Installing ElectroServer on MediaTemple

Further news to report on my ElectroServer adventures! I’ve now got an ES4 installation up and running on a MediaTemple Dedicated Virtual server. It was actually pretty easy too, thanks to this tutorial from Greg Sidbury.

I had no problems following although there are a couple of bits that confused me. The first was that the download link didn’t work so I just found the Linux RPM link on the ElectroServer download pages and used that, which for the current version is :

[not available]

The other thing that got me is that I put in the domain name into the ES4Configuration.xml which didn’t work. I should have put the ip address for the virtual server (which you should find in your Media Temple account or you could always just ping your domain from a terminal window).

Once I’d opened the ports and started the server running I tried to telnet in to port 9898 (the default chat port) but it was refused. So I edited the crossdomain.xml on the main webserver to include the IP address of my home internet connection and it seemed to be OK after that. (At least I think that’s what fixed it!).

So apart from a few minor hassles it was pretty seamless and only took me an hour or so. I must admit to feeling way out of my depth, this isn’t something I’m particularly expert on so please feel free to comment with further advice πŸ™‚

Installing ElectroServer on Mac OSX

[This post is obsolete – ElectroServer doesn’t seem to exist any more]

What else to do in the Christmas holidays but finally get my head around ElectroServer? πŸ™‚ Of course the first (sometimes significant) hurdle in getting started with any multi-user technology is just installing the server on your machine! ElectroServer4 (ES4) is Java based so it should work on OSX, but most of the documentation is for Windows, so I spent today installing it on my MacBook and thought I would share what I learned.

ES4 runs on Java 1.6 and OSX is shipped with 1.5. You can find instructions on getting the update here, but whatever you do don’t complete the steps to make 1.6 the default Java Virtual Machine (JVM), otherwise FlexBuilder won’t work any more!

Now you need to download the Unix package (the one marked “without JVM”) on the ElectroServer downloads page [sorry, no longer available], and unzip it somewhere suitable (I put it in my documents folder).

Then open up a terminal window and navigate into the folder where you unzipped it. (Handy shortcut : type “cd” followed by a space and then drag the folder from the finder onto your terminal where the full path name will be inserted).

There’s a file in here called ElectroServer that you run but you need to tell it where to find the latest JVM. According to this rather useful thread [link no longer available] you can do this by typing :

export INSTALL4J_JAVA_HOME=/System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.6/Home/

And then start the server normally by typing :

./ElectroServer

At which point you should see the happy message :

16:28:08,523 [main] INFO  DisplayLogger  - 
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Starting ElectroServer 4.0.6
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Computer Information
	Operating System: Mac OS X
	Operating System Architecture: x86_64
	Processors Available: 2
	Memory Available: 682Mb
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Virtual Machine Information
	Virtual Machine Vendor: Apple Inc.
	Virtual Machine Version: 1.6.0_17
 
 
16:28:14,863 [pool-1-thread-1] INFO  DisplayLogger  - 
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
ElectroServer has started successfully

After several hours of fiddling around this was somewhat of a relief.

The next problem was that I couldn’t navigate to the admin panel which by default you can find at 127.0.0.1:8080/admin. But whenever I pointed my browser at it all I got was an empty binary file in my downloads folder. Thank goodness for Twitter where Matt Bolt saved the day with his tweet :

@sebleedelisle Make sure you’re using https, not http – I run into this constantly πŸ™‚

Thank you Matt! I have no idea how I would have figured that one out without you! So I just navigated to https://127.0.0.1:8080/admin and it worked.

I expect to be furthering my adventures in ElectroServer over the next few days so I’ll keep you informed of how I get along.

Vote for a locally running Flash Player settings panel

[UPDATE] in the latest incubator release of the FlashPlayer 11,0,0,60 there is now a native FlashPlayer settings panel! YAY πŸ˜€

The issue reported in my last post is now fixed so well done Adobe for moving so quickly!

There were a lot of commenters who felt that this system is fairly unwieldy and perhaps the settings should run locally. I checked out Jira and there are actually 2 feature requests there already, the first being submitted by Linda Walsh just over a year ago, but sadly with no votes!

https://bugs.adobe.com/jira/browse/FP-783 Let’s all go and vote for it shall we? πŸ™‚

There were also several interesting comments with more workarounds, the most comprehensive one from Nate Chatellier who explains exactly how it works and what to do about it – thanks Nate, and everyone else that commented.

Flash player settings panel nightmare

Missing Flash Player settings panel

I hate the Flash player settings panel. It drives me mental. I don’t understand the logic behind why you need to access a swf running on an external server to adjust the settings of a plugin that’s running on your computer?

And many are the times that I’ve been stuck without internet access trying desperately to allow a local swf to load files on my computer.

But today, I found that I couldn’t access the settings panel at all! It was just a blank square!

Missing Flash Player settings panel

A closer look in the Activity window in Safari revealed that the security setting had expired for the server hosting the swf. Which believe it or not, is still macromedia.com!

I found a workaround though. I just directly linked to the swf at https://www.macromedia.com/support/flashplayer/sys/settingsmanager2.swf?defaultTab=g_security and then clicked continue when safari asked if I really wanted to access the swf. Although I don’t see anything at this point, if I then go back to the page with the settings panel on, it now loads.

And while I’m on it, here’s a quick tip. If you don’t want to manually add every single folder on your computer that has swfs you want to run locally, just add “/” as a safe location and you’ll never be troubled again (on OSX).

But in the meantime, I would love it if the settings for the FlashPlayer were not only accessible online. Anyone else agree?

