your browser, Adobe have clearly shown they're not ths future in this case.

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Bah!

I've noticed the same thing, but typically it has nothing to do with Flash.

What it *does* have to do with is the initial request to see a page from somesite.com issuing additional requests to a gazillion other sites, without my say-so, that supply analytics, banners, page counters, rotating ads and Azathoth knows what-all else, all of it cruft from my poor old ancient PCs point-of-view.

I frequently end up hitting the "cancel download" button so I can read the content I actually asked for before 3rdpartyartwear.com serves up the fancy button art or the adware servers finish loading whatever is going into the blank squares on the left of the page.

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Format conversion...?

"- Transparent PNGs are encoded in JPG with an alpha channel to further optimise size."

This is not good practice, as transcoding from one lossy compressed format to another degrades quality.

This is a mere hack that encourages bad planning and sloppy design.

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Boffin

Format conversion?

PNG is NOT lossy, that is, BTW, the whole point of it ... But when you are talking web, you should "be able" to use compressed svg, BTW, thanks Adobe for canning svg support for ie (yes, I know you can still download it somewhere ...). I use a control to enable SVG or PNG, depending on the browser, just because ie sucks so bad, I should not penalize Firefox, Opera, Safari, Konqeror ... <almost any other browser> users, right?

Why they still have JPG on digital cameras I dunno, since PNG would do much better than JPG in terms of quality ... in the early days, when memory cards were expensive and you needed to squeeze as many pictures on a card as possible, I can understand ... but now you have 8 or even 16 Gb memory cards, I guess it's about time .... and RAW uses too much space.

For the nutters: PNG uses compression, HOWEVER, it is NON-DESTRUCTIVE - like pkzip, gzip, bzip2, 7zip, and ... almost any other zip.

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I remember when...

Newbie Google's claim to fame was how damn quick it appeared (even on a 33kbps modem) compared to slow and resource heavy sites like AltaVista... and don't even talk to me about Lycos.

Oh, how the world has changed...

AltaVista: 12K main file, 6 images = 5K.

Google: 15K main file, 14K looks-like-scripted-CSS?, 9K logo, 65K javascript.

Lycos: 29K main file, 49 other files = 177K (!).

On ADSL, they all take the same amount of time to load, that being "how fast you can blink" so comparisons here are meaningless.

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FAIL

Fail...

My processor was running at 13% laden. I went to my blog then followed a link with *three* static YouTube videos (no autoplay).

My processor leapt up to 37%.

Then I remembered I have an animated GIF "favicon" for my blog.

So I closed that tab.

CPU use 15%.

So I open two more tabs, load the same page in. Three copies of the same thing, nine flash video links in total. Wait a few moments for the system to 'settle', CPU use at 17%.

By contrast, as I type this, CPU fluctuates between 11%-24%. So it is more processor intensive to type than to have nine Flash videos doing nothing. This might say more about FireFox than it does about Flash. :-)

Monitor - Process Explorer.

Source website - http://www.kansei.tsukuba.ac.jp/~uchiyamalab/yotaro (and tell me that critter isn't possessed; if you can't read Japanese, just play the first video and um... maybe El Reg will pick up the story so we can think of as many haunted Demon Seed Bride Of Chucky Body Snatching baby-HAL references possible)

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FAIL

Navigation bar fail!

Goto their index page now... the nifty navigation bar they're sporting sucks balls while the slideshow goes on beneath it. Coded properly, the navigation bar would never have been so problematic.

Should've used Flash!

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Jobs Horns

Good, sober, slightly boring article

Seems to me that Apple has scored a huge PR win with its anti-flash gesturing. Don't the journalists realise they are deep-throating Cupertino? Apparently they are only thinking about their deadlines. (Question 2: Doesn't Adobe have a spin doctor???)

Look, Flash is actually a very good technology, politics aside. Shame Adobe don't have a fecking clue how to leverage it. They are about to hand the crown over to the hairy HTML5 hippies. (I am a hairy hippy myself, but the loose and forgiving HTML5 standards gives me the willies. Hey, I LIKE xHTML 1.0 Strict !!! Validation errors are a GOOD THING).

