Flash, meet H.264

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Adobe just released Update 3 of Flash Player 9. This is HUGE. Streaming video is no longer a laughing matter. Streaming High Definition video will become common place and it starts today. Everyone talks about BlueRay and HD-DVD, but what they don’t realize is they’ve already been obsolesced before catching stride. VHS is dead, brick and mortar video rental is on life support, and DVD just checked in with chest pains.

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Django Basic Apps

Sunday, December 2, 2007

I’ve been working on abstracting some Django applications from past projects so they can effortlessly be plugged into future projects. I hate writing the same blog application repeatedly, so this is an attempt to make life easier. I think this will be a fun, little suite of plug-n-play Django apps that everyone can benefit from. I’m calling this suite Basic Apps with the hopes they’ll live up to their name. They’re freely distributed under the New BSD License and hosted at Google Code.

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Django Sprint

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Armed with high levels of legally addictive stimulants, silver laptops, and brilliant minds, Django will get even closer to 1.0 today. If you have any interest in being apart of today’s event, scurry over to the Django site and scan for tickets that catch your eye and expertise. Join us in IRC (irc.freenode.net) in the #django-sprint room or if you’re lucky enough to live near Lawrence, Kansas come join us!

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Juggling Django settings modules

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

If you find yourself juggling multiple Django projects and constantly changing the DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE variable, try this simple shortcut. Upon diving into a particular project I define an alias in my .bash_profile that gets me to the project directory in as few keystrokes as possible. For example, to get to my playgroundblues directory I simply type ‘pb’ and I’m in the root of playgroundblues.com. Here is the line of code in my .

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Care to scrum?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

We need more scrums and less meetings. A scrum (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stand-up_meeting) is a 5-10 minute stand-up meeting. About 80% of the meetings I’ve ever attended have included at least five people. Any meeting over three becomes a presentation while one bloviates and others wander. It’s been a while since my last scrum. It included seven people, complete participation, no dominance, one referee, and was contained within a 10 minute package. Rather than walking away in a typical post-meeting cloud of confusion, I left the scrum feeling clear and informed.

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Trials of the I-70 commute

Monday, October 15, 2007

A while ago I began working back in the big city while remaining in modest Lawrence. This required a 40 min. x 2 drive into the sun five days a week. It wasn’t so bad at first, but the race through traffic and mass of incandescent gas started taking its toll. I decided to evaluate what was wearing me out. The sun, for one, was melting my retinas and giving me headaches.

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Subliminal Culture

Friday, September 21, 2007

Lately I’ve been reading more of Lev Manovich’s (http://www.manovich.com) Language of New Media. Manovich discusses the methods in which we access new media. He mentions some research done by Paul Virilio on the collapsing effect technology has on the distances between people and content. Before, if a person wanted to see the works of Da Vinci they’d have to travel to a book store or an art museum. With the advent of new media it’s as simple as pulling up a browser.

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Manually Compressing PNGs

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

With the advent of some very clean hacks to make PNGs work in IE I’ve found myself working them into my designs more. Using them has allowed me to achieve some effects that were next to impossible with JPEGs and GIFs. The biggest hurdle in using PNGs is their file size. The export tools in Photoshop tie your hands behind your back, not allowing you to tweak anything that may lead to a more compact file.

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iPhone dead; $30 rental?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

This morning I woke up on my own. Normally I hear little crickets chirping around 7am which is my iPhone letting me know it’s time to face the coming day. This morning, no crickets. At first I thought maybe the battery was flat, but that’s not possible. I charged it the day before and didn’t put it through any rigorous usage. So iPhone CPR commences. First I try a hard restart, holding down the home and on/off button for a few seconds.

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Blueprints are not final

Friday, August 10, 2007

So apparently a little framework called Blueprint (http://bjorkoy.com/blueprint) has reared it’s head, born from a few stylesheets that look very familiar. I’m somewhat conflicted with its release because I don’t think it should be used. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great, but don’t use it. About five or so months ago I was working on the Journal-World (http://www.ljworld.com) redesign. News sites tend to be very column heavy and I was getting tired of writing the same code over and over to accommodate for my design iterations.

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First impressions

Sunday, July 1, 2007

How does a machine have soul? We could try and answer by throwing around terms like usefulness, elegance and grace but all our attempts would sound prosaic next to the device I recently became acquainted with. Run and hide Crackberry, the iPhone is here. For people to be drooling over a 4.8 ounce device is not unfathomable especially coming from Apple. This is different. During my first hours with the iPhone I literally felt nervous.

