The Phillip Newsletter (Summer ‘98)
Semi-annual report to Clients, Colleagues, and Prospects of Phillip Kerman                                                                                  Volume  2   Issue 1

In May, Canada had its largest multimedia conference—New Media ’98.  I jetted out to Toronto (though the flight felt like it took as long as my bicycle trip there a decade earlier).  I gave two papers: Multimedia Production Basics—the Team, the Process  and Building Adaptable Templates for Large Projects—Rapid Prototyping. If you came to my presentations, you would have caught glimpses of projects by such local companies as: ADP, CKS Partners, Creative Media Development, Intel, Level Seven Communications, New Interactive, Microsoft, and the OMA.   Check out 

In the spirit of leveraging work already completed, I used the same research from one of my New Media presentations, added specific information about Director and Authorware then wrote an article for the Macromedia Users Journal which appears in the July 1998 Issue. 

Rodgers Instruments makes organs. Big Toccata & Fugue-type organs.  But they also make top quality MIDI sequencers… so they need a demo disc and I can help with the Director portion, but they’re doing the rest. 

As I’ve mentioned before, software companies need updates to their tutorials when the software (being taught) is updated.  Such is the case with a project I worked on last year for the Intel® Create & Share™ Camera Pack… although this year, wouldn’t you know, they’re developing the web version concurrently with all the different language versions (it’s almost as if the web version is equivalent to another language). 

Multnomah County Health Department is still on the list of open projects… one thing of interest is how they repurposed their glossary text into a game of concentration—a great case of reusing content. 

Wieden & Kennedy is one of those clients whose expectation of great quality really makes you work.  The results can be exceptional.  For example, dithering graphics can torque skin-tones so before the images were displayed ("on beginSprite") we displayed tiny high-color graphics of the skin areas if the user’s machine could support it.

Those who can do, and those who teach can show others how: 

Portland Community College invited me to share what my job entails to programming students (I told them I don’t call myself a programmer—this way I have a unique job title and don’t need to compete with programmers). 

I’ve prepared a class "Adding Multimedia to Web Pages" for Pacific Northwest College of Art this summer… it’s a survey style course so I’ll be learning as much as I’m teaching. 

More Authorware classes at Portland State University —some new courses around the corner too! 

Prenttæknistofnun means "Printing Technology Organization" in Icelandic and although they have some truly well developed courses on computers, they wanted me to come out and teach a couple of Authorware classes in February and March… Iceland in Winter? (See story below.) 

Side Effect is the code-name for Nathan Lucas’s thesis with which I’m helping… a great chance to work on a fun project with priorities unlike a typical profit-driven project. 

To appear as though I was totally crazy with work the first part of this year… here are several clients with which I worked a few hours here or there: 

Ozymandius (tied for best company name with "Elvis", below) had me uncover the meaning of Director. Easy as pie… speaking of "easy as", ABC Technologies had me direct them on the use of Director. (somebody stop me.)  Elvis & Bonaparte Advertising had me troubleshoot why the Shockwave Audio appeared to have left the building.  Biotronic (organs again, but not pipe organs) had an Authorware piece that I resuscitated.  I finally got to work with Whitehorse Studios, albeit for a few hours, but here was a case of a company for which I knew I would work at some point… it just took a while until a job came up.  Shultz had me learn about MPEG (with MpegXtra made in Brazil—seems to work well) to MPEG-asize a project originally using QuickTime. 

Software News & Reviews: Besides Photoshop 5, Premiere 5, and PaintShopPro 5…
Flash Generator Beta (
This is cool, but like most new software it looks cooler than it really is.  Generator allows you to create Flash Templates which accept data from comma delimited text files you design (or generate on your website).  Flash templates are created in Flash 3 with certain attributes of objects designated as dynamic –like the color of a graphic or the words in a text field.  When a user, say clicks on your web page, the Flash template reads the text files, makes the adjustments to the dynamic attributes, and effectively does a "save as" Shockwave flash to send  to the user.  Everything is still hard-wired (sorry, there’s no Lingo in Flash to, say, make a slider bar—Macromedia’s answer to that request is the Flash Asset Xtra that comes with Director 6.5).  The beta version seems to lack some of the things I know you’d want to do—like it’s ready-built to make one type of bar graph… but what if you want a slightly different graph? (Not yet.)  The other thing to note is the newly created Shockwave Flash file is sent to the user in total (okay, Flash files are small, but I’m just pointing out the limits).  Generator includes great help files in HTML. 

