What happened to Flash?

I foolishly upgraded to Flash MX Professional 2004 like the corporate sponsored minion that I am and am suffering through my first flash project this year. What a pig this program has become. With a name conjured up from the Microsoft school of marketing and sluggish performance from the same school of programming I am kicking my ass for just deleting my older copy from my desktop. I am really glad I didn’t remove said license from my Powerbook. It’s not the fact that the software is so damn slow that bothers me, I am using a fairly recent G4, but its the removal of the ‘normal’ mode from the actionscripting interface that kills me. Yes, I admit, I have to learn some actionscript but I had come to rely on those helpful hints versus looking things up in a book. I hadn’t used the product enough to justify the time. Now with tight deadlines I’ll end up having to look up old code, what would have taken a second in MX becomes minutes in the new version with too long a title.


Explorelearning.com

is a wonderful e-learning site and a fine example of great writing, information/instructional design, and a perfect use for shockwave.

ExploreLearning offers a catalog of modular, interactive simulations in math and science for teachers and students in grades 6-12. We call these simulations Gizmos. Gizmos are fun, easy to use, and flexible enough to support many different teaching styles and contexts. Our Gizmos are designed as supplemental curriculum materials that support state and national curriculum standards; in addition, Gizmos help teachers bring research-proven instructional strategies to their classrooms.

Found via a thread @ 37signals.


Its a windy day in Taiwan’s windy city.

The temperature is rising and the sun is shining. The wind has the added effect of blowing all the bad smells and pollution away from the city. Unfortunately it also generates allot of dirt and sand that immediately hits you in your eyes and face. Driving my scooter today I realised that my body on top of a small scooter is somewhat like a large sail on small boat. It’s great when the wind is at your back but when a gust hits me on my side it makes for some comedic driving. I kept wondering if I would be blown of my scooter to the delight of the passing motorists.
Driving my little decrepit scooter is still something of a shock to my manhood. I mean real men drive Harley’s not 125cc Kymco’s. I know some locals try to be the equivalent of cool when driving but I remain unconvinced. I shudder when I drive by a reflective store window, I always try to look in the windows of the ‘barber shops’ in the hopes of seeing some old scrag performing some illicit act, and I see my hulking shape atop a “girlie bike”. I put a couple Apple stickers on mine to compensate.
A cousin of mine who when I was growing up was a “cool guy” who could fight and get girls was home in Charlottetown when I was visiting a couple or more years ago. He was a Chef at a resort in Bermuda and now is Executive Chef at a hotel at home. I told him about how I got around the city – I think I was a bit embarrassed. But his telling me that in Bermuda it was the preferred mode of transport for him gave me some small comfort. If the “cool guy” when I was growing could drive one than I shouldn’t worry. Except I’m 36 now I shouldn’t really be reflecting on what is cool when your 14.
I have since bought a car. A piece of junk for sure, but a big piece of junk and one that doesn’t blow all over the road when driving in Hsinchu. In a sign of my age it’s a mid size sedan with flowered seat covers.
Tonight I’ll drive home taking the usual route using the Taiwan aggressive no rules driving technique. I’ll say a little prayer hoping that no one succeeds in hurting me as all the drivers want to do, believe me everyone is invisible, even babies on the side of the road. I just hope that the wind is my sails and at at my back.


How to Throw Water During Songkran

is a bit of advice best suited to a few weeks ago, giving enough time to practice before last weeks Songkran festival. I guess I could get started early but somehow I think the people of Hsinchu would not get the relevance of such an action nor do I think they would care much about Thai. culture. Here’s a snipit of advice: water.gif “Water throwing is one of the most humorous and enjoyable parts of the Songkran festival. It can happen anywhere, and while you’re here during Songkran you can enjoy it as much as everyone else. If you’re coming into Chiangmai by train you might want to dress appropriately; that is, you might want to dress for fun. The passenger, sitting comfortably in a railway car, can receive an accidental splash through the window from the frolicking festivities outside.” Not everyone is keen to join in on the fun as David at Mangosauce leaves us with no doubt by saying I fucking hate Songkran. Despite his misgivings, hopefully next year I’ll be able to take part and with my camera in hand voyeuristic tendencies I’ll no doubt be following some of Yoonki’s useful tips for photographers.


