Spot the Dogference

Last week, Spot the Dogference  came online as a public beta. Time to write a blog post about this project I worked on during my internship at Almer/Blank.

What is this game?

Spot the Dogference is an online game of spot the difference featuring pictures of dogs. It has 3 levels and one bonus level. You can share your score on twitter and it will be displayed on the spot the dogference website. Read more »

My talk at L.A. Flex User Group Meeting in January

Some of you probably read my article about Font Embedding in Actionscript 3 projects. In the January L.A. Flex User Group meeting, Tom Bray recorded my talk about MojoFont. MojoFont is an Eclipse Plugin for easy Font Embedding in Flex, FDT or Eclipse. It was a good experience to speak to the L.A. Flex group. Thank you Tom for letting me a part of it. If you want to see my talk watch this video.

My talk about MojoFont at L.A. Flex User Group

Unfortunately the picture quality is not really good but if you want to know more about Font Embedding with MojoFont read my post about Font Embedding in Actionscript 3.

Internship Project 2 : Almer Blank Labs


My second project from the time of my internship which i want to show you is the Almer Blank Labs. This project is currently online and can be seen at I designed and developed the WordPress Theme. The design goal for me was to create a design which is clean but also gives the impression of a lab. It should show what we guys at Almer/Blank do or what we look at. The posts get syndicated from different employee blogs and I had to make sure that the pictures and other formatting stuff from other sites work on our site.

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St.Moritz TV


After being here in Los Angeles for about 7 months I think its time to show you some of the projects I worked on. The first project I want to show you is St Moritz TV.

What is this project?
The website is a Web TV station with short videos about St. Moritz and the Engadine. The main goal of the website is to inform tourists and locals about events, art, dinning and shopping in St Moritz and its surroundings.

What was the goal?
The current version is a Beta site. Its focus is to see what the needs of the users are and how we can build the final version and what we have to improve. Because this is a Beta site we are asking for any feedback about the site and would highly appreciate if as many of you can try it and give us a  feedback. We want to find out how we can make it most enjoyable for its user.

But hey, let’s get geeky :)
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Change image size in CSS if div tag is smaller than the image

I run into the problem that I had a div tag with a certain width. From a external site I loaded some content in this div tag. The problem was that I did not have the control over the pictures loaded from this external server. Some pictures where bigger then the size of the div tag. I didn’t had the possibility to take the picture and make them smaller with PHP as the source of the picture had to be on the external server. And furthermore, I needed a solution in CSS or Javascript and couldn’t use something like phpThumb.

My solution was to use this:
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Adobe MAX 2009, Los Angeles, California

Adobe MAX

What is Adobe MAX? Adobe Max describes them self as following:

We are in a software revolution fueled by social computing, client and cloud, and the spread of rich media across screens and devices. For four unforgettable days this October, MAX 2009 will bring together thousands of designers, developers, and decision-makers to shape the future. (Source

My feedback after visiting this event in Downtown Los Angeles.

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Ribbit Workshop

Add Communication to your Applications with Ribbit


On Sunday, October 4th, I had the change to visit a workshop about the Ribbit mobile service at the Rich Media Institute in Venice. I could see some examples how to build a Text message application in Flex or Flash and saw different ways to build a phone application. The combination between Actionscript 3 and a telephone system is quite interesting and I see a great potential in it.

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Photos of Downtown Los Angeles

L.A. DowntownDuring the time of Adobe MAX i moved to Downtown Los Angeles. A quick search in the Internet and I found a place in walking distance to the Convention-Center. For only $40/night I got a room with shared bath and shared toilet in the Hotel Cecil. Without thinking I booked it and worried a bit when I saw the prices of the hotels in the neighbourhood. When I arrived at  the hotel I was very surprised. The price for this hotel was really good. I liked my room, everything was clean, there was free wireless Internet and the staff was always helpful and really friendly. I totally recommend this hotel to everybody with a tight budget. Should I stay again in Downtown, I will definitely book this hotel again. The only disadvantage is that they do not provide parking, but parking in Downtown is not really a problem. For about $15/day you find plenty of indoor parking all over the city center.

