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April 30, 2003

Reinventing the Chalkboard

On May 22nd, I'll be speaking at the North Bay Multimedia Association - Web Developers SIG, about using online technologies to communicate science and math.

April 29, 2003

Flash Blog-Reader on GalaxyGoo

Michael, of hollowcube, has generously allowed us to use his mini-blog reader on the GalaxyGoo website. If you haven't seen it, this handy flash widget pulls a list of blogs from an XML "list", displays summaries of their RSS feeds, and links to the original sites.

I'll be experimenting with this for a while, as a way to manage the eclectic topics that come up. You're welcome to take a peak.

Last Chance at April Challenge

One more day to get your entries in, for the GalaxyGoo April Flash Math Callenge

April 26, 2003

Avatars at the Awards

This year's Webby awards will be a little different. The festivities will be held on-line, so that nominees won't have to travel.

Maya Draisin, executive director of The Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences, said in a press release "...presenting the awards in San Francisco without all of the nominees present is not true to the spirit of the Webbys, so we decided to bring the Webby Awards to them instead."

Update: Front page of today's SF Chronicle features an article on the cancellation of the Webbys Awards show.

April 25, 2003

We're Here's almost Here

The good folks at We're Here have announced an open beta (May 5th) and launch on May 12th.

Update (May 6, 2003): Apparently, the "open beta" is for previous moderators on the forums. Hopefully, the rest of us will get to play on the 12th.

April 23, 2003

April Flash Math Challenge

Only seven days left in the GalaxyGoo April Flash Math Challenge.

April 22, 2003

Spammed at the Webbys

For a couple weeks, GalaxyGoo was the leading write-in for the Science Category of the Webby Awards: People's Voice. Getting a little exposure with new audiences was the real goal.

Sadly, we've been spammed off the ballot by a website that doesn't have anything to do with Science and they've held the leading write-in position for over a day now.

What's so great about the leading write-in position? Well, it gets listed on the results page along with the official nominees.

April 18, 2003

Speaking at FlashKit Conference

I'm excited to announce that I'll be on a panel at the FlashKit conference. It looks like it could be a great discussion, and I'm looking forward to the interactive ellement of the session.

Panel Discussion: Aesthetics vs. Functionality: Where Should The Two Meet?

Flash Kit Conference, August 21-22, 2003, San Jose, CA

April 16, 2003

SARS virus identified

SARS! How's that for a scary monster?

You know how they say that crisis brings people together? Well, SARS seems to be bringing scientists together, and they're putting aside competition for the benefit of humanity. It's amazing what cooperation can bring: they've positively identified the virus responsible for SARS in mere weeks.

What does this mean? Well, if they keep up the cooperation, we'll have a cure, and maybe even a vaccine much sooner than it would normally take.

Keep yourself informed:

World Health Organization


April 15, 2003

Sleeping Students?

The folks at flashinthecan were kind enough to broadcast sessions online. So I logged in and happily listened to Josh Davis' presentation.

Toward the end, he made interesting comments about how different it is teaching undergrad versus continuing ed classes. In general, his continuing ed students are serious and dedicated. Not so with the undergrads. One even fell asleep in one of his classes.

Very odd.

April 14, 2003

Friendly Flash Challenge for Math Awareness Month

April is Math Awareness Month, and this year the theme is math and art. Looks like a great challenge for Flash developers! So we're holding an informal competition.

What are the prizes? Books!

Goal: To share ideas and explore artistic expressions of, and with, mathematics in the medium of Flash. Sharing, Building on, and modifying each other's source code is encouraged.

Prize: I've got extra copies of The Algorithm Design Manual, by Steven S. Skiena and an Earnst Haeckle book. The top two entrants get them.

Rules: Be creative, comment and share your code, site your references and influences...give credit where credit is due. GalaxyGoo Employees and contract service providers are ineligible to win.

How to enter:
Post in the GalaxyGoo forums, and upload a zipped file with your swf, fla and any supporting files. A readme.txt file is encouraged. Entries must be submitted by April 30, 2003. If you're not already a registered member, registration will be necessary.

How to Win: Once all the entries are in, we'll set up a poll where all registered forum
members can vote for their favorite entry. You choose the winners. In the event of a tie, a member of the
GalaxyGoo board of directors will decide on the winning entry.

By entering this competition you agree to allow GalaxyGoo, a non-profit organization, the nonexclusive rights to use your work according to the GalaxyGoo author's agreement.

April 11, 2003

Let's get famous!

We're the "leading write-in" for the Webby People's Voice award (category Science). How long can we keep it?

Go ahead, show your support for GalaxyGoo and vote for us as a write-in for the "Peopls's Voice" award.

Site name: GalaxyGoo
Address: www.galaxygoo.org
Category: Science

The Webby Awards: People's Voice

Update: You can now post reviews of write-in sites, and they'll be visible before voting. Very Cool! So, if one of our projects has helped you out, we'd love to see your comments on the review page.

April 10, 2003

Some math related threads

While searching through my text file archives for something else, I stumbled across a post I had saved from Nov. 17, 2002 by Jonas Galvez, summarizing math-related links available on the Flashcoders' list. However, just posting the link to the thread won't provide live links to the various topics.

