CMX Weekly Newsletter

Check the News!

Mac and Windows Play More Closely Together

If you've got an Intel-based Mac and you're thinking of running Windows on it, you've got several choices: Bootcamp or Parallels. The latter seems to get the most press, and of the two, gets the most thumbs up. But as handy as Parallels is, Adam Pash from Lifehacker.com has found a way to make Parallels even better, using "Coherence", which is a new feature found in Parallels. Adam has fiddled a bit with Coherence, and found that he could launch Windows apps while he was still in Mac mode. Adam has a video on what the result looks like, and we admit it looks pretty bizarre. But we like it. Check it out at Lifehacker.com.

Firefox 2's Seat Isn't Even Warm Yet...

It seems a bit early to be talking about Firefox 3 already, but Mozilla is already testing it under the name of Gran Paradiso. Testing is public, so if you feel like giving the alpha a whirl, go for it. Keep in mind that only serious developers who know the types of things that can go wrong with alpha versions of software should volunteer. FF 3 will have a new Gecko engine, which will render future versions of FF from running on previous versions of Windows and Mac. There will be plenty of time for testing, as FF 3 isn't due out until the latter part of 2007. More on this at News.com.

Keyser Soze Was Much Cooler Than This

When an organization calls itself Rock Phish, you know it's either a rock band, or something related to a phishing scheme. Rock Phish is the latter. According to some sources, Rock Phish is responsible for about 1/2 of all phishing schemes presently taking place on the internet and in your inbox. They've caused monetary damage to banks to the tune of nearly $100 million. Ever received an email from Citibank asking you to update your information? That is most likely Rock Phish. They are also said to be the ones that came up with using images in spam emails to get past spam filters. Unfortunately, Rock Phish has been able to fly under the radar thus far, and it doesn't look like anyone has a solid lead on them yet. Let's keep our fingers crossed. Read more on Rock Phish at PCWorld.com.

Google Doing Its Part For Programmers

Google released some of the code for their Google Web Toolkit a while back, but they've decided to completely open up all of the code to developers, so that it can be developed in an open source environment and possibly push the application further. The Google Web Toolkit is essentially a set of tools for developers to help them create AJAX-centric applications. You write the java code, and GWT compiles the code, and gives it back to you in html and javascript. More on this at News.com.

Skype Decides To Make Some Money

We mentioned a few months back that Skype was offering free, unlimited calling from your computer to any phone in the U.S. or Canada. We knew at that time that it was a temporary offer, and now Skype has decided to start charging for the service. For $29.95 a month, users will be able to make unlimited calls from their computer to phones within the U.S. and Canada. If you haven't used Skype and have wanted to try it out, do it soon, because until the end of January, they're offering a half-price deal. If you sign up now, you'll only have to pay $14.96 a month. Check it out at WashingtonPost.com.

Satisfied Customers Speak Out!

  • "Ok, that took literaly less than a minute to install and use. Thanks for the shortcut!!! I have to get a ton of staff photos ready for our webpage each year and cropping was a pain. This will be great!"

    - Elizabeth V., CMX Subscriber, commenting Kim Cavanaugh's Bitmap Auto-Crop Command for Fireworks


    Whether you're just starting out or need advanced support, Community MX will give you answers and ideas to work through your tough issues. Don't miss out. Learn more about CMX or sign up for a free trial today!

Great Quotes:

"Ideas not coupled with action never become bigger than the brain cells they occupied." - Arnold H. Glasgow

It's Gordon Mackay Minus Fifty Percent

Gordon is know around the virtual CMX office as a guy with a great eye for design. He's also fantastic at creating web buttons and icons. Gordon's possibly too good, and you may have found yourself just wanting some very basic, simple icons, and we have found a good collection for you. Head over to BrandSpankingNew.net and download a wide variety of computer and web icons.