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LAFlashapaloozastock IV review

The saturday before Adobe MAX we hadLAFlashapaloozastock from FITC in our company.flashappoluzza
I went to this event with Marcel Vogt from Switzerland who came to L.A. for Adobe MAX. We heard a couple of very interesting talks from Joshua Davis and Joshua Hirsch. After all the presentations our offices changed to a party location. I was amazied because there was free food and free alcohol for everybody. Later the night, we got a pole-dance girl a strip-these dancer as well as a magician. It was good fun. Personally I think, that more conferences should have a fun factor like LAFlashapaloozastock. Because of this relaxed after party I got in touch with many people and had a really good time.

Hype Framework Workshop

Just before Adobe Max I had the opportunity to visit the Joshua Davis workshop about the  HYPE Framework. The HYPE-framework is a easy framework for creating digital art. It makes it easy to build computer based art in Actionscript 3. Josh is a very outgoing and super friendly person. All of us had really good fun with him. We build a couple of examples with the HYPE framework which was build by Branden Hall and Joshua Davis.
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LAFlashapaloozastock IV

In a few days Adobe MAX will start. Before and during Adobe MAX there will be many other events. I will help at LAFlashapaloozastock because this event is held in our office. Here some more Infos about this Event.

LAFlashapaloozastock IV is a FREE event for interactive designers, developers, artists, companies and the people that enjoying hanging with. This year is scheduled to be the biggest event so far, as a pre-MAX 09 “free festival”:

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Design and HTML at Almer/Blank

During my internship I do a lot of web based stuff. For example designing a newsletter for a workshop at the rich media institute in L.A and Toronto.
The Newsletter for the workshop “Workshop Accelerating Creativity in ActionScript 3 with Joshua Davis” was finally sent as a HTML email newsletter.
newsletter joshuadavis
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L.A. Flash, Talk like a pirate day

Last Wednesday was the L.A.Flash user group meeting. I had the opportunity to join the meeting which is held in our office. The first talk was from Joshua Davis about his HYPE framework.Joshua Davis is an internationally-renowned artist, and Flash industry leader. Joshua Davis held a short discussion of the HYPE AS3 framework to help designers create unique interactive and animated compositions. He spoke from New York over Adobe Connect to us but will join us here in L.A at the LAFlashapaloozastock IV. If your interested check out the the talk on youtube. The second talk was from Leslie Wintner about the new Motion Tweens in Flash CS4 and the last talk of the night was from Iman Khabazian about Flash Team Tools like Catalyst, Flex, Subversion, Debugger and stuff like that.

La Flash meeting

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Second week, Flex user group meeting, mobile phone…

WOW, already my second week and still no bank account. Starting a new life in the States is not easy at all. It’s hard to get in contact with the locals, paper work is difficult and needs a lot of patience. But the beach is cool and work is fortunately challenging.

Lesson 3: Starting a new life in the California is not a piece of cake!

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One week, time for a first review

One week ago, I arrived in Los Angeles. Since then, my life changed! America was different then I expected. Los Angeles is not big. Los Angeles is unbelievable huge. I struggled with many problems I thought I will never have, other things seems to be very easy. But all in all. It is a great experience being here.
Venice Beach

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The real start of the internship and living healthy

Now I started work. After my short trip to the office on Monday I started my first day at Almer / Blank yesterday. I will work on a redesign for a community platform. My first approach will be the analyse of existing functions and stuff which is missing. I will have to search for similar projects and have to analyse them. Working on this projects is interesting and I can work independent. I will have to analyse and research a lot. After the research I will focus on user experience and the user interface. I will redesign the hole website and build a new template in Flash or Flex.

What happened back home. I still live with my roommates in the small house in Venice. The dogs are now used to me and do not bark anymore when I pass them or enter the house. Amaya, the owner of the house is a belly dance instructor. Nearly everyday she holds classes in the dance room. My room mates are very friendly. They are very much into pets. As many of you know I’m not but I got used to the cats at my girlfriends flat. :-) But as you know, dogs aren’t cats and smell different. *no comment* Unfortunately the rent is quite expensive and I will need to look for a cheaper place in order to have enough money to pay my time in Venice. Another reason for looking for another flat is that my girlfriend will come to Venice in order to learn English. A colleague from work is helping me looking. Anyway, as long as I stay there I enjoy my breakfast in the garden. I usually sit in a small mosquito tent and have a cup of coffee and some Nutella toast and a fruit (orange).

