it's just not so
Saturday, November 4 2000
It was another beautiful Saturday, the sort I never seem to experience without the disability of hangover. For me, it was also another day at Bathtubgirl's place in Venice, working on her site. It's always an ordeal, but I'm using Bathtubgirl's demanding slave-driving nature to systematically force me over each mental hurtle in learning Flash. I've been dabbling with it on and off a day here and a day there and I have to say, Flash is hard to learn. It isn't like HTML, SQL, Photoshop or Visual Basic. There are just too many things that can go wrong on the way to an acceptable result. But once you find yourself in the sweet spot, having learned all you need to know to do whatever limited task you're doing, the interface is amazingly perceptive of what it is you're trying to do. I found myself going through the laborious process of selecting the correct frame on the correct layer before doing each slight modification - only to find this was completely unnecessary; on its own the software was picking the correct layer and frame based only on where I was clicking in the movie stage. It's the sort of elegance one can't take for granted in software developed my Microsoft (or even Adobe). Still, getting to the place where you need to be in order to do get the options you need to have can be a frustrating gauntlet, and the online documentation isn't very helpful when you're stuck.
Robert, Bathtubgirl's driver & all around basement-based handyman, drove me home at the end of the day. He's very technically-inclined, having once been a Hollywood animatronics whiz. But he's been bypassed by the computer age and doesn't have any idea where to begin updating his skills. Since he's a good technical draftsman, I suggested that he start by learning Adobe Illustrator. Until very recently, he'd been reluctant to use computers because he feared he would, by fumbling into the wrong area, screw up and render a machine unusuable. So I did my best to convince him that it's actually pretty hard to mess things up on a computer unless you're deliberately malicious. "You have to be willing to experiment!" I urged. When it comes to computers, or anything really, that's always my advice. In my experience, though, it's rare to find people who have any inclination to experiment. For the most part, people want recipes; they really don't care to know how things work. That's why pulling a stunt as obvious as, say, filing down one dorm room key to make a key for another dorm room is usually greeted with the awe usually reserved for magicians.
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