I am also a long time Mac user, but I am disgusted by Apple's recent cockiness about Flash, which confirms the worst criticisms made against them over the years. Who's going to help unskew the market? Google? Yeah right. Nowadays it is Microsoft which looks like the good guy. Can't believe I am writing this, but that's IT for you.

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IR

Well

Certainly beats the "let's just create an app" mentality that most companies are using to get around the problem, as if everyone will be happy to install something just to do a one-off check.

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Grenade

Flash tax

IMO Flash usage by site owners must be taxed well beyond the costs of traffic and electicity wasted by site visitors.

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Please El Reg, don't obey Steve's Fatwah against Flash

Please, El Reg, don't become the slave of Apple fanbois vying to do the will of Steve in the wake of his Flash Fatwah.

One poster asked "Why is this news?" Well, it only is if you're itching to kill Flash.

Kudos to the guy from Virgin for saying ""Flash provides beautiful interactivity... We wanted to bring a smoother application experience and modularity and be able to build up an interactive experience for the kiosk user - Flash is all these... Flash is really, really good,"

...yes, thank you. Having built websites for ten years and won multiple awards for them I heartily agree. Text and jpegs is great - look at El Reg itself for example - but there needs to be more to the web than that.

Love open source? So do I. But I love good, universal technology more. Flash works on 95%+ of browsers - HTML 5.0 works on 0% of browsers, because it isn't approved yet.

Even once it is, there isn't an open source video codec they all agree on. (Apple doesn't like Ogg Vobis, and insists on H.264 which isn't open source).

Even once that's fixed, how long will it take to get the world to upgrade their browers to HTML 5.0? Remember - 20% of users are still on IE6. To upgrade Flash, you don't need to change your browser, so people do it happily and often. To change your browser is a big deal, lots don't bother - lots of people at work aren't allowed to upgrade their browsers.

Still love HTML 5.0 because it's oh so pure? Rember that it has two lead editors: "The HTML5 editors are Ian Hickson of Google, Inc. and David Hyatt of Apple, Inc.[3]" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML_5.0 ) So one works for Apple, the other works for Google - no conflict of interest there, then.

Believe Flash crashes Macs? We've never found that to be the case, in years of user testing.

So what's wrong with Flash? Steve hates it, and it's not on the iPhone or Newton, I mean iPad. When hardware manufacturers start trying to dictate what websites we can go to and how we build them, by definition the problem is the hardware manufacturer. If I pay for your gadget it should let me go to the sites I want, not the ones its CEO wants me to go to.

El Reg has the foresight to avoid following the crowd on so many issues - it should do so here too.

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Anonymous Coward

Flash = browser + battery death

"Believe Flash crashes Macs? We've never found that to be the case, in years of user testing."

Correct, Flash doesn't 'crash Macs'. It will, however, crash your browser, and does so, frequently.

It'll also quite happily eat up 90% of the CPU rendering some crappy 300x200 pixel content (assuming it hasn't killed your browser in the process).

Flash on OS X is bad and needs to die. Adobe show little interest in fixing it.

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JMD
Stop

lol

You are the poster child of why people wont take html 5 seriously. All you seem to do is insult or call people names and shout your way through incoherent arguments. Not to mention the irony of you calling the previous poster a ranting 10y old.

Of course HTML5 is backwards compatible. The issue is that all the cool "flash killer" features, like the canvas, won't work no IE. A lot of our corporate clients use IE6 with no signs of that changing anytime soon.

The truth is that, beyond flash, the #1 security threat is the user. Any plug-in or application will expose security flaws of the host system. No matter how you code it, it still relies on the host's security model. That include HTML emails...

Most people will use whatever is installed when the system was purchased.

Apple is trying to play the performance and open standards issue to keep a lock on the iPhone & iPad eco-system. It would make a lot of the apps in the appStore irrelevant and cost Apple money if they allowed Flash to run on these devices.

To go back to the article and the Virgin America CTO saying that this is the year of the mobile... It will also be the year of Flash on mobile devices with the release of the 10.1 player. It will run happily on Windows and Android, including the new Android Tablets.

