ShyBladder!?! iPhone App that REALLY takes the p**s...

Yes really... The title is correct! These IS actually an iPhone Application called ShyBladder! Obviously I am not going to waste my time installing it but the description says:

"Do you have trouble getting things going in the restroom? Perhaps just when other people are around... ...With ShyBladder on your iPhone, you will have a helpful prompt to get into your flow. With three different styles of running water."

What the hell? If I'm having 'trouble' in any restroom the last thing I'm going to do is get my phone out and start playing the sound of urine sloshing down the drain. My fellow urinees will probably think I've been recording the sound of them peeing and have some very pressing questions to ask me on the subject. Questions that start with 'What the f..." and end with my head and/or iPhone stuffed down the poopoo box.

Ridiculous!

A Film About Races Website goes live...

Oast One has just put the finishing touches to the A Film About Races website which showcases a new documentary film coming out in 2009. The website features a voting system where users can guess which team featured in the movie will win. A big thank you to Dave at davewhite.net for his help on the voting system behind-the-scenes coding.

The site went live today and we can't wait to see the film!

Steve's Excellent Podcast

If you like house-music in all its different incarnations then check this out: Steve's Excellent Podcast (requires iTunes).

How to force Internet Explorer to ignore the cache and reload a SWF...

Dave of davewhite.net and I have just put the finishing touches to a very* simple voting form on a website I have been developing. Users can vote from six choices and the results get picked up by a SWF file that displays the results as an animated bar graph.

The problem, as ever, was Internet Explorer. After casting your vote you would be redirected to a new page containing the SWF file showing the new vote standings (including your vote). This worked fine in Firefox and Safari but, for reasons best known to some useless Microsoft techy, IE saw fit to just load in the SWF with the old data. I tried all sorts of work arounds including meta-tags that (supposedly) prevent IE from caching the webpage but to no avail.

In the end I created a new SWF file, the same shape and size that loads the original one in using the following code:

theDate = new Date();
// this number will always be unique
nocache = theDate .getTime();
_root.holder.loadMovie("myMovie.swf?nocache="+nocache);

The random number *should* prevent IE from just loading in the previous version from cache. Some testing will tell...

Oh - and you can do the same if you are loading in other files, such as txt, too.

* No really - VERY simple.

***Updated*** iPhone - how to unlock the hidden Emoji for free...

So why do the Japanese get Emoji and we don't?

That just isn't fair... In an attempt to balance things up a bit I'll tell you how to unlock the Emoji hidden on your iPhone. Follow these four easy steps and you'll be grinning smilies at your mates (with iPhones) in no time:

  1. Make sure you have iPhone software 2.2 or higher installed on your iPhone 3G (not sure if this works with the original iPhone)
  2. Go to the App Store and search for an App called 'Spell Number' - it's written by a company called Waterworld and is FREE! Install it.
  3. Once installed open the App and tap in '9876543.21' - this is an Easter Egg that will unlock the Emoji hidden on all iPhones with software 2.2 and above installed
  4. Now to turn them on. Go to: Settings > General > International > Keyboards > Japanese. You will see that an Emoji setting has been added. Switch it on.

***UPDATE*** The 'Spell Number' application was updated on 6 March 2009 and the Emoji Easter Egg was removed! Bummer. However - it you search for 'Emoji' on the App Store you will find other applications that claim to unlock iPhone Emoji. Simply replace steps 2 amd 3 above with the App you choose to use.

NOTE: You only need to follow these steps to use Emoji - you can still see them on an iPhone 3G (v2.2+) without having them turned on. This means you can surprise all your friends by sending them a bunch of random images. (Believe me there is some wierd little pictures in there.)

Next time you type an MSN, send an email, update Facebook, etc using your iPhone you will see a globe button to the right of the Space Bar. That's where your Emoji are! Bear in mind that only people with iPhones (v2.2+) will see your Emoji - everyone else will see a strange Japanese character.

How to loop a composition in After Effects...

I recently upgraded to After Effects CS4 as part of the Production Suite. I figured that the update was worth the cash if only Adobe would address one little issue I have with After Effects... Just one tiny, weeny little issue... To provide the ability to simply and easily loop a composition without having to export it as footage then reimport it. A tedious task; especially if you are tweeking an animation cycle or making slight client amends.

Alas no! They have not.

However the pain of being ignored by Adobe has been lessened a little after speaking to my friend Oggy who has come up with a nice little soloution to this. I elaborate below:

1. Pre-comp the composition you wish to loop into a new composition. Make sure this new composition is long enough to contain all the loops you will need.

2.

 

Pre-comp the comp you want to loop into a new comp that is long enough to hold all the loops you want. Enable time remapping for the new comp. Type "rr" to reveal the keyframes. Set a keyframe at the last frame of the loop. Delete the keyframe at the end of the comp. You should now have keyframes at the start of the loop and the end of the loop. Enter this expression in the time-remapping property:

loop_out("cycle",0)

That should do it.

If you use the method I described, you'll lose the first frame of your loop after it plays through once. If that's important, you need to add one more keyframe after the one at the end of the loop and set its value to zero. loop_out("cycle",0) behaves better if the last keyframe is identical to the first one.

I've found a work around to this solution: (see the screen shot below), I don't have 100% of speed but I'm close to it and I manage with 2 key frames. From now, I've created a new composition with duration of 15 seconds and thanks to expressions I could layout the 1 second butterfly animation to any length, simply by dragging its right handle in timeline.

Nine minutes through Paris...

