Develop Flow Charts Easily

bubbl.us LogoIt is true that pictures and diagrams can say a lot more than words can at times. A flow of ideas and thoughts, related concepts or how-to diagrams are very effective. But they are problematic to make. Ever tried to produce one? Don’t bother because with bubbl.us you can do it for free on-line.

This would have to be the easiest way to create a bubble flow chart that I have seen for a while. Based on flash without the loud colours, very glad about that. I am starting to like flash more since I have seen developers realize there is a whole rainbow of colours out there and they don’t need to be flashing in your face to be effective. bubbl.us is a fast way to create these types of flow charts or diagrams. Features on offer:

  • Free
  • Very easy to use
  • Automatic or manual placement of bubbles
  • Drag and drop interface
  • Automatic scaling using the mouse wheel
  • Keyboard support for viewing
  • Contextual help
  • Save your charts

There are plans to add things like:

  • Multiple user support
  • Recording brainstorming sessions

A couple of gripes but minor are that while the contextual help is excellent the text is way too small. I also found that the drag and dropping of “bubbles” is not as precise as I would like. A bit of persistence pays off here and you eventually get it where you want it. Apparently you can print your creations but I could not see a “print” button.

I would have liked to have seen these promised features included before release as they may set them apart somewhat from other similar services. I would also like to see custom colours and fonts to be available. This would be great for creating a chart that will match your blog or presentation. Be cool to be able to publish them or send the finished product to someone as well.

I like the speed at which you can add thoughts or bubbles and then being able to edit them later. A very good way to get ideas down in a visual way to refer to later. Maybe create some mind maps for articles or a project. Or just brainstorm a how-to; add the steps at random as you remember them. Then go back and order and arrange the diagram that you want to use. Deleting bubbles is very easy and does not cause a “chain” effect on the others.

Nice site and the presentation is well executed. Include the promised features and you have a very cleaver on-line application that would have a myriad of uses and benefits. Slick interface and intuitive to use. Be nice to see some more collaborative type features. Results look great but could be improved with some minor adjustments. I would commend bubbl.us on the ability to preview the service without account creation, the way it should be done.

bubbl.us Screenshot

3D RSS and Websites: Not as Far Away as You Think

I remember as a kid seeing mock ups of this type of thing in films and TV. If you were to ask me back then if I thought it could ever be true I might have smiled. To my surprise today I have seen the exact thing that I thought would always be science fiction and it was not only fun but made me think of the possibilities.

The page created in 3D is the frontpage of Digg, Technology. Really it is a proof on concept. But in reality it could become mainstream. Sure it is not going to happen tomorrow. Nor is it going to happen with the technology that is the most popular at the moment (think mouse). But I could see it happening if things like eye tracking navigation ever take off. Being able to “explore” an RSS feed in this manner would be totally amazing. Mark an article read with a double blink… maybe. Combined with VR Headsets… Okay I am getting ahead of myself here. But you get the drift.

The thing that I could see happening and sooner, is further uptake and use of 3D controlers. They currently market these devices at the Google Earth hardcore user. But using the device to explore 3D RSS feeds or websites would be ideal and totally within the possibilities of today’s technology. I can see that this is where some of the market will direct their attention. However, it is a niche market in that it does not appeal to everyone, exciting at any rate regardless of the market.

I would imagine that exploring your data and things like RSS feeds in this way would involve a whole new level of thinking. I am not sure if that would be difficult or more intuitive. That would depend on what kind of helps were “built-in” to it. Notice the X and Y axis dots on this site? They are helps for finding your way. But in my mind I can see tags, clusters, sign posts and teleporting for linking content. Wow. Now this concept site takes on a whole new meaning!

So take a look at the page created by Michael Battle that has been expertly crafted and based on flash. A bit of science fiction (no-more) fun. I have had a think about where this might go and it really is exciting. Let your imagination go wild and think about what you would like to see. Because I thought I would never see it happen when I was young. Now I think anything is possible, so you might see something in 20 years that you thought you would never see as well.

