22nd January 2008 by Jason C. Filed under: Tools
Right, so left you there a bit didn’t I? So, how to get from markdown to html? Well, I don’t know how to run Perl, so using the perl on the markdown website. So I cast about for another version, and found a PHP implementation. This works fine: you just need to add a line at the bottom of the file – something like
fwrite(STDOUT, Markdown(fread(STDIN, 1048576))). Then it’s good to go from the command line.
I kept looking though, and found Pandoc. Now you’re talking. This can output your markdown text as html, LaTeX, DocBook, and can do some conversions between those formats, too. It extends markdown with its own custom markdown too, but I think I’ll leave that: the whole reason I went down this route was to avoid the all the extra work of tagging, and stick just to the creativity. So that’s how I’ll write for a little while until I can tell whether it’s a method that works for me.
1st October 2007 by Jason C. Filed under: Tools
I was creating a little visual animation for a client the other day. I was using Flash, because that’s what I’ve got, and that’s what I’m familiar with. No Maya for me: I’ll leave that to the pros.
He wanted to create a little animation to present a brand concept to a client of his, and was presenting on a Macbook, so thankfully I had the exact dimensions of the screen it would be presented on. I started out with a quarter-sized version: half the width and half the height of his screen. His screen is 1280×800, so I did a test animation 640×400. The trouble was, it was looking a bit pixellated when blown up to full screen. No problem.
I did the rest of the visual at the full 1280x 800. Then came the moment to export to a quicktime file, so I could email it off to him. Right, so I clicked export movie to quicktime… and that was where the problem started.
The exported movie was rubbish! Even on a Core 2 duo machine, it was stuttering and stalling. It wasn’t the playback – but the encoding that was the problem. It was time consuming to work around the issue. I exported the movie as an image sequence. Then using ffmpeg, transcoded that image sequence into a .mov file. It worked fine. This left me feeling let down by Flash’s exporter engine. Why couldn’t it simply render each frame out in its own sweet time rather than just bowling along assuming that things could be encoded real-time? I don’t know. All in all, it would have saved me a lot of hassle.
Oh, well. Lesson learnt. When creating high-def animations with motion blurs and transparency in Flash, export to frames. I wonder if that knowledge will be useful to me again? Perhaps it’s useful to you.
31st July 2007 by Jason C. Filed under: Tools
Hunting through the inbox got boring, so I started filing emails into folders depending on whom they were from. Now, that’s all well and good, but then when trying to follow a thread of conversation, including my responses, I had to look in the ‘Sent’ folder. Right, so… file the sent items in folders too. So, now it’s much easier to find both emails I’ve received, and my responses. But wait – sometimes clients ring me up and we agree work on the phone. Now what? Make notes, of course.
As you can see, although it doesn’t present the biggest problem in the world, it’s a little effort each time you need to catch up on what was said by whom and when, and you’ve got to remember if you’ve made a separate not about phone calls.
A solution? Well, I’ve been using Backpack from 37Signals for a little while, and they offer another product that seems to be very well-received. It’s called Highrise. It’s a simple CRM tool that works verey simply: just BCC a special dropbox email address when you send an email out, and forward email received and it automatically attaches it to the relevant contact. So, for example if I send an email out to John Johnson with a quote, that email is attached to John Johnson in my Highrise account. If he doesn’t exist in that account, Highrise automatically creates him. Then, he replies to me, so I forward that email to Highrise. That email is attached to him too, allowing me to follow my conversation with him. I can add timed notes, and group contacts by company. Tagging functionality is included too, so it’s a very versatile system. I’m going to give it a go for a little while, and see how it works for me. I’ll report back later.
12th June 2007 by Jason C. Filed under: Tools, Web-development
I thought it was a fantastical dream. I thought it was a myth. I thought it was the dragon, the fairy, the unicorn. Buy it’s not.
Yes, Safari is now available on Windows.
