Review of a.D. MMX (with bonus MMXI preview!)

Seriously, 2010 has to win the award for most frenetic year ever! It almost seems as though I was asleep for most of it- but that simply cannot be the case as I’ve accomplished far to much to have been asleep at the wheel.

So what have I done this past year? Well, things started out with great anticipation for mobile, followed up by a plea for sanity regarding the manufactured “HTML vs. Flash” debate. That pretty much framed a good portion of the year’s events. Some other things happened too… let’s break it all down by category.

Work at the University of Denver

Most of my work this past year at DU has been maintenance and bug fixes for current larger applications, the development of a lot of AIR based utility apps, and the planning and development of some newer applications for 2011. I was also involved in a lot of interviews and write-ups having to do with our work using the Flash Platform and other technologies. Almost all of my talks this past year have focused around my university projects as well- though these will be listed separately.

  • A bunch of experiments using AIR 2.0 Native Process.
  • Many, many CourseMedia updates over the year…
  • Released my AIR 2.0 HandBrake preset manager DropFolders.
  • I delivered a roundtable discussion at the COLTT conference in Boulder: “Mobile Outlook 2010 – Where Are We?”
  • I delivered a second session at COLTT called “Making Rich Video Happen!
  • Lots of planning around streaming video projects.
  • Finally got Adobe Connect 8 for university use.

All in all; a productive year – though with the amount of care and updating older applications take, it is quite difficult to take on any larger new projects. We are in the planning phases for some mobile development projects and I hope to have something out during the first quarter.

Conferences, Interviews, and Publications

It’s been an incredible year for the number of talks I’ve done at various conferences, user group meetings, and other events. Really an incredible amount of sessions and demos. Happily, I was able to present at Adobe MAX this past year which was a really great experience. Preparation for all these talks took up so much of my time that I’m thinking of scaling back a bit for 2011.

Also of note; I’ve had my projects featured on a number of different websites and have been interviewed by a number of folks around my university and AEL work. Add to this the articles I’ve written for InsideRIA (need to do more for them), CodeBass, and ActiveTuts+… aside from regular updates on this weblog… a lot of writing. Here are some hi-lights:

  • Some of my AIR for Android experiments got a mention in Flash and Flex Developer Magazine.
  • InsideRIA published my article on AIR 2.0 NativeProcess APIs!
  • I was interviewed for a case study regarding the University of Denver and Adobe Flash Platform tools.
  • I was interviewed about my role as Adobe Education Leader for a European journal. (as yet unpublished)
  • LifeHacker did a small story on DropFolders!
  • I delivered a session at the Adobe Education Leader Summer Institute in San Jose: “Using Collaborative Media Services with Flash in University Applications
  • I was video-interviewed regarding my use of Adobe Flash Platform tools and my role as Adobe Education Leader. (internal)
  • An Early Morning Letter, Displaced got some press through DU Today!
  • I received a feature in CodeBass!
  • I became an ActiveTuts+ author and my first set of tutorials “Using AS3XLS with the Flex Framework” were published.
  • 360|Flex DC happened. I wasn’t there, but Emergent Collective One got a mention on their blog and apparently got an odd shout out during 360 Flex-a-palooza —> proper pronunciation is (l?-br?-k) – not “B-B-Q”!
  • Went to Flash Camp, Denver!
  • I attended Adobe MAX 2010 in Los Angeles and gave THREE sessions while I was there; “Progressing beyond the Desktop at Universities with Adobe AIR” for MAX, “Open Source Media Framework for Education” for the Adobe Education Summit pre-conference, and “‘Emergent Collective One’ – All the Little Pieces…” for the FITC Unconference. BUSY week.
  • While at Adobe MAX, I was also interviewed by Motorola for their developer podcast series.
  • Did some tweeting for ActiveTuts+ while at Adobe MAX too.
  • Presented “AIR for Higher Education” at RMAUG miniMAX in Denver!
  • Was asked to contribute to the ActiveTuts+ “HTML5, Flash and RIAs: Industry Experts Have Their Say” article.
  • Contributed an AS3 audio demo set to CodeBass.
  • Had my “Using Flash Catalyst to Design a Film Trailer Website Series” published to ActiveTuts+
  • Gave a webinar to the Adobe Education CommunityWinter Fun with Adobe CS5 Tools
  • Recently went under contract with Packt Publishing to write a book!
  • Recorded an interview for The Flex Show on “Flex Development in Higher Education“!

Adobe Education Leader Stuff

Again, I am immensely thankful to be included among such a great group of people at Adobe and at institutions around the world. The AEL community is such a great resource and I try to contribute back as much as possible. Many of the unique activities I am able to be involved in are due to my involvement in this stellar group of people and it is all so valuable to me.

