CMX Weekly Newsletter

Check the News!

Adobe CSS Advisor. If You Need Advice... On CSS.

Adobe has launched a beta version of CSS Advisor, a new service aimed at helping developers overcome CSS issues that we all face. Users can search for solutions to their own CSS problems, or they can get involved in posting solutions to problems, or even editing other people's posts where necessary. Adobe's warning to posters: "You will be edited. Everyone is edited. Don't be surprised or offended." This looks like a good community resource from Adobe. Not as good as CMX maybe, but an interesting approach. To get involved, go to the CSS Advisor Beta page.

It's All About You, Baby

Time magazine and PC magazine voted YOU as the person of the year. It's not surprising. You're pretty cool. You also look extremely good, and clearly your hygiene is impeccable. 2006 was the year of YouTube and MySpace, both community websites that allow YOU to share yourself with the world, whether it's through blogging about yourself or posting videos and pictures of yourself. The WashingtonPost.com has an enlightening article that continues this discussion about YOU. Even better, we just found an interview with Stephen Koepp, Deputy Managing Editor of Time magazine, who gets asked a few questions about their newest person of the year. Read up at NewAssignment.net.

Another Way To Find Yourself
or
Gee, I Wonder If Anyone Will Use This In a Creepy Way?

A Swedish startup by the name of Polar Rose is taking web search to a new level. Their software will look for images of people that are similar in features to the image you provide. You could give it a picture of yourself, and see how many images PR sends back to you. PR will also let you tag images on the internet descriptively so that you can match a name to the face later on, or provide other important metadata. As far as we know, this is the first face-recognition search that's ever been done. TechTree.com has a good explanation of this new service.

Google Speaks Softly But Carries a Big Stick

We remember when Google Checkout was first announced. Google stated that it would absolutely not be in competition with Paypal, and was not even geared toward the same type of user. Most of us knew that Google was full of it, and now it seems that we were justified in thinking that way. According to several sources, Checkout is gaining popularity in leaps and bounds, and is surpassing Paypal as an online payment processor in some areas. One reason for the Checkout surge is because Google is not charging merchants any transaction fees throughout 2007. That's enticing... News.com has more information.

Nintendo Wii Flying Off The Shelves And Into Your Friend's Head

The Wii is the Christmas item this year. In November alone, nearly 1/2 million units were sold. That surpasses sales of PlayStation 3 by almost 300,00. Much of the interest directed toward the Wii can be attributed to the fact that it's new and original - two good features to have in a product. But whether or not it will become yesterday's fad can only be determined by time. Read more about the reason behind the Wii's popularity at SmartMoney.com. And if you do get a Wii, you may want to do some stretching and warming up before playing it, according this article at News.com.

Satisfied Customers Speak Out!

  • "Thanks for the great tutorial! And what good timing. I am just working on an application that needs such dials for volume and pan. Trying to adapt what's with Flash was difficult and too much size baggage. Your approach fit the bill perfectly. Just did a bit of tweaking to make it also fit a -100 to + 100 for a pan control, in addition to the 0 - 100. Great! Thanks!!"

    - Keith D., CMX Subscriber, commenting David Stiller's Rolling Your Own Dial Control


    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:

"I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it." - Voltaire

Microsoft Plays Nice With Microsoft

It's been known for some time now that Microsoft's "iPod-challenging" mp3 player, Zune, would not be compatible with Windows Vista. More than a few people were struck by how strange it seemed that Microsoft's own player was not compatible with its upcoming operating system. Microsoft has corrected this problem through a recent software update. Considering recent sales figures for Zune, we'd say Microsoft is wise to not shoot itself in the foot. Read more about it at ZDNet.com.

Don't Expose Yourself. Let Firefox Do It For You.

A recent update to Mozilla's Firefox browser is deemed as "critical" by Mozilla, "highly critical" by security company Secunia, and "super top-secret double criticalicious" by Community MX. If you haven't updated FF recently, it's a good time. The security holes that this latest update addresses are no fun. When you hear about a flaw that allows hackers to remotely access your computer, you update when an update is available. So if you've got FF open, go to the "Help" menu and choose "Updates." You can read more about the update at News.com.

