DAVID R STONG: June 2008 Archives

on wikis

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Sidebar Rant:
I hate iTunesU. What if I don't want to download something? What if I want to find something again? What if I want to send a link to someone? Universities do seem to be catching on and are using the internet like the rest of the world, but what happens to these fascinating stored lectures? Will Google create a project that offers to download them all and make them available as tagged resources on YouTube? One can hope. One can hope.

I've been listening to a series of UC Berkeley lectures in iTunes. It's InfoSys296A-2 Open Source Development and Distribution of Digital Information: Technical, Economic, Social, and Legal Perspectives. It's interesting to me because I see having an informed, enlightened perspective on information sciences to be part of my job. I'm not naturally inclined to seek this stuff out. There is a little pleasure, though; especially, like going to a trade school instead of a university, when you find immediate tie ins to how you earn a living. The lecture currently sparking inner discussion is Wikipedia as an Open Source Project. You can probably locate it on iTunes with this much info, but those rascally UC Berkeley folks also have the same course on that other internet.

I love it. So I guess that's a lot of pleasure. A few minutes in, Mitch Kapor (Adjunct Professor at the School of Information at University of California, Berkeley) reads the Jimmy Wales quote,

"Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge."

I get it. It and waves of images of implications. What would be the impact on a University? What would we lose? What would we gain? What would it be like having learning as a lifelong pastime for anyone who wants it? What sort of rationale would develop in academe that would try to maintain the political and fiscal status quo without mentioning them? Lock down the resources without sharing them? Would it be possible for a University to use such a system? What value could they add? What would the problems be?

Shouldn't someone be exploring this?

I'm going to go draw.


My blog entry box is peppered with unpublished entries. It's the result of brain ramblings during a 40 minute walk to work mashing into RSS NPR and email. Things come together in strange ways, then something happens, I get side tracked, and never publish.

Lots of things banged together today. A colleague wrote and asked if I'd read McLuhan's the medium is the Massage. I had, years ago; and knew it as I spoke of it- the medium is the message. I know that isn't spelled like the title is, but that's what they meant and what they talk about. The whole "massage" thing, as I recall, was a misprint. It was the sixties, after all. McLuhan and Fiore came up with a providential back-story to explain it.

And it turns out that the medium—a book—is the message here. They're fairly permanent, long lived, hard to change and update, live in locked away spaces, and you have to adapt your story to what and how they've communicated. How archaic.

Before I was married, I lived in town across from Schlow Library. A good morning to me was walking across the street and rambling from book to book, finding one thing and following it to another. Illustration jobs forced me to find more current information, and I had to go read in a book store, but libraries were still fun. I still enjoy it, but it takes so long. And sometimes, people actually remove the books, take them home for their own use, and leave me with a dead link.

I love books. The way they feel, the way they look. You don't plug them in or change their batteries. but damn it, when what you want is the information, books can be like gum on a sidewalk. And how do you know if they're wrong? There's no versioning... are you allowed to make corrections in the margins? How about if you use pencil? I bet I could even add illustrations if I was allowed.



I've been having an ongoing, rambling internal discussion about how things look, how looks are interpreted, and what different looks, different qualities, mean to different sorts of people under different circumstances. I keep getting input from odd sources- just now an NPR piece on our horrid economy, the thriving art market and the highest price ever paid for a Monet just being paid at Christie's. Yesterday I had a chat about tastes in photography, and what people raised with the power and immediacy of cell phone images will look for in a "good photograph." Over the paste several weeks there's been discussion about how web pages look, how the walls look, how our furniture looks, and what it all means- what it says about us.

By internal, let me qualify- I mean internal to my own head. Internal to me, not to us; when you walk to and from work every day with no electronics, you have lots of internal discussions. I believe some folks call that "crazy"…

Any how, this is all very complex and rather jumbled. Did the person who paid $80.4 million for the Monet really really like the way the Monet looked? Maybe. Was it only an investment? Perhaps. Were the buyers excited about what the painting said about them? That too is possible. What do you think Monet was saying when he made the visual statement? What did the painting say about him? If you had purchased the same painting from the artist in 1925, what would it have said to you or about you at that time?

Obviously changes take place in perceptions. There was a time when hanging a Monet in your office would have said you were avant guard to some, tasteless to others. Taking a photo and getting the person to sit still long enough for a clear exposure would have branded you as a professional level photographer. Now, "professional photographer" implies over equipped and far from cutting edge. Good photos communicate, and do so immediately and honestly to a world wide audience. Who cares if the sitter is in focus?

