Category Archives: Reviews

Getting StartED with CSS

Getting StartED with CSS A few months ago I had the pleasure to get involved tech reviewing a book by David Powers on CSS — one of the technologies I used to work with on a daily basis before switching almost exclusively to Flash Platform development.

I have to honestly say this is most probably the best book I’ve ever read on CSS, it covers just about the entire spectrum of possible topics and focuses on pragmatic solutions to common problems. David is a very skilled author and uses clear examples to guide you through the process of building out a page and solves issues that come up as you go along.

Definitely recommend buying this book to anyone wanting to start out with CSS!

 

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Review – Coders at Work

Coders at Work I’ve been reading “Coders at Work” by Peter Seibel over the holidays and wanted to share my review.

The book is basically a series of in-depth interviews with 15 interesting programmers including people like Brendan Eich (inventor of JavaScript), Ken Thompson (inventor of UNIX), Peter Norvig (Director of Research at Google).

Other programmers interviewed are: Frances Allen, Joe Armstrong, Joshua Bloch, Bernie Cosell, Douglas Crockford, L. Peter Deutsch, Brad Fitzpatrick, Dan Ingalls, Simon Peyton Jones, Donald Knuth, Guy Steele and Jamie Zawinski.

 
I first got interested in in this book after reading an interesting tweet from Ralph Hauwert quoting Joe Armstrong in the book:

“The problem with object-oriented languages is they’ve got all this implicit environment that they carry around with them. You wanted a banana but what you got was a gorilla holding the banana and the entire jungle.” — Joe Armstrong

Its really invaluable to get the perspective of this wide range of experienced developers and get an insight in the way they work, what inspires them to code and how they see the future of programming languages.

Definitely recommended reading and a good source of inspiration to any developer!

 
www.codersatwork.com
 

Moderator AIR application

Moderator AIR application

I recently found out about a very useful AIR application called “Moderator” created by Danny Dura, Platform Evangelist at Adobe. What the application does is give you access to your comment moderation queue if you’re running a WordPress blog.

Installation is very easy, you first install a WordPress plugin and activate it, then download and install the Moderator AIR application. You’ll be prompted to log in with your blog administrator credentials and endpoint, usually that is the xmlrpc.php file inside your blog installation directory.

You can specify in the settings how often the application should check the moderation queue and when comments show up you can simply choose to accept, mark as spam or delete.

I’m really pleased with the app, saves me from constantly having my blog admin open in a tab of my browser and manually hitting refresh all the time.

From what I’ve heard Danny is going to add Growl notification support in an upcoming update which would be a great enhancement. Two thumbs up!

 
More information and download here:
http://www.danieldura.com/code/moderator
 

Creative Suite 4 in summary

If you haven’t read up on today’s Adobe Creative Suite 4 announcement yet and still want to watch the live stream or attend a user group meeting, you might not want to read on unless you like spoilers. This is my list of favorite new features for the products in the suite I am most interested in.

Flash CS4

■ Timeline model reworked
■ Motion editor (similar to After Effects)
■ Inverse Kinematics (aka bones for shapes, movie clips)
■ New text engine (including right-to-left support)
■ 3D rotation tools (2D objects in 3D space)

Dreamweaver CS4

■ Live view (webkit rendered interactive view of your page)
■ Live code (watch code changes in realtime for AJAX based pages)
■ Code hinting for JavaScript and AJAX libraries
■ Subversion support

Photoshop CS4

■ Rotate canvas
■ Masks panel (easily create masks and tweak settings)
■ Extended depth of field (stack and combine images with a different focus)
■ Content-Aware Scaling (see this video)

 
Excited all round for the features in this new release, the one major disappointment is seeing international customers getting screwed again with the huge difference in geographical pricing.

For more information on CS4 and lots of video tutorials, be sure to check out the new and improved Adobe TV.

 

MIX Essentials 2008 review

I attended the MIX Essentials event in Louvain-la-Neuve this Thursday in an attempt to get some perspective on Microsoft’s roadmap for Rich Internet Applications (yes, you read that right — Internet) and Silverlight 2.

Note that I’m looking at this as a Flash Platform enthusiast, while I walked away excited about what Microsoft is doing don’t expect me to hold back on criticism where I see things lacking. It is in no way meant as a personal attack and welcome your thoughts.

Here’s breakdown of the sessions I attended, with my commentary and a couple of videos.

 
Opening Keynote – Luc van de Velde
Building RIAs with Silverlight 2 – Tim Heuer
Beauty & the Geek – Ian Griffiths & Paul Dawson
Data and Web Services in Silverlight 2 – Gill Cleeren
Steve Ballmer Keynote
Summary

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ActionScript 3.0 Design Patterns

ActionScript 3.0 Design PatternsI’ve been reading through O’Reilly’s “ActionScript 3.0 Design Patterns: Object Oriented Programming Techniques” by William Sanders and Chandima Cumaranatunge for the last few weeks and have to say its an incredibly useful resource.

The interesting thing is that this book approaches design patterns in the more traditional sense, not dumbing down on the object-oriented terminology. In that sense it is very approachable to those coming from a Java or C background and are looking for ActionScript 3.0 implementations of specific patterns.

On the other hand I can’t help but feel some patterns are shoehorned to fit in an ActionScript 3.0 context. True, ActionScript is a lot more like Java these days but there are still things that can’t directly be translated (or shouldn’t necessarily be).

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Flash on the Beach 07 in review

“One conference to rule them all”

Flash on the Beach

I just got back from Flash on the Beach ’07 in Brighton – the lack of blog posts probably indicates how busy it has been between sessions, meeting up with friends and the various parties.

Its hard to pinpoint what exactly makes this conference so special but if I think John and the team hit the nail on the head with the mix of creative, technical and inspirational sessions and the fantastic speaker lineup. What I generally would like to see more at conferences is more advanced technical talks on AS3, Flex and AIR although the technical sessions were really good I’d say most were aimed at an intermediate audience.

Looking back my favorite session of the conference was without a doubt Jared Tarbell’s – “Algorithms to Fill Space“. His mix of math and creativity and presentation style blew my mind. Jared is also genuinely one of the nicest and down to earth people I know, hope to catch up with him again at conferences in the near future.

I’ve recorded Monday’s Adobe keynote in full (some hilarious bits in there with Richard Galvan, Ted Patrick and Andrew Shorten) and about half of Mario Klingemann’s new talk, will edit those down and get them up by this weekend.

Flash on the Beach ’08 is planned for the end of September, I’m counting down the weeks!