Where has Rob gone?

14 03 2013

How do you do;  it’s been a spectacularly long time since I updated this site, in my defence it just isn’t a priority at present and I’ve been very busy…

In 2011 I started http://electrichummingbird.com a Unique Digital Creative Agency and I have been focused on amazing client work, tennis and robots.


As you’ll see from our portfolio http://electrichummingbird.com/portfolio.pdf the digital work we’re producing is light years ahead of this monstrosity of a site and times change so the tech du jour is Node.js and HTML5 with a heavy focus on elegant Responsive web design and solid UX.

If you want to find me, please try there and as ever; I am all over the internet. Thanks for stopping by.




P.S All you Dev’s out there – keep on rocking in the free world!

XAMPP WordPress command line upgrade on Mac OSX

20 07 2011

Aloha. I’ve used this handy link to upgrade remote WordPress installs on my EC2 Ubuntu Linux box a few times:


I tried to do this locally using Terminal on Mac OSX Snow Leopard and noticed that you need a few tweaks to get it working. Here is the script that worked for me:

mkdir /temp
cd /temp
curl -O http://wordpress.org/latest.zip
unzip latest.zip
cd /Applications/XAMPP/xamppfiles/htdocs/yourblog.dev
cp -avR /temp/wordpress/* .
rm -rf /temp

Basically, wget isn’t installed by default so you just use curl which is. There’s also one more change; when I tried the working Linux script from the CyberCiti link I got this error message:

cp: the -R and -r options may not be specified together.

uppercasing the R fixed it ;)

Hope this is useful to someone. Have fun on the internets, cheerio

Looking for a Junior Creative person…

7 03 2011

Recently, despite some tangential geek outs in the realms of Linux, EC2 and iOS development (more about that another time) I am doing more creative direction, pitching, presenting and sales support. It’s going extremely well and basically I am very overworked and looking to hire a full time assistant who can get involved with any or all aspects of our process – which I can loosely define as:

  • Receive initial pseudo brief from client first contact
  • Interpret their agenda, research the problem space, turn this into an internal brief
  • Brainstorm & come up with several innovative, interesting, cross platform ideas
  • Pick the best of these and ensure it fits with the wider campaign/brand platform
  • Ensure idea is achievable (time/budget/legal) and technically feasible
  • Devise a way to sell the client the idea (email/illustrations/scamps/flats/proof of concept)
  • Turn the above into a beautifully presented, coherent presentation, swiftly and effectively
  • Maintain high levels of client service in written and verbal communication
  • Be agile and flexible and modify this pipeline whenever suitable
  • I don’t care if this person comes from a background which is classically considered as technical (BEng/BSc) or creative (BA/Illustration) or even if it is a non graduate who has taught themselves CSS whilst goatherding/wakeboarding/waitressing. We can teach you the tools you will need and don’t have unreasonable expectations as to what you will have worked on so far. I just need you to be clever, creative, enthusiastic, positive and motivated. Sound good to you or anyone you know? Please send them on the brief below.

    Job Brief:

    We are looking for a Junior Creative who is interested in what is effectively an apprenticeship in the creative industry. The role will be very diverse and will require an imaginative person with an interest in the areas of media, marketing, advertising, software development. This person will gain loads of hands on experience in an expanding, fast paced small company that is going places in a growth industry. We particularly wish to seek keen, enthusiastic, self motivated, hungry to learn, bright eyed/bushy tailed problem solvers with excellent communication & interpersonal skills.

    The only prerequisites are that you are an active consumer of digital media (Facebook/Twitter/Youtube/Vimeo/Flickr/Soundcloud etc...) so you understand the paradigm and the culture that we work with and that you want to learn the art and craft of imagining and realising content for these platforms and the wider web, wherever that may be - think Android/iPhone/Tablets/Kiosks/TV/Whatever.

