mac modbook 14

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Festival shell from Old Main.Last year at this time I had a borrowed laptop that I was using to sketch on using my regular wacom tablet. I posted this drawing of the festival tent and wrote about battery life. I had roughly twenty minutes to make a sketch before my screen went dark and I was warned of the end of my battery's life.

The tent on Old Main lawn.So for a comparison, I did this on the Modbook. Same spot, but I had more time. Lots more. First I went to Irvings and sat working on a small animation in Pencil. Next I left the modbook in sleep mode and walked up to Old Main, where I sat to make this sketch. After a good ninety minutes to two hours, I was warned that I was starting to run on reserve power. I had about 8% battery life remaining when I got back to the office. I'd had the screen at full brightness, was pushing Photoshop with some complex brushes and multiple layers, and had a browser going in the background so I could post to Twitter- but I forgot about the browser completely.

Incidentally, you can see that I've had about zero artistic growth in a year; but the technology is moving forward with leaps and bounds. When I did finally return to the office after very focused Modbook use, there were several moments where my hands didn't adapt quite quickly enough to the standard keyboard and slightly fatter, more substantial pen. Besides feeling strange, I went to hit a key on the keyboard with my pen tip.

Some notes collected over the last week:

• Today I tried using the Macbook simply as a computer, without making use of its obvious special features. I downloaded an MP3 lecture and tried to listen to it as I worked. There is no stand with the modbook; nothing to make the screen vertical. The screen is horizontal and therefore vulnerable to enviromental disasters like crumbs and spills. I guess the more typical laptop has its keyboard in a horizontal tray while the screen is upright.

• I downloaded and installed a small open source animation package called Pencil. It's very simple, but quite effective, and using the Modbook with it seemed very natural and was completely absorbing.

• While working in Pencil, I noticed that dropdown menus are a problem. With a drop down, it's possible that if an item has a cascade, you might not see the little arrow behind your hand and pen. The cascade itself, if you access it, is completely covered by a right handed user's hand.

• I have to say again, the modbook desktop is small. 1280X800 pixels. I normally work with a desktop that's spans two 21" Cinema displays. That means I'm accustomed to spreading out over 3840X1200 pixels. Working with Pencil- an application in which I'm doing more than just illustration, I'm extremely pinched. As a grab and go drawing tool, I love the modbook as much as the red spiral bound Aquabee books that I used to use. There's a strong "artist-tool" connection. For more involved projects, though, I need either more space or a new set of desktop space management skills. I can't imagine it as a primary machine; though conceivably I could have the monitors, tablet and keyboard at the office (or a 21" Cintiq!) and just plug in for InDesign or web work.

I've collected the Modbook posts and arranged them linearly on my personal site. Post titles are linked back to the blog post to hopefully facilitate comments and questions. This will be my last "Modbook" post, and I will gather the information, images and insights into a single more polished html doc. Hopefully a print stylesheet will let anyone print or save as PDF with good results.

Penn State
April 18, Symposium 2009; reimagine.
New content. Symposium 2008.Digital Commons at Penn State. Improve the workplace; hire for variety.

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