I am now the answer to life the universe and everything.

I tried to get this out on September 27th, when it was actually my birthday, but… well, you know how things go some days.

What has this last year been like? What have I gained? What have I lost? What do I look forward to?

As much as the answer just asked more questions in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, turning 42 is no different.

Over the last year at work, I have worked on several great projects. One for a major sports franchise doing an app for SmartTVs. Another for a major creator of yearbooks and rings. I’ve worked on the Randori framework, an open source project that allows developers to work in the language they like (currently ActionScript is supported), and have  it output to HTML5, with abstractions for allowing designers to now have to touch the code. I worked for a large bank, doing enterprise development work that handled billions of dollars of reporting data. I even wrote a book!

At home, I’ve been writing more, and raising my wonderful daughters. I’ve been working on building a deck, which has been no mean feat so far, maybe I can get that done before I am 43. I’ve been working on a secret project that early in 2014 I can talk about. My father-in-law has moved in with us, and my own parents have moved from Tucson to Indianapolis so we can see them more often as well.

It has been a full year.

So what have I gained and lost?

Time, in both senses. When I started working on the book, I had such a short set of deadlines to get the chapters in that I cut out all of my computer gaming entirely. Since I had been playing the Champions MMO, that had been a not-insignificant change. I miss the people there, and the role-playing of the life of a super hero. I don’t miss the time it took from me though. I am constantly surprised still at the amount of time I have for the rest of my life.

I have less time now too, both in my overall life, and in my day to day. How so for the day to day, David? You just said you have more time since you cut out gaming! Well, yes, but a vacuum likes to be filled. That time was filled with writing, with being more with my kids, with other projects, with going to bed at a reasonable hour. So I do have less time, however, I *feel* better about it than I had been. I have been more productive overall, and that makes me feel that time is well spent. Overall, a net positive.

I have slowed down my pace, though if you look at the list of things to do I seem to have increased. The difference has been focus. Doing one thing for a span of time, rather than trying to multitask, has been the key. Right now I am writing, but I have my laser engraver, my deck, and my secret project to work on today. Right now, I am writing, not doing all of those. Which has been the key to getting things done for me, your mileage may vary, but it works for me. It’s why you will see this post, instead of having it sit as a draft for another month.

What do I look forward to?

This year, everything. Life right now is really good. I’m employed, I have a great family, and the projects I am doing have been things have scratched a Maker itch that has been pestering me for a long time now. There aren’t many clouds on the horizon, and I hope that it stays that way. I have always believed that people make their own fate, though I have not always followed that belief. Now however, I am. I have the reigns firmly in hand, and I am controlling this horse called life.

What do I have planned for this year?

Good question! I have a lot of things planned. Not all of them will get done, but I will get to them as time allows. I plan on finishing the laser engraver within the next month or so, as long as nothing further goes awry (more on that in a future post). The deck certainly needs work. I am planning on writing a series of short books on 3D printing, now that the first one is out I realize there is a lot more that I can say on the matter to help people get into the hobby side of things. The secret project definitely needs work. I had a breakthrough late last week, and it was what I needed to get my enthusiasm for it ramped back up.

On the horizon is editing the fiction book I co-wrote with Katherine Guevara-Birmelin, working title of Sky and Storms. It’s massive, and written over email, so it has a *HUGE* amount of editing to do. I have a setting for another fiction novel in my head, spawned by the fallout from having to cancel Vegas After Midnight. Mick still has the fire in him to get his version out, and I encourage you to check it out.

From my desk here in the basement (moved here since the office is now the father-in-law room) I hear the pitter patter of little feet upstairs, which sound much larger than they used to only a few years ago, I know I need to wrap this up. Until next time, so long, and thanks for all the fish!

Air for Android, a question of orientation.

So I’m working on AIR for Android lately with both my G2 and my Motorola Xoom, using Flex Builder 4.5. Some of you might know that I am getting them to talk together with RTMFP.

I have them talking, but the application that I am working on I need to start and stay in landscape format. So the obvious question is:

How do you do that?

Turns out the answer is easy, and I thought I would share.

In the applicationName-app.xml are settings for your AIR app. You need to change the autoOrients to “false” and the aspectRatio to “landscape” or “portrait”, depending on your needs.

If you haven’t ever taken a look at applicationName-app.xml then you really need to. It has lots of goodies there. This assumes that you are using Flex Builder, if you are coding with other editors or a text editor then you probably had to create it yourself.

That actually all you need to do!

As a side note, if your application tries to listen for the StageOrientationEvent.ORIENTATION_CHANGE event, and you have the autoOrients set to “false” then the event will never fire.

Flex 4 Scroller Quirks

So in Flex 4, scrolling has moved out of the individual visual containers and now is a container itself that wraps around the containers that need to be scrolled. This is a good thing, but does have some issues that developers, like me, need to wrap their heads around.

Right now, I am just going to talk about the sizing of the children inside the s:Scroller component. It’s something that I have run into a few times, and writing it out here will cement things in my head and hopefully be helpful to you, the reader.

When sizing children inside a scroller, make sure you aren’t using percent based sizing. Why? Because then the child will attempt to size itself to the size of the scroller. It seems obvious, but it’s one of those things that you don’t think about in the middle of coding since it isn’t something that you would think about in Flex 3.

When you use percentage based layout for the children, you end up getting children with their display elements cut off. The scroller thinks that the child is sized correctly based off of it’s percentage, and not it’s actual size. The way around this is to use constraint based layout. If you want a width=”100%” layout, then simply switching to left=0 right=0 will fix your problems. Also, if you don’t need to be fussy with your layout, then let the component size itself, and scroller will handle that properly as well.

In conclusion, avoid percentage based layouts when laying out inside a scroller component.

Flex Training for ColdFusion Developers

This Thursday November 19th I will be assisting Jeff Tapper while he teaches the Flex Training for ColdFusion Developers class at the Hyatt Regency Chicago on the River Walk, 151 East Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60601.

The project I have been working on lately has thrown me headlong into CF, and I find that I like it. It’s been quite easy to pick up, and the changes from CF 8 to CF9 are interesting. Which is part of the class this Thursday. Also part of that class is Flex’s integration with CF9.

To sign up for the free class, head over to the registration site: http://www.ce1.com/adobe/2009/flextrainingforcfdevelopers/

I have no idea if it is full or not, but I know we had over 70 people signed up when I talked with Jeff about it last week. Should be a fun day!

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