Eight Ways The Tech Industry Sticks It To The Consumer

Crunchgear.com has a quick article on eight ways that the tech industry makes it tough on consumers, aka, their customers. The article mentions rigid cell phone contracts, bait and switch tactics at retail stores and bizarre retention tactics, among other things. They also talk about shoddy customer service, which we can vouch for, and seems way worse than it's ever been. It's not so much customer service anymore. They should really just answer the phone "You're the 56th pain in my behind today... how can I upset you?"

Mozilla Thunderbird Beta Is Out

If you use Thunderbird as your email client, or were thinking of using it, Mozilla has just released the beta for Thunderbird 2. Some enhancements over its predecessor include the ability to tag messages, making them easier to find when you're searching for a specific message later on. To find out more about Thunderbird 2, or to download it, go to Mozilla.com.

MacWorld Favors Mac Products? No Way.

Macworld.com reviewed hundreds of products during 2006 to find out which ones they felt were the strongest products during the past year. Not suprisingly, many Apple products made the list. YouTube and Google Earth also made the list, as did some other pretty awesome products. What would be interesting is to take a company like PCWorld.com and see if their list was close to the same as MacWorld.com. Probably not, which makes us think that perhaps the list should be called "The 22nd Annual Editors' Choice Awards for stuff that's mostly geared toward users of Apple Products." Man, we can be cynical when we set our minds to it, can't we?

Hi, I'm Melvin... I Mean Gigi!

We know you've been wondering what it's like to be a "Text Actress." A text actress is a woman (as far as you know) that has been hired to send and receive text messages to/from guys who want to "talk" uh... well, dirty to girls on the phone, but don't want to commit to actually "talking" to them. Gigi lets the secret out that when gentlemen (?) use this service, they are typically not talking to just one person, but several people who are paid to keep the caller's interest, so that they spend more time messaging, and run up their bill. What Gigi doesn't talk about is whether or not the guys are actually messaging women... We hope never to be so lonely that we'd want to find out. Wired.com has the story.

CMX Insert SWFObject 1.4

  • SWFObject is an external JavaScript file, created by Geoff Stearns, that enables you to embed Flash movies into web pages using XHTML-compliant code. The CMX Insert SWFObject extension automatically inserts SWFObject code into Dreamweaver documents, and copies swfobject.js into the folder you specify. Now supports major, minor, and revision Flash Player detection. Requirements: Dreamweaver MX or higher, Flash Player.

    Take a look at this Extension by Paul Newman

Fun and Freebies!

Nuckin' Futs!

Jib Jab has wrapped up 2006 in a typically funny video.

Here's Something Freaky

This looks to be from a French variety show or something, but it's a visual performance piece, so you don't need to call a translator. This is a very clever bit, but mostly, it's just visually compelling. Watch it at DailyMotion.com.

But Will It Blend?

If you haven't seen any of the videos from WillItBlend.com, you can probably guess from the name what it is they do. Yep, they take a blender, stick stuff in it that you typically wouldn't put in a blender, and see if it blends. Their latest blend attempt was with an iPod. They use the lowest-model BlendTec blenders for these stunts. This would make a great Christmas present...!

A Text Effect Using Illustrator and Masks

  • Illustrator and its masking tool can create some very nice effects. Like other applications Illustrator's masking tool uses shapes to hide or mask other artwork. In this tutorial we will use text as the masking object. Once the mask is created Illustrator's drop shadow effect will be applied to produce artwork suitable for web page banners or page headers.

    This free article by CMX Partner Kim Dudley can be found here.

Weekly Content Listing

fw

Working with Overlapping Slices in Fireworks 8

Jim Babbage

Creating a design or interface in Fireworks can be a pretty free-flow process. Sometimes when it comes to slicing the design for use on the web, though, we find it necessary to overlap certain web slices, in order to get two different images from a similar area on the canvas. This could be due to our use of frames, where we have created a secondary design. Because Fireworks 8 and earlier only supports a single web layer, we find that we are creating slices that for both frames, and some of these may overlap each other. Sometimes we just need a segment of a larger slice area to use as a background image.