Thanks to Megan, Peter, Claire, John, Daniela and everyone at Adobe for making 2010 an absolutely terrific year to be involved in the AEL program at Adobe. My current term as an AEL is coming to an end but I do hope to be renewed for another term in the coming year! Here are some of the more notable things that happened:

  • I won an Adobe Education Leader Impact Award!
  • Adobe Creative Suite 5 was released!
  • Adobe Education Leader Summer Institute 2010!
  • A bunch of positive news gave the Flash Platform a nice boost.
  • Adobe MAX 2010!
  • The Adobe Education Exchange was launched!
  • Flash Player 10.1 and AIR 2.0 were released!
  • Apple reverses the 3.3.1 clause forbidding cross-compiled applications in the App Store.
  • Adobe reports record earnings for 2010!
  • Bunch of really cool stuff coming in 2011!

Fractured Vision Media, LLC

Great year for FVM! A lot of the projects I took on in the past for FVM have been all over the place, technically, but this year was a huge focus on Flash Platform technologies – specifically Adobe AIR. As a result of this, FVM has had the best year ever in terms of revenue and I have felt much more confident in my ability to pick and choose clients. It is a great point in the life of a business when you are able to turn down specific, problem clients if you choose to do so!

This was also a nice, balanced year for FVM CD releases with both the community compilation “Emergent Collective One” and the An Early Morning letter, Displaced EP “6Threads” being made available. I have high hopes that next year will also be productive in this area.

Notable items:

  • Put out a call for community music submissions for a CD compilation through Fractured Vision Media.
  • Fractured Vision Media releases “Emergent Collective One” – the community compilation audio CD!
  • CodeBass was born!
  • An Early Morning Letter, Displaced releases the 6Threads EP through Fractured Vision Media!

Personal Tidbits

I almost feel as though my personal life has taken a large hit due to all of my other activities for the year. Time goes by so quickly… I hope to slow things down a bit in 2011 to spend more time with my family…

2010 saw the birth of my second child (and second daughter!), Lily Seraphina Labrecque, in February! After which, I spent an extended period of time out of the office on parental leave. That’s the major stuff. No personal tragedies, thank God.


What didn’t I get to get to do? Well, I had set forth a number of goals in my 2009 retrospective. Here’s what didn’t happen!

  • Was all fired up to learn Git inside and out. Only glazed the surface.
  • Unit testing? Forget about it…
  • More time for photography? Didn’t happen.
  • Strangling Strangers? Got absorbed into An Early Morning Letter, Displaced.

Plans for Next Year…

Already, 2011 is looking as though it will surpass 2010 so far as professional activities go:

  • I’m under contract with Packt Publishing to write a book around Flash Platform and Android!!! This is going to eat up a ton of my time during the first half of the year!
  • Maybe time to really get some TDD going on… (must get in this.)
  • Already registered for 360|Flex in Denver this coming Spring!
  • Adobe MAX 2011, anyone???
  • Emergent Collective Two? (announced at FITC Unconference at Adobe MAX but need to nail down specifics. Will be a slightly different process.)
  • New An Early Morning letter, Displaced full-length? (maybe… not sure I have enough time… 2012?)
  • Probably a million little things I haven’t any inkling of yet!

Have a Merry Christmas… see you in… THE FUTURE!!!

An Unexpected, Random, Kindness.

On the days I drive into the office, before getting on I-25 to travel south to Denver, I normally stop by Starbucks for a coffee. My normal coffee is a Venti “bold pick of the day”, black. Today, I was feeling hungry so ordered a cranberry orange scone as well.

Random gift of coffee and scone.

After waiting in line at the drive-thru, I finally got to the window and was presented with my order. The barista working the window tells me “That lady in front of you already paid for yours. You’re all set.” What? Some strange lady paid for my coffee? For no real reason? My perception of human-kind is shattered.

You see, I normally have a pretty negative view of most people. I’m nice enough to everyone I meet- I just have this view that most people are either cruel, stupid, or a deadly combination of both. Now I sit hear drinking my coffee, eating my scone, and thinking I may have to revisit some of these general perceptions of humanity that I hold.

A cup of coffee is normally quite insignificant. Not today. Makes me want to do something nice for a random person. Cheers, random coffee lady – wherever you are!

Laying Low for a Few Months…

Just a quick note that things may be pretty distant for the next few months. I’m on parental leave until mid-July and will have my hands tied up in baby business until then. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get some other things done as well.

On the list right now:

  • Get up to speed with Adobe CS5 releases.
  • Prepare for upcoming Summer presentations at various conferences.
  • Gather materials for the Community Compilation CD Project. (please spread the word!)
  • Work on material for the “6 Threads” EP.
  • Probably do some work here and there for the University of Denver.
  • Continue working with AIR for Android.
  • Teaching a bunch of online Flash classes over the Summer.
  • Generally re-focus and re-set. Get rid of the trash.

Right now, things are pretty foggy. I’m a week in and will definitely require some adjustment time. My last leave (3 1/2 years back) was fairly productive and ended up being a great experience. Hoping for much of the same.

A Word About Bread

I haven’t done a lot of Flash development this weekend. Mostly I’ve been baking bread.

