Dave Williamson is a freelance developer with 10 years of industry experience in the production and deployment of RIA's and rich media website development. His work has been focused on the production and integration of Flash and Flash Platform based technologies since 1997, with a special interest in localisation and multilingual content presentation. Dave is also a frustrated surfer based in London UK and wants to live in Costa Rica. Pura Vida.
This morning while burning a little time I did a quick scan over the Portable Application I have been carrying around with me on my USB drive and did a quick compare with the latest versions that are available. PortableApps.com carries allot of the Portable Apps that I use but not all of them so this is what I “wax my stick” with right now.
KeyPass – This is a password manager that runs very nicely from a USB Key; Itï¿½s just recently been updated to v1.05. One lovely thing this Free Portable App allows is the ability to attach and encrypt files into the password file. So it also acts as a bit of a back up program as well 🙂
Portable FireFox – No real description required here, other than to say I find there are some key extensions worth using with Portable FireFox from USB. Sage, MozImage and Calendar. I like them just because I donï¿½t have to install alternative, RSS readers, Image Viewers or the Portable SunBird. Simple really.
Portable ThunderBird – Again itï¿½s a no brainer, a great free Portable email client. And now available with. OpenPGP/GPG Support. See now? KeyPass is an ideal place to store your PGP Keys 😀
Portable AmbiWord – This got updated to v2.4.4 and I missed it. I have had compatibility issues with some of the styling, but itï¿½s a useful word replacement all the same, and not as bulky as Portable OpenOffice
Portable ClamWin – This is an Portable version of the Open Source Antivirus/Virus Scanner and has just been updated to v0.88.2.3
NotePad++ – Great portable NotePad Replacement, also great code editing tool. Plus it has native Support for ActionSctipt Syntax Highlighting. Bonus.
Portable Gaim – Portable version of the Gaim chat client. It has been updated to v1.5, also there is a test for Portable Gaim v2.0. Gaim has support for all the major networks. The more Security conscious of you may be interested in how you can also se SimpLite from USB as well
Ifran View – Ok when I recommended MozImage I said I didnï¿½t need another image viewer, not entirely true as Mozimage only does Web Image formats. Ifran view does pretty much EVERY Format.
IZArc – This compression tool can be installed and then copied to a USB Key to run portably. Alternatively….
hjZip – can just be unzipped to your USB to be run
And just because I like to think I am security more inclined(/paranoid) I also make use of these additional Portable Apps
SimpLite – This is a chat proxy that allows your Chat conversations to be encrypted. Not a true portable App, but I have found a way to run it in a portable manner. Instructions Here
Blowfish Advanced CS – I use this mainly for cleaning up after myself on any given system, it has up to 35 pass data deletion. In addition it is a nice quick way of encrypting files if the need ever arises
TorPak – This is a modified Portable FireFox that automatically runs a Tor Privoxy to mask/anonomise your web browsing I.P. This has the added benefit of bypassing some web filtering software that gets run.
TrueCrypt – TrueCrypt is a great encryption utility that offers mountable encrypted files/drive. The portable aspect comes from the traveler mode that this program offers
Last night I attended the Adobe Live at Olympia last night, there was a great deal of discussion aligned with the title of the event ‘The future of the Internet as an Applications Platform’. Conversations and Ideas flowed as freely as the free beer that was kindly provided. There was some focus on the buzzwords of AJAX, FLEX, DRM, the openness of the open source data and syndication, synchronised web and of course Web 2.0
I walked away wondering if the old adage that content is king may be lost to delivery method is king. There are undoubtedly some great ideas and opinions of where the future of internet applications is going to take us. Will we ever get rid of the browser?
Shortly after working on the Ford S-Max micro site, I was involved in a second Multilingual Flash Micro Site for ford. This one is an update for the Ford Fusion and the first Market to launch the site is the Czech Republic.
The site make uses a similar XML driven content system to the Ford S-Max Site. It also makes use of the LoadQueueManager class (I Apologise for the lack of support on the code base for the Load Queue Manager, but I have been extremely busy).
The site is due to be rolled out across Europe in a similar spread of languages to the For S-max site.
A direct link to the Ford Fusion Refresh site is here.
