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Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

The iPhone was one of those gadgets that had me checking my couch cushions just to make sure there wasn’t an extra 600 bucks lying around. I tried one out at an AT&T store. I watched the reviews, the lines of people waiting to get the first ones, the post-debut buzz. I read the article about the unlocking so that it could be used by other carriers, and wondered how Apple would respond. Would they listen to their customers and realize that they would need to open this technology up for freer use in order to make it the success it had the potential to be? Would they quietly allow the modification while making their phone better, realizing that it could only mean more phones sold? Would Apple maintain its “everyguy” friendly image that has been boosting the success of the brand for the past several years?

As an avid user and admirer of Macs and the user-friendly OS that comes with it, as well as a staunch opponent of the world-domination-hungry Microsoft, I fervently hoped that Apple would prove yet again that it is the new breed of technology giant: one that recognizes the need to give people what they want, not necessarily what is easy or safe. The Mac/PC ads have been the personification of that brand message. Mac is the easy-going, casual, logical young hip guy, while PC is the mentally unstable, paranoid, twitchy older guy. I have found myself a vocal proponent of the “Apple is better” viewpoint, but I’ve never had as much a reason to change that opinion as now.

In response to the unlocking of iPhones, Apple has released firmware updates that lock down the phones, making them not only unable to be unlocked, but also unable to host third-party software. All the cool apps that people have been writing specifically for the new gadget to make it more must-have are now locked out. Phones that had been unlocked have been stuck in limbo mode, screenshots of which remind me sadly of the Windows Blue Screen of Death. In addition, Apple has taken a step AGAINST its consumers, the people who shelled out hundreds of dollars to buy its technology, and the very people whose word of mouth can make or break their winning streak in the technology market.

Apple – what are you thinking??

Turn back now before you become the very thing you are supposed to be the alternative for! This “comply or die” mindset is one that your company has stood against from the beginning.

Sadly, the itch to get my mitts on one of those gorgeous phones has faded now to a vague curiosity to see what will happen next. I can only imagine that these feelings may be shared by a large part of the Mac/PC community. So Apple, what’s your next move?

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A new tv spot for Halo3 is set in a museum with two elderly veterans answering questions about the weapons they used back in the war. It doesn’t take long to figure out that these guys aren’t talking about World War 2. At one point one of the guys picks up an enemy weapon and turns it on – blue lights shining strangely between tusklike points on the front – and appears to struggle with even touching the weapon. He becomes emotional when the subject of the “chief” comes up.

While this ad certainly caught and held my attention, I think it may have been for the wrong reasons. I enjoy a good video game as much as the next person but the Halo series and others I have often felt go too far toward trying to make the horrors of war as realistic as possible (with the addition of aliens, of course). That’s just not entertaining to me.

Now with this ad, I think they’ve taken a step into some dangerous ground. I have spoken to veterans of real wars and I’ve seen the barely controlled emotion and the bravely answered questions about their horrific experiences. Watching this ad and knowing that these sad old men are talking about a video game feels disrespectful to me. When my sympathies are caught, especially with the moment near the end of the spot when one of the men clears his throat to keep his voice from cracking with emotion, I feel like I’m being manipulated.

Advertising these games by showing incredible displays of graphics, exciting gameplay, innovative effects or challenging obstacles is fine. But they crossed the line here. The men and women who have real experiences in their past of the horrors of war don’t need to see their emotions used to sell a game.

Found on Creativity-Online.

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Layer Tennis

Coudal Partners is hosting an unusual game this coming Friday (September 28) and Friday afternoons all Fall for CS3 fans. Featuring a new name, Layer Tennis, this game involves teams of two designers “volleying” a design back and forth as each embellishes the design using a CS3 app and provided raw elements. The result of each 10-volley game is posted to the site and visitors vote on the winner.

So go, sign up, participate. How often do designers get to flex their creative muscles on something completely restrained by budgets, clients or creative directors? Sounds like a great way to spend a Friday afternoon to me.

Found on Veer.

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Historically, Photoshop and its Adobe pals have been identifiable by their varied but similar icons: Illustrator used the “Birth of Venus” in a variety of different abstractions, Photoshop used the eyeball and beach montage, then later the rainbow feather. With CS3 an entirely new set of icons was developed, which some have described as “Periodic Table” icons. Each application gets a colored square with a 2-letter representation of the application’s name. This has taken some getting used to, but I have found that it fits nicely into my dock, and is quickly recognizable and easy to click on, unlike the old feather/flower icons from CS which always made me stop and think and sometimes I ended up clicking on the wrong one or scrolling back and forth in my dock trying to find it.

So I was dismayed to discover today that Adobe has changed the icon yet again, this time to a bizarre speech-bubble-like shiny amateur blob thing that looks like it could have been a design student’s freshman project. What were they thinking? This icon does not say anything about the brand, nor does it look like something that could be created in Photoshop.

Photoshop logo

This new icon I am hoping is not going to be an indication of the dumbing down of the product itself. Photoshop has become one of those brand-names-turned-lower-case words, like kleenex or xerox, but the program is still a powerful tool well integrated with its fellow graphics tools. My fingers are crossed that this is just a work in progress.

Via Brand New

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Joshua Davis artwork
Apple recently did a profile on designer/artist Joshua Davis and his “dynamic abstraction” style. Using a process of collecting shapes from the world around him, writing programs to generate compositions out of the shapes and then generating final output in a variety of media, essentially he creates complex collages of color, symbol and abstraction.
The result is a psychedelic, oddly satisfying piece of graphic artwork. When viewed at close range, the work pulls you in, allowing the viewer to discover fascinating landscapes at each turn of a vector shape. Gradients alongside solids outlined in coloring-book gray borders make for a pleasing world of playful possibilities. Each work is open to interpretation, whether it’s for a BMW ad or a band promotion.
Of course, Apple being the profiler, there is a sizeable section dedicated to Mac worship (which is fine by me – Macs rock), but the glimpse offered into his process is fascinating. Apparently using a combination of vector-based programs including Flash and Illustrator, pulling images and color from Photoshop and dipping into Postscript along the way, his works appear to be totally random but are actually carefully planned and painstakingly refined.
The technology that is used in his process is the stuff I use every day, and yet somehow he is creating Illustrator files with hundreds of thousands of layers, and creating artwork that is so complex, it’s unprintable. The key here is the combining of software, the use of several kinds of technology to create a look that has never been seen before, and to do it with the flair of a talented designer – and finding clients who have the foresight and courage to do something totally different and unique. Bravo.

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I often wonder how some of the really amazing tv ads came to be. The ones that really knock my socks off often are so subtle but so complex, like the Nike One commercial (which I can’t find on Motion Theory’s website anymore). How did they animate all those little bits of thought? Certainly they didn’t hand-animate each one, that would be crazy. Now, thanks to an article from AIGA, I’ve got a clue. Open source software called Processing is making a complicated visual motion easy. Cheating? I don’t think so – it’s all about the concept, and it always seems easier looking back at it than trying to come up with it from a blank screen.

Nike One

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