The Promise of a Silicon Leap Forward

M1 iMacs

the M1 iMac, make no mistake, this is a Consumer Machine.

I have not been the most diligent blogger, but will drop something when the itch grows too much to bear and spills from my fevered brain. Of course the Pandemic has been nothing but interesting…, and now the household is finally vaccinated and we’re cautiously starting to get out of “The Box” and resume interacting with the local community again. Of course as the mischief of the gods would have it – barely a month after I dropped a chunk of cash on a “new” used upgraded Mac Pro – the lockdown hit. The subject of a previous blog post, if you’re interested. But the studio did get rather slow, and sadly, a couple of clients, and I think at least one vendor closed their doors. Others took their work in-house, and some went “radio silent.”

I suppose during more down time than I was entirely comfortable with I could have blogged more. But I devoted the the unexpected free time to learning about streaming, using Zoom, honing my skills with Video and Audio production, messing about with my drums, and of course all the house things. Domestic harmony while In The Box is a good thing.

But as we rolled into the back half of the year, something dropped that made a bit of a splash. Or rather, a tsunami in the tech universe. Apple announced Apple Silicon, in the form of the M1 chip. Then these chips were put into the iPad Pro, Mac Mini, the MacBook Air, 13” MacBook, and most recently, a new 24” iMac, with an … well, interesting new design. Thinner, of course, and colors, tho’ the white bezels esthetics are clearly not for everyone. Continue reading

On The New 2019 Mac Pro

Apple Mac Pro 2019 and Pro XDR Display – Photo: Slash Gear

Been a while, and I am back, since this issue is on my immediate horizon.

I make my way as a working Graphic and Web Designer in the green hills of West Virginia where I relocated from the NYC region in 2014. In that time, the Mac computing landscape has changed immensely – and not changed much. But you KNOW that the New Mac Pro would catch my eye, and appropriate pro kvetching. It’s design, it’s features, it’s engineering, and it’s blink-worthy pricing, all very worthy of discussion.

Am I going to get into it? As a mid-tier working-class Design Guy – Oh, Hell Yes.

Continue reading

Touch Stylus: The Grail Quest

A Collection of Touch Styluses

Styluses Front to back: swag ballpoint/stylus, Targus stylus, Wacom Bamboo Stylus, Hand Stylus, Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus 2. Rear: Wacom Grip Pen

How friggin’ hard could this be?

If you’ve been reading this blog, or following either my personal or the FRS Facebook page, you’re seeing “from IOS” or “from iPad” on a fair number of them. I have an iPad. I like it. It’s a blast to use and it’s a lot of fun. Sometimes the thing is even useful – for work, reading an e-book, research, communications, more.  It’s surprisingly a great tool for teaching drum and chant, where I can bring along the equivalent of a fat binder of teaching materials and notes, and a chunky box of vinyl and CD’s all in the slim slice of the iPad. Paired with a bluetooth speaker, it’s tremendous.

But I am still an Art Guy. And I’d like to do more with the pad that’s directly creative. So to that effect, I loaded a bunch of creative apps on the iPad and have been poking at them. One of the most fun and intriguing is 53’s Paper, and really quite innovative. I’ve also been exploring Art Studio, Wacom’s Bamboo Paper, Pixelmator, and Zen Brush. I recently picked up Astropad, that connects to a PC or Laptop and essentially makes the iPad a mild analog to a Cintiq graphics tablet. I also had for a while some of the Adobe Creative Cloud Mobile Apps, and Autodesk’s Sketchbook, and a couple of others. I discovered something about iOS graphics apps. They’re chunky, and can eat of a LOT of your precious storage. And so do graphics FILES. I’ve got a 32GB iPad and currently have less than a gig free.

Practical limitations? Imagine that. Next iPad will absolutely be a 64 gb or better. A 16gb model iPad is near useless for professional use. However, unlike the iPhone that people tend to replace every 2-3 years, my current one is going strong.

