DAVID R STONG: July 2007 Archives

iNet

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Wallet sized web browser. Is it asking too much? What I want is a wallet sized device that turns on when I open it, finds a wifi connection to the web, and displays a full screen browser across both halves of the clamshell case. No OS. No apps. No damn phone, camera, ar recording device. Just access to the web.

I don't need storage space either. Storage space is cheaper and better other places. Cameras and phones are too, incidentally. Application functionality is moving to the web: I can open text docs, photo apps, chat, webmail or gmail. It's all there and I don't need dumbed down duplication. Just give me a cheap, reliable entry point.

Of course, it will need iPhone-like keypad and touch controls... you still read my blog, Steve?

Old toon

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Destrythenes notices the horses getting skittish.

When this slide appears, the instructor is comparing the history of U.S. settlement-people moving west, looking for a piece of land they can call their own- to the settlement of Ancient Greece by immigrants. I needed to dig the cartoon out yesterday, had to chuckle, and figured I'd pass it on. Is it okay to laugh at your own cartoons? I guess if you don't, there's little reason to draw them.

He's eating stuffed grape leaves, too. Dolmathes. Sheesh.

This is an old drawing, but I needed a post and didn't have time to sketch out something new. Next time. And in my own style.

This is from several months ago (June- it's now September). I decided not to publish at the time, but on reflection, I think there are a few good links here that are worth warehousing. Not having the text come up in the current aggregator stream is a plus, too, so...:


I'm thinking out loud here, but if we present the idea of expensive, well appointed professional video labs to serve those in the Penn State community interested in the current media revolution, isn't it a bit like giving them linotype machines when they want to blog? An obvious everyman solution is YouTubeMixer. YouTube also warehouses user-centric help at the video toolbox with titles like "Making and Optimizing Your Videos", "11 Steps to Add Some Spice", "Lighting for the Internet" and "Editing 101: Class is in Session". But there are tons of online free sites...

The media is ubiquitous because anyone can create it, then share it with everyone or anyone. Are we a bit behind the curve? There are a number of cloned online video editing/sharing services:

jumpcut
If you've been wondering what to do with the video you shoot with your snazzy new camera (or your phone), Jumpcut is the perfect place for you to be creative. If video isn't your thing just yet and you just want to make cool slideshows with your pictures, Jumpcut is still the best place. Finally, a free online location where you can use all your media, create great looking movies and publish to anyone you choose. There's nothing else like it.
One True Media
One True Media- the easiest way to make Online Slideshows or Video Montages. Create the perfect story to share with friends and family. With One True Media, effortlessly combine photos and video clips with words and music to personalize your story. Quickly share with our Online Slideshow or get as creative as you want with our Video Montage. One True Media is quick and easy to use with no software downloads and immediate results.
eyespot
Eyespot enables social media and participation culture like no other company. Enabling influencers and connectors in turn leads to the creation of content that attracts legions of viewers. Eyespot provides video editing and sharing software that can be easily embedded in any website. Unlike other video editing solutions, Eyespot technology is easy-to-use, intuitive, and accessible for all end-users. Our solution includes next generation video sharing technology, enabling users to share not only via email and embed codes but also to mobile phones, portable players, and other connected devices.
motionbox
Personal video is about more than just home movies; it's about capturing life -- in motion and on the fly. As we all know, life doesn't always happen in perfect, 30-second clips. So how do you dig through all your videos to get to the moments you care about most? We don't think you should have to learn complicated editing software to share the best parts of your videos online. That's why we've developed smart, simple ways to help you make the most of what you've shot.

Does Loyola have the idea? Check LU Tube.
or could we join with Adobe to harness their online software? Photobucket is "Adobe powered" with web-based video remix and editing technology. Adobe's web-based video remix and editing technology launches directly in the browser on Photobucket's web site. It's delivered as a lightweight Adobe Flash application and built using Adobe Flex software.
or could we repurpose Erik's tiny app for uploading sound files and have it upload all types of video to a Flash Media Encoder?

Code testing

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My last post had no images; the layout suffers because of it. Styled pull quotes may help remedy that. It seems we're stuck “ They can slip into the RSS stream without raising a ripple! ” with posts that are aggregated but never visited, or visited on a page that doesn't include image based prepared widgets. Any experimenting in the environment, unpublished "preview", doesn't get the site style applied to it and I'm just tired of pulling down files, working locally, recoding main style sheets, uploading and applying. So to see how this stuff will look, I actually have to "Publish" and the poor souls who get a feed aggregated somewhere have to click it just to turn it off. It seems, though, that comments aren't aggregated- so I can always add comments here to test things (though who knows if comments support the same level of XHTML?). Another useful tidbit- if I start empty entries that just have a title without publishing, then come back to them days later to add content, they get published at the original date! Far out! They can slip into the RSS stream without raising a ripple!

iPhone CSS?

