Saturday, January 29, 2005

eLearning Design Challenge

Ron Lubensky has posted the latest eLearning design challenge

There is a severe drought. Strict domestic water usage restrictions are in place.

This is the fourth such challenge Ron has posted in recent months. They have inspired some lively debate and I am sure this latest challenge will do the same.

Discuss how you and others would approach this challenge on Ron's site eLearning Design Challenge #4.

Useful Windows XP tips

Windows XP tips, tricks, tweaks and tools

My wife found this great tip site for Windows XP

"Index of Windows XP Tips

Repository of XP Shell, User Interface tips, extensive troubleshooting guides and utilities for home users, IT Professionals, helpdesk / onsite support technicians. Most of the resources here deal with the Windows registry."

I notice the home page of this site has even more tips. Well worth looking at if you have trouble with your machine, and definitely worth looking at if you like to tinker under the bonnet (that's under the hood for you American folks).

Here's one cool example of the things available - ToolbarCop. This is a utility you can install to help get rid of all those helpful annoying toolbars and 'extensions' that your nephew has installed while you were mowing the lawn.

"ToolbarCop is a browser extensions manager which can disable or eliminate the following browser add-ons selectively from Internet Explorer:

• Unwanted Browser Helper Objects (BHO)
• Toolbars (Tool Band)
• Standard Toolbar buttons
• Context menu Extensions
• Third-party download managers &
• Third-party Protocol Handlers and their residual entries remaining in the registry.
• Horizontal / Vertical Explorer Bars (side-search bars)
• Startup applications originating from RUN registry keys."

Friday, January 28, 2005

Authorware 7 books

Where are all the Authorware 7 books?

Good question - let's take a look at what's on offer

First, there is the manual that comes with Authorware. It's OK, but you should treat it as a reference book. It contains exactly the same information that is in the Help files, so it's mostly of use if you want to browse or if you prefer to use a book.

Secondly, Joseph Ganci, of Dazzletech has written some excellent Authorware manuals and training courses over the years. You can purchase courses from the Dazzletech web site. The scripting courses cover Authorware versions from 5.2 to 7.0, so you will find more than enough information to make you a skilled Authorware developer.

Shameless Plug Dazzletch is again presenting excellent training courses at EuroTAAC this year.

Finally, perhaps you want to add some additional scripting power to Authoware 7. You can with JavaScript. Maybe you already know it well having done other web development. Maybe you are a Flash > Authorware convert and you just cannot get out of the ActionScript mentality. Maybe you just prefer object-based code ... Whatever, JavaScript in Authorware 7 is a powerful new addition, and you may need help getting it to work for you. Ron Lubensky (did I mention he is a God?) has a great JavaScript Quick Reference for Authorware...

"Instead of having browser objects like document, window and navigator, JavaScript for Authorware has its own Authorware Object Model that relates to its icons. This quick reference is a Command that you can display while you author. Use it to learn and remind yourself about syntax and object usage. It is presented as an Explorer-style tree. There is even an option to install it into your Authorware 7.0 script editor snippets"

So far that is really it for Authorware 7 books. Maybe when we get Authorware 8 there will be some new books. Anyone willing to sponsor me and Amy to write one? ;-)

PocketPC Flash Player

Looking for the Flash player for your PocketPC?

It seems like some people don't want you to find it

If you look an the Macromedia web site, it says you should check with your vendor, and offers a link to the Microsoft site. It sends you off somewhere else. If you are lucky, you will eventually find yourself back at the Macromedia download site for the PocketPC 2002 Flash Player.

Yes, that's right, it says the 2002 player. But don't worry, the player should be good for machines running one of the versions of PocketPC 2003 too.

But be careful as it seems like support for the Flash player is something your device vendor apparently can control, so you may find that your PocketPC phone does not support it. Standard PocketPCs should be OK though.

Why did I tell you this? You may recall that I did a little PocketPC work a while ago, and I am obsessed by the little devices. It amazes me to consider the power of these. In many ways they are more powerful than my first PC in 1998, for a start mine has built-in Wi-Fi, and it plays movies better than my old PC could ...

RSS Feed

RSS feed addded

Good news for all you syndication fans!

Andrew Lucking asked if I could add a syndication feed, and Andrew, your wish is my command! Point your RSS reader to

or click the button at the top left of this page.

It is not the most advanced RSS feed in the world, but what do you expect for free? :+)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Hot on the heels ...

More on the Authorware 2004 Web Player

Almost as soon as I had posted a comment about Ron Lubensky's Web Player helper ...

... and I receive a comment asking for more information about the web player:-

"I agree that Ron's Command is pretty good but can you tell us more about *local* web packaged AW pieces that:

1 - are run without a manifest
2 - need to work under XP SP2's security features
3 - resolve AW security issues on Gecko based browsers"

Quick as a flash I had a dig about and I found some answers that might help.

1 - Andrew Poulos tells us here what to do with a file that does not have an associated Manifest

2 - This gem from Andrew Poulos describes how to get an Authorware file to run properly locally so he does not always have to be connected to the internet to get access to the Macromedia web site. Obviously this also has relevance to 1 above.

3 - And, remarkably, it appears the answer to 2 also answers 3 above ;-)

I think maybe I see a coincidence out the corner of my eye. What do you think?

Learn to love the Aware List archives. They are your best friend, ever!

Did I mention Ron L, the God?

Did I mention Ron L, the God?

Not content with giving us the GREAT Find & Fix command ...

... Ron recently created the AW 2004 Web Player Helper Command.

