Way cool physics engine for the iPhone

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/12/06

A physics engine for the iPhone — just play the vid —



Great Primer on Open Source Folkways

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/03/15

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that two good friends of mine here in Seattle were cross posting on their blogs about Flash/Flex momentum and how a healthy open source governance structure might be helpful in pushing momentum even further.

My natural question — have you guys met face to face? Wanna grab some food?

So last night I met Ted Leung and Ryan Stewart for dinner down at Ivar’s on the waterfront. Great time, great view, great conversation.

Though Ted and I both work in the tech industry and have been friends since Mind Camp 1.0, I had never heard him talk about his long history with open source communities and governance (Apache, et al).

All I can say is that I learned a ton about that and distributed project/team folkways in general.

Great, great evening.



Screencasts on Camtasia 4 Flash and Quiz Features

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/11/07

Brooks Andrus has blogged some very nice screencasts on new Flash and Quiz features in Camtasia Studio 4. Brooks works for TechSmith, the company that makes Camtasia.

I am just getting up to speed on the full feature set of this release, but it looks like they’ve got some nice variable output options for ipod and flash video — definitely steps in the right direction — being able to repurpose your screencasts to multiple environments is becoming a standard requirement these days — Camtasia’s pan-and-zoom feature is indefensible indespensible on that front.



Gratitude as the driving force behind Google

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/09/28

Here is a cool quote about what drives Google engineers —

The thing that drives the right behavior at Google, more than anything else, more than all the other things combined, is gratitude.
It is well buried in this long articulate rant by Steve Yegge on why most Agile development hype is akin to sci-fi religion yoohoo — he frames the nice stuff by so much self aware BS detection that, well, I kinda believe it.

Definitely want to digest the whole thing as I have more time.



Adobe Captivate 2 Announced

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/09/06

Adobe Captivate 2 (aka RoboDemo 6 or 7 depending on how you count) was announced yesterday. Should ship in October. I’ve been a beta tester of it for the last few months though have not had much time to actively test it in daily production.

That said — this is definitely the most robust version of Captivate yet. Would recommend an upgrade for anyone using it regularly.

Silke Fleischer from Adobe has a good writeup here.

Notable new features include —

  • Visual scenario branching
  • Manage project interactions globally
  • Flash Video
  • Reusable content via project library
  • Zoom in or gray out
  • Custom skins and menus
  • Custom scoring slides
  • Better UI (yay layer locking!)

I think Captivate still stands up as the best mid-to-entry level tool for rapid development of interactive screen based demos/sims.

The downside to it’s model is that it is difficult to update/maintain/scale large projects over time because so many things are not editable. Things are, for the most part, cut-up screenshots with some interactivity overlayed for the single points of interactivity that are automatically captured.

Adding multiple points of interactivity involves manually creating a lot of interactions. While you can (and I have) do many amazing things by exporting to the Flash IDE as a FLA, it does require a lot of technical knowhow.

In my perfect world, Captivate 3 would be able to incorporate the object level richness that Knowledge Planet’s Firefly does.

I would love Captivate to be able to capture every object in the screen for each interaction in a way that is editable later (like change the text on a button) and that multiple interaction paths could be easily created by drawing relationships between screens and doing the required action.



Creating Passionate Users: Organic creativity: the Roomba process

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/07/31

Kathy Sierra does it once again in Organic creativity: the Roomba process, this time summing up the importance of agile development methodology in a tight metaphor –– “the Roomba approach to organic design” ––

While this don’t-plan-every-damn-thing-in-advance model has started to gain popularity in the software development world, most, um, old-style programmers like me had an almost opposite model beat into us from the beginning. The well-intentioned concern for future extensibility, flexibility, scalability led us down the design garden path… skipping along assuming that WE were the smart ones who’d be ready when the dreaded yet inevitable Requirements/Specification Changes came in. With enough upfront design and extra coding, we could make our life down the road much easier. What we lost in time-to-release now would be more than made up for later. So we said.

But then the Extreme Programming and Agile Manifesto began to challenge that idea. While not everyone has drunk the XP koolaid (and oh how I hate forced pair-programming), most modern software development teams have been heavily influenced by at least some of the XP/Agile once-edgy, now more mainstream practices.

 



The Seattle Getting Things Done July Meetup

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/07/05

UPDATE: Due to a hearty response, location has been moved to Hale’s Ales in Frelard at 7:00 pm. Details at —

http://gettingthingsdone.meetup.com/13/events/5006813/


Am going to try to make the The Seattle Getting Things Done Meetup — 7pm, July 17th at Dad Watsons in Freemont.

