Week 6 – Personal Discovery

Hour 1

Still playing around with Aviary.  I found the basic interface tutorial for Peacock (the hub based visual laboratory).  Somehow I managed to overlook it before.  I also looked over a basic tutorial for Raven, which is the vector graphics editor.  It was posted by this guy who must be one of the designers for the site.  And in preparation for my Interactive Presentation I thoughtfully downloaded this video.  Just hoping the college has RealPlayer installed.  Finally I tried out a nice Aviary browser plug-in for Firefox called Talon.  I may never need to use Photoshop again.

Hour 2 – 3

I need some images to use for the chess program I’m working on in Python.  So I found a set of chess pieces on line and imported them into Aviary.  After selecting each image and cropping out the remainder of the file, I desaturated to convert the images to grey scale, thus reducing the file size, and modified the brightness by 10, and the contrast by 5.  Hopefully this will make the pieces easier to read against the board.

I finally figured out how to import image files into Python using the graphics library created by John Zelle.  The first step is to set a variable to a pixmap of the file, then set another variable to an image of the pixmap like so:

from graphics import *
def main():
    win = GraphWin(“Test”, 500, 500)
    win.setBackground(‘peachpuff’)
    pawnFile = Pixmap(“images/pawn.gif”)
    pawn = Image(Point(250,250),pawnFile)
    print (type(pawn))
    pawn.draw(win)
    wait = win.getMouse()
main()

from graphics import *

def main():

    win = GraphWin(“Test”, 500, 500)

    pawnFile = Pixmap(“images/pawn.gif”)

    pawn = Image(Point(250,250),pawnFile)

    pawn.draw(win)

    wait = win.getMouse()

main()

Surprisingly transparency in a gif is maintained with in a Python graphics window.  Unfortunately the export image function on Aviary for gifs is not quite up to par.  I don’t know if it’s because the web safe colors option is set as a default, or if it’s an issue with transparency.

So giving up on Aviary for the moment, I pulled the chess set image into Photoshop, and it took about ten minutes to pull all the pieces out, delete the background, crop and save the files as gifs.  The same process took about a half an hour with Aviary because it can’t handle multiple images in the same window.

There is a drawback to importing images of the pieces into Python.  When I created the simple piece objects I did it based on a coordinate grid, so the images were drawn from the lower left corner.  With the imported images the center point is 0,0 so they are drawn on the corners of the squares.  I’ll need a fix for that.

Week 5

Hour 1

So the plan for this week is to do some of the available tutorials for both Ajax Animator, which is the web based flash platform that I’ve discussed in previous weeks, and the Avairy online graphics suite.

Ajax plans to have tutorials available at some point, but that aren’t in place yet.  However the interface is quite similiar to the Adobe Flash interface.  I found some really short basic flash tutorials, and right off the bat I’ve discovered that Ajax has a few shortcomngs.  Firstly I can’t find an option to change the canvas background color.  Secoundly the Text and Image tools don’t let you type or import images.  They just have some display text and a promo image to show the tool.  Sigh… I was hoping for better.

So I spent the rest of the first hour vainly trolling the internet for other options.  Looks like there are plenty of open source IDEs for writting action script and even coding Flash, but there are no alternatives that I could find for the GUI Flash development.  Since I feel comfortable writing code anyway the best option for me would just be to spend some time learning another language.

Hour 2

So I spent about an hour reading through some tutorials and Wikis about Flash and Action Script and the various IDEs that are available.  Seems the most popular IDE is Eclipse, which I have mentioned a few times.  Eclipse also came up in the interview with Lantz (see Week 4 – Personal Developement).  From what I gather if you are farmiliar with coding it is completely possible to build Flash movies and applications without relying on the Flash developement tool from Adobe, but it does involve a basic understanding of OOP and coding.  I’m just not awake enough right now to dig further at the moment.