Geez, where am I going with this? It's all banging together, all connected.

Growing up in a lower middle class blue collar home, my home was comfortable and no where near decorated. My father cleaned oil burners for a local Mobil branch, but evenings and weekends he cooked, he was a scout master, he was a game warden, and he was a commercial artist. We didn't have "lamps" we had electrical things that let us light up what we were working on. We didn't have a living room set, we had places to put the cool stuff we found, were reading, were experimenting on, so that it was convenient for everybody and we could all see it and talk about it. Some folks would say our house was a mess. Some would say it was a pretty exciting place.

Depending on what your house looked like, you might think my family was poor, or crazy, or creative and inquisitive.

Depending on what you were used to. Depending on the language you spoke.

So back to Monet. What did his studio look like? Anything at all like the living room or office of the person who just paid 80 million for a picture? I doubt it. Among the many things that held Monet's interest- good food, gardening, and light- I don't think he would have been at all concerned about how his studio looked or what it said about him. And I guess if I had a chance to have coffee with Monet or the folks who just paid $80 million, I'd hang out with Claude.

mac modbook 13

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Since my natural inclination is against using the modbook as a notebook, I sent a note to Mage software, developers of inkBook, to see if they have documentation that could help me. Meanwhile, I used some time to find reviews and analysis that might be useful. In that search alone, I discovered a few useful things.

I sent a note
to Mage Software to ask if they have any
documentation on inkBook
First, you can drag a multi-paged PDF file onto an open inkBook and it will open pagenated across as many inkBook pages. The text isn't text, however- it comes in as a large graphic. It looks pretty good, and you can mark it up in inkBook then "Print to PDF". You can't open a pdf using the "open" command from within inkBook, nor can you drop a PDF on the inkBook icon to open it. inkBook needs to be open and the PDF is dragged onto a page.

I noticed that the pages all pagenate correctly, but the document might not be aligned to the inkBook pages the way you want. After my first attempt I realized that I needed to drag the PDF pageover a good bit to make sure the top and right side weren't clipped. Dragging one page only adjusted that page-not the entire document. I had to adjust each page separately. The PDF that's rendered does retain inkBook marks in their correct color and location, which was very nice.

Second, I had noticed that inkBook doesn't convert my handwritten notes to text in any of the modes that I tried. That seemed unusual, since it claimed to use Apple's inkwell technology. This morning I found that inkBook actually does convert handwritten notes to text- it just keeps the handwritten record while storing the text "meaning" in the background. This could be very useful in cases where the text needs to retain it's character for meaning. To see how inkBook has done with its conversion, you hold down the space bar. InkBook displays what it thinks you wrote directly over your notation. When you export your document as TXT- it is converted to plain text with none of your drawings. Exporting as RTF saves a folder with a text document and images as separate TIFF files.

When you create a drawing that you want to keep as an object, the entire piece needs to be selected and "joined". In an effort to understand your marks, inkBook keeps the strokes used to create an image as separate objects. To export them as one image instead of many individual images of separate strokes, the "Join" command is under "Ink" in the menu bar.

Page navigation is difficult in inkBook. I can easily page forward but have yet to discover how to page back. Navigation is made easier by a "tab" feature that lets you add a tab to a page so that any page is accessed by navigation tabs that remain on the right hand edge of the book.

inkBook text block.UPDATE:I received the User Guide for inkBook v.1.2.0 from Mage Software. It'll be a big help. Their support also suggested that I give the beta version for v2 a try- I am and it looks pretty good. My first effort was the paragraph in this image, which was rendered as this text on export: "WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS To BE 5 ELF EVIDENT 7 TH AT ALL mew ARE CREATED EQUAL j Tr|AT Tr|M ARE EN DOWED B4 THEIR CREATOR WITA CERTAIN INALIENABLE RIGHTS 1 nfAT AMONG THESE ARE LIFE, LIBERTY / AND AN ALMOST FANATICAL DEVOTION TO THE POPE. "

I've started maintaining this text as one long page on my personal site. It may be easier to read in that way, but for comments and discussion, you have to come here. Sorry.

mac modbook 12

Some loosely connected notes:

• There is a learning curve for both Ink (Mac software) and inkBook (third party software). In inkBook, editing drawings is difficult- the eraser often moves objects or deletes entire sections. It's difficult being precise. The drawing board smooths strokes, occasionally changing them (shifting, merging, connecting, extending) in ways that I don't intend. I've found very little documentation for inkBook, though Ink has a fair help window.

