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Sunday, September 23rd, 2007 - 7:40 PM


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Saturday, September 22nd, 2007 - 12:15 AM

"When I'm Bored, Burst Reeves I Suppose"

Kinda bored with everyday life. So I doodle meeself a brave entrapment called "Spinners Doil and Crumb MeBronan". Actually, this first one's called Burst Reeves, and the second Burst Reeves Undergaritch. The whole MeBronan modifier complex was just to throw you off the scent. And yes, these images were made using the magnificent doodle tools found in ArtRage 2.5. To an accomplished artist, these would be not degraded to the lowly status of "McDoodle Toolery", but alas my status attains far more benign kimbutsu, and I am very happy with doodling.

Burst Reeves

Burst Reeves

Burst Reeves Undergaritch

Burst Reeves Undergitch

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Thursday, September 20th, 2007 - 1:26 AM

"Peace Wimb From Art Rage 2.5"

Art Rage 2.5 came out a while ago. I was waiting for the free version to be updated, as the full edition was released first. I am still convinced there is no more realistic digital painting software out there. Just playing around, I noticed the knife tool looks much more realistic in this latest version. I made this quick doodle and called it Peace Wimb (don't pronounce the B, like in bomb or limb).

Peace Wimb, painted in Art Rage 2.5

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Thursday, September 13th, 2007 - 12:37 AM

"Jaffra in India Ink"

Jaffra in India Ink

I painted this image at work yesterday using India Ink, one of my all-time favorite media. The source material is a photograph of Heceta Head Lighthouse on the Oregon coast. Using a piece of tracing vellum, I scribbled a crude outline of the shapes. I made some photocopies of the trace onto various drawing papers. Using the basic outline, I filled in the different regions with india ink using a Pro Art multihead bamboo brush and bamboo reed pen.

I enjoy using india ink primarily because of the incidental textures and varying shades of gray. To me, it is like the liquid equivalent to charcoal, another favorite medium. The level of gray is controlled simply by adding water. This image was made specifically for use on a web site for a C2F customer. The 8.5" x 11" drawing took probably about 15 minutes. I wasn't concerned with particular details, but rather general textures and strokes. After scanning the drawing in, I fiddled with it to create this image:

Jaffra CG

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Monday, September 10th, 2007 - 1:39 AM

"SWFObject, the Solution to Flash Woes"

Each and every technological advance in the area of web design comes with a gotcha. It feels like we as web developers and designers are stuck in about 1990, like Phil in Groundhog's Day we are stuck in a rift in time. We are promised progress by a host of new ideas. None of them ever seem to be released, or fully supported across browsers. I see this mostly as the fault of browser companies. The primary challenge of a developer is not to learn a language construct or specification. No, this is easy. The challenge is to learn the caveats of each browser and how bad their support for the technology is. This is a ridiculous limitation, and it seems to be an eternally broken record. Adding new technologies or expanding functionality of older technologies is pointless since the major browsers are lagging 10+ years behind. Ok, in all fairness, many mainstream browsers are relatively up to speed (Opera, Firefox - get them, use them!). The one browser that is still tragically used by 90% of users, Microsoft Internet Explorer, is the primary culprit and is single-handedly holding back all advancement in web technology. Every designer knows this, and we'd all be much happier if Microsoft gracefully bowed out and let those who know what they are doing make timely advancements.

All that said, I am first to admit that you learn something new every day. The area of web development involves such a variety of ever-changing technologies that there's always room for improvement or learning. I'm not a currently a Flash animator. It is a technology I've dabbled with here and there, but never pursued full-bore (funny expression). I'm a standards compliant purist on and off and have been on a bare bones do-everything-with-css pitch for quite a while. Frustrated with the lack of support for anything advanced or useful in CSS, I tend to circle back to using Javascript and other more rich media alternatives from time to time.

A few days ago I implemented a free Flash tool called Zoomify in select areas of my site. Little did I know at the time that embedding the movie as instructed would wage war with my previously solid compliance with W3C standards. When I tried validating a page where the Flash movie appeared, I received a host of validation errors.

