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08

Jan
2007

Press Releases

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By admin404

ERA404 Credited in Signature Weddings, by Michelle Rago

January 8, 2007 - Press Releases

Creative Director, Don Citarella, receives credit in new book by client

NEW YORK — Michelle Rago, an event designer and the founder of Michelle Rago, Ltd., included a credit in her new book, Signature Weddings: Creating a Day Uniquely Your Own, to the book’s pitch designer and Creative Director of ERA404 Creative Group, Inc., Don Citarella.Read More

Tags | book design, citarella, concept design, creative director, dasha wright, designation, don citarella, era404, frances schultz, kim hirst, michelle rago, michelle rago ltd, new york, signature weddings, weddings

19

Jul
2006

Information Resources

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By admin404

Flash Plug-In Detection and Upgrading

July 19, 2006 - Information Resources

Incorporating the SWFObject ExpressInstall to force Plug-in Installation

In our previous article (Activating an ActiveX Control’s Interface through Javascript), we recommended circumventing the Microsoft Internet Explorer update that forces users to activate media items with Geoff Stearns’s SWFObject. As a result, a number of emails flooded into ERA404 with questions on browser detection to drive users to upgrade their Flash Plug-In.

Flash has obviously grown quickly from its original version and Adobe/Macromedia released a number of browser plug-ins to handle these advances. While we recommend publishing Flash files to accommodate for the least common denominator (that is, users with older plug-ins), sometimes requesting a user browser upgrade is unavoidable. Browsing the Adobe site can show you a census of plug-in penetration into the web-browsing world. At the time this article was published (07/19/06), penetration looked like this:

 

V. 5 V. 6 V. 7 V. 8
US
97.7% 97.2% 94.8% 69.3%
Canada
98% 96.9% 94.1% 79%
Europe
98.3% 97.2% 95.1% 76.1%
Asia
n/a n/a n/a n/a

 

Adobe has recently released the Adobe Flash Plug-in v.9.0, and while roughly 94% of the world has at least v.7.0, your Flash files may require 8 or 9, to work properly. Note, also, that those figures are from March 2006 and penetration has certainly increased since then; especially now that myspace.com is forcing users to upgrade to Flash Player 9.0. Again, Geoff Stearns has come to the rescue with his ExpressInstall method for the SWFObject.

To detect and request an upgrade, encode your SWF file the same way we instructed in our previous article:

<div id="navcontent">This content will show if the movie cannot load.</div>
 <script type="text/javascript">
 // <![CDATA[
 var a = new SWFObject(swf/nav_home.swf", "fo_nav", "796", "72", "8,0,0,0", "#FFFFFF", true);
 a.addParam("allowScriptAccess", "sameDomain");
 a.addParam("quality", "high");
 a.addParam("scale", "noscale");
 a.write("navcontent");
 // ]]>
</script>

Add a parameter for the Flash redirect to tell the browser to reload your flash after installation is successful:

a.addParam('xiRedirectUrl', 'http://www.yourwebsite.com');

Now that you’ve properly inserted your Flash using the SWFObject, let’s look at how you can modify your Flash file to use the object’s plug-in detection and drive the user to upgrade if necessary. In the above example, you can see I’ve required a plug-in of 8 or greater. With the following code, users with a browser that meets or exceeds this requirement will see nothing but your movie. Users with an older plug-in (release previous to v.8.0) will see Flash Alert (left) that asks them to update their plug-in. If the user says “Yes,” the plug-in will install automatically. If they say “No,” a Javascript Alert will inform them that the movie cannot be viewed because a newer plug-in is required.

Remember from our previous article that when the SWFObject returns “false” (the movie cannot be displayed), then the text content that you provide in the <div> container will show instead. It is because of this that you should put text in the <div> container to inform them of what’s happening. The example above says “This content will show if the movie cannot load,” but it would be more informative (when you have the ExpressInstall included) to replace that content with something like this:

This Flash movie cannot load. You are viewing this because:
1. You have no Flash Plug-In (Click here to download)
2. Your Flash Plug-in is older than the necessary version required to play this movie
(Click here to reload the movie and click “Yes” when asked to upgrade your plug-in.)

Now let’s get to the Flash.

