New Course: Total Training for Adobe Flex 2 Advanced Visual Programming

If you were happy with Total Training's Rich Internet Applications with Flex 2 hosted by Adobe's James Talbot, then you should have a look at Advanced Visual Programming in Flex 2, hosted by Leo Schuman, just released today.

Total Training for Adobe Flex 2 Advanced Visual Programming
You will learn how to work with embedded images and fonts, implement transitions and easing effects, apply filters and blends, and programmatically interact with mouse position and actions like dragging and dropping. In addition, you will learn how to extend and skin Flex UI components using both images and shapes drawn with the ActionScript Drawing API. (9 hours)


Total Training for Adobe Flex 2 Rich Internet Applications
Learn how the Adobe Flex 2 product line delivers a standards-based programming methodology to combine the richness of the desktop with the reach of the web. Discover best practices for architecting a Flex application. Learn how to connect a Flex application to server side data including web services and remote methods. Understand how to customize a Flex application to give it a unique look and feel. (8 hours)

Snap Back!

I'm a fan of the Snap Preview Anywhere (SPA) to provide small previews of web pages that I link to from my blog. I think it saves time by giving me a quick idea of the content behind a link so I don't have to click through, change my mind, and then click back. It also helps conserve network bandwidth usage across the internet. In fact, TalkingTree.com was just listed in the SPA 100 on Snap blog.

Go ahead, mouseover some links. You know you want to!

Ok, so maybe you don't want to mouseover the link. Maybe you don't like Snap Previews. Maybe you're just old fashioned that way. Click on the Snap Preview [options] link to adjust the preview delay, or if you're just in a foul mood that day then just disable them completely.



Not feeling cranky anymore? What if you want Snap back? Here's how to turn Snap Previews on again.

Ahhh, isn't that better now? :)

My first talk - ColdFusion MX 7 Server Administration

Introduction slide for lecture 14 of Developing Web-based Database Applications In December 2006 I was honored to provide my first public presentation ever as guest speaker for Harvard University's course Developing Web-based Database Applications (CSCI E-253). This course is part of the Extension School curriculum for the Master of Liberal Arts in Information Technology and the Certificate in Applied Science concentration in Information Systems and Electronic Commerce, and it focuses on the use of Oracle and ColdFusion MX as the vehicle of learning database design for the Web.

The instructor requested that I provide 2 hours of material for the full lecture on the topic of administering a ColdFusion server. This resulted in a very comprehensive crash course presentation on ColdFusion MX 7 Server Administration from page request flow, to understanding directory structure and critical config files, to managing the web server connector stub, to walking through the ColdFusion Administrator, and including ColdFusion and JVM tuning. As a conservative estimate, I spent nearly 30 hours of my own time to build the presentation.

The course was part of Harvard's Distance Education program, which provides live, streaming video from the classroom to remote students around the country and around the world, in addition to the local students in the classroom. My presentation was conducted in state of the art video production classroom equipped with a control booth, several remote controlled cameras, and two slide screens. The control booth technician made me feel like I was on a Hollywood stage, providing hand signals to me as he counted down to begin live broadcast.

Surprisingly, I did a decent job without any major hitches. You can imagine how stressing this scenario was for a first-time presenter. Based on this experience, I intend to review my presentation to expand or contract some topics as necessary. Then if there's a need, I may offer the presentation to other groups when time permits. Since having joined the ranks of ColdFusion QA this year I've been much busier than I was in Technical Support, and even more now that my wife and I immersed in house hunting and negotiating, but things should slow down by the Spring and allow me to get back to this.

For now, here's a few screen shots from the preso, and I may generate blog entries for each of these topics in the near future, but hopefully there's some value in just having these cartoon diagrams. You may also want to check out last year's post on How ColdFusion Receives and Processes Requests.

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How to create HDR images with Photoshop's Merge to HDR

A couple weeks ago, I visited Zion National Park where I made some shots that I intended to merge into HDR images, and inspired by a discussion at my local photography club I thought I'd settle down to get it done. While I was at it I created a tutorial to share with everyone.

Here's a quick shot that demonstrates the input and output of an HDR shot to help you get the general idea:

Merge to HDR

The final HDR image represents what my eye saw at that moment even though the camera wasn't able to capture it in one exposure alone.

What is HDR? High Dynamic Range... Think of a scene that has bright sunlight and dark shadows. A single image can't capture all parts of the scene in a proper exposure, but if you take a series of photos of exactly the same scene while altering the exposure between each shot, then later you can blend the images together in Adobe Photoshop CS2.

Wikipedia describes HDR imaging (HDRI) as:

In computer graphics and cinematography, high dynamic range imaging (HDRI) is a set of techniques that allow a far greater dynamic range of exposures (i.e a large difference between light and dark areas) than normal digital imaging techniques. The intention of HDRI is to accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes ranging from direct sunlight to the deepest shadows.


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Adobe MAX 2006 on Flickr

My week in pictures... on Flickr.

Adobe MAX Developer Conference, October 23-26, 2006, at The Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada.

MAX 2006, the annual Adobe user conference, offers the Adobe community an unprecedented opportunity to learn about Adobe software, interact with industry experts, connect with other Adobe software users, and have lots of fun.

Choose from over 100 unique sessions organized into eight tracks in topics such as web design, rich Internet applications, and mobile and devices.

Connect with other members of the Adobe community at a variety of networking opportunities, including the community lounge, sponsor lunches, and "Birds-of-a-Feather" sessions.
www.flickr.com


See also the Adobe MAX 2006 Flickr Pool and all photos tagged with Adobe MAX 2006

Saving costs in Linux environments while still using a stable server platform for ColdFusion

I began this as a comment to Matt Woodward's blog entry on ColdFusion start scripts on Ubuntu Linux. I just wanted to add some links, but it became lengthy and is better suited as a blog post of my own.

