CMX Weekly Newsletter

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TODcon 2006 in Orlando - Getting Closer Every Day

For the few who haven't experienced it yet, TODCon is the most informative yet informal Macromedia/Adobe-related event you're going to find. Whether you're a seasoned veteran of Macromedia or Adobe products or you're just starting out, you will have a great time learning a great deal from many knowledgeable speakers about CSS, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, ColdFusion, Flash, Central and even about running your business properly. Those who attend usually end up coming back every year because of the unique and informal atmosphere. You don't want to miss out on this event. This year, TODcon will take place in beautiful Orlando, Florida, just a hop, skip and jump from Disney World. Your registration (with the rooming option) includes three nights (May 18th, 19th and 20th) at the Wyndham plus a 3-day trolley pass that covers transportation throughout the International Drive attractions area.

You're invited to register for this fantastic, one-of-a-kind event. Do it quick, while the early bird pricing is still effect.

Better Late Than Never!

Community MX has a new author in their midst. Joseph Balderson is a teacher of Flash Development at the Humber College School of New Media Studies in Toronto Canada, with over seven years experience in the new media industry. He divides his spare time between teaching, coding, writing, hiking, and training his cats to appreciate the subtleties of Monty Python and the Infinite Improbability Drive, in the hopes they might one day tell him the Secrets of the Universe (because those darn mice aren't talking). His work can be seen at joeflash.ca, and of course, at Community MX. We're really happy to have found such a great resource for Flash technology. Joseph is going to be teaching all of us with his wealth of knowledge.

The King is Dead. Long Live The Burger.

Between Spider-Man, The Godfather, Shrek and The Matrix video games, you'd think that no one would have room to throw their own character into the mix. Burger King, with the help of Microsoft and the X-Box, are hoping to make the first video game starring a fast food icon. The game is said to be a mix between "Mortal Kombat and Need for Speed." Read more about it at Adage.com. We hear Ronald McDonald is already coming up with some cheat codes to send the King into oblivion.

Flash Slideshow, Brought To You By Fireworks.

Alan Musselman has created an extension that helps you build a Flash slideshow. There are a lot of these on the market right now, but Alan's extension doesn't require knowledge of Flash or XML and can be done entirely within Fireworks. We haven't used it yet, so we can't give you a review, but this is a fresh take on creating a slideshow and might be worth your time to explore. The extension and the tutorial on how to use it can be found at Macromedia.com.

What's in a Word?

Do you ever find your Word documents in a state of general disarray? Then it only makes sense to go to GeneralDisarray.Wordpress.com to get some help on straightening them out. You'll find a few good tips there, mostly on using styles in your documents, whether it's text or tables. If you're used to Dreamweaver's styles, you might be comfortable turning on the styles that come with Word. The author mentions in the article that the same styling features in Word are available in other word processors, like Open Office.

Satisfied Customers Speak Out!

  • "This was an excellent tutorial. I work with under and over exposed images all the time and only knew to use Levels before. I can't wait to try these new techniques, thank you."

    CMX Subscriber Margi P., commenting on Knut Kubenz's tutorial "New Uses for the History Brush and the Layers Palette: Part 2
    "

    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:

"If you write a post and put it on a blog, that's a historical document. If you change your template, then that entry looks completely different. It's the same words, but not the same meaning. This all depends on what historical questions that people will be asking and we can't know what they will want." — Josh Greenberg

Have Fun. We're Watching You.

Guests of the Alton Towers amusement park in England have come up with an interesting way to curb mayhem, find lost kids and provide you with a video journal of your trip to the park. When you arrive, you have the option of wearing a wrist band with an RFI chip on it. Your movements are tracked via cameras throughout the park, which make people a little less brave than if they know they're not being watched. For anyone with kids, this wristband idea is probably something they've been wishing for. Providing the guest with a DVD of their surveillance at the end of the day is a great motivator to get people to wear the wristbands. Read more about it at BBC.co.uk.

This Really Hurts. And Not In a Good Way

The guy who invented the mp3 format as well as the first mp3 player, Kane Kramer, must be a rich man today, right? In 1979 he held the patent for his player. Believe it or not, these days, Kane runs a furniture store rather than lying on the beach sipping margaritas. What happened? It's an interesting - if not pathetically sad - story that you can read about at MacNewsWorld.com. The short story is that you should always try to renew patents that might go somewhere...

Thunderbird Upgrade Released

Mozilla's Thunderbird 1.5.0.2 has been updated to version 1.5.0.2. Besides bug fixes and enhanced security, it doesn't look like there is anything terribly exciting in this version. Actually, there's nothing else at all. However, if you use Thunderbird, it makes sense to download a newer, more secure version.

Can You Design a C.R.A.P. Website?

For the purposes of this article at ThinkVitamin.com, a C.R.A.P. website is one designed with Contrast, Repetition, Alignment and Proximity in mind. The author of the article delves into why each of the points that make up C.R.A.P. are important to understand and implement. Some are on the common sense side, but are still good reminders to keep us in check as we design.