Include the following lines of code into your Flash file prior to the loading bar (optional) and content:

#include "expressinstall.as"
 
 // initialize the ExpressInstall object
var ExpressInstall = new ExpressInstall();
// if the user needs to upgrade, show the 'start upgrade' button
if (ExpressInstall.needsUpdate) {
// this is optional, you could also automatically start the
 // upgrade by calling ExpressInstall.init() here instead of the following lines
// attach the custom upgrade message and center it
var upgradeMsg = attachMovie("upgradeMsg_src", "upgradeMsg", 1);
upgradeMsg._x = Stage.width / 2;
upgradeMsg._y = Stage.height / 2;
// attach the button actions that will start the ExpresInstall updater
upgradeMsg.upgradeBtn.onRelease = function() {
 // the ExpressInstall.init() method is what kicks off the actual update
ExpressInstall.init();
}
 // if expressinstall is invoked, stop the timeline.
stop();
}

Ensure that Mr. Stearns’s expressinstall.as file is in your build directory so that it will be available to be compiled with the movie when you publish. That’s all you need to do.

Zeh Fernando, the genius behind zeh.com.br, recommends embedding the contents of Mr. Stearns’s expressinstall.as script into the timeline of a template Flash movie and saving this as your launchpad for all sites. Starting with a FLA that includes the ExpressInstall (and a stripped-down index.html file for which the .swf is to be “embedded”) will help to manage your scripts from inception to launch and make it easier for users.

Recommended Links

Tags | activex, adobe, citarella, deconcept, detect, flash plug-in, geoff stearns, macromedia, shockwave, swfobject, update, upgrade, zeh fernando

19

Jun
2006

Information Resources

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By admin404

Activating an ActiveX Control’s Interface through Javascript

June 19, 2006 - Information Resources

Removing the Marching Ants around SWF Files

As a result of the jury decision in Microsoft’s Eolas patent lawsuit, Microsoft created an Internet Explorer update that would force users to activate media items coded with “embed”, “applet” or “object” tags. The result of this decision is that while movies may play and function correctly in Firefox, Safari and other browsers, users must click Flash media to “activate” it and accept ActiveX alerts on pages containing Quicktime media.

A solution to this obstacle has been dutifully created and promoted by Geoff Stearns. His “SWFObject” (grab it here) is a simple Javascript which enables developers to embed Flash files into sites without using “embed”, “applet” or “object”.

For instance, we used to have our home page navigation coded like this:

<object classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" codebase="http://fpdownload.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=7,0,0,0" width="796" height="72" id="nav_home" align="middle">
<param name="allowScriptAccess" value="sameDomain" />
<param name="movie" value="nav_home.swf" />
<param name="quality" value="high" />
<param name="bgcolor" value="#ffffff" />
<embed src="nav_home.swf" quality="high" bgcolor="#ffffff" width="796" height="72" name="nav_home" align="middle" allowScriptAccess="sameDomain" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" />
</object>

With Mr. Stearns’ SWFObject, the syntax is shorter and effective. In the head, we include his Javascript file:
<script type="text/javascript" src=js/swfobject.js"></script>

And in the body, we replace the object and embed tags with this:
<div id="navcontent"></div>
<script type="text/javascript">
// <![CDATA[
var a = new SWFObject(swf/nav_home.swf", "fo_nav", "796", "72", "7,0,0,0", "#FFFFFF", true);
a.addParam("allowScriptAccess", "sameDomain");
a.addParam("quality", "high");
a.addParam("scale", "noscale");
a.write("navcontent");
// ]]>
</script>

The SWFObject allows for you to add all the parameters of Adobe’s default export using the addParam function.

To make things better, you can still pass variables to and from the Flash from PHP by adding the FLASHVARS variable with Stearns’ addParam function.

For instance, our interior navigation, with the PHP/Smarty variables, looks like this:

<div id="navcontent"></div>
<script type="text/javascript">
// <![CDATA[
var a = new SWFObject(swf/nav_home.swf", "fo_nav", "796", "72", "7,0,0,0", "#FFFFFF", true);
a.addParam("allowScriptAccess", "sameDomain");
a.addParam("quality", "high");
a.addParam("scale", "noscale");
a.addParam("FLASHVARS", "section=‹$section›")
a.write("navcontent");
// ]]>
</script>

The resourceful Stearns’ provides the identical solution for embedding Quicktime movies to eradicate Microsoft’s ActiveX alert window.

