Author Archive

September 19, 2010

Adobe MAX Unawards: Featuring a Few AEL Recipients!

For the past two years, Serge Jespers (@sjespers) has developed a widget to draw attention to the upcoming Adobe MAX conference that involves both video and community collaboration. Last year’s widget allowed users to post a short message on why one would want to attend MAX. This year’s widget allows users to record acceptance speeches for MAX Unawards and the whole process behind it is a great read!

So… we have a few Adobe Education Leaders who have received MAX Unawards! These are listed below and I encourage other AELs to submit and be added here…

Tom Green (@TomGreen) won the award for ‘Crustiest Tutorialist Of The Year

Joseph Labrecque (@JosephLabrecque) won the award for ‘Most Frustrated AIR Developer

David Egbert (@DaveEgbert) won the award for ‘Best Un Acceptance Speech

Think you deserve an Adobe MAX Unaward? You probably do – give it a shot!

4:12 PM Permalink
September 14, 2010

Education Summit at Adobe MAX

Sunday, October 24 – Education Summit at MAX – Los Angeles Convention Center

If you are involved in education and will be attending Adobe MAX this year, I highly encourage you to check out the full education rundown and especially the preconference Education Summit!

Registration is reduced significantly for students and educators!

As an aside, I’ll be speaking on OSMF! Check out the full agenda!

Open Source Media Framework for Education
Joseph Labrecque, Senior Multimedia Application Developer, University of Denver

Whether your institution provides progressive video streams over simple HTTP or leverages the full streaming power of Adobe Flash Media Server, when deciding how to implement playback, the Open Source Media Framework (OSMF) is clearly one of the best choices available. Join Joseph Labrecque as he provides a brief overview of OSMF and demonstrates a range of customization options for developing media playback clients within the framework for educational needs. This presentation covers both functional concerns and custom skinning mechanisms to implement your institution’s unique branding requirements.

5:32 PM Permalink
August 8, 2010

Adobe Education Leader Institute 2010

During the last week of July, ~90 Adobe Education Leaders from around the world came together at Adobe HQ in San Jose, California for a week of networking, sharing, collaboration, and numerous other activities. Since having the opportunity to begin work as an AEL in late 2008, I always look forward to this event. While completely exhausting by week’s end; there is really no other experience that comes close to this!

Monday evening marked a great reception at the Fairmount. Great to catch up with other AELs that were present last year, new AELs or those I hadn’t met previously, and many of the good people at Adobe I’ve worked so closely with over the past year.

Tuesday was full of information and presentations from Adobe product managers, creative directors, and platform managers. This marked some of my personal favorite sessions as we were given the opportunity to learn details on upcoming products, the general roadmap* and outlook for the Flash Platform (impressive!), and even demo sneaks of some KILLER upcoming technology enhancements. We also were treated to an excellent presentation on some items the Adobe XD team is working on.

Wednesday is reserved for AEL sessions; over 80 hours of these presentations were recorded and will be made available on the Adobe Education Leader AdobeTV channel later this year. I gave my talk on Using Collaborative Media Services with Flash in University Applications and it was very well received. Really, all of the talks I attended were quite compelling and covered a wide range of areas – looking forward to catching up on those sessions I missed.

Thursday consisted of some longer sessions on industry and product-specific hands-on trainings. I attended the industry track all day and there was some really compelling stuff presented. Some of the highlights include an update from SoDA and an overview of how the upcoming digital publishing workflow for devices will be done (Yeah, the WIRED iPad stuff!)

On Friday morning we had our quarterly meeting followed by a wrap-up session. Those AELs who were not physically present in San Jose were able to attend through a live Connect session.

This was my second Institute and was the fifth overall. What an absolutely stellar time! Many, many thanks to the Adobe Education Team and all the AELs who helped make this event so memorable. Some of you reading this might think I am being far too positive about such a “corporate relationship” and perhaps some corrupting influence is being spread at events such as this. As fellow AEL, Phil Ice, has written: “I am certain there are some who are reading this blog who believe that the purpose is to turn people in education into marketing machines – nothing could be further from the truth.” It’s a beneficial relationship for everyone involved and Adobe does HIGHLY value the education community. Thank you again, Adobeans, for listening to us and being receptive to even our harshest criticisms! I do hope to see many of you either at Adobe MAX in October, or at some other event very soon.

* Don’t let anyone tell you Adobe is “lazy” when it comes to Flash Player and the overall platform. Things are about to accelerate beyond anything we’ve seen in the past couple of years!

