Apple

flash in the pan

So, Flash player 10.1 is available in beta and includes mobile device oriented new features such as multi-touch gestures. Smart! Makes sense with Adobe strategy of delivering to emerging mobile devices. However there are a few million of us already using desktops and laptops with track pads, mouse wheels and mouse trac-balls who are feeling a bit ‘inhibited’. Flash is being used more and more to deliver applications either via browser or the AIR runtime. Such applications immediately feel somewhat inferior when a user cannot scroll or pan a view as they normally would native applications. Arguably ‘Rubbish’ rather than ‘Rich’ RIA in such cases.

For a long time the MOUSE_WHEEL event has been part of the Flash API but only officially supported on the Windows platform (in browser). Original reasoning for not implementing support for the Mac platform can no-longer be argued as all Macs for a number of years have been shipped with the Mighty Mouse (2005) and now Magic Mouse or Trackpads. All of which facilitate mousewheel style interactions. All of which go further and support horizontal as well as vertical scrolling interactions or ‘panning‘. There are JavaScript workarounds for in-browser Flash on a Mac such as this solution on hasseg.org or this SWFObject based pixelbreaker solution. Fortunately Flash applications delivered via the AIR runtime can respond to MOUSE_WHEEL events without any such workarounds. However MOUSE_WHEEL currently only facilitates vertical scrolling in any case.

We need to facilitate horizontal as well as vertical scrolling (panning) of content in response to events from ubiquitous input devices.

A few prominent applications I use often, which suffer:

  • TweetDeck : AIR based. High discoverability of lack of horizontal scrolling support
  • Adobe online store UK : In browser Flex application – Flash being used in an attempt to emulate HTML – no vertical scroll wheel support for Mac users
  • Adobe Flash builder : Design view (Java application with Flash based view)
  • Adobe Catalyst : Art-board view (Java application with Flash based view)

Adobe actively invite comment and suggestions on their products. More widely/easily through the Feature request/bug report form. They have opened up the bug tracking system for a number of products. Flash player being one of them. There is an active bug report with regard to this issue and I would encourage anyone with an opinion to contribute to the discussion and/or add weight by voting. Just sign up and access FP-1262. There is an active drive from within Adobe to help from the community to improve the quality of Flash Player and AIR.

As for the solution I think I’d like to see something along the lines of… Extending the flash.display.InteractiveObject with a ‘panEnabled‘ boolean property defaulted to false which, when true, allows the object’s Panning behaviour/event broadcasting (akin to doubleClickEnabled mechanism). So, when panEnabled is true, if the mouse pointer is over the InteractiveObject, and the user makes a ‘pan’ gesture, the frontmost panEnabled InteractiveObject broadcasts flash.events.MouseEvent.MOUSE_PAN events containing with the additional properties : offsetX and offsetY. Text based InteractiveObjects should default to panEnabled = true. Further, I’d quite like to see mechanisms to facilitate behaviours of nested pan-able objects. E.g. on a Mac, the front-most display object gets scrolled until it can scroll no further, then if the user continues the scroll input, the containing display object then scrolls.

In rounding up, the best place to contribute your opinions on this subject and have them heard by Adobe is here : FP-1262.

Posted by creacog in Adobe, AIR, Flash Platform, Flex, Mac OS, 0 comments

MacPro early 2008 video card dies

A couple of months ago, during a particularly busy period of work, I started to suffer some quite strange symptoms with my MacPro. Essentially, ‘sometimes’ if the system went to sleep, it was not possible to properly wake it up. It was apparent that the machine was starting up, but there was no video signal to either of the two monitors attached. One being an Apple 23 inch LCD. The other being an old CRT. The only way to get back to a working condition being to force-shutdown and restart the system.

My first suspect was one of the monitors – possibly the LCD. But trying them individually and swapping the connectors over made no difference.

The next suspect being the video card. Taking a look inside, there was a shocking amount of dust build up. I removed the card and gave it a good clean. Unfortunately this didn’t solve the problem. Over the next few weeks the occurrence increased in frequency to the point where one Sunday, after 7 or 8 reboots, it was time for more drastic action.

ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT

I had found a discussion on the Apple support site which echoed the symptoms and seemed to confirm the video card being at fault. My Mac was out of warranty and I needed it working for the next day and so trekked to the Regent Street Apple Store. Really busy store – the worse part was trying to get the attention of a member of staff. But then it was plain sailing. I explained the issue. While he suggested it might make sense to bring in the Mac to be checked – doing so would have been a real pain, run up cost and taken ages. I was pretty confident in my diagnosis. The only option available was an upgrade – which I was pretty happy with. From reading the rest of the support discussion I really didn’t want to replace like with like.

So, £300 lighter I trekked back home with a Apple Mini-DVI to DVI Adapter and a 512Mb ATI Radeon HD 4870. Very releived that the item was in-stock.

It dwarfs the old card, taking up two slots and full width. Installation was not too hard. The worst bit trying to connect the extra power cables to the mother-board.

ATI Radeon HD 4870

Closed the machine and restarted. The new card was picked up immediately. No installation of drivers required. Note: I had been a little worried that drivers may be required as I had previously considered upgrading to  an NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 285, for which I read that it was vital to install the drivers prior to installing the card. Something difficult to achieve if the old card is dead!

Summing up – very happy so far with the new ATI Radeon HD 4870 which has been running faultless for the last couple of months, and looking forward to more software making user of the GPU, particularly from the likes of Adobe.

Posted by creacog in Apple, 2 comments

Editor bug in Mac OS X 10.6.1

UPDATE 22 June 2010 : Further to my even earlier bug report (FB-9398FlashApe has posted a work around by changing a Snow Leopard system preference.

UPDATE 10-Dec-2009: I’m pretty convinced now that this is an editor bug, not a Mac OS X bug. Essentially the editors are using default OS behaviour which I think is tailored for natural language editing rather than programme-code editing. Original post follows…

I’m currently finding in some applications that “word1.word2.word3” is being treated as a single word as far as the Option-Left Arrow and Option-Right Arrow is concerned on my Mac. This keyboard shortcut should hop word by word. But currently hops from one end to the other. Not an issue for most users, but pretty serious for a programmer working with dot-notation syntax.

I first experienced this working with ActionScript in Adobe’s Flash Builder Beta 2 and logged a bug report, but further investigation reveals that some unrelated applications show the same behaviour. I have now logged a bug with Apple, but in the meantime I would be interested to know if others are experiencing the same? Or if you are running 10.6.1 and not seeing this issue? Please add a comment – I’m still trying to work out if it is something installed on my system. I don’t think it is basic user preferences as I am seeing the same in another user-account on this system.

Editors incorrectly treating “word1.word2.word3” as a single word re opt-left and opt-right:

FlexBuilder 3 MXML and AS editors
FlashBuilder 4 Beta2 MXML and AS editors
Apple Mail
Apple OS textfields including:
Spotlight
Finder window findfield
Safari: form-textfields + google search field
editors with *correct* opt-left opt-right behaviour
TextWrangler
Adobe Flash CS4 IDE ActionScript Editor
Adobe DreamWeaver CS4 editor
Apple XCode editor
Apple Finder – filename clicked and editable when renaming
Firefox form-textfields and goodle search field
  • FlexBuilder 3 MXML and AS editors
  • FlashBuilder 4 Beta2 MXML and AS editors
  • Apple Mail
  • Apple OS TextFields including:
  • Spotlight
  • Finder window find-file
  • Safari: form-textfields & google search field

Editors showing correct opt-left opt-right behaviour:

  • TextWrangler
  • Adobe Flash CS4 IDE ActionScript Editor
  • Adobe DreamWeaver CS4 editor
  • Apple XCode editor
  • Apple Finder – filename clicked and editable when renaming
  • Firefox form-textfields and goodle search field
Posted by creacog in ActionScript, Apple, Flex, Mac OS, 0 comments

