The event site for Flash Camp Philadelphia, November 7, 2009 is now live – check it out:

http://flashcamp.pfpaug.org/

Keep an eye on the site and on our twitter account: @flashcampphilly for more news and updates!

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That’s right Flash Camp Philadelphia, November 7, 2009 – It’s coming!

More info and event site to launch next week.

Stay tuned – it’s gonna rock!

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cvault_awardmac-worldIt was quite a surprise, and serendipitous to say the least, that I was sitting in the middle of a local Philadelphia Cocoaheads group meeting last night when I received an unexpected email from one of my favorite clients Wolfgangs Vault. The email indicated that we had just won Macworld UK’s award for Best iPhone/iPod Touch Application of the Year 2009 for our application Concert Vault. It was serendipitous not only because we were in the Cocoaheads meeting discussing Mac and iPhone development at the time the email came through, but the fact that the manager of the group my very talented friend Andy Mroczkowski was also the key Objective-C/Cocoa/Xcode developer on the project and did all the heavy lifting and coding, and Andy had literally just sat down after introducing the first speaker of the evening. I was delighted and a little distracted as I tried twittering and emailing Andy from the front row of the meeting where I was seated, to Andy sitting in the back. My apologies to Professor Randy Zauhar Phd, who gave an  excellent presentation on leveraging OpenCL in Objective-C/Cocoa apps to accelerate the rendering and display of molecular simulations/interaction. I finally settled down and got into his presentation, but was definitely jazzed about hearing the news since neither of us even knew the application had even been nominated, let alone won. The other applications that had been nominated in the category made it even more exciting as we were up against:

All great applications from very cool companies and talented developers – so just finding out we had been nominated in the same category was pretty cool, but finding out we had won was totally unexpected. Thanks Macworld! I also have to give total props to all the super talented and friendly developers and staff at Wolfgangs Vault – it was their vision in seeing the value of creating an iPhone app, as well as their amazing efforts and incredible content that made putting the Concert Vault app together possible. Thanks to Matt, Scott, Wade, Bill, Eric, Jeremy, and all the others who work behind the scenes at Wolfgangs Vault, Daytrotter and Crawdaddy – awesome job guys! Thanks for the opportunity!

We did have some good reviews of the app earlier in the year, one snippet from Rolling Stone magazine named Concert Vault one of the “Best Music Apps” which was really cool to find out. I was especially excited to hear we had won the Macworld UK award as this had been the first iPhone project that I worked on as I am primarily a Flash Platform developer. I am still teaching myself Objective C/Cocoa/Xcode, so I played a far lesser role than Andy did. I contributed some aspects of design, iconography, back end web services support, QA and a bit of project management, but securing Andy to work on the project is what I am most proud of as he is a truly talented developer and really knocked this one out the park. If you own or have seen a Neat scanner with the Mac version of NeatRecipts you have seen some of Andy’s other software development efforts (along with some other friends of mine at Neat) Andy is also doing a fantastic job running the local Cocoaheads group, where I have been fortunate enough to make a number of additional friends and discover that we have a large and talented group of Apple Mac/iPhone developers in the local area. I was quite aware of all the local Flash and Flex talent in and around Philadelphia thanks to the Flash Platform User Group I manage with my friend J Marziani, but I hadn’t really been exposed to all the other Mac native application developers in the area. Thanks to Andy and the group, I’ve found out that the following developers and their popular Mac/iPhone apps are right in our area:

These are just folks off the top of my head that are related to Mac development in the area, there are way more talented people and companies in the tech industry covering a wide range of disciplines all over the area (I should start making another big list for a future post). I want to make sure and give a shout-out to Alex Hillman and Geoff DiMasi of Indy Hall and all the folks who call Indy Hall home, as they have been very generous and supportive in allowing both the Cocoaheads group and our Flash Platform User Group to meet at Indy Hall, including run classes and sponsor our events – thanks guys!