A definitive guide to cart sorting

“Card sorting is a technique that many information architects (and related professionals.) use as an input to the structure of a site or product. With so many of us using the technique, why would we need to write an article on it?

While card sorting is described in a few texts and a number of sites, most descriptions are brief. There is not a definitive article that describes the technique and its variants and explains the issues to watch out for. Given the number of questions posted to discussion groups, and discussions we have had at conferences, we thought it was time to get all of the issues in one place.

This article provides a detailed description of the basic technique, with some focus on using the technique for more complex site.” @ Boxes and Arrows.


Vaporwear?

“For Jory Bell, creating a handheld computer that uses the full Windows XP operating system isn’t a matter of if, but when.

As chief executive of San Francisco-based OQO, Bell has been trying for four years to create such a handheld. Now he says the product will be launched in the fall.

The company’s 30 employees have produced several prototypes of its “ultra personal computer” that takes Windows into its final frontier in a handheld, where full PC compatibility could give it an advantage over rival Palm and PocketPC handheld.” as reported in the Mercury News.

Their minimalist site lends an air of mystery to the supposed product. An interesting change from the corporate Dell and IBM look.


The Web Standards Kit

is a wonderful resource ” that will (help) validate the use of standards compliant code while showing all the benefits that such authoring offers to clients, partners and business owners everywhere.”

What Every Web Site Owner Should Know About Standards: A Web Standards Primer

A brief non-technical explanation of Web standards for Web site owners and managers. This article explains the benefits of Web standards, how they work, and how to begin implementing them.

The Way Forward with Web Standards

The MACCAWS white paper on Web standards. This article assembles arguments and information about Web standards into one document and explains Web standards in terms of how they affect business.


Nikon D70 DPReview.

DPreview has finally published their long-awaited Nikon D70 review, 28-pages of stats, analysis, and pictures. Much of which I tend to skip and go straight to the conclusions.d70.jpg The D70 is Nikons answer to Canon’s Digital Rebel which was introduced last fall. I lusted over the Digital Rebel until I actually picked one up in a store in Bangkok where I was left feeling less than impressed and immediately put my credit card back in my wallet. I already have 3 Canon cameras all of which I am completely happy with but after reading this review I’ll have to leave my wallet at home if I go to the local camera store to have a look at the D70.


“Pseudodictionary

, the place where words you’ve made up can become part of an actual online dictionary!” I love making up language as I go along. A particular fun habit in this part of the world where few people speak English as there native language. One new word I picked up is Doris or the plural Dorae (?) which I found at British in Hong Kong guy’s weblog. It’s a word who uses to describe all the girls he meets. I guess so he doesn’t have to remember their names. Rude I suppose. The Pseudodictionary is a wonderful site “started by paul because he has his own mini-slang language.” Much like me but on a scale all his own. Some favourites: a-delic, b, Ba, big-gig, D’ohmance, daddy-look, daygogear, and kad-food.


A look at focus groups.

At the suggestion of my advisor I will be conducting a focus group session as the main means of collecting some research data for a project. It’s time to take a look at this method which is so prevalent in the marketing and advertising industry but in my experience not so prevalent in mine.
Powell et al define a focus group as

a group of individuals selected and assembled by researchers to discuss and comment on, from personal experience, the topic that is the subject of the research. (1996: 499)

This definition is taken from an informative article aptly entitled Focus Groups found in Social Research Update. Jacob Neilson chimes in with another article with an equally original title,Focus Groups. He says,

Although focus groups can be a powerful tool in system development, you shouldn’t use them as your only source of usability data. People with an advertising or marketing background often rely solely on focus groups to expose products to users. Thus, because advertising and marketing people frequently contribute to web site development, focus groups are often used to evaluate Web projects. Unfortunately, focus groups are a rather poor method for evaluating interface usability.

Carter McNamara has a short article entitled Basics of Conducting Focus Groups which gives a concise guide to conducting the focus group session. Last but not least Market Navigation has a large collection of articles on the topic. The page is titled Qualitative Research: Telephone Focus Groups, Face-to-Face Focus Groups but it covers a whole range of issues about focus groups in general.