&ot Information Gift: August 2002 Archives

August 30, 2002

Whither Classic?

A question recently asked on a Director developers list I frequent (paraphrased): "how can I tell if my Mac projector is running in emulation on an OS X box?"

One reason this may be important to know is if your projector is using an xtra that is incompatible with or works differently when run in OS X's "Classic" mode emulation of OS 9.x. For instance, I found that the Scott X's very groovy GammaFade xObject used in my first CD-ROM project fails to control screen gamma tables when run in Classic.

Gretchen Macdowall, who runs UpdateStage, required reading for Director quirks and a point source for high-quality xtras, offers a solution using MasterApp, a xtra developed by Glenn Picher (also responsible for Shockwave.com's Creativity xtras).

She writes "One way to do it with MasterApp Xtra is to look for an app called "Classic Support" in the task list. It is only present when 9.* is running under Classic on OSX."

Anyone know of another way to tell, either with or w/o a xtra?

Posted by Lewis Francis at 11:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

August 21, 2002

Netscape 4.8 released

Netscape/AOL quietly released Netscape 4.8 more or less on August 21, 2002. I say more or less because as far as I can tell there have been no release announcements and nothing regarding what has changed in this version, and on top of that the release notes url has been playing hide and seek (now you see it, now you don't) over the last week or so.

Speculative guesses at security fixes are so far unsubstantiated but sound reasonable enough. More scuttlebutt has it that a big Netscape client is funding continued patching and allows Netscape to distribute the patched versions of this five year old browser. An enlightened view, if true. Nonetheless, I hope none of you are actually still using this product. If you are, please stop.

PC version comes bundled with:
-Real One player
-Flash 6.0r29
-Beatnik (full version!)

Mac version comes bundled with:
-Flash 6.0r29
-Beatnik (full version!)

Posted by Lewis Francis at 5:35 PM | Permalink

August 12, 2002

Flash 6.0r47 security fix released

On August 8th, Macromedia released a new version of the Flash 6 player to address a recently uncovered security vulnerability, and Macromedia is following the "better safe than sorry" convention of advising all users to upgrade. Full details can be found in the Macromedia Flash URL Modification Issue document on the Macromedia web site.

A couple notes for developers:

If you rely on remote debugging, then you should hold off on upgrading your Flash plugin until debug players for this version are released. As there are no new features or bug fixes other than this security issue, not upgrading should have no effect on your work.

In fact, upgrading may introduce problems in your workflow as Flash 6.0r47 breaks the plugins ability to read values appended to the .swf url if the containing html page is viewed locally instead of from a web server. Many of today's OS come with their own "personal" web servers, which can be used as a workaround for this problem if you need to work off-line.

Interestingly, while Shockwave for Director itself apparently does not suffer this particular vulnerability, Shockwave can play back Flash content, so under certain conditions, a Shockwave movie containing Flash assets may be vulnerable. Macromedia promises to fix this in the next release of the Shockwave for Director player (no release date offered).

Posted by Lewis Francis at 12:24 AM | Permalink

RDC for Mac OS X

Microsoft recently released a very cool (and free) tool that allows the remote viewing and operation of Windows desktops from a machine running Mac OS X.

From: Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac OS X:

Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac allows you to connect to a Windows-based computer and work with programs and files on that computer from your Macintosh computer. To use Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac, you need network access and permissions to connect to a Windows-based computer running Terminal Services or Remote Desktop Services. These services are included with the following Windows products:

* Windows XP Professional
* Windows .NET Standard Server
* Windows .NET Enterprise Server
* Windows 2000 Server
* Windows 2000 Advanced Server
* Windows 2000 Datacenter Server
* Windows NT Server 4.0, Terminal Server Edition

Using RDC, I can remotely test browser compatibility on any of the supported WinOS machines on which I have an account, plus all my OS X and Classic browers. This is a great solution for web QA and test labs with tight space where at least some of their WinOS machines could be run "headless" and tucked out of the way.

Posted by Lewis Francis at 12:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

August 6, 2002

DHTML vs. plugins, forms, and iFrames

One of the most common mistakes inexperienced site designers and developers can make is to assume that browsers act consistently. Sadly, they don't. Not at all. Not even close.

One particularly vexing issue is exposed when sites employ DHTML such as drop-down menus, only to find that when their menus fall over certain page elements, like form widgets, plugins, and iframes, different and unexpected things happen. Part of an in-page element might blast through the DHTML menu, or the menu may fall behind the element. Not surprisingly (to veterans, anyway) the behavior is different across browser versions and platforms.

Unfortunately, there is no fix. The best you can do is educate your team so that DHTML enhanced designs won't trip over this issue. Web Reference has published an exhaustive review of the problem in an article entitled Positioned Elements and OS Controls, Applets and Plug-ins, and is just the ticket: bookmark it, read it, send it to all your friends.

Posted by Lewis Francis at 12:27 AM | Permalink

August 5, 2002

My Buddy (can beat your buddy)

Came across a cool Xtra I hadn't heard about that allows control of a PC Director projector from the System Tray, a capability I was often asked about in a past life.

Created by the same folks that brought us the mighty Buddy API, meet Buddy Tray, which:

"Adds icons to the windows system tray and allows popup menus from the icon. Full control for left click, right click, left double click, right double click, and more. Allows you to set custom icons and send menu responses back to the projector, as well as hide the projector from view. "

Best of all, it's free! Couple of years old so ymmv with newer WinOS flavors; teto, etc. You can download it from MediaMacros here.

Posted by Lewis Francis at 12:29 AM | Permalink