International videoconferencing

Computers are magic (when they work)

Been trying to get Kim’s laptop to hook up with her dad’s PC so they can stay in touch while she and Kelley are out on tour all over the world. (If anyone has insight on cross-platform video chatting software/tips, let me know! update: we’re moving away from AIM and trying Skype next time around)

The girls landed in Japan yesterday.

It was in the wee hours of the morning there, and early evening here in Dayton. I ran over to her parents house with my laptop and set up in the kitchen.

Kim’s mom totally didn’t believe it was live video for a minute, but it became perfectly natural in no time. They were gabbing with each other chin in hand, mirrored through this technological window.

We chased around camera-shy cats for hellos, and showed off tomatoes in their backyard (Our tiny ones pale in comparison). I asked her dad if they expected a good crop and he told me never to count your tomatoes before they’re red.

Published
Categorized as Technology

Photoshop Express

It’s kinda like Photoshop, but free, and without an installer disk

Got the news this morning that Photoshop Express is in beta and out publicly.

Most folks are familiar with Photoshop—so ubiquitous it’s a verb. But it has traditionally been big and expensive and hard to approach. This new web version is none of those things—reducing options to simplify the interface and presenting tools as tasks.

And though we’ve had web applications that replicate word processing and spreadsheets, in my mind, this is the one that will begin to change how we think of applications and the internet.

It’s pretty cool I think, and it’s not because some of my photos are baked into the beta. Yep, thanks to the magic of fairies and good graces I have a couple dozen images scattered up there. From the home page to the sample image library you can open and play around with, you might catch some familiar images from the pages of this journal.

Go to the home page, click on the TEST DRIVE button, then click on MY PHOTOS. Select a photo and play with all the tools.

I have to grin a little, about having my images up there.

See, I love taking photos and though I want to be more serious about it, I know that many creative industries (selling music, writing professionally, and making photos) are in this big transition.

That’s another story altogether, but a big part of this change is because of hobbyists—learning these crafts and finding knacks because of information that is shared online.

Golly I ramble.

The point is: I’m pretty sure the reason I was approached is because my photos don’t look too professional. And I’m totally cool with this because I like the little flaws and bits of humanity that show through my work. (I even like my interface designs to have this quality.)

As more and more folks also learn the joys of making photographs, editing and organizing, the more need we have for tools that are powerful, simple and inexpensive. I know I’m a peace-loving tree hugger, but sometimes I have to think it’s all interconnected, good, and moving forward.

Current music: Katy Perry “Use Your Love”

Published
Categorized as Technology

artifacts

a glitch while importing digital footage

The crunching of video continues. I’ve now imported 40 gigs of footage to whittle down to 36 minutes or so. More on the results another day, I’m knee deep in production at the moment.

I’ve jumped through three programs trying to find the right balance of features and ease of use to tackle the video editing job:

iMovie HD (v. 6.0.3), iMovie ’08, and Final Cut Express 4.

I’m no means versed in each, but I can say briefly that iMovie 08 is the short-term winner. I initially lost my grip with the new interface change from linear timeline to stacked scrubby clips, but most every function required for this job is present—just hidden in an uncluttered manner.

I wish Final Cut Express was the solution as it offers so many options, but adding a transition between clips required some weird, non-drag-and-drop math-like maneuver that was super unintuitive. I left the program frustrated and cursing.

Current music: WOXY (Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Gardenia)

Published
Categorized as Technology

The Barbinator 3000

Making “noise” in the studio [ + a better view ]

Where Wendy brings a sense of direction and order to the workspace, the other third of Wire and Twine– Tom – brings musical taste, whimsy, and the ability to make things out of nothing.

Just yesterday after finishing up his real tasks for the week, he broke out the soldering iron to craft a homemade amp. This new infatuation with electronics stems from his time spent with Reed Ghazala where he recently learned how to “bend” circuits.

If you’re not familiar with circuit bending, wikipedia has a nice overview:

Circuit bending is the creative short-circuiting of low voltage, battery-powered electronic audio devices such as guitar effects, children’s toys and small synthesizers to create new musical instruments and sound generators. Emphasizing spontaneity and randomness, the techniques of circuit bending have been commonly associated with noise music, though many more conventional contemporary musicians and musical groups have been known to experiment with “bent” instruments.

So if you’re following my Flickr stream, The Magical Musical Thing might make more sense why it’s laying around.

We’re also blessed with the Barbinator 3000 (pictured above) whose extra eye pulses knowingly with the beat.

Current music: DJ Elephant Power “mc doux doute”

Published
Categorized as Technology

30 some odd days with the iPhone

ack ack ack

I figured I’d use the new Apple device a while before piecing together my thoughts. Up front: this is my 2nd unit. The first one didn’t like getting coverage. I took it to the Apple store and they replaced it on the spot with one that works quite well. Reception has been very good.

Now that I’ve kicked it around over a month, I can say with some confidence (as I have in comments before), if I had to choose between my laptop and this phone, I’d probably go with the phone and start designing on paper. Note: if I ever used a Blackberry or similar device, I might say the same thing. Not likely, but possible.

Some quick backstory: When the iPhone was announced, my current mobile phone was dying. I intentionally got the cheapest one without re-upping my T-mobile contract and marked my calendar for the day I could have a single device to charge—a device that would be a music player, capable of texting, web browser, email client, and no less important—a calendar.

