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Flash Goddess
February, 2004
Sas Jacobs
Sas Jacobs
Bonser Design
Bonser Design : dynamic Flash site built in ASP, features a content management system
Australian Gold Investment Portal
Australian Gold Investment Portal : developed the back end and dynamic Flash charts

Alpha Travel
Alpha Travel : content management ASP-based site

photograph of a Xhosa woman, South Africa

photograph of the Taj Mahal, Agra, India





Sas Jacobs

You are a self employed IT Consultant working in the areas of web development, training and database development. When did you decide that this was the right career for you? How did you begin your career?
I have been interested in computers from an early age but started out working in Human Resource Management. In 1994, I had the opportunity to start my own business and did so focusing on training and database development. I discovered the Web in 1997 and immediately fell in love.
What is your favourite programming language and why?
Technically I’m not a programmer, I work with scripting languages. I write VBScript, a little PHP, JavaScript and ActionScript. I love the flexibility of ActionScript and the way it can be used to integrate dynamic content into Flash movies.
What new features of Flash MX do you like the best?
I’m assuming you’re talking about Flash MX 2004. Although I’ve played with it, because I’m busy maintaining a lot of Flash MX sites, I haven’t really made the transition yet. I spend ages working with LoadVars in Flash MX so I guess that’s my favourite Flash MX feature.
How or where did you learn your Flash skills?
I’m totally self-taught in Flash, mainly from the Web although there are some excellent Flash books out there. It’s been easy to learn ActionScript because of my experience with JavaScript. I have to confess that I have no formal IT qualifications!
Do you have any thoughts about where Flash is going or should be going in the future?
I love the direction of Flash as an alternative to HTML in creating graphical user interfaces and I’d love to see this usage increase. However, there are still many people who think of Flash as only being used for multimedia presentations so it might take a while for this to happen.
What projects are you currently working on?
At the time of writing, I’m finalising a dynamic Flash site for a graphic design company and a Content Management System for a mining company. I’ve just completed editing two books for the Accelerated series – Flash MX 2004 and PhotoShop CS.
How did you get started speaking at conferences? Was your first talk at the Kinetic Flash Conference, Singapore 2002?
Because of my training experiences, I’ve had a lot of opportunity to speak publicly about a range of topics. My first International conference was Kinetic Flash in 2002. My teachers always said on my reports “Would do better if talked less”. If only they could see me now!
I heard that you gave quite an inspiring talk at the Flashkit Conference 2003 in San Jose. Could you give us a brief summary of what you spoke about?
I spoke about scripting components and using them to create web applications. I used a very simple web survey application, populated from a text file to demonstrate some approaches that could be used. I find that there aren’t many ASP developers using Flash so I felt that I could offer a different perspective from that point of view.
Could you give us a sneak preview of what you’ll be speaking about at Flashforward2004 San Francisco?
I’ll be looking at building a diary web application using an XML file as the data source. So we’ll be covering how to use XML in Flash as well as how to develop a Web application.
You have some beautiful photographs of your travels on your site http://www.sasjacobs.com. What kind of camera do you use?
What is the most interesting place you’ve travelled to?

Thanks very much. I got a real buzz when someone came up to me at FlashKit San Jose and complimented me on my photos. I have an ancient Minolta X-300 that takes great pictures. I only take slide film nowadays as I find the quality much better. I have been to some interesting places but I think I love Africa and particularly South Africa the best. There’s an indescribable feeling that comes from being in the African bush. I’m hoping to go back sometime this year.
You’re also a musician and have played in a few bands. Could you tell us a bit about this?
I started playing keyboards in bands when I was 18, writing my own music and singing backup harmonies. When I got a mortgage, I switched to cover bands and took up the sax as well. Most recently, I’ve been lead singing and have had some experience as a session vocalist.
What’s next for Sas?
Who knows but I’m sure it will be very exciting! I’m always on the lookout for my next adventure.
What advice or tips do you have for people just getting started with Flash?
Flash can be very frustrating at first, especially when you’re coming to terms with ActionScript. There are some great Web resources out there, so persevere, as it’s not as tricky as it first seems.
If you could say one thing to the goddesses out there, what would it be?

The only way to learn Flash is to work with Flash, especially ActionScripting. Don’t just leave it to the boys, get in there and get your hands dirty with some code!