October 25, 2007

Moo Cards! Flash on the Beach! and Mathematica!

The moo cards I ordered, to take to FOTB, arrived today! Yeah!


Looks like the conference is completely sold out! Wow! Really looking forward to it! I just hope my presentation stands up to all the other great sessions on the schedule. I'm having a great time preparing it! Atoms, and fractals, and algorithms...oh my!

Thanks to a temp license from Wolfram Research, I now have a copy of Mathematica installed on my laptop. Yeah! If you're going to FOTB, and you're curious, look for me at the conference.

June 26, 2007

What is Flash?

Flash! What is it?!

An vector illustration and animation tool?
A video format?
A programming paradigm?
AS3 + movie clips?
Endless font frustrations?
A tool for developing specialized Flex components?

I'm heading out for the Gordon Research Conference on Visualization in Science and Education this week. While there, I will undoubtedly be talking about Flash a lot...about what I do with it. About interaction, and dynamic animation, ...

A lot of people have an idea of what Flash is, and what it can do. Do they have the complete picture? What would you say, if someone asked you what Flash is?

June 04, 2007

Adobe needs a Science and Education Evangelist!

The scientific and education communities use Adobe products extensively. Does Adobe have an evangelist that serves their needs? If not, why?

I'd like to see Adobe doing more to meet the needs of scientists and educators. I'd like to see Adobe at the next AAAS national meeting, as exhibitors--a big booth with demonstrations of the current releases of Photoshop, Flash, and the rest. Introduce them to AS3 in'd be surprised how often I meet scientists/programmers who have no idea that Flash has a scripting language, let alone one with the capabilities of AS3!

Why do I want Adobe to do this? Because it will make my life a lot easier! Adobe now owns most of the software that I use in my work. The more scientists and educators know about Flash, the sooner I can get to the project brainstorming and development aspects of my work. We will all start to build even more compelling and useful learning tools.

May 17, 2007

Registration Before Downloads?

What do you think about registering, before getting open source files? I ask this because it is rather challenging for us, as a non-profit organization, to provide reports on how our efforts are received by the public. How many people are we reaching and serving with our programs? Are we fulfilling our mission? We could develop better server solutions for tracking download statistics, behind the scenes. However, I'd prefer to go with a full disclosure policy, from all parties.

Is registration "bad", when we're a growing community? Identity supports responsibility, and respect for fellows.

My impression is that this is a sensitive issue, and I'd like some well considered thoughts from the community at large. If you are unfamiliar with GalaxyGoo, we are a small non-profit dedicated to increasing science literacy.

February 07, 2007

How did you learn Flash?

Often, I'm asked how I "learned Flash". I don't always know how to answer, since I don't think the way I learned it would work out for others. I also started programming before I even knew Flash existed.

People learning Flash, have a big challenge in finding good material amid all the noise. Some of the material really frustrates me. In fact, I recently had an "argument" with someone who wants to teach the old "on()" event model to high school students, instead of teaching best practices. For a lot of people, ActionScript is their first programming language, and I don't think it's a good idea to teach an outmoded event model that they will have to unlearn before they can make real progress in Flash.

What resources do you point people to, when they're starting out? Do you think there is a shortage of online resources that help people start out, with a solid foundation that prepares them to continue on?

November 13, 2006

Bitmaps & Vectors Article Live

My article (Adventures with Bitmaps and Vectors) is now live. It's a work in progress, so please send in comments.

I hope that people find it useful. I've gone into more detail on subjects that there wasn't room for in the last published book I worked on.

Thanks to Aral Balkan, who inspired me with his post about vector vs bitmap.

January 14, 2006

And the name of the book is...

Special Edition Using Macromedia Studio 8, by Sean Nicholson. I'm amazed that I only now remembered to post the title. While my name isn't on the front cover, it is printed just below Sean's on the title page, and on the back cover :-) Sean was also very kind, and mentioned me in his acknowledgements.

There's a possibility that the publisher will post one of my chapters online. I'm still not sure which one to ask for, though. The chapters I'm considering are "Introduction to Action Script", "ActionScripting for Motion Graphics", and "Introduction to Class-based Programming in Flash". I'm leaning toward "Introduction to Class-based Programming in Flash". Let me know if you have thoughts on which would be most useful to the Flash community. By the way, the files for the tutorial chapter (building an XML-based slide show) can be downloaded on the publisher's page for the book. Look for "The example files developed for Chapter 16".