Mike Wilkerson is organizing and will be demo’ing his Tablet PC / Mind Manager / Results Manager setup.

Ping anyone else you know who’d be interested and tell them to join us.



Formatting Default Dialogue Text in Firefly

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/05/10

UPDATE: The tricks used here for formatting are no longer necessary as of version 4.2.25 of Firefly (released 7/18/2006) which added richer text formatting to the default dialogs. This is a real compliment to the Firefly development team — they are very quick to incorporate customer feedback.


I am in the midst of laying the groundwork for a new eLearning initiative at Lucile Packard Children’s Hopsital at Stanford. Very excited about it because I’m using a new tool to create our eLearning simulations.

It’s called Firefly (by Knowledge Planet) and it’s really robust — very easy to create sophisticated sims (can you say multiple correct paths with every object in a screenshot being interactive? All in, literally, a few screen clicks?).

My initial impressions of it are that, the things it does well, it does really well.

Yet, as goes with learning a new tool, there are a few ins and outs to discover. My plan is to document some of these as I go so that I can 1) remember points for future references, and 2) share the knowledge.

First up is the formatting of default dialogue text within a simulation.

At first glance, while Firefly will allow you to customize the verbiage of some of it’s default dialogues, there is no obvious way to customize the size and face of the fonts.

A few attempts to throw some formatting in finally met success when I put in some old school HTML font tags. So, under “Simulation >> Customize Interface >> Customize Text (tab) >> *WISH_DEMO”, I modified the default to this –

<font size="5">Do you want me to show you?</font>

And now my dialogue comes in a nice, big, inviting text size — so very Web 2.0.

One very big hazard to note — if you mess with the text under “Simulation >> Customize Interface >> Customize Text (tab)”, you can easily corrupt your install of Firefly – I know, it shouldn’t be that easy, but it is.

One of the things I tried first was putting in a <b></b> tag to see if it would accept some basic HTML formatting. When I did that, the entire “Customize Text” tab became un-editable — not sure if I forgot to close the tag correctly or what.

Fished around the Firefly install on my tablet and found that this text is stored in an XML file named “StringTable.xml” in Firefly’s program directory. Path for this is –

C:\Program Files\KnowledgePlanet\Firefly 4.1\system\ StringTable.xml

Noticed that this file was empty on my problem machine. Restored that file and everything came back up.

Kinda obscure, but thought I’d share the knowledge – in case I do it again and forget what I did to restore it. So — before you go messing with this Firefly file, back it up — you’ve been warned.



Nothing like a closely followed policy

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/05/04

From the annals of “The Daily WTF” comes “Hungry Hungry HIPAA” — a story of healthcare IT training (my specialty) gone awry — very very awry.

The lead in (quoted below) is great — the story is priceless — hard to read if you are at all security minded — you’ve been warned.

I get pretty excited whenever a new regulatory framework like HIPAA or SOX is enacted. Not only does it bring the potential to sit on a committee responsible for deciding the procedure needed to formulate a project request to initiate the creation of group responsible for determining the key players on a compliance assessment team, but it brings some pretty interesting stories of non-compliance like this anonymously submitted one …


Trim eLearning Video Fat with Click.tv

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/04/17

In this age of the attention economy, trimming the non-essential from your eLearning is imperative if you want your content to engage (and not put your users to sleep via boredom and irrelevancy).

Don’t know if you follow web video trends much, but there are a lot of things happening that are going to make web video a much richer (and more easily integrated) tool for eLearning along these lines.

From TechCrunch this AM comes a short profile of soon to be launched Click.tv — which will allow you to set and link to specific points in a video without having to do the tedious job of chunking it up into many different video files.

Go look at the Click.tv demo to have a look.

Why is this important?

Good video is more memorable than just text or just audio (and in the age of the attention economy memory is everything). The problem with videos, however, is that relevant/compelling portions of them have always been too hard to extract for regular folks.

Click.tv-esque functionality makes it easy for eLearning content creators to link just to the chunks of a video that are relevant to a given lesson they are creating. This gives the creator the ability to tightly trim out irrelevant (and boring) parts of a video.

The ability to mashup interesting parts of content for a given audience/topic is always a good step toward ensuring that your stuff is not a snooze-a-thon.



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