Hour 3

There are some nice user generated tutorials on the Aviary site in the free accounts.  To start with there is a basic walkthrough called Flight Lessons 101 (just look under the Help menu / Aviary help) which starts with setting up an account, and gives a bit of detail about what the various tools are.  At this point the site has the following tools available:

  • Phoenix – basic image editor (stripped down version of Photoshop)
  • Raven – vector graphics editor (think Illustrator)
  • Peacock – visual labratory with a nodes based user interface
  • Toucan – color palettes tool

In the tutorials section I looked at some of the Beginner level tutorials.  Background Cloning is a good starting point with basics for covering the foreground of an image with adjacent background selections.  Coloring Line Art includes some basic ideas about using gradients and shadows to add depth to a picture.  Enhancing Saturation had some pointers about selectively nudging the hues and satuation of various elements of a photo for effect.  The Perspective Sign tutorial gives an overview of the distortion tool, and mentions the lasso selection and horizontal flipping.  Understanding Layers gives an idea of how the layer system works.  Just looking over some of the comments from other folks it really seems like they need an even more basic program interface tutorial just stating where all the tools are and how the interface is laid out.  Since I have background in Photoshop, and a good intuitive sense for software I didn’t have any problem making sense of the directions, but some of these users are completely lost.

Focus going forward…

So for the rest of the semester I’m still playing with two ideas. The first is to continue work on the chess program that I started during my Programming and Logic class. It’s written in Python and all of the basic piece moves and definitions are coded. What is still missing are definitions for castling and promotions, player configurations for turns and move logging. I have no intention of actually building a chess AI at this point. I’m just focusing on hot seat player games. I would still like the board to flip so the current player is at the bottom of the screen, which involves redrawing the board with each move. I also would like to have the option of saving games to a data file, including the current board layout and the move list as well as saving past games.

The other option that I’ve been playing around with is building something using the web based graphics and animation tools that I’ve found during the first half of the semester. I’m talking about the Aviary suite of graphics tools, and the Ajax Animator flash building site. I would have to put a few weeks into really learning the tools, and I don’t have any idea what I want to build yet, but I like the idea of doing a project like this using only free web based tools. I’ve only found free Aviary novice level tutorials for the Phoenix tool, which is the Photoshop like image editor. The tool that really grabs me is Peacock which the site calls a Visual Laboratory. I’ve seen some the videos showing the building process for projects in this application, and this is a type of tool that I’ve never seen before.

Week 5 – Reading Blog

Pages 122 – 155

So maybe I’m getting a touch of mid-term blahs but the interviews in this chapter are starting to seem a tad repetitive. Blah blah the web is great, blah blah so many fabulous tools, blah blah what wonderful creative outlets we have now. I don’t know if I really agree with Chris Capuzzo that designers need to focus on creating an experience for the user, or the bit about creating our own reality. We been mucking around with this stuff for five years and the best we can come up with for interactive user experiences seems to be MMORPGs. Is World of Warcraft really the wave of the future, because I’m not really interested in a reality where I’m a dark elf fighting the blood worms of where the frack ever. Most intelligent people grew out of that sometime around high school. Incredibly crafted fluff is right. Do I really need to know what every Tom, Dick and Harry who can log on to AOL has to say about my pixels? Can we drop the feel good buzz words and actually get down to the meat of design theory? What am I missing here?

Control Over Technology – Interview with Liz Danzico

I did like getting the point of view of someone who grew up using computers and actually was turned on just by getting a monochrome monitor and a dot-matrix printer to spit out her work. Maybe today’s script kiddies should have to go back and program on a Trash 80, take hours to type in 300 lines of code to animate a stupid kite, only to have it disappear when they hit the power button. The experience may give them a touch of perspective into how far we have come. We have tools at our disposal that make Star Trek look old fashion, and the best we can come up with are flash sites for toilette paper companies. The whole section about Information Architecture just sounds like giving another fancy hat to a middle management guru so they can tell the web designers and developers that the site they spent weeks coding and laying out doesn’t have positive flow. Why don’t we just bring in a digital fung shui expert and pay them an outrageous salary to wave a crystal at the screen and make sure the mouse has good chi. Once again I feel like this whole interview went completely over my head. What the hell does she mean by “balanced, planned and well-communicated brand attributes”. Sounds like another way to say that we need a mission and/or vision statement. I can’t freaking stand mission and/or vision statements. It’s the business equivalent of giving a fast food place mat map to Lewis and Clark on their way to blaze the Oregon Trail.

