Archive for August, 2010

Comcast – E! online – Recap 2008 – Year in review

This was a great project to be a part of, working with the team in LA and the great Felix Turner. The E! team came up with the idea of splitting out content into silos of different content and to provide an easy way to view all the year’s photos, videos and even an interactive quiz. I was tasked with creating the video, quiz, and the intro portions of the app. The portions were pulled into a shell component that used swfAddress for deep linking, had omniture tracking used brightcove for the video services, and served DART ads. Since E! moved to thePlatform’s services, the video portions no longer are working.

The intro to E! online’s Replay 2008:

E! online - Intro to the Replay 2008

The user in the video view:

E! online Replay 2008 - Video View

The quiz portion was fun to build, the app would present the user with a video asking a question within the video, the video would pause, present the user with a multiple choice form. The user would choose their answer and if correct, they would be presented with a video saying something along the lines of “Hey, you got it right!”, if wrong, the video would present the correct answer. From a developer perspective, the only hard part was getting the following video cued up and ready to try and present a seamless experience. I would love to do this type of app again and really nail some of the issues I ran into before. It was awesome having a production team at E! that could literally whip up video content for the quiz as needed.

The user in the quiz section of the app:

E! online Replay 2008 - Quiz view

The only part of this project I really feel I could have ‘super’ improved: I could have used the AS3 re-parenting aspect in the video clips. I created new instances of the brightcove player (in order to show the video’s preview thumbnail) and thus on initialization there would be a pause on slower machines. I could have tried to find a way to get just the thumbnail paths of the videos and just created one true instance of the brightcove video player and just re-parent it as needed. I’m sure there (maybe I did try it and had no choice) had to be a way to get those video thumbnails without loading the entire video player instance. We had a tight timeline, so maybe that’s why I couldn’t dig deeper into it, but seeing how years later, I’m still talking about it…..you get the point by now right? :o)

One aspect of the project that drove me (and I think the team) nuts was how the mouse interacts with the view. We wanted to create a ‘film-strip’ type of view and allow the user to scroll side-to-side with the mouse. This is fine when viewing just static videos or photos but when interacting with the interactive quiz I built, it would move the content when the user would attempt to make a selection. I believe I locked the chosen quiz in the center and released when the quiz was either exited or completed.

Here’s some screenshots and since the app still lives on the E! site, I’ll post the link below. Don’t expect any video to stream, the app is still looking for Brightcove video streams and thus they all fail since E! moved to thePlatform’s video services.

A different set of ‘boxes’ of content within the intro section

E! online Replay 2008 - Another Intro view

Here’s the link to the live content

Keep in mind this link could go down at any moment


Thinking of going VoIP

After being a Comcast cable subscriber for years, not only am I thinking of going to Verizon but I’m thinking of diving into VoIP. I’ve been looking into possibly figuring out a way to leverage Google Voice and something like SipGate. Anyone with thoughts or comments, please comment. I could use all the advice I can get at this point.


Comcast – Versus – Tour De France Interactive Map 2010

The latest (I’ve been so happy and honored to hopefully make this an annual project for me) Tour De France interactive map was a great ride. Last year’s map we all felt was a good start but if we had more time, there were ideas left on the table. As always, it’s great to meet with the Versus team and brainstorm some ideas on what to do for this year’s map. After a few conversations, we had a comp, an idea and I went to town. Versus usually gives me room to develop with creativity and there were multiple times I was able to give creative input and make a difference.

This project was built in Flex Builder 3, a pure AS3 project and I used a couple libraries to speed up development. As always, I use casalib, I used as3coreLib, greensock, and yes, the thePlatform PDK video player was used for video playing clips of each stage. I would think I stayed a bit more true to the MVC framework ideal than I ever have before (and not letting little details and ‘proper’ format get in the way).

This is the full page when hosted on the versus.com domain.