But like I had discovered years ago as a Design Pro on the desktop, drawing with a mouse is, yes, akin to drawing with a bar of soap. So my Wacom tablets have been next to my keyboard for over a decade. They are still superior to the much promoted (actually not too shabby) Apple Magic Trackpad for speed, control and precision. I use both, context depending. Similarly, drawing with my fingertip on the iPad, while better than the mouse, still is coarse and crappy, the worst being, you cant really SEE what you are doing under your fingertip when you’re trying to draw or sketch. Continue reading

Artz Pushb4ck

Doonesbury Webcomics Snark

A little artz pushback for Gary’s dissing of webcomics artists. Apologies, G.B.T. Click fo’ bigga’.

I was going to post the Printer review of the Canon Pixma MG6220, but this came along. Gary Trudeau is one of my art heros, and I’ve enjoyed Doonesbury for years, right after my first comic love Peanuts. Gary also has the virtue of still being alive and drawing. And I certainly do appreciate the plight of print media. As a Designer, I see it all the time, as my work more and more tilts to the web and small businesses cut back on print projects.

Gary posted this strip on Febuary 2. I know he was being funny. And it is. A little. But my life is far from empty. In this offhand manner, he’s casually dissed a deep and insanely talented pool of webcominc artists creating an amazing amount of work. Some of them are a little miffed off about it. Even some serious criticism went Gary’s way.

“Many webcartoonists took on the question of what happens to comics if newspapers go away by posting the Doonesbury strip with inserted images from their own web comics. Most were well done, but Scott Kurtz depicted one of his characters farting in the blank space of the strip. Adam Manley created a collection of those strips along with his opinion…”

And fans weighed in on Doonesbury’s Slate site. Many readers pointing out that they read the strip online, as many papers have dropped DB, or comics entirely to save money. And strictly speaking, online, Gary enjoys a worldwide audience. One reader comments:

“I completely disagree with today’s strip. I’ve been a reader for about four years now and I have never once read Doonesbury in a newspaper. I have always read it online, and most of my friends (most around my age of 25) have only read it online as well…”

I have to say, that MY life is far from empty, I follow at least two dozen webcomics, my sons even more. Even my wife has a few faves. Many of the creators are proper full on professionals. In the fact they make an actual living creating comics online, all the more remarkable is that the majority of them are free to read. They are every bit as creative and interesting and funny as their print counterparts. In some cases, better, as the elite small crowd that gets picked up by the media syndicates, are often shallow and chosen for their general, inoffensive appeal to the most general of audiences.

Web comics are free to pursue their vision and find their own voice and audience. The freedom of the web allows developing young talents to get their work out there, seen, and to absorb all the constructive (mostly) criticism that the internet can heap on them… and grow. In the course of a webcomics tenure, you can often see explosive growth in the skill of the artists and writers.

So I felt, as did a lot of other creative sorts, a little pushback was fair play. I also got to draw stuff. Bonus.

Magical…

Magical. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." --Arthur C. Clarke

Click above for Large Image (900 x 600 px)

“Ook ook ack! Eeeeeek! OOOK!” [Trans: “My God, it’s full of apps… ” ]

I usually don’t repeat subjects, and I JUST reviewed the iPad2. But sometimes a marketing campaign can trod over the same raw nerve so many times before one has to spout off on it.

I don’t want to get off on a rant here but…

Apple’s overuse of the word “magical” when promoting the iPad just gets under my skin. Actually it annoys the poop out of me. Probably because it’s patently horseshit. It’s a piece of TECHNOLOGY, people, not the gorram Philosopher’s stone. We’re not a bunch of knuckle dragging homo habilis hominids howling and flinging rocks, sticks and poop at the frakkin’ monolith. Sometimes I wonder what Apple’s marketing people think of their audience. I do realize what they’re getting at, the idea of an information appliance so immediate and intuitive to use, that the actual interface disappears and you become immersed in just using the thing. Continue reading