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 (, 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 ( 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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A look back

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Two thousand six was full of spontaneous moments with great friends and coworkers. It also had some noteworthy, personal milestones that I thought I’d highlight before the clock strikes twelve. January / February saw the launch of Authentic Films ( It was my first official jump into the world of Actionscript and thanks to Travis ( the water wasn’t that cold. March / April involved traveling to Austin, Texas where I attended my first SXSW conference (http://flickr.

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RIP Print

Monday, December 11, 2006

Print is about to die and we better prepare ourselves. I was doing some christmas shopping last week and stumbled into a Sony Style story. I’m not a fan of the Sony brand but they do seem to come out with some daring devices. The first thing that struck me was the Sony Reader ( The Sony Reader is basically a very thin screen that uses E-Ink technology ( to display text and basic graphics.

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I don't like

Saturday, December 2, 2006

For as long as I can remember I’ve consistently heard various permutations of two phrases, “I like” and “I don’t like.” Throw away, easy phrases. I’ve never valued the first and I’ve had nothing but contempt for the second. My professor in college would dock our grades when someone uttered one of these phrases. He believed they were lame and comfortable. If that’s all you’ve got to say, you didn’t really have anything to say.

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The Future Role of Libraries

Monday, November 20, 2006

If Libraries want to stay relevant they have to redefine their role in communities. The common perception is they have books, lots of books. This is obvious. Over the last decade the perception has grown to include internet access. However, this isn’t enough to survive. If you live in a progressive town like myself, WiFi is ubiquitous. When the Library is competing with Henry’s Coffeehouse, well, I don’t need to tell you who wins.

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An Open answer

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

It’s my prediction that over the next few years we’re going to see a rise of localized social networks/directories. Localized social networks can augment and enhance real world local communities, if the recipe is just right. The first ingredient is key for any up-and-comming project summoning user authentication. The key to localized networks and other new applications that fill particular niches is OpenID ( Consistency among user profiles is non-existant. OpenID brings with it a pure, centralized repository for profile management where you’re empowered to adjust the strings of privacy based on sites you’ve opened the doors too.

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Elections by the seat of our chads

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

I’ve launched a lot of web projects in my career, but none of them have come close to the excitement of this evenings whirlwind. For the 2006 elections our little group called World Online at the Lawrence Journal-World launched a live view of the local and state citizens fulfilling their democratic roles as citizens. At 7pm CST we flipped the switch, waiting patiently while live data feeds poured in from Associated Press, Kansas Secretary of State and Douglas County.

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In with the Em's and Percentages

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

For the past few projects I’ve thrown out all use of pixels and relied heavily on an em’s and percentages for layout and font sizing. Why would someone take such drastic measures? Two simple reasons: usability and flexibility. The current site, circa Fall 2006, uses this practice which makes the liquid layout possible with ease. A non-liquid example would be the Ellington site which uses a container set in EM’s with all inner layers set to percentages.

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A Gestalt point of view

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

During my junior year of college I was required to enroll in a cinematography course as part of the Electronic Arts program. The first day of class we received a typical syllabus and course schedule. Then we immediately dove into a topic that I still remember to this day, Gestalt psychology. In its basic form, Gestalt tries to explain how we perceive more than the collected sum. Musical tunes can be recognized in different keys or with added notes.

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FTP bad, versioning good

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

You may have noticed a little downtime Sunday evening. I was able to get the code under version control which I highly recommend. It allows you to kick FTP to the curb and do everything with “svn commit” and “update” commands. The main reason for doing this was my extreme inability to remember which files I’ve changed. Subversion takes the worry out of my day by committing the necessary files from my local machine to my repository.

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Journalists and public discourse

Friday, September 29, 2006

I was involved in a discussion recently about whether journalists should be allowed to comment on news stories. My employer, the Lawrence Journal-World, allows the public to comment on online stories. Quick note: while I may work for the newspaper my experience with journalism at the time of this post is very informal. I am a member of the public, which in my opinion makes this opinion just as valid as any.

