Erik’s Brain

The reward of a thing well done...

Getting Videos Onto the iPad Is Hit and Miss

One of the first things I did when I got my iPad was try to get some of my paid video tutorials onto it. I’ve got a couple of screencasts from Peepcode. I’ve got a screencast series from Pragmatic Programmers. And I’ve got a ton of videos that I’ve downloaded from Lee Brimelow’s goToAndLearn site. Some of the videos were gobbled up by the iPad immediately without any problem. Some were rejected. But I think I figured out an easy way to convert the videos that don’t get loaded onto the iPad.

Why Does Parallels Insist on Handling Certain File Types?

I noticed that a .jsfl file was suddenly associated with Flash CS4. Not my Mac install of Flash CS4, but the Flash CS4 demo that was installed in Windows Vista running in a Parallels virtual machine. I have no idea how that happened.

Next, and more troubling, I noticed that when I run my “Test in Flash CS4” command in TextMate, it tries to test it in Flash ON THE WINDOWS VIRTUAL MACHINE! I can’t really blame Windows for this. Parallels somehow screwed things up. But I figured going into Parallels to remove my expired Flash CS4 demo from Vista would fix things.

TaskPaper for iPhone Sync Bug

I’m liking TaskPaper for iPhone, but have run into a problem with syncing via SimpleText.ws

First, a little background:

I use Notational Velocity on my Mac. It stores its documents as plain text files in a folder on my hard drive. That folder lives in my Dropbox. That folder is also the folder I use to sync with the SimpleText.ws service (graciously hosted by Jesse Grosjean). I also use WriteRoom on my iPhone, which syncs to SimpleText.ws. Thus, I have access all my text docs on my Mac and my iPhone and they stay in sync nicely. As an added backup, those files are backed up via Dropbox. The final piece of the puzzle is TaskPaper for iPhone. It also syncs with SimpleText.ws so my todo.taskpaper file, which lives in my text doc folder, is on my computer, iPhone, and also web via SimpleText.ws.

Is your head spinning yet?

TextField.onSetFocus and onKillFocus Weirdness

I had to make a quick form using ActionScript 2 today. I wanted to add a quick little feature where the default “filler” text would be wiped out when someone clicks on the text field to start editing. Also, if the user left the text field without typing anything, the “filler” text would come back.

Simple stuff. And the code goes like this:

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var startTextFirstName:String = "First Name";

tfFirstName.onSetFocus = function (obj:Object)
{
  if (tfFirstName.text == startTextFirstName) tfFirstName.text = "";
}

tfFirstName.onKillFocus = function (obj:Object)
{
  if (tfFirstName.text == "") tfFirstName.text = startTextFirstName;
}

I did that for three text fields. But it only worked for one of them. Weird.

Turns out the fix was simple. I had the uncooperative text fields set as MULTILINE input text fields. Change them to SINGLE LINE fields and all was well.

Loading in Local External Assets Into an Air App

I’ve recently been tasked with turning an existing Flash app (that is to say, a self contained Windows EXE/Mac App) into an Air app. The original was only meant to run locally. It was never meant to be hosted on a web server. This module depends on loading in lots of external XML docs and images when you navigate to different sections. When loading in an XML doc, the code looks something like this:

Getting Text Notes Out of Evernote WITHOUT Losing Text Formatting

I’m in the middle of a project. I’m looking at my notes in Evernote and if a note can be saved as plain old text, then I’m pulling it out of Evernote and dumping it into Notational Velocity. NV is awesome. Ignore its ugly icon – are the letters made out of Jell-O? – and start using it. It has the option to save your notes as plain text files in a file folder of your choice. That’s what I’m doing. No rich text. No formatted HTML. Just plain old .txt files saved to my hard drive like normal files. Not like normal files, they are normal files. If I want, I can open those files in pretty much any program since pretty much everything on the face of the planet can read plain text files. NV is also fast and lightweight and has useful keyboard shortcuts. It’s frictionless.

I’m getting sidetracked. This post isn’t supposed to be about how awesome Notational Velocity is. But it is awesome.

Apple Magic Mouse and USB Overdrive Don't Mix

I just got myself a Magic Mouse since my not-so-old Logitech VX Nano started getting super flaky on me. It’s nice. I’ll probably keep it. But I’ve realized that I’m usually just as effective using the trackpad on my MBP. Plus the gestures work better (or I should say that they are easier to use) on my trackpad.

Anyway.

The point of this post is to say that you need to uninstall USB Overdrive for the new Wireless Mouse Software Update to take its place in the System Preferences. It took me a few reboots to figure that out. Now all is right with the world.

Flash-like Effects Without Flash, Might Suck.

The Macheist nanobundle is up, and the site has some Flash-like elements created without Flash. When viewed in Safari 4 on my Mac, everything probably looks as intended. But there are some issues with trying to create these eye-candy effects without Flash.

  • It causes some noticeable lag in the browser. These pieces of eye candy would be no sweat for Flash, but it’s causing Safari to run a little slow, especially when scrolling on the page.
  • This because it’s really, REALLY hogging the CPU. And what for? A scroller that shows what people are saying about Macheist on Twitter. And a subtle pulsing glow under the selected product.
  • The initial draw-in effect, where these dish covers are pulled off of the products only shows in Safari, not Firefox. I’m not going to test in Opera. And I’m sure they don’t care how it looks on Windows browsers. And that effect kills the CPU and doesn’t look very smooth.

Look, if you want to do eye-candy stuff, just use Flash. It’s better in every way for this kind of thing. If you hate Flash, why try to mimic what it can do if you are going to come up way short? I’m sure the development time to make this was considerably longer than if it had been done in Flash, too. I really don’t get it.

As an added bonus, the play/pause/scrub controls on the pop up video player didn’t work for me.

I will say that they animated gears that show up when processing the order look very slick.

Oh, but you should grab the free bundle while you can. If only for Write Room.

Cha-Ching 2 - MAJOR FAIL

So long Midnight Apps. And go to hell.

I tried to load my beta of Cha-Ching 2 but was told the beta had expired and I needed to check the site for updates. I go to the site and get the latest version. Install it. Still no good. Apparently I was already running the latest beta. Luckilly they have a blog post about the problem! But, the blog post just tells me we are screwed for a bit, until they get their shit together. I feel their pain in their iPhone app being rejected by Apple (which is a whole different issue that has nothing to do with Midnight Apps), but to claim they can’t just roll out a new version of beta 99 with a different expiration date because of hard drive failures and faulty backups?! That doesn’t fly these days. Do they not use a version control system? Do they not have offsite backups? Do they not use something like Dropbox to backup their data? Sorry, guys. But if you can’t be trusted to make backups of data, you can’t be trusted to make financial software! Period. End of story.

So now I need to get my data out of Cha-Ching, somehow, and find a new home for it. Any suggestions?

[If you roll back the system date to the 29th, you can open Cha-Ching 2 and export all of your accounts to CSV files. Then set your date back and you should be good to go. It looked like setting the date back caused Dropbox to stop syncing, so I’d quit Dropbox before doing that just to be safe. And to be really safe, I’d close every app possible before rolling the clock back. Who really knows what kind of havoc that can create. However I do appear to be in the clear now.]