I’ve become an outliner

Dave is probably gonna be happy if he reads this, another convert to the Outliner crew.

I was structuring my day today, and found myself structuring the items on my list just like one would with an outliner (like the one in Radio), so this evening I just gave in and spent about $40 US for the program.

I have only just gotten started, so I am in no ways an Outliner pro yet, but I am at least on my way. I must admit that for a guy that talks so warmly of outliners, its a little strange that its not possible to render the outliner to HTML in any easy way in Dave’s weblog product. I just end up with an error when I try to use the built in function, temporarily I have been using an add-on tool (Print Outline Tool) that generates the HTML for me.

But I want, no – I need for this to work in the program itself (that is, with the built in functions, darn it! ;-) – it would be too stupid if it wasn’t possible. Will have to look at getting it to work tomorrow (if its at all possible without having to use the tools option).

Flash components

Josh Dura and Keran McKenzie (http://www.studiowhiz.com) has released a Flash MX component site. At the moment the site only has a couple of components from Macromedia, but I guess I should forgive them – after all the site was launched today.


Selling and offering Flash components is probably going to become bigger than the availability of Flash FLAs earlier, mainly because components makes it easier for unskilled flash developers and designers to use them to implement functionallity in their Flash projects.

Another site with a broader selection of Flash componentes is Flashcomponents.net and Macromedia also have their own selection of Flash Components

Dave Winer Redux on Open Source

DaveNet : How to be a revolution

Today Dave digged into his vaste archives and went back 4 years, to when the Mozilla/Netscape Open Source project was launched, and a lot of words for and against Open Source was flying through the air. He wrote:

“It isn’t about open source, it’s about open minds. “

In the same article he writes about the mentors that his generation had when he was an aspiering programmer, I quote directly:

They were our surrogate fathers, caring about our success, enjoying it vicariously. I had my own angel, a man named Bill Jordan. When I was in my 20s and 30s, he was in his 50s and 60s. He taught me a lot. I owe much of my success to Bill.

I think one of the aspects Dave seem to have missed about Open Source, is that (at least in some cases) it is our surrogat mentors – Its the aspiering programmers way of learning how to program well, and learn by good example. Not everyone has the luck of getting a skilled, experienced programmer as their mentor. I am not saying that looking at source code is the only way to get wise in programming, or that all open source code is good examples of good coding – but it sure does help to have the good open source examples to try and follow. Not to mention the fact that the Open Source movement has actually created some of the building blocks of the internet and web we see today.

I agree that all projects doesn’t have to be Open Source projects, but at the same time I disagree strongly with the notion of it being a cancer, like some high level Microsoft executives seems to want us to belive.

Macromedia acknowledges streaming bug

Macromedia has added the following technote: Macromedia: Macromedia Flash Player 6 Streaming Issue

The problem, to quote Macromedia:

“when loading media into Macromedia Flash Player 6, the media will continue to load even if Macromedia Flash Player 6 makes additional requests for media (i.e. .swf, .jpg or .mp3 files), or if the user leaves the web page. “

John Dowdell says he hasn’t seen many posts about this being a problem for anyone, so I guess I should stand up and tell you about our problems at Flashmagazine.com.

We have been lucky enough to avoid most of the problems associated with the bug (at least we have no way of really knowing that it is affecting us day to day). But we have had examples of how bad it could become, one user caused a download of more than 360 MB over 1 hour on our site this month, with the Flash 6 player and while downloading very big files, files we used to use in our Flash radio system. The nature of the player and the way streaming has been possible without any problems in Flash until the now infamous Flash 6 player, allowed us to let users stream large audio files. If we had the Flash radio up and running today, we would probably have needed to shut it down since users were supposed to start streams, jump in them, and switch between them at choice.

I can only imagine how the bug must affect people making available larger video files with the new video capability in Flash MX (Since the bug is well known by now, I have a feeling few would be foolish enough to do that right now). I think the bug is a ugly and bad one, and actually worse than the XML bug that plagued the first versions of the Flash 5 player.

I am looking forward to Macromedia releasing an updated version of their Flash 6 player addressing this serious issue.


India: Hole-in-the-Wall

An Indian physicist puts a PC with a high speed internet connection in a wall in the slums and watches what happens. Based on the results, he talks about issues of digital divide, computer education and kids, the dynamics of the third world getting online.

Interesting story, found it on John’s weblog, originally from Slashdot.

I think the story says a lot about how we all should be open and just jump into things, like we used to when we were kids. And also that we don’t always have to guide the children in their learning process, sometimes its better to just nurture their curiosity and then stand back and see what happens.

Follow up: Why RTFM Won’t Work: Documentation As Narrative

John picked up on my note, and took the time to return with his thoughs about documentation (On Documentation). It is interesting to read the views of someone coming from the tech support part of a software house such as Macromedia – and the ways that their tasks have changed as they move more towards offering products that are made to create new applications/products, and less and less just “clean” applications like word processors. (Not that they ever did make word processors, but you hopefully understand where I am going).

I think Macromedia is on the right track when it comes to making available resources for their products, both in the ways of tutorials, articles, the Macromedia Exchange etc. But as a developer I find that most of the time what I am doing is coding, and what I am looking for from a vendor is not tutorials, components etc, but rather good structured documentation of functions etc. often needed when coding. And that is something I haven’t been able to find a good resource for at Macromedia Online for any of their products. (They do offer books for reference to ActionScript etc, and also ship their products with documetnation on CD-rom, but it seems they have decided to skip making that available online).

I took some time to look through their site today, and I could find technotes, tutorials etc, but no well stuctured and well written documentation of their scripting languages. (Such as Flash MX, Coldfusion (CFML) etc.) I could not find any easy links to such content on the Macromedia site, but there are tons of tutorials, articles and other content. I must admit, I am kind of baffled at the lack of the part of the documetnation I would have thought was most important.

NB: David Burrows is also writing about documentation and commenting on the RTFM article. I like his metaphor: “Documentation as narrative? I’d prefer to think of it as building a house”