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yes, fine

but you forget moblle internet use. I never got flash to work on my T-Mobile MDApro with WiMo 5 and 5.5 nor do I have flash on my SE M600i I got after that nor on my Palm Pre I do use now.

On my Macbook Pro Flash sucks up to 70% CPU time, and don't get me started with flash on my 64bit Linux Desktop System.

I avoid flash wherever I can! Even on the Windows Systems I have to use because that's my job.

And yes, i'll order one of the iPads as soon as they are available, I'm a gadget junkie like most in my profession and I can afford it. That it does not support flash is not my problem and if your websites won't work without flash, that's not my problem as well.

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IE6

The corporate users will phase out IE6 pretty soon now, Win7 does not support it and the old XP systems are getting a bit long in the tooth.

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Well, well, well...

As I write this, I have AKB48's "Sakura no Hanabiratachi 2008" playing in YouTube, live. It's the 360p version as I'm not watching it, typing this. CPU use at around 40%.

If I switch to watch, CPU at 48% average.

Full screen takes 63% (which is acceptable as it is taking the whole screen; plus it warms my processor less than MPlayer playing an XviD).

480p takes about 60% (behind) and 75% (visible).

The computer isn't quite up to 720p. This isn't Flash's fault, it stutters when VLC (which is the only thing I have that understands HD MPEG4) plays the file native - there's an example on my YouTube channel if anybody is interested.

If it takes 90% and is really bad on OS X, you either have a crappy Flash player or a crappy OS. Hey, there's always Windows! :-)

[Asus eeePC901 XP, Firefox latest, Flash latest; measurement by ProcessExplorer 'history']

Bootnote: I have Xubuntu/Flash/Firefox on a bootable SD. I'd try a measure there for comparison but... is there a utility that will provide a realtime report on CPU use in the menu bar or such?

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Why would Apple want Flash anyway?

Everyone's acting like Flash could be on the iPhone if only Adobe and Apple would kiss and make up. But the reason for the iPhone's success is the App Store. If the iPhone had Flash, then there wouldn't be an App Store, because all those PopCap games would be *free*...

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Stop

*sigh*

Ok. The iPhone *originally* wasn't going to support 3rd party apps as such. Any 3rd party functionality was going to be added via web apps. Have a look at http://www.apple.com/webapps/ for an idea of what these are. Google have leveraged this to get round the App Store and give iPhone users *some* Voice functionally. the App Store isn't a money maker for Apple anyway; it's was reported that it is operating "just above break even". IMHO Apple aren't including it because it would bleed the battery dry. We'll soon know when it's on Android I guess...

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FAIL

Gahh, you idiot.

The vast majority of the content on the App Store ALREADY IS FREE YOU MORON. Having access to Flash games that are free as well would make zero difference to the App store market.

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FAIL

P*** Poor HTML

Aside from the fact its using Flash despite the title - the markup quality is dreadful - the average number of validation errors per page is well over 300. How developers this poor still get work amazes and depresses me.

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Re:Heavy-handed & P*** Poor HTML

Flash can save bandwidth, y'know. You could make a 30KB flash file with a font embedded and wave goodbye to downloading separate images for every stylised header (which, face it, people want). Don't get me wrong, I hate Flash, but let's hate it for the right reasons.

And 300 validation errors in the site? Right... so what does that mean for 100% of users? Nothing. I'm a web designer, and I work for a large organisation. We have tight deadlines. It's extremely difficult to win the following argument:

"Hey, I need another few days on that mapping project"

"How come?"

"Oh, the pages throw a load of validation errors right now"

"Uh huh, so what functionality is impacted?"

"Well, none, it all works fine."

"..."

I love to see the little green tick as much as any good web developer, and if I had the chance, I'd rather spend my time fixing validation errors than making sites work in IE6. Sadly, I don't have a choice.

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Gold badge

Re: P*** Poor HTML

"Uh huh, so what functionality is impacted?"

Well, none on *this* version of *this* browser right now, but if we leave it like this then the client will just have to have the work done over again at great expense when the next version of the browser comes out. Unless they are idiots, they won't be too happy with that and probably won't be asking *us* to do that work. Or indeed, any other work.

