Archive for May, 2010

Realisation from Flash and the City

First, I want to say that Flash and the City was a very well organized conference. Sure it isn’t as perfect as FITC (I know it does no justice to compare a 10 years old conference to a new one, but it’s the only other conference I have been to) but it was nonetheless amazing for a first year and we have Elad Elrom and his team to thank for that.

Flash and the City

What I think they can improve on next year is the venue; the 3 legged dog was too small to hold this kind of event. I would suggest changing for a new place. What I really liked: that the speakers where different from the speakers on the other conferences roasters (seems like it’s all the same people speaking from conferences to conferences) so I got to see people I had not seen yet.

The realisation

I consider myself a developer and FATC was really more aimed towards developers, so I should have been very happy there. The thing is, I wasn’t; it didn’t have the same impact as FITC did on me, which is weird. I don’t know, maybe it is because I follow a lot what is happening in the Flash community and I am well informed on the new possibilities the platform has technically. Because of that, the presentations didn’t marvel me as much as a creative presentations where everything is mostly new. Maybe I am not so much a developer after all.

Best of show

Anyway there was still some presentations that I found really amazing. The best one that I saw really was Gaia Flash Framework by Jesse Warden. He spoke about using Gaia and Robotlegs together. I mostly knew what he was speaking about but it still was awesome. I wish I could see it again in slow motion because there are so many words that come out of Jesse’s mouth. What is the major point of interest is Jesse’s views on the industry and the way he express them. If you get the chance to see him speak don’t miss it. Well, he started doing some video capsules, so you should go watch those. I used to make the new guys watch them when they had nothing to do (when is the next one coming out Mr Warden? I want more!). Aside from this Jesse, it was also good to see that Jesse Freeman is a very well spoken, nice , intelligent and professional dude. It clashes from his Twitter personality where all he does is wine about Adobe (well he seems to like Adobe now that he is working with Flash on Android). I really enjoy his articles on InsideRIA but sometimes I want to unfollow him on Twitter because all his bitchin is impacting on my moral. It was nice to see him in person, it gives me a new (good) perspective on the guy. Also another interesting thing I learned was that searching for Flash Bum (Jesse’s username on Twitter is theflashbum) on Google images yields unexpected results.

All in all it was a great week-end, I wish good luck to the Flash and the City team for next year.

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Starting out with Alchemy (on a Mac)

So I’m a PC that now works on a Mac. It’s not my choice, but I went along with it to experience the Mac side of things. I don’t hate it, but I don’t like it that much either. That being said, it means that I am a complete noob user. For the past 2 days, I have been trying to make Alchemy work (compiler that let’s you compile C and C++ libraries to a SWC that can be used in Flash) and it wasn’t all that easy.

First I’m going to point you to two articles on how to setup Alchemy. The first one can be found on Adobe Labs and has a detailed list of steps to complete in order to make Alchemy works. The second one is from zaalabs and it gives further information to get it done.

Now, even with those articles I had a lot of trouble to get it to work, mostly because I don’t know a lot about command line stuff. The first thing that confused me was the mention of a bash / shell / terminal interchangeably. Now, I know there is a difference between all of those, but in this case they all mean the terminal. You can access the terminal by going to Applications and inside the Utilities folder you’ll find the terminal.

The second thing that I didn’t understand was how to add something to the system path. This is also referred later on as adding to your paths. This means editing a file that will put a certain path to be handled like a system path so that you can access whatever is in that folder from any directory. To do so you have to edit a certain file named .profile. The problem that I had was that looking around the interweb for adding to the system path I found that I had to edit a file named .bash_profile. Well it turns out that both works but you just need one of those, if you put some info in one and some info in the other, just one of the file is going to be used so it won’t work. Just use .profile as mentioned in Adobe doc. Now that file is a hidden file (it starts with a “.”) and to see if it exist, in terminal, you must, right after you open it, write “ls -a”, the -a option will show you file that starts with a “.”. If the file .profile doesn’t exist you can create it using an editor like pico by writing “pico .profile”, writing what you need in it and saving the file. Just to help out, here is what my .profile file looks like after I have completed all the steps:

source /Users/dominicg/library/Alchemy/alchemy-setup
PATH=$PATH:/Users/dominicg/Flex3/bin:/Users/dominicg/library/Alchemy/achacks
export PATH

Last note to be sure everything works, you need to use the Flex SDK 3.2 and no other version. That particular SDK can be found here.