Web Point One, Web Point Two – Interview with Mike Essl

Frankly I’m shocked that this interview made it into the book, even though it was a breath of fresh air. Basically this guy is encouraging entry level hirelings to bullshit their way through an interview, and than pick up the slack by pulling an all nighter with a copy of [Insert Programming Language] for Dummies]. It makes me wonder if this is something that a developer could really pull off these days. I can see blazing through learning HTML in about five hours, but these days I need a Captain Midnight Secret Decoder ring just to figure out the acronyms in job postings. After spending several months learning the hottest new language/tool some new twist is designed and you have to learn Iron Q [Language].BIZ. Maybe I shouldn’t write do blog posts when I’m half asleep. Mike is absolutely right about there being alot of ugly crap on the InterWeb. The more idiots that come charging blindly into the brave new frontier, DreamWeaver a blazing to make their mark on the Wild Wild Web, the better it will make real designers/developers look. That is if the general public can tell crap from caviar, digitally speaking.

Understanding Duchamp – Andrew Stafford

All that I have to say is that for not being a ‘design guy’ Stafford certainly put together a good looking, and well laid out site. I browsed through it for a few minutes, and the level of information provided on an easy to understand time-line interactive metaphor is astounding.

Web Comics – Jesse Willmon

Neat idea. I like the thought of taking what is considered old-school media (the Sunday funnies) and revitalizing it through an interactive site. This is pure Web2.0. Get a whole bunch of people together and let them play with ideas with in a given framework and than share the ideas. I’ll have to check if he actually got Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes) to agree with using his work.

Week 4 – Personal Discovery

Hour 1

Interview with Lantz Moore.

Lantz is a developer who has done a lot of work with Ruby on Rails, which I talked about back in week 1.

Download the full interview.

(Click the Download link in the upper left to access the MP3 file). 

Hour 2

Was spent going back over the interview and doing a little research.

Here a some technical terms in what we covered:
WebX
Java (not JavaScript)

Python

A dynamic object-oriented programming language that can be used for many kinds of software development. It offers strong support for integration with other languages and tools, comes with extensive standard libraries, and can be learned in a few days. – Python.org

COBOLThe COBOL Portal

Mule

Mule is a lightweight Java-based messaging framework that allows you to quickly and easily connect your applications and enable them to exchange data. Mule uses a service-oriented architecture (SOA), enabling easy integration of your existing systems. Regardless of the different technologies the applications use, including JMS, Web Services, JDBC, HTTP, and more, Mule seamlessly handles interactions among them all. – mulesource.org

Eclipse

Eclipse is a multi-language software development platform comprising an IDE and a plug-in system to extend it. It is written primarily in Java and is used to develop applications in this language and, by means of the various plug-ins, in other languages as well—C, C++, Cobol, Python, Perl, PHP and more. – Wikipedia

NetBeans IDE

A free, open-source Integrated Development Environment for software developers. You get all the tools you need to create professional desktop, enterprise, web, and mobile applications with the Java language, C/C++, and even dynamic languages such as PHP, JavaScript, Groovy, and Ruby. NetBeans IDE is easy to install and use straight out of the box and runs on many platforms including Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and Solaris. – netbeans.org

IntelliJ

Hour 3

I spent the last hour trying to do some cleanup on the interview itself.

