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Rumors are running rampent in regards to what Apple’s iSlate/iPad/iNeed it device is going to have feature wise. Talks of a front facing camera for video conferencing, raised type screen bumps that reach up to meet your fingers like some sort of star trek inspired tech geek’s dream. Man I hope it can blend specialty coffee’s too! Of course there will be the publishing content deals with magazines and books to effectively seek out and destroy Amazon’s Kindle marketshare. But I wasn’t sure this was enough to make it one of those must have devices for me.

I really don’t like reading a magazine or a book on a screen and honestly I’ve yet to see anyone with a Kindle despite Amazon’s claim that everyone owns one at this very moment. I Still prefer old school paper for that…and my laptop suits the rest of my needs fine but I think I know what will seal the deal for me in a tablet. If it included a pressure sensitive stylus. “Gasps” you say “Steve Jobs already said a stylus was lame and must be thrown to the sacrificial fire!” But hear me out. This iPad could be a perfect computer for a illustrator or designer if it had a pressure sensitive stylus!

This would effectively go after Wacom’s market with their digital LCD Cintiq. I would love to no longer have to hook up my Cintiq to my laptop and then reboot plus you’ll be amazed how many cables the Cintiq has and it’s power source brick. Not exaclty what you call pick up and draw device. But a tablet running OS-X with Painter and Magna Studios on it. Now that makes me drool. I could just suddenly start sketching anytime I felt like it…and I love the feature of “Undo” as opposed to an eraser. The Cintiq already costs $999 by it’s self. The supposed price point of the iTablet is around that and you get a whole computer included! Sign me up if that’s the case. Check out a demo here!

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the flux interface

My holy grail has been for a WYSIWYG editor to truly handle CSS layout intuitively and properly. While Dreamweaver is very powerful it’s lasting roots are in traditional table layouts and their CSS preview has a lot to be desired plus it’s an interface that’s quite overwelming and confusing. What I’ve been seeking is a CSS layout program that is designed for designers not coders. Program like Codoa and CSS edit really appeal to hard core developers and not the visual layout designer. It’s never really made sense to me that people work in a text editing view to render something visually it seems archaic and counterintuitive. That’s a big reason I got so excited with the prospects of a program called “Flux” by a company called The Escapers. Their current release 2.47.7 and its quite impressive. I’ve been working for only a short while with the 30 demo and already see the tremendous amount of productivity gains from this app. All your css atributes are presented in intuitive side dialog boxes while you can still edit in a code view I think you’ll find the layout interface a breath of fresh air from the tedium coding. Drag and drop your elements, lists, divs, and tables while still adhering to css standards and simply point and click to make adjustments. it’s the closes I’ve seen yet to bridging the gap of desktop layout to web page layout. Check out this screencast of Flux in action. 1.21 gigawatts not needed. http://www.theescapers.com/screencast/index.html

First there was the agriculture revolution, then the industrial and now we are in the informational revolution. Whoever controls the information controls the world. Scary thought huh?

 When I saw the Microsoft surface demonstration I was saying things like “wow…very impressive!” and “oh…that’s cool”  It wasn’t necessarily groundbreaking as many of the ideas of the touch interface are also employed in technology like the iPhone,  the pinch and zoom in particular. But it was very impressive when you could drag photos from one camera to another simply by placing the camera on the table. I’m not sure how often that feature might get used on a day to day basis but it sure makes photo transfers a snap when you need it.

The most useful demo was setting down a credit card and then dragging your meals to it on the touch screen surface. This solves a real efficiency problem in restaurants making it very streamlined in how you select and pay for your meal especially amongst a group of people. This was an example of a technology solving a problem or doing a process better. 2 points Microsoft.

However it is not without potential downfalls. It would fit very nicely into markets like sport restaurants or casinos, but I can’t imagine having this screen throwings ads at my face while I eat at the Olive Garden or my local quiet restaurant. And you know they’re going to run a ton of ads on it and while I’m eating and I certainly don’t want a light up display under me advertising the latest special on mozerella sticks at Chili’s.  I already go to the movies and have to sit through TV commercials and a slide show of loud ads before the movie even starts. This Surface technology could be more of the same, and please oh please don’t have it make sounds at me too. We learned that lesson with noisy flashy websites. Aren’t we already overly video/audio bombarded in society? Remember Minority  Report?

Tom Cruise annoys me enough let alone this potential marketing dystopia. The idea of successful technology is something that goes beyond being cool or flashy. Apple has recognized the idea of finding niches and doing things better in those niches to serve it’s users. Apple saw the mp3 player and knew it could do it better, they saw the cell phone and knew there was a better solution. I’m not sure if Surface is identifying anything that’s being done poorly besides the bill paying solution to warrant a business investment for it’s price but it raises some interesting new ideas. As the cost of the technology comes down it just may find some useful niches. If not then it just may become more flashy noise in already over stimulated world.

Below is my latest design work. A promotional poster for John Carpenter’s Halloween that I created on the Wacom Cintiq 12WX Digital tablet. It’s a very comfortable and easy to use digitizer that allows me to draw in the most natural way, directly on the actual screen. It’s got a pretty hefty price tag of $999 but in comparison to my Intuos this just blows it out of the water and well worth the investment. I finally feel like I’m back to real sketching and illustrating except now I have a “undo” function built in. The tablet also  has a great feel to it with the pen and active digital eraser as well as the customizable buttons and track pads on either side of the drawing surface to program all your shortcuts. There’s quite a few cables for it for the DVI, power, and USB hookup but it’s pretty easy to setup, install, and configure. The Mac immediately recognizes it as a second monitor and in no time your sketching away.

