Director ROI

Over the past couple of months, I’ve updated a number of Macromedia products: Flash, Fireworks, Dreamweaver, Freehand — and now Director — to the MX 2004 level. In addition, I’ve gotten ColdFusion, JRun and Flash Communication Server developer editions and copies of Contribute for both platforms, as well as a year’s worth of Developer Resource Kits.

What’s annoying is that the Director upgrade cost me $399 per platform, while everything else cost only $599 as part of a DevNet Professional upgrade.

Flash underwent some major changes in MX 2004. The other applications in the DevNet upgrade didn’t change as much (at least not in ways I cared about, apart from the greater incorporation of CSS in Dreamweaver), but Macromedia’s push is definitely behind Flash in a way that you just don’t see there for Director. It’s clear that Macromedia sees a future in Flash.

That’s not so obvious for Director. Yes, much has changed in DMX2004, but it’s not getting the kind of overhauling that it needs for long-term development. We’re still missing standard controls. Compare the text display engine in Director with the inlined graphics and style sheets text in Flash. Shockwave 3D, the thing that was supposed to save Director and which siphoned off development resources four years ago has been relatively stagnant for two versions; nobody’s shipping new SW3D exporters.

I wish my Director dollars went as far as my Flash dollars do.

Vodafone Futures

I saw the Futures site mentioned on a Flash list. I like the cluttered animation feel and the use of motion in the photography. They may not have managed to buy AT&T, but they bought a neat Flash site.

Nader Announces Intentions

Ralph Nader announced his candidacy for President this morning. I, for one, wasn’t particularly surprised.

The past couple of months have seen abundant hand-wringing over the possibility of a Nader candidacy on the part of Democrats both left and center. If they’d take some time off from the vilification and listen to the man, maybe they still have a chance to redeem themselves.

My own feeling in 2000 was that Al Gore made an incredibly stupid mistake when he didn’t insist that Nader be allowed to participate in the debates. Nader is far more articulate than either Gore or George W. Bush. And while Gore’s not the most flexible person in the world, he would have performed far better under the attacks Nader would doubless have sent his way than Bush — who was already notorious for getting flustered in non-scripted situations — would have.

Fast-forward to 2004. However much energy the Democratic Party spends excoriating Nader for daring to run, it’s just going to take away from the monumental task of battling the Bush campaign war chest.

Moreover, unless Nader’s claims that the Republicans and Democrats are essentially the same party are true, all the eventual Democratic candidate need do is point out where Nader’s analysis is incorrect. Blaming Nader for the party’s own failures four years ago is pointless. Tell the American people why the Democratic vision is a better one. Don’t get into a debate with Bush and say you agree with him. Run against Bush, not Nader.


Back in October, I had a few bones to pick with a piece by cartoonist Chip Bok. Then, Wednesday, when I got stuck in traffic on I84, I ran across Victor Boc.

I was on my way to teach my Flash class across the river at Clark College. The last three times I’d headed out for class, it’d taken an hour or more to drive the eight miles between my house and the bridge over the Columbia, so I thought I’d try the longer route over I205’s crossing. Ran into a big traffic jam right after I’d exited I84 onto I205.

After 15 minutes or so of sitting in traffic and hearing OPB’s traffic report say everything was all clear (they seem to be about an hour late calling the traffic), I switched over to KPAM, which is difficult to stomach but has regular traffic updates.

So I spend another 15 minutes sitting in traffic listening to this Victor Boc and his callers whining about Tri-Met’s long-running ads stating that 249 cars are off the road because of each bus. Do these people just like to hear themselves on the radio or something? Because they sure don’t sound very smart. There’s a lot of whinging about how the buses pull out into traffic without warning, how they tie up traffic, etc. One guy complains that none of his employees can take the bus, so why should he pay the Tri-Met taxes? Victor agrees. Surprise, surprise. Dude, if other cars are off the road, that’s more road for you!

Finally, after sitting there with a wreck blocking all lanes up ahead of me at the Airport Way exit and watching MAX trains zipping past on their way to the Airport every ten minutes or so, I crank up the cell phone. I don’t seem to be going anywhere fast. I get through, amazingly enough, and I tell the screener that I’m pro-transit, that I’m in the traffic jam they’re mentioning every six minutes, and that I’m watching MAX go by. I think I hear a chuckle in his voice, but I’m not sure. He says to hang on.

I’m in the jam for a while longer. Traffic’s being let through on the shoulder past the wreck way up ahead, and there are four lanes of traffic jockeying for position. I manage after a while to escape on an exit, head back across town to I5. After about 25 minutes on hold, he’s into the middle of a long diatribe on his new topic: why drivers shouldn’t have to slow down for those pesky kids in school zones. Boc and a caller are wondering why police patrolling school zones would set up in the middle of the zone instead of on the edges. I think: “You’re not speeding unless you’re within the zone; you can’t cover both directions of traffic from one of the edges,” and after 25 minutes on hold I give up on the morons and shut off the phone. Blog Engine Begins Service

As part of my continual self-improvement regimen, I’m working on a rudimentary PHP/MySQL-based blogging engine, of which you see the results here. Among other things, I’ll cover anything interesting I see in Director or Flash development, the book business, politics, or whatever.

Uneasy About Lies?

You’d think that on Hawthorne Boulevard — oft-cited as one of the most liberal neighborhoods in Portland — just about any place that sold books would have jumped on the chance to peddle a few copies of Al Franken’s best-selling Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Oddly enough, it took the Hawthorne Fred Meyer over a month to put any on display. Their bestseller book table has had books by conservatives Bernard Goldberg, Dinesh D’Souza, and Michael Savage. This month, Bill O’Reilly’s latest, which was released two weeks after Franken’s, made it onto Freddy’s mixed fiction/non-fiction bestseller rack, despite its ranking behind Franken’s book on both the "New York Times" and "Publisher’s Weekly" non-fiction rankings earlier in October (the release of Michael Moore’s Dude, Where’s My Country? knocked Franken’s book out of the top position in this week’s NYT hardcover non-fiction list [2 Nov 03]; both Moore and Franken are ahead of O’Reilly in PW‘s ranking [24 Oct 03]). Neither Franken’s or Moore’s books are on Freddy’s October bestseller list.