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Cole made a post on his iPhone blog about the WordPress plugin to make your WP blog look good on iPhone's Safari. It's a complex issue. iPhone is sized kind of like a handheld, it functions kind of like a handheld, but it doesn't display like a handheld since its screen is wider. Safari on an iPhone is an adult scale browser with robust capabilities. I found a post that claims this syntax works, but I'm not familiar with the use of the word "only" :

<link media=”only screen and (max-device-width: 480px)”
href=”iPhone.css” type=”text/css” rel=”stylesheet” />

The W3C pages have quite a bit of info, but nothing is leaping out at me.

Designing with an option for 480 pixel display makes sense. Does this media syntax work? iHope some of our research will look at these things. Apple has some information on their Developer Connection pages. Specifically, they call for Standards based design, listing support for HTML 4.01, XHTML 1.0, CSS 2.1, partial CSS 3, and ECMAScript 3. They also appear to be the original source for the iPhone mediatype code. They go on to say "Older browsers ignore the only keyword and won’t read your iPhone style sheet. (Thanks, Apple.) To specify a style sheet for devices other than iPhone, use an expression similar to the following:

<link media="screen and (min-device-width: 481px)"
href="not-small-device.css" type="text/css" rel="stylesheet" />

Apple also lists info on laying out content for the iPhone viewport, information on readability, image optimization, forms... So should you design for iPhone Safari? I think the heart of standards based design is that you don't design for specific devices. I'd even venture to say that you shouldn't use sniffers, either. But you should at least be concerned that your information is readable on everything that's available.

LATE ADDITION: I just found a page on flickr of all places that opens up a discussion of readable websites on iPhone. Joe Clark has a comment where he asks, "Why doesn’t Safari support the handheld CSS media type?" As much as I like Clark and would love to see him address the Penn State Web Conference, I don't think the iPhone is a handheld.

HDR experiment

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Sand sculpture, early morning.This is a visual preview of some of the data in a multi-layered 32 bit high dynamic range (HDR) image file. That sounds confusing, but it's important to clarify that, even when looking at an actual HDR image in Photoshop, you're only seeing a preview of a specific state. So, much more simply, this is a JPEG saved from the HDR file. The HDR file is unscathed, with different levels of light and color still available with the tweak of a slider. You're absolutely right if you think it just looks like a JPEG. The magic is in the availability of the additional data in the original.

I'm using Photoshop 10, part of the CS3 suite, to "Merge Photos to HDR" (It's very much like the process in CS2, but the alignment functionality has been improved.) This morning I ran over to the Central Parklet to take these shots. I set the camera on manual so that I could keep all of the settings constant for a series of seven images, each with a different exposure of the same scene. It's important to keep aperture and focus the same for each shot; any of the auto features in the camera would have adjusted those aspects to try to compensate for the changing exposure settings. Also important was a tripod and cable release.

What I think is really worth noting here is that I have the shot. I know very close to nothing about this professional camera. Adding to my camera confusion is the fact that the "Merge to HDR" command in Photoshop opens a separate small application within Photoshop, similar to Camera Raw, with a number of tools, choices, dialogs, and methods that fortunately responded to guessing but obviously have a great deal of potential. The technology allowed me to gather enough visual data to make up for my short comings as a photographer.

Since what I'm doing is merging the data from different exposure lengths, I'm predicting that very soon this process will happen in camera. When you click the shutter, information is recorded several times throughout the length of time the shutter is open. Those additional packets of light data will be stored directly in the image file- which will come out of the camera as an HDR image with adjustable light levels. The HDR merge function in Photoshop will be outdated before it gets fully developed.

Photo show

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I've looked at the photos from the Palmer collection that are currently on display at the museum and I'll go back up tomorrow for the Ansel Adams polaroids. I'm going to begrudge them my patronage, though. Some of the most remarkable photos that I've ever seen are from a Penn State faculty member not represented in the show. There's a Gerald Lang, but sadly, and quite unfortunately, no Jerrold Maddox.

