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9/20, 9PM





Saturday, January 25, 2003
10:22 AM      

Todd Rules
Todd Yard spoke at the New York Macromedia User Group (NYMMUG) meeting on Thursday night. I came home very inspired, and played around with my Flash jukebox project. I'm happy to have suggested him as a presenter. I think he's been the most interesting and thorough presenters we've had. The guy managed to keep the entire group in rapt attention for 2-1/2 hours with no break! He also managed not to put-off the visual design guys when he talked about coding.

As far as inspiration goes, I've gotten pretty far with the jukebox. Play/pause, rewind, and volume are all working. I need skip functions, and I'm planning to add a way to select between multiple songs. For that matter, a full-blown jukebox would probably allow me to sequence songs, but I'm not sure I'll take it that far.

Writing the volume control slider was a bit gnarly. I'll have to look around and find out if someone's got a more elegant solution. It looks like something that ultimately could be turned into a component. You could design it with changeable skins, and allow it to be resized and re-oriented without breaking the functionality, which is to return a value between 0 and 100 as you move the slider.


Amadeus is a good OS X- native sound editor It can read, edit, and encode MP3 files. I had actually used another waveform editor, so I'll have to experiment with it a little more before I give it a full thumbs-up, but it was very helpful for my little jukebox project. I managed to shrink down a 5MB stereo file to a decent sounding mono file (with edits) that weighs in at 1MB. Loads up real fast on my high speed connection, which is what I want.

It does have one annoying interface gotcha: I started playing an MP3 I'd imported, and I wanted to stop it. When I looked at the controls, I saw what looked like a dimmed out button with a square on it, and an active button with a red circle on it. I thought "Red -- stop," and pressed the red circle button. I'd just invoked recording. Now, I'd already gotten a message on my first launch telling me that I don't have any of the requisite recording hardware or software istalled, so what do you think happens when I cancel the recording dialog? It CRASHES. It took a couple more crashes before it sunk in that the grey square is the stop button.

After Audion failed me, I went looking for MP3 Editors. There aren't a lot. Most were missing features I wanted, like fade-in/fade-out. One had a mono feature that put everything in the left track. Several couldn't read MP3 files directly. Good Ol' SoundEdit 16 only runs in Classic mode, and you need to use something else to convert your MP3 file to, say, WAV format, edit, save a new WAV file, then convert back to MP3... too much hassle. Two others that didn't make the grade are Cacaphony and Audacity. Starting with the names, they went downhill fast.

So, even though the crasher is a potential nuisance, Amadeus looks promising. I know enough to step around that landmine, and it's been stable otherwise. After a couple more experiments, I'll probably register it, and use it as my standard sound editor.


Don't gag me. A recent court ruling says that Computer Associates' licensing agreement can't bar purchasers from publishing reviews of their product without prior consent from CA. They're not the only ones with that kind of language in their agreement, either.


Paying to play (or more ways to squeeze people who are out of work), operated from Chicago, collects $20 to $150 apiece from job seekers who pay for the résumé upgrade option, which moves their listings toward the top of the search heap. "Obviously, the more you pay, the more on top you are," said Dawn Haden, Careerbuilder's vice president for human resources.

The fee is good for 30 days and functions somewhat like a bid. If one candidate has paid $40 and no one else in the results listings has paid more, then the top slot goes to the $40 bidder. In the results list, the upgraded résumés appear with a faintly shaded background and an orange check mark....

From the New York Times


... And some better news from the Wall Street Journal about the Internet Sector:

Most Internet companies are expected to post solid growth in profits and revenue for the fourth quarter, thanks to reformed business strategies that have capitalized on user bases and the Internet's reach and unabated growth.

The results are expected to cap a year of steady, post-Internet bubble recovery...

Of course, clouds remain. AOL Time Warner Inc.'s (AOL) America Online continues to struggle. VeriSign Inc. (VRSN) is still contending with a domain-name business in decline and ad-services company DoubleClick Inc. (DCLK) is still searching for firm ground.

[ link | e-me ]

10:35 AM      

Still loving Safari, by the way. I only use IE when a page is broken. Haven't tried posting on Blogger since the last time. I figure the problem's not fixed yet. Surfing for the last couple of weeks with Safari, I'd completely forgotten about the existence of pop-up ads, or worse pop-unders. Using IE always reminds me though.

[ link | e-me ]

Thursday, January 23, 2003
12:42 PM      

I'm on a really dicey roller-coaster right now. There are some good things developing, and a bunch of things that aren't working at all. Probably not unlike the overall state of the country. Yeah, I'm a microcosm. Wrote away about a couple more job openings. Not a peep. I'm having problems with my e-mail right now. The server isn't recognizing my password. Looks like I'll have to get on the phone with Tech Support.


You might have read the entry about how Narcolepsy Arms published 2 of my images in their last edition. They didn't have room for my poem "What It's All About" in the first edition, but the editor plans to use it in the second edition, with a twist: He invited me to create an illustration for the poem, too. Here's what I've got so far...

What it's all about

Back in the day when Jimi was a Timex- still tickin'
we couldn't deal with the licks he was dishin'
-Politics in listenin' before PC ever meant computer
(never mind correctness).

Meanwhiiiile, I was rockin' steady with Miss 'Retha,
took a little trip and got too high with Stevie...
But Curtis brought me Back in the World, just in time
to hear Funkadelic drippin' Cosmic Slop from some other world.

I was pre- funkin' with Isaac Hayes, the Black Moses,
(that bad mother-shut-yo'-mouth)
who was jammin' those keys and beggin' her to walk on by...
while the town I called home was into
The Guess Who, The Who, and Miss American Pie.