Fireworks engineers have tried to solve this issue of overlapping slices by setting a priority in the slice hierarchy. This means that if you have two slices overlapping, the one that is closer to the top in the stacking order controls how the overlapping slices get exported.

Here's a quote from the FW help files: When slices overlap, the topmost slice takes precedence if interactivity is involved.

Now, this sounds like a workable idea, but often it causes a lot of grief; not only does the top slice get sliced accurately, but multiple slices can be generated from the underlapping slice, when it is exported.

Read this article to learn what can happen when overlapping slices are exported, as well as some tips on preventing undesireable results.

php

The Lost Art of PHP Control Structures - Part 4: Internal Array Pointers

Rob Williams

One of the key components of any scripting or programming language are control structures; statements that tell a language interpretter to stop reading code in a linear line-by-line fashion and start to make more complex operations based on simple logic. While most developers are aware of the common "if else" and "for" structures, there are many others available in PHP (and other languages I might add) that allow you to save a great deal of time and make your coding more efficient and easier to understand.

In this series we're going to take a look at some of those "forgotten" structures and some practical examples of how they can be used to clean up your coding techniques. This time around we'll explore array and resource pointers to see how they work and just how useful they can be.

The Lost Art of PHP Control Structures Series:
The Lost Art of PHP Control Structures - Part 1: Switch Statements
The Lost Art of PHP Control Structures - Part 2: The Break Command
The Lost Art of PHP Control Structures - Part 3: Advanced Loops and Arrays
The Lost Art of PHP Control Structures - Part 4: Internal Array Pointers

acrobat

Watermarking PDF Documents

Derrick Ypenburg

Watermarking a PDF is a means of securing the intellectual property of its contents. If you're a designer sending a proof of a logo to a client, watermarking the proof can ensure that the client cannot start printing out the logo for their own uses before you have been paid or the job has been completed. Image Bank and other online stock-art websites watermark their contents as well to prevent theft. PDF versions of books are watermarked as well to prevent printed re-distribution of them.

This tutorial will cover the simple steps it takes to watermark a PDF document and securing its contents from being re-used without your permission.

illust

Snowflakes in Illustrator [FREE]

Kim Dudley

One of the easiest ways to add a wintery feel to a design or layout is to add a few snowflakes. Using Illustrator we can quickly create some unique snowflakes that can be added to almost any artwork. The snowflakes created in this tutorial are easy to make and are a lot of fun to play around with.

In this tutorial we will create 3 different snowflakes using 2 different methods. These snowflakes have a bit of a graphic or modern feel but using the same techniques you can create hundreds of different looks. To create these snowflakes we will use Illustrator's Ellipse, Star and Scale tools as well as the Zig Zag and Pucker and Bloat effect.

traditional snowflake

graphic snowflake

modern snowflake

cf

Switching CSS with ColdFusion

Chaz Chumley

If you are concerned about giving your end user the ultimate control over changing the way your web site looks and feels—well not ultimate control, but the ability to change the CSS document attached to your site, then look no further. We will be taking a look at Gordon Mackay's tutorial "Switching CSS Based on Time of Day with PHP" and converting it to ColdFusion as well as a little added bonus of allowing the user to select from a link which CSS best suits them.

fl

Rolling Your Own Dial Control

David Stiller

In Knobs, Sliders and Flash, Oh My! Sound Controls in Flash MX 2004, Tom Green shows how to use a specialized button — a knob, or dial control — included with Flash under the Window > Common Libraries panel. These built-in assets look great and are indeed good for rapid prototyping, as Tom mentions, even if they aren't as powerful or easily configurable as the more recent v2 User Interface components. Surprisingly, the Components panel does not offer a rotating dial control, so if you're interested in something round, you either have to use the discussed knob button or build one from scratch. In this tutorial, you'll learn learn how to "roll your own" basic dial control with ActionScript 2.0 ... and yours can look exactly how you like.

css

Fixed Position in IE7 - Part Two

John Gallant, Holly Bergevin

Last time, based on new CSS support in IE7, we introduced fixed positioning in the context of a simple header. Now in Part Two, we continue by adding a footer and side columns as well, and making sure that they can coexist on the page. The effect is interesting, and the possibilities are quite intriguing.