• Ink is far more consistent and predictable for quick sketches than inkBook. The text recognition feature, which I prefer not to use, is actually good, too. Editing the converted text is beyond my abilities. There are a number of "gestures" that you draw to accomplish things like "copy" "paste" or "delete" and the gestures need to be done relatively accurately. For notes, I prefer leaving the hand written characters.

• I've noticed that with both Ink and inkBook open, I frequently get erratic behavior from the pen and keyboard: the tip won't activate keys but the eraser end will. Or I'll notice that yellow stickies are opening under the keyboard and the text that I'm typing gets odd characters. Perhaps the new version of inkBook will remedy all of that. It might even be the keyboard's quirks. In all fairness I have to add that, even though I'm generally infallible, the behavior could be user error.

• I have to get some outsider input into modbook's notetaking power. As a drawing and painting tool, however- using Photoshop or even Painter, Canvas, or Flash- I can recommend the modbook highly.

Side ports on a modbook.The Modbook is exactly the same size as a Macbook with a closed lid. Macbook bags and covers will fit. The ports are the same, too; and there's a cd/dvd slot in the opposite end.

 This is a document open in Photoshop. The taper and texture of the stroke is obvious. Note, too, that the keyboard sits ontop of the Photoshop interface and allows the user to access keyed shortcuts without Photoshop losing focus.

 The keyboard sits ontop of a Word document, as does the Ink window. inkBook can lose focus, however. This image shows a quick doodle into the Ink window that was then "Sent" to the open Word doc.

Firefox 3 has support for color profiles. Previously, only Safari did. Safari support is on by default, Firefox 3's is off. The problem with profile support in a browser is that currently, few people design browser related things with profiles- so if your browser supports them, you may get wacky (but correct) color. Images that no longer match hexadecimal defined color and that sort of thing. For a long time I was frustrated because Safari wasn't displaying my images correctly- then I found out that it wasn't Safari; it was every one else.

But who is right doesn't matter. If correct color ruins the experience, what good is it? Tough decision; but times are changing- and I think this situation will slowly improve. I turned mine on and lived to post this entry.

If you have Firefox 3 and want to turn on color management, this is how I did it:

  1. Open Firefox 3.
  2. In the address bar, enter about:config When you hit "enter," you'll be shown an idiot box warning you away. Click the button that says, "I'll be careful, honest!"
  3. At the top of the page that loads is a text field labeled "Filter". In that field enter color_management (or you can scroll down to the correct line...)
  4. You want the line gfx.color_management.enabled
  5. Double click that line of text. "Default" becomes user set and "false" becomes true
  6. Quit Firefox. When you re-launch, color management is enabled.

This is documented several places: Brad Carlile Photo Blog and the dria.org blog to mention two.

ADDITIONAL: There's good information about color management in browsers at Gary Ballard's personal website. Under "Why is Color Management Important", there's a great before and after image. Remarkable way to drive this home.

logos, identity and buy in


its at penn state. I remember when the ITS logo was created. I thought the text was a bit fatter than I like to see; the mouse in the "at" sign was distracting, hard to identify, and, well, a bit single-focused; and ultimately, the "its at penn state" giggle was just plain ambiguous. Many will agree that it's also a good thing that nobody cared what I thought. It's our identity. It's our logo. It's managed and regulated. And, it's at Penn State.

The last little bit is what really concerns me. We are Penn State. Yet every body wants to be known for being the little bit of Penn State that they are; to stand out as an individual rather than as a contributer to the collective. Beats me, man; I stopped carving my name in desks at a very young age. But no matter. Every group wants an identity, usually one that starts with them and moves down the hierarchy. My role in such things varies. Sometimes I'm a creator and sometimes I have little role at all-except to be the old bastard who points out the policies, the reasons behind the policies, and the years of history behind the discussion. But as I've already said, no matter.

If we want buy in from other groups on campus, from others who may be just as interested in establishing their own piece of the landscape, wouldn't it be smart to let them have their identity and try to take a non-intrusive, non-confrontational position that drips participation, community and support? Wouldn't we want to look like team players? Wouldn't we want to be part of the same family, somebody that you can come to even when you might be unsure and afraid of looking silly?

I'm not sure the "its at Penn State" thing does any of that.