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Damn you Starbucks

Friday, September 22, 2006

I despise you and your cranberry oatmeal mountain bars and tall house coffees with room for cream. Your sirens whispering sweet nothings into innocent passerby’s. You mock my town by cloaking yourself in local establishments and yet you still survive. You’re like a light brown german cockroach impervious to insecticide. My town successfully squashed Wal-mart’s ambitions but not you. You somehow slipped through the carpet cracks and built your roach hotel right across from my work.

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Piercing my tongue

Friday, September 15, 2006

I just bought a new nano and Nike+ kit but I didn’t want the Nike shoes nor did I care for the recent ‘velcro’ hack. Instead of looking like a huge geek with a transmitter in my laces (, I decided to surgically insert the transmitter into my shoe tongue. Step 1 Gather up your favorite running shoe. Find an exacto knife or razor blade of sorts and buy a Nike+ kit.

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Nostalgic four years

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Last night I was doing a little house cleaning and drifted off to reminiscing mode. I didn’t realize how many redesigns I’ve gone through and the ones that never made the cut. In some cases I kinda wish they did. So as a follow up to Slightly neurotic on change I’ll prove this neurosis with the following dusty relics from the past: ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

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Switching from Rails to Django

Monday, September 11, 2006

So back in the Fall of 2005 I launched my foray into the world of Rails like every other designer wannabe programmer. I’ll be honest, I did it because everyone else was. Looking back I don’t really know why, I just followed the “if it feels good, do it” principle. Out of that decision grew a love/hate relationship. I’m primarily a designer but I like sticking my hands in the programming cookie jar.

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Fun with Beautiful Soup

Saturday, September 9, 2006

So how easy is it to yank out all links in a post and display them as a list on their own? Well with a little Python love and some Django filters it’s easy as microwave burritos. Before we get started you’ll need a fresh copy of ElementTree and BeautifulSoup. ElementTree ( and BeautifulSoup ( together form a very handy toolbox for parsing structured data. ElementTree is used a lot for parsing XML and BeautifulSoup is tailored more towards parsing XHTML.

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Warming up to context

Friday, September 8, 2006

Context can be described as, “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.” Context plays an important role in communication and I’d like start by providing better context to posts. You may have noticed a left column on my blog post pages. It now contains geo location information regarding where the post was written, categories it belongs to, links that exist within the post and photos that were taken on the day the it was published.

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Slightly neurotic on change

Monday, September 4, 2006

Always tweaking here and there. Today marks a big tweak including a name change, site realignment, and a fun little visualization project. Welcome to Domaki (pronounced Du·mock·eee), formerly “You know where you are” and formally “Playground Blues.” I am your host, Nathan Borror. Whats changed? All the markup has been overhauled. I’ve been fine tuning a particular CSS framework that is a derivative of the YUI framework over at Yahoo. Dimensions are based on percentages and em’s which allow the interface to scaled up, down, out or in.

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Privacy in context

Saturday, August 12, 2006

In the 20’s we fought prohibition, 50’s and 60’s it was segregation. Today we face a new battle called privacy. I bring this up because in todays Lawrence Journal-World Sarah Benson wrote an interesting article titled Facebook indiscretions plague users ( In her article she gives two examples of the unintended consequences of social networking. The first outlines how an employer can peer into prospective employees social pasts using current employee accounts.

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Collective Soul

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

The reviews are pouring in regarding this years WWDC keynote. Each critiquing the slightest moves Steve Jobs made or didn’t make. This shared keynote in particular has raised the question, “is Jobs preparing for departure?” Just the notion spreads fear amongst even the most liberal mac fanatics. This got me thinking about the importance of hiring the right people. Wikipedia defines company as a “legal entity formed which has a separate legal identity from its members.

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White Flight takes off

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Holly fucking shit you have to listen to White Flight ( right now! Yesterday I stepped into my boss’s very slick auto to pick up some pies for a late night work dinner and I expect some NPR, instead I get a feeling I got the first time I heard Postal Service. Not since my Postal Service experience have I heard music of this caliber. Justin Roelofs (, from The Anniversary, has managed to enter a realm that has no explanation.