Having videos and photos was a bonus, and man the screen makes em look great. The days of tiny photos yellowing in wallets are numbered. This makes sharing fantastic. This doesn’t come without irks. I don’t use iPhoto and it’s a small pain to manage sets of photos there. I’d rather point to a folder on my drive.

Same for events. I like Google Calendar so there are hurdles to make everything appear on both—hurdles so high I’ve given up on the former and begrudgingly use iCal.

Those and minor quirks aside, I am smitten.

So much I wish the next version of OSX took cues from the interface and stopped with the transparency of the menubar and weird 3D dock thing.

Other bits:

I don’t have to open my laptop at home as much. It’s hard enough separating work from life. This helps.

I now have a clock that has more than two alarms. (for me, this is a small blessing)

Pooping got hella productive / entertaining.

Time wasted with Flash is pleasantly shortened. (Though I do wish I could access Vimeo on it)

I vote for my favorite dancers on So You Think You Can Dance (even though this season is lackluster) because dialing is fun. Yep, dialing a phone number… fun.

Maps? Awesome. Calculator? Handy. Visual voice mail? Nice.

It’s a great flashlight. Easily 60% brighter than my last mobile phone.

So all in all, happy camper here—one that is grateful to have such a thing. Maybe when I get another chance, I’ll talk about the fun standing in line and seeing old friends happenstance when the thing launched. Until then, some goodies:

Download some iPhone Wallpapers I made

Looking for more wallpapers and ideas?
Airbag Industries iPhone candy
Trapped – Joshua Blankenkship and friends make good fun with their contact photos
Iconfactory has made all their sets iPhone friendly
Garret Murray over at Maniacal Rage has lots too
The Flickr iPhone Wallpaper pool

Current music: Headphones “Hello Operator”

Published
Categorized as Technology

Can you lasso a star from the sky?

sharpie lovin’

My friend Tom makes super fun doodles.
He’ll have a lot less to draw when everything is converged (into say, one device from Apple, Inc).

Some things however, will always be free.

To quote Mango,
Can you know the mighty ocean?
Can you lasso a star from the sky?
Can you say to a rainbow… ‘Hey, stop being a rainbow for a second’?
No!
Such is Mango!

Current music: Sonic Youth “Pattern Recognition”

Published
Categorized as Technology

i-fan

A powerful 2-in-1 fan!

I ’bout peed my pants when a friend I call “Brown” pulled this gift out of her (what I assume was a…) Wal*Mart bag.

The package attempts to pull cues from Apple design, as does the product itself—essentially a fan with two speeds: off or on. It sucks in air from the front and shoots out a somewhat weak, but comfortable draft upward.

It’s definitely sucking.

It is also hilarious and I love it since it is the only thing I have that looks like an iPod.

Seems appropriate to talk about the power of Apple’s iPod today as France passed steps that might force all these music players to play nice with each other.

I’m certainly not opposed to having Windows Media files play on an iPod, or having AAC files play on some (insert whatever other MP3 players there are).

But I wonder, does this mean I’ll soon be able to visit MTV’s site on my Macintosh and watch videos with Windows Digital Rights Management?

Does this mean Apple will have to make TV shows work on a JuiceBox? Or music bought from the Microsoft music store will have to play on HitClips or a Linux machine?

Just wondering.

Published
Categorized as Technology

a font took my job

(Well, not recently…)

My first job was working the grill at Coney Island with my friend Gretchen. We got covered in grease and bleach while all our other friends goofed off as parking attendants, reading books and getting tan.

I’m not bitter. We ate better and made tips.

My second job was at Kroger, renting out VHS tapes and, once a week, making signs for endcaps and displays.

I was sent to a workshop to learn the “Kroger way” of writing these signs.

It was actually a hoot, wandering around the store with a clipboard, taking “orders” from department managers. Then I’d fill up the back room with the smell of chisel tip Marks-a-Lot markers.

I was the in-house design department. Painting the front windows once (disaster) and I also made a t-shirt (my first).

I held this gig for a good long time, but when my senior year of high school came around, it was time to turn in my badge and focus on my studies (senioritis).

Today I was shopping (the stomach bug has passed), stocking up on all the pop-tarts my brother keeps eating, and I noticed the signs are now computer output. Printed with a perfect incarnation of the Kroger sign font.

I’d say this is a terrible sign of technology taking over creative gigs, but I don’t think so. The proliferation of blogs and digital photography, self-publishing for goods like t-shirts, books, pins, and even distributing video, it’s a great time to be expressive.

Published
Categorized as Technology

For Reference (#2)

Standard, straight-through wiring for ethernet cable
* These are not necessary

Published
Categorized as Technology

Accepting change

The evolution of Fast Food logos

I bitched about the new White Castle logo a couple years ago. Today I was driving home, saw an old Taco Bell sign and was transported back to a happier time—when evolution wasn’t so far out there.

How I miss the crisp gridded balance of yore. The warm tones are fading. Browns replaced by blues. Type now looking like it would be at home amidst fluorescent splatter from the 80’s.

*big inhale* Okay, fine. I can deal with all this change. I am resilient. I am hopeful.