He Never Made It Out Of Liberty City

Of the staff at Community MX has a brother-in-law who is a police officer. He says that criminals will run from him or drive away, only to get caught very quickly. He says the most often used excuse for hightailing away from the cops is "I didn't think you'd catch me." No one ever said crooks were that bright, but Tyrone McMillan puts the rest to shame. His excuse for leading the police on a high-speed pursuit was that he was sure he could get away from the cops because... he was so good at playing Vice City. Good thing he wasn't into the Spider-Man videos instead... More on Captain Video at CapitolNews9.com.

CMX ColdFusion Image Popup Server Behavior

  • The CMXCF Image Popup server behavior works with your database to open a popup window containing an image from your database. The window will size itself to the dimensions of the image, and will close if the user clicks on it. If no reference to the image exists in your database, the behavior will allow you to display an alternative thumbnail image that will not open a popup window. It has the following features: Popup window will size itself to the dimensions of the image, as called out in the height/width fields of your database. Allows you to display an alternate thumbnail on your page if there is no image for a particular record. The alternate image will not open up a popup window.

    Check out the Extension by CMX Partners Bill Horvath & Danilo Celic

Fun and Freebies

Odd But Interesting

At JustCurio.us, you can ask any non-offensive question you want, and wait for people to answer it. However, before you can ask a question, you must answer a question. Some sample questions posted by visitors to the website include: "How ordinary is extra ordinary?", "Would you let your 16 year old daughter keep a fake ID you found while rummaging through her personal belongings?" and "What is the next big way that technology will change society?" Some of the questions, even though the administrators ask users to exercise discretion, are a bit... colorful. You've been warned. We're not sure if anyone has asked what you'd do for a Klondike bar yet...

Just To Prove You Still Haven't Seen It All

Have you ever been sitting at the computer, wondering what you haven't seen on the internet yet, only to wonder "Hmmm... what about sculptures made of Oreo cookies?" OK, you probably haven't. But now you don't need to. Some elementary school kids came up with some great ideas involving Oreos. And Double-Stuffs, of course. Check them out at TechnoSpudProjects.com.

When is a Ring Not a Ring?

If you've ever set your cell phone to vibrate and thought you were receiving a call, but really weren't, don't worry. You're not alone. Although it doesn't have a name yet, this phenomenon apparently occurs to a lot of folks, mostly those who are awaiting a call or have a significant relationship issue going on. Turn your phone off and go to jscms.jrn.columbia.edu

Using JumpStarts with Cartweaver, Featuring Minneapolis

  • Community MX has released several JumpStarts that make ideal site designs for e-commerce sites, but the latest release of Minneapolis is a dedicated e-commerce design. This tutorial will discuss how Minneapolis (and other JumpStarts) can be used with Cartweaver, a third-party shopping cart. As a member of both Community MX and the Cartweaver team, I hope I can give you a good perspective of how to implement a third-party cart like Cartweaver with a Community MX JumpStart.

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

Weekly Content Listing

photoshop

Turn Words Into Wood

Knut Kubenz

The next time you're ready to develop some interesting display typography use Photoshop. Using the Clipping Mask tool (to create Clipping Groups) in the Layers palette as well as other creative tools in Photoshop, you can capture images of textures, including wood, to create decorative lettering effects.

fw

Creating Metallic Effects with Curves

Kim Cavanaugh

Creating metallic effects in Fireworks can easily be accomplished throught the use of Curves. What's that you say? You thought Curves were only used for color correction in digital photographs?

Well, yes, that is the primary use for Curves, but as you'll see in this tutorial, you can use these handy little devices for other creative purposes as well. In this case, you'll see how basic text and other objects in Fireworks can be given a chrome, gold, or bronze metallic look simply by distorting the color output through the use of Curves.

fl

Flash Printing Tasks - Part 1: Building a Certificate Template in Illustrator and Flash [FREE]

Robert Reinhardt

More and more Flash content creators are discovering the power of printing from the Flash Player. Since Flash Player 4, you've had the tools to print content from a Flash movie. Starting with Flash Player 7, a powerful ActionScript class named PrintJob has been on the scene to enable exacting control over printed output from a Flash movie. In this multi-part series, you learn how to build a printable certificate from a Flash movie. In this first installment, you learn how to create the certificate template in Adobe Illustrator CS2 and Flash 8.

The Flash Printing Task Series:
Flash Printing Tasks - Part 1: Building a Certificate Template in Illustrator and Flash
Flash Printing Tasks - Part 2: Basic Printing of the Certificate Coming Soon
Flash Printing Tasks - Part 3: Adding Dynamic Text to the Certificate Coming Soon

cf

Checking and Optimising Your ColdFusion Template Execution Times

Adrian Senior

It is surprising how much poorly written queries can slow down your application, and yet page execution times are something we can easily test and optimise during the development process.

In this article we will look at how we can set the information we need displayed by changing a setting in the CF Administrator. We will then look at the information that is passed out into the template for our perusal.

review

Low Cost Developer Tools: Part 4 - Grab Bag 1

John Gallant, Holly Bergevin

Have you ever wished you could see the source code for a web page without actually viewing the source? Or perhaps you've wanted to be able to expand or collapse parts of a source code so you could get them out of your way while you deal with other parts? Maybe you've even wanted a visual display of how the source code of your page is nested (or not) without having to go to the CSS and put in background colors or borders?