    Anyone with a qualification, blog or online portfolio of photography/music/illustration/art/design/code/life experience will be considered. We can offer you a good starting salary of 18-25k dependent on skills experience & qualifications. If you have skills in any Adobe Creative Suite software or any web/mobile development platforms e.g HTML/JavaScript/PHP/Flash/Linux it will help you greatly and you will be able to get your hands dirty fast and learn from seasoned professional designers/developers/copywriters/project managers/account handlers etc.

    If you are interested please send a concise (<200 words) email and link/cv to :

    Rob OOSocial Contact Details

    N.B I’ve blurred out my number on the above to deter OCR bots but if you are capable of getting this job I’m sure you can work out how to get hold of me :)

    P.S I’d also be interested to hear from anyone who has read this from the perspective of one who has experience finding and hiring (or is looking to hire) a person in a similar role. Where did you publish your brief? Do you have any recommendations? Does requesting a less defined role yield better or worse responses? Ta!

    Worrying harbinger of robotic doom

    21 01 2011

    Those who know me know that I like Robots and occasionally aspire to make some and tinker about with them. I also read lots of blogs about robotics and technology. Follow me on Twitter if you’re interested in such matters. Today I was watching this amazing video about carnivorous robots that hunt insects and then consume them to create power with which to fuel themselves


    This tale of terror transcends even the hunter killers of the Skynet ouevre though; today I got a glimpse of the future and it does not look good for me. Imagine my fear when I saw the terrifying and uncanny prophetic logo of the site I was on!

    get Rob(o) uncanny logo

    I’m afraid it looks like I am destined to end up on this list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_inventors_killed_by_their_own_inventions


    Triumphant return to the internet

    17 08 2010

    15 months since my last post; I have been a remarkably busy man, sorry! Also I’ve got more and more into microblogging via Twitter (@robmccardle) and found that enough of an outlet for splurging public things about technology. Time for a minor update on my little corner of the web though, just in case you’re watching.

    I left Glue and joined Iris in September where I’m now Head of Interactive. Still developing on a daily basis, I lead the 4 or 5 strong Flash team here (+ a bunch of freelancers) and my days are split between bookable AS3 dev time and a smorgasbord of brainstorming, pitch work, creative consultancy, scoping, team management and technical R&D (when we’re not too busy which isn’t as often as I’d like). We’re a gloriously flat organisation and use mongrel Photoshop/Flash/Copy/UX/AE/3DSMAX/Assorted Wizardry creatives instead of traditional agency pairs which is brilliant. They’re some of the nicest and most talented folk I’ve had the pleasure of working with and all’s well.

    I went to FITC Amsterdam ByteArray workshop & conference http://bit.ly/5lSRzT which absolutely rocked. Herr’s Reitberger http://www.prinzipiell.com and Klingemann http://www.quasimondo.com in particular were outstanding. I left there feeling reinvigorated and creatively inspired as a great conference should.

    So; August 2010 I just updated my WP installation to shiny 3.1 behind the scenes and am back in the glorious future.

    TODO – Update my portfolio with the ~100 sites I’ve worked on since I last updated
    TODO – Post several very useful snippets of code I’ve written in various languages
    TODO – Tool up to battle the accursed spammers (main reason I let this blog slip)
    TODO – Maybe some sort of JQuizzle WP Skin upgrade when I get a spare minute

    I’m afraid I just deleted 36,786 comments this afternoon & reading any of them wasn’t an option so if you’ve trying to get hold of me for legitimate purposes I apologise. Please try the other social channels available via the links on this blog if you want to get in touch.

    Warm Regards,


    FP10 AS3 TextLayout TTF transcoding

    27 05 2009

     Further to my last post about intl text, I have solved some of the issues and found resources for Arabic as well as Hindi. I thought I’d list the error that Flex SDK chucks when I try to transcode certain TTF files:

    [code lang="actionscript"]

    Error: unable to build font 'B Nasim'


    Error: Unable to transcode /../fonts/arabic/BNasimBd.ttf.



    I've also noticed that I only experience these transcoding issues that I mention on fonts where the font name contains a space, this could perhaps be a coincidence but it's coming up a little too frequently for it to be chance. If you have a font that you are forced to use; I would consider editing it in FontLab or similar and modifying the font name metadata.

