Disclaimer: I am not an investment advisor. When I describe my own trading activities, it is not intended as advice or solicitation of any kind.

30 December 2010

Wrapping Paper Everywhere

Just to warn you up-front, this is not a trading post.

The bintgoddess and I returned from five days in Michigan just yesterday, both with pretty serious headcolds.  This makes three colds for me in six weeks, which is just <sarcasm>really awesome</sarcasm>.  I'm trying to remember the preceding year or two when I watched the bintgoddess get colds at normal intervals while I managed to fend them off without a sniffle.  But bringing that memory forward over the ringing in my stuffed up ears is a little challenging at the moment.  I just woke up from 11 hours of sleep punctuated by bizarre pseudo-fever dreams, and the bintgoddess sleeps on.

The worst part is that we're pretty sure we both picked this up on Sunday, and we saw friends and family Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.  I really hope we didn't pass it along to everyone else, but if the entire Detroit Metro Area fails to show up for work on Jan 3, 2011, you can blame us.

It was great to see many of our Detroit-area friends on this trip, and I have to say that the scheduling really worked out well.  We managed to see everyone we had discussed visiting, and didn't feel like anyone got short-changed on time.  We even laid some preliminary plans for going with another couple to Punkin' Chunkin' next year, which looks like a fantastic nerdy silly time.  With its massive Discovery Channel coverage this year, I'm sure next year's PC will be booked to the gills.

With all the friends and family we visited, it was a pretty full trip.  But there was still time to try to cope with four dogs and four people cooped up in a house.  My coping method of choice was to disappear into my laptop, where I started learning about delivering rich web applications via Flash movies (SWFs).  I'm working on a top secret project which I hope to deliver as a Facebook application, and I reckon Flash is probably the best way to make it a reality.  Unwilling to pony up hundreds of dollars for Adobe's development environment, I started looking at other avenues.

The one that I settled on is OpenLaszlo, named for either a painter, or a cat who was named after the painter, it isn't completely clear.  OpenLaszlo is an open-source language that is based on an interesting combination of XML and JavaScript, and lets you compile to either SWF (8 or 10), or to DHTML.  There are a few things you can't do in DHTML like embed fonts, but I think Flash is a better solution for my particular problem anyway.  OpenLaszlo's pedigree is impressive: H&R Block, Wal-Mart, and Pandora are all using OpenLaszlo to deliver rich content.

Over the break, I read through the QuickStart guide, and started digging my way through the Developer's Guide.  I've gotten to Chapter 10 (of 57), and so far have built a little test application that doesn't really do anything useful, but lets me exercise what few skills I have managed to accumulate.  You can check it out here if you're so inclined, but don't expect much.  If you're a developer-type and interested in the OpenLaszlo code that made it happen, you can find that here.  I added ".txt" onto the end of the file so that Firefox will just display it instead of trying to download it.  As I keep working through the Dev Guide, I will from time to time post my progress up on markmccracken.net.  I will probably not keep the source file up to date, though, unless someone asks me to.

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