I used the following software programs:

Wavosaur – Freeware audio editor.  This program is notable in that it has no install program (just unzip and go), does not write to the windows registry, and doesn’t use any windows dll files.  Because of the second two features Wavosaur seems incredibly stable.  It did lock up on me once, but that was probably because I was trying to play the file that I was working on in Media Player at the same time.

Just from browsing around the website and playing with the program a bit, it does have a lot of free pluggins available.  The tuorials aren’t really novice level for the most part.

Audacity – Free, open source audio editing software that is available for all major platforms (Windows, Mac and Linux).  I can’t really judge how good audio editing software is due to my lack of expertise in this area.  I really should brush up on this, but after looking through some of the tools and effects in Audacity, the whole thing seems like rocket science to me.

Week 3 – Personal Discovery

Hour 1 – Vector Graphics

I have been looking for a decent alternative to Adobe Illustrator as it is currently priced at only $599, and even the student additions are about a hundred less.  Wow what a deal…

I found a decent free ware site called UberDownloads and they list a product called Inkscape.

Inkscape is an open-source vector graphics editor similar to Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Freehand, or Xara X. What sets Inkscape apart is its use of Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), an open XML-based W3C standard, as the native format.

The nice thing about vector graphics as opposed to raster graphics is that resizing is not a problem as the actual shapes and angles are plotted rather than a grid of colored pixels.  At this point Opera and Firefox can view vector images without an add-ons, while IE (as always) laggs behind, requiring a viewer which is offered by Adobe.

I’m not currently working on my home system so I will have to wait until next week to give a more thorough review of the program.  The have a very detailed FAQ with Use, Troubleshooting, Developement etc. sections.  The site also has a nice set of Tutorials that I’m looking forward to working through.

Some of the other vector graphics applications that could be used instead of Illustrator are:

  • Xtreme 4.0 from Xara (Trial version available).
  • Drawplus from FreeSerifSoftware (full version only $9.99)
  • Ipe (Didn’t look to closely as they have a very low tech site)
  • Skencil is interesting in that it is mostly written in Python (Linux, Unix only)

Hour 2 – Web Based Tools (Aviary)

Now here is a really noval idea.  I talked a little about Ajax Animator in my Week 2 post, but these guys take it to a whole new level.  They are creating an entire online design/development suite.  The whole thing is built on the Adobe Flex platform which is open source (but not freeware).

The Raven vector editor tool seems pretty amazing from the display video.  I don’t have alot of expierence with vector graphics but it seems like a full featured application, and it’s mind blowing to think that this is all web based.

So I watched a few videos showing the creation of content using the tools and I’m really freaking impressed with Peacock (Visual Labratory).  I also watched Lesson 1 which details setting up an account and the basic user interface for the account.  Oh… and I setup an account.  The T&C are quite a mouth full, but the important thing is that you retain ownership of any work that you create with their tools.  What would be the point if that wasn’t the case?  And going into…

Hour 3 – More on Aviary

So for the last hour I went through some of the basic tutorials for Phoenix which is the image editor.  Not really that much different from Photoshop as far as the basic selection, layer and transform options are concerned.

Looking forward to playing with this site some more…

Week 3 – Reading Blog

Week 3 – Reading Blog

Chapter 6 – Web Design

So right in the intro to the chapter I had my first confirmation that Web Design/Development is a great career choice for me.  Here is the excerpt:

Web sites are an integral part of many businesses and so, in order to understand what to design, you have to know how to be able to talk to executives in a way that inspires confidence – which means having an understanding of business goals and processes.

My first degree was an Associates of Business with a CIS focus, and as much as I dislike big business, I’ve been working for corporations since graduation. Nice to know that I already have some of the non-technical/design related skill set.

