"First Class"    [ 08 ]   
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Apr 2010

With hammer in hand and chisel in tow –
             We assault with abandon the scabrous brow
                                                              of ActionScript 3.0!

It sounds better when you read it aloud.  ~  Go ahead, give it a try -- I'll wait . .. .    (HINT: the first and last lines rhyme)

This is from the third stanza of a poem entitled "Abandon All Hope Ye Scurvy Zombies of Zanzibar, Avast Ye Nefarious Code Monkeys" by Mendelssôhn Öknârr (©2006).

 My First Class!

  ~  Okay .. not really . . but it should be . . .

A few years back, I crashed through the first few chapters of Keith Peters' wonderful tome "Foundation ActionScript Animation: Making Things Move!" Written for ActionScript 2.0 (cutting-edge at that time), it was by far the BEST book of its kind, explaining deep coding mysteries and trigonometry better than any Flash book I had yet encountered - and I had encountered quite a few by then. I made it halfway through the book before work, life, and everything strangled away my available time. Even so, I leveraged open some profitable doors of opportunity as a result from that time so spent. ~ FlashForward to The Future (nyuk nyuk) and I'm *still* scrambling to learn ActionScript 3.0 to this day. I used to think it would not prove too problematic... I would just pick up Keith's AS 3.0 version of the Best ActionScript Book Ever!

~  So I did.

And man is 'AS 3.0' ever D¥fF®EñT!

The very framework of how one approaches coding from the very beginning requires lessons in crafting 'Classes' and general Object-Oriented Programming techniques ("OOP" - no, not kidding) so one must really possess a full grasp of the complete (and/or scalable parameters of the) architecture for one's online project WELL before any coding begins . . let alone designing anything in the Flash application. That is if you don't just *CODE* everything into existence.

For example, prior to losing all footing completely by chapter three, I knocked out and even modified my Very First Class (woot!) proudly displayed to the right:

Out of ABSOLUTE NOTHINGNESS, a green ball is conjured into existence and ordered to get moving across the stage . . then Repeat! (ooohh!) My variations are outlined in green as well . . .  Very exciting thought, eh? . . . as a luggage problem . . . I believe I have just, thee thing . ..

Keith's AS 3.0 book lost me completely. Everything I tried to emulate, copy, or build from scratch again and again based on his increasingly wandering instructions — you name it — just failed horribly. I could no more import a CLASS than instantiate some API rendering to the stage in real-time. I have employed functions with logic-testing variables for years .. but designing 'constructor methods' and knowing how/when to properly manage 'garbage collection' based on projected memory usage . . ?  All new.  Perhaps, I thought, AS 3.0 simply requires so much data on the table at one time, it's just not easy to roll it all into book-form to teach/learn from.

 "Lost Weekend" DVD

So I grudgingly set aside the instructions of my deprecated AS guide, and got modrin by ordering Colin Moock's "Lost ActionScript 3.0 Weekend Course" on DVD. Actually, Colin is joined by 'guests' James Paterson and the recently-recovered-from-Flashbelt'09 Hoss Gifford, who both do a bang-up job of acting interested in rote AS 3.0 features they mastered years ago, offering occasional leading questions or comments every now and again for us besotted simps.

My frustration with the entire process aside, this particular delivery method is sound, and their presentation refreshingly easy to digest. However, once again: Life, the Universe, and Everything served to clog the pipes of my academic ambitions. I don't think I made it past the third video before Another Red Hot Project at work required all my time and resources. All attempts to knock out a few sessions through another excellent online source–( Lynda.com )– also seem to get steam-rolled beneath the onslaught of OTHER STUFF vacuuming up my time. (Why do you suppose this blog entry is nearly two months late?) ToonBoom 5 (the app and the 60,000-page technical manual) both sit nearby on my desk, uninstalled and untouched for nearly two years, as I struggle to catch up on emails now and again, and maybe pause to collect some thoughts in a blog. A hoped-for project very near and dear to my heart, first mentioned back in January, remains nothing more than a preloader and a few squiggled lines. For those actually tracking it, here's a still-shot visible during the preloader:

And yes .. it is coded in ActionScript 2.0
 Sasha & Domencleise

As if this wasn't enough, we moved too! Kind of unexpected, and just one mile down the street . . but even a one-mile move requires that you handle EVERYTHING in your house twice or thrice as you haul it from place to place and shove the boxes around to make paths to the closet, the dresser, fridge, your kids . . . not to mention the Fabulously Unexpected Home Repairs one must champion under current circumstances. Nothing says "Welcome to your new home" quite like leaking pipes and shower walls, broken AC, and thoroughly botched electrical wiring. No insulation in half the attic. We live in Phoenix, Arizona, mind you - Summer hits in these parts like a rolling volcano doing a belly-flop on the city . . . So that swallowed last weekend spidering around there all up in the rafters, sweating like a sloth on speed wrapped in my Protective Clothing, respirator mask and goggles, so as not to eat/breathe/roll in the flesh-invading particulates. Ah, great fun . .