 This poster has landed me an opportunity to work with Cinema-suicide.com to do movie posters for their midnight film showings at a local theater in New Hampshire. I can’t expressed how excited I am about this opportunity. It brings together my love for b-movies, horror, sci-fi and my love for illustration in an all you can eat buffet of coolness.
Halloween

 

here’s a video of the Cintiq in action.
 

I stumbled upon this amazing bit of new software called “Screenflow” from Vara. Simply amazing it honestly looks like something Apple would have done themselves. It’s a very high end screen activity capturing program that  can capture hi-definition video or video playing from a DVD source or anything else going on the screen. It uses an algorithm to only record the portions of your screen that are actually changing. So you can record your live isight camera and chat or even video game play and have your voice over and mouse movements all captured to a movie file.  Then you can use the advanced editor that has things like the integrated callout features or the ability to drop in your own media. very powerful stuff for creation of high end demonstrations. Watch the demo at http://www.varasoftware.com/products/screenflow

Screencast

acrobat collaboration

Katie Landers at needsum.com dropped me an email to checkout the early information on Acrobat 9. I figured it was just going to be another hash of useless bells and whistles that Adobe lately has been adding it’s bloated software suites lately. Honestly I do love designing with Photoshop, illustrator, and inDesign but when they charge $400 for a few minor features and tweaks then it is getting a bit ridiculous. Adobe Acrobat 9 and Adobe Connect Pro may change my tune though as they’re actually offering some very compelling collaborative features. I’ve only read through it briefly but it looks like it maybe what people have been waiting for in regards to true online document collaboration. Google Docs has tried it without much success, Microsoft attempts are many and still just as confusing as before though Sharepoint is about their best attempt thus far. But what Adobe has done is leverage the popularity of PDF format and tie it in with  simple to use collaboration features. They made it blend it with the application and made it intuitive for the first time user. PDF’s also support streaming video and flash animation embedded within them so you can create some really media rich documents. Users can have different levels of editing permissions on files and you can now  view and respond on comments in a rich internet application environment. I also like how easy it is to make online interactive PDF  forms. That can open up a whole new relm for e-learning and online surveys since it tracks data submitted through them.

You can also switch to a live collaboration session to invite people to look at your edits in real-time instead of timeline based efforts of back and forth notes.

Here’s a link to their guided tour

I could definitely see this beneficial to collaborating on a design with a client or other employees as well as a QA of their content and pages and look forward to giving it a try. Finally Adobe you’re starting to think beyond the bloat and consider real solutions for businesses and customers. Make things simple…make them integrate and tie it all together in a familiar interface for publishers. By getting desktop publishers on the band wagon of online collaboration they may finally bring businesses to the solution.

 

 

googlers
“Yet another Charleton Heston Reference…I’m on a roll!”

I was reading this article on cnn about how Google is starting to lose a lot of their key people. Definitely a red flag to a company that’s supposed to be about innovation and being one the top places to work. Reading some of their perks like massages, all you can eat cuisine, and obviously the big salary checks you’d have to wonder why people are leaving in droves at every level. While I think it’s great that Google gives dedicated time for it’s employees to create innovative ideas and hires a lot of passionate people with their own entrepeneurships ideas, that can be a double edged sword.

You always run the risk that those type of people will want to go out on their own to start pursuing their own dreams when they don’t feel like the company is supportive and has lost that type of innovative drive that they have. My opinion is that Google is more a corporate monster like Microsoft than they’d lead on. They’re not as nimble as they used to be. Where’s the innovation? Where’s that passion? They’ve become complacent in their cash cow of their their advertisement division and majority control of the search industry. What other innovation from them has really taken off or that was something so amazing that it was an industry changer? When you’re the big elephant sitting on the fence someone is liable to knock you down (I have no idea what that analogy means but it sounds good!)

Anybody even remember Google Chat, gmail is ok but lacks any serious innovation over other comparable web mail services. Yahoo mail offers a superior user experience in my opinion. When you look at a company like Apple and Facebook you see them changing the game in several areas while constantly evolving and improving. Google seems to be more of a follower not a leader anymore and the talent that once got them to the successful company they are now are heading off to pursue newer greener pastures.

Mesh it up

Microsoft is attempting to tie all our data together on a single new platform across multiple devices like cell phones, mp3 players, laptops, desktops (yes including my Mac) and have it exist in a “cloud.” Okay I’m a little confused by how this thing is being marketed but the potential is definitely there. It’s sort of extends the permissions on a file folder into a virtual web zone that you can subscribe to from different devices (unfortunately meaning yet another thing to download to your individual machines to get it to work). Other people can subscribe to it as well and you can track changes in the folder through feeds. Like getting twitters on your documents that reside there and being able to access them anywhere from any device. What makes it interesting is that it can potentially extend to other services so I could take a picture with my iPhone then it automatically goes to my mesh and is sent to my flickr account automatically. I’m not sure Microsoft has a way to get a lock on this type of idea as many other companies and services are already bridging the gap between desktop, web services, and portable devices but it’s good to see some them batting some new ideas around. Check out their demo at http://www.mesh.com