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Nothing In Disguise

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A few Sunday’s back I was in a coffee house determined to work. Instead, I quickly fell into a dream state which is the plague of many Sunday mornings. I felt guilty about being so unproductive, but, I had no pressing deadlines, no urgent emails, no clients knocking at my door. Later that night I felt a surge of creativity and began painting, which got me wondering. Lets see what Brenda Ueland says:

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Monday, July 17, 2006

I finally figured out how to parse the API using Python and Django. The solution is quite flexible aside from the fact that the API is still under development. I started by studying FlickrClient which is a great interface for Python. The Flickr API is very verbose and this is a simple approach that scales to future Flickr upgrades. The power behind this script is the following method:

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A Bittersweet Farewell

Thursday, July 13, 2006

You probably haven’t noticed but the past month has been particularly challenging for me. If you’re a close friend then it was probably apparent in the way I cheaply disguise my emotions. It’s not easy to look back at two years of progress in advertising and realize all along you may have stumbled into the wrong cocktail party. Once this realization occurs it creeps into all your thoughts and emotions to the point where you can no longer function until a change is made.

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It's Time To Behave

Monday, July 10, 2006

We are all hypocrites, every damn one of us. Well, actually, just those that are guilty of inline javascript. Now don’t get all puffed up, I’m just as guilty but it’s time to change and I have some tips! Over the past couple years we’ve heard a lot about separation. Two types, in particular, have been evangelized, data from structure and structure from style. One we don’t hear about nor see it practiced very often is separation between structure and behavior.

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Seven Patriots

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

What better way to celebrate our independence than roaring into space in one of the most complex machines ever built! You can watch this miraculous display of human engineering at ( Space exploration gives me goose bumps. My heart skips a beat when, just for one second, I try to comprehend its limitless nature. To think we’re able to catapult seven of our greatest minds into this vacuum of questions and answers makes me pause and wonder what we’ll choose to achieve next.

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Django Gotchas

Friday, June 30, 2006

One of the biggest hurdles in learning any new framework or programming language is learning its quirks. By quirks I don’t mean bugs, I’m referring to the personality and flow. Here are a few that might help your troubleshooting process: I get an error when I run syncdb. This could be a number of things. If its an error in the model you should be able to tell. Most of the time for me was forgetting to add the project to the settings.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

I said Friday but I meant Monday. Sometimes things take longer but in my case I just wanted to compete for attention the same day Digg 3 launched. All amusement aside I’d like to take the plastic wrap off my new site that I’ve dubbed 80x80. It’s been a long time coming and I’ve finally got something I’m proud of. She’s still stretching herself out so if you notice any kinks let me know and I’ll call the masseuse.

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Victory Out of Context

Saturday, May 27, 2006

President Bush says, just as the United States persevered and ultimately won the Cold War against communism, America will emerge victorious in the war on terror. – It’s misleading and irresponsible to imply the possibility of victory over terror. It is idealistically impossible to abolish a feeling. People will always fear and at times that fear will escalate to terror. From the time we are born we learn fear, it aids in our survival until the day we die.

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Saturday, May 6, 2006

I’m notorious for highlighting. At home, I’m surrounded by a rapidly growing library. Some books have been read cover to cover, some cover to creamy center, and some randomly picked through. But, I can confidently guarantee, each has felt the screeching of my fat yellow Avery HI-LITER. Why? Maybe it’s an incessant urge to mark my territory or a worry that I’ll forget a phrase that made my grey matter jiggle.

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Subversion Love

Sunday, April 30, 2006

I have a new love ( For the past year I’ve been putting off this slightly important part of being a pragmatic programmer ( I’ve heard the horror stories of CVS so I steered clear of it for this new flavor of life saving loveliness. Gone are the days of, “is this the newest copy?” Goodbye to unsettling feelings of cautiously dragging and dropping files from one server to the next.

