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Entries in nifty tech

Working with flash catalyst.
Published May 10th, 2010 by Nate Frank in Category: nifty tech

I’m taking a look at flash catalyst. There’s a few initial things I’ve found.

  • Your PSDs pretty much needs to be pristine.

    Clear out all old items from previous rounds of design, the more junk in that file the more crazy the import is going to be.

  • Object Oriented Design

    If catalyst is a tool that helps create object oriented applications, its going to need object oriented design to start from. While designers may not need to know polymorphism; encapsulation will be a bigger deal.

    What does this mean?

    Ever find yourself using the same textfield with spaces between words to create a menu rather than creating extra copies of the textfield and changing the copy within them? No more, treat them as separate objects.

    Ever find yourself using the same layer for multiple graphic elements; duplicating pixel content instead of creating a duplicated layer? Break them apart and treat them as separate objects.

  • 40 mb limit

    Seems like there’s a limit to the size your psd can be that gets imported; 40mb. I can’t remember the last time I got a PSD that was less than 100mb let alone 40. You’ll need to do all sorts of things to reduce the file size just to get catalyst to open the file. One trick might be if you are using an all in one layer comp PSD you’ll need to export layer comps to psds. This isn’t as bad as it sounds if you use the Photoshop -> File -> Scripts -> Layer Comps to Files script.

  • Shapes

    Keep your items that are flat objects or borders as shapes and not as pixel data, or you’ll import it all as pixel data and bloat the hell out of your app.

  • Naming is super important.

    To make sense of the importer panel in CS3/CS4 it totally helped to have all the layers named correctly and in folders that had the right names and not just “lorem copy 43″

  • Fonts for sure need to be lined up.

    Its even more important that the designers and the people doing the importing and development all have the same fonts.

  • In short. Its going to take a straight up miracle to get designers to create PSDs that can be used to take the most advantage of flash catalyst. I’ve worked as a designer. I know the shortcuts that speed up creation. Unless you can get your designer on board chances are the time you’ll save in prepping assets for flash/flex will probably be spent cleaning up a PSD instead.

    Even if its a purely academic task, I’m going to reformat my PSDs to be super cleaned up, and then see how the import goes again. Hopefully I’ll get to test out some of the round tripping for design revisions. I’ll keep you posted.

mm.cfg hidden treasures.
Published March 12th, 2010 by Nate Frank in Category: nifty tech

While setting up the debug player for output on a different computer I found a posting by jpauclair. It talks about a ton of things that you can set in the mm.cfg file, not just the normal two that everyone always uses.

Perhaps the coolest of them all is:
TraceOutputBuffered = 1|0

Anyways, it was noteworthy to share and also keep for reference.

Adobe media player cache location.
Published August 21st, 2008 by Nate Frank in Category: nifty tech

With the flex 360 videos that are being posted on Adobe Media player (AMP) I queued quite a bunch of file and let it run over night. I woke up to find my main hard-drive was full. Searching for methods of deleting these files proved unsuccessful.

As I was working on some air apps I remember running across the folder where the user specific data is saved and went hunting..

C:UsersAppDataRoamingAdobeAdobe Media PlayerLocal Storecache
(this is on Vista 64bit)
It would be in a similar path on the mac.
I just went in and nuked the folders at this location and freed up a ton of space.

Now I’ll go through and watch them a few at a time.

Looks like AMP is missing a vital trashcan icon in a few key places.

Datavis: progression of nations over time.
Published May 11th, 2008 by Nate Frank in Category: nifty tech

This is some pretty interesting datavis over time. From where else? TED of course.