I love good breads, so when a co-worker of mine introduced me to the No-Knead Bread method developed by Jim Lahey… I developed a quick fanaticism over it. I’ve made three loafs of bread in the past few days. Awesome bread- well developed crust… nice, airy inside… simple, timeless flavor. Just great, great bread!

I don’t normally write about anything here that isn’t in some way related to my work in one way or another- this is just too good not to share though. I encourage everyone to give this a shot if you want a quality loaf of bread to share over wine or beer. This really cannot be beat.

I made these. In my home oven. Electric.

3rd Loaf

2nd Loaf (with Rosemary!)

1st Loaf

I am a man obsessed.

2009 Personal Retrospective

As per my annual habit, I’m providing a rundown of significant events and reflections for the past year, organized by category. Like always, this is more of a log for my own reflections and milestones, but is publicly available as I believe it a a good representation of my work and achievements for the year.

University of Denver

Things have been quite busy in my position as Senior Multimedia Application Developer for the University of Denver. We’ve had a number of huge roll-outs with existing projects this year along with a number of new applications, as well.

The most significant application we’ve worked on this past year has been DU CourseMedia™ (formerly DUVAGA). Not only did the application received a drastic change of branding, but a ton of new tools were introduced which garnered the attention of Adobe and other organizations. Almost all of my presentations for the year were based upon this system.

The DU Portfolio system also received quite an upgrade (and slight branding adjustment) in the form of user-customizable options.

Overall, I do find myself with solid employment in a job that provides me with a flexible work schedule, open development practices, and the freedom to experiment with new technologies. A person with interests such as my own cannot ask for much more.

Adjunct Teaching

It almost seems as though with every year that goes by, I do less teaching. 2009 was no exception to this. In 2008, I started doing most of my courses online in a distance-only format. This year, they’ve all been online- I no longer do location-based, traditional classes. I think the main factor behind this change is an increased involvement with other areas of professional involvement (specifically the Flash Platform community and my Adobe Higher Education leader duties) but most of all the need to balance family life with the rest of my work. It’s good- I’m happy with the amount of teaching that I’m currently assigned and quite glad that I’m able to perform at a distance in this manner.

Adobe Higher Education Leader Program

I’ve been participating in a lot more community events since joining the Adobe Education Leader program last year. Participation in this program continues to be one of my favorite activities and I dearly hope that I’ll be able to continue my involvement for years to come.

Here’s a sampling of presentations and activities from 2009:

I received the following certifications at the Adobe Education Leader Summer Institute:

  • Rich Media Communication using Adobe Flash CS4
  • Web Communication using Adobe Dreamweaver CS4
  • Visual Communication using Adobe Photoshop CS4

I’m also involved in a ton of NDA stuff that I obviously can’t talk about here… wish I could though- exciting stuff!

Fractured Vision Media

FVM picked up a number of new clients with pretty large projects this year. We also continue to support many of our legacy clientele, as well. The economy certainly has brought a lot of company budgets to a grinding halt… not so much for Flash and AIR development, it would seem.

An Early Morning Letter, Displaced had a great year! The track “Condemnation” from the album A Prison of Oneself received a nomination from the JPF 2009 awards in the best ambient song category. While it didn’t win, being nominated out of over a half million songs is a pretty big deal.

Later in the year, the most recent album, Shudderflowers, was released. The new album has gotten some really nice comments such as this one from Numina’s Jesse Sola: “The new album is amazing. Excellent job and I look forward to several more listens.” Not bad.

FVM also released digital-only versions of both August and Through Darkened Eyes, making the entire catalog available through CDBaby, Amazon, iTunes, and others.

Personal Items

The biggest piece of personal news is that my wife and I are expecting our second child in February. This means that I’ll be taking a big chunk of time off from my normal routine as paternal leave. Unfortunately, I may not be able to do as much traveling and presenting in 2010. Still working out the details as there are a few events I absolutely would love to find some way to get to!

Plans for 2010

Looking forward to 2010, I have a lot of hope in the mobile Flash Platform. Hoping that Adobe’s strategy in this area pays off and opens up a whole other realm of development for my university projects. Along with Flash Player 10.1 on mobile, I’d love to see native compilers for more platforms that just iPhone. Android native compiler- c’mon, Adobe!

  • Develop tools for mobile!
  • Learn Git commands and use it for all new projects.
  • Get into unit testing with Flex projects.
  • Force time for more photography.
  • More ‘creative’ Flash and video work!
  • New project Strangling Strangers! [note: Just not going to happen at this time. I’m stretched too thin as things stand, already.]

Closing Remarks

This weblog has seen a steady increase in traffic as it normally does from year to year. I try to balance the posts here between both announcements and the more technical code examples. This seems to work quite well, although the code samples do tend to attract the most traffic! It’s increasingly difficult to update things regularly as Twitter takes a lot of the smaller things from this forum. As a result, articles here tend to be longer and more thought out than they have been in previous years. I see this continuing in this way without issue.