I'm Twittering This! or Dude, Where's My Blog?

As you may have noticed, TalkingTree.com blog is rather barren these days. I find that while I work, while I relax at home (that is when I'm not working at home), or even when I'm mobile I'm nearly always using Twitter, and less so Facebook.

Unless you've been living under a rock you've heard of Twitter by now. If you're still not sure, Twitter is a bit like group chat where you post a short summary of what you're doing or what's on your mind, and other people that are interested can reply. While I'm not going to explain Twitter fully here -- you can find that on Twitter.com -- it can be very useful for sharing up to date information about a particular interest with lots of other people that share that interest. Most of my Tweeps fall into one of several interest groups... There's those interested in Photography, those interested in Web Technology, and those that happen to otherwise be friends or family. There are several applications you can use to watch Twitter updates. My favorite for use on a computer is TweetDeck, and on my iPhone I use Twitterific. One reason to love using an iPhone with Twitterrific is that I can be anywhere, shopping, getting a haircut, or at a conference and have the ability to take a cell phone picture for upload to Twitter with a brief description about what's going on.

Twitter and Facebook are such interesting places to socialize online while sharing information that I've neglected my blog for quite some time. To address that problem, I'll be posting summaries of recent Tweets to my blog here where you can catch up on some of the things I've been talking about. Although, this is a bit like sitting next to someone that's on the phone since my Tweets here are only half the conversation some time. To get the full benefit of Twitter you really have to follow both sides of the conversation.

To accomplish updating this blog with my Tweets, I whipped up a quick ColdFusion script to pull in my Twitter RSS feed and convert to HTML with all usernames and URLs converted to actual links. I'll next try to automate this so that my blog gets regularly updated with my Twitter summaries.

Of course, if you're already on Twitter, Follow Me, and on Facebook Add Me as a Friend.

How to read tweets

  • If a tweet begins with an at sign, its a username, like @JoeSchmoe. Its at the beginning because I'm replying to something that Joe Schmoe tweeted earlier.
  • If a @username appears later in the tweet but not at the beginning, then i'm refering to that user, like Hey, did you see that cool widget that @JoeSchmoe built?
  • If a tweet begins with RT, that means Re-Tweet, and its kinda like holding up a megaphone. On Twitter you Follow or subscribe to certain people, and in turn other people follow you. The people that subscribe to your tweets may not be following the people that you subscribe to. So by retweeting someone that you subscribe to, you are amplifying that persons tweet by broadcasting to all the people that subscribe to you. Confused yet? If your subscribers are interested in the retweet, they may then follow that original person (a.k.a tweep or twit).
  • If a tweet has a word beginning with a pound sign like #photog, that's called a hashtag. Hashtags are used as labels to identify a topic for your tweet. Later people can search by hashtags to see tweets from everyone that talked about that topic. In this case, #photog means the tweet is about photography or a photographer. This in contrast to #photo without the last 'g' and it is used for tweets about a particular photo.


Recent Tweets for Mon June 29, 2009



Mon Jun 29 10:09 PM
2 nights in a row my son doesn't want to sleep coz he's not feeling well. Long nights of frequent rocking, not much sleep for me.
Mon Jun 29 4:45 PM
@JoshuaCurtiss Pretty sure it was CF5 -> CF6 w/ the J2EE conversion. I was on the team at Macromedia that reviewd poss bkwds compat issues
Mon Jun 29 4:39 PM
@jlamoree Holy cow, a fradulent Lactating Lesbians infringement claim from Cream Ridge, NJ. That just, em, *sucks*!
Mon Jun 29 12:52 PM
@jonbcampos Apache XSL-FO http://bit.ly/Xrhar


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Flex Builder 3: Serial Number is Invalid

Last week I applied for the Free Flex Builder 3 For Unemployed Developers so that I could build Flex applications on my new Mac Book Pro, and in two short days I received an email with my new Professional edition license key.