Or if you wan to see it in the popup as it was intended, you can see it here. Just click on the Blue link on the Right hand side of the main image.
I have uploaded and updated my flash 8 photo gallery with three new collections. The first is themed around the many images of flowers i have taken. The second is a rather smaller collection of surf focused images. The final collection is themed with sunsets.
Cheesy, definately, but I happen think they look damb nice.
With time these three collection will grow I hope.
The update is simply a test of some changes to the Flash 8 gallery that allows me to simply specify an XML data source that holds the collection or gallery details.
After updating my PSP to the new 2.7 firmware I started to put together some work to use the new Flash Player for the PSP I thought I would post some of my findings to date. As I continue to develop more PSP centric flash content I will continue to post more information as I discover it.
This week the latest Play Station Portable (PSP) firmware update was released for Japanese and US PSP owners, included in the update was an official version of the Flash Player. Being one of the many UK residents that simply could not wait to get my hands on the PSP. I happen to own a Japanese unit that I had imported; as a result I felt it my duty to install the new firmware.
For reference and so you donï¿½t have to go and find the flash file. The Values are as follow:
player type =
player version = NF3 6,0,72,27
I assume the player type is undefined. Given that this property is a only available in Flash Player 7, but I thought it worth checking for completeness.
Some useless information about this movie its the first time for me producing an entire flash movie without the aid of the flash IDE. Thatï¿½s right the whole dawg gone flash 6 file was produced in a text editor and compiled using MTASC, drop shadows and all….
If you have any interest in the film Goodfellas or are maybe even a Movie Buff that is hungry for more pub facts about the God Father. Then a surfing buddy of mine, Mr Simon George, has just finished work on 2 documentaries that will be shown as part of Channel 4’s ‘Mob Week’ this week in the UK.
‘The Real Goodfella‘ is on Monday 24th April @ 11.05pm, Channel 4
‘The Real Goodfella‘ is an unflinching portrait of Henry Hill, the real life inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s ‘Goodfellas’. Henry spent 25 years of his life in the Mafia and the last 25 years running for his life after betraying his Mafia friends.
‘The Godfather and the Mob‘, is on Tuesday 25th April @ 11.05pm, Channel 4
‘The Godfather and the Mob‘ is the untold story of the real life Mafia’s involvement in the making of Coppola’s ‘The Godfather’. After initially opposing the film and launching a campaign of violence and intimidation against Paramount Pictures, the Mafia embraced the film and even demanded starring roles.
I had the pleasure to grab coffee with Simon in the week and he provided a classic quote.
‘Yeah, the last 6 months have been really intense. Its really not as Rock n Roll as its sounds hanging out in bars all night in deepest Nebraska with Mafiosos’
There have been a few posts already regarding the decision by Adobe to re-version the Flash Player 8.5 to Flash Player version 9. The reasons do seem valid with respect to the differences between the version 8 Flash Player currently available and the new Flash Player 8.5/9.
Having used Flash now for close to 10 years (yes, myself and my good friend Mike Jones over at FlashGen are talking about a ‘do’ to celebrate) there are two things that struck me regarding the release of the Flash Player 9, as it will now be know.
In the last 10 Years this is the first time a Flash Player or Plugin has been released BEFORE the general Flash IDE. Macromedia have also announced that:
We expect to release an ActionScript 3.0 preview release (public alpha) of the next release of the Flash authoring tool, code-named “BLAZE”, on Adobe Labs around the time of the Flash Player 9 launch.
Based on the fact that Flex 2 and the Flash Player 9 are expected this summer:
Flash Player 9 is expected to ship with the Flex 2.0 launch this summer. It will be publicly available for download from the Flash Player Download Center.
This could mean that the new Flash 9 player could be ‘in the wild’ some months before general flash producers have access to a truly creative/design orientated visual editor to produce from. Rather than the Flex 2/Eclipse platform that Action Scripter’s already have access to.
The second unique thing about the new Flash 9 Player is that over the last 10 years a key feature of each player release was that they had some level of backwards compatibility. The Flash IDE has also always had some level of support for producing and saving content compatible with previous Flash IDE versions or earlier Flash Player versions.