OTOH, if you *know* the client is an idiot, what are you wasting time talking to me for? It doesn't matter what state it is in. Ship it now and invoice them!

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With you

I'm so with you on the validation question. There is also the minor detail that depending which validator you use you will get different errors. Try validating the code and then validating for accessibility - screaming is good right afterwards. Note that making your site lovely for the visually disabled might not suit those with other disabilities. Web design is not a pure science and involves a lot of compromises. Hell, if it was easy it would be automated.

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Anonymous Coward

Two separate issues

The idea you can validate for accessibility is a myth, automatied checks are part of the process not a means to validate ux outcomes. In any case, I'm screaming after a quick play with NVDA. Its piss poor on both counts - use of js without fallback [forget about ARIA] renders the site useless to all but the most recent generation of SRs, even then usability is extremely poor and much content unavailable.

When a non-user generated site fails to validate its for one reason only, incompetance. Even with UG sites the types of errors should be limited if proper santisation is used. Some of the mistakes, multiple head/body declarations for instance are ridiculous.

However pretty it might look, achieving layout with spacer images and tables instead of CSS is also indicative of very poor design. The CEO is talking about their focus standards and implementation of 5 when its ready, whilst getting loads of free publicity for a site which falls massively short of basic best practice from the previous century.

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300 validation errors

I was going to say - what does 300 errors mean exactly - most validators cascade them so if you forget to close a single tag it can flag up many, many errors because of the the tags nested inside that tag - and even then these are only "warning" level not "error" level errors...

... but then I looked at the source code of the parent document (yes, it uses iframes) and saw 175 errors - one of which was not including a <body> tag. I mean WTF? This is why, despite being a web developer myself, I despise most web developers.

It's not like it's hard to write decent, standards compliant (X)HTML and if you know what you're doing, apart from the odd typo, anything you write will be standards compliant before you even worry about validating it (validation is just for spotting the typos). It is, after all, easier to remember the standard code than the kludges.

So you're going at it arse about face - code to standards and then if you HAVE to, apply IE6 kludges afterwards - to be fair to MS, IE7 and 8 will work if you code to XHTML1 (transitional they don't like the "application/xhtml+xml" Content-Type for strict) and CSS2 - it's only JavaScript (and CSS3) that really causes headaches.

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Coffee/keyboard

Huh???

What the *uck are you doing in web development? IT? Do us all a favor and get yourself another job - I am sure the local garden center is looking for somebody right now, why not apply?

Every single validation error indicates YOU do not now what you are doing or how to do it correctly. I guess you use tables for rendering as well? You do not fill alt text for images? Have never heard that blind people might want to access your shite?

Web developers need to adapt or go work somewhere else, I am fed up by you bunch of twats. There are pages now that won't render in ie6, 7, or 8. Most fail on 7 and 8, true, but others now fail on 6 now - that is unacceptable!

The worst webshite I have had the nightmare to use was that of orange.fr - that website does not work with firefox nor ie7, 8?? I have yet to see a thing work consistently on that website in any browser.

I find web development utterly boring, that is why I am doing other stuff. A very small part of my project is web development, though, and I run our pages through tidy every single time just to be sure and I get no validation errors, a single validation error and my build breaks!!!!! To be honest, I write the stuff up in XML and convert with xsl ....

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Tables and images

I use tables and images a fair bit.

Why? Because it looks correct on browsers that support CSS.

It also looks more or less the same on browsers that do NOT support CSS, or support it only partially. You know, minority platforms for which not a single internet-bourne virus or trojan exists. :-) They are around, still, believe it or not.

One of the fancier parts of my site uses an unholy mixture of text formatting tags and CSS. Why? Because it looked nice on CSS. But when I turned it off... wow. Basically plaintext from start to finish. What were W3C thinking devising something so NOT backwards compatible? We have to have MIME fanagling in emails to make them eight-bit-safe, but on the other hand it's okay to break any browser from the HTML3.2(ish) era?