Include his QTObject Javascript file in the head of your page:

<script type="text/javascript" src="js/qtobject.js"></script>

And modify the code for your Quicktime video to use his format:
<div id="video">
<script type="text/javascript">
// <![CDATA[
var myQTObject = new QTObject("reels/web.mov", "qo_web", "480", "376");
myQTObject.write();
// ]]>
</script>
</div>

Incorporating the add.Param function for Quicktime parameters, you can easily add poster movies and controller options the same way you would in Flash:
<div id="video">
<script type="text/javascript">
// <![CDATA[
var myQTObject = new QTObject("reels/reel_web_posterMovie.mov", "qo_web", "480", "376");
myQTObject.addParam("qtsrc", "reels/reel_web_posterMovie.mov");
myQTObject.addParam("href", "reels/web.mov");
myQTObject.addParam("target", "myself");
myQTObject.addParam("controller", "false");
myQTObject.write();
// ]]>
</script>
</div>

Recommended Links

SWFObject Download (zip)
QTObject Download (zip)
SWFObject Documentation
QTObject Documentation

Tags | activate flash, adobe, citarella, fix, fla, flash object, html, issue, macromedia, microsoft activex, patch, php, problem, quicktime embed, swf, swf object

05

May
2006

Press Releases

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By admin404

LookUp, ERA404’s New Project Tracking Tool, is Made Available

May 5, 2006 - Press Releases

Project Tracking Made Easier for Post Shops, Using LookUp

Project tracking on Flame*/Smoke* devices can become quite involved and cumbersome.
Multiple operators, long-term projects, and disconnects between crews sometimes make tracking, archiving, deleting, even wiring, a time-consuming task.

That’s why ERA404 Creative Group worked with operators to develop the LookUp Tool, an automated approach to tracking projects giving all LAN users with access one-click retrieval of all device statistics/status, projects lists and project management assignments (archive, delete, wire).

How It Works

By using a standard web server’s inherent sockets connectivity, batch-performing the IRIX “vstat” command, and storing system values to a database, LookUp is accessed in a web browser and makes project tracking a breeze. Any workstation with access to LookUp can schedule a regular task to update the LookUp database, so users will have the most current records when they arrive to work in the morning. Alternately, a server-side CRON can be scheduled for hourly updates to the system database.

Summary

From LookUp’s Summary (home) page, listed for each device is:

  • Device Name
  • Framestore Total Storage (MB)
  • Framestore Used Storage (MB)
  • Framestore Usage Percent
  • Hard Drive Usage Percent
  • License Expiration

Devices nearing their capacity are shown in red, to draw attention to potential system warnings or faults. License Expiration is also clickable to view license detail and is also shown in red when renewal is required.

Reports

Choosing a device from the navigation gives users a project-by-project breakdown of device activity, including frame usage, and management assignments. From a dropdown, users can mark a project for archival, deletion, and wire (to adjacent device). Free-text fields are given for each project, so that scheduling personnel and other users may enter comments about the project for other users to review. These assignments are stored along-side the projects and can be updated as often as necessary for up-to-date system-wide notification.

To-Do

Technicians responsible for performing archives, deletes and wire transfers are given a To-Do “worksheet” as a guide for routine system maintenance. As projects are given management assignments, these specifications are automatically added to a printable To-Do list with checkboxes for on-site recording of task completion. Then, as projects are wired or deleted, the LookUp finds this activity and updates the database during the next scheduled update.

Security

Because LookUp is installed on an existing intranet (or internet), access permissions can be administrated using standard network procedures. htaccess can govern LookUp scripts for one-touch access to intranet users, while requiring authentication from external internet requests. This framework gives your IT manager complete control over your devices’ project security.

Make the tedium of project tracking a thing of the past, by buying your license of the ERA404 Creative Group LookUp Tool. For more information, please contact:

Mike Citarella
Product Sales
http://www.era404.com/

System Requirements:

  • OS: Existing
  • Web Server: Apache or other existing
  • Database: MySQL
  • Processor Language: PHP 4.0+

* Autodesk Flame, Inferno, and Smoke are either registered trademarks
or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc./Autodesk Canada Co. in the USA and other countries.

