There Can Be Only One

OnePress - developed by FameThemes. Perfectly lovely, but…

OnePress – developed by FameThemes. Perfectly lovely, but…

I got this particular wasp up my pant leg reviewing my morning emails. Among the pile was a recurring newsletter I subscribe to — eWebDesign ,with products and coding resources of interest to Graphic and Web Designers and Developers. In today’s batch was “A Free Single-Page WordPress Theme”. If you’ve spent any time on the web lately, these have been all the freakin’ rage, especially for startups, announcements and entrepreneur sites.

A quick look gleaned me this gushing hose of marketing copy. Yes, I know, marketing copy. Imagine that.



“If you’re a fan of the scrolling single-page parallax style themes, OnePress is a new one on WordPress.org that may pique your interest. After less than a month in the official directory, it has already been installed on more than 3,000 websites. OnePress was developed by the folks at FameThemes using Bootstrap version 4. It is suitable for business, portfolio, and agency websites.

“The theme features a full-screen background image with action buttons in the first major section. Scrolling further down reveals an about section, services, a video lightbox, an animated counter, team section, latest news, and contact form…” WP Tavern

You can go there if you like, check ’em out, but I had kind of already hit saturation point. Oooooh look, Paralaxxxxx… Bootstrap… hugh hugh hugh uff. But once I saw, “installed on more than 3,000 websites,” I was pretty motivated to move on with my day. Despite the titanic humongousness of the modern Web, there are still apparently already over THREE THOUSAND SITES out there that already look like this. I am pretty sure I have already seen a few hundred of them, and I’m bored to tears. Even with a free theme, the amount of customization and get-under-the-hood tweaking and custom graphics to make this thing stand out from the mob, it would be worth it to spend a few minutes more to find something a bit more distinctive for a project. Or purchase a more fully featured theme for a relatively minor fee, to get much closer to the project’s aim. 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

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

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