DSCN0205Debian.org: “gocr is a multi-platform OCR (Optical Character Recognition) program. It can read pnm, pbm, pgm, ppm, some pcx and tga image files. Currently the program should be able to handle well scans that have their text in one column and do not have tables. Font sizes of 20 to 60 pixels are supported.  If you want to write your own OCR, libgocr is provided in a separate package. Documentation and graphical wrapper are provided in separated packages, too. ”


Debian.org: “This font was developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to be readable by the computers of the 1960s. The OCR-A font is still used commercially in payment advice forms so that a lockbox company can determine the account number and amount owed on a bill when processing a payment. A site license for the OCR-A font is very expensive, so this free font was created.”

“ean13-0.4-8.1 binary package in Launchpad”

Launchpad.net: “Create an EAN-13 or UPC barcode in .xbm format The Universal Product Code (UPC) barcode has been used in the USA for many years, and EAN-13 is a similar barcode used on products both in and outside the USA. ean13 will create an EAN-13 or UPC barcode in .xbm format. The .xbm format is used by most browsers and many graphics programs such as bitmap.”


Free Software Foundation (FSF): “GNU Barcode is a tool to convert text strings to printed bars. It supports a variety of standard codes to represent the textual strings and creates postscript output. …Supports UPC, EAN, ISBN, CODE39 and other encoding standards… Postscript and Encapsulated Postscript output… Can create tables of barcodes (to print labels on sticker pages)…”

GPL Flash Library

swift-tools.net: “GPL Flash library is a set of source codes that allow to play Flash movies. The core of the library is a graphic renderer that is portable is to be re-used in applications that need to play Flash movies.”

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Webmonkey: “In fact, it’s considerably clearer than it used to be, and there’s certainly no reason to panic over the death of XHTML 2.0. The supposed successor to XHTML 1.x and the markup language that was once hailed as the next evolutionary step for the web has for all intents and purposes been dead for years. All the W3C has done is give it a proper headstone. And with the burial complete, the W3C can put all its efforts into the real future of the web — HTML 5. …However, HTML 5 already addresses most the those issues, and it allows you to use either the closed syntax of XHTML 1.x or the open syntax of HTML 4. That means that your well-formed XHTML 1.x code can (in most cases) be converted to HTML 5 by simply changing the doctype. …XHTML 2.0 wasn’t simply an XML formulation of an HTML spec; it was a completely new spec that ignored the realities of web development in favor of semantic precision. Because of this, it failed to offer any compelling, practical new features.”

“Examining the HTML 5 Video Codec Debate”

Slashdot Technology Story: “Ars Technica has a great breakdown of the codec debate for the HTML 5 video element. Support for the new video element seems to be split into two main camps, Ogg Theora and H.264, and the inability to find a solution has HTML 5 spec editor Ian Hickson throwing in the towel.”

“HTML 5 Will Leave Video in the Air”

Linux Journal: “HTML 5 — the next generation of the language that defines the World Wide Web — has made great strides in the way browsers handle media. Rather than utilizing proprietary technologies like Flash or Silverlight, HTML 5 will implement audio and video tags that provide multimedia content outside the existing frameworks. For all its progress, however, it’s now known that what the specification won’t have is a standard video codec.”

“HTML 5 drops open source video codec”

ZDNet Asia: “HTML 5 will no longer specify Ogg Theora as its video codec, the Google employee who maintains the burgeoning Web-coding standard has announced. Ian Hickson wrote last week that he was reluctantly dropping the open standard due to opposition from Apple and said the rival H.264 codec could also not be specified due to opposition from other browser vendors. This means HTML 5 will not specify a single codec for Web development.”

“XHTML 2 Working Group Expected to Stop Work End of 2009, W3C to Increase Resources on HTML 5”

W3C: “2009-07-02: Today the Director announces that when the XHTML 2 Working Group charter expires as scheduled at the end of 2009, the charter will not be renewed. By doing so, and by increasing resources in the HTML Working Group, W3C hopes to accelerate the progress of HTML 5 and clarify W3C’s position regarding the future of HTML. A FAQ answers questions about the future of deliverables of the XHTML 2 Working Group, and the status of various discussions related to HTML.”

“HTML 5 Parsing”

John Resig: “One of the biggest wins of the HTML 5 recommendation is a detailed specification outlining how parsing of HTML documents should work. For too many years browsers have simply tried to guess and copy what others were doing in hopes that their parser would work well enough to not cause too many problems with HTML markup found in the wild. …While some parts of HTML 5 are certainly more contentious than others – the parsing section is one that is almost universally appreciated by browser vendors. Once browsers start to implement it users will enjoy the improved compatibility, as well.”

Buy this Book at Amazon.com! So this question came to me last year, “Can you help me make a menu in Flash?” I have not worked with Flash for so many years I forgot how to properly answer this question. The adventurous female designer that asked me this question was clearly impressed with another’s Macromedia/Adobe Flash site. But admiring someone’s Flash site is like admiring the imperial grandeur of a sparkling city: when you never know about how many innocent people were killed to “fund” the project, you can get lost in admiration without really understanding the cost of implementation. Flash is, at its heart, an animation tool. This means that it was not originally designed to save labor as much as being a cel-by-cel digitizer for illustrators who are used to painstaking.

So my answer to the question, “Can you help me make a menu in Flash?,” is (annoyingly) another question: Do you know what a MovieClip is? The reason why I ask this question is because whatever menu you are going to build in Flash it is going to be in a MovieClip symbol. So you can’t even get started without understanding what this Flash symbol is. Hint: think of a MovieClip like a folder inside of a folder—a Flash animation inside of an animation.

