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May 30, 2003

Flash Country Club

If I make this post, I may never be on a beta team at Macromedia, or speak at FlashForward, and will be blackballed from the Flash "Community". True? Well, we're about to find out.

I just found this in my inbox, and can't resist posting about it:

"Branden Hall has started a Flash community website that charges its members
$25 a month. ... Bad, bad, bad. I'm getting more and more disillusioned with the
"community." Your thoughts?


My first thoughts are:

1. The flash community, though young, has a tradition of freely sharing knowledge.

2. It seems to me that the term "community" has been high jacked. This sounds more like a club to me.

3. The "free" content they offer, looks mostly entry level. Targeting corporate in-house workers, and calling it a "community" for branding and marketing?

Updated (June 10, 2003), additional text follows:

Another question comes to mind...

4. What is the editorial process? Most subscription based information sources have a clearly defined editorial process and staff.

XML for Cell Bio

Recently, I became aware of an XML application for modeling biochemistry, and cell biology: CellML.

"CellML is intended to support the definition of models of cellular and subcellular processes."

CellML.org - What Is CellML?

Could this, combined with Flash, lead to real-time-online-virtual reality for cell and molecular biology?

May 27, 2003

New Listing

We've been added to the Educational Software Directory, under organizations

Diagraming Dichotomous Key Building

This diagram shows how a dichotomous key can be created.

May 23, 2003

Chalkboard presentation notes

Now online:
Reinventing the Chalkboard: Using Online Technologies to Communicate Science and Mathematics. Presentation Notes

Examples of Experimental Flash

For the folks at last night's presentation, I should have my notes ready to post later today. In the mean time, here are the links I promised:

Bit-101: http://www.bit-101.com/lab.html

Levitated: http://www.levitated.net/

May 22, 2003

Reiventing the Chalkboard Tonight

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

Good design is important for any project. When the project is educational, design decisions can be critical.

May 21, 2003

Schemasoft's MathML to SVG

Normally, I don't pay attention to the sponsored links on google. But this one caught my eye:

MathML to SVG Converter

May 18, 2003

Fluency in math?

MIT web project aims to increase student fluency in mathematics

... "We're always getting questions from faculty like: 'Do you really teach complex numbers in your courses?' because students claim they've never seen them. Whether the students have forgotten or just don't recognize them in another context, we don't know. It's complicated because things often appear in slightly different language further downstream...."

Could this be a sign of change in how math is taught? Will emphasis be on understanding concepts instead of memorizing mechanical steps? Will students apply concepts? I'm eager to see the learning tools this produces.

[via Online Learning Update]

May 16, 2003


I've updated MathExtensions.as v1.3 with a few new functions, fixed comment errata, re-arranged categories, new application information, and functionality to display the extensions list and usage onstage while authoring, thanks to Vera Fleischer's 'FTraceAlertBox' component.

Global Health Organization Calls for Ideas

Grand Challenges in Global Health issued a Call for Ideas to the global scientific community.

The goal: "The primary intention of the initiative is to stimulate research that will produce solutions to the identified Grand Challenges in Global Health. The initiative is expected to draw widespread attention to interesting problems with major consequences for public health; in addition, it will provide funding for attempts to solve those problems. These features of the initiative should serve as a stimulus to increase participation in science relevant to disease in the developing world by scientists everywhere and to encourage collaborations among them."

I wonder if education will be suggested. Well supported, high quality, context specific educational programs could go a long way to improve health around the world, both in developing and industrialized countries.

May 14, 2003

Flash-Enabled Mathematica

Flash-Enabled Mathematica

It seems that Dr. Song has been busy beating us to the punch! However, his application must be used on a machine that has direct access to the Mathematica kernel. If you are so blessed please enjoy the application ... if not, download the zip anyway to gain access to the contents.

I have an expired Mathematica 4.0 app, so I edited start.bat to point to it, which allowed DOS functionality but no kernel output ... very frustrating, but informative! The .swfs can also be manipulated to expose their functionality, again with no kernel output, however.

Perhaps we can apply some of his methods to our work with webMathematica, Flash and MathML. His Flash-created, Mathematica-like input pallets are very similar to my set of 20 input pallets ... my unfinished matrix/table pallet algorithm is stalling it's completion, but I'll get a presentation together soon to post in the Flash blog, with or without the last algorithm.

May 12, 2003

MathML in Flash: Davis Meeting

A couple weeks ago, Thomas Amsler, invited me to come out to UC Davis and give an informal presentation on what weíve done with mathML, CML, and Flash at GalaxyGoo. So I dusted off the old MathML project files, and decided to start all over again. It had been several months since Iíd last worked on the project.

Itís amazing how helpful it can be to let a project quietly percolate at the back of the brain for a while. So often, a solution to the problem bubbles up all by itself. Now, Iíve got a rough, but working, MathML reader in Flash. I showed it at the meeting, and the reception seemed positive. Iíll post more information about it on the Flash Blog, soon.

A brief note on MathML and CML: the structure of a MathML document differs significantly from any other XML Iíve worked with. Studying Edwinís source files, for his CML reader, I realized what made it so different. While the CML structure (and most other XML structures) is repetitive, the MathML structure is more globular (much like proteins folded into globular structures). Now that I think of it, the display of a MathML document has a lot in common with the folding of a protein.

May 06, 2003

MathML in Flash

My first attempt at a flash-mathML reader was clunky, but it gave me a better understanding of the challenges.

Though it's still very early, I'm excited to say that I've got a basic mathML-reader working. Many of my attempts ended up in a dead-end, but this one has yet to hit a major snag (knock-on-wood).

May 05, 2003

New Blogs

Slowly, ever so slowly, I'm setting up new GalaxyGoo blogs and using Michael's mini-blog reader to connect them all together.

May 01, 2003

Cast Your Vote

The entries are in, for the GalaxyGoo Flash-Math Challenge. Are you a registered member of the forums? Don't forget to vote for your favorite. The poll closes in two weeks

GalaxyGoo April Flash Math Callenge