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Making The Case

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Why is it that certain days I opt for the Man’s coffee and other days I champion the locals? I thought it had something to do with consistency but that’s bullshit. While the Man’s store is well designed and has a familiar atmosphere it reeks of fake smiles, stale business folk, and overly perfect pastries. Admittedly those dainty pastries are quite wonderful, but thats besides the point. The locals aren’t afraid to show attitude, they’re real, they proudly bear the title, Barista.

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Don't Stress

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Your heart starts pounding, blood pressure soars and you begin to take shorter faster breaths. Why do we put every cell in our body through such a traumatic experience? Stress was hard wired into our bodies for those face to face moments with mountain lions. It’s called fight or flight. Mountain lions don’t seem to bother us anymore so we’ve repurposed this reaction to things like client deadlines, idiots on the freeway, and that bar that plays horrible music on wednesday nights below my loft.

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Don't Delete, Version

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Lately I’ve been toying with the idea of versioning. And I don’t mean versioning in the programming sense, although I really need to figure out Subversion one of these days. I’m referring to content management systems. I don’t know why but deletion just bugs me. Maybe its my pack rat mentality but to delete is to lose. I write blog entries all the time that don’t get published and sometimes I completely rewrite them losing past versions.

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Rules Rule

Monday, April 17, 2006

As children we grew up hating curfew, as adolescence we rebelled against the drinking age, and as adults we shake our fists at stop lights and speed limits. What we don’t realize is rules set us free. I came across this simple notion in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book Flow ( By having laws and rules we free ourselves from contemplating things that have already been determined. This provides a framework for thought which is valuable when applied to design.

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My Easter

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Woke up around 11:30 after a long night of coding ( Had a turkey sandwich and some pretzels while watching some television ( Packed up some essentials: laptop (, couple ( books (, and headphones ( Drove to the cafe ( that breaks for no resurrection. Had a soy latte while improving some Rails code and listening to some music ( Then I came home, worked out, read (, and listened to some piano.

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Jason Collett

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Just got back from a session with Jason Collett ( from Broken Social Scene ( I highly recommend checking this man out. Has sort of a modern day Bob Dylan appeal with fresh percussion. Their newest album, Idols of Exile, offers quaint morsels of Canadian goodness. If you’re in need of something fresh and lighthearted, look no further. I only wish Mrs. Feist could have made an appearance.

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After SXSW

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I already miss waking up in the morning and planning my day at the Hide Out over a cup of joe. I miss that walk from 7th and Congress to the convention center seeing fellow lanyards. More importantly I miss seeing those who contribute so much to the beautiful corners of our web. There were some great panel lineups and as much as I love hearing about tech and code I felt like distancing myself from the technical aspects of our industry and focus on listening to what others had to say about the roles psychology and sociology play in what we do.

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Gooey Plastic

Sunday, March 5, 2006

At what point does interactive design become temporal art over plastic art? This question seems to be rare yet extremely important in our decision making process. This ( book prompted my pondering of this. To clarify, temporal art includes poetry, writing, film and music. Plastic art takes the form of painting, drawing and sculpture. What sets the two apart is that fourth dimension, time. The success of temporal art is in its progressive events leading up to a fulfilling end, better known as climax.

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Visualize Then Talk

Saturday, March 4, 2006

One of my favorite quotes from the Godfather trillogy is when Michael Corleone wisly reminds Vinnie, “never let anyone know what you are thinking.” The importance of this is astronomical in client meetings. Never bring new ideas to the table in a client meeting. Bring vetted ideas. Prepare yourself before the meeting. Have concept sessions with colleagues, visualize the ideas, make sure you have the resources and be sure the idea is possible.

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Make It Better

Monday, February 27, 2006

Bored tonight so I thought I’d impregnate some coders out there with some of my seed. My hopes are that this will cause you to give birth to better code. I am pro choice so if you choose to abort I understand whole heartedly. Before you do so please consider adoption, there are plenty of other good coders out there that may benefit. Ok, enough metaphors. This is some actionscript I did over Christmas (download code (/code/flash_template.

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