Digital Craft – Interview with Tsia Carson and Doug Lloyd (FLAT)

The differentiation between one-off projects (a book or exhibition) versus systems (an identity package or community driven site) that Doug made and the different approaches to designing the two types of projects was very enlightening.  I guess the problem with viewing work this way is that I have had assignments to produce a supposedly one-off report for a client which they liked so much that they wanted me to develop it into a weekly report and gathered data automatically.  The moral of the story being that you should always consider a project as open ended.  But the idea of investing less planning time into a dynamic system certainly has worked for Google.  They tend to put out new applications before the paint dries, which helps them maintain the image of a fresh young company that isn’t tied down to a specific type of design or production model.

I also liked what Doug had to say about projects that morphogenically interact with their audience.  People expect more then a flat aesthetic that just presents what the artist/designer has to say.  The age of interactive media has given rise to cybernetic art, where the piece or presentation is involved in a feedback loop with the audience.  We take it for granted now that we will be able to implement some change and impose some part of our own creative energy onto the systems that we work and play with.  We post our lives on social networking sites, create our own skins for programs and build our own tools and pluggins for applications.  The designer is no longer a lone explorer mapping creative territory.  The designer must be a guide and a facilitator to his audience, sometimes within a landscape that he is creating as he goes.

Tsia gave me my next indication that I’m taking the right path, when she stated that what the field needs are neither technological gurus or artistic purists, but people who can shape and work with technology in a creative fashion.  I certainly don’t want to be pigeon-holed in one or the other category.  The biggest reason why I decided to go into web development is that I could express both passions, creative and technical, at the same time.


The idea of melding creativity and practicality also was expressed by Eric Rodenbeck in the Defining Feel(ing) interview.  He said Introducing aesthetics to information presentation sounds like putting lipstick on a pig. It’s something that needs to be present from the outset.

Loving the Limits – Interview with Geoff Allman

This guy had my ear from the moment that he started talking about fractals and and atmospheric animations.  The wonderful thing about using the Web as an artistic medium is the ephemeral and dynamic nature of anything that appears online.  If you don’t build flexibility into a system then it’s basically doomed from the start.

He also started talking about randomly repeating simple shapes to create complex patterns, which I started doing back when I first learned how to play with graphics on a CoCo3 (which was one of the first home computers put out by RadioShack).

And on the same theme Geoff talked about the point where design and programming come together.  That computers and code are not cold inhuman tools that we fight with, but a fluid and delicate medium in which digital designers create works that are not bound to any of the old conventions about what art or technology is supposed to be.


The final indication that I’m a frighteningly good fit for this field came in the interview with Khoi Vinh when he stated that designers who can write are rare and very valuable. I have been writing prose and poetry since grade school, and my written communication skills are frankly stellar.

Yay for me!

Week 2 – Personal Discovery

Hour 1

Still interested in how Flash is moving now.  For example considering the current explosion of internet mobile devices we now have Flash Lite:

Adobe Flash Lite is a version of the Flash Player specifically optimized for mobile phones and consumer electronic devices. It enables mobile application developers and designers to create rich, engaging content and applications across device platforms. Flash Lite has been licensed by the world’s leading operators and handset manufacturers to bring exceptional mobile experiences to consumers worldwide. – Adobe.com

And also Flash Air which allows developers to make Flash applications outside of the browser.  So you can have a net based application that actually lives on the user’s computer.  Interesting Captain…

So  Adobe® Flash® CS4 Professional is pretty freaking expensive ($700 at present).  Time to find some alternatives…

  • Took a look at Aflax: which is a way to create and access Flash objects through Java.  Seems pretty low level (lots of code).
  • There is also Ajax Animator: which is a GUI interface for building Flash animation files.  Pretty basic at this point but it seems like a good thing to play with.

Hour 2

In the first week of my Intro Web Design class Prof. Walker mentioned that Google has launched a browser, called Chrome.  I downloaded it then and I’ve been testing it out.  I’ve also looked through part of the animated design overview and the idea of going back to square one and throwing out some off the industry assumptions about how a browser should work seems like a given to me.

