Archive for the 'Applications' Category

You Can Never Leave Dripbook. Ever.

Dripbook
I’m updating this blog post after a few e-mails with Dripbook. They are a group of people trying very hard to make an excellent service. Most of my reasons for writing this post could have been dealt with better communication on their website. I suppose that’s been done by now.

Photographers, illustrators, hair stylists etc are typically a little crap at keeping their websites maintained, if they exist at all. I appreciate any efforts to help these busy creative people show their work to the world. Dripbook is one of those efforts. I found out about them through a comment in one of the Virb art groups and Mashable have written about them too. I’ll check anything out and it seemed like a good project. Easy portfolio tools combined with a social network aspect to help you connect and promote. So I sent them an application. I had to apply because… they’re pulling the exclusivity card as a marketing stunt really. I said I’m handsome and make nice work and sent them my portfolio site (ironically). Thank goodness I was let in or my street cred would have collapsed like an underfed model. The feature I wanted to explore was their ability to publish to third party sites. Widgets that create a bit of code that refers to your dynamically updated portfolio instead of you having to create the books on your own site. I use viewbook.com for a site I built for a photographer which does that exactly. Unfortunately I never did get to trying that feature.

Most of Dripbook is fine even if it’s a bit dull in the design stakes (a web 2.0 phenomenon apparently). The upload of images was easy enough, the networking idea is a good one. After I uploaded I found that my images came out looking soft. Which is odd considering they were sized down for web use and were sharp, black and white images when they left my desktop. Even that I could figure out given enough patience. My irritation is that the site is not recognizing that I have “published” a book of drawings. It says it’s published. But it’s not visible to anyone else it seems. I’ve tried every “publish” button three times and now I’m bored. If you can’t publish, you can’t promote and then the social network is useless.

Turns out that because I put a “Mature” marker on my book because it contained drawn nudity, I encountered a legal fix:

You followed the instructions exactly and did exactly what you were supposed to do. When a user goes to look at your book, he / she is asked whether he / she wants to look at mature content. Then a cookie is places on that user’s computer, and the warning does not show up again.

 A fact that would have been good to know a few days ago.
Not wanting to spend any more time on the site I figured that I’d cancel my hard won account and focus my efforts on other tasks, like my real job. Except I can’t find anywhere to cancel, suspend, deactivate, kill my account. Really. I’ve looked pretty hard. The FAQ neatly ignores the fact that anyone would be brazen enough to leave their services. I wonder what happens when you buy a premium account ($9 per month)?

Dripbook have informed me that they hadn’t got to that detail yet.  It’ll be done now.
Dripbook is in Beta phase which may excuse any screw ups and my decision to leave their site is based on a few personal impressions, not only some basic technical glitches. The site is slow, I don’t like their presentation options and I don’t like their design.

I‘d leave, but I can’t.

ps. Turns out that no one had ever asked to leave. I have that dubious honour. My apologies, Dripbook, for being that guy.

 I have been deleted. After the short e-mail chat with Dripbook I appreciate that I was rather harsh on their Beta site. I only wish they had been a bit more forthcoming with how Beta they were. I mean, who doesn’t have a delete account button?  If you think I was a putz let the comments fly.

Sketchcast or Slothcast?

Slowcast

Yes, I’m probably being unfair. I bumped into Sketchcast’s offering and was intrigued. It is a really good idea. It’s also so remarkably basic that it’s doomed to failure I fear (Doomed! Doomed!). sigh. Anything that says I can draw a blog and post it sounds great. A simple tool to spice up our picture + words offering. Unfortunately it’s so slow. There is no option to double, triple or quadruple speed your drawing. It plays back at the speed that you made it. Which is slow. We write slowly if it’s going to legible with their chunky pen. It’s slow if you have make sure the line is processed smoothly and not like a heroine addict withdrawing while drawing. I couldn’t even be bothered sitting through the whole playback of my quick blog test video (see incomplete above).

And another thing, WordPress don’t support the embedding of their video! C’mon WordPress. Lighten up a bit. It’s not java. Or anything malicious. It’s just slow.

Play with it, discard it and then maybe the developers will make it better.

Sketchcast

ps. Don’t get me started on Virb’s slow poke development cycle!

Why Can’t Every Site Be Lateral?

 Lateral

Sometimes I despair of social networking sites. They have a promise of interesting connections and influences and then fall a bit short of the dream. Much like any kind of technology I guess. I’m thinking that Virb is not going to live up to it’s designer promise. The pages dedicated to Art, Photography and other creative output have not arrived, despite months of promises. I’m sure they’re busy and music is the easiest way into this business, but c’mon! Most of the people I chat with on the site are designers of some sort and how awesome would a chart of top illustrators on Virb be? Anyways, every now and then I’m surprised by someone that wants to be friendly and what they’re attached to.

