Here a nice report about our trip http://metrojournal.co.uk/605/

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Channel 4 News has just published a wordcloud of Chancellor George Osborne’s package of cuts for the UK. Great way of seeing the language used to break the bad news…

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I just finished an update to the Snowcloud project that renders clouds in two different sizes, depending on whether they’re embedded or not – the new embedded version is below…

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codewow – how hard is it to stop memory leaks in AS3? Programming for FP10 AIR in Flex, I have a class that loads an image from the web by setting the source property on the image to a url.

I add and remove many instances of the class on the display list. I get lots of memory leakage. All my listeners are weakly referenced, I even remove the event listeners when I unload the class instances. I also delete everything I’ve created. Still memory leaks. It turns out, and it took a while to find this, that you need to “unloadAndStop(true)” on images you’ve loaded, then they get unloaded from memory. Now, no memory leaks.

There don’t seem to be many mentions of this, certainly one to watch out for if you’re having memory problems!

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Twitter Live on Channel 4 News

We’ve just put our new Twitter application on the Noon programme, getting reaction and questions after the death of Michael Jackson. I’m really excited to have web technology and television graphics working together, it’s something I think we’ll be seeing much more of. Now our presenters in the studio search on Twitter, select the tweets they like, and immediately put them on air from the studio laptop, no outside involvemement necessary. Emails and web texts appear on the app in the same way too. Collaboration is also possible, a producer in the newsroom can filter the Tweets to make the presenter’s job easier. Profanity and url filtering is built in, as well as removal of some of the Twitter tags to make it more presentable on the telly.

I’ve been writing this app for about a month now (ever since Krishnan did ‘Surgery Live‘ – watching the programme and the Twitter feed together felt like a totally new way of doing tv), and it’s finally reached a mature enough stage that we can put it live on air. There’s a slight issue with recovery after loss of network connection that will be fixed in the next day or so – in the meantime the time honoured IT Crowd fix of turning it off and on again works well enough!

I learned a lot about regular expressions during this project, Grant Skinner’s excellent RegExr was invaluable for debugging AS3 regular expressions.

Stay tuned, we’re working on a few other exciting web ideas that will be on the programme soon, Tweet @krishgm (our presenter Krishnan), @martincollett (me), @channel4news or @c4news (the studio)

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29_obama_montage_k1Channel 4 News have re-released one of my Flash apps, a picture montage showing images from Barack Obama’s first 100 days as President.  I wrote it as an end of year piece, 100 images from 2008, the tweening is written inside an enter frame listener, the image size is calculated by measuring distance to the mouse position.

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mainpromo_electionsnightHave been listening until way too late last night to great live coverage of the Nottingham University Union elections – with neat live blogging, texts (moderated) into the programme, pretty much instant news updates and video updates too -  here . It’s interesting how much a text ‘back channel’ added to the whole experience, there are lessons here for my day job I’m sure. Superb presentation team, they had to be too keep me interested for so long, they really captured the live event, made you want to be there and it’s best that I don’t  say how many years it was since I was at Uni!  OK – I have to declare an interest, Katie was reporting live from the count until 4am. All genuinely very impressive stuff. They win loads at the Student Radio Awards every year, expect more for this!

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harpenden_weatherYesterday I bumped into a near neighbour David, who runs harpendenweather.co.uk, a great website that shows live weather data for Harpenden, my home town. The live data is rendered using Flash, it has a very nice analogue look and feel, everything is nicely smoothed as the weather changes. The page lets me know what’s going on outside without ever having to leave the computer and set foot through the front door… It was useful during the summer, I can check wind speeds before flying (crashing!) my electric heli outside.

David has a whole range of sensors on the roof of his house for just about every meteorological value you might imagine, he uploads data to the site every 4 seconds, and you can browse historical trends too. He’s even planning to add a webcam, great work!

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Obama wordcloud image

Hello from Washington DC, where I’ve been directing our coverage for Channel 4 News and ITV news on Barack Obama’s inauguration day. I was working for most of the time on the roof of the Canadian Embassy, overlooking the Capitol building while the new president was being sworn in.

It was cold, sitting directing for 3 hours at -11C, it took most of the rest of the day to thaw out, but the superb view was great compensation.

Before I came out I (almost) finished off a word / snowcloud generator for Channel 4 News, it’s probably the bit of Flash programming I’m most pleased with, at the moment. Have a play, it indexes the most-used words back into the full text of Barack Obama’s inauguration speech, and lets you watch the video at the same time. I’ll be working on improving the look and feel when I get back to the UK…

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Here’s a demo showing an Air app connected to the messaging service on a BlazeDS server.

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