Here is his Flashcoders' post, reformatted to provide a live link list to some wonderful information ... thanks for the research Jonas:

From: Jonas Galvez [snip]
Sent: Sunday, November 17, 2002 7:28 AM
To: Flashcoders
Subject: [Flashcoders] Some math related threads


I've been studying math applied to Flash and did some research on the list
archives. I'm posting the most interesting threads (my opinion) for the
people who are starting on this subject. I know there are a lot more but I
think these can be quite useful. Follows the unordered and unclassified
list of links... :)

Rotation Dampening
Finding the angle
line drawing edge to edge
Angle of bounce?
Calculating spiral movement
trig question
big thanks, one question though (car physics)
sine problems
trying to understand theta and movement
drawing circle//sticky drag
Any ideas
Vanishing Points / Perspective Maths
3d - quaternion rotation
Math is too long, no?
skew function
Matrices for transformations
Re: drawCircle #2
OT calc
physics - atan2 - sin - cos
Math.sin--> help please
Math.sin vs. lookup
sin, cos, duplicateMovieClip
graphing functions
ball hiting a diagonal wall
Any Trigonometry heroes out there?

[edit]I hope you don't mind, Richard, but I removed Jonas's email address from the post--In an effort to protect him from spam.

April 08, 2003

Were-here real-soon

Have you checked your were-here bookmark recently? There are signs of life...an announcement of coming back soon.

We're Here

Thanks to Sean Voisen for scooping the good news.

April 04, 2003

Whatever happened to VRML?

On my bookshelf, next to outdated software manuals and an Italian/English dictionary, sit two books on VRML. They haven't been opened in years, but I can still remember the first time I hand coded a VRML file and saw my creation rendered in a plug-in for my browser. Geeky exhilaration!

While I was distracted by some other now-extinct-web-tech, VRML suddenly disappeared. Where did it go? Parallel graphics still produces VRML tools, and the wed3D consortium seems to be working on X3D.

Yes, there are powerful 3D modeling tools available. But it was a liberating feeling to go right into the code, change one character, and alter a world. And nodes! Ahhhh

Any other VRML fans out there?

webMathematica 1.0 MathML Update

No doubt webMathematica 2.0 beta includes this patch, but for now you can download the MathMLPatch.zip package from:

webMathematica 1.0 MathMLPatch

This package includes .msp examples for integrating various math reader apps to display MathML content in your browser, as well as a webMathematica documentation notebook viewable with Mathematica or their MathReader. I'm sure that this could be adapted for display within a Flash app as well. I'll ask Kristin to update our webMathematica 1.0 so we can attempt embedding a reader ... I'm using MathPlayer from Design Science.

Upon further reading, I've found that Design Science's 'webEQ Developers' Suite' may be necessary for full implementation of a MathML renderer/editor component, since it includes Input Control to format input. Their 'MathPlayer' will only allow rendering, and a 'copy/paste to the clipboard' routine which can be entered into a Mathematica notebook, but can't be entered into a Flash UI without first scripting the AS for the input.

April 02, 2003

Web services and Flash

I have been playing with web services in Flash. I really wanted to make use of one that is related to science or math, so that it would be right up GalaxyGoo's alley. I found a periodic table one that accepts as input the name of the atom and returns its atomic number, atomic weight or element symbol. But I couldn't get it to work with Flash. Then I found one called Orbitarium, which returns the geocentric positions of each planet at any point in time. But I couldn't get this one to work in Flash either. I finally settled on a temperature conversion web service. For more information, the .fla and a screenshot, go here. I am going to continue to look for more exciting and useful web services. Perhaps GalaxyGoo will eventually host a really neat application on the upgraded ColdFusion MX server.

Which tree does the Applet fall from?

When I saw James Bennett's curve fitting demo, my first thought was "cool!" My next thought was "but Applets are Java, not Flash!"

But, is the term "Applet" trademarked? And when you think about it, doesn't "Applet" seem more a more descriptive label than "RIA"? So, why not call them Flash Applets?

(update::::Vera started a thread at whatisflash.com on this subject.)

April 01, 2003

Notes on FlashForward 2003, San Francisco

My impressions from the FlashForward conference, in a nutshell: things are changing. Both the presentations and the attendees of the FlashForward conference have changed. Less showing off, and more “big picture” framing. I took a lot of notes, over three days. Here are a few points that I think may play together well.

On the first day, Colin Moock took us on a wild ride through code and theory. He prepares great lecture notes, and publishes them on his website. Even with a rigorous approach to actionScript, he suggests that we don’t get hung up on doing things “the right way.”

  • An interesting phrase: "a room can group clients."

Jonathan Kaye's session covered simulations. His version of CMV is User interface, Control object, Model layer. He centralizes coordination of interface elements, and advocates using state charts.

  • Trend Mentioned: a move toward simulation based assessment replacing multiple choice.

Josh Cavalier ran his session on e-learning with lots of audience participation. One topic discussed was engaging the user with very dry material? A number of suggestions were made: avatars, using color, give a pre-test and send student to info they need, provide an index with path to info user is looking for.

  • Resource Recommended: merlot.org for e-learning components (educational content),.

Dave Yang touched on design patterns, as "recurring solutions for identifying and solving problems". He challenged us to look for patterns that are unique to flash.

One of my favorite sessions was Tim O'Reilly's. Wow! I have a new hero. He said there's a paradigm shift in progress. With online/offline operations, and inter-application coordination via XML messaging, the internet will be the operating system of the future. Some key points from his presentation:

  • Make it easy for others to develop on top of what you do-think "view source".

  • Open source is about low barriers to innovation.

  • Play well with others and have fun.