My dad send me a link to Claude Lelouch's 1976 film 'C'etait Un Rendezvous' today. I've never seen it before but I must say - it's pretty captivating. The film was set in Paris as is supposed to be a gyroscopic camera attached to the front of a Ferrari 275 GTB. The driver, a previous Formula 1 star whos identity remains hidden to this day, drives at speeds up to 146mph through the centre of early morning Paris.

There is some dispute as to wheather or not a Ferrari was used - it is said to be a Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 with the sound of a Ferrari dubbed over the top. There's also disagreeance over the top speed achieved. Whatever the case, we should all bow down to willing suspension of disbelife as it is a wonderful piece of film and well worth nine minutes of your time.

The feeling of speed is incredible as the car slides and screeches round the Arc de Triomphe, Opera Garnier, and Place de la Concorde with pigeons scattering and red lights being completely ignored. Although the driver his obviously skilled he is effectively trusting to luck that he's not going to get hit by a bus, stopped by the police or collide with on-coming traffic. You can't help feeling like you shouldn't be watching this nine minutes of pure seat-of-the-pants danger. Its wrong on so many levels. What if he'd hit someone? Crashed into a building? Been stopped by the law? The many possible conquences don't bear thinking about but it does give you a wonderful little thrill to be part of it for the duration of the film.

These days it would be seen as mindless stupidity - I daresay you can easily view similar modern-day equivilents online - but the magic of the early morning, the noise of the engine, 1970's Paris and the fact its supposedly a vintage Ferrari all combine to make it somehow seem ok.

The Director was arrested shortly after he screened the film for not revealing who the driver was.

Vita R1 DAB Radio...

I've just taken delivery of a Vito R1 DAB/FM Radio and I must say... It's highly strokable.

 

See?

"So", I hear you all shouting in unison, "why the hell did you buy a £160 DAB radio in a world where streaming thousands of radio stations via the internet is FREE?"

Well really I wanted this:

The Tivoli Networks Radio. Again: Nice! This one is not just DAB and FM but also picks up your wireless Network and allows you to stream internet radio with gay abandon whereever you may choose to listen (within range of your wireless router of course). The only bummer is the price tag. We're talking £500.00. Luckily I was able to get a bit of a bargain Vita R1 on ebay. I'm sure the price of this internet-streaming-to-hifi-gear technology will come down in time and until then I am happy to use the lovely looking R1 in our kitchen.

Another picture of the R1 I feel:

Another good reason for DAB is my girlfriend, Nicky. She is still very wary of computers (having not used one at work or even had one in her house until we moved in together a year ago) and would probably refuse to use something that she knew was in any way involved with the internet. She still kind of avoids my computer and I'm sure she believes it is sitting there plotting ways to kill her! I am being a little unfair - she has recently started sending emails (occasionally) and has even commented that my iPhone is "pretty cool" (begrudgingly). ;o) I think the key is to ween her onto technology slowly.

Back to the R1 then. The sound quality is pretty amazing for a unit of such a small size (H.W.D 17cm x 13cm x 13cm). Crisp bass and not boomy, which can be the risk when the bass port faces downwards. The cool looking control dial on the top is, whilst not ground-breaking in terms of what it does, easy to use and feels nice with solid clicks and a smooth turning action on the rubberised dial. There are two inputs - a jack on the front and phono's on the back - and a headphone output on the front.  There is also the option to plug in a external stereo speaker despite the fact that Vito don't actually make one. At least yet. The little illuminated black-text-on-white screen serves its purpose well and all-in-all I can't really find anything bad to say. Yes - its fairly expensive - but you're paying for the sound quality (which I don't resent) and the 'retro-modern' looks (which I love).

So if you're waiting for the price of Network radios to fall and are after a stop-gap, little radio for the kitchen or somewhere without a computer (or internet access) to stream radio from then I highly recomend the Vita R1. Pull one in...

PX to EM...

Now this is good: pxtoem.com 

I found the link to it on Dave White's blog and its pretty damn groovy. It is hailed as “px to em conversion made simple”. Type a base font size in pixels, and the tool will produce a complete pixel to em conversion table, making elastic Web design much easier to produce.

I like those apples :o)

Oast One hits Twitter...

I've been hearing about this thing they call 'Twitter' for a while. This week it's also come to light that both Barack Obama and Stephen Fry both use it regularly. I'd better check it out I said to myself as I clicked open a browser window and fired in the URL.

To start with I was a bit confused...

Effectively all it is, for those of you who may not know, is a way of answering the question “what are you doing?” in less than 140 characters. All your Twitter ‘followers’ can see your answers to this question as often as you care to update and they care to check the site out. In turn you can choose to follow as many Twitterers as you wish. All updates then get displayed in Chronological order on your Twitter homepage.

You can access this information in one of a number of ways - RSS feeds, Facebook, your mobile phone, Instant Messengers the list goes one. I have already added the Oast One Twitter RSS feed to this blog and I could even integrate it as a Flash application should I so choose.

So why?

As I said - to start with I was a little confused. Why would you want to be continually updating what you are up to when you have a million and one ways to already do so? MSN away messages, Facebook statuses, Blogs, email, SMS, etc etc etc... But it’s actually quite addictive. There is a real sense of community when you see the updates rolling in.

After signing up this morning I noticed that Chris Moyles (the Radio 1 DJ you either love or hate... or really hate) had signed up too only a few seconds before me; so I added him to the people I am following as a comparison to my own followers. No doubt his followers will spiral exponentially until, in his own words, he gets bored and stops using it whilst mine will probably get to about 10 then die out. Forcing me to 'get bored'.

It certainly does seem that through communications the world is becoming a much smaller place.

Oh - and Barack Obama is following me too...