UPDATE Thanks to Seb in the comments (not me!) for providing the solution for PC users :

On windows ive had to put in drive letters and UNC share names, e.g.
β€œC:”
β€œSERVER”

And I’ve also found an feature request for this on Jira so please vote for it!

Problems with .swc files

I resisted the urge to title this post What the swc? πŸ™‚

For some unknown reason Flash just stopped exporting swc files properly. FDT could no longer see what was inside them. FDT guru Alan Klement kindly offered to help me troubleshoot the problem and he discovered that the catalog.xml file inside had empty script tags.

I’ve heard anecdotal evidence from my friends Owen and Richard that exporting your .swc to the same folder as your .fla file can cause problems.

So I subsequently tried publishing the swc (and swf) to a different folder, and no swc would even appear! I also tried making a new fla and copying everything into it and this didn’t work either. Then I made a new fla and created a symbol, exported it for actionscript, set it to create a swc, and that broke too!

It’s such a weird thing. It basically killed most of my productivity yesterday. And the terrifying thing is that I don’t even really know how I fixed it.

I just came in this morning, and did everything with a new fla directory and a new swc directory, copied the assets into the library and it worked.

Anyone else had this?

Ragefactor: “F*ck you (and here’s some more money)”?

Picture 5

If you want to protest again Sony BMG’s hype machine that is the X-Factor, then whatever you do, do not buy Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name Of this week!

Picture 5
(If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read all about the Rage Factor campaign here)

Here’s why : Rage Against the Machine are signed to Epic, a subsidiary of Sony BMG. And the X-Factor winner will be signed to Simon Cowell’s label SyCo, also a subsidiary of Sony BMG (and by themselves generate a huge proportion of Sony BMG’s income). So while you’re sticking it to the man, you’re also giving the man loads more money!

So here’s what’ll happen. All you X-Factor haters will buy RATM, but let’s face it you weren’t gonna buy the X-Factor single anyway, right? And if X-Factor fans hear about this campaign they will want to support their artist and buy more X-Factor singles. End result : more X-Factor singles sold and more RATM singles sold. So who are you trying to hurt here?

Some people have accused Sony BMG of setting this up themselves, but I don’t think that’s true. But if they had it would be bloody clever of them!

Sure, it’ll be fun to have a Christmas number 1 with the word fuck in it. But no radio station will be playing it on Christmas morning that’s for sure. And do you really want to give a major label loads more money in order to achieve this minor delight?

Instead, why not just give some money to charity (and you could do worse than by using this justgiving page) or instead maybe really stick it to the major labels by supporting independent artists such as Pomplamoose who prove that you no longer need a record label to be a successful artist. And that’s how to really worry the majors.

Just saying. πŸ™‚

Revealed : my slightly failed music career

Most people don’t know it, but before I was in digital media I was a professional musician. It’s not something I talk about very much but last week at the Β£5App Christmas special I had the chance to offload my story onto an unsuspecting audience.

SebAt5poundAppDec09

I revealed exactly what it was like to be an almost-ran band in the 90s, including recording demos on dodgy equipment, mail outs that actually involved cutting things out and stuffing them into envelopes and being one of the first bands to use the internet to promote ourselves (using the “revolutionary” new RealPlayer πŸ™‚ ). From playing in front of 25,000 people, and recording in George Martin’s Air Studios, to what we had to do for money, and struggling to get out of the London “toilet” venue scene. And I even exploded a few music industry lies (including our own) along the way.

And of course, unveiled some horrifically embarrassing footage. πŸ™‚

£5 App #20 "Seb's Slightly Failed Music Career" for the 2009 Xmas Special from ScreencastingHandbook on Vimeo.

There were so many stories that I didn’t have time for. Like the time we ran out of petrol on the way back from a gig, and the police (seeing an abandoned transit van with bags full of cables inside) assumed the worst and initiated a full scale terrorist alert.

Or about our close friend, who was in a girl band doing really well, only to be dropped by her label. She was on Top of the Pops and then the next month she was signing on. She even filled in “Pop star” as her occupation on the form.

Or the university gig where the stage was invaded by an drunk, naked and overweight rugby player who I tried to shoo off the stage with my guitar. He was disconcertingly sweaty.

IMG_7455

And the really nice part is that I could finish up my presentation with a happy story about brilliant independent internet artists (like Pomplamoose), and how it’s now possible to record your own music and promote it online. And as if to prove this, me and Jenny did our own Pomplamoose inspired videosong of our own and put it on youtube. Which was quite a fun experiment, we recorded it all in GarageBand and videod it with a Flip MinoHD. Quite a difference from ten years ago when we needed budget studios and friends with video cameras.

And I couldn’t really tell you about the video without including it. So here it is. Happy Christmas! πŸ™‚

And if you want to download some of our recordings, you can do so temporarily on my music page.

Learn how to program Flash games

I’ve just set up a brand new 2 day training course to teach you everything I know about making Flash games! It’s in Brighton (of course) on the 8th and 9th of February (the week after the Papervision training).

Flash games programming training

We’ll be covering all the fun stuff, collisions, physics, optimisation, actionscript animation and working with graphical assets and sound. I’ve just put the first draft of the itinerary together and I’m really excited about it – it’s all of my very favourite things about programming ActionScript. πŸ™‚

Flash games programming training

And of course we’ll be using my portfolio of games as case studies, including Jambuster (BBC), Extreme Pamplona (Sure for Men), The Simple Game (Philips) and we’ll even be diving into the code for LunarLander3D in detail.

Early bird pricing is only Β£250 for 2 days and there are 4 student places, so please book early to ensure your space.

Flash Games Programming in Brighton information and booking.