3:16 PM Permalink
June 29, 2010

Introducing the Adobe Education Exchange

The new Adobe Education Exchange is a web-based community that allows people to collaborate, share resources, network, and generate ideas and discussions around using Adobe solutions in and around the classroom.
Members of the Adobe education team, along with input from a group of Adobe Education Leaders, have been working on this project for months and are thrilled to announce that the project has now been officially launched and is available for anyone to access and use!
This is a resource for all facets of education: K-12, Higher Education, Colleges, Universities… admins, faculty, staff… whoever is working with Adobe technologies in education.
You can see a small subset of materials and resources available by visiting, but to truly get the most out of this resource, you will want to sign up with your Adobe ID and fill out your personal profile.

3:00 PM Permalink
April 21, 2010

Adobe AIR for Android!

AIR for AndroidFinally! Enough iPhone stuff! Time to talk about AIR for Android!
I have two applications I’m working on right now, one is a screen sketching application and the other is an educational application that allows art history students to casually study images with metadata through a mobile interface.
My examples are a bit different from those you’ve probably seen around the web lately, as they are not games but creative tools and educational study aids. I didn’t have anything built for iPhone as most prerelease testers had, so this is all pretty much from scratch over the past few days and VERY primitive, yet I believe this speaks to the effectiveness of the platform that I was able to produce two viable tools in my spare time in a matter of days. Nice.

SketchNSave []
SketchNSave provides a canvas to perform simple sketches on your Android device using a variety of colors and nib sizes. I’ve added an interesting effect where as different strokes are applied, older ones will fade and blur into the canvas and newer strokes remain distinct and crisp. A user can clear the canvas at will, and even save the image to the device camera roll.

StudyShuffler []
StudyShuffler provides a casual interface for Art History students to access study materials on the go. Students simply plug in their DU ID, select a gallery of images to pull from, and then proceed to study each image one at a time. To view image metadata, simply touch the card to flip it. To proceed to the next image, just give the mobile device a quick shake!

AIR for Android: OMG This is Cool!
So I’m writing this post a number of days before I’ll have NDA clearance to publish anything regarding Android for AIR. Just want to record my first impressions here!

Go, AIR for Android! Go, Flash!

7:00 AM Permalink
April 19, 2010

About Those iPads…

Apple vs. Everyone

“It’s a dumbed-down, sealed-shut device designed to make its owners into passive consumers.”
- Cory Doctorow

So I was recently asked something to the effect of
I am trying to decide if I need an iPad and have been reading mixed reviews with regards to the ability to use them at various Universities. I’m personally pretty Mac-resistant, but I don’t have a terribly good reason for it. Other than that they’re expensive and want to kill Flash and have some of the most irritating marketing EVER!
I believe that I gave a fair and reasoned response to the question and present it here for anyone else that may be in need of an opinion around this subject.

So while on the surface, a lot of people are thinking that students will be able to have all their textbooks on the device, you need buy-in from all the assorted publishers and I do not see that happening.
The largest downer though, as you implied, is that there is no support for Flash or even AIR… rendering educational tools like VoiceThread (and our own CourseMedia system) useless on the device. A lot of educational tools are built in whole or in part upon the Flash Platform and Apple is blocking them as well as anything authored in Java, Lua, Mono, Unity, et cetera…
On the other hand, we see a slew of Windows 7 and Android tablets being readied for launch with the additional promise of Chrome OS tablets. Microsoft is being a lot more open lately, and Google/Android is a no brainer in that regard. In fact, Google recently announced that Flash will be integrated into their Chrome browser and (one would assume) all Chromium projects, while Google, Mozilla, and Adobe are working together on a new plugin architecture that will elevate content such as Flash to the level of HTML and JavaScript in the browser.
On one hand we see a bunch of great tech minds working together to open up platforms and make the computing experience better for everyone (and this will translate onto the upcoming tablets based on Android, Chrome, and the like) – on the other hand we have closed off, expensive, limiting Apple products.
Part of the university experience should be about exploring and studying the world around us- being open to different technologies in such an environment should be no different.

I’m sure there are plenty that would disagree with several of my points in this opinion piece. I’m open to that.

5:20 PM Permalink
April 6, 2010

First Flex 4 Tool Built for CourseMedia™

At the University of Denver, we’ve been using the Flex 4 framework for a number of smaller projects (over the course of the development of the new framework) and now that Flex 4 is final, we’ve also begun working it into our CourseMedia™ application.
The first tool to benefit from Flex 4 is our CourseMedia™ Arrangement Tool:
The old arrangement tool is actually a leftover from DUVAGA which was updated to work with DUVAGA2/CourseMedia™ when we made the transition to video and such a few years back. For the more technically curious; the old arranger was written in originally written in ActionScript 1.0 (!) and really requires an update for many, many reasons.
The new Arrangement Tool is built on the open source Flex 4 framework and users will immediately notice it to be much faster at processing information, making database calls, and soforth. We are actually rendering bitmap data from video feeds and text slides as well, while preserving the thumbnails created within CourseMedia. This will allow for much simpler item reuse in this tool and hopefully others down the road.
While grabbing the input frame for a video clip may seem to be the best idea, in our testing we noticed that many clips at the beginning of a film began with a series of black frames. This is obviously no good for thumbnail generation. What we decided was to determine the frame precisely between but the start and end frames for any given video clip and render that frame to be used as the video thumbnail as illustrated below.
Frame Calculator
Here is a functional overview video of the Gallery Arrangement Tool used in the University of Denver CourseMedia™ Course Media Management System:

