Basement Update #2

I’m back again with more updates. The basement is a bit safer now. Matt came over again last night and we bought two jackposts and three 2×8’s from Home Depot. We made a nice sturdy beam out of the 2×8’s which now supports our kitchen floor.

Having this support allowed us to remove the 2×4’s that were holding up our floor and start putting new joists in their place. So we’re well on our way to being safe again, which is kinda comforting.

And, just when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel: Going to get some ice out of the freezer last night, I noticed that it wasn’t as cold as normal. A few hours later, I check up on it, and yes our fridge is definitely toast. So… after our kitchen floor is complete, I will have to buy a new fridge. The adventures never end.


Basement Update #1

If you’re someone who has had the experience of seeing my basement, you will know the mystery staircase that the previous owners left boarded up in the back corner. When Heather and I moved into our house, we quickly discovered these stairs and decided that we were going to take them down.

The only problem with removing the stairs is that they are actually holding up our kitchen floor. By removing the stairs, and the surrounding 2×4’s, we would be taking all support for our floor joists.

Well last night, we made significant progress. My friend Matt came over to help get the ball rolling. We went to Home Depot, and Rona to get supplies. Some 2×10’s, nails, screws, a new Skil Saw and contractor’s adhesive. Shortly thereafter, we made a few new discoveries:

  1. The staircase stringers aren’t really attached to anything. So the staircase itself was just floating on a few nails.
  2. Our kitchen floor has been supported by a few 2×4’s since we moved in. And a section of our floor was even supported by the staircase itself (see item 1).
  3. Not much was actually nailed in, or screwed in too deeply. Most of this staircase and floor support was balanced in place somehow. It’s amazing we haven’t fallen through the floor.

So currently, my basement is filled with wood, insulation and drywall. My kitchen floor has a huge hole where the mystery staircase used to be. We’ve only managed to fix 2 of the joists so far (there’s still 9 more to go). We’ve still got a lot of work ahead of us, but at least we’ve got moving on this whole thing. Once the basement is cleaned up, I’ll be able to put up my drums again.

More updates to follow…



Someone should invent toothpick sauces that you can dip toothpicks in and enjoy as you hold the toothpicks in your mouth.


Blocking Backgrounds in Flash

Note: This article was written in 2006 and applies to Flash ActionScript 2.

A very common problem in Flash (AS2) is as follows:

Your stage is covered in buttons and interactive movie clips and you want to put something on top of your entire stage and disable all the elements in the background all at once.

For example, you might be making an app with lots of text input fields and buttons. Let’s say you wanted to pop up a warning message on top of the screen to warn the user about something. Doing so, you want all the buttons in the background to be disabled.

Here’s a simple method to accomplish that task…

  1. Make a completely transparent rectangle the same size as your stage on the layer above everything that you want to block.
  2. Convert this rectangle to a Movie Clip.
  3. Give this Movie Clip instance a name of “blocker”.
  4. In the frame that the movie clip appears, write the following ActionScript:


this["blocker"].onRelease = function() { };
this["blocker"].enabled = false;

Doing this creates a movie clip which has an “onRelease” action assigned to it. Even though we’ve assigned no code to the onRelease function, Flash still sets up the Movie Clip to be clickable. The second line of code disables the clip so that it isn’t clickable. By doing so, you successfully block everything beneath the clip. Voila!


Flash Components Missing Fonts

So here’s a nice bug that took me about a month to figure out:

  1. Make a component (SWC file) in Flash 8 that uses a Dynamic text field. Set the font to Arial and make sure that you embed the characters that you need. I embedded [a-zA-Z0-9].
  2. Export your SWC file.
  3. Drag your component from the Components panel into a new flash file.
  4. If your flash file does not use any text fields that contain the font Arial, then you’ll be good to go. However, try putting a static text field on your stage with the word “HELLO”. If your Flash acts the same way that mine does, it will drop all of the embedded characters from your component except for the characters that appear on the stage (i.e. H, E, L and O).
  5. The only solutions that I have found are:
    1. Make a separate dynamic text field off the stage which embeds all of the characters that your Component does. This solution is not recommended though, because if your component ever changes its font, you may run into the same problem all over again.
    2. Never use static text on the same stage that you are putting a component. This seems a bit drastic, but if you make a point of only using dynamic text fields with reasonable font sets embedded, then you will run into this problem less.

I emailed Adobe about this problem, but they wouldn’t support me because they don’t deal with custom components. Hopefully it’s addressed and fixed in future versions.



I’ve started a new project: Search the English Dictionary using regular expressions. Try it. It’s fun!


Dear idiot

To the idiot who decided to walk onto my driveway last night:

I hope that you impressed your friends with your ability to kick off my driver-side mirror. I hope that everyone got a good laugh, and perhaps high-fived you for your accomplishment.

For your sake though, I hope that you had been drinking and that you’re not plagued with being so dumb every moment of your life. Perhaps this is what people refer to as “street smarts”.

Me, on the other hand, I’m not so great. I did not enjoy waking up to find my mirror in the snow. I did not enjoy driving to the dealership and finding out that it’s going to cost $300 to replace. This is not news one wants to hear a week before Christmas.


Lack of sleep and energy

There is nothing quite like working an 18-hour day, getting 5 hours of sleep, waking up and shoveling for 45 minutes and then driving back into work. Nothing quite like it at all.


New site launched

Last week I launched a new site. features a few nifty features:

  • The band wanted music to be playing throughout the entire site. The timeline was a bit short to try anything with Ajax, so I went with an iframe.
  • The top section and nav is made in flash so that the buttons can animate and I’ve included a music player which loads external MP3’s and a newsletter sign-up which taps into my mailing list script written in PHP.
  • The lyrics page is a bit fancy. The band wanted the song names on the left to remain static while the rest of the page scrolled down. CSS2’s position:fixed wouldn’t have done this nicely, but unfortunately for me, not all browsers support position:fixed. So I figured having the song names follow the scrolling in the frame was the best option. Thanks to Robert Hahn for helping me with making this work.
  • The last cool thing about the site is the news box on the front page. This is made in flash, but it loads the text from MySQL which the band can administer and change whenever they have things to say.

A pretty full site for a short timeline. I’m happy with the way it turned out.


Theme Complete

I’m done! Finally. After hours of CSS and HTML fiddling, I finally finished my TypoGarden submission (which you are now viewing). Thanks to my good friend Robert Hahn for the help and inspiration.

For anyone wanting to give this theme a shot, you can download the theme for yourself from here.