Jerry has been experimenting with photography for years and managed to attract my attention early on with his high resolution compositions presented in PDF format. At quick glance, those early shots could pass for random black and white images taken in a local forest. With any sort of concentration, though, the images became beautifully complex studies in texture and composition. They worked to create deep, mood altering meditative states that I've rarely had duplicated. Maybe Rothko; maybe Pollock. Keith Jarrett for sure.

Jerry's latest work is a poignant collection of photographs, all hauntingly beautiful. They're sepia toned monochromes shot as High Dynamic Range images and displayed only online. Please, check out his site.. I would love to see them all displayed in large format at Zoller or the Robison Gallery: a darkened room lit only by spots on the photos...

...and incidentally, I'm a big fan of Jerry's web design.

rabbits

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Editorial cartoon.

(This is a "pencil" rough of a 'toon idea. I wanted to try it on screen...)

festival

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Allen and Beaver.For this, I tried the "Better Battery Life" setting. I was originally concerned that the display of a strokes' complexity would be compromised, but what happened is the screen was very dark. Everything else was normal, including battery life-about 20 minutes.

At about this point in the session I was becoming overly conscious of people walking by, and that limits my ability to connect visually with a specific motif. Sitting outside the library, though, made me realize that I could try sitting in the library, and possibly use their power. I think maintaining personal space and a visual involvement would be fairly simple. People tend to keep to themselves at the library.

Inside WEbster's Cafe.This next one really sucks as a drawing, but in the interest of truth in science, here it is. Unfortunately, my well conceived plan to sit at Webster's with their electricity, and draw the festival construction failed in a few areas. I wasn't quite early enough, so people started to gather and chat, which is a major distraction for me. The view out the window left my back too exposed, then someone came in and sat in the line of view that I'd settled on. So I had more time because I had power, but I made poor use of it because my focus was interrupted.

What I have noticed from this is that I can focus artistically, or as I've learned to say, enter the flow state while drawing on a computer. It happens regularly in the office, but there's rarely the same freedom. Then again, I'm not sure if that's exactly right. Maybe I'll discover what's going on here with focus; possibly my lack of familiarity is making me too self conscious. It's much different from using my tower setup in a private cubicle. I am happy that I can demonstrate that computers can be tools for field sketching.

Rapidly en plein air

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Wall along Burroughs.This was quick, and again, with no post work. Still, though I'm happy with the potential. I tried a power outlet along the outside of Rider2, but still got the initial power warning on screen. By the end, I was physically having a hard time holding the computer while standing as I drew on the tablet. The potential is there though. The big issue is power.

I think I'm reaching a point where I could forget the hardware and software and just focus on drawing. Hopefully, I'll be able to improve the technique.

En plein air 2

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Festival shell from Old Main.I believe the laptop was as charged as it gets. After five minutes I got a warning that I was using reserve battery power (same thing happened yesterday) then about twentyfive minutes in, the screen went black and I couldn't revive it. Running back to the office and plugging in didn't really help. The machine had shut down and I lost the last bit of work- the flag pole. If I regularly have to "recreate" bits like this, the purpose is defeated and I may as well close my eyes and draw what I see on the inside of my forehead.

As coarse as this is, I like it. I'm trying to work as I would if I was sketching without the computer- my style is about the same, I'm not using filters or effects (other than the effect generated by a digital brush) nor resorting to histories or selections. I think that level of what, purity? helps to create an image that looks hand wrought rather than computer assisted.

The problem I ran into running out of time occurred because I'd actually lapsed into a drawing mode where I wasn't aware of time. After the fact I was able to tell the time because I started with the chimes at my back. Without that, I'd have no idea; I was completely immersed in pulling mass from shadows. It's as immersive as a pencil, pastel, or pen.

This could actually work. Hopefully the iPhone will become the repository of toys and business tools, while the bigger laptops can then lose that functionality in favor of becoming useful, creative field tools. Draw, record, edit on the laptop; phone, email, chat, calendar on the iPhone. Add a little connector so I can upload sketches and download photos and I'm sold.

PostScript: ...and for those reading only the aggregated blogs, I apologize for the last comment as it appears in my first plein air post. The comment was removed in the original as I was finishing the post. I publish so that I can preview the post with my style applied to make sure it works the way I'd like. The aggregator grabbed it, wouldn't let go, and doesn't seem to want to accept any minor corrections. I think that removing my posts from company aggregation may solve the problem. More on that at a later date...but as a starter, try reading here instead.

