A Look at The iPad2:

Apple iPad2 - In Black and White.

Apple iPad2 - in Black and White. Thinner. Lighter. Faster. FaceTime. Smart Covers. 10 Hour Battery. Original Image: Apple

Been A little while, I’ve been working, and that’s a good thing if you’re a self-employed designer. I also broke my ankle back in August while camping, so been recovering. So blogging a slightly lower priority lately, but here I am again.

I had occasion to be out and about and took the opportunity to visit my local Apple store and take a look at the just released iPad2 for my local Apple User Group. Just like it’s predecessor, it’s a very appealing little slab of electric crack. It’s also a more appealing experience than the original iPad. Apparently, a lot of people think so too, since Apple seems to have sold close to a million of the things in the first weekend of availability, selling out at most locations.

When Apple released the original iPad, they were diving out into uncharted territory. As of last year, no one had gotten a tablet computer out there that captured the public imagination till they completely redesigned the interface. Their success with the iPhone, turning the smartphone market in it’s side, suggested they were on to something. But it wasn’t till the first year of iPad, that the realized that they had something quite amazing on their hands. People are doing things with the iPad that Apple never expected. Continue reading

Mac Pros. Mac Users?

Mac Pro: 4, 8, or 12 Cores. WORTH IT?

The current Mac Pro update disappoints actual pro users. Image: Apple Computer

Apple recently released, after over a year in waiting, an update to their Mac Pro line of tower configuration computers. They introduced the Westmere line of the Xeon workstation processors and now a version with 12 computing cores is available. But for many Apple watchers, the update was a bit of a disappointment.

For openers, while Apple has been determinedly cutting edge on their new flagship mobile products, iPhones, iPads… were notably conservative on this update. New tech such as USB 3, Firewire 1600, Litghtbridge, or even established desirable standards as eSATA were skipped. Few expected Blu-Ray support, since Steve doesn’t like Blu-Ray. The video cards options offered by Apple are decent, but somewhat mediocre by contemporary standards. But all in all, commentary in the tech blogs has negative commentary edging out positive reviews. The general consensus seemed “meh,” with a lot of dissatisfaction centering on performance versus price issues compared to alternatives on the Windows and Linux side.
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Video Odyssey

Image size, Standard NTSC vs Broadcast 1080i High Definition - Image from RDP Video Productions

Image size, Standard NTSC vs Broadcast 1080i High Definition Image source: RDP Video Productions

I know I haven’t posted in a while, but I’ve been busy. Being booked solid is a good thing for a freelancer. Being booked solid while having a number of real life issues… not as comfortable, but comes with the territory of home and family. Being booked solid and being paid somewhat indifferently. That is certainly… less good, but seems a function of the current uncertain economy. But that’s neither here nor there. I also promised a piece on data protection and backups and the like, but this is still fresh in the Studio. So hitting it while I can rant with good store of fierce.

A couple of months ago, one of my best and favorite clients approached me about a PowerPoint project that they were having some problems with. So I agreed to take a look at it. Some of the problems hinged on the destination of the presentation— a giant 40-inch plasma screen going into their freshly redesigned lobby. I did the specs on the actual LCD, and discovered that it’s native resolution was 1080i… yes, 1900 x 1080 pixels. Not huge by 300 dpi print standards. But HUMONGOUS at screen sizes. So I agreed to build the big graphics for the slides.

So far this is still straightforward. But was not destined to stay that way. The president of the company wanted some fairly upscale animation effects. And an animated title. So the project slipped into the Flash animation level. Recent versions of PowerPoint have the capability to display video on the slides, so I could export the Flash work to Quicktime or Flash Video files and embed them in the Flash Slides.

As things progressed. The client passed on another request. They want a scrolling type effect to run continuously at the bottom of the presentation, and have a picture-in-picture effect of CNN or something running in the bottom left corner of the screen.

This just became a Video Project.

Since it is going to an 1080i device, it has become a HIGH-DEFINITION Video Project. Continue reading

Getting at Your Web Stuff

HTML code in Text Wrangler. Want a piece of this action?

HTML code in Text Wrangler. Want a piece of this action?

Hello everyone who may or not be paying attention.

I know it’s been a while but I was a bit distracted by some very consuming system issues with my workstation. But that cautionary tale is a subject for another post. Seriously. Cautionary. Tale. But not now.

One of the requests that I often get from clients is that they want to know how to do simple revisions and update their web site content for themselves. Of course they are concerned in this difficult economy about paying my fair, but non-trivial designer’s rate for what might be a trivial update or minor correction. I do have a minimum quarter hour charge. Which is seriously, just about how long it takes to read the email, take the call, jot a note or two, fire up Dreamweaver or a text editor, an FTP client, log into the hosting provider’s Control Panel, upload the fix, revision or update and then log it on the timesheet. So I do see their point. Or you might just want more control of your own content. Continue reading

When do you need a Graphics Pro?

Banging one out in InDesign. Yeah, I know what Im doin

Banging one out in InDesign. Yeah, I know what I'm doin'. Look! CMYK colors!

With the market shifting as rapidly as it has been in the Electronic Age – this is a question that often pops up in my dealings with clients, my colleagues, and especially potential clients.

When is it time to hire a Designer?

There was a time, it seems long ago now, when everything printed, from annual reports and catalogs, to matchbook covers and little league flyers, required the hands of creative pros – designers, draftsmen, illustrators, layout artists, darkroom technicians, typesetters, color separators, film strippers, platemakers, printers and pressmen.  But that was circa 1980, B.C. – Before Computers. In the Mid 80’s the PostScript Programming language was being developed by John Warnock of Adobe, and Steve Jobs and was developing the Apple Macintosh computers. Eventually the combination of the Macintosh, the LaserWriter II and Aldus’s ground breaking page layout program, PageMaker, changed the publishing landscape forever.

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