6:38 AM Permalink
March 11, 2010

DU Residence Hall Energy Consumption Project

Benjamin Zenner, a student at the University of Denver, has come up with a project to monitor energy consumption at the campus residence halls and display the information to students using a touchscreen interface.
The electric meters at five University of Denver residence halls are equipped with data collectors that transmit electrical consumption to Northwrite Inc. at 15 minute intervals. This data is then passed back to DU systems through a ColdFusion web service which sorts and stores the data within a local MySQL database. When one of the five residence halls is selected, this Flash-based web application makes queries against the database and plots the energy usage in kilowatt hours (kWh) over time for the residence hall.
My department became involved when the time came to put the pieces together. We needed to work with the energy monitoring company (Northwrite) to provide them with a WSDL to submit metering data to. We set this up in ColdFusion and parse out the data to be submitted rto a MySQL database that the Flash-based energy kiosk feeds from.
You can check it out at
Hear Ben talk about the project at about 1:14:

2:13 PM Permalink
February 5, 2010

Current RIA Job Trends

With all the nonsense being put out in some circles placing HTML5 and Flash content at odds with one another atop highly exaggerated claims that HTML would “replace” or “phase-out” Flash within the next few years (what?), it might be heartening for those students looking to work in the field of RIA to know exactly where they stand with current job trends.
I was alerted to a recent study of data made by Jonathan Campos that I believe should give future graduates a more solid outlook if they’ve been at all rattled by the recent debates.
Some of the highlights are revealed in the following charts (keep in mind that July 2009 is probably the height of the current global recession):
We can see from the graph above that Flex is still the leading RIA technology. Sure, Dojo (representing the HTML/JavaScript area of RIA) is doing nicely as well- but HTML/JavaScript and Flash are complementary technologies and in no way supplant one another aside from their specific strengths and weaknesses.

Happily, we see here that practitioners of RIA technologies still get paid nicely for their work.
Students- you have nothing to worry about. Don’t let the trolls frighten you!

12:42 AM Permalink
January 25, 2010

Education and New Media Collaborative Conference Application

The University of Denver Center for Teaching and Learning is holding a conference this Friday the 29th on “Education and New Media“. We are going to be streaming two keynotes by Michael Wesch live via Flash Media Server and invite you all to attend the discussion through a special app built for the conference that incorporates the live FMS stream, conference Twitter feed, and Google Analytics.
Remote participants can log in and post to the feed via the app – built entirely in Flash:
The idea behind this app is that conference participants (and those from afar who have interest in the keynotes) will be able to participate in a collaborative conversation through the Twitter feed while watching the keynote all through a single interface.
To accomplish this, I’ve employed Sandro Ducceschi’s very cool Tweetr AS3 Library for interfacing with the Twitter API. This is employed for both pulling all tweets marked with “#CTL2010” and allowing users to authenticate into Twitter and post directly from the app. The feed is refreshed every 60 seconds.
On the video side of things, we have employed the university’s Flash Media Servers and are tracking stats via Google Analytics Event Tracking API (which I have previously presented about for FITC). This results in a really nice (and functional!) showcase piece for using new media through the integration of a variety of systems and services.
To tie it all together, we’re using the open source Flex 4 framework and have made heavy use of the new Spark component set. The open source Text Layout Framework is used to render tweets along with my TwitterString class to interpret links, hashtags, and usernames.
I invite everyone to please spread the word about the conference stream. We’d like to have as many people participate in the discussion as possible!
Information about the conference follows:

The University of Denver is hosting an Education and New Media conference on Friday, January 29, 2010. We are very excited to have Michael Wesch as our keynote speaker. You are invited to join us for his keynote sessions via a live video stream. Virtual participants will have the ability to ask questions and share their comments via Twitter.
Michael’s morning keynote begins at approximately 8:30 and is titled, “How can we create students who can create meaningfully connections?” The afternoon keynote will begin around 12:15 pm and is titled, “Making connections: Experiments in Learning with New Media.”
Visit the conference webpage for more information and please feel free to share this invitation with your colleagues.
Information about how to the access the video stream will be posted here soon.

Please spread the word!

4:29 PM Permalink