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Archive for January, 2005


Controlling Captivate Movies

Jim Leichliter just posted the information we have all been waiting for …

… on the Macromedia Authorware forum. I must confess that if I had taken the time to explore a Captivate movie I could have discivered this already, but … well Jim is obviously a better man than I.

Here’s what he had to say:-

In Authorware using the syntax:

CallSprite(@gotMovie, #GetVariable, "_root.rdinfoCurrentSlide")

Where “_root.” can be prefixed to these listed variables:

rdinfoFrameCount

rdinfoSlidesInProject

rdinfoFPS

rdinfocurrFrame

rdinfoCurrentFrame

rdinfoCurrentSlide

rdinfoCurrentSlideInProject

rdinfoSlideCount

rdIsMainMovie


________________________

rdcmndGotoFrame

rdcmndResume

rdcmndPause

rdcmndPrevious

rdcmndNext

rdcmndRewindAndStop

rdcmndRewindAndPlay

rdcmndGotoFrameAndResume

rdcmndNextSlide

rdcmndInfo

rdcmndExit

The rdcmnd can control the Captivate movie by using the SetVariable syntax and providing a 1 (true) or 0 (false). For Example:-

CallSprite(@gotMovie, #SetVariable, "_root.rdcmdResume", 1)

will resume the Captivate movie after it has been paused.

Nice one Jim!!

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Cognitive Impairment


Cognitive Impairment

We often talk about accessability for the disabled, like section 508 requirements, but what about cognitive impairment

I found a link to this article on cognitive impairment while poking around looking for something else – as you do.

It gives clear descriptions of the sorts of learning and comprehension difficulties you might encounter, and ways to make it easier for your users to absorb and understand your content. The methods described, and the code samples given, apply purely to web pages, as they are all HTML, CSS or JavaScript solutions, but we can easily apply the ideas and suggestions to our work in any tool.

This is one instance where I would like to reiterate my desire for the ability to control the look and feel of text in Authorware at runtime. Whilst we could fake the text changes suggested, it would be a lot of work. It would be great to be able to use code to dynamically highlight and/or underline text. In fact, if we were able to do this we might be able to modify some of the JavaScrip code tips supplied in the article above.

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More on Authorware and XP SP2

Get rid of the block on running local Authorware and other ActiveX controls

By now you should have read my other tips about running Authorware 7 web-packaged files locally. This one shouild help get rid of any lingering blocks on running files locally.

By default Internet Explorer in XP SP2 blocks all locally stored ActiveX controls and maybe some other stuff I don;t know about. This effects developers because we often need to test our work locally, and it kills things like Flash and Authorware. Actually it does not block them, but you do have to mess about with the little drop-down panel that appears at the top of the Explorer window as shown here.

If you don’t want to see this any more, go to Tools > Internet Options and select the Advanced tab. Scroll down the dialogue until you see the option “Allow active content to run in files on My Computer”. Make sure it is checked.

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Oh I am in heaven!


Oh I am in heaven!

Finally, a decent Indian restaurant!!!!!

I have lived here in Mississippi since May 31st last year. 8 months. There are NO Indian restaurants here in Gulfport, or anywhere else on the Mississippi Gulf Coast so far as we have been able to discover. I am British. I am addicted to Vindaloo. I love Mexican food, but the Mexican restaurants here do not understand about HOT food, so it does not fill my craving. Can you imagine? 8 months without a decent curry.

OK OK I admit it, we found a great Indian restaurant in Pheonix when we were there on honeymoon, but still, it’s been 5 months since then.

By the way, when I say HOT I mean that first mouthful causes your heart to jump in fear! Gimme a good Indian Vindaloo and I am a happy (if slightly sweaty) man :-).

So on Saturday Amy and I went to New Orleans (N’orl’ns to the locals) with friends to see HOTEL RWANDA, a very moving film in my humble opinion. It is terrible the way the world ignored the plight of so many innocents in Rwanda until it was too late. But enough of that, go elsewhere if you want political discussion or an in-depth film critique …

After the movie we went for dinner. We had pre-planned to locate either Cuban or Indian food, having decided to find something ‘foreign’ that most of us had not eaten before. You can imagine (if you are British) how heartbroken I was (n’t) to discover that the decision was for us to seek out Indian food.

We found a restaurant reasonably close to the theater (cinema to us Brits) called, with outcredible originality, The Taj Mahal. Anyway, the important bit was that it was a small restaurant (by local standards) with great food, great atmosphere, and 4 very happy customers.

Next time we go there I’ll have to have a word with them about their “very hot” vindaloo though. I didn’t even break sweat, let alone endure even a single moment of fear! Soon …. !!!!