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The waves of creativity

Thursday, May 17, 2007

There are a lot of environmental factors that go into fostering a creative environment. As creative persons mature, we become more in-tune with what works best for us when it’s time to dream up new ideas and solutions. Some of us trek to coffeehouses while others listen to Bach, Satie or Mogwai. Whatever we do we’re all essentially trying to achieve a certain state of mind. Before I go any further here is a quick explanation of the human brain by neuronal scientist, Richard Restak):

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Transmedia newspapers

Sunday, May 6, 2007

I just finished reading chapter three of Convergence Culture where Jenkins discusses transmedia storytelling. He focuses on the Matrix franchise and how it basically rewrote the rules for Hollywoods future. It got me thinking on my walk home from the coffeehouse, why aren’t newspapers doing this? We’re all familiar with the Matrix and have varying depths of involvement with it. Most of us have seen the first film, some the second and third but have any of us played the video game, or seen the Animatrix, or been to Matrix Online?

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LJWorld redesign

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

So for the past five months or so we’ve been working on a redesign for the Lawrence Journal-World. For those of you that don’t know, it’s a daily newspaper that circulates the town of Lawrence, Kansas. It’s quite small compared to surrounding markets which makes it very agile and free from shareholders and their evil agendas. I had a feeling this project would be special and challenging but I had no idea of the scale.

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Javascript Flash round 2

Friday, April 20, 2007

FIguring out the Javascript/Flash integration kit has lead to a much simpler solution. Looks like Macromedia has slipped in another nugget of usefulness in the Flash 8 release which, I might add, has penetrated the market remarkably fast. It’s called External Interface. I gotta thank Bobby for finding this one. So forget the last post if you’re a progressive designer like myself, marching to the Flash 8 bugle. Using the same example as before replace your Actionscript with the following.

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InspectDB to the rescue

Thursday, April 19, 2007

In a past life I used to build admin tools using Ruby on Rails. I thoroughly enjoyed spending weekends improving my little tools and libraries but I eventually realized I was spending more time on back-end stuff than front-end. Enter Django. For the past nine months I’ve touched nothing but Django so you can imagine how easy it was for me to hop on the Rails bicycle when Dreamhost decided to upgrade Rails.

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Bringing back the personal

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I’ve heard wisperings about the death of blogs lately. More and more we see our favorite writters fading into the ether. This begs the question, what next? What do we do with the barren ghost towns that once thrived on eager readers making sure their cache was cleared before stalking their favorites. Personal sites should be cornucopias which chronicle our lives. They should be open sketchbooks crammed with a maze of twists and turns.

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Making old content new

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Why does old content have to fade so quickly? Blogs, zines, news articles all suffer from “out with the old, in with the new” mentality. There is a lot of old content that retains relevancy far beyond its publish date. The problem is, how do we resurrect it? Simple, stats tracking. Amazon solved this problem a long time ago. They meticulously track peoples browsing and buying habits and offer up recommendations based on trends.

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Make Flash and Javascript Sing

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Yes its true. You can make Javascript and Flash play together! Way back in 2005 the company formerly known as Macromedia threw together a nice little kit to make these two languages play nicely. Here’s how. First we need to secure some crutial files. The first is a SWF called JavaScriptFlashGateway.swf which allows us to setup a “proxy” between our Flash and Javascript. Second, make sure you link up JavaScriptFlashGateway.js. Third, put JavaScriptSerializer.

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Not so convergent

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Talking about “convergence” is like talking about “the war on terror.” They’re two incredibly broad terms with unforeseeable outcomes. Convergence has been vogue for a while and I’m a little skeptical about its usage to describe media convergence. At this years SXSW, for the first time, someone summed up what I’ve been trying to understand. When I think of convergence I do so in terms of the classic media outlets converging with the Internet.

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Austin bound

Thursday, March 8, 2007

I’m headed to Austin, Texas today to partake in the South by Southwest festivities. The panel linup this year looks scrumptious. Unlike my pal Jeff (http://www2.jeffcroft.com/blog/2007/mar/01/where-find-me-sxsw/), I have no idea what I’ll be attending. I will, however, be attending as many evening parties as I can possibly stumble into. I’ll definitely be attending the AMODA (http://www.amoda.org/) Digital Showcase, which was fantastic last year, and the Austin On Rails Happy Hour sporting my Django (http://www.

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Rating system breakdown

Monday, March 5, 2007

I wanna discuss rating systems for a bit. From what I gather there are three flavors: a simple “one vote” method, a thumbs up or down, and the scale. Each solutions goal is to find out what people think of your content. This is helpful when trying to understand your audience. The “one vote” method As simple as it gets. If someone likes a piece of content they simply click a button saying so.

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Playground is back

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

With every rendition of my person site I must emphasize that this is a work in progress. With that said, welcome to my new playground. Sorry about the neurotic name changes. I can assure you they are over and I’m pretty darn happy with the new digs. Why redesign? I wanted to return to my roots. I started out as Playground Blues and this is where I belong. I also wanted something with room to grow.

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Easing into Leopard

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I’m a UI geek and the first thing I noticed during the iPhone demo was how fun scrolling seems. With small devices and even regular sized computers a majority of our time is spent scrolling various collections of content. Only a company like Apple can step back, recognize this, and make it fun. This will no doubt engage users, bringing them closer to flow. Easing has been around a long time.

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