En plein air

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Armillary sphere, Old Main.I finally tried sketching outside while using a Wacom tablet and laptop. I was concerned about power- my CPU has trouble running the tablet if it isn't connected directly to the tower, so a little laptop that takes five minutes to launch Photoshop may see big power issues. As it turned out, I reached this point in the sketch, about ten minutes in, and the screen went dark. Or darker than usual. I unplugged the tablet, managed to get some light on the screen, then I saved everything and packed up.

I found in earlier work with my regular tower-tablet set up that working at 50% seemed most like real life. I tend to sketch small, and the larger version of this sketch was saved at 50%, or the size I worked on screen. I also had to go in to my Photoshop preferences and switch from the "actual size" cursors that I normally use to the "Regular" cursors. The actual size cursor was a tiny dot that I couldn't see while the regular cursor is a very visible tiny paintbrush.

Photoshop allows users to customize the brush tool and I had created a pencil-charcoal kind of tool a few days ago. The tablet that I used was a 4X5, smaller than my usual 6X8, but I had considerably less screen real estate squeezed on to it: the laptop is 1280X854 and I usually work with a two monitor set up that gives me 3840X1200. It felt good. I'd much rather carry a laptop to sketch than to download photos on to. A bigger battery would be nice.

It might be important to point out that I've been using a tablet for over ten years, almost exclusively. I'm interested in trying a Cintique to be able to draw directly on screen, but the tablet is natural to me, and I don't think I suffer at all because my hand isn't working where I'm looking. Truth be told, if you're looking at where you're drawing rather than at what you're drawing, you need more practice anyway.

Walls

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Vertical storage space. Vertical storage space.

These are my office walls. Notes and reminders, some sketches looking for a style, pieces from friends, paper storage, an art festival button. My home walls are the same, pretty much. Remembrances are all works of my daughter's, my own pastels stand, taped to foamcore and cardboard, along the baseboard out of the way. My real preference is for clean, empty, non-intrussive walls, but I hate maintaining that.

What I picture my self putting on my one plaster wall is a sculptural installation. Fun. Eyecatching. Temporary. Some of the folks who've worked in ETS for a while may remember the piece I added surreptitiously over a weekend to the old staff show that was hanging in Computer Building: a clay sculpture appearing to emerge from the plasterboard. I'd describe it as guerrilla art, and I see a lot of potential in it. The Wright Brothers 100th Anniversary images that I grabbed from the Library of Congress, printed large, and flew like paper kites on wires in 212 air space was guerrilla art. The wires that were squashed behind the pristine "engage" sign were guerrilla art and as hated by some as much as others hate the large Rasterator print out in 202. They would be my preference for the walls. Unique things. Creative things. Put up in a fit of inspiration to achieve a creative purpose. Otherwise, walls are just vertical storage space and it doesn't matter whether they say "engage" or "Exit".

If you want to discuss whether the daffodils look better in the hall or the foyer, or whether the mattes should complement the rugs or the images, please go for it. I'm always happy to contribute something to one of your rectangles if you have something that needs to be said. Otherwise, I'd rather come in late on a Friday night, put up something that I think is really cool where I think it would be really coolest then take it down when it seems right. Everybody does rectangles.

Ratatouille

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I hope by this time that you've all had a chance to see Ratatouille. I've looked forward to it for months as the trailers made me homesick. And last Friday I took time off to see the first showing in the borough at Cinema 5 on Heister Street; they've gone digital in some of the 5, with an appropriate upgrade to better screens. Everything about the film was so good that I can forgo comments on the animation technique and focus on the Film. For me, this Pixar piece sets a standard that means we'll no longer forgive an animated films shortcomings because of a few advancements in technique. The Rat has arrived; the cinimatography is rich, the colors perfect, the cinéma vérité acting- sublime. The story is as memorable as any of the classic fairytales; what was Snow White like the first time? Mary Poppins? The complete experience is soul warming.

But I'm a cook. Maybe Remy's soliloquy on the music of flavors won't strike such a familiar chord in you. Maybe clogs and checked pants aren't familiar and possibly you won't be impressed by the staging or Colette saying, with accurate perceptions, "Cooks... are pirates!" but do appreciate this:
The signature dish starts out as thin slices of squash- green and yellow- arranged with slices of plum tomato and tiny eggplant in a pan to be roasted. The water cooks out, the flavors concentrate, the sugars caramelize. The disks are the size of American quarters, and no larger (This is the size to pick your zuchini- the French style...as Maurice used to say), are arranged on a plate then sauced very sparingly. Oh man. You can keep that big bowl of soup most people try to give you; this is art.

So this weekend, if you're considering being Transformed, see Ratatouille and transform your heart.

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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