en_GB location, Eclipse and the flash builder plug in

If you are UK resident you may have discovered Flash builder 4’s nasty little habit of bleating about the missing en_GB location, the reason for this is, as a Brit you have quite rightly set your eclipse for that location, but somewhere in the second beta of Flash builder 4 Adobe decided the green and pleasant land was unworthy of its own location and stripped it out of the build, just renaming the en_US location directory does not work as a fix, you have to right click on your flex project –> select properties, and set the compiler options to “-locale en_US” as per below

Sigh!, i never thought being a English man would be considered a minority group

HTML5 and CSS3

Here is the results of another skillsmatters free talk, this one on HTML5 and CC3 and was presented by www.brucelawson.co.uk (@brucel )

Bruce was an excellent speaker and gave an amazing 101 session using only notepad++ which was nice (I have personally been accused recently of missing out the basics so its good to see how it should be done), you have all heard so much on this subject before, that I’m just going to bullet point the bits i took away from the session,

  • He was at some pains to point out what HTML5 was and what it was not (ie its not another way of saying Web 3.0 or “just not flash”),
  • He was definite on the point that HTML5 WILL NOT KILL FLASH, but it will provide people with a choice for a lot of functions that currently you can only do with flash.
  • There was a lot of emphasis on coping with screen readers and making content easier for computers to parse intelligently and how HTML5 is better for that.
  • Quite a lot of the tags have been redefined e.g. small = “small print in a contract” rather than “little in size”
  • Most of HTML5 is JavaScript (50%+ of the spec)
  • HTML5 does not care about quotes (its in the spec not just lazy)
  • HTML5 does not care about case (its in the spec not just lazy)
  • HTML5 ignores stuff it does know (like CSS)
  • It has things like sliders and calendar pickers built in (its things like this that makes people look at it as an alternative to flash)
  • Validation is build in (fairly crude but very like a jquery validator and he did say it would get better)
  • The video element is really rather good (you can tab in and out and make it easily grow and shrink etc. which is hard to do on flash), but the much published codex problems are quite real, you have to currently encode 2 versions of your video: ogv and mp4 (this was caused by apple and nokia), webm could hopefully put a end to the problem. for old browsers you can use the current embed elementOn CSS3
  • CSS3 is Amazing!!! (transform and transition and webfonts)
  • On CSS3 currently you have to put a “display:block” for ALL HTML5 elements you are using, as no browser currently supports them.
  • The CSS5 media functions are really cool but I’m not going to talk about them as Ben Poole has just used them in anger and I’m hoping a bit of peer pressure will force him to write a proper bloody blog entry.
  • Layered background are amazing (with good png transparency)
  • Arrrrh!! where was background size when i wanted it for my client recently!!Code Snippit
    to make IE8 and below apply CSS to HTML5 you have to add the following:
    document.createElement(‘xxxxx’); for each html5 tag you use, e.g.


    and you have to include a “body” element some where on the page


    Recommended validator: html5.validator.nu
    To see how well you code parses running it by: http://www.nvda-project.org/
    The Best place for free webfonts: http://www.fontsquirrel.com/

Future Mouse Review

My future mouse arrived last week from http://www.futuremouse.com/, and has spent this week being used as a travel mouse on trains and a replacement mouse for my tracker ball at work, on all counts it has passed with flying colours, if you treat is as a pen it feels natural to use and needs no learning curve, i did discover a slight cramping in my hand after using it all day, mind you I get that with a normal pen. it possesses it own rechargeable battery and its tiny usb transmitter that doubles as a magnetic dock and charging point ( 30secs charge = 1 hour use, 90mins charge = 2-4 weeks use). One of the most gratefully received features is the complete lack of software to install, advanced features such as reorientation of ‘up’ and setting the “only work when being held” are set via button combinations and watching the LEDS, for a Linux user who constantly misses out on the advanced features for consumer level products this is very very welcome. the mouse manages to squeeze in a full size and silent scroll wheel which is joy to use, it also comes with a stick on mouse pad for the bottom of you laptop but which seems mainly designed for the Mac or other laptops whos touch pads are not depressed, so I’m not using that, in a real life test i found I could share a GNER train table with another laptop user with no problems despite the laptops being only inches away, but for a travel mouse (and an expensive one at that), its strange it does not come with a little sleeve or draw bag to be carried in, (i ended up using the one that is supplied for the tips on the power money explorer).

-Tiny (and i mean really tiny)
-Light (its hard to believe there is a 4 week rechargeable battery in there
-Excellent build quality
-Works in very small spaces
-Truly OS agnostic

-No travel pouch
-The transmitter/receiver does not clip securely into the mouse (yes you can attach it to the charge point but it always comes off when banged round in my bag)
-Expensive (but good values for money)

I am very pleased with the mouse, and it really does everything it says on the tin, and even if it does not replace my logitech trackman as my main pointer, it beats the hell out of the track pad, and turns “Oh F**K I have forgotten my mouse” to “Oh i have the spare mouse in my pack”.

Mr Barton your challenge is accepted

I accept your challenge Mr Barton and throw down my own gauntlet (though mine has been maimed by sword, squash rackets and more recently by cat)


You are to produce a Proof of concept using Flex and the Google docs API for spreadsheets to provide a calculation engine, data entered into flex is to be transferred to the spreadsheet and trigger a recalculation of said spreadsheet, the results is to be presented back and displayed on flex. This is to use the 3.0 API via Java (web services or blaze its your choice, though web services would be easier to port over to domino) and flex 4

Mad cackle!!

FLUG August meet

Mark Barton, Duncan and myself attended the Flex London User Group last night (August meet), its been a while since its been run, so it was a perfect time to pile in, it was hosted at skillsmatter’s new place up near the barbican so the normal clean well appointed facilities (coffee/tea, wifi, etc etc) were provided.

The speaker was Mark Doherty who writes the http://www.flashmobileblog.com/ and unsurprisingly his talk was on the latest updates on the flash and air players with particular reference to mobile devices, all new stuff to me, if you head over to his site he has videos of all the stuff he demoed and you can even watch the podcast of it all here ,which saved me doing screen shots and writing loads of details, but some key point for me were:

  • They now have remote debugging on the air platform on at least android.
  • Multiple flash/flex instances now have a priority order so that when a CPU is pressed for power it can give all the effort to the in-focus app while lowering things like screen refresh (but not back ground stuff like audio).
  • Due to different vendors using different chips, the accelerometer and geo locator functions vary from device to device.
  • You can swap target runtime at anytime rather than only on project creation.and some little useful bits are:
  • If you press and hold on a flash app in a browser on a mobile device, a mobile menu pops up with options like full screen.
  • The new TFL (Text Framework Layout) is very heavy on mobiles, avoid if you can.
  • 128 dithering in photoshop really helps make the image smaller and is good for mobile apps.Everyone was very friendly and I met some good people, unfortunately I left after the talk, next time I think I will do it properly and pop down the pup with the die hard’s as that is where the real learning and fun begins. but it was a good beginning.

    Oh, also discovered on the groups home page a comment from Bill Buchan and if thats not an endorsement I don’t know what is 🙂 .