Since I was a "contributing author" and not "co-author", I didn't get to write any acknowledgements for the book. So, I'd like to do a little of that here. First of all, I need to thank my husband and children for putting up with me while writing the chapters, and for being so supportive and understanding...and for eating so many take-out dinners. MD Dundon was my tech editor, and I couldn't have gotten through it with out her. There were something like 7 editors on this book, and MD really helped me figure things out, when I'd get confused. Frances Segal, my intern at the time, was wonderfully patient with me and the crazy schedule.

Writing the Flash chapters of this book was an amazing learning experience. I had to start at the very beginning, and give the reader a footing in drawing on the stage with the toolbox and frame-by-frame animations and tweening. From there, the reader works from simple ActionScripting to working with external data and then Class-based coding. And of course, we had to fit in audio and video. I especially enjoyed writing about the new Flash 8 video encoder and the FLVPlayback component. Cool stuff! There wasn't a lot of room to cover things in as much detail as I'd have liked to. Everything had to be boiled down to their simplest essence. I also didn't get to spend much time on the new features in Flash8, although I did slip in a coded filter for the tutorial on coding a slide show.

Do I plan to write another book? Yes! In fact, I'm looking for the right publisher for my next book. It's much more fun to write a book at one's own pace than under tight deadlines. :-)

January 12, 2006

Need to Make Things Move?

Just saw today, that Keith Peters' fantastic book, ActionScript Animation: Making Things Move, is sold out. Wow! Congratulations Keith!

It just so happens that we were about to list a signed copy of the book in our MissionFish/Ebay auctions. So, if you've just got to have a copy, and you'd like to support our programs at the same time, the timing couldn't be better. The listing is scheduled to go live tonight at 9pm, Pacific.

Legal note: GalaxyGoo is a registered charity in the State of California. This is not a solicitation for donations outside of California.

October 18, 2004

Using post-it notes to teach about movie clips in Flash

When I'm learning or teaching something, I like to get visual. Tangible is great, when possible.

Today, I was trying to convey the beauty of nested movie clips. Frances is working on the prototype of the cell learning tool, and she's creating the parts of the cell as movie clips. Each organelle has it's own movie clip, and some of them are nested. We were discussing the benefits of this, when I saw an opportunity to explore one of the benefits of the movie clip: you can create a prototype that you can just plop finished graphics into later.

I took a piece of paper and called it my stage. On my desk, I've got post-it notes of various sizes and colors. I took the larger notes and started giving them names and stuck them to the stage paper. Then I took smaller notes, and gave them names and placed them on the larger notes. When I replaced smaller notes and even removed larger notes on the page, Frances had an "ah-ha!" moment. Gotta love post-it notes.

September 25, 2004

Drawing in Flash for Beginners

A resource I thought might come in handy for Flash beginners:

Macromedia - Developer Center : Drawing in Flash: A Beginner's Introduction to the Flash MX 2004 Drawing Tools

September 09, 2004


The next task I face is using the Keyframes to animate Mickey’s mouth to say, “Hello! I’m Mickey Mouse.” The course tutorial was vague and so I have asked Kristin to breakdown what a Keyframe is and what is its function in Flash. My understanding is that Keyframes are sections in the Timeline where specific actions occur. However, I must admit that despite Kristin’s brief explanation I am still unclear on how to use and manipulate them for the purposes at hand, getting Mickey to speak. Hopefully by next week Mickey will be chattering away.

Keyframes, Keyframes
Okay, after a few diagrams and lengthier explanations I think I more fully understand Keyframes. Keyframes are the sections in the Timeline where the user can dictate the action of the object, like Mickey Mouse, on the stage.

It's on the wrong layer!

Mistakes in Layers
One of the tasks was to draw Mickey in very specific layers. I made a mistake and placed one of Mickey’s pupils into the ‘Eyes’ layers. I learned of my error by checking the outlines of my Flash drawing and matching the color code to each layer. One pupil was color coded with the eyes and in the wrong layer. Kristin demonstrated how to simply click on the pupil to highlight it, select cut and then select the appropriate layer, and then select paste in place. Like magic the pupil appears in the area of the drawing it belongs, and better yet the pupil is in the “Pupil” layer!

Paste in Place

A handy tool I learned to use is Paste in Place! I spent many minutes trying to create Mickey’s eyes individually…very time consuming process, but I did succeed. Kristin showed me the short cut function of Paste in Place. It took her minutes to duplicate the eyes! Kristin explained that Paste in Place is a helpful tool when working with objects that have symmetry. For an example, she re-created Mickey Mouse with little effort and time and used Paste in Place for the eyes, pupils, ears, and the skin tones!

First assignment for class

Working on my first Flash assignment for class, a Flash drawing of Mickey Mouse, for four hours and jumping back and forth from the tutorial to my own work in progress was a lesson in patience and my willingness to make a ton of mistakes. I learned though.