Welcome to combinFormation (kom-bahyn
Please check out the menu to the right, as it connects you to important information about how to operate our software.
Launch combinFormation to use the internet for expressing your creativity. (something we noticed is that) It does a fine job of organizing and collecting information as well! Sometimes when you use it, you'll discover that (all of a sudden) you found something new and unique, something important to you that would have been REALLY hard to find if you were just using google, or yahoo, or bing.
Think of combinFormation as a different way to see all those search engines out there, which intelligently searches webpages (as intially found by google, yahoo, etc) for any relevant pieces of information. We constantly use combinFormation ourselves, and hope you will too!
We use Java to create this application., so if you don't have Java installed, then it just won't work for you. Also, because our application intensly searches the internet, it would be a good idea to not play games or use any other program on the computer that uses a lot of CPU and memory.
Speaking of CPU and memory, we do have some hardware requirements.
You also need a nice web browser.
What OS (windows, mac, linux, etc), CPU (pentium IV or core duo), resolution and how much RAM does my system need to run combinFormation?
For best performance, combinFormation requires recent hardware: a nice monitor, plenty of RAM, and a fast CPU.
bigger display -> better experience
more RAM + faster CPU = better performance
Start > Settings > Control Panel.
Macintosh HD > Applications > Utilities > Java > J2SE 5.0 ( or a diff version) > Java Preferences.
Start > Settings > Control Panel.
Macintosh HD > Applications > Utilities > Java > J2SE 5.0 > Java Preferences.
Temporary Internet Files, click on
Start > Settings > Control Panel > Java
Macintosh HD > Applications > Utilities > Java > J2SE 5.0 > Java Preferences
Finder > username > Library > Caches > Java > log
C drive > Users > andruid > AppData > LocalLow > Sun > Java > Deployment > log
C drive > Documents and Settings > username > Application Data > Sun > Java > Deployment > log
You can express interest in an image, a word in a text element, or a word in the details is to model your interests and to work on your behalf. This rating (scale -5 to +5) tells the agents what you want!
The tape recorder control lets you to start or stop the agent and affect its speed.
The mixer lets you determine the proportion of images-to-text that the agent will add to the display, and it starts at 50-50. Slide it to the left for more text, or to the right for more images. If the agent runs out of images or text, then it will wait a while for it to download more. If it still doesn't have what you want, then it will just substitute the what it does have.
Edit existing text. Or, if you wish to add your own text annotations to the web page, you will use the text tool. Left click on the text tool in the basic tool set to activate it. Once it is activated left click and drag the mouse to make a text box. You will see a colored box form as you drag the mouse that shows you how big your text box will be. To set the size of the text box, stop dragging and let go of the left mouse button. Now you can begin typing text into the box. Once you are finished, click outside the text box with the left mouse button. It is suggested you switch to the move tool at this point to position your text box.
The cool space is described by the display as a large rectangle in
background, in the middle of your window. If you move an piece of
information to the cool space, it will tell the agent to
keep that element and not get rid of it. Having just a part of an
element touching the rectangle is the same as having the element
completely inside the rectangle.
You can also resize the cool space rectangle by clicking on it and dragging it to the size you want.
The hot space is the area outside the rectangle, and is where the agent will visualize information elements that it finds. This is generally where you will be expressing different levels of interest, and discovering new areas. The information that is placed here will constantly be changing, and if you want to keep them, you should move them to the cool space.
This next tool is one you will more than like use a lot. The squares highlighted in red are the resize boxes. Clicking on one of these squares with the left mouse button and dragging will allow you to resize the element. As you mouse over these squares you will notice the mouse cursor change into the resize icon like this . This cursor just lets you know you can now resize the element. To further help while resizing, what the gray border that appears when dragging the mouse during resizing. It lets you know what size the resized element will be, or in the case of text, how much space the text will have to fit in.
You may notice elements in combinFormation that seem to have fuzzy or blurred edges. This is the work of the translucence tool. It makes the edges of images translucent, or partially clear, so you can blend them together easily. This can be used when you have images you might feel are related and you want to group them closely together. As you can see, on this image there is a check mark next to the word translucence. That means the tool is on and the edges of the image will be clear. To turn it on or off, left click where the check mark is.
This is what you will see if place your mouse over an text element. As you may notice, the difference between this tool and the image tool is that the translucence tool is replaced with a set of text tools that allow you to alter the color scheme, font, style, and size of the text in your text box.
Clicking on this menu will drop down a list of fonts. Clicking on a font name will change the font of the highlighted area of the text element. If no text is highlighted, clicking on the font name will modify the text of the entire text element.
Clicking in this area will drop down a list of numbers. The number on the display correlates to the current font size of your text element. When you choose the font size you may note that the shape of the text may change. If this happens you can resize the text box, using the resize bar to fix the problem.