If any of these things are options you've longed for, or even if you haven't yet, you'll want to follow along as we review three Firefox extensions that provide just these types of source views. In Part 4 of our series, we'll look at the X-Ray Firefox extension, the View Formatted Source extension, and the View Source Chart extension. Come check them out for yourself!

The Low Cost Developer Tools Series:
Low Cost Developer Tools: Part One - Firefox Extensions
Low Cost Developer Tools: Part Two - Toolbars
Low Cost Developer Tools: Part Three - Screen Rulers
Low Cost Developer Tools: Part Four - Grab Bag 1

dotnet

Exploring ASP.NET v2 - Part 6: Customizing User Registration Requirements

Heidi Bautista

The previous installment of this series described how to customize the control. You learned how to use editable templates to reorganize the textboxes, submit buttons, and other information presented by the control. Notably absent was how to modify the requirements for registration. For example, by default, the password must be at least seven characters long and contain one special character (e.g., one non-alphanumeric character). But what if you want more or less strict requirements? This tutorial will show you how to modify the web.config to get the requirements you want.

The Exploring ASP.NET v2 Series:
Exploring ASP.NET v2 - Part 1: Membership Tags, VWD, and Cassini
Exploring ASP.NET v2 - Part 2: VWD's ASP.NET Web Site Administration Tool
Exploring ASP.NET v2 - Part 3: Graduate to SQL Server 2000 and IIS
Exploring ASP.NET v2 - Part 4: Customizing the asp:Login control
Exploring ASP.NET v2 - Part 5: Customizing the asp:CreateUserWizard control
Exploring ASP.NET v2 - Part 6: Customizing User Registration Requirements
Exploring ASP.NET v2 - Part 7: Using the PasswordRecovery Control Coming Soon

xml

Create a Cross-Platform Yahoo! Widget

Thomas Pletcher

This tutorial will show you how to build a cross-platform Yahoo! Widget that you can use to promote your site, using JavaScript and XML. Included in the tutorial is a fully functioning CMX RSS feed reader widget, which you'll use as the starting point for creating a widget of your own.

Approximate download size: 376k

illust

Using Illustrator and Photoshop to Age Artwork

Kim Dudley

From t-shirts to web pages, the "I've been around for 100 years" look has become quite popular. On web pages, the effect can be used to add some texture and interest to graphics; on t-shirts it creates that favorite old t-shirt feel right off the rack. Whatever the resulting artwork will be used for, this method is easy to do and can be customized to suit any application.

The first time around in Wear it Out - Create a Worn Out Look Using Freehand, I demonstrated this technique in Freehand. In this article, I will use Illustrator and Photoshop to show a different method of producing a similar result.

Illustrator and Photoshop streamline this process, allowing you to create great results in just minutes. Included with this tutorial are four textured images which can be used to create aged artwork or you can use the Photoshop steps provided to create your own textures.

Approximate download size: 1MB

fw

Introducing CMX Design Elements [FREE]

Sheri German

No doubt it's happened to you. You stare at the blank canvas for hours, and not a thing ignites your imagination. Not one thing.

If only a sorcerer would throw a few elemental ingredients into a beaker and whip up something fantastic just for you. A little gold, a little silver, a pinch of oxygen, and poof! It emerges through an expanding mist - a mesmerizing design.

Well, the sorcerer is here at CMX, and his name is Gordon Mackay. Gordon is an artist who taps a nearly bottomless well of design wizardry. He has concocted the first of our CMX Design Elements - a fully developed Fireworks design comp that you can slice and code any way you please. We are proud to present element C, CMX Design Element Carbon, an ultra-modern design with clean lines and curves.

fw

CMX Design Elements - Carbon

Gordon Mackay

Community MX is pleased to announce a very exciting new series of design goodies that we have tagged CMX Design Elements.

How often have you sat down and stared at a blank Fireworks Canvas, trying to summon some inspiration for that really demanding client that you know is going to be very hard to please? Well, if that's you then we're pleased you found us…

Approximate download size: 5 MB

Building a Dashboard Widget

  • Widgets and the new Dashboard feature introduced some serious eye candy with the debut of Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" last year. But widgets can be seriously useful, too — not to mention great fun. This tutorial walks you through a fully functional CMX RSS feed reader widget created for Tiger. You'll see how it works...and how you can modify it to create your own Dashboard widget.

    Check out the Article by CMX partner Thomas Pletcher

Tips, Tricks and Dirty Cheats!

This week's Tip, Trick or Dirty Cheat is courtesy of CMX Associate Tom Muck

Sort Through Your Conditional Logic

When writing server side code (using any language) using IF statements, put the condition within a comment after the end of the conditional code block so that nested conditional logic is easier to read -- especially when the code is long and involved. For example:

PHP
<?php
if($something == 'yada yada') {
  echo("Bada bing");
  if($somethingElse == 'Who's your daddy?') {
    echo("Go away");
  } /* END  if($somethingElse == 'Who's your daddy?') */
} /* END if($something == 'yada yada') */
?>

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!