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

Get yo’ iPad On

My Alt self staring back from an iPad

My alt self in the screen of an iPad. Image: PC World. Composite: KG/FRS

This is kind of an experiment, not only am I taking about my experience with a new iPad, but also updating the blog using the WordPress App on iPad, and seeing If a long form article on the iPads touch keyboard actually is sane and/or reasonable. For openers, I do very much miss arrow key from my standard keyboard. But that still falls under “quibbles.”

One thing I swiftly noticed that neither the Facebook or Facebook Pages apps allow you to copy text from within them except while you’re posting. Bummer. I had posted my first thoughts on the FRS Facebook Page. But I was able to get in in Mobile Safari. Live and learn. Remember that early versions of iOS didn’t have copy & Paste at all. But I got it —

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New Printer in the Shop

Canon Pixma MG6220

Where I replace my ancient canon inkjet. And test the new one.

After nearly 8 years of faithful service, my comparatively ancient Canon inkjet printer gave up the ghost, failing with some sort of recurring glitch down in it’s silicon innards. After replacing a print head, the ink tank sponges, it reached the end of any reasonable user maintenance. So I replaced it with a comparable mid-range model, the SOHO targeted multifunction Canon Pixma MG6220. To give you a sense on how swiftly this world moves, that model is already discontinued and succeeded in the model line.

It’s performing well, an respectable successor for the aging Pixma iP4000 it replaced. The wireless functionality works flawlessly from two machines in my studio, once tweaked to life. The prints are the usual high canon quality. However, it is worth noting that test prints from a CMYK target document will still show “contamination” of dots of other colors in swatches of – in theory – pure C, M Y, and grays set as pure black percentage Greys have CMY dots unless set to grayscale print. But this is designer quibbling. But I am well aware that desktop inkjets are NOT appropriate for precise prepress color proofing. (One can dream, but we’re not any printer maker’s target market of any significance any more and “Pro” machines are horrifically costly ) More on this later.

Of course it comes without any cables, but I still have the perfectly fine USB A-B cable from old the iP4000. But this is less of a annoyance than it would have been since this printer utilizes Wi-Fi quite well. I can also connect wirelessly from my other workstations and the laptop through our local network. It also seems to run through ink a bit more quickly, but I manage to minimize it by leaving the printer powered up. I also wish there was a bit more guidance for using the various printer paper profiles built into the driver, but this is a continual Canon issue, not specific to this printer. More on this later.

I still like that Canon Ink tanks have been consistently less costly than HPs insanely costly ones, and their drivers better and more versatile, esp. on Mac OS, but their ink prices ARE creeping up. >: (  And more on this later… 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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Just How Much Design is Worth It?

Adjusting bleed for in InDesign.

Tweaking Bleeds in InDesign for the Tri-fold Cut Line. Yes, I'll explain...

For openers, I have been reminded that if I want to keep people’s attention with a blog, I actually have to POST, at least more regularly than I have been doing. The current occasion is the Hudson Valley Business Edge 2010 Conference, an event that I highly recommend if you’re in the region and work in a small to medium size business, especially as an Owner, Proprietor or Principal. The presenters are all very knowledgeable, and the content is presented in a very dense manner, in short, accessible sessions. Last year I presented on “When Do You Need a Design Pro?”, and hope to do so again on subjects graphic. But to the point, while I fairly recently posted back on June 7th, the one before was March 20th.

I have been busy, hence the lean posting. So this time around I’ll talk about a recent client experience.

This is a long term client that I have been working with for many years. I’ve built and rebuilt his website, will do it again soon. This time around I was updating his brochure. This is a fairly standard tri-fold brochure, a pretty common and useful staple of business marketing. This item is usually not a terrific chore if you have a focused client, and their graphic identity is already in place. Typically brochures are put together after logo design and identity projects are complete.  But what happens when your client is perhaps over focused

The short answer is: 63 design comps, seven candidate “final” versions. Three rounds of pre-press, PDFs and AAs. Hundreds of photo retouches and composites. 2.4 gigabytes of  data. And sent the press proofs back to press… twice. What on earth happened here? Continue reading