I had been using the trial version of Flex Builder 3, which had been installed from my Mac administrative account. Upon entering the new serial number I was greeted with a contradictory message in the Flex Builder 3 Activation dialog:



Current License: Professional Edition - Educational
Serial Number is Invalid



Flex Builder determined that it was a Professional Edition license key, but then indicated that the number was invalid, complete with a green check mark indicating it was valid. That doesn't make any sense at all.

I suspected that problem was somehow with permissions so I did a bit of Googling to find this recent post on the official Adobe Flex Team Blog which indicated at least that the Flex Builder license should be stored at:

/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Flex/license.properties


However, when I examined my file system I discovered that the Adobe directory did not contain a Flex subdirectory, and therefore no license.properties file.

To test permissions, I then launched Flex Builder with the sudo command to permit Flex Builder to run with root privileges. My assumption was that when I ran Flex Builder with my regular administrative account it was not able to write the license file to disk, and starting FB with sudo should allow it to do so. You can see that when run as sudo, Flex Builder wrote the license file to disk with the user and group of root / admin.

view plain print about
1sudo /Applications/Adobe Flex Builder 3/Flex Builder.app/Contents/MacOS/FlexBuilder
2ls -l /Library/Application Support/Adobe/Flex
3-rw-r--r-- 1 root admin 114 Apr 8 17:06 license.properties




I was pleased to find out that this was in fact the problem, and Flex Builder now accepted my license and indicated that it was Professional Edition and valid.



Differences in the Flex SDK: Open Source vs Built-in

A brief note regarding a difference in the Flex SDK of the same version depending on how it was obtained.

I have Flex Builder Professional installed which shipped with Flex SDK 3.0 as the highest version. I wanted to update it to use the latest Flex SDK so I went to opensource.adobe.com, downloaded the latest stable build of 3.2, and unzipped it next to my existing 3.0 SDK. In Flex Builder under my project properties I then added 3.2 SDK as a new Flex compiler option, and set the project to use the 3.2 version.

Everything was going fine until I went to use charting I discovered that FB couldn't find the component implementations of things like mx:PieChart.

I later realized that the downloadable Flex SDK 3.2 is different from the Flex SDK 3.0 that shipped in Flex Builder in a rather broad way having nothing to do with version number. The open source SDK does not contain the subdirectory fbpro/ which includes "Data Visualization" components for AdvancedDataGrid and Charting.

It would have been my expectation that the SDK bits of any specific version would always be identical, and that a license key would unlock functionality not available to those without a license, siimilar to how the bits for ColdFusion Enterprise are identical to ColdFusion Standard, and your license determines the available feature set. However, this is not the case with Flex.

Upon updating Flex Builder to 3.02, I confirmed it installed a new Flex SDK 3.2 with it (yes, the versioning of the two products is confusingly similar unfortunately). A diff of the directory structure for that 3.2 SDK against the open source 3.2 SDK proved that fbpro/ was only present in the one that shipped with FB.

So, the only way to update your SDK *and* get the Advanced DataGrid and Charting components is to update your Flex Builder to get the built-in SDK. Even if your are using a licensed FB Pro, the open source SDK does not provide all the functionality that your Pro license entitles you to. There was no warning about this difference on the open source site when I went back to research the issue. A big blinking warning would have been helpful.


UPDATE I tweeted a brief rant about how to do this with useful links:

Adobe shud b MUCH clearer abt how 2 get Flex datavisualization comps for newer SDK. Not here http://bit.ly/HGhf4, Here: http://bit.ly/1BYjx

You're invited to CDIA Gallery Opening and Reception

My photography will be on display among that of my classmates, as well as from those in 3D Multimedia, Film and Video, Graphic Design, and more. If you're in the Boston area, please stop by!

Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University

Friday, January 16: Gallery Opening and Reception

Opening Reception: 6:30-9:00pm at 274 Moody Street



The best work from our latest Photography, 3D Animation, Audio Production and Graphic & Web Design graduating class will be on exhibit beginning Friday with an opening reception. Come check out the outstanding work by our students + music and media presentations. Refreshments will be served.

Free and open to the public.