I’d like to wrap this post up by noting that I keep seeing more and more talented Flash developers taking on and delivering some really amazing Objective-C/Cocoa applications both for the desktop and iPhone/iPod touch devices. Apple has done a really great job with the app store and not only do developers clearly see a straightforward path to monetizing their efforts but so do managers, owners, investors, etc. As much as I am enjoying learning Objective-C/Cocoa, and can see all the potential reasons why Apple wouldn’t even consider allowing a Flash player of some sort on the iPhone. I am still a Flash developer at heart, and I am really rooting for Apple and Adobe to come to an agreement and get a Flash player or some solution for allowing Flash content to be deployed to iPhones/iPod Touch devices. I just got my 32GB iPhone 3GS today and it is super snappy fast with its 600Mhz ARM-A8 processor. Considering that Adobe and others have made announcements about the Open Screen project agreements with Intel and other hardware manufacturers to get Flash Player 10 working on ARM based devices that utilize ARMv6, ARMv7, and ARM11 chips and the  Cortex-A (ARM Cortex-A8) found in the iPhone 3GS  (some of those running at only 400Mhz) – and to accelerate performance through custom ASICs and GPU chips from the likes of Nvidia, as well as deliver Flash to set top boxes and other consumer devices, not to mention some special sessions at Adobe MAX 2009 later this year. I have to believe and have faith that at this point, it is literally down to Apple and Adobe coming to some mutual agreements as opposed to any true technical hurdles. So guys, here’s to working it out, and making even more opportunities for success for all of us developers and consumers trying to raise the bar.

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Save for the exception of Adobe MAX,which I haven’t missed since 2004 and looks to be great again in 2009, I have not been hitting nearly as many conferences for a couple years now. Plenty of local events in the PA, NJ, NY area, but more often than not, I’ve chosen to stay close to home and spend time with my family instead, mainly because my children will only be little once. I know others who have children the same age as mine (1 year old daughter and 3 year old son) and manage to hit all the conferences all over the world – I don’t know how you do it, but more power to you.

Considering that I haven’t been getting out as much, I am especially excited about attending Flash On Tap in Boston, MA next week. I love Boston as a city, I first went for a visit to MacWorld back in 1993, and had a blast. Every time I’ve been back since, I’ve had a great time. Flash On Tap looks like its going to be a really fun conference and the beer tasting aspect and interesting location at the Boston Park Plaza Castle not to mention the great lineup of speakers and friends of mine who will be attending, all add up to a great time. I don’t think its too late to pick up tickets if you haven’t already and are maybe on the fence about going. Very excited to see how things turn out. Now I am off to get my train tickets and try to wrap up some projects (including putting together an entire backyard playground swing-set for the kids) before mid next week.

If you do show up – keep an eye out for the GREENMAN!

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I finally got around to implementing a decent Syntax highlighter for code on my site. I looked at a number of different projects, and none of them had exactly all the features I wanted, so I went with WP-Syntax by Ryan McGeary available here: http://ryan.mcgeary.org/wp-syntax/ which in turn is based on GeSHi (Generic Syntax Highlighter) available here: http://qbnz.com/highlighter/

I liked how Ryan handled the line numbering on the left, but it was missing a nice way to quickly view the code in plain text, copy the code to your clipboard, or save it directly as a download. Several of the other solutions had features like that in the top header of the code, and I liked that, so I quickly hacked in support for that. The show in plain text icon simply leverages the built in thickbox.js built into WordPress and some JavaScript to get that done I quickly shoehorned that in. The other two icons for copy to clipboard and download and save were done through Flash. I leveraged the System.setClipboard() function to quickly push the code onto the users clipboard, as well as externalInterface to pass back a success notification to the browser and end user.

For the file download and save code, I was going to use AS3 and the filereference.download feature, and javascript to parse the code out of the page, and then download it directly to the users system with a standard OS dialog – but it was late and I didn’t feel like spending the time to parse the innerHTML with JS before passing it in to Flash – so I cheated and just pass it all in as a urlencoded Flashvar, and then do a roundtrip to my server with the code as POST data, and then leverage the filereference.download feature of Flash 8 AS 2.0 to accomplish what looks like the identical behavior. I’ll probably go back and clean this up and redo it the right way with AS3 so I don’t have to make that server trip, but I’ll save that for another day. The current version is smart enough to know when ActionScript is the language and automatically set the default filename extension to .as – and it also broadcasts a little download complete to the browser via externalInterface when things are complete, so its 99% of what I wanted and also nearly 100% compatible with most users installs of Flash. The tiny nature of the size of the SWF doesn’t lend itself to even using the Express Install feature of Flash 6+ to upgrade to 9, so think this was a good compromise, although I already have a workaround for that as well, with a self-resizing DIV and SWF combo.

I would also like to clean things up a bit more including making some more XHTML friendly changes to the html output and then submit my changes to Ryan for inclusion in a future version, as it would probably be too much ongoing work to make and then maintain a plugin that patches his plugin. Anyway, below is a quick sample of the output with a handy little contrain/resizing function I use often. Including some basic CSS adjustments to give alternating background colors on the lines (it looks decent in Safari at default text settings, but I have to put in some conditional CSS tweaks for other browsers to get the alternating line colors to line up better) – at least I now have a solution I like for posting code snippets. If anyone wants to get the source for this and hack away at it yourself, let me know and maybe I’ll bundle things up as they stand now and someone else can refine things a bit further, its really only some changes to the main wp-synax.php file, a dependency on SWFObject 2.1, and the custom little Flash widget I put together.