I'm not a Ubuntu user, but strictly Red Hat, Fedora, or Red Hat clones. I just wanted to post some related links for Red Hat users.



On the topic of running ColdFusion on "unsupported" Linux distributions, I recommend using Red Hat clones such as CentOS, rather than bleeding edge distributions if you absolutely cannot run a distro supported for use with ColdFusion by Adobe.

Fedora Core Linux, for example, is a bleeding edge distribution and is not appropriate as a production server even though it is sponsored by Red Hat. For a server you want stability with a well tested suite of packages rather than a distro that has all the bells and whistles but hasn't been put through its paces or tightened up as much the stable commercial release.

CentOS is built from the same source as Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Effectively CentOS is RHEL, except that CentOS is free and supported by the community. This is possible because under the GPL, Red Hat must make its source available, and CentOS takes advantage of that. I'm not bashing Ubuntu or other distros here, but CentOS is a recommended stable OS that is appropriate as a production server, and I've had some Red Hat instructors tell me so off the record.

Since ColdFusion is QA'd on RHEL you can feel confident that a Red Hat clone will be as reliable as RHEL itself, even if that OS doesn't show up on the ColdFusion System Requirements. Still, however, should anyone using a clone need to seek ColdFusion Support from Adobe, you may be asked to first reproduce the problem on RHEL itself.

A good use of Red Hat clones for a small shop would be to use the clones for development and staging/QA of ColdFusion web applications, then host the final application on a paid RHEL server. This way you can save costs on non-production environments.



The same argument applies to clones of SuSe Linux Enterprise Server as well, although since I'm not a SuSe fan I can't name any of their clones.

Adding Authorship, Description, and Copyright to images with Adobe XMP in Bridge

I've been asked many times how I embed information in a photograph (i.e. a jpg file) such as my name, my contact info, a description, a location, and even a copyright (such as a Creative Commons License). This metadata becomes part of the image file, and remains part of the image even if renamed or resized by me or anyone else. If you ever find that someone has used your photo without permission and even perhaps claimed ownership of the photo while denying the theft, then IPTC metadata is a good way to prove ownership. The metadata can be deliberately changed or removed by editing the IPTC metadata, but I think most unauthorized usage of images is done without tampering with the metadata since its hidden in the image file, and you can't see that its there by looking at the picture.

To embed this type of metadata in an image I use Adobe Bridge, a product that ships with Adobe Photoshop CS2. Here's a screenshot that show's the IPTC panel in Bridge. You can select one or more images and edit the IPTC metadata simultaneously.

From the web page about Adobe eXtensible Metadata Platform (XMP):

Adobe's Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) is a labeling technology that allows you to embed data about a file, known as metadata, into the file itself. With XMP, desktop applications and back-end publishing systems gain a common method for capturing, sharing, and leveraging this valuable metadata opening the door for more efficient job processing, workflow automation, and rights management, among many other possibilities. With XMP, Adobe has taken the heavy lifting out of metadata integration, offering content creators an easy way to embed meaningful information about their projects and providing industry partners with standards-based building blocks to develop optimized workflow solutions.




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Connect to your home computer from anywhere

The October edition of MacWorld magazine includes a walkthrough of how to remotely and securely access your computers at home even though you may have a dynamic IP address which may change at any given moment. The article, Remotely Access Your Mac, considers the situation where you might be on the road but need to access files on your home computer, but without known your home IP address this would be impossible. The author carefully describes how a company DynDNS solves all that. With a DynDNS account choose a host alias or provide a full domain name, then you run software on your home computer which periodically maps that name to your home computer's (or home firewall/router's) IP address.

The article mentions briefly the concept of running a home webserver with this configuration, although a reference to a July 2005 article on MacWorld is cited, The Weekend Website, which provides very basic instructions for using Mac utilities for setting up a home website or web-based photo gallery.

For a comprehensive article regarding how to setup and secure a Linux server at home, see a recent article in Red Hat Magazine, How to Setup a Home Webserver.

Two day seminar in the Boston area: Deep AJAX

At this week's Boston CFUG presentation of AJAX by Rob Gonda, a new member informed us of an upcoming, comprehensive seminar on AJAX sponsored by the Greater Boston Chapter of the ACM. At Harvard University's Maxwell Dworkin center, this two day conference Deep AJAX will feature speakers from Yahoo!, the Dojo Toolkit, and the Django Framework, running the weekend of October 14th at a cost of $495. I won't be able to attend it unfortunately, but just wanted to get the word out if you're in the area.

Deep AJAX
A two day deep dive into developing real world applications using AJAX
AJAX - more an approach than a technology - is one of the hottest topics for Internet developers. AJAX builds rich interactive applications using standard browser technology, enabling delivery of sophisticated user experiences without the problems of distributing and updating client software.

New event for The Online Coldfusion Meetup Group: Rob Gonda on AJAX

Welcome Back ColdFusion Enthusiasts!

The summer is winding down, and most everyone has returned from vacations, so the Online ColdFusion Meetup Group is getting fired back up. To kick off the first online event this fall, Rob Gonda will present on AJAX, in the context of ColdFusion applications.

If you have ideas for topics or speakers you'd like to see, please contact me to let me know. Nate Nelson is preparing a couple talks on Advanced SQL, so look for those in the near future, too.

Thanks!
Steven Erat
Organizer, OCFMG

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