Brilliant. I’m not some kind of Apple junkie, so I’m not praising it because I’ve always wanted to use it as my browser, but by God it makes my life easier. No more scrabbling round to a Mac to look at a development version of whatever site I’m building at the time. No need to fire up VM Ware with KDE just so I can get a Web Kit rendition of a site to check for bugs. No. Now, it’s just a click away, on my main development machine. Absolutely marvellous.
Thank you Apple!
Technorati: Web development browsers safari
2nd February 2007 by Jason C. Filed under: Tools
Hmmm… I want to install Microsoft Expression Web on my laptop, as well as my desktop. Now, Adobe lets you do this with tools such as Dreamweaver, Flash and Photoshop – you can find this out in their EULAs. So, I started looking for the EULA of Expression Web. On the box it says “to read the license terms, go to www.microsoft.com/useterms” so I did. But Expression Web is not there. SO I looked on the Expression website. Not there, either. Looked in the FAQ – guess what?
Right, so then I started Googling around. And still no joy. So… any chance you can put the terms on your website please Microsoft? Ta.
Technorati: Web tools
19th January 2007 by Jason C. Filed under: Tools
Microsoft has very kindly given me a copy of Expression Web, which I’ll be using for some projects in the near future to evaluate it. So far, I’ve made a couple of click-throughs using their coincidently familiar sounding DWT (Dynamic Web Template) files. Hmmm.. wonder where they got that idea from. Anyway, initial impressions are good. The design rendering I’m especially pleased with – I imagine they’ve just plugged it straight into IE6, or if you have it, IE7. It seems to write pretty clean CSS too. Anyway, I’ll report back when I’ve done something more substantial with it.
Technorati: HTML, Web tools
16th October 2006 by Jason C. Filed under: Tools
I saw this a while ago but have only just got around to linking to it. Those of you who enjoy sharpened C will now be able to script Flash as much as you like. Just create the assets within Flash, assign them class names and/or identifiers, and script away in C# to your heart’s, or brain’s content. This tool will compile your scriptacles into a Flash movie.
Now I don’t use C#, but I know there are many out there who do, and some of you may find the ability to code Flash without learning a new language handy. Here’s the link.
Technorati: flash, csharp, dotnet
23rd August 2006 by Jason C. Filed under: Tools
On one rare but very appreciated tea-break, whilst sipping the hot elixir, I was idly searching for an OSS SWF-file generator. I don’t know why, because I have Flash already; I suppose I was curious to see if those cheeky open-source monkeys had got ’round to it. Anyway, I happened upon MTASC, which is almost exactly that: it’s an open-source ActionScript compiler. According to its blurb it’s very good, which I’m pleased to hear. I may give it a try in future. But that is not the main reason for this post. Oh no. From that site, there is a link to something much more interesting.
I’m excited by this. It’s a new, fresh-for-2006 language that at least on the face of it could be hugely useful. Imagine building a web app where you can use the same language for the server-side processing, the front-end (AJAX or whatever), and any Flash elements. Then imagine you could easily port it to the desktop using the same language.
So, the enthusiasm is there. Now I’ve just got to find the time.
2nd August 2006 by Jason C. Filed under: Tools
After installing Subversion on my work machine here, I started clumsily creating a repository for one of my more complex projects using the command-line. Now I don’t mind using the command line now and then, but with version control it’s not exactly the best way to see which files are changed, which are new and which are old. Enter TortoiseSVN. This little beauty will sit in the Windows shell and act as a GUI for Subversion.
What this means is that I can clearly see which files I have modified since last committing changes to the repository, and performing most tasks in Subversion is as simple as right-clicking. Genius. As ever, more on Subversion and my attempt to make it work for me, later.
28th July 2006 by Jason C. Filed under: Tools
I read an article today about implementing version control software for website developments. I must say, I’d never considered it before. The notion of CVS was this vague thing that programmers did when writing software and that they were in fact, witches.
But this simple article was enough to make me stop the burning and start the learning: I’ve now just started using Subversion. Hopefully I won’t end up deleting all my projects thus leaving clients no choice but to assassinate me. I’d rather find it a revelation. More on this later, then.