Even The latest Flash 8 IDE release has the ability to save your production FLA in a format compatible with Flash MX 2004 (Flash 7) IDE. Not to mention that it can export or output SWF files compatible with any player version right back to the 1997 Flash 1 Player version SWF (or SPL as it was in fact known if memory serves :p ).
From what I understand, and have seen so far this does not seem to be the case with AS3 Flash Player 9 based production at the moment. Now whether Adobe intend “Blaze” to offer some support for producing to previous Flash Player Versions or Saving production files for use in previous Flash IDE versions remains to be seen. On a personal note I have worked in enough agencies to know that if it isn’t possible there could be issues in the take up from production houses.
Even now agencies are being asked by clients to produce content compatible with Flash Player 5, and also to supply source files compatible with flash MX. The fact is is that the developers and designers that are pushing the boundaries and evangelizing about the latest features and capabilities of flash are not I suspect the largest user/consumer base of either the Flash IDE or the Flash Player.
While I think getting the new Flash 9 Player out in the open early is certainly a good way to avoid the ‘Player Version Lag’ that has always plagued flash adoption. It may not be the only reason that ‘Flash Version Lag’ exists.
After a brief break to test my new surf board I arrived back in London to trawl the in box of its usual detritus of spam and try and find the emails that I actually need. In amongst them was the news that a project I have had the great pleasure to be involved in had gone live.
This is the first phase of a flash 8 project that will be pushing some serious technology about. At the moment I cant say much about what will be happening in the future but it should be fun, both for us developers and also the users as the project expands.
It was during my time on this acorn of a site that I encountered the Text Wrapping ‘issue’ described here.
Another fun things to deal with was the lack of bitmap smoothing in flash 8. Thankfully I had stumbled on Tinic Uro’s solution to that little gem which can be found here.
On top of those things I finally had an opportunity to make proper use of CSS in flash for something other than my own mundane CV. Even though this is a small taste of the main application the foundations are certainly strong.
Yesterday i posted regarding an issue i stumbled uppon regarding the new saffron text engine in FP8. you can find the details of the issue here
After the comments from Richard Leggett I have produced this working alteration to the code posted previously.
The results while fixing the font adjustments as text is scaled, it causes re-wrapping in my example once the scale operation is complete. Given more time i will try to find a more robust solution to this issue.
This week while working on another multilingual flash site, this time in Flash 8 I came across this interesting feature/bug with the new Flash 8 text anti aliasing. Let me explain the move below.
The top section of the movie uses text fields with the anti-aliasing setting set to “anti-alias for readability” which is placed inside a movie clip symbol. This clip is then placed on the main stage of the movie. The button at the top simple scales the movie clip that contains these fields from 100% to 200%.
The bottom section of the movie uses script to create a movie clip, and then create 2 text fields into the new movie clip. This time we use embedded fonts and text formatting to get the text to appear the same way as the top fields. The button then does the same scale operation on this newly created clip.
if the movie is missing below view it here for now
As you can see the flash 8 text does some very strange wrapping of the text as the parent clip is scaled. This effect was displayed in the project I was working on, and as you can imagine the client was not so pleased with this funky text effect.
The only fix I could come up with was to create and display the text as per the bottom section of the movie. I hope that all makes sense and is of use to someone.
Code from the movie is after the split, I apologise for the state of it, its is for example only.
Today I was the proud recipient of an invite to the Windows Live Mail ‘Beta’. The email described the features of the new Hotmail application and very good it sounds too. Although one thought came to mind as i read, re-read and then scoured the source code.
As a ‘beta’ tester i have already become concerned as to the quality of the application. You see the big ‘join now’ ‘link’ was not live.
As yet i am unsure if this is a sneaky way by Microsoft to weed out all the FireFox users before they get to the application, or if the content stripping of Hotmail got a bit over zealous.
But it occurred to me, if you are going to start a beta program. You might want to test the invites work :p
Those of you that are users of MSN or one of its many alternative clients may or may not be aware of the fact that every conversation you have is clearly readable by any interested party that might monitor your goings on. In fact a simple Google search will throw up a fine list of methods and programs that will allow you to see exactly what I mean (EtherBoss).