Font Color & Background (Stroke) Color
Using the T button, you can change both the font color and the background color of the text. Clicking on the T button will first bring up a window entitled "Choose Font Color." You can choose a font color in three different ways: using Swatches, HSB, or RGB. In Swatches, there is a palette of pre-selected colors in boxes. Click on a box to select a color. Your choice will automatically be added to the Recent palette at the right of the window. Access the HSB selection by clicking the HSB tab at the top of the window. Here, you can change the Hue, Saturation, and Brightness of a color. You can specify this numerically by entering values or using the arrows to increment or decrement the aspect of the color. You can also simply drag the white circle on the color picture at the left. The R(red)G(green)B(blue) values will be automatically adjusted to reflect the changes you have made. Like the HSB selection, access RGB selection by clicking the RGB tab at the top of the window. Drag the notches of the sliding scaled to adjust the balances of red, green, and blue, or simply adjust the values numerically, using the indicators at the right of the sliders.
Using the color selection in the swatches, the HSB, or the RGB tabs, you can specify a certain color. When you choose a color, a Preview is shown in the box at the bottom of the window. Also, a display of how that color looks around black and white is shown in the Preview. When you are satisfied with a color for the font, click the OK button. If you would like to set all the windows back to their default position, click Reset.
Upon clicking the Ok button, another window entitled "Choose Stroke Color" will appear. Follow the same steps as above to pick your desired background color for the text. If you are satisfied with the current background color that you had before bringing up the menu, click Cancel. Otherwise, choose Ok or Reset.
The appearance of the T button will change to reflect the changes you have made to the text. The background of the T button will be the background (stroke) color of the text, and the T itself will be the color of the font color.
Clicking on the B, I, and U buttons will change the style of the text (bold, italics, underline). The appearance of these buttons will change to reflect the changes you have made to the text. When all the text in an element is the same style, the background of the button of that style will be copmletely shaded. For example, if all the text in an element was bold, the button would look like this: (show picture). If only some of the text is selected in an element and you change the style of that particular text, this change will be noted by the background shading of the style button. The bottom half of the button will be shaded to reflect that only the selected portion of text has the style change. The bottom half of the button background represents the text that is currently selected. The top half of the button background represents the general style settings for the whole element itself. When the bottom half of the button is shaded, it means that the style is applied to the selected text but that the style is not applied to the rest of the text in the element. When the bottom half of the button is white, it means that the style is not applied to the selected text but that the style is applied to the rest of the text in the element.
Clicking on this menu will drop down a list of different shapes for the background color. The last option with the line through it means that no separate background color will be displayed behind the text.
This box presents information about the location where the element was found. It also displays additional information such as the query that was sent to the search engine, the title of the source webpage, the captions of images, and the text context that surrounds a clipping in its source document. Use this to quickly learn about the source of an element.
By clicking on this tool, you can start a new combinFormation search on the one element. It generates a google search with a search query automatically formulated from terms in the elements.
Using this tool, you can visit the source webpage where the element is from originally. This will open a new browser window that is pointed at the address of the source of which the element came.
Click on this tool when you would like to permanently remove an element from the screen view.
This tool enables you to create a single element floating cool region. The agent will not remove elements latched by you even though the element is in the hot space. You can latch elements by clicking on this button. Click another time on the button to unlatch the element.
When browsing the Internet you can drag and drop text and images into combinFormation. This is done with images by clicking and holding the left button, dragging the image over the canvas in combinFormation and letting go of the mouse button. It may take a moment for the software to download the image, so be patient. For text the method is similar, just make sure to select all the text you want to put on the canvas on the web page before dragging it in. Also, note that if you select more than one paragraph of text, combinFormation may break this text up into more than one text element.
After saving a composition space, you can easily move it onto a web server. This is the same as what you would do to publish a regular HTML web page. You can then link the composition space into a regular web page.
In order to do this, you must create a link tag in HTML that connects your published composition space to combinFormation. You do this by passing your space to a special publisher's page that we have arranged for you.
You can do it like this
(expect without line breaks in the midst of the url):
There are some additional arguments you can pass. One controls whether the composition space will start with the generative agent playing or paused. The default is paused. Also, you can pass a title in for the published composition space. This title will be integrated into the intermediate web page that your users launch combinFormation from. (You must also change all instances of space to %20 in this title.) For example
<a target="_blank" href="http://ecologylab.cs.tamu.edu/combinformation/launch/regenerate.html?infospace=http://yourserver.net/yourDir/yourSpace.xml&start=play&title=Zinnias%20and%20Petunias">
function regeneratePopup(infospace, title, start)
What is working well for you? What would you like to see improved?
What would you like that is new?
Would you like to use the program in a site you are building?
We'll be grateful if you take the time to let us know about your experiences.