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February 16, 2006

Bug in FlashPlayer 8?

I recently came across an odd issue with FlashPlayer 8. Consider the following ActionScript:

var arr = [];
arr[203] = "";
arr[235] = "";
var obj = {};
for (var i in arr) obj[arr[i]] = i;
var t = "";
for (var i in obj) t += i+" - "+obj[i]+" | ";
txt.htmlText = t;

Where 'txt' is a dynamic textfield on the stage.

When this code is published for FlashPlayer6 / ActionScript1.0 (as is the case with the company I work for, I work with MX2004 at the moment) it displays " - 203 | - 235 |" in the textfield when viewed with FlashPlayer 6 & 7. It however displays " - 203 |" when viewed with FlashPlayer 8! It does however show the correct result in FlashPlayer 8 when this code is published for FlashPlayer7 / ActionScript2.0. Very odd and it seems to be a backwards compatibility issue/bug.

Since we use our own custom encoding/decoding scheme to send texts back & forth between Flash and the server which relies on the above-mentioned ability, this is kind of a problem. Is there an easy solution besides publishing for FP7/AS2.0 and thus having to update a lot of applications?

I might actually file this as a bug with Adobe/Macromedia as it isn't, in my eyes, expected behavior/correct backwards compatibility.

A really big thing!

Sometimes things happen in our careers that seem almost too big to talk about, let alone blog about. We ask ourselves, how do I write about this? I mean, it's huge! But, will anyone else appreciate it? How do I manage to say it, without hyping it too much or downplaying it too much?

OK here goes...the week before I speak at FITC, I'm giving a talk at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. And yes, using Flash will be part of the talk.

February 14, 2006

GalaxyGoo mentioned in Science

GalaxyGoo got a brief mention in the Newsmakers section of Science, recently. Personally, I'm thrilled that the mention was as "Pioneers". Check out the story, which focuses on Dee Breger (who donated the session) and Aaron Messing (who placed the winning bid on the session).

Science/AAAS | Newsmakers : 10 February 2006; 311 (5762)

On Expectations and Civility

It's easy to contact the authors of most websites. So easy, that when a particular technology fails, the website owner is made aware of the failure quickly, by visitors angered by the failure.

A lot comes down to expectations. We expect things to work. When they break, we expect them to be fixed. On the web, it's not always clear how many resources an organization or a particular project has. A lot of the web is filled with experimental projects that don't have a large tech support team making sure it's running perfectly 24/7. When these projects have technical difficulties, it can be very helpful when a visitor sends in a bug report.

Based on my own experience, a lot of people are confused about the difference between a helpful bug report and an abusive complaint. Behind that comment form is a real person, and nobody enjoys reading abusive complaints. The next time you're all fired up and ready to send your thoughts, stop. Think for a minute. Was there a notice on the page? Did you read it? Could you phrase your words in a more civil tone? The person reading it will appreciate your efforts.

February 13, 2006

400,000 years of climate history in a Flash

Call me a geek, but I just love creating interactive data visualizations with Flash. The more challenging, the better.

I recently finished a really fun project for NASA: an interactive visualization of the Vostok ice core data. The small graph at the bottom of the data widget (as we've been calling it) is the navigation system for the data set. It's embedded, about halfway down, on Earth Observatory Feature: Paleoclimatology: Frozen in Time: the Ice Core Record

February 10, 2006

Will the Forums be back? Yes!

The GalaxyGoo forums have been down for a while, because of a security weakness in the version of the software we were running. While the upgrade has been a bit more trouble than anticipated, the forums will indeed be back. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.