No CMD-SPACE in Flash Builder since Snow Leopard

Ok so CMD-SPACE is the default short cut to launch Spotlight. But I wanted that combo for ‘content assist’ with Flex/Flash Builder. Until installing Snow Leopard, that is what I had for a few years, and Spotlight relegated to CTRL-SPACE. However since SnowLeopard, the CMD-SPACE combo is not transmitted to Flash Builder. I assume this is down to Snow Leopard somehow reserving the combination. So begrudgingly I have returned to defaults…

Spotlight : CMD-SPACE
Flash Builder content assist : CTRL-SPACE

Posted by creacog in Flash Builder, Flex Builder, Mac OS, 3 comments

flash.display.BitmapData gotcha – well gotme for a while

The documentation is correct, so i have no excuse, but I didn’t initially read much beyond the signature of the constructor…

public function BitmapData(width:int, height:int, transparent:Boolean = true, fillColor:uint = 0xFFFFFFFF)

I needed a transparent bitmap. Reading the default “transparent:Boolean = true”, I assumed by simply supplying width and height, a transparent bitmap is what I would get. Not so! I got a white rectangle. The reason being, that the default fill colour is 100% white. (The first pair of FFs representing the alpha in ARGB).

At first it would seem slightly unintuitive for the second default to conflict with the first, until one realises that the ‘transparent’ flag is there to indicate whether the object will support transparency or not. Not to state that it should be initially created transparent. Supporting transparency increases data size from 24 bits per pixel to 32 bits per pixel.

So what i should have done :

bmd = new BitmapData( width, height, true, 0 );

Posted by creacog in ActionScript, AIR, Flash Platform, Flex, Flex 3, Mac OS, 0 comments

updated svn+ssh with DreamWeaver article

After various Mac system and security updates found that ssh+svn would result in errors…

svnserve: Command not found.
svn: Connection closed unexpectedly

Updated my previous article on using svn+ssh with DreamWeaver with a solution.

Posted by creacog in Adobe, DreamWeaver, Mac OS, Subversion, 0 comments

apple security update 2009-001 breaking PowerPC apps ?

Since installing this update I observe on my intel based mac that two PowerPC based apps now crash immediately on launch. Logging “Exited abnormally: Illegal instruction” to the console. The two applications affected so far on my system are CanoScan Toolkit X and more importantly Retrospect. Unfortunately the installers for both applications also fail with the same error. I worked around the canon issue by installing the LiDE 35 driver (for my LiDE 50) – then using “Import image…” in Preview. However not found a workaround for Retrospect yet. Looks to me like Rosetta is not working properly, although I have one PowerPC process running “RetroRun”.

Annoying and scary for my backups to be crippled in this way. Investigating. Not sure it was the security update as yet, only ‘evidence’ being the timing of the failures.

Update: Solved…

The following typed into terminal, followed by a re-start fixed the problem…

sudo update_prebinding -root / -force

As per instructions by Charles Minow in this thread on the Apple support discussions.

Posted by creacog in Apple, Mac OS, 0 comments

2006 iMac? perhaps AppleCare more important

Having just read a tale of woe regarding  a dead 2006 iMac, and the indications that this may be a particular issue with those machines, it is looking like AppleCare should be considered by owners far more seriously than normally would be the case. If the logic board dies in the way described, the machine as a whole, which should realistically be good for a couple more years productive life, will become an echonomic right-off.

While initial cost of ownership of Apple machines stacks up with similarly configured PCs, the cost of repair – particularly of the logic board is shocking.

Links:

Posted by creacog in Apple, 2 comments

migrate from file to svn+ssh for Dreamweaver CS4 on Mac

I’ve been using subversion for a few years now. Initially used through subclipse within Eclipse/Flex Builder then later also used with Dreamweaver sites using tools such as svnX and scplugin along with the “Cloak SCM directories” command. In most cases to date, I have used the “file:///” protocol as this provides direct and efficient access to repositories which are available within the local system or local area network. I had been looking forward to subversion integration in Dreamweaver and when the CS4 public beta was released I had a bit of a moan about the absence of the file protocol. Despite my efforts in the beta’s forum and the Dreamweaver wish-list, it remains absent. So now to look to using a different protocol.