Microsoft and even Mozilla have a lot invested in their current browser offerings, so expecting them to deconstruct IE or Foxfire and rebuild on a foundation of current user expectations and requirements for browsing isn’t very likely.  The most revolutionary idea that Google implemented is making each tab, and each separate Java application a seperate thread.  I haven’t tried to break it yet, but just the following that idea will make Chrome more stable and robust then any of the other available browsers.

One thing that is missing from Chrome that I use on a regular basis is a full screen option.  Whether looking at a graphics heavy site or a site that has long text content, full screen is indispensable.

Hour 3

I decided to dig into Daylife.com; a site that was mentioned in the text Becoming a Digital Designer.  The interviewee seemed a little smarmy, but the idea of a user driven and organized news feed site is fascinating.

 

What is Daylife?

The Daylife Platform offers unlimited, high-quality, and advertiser-friendly news and content for your website, whether it’s a niche blog or a global publishing brand.

 

I watched the introductory video: Daylife platform overview from Daylife on Vimeo.  It seems like some genii in a lamp gimmick, say the topic that you are interested in, rub the lamp, and unlimited hyperlinked content materializes out of the ether.  Apparently some of the biggest names in media are in bed with these guys, so they must be doing something right.

So I did a little side research in APIs as well.

Week 2 – Reading Blog

Week 2 – Reading Blog

Chapter 4

The idea of building versatile and expandable applications instead of one shot quick fixes makes perfect sense to me. There were a few times that I probably spent too much time on what should have been a quick and dirty solution, but the lost time was more than made up for by the situations where I had worked hard to design a well rounded application and it saved the company, and myself, from having to reinvent the wheel each time a similiar problem came along. I also have alot of experience in what the text calls the Good Enough Way. Sometimes the best way to figure out what features and fixes a system needs is to build a prototype and throw it into the deep end. The end users are the folks who really dictate whether an application is successful, so getting early feedback before things are so finalized that flexibility is lost is invaluable.

I haven’t had much experience in team work or collaborative projects. Generally I’m the type of worker who realizes that the rest of the team has no freaking idea what to do, so I just pull back and implement my own solution. After seeing my end results on previous projects, managers usually just tell me what they need and leave the rest of the details to my judgement and ingenuity. I think it would be nice working with a group that can actually match my game for once. The final comment in this section about specialists versus jack-of-all-trades designers seems strange to me. Generally I pick one facet of a project and learn everything I can about that one area, and inevitably I end up picking up the rest of the details in the process. I’ve never been one to go looking for an expert to finish parts that I don’t understand. Typically I will pick the experts brain to get a basic grounding in the unknown area, and then once I have my feet wet I just start exploring and experimenting until I can do what needs to be done.

Maybe it’s just me but the Daylife.com interviewee, Tom Tercek, sounds more like a glad handing salesman with a pocket full of buzz words, than a designer. I like the concept of a self organized news feed site though, probably worth looking into.

Chapter 5

Picked up a wierd twist in this chapter. The first section felt like a Worlds Fair, golden technological utopia speech, but the paranoia about government and cooperate servailence slowly started to creep in. By the end of ‘The Internet of Things’ section I felt like Phillip K. Dick was tapping me on the shoulder and whispering ‘I told you so.’ How will we possible implement decent security when any store that you enter can dig up all of your purchase data, and credit information at the press of a button. It feels like waking up and seeing Donald Trump rifling your underwear drawer. With RFID data this wide spread, it is inevitable that receivers, and the personal data they receive, will fall into the wrong hands. That is if there are any right hands for that kind of power.

Small-screen Television

Cell phone technology is directly related to Moore’s Law. Every year they seem to get twice as complex, with extra gadgets and applications that the average user neither wants nor needs. Seems to be a nitch for a company that can custom make mobile devices to an individuals specifications. Service providers and manufacturers are cannoodling like all get out, but the offspring usually is some wierd mutant that flips around like a Swiss Army Knife and has extra cameras, antennas and toothpicks slapped onto every available surface that isn’t plastered with logos. Since custom built computers are eminently practical and easily available why not mobile devices. And the operating system for this custom built dream device should be open source with user designed applications and plug-ins readily available.
While I can dream, can’t I.