Accessibility is not about coding the latest sexiest standards. It is about supporting the widest range of users. Perhaps my definition of "wide" is larger than yours. I have information and resources for some of these older systems, it would be pretty damn stupid to make a website impenetrable to them. Rather than "very poor design", it is actually knowing your target audience and supporting them.

Here is something to try. Go to El Reg's main page. Save it to disc. Open the resources folder associated and remove or rename "design.css". Then load it. HTML 2.0 anyone?

Looks awesome with CSS. Looks shit without. And this I can say for 99% of highly stylised websites. But, then, here we frown on IE6, hands up if you've ever even heard of Fresco...

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Silver badge

Minor update

Actually orange.fr works with Firefox 3.6; provided you don't mind NoScript throwing a wobbly over ClickJacking attempts.

For, yes, I recommend people visit orange.fr for what might be perhaps the most friggin awful example of web design to grace the face of this planet. Oh, sure, it LOOKS okay. Look at the nuts and bolts. Actually... don't. It is surely silly string and blutack!

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Badgers

Accessibility

This will also have the effect of cutting down on the number of court cases over the fact that someone's screen reader can't deal with flash.

Could also save them from some licencing costs from Adobe too!

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Badgers

downside to the death of Flash

I was chatting to an adobe exec the other day about flash and mentioned that while i didnt have big problems with i do run click to flash to block Flash content because Flash adds really bug me ..

He pointed out that if flash goes away those adds will be implemented in HTML and i wont be able to get rid of them

Go Flash Go!

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Gone ... but not really?

http://www.virginamerica.com/va/travelInfo.do?pageName=routemap&rightBar=routemap_right_bar ... turns out Virgin America couldn't go without flash completely then ...

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why there's no flash on multitouch devices

Flash on iPhone and touch devices is simply nonsense. It's as simple as it is, a lot of interaction is based around 'hover' functions - how the hell can you hover on touch device? please have a look at explanation of professional Flash developer over here where he's explaining the facts why Apple has chosen lesser evil by not offering Flash on their touch devices rather than giving customers content they can't use or interact with:

http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2010/02/20/an-adobe-flash-developer-on-why-the-ipad-cant-use-flash/

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WTF?

Here's your damn title.

The problem with Flash for me isn't really the 'bugs'. The problem I have is (for instance on this page there are 3 Flash objects shimmering and animating) the over use of it. It's distracting and bandwidth consuming. I have a huge problem with Video via flash in that it frequently stutters and splutters and on occasion the browser dies. On Windows (XP & Vista) my whole system used to crawl when I had 3 or 4 tabs open in Firefox. I should point out that all those tabs were 'reading' material, either forums or software development related, but the volume of flash ads on each page made it fairly unusable for flicking between tabs to read. Now, on Linux, it's not quite the same. I can open the same 3 or 4 tabs and it doesn't quite slow down as much, but it's mostly the distraction now and the occasional browser closing when viewing flash videos.

BUT the thing I get really p***** off about is watching a little % load symbol on a website while it loads it's menu. I'm on 20Mb broadband FFS. I shouldn't need to wait on a Flash menu or intro before I can USE the website?! Yes, a few have a 'skip intro' option and the really considerate sites tend to have a 'click here for plain HTML or click here for Flash' on the first web page.

If Flash wasn't so abused by Ads and 'fancy' smart a*** websites, people wouldn't be so anti-Adobe ATM. I really don't have a problem with static Ads, to a certain extent I don't mind animated Ads either, as long as they aren't Flash based.

One last complaint... who's f***** up idea was it to put Flash based 'assistants' on Corporate websites where some irritating blonde starts talking to you and describing their products/website at the top of her voice when I'm browsing websites at 1am!?!? At least with pr0n I'm already aware that I need earphones or at least low volume!!

Anonymous, 'cos the Gov's censors might pick up on the pr0n!

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Happy

Assistants

My bank has a cute brunette called Laura.

One night I couldn't sleep. Bored as hell. So I decided to make out with the assistant in a twisted game of Lisa. Their parser isn't as good as they'd like to let on, I suspect it is based around keywords specific to the business. I asked her if she would like to fly to Canada with me, and she helpfully suggested travel insurance. Should I take that as a yes? :-)

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