The other day a guy called Franks contacts me on Virb. And it turns out he is the Head of Design (and a damn good drawer) at a company called Lateral, based in London. They’re an interactive type of agency who’ve done boat loads of work on Nintendo DS and Levis. While their portfolio is impressive, it’s their website that caught my attention. It’s a damn clever piece of information design. Slick, simple and fast. The expandable blocks provide excellent bite size pieces of information and the colour work is fun and intuitive. I think it’s built in Ajax.

It’s a lesson in how a single page can be an entire information architecture.

Lateral 

3D Hologram for realz!

I think the Star Wars Hologram communicator is close to becoming reality. If you want me information about this technology go to the researcher’s website.

Content Aware Image Resizing = Awesome!

Now imagine having this in Photoshop!

UPDATE: Adobe Hires Co-Inventer of Image Resizer Technology
ANOTHER UPDATE: Some Patrick Swieskowski builds his own prototype of this scaling technology that you can try with your own picures.

Yann Le Coroller – Angels In The Sky

 Carl on a cloud in the kitchen

Yann is a French digital designer plying his trade in NYC. His character design is totally charming and he’s made them available as desktop downloads.  As I was digging through his work I found his Product & Interface Design page, projects he does in his spare time because he apparently can’t help but try and make the world a better place. And we have nothing but respect for people who design a better iPod like object.

Link 

Nokia’s “Where’s the Phone” Research

 Chongqing

“A lot of rich qualitative user research loses its soul by the time it’s been squeezed into conference and journal submission formats and in addition, work involving concept generation tends to remain confidential. So what you see here scratches the surface, nothing more.”

And that quote is about right, but do not think that it’s not very interesting. There are a lot of  odd tidbits that are worth knowing. They traveled to 11 cities, interviewed over a thousand people and have the pictures to prove it. If you have any interest in how hand held devices, any hand held device, may change in the future, these presentations may give you a little head start.

I enjoyed the blog format of their travels coupled with the PDF files that explain what they found. I guess the questionnaires must have been an exercise in information design by themselves, how do you ask a guy from Kampala about the interface design issues he’s been having? The writer posts some interesting thoughts from the cities, like this one, ‘ “What happens when everything is transformed into ‘experience’ shopping? And the experience shops are clustered in close proximity? Is it possible to experience, well, ‘experience fatigue’?” Some of them sound like he’s a bit jet lagged, some are relevant musings from a good scholar. It’s a blog, dammit.

Link 

Need a friend for 5 minutes?

5minutefriend.org

So you feel like meeting a new friend but you only have 5 minutes!
Well you are in luck!
Check out www.5minutefriend.org

The Ad Generator Is Here. Fear Not.

Advertising is dead. Long live advertising.

The ad generator is a generative artwork that explores how advertising uses and manipulates language. Words and semantic structures from real corporate slogans are remixed and randomized to generate invented slogans. These slogans are then paired with related images from Flickr, thereby generating fake advertisements on the fly. By remixing corporate slogans, I intend to show how the language of advertising is both deeply meaningful, in that it represents real cultural values and desires, and yet utterly meaningless in that these ideas have no relationship to the products being sold. In using the Flickr images, the piece explores the relationship between language and image, and how meaning is constructed by the juxtaposition of the two.

The ad generator was created by Alexis Lloyd as a component of an MFA thesis project in the Design and Technology department at Parsons The New School for Design.

Here are 4 ads I made in about 4 seconds. The ads become hypnotic after a while, and you begin to feel giddy and lightheaded. I had to turn it off after about 85 minutes…

adgen4.jpg
adgen3.jpg
adgen1.jpg
adgen2.jpg

Joost TV Beta Tester Says:

Joost

I got my invitation for Joost yesterday. I would have played right there and then, but had to bring my work laptop home because the software doesn’t run on anything less than the latest Intel macs. No biggie. Installation was painless, I have a user name and the thing looks awesome for streaming TV. Just like regular TV to be honest. Content will come with time but there’s a few hundred hours viewing.

Searching is fast and over picture. It is truly on demand. It may take a few seconds to get the stream started but nothing like wading through 5 minutes of ads. The ads are targeted and fairly discreet (that’ll change!) The interface isn’t awful (the controller needs a little help) and a click on the picture kills all the onscreen controls. Slick. I really, really like it. I want to love it.
One problem. The stuttering. To be honest I am on a wireless network which may account for some of the lag but I’m ahead of the curve for bandwidth and if I’m suffering (enough not to bother watching) this service may not get mainstream acceptance.It basically relies on a lot of people watching TV all the time and some dedicated bandwidth (700kb/s download, 300kb/s upload I think).

Maybe no one was watching TV with me?

This, or something like this, is the what TV is now. Interactive, niche, high quality content , on demand.

ps. is it just me or every rugby lover out there: everytime I see the name Joost I think of the Springbok scrum-half, Joost van der Westhuizen.

[UPDATE] I’ve played with it a few more times and the skipping has definitely reduced. The resolution sometimes suffers but it’s not bad. A lack of content is a problem. I’m bored already.


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