Shopping in the Venice is different to shopping back home. The first supermarket I went to was full with junk food, lemonades and sweets. But I only wanted to buy a salad. There was no salad. I might should go back to this supermarket to take a photo. Without a salad but with an orange (the ones I eat for breakfast) I left the supermarket. At least they had one healthy thing there. It looked like I choose the wrong supermarket.
Next day I tried a different shop. This time I found my beloved salad but the price was a bit shocking, a salad is nearly double the price of a salad back home.
Lesson 1 for living in the USA: Healthy food is expensive!

First day at Almer / Blank

Almer Blank

Whats the worst thing which can happen if you start a new job. I guess I just had such an experience. I arrived on time at Almer / Blank and had a warm welcome with my new colleagues. But unfortunately I didn’t feel so well. About one hour later, I felt really, really ill and I had to throw up. Fortunately a teammate could drive me home where I tried to recover a bit. I spent the hole day in my bed or at the toilet instead of starting an internship at my new company. :-( I hope I will feel better tomorrow as I really want to go back to work.
I will let you know more about my internship as soon as I’m back on track…

Venice Beach – Funny people but lovely place

Hi everybody. After flying for ages I landed safely Los Angeles. Passing the customs and immigration took me only 1.5h. :-/ After leaving the airport, I took a shared Taxi to my shared flat in Venice. I live in a small house with a beautiful garden next to a golf course and a playground. The location is good. I can walk to the beach (25min) and to my office (15min). The house is charming and clean and my flatmates are very kind and gave me a warm welcome. Currently there are five pets around. Three cats and two dogs. The dogs scared me a bit in the beginning but they seems to be very well behaved.
In case anybody of you wants to get in contact with me here is my home address:

Michael Fretz
1042  Rose  Ave
Venice 90291

Today I had a brief look at the area I live in. I took the unicycle because its the only transport I have at the moment. I thought, Venice Beach, an arty place in the USA will be used to unicycles but its not. Every time I overtook or passed anybody they started talking to me. It was funny especially the strange people at the beach who tried to sell everything to me. There was even another guy at the beach with an unicycle but he tried to make money with being there with a one wheel bike. Maybe I should do that too.. :-)  Anyway, I enjoyed my  ride along bodybuilder, skateboarder, musicians, dancers, tattoo freaks, rockers, tourists,artists , runners, swimmers and salesman’s. Of course I went for a swim in the sea but the water was actually quite cold. My ride ended in Santa Monica Pier where I turned back to Venice Beach.
At the moment I sit in the beautiful garden from our flat, write this post and will start coding afterwards. Tomorrow I will start my internship at Almer / Blank.

  • Venice
  • Home
  • Garden
  • Beach

more photos on facebook

Internship at Almer/Blank and Adobe MAX

I did it! A long dream will come true. I can do an internship in the USA. On August 29th I will fly to Los Angeles. I will start my internship at Almer/Blank in Venice CA as a Actionscript and Flex developer. After overcoming all the VISA stuff and booking a flight I can finally go. A big “thank you” to everybody who supported me and believed in me. A special “thank you” to Markus Almer from Almer/Blank who provides the intern position, Martha and Naomi form AIPT (Supporting Company for the J1-VISA) and Dominik Brumm who helped me with the plane ticket and of course my parents who always believe in my dreams.

The only concern I have now, I NEED A ROOM!!! If anybody knows somebody who can help me, please contact me! I need a clean room near my office!
I’m also happy with just a couch for the first few days so I can sort out things locally..

Thanks for your help

While I stay in Venice, there is Adobe MAX in Los Angeles. A colleague from the Swiss Flash User Group (SFUG) could help me to find a Technical Assistant position. I look forward to help at following BYOL labs:
– Advanced Interaction Design and Designing for Data in Flash Catalyst
– Learning AS3 lab
I looking forward for this well known event.

Of course I will also blog during my time in Venice… Therefore make sure you follow me on twitter or RSS!