Christmas Eve Service makes Front Page Photo

Choir at Candlelight Service A couple weeks ago a friend at the First Parish Photography Club suggested the idea of photographing an outdoor, candlelight service on Christmas Eve in Concord, Massachusetts. As a recent graduate of the Professional Digital Photography program at the Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University, I embraced the opportunity as a means of practicing real event photography, a genre of its own requiring distinct skills apart from other types of photography.

This event was the first outdoor service in the 300+ year history of the First Parish, due to ongoing renovations this year. Historically as many as four services are held there on Christmas Eve, having as many as 500 attendees per service. This made planning a bit of a challenge because the number of attendees could range anywhere from a hundred to perhaps a thousand.

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How To Filter by File Type in Lightroom 2

One of my favorite blogs, Lightroom Killer Tips, posted an entry today regarding how to filter according to file type in Lightroom 2. The entry is a revision or repost of the same thing for Lightroom 1 posted on that blog 9 months ago.

However, the tiny screenshot of the Metadata Browser used on the updated blog entry was taken from their earlier post about the older version of Lightroom. I'm sure it was an oversight during light holiday blogging.

Since the whole metadata search feature was improved and restructured after Lightroom 1, I wanted to post an updated screenshot of my own showing how to filter by file type in the new version, Lightroom 2. This is useful if you searching just for JPG, TIF, or PSD files specifically, for example.

Click on the photo below to see it on Flickr, or for those not having an account here's a direct link.

Filter by File Type in Lightroom 2

Perspective on ColdFusion's Big Question (TM)

Just wanted to share a reply I made on GetSatisfaction to provide a historical perspective to the question "What really is the future of ColdFusion?". Before you ask what the future holds, its good to look back to see where ColdFusion has been since its inception in 1995.



CFMX 7 (released Feb 2005) was the release where product adoption saw the first major boost since the "MX" overhaul. Since CFMX 6 (released June 2002, in a down economy) was a re-architecture in Java/J2EE from the earlier CF5 (released May 2001) written in C++, there were few new features introduced and there was an associated learning curve now that the product had a Java foundation.

Problems in the re-architecture surfaced, slowing new adoption of CFMX6, leading to the point release 6.1 (released July 2003) which for the most part corrected all the issues and restored the waning product reputation.

ColdFusion MX 7 was a feature rich release, which attracted many new developers, most of whom had begun to grok CFCs and Java integration. The post 9/11 economy had generally recovered as well, adding to an increase in technology spending.

With most product release cycles, there's a decline in sales or tail at the end, and ColdFusion 8 (released August 2007) saw another major boost in adoption over the tail as it too was a feature rich release that provided solutions to many contemporary problems in Web Dev.

Frankly, IMO, nearly all negative connotations (i.e. "Legacy Software") about the ColdFusion Web Application Server are due to anachronistic experiences with earlier versions of the product in the mid/late 90's. Those opinions seem to be expressed from developers that are less familiar with the revisions and enhancements found in recent ColdFusion versions. (Case in point)

[Added note: The easy learning curve, weak typing, and case-insensitivity in the product are among some factors that may have been conducive to poor programming practices... i.e. give them enough rope to hang themselves, so to speak. Does anyone remember memory corruption from not locking shared scope variables? That whole conundrum went away with CFMX]

Personally, I think ColdFusion is a fantastic product and I love using it. It has an extensive, contemporary tag library on a stable Java base and Web application development time can be short and sweet due to its perpetual focus on RAD.

ColdFusion 9 is well known to be underway and will further address solutions to where technology is going. Furthermore, risk due to proprietary software is mitigated by the release of third party CFML engines which can provide a core of language features if not the full, rich diversity of language found in Adobe's product.


To throw in a plug for myself, I'm currently seeking full time, permanent employment in the greater Boston area. See: Adobe Expert Seeking ColdFusion / Flex Dev or QA

View Steven Erat's profile on LinkedIn

Power Mac G5: The lights are on but no one's home

Power Mac G5 OS X 10.4, 30The recent ice storm that crippled New England and left me looking for other shelter seemed to have killed my 2005 Power Mac G5. The night of the ice storm the lights in the house blinked off, then on, then off again... They stayed off for four days, along with the furnace, until the power company put my town back on line.

