Archive for November, 2008

XD blog – Adobe on Adobe

The XD (experience design) group at Adobe has unveiled a new, flex based ‘blogazine’:
xd.adobe.com
There is an interesting video about the motives of XD in creating the blog, with a lot of focus on their motives to break out of the traditional blog structure and explore using various Adobe technologies in their new design.
They also mention guest speakers, interviews, and behind the scene insight into the world of XD and the evolution of Adobe’s products and technologies. There’s a lot of strong feelings in the wild about the Adobe experience. Having a closer look at the process involved in determining the evolution of the Adobe experience should prove interesting for all the followers of Adobe.

AIR 1.5 Cookbook

AIR 1.5 Cookbook cover - image by O'Reilly Media
David Tucker
Marco Casario
Koen De Weggheleire
Rich Tretola
ISBN 10: 0-596-52250-9 | ISBN 13: 9780596522506
Monday was the official print release of the O’Reilly AIR 1.5 Cookbook, which Ikezi and I worked on as technical editors. It was available at MAX for sale, but still is on pre-order in the US and UK on the O’Reilly web site. The book features examples for Flex and HTML/Javascript development of AIR applications, and covers a range of topics, from the basics to get someone started, to advanced techniques that put the power of the AIR platform to work.
The final list of chapters should enumerate the variety of skills this book can help you grasp:
1. AIR Basics
2. Application Settings
3. Application Windows
4. Screens
5. HTML Content
6. PDF Support
7. Clipboard Support
8. Drag and Drop Support
9. File System Integration
10. Embedded SQL Database Programming
11. Encrypted Local Store
12. Application and Window Native Menus
13. Taskbar and Dock Integration
14. File Types
15. Service Monitor Framework
16. Application Updates
17. AIR Application Distribution with the Browser API
18. Developing Mashup AIR Applications – online bonus chapter
On Adobe’s DevNet you can find all the resources you need to get started with AIR, including a chapter excerpt from the book. There is also a bonus chapter available through a link on the O’Reilly web site.
The code examples (which I have gone through in detail, trust me) are concise and helpful. Even if you are relatively new to ActionScript, Flex, or HTML and JavaScript, you should be able to easily follow this book and learn how to make your own AIR applications.
I enjoyed working on this, but would offer one insights to anyone thinking they want to be a technical editor. It was a lot more work than I thought it would be. However, since being a tech editor brings fame, groupies, and membership into an elite circle (the lucky few to have 3 sentences of recognition published about them in an O’Reilly book), I’d probably do it again.

MAX 2008, the VPN, and nerd joy

Mac users: did your VPN client quit on you recently? Read on, then. I have suffered a similar fate, and found a potential remedy, which I am glad to share.
I have been lucky enough to attend MAX this year, but have not blogged a single peep about it. That’s not because MAX is terribly dull, with no great announcements, code insights, or geeked out super nerds with kilts playing Unreal Tournament on bean-bag chairs. Ho, no. There’s been a ton of that. Sadly, there’s also been a broken VPN client on my MacBook.
20081119_01.png
The problem was Heisenberg quirky for a while, such that whenever I had some spare time and would attempt to fix the connection, the problem would stop occurring. It only seemed to break when I was stressed for time, working at a client’s site, and already grinding my teeth over some other problem. Luckily, if you use Google to search for ‘Error 51: Unable to communicate with the VPN subsystem’, you get two entries, one of which explains the whole thing. Note that, if you type ‘Area 51′, you will get considerably more than two results, on a topic not really related to broken VPN clients.
First, the word on the internet is “the Cisco VPN client tends to break with most OS X updates”. Like a good solider, I tend to accept OSX updates from Apple, mostly because I hope it will fix various annoying broken things. Like the kernal panic when unplugging my Apple keyboard, for example. While that issue persists, it looks like I’ve gained a new hassle by having an intermittently broken VPN. Expect the broken stopped being intermittent, as of last week, just before MAX and all the fun things I wanted to blog while sitting on a bean bag at Moscone West. So I’m fixing it.
The page continues; ‘I’ve found the Cisco VPN client to be the least reliable VPN client I’ve ever used. In fact, I think it breaks during most updates, possibly because Cisco (a) doesn’t bother to write a more modern launchd version, and/or (b) they put their StartupItem in the System/Library/StartupItems folder, which (unless I’m mistaken) is intended to be reserved for Apple software.”
The best part was finding the solution. There is nothing that delivers greater nerd joy than a shell command for punching a troublesome process in the kidney. Since the console log reported “com.cisco.VPNClient[301]: Could not attach to driver. Is kernel module loaded?”, the idea of giving the VPN driver a kick seemed worth a try. Here’s the command:
sudo /System/Library/StartupItems/CiscoVPN/CiscoVPN restart
Which I ran as such:
20081119_02.png
Type that into terminal, along with your password, and you should be up and running.
More on MAX in a bit; it’s (finally!) my turn to play some Unreal Tournament with kilt-boy.