FORTUNATELY for geeks like me, solace may be found in  
a glorious abundance of Flash/Multimedia Conferences:

  •  FlashForward
  •  Flashbelt
  •  Flashpitt
  •  Flash in the Can (FITC)
  •  Flash and the City (FATC)
  •  Flash on the Beach (FOTB)
  •  Flash on Tap, and of course . . .
  •  South by Southwest (SXSW)

There are plenty more out there featuring technologies I wallow in for a living. Or at least they touch upon them in the form of peripheral topics at NAB, SIGGRAPH, BYOL, etcetera... I am blessed to attend at least one of these each year, meeting industry leaders (like those mentioned above), observing the Latest and Greatest Things being done in Flash which I won't begin to comprehend until ActionScript 4.0 is released, I'm sure . .. But it's *always* good to go, not only for the networking and knowledge-osmosis factor, but also because THIS TIME I will have a laptop with me, and five free nights in Minneapolis without kids scaling me like a tree. That's right, I'm heading off to Dave Schroeder's excellent "Flashbelt" in a few weeks for my second year! I believe they've even scheduled a session on HTML5 this year which, according to Steve Jobs, is the next "Flash-killer" that will Revolutionize The World!!! as we know it . .. I must admit I am quite eager to attend this conference hot on the heels of Mr. Jobs going medieval on Flash recently, splashing his opinions all over the news at every opportunity. You would have to have been living under a rock for the past three months to have missed it. . . or just not work much with Flash . .. or not care . . .

~  Steve Jobs hates Flash   ~

 Steve Jobs vs Flash

I've been following this thread for quite a while now. Mr. Jobs has clearly stated his position, emphasizing how Flash is an "obsolete technology" as it is "made by tech competitor Adobe". THERE's your answer for Apple not endorsing Flash. Much of what Apple is declaring to the general public these days, citing 'tech concerns', is just flat-out Spin Doctor jive aimed at cornering more market share for the Mac Empire. In a word, this whole thing is nothing more than yet another line drawn in the dirt of the world market by good 'ol Stevie . . . not that there's anything wrong with that . . Long Live Free Enterprise!  However, my concern is that folks unfamiliar with what is, and what is not, limiting to a Mac (or some other Flash techno-gobbledy-gook) may buy into the incorrect hype and spotty information Apple has been feeding the unsuspecting public, whereupon the Purchasing Consumer may erroneously conclude that Flash is in some way compromising technical progress . . . when the truth is, and has been for years, the following:

Flash leads - and that is a historical fact supported by over a decade of cross-platform support, setting the industry standard in video streaming (even over Sorensen Spark some years back) not to mention in virtually Every Other Functional System (even automobiles and bank machines) . . everywhere but in Mac's . . . Apple just doesn't like it cuz Adobe's not their puppet, and they're about to release Mac-friendly editing apps intended to challenge Flash's ubiquitous status as the world-wide-accepted industry leader that it is. Apple made the market-conscious decision to develop their O.S.'s and secondary apps *without* supporting Flash technology. So now the time has come, by design, for Apple and Adobe to duke it out upon the global stage! This will be very interesting to see how it all plays out . ..

Switching gears one last time before calling it a viable entry . . .

 website report

While switching over utilities and address listings during our move, some 'electronic housekeeping' came up as well. While updating ye old domain and ISP service for a few more years, I was reminded about the neato-keen features I've been paying for all this time but had completely forgotten about, like what they're for, and how to access them, what the password could *possibly* be... (you know the drill).

Turns out there's a visitor tracking report I can run for my site. So I checked it out. Apparently, Tombo Studios garners over 400 unique hits every month from literally all around the globe!


           People actually come here??

Had to ensure it's not reflecting my own routine checks after posting new materials... and learned how to separate repeat visits from the same computer, weeding alla that out from visits made by Actual Real People... versus web crawlers blindly cataloguing All Of This Intriguing Content for posterity. Stripping away the bulk of visitors stumbling here from some search engine who land here after using unique search words to find particular graphics —(like "polypeptide".. heh)— it seems safe to say that, somehow, this site is drawing an audience of roughly 150 people from around the world on a monthly basis.

I find this very hard to believe, quite astonishing if true . .  These posts aren't *that* engaging ~ I mean, come on, here .. . this is no "Julie and Julia" . . . But the data don't lie, and certainly since re:launching the thing in January of this year, the numbers are steadily climbing up.    :-]    That is just  crazy !   Who's OUT there..? Logging in from Europe & stuff . . ?  Crazy Unbelievable!  Seriously .. if you're reading this, and you are not H·3D, Ant·man, Stâve, Marty, Mike, Rob, or some Buswells, or someone from our Bible study, or one of my kids . . or my sister out by Boston (or one of her friends) . . . why not click on that spiffy email button up there and drop me a line just to say 'hi'? .. And don't one of you I just mentioned write some crazy thing claiming to be from New Zealand or Denmark or something . .  None of this "me-love-you-long-time" stuff . . . I know how to * ping * servers * you know . . .

Well as scattered as this entry is, it is unapologetically authentic as I have been struggling just to get back online. Now I'm all wired up and ready to post again, since we've unearthed boxes containing our kitchenware & bathroom supplies -- life-saving boxes, I'm here to tell ya .. . Perhaps this venture coming up in balmy Minnesota will lead to a breakthrough where I am no longer sniveling about AS 3.0 on these pages, but actually Applying Newfound Interstellar Knowledge to our distance-learning architectural challenges back at work . . and/or maybe I'll chip away some more on that "little animation" I was hoping to turn around in the space of a month (ha ha!) half a year ago . .. <rolls eyes> But despite the trials and time limitations I have moaned about herein, one thing I *do* know: I just created my first functional AS 3.0 preloader last week - so look out!

 boxes galore

  Apologies to Robert Smith


07  (2010)
(2010)  09