Movie Mistakes

OK, this probably belongs in the Fun and Freebies section, but since it's almost Christmas, we're giving this one away. We found a site called MovieMistakes.com that... well, you probably figured it out by the name. They post movie mistakes weekly, but you can also check out their all-time movie mistake list.

The Accidental Pirate

Microsoft spends millions on paying replication companies to make copies of their software and get it ready for distribution. One such company is MPO Group, who also subcontracts some of the work. MPO was approached by a third party and purported to have a license to copy a certain number of discs, and so MPO gave them the go-ahead. Turns out that the third party didn't have a genuine license after all, which technically made all of those copies of the Windows software counterfeit. The matter has been resolved in a very simple manner, by way of a very simple multi-million dollar settlement. News.com has more on this.

David Pogue, Sarcastic? What? Nooooo...

David takes some time out of his day to explain why Microsoft's upcoming Vista OS is unique and is definitely not a rip-off of OS X. Of course, he does this by comparing Microsoft's Gadgets to Apple's Widgets, as well as comparing other features that bare more than a subtle resemblance to one another. But at least he's not sarcastic. Nooooo... You can see the video at NYTimes.com.

The Bitmap Auto-Crop Command for Fireworks

  • Have you ever labored over a repetitive task and wished that there was a way to speed things up? You can often accomplish a great deal more if you just work out a more efficient way to get the job done. Such was the case recently when I needed to make a number of screen captures then crop the captured images to different sizes and shapes. Of course, there are excellent screen capture programs out there, but in this case I ultimately found it easier to crop my images in Fireworks so I could do some additional work. After a few renditions of copy, paste, select, cut, delete, paste, and then trim I was definitely ready for something easier. In the end, I created a custom command that takes most of the work out of the selection and cropping process. With the Bitmap Auto-Crop command that you'll find here you can take any bitmap selection no matter its size or shape and quickly remove all of the image except for the selected area, leaving you with a canvas that is sized based on your selection. And the entire process takes only seconds and one quick trip to the Menu bar. Heck, you can even assign a shortcut key to the command to make it even easier to use.

    Take a look at this Command by Kim Cavanaugh

Fun and Freebies!

Stationery Movies

Here's a website where they give you twenty separate pictures, and you're supposed to guess what movie each picture represents. The hook? The clues are all done with office supplies. Take your best guesses at StationeryMovies.com.

Looking For a Web Host?

We've never used these guys, but we understand that NoUpTime.com has got a unique approach, and use honesty in advertising.

Tired Of Sidewalk Drawings Yet? We're Not!

Here's a collection of some of the best sidewalk drawings you'll ever see, available at Fun-Station. We're still amazed at some of these.

Warping Video In Flash

  • Sometimes video needs to be such an odd shape that using a simple mask in Flash just won't solve the issue. In this video tutorial, I show you how to use the bezier Warp tool in After efects 7 to create a video that wraps around a shape. Then I show you how to output the video in After Effects and use that video in Flash.

    This free article by CMX Partner Tom Green can be found here.

Weekly Content Listing

fl

From Final Product to Upload in Flash Professional 8: Part 2 [FREE]

Tom Green

In January, 2007, friendsofED will be releasing a ground breaking book: From After Effects to Flash: Poetry in Motion Graphics. Written by Community MX Partner, Tom Green and Community MX contributer, Tiago Dias, the book is the first exploration of how After Effects and Flash are about to become a motion graphics power house.

Over the next few weeks, we will be presenting the first two chapters of the book. These two chapters are designed to explore the emerging workflow between After Effects and Flash and they take you from concept to upload. In this second excerpt, from Chapter 2, you convert the project created in the previous chapter into an FLV.

Approximate download size: 3.1MB

fw

Convert Your Photo Into Line Art with Fireworks [FREE]

Paul Davis

Convert your photographs into line art with the built in commands in Fireworks and the steps in this tutorial!

acrobat

Creating Navigation in PDFs Part 1: Bookmarks

Derrick Ypenburg

Acrobat Standard or Professional makes it quite easy to create a document that has navigational features. Navigation can be created using the bookmarks pane as well as making actual buttons and hot-spots of a page for the user to click. When clicked, navigation can take a user to a particular page, or a particular page-view.

Being that PDF files can be quite extensive (i.e. software documentation in PDF format or e-books), creating navigation for a document is quite important. Navigation can only be created using Acrobat Standard or Professional but can be used by the free Acrobat Reader.