    Flash Player 10 AS3 Text Layout Engine Dynamic Selectable Embedded TTF’s

    26 05 2009

    I’ve been building internationalised Flash content for years now and it’s always been flawed when it comes to languages like Arabic so the most exciting thing about FP10 to me was the Text Layout engine. I’ve spent the last few days playing round with the Flash Player 10 AS3 Flex 4 Text Layout Engine (formerly Vellum) and trying to get  embedding fonts to work. It’s been a bit frustrating as there are few examples online and I haven’t yet been able to get embedding fonts to work without using Flex Builder (was attempting to use FDT and pure actionscript but no dice yet @ May 22 ’09)

    [code lang="actionscript"]

    UPDATE: Got this working with no MXML in FDT compiling against Flex SDK FDT Project src below:


    @UPDATE May 26t 09h: FDT no MXML version : app here – FDT Project src here


    #OLD Anyway here’s what you’re after, an example (some hindi poetry) and some gloriously open source (get the source from the Flex Builder srcview tree):

    Flash Player 10 text engine vellum example

    Examples with embedded fonts using the new Text Engine are thin on the ground, partly due to proprietary font files. I’ve picked JanaHindi as it’s open source and freely downloadable from here courtesy of our friends the Indian Government. Namaskar :)

    If you want to compile this you’ll need the FP10 debuggers, Flex Builder (I have standalone 3.0214193) compiling against the latest Adobe (not open source) SDK from http://opensource.adobe.com/wiki/display/flexsdk/Download+Flex+4 I  had luck with For the Text Engine Layout components, the package flash.text.engine and flashx.textLayout come bundled with recent builds of the Gumbo SDK. If you want just the textLayout package, use a nightly build from http://labs.adobe.com/downloads/textlayout.html

    API changes like the renaming of hostParagraphFormat and DisplayObjectContainerController ( now hostFormat & ContainerController respectively) and function names like flowComposer.updateAllContainers  which is now flowComposer.updateAllControllers make things a bit tricky as they change on a per nightly build basis but I found that using the ASDoc from specific builds and some common sense you can get around most of these. Running other examples I kept getting the error :

    [code lang="actionscript"]
    ArgumentError: Error #1063: Argument count mismatch on flashx.textLayout.property::NumberProperty(). Expected 6, got 5 [/code]

    …whenever I instantiated a ParagraphFormat. I am just putting all the issues I came across here as googling them should then show up this post and help people out.

    I think the key thing is to remember to add CFF (Compact Font Format) as an embed arg and understand the differences between DefineFont3 and DefineFont4 http://opensource.adobe.com/wiki/display/flexsdk/Gumbo+Font+Embedding

    As mentioned I am currently unable to get embedded fonts to transcode and embed correctly using FDT despite compiling against the same SDK. I prefer FDT to Flex Builder and in my opinion Flex has some serious drawbacks, principally in the way it bloats everything with hundreds of kilobytes of framework code that I have no intention of using, though lets not get into the Flex bashing, it’s a post for another day! I have just collected a few things that people may find useful…

    Transcoding – I experienced numerous errors with seemingly identical files. OpenType and Truetype information may or may not be present in font files which are identical as far as WinXP is concerned. As I’m not hardcore into typography I don’t have FontLab or any such goodies so I can only conjecture that there must be some sort of metadata required but I know not what. Digging around online a lot of people were able to solve this by using these compiler mods. I was not:

    • -managers=flash.fonts.AFEFontManager
    • -managers=flash.fonts.JREFontManager
    • -managers=flash.fonts.BatikFontManager

    Flex 4 Gumbo SDK issues:

    • I kept getting errors related to the Gumbo namespacing e.g: “Could not resolve <Application> to a component implementation.” my solution is in the posted source code.
    • Design view doesn’t work with the Text Layout Components (not bothered and doesn’t affect the finished SWF)
    • Remember to edit project preferences to target FP10 (I just publish the SWF direct & skip FB’s HTML integration)

    There are a few nice articles I recommend checking out too:

    That last one explains why Text Engine text is not compatible with flash.text.TextField text and why you’ll have to embed the same font in a project twice at present if you wish to mix and match the methodologies. It also mentions performance issues with Vellum but I can’t verify these yet.