There is a helpful 3 part article on the Adobe site describing how to get started with dreamweaver CS4 and svn. In part 3, the author chooses to present how jump through the hoops to get Apache to serve and access a local repository over http. There are a number of reasons why this approach is not right for me:

  1. svn served using mod_dav_svn through Apache over http is less efficient than svnserve through ssh.
  2. I have multiple repositories, one per project and all stored on a separate project disc. To use the http method, I would need to edit httpd.conf to add a directory mapping and manage access rights for each repository.

By using svn+ssh, svnserve launches on demand (no need for a running daemon) and we have access to all the paths available to the ssh user logged in.

So, to get this going on Mac OS X 10.5…

Turn on ‘Remote Login’ in the ‘Sharing’ system preferences. Rather than using the default of allowing access for all users, I restricted access to only my user.

At this point you should be able to use sv+ssh urls from within terminal. e.g.

% svn info svn+ssh://[email protected]/Volumes/full/path/to/repository

However if you try to use the same connection in a tool such as svnX you are likely to get error : ssh_askpass: exec(/usr/libexec/ssh-askpass): No such file or directory

To get around this we really need to establish public key authentication, which also serves to avoid you having to use your user account’s name and password for the connection.  Based upon this article on OpenSSH, I did the following:

% cd
% cd .ssh
% ssh-keygen -q -f id_rsa -t rsa

If the .ssh directory doesn’t exist, then use mkdir to create it. ssh-keygen creates both public and private keys.

Update 16-Feb-2009: Since writing this and applying an number of mac system and security updates i today found that any attempt to ssh+svn would result in…

svnserve: Command not found.
svn: Connection closed unexpectedly
[exit=1]

To solve the issue (based on notes here and here) I prefixed line 1 of id_rsa.pub with:

command="/usr/bin/svnserve -t"

As this is my one and only public key, I simply uses the following line to copy the public key to a file called ‘authorized_keys’. However if you are dealing with more than one key, you should use the guaidance in the OpenSSH article to append the key to that file.
%  cp id_rsa.pub authorized_keys
Once this has been done, attempting to use your svn+ssh  url within svnX should now work. Note: you may get the error re-displayed, but it will dismiss to be replaced by a current view of the repository. Also the first time, you will be prompted for the password. Here you need to enter the passphrase you used when you created the rsa key. I chose for this to be remembered in my keychain to avoid having to retype it in future.

With this done, you are now ready to contemplate setting up Dreamweaver. You need to be aware that an subversion working copy knows the url to the repository from which it was checked out. If your existing DW local copies of sites are subversion working copies checked out like mine via the ‘file:///’ protocol, you need to migrate them to ‘svn+ssh://’ so:

  1. Firstly ensure that everything you need to retain from your working copy has been committed to the repository
  2. Drag your working copy to the trash
  3. Create a new folder to contain your local site
  4. In Dreamweaver create a new site and manage the settings accordingly, pointing the local site to the folder you just created.
  5. In the version control category of the site definition, choose ‘Access Subversion’
  6. Protocol SVN+SSH
  7. Server address is your local computer. i.e. ‘computername.local’
  8. Repository path is a full path to the repository then further on down to the folder containing the site. In my case, each repository is split into trunk, branches and tags folders, and my site folder named ‘webroot’ is a sub-directory of trunk. So my path will read:  /Volumes/full/path/to/repository/trunk/webroot
  9. Server port remains default
  10. Provide your user name
  11. Leave password blank. The connection will be authenticated using the RSA public key
  12. Click the test button and you should get the message “Server and project are accessible!”
  13. CLick ‘Ok’, to leave the site definition
  14. In the file view, right-click the site folder and choose Version control > Get latest versions
  15. The latest versions of the files in the repository will be checked out of the repository into your local folder which will now become a working copy.

Job done.

Posted by creacog in Adobe, CS4, DreamWeaver, Mac OS, Subversion, 3 comments