 
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// AS3 example function to constrain an object's width/height proportionally with a given objects new targeted dimensions with optional rounding
function reSize (originalSize:Object, targetConstraints:Object, round:Boolean):Object {
    var scaleFactor:Number = Math.min( (targetConstraints.width / originalSize.width), (targetConstraints.height / originalSize.height) );
    var newSize:Object = new Object  ;
    newSize.width = round ? Math.round(scaleFactor * originalSize.width) : (scaleFactor * originalSize.width);
    newSize.height = round ? Math.round(scaleFactor * originalSize.height) : (scaleFactor * originalSize.height);
    return newSize;
}
 
var obj = new Object;
obj.width = 800;
obj.height = 600;
 
var newObj = new Object;
newObj.width = 640;
newObj.height = 500;
 
var objTarg:Object = reSize(obj, newObj, true);
 
trace (objTarg.width+"x"+objTarg.height);

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I ran across a recent entry about MouseWheel events on Mac OS X and Flash by Christian Cantrell and realized there were at least 4 cool implementations that I was aware of. Thought I would list them out here, including a modification I made to one that I have been using and has been around for at least a year or longer now. I really like the anonymous JS function injection approaches that several of them leverage. So here they are:

Takanobu Izukawa of the Spark project:
http://www.libspark.org/wiki/SWFWheel/en
http://www.libspark.org/wiki/SWFSize/en

Gabriel Bucknall – PixelBreaker – AS3.0 MouseWheel on Mac OS X
http://blog.pixelbreaker.com/flash/as30-mousewheel-on-mac-os-x/

Ali Rantakari – Mac OS X Mouse Wheel Support for ActionScript 3 Flash Applications (v.2+)
http://hasseg.org/blog/?p=138

Matt Giger – Simple solution for MOUSE_WHEEL events on Mac
http://blog.earthbrowser.com/2009/01/simple-solution-for-mousewheel-events.html

And here is a link to download a modified version of the JavaScript portion of Gabriel “PixelBreaker” Bucknall’s solution that I worked on to fix a few issues and add some functionality grab it here. I like Gabriels version as he put together an AS2 and AS3 version, it works perfectly with SWFobject 2.1, and with my fixes, multiple items on a page. I had started working on another version that also used externalInterface to leverage the anonymous function injection approach, but given that all three other variations on this issue already provide that functionality, I didn’t want to re-invent the wheel.

Also, note that all these approaches rely on leveraging externalInterface to pass info back forth between the browser/JavaScript and Flash. If AllowScriptAccess is set to NEVER in your embed, none of these projects will work. For what its worth there is a bug thats been logged on Adobes JIRA Bug system here: http://bugs.adobe.com/jira/browse/FP-216 – that is looking for extra votes – it is related to the current inability to reliably detect what AllowScriptAccess and other HTML properties of Flash have been set to. The best solution and request is to make these items available as System.capabilities.xxxx properties available at runtime. That would be great – so make sure you check out the link and vote it up for the next release of the Flash player!

UPDATE 03.10.09 – 12:51AM: I initially uploaded an old version accidentally – doh! I’ve updated the file, which fixes some issues with multiple instances of Flash on a page. Specifically where Flash instances not registered with SWFMacMouseWheel were still preventing the default page/document scroll if you happened to be mousedover them and they were receiving input. I also included a reference to Richard “Rillkill” Rodney for his tweaks for Safari for PC in the JS and AS3 code – which I failed to note requires changes in the AS to support Safari for PC. I also made a quick change to the AS2 version and zipped them both up and added them to the downloads page. If you don’t need Safari for PC support then you can stick with the original AS files from Gabriel/Pixelbreaker. Enjoy!

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I’ve been working a great deal on Flash video related projects the past several years, and just this week I ran across and solved a puzzling issue for a client where the duration value being injected into a very large .flv file kept coming up far short of its real world value. I talked it through on Stefan Richters great mailinglist FLASHMEDIA and thanks to Asa Whillock at Adobe on the FMS team, came to a conclusion, so I’m consolidating it all here for the benefit of others.
Continue Reading »»»

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Today on 08/08/08 I decided to throw the switch on a new version of my personal site. If the DNS changes have begun to propagate and you are reading this right now you are seeing the new site. This will mark the 4th major version of my site over the years since it was originally launched in 1997.