Flash 3 (
Transparency, morphing between keyframes, animated buttons… but not all these effects on the same object.  Another nice thing, you can save Projectors of your Shockwave flash files—but you have no control over the window settings (like whether to include a menu or not). 

Director 6.5 (
Unfortunately this really isn’t a new version of  Director.  Rather, now the previously sold separately Xtras are included (QuickTime 3.0, Power Point Import, Flash Asset, Save As Java, Custom Cursors).

Debabelizer 3.0.1 (Mac) (
What a disappointment!  I was expecting a Mac version of the well designed Debabelizer Pro 4.5 (Windows).  Not even close.  Seriously, the best thing about this program is that you can use it to learn how not to design an application. 
--Windows with similar purposes (like batch list and script) look and act slightly differently—there’s little consistency. 
--Many operations don’t follow conventional Mac standards (like if you make a change to a script and close without saving, no "save changes?" confirmation appears—but it’s saved anyway). 
--Cutesy simulated menus for the "watch me" function of the script window.  They’re not real menus, they don’t act exactly like real menus, they don’t even feel like real menus—it’s like someone created them in Director by hand and didn’t bother making them function the way menus really function. 
One nice thing about the product, however, is the support for conditional script statements—but why isn’t that supported in the Windows version? 

Before I announce there are now, no longer any Macintosh applications to save Apple…here’s some noteworthy shareware: 
Drop Rename 3.5 (
This handy-dandy app will automatically rename all the files in a folder as you specify.  The conditions you set are intuitive and easy to use.  You can also make little "applets" based on your frequent settings. 
FileTyper 5.3.1 (
Like Drop Rename, FileTyper will process every item in a folder and change any of the settings that you can in ResEdit.  For example, move a folder of Photoshop files from a Windows machine then automatically set each file’s TYPE and CREATOR appropriately then the little "eye" shows up on the file (plus anyone can double-click it and have Photoshop open).  (I should note Chaotic Software has a similar product called "Drop Attribute".)

Around the world and back…
Iceland: How do you say "my fingers are frozen to the keyboard" in Icelandic?
Fingur mínir eru frosnir við lyklaborðið!  Quick, how many hours of daylight do you think Iceland gets in the dead of Winter?  That guess is too high (it’s 4).  In the Summer, though, it’s almost 24!  When there’s nothing but darkness and a moonscape environment outside what do you do? —go inside and learn software.  That’s where I come in… with my traveling Authorware show.  I had the incredible opportunity to teach Authorware in Iceland at the end of February. 

A few interesting facts: Iceland has only 270,000 people.  They have one of the longest life-expectancies in the world.  Maybe that’s because their environment is free of any nasty energy sources (like nuclear, coal, or oil ).  Almost everything is powered and heated by geothermal energy—sometimes piped 50 miles for a whole city’s heating needs (okay, Reykjavik is the largest city at 170,000). 

One might expect with an economy based on fishing, Iceland wouldn’t be too hot on multimedia—but one would be wrong.  The students in my classes were more able than average and quite in-tune with the current technology.  Class was held every day and they did homework (something I rarely see in the weekly classes I teach here).

It’s interesting, too, how well educated the population is generally.  Many of my students received degrees in the U.S.—then came back to Iceland.  They all understood my English fine, and most spoke it very well too.  They’ve all learned English from school and TV (no shows are dubbed, only subtitled) and for computers and the internet.  It appears that Icelandic is in no threat of extinction… though there are so few who speak it.  Maybe some xenophobic countries can learn something from Iceland. 

I had a nice visit with a multimedia company called "Gagarin". They were surprised I didn’t recognize the historic relevance of their name (not that I thought it was that comedian who smashes watermelons), I blamed my ignorance on an American history book censorship plot.  Anyway, they do really great work! ( They also liked the samples I brought from local (Portland) companies. 

By the way, Iceland is really neat—possibly more interesting geologically than Oregon (geysers, volcanoes, lava flows, glaciers covering volcanoes, black sand, and islands that appear out of nothing—well, from volcanoes).  Conditions were clear and cold most of the time, but without many trees I was Snjó blinda (snow blind) the rest of the time.