Tags | archive, archiving, Autodesk, Boutique, citarella, Compositing, delete, deleting, design, Discreet, Economizing, Flame, Inferno, LookUp, one-click, one-touch, Post, production, Project, Reports, scheduling, Smoke, snapshot, sockets, Streamlining, To-Do, Tracking, vstat, wire, wire-transfer, wiring, Worksheet

25

Dec
2005

News Articles

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By admin404

ERA404 Selected for Design Interact’s Second (Unofficial) Holiday E-Card Annual

December 25, 2005 - News Articles

by Joe Schepter

It’s that time of year again. Living rooms are filled with pine trees, elevators with familiar jingles and our Inboxes with holiday e-cards. In other words, it’s time for the Second Annual “Design Interact Unofficial Holiday e-Card Annual.”

This annual honors the top holiday-themed e-mails from designers around the world. As usual, this year’s crop was unscientifically selected by rummaging through our own mailboxes during the weeks before Christmas and choosing our favorites.Read More

Tags | citarella, communication arts, design interact, designinteract, don citarella, ecard, era404, free applications, holiday card, joel shepter, linc polderman

16

Dec
2005

Information Resources

Permalink

By admin404

Online Site and Application Cost Sheet

December 16, 2005 - Information Resources

Some of the other factors that influence Web pricing

Outside of Web design and development, there are many factors that could influence your overall pricing. Below is a list of some of these factors, broken down by site type. Please note that this is not a complete listing, nor should it be used as a cost estimate. This resource is provided to increase awareness only. For a more comprehensive estimate for Web site and application costs, please contact an ERA404 representative here.

 CORPORATE / NOVELTY SITES (Non-ecommerce)

Domain Name Registration

~$8 – $25/yr

If you’re interested in owning mysite.com, you’ll need to lease that name from an online domain name registrar. This enables you to have control over that User Registry Listing (URL) or Domain Name.

Examples: networksolutions.com, godaddy.com

DNS Hosting

~$25 – $100/yr

Each server has a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address that identifies it from other servers. DNS Hosts provide access to databases which translate your URL (mysite.com) to the server’s IP address (66.33.204.50). This way, when a user types in your URL, they are connected to the correct server. If you consider the database to be a telephone book for the Internet, DNS hosts are the operators.

Examples: networksolutions.com, tzo.com

Web hosting

~$100 – $1200.00/yr

Web hosts provide storage space for you to house your Web site or application. Imagine that they are your virtual landlord. Pricing for Web hosts varies as much as pricing for apartment rentals.

Examples: ERA404.net, rochenhost.com, servermatrix.com

 ECOMMERCE SITES

Payment Gateways

~ $300/yr

Payment Gateways allow for credit card processsing to take place. Their services include verification of existing and operational accounts (with Credit Card Associations or Customer Issuing Banks), verification of funds, billing address & information, and transaction. Payment Gateways traditionally have an initial set-up fee ($150 – $300) and a limit to monthly transactions (500) which has occurance costs ($.10) for each transaction over the limit.

Examples: Verisign, Authorize.net, 2checkout.com

Internet Merchant Accounts (Provided by Acquiring Banks)

Various

Internet Merchant Accounts are the same as standard business merchant accounts and are provided by banking institutions. These accounts accept the transfers of funds from the Payment Gateway and ultimately receive the payment from online consumers.

Discount Rates, or percentages of each sale (2 – 5%), fees for manual transactions (rather than online purchases), etc.

Examples: Merchant E-Solutions, Wells fargo

Static IP

~$120-300/yr

The difference between a static Internet Protocol (IP) and a dynamic IP is consistency. Every time a user is routed to your site, they’ll always be accessing the same IP. Dynamic IPs are assigned and reassigned regularly depending on the host. All ecommerce sites require static IPs, which cost approximately $15/month.

Secure Socket Layer (SSL)

~$50 – 350/yr

Secure Socket Layer Encryption is the industry standard for all ecommerce and ebanking sites. It’s packaged in with browsers to ensure that data being transmitted is readable to its intended recipient only.

Examples: verisign.com, instantssl.com

 

For More Information

Contact ERA404 for more information on other costs that may be associated with ecommerce and non-ecommerce sites or design and development estimates by clicking here.

Tags | application costs, citarella, corporate, dns hosting, ecommerce, internet merchant accounts, novelty, online site, payment gateways, secure socket layer, static ip, web hosting