Continue Reading »»»

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I wanted to announce the birth of my second child, this time a daughter – Delaney Ann Hall was born on April 27th at 6:38am. She weighed 8lbs 14oz and was 21.5 inches long. She is amazing and joins her big brother Owen, who will be two in just a few weeks on May 14th. We are all doing great, just very tired at the moment.

I have put together a special page with a bunch of links to photos on my wife Melissa’s Flickr account, as well as a bunch of videos I uploaded to my Viddler account which can be found here:

http://delaney.impossibilities.com/

I am still a bit exhausted from the week and meant to get this up sooner but just havent had the energy or the time. I’ll put up some additional detail here soon as well.

Thanks to all my twitter friends and family who have written thanks and congratulations. If you haven’t heard back from me yet, I will get back to you as soon as I can.

I am taking off the next couple weeks from work and new projects to spend with my new daughter and the rest of my family, so I wont be able to respond to emails and other inquiries as fast as I normally do, so please allow a little extra time for replies.

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Flex 3.0 and AIR 1.0 have been officially launched (see a ton of related links down below), so please join the Philadelphia Flash Platform Adobe User Group, the Philadelphia Flex User Group, and the Philadelphia ColdFusion User Group for a joint “can’t miss” meeting Monday, February 25th, 7PM at Independents Hall to celebrate the launch of Adobe Flex 3.0 and AIR 1.0!

Adobe’s RIA technologies enable you to rapidly build and deploy the most engaging applications across browsers and on the desktop. The local Philadelphia Adobe User Groups are hosting a special joint, live event to share exciting new information on Adobe’s platform tools and technologies for building RIAs. You’ll see an exclusive user group video presentation by Adobe Chief Software Architect, Kevin Lynch, hear some important product news, plus get your hands on some exclusive shwag and other giveaways.

Be part of the fun and excitement and join the rest of the Adobe developer community by participating in this very special event.

Food, beverages and cool prizes will be available for all attendees. We have got some great goodies for this event, and some awesome raffle prizes.

Super special thanks to Alex Hillman of Independents Hall for hooking us up with the meeting space at the last minute! Shout-outs to Alex’s partners at Indy Hall: Bart Mroz and Geoff DiMasi for their support and general coolness all around. 😉

DATE: Monday, February 25
TIME: 7PM – whenever
LOCATION: Independents Hall

DIRECTIONS: 32 Strawberry Street, Philadelphia, PA

Park on the street if you’re lucky, otherwise there are several garages in the immediate area that you can easily use.

Make sure you arrive early for the Red Bull!

Here are some related links for the Flex 3.0 and AIR 1.0 releases:

Official Adobe Press Release: http://www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/pressroom/pressreleases/200802/022508AdobeAIR.html

ADOBE AIR 1.0 LINKS

Get AIR 1.0: http://www.adobe.com/go/air

AIR 1.0 Runtime Install Page: http://get.adobe.com/air/

AIR Tools – Free SDK, EXtensions, etc. : http://www.adobe.com/products/air/tools/

AIR product page: http://www.adobe.com/products/air/

AIR – Getting Started: http://www.adobe.com/products/air/getstarted/

AIR for Flash Developers: http://www.adobe.com/products/air/develop/flash/

AIR for Flex Developers: http://www.adobe.com/products/air/develop/flex/

AIR for AJAX developers: http://www.adobe.com/products/air/develop/ajax/

AIR FAQ: http://www.adobe.com/products/air/faq/

AIR Marketplace: http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/exchange/index.cfm?event=productHome&exc=24&loc=en_us

AIR Developer Center: http://www.adobe.com/devnet/air/

30 On AIR – great videos about “Why AIR/Flex/Flash”: http://www.30onair.com/

Aptana – Third Party IDE for AIR, JS, etc: http://www.aptana.com/air

ADOBE FLEX 3.0 LINKS

Get Flex 3.0: http://www.adobe.com/go/flex

FREE Flex 3.0 SDK: http://www.adobe.com/products/flex/downloads/?sdid=ZFCT

Flex Builder Free for Students! More info here: http://www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/pressroom/pressreleases/200710/102407adobeflexedu.html

Download Flex Builder 3 Professional 60 Day Trial: http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/entitlement/index.cfm?e=flex3email

Mike Potters post about the launch: http://weblogs.macromedia.com/flexteam/archives/2008/02/its_on_-_flex_3.cfm

A brand new site from Adobe focused on Open Source: http://opensource.adobe.com/

Flex.org Community Site – All things Flex: http://flex.org/

RIA – Rich Internet Applications: ttp://www.adobe.com/resources/business/rich_internet_apps/?promoid=BTMAX#

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