The 2010 Tour De France Interactive map

Here’s a view of the map when a user selects a stage and is viewing the stage detail view:

Versus.com Tour De France 2010 Stage Detail View

Clicking on any of the images above will take you to the current live site. I think the two images above show in a nutshell what the app was all about. The detail view has a stage image, stage description, video highlight of the stage course, an RSS feed view and some external URLs for more content per stage. The current structure of the versus.com website and this full stage map, has really filled the need for a ‘higher-level’ view of the tour.


Comcast – Versus – Camp Versus

Well, here’s a quick hitting project that ended up looking pretty sweet. This project uses thePlatform video player, the dreaded/not-so-bad/awesome/hair-pulling/ETC thePlatform PDK player. I was able to build a pretty cool wrapper for the player and can now pull in a PDK compiled player into a project. I still need to get a few more features added, but I’m now able to at least push in a PDK compiled player into a project and smile.

Built in Flex Builder 3 as a pure AS3 project, some casalib thrown in, of course the PDK video player, I used a standard .FLA for assets compiled out to a .swf that was embedded into the pure AS3 project. Overall a nice practice on my MVC directory skills.

Welcome to Camp Versus

Why not take a quick stroll through the camp and see where you fit in?

(my best late night attempt at getting you to be amused)

Update:Seems the initial push for Camp Versus is over, so the link has been changed to a local beta build on this domain…


Comcast – FEARnet – 30 Days of Night – Home Page

When I first was hired as a Sr Flash developer at FEARnet.com, the ideas and ‘life’ of what they were going to try and pull off was amazing. I’m a Flash DEVELOPER and to see some pretty wild designs come my way, I was very excited to try and pull off some wild crazy ideas on tons of properties in the horror world. Here’s a screen shot of what one of the original home pages for the site was like:

Granted this kind of home page would not be able to support the overall plans of what FEARnet.com wanted to become, but at the time, it was pretty cool getting those assets and building that page. Maybe if I can dig up the actual .swf file I can post it somewhere.


Some old FEARnet work

While digging around my hard drives, I came across some screenshots of what my life was like when I was working for FEARnet.com (Comcast). Since they migrated to a new platform out in LA (merged with Comcast Entertainment Group), most of my work now exists in the form of screenshots. So….over the next few posts, I think I’ll show a bit of what FEARnet.com used to be like…

I’d have to say it was a ‘dark’ time in my career working in a pretty exciting medium (what developer wouldn’t want to have vampires, aliens, supernatural beasts, werewolves all around them to develop with? Plus, I could plug my anime addiction whenever possible), but feeling like you’ve got one hand behind your back and your mouse is broken. We did do some nice work but it was a VERY tough environment to work in. There’s a lot to be said being a Nerd (note the capital N), working on a project with a lot of passion, and only to have someone in a completely different field (TV programming) ask why aren’t we getting ‘Hulu’ like numbers? ummm we just launched this a few hours ago. Having a tech team of 3 people with maybe 2 temp contractors at a time, it just made doing what I love to do, developing Flash based projects a ‘treat’ for me. I ended up doing so many HTML/CSS front end simple projects that there were times I questioned my sanity and just how much longer could I take being a web developer in a TV world.

That being said, I did have some awesome co-workers, a few super cool projects and for all the head banging against wall moments, there were some very very cool moments. Hopefully, I can show a few of those moments throughout the site…


Embracing Twitter…again…

I was a huge fan of twitter when everyone thought it was a dumb idea but I loved it for different reasons. I would make quick posts about what I was working on and my fellow devs would too. So we followed each other and had ‘digital scrums’ almost throughout the day. It was great, then it became so much about meaningless information that I lost interest in it. I always pulled for Twitter and hoped they would succeed, I never stopped thinking it was a great idea.

So a couple years pass and I’m now back into twitter, not for the mainstream “Follow-your-celeb-news” reasons but as a “quick-hitting-lean-mean” RSS feed. Since upgrading my phone (Samsung Galaxy S and loving Android) and getting into mobile apps, I’m in the process of tweaking my twitter account and leveraging lists to provide useful information.

So I’m back to twitter and we’ll see how long this road lasts…

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