Archive for February, 2003

DirectXtras release new 3D transitions

DirectXtras this week announced a brand new set of 3D transitions. This is the second set of 3D transitions from DirectXtras.

Tomer Berda said

“DirectTransition3D Xtra is a collection of high quality, hardware accelerated, platform independent transitions for Macromedia Director, Authorware and Shockwave. DirectTransition3D Xtra, Set II, features the following customizable transitions:”

• Black Hole: Simulates the before image sucked in to or blown out of a point.

• Circular Wipe: Simulates the before image being wiped in a circular shape to reveal the after image.

• Color Fade: Simulates the before image fading in to a color and fading out to the after image.

• Four Part Door: Simulates the before image opening in a four part door to reveal the after image.

• One Part Door: Simulates the before image opening in a one part door to reveal the after image.

• Ripples: Simulates circular ripples oscillating, expanding and wiping to reveal the after image.

• Rotating Boxes: Simulates boxes with the before image on one side and the after image on another side rotating.

• Simple Fade: Simulates a simple fade from the before image to the after image.

• Simple Wipe: Simulates a simple wipe in any direction from the before image to the after image.

• Squeeze: Simulates the before image squeezing into an outer edge to reveal the after image.

• Three Part Door: Simulates the before image opening in a three part door to reveal the after image.

• Twist: Simulates a plane with the before image on one side and the after image on the other side twisting to reveal the after image.

• Two Part Door: Simulates the before image opening in a two part door to reveal the after image.

• Two Way Wipe: Simulates a wipe from any two opposite direction converging to reveal the after image.

• Zoom: Simulates the before image zooming in and the after image zooming out while the images fade.

An evaluation version downloaded from this web page http://www.directxtras.com/DTransition3DSetII_home.asp

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EuroTAAC 2003

Nearly there. Only 4 weeks until I fly out to Germany for this year’s EuroTAAC conference. A few more days and we start another wonderful week of information sharing, meeting friends old and new and seeing what incredible things other people do with Authorware.

This year we have decided to change the format of the Authorware challenge. Instead of announcing the challenge right at the start, then consigning a few hardened coders to spendthe rest of the conference cloistered in their hotel rooms dreaming up outlandish code that “only took four hours” 😉 we will not announce teh exact nature of the challange until Saturday afternoon. Teams will have 2 hours to complete the task before presenting for judging.

Integrity eLearning have been kind enough to sponsor the challenge, and are providing the prizes for the winning competitors.

EuroTAAC – Go on. You know you want to …

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Somebody broke my template

Grrrrrrrr. It seems Blogger had hiccoughs last week. My page no longer fits right in the window. Or maybe I broke the template? Not sure yet. I keep tinkering, trying to see if I did something. Normal service will resume as soon as I figure out what buttons to press! Or something.

AHA!!!! I found the problem. It was me all along. The bug report below contains some code. The last 6 lines of that code **should be all on one line** but if I write it like that, of vourse they insist on BEING on one line in the browser. So be aware of that if you are copy/pasting the updated text for your AW ini file.


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A small bug with Authorware 6.5. OBP and wmv files

Recently a developer posted to the macromedia.authorware newsgroup, voicing concerns that his wmv file would play in authoring mode, but not when packaged. He received this error “Unable to load external movie driver for: movieName.wmf. Possibly the driver is missing or there is not enough memory.”

After some exploration I realised that his problem was caused by an error in OBP (the One button Publishing feature). It seems that OBP does not pick up the fact that the file a6wmp32.xmo is required for movie files that use the new Windows Media Player support within the Movie icon. I mailed Macromedia about this and Stefan van As replied with the full solution.

The OBP settings are held in an ini file called Xtras.ini which by default should be located in the folder C:\Program Files\Macromedia\Authorware 6.5. The version of the file distributed with Authorware 6.5 contains a small error. The [movies] section should be replaced with this updated text:-












If you cannot spot it, the problem is that the first several lines begin with two periods in the original file – they should actually begin with only a single period as shown above.

link to the web browser version macromedia.authorware newsgroup

newsreader link to the macromedia.authorware newsgroup


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Design issues

Readers will be familiar with the fact that I am studying right now. Part of my studies involves looking at web and multimedia design. As a developer, my knowledge and understanding of design issues is generally limited to what “feels right”, what I see elsewhere and what “works” for me and my colleagues. Often this means I get involved in heated discussion with designers more interested in pretty stuff than they are in usability.

The University’s tutors are keen to express upon us that Jakob Nielson is the usability guru. He has certainly published a lot of useful information, and his web site is a great resource.

Web page design

He has published a great book called Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed which I bought and have used as a reference not just for home page design, but also for other aspects of web and multimedia design. I’ll be sure to buy more of his books soon!

The book lists a total of 113 recommendations for home pages, backed up by statistical studies. Many recommendations are based on the frequency with which something is encountered on the web (e.g. the left-hand navigation area) whereas others are based on studies of useability preferences and on legibility.

Whilst the recommendations are useful in isolation, the book really begins to shine with its critiques of 50 major home pages using Nielson’s recommendations, therefore helping the reader to see where the recommendations are applied. It is interesting to note that the book also makes it easy for the reader to times where some of the recommendations may be set aside for other considerations.

Other usability resources

While discussing this with Amy Blankenship, Amy shared her favourite resource for web usability from the http://webreference.com site. The Webreference Articles page lists loads of good resources. The whole site is also a valuable resource, and well worth exploring.


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Whether the Weather be Hot

I was working in London this week. It snowed. About 3 inches at most so far as I could see. London came to a complete standstill.

London, apparently, did not realise it was winter.

I was supposed to travel to Germany on Saturday to visit the EuroTAAC venue and perhaps even finalise some arrangements. The snow fell on Thursday. Stanstead airport was still recovering, having closed overnight Thursday. So I arrived at the airport just in time to learn that all morning flights had been cancelled because they had decided that there was no way to catch up with the backlog of flights.

My flight was, of course, a morning flight 😦 I left before the heat from all the flared tempers overwhelmed me.


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Things are hotting up for the EuroTAAC conference. It’s now only a few short weeks away until the annual European Alternative Authorware Conference, held this year in Friedrichshafen, South-West Germany.

This year we have again attrected the best Authorware gurus in the World both for pre- and post-conference training and for the three days of high-quality presentations. Three days of the hghest quality education in the use and extension of Authorware, and int he delivery of e-Learning via web and Learning Management System. All this for only £350.

Following popular request both from attendees and from presenters, we have several double-length sessions taking place so that the presenters are not having to rush through what is often complex and highly valuable information.

If you are concerned about the cost of travelling to Germany, don’t be. We have secured the best hotel in the town for the conference for only 75 Euros per night per room (single or double occcupancy). And we have posted a large number of travel tips.

Watch this space for more information as it becomes available.

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