What are you waiting for? Let's go!

The Fixed Position in IE7 Series:
Fixed Position in IE7 - Part One
Fixed Position in IE7 - Part Two

acrobat

Securing PDF Documents

Derrick Ypenburg

Securing PDF documents is a great feature in Acrobat. A secure document can prevent changes, cutting, copying and printing of a document and it contents. The security features can also be set to only allow low resolution printing if a file needs to be printed but you don't want design proofs being taken to press.

This article covers password protecting the opening of a PDF document and restricting what a user can do with a PDF, such as printing and editing.

dotnet

Using the asp:Calendar Control - Part 4

Heidi Bautista

In this installment of the Using the asp:Calendar control series you'll learn how to add information retrieved from a SQL Server database to the Calendar control. Along the way, you'll learn how to use a parameter with the SqlDataSource control to refine the SELECT statement used to retrieve the data for the month currently displayed in the calendar. You'll also learn how to use a RowFilter to extract event data for a particular day. And, finally, you'll learn one technique for displaying the retrieved event data in your calendar.

There are lots of possibilities when it comes to displaying the data. This tutorial will show you how to use a Literal control to display and style the event title.


The asp:Calendar Control Series:
Using the asp:Calendar Control - Part 1 - introduction to the control, describes basic functions and defaults. Shows the control embedded on a page.
Using the asp:Calendar Control - Part 2 - using the control in a popup page. Transferring the value from the popup to the main page.
Using the asp:Calendar Control - Part 3 - allowing the user to select an entire week or month. Additional styling options to customize both the look of the calendar and how it functions.
Using the asp:Calendar Control - Part 4 - displaying event data that's pulled from a database.

photoshop

Where's A Pond When You Need One?

Knut Kubenz

There have been many times I've gone out, as I'm sure you have, with my camera in hand and thought, "Now that's not a bad landscape to photograph, but if only there was a pond to reflect some of the scene." A little bit of water can completely change the mood as well as impact on the strength of the image.

Photoshop has some simple tools you can use to change most outdoor scenes from waterless to water-full, (if there's such a word).

Rolling Your Own Dial Control

  • In Knobs, Sliders and Flash, Oh My! Sound Controls in Flash MX 2004, Tom Green shows how to use a specialized button — a knob, or dial control — included with Flash under the Window > Common Libraries panel. These built-in assets look great and are indeed good for rapid prototyping, as Tom mentions, even if they aren't as powerful or easily configurable as the more recent v2 User Interface components. Surprisingly, the Components panel does not offer a rotating dial control, so if you're interested in something round, you either have to use the discussed knob button or build one from scratch. In this tutorial, you'll learn learn how to "roll your own" basic dial control with ActionScript 2.0 ... and yours can look exactly how you like.

    Check out the Article by CMX Partner David Stiller

Tips, Tricks and Dirty Cheats!

This week's Tip, Trick or Dirty Cheat is courtesy of Jim Babbage, Community MX Partner

Be Honest: Did You Know You Could Do This?

Want to quickly export any part of your Fireworks design as a single graphic without actually cropping the design or drawing a slice? Choose the Export Area tool (underneath the Crop tool). Draw and adjust your crop with with this tool, then double-click inside the bounding box. You'll be brought right to the Export Preview dialog, and only the selected area will show in the preview window.

 

Would you like your tip published? Submit it to tips@communitymx.com.

That's it for this week. Stay tuned for the next CMX newsletter!