Flash ActionScript Editors

The Actionscript editor built into Flash is okay, but not great by any means. Today I went off in search of something better–much better.

For the Mac, I found JEdit which also works on the PC. With some minimal customizing, it works great. The toolbar is at the top of the screen like every other Mac app, which is great but still very uncommon for Java apps on OS X. It allows you to collapse functions to better view code and the default install has syntax highlighting for Actionscript. In addition there are numerous plugins available and it has an active development and support community.

For the PC there’s a dedicated Actionscript editor that has the Flash API and autocomplete for flash syntax built in, allows you to build and preview your file right from the interface, also lets you collapse functions and allows for retectangular selections. It’s called SEPY or SE|PY. It looks like there’s a Mac port on the way–there’s even a screenshot of it working under OS X on their site.


Zempt – Still in Beta!

Maybe the title to my previous post (“Words of Warning”) should be the title to this one…. Last night I installed Zempt, a desktop application to publish to your weblog. It’s in beta status (0.3) but “Zempt is completely stable and should be suitable for most blog authors.” Well, it’s not suitable for me. It corrupted my database (unless it was just pure coincidence, in which case 2 other users on their forums suffered the same unfortunate coincidence). I spent the last hour recreating the entire weblog which is (hopefully) back to normal now. Fortunately I have saved versions and have not yet heavily customized the design.

The idea for the software is a great concept–it’s not unique, but it’s free which is nice. It allows you to spell check easily and publish quickly and easily without filling out a web form, but wait until they’ve ironed out some bugs before you try it on a live site.


Words of Warning

Being a web designer/developer is addictive! I’m not sure what it is that causes it, but once you’re in, you’re in and there’s no way of getting out (even if you want to). It seems like if a couple months pass by and I haven’t designed a new site, I’ll find myself randomly thinking of ideas for sites to start. The difference between this type of pondering and other random thoughts is that with websites, they actually get created. It’s weird. It’s not so bad if it’s just a site or two here or there, or a site for a paying client, but it seems like that’s rarely how it happens. At least that’s not how it’s been for me.

Currently I find myself supporting several not-for-profit personal websites. This weblog is one, I posted a like to my cheesy personal site and then there’s the mandatory family site and the very outdated business site not to mention a couple sites that are still waiting to be developed and of course the longboarding site-gone-wild that now has a forum with over 60,000 posts in it. Those are just some of the ones that I run for ‘fun’… getting into clients is a whole different story.

So, a word of warning, if you’re going to get into web design, just make sure that you know what you’re doing. It’s not a hobby, not a profession, it’s an addiction.


Were I a Dung Beetle

Today I read Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. It is a story of a boy who wakes up one morning to discover that he’s changed from a traveling business man, providing for his entire family, to a large dung beetle. The change doesn’t shock him too much at first–he’s more concerned about being late for work, but later the full impact of it settles in as he discovers his family no longer views him as they previously did.

I enjoyed it. Kafka does a great job of making the absurd seem completely normal– reading the story, you feel as if turning into a beetle were something that could possibly happen to you tomorrow morning. The descriptions are vivid–he makes it easy to feel what it would be like to be a dung beetle–everything from the physical aspects of learning to walk as a beetle to the alienation one might feel upon suddenly metamorphosing into a large insect. It’s also very interesting how he describes the process of losing touch with humanity and gradually starting to think like an insect.


Around the World in 80 Days – Movie

I finished Around the World in Eighty Days today and also discovered there’s a movie coming out about the book. To be honest, I can’t imagine that the movie will be all that good. The story was interesting, but not amazing.

In the movie, Passepartout (the main character’s servant) will be played by Jackie Chan, which seems strange to me since in the book he’s a young Frenchman, and Fogg (the main character) will be played by Steve Coogan and there will be appearances by Rob Schneider, John Cleese, Johnny Knoxville, Kathy Bates, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wim Wenders, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson and Richard Branson… there’s a trailer here if you’re interested.