After years of baking in Visual Studio, NetBeans and Eclipse, I had literally forgotten that you can’t make a menu in the “new” version of Flash by just dragging something out of some palette onto the Stage. My first clue is that Yahoo! would not waste their precious time building Menu and MenuBar components in Astra when Adobe already had them. My second clue is the sad-but-active third-party market of Flash component sellers hawking menu components. My third clue was that this stack of books about Flash does not have a “menu” topic in the table of contents and/or the index:

  • Macromedia Flash 8 Bible: Robert Reinhardt, Snow Dowd
  • Flash Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools: Sham Bhangal
  • Adobe Flash CS4 Professional Classroom in a Book: Adobe Creative Team
  • Foundation Flash CS3 for Designers: Tom Green, David Stiller
  • Adobe Flash CS3 Professional How-Tos: 100 Essential Techniques: Mark Schaeffer
  • How to Cheat in Flash CS3: The art of design and animation in Adobe Flash CS3: Chris Georgenes

The most effective explanations for this missing information about menus are:

  • Menus are MovieClip symbols with a bunch of buttons in them. It follows that the “menu” concept would be filed under “button symbols.”
  • Menu structures are preferred in the container hosting Flash—not within Flash itself. This is a design that I prefer because on the Web I like to use as much AJAX as possible—which subordinates Flash on the page (which is why Macromedia was not be motivated to feature my work back in the day when it mattered).
  • A serious interaction designer would take the concept of the “menu” to a new level. From my experience, a site like johncoltrane.com really did (through hard work) take the concept of the menu to a new level—back in the late 1990s.

Eventually I found a book that reserved an entire section on “pull-down” menus (filed under “buttons symbols”), Macromedia Flash 8 Advanced for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickPro Guide by Russell Chun. This was one of the few times when buying a brand-new book about obsolete software in a bricks-and-mortar bookstore actually made sense to me. The Flash developers like my adventurous female designer are not going appreciate my code-centric work in Adobe Flex (which is yet another way not to get noticed). These adventurers demand the intense labor of working with timelines, sprinkling in just a little bit of code here and there. The next time I get a question like this, I’ll be ready (because, even with Flash CS4, these adventurers will still be using Flash-8-style techniques to avoid coding horrors).

An honorable mention goes out to Todd Perkins, his book, Adobe Flash CS3 Professional Hands-On Training, mentions menus on page 311—so Lynda.com gets proper credit!

The Gaia Framework for Adobe Flash runs inside of Adobe Flash. This may be “obvious” to some kid designer with a five-o’clock shadow but was not plain to me until I saw the download in MXP format. This is an interesting way for well-meaning and enterprising developers to treat Adobe like Google: a start-up can build a very popular open source product that Adobe now has the option to buy.

“The 5 Best Firebug Extensions”

Adam DuVander: “Firebug extensions are a sort of meta-extension that lets you add on to Firebug. Developers are adding some features that we’re starting to find hard to live without.”

“Moffett Field becoming a country club airport for Valley ultra-rich”

This story from valleywag.com, “Moffett Field becoming a country club airport for Valley ultra-rich,” reminds me to drag out and dust off my other wacko conspiracy theory that air travel for us commoners is worse these days because the “ultra-rich” don’t have to fly commercial carriers. The market can “decide” anything when it is in control of a proud few…

“One Yahoo’s ten reasons for leaving”

A Yahoo employee via valleywag.com: “It take 10 meetings to agree on something and eventually, the project got scrap or delayed for another 10 weeks…” Almost every “mature” American company ends up like this… except for Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Holdings, Inc.…

Today’s word: “Externality”

Wikipedia.org: “In economics, an externality is an impact on any party not directly involved in an economic decision. An externality occurs when an economic activity causes external costs or external benefits to third party stakeholders who cannot directly affect an economic transaction.”

Buy this book at Amazon.com!Sparkline

Sparkline is a name proposed by Edward Tufte for ‘small, high resolution graphics embedded in a context of words, numbers, images’…”

WordPress iframe injection problem?

I did notice this one a while back… perhaps mentioning this on a WordPress Blog may not be the smartest thing to do…

A2 Hosting, the first 100 days…

So far it’s cool! Expensive but cool. My major gripe here is the way email is treated. SPAM runs rampant on A2 Hosting accounts—but this may be the artificial nature of the cyber beast.

Silverlight vs. Flash: The Developer Story

Jesse Ezell: “A few people didn’t like my [proclamation] that Flash is dead. This is understandable. It is a bit premature to make such claims, but the Silverlight model is pretty amazing. As someone who works with Flash on an ongoing basis, I thought I’d chime in with a more in depth look at the issues.”

FlashDevelop 3.0.0 Beta5 released

I’ve installed it on one of my Windows XP virtual machines. Even though it’s Java-based it only runs on Windows…

Streaming applet for Ogg formats…

The folks at wikipedia.org use this: “In order to make your streams as widely available as possible, we provide the Cortado Java applet as free software under the GPL. By embedding this applet in your website, you can give viewers access to streams from either the Flumotion streaming server or play a local file from your server without the need for a locally installed media player supporting the correct formats on the visitor’s computer.”

“being open about being closed”

This is quite the brazen comment. ‘The community’ here are people who reverse-engineered the behaviour of Flash so that they could write tools to make the Flash Player’s platform more valuable, while Adobe’s license terms tried to stop them! They have put themselves in legal jeopardy in some jurisdictions (and Adobe has in the past had people arrested for producing tools that manipulate their license-protected technology) and James has the nerve to call them ‘the community’…”

“Lowering Your YUI Footprint”

“The minimized size of the YUI libraries is relatively small compared to similar AJAX frameworks, but maybe not small enough for the most demanding applications.”