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Flash Anthology

SitePoint sent me Flash Anthology – Cool Effects & Practical ActionScript by Steven Grosvenor and asked me to write a review.

The back cover of the book says “best practice solutions to common Flash problems”, which lead me thinking it was a book on design patterns. However, in the “Who Should Read This Book?” section, it says the book is aimed at beginning and intermediate Flash developers and designers. The book is not for learning Flash MX 2004, ActionScript, OOP, or design patterns.

Instead, the book focuses on using ActionScript 1.0 “to achieve extensible, adaptable, and aesthetically pleasing results.” There are over 60 ActionScript solutions, covering 10 chapters: Flash Essentials, Navigation Systems, Animation Effects, Text Effects, Sound Effects, Video, Flash Forms, External Data, Debugging, and Miscellaneous Effects.

I was a bit surprised to see no ActionScript 2.0, typed data, classes…etc., from a book published almost a year after Flash MX 2004 was released. Instead, I see most examples dealing with the prototype, scattering of _root, capitalization of method names in one section and lowercase elsewhere…etc.

To be fair, not all Flash projects require ActionScript 2.0, OOP or patterns. In fact, I’d think most typical Flash projects are still one-offs that have short life cycles. As Branden Hall says, sometimes pragmatic programming can be an ideal solution, especially for these quick one-off projects. Perhaps this book is for beginning Flash designers who work on small projects. SitePoint offers 30 days, risk-free, money back guarantee; so I guess it’s worthwhile to give it a read if you’re a beginner designer looking for ActionScript to create cool effects.

On a side note, for ActionScript 1.0 and effects, I’d suggest Robert Penner‘s book as an example of best practices.

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Viruses & ISPs

I’ve been receiving a lot of bounced email lately that I did not send. Almost all of these were rejected by servers because of attached viruses, sent randomly by viruses from other computers with my email addresses in their address books.

With at least a new virus a day, it is very important to update your virus definition file regularly. Also make sure your email server blocks viruses from getting to you. Find out from your ISP or network administrator and see if a virus scanner is installed on the server.

Don’t have a virus checker? Get a free one here.

My hosting company (CrystalTech) updates their virus signatures frequently, and offers ColdFusion MX 6.1 (i.e. automatic support for things like CFC and Flash Remoting), ASP.NET, PHP, SQL Server, MySQL and many other features for developers. This is the only hosting company that I’m happy with (also heard the same from others), and they offer 24/7 toll-free telephone support. Tell them qwmobile.com sent ya! 😎

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iTunes (and AAC) for Windows

Apple released iTunes 4.1 today, and now it is also available for Windows XP and 2000. This looks like a winner already being the first free AAC encoder and player for Windows. Interestingly, it does not support or playback Windows Media Audio (.wma) – a format that Microsoft is pushing so hard.

As for the Apple music store, it is still unavailable outside of the U.S. However, Canada just got the first download music store a few days ago: PureTracks.com. Unfortunately, they only support Windows (and their files are in .wma only).

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Adobe… Windows only?

Adobe released Photoshop Album 2.0, a Windows-only consumer digital photo album with some interesting features such as the calendar. The free Starter Edition is available for download (requires activation).

It seems Adobe is releasing more Windows-only applications these days (Premiere Pro, Encore DVD…etc.) I suppose the market share determines the R&D spending, similar to what happened to the browser wars. At least Mozilla and Mozilla Firebird are making a come back, but browser usage is still dominated by Windows Internet Explorer. Google has some interesting browser usage stats.

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Stealing my email and software

Burak KALAYCI, the maker of the excellent software ActionScript Viewer, contacted me regarding some individual pretending to be me by changing my email account to his/her Hotmail email (dave_quantumwave@hotmail.com)

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Windows, panels & applications add up to a new monitor

With all the windows and panels, Flash and similar apps need as much screen resolutions as possible. Thanks to Chafic Kazoun‘s recommendation, I bit the bullet and picked up a Samsung 213T LCD monitor this weekend.

What a change from my laptop’s 1920×1200 resolution (at 15.4″) to 1600×1200 (at 21.3″) – now everything looks so BIG. I do miss the extra 320 pixels horizontally, but at least it’s not killing my eyes after 8-12 hours a day. Verdict: I’ll have to work longer hours now to pay off this thing! 😎

What resolution do you use Flash at? Which window/panel dominates your Flash MX 2004’s workspace? I wonder if the result is split between designers and developers (or deselopers)…