It doesn’t look like they’re taking much from the book other than the character names. In the book Fogg is not an inventor, there are no airplanes, air balloons or other strange contraptions (with the exception of a sail powered sled). Fogg in the book plays a character that does not ever show emotion rather than a passionate man set on making history as he’s portrayed in the movie. There’s also no sight of Fix in the trailer, the detective who, in the book, chases them around the world, but I can’t imagine they’d leave him out.

It does, however look like they’ll remain true to the Jules Verne’s completely inaccurate and error-filled portrayal of Mormons (if not in good taste, at least in good humor), and who better to play the part than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It will be interesting to see how it turns out.


Flash for Interactivity

Things are changing online. I have been known to say that all-Flash websites are all bad unless they are for movie trailers or cartoons, but I’m starting to change my opinion. At work, I have the opportunity to browse Flash sites quite a bit. I find a lot of inspiration and ideas on the Internet Tiny Awards and Favourite Website Awards sites which have links to the cream of the crop of Flash sites.

I think that within another year or two, 75% of all business-related sites will have at least some Flash on them (I’d be curious to see what the statistics are now.) The reason Flash is growing is because it has gone from being a tool for creating cool animations to a tool for creating fluid interfaces that are much more interactive and intuitive and less linear. The internet is becoming an interactive experience, and as of now, Flash is the only tool to make it that.


Apple Expos? Clones, Copycats and Wannabe’s

By far, my favorite feature of Apple’s OS X 10.3 Panther operating system is Expos?. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a feature that allows you to see all the windows of a your current application, all the windows you have open or your desktop by using a simple keyboard combination or a hot-corner on your desktop. It achieves this by quickly and smoothly making shrinking and rearranging your windows or sliding them off the screen to expose the desktop.

The main problem with Expos? isn’t so much a problem with Expos? as much as it is a problem with every other operating system–they don’t include this or any similar feature. When I leave OS X and move to Windows XP or Linux, using the taskbar or alt+tab to find a window seems slow and awkward now. In my profession as a multimedia specialist, I usually have at least 5 apps running and often more than double that number of windows open on my desktop.

So. in order to fill this gap, I’ve started searching for software (preferably free) that will achieve the same thing for Windows and/or Linux. So far, my search has not been all that fruitful.


The Mysterious Kernel

Understanding the kernel has never been one of my strong points when it comes to Linux. I’ve seen articles on the new 2.6 kernel and how great it is, but for me, it’s never been clear exactly what is so great about it or if I should bother using it. Tonight I found a link to an article on OSnews that does a great job of explaining what’s new in the 2.6 kernel and gives some very clear data as to why it’s better than the 2.4. The article is on IBM’s site– read it here.


Best Browser, hands down – Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla has released Firefox (previously Firebird) for OS X, Windows and Linux. If you haven’t used it, you’re missing out. Among the reasons it’s better than Microsoft Internet Explorer (or any other browser) are:

. Automatic popup blocking
. Right click and “block images from this server–great for quickly removing banner ad servers
. Tabbed browsing
. Consistent over 3 different operating systems
. It’s fast–very fast
. Built in Google searching
. Better standards support, especially for Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
. Open Source
. Extendable
. Less prone to viruses (at least so far)
. Bettter built in download manager

I really can’t think of a single reason to keep using Internet Explorer, and in fact, for quite some time now, I haven’t. Apple’s Safari browser is a little more of a competitor and has most of the same features as Firefox, but in my experience, Firefox renders pages better, and with the GUI enhancements that came with this release, I don’t think I’ll be using Safari much anymore either (not that I really ever did).


The DaVinci Code

Finally got around to reading the The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown. It was a pretty intriguing novel. The history, facts and figures in the book are very interesting and were almost all things I had never heard of. The Priory of Sion, Opus Dei, the concept of Sacred Feminine, some interesting observations on the The Last Supper by Leonardo DaVinci to name a few.

While the history and facts in the book are interesting, and it’s a page-turner , I found it a little lacking in the areas of character development, plot and dialog. Despite these things, I’d recommend The DaVinci Code to anyone who has a little time to devote to reading because of the aforementioned well researched facts and information.

Read on to see what else I’m reading at the moment.