Who's Colonel Panic? Is he any relation to General Failure?

Everybody Struggles With Technology

Date/Time Permalink: 05/10/07 02:41:21 am
Category: Flash

This is going to be some more about my quest to learn Flash (which I'll talk more about), but I'm not including it in the series itself because I don't have any interesting new tricks to show today.

And that's why it's important to stop and point one thing out: To those of you who look at coders like we have some kind of god-like connection with the machines - guess what? We're mortal too! All of us were once at a point where if anybody asked us if we knew anything about computers, we'd say "I know how to turn one on." By the way, I've forgotten how to turn my computer on. It's Slackware, so I never have to turn it off.

Today, I tried extending from swfc's script code to pure Actionscript, and stumbled around a lot. For one thing, Googling for Flash and actionscript tutorials produces a whole lot of instruction on how to work in the Adobe Flash IDE so it's all "open this menu, use this key combo" stuff that won't work on raw code in Emacs. The Adobe Flash IDE is that which I don't have and wouldn't use anyway. I also wouldn't use a proprietary freeware ap and run it on Wine. Because it's proprietary and (above games and movie players and toys) tools must be (freedom) free or they aren't worth spit. I did find this good site, and some of the tutorials made some sense, but really I didn't make much progress.

I ended up back at these swfc examples which do use some actionscript, and did my "learn by subtraction" routine. The way this works, you copy and paste the whole code, compile it and run. Then go back and select a line or two at a time and delete it or comment it out, and compile/run it again. Whether by compiler error message or by observing what the program does, you learn what each command does. I deconstructed the Eyes example until it was just dots following the mouse. I tried getting print to show up from actionscript itself, instead of from swfc script. No luck.

This may seem completely pointless to blog it, but if I only blog my successes, then I make it look too easy. And that's not fair to others out there, who are also struggling to master technology and break free of the tyranny of proprietary software. This is how people who aren't learned with technology get frustrated and discouraged, because all they find are confident geeks with years of experience who appear to be born with it. If you never catch a geek in a state of Reading That Fabled Manual (or in my case, still searching for the right manual), you might think there was something wrong with you.

There are also people out there who do Flash for a living, have done it for years, and if they come across this post, they just might have a haughty laugh at my expense: here am I, a clueless N00B, at least as far as Flash is concerned. But, see, there's no reason for me to be defensive about it. I'll get there. This is the bridge.

Today's lesson in learning Flash is that I'm not blaming the interface, and I'm not whining in a bulletin board going "Somebody help meeee!", and I'm not throwing a tizzy at people who are better at it than me for being "elitist", and I'm not giving up and saying it's too hard. I just didn't make progress today. Tomorrow, I will get up, snag another cup of coffee, polish off my paid work for the day, and then pop open that editor and wrestle with it some more. Maybe I will have a new hack to post then, or maybe next week. It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.

That's how I learned Basic, C, C++, Assembly, DOS, Bash, awk, sed, Python, Lisp, Tcl/tk, PHP, HTML, XHTML, CSS, POVray, MySQL, and Javascript, and that is how I shall continue to learn Flash tomorrow.

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