Macromedia launched a fine new version of the Authorware Web Player last spring, designed to make life simpler for us poor developers who had to deliver to locked-down Corporate systems - especially windows XP. The new web player needs a little extra tickling to make it work perfectly. Ron, the sweetheart that he is, took some time out to create a command that takes the pain out of the tickling...

Authorware 2004 Web Player Helper Command (ver 1.2 22K)
Click here to download for Authorware 6.5 and 7.0. Just copy the appropriate file in the zip to your Commands folder.

The new Authorware 2004 Web Player is fantastic. But One Button Publishing (OBP) in Authorware 6.5 and 7.0 isn't set up to take advantage of it. The default configuration is for the player to install the complete set of support files, but you can speed up the process by specifying a compact set of files and supply xtras with your package. Also, intranet deployment requires that player support files be referenced from a client location rather than from the Macromedia site. After publishing your learning object for web deployment, run this Command to:

1, add or replace a PLR line in your web player map file to specify complete, compact or custom installation.

2, check that OBP can select the codebase reference for the new player in any HTML template by updating your OBP.INI file.

EuroTAAC 2005, Blackpool, England

EuroTAAC 2005, Blackpool, England

Bring your buckets and spades

This year EuroTAAC is scheduled for April 14th to April 16th, and we are taking the conference to Blackpool, home to Britain's answer to the Eiffel Tower. Here's some cool web-cam pictures from the top of the tower.

The conference reaches new heights of luxury this year, in the Heron's Reach Hotel.

A full schedule of events and a list of speakers has now been posted. Highlights include Joseph Ganci, with his delicately entitled presentation Making Your E-Learning Engaging: Getting Past the Crap Factor, and a new-format Networking Event on Friday afternoon, where you are encouraged to bring your laptops and your business cards to swap problems, solutions and telephone numbers.

If you are interested in booking for either the conference or the pre- and post-conference training, then head to our registration page, but don't forget to check out the rest of the web site first!

Follow these links for travel and accommodation information, and more information about the Heron's Reach hotel.

Illegal character in aam file

Illegal character in aam file

Every now and then this error message appears ...

... when people are web publishing:

Warning: "Your File.ext" includes illegal Web Player characters. Legal
characters are A-Z. a-z, 0-9, and $-_.+!*,().

All it is telling you is that your file name has illegal characters in it. In the case above, all you need to do is rename the file and the aam reference so that there are no spaces in the filename.

Why did this happen? For a long time the convention (more accurately, rule since many browsers did not support long filenames) was to never use long filenames when publishing anything to the Internet. Macromedia set up the Authorware Web Player and the Web Publisher to follow that convention. These days many browsers will happily cope with spaces in the filenames, but it is still wise to adhere to the convention, especially when you are unsure of the capabilites of the browser you are publishing to.

Captivate movies in Authorware

Captivate movies in Authorware

Trouble at t' mill!

The new version of RoboDemo from Macromedia, now renamed Captivate, has been causing Authoware users a couple of problems. Robodemo used to create Flash files that were on a single timeline, and it was easy for Authorware users to detect the end of the movie, create custom buttons to pause, play, navigate etc through the RoboDemo movie.

With Captivate, Macromedia has changed the way the movies are created and now they contain numerous movie clips. Whilst this is definitely a better way to make Flash movies, it has broken the custom code used by developers for some time.

Macromedia has promised a technote soon to help users overcome this issue. Watch this space. Meantime, if you are a skilled flash user, or have access to one, you should publish your Captivate movie as an fla then you can edit it in Flash. You should be able to add some custom functions in Flash that you can call from Authorware to do your bidding. Also, you can add a GetURL message to tell Authorware the movie has finished, as per this example file I made some time ago. The zip file contains example Authorware and Flash code to show you haw to send an event from Flash to Authorware. You can use the same method to send other messages, such as navigation messages from a custom menu.

Have fun!!

Ron Lubensky is an Authorware GOD

Ron Lubensky is an Authorware GOD

Ron keeps on updating Find & Fix for us.

His latest version of this amazing command was recently updated to version 2.31. Here's what he has to say about it:-

"Use this command with AW6.5 or AW7.0 to perform maintenance operations on your applications. If you need to perform repetitive tasks with a certain degree of complexity, use Find & Fix to automate the process and complete them quickly.

To give you an idea of what it does, here is a gif of the Command's interface.
I use Find & Fix almost every day in my own development, I couldn't be as productive as I am without it.

This version includes the following new features:

• Batch file facility -- yes, you can now process a folder of AW files in one go!
• Ability to maximise script text areas -- many have asked for a larger space for scripting
• Ability to insert continuation character ¬ in scripts
• Easier to find settings files -- the open and save dialogs open in the default folder

Update or get a trial version of Find & Fix at"

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Wedding pictures

Wedding pictures

Just in case you don't believe it really happened!

Here are some of our wedding photos.
And just for the record, nothing is worn under a Scotsman's kilt. Everything is in perfect working order.

Oh My Goodness!

Father forgive me for I have sinned.

It has been over a year since my last submission.

Since then I have sold, thrown away or given away almost all of my posessions.

I have left my home in England and travelled across the Atlantic to settle in Mississippi.

In August 2004, the 24th to be exact, I married my sweetheart of almost 4 years, Amy Blankenship, and now we are embarking on our 'happily ever after'.

I promise to be good from now on.

I will submit to my blog on regular occasions.
I promise to keep my regular readers informed.
I promise to post useful tips and tricks for using Authorware 7 and beyond.
And post about other stuff too. Some of it will have absolutely no relationship with Macromedia or multimedia whatsoever.


I will


Cross my heart!