Digg in 3D Screenshot

Flash Creativity

I am not a huge fan of flash coding, in fact I hate it most of the time. It is flash by name and flashy by nature. It is in your face advertising and as loud and bold as you can imagine. Usually. But I would like to share with you a web site that is so far from this it would be classified as art anywhere else. It is so far removed from the stereotype of flash that I don’t even think it the same and yet it is.

The website does not have a name as such. It is a demonstration of the beauty that can be created using the flash code. From what I understand flash is difficult to code, if this is the case this web site is a stunning example of what is possible given the time and determination. I am sure this is some sort of on-line resume for a designer and creator of some sort as his name is in the title bar: Jonathan Yuen.

The website does not “do” much. It plays some relaxing music. It displays some rendered scenes. I sometimes just go there to look at the images that unfold as a “walk” through the created landscape. Believe it or not it is actually relaxing! It just flows as you discover about the page’s creator and what is important to him. Hover over the text to get the English version, hover for everything actually. I am reminded of a bonsai garden, very zen.  I just like it. You might think it pointless, but if you are a bit strung out take a visit. If nothing else appreciate the creativity and thought that has gone into the creation and design of this page, it is nice work.

Jonathan Yuen Screenshot

Riding the Line

Line Rider LogoI noticed that a few blogs were carrying this flash website as a story today and after about the 3rd one I thought “I” had better check it out. I am glad that I did. It is the absolute biggest time-waster that I have found to date. The “toy” as it is described is called “Line Rider
The reason it is the biggest time waster is that it is only a toy, in other words there is no point to it, there are no scores, there is no goal. Other than to draw a line that a toboggan then runs down and along. Ideally it does this without crashing!

The author of the game states that it was a project that he did for illistration class. The usual beta tag is attached and there has been a swell of suggestions for ways to improve the game. Inclusions for future versions include:

  • Eraser tool – would be very handy, you spend five minutes making what you think is a great track and make a bump in the wrong spot and you have to start again.
  • Line drawing tool – maybe but I think half the fun is getting it right. Maybe handy for the tricky bits you want to add.
  • Rider falls less easily – good, it doesn’t take many bumps for him to plough into the snow.
  • Physics engine mods – cool, adding some funky accelerate, decelerate functions. Jumps here we come.

I had some fun with this and a big warning: It is highly addictive. I stopped playing when I had wasted half an hour but ILine Rider This is bad... think you could waste a whole morning without trying.

I am really looking forward to the next version and I can see it having a cult following. Very cool and it just goes to prove that the best games or “toys” in life can be the simplest.

This is bad, face in the snow and all busted up is not a good look. No that is not blood, but it should be. This was a major stack and I am sure the little bastard reached terminal velocity. It was fun but.

Web Cam Sets You Ablaze!

On Fire WebCam 001If you have a web cam you have to try this. I was reading the RSS today and I never had any idea people were doing this sort of thing, or why…

But it is cool that people are doing this because so far this evening I have set my hand on fire, my whole body and the cat and nobody got hurt.

Grant Skinner has written a Flash 8 demo that interfaces with your web-cam to give special effects based on movement. Anything that moves looks like it is on fire. My web-cam lighting is not that good in the screen shots mainly because it is night time. But it gives you the general idea.On Fire WebCam 002

It has no purpose other than being plain fun and cool. There is also another demo based on movement that makes it look like you are being snowed on, but for that one you need to sit still for a few minutes to get the effect. Still cool fun though.

But remember you need a web-cam and I can think of no better reason not to go out and get one! Anyway they are getting pretty inexpensive now, so you don't have an excuse. Remember to have fun and not to really set the cat or yourself on fire.

On Fire WebCam 003But you can pretend…Brawh haw haw haw…

Grant Skinner's Blog