FF2007: day 3: Adobe Media Player, changing video delivery.
Published September 23rd, 2007 by Nate Frank in Category: conferences, internet services, nifty tech

The presentation on the Adobe Media Player (AMP) was pretty hot. It may not sound exciting, yey another media player. Well this could change the way media is delivered. When 134 million internet users watch over 9 billion videos, and these people compose around 75% of the US population you can see the impact of these numbers. That puts an average of 181 minutes(over 3 hours) in an average of 68 clips per month. People are not watching long videos, probably around 3-5 minutes each. That is a huge chance for content owners to deliver their media. Its big (the numbers above were gathered by the com score July 2007 report).

People are changing the way they watch video. They are bringing it into their world on their timeline. Tivo and downloads allow viewers to skip advertising and watch it all on their own terms.

Here’s the low down.

AMP is AIR powered. Desktop hotness, that means its fueled with some mysql lite database power. It allows you to take your online resources offline.

What do the content lists look like? The content blocks are SMIL 2.1 format, so its not reinventing a new wheel, just expounding on an old one.

Does it support the playing local flv files? Sure does. Eventually I could see it supporting local playlists.

Does it support other encodings than flv? not at the moment. Seems like the new addition of the H.264 codec may make it in as AIR continues to

When’s it coming out? The adobe rep mentioned to watch for some announcements centered around the next MAX conference When its released its going to be an alpha release, and of course as AIR is still in beta, AIR will need to be flushed out fully before AMP moves to beta.

What kind of ads will it allow? Pre, post, and mid roll advertisements, multiple sizes of banners, and ads that can appear over the video. Yes, thats a ton of options for ad delivery. I’m hoping that providers wont over use these abilities. The ads will be able to be downloaded and cached for offline viewing. All the metrics from ad delivery is going to sync next time the viewer goes online. There’s also a full screen mode that will still take advantage of the ad delivery system, primarily delivering bug ads over the video, but potentially also banners. Its supposed to support time sensitive ads too, it someone is viewing a video offline and an ad expires because its a time sensitive ad, it will stop being delivered, no point in advertising for the super bowl after its over.

What about content integrity? They have encryption that allows encryption of ads and video streams to keep the video from being ripped off and uploaded to other sites. I’m sure its a matter of time before it gets hacked, but its better then is available now. It will also keep ads from being removed. The fact that this is included, sucks for viewers that simply don’t want to see ads, but in the end its the ads that are making possible “free” video. If broadcasters can be assured their viewers are getting ads, they will be more likely to deliver media this way. I don’t believe that Windows Media Player or Quicktime player currently support advertisements, so thats a huge thing thats going to drive content owners to AMP as a media delivery platform.

Live streaming? Eventually it will probably have abilities to pull down live feeds, but first release is only going to do so much.

Download to rent? Download to own? Not yet, but there are plans. There’s also word of a set top box bringing internet tv to the living room; a combatant to the apple tv box.

Closed captioning? Yups, I believe its using the new captioning component in flash 9 to deliver the captions. I’m not sure if you have to embed the captions in the video with time points, or if its externalized in an XML feed.

What kind of places are hooking up with AMP? Maven and brightcove are just two examples, from what I heard, large broadcasting companies are also on board, more news at MAX.

What’s it cost to use AMP? It costs the viewer nothing to download the player(once its available). It costs a content owner nothing if they don’t want to have ads, just use it to delivery content. Of course ad delivery and the content encryption are going to be services that people will pay for or servers they’ll need to own/leverage, most likely FMS 3.0 servers(probably more on the new release at MAX).

Who do I contact for more answers about all this? She gave the presentation, but didn’t have the ability to share a ton. She did seem to hint that the MAX conference would potentially see additional information. More information to be available after AMP is available in alpha/beta.

Analytics and flash.
Published January 30th, 2007 by Nate Frank in Category: nifty tech

Tracking users across a session has always been an important thing in figuring out business success on the web. Technologies like flash and dhtml that can change content without refreshing the page are taking the world by storm. As things like Apollo and flex enhance this even further, website analytics becomes even more vital.

After working on projects that utilize Omniture and doing research on Google analytics here are some comparisons on the subject for both flash and dhtml/ajax type content.

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