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More on running an Authorware file locally

Authorware Web Player files prompt a message when played back locally

According to Macromedia Technote number 19503 Windows XP SP2 can cause local playback of Authorware web-packaged content to give this error message

“Enable active content

Enabling active content on your Local Machine may harm your computer. Do you want to continue?”

The technote explains how best to avoid the error message and allow your content to run. I’ll add some more tips to help you run local content later.

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eLearning Design Challenge


Ron Lubensky has posted the latest eLearning design challenge

There is a severe drought. Strict domestic water usage restrictions are in place.

This is the fourth such challenge Ron has posted in recent months. They have inspired some lively debate and I am sure this latest challenge will do the same.

Discuss how you and others would approach this challenge on Ron’s site eLearning Design Challenge #4.

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Windows XP tips, tricks, tweaks and tools

My wife found this great tip site for Windows XP

Index of Windows XP Tips

Repository of XP Shell, User Interface tips, extensive troubleshooting guides and utilities for home users, IT Professionals, helpdesk / onsite support technicians. Most of the resources here deal with the Windows registry.”

I notice the home page of this site has even more tips. Well worth looking at if you have trouble with your machine, and definitely worth looking at if you like to tinker under the bonnet (that’s under the hood for you American folks).

Here’s one cool example of the things available – ToolbarCop. This is a utility you can install to help get rid of all those helpful annoying toolbars and ‘extensions’ that your nephew has installed while you were mowing the lawn.

“ToolbarCop is a browser extensions manager which can disable or eliminate the following browser add-ons selectively from Internet Explorer:

• Unwanted Browser Helper Objects (BHO)

• Toolbars (Tool Band)

• Standard Toolbar buttons

• Context menu Extensions

• Third-party download managers &

• Third-party Protocol Handlers and their residual entries remaining in the registry.

• Horizontal / Vertical Explorer Bars (side-search bars)

• Startup applications originating from RUN registry keys.”

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Authorware 7 books


Where are all the Authorware 7 books?

Good question – let’s take a look at what’s on offer

First, there is the manual that comes with Authorware. It’s OK, but you should treat it as a reference book. It contains exactly the same information that is in the Help files, so it’s mostly of use if you want to browse or if you prefer to use a book.

Secondly, Joseph Ganci, of Dazzletech has written some excellent Authorware manuals and training courses over the years. You can purchase courses from the Dazzletech web site. The scripting courses cover Authorware versions from 5.2 to 7.0, so you will find more than enough information to make you a skilled Authorware developer.

Shameless Plug Dazzletch is again presenting excellent training courses at EuroTAAC this year.

Finally, perhaps you want to add some additional scripting power to Authoware 7. You can with JavaScript. Maybe you already know it well having done other web development. Maybe you are a Flash > Authorware convert and you just cannot get out of the ActionScript mentality. Maybe you just prefer object-based code … Whatever, JavaScript in Authorware 7 is a powerful new addition, and you may need help getting it to work for you. Ron Lubensky (did I mention he is a God?) has a great JavaScript Quick Reference for Authorware

“Instead of having browser objects like document, window and navigator, JavaScript for Authorware has its own Authorware Object Model that relates to its icons. This quick reference is a Command that you can display while you author. Use it to learn and remind yourself about syntax and object usage. It is presented as an Explorer-style tree. There is even an option to install it into your Authorware 7.0 script editor snippets”

So far that is really it for Authorware 7 books. Maybe when we get Authorware 8 there will be some new books. Anyone willing to sponsor me and Amy to write one? 😉

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PocketPC Flash Player


Looking for the Flash player for your PocketPC?

It seems like some people don’t want you to find it

If you look an the Macromedia web site, it says you should check with your vendor, and offers a link to the Microsoft site. It sends you off somewhere else. If you are lucky, you will eventually find yourself back at the Macromedia download site for the PocketPC 2002 Flash Player.

Yes, that’s right, it says the 2002 player. But don’t worry, the player should be good for machines running one of the versions of PocketPC 2003 too.

But be careful as it seems like support for the Flash player is something your device vendor apparently can control, so you may find that your PocketPC phone does not support it. Standard PocketPCs should be OK though.

Why did I tell you this? You may recall that I did a little PocketPC work a while ago, and I am obsessed by the little devices. It amazes me to consider the power of these. In many ways they are more powerful than my first PC in 1998, for a start mine has built-in Wi-Fi, and it plays movies better than my old PC could …

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RSS Feed


RSS feed addded

Good news for all you syndication fans!

Andrew Lucking asked if I could add a syndication feed, and Andrew, your wish is my command! Point your RSS reader to

http://stevehoward.blogspot.com/atom.xml

or click the button at the top left of this page.

It is not the most advanced RSS feed in the world, but what do you expect for free? :+)

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