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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

I very often run into problems when I’m trying to send a design comp to a client to preview, and the pdf is too large. Since designers and advertisers commonly work with large graphics files, this becomes an issue when you want your pdf to have a nice appearance but you need to email it to your client. High compression does the trick on the file size, but the images end up pixellated and the quality effect is lost.

Apple offers small business quick tips on their website, including one about an easy way to make a pdf file size smaller using a ColorSync setting – something many people probably don’t mess with on a regular basis.

I gave it a try on a file that has been giving me problems recently. The original, uncompressed pdf was 200 mb and the new one using the ColorSync tip was only 1 mb. The highly compressed export that I used before was 1.5 mb. Here is a side-by-side comparison of image quality in the three different files, with the uncompressed file on the left, the ColorSync file in the middle and the compressed file on the right: 

PDF compression comparison

There is a clear difference between the uncompressed file and the others, but the ColorSync compression has a much nicer visual presentation than the compressed file.

In addition to this handy tip, there are many more offered on this page, in an easy-to-access location and covering many topics to make life a little easier using a Mac. It’s worth a browse for any designer who would like to brush up on their Mac skills and hopefully improve productivity.

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Blind Target

In a move to bring awareness to the difficulty that the blind and sight-impaired have with accessibility to online shopping, a blind UC Berkeley student is suing Target. Apparently, Target and other popular online retailers have not discovered alt tags.

Target’s PR department must be livid. The technology has been around long enough that putting an alt tag on an image (to make it readable by software used by the blind to “see” websites) is practically mandatory in new WYSIWG website editors. This is not a new thing.

I found a small paragraph on the Target website directed to Assistive Technology Users: “Target strives to provide the best guest experience for all visitors to our web sites. We are committed to continuing to find ways to enhance and improve the experience for all guests, including those using assistive technologies. For help regarding online orders, shopping and returns, please call…” This information was found by clicking on a tiny text link at the very bottom of the home page labeled “About This Site.” That’s helpful.

How embarrassing, and what an easy thing to comply with compared to having the blind community make an example out of them. It’s also a good warning to all those other inaccessible retailers – get with the times, people. It’s pretty darned easy to do.

Article on San Francisco Chronicle

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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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Walking sculptures

Kinetic Sculpture

Theo Jansen has invented what he calls a “new form of life” with a series of kinetic sculptures that can walk unassisted, sense barriers and danger, and even attach itself to the ground to survive a storm. See a video about these amazing pieces of art on the TED website.
It’s a tad creepy, but also pretty fascinating, what these “creatures” can do and how they move. I think this will be one worth keeping an eye on. Who knows how this could be used?

Via Veer

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Index Awards

While this lies more in the realm of industrial design than in the advertising world, I think it is important to note the winners of the 2007 Index Awards which recognizes “design that substantially improves important aspects of human life.” The winning designs include a water bottle that kills pathogens in contaminated water when exposed to sunlight and a plastic cap that can be permanently attached to discarded soda cans to convert them into sealed used needle disposal units.

This reminded me of something I read a few months ago about a group of restaurants in New York who invited their customers to pay $1 for a glass of tap water for UNICEF, and an event I heard about in Australia where 2 million Sydney residents turned out all the lights for one hour in an effort to reduce greenhouse emissions. It’s important to step back from the world of money for a moment and look at what’s really important. Designers and advertisers have a powerful set of tools at their disposal; to communicate, to create, to improve. It’s a beautiful thing when this power is used to affect the world in a very positive way. How can advertising be used to make the world a better place?

Article via Creativity Online

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Kill the Gun

Eggsploding

A new PSA spot by AMV BBDO for client Choice FM features a study of bullets at 10,000 frames per second exploding various targets. Grotesquely beautiful and shockingly adept at delivering a concise and appropriate message.

This is another impressive use of the Phantom camera wielded by Malcolm Venville of the Nike Golf and Tiger Woods “Swing Portrait” spot.

Found on Creativity Online email August 23, 2007.

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As many people in the ad business predicted, the old TV spot just isn’t doing it anymore. The new hotness is web video, cleverly disguised as entertainment, to promote one’s product to the masses. Whether it’s an online game, interactive web toy, virtual experience or a viral video, advertisers are valuing and relying on web video to get their message out.
A great article on AdAge today about this topic suggests that even still, this is a medium that isn’t being used to its potential. Perhaps businesses assume that most people don’t have fast enough computers or connections to be able to view the video correctly, or maybe it’s a realization like I had last week that not everyone is “wired,” and so there’s some reluctance to put all the eggs in the technology basket.
What do you think? Is web video the new 30 second TV spot, or is it a fad? Will TV always be the mainstay for big-brand advertising, or will it go the way it appears to be heading, toward interactive brand-based web entertainment? Or is this guy’s pessimistic view of online advertising a more forward-thinking and realistic stance to take?

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