Toronto: The most culturally diverse city in the world!
NewMedia ‘98’s trade show was huge… I noticed a lot of schools were promoting multimedia programs.  The conference sessions were slanted to the print industry… but with Darrel Plant and me, Portland’s multimedia community was well represented. 

Funny thing about hanging out with Darrel (famous author that he is) you have to deal with all his groupies. Things like…"will you sign my book?" …."I tell people there’s two Flash books, but only one good one…yours" and  "I like your boots" … ad nauseam!

Toronto is a great place… warm clear weather in May… a big sunroof on the stadium when it is sunny (the SkyDome).  Caught the show RENT—which made up for missing Bring in da Noise... here in Portland. 

Also drove down to Rochester and visited my alma mater (RIT). The photography school looked familiar even though there were many more computers around. 

Macromedia User Group Summit: Software and soft t-shirts…
It was really refreshing for a company like Macromedia to invite representatives of the world’s Macromedia User Groups for a "summit" in March.  I was expecting some big oval United Nations-type tables… nope… and not quite two days of wining and dining either (though they did bury us with T-shirts).  Anyway, it was great… they listened, they showed their respect, and they shared where they were headed.  We got to see some new stuff, provide our feedback, and generally, the ground work was set for support of the Portland group (which, incidentally meets monthly at Hot Pepper Studios—contact our leader:  Brad Smith <>).
Toastmasters International: Have you ever heard "Fellow Toastmasters and honored guests…" ?
For almost a year now, I’ve been part of a really fun organization—Toastmasters International.  Don’t mistake this for the "Grand Poobahs" or other such group… it’s really fun. 

Every week a few people prepare formal speeches (about 5-7 minutes each) and everyone else participates by taking a role in the meeting (someone times each speech, someone counts the "ah’s" and "um’s").  Then we all write a few comments to the speakers and vote.  Each speaker is provided a verbal evaluation (and we even vote on how well the evaluators perform).  Finally, there’s a portion of extemporaneous speaking where everyone else can participate in a short (1-2 minutes) ad lib speech.

  It may sound like a formality but it’s all conducted as relaxed as possible—and talk about a supportive group!  You can get up there and really choke, but everyone will remain patient and supportive.  The thing is, we usually get some really interesting speeches. 

The group to which I belong happens to be particularly interesting… but there are so many chapters, there’s bound to be one that meets at a convenient time and place for you—there’s more than 60 just in the Portland area!  Give me a call and I’ll invite you next time I give a speech.  Visitors are always welcome. 

(check out:

Tech Tips: So many tips, so little space…

Xtras are great, but with Authorware 4 if your project even approaches "multimedia" you’ll always need to include an Xtras folder!  The hassle involves determining which Xtras are necessary.  You can simply include every Xtra ever made, but then your Xtras folder will approach 10 megabytes!  To determine what’s absolutely necessary, and what’s usually necessary don’t bother checking the manuals (it’s not there).  Instead, check out my exhaustive list at  or download the Macromedia tech notes: 6098 (for images) and 6099 (for sounds).

Director 6.5: The new version of Director gives you the ability to create custom cursors—but with a simple "cursor 4" we all know you can make a "watch".  The manuals and help section share a few more with us… but did you know there are more than 20 other cursor numbers built into Lingo?  Everything from the eye dropper to the do not drop here symbol.  Is this part of a conspiracy? I don’t know, but if you want to see the list, check out: or better yet (the site where I got the list).

The Phillip Newsletter:  published twice a year by Phillip Kerman, who is an internationally recognized expert in creating multimedia for training and entertainment.  Specializing in Macromedia tools for six years, Phillip has produced rapid prototypes, adaptable templates for large projects, and software which enables easy-localization.  Expanding on his work as a developer, Phillip currently teaches courses and makes presentations around the world.  In the past 12 months, Phillip has been invited to present and teach in Australia, Iceland, Toronto, San Francisco, and his home town of Portland, Oregon.

Subscriptions are available for the asking.  Also, if you’d prefer an email version tell me.  or or +1 503 236-7721

Please distribute this freely to anyone interested in or involved with multimedia—including computer based training, sales
presentations, customer demo software, programming, graphics, video, audio, interface design……and the web.

Any problems? email

Back to other Phillip Newsletters

Back to the Phillip Page

Last update: 25 September 1998