    Adobe make great software & it’s only pragmatic that they nail down the API in one branch before they spread it out across their toolsets but why is it the Flex branch rather than the pure Actionscript one where the focus is? I would suspect this is a tactical business decision to flog Flex Builder. In my opinion anything that is possible in Flex should also be possible in Flash/Pure Actionscript and vice versa; they are 2 sides of the same coin – I’ve no vested interest in either I just want tools that make complex jobs simpler. The most annoying aspect of “Flex Creep” is things like the Embed tags creating Classes that extend items within the Flex specific MX package. Here’s an example – this Embed code:

    [code lang="actionscript"]
    fontName = "JanaHindi",
    mimeType = "application/x-font",
    public static var JanaHindiClass : Class;


    Creates a Class that extends  mx.core.FontAsset - forcing you to include the otherwise unnecessay Flex MX framework :(

    Anyone from Adobe listening – Please don’t do this! And also Text Layout Engine is such a mouthful, can we go back to Vellum? Is this a copyright issue?

    Anyway, I hope that was useful – thanks to anyone who made it all the way through! Cheerio

    Multiple Face detection in AS3 using OpenCV demo

    30 04 2009

    fdt_as3_me_and_jens.jpg I got a mutiple face detection in Flash application running smoothly which is rather nice :) Thanks a million to Squidder and to the original author of the OpenCV file @ Intel, Rainer Lienhart. The deploy has  a zipped up XML document with Haar Classifier pattern recognition…

    The AS3 unzips this data, grabs the blob/face detection data, polls frames from the camera and scans them for faces. When it finds them it will draw a rectangle around the detected faces and render them back on top of the video feed.

    Check it out at http://bit.ly/HYkJF

    A quick nose at the OpenCV Wikipedia stub will show you just how interesting this technology is as it’s used for:

    FDT made knocking this together and sharing it on SVN in house at Glue a breeze. Hopefully I’ll knock something up with this and share some source other than what Squidder has already kindly posted.


    Recent work & Cross Domain discoveries

    7 04 2009

    The Sun workThere have been no posts from me for a while as I’ve been building the AS3 carousel section (eBay items) and a series of DoubleClick Ads utilising Twitter feeds in banners and Ebay listings in banners too.  The ads are in AS2 as the DoubleCick TABS system can’t yet take AS3 FYI (coming soon, Cheers Haden for the inside info!). This is all for The Sun Help for Heroes campaign where Ebayers can apply to become sellers and then donate their profits of the items they sell directly to the campaign. We’ve got loads of Celebrities to donate items too and there is a branded hub site pulling all this activity together live within eBay at:

    In my rummagings on Cross Domain I discovered this good hack for accessing the pixels from Video on distributed CDN’s:

    More posts soon hopefully although my day to day link posting is all being done via Twitter these days so follow along if you’re interested in these things. I am endeavouring to keep my microblogging professional rather than letting you know I am ‘on the bus’/'popped to the shop’ etc so Flash goodies are promised  ;)

    AS3 Efficiency & Optimisation tricks

    20 03 2009

    Found some truly excellent resources on this (Thanks to Gibo & Mike for the links):

    I’ve been trying to save some of these little loops e.g. [code lang="actionscript"] list[length] = item; [/code]which for a simple Array push for example is 3x faster than:[code lang="actionscript"] list.push(item); [/code]out as FDT  snippets called arrPush for example so that I don’t even have to remember to use them and the benefits will appear throughout production rather than post optimization whcih can be a pain. In other news, I’ve been spending a lot of time getting used to Fabrication this week and it really is incredibly good. I’ll post something about it in the next fortnight. Happy Friday all :)