Well I hope this will help some of you. I pretty much shifted focus from Alchemy since I started writing this article, but I am sure I will get back to it at some point.

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Why I like the Facebook like button

As you might know, Facebook changed how external sites interact with it. One of those changes is that external sites can now put like buttons on their site (Levi went a bit overboard with it). That is a huge change. Before, you could only use share buttons, but sharing and liking are two really different things. You only need one click to like, but you need at least 2 clicks to share, plus you need to check the text that you are going to share. That makes the implication necessary by the user smaller and it increases the probability that they will take action.

The Like Button

What does that mean for us, bloggers (or any content provider)? Well it means more traffic on our sites because more people will link our articles by liking them. Just as an example, I added the like button on this blog a days ago. I didn’t think it would do anything because my blog is very technical and is not something I thought one would share on a social media site like Facebook because it is more personal. But I am very surprised by the results. Some people are pressing the like buttons which results in traffic for the blog. Not much, but it is still great because it was so easy to add.

So yeah, I really like the like button. So much that I was looking for a like button to like the like button only to find none! Well no problem, I just did it myself with the new Facebook social plugins it only took 1 hours and I had a Facebook page for the like button and you can now like it and comment on it. So here you go show your love for the like button!

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FITC Toronto 2010 Recap

Ya what happens when I drink coffee at 3 in the afternoon? Well yeah, I can’t sleep; so at least I will do something positive with my time. FITC Toronto 2010 ended last week and I was pretty busy there as I was covering the conference for Applied Arts. I wrote 3 summaries for them (1, 2, 3) but these were mostly just recaps. What I want to do here is to write what I got out of this year festival.

Flash In The Can

Storytelling and the attention to details

One thing that stood out was the importance of storytelling. From North Kingdom putting stories even in their preloaders to Alex McDowell that writes an entire biography for a house in Fight Club, storytelling should be at the hearth of everything we do. Which bring me to the other point: attention to details. No elements in a production should be there for nothing, everything should have a purpose, a story. At no point in a project should you start rounding corners, if you do, it will show up in the finished product. It is hard when you are working on it, but you should keep this in mind, stay focused.

Making your tools

There was supposed to be a presentation by the president of firstborn Dan LaCivita, but unfortunately he couldn’t make it to the conference. So instead we got Mathieu Badimon (creator of FIVe3D) and Eric Decker showing how, when they encountered repetitive tasks in projects, they would build tools to help them. That advantages for doing this are pretty obvious; if the client wants to change something, you just make the change in the tool and reexport the data, plus you learn a ton while building the tool. These tools ranged from handwriting animation font creators to character path tools. Those tools where amazing and we saw that they reused some parts from tool to tool (like path drawing). This was a common thing through out the conference. People were making tools that would export them usable assets for the Flash projects. So I thought this isn’t a bad idea, the next time I encounter a problem that has repetitive task to it, instead of solving it by brute force, I am going to build a tool for it.

Best of show

I couldn’t do a recap without speaking about the best presentations I have seen. Jason Theodor and is talk about Creativity and Chaos was really inspiring and was the best I have seen this year. He generously gives his slides on slideshare, so I suggest you see them, it won’t be as good as seeing him talk but it is still pretty good. Jared Ficklin also gave a great presentation; he is a great entertainer and his curiosity is contagious. Finally I really enjoyed the Brendan Dawes’ talk about the grammar of interaction design.

A little extra

Last year I stopped by the booth of the creative group and took a leaflet to be well surprised by the quality of it. The best part of it was that it was a salary guide and it covered most of the employes of a digital agency. So this year, I went to the booth wanting my updated salary guide for 2010 and it took the form of a calendar. While browsing through it, I saw that they went a step further this year by making an online tool (click salary calculator on the right) where you can enter your fonction and where you live and it will give you a salary range. I think this is pretty awesome and very useful. I just moved to New York from Montreal and had no idea a all what salary  I should ask; I would have killed to have this tool like at that moment. So now you know, go check if you are paid enough.

It was the third year that I went to that conference and as the last years I came back from it fully motivated and with plenty of new ideas for blog post. Stay tuned for more

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