Part 1 of this series will cover creating navigation in a PDF document using the Bookmarks pane. Part 2 will cover the creation of buttons and hotspots right within the actual PDF pages.

php

CMX PHP Download Counter

Gordon Mackay

So, your site offers it's users downloadable files of some sort, but you have no way of knowing how many files are being downloaded? Well CMX has has a solution for you.

The CMX PHP Download Counter consists of two tiny PHP functions that use MySQL tables to generate lists of file downloads and count the total file downloads each time someone clicks on the link.

css

CSS Cheat Sheet: Basic Link Styling

Zoe Gillenwater

Even seasoned CSS developers need a quick refresher course in CSS concepts and techniques from time to time. This CSS Cheat Sheet is designed for just that. Use it as a reference on topics that you've already learned about in-depth but need a few reminders on. If you're still a beginner to CSS, use it to learn the nuts and bolts of working with CSS, then use our other articles, listed at the end of this one, to extend your learning and practice your new skills.

This Cheat Sheet describes how to style links throughout a site. It reviews the types of selectors available to you for styling links, including the link pseudo-classes. It also provides tips and tricks on working with common link styling issues, including avoiding styles on named anchors and image links and styling links differently depending on where they appear on the page.

fl

Creating Fluid Layouts in Flash - Part 1: The Basics [FREE]

Joseph Balderson

Ever wondered how some Flash applications “break free” of the constraints of a fixed stage size, flowing from one size to another depending on browser size or application state? Creating these fluid layouts in Flash is considered by some to be one of those hidden mysteries of Flash coding. By others it is regarded as a milestone to be achieved on the path of ActionScript mastery. For me, it is both.

We will take you through the steps, from intermediate to advanced, necessary to create application layouts in Flash which can exhibit fullsize or fluid functionality. In this series we will explore the basic principles of creating fluid layouts in Flash, build a sample application with a class architecture using components, finishing off with an exploration of the new fullscreen feature available in Flash Player 9.

This tutorial will explore the basics of creating a flexible stage application.



The Creating Fluid Layouts in Flash Series:
Creating Fluid Layouts in Flash - Part 1: The Basics
Creating Fluid Layouts in Flash - Part 2: Proportional Layouts Coming Soon

dw

The Complete JumpStart Catalog Update [FREE]

Sheri German

We now have 20 JumpStarts and are still counting. For anyone who has ever agonized over which to use for a current project, this article is for you. Updated from an article we released a year ago, the newly expanded and refreshed catalog should help you make the tough decisions about which layout and features will work for your latest client's site.

css

From Concept to Cross-Media Compatibility: Part Seven - Building the Print Media Type Layout

Adrian Senior

Part Seven of this series is all about print media styling. It is pretty pointless printing a web page in its default state, much of the content is just not required and totally unusable. With this in mind our first task is to decide what is relevant to a printed page and what is not. We begin with a weeding out process.

The Concept to Cross-Media Compatibility Series:
From Concept to Cross-Media Compatibility: Part One - Building the Header
From Concept to Cross-Media Compatibility: Part Two - Building the Content Area
From Concept to Cross-Media Compatibility: Part Three - Buidling the Footer and Exporting the Slices
From Concept to Cross-Media Compatibility: Part Four - Site Structure and Image Preparation
From Concept to Cross-Media Compatibility: Part Five - Building the Screen Media Type Layout
From Concept to Cross-Media Compatibility: Part Six - Completing the Screen Media Type Layout
From Concept to Cross-Media Compatibility: Part Eight - Building the Handheld Media Type Coming Soon

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

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.

Using the asp:Calendar Control - Part 1

  • The asp:Calendar control provides tons of built-in functionality that's quick and easy to leverage. Make your web pages even more professional-looking by allowing your users to input dates by selecting from a user-friendly calendar. Here in Part 1 you'll get a solid introduction to the control: how to add it to your page, how to customize the look of it, and most importantly, how to use the selected date.

    Check out the Article by CMX Partner Heidi Bautista

Tips, Tricks and Dirty Cheats!

This week's Tip, Trick or Dirty Cheat is courtesy of MapGuru.com

The Best Seats

Check out SeatGuru.com to find the best seats and amenities that each airline has to offer, along with nifty information about which airlines have the best reclining seats and leg room.

 

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!