Master Class – An Interview with Hugh Dubberly

Enough with the damn bullet lists already.

Week 1 – Personal Discovery

For the first hour I decided to do a little research into Ruby.  I’ve heard a little about the language and it sounds intriguing.  Wikipedia should be a good place to jump off from…

Model–view–controller architecture – Separating the database design from the way that the user interfaces with the form sounds like a good idea to start with.  Any time you can make a system more modular without sacrificing functionality the outcome is generally easier maintence and future developement.

Ruby on Rails is intended to emphasize Convention over Configuration (CoC), and the rapid development principle of Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY).

“Convention over Configuration” means a developer only needs to specify unconventional aspects of the application.

“Don’t repeat yourself” means that information is located in a single, unambiguous place. – Wikipedia

So basically Ruby seems to be mainly focused on developing web forms.  I have a little experience in this area as I’ve developed forms in Excel, once using a weird longhand method that was heavy on VB scripting for data validation and to make sure that all information was provided, and to port the resulting data from the form to a spreadsheet and a data sheet for the individual case in question.  Most of the data entry points that I worked on after that were just highly tailored Excel spreadsheets with VB script for porting the data into monthly overviews.

The second form that I started developing on the job was in a Hypertext application, but since I had no access to server side scripting I found data transfer issues to be nearly insurmountable.

On to the official Ruby on Rails website…

Glanced through the blog, most of it didn’t mean much to me as it focuses on bug fixes and new releases.  Basically the cutting edge of what is going on in Ruby 3.0 developement.

Also took a look over a video about developing a web log with comments and an rss feed in Ruby on Rails in about the amount of time that a straight Java developer would take to get a cup of coffee (15 minutes).

Ruby Tutorials

Also watched sections of a longer video that apparently was introducing Rails but had rather unfortunite direction.  Most of the time I was staring at the back of the presenter’s head while he was looking up at a screen which was out of view as he droned on about an application called Basecamp (project management for production folks) and how Ruby isn’t exclusive but is imbedded within HTML and will accept Sequel scripting.  Yawn.  Time to move on.

For the second hour I looked through a tutorial on basic Ruby on Rails developement.   Creating a form to add entries to a relational database, and to retrieve a list of records from the database was disgustingly easy.  Definetely have to look into this some more.

On to Hour Three…

So for the last hour I decided to switch gears and have a little fun.  I haven’t been keeping up to date on developements in Flash animation so I took a whirlwind tour of Flash sites.

The kids travel site is farely well designed but navigation is a bit iffie.  The Grownup maps section has dead ends.  But the kids links to visit various contries were rather dynamic with alot of little animations in the various cities to keep it interesting.

The soccer players site had nice clear images and the interaction was fun (you can drop him through the floor of the elevator, and it would pick him up again in the parking garage) but the interface was buggy.  It only seemed to be able to visit the individual floors once.  More troubleshooting seems to be in order.

The XDim company (which seems to be a design studio focusing on Flash developement) had a very showy site but seemed to be lacking in actual content.  I went to the portfolio section expecting to see examples of thier work, but instead they have some basic feel good mission statement style blurbs about 3d Animation, ETraining etc. with no links to examples.  The site started in German and I couldn’t find a simple option to switch to English.  When it did switch over to English the translations were obviously done with a basic translation engine as the grammer was appaling.  I don’t know if they aren’t hoping for many english speaking clients but they should have spent a little of the funding on decent english language content.  Just goes to show that all of the flashy graphics in the world can’t carry a site on its own.  Also the site would really benefit from progress indicators.  It was difficult to tell if the site was locked up, or just waiting for apps to load.  When I found the examples of their work (in the Showcase link) the animation was smooth and tight but there were some bugs in the processing and the apps would deadend after the basic cycle ended.