A week later, when I attempted to start the G5 in my home office the main power light came on, and stayed on when ever it was plugged in, and the desktop would not begin the boot sequence, nor were any sounds emitted such as the fans starting up.

With lots of other things to take care of I delayed troubleshooting it, but thought that it would eventually require a trip to the Apple Store Genius Bar for a drop off. Today I finally did a search and came up with this little wonder:

How to reset the SMU on a Power Mac G5

The SMU (System Management Unit) is a microcontroller chip on the logic board that controls all power functions for your computer. If your computer is experiencing any issues regarding these functions, resetting the SMU may resolve the issue. The functions controlled by the SMU include:

* It tells the computer when to turn on, turn off, sleep, wake, idle, and so on.
* It handles system resets from various commands.
* It controls the fan.



The guts circuit board did not look the same as in the photo on their article, so I started pushing all the transistors and every little silvery bumps I could find. Close to my RAM memory slots, I finally found a tiny, round, silver button on a small black square base that was in fact slightly pushable.

Upon reassembling the tower's side door and re-inserting all the cables, I was very happy to hear that little whir of the fan as the computer took its first breath after being resuscitated. The prospect of waiting in line at the Apple Store during Christmas week was something I was not looking forward to.

My Application to CDIABU in Retrospect

I was searching through my email for something today, and I came across my application to CDIA where I wrote this in the Personal Objective section almost two years ago.

Why have you chosen to pursue an education in the field of Digital Imaging Arts?
Through achievement, motivation, and serendipity I've been fortunate to have earned an esteemed position as software quality assurance engineer at Adobe Systems. Within this vibrant, professional atmosphere my personal growth as a serious amateur photographer has accelerated significantly.

At this nexus, I wish to seize the opportunity to expand my skills horizontally by bridging my experience in rich internet development with the digital imaging arts and professional photography.


What do you hope to achieve by enrolling in the program at the Center for Digital Imaging Arts?


With the completion of a certificate in Professional Photography I will have formalized a long standing, deep, personal ambition which will allow me to thoroughly exercise my passion with technical excellence.



Further, I strive to achieve a role at Adobe where I can consult with, collaborate with, and guide Adobe customers towards their own creative endeavors and solutions. Knowledgeable in the diverse array of photography, digital imaging, and next generation web application development I will be able to translate my success into the success of my customers, my colleagues, and my company.

To Flex Camp, and Beyond!

A week from today will be the 2nd annual Flex Camp Boston at Bentley University. At a very modest cost, this is a full day event packed with sessions at the intermediate to advanced level given by industry experts. Register for Flex Camp Boston.

For the last year I've been on the Flex SDK team as a Quality Assurance Engineer, and before that I had excellent run of more than 7 years testing and supporting ColdFusion. I know most of the speakers that will be presenting at Flex Camp and can attest to their passion for building the next wave of Rich Internet Applications, so I fully encourage you to attend if you haven't signed up yet to share in the excitement and mingle with your peers.

This will be an unexpected reunion of sorts for me as I suddenly find myself as a customer rather than employee. With the extra time as I seek new employment I'll immerse myself in training with Flex and AIR, and try to produce an application as an online reference to demonstrate as an example. The odd thing about QA'ing a software product is that you are exposed to narrow facets in which you dive very deeply, and don't often get the chance to practice the breadth of the product. My success in ColdFusion QA was largely dependent on the many preceding years where I provided "gold" level support for the product, something which required me to constantly explore and exercise every nook and cranny of the CF app server and language.

My first inclination for a Flex app is to build my own photography business website in Flex to avoid the cost of purchasing one of the reputable but expensive prebuilt websites from places like LiveBooks, BigFolio, or A Photo Folio.

Finally, I'd like to thank everyone from coworkers to customers to local cfug friends for taking a moment to contact me and express their thoughts and show their concern. People have been writing and chatting intensely while offering job tips and advice. As I mentioned on Facebook, I've never before felt the online community to be as tangible and real as I do now. Thank you all, and I hope to see those of you in the area at Flex Camp!

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