Others of you will be aware there are a number of ways you can achieve some level of privacy in said Instant Message conversations, Gaim has a number of plug-in that offer some level of encryption to your messages. As a former user of the stock MSN client I had already decided to make use of SimpLite from Secway and as a result had convinced a large portion of my friends and family that they should also install and use it.
However once i had moved as many of my daily apps to a USB drive (read PSP. Overkill? You betcha!!) and swapped to using Gaim I was left with all Instant Messaging being transported in plain text again. After an Exhaustive search I didn’t find any information describing that SimpLite could be installed to USB or that it would work. In actual fact it is possible to run SimpLite from a USB drive. In addition you can install it in this way without administrator rights on the system you will use it on. The solution is really quite simple. Here is how I managed to Install SimpLite on to a USB drive to encrypt my Gaim messages.
It has been bought to my attention that the ‘Plain Text’ link of the iG:Syntax Hiliter plug-in I have been using for WordPress does not operate to well. Also some of the Flash ActionScripts I have been posting are rather large and so take a while to display and be formatted correctly.
As a result of these issues i have added a Downloads page to my blog and will try and get in the habit of posting files that i think people may find useful here so they can pull them down as a .zip file.
Previously I had posted a code ‘snippet’ for a Load Queue Manager Class that I had produced after trying to deal with the many different pre-existing examples on the web, by many different authors, in many different languages.
Since posting my LoadQueueManager Class code two things have happened.
I discovered it contained some ‘undesired features’ :p.
I received some comments requesting further documentation.
I have addressed the first point, and hopefully this post will address the second. Before I continue though I would like to say, if any authors of the code I referenced are missed from my comments in the code, or the authors would like to be listed in a different way then please do contact me and I will update the comments and references accordingly.
It would appear that some of the earliest flash and generator work myself and some of my colleges were involved in back in the earliest days of flash has broken one of the most ludicrous patent awards I have heard of.
Neil Balthaser has been awarded a Patent relating to the online production of RIAï¿½s using RIAï¿½s over a remote connection.
I find this incredible given the number of flash applications that were around at that time that must have existed to be listed as prior art that would have shown quite obviously that there was not a single original idea, process or product related to the Balthather FX/ProFX site.
In the UK there is the MoonFruit platform for a start that was live before the Pro FX site for a start, not least the fact that Macromedias own Generator product offered exactly the engine of such automated production online.
So here for your delectation is ï¿½Casperï¿½ an application born in 1998/1999 some time originally utilising flash 3/4 and generator and then more recently updated through flash 5 and Flash MX. In the future I fully intend to bring the code base kicking and screaming into Flash AS2/3 and re-introduce the capabilities to ï¿½exportï¿½ or ‘produce’ rich media presentations from it.
For those of you who where also around producing this form of ï¿½RIAï¿½ back in the day, I highly recommend you dig out and dust off your old FLAï¿½s and report those productions over at OSFlash.org as prior art.
Where this patent leaves future development of similar concepts in relation to Flex, server based MTasc/swfMill Ajax or any other form and or mixture of technology(ies) you can think of remains to be seen.
Taken from Gizmodo vai Boing Boing the idea is using materials bought in bulk from places such as Maplins you can make your very own LED ‘throwies’ to make pretty on those bland city streets, or indeed any metallic surface.
So my mate Macca found this site that will take an uploaded photo and perform some ‘facial recognition’ on it and compare the image with a database of celebrities. I couldn’t resist. I happened to have a picture on my psp that I use in Tony Hawks so I can ‘skate’…. the results follow the split
Over here in blighty (England if you will) we tend to get a bit of a rough deal when it comes to waves. When the waves are ok, the weather sux, and when the weather is ok, you can bet your bottom dollar that the waves will suck.
Enter the cribbar. This surf ‘event’ happens once, maybe twice a year. When it works it brings some stellar waves to our shores.
Yeah the weather still sucks, Nah I’ll probably never ride it. For a couple of hours English surfers get to dream of big wave riding. Queue the pics.
Last night was the Adobe Creative suite Launch party. Now I’m not sure i will ever get to use the product itself, is not really my bag, if you follow. But the Suite did look… Brown, now I’m not sure if that was a skin, or a design decision. I’m not saying it was a good or bad thing, but as a non user it’s what stuck out most. So what else can I tell you from the evening?