Turns out that all this time, since Macromedia Flash (now Adobe) became a mainstream web design tool, the standard way to include an animation in a web page has been entirely illegal as far as W3C is concerned. Everyone has been embedding objects for years with little concern to the broken syntax or tags used. Even publishing straight from Flash produces this bad code!

Without going into severely boring detail (especially since others have done all the research and writing already - see references at bottom), simply put, the <EMBED> HTML tag used all these years doesn't in fact exist. I don't know who came up with it, but it started being used outside of any HTML specification. If you look at most Flash code, you will find a bunch of nested, redundant code. All this is to make things "happy" in a number of browsers, while all the while breaking dozens of rules.

Thanks to Geoff Stearns, there is now a way to include Flash files on a web page while satisfying all of the strictest standards perfectly. The only "downside" if you want to call it that is heavy reliance on Javascript to make it all work. In my opinion, if we are breaking the "purist code" by introducing Flash, it's no "worse" to assume Javascript is enabled (not that either is bad, but they are certainly not purist as far as XML, perfect markup based technologies go). At least Javascript is generally an accepted standard and is mostly harmless. Besides, Geoff's SWFObject provides alternative content if Flash is not installed or if Javascript is disabled. It is basically the best solution available.

I followed the very well laid out instructions for using SWFObject and magically all my W3C validation errors disappeared - every last one! Seriously, if you are a web developer and use Flash in any way, shape or form, you should consider this method. You will find that the script supports even most advanced Flash functionality, like passing parameters to ActionScript, for example.

To read more about the Flash embed validation problem, see these well written articles on the subject:

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Saturday, September 8th, 2007 - 7:29 PM

"That's All About Dogs, Folks"

We took Sadie back to see her old friends today. She was rescued by a non-profit adoption organization called All About Dogs (aka All Breed Rescue). Each Saturday at Petco Tanasbourne they set up their fenced in area and show off their latest finds. Many of the dogs come from the pound and are rescued from death. All of them are special and worthy of a second chance. In most cases, dogs are not given up because of poor behavior but because of lack of commitment by owners. The statistics of how many dogs are killed each year due to overpopulation is staggering.

Sadie with some other All About Dogs friends
We asked the volunteers to "recreate" the scene of seeing Sadie for the first time at Petco.
She is surrounded here by some doggie pals, both old and new.
Jacques (bottom-right) has been there since when we got Sadie. I'm not sure about the others.

In my opinion, everyone who is looking for a pet should at least take a look at a few rescue agencies before going to a pet shop. Often dogs at agencies are better behaved and already trained. All About Dogs in particular focuses on preparing dogs for indoor living, so most of their dogs are house trained. Each dog is cared for in a foster home until a permanent home is found. In addition, the dogs are up-to-date with shots, and most have already been spayed or neutered or are scheduled to be. The adoption fees are very reasonable (a small fraction of buying a dog from a shop), and all the money goes back into rescuing and caring for more dogs. To search for adoptable pets, go to Petfinder has pictures and information about dogs (and other pets) for all the major local rescue organizations (local, meaning just about everywhere). All About Dog's profile page on Petfinder. Information provided on their flyer handout:

All About Dogs

All About Dogs is a full service adoption rehabilitation facility and we will disclose our in house observations and whatever other information we have received about the dog with the adopter.

Let us help you be informed about the dog you are seeking to adopt. Not all dogs are suited to all people. We temperament test all dogs that come through our rescue service. It is required (either by us or the adopter depending on the conditions of the contract) that the dog will be spayed or neutered & shots updated including rabies. We start on housebreaking & leash training while they are at our facility.

We Can Help in the Following Areas:
  • Adoption Services
  • Basic Good Manners
  • Obedience Training
  • Skin Problems & Behavior Issues Addressed
  • Owner Releases
  • Grooming
  • Dog Counseling

Whether you need to find a new family pet to addto your home or a new home for you pet, we can help!

We are a private 501 C 3 Non-Profit Organization - funded solely by our adoption fees & donations. All donations go to the medical care & rehabilitation of all the dogs in our rescue.

Sadie with the All About Dogs volunteers
Here are two of the caring and knowledgeable ladies who volunteer with All About Dogs.

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Friday, September 7th, 2007 - 1:12 AM

"C2F Holiday 2007 Web Theme"

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