I've felt the Earth, Wind, and Fire, I smelled the Smoke
that puffed from Ohio Players' horns.
I saw my sexy cousins' hips shake and sway
while James screeched and belted "Sex Machine!"

...And even though sex was already on the map
when Marvin showed- up, he stuck a pin in it,
drew a big red circle around, and took us all the way down
to brass tacks.

(Yeah, come on distant lover, let's get it on...)

Not entirely happy with what happens to Jimmy and the Timex face when you shrink it to 350 pixels. Working small is difficult for me, but sometimes it's the only way to know what you're getting when the target medium requires small images. It's still pretty fresh for me. I'll let it sit for a couple of days before I tinker with it again.

[ link | e-me ]

Tuesday, January 21, 2003
11:49 AM      

A couple of days ago, I woke up from a nightmare about being mugged for my bike and my camera. I've had some other strange and vivid dreams recently — two in particular. Unfortunately, I didn't write them down, and can't remember them anymore, except that one involved a man with bright red, curly hair.


Glad I saw "Adaptation" before the Golden Globes. It was a fascinating movie, that works on many convoluted levels. Certainly, there's more to get from a second and even third viewing. I saw a commercial for it the other day — the music was "Under Pressure" by David Bowie and Queen. Interesting choice of music, since the protagonist of the movie is definitely experiencing a lot of pressure, but also because "Under Pressure" was the song that Vanilla Ice [remember him?] "Adapted" to create his most successful tune. I doubt that the double-entendre was lost on the commercial's creators. Also, it really hadn't sunk in that the screenplay was written by two brothers. It wouldn't surprise me if they were twins, as is the case of the two writer characters in the movie.

There are now several good movies with the process of writing as a central theme: "Barton Fink", "Misery", and now "Adaptation" immediately come to mind. Something very interesting happens when the writer turns the pen on the process itself.


Exotic birds, angels, Marc Anthony, Destiny's Child, trapeze artists, and "look at me" clothing. All that in a single clip from the latest Victoria's Secret fashion show. I wouldn't be surprised if they hired talent away from Cirque Du Soleil or at least Universal to create the spectacle. This was Big Budget. The funniest thing to me is how, as suggestive as the lingerie itself can be, the design of the stage added its own twist: The extremely long, narrow stage projected outward from an ornate, arched opening. I'll leave the interpretation up to you.


P.S. I head back from Panic:

From: <>
Date: Fri Jan 17, 2003 5:46:23 PM US/Eastern
Subject: Re: Not sure I like it...

Unfortunately, no. At the moment "fades" are not supported. The crossfader is just for playback and is for crossfading between two control windows. Sorry for the inconvenience.


::: On Wednesday, January 15, 2003, at 10:50 AM, Louis Benjamin wrote: :::

Hey, I'm trying Audion because of all the rave reviews. As a player, it seems fun, but I'm having a lot of trouble with the editor.

As an experiment, I'd like to resample an MP3 using a lower sampling rate, possibly mono, cutting out some segments of the material, and fading it out at the end. I was able to cut some segments out, but I can't make sense out of the crossfader, and can't seem to find any other way to fade. Is there a way to insert blank space? Also, for really precise edits, I wonder if you can get any closer to the waveform than 1:1.

Thanks for your assistance!

Best regards,
- Lou

OH, WELL. Time to look for another MP3 editor...


AppleWorks -> HTML - good.
A long time ago, I gave up on "Save as HTML", except as a last resort, after seeing the bloated, despicable code generated in MS Word and Excel. The code from Word is so bad, that Dreamweaver even has a special "Clean up Word HTML" command. Well, I figured I'd do a quick and dirty save of my resume for the portfolio I'm putting together, and surprise, surprise! The AppleWorks word processor writes clean HTML code. Simple, to the point, no nonsense. There are a couple of break tags where maybe a P tag would have been more appropriate, but it's nice to have just plain straightforward code that I don't have to massage for half an hour.


Couple of useful resources for your design and development pleasure.

Ever wonder what cool font someone is using? What The Font? allows you to search for the font electronically. First, you upload an image file (say, a scan of the font from a magazine or a copy of the font image from a site that you recently visited). What The Font breaks the letters apart and guesses what they might be. You pick the letters you're most interested in, and correct any guesses. Press the search button, and seconds later, you get back a list of the most likely suspects. I tried it out with a logo image from Goya beans. It worked very nicely. Looks like their font is Linotype Pump.

As I'm setting up my new portfolio site, I thought it would be useful to fill it in with some "greeked" text... You've probably seen page samples with text that starts out "Lorem ipsum..." That's "greeked" text. The name's funny, because it's actually latin. I found a site that not only explains where the text comes from, but has a text generator that will provide you with as much or as little text as you need for your testing pleasure. By the way, the "greeked" text you usually see comes from sections of "The Extremes of Good and Evil" by Cicero...

I recently started delving into Robert Penner's Programming Macromedia Flash MX, and started having flashbacks to college - particularly an Applied Math class I didn't do so well in. A lot of that class dealt with vector math, and I just couldn't see the application. Guess what? There's a very well-written application of vector math in this book. The scary thing is that dot and cross products are suddenly making sense! (It only took twenty-something years...)

A number of Flash books deal with physics simulations in a variety of ways, but Penner's book is actually much cleaner — both theoretically and mathematically. It's the kind of book that will drive some people crazy, because it deals a lot more with providing base classes and algorithms, than with showing cookbook applications. You have to stretch a bit to apply the ideas here, but if you do, you're likely to keep coming back for more. But be warned: this is deep water, and definitely not for the first-time ActionScript coder or the visual designer who wants a couple of quick code recipes.

[ link | e-me ]
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