I wonder if the Apple group working on the iPhone resents having to stick that damn apple on their product? and using that same old tired font? With the iPhone now the largest revenue producer that Apple has, I wonder if we'll see a new font and logo? It's possible; but really, would you see it as the same product? For me, as tired as I am of the Penn State shield, as bored as I am with blue and white Penn State Information Technology Services. I understand Penn State's desire to have a unified team presence. I understand what it could mean to someone in a non-ITS department to have advice from Penn State instead of a competitor trying to create a bigger footprint. But you know, I'm just too damned tired of the same old arguments to enter the fray again.

The fray.

mac modbook 11


Old Main in scratchboard.Years ago, I did an illustration for a great designer at the Alumni Association. She wanted a picture of the campus around Old Main as a center piece for the Alumni web site, but she wanted it to look hand made. As far from "computery" as I could be. I came up with a technique in which I did a coarse line drawing, then xeroxed it onto acetate. That gave me multiple copies to play with, a resilient surface to scratch then re-ink, and the ability to lay it overtop of watercolors of different hues and tones to see how it would look. I went on to do three or four other campus scenes the same way.

Flash forward a little over a dozen years and I'm trying scratchboard again. I love scratchboard, I love the coarseness and character that I can get. And it still looks pretty far from "computery".

Tree in scratchboard. This time, of course, I'm working completely on the Modbook. I opened Flash to try sketching- the application seems to be made for rendering- and in very short order came up with this tree. If the ants weren't all over me, I'd have done more, but I don't think I would have polished it at all. The coarseness here is perfect, and I could see the set up and style being used for icons and illustrations across an entire site or an entire book.

The Modbook disappeared during this sketch. Like any good tool.

mac modbook 10

Some disconnected notes:

• I've discovered that the little on-screen keyboard can be scaled to any size. I like it small- it's consistently on top, I like it visible/available, and usually just leave an edge sticking out from a side of the work area. Small is just more convenient. It will come and go with pen button clicks, but I have those programmed for other things.

• The screen glass stays mysteriously clean. Through WC08 it was often in and out of a bag, held with my greasy fingers overlapping it, and otherwise abused. I didn't need to wipe it once. There's a glare proof coating on the underside and a slight roughening of the upper surface so it feels more like paper when you drag the pen across it.

• Someone asked if I could draw overtop of presentations. I can't say whether or not the modbook would make a good presentation environment; like any small laptop, I guess. I did find, install, and try Pointer from GenevaLogic. It works, but my first experience was me looking for the hidden "tool dock" that I had to approach just right to get my offset cursor to invoke it. That can be remedied with minor calibration. There was a real problem, though, when I chose a square mark that seemed to interfere with the desktop and mac system sensing my pen. I couldn't quit because the command buttons and dialogs got covered by red squares. The highlighter and pen didn't have the problem. The Pointer software may be worth a look- there's a 30 day trial.

• Since I discovered inkBook and the note taking potential of the Modbook, I realized that's probably the most sellable aspect of the thing and made it much of my focus. If you saw the notes I took at Steven Krug's 47 minute keynote, you'd understand that I'm not much of a note taker, and haven't been giving the Modbook a fair test. Others, like Roxanne for instance, will have better insight into those aspects of the Modbooks performance. I'll just note that it seems to do as well as I'd ever need and from here on I'll continue looking at its potential as a rendering toolset.

What was it that Krug said again? Buy my book?

iSight camera shot.

At the web conference I heard a presenter say that one method for gaining adoption is to accept that it may be better (and easier) to apologize later rather than ask now.

Wow, does that punch my buttons. If you're familiar with the type and despise their simpering, harmful tactics too, this will be worse: she then went on to very cutely add, "...but I didn't say that."

I've heard the same from ranking officials who should be setting a better example.

I'm not for a moment advocating either mindless acceptance or any disapproval of civil disobedience. I'm advocating that people stand for what they believe and not do anything that they feel they will be sorry for. Disobey proudly. State your reasons boldly, and act for the good of the order. State why you did what you did and give your adversary a chance to justify or withdraw their position. To apologize is to have regrets- to say you are sorry. To use it as a spineless cover-up shows you to be characterless. And more, it educates no one.

mac modbook 09

Some loosely connected notes:

• For note taking, quick insertable images, and other marks, I found the Ink window and inkBook to be different. For me, the brush works better than the pencil in inkBook, but input is erratic with both: incomplete strokes, many failures to record the stroke. The Ink window is far more fluid and responsive- and if inkBook is open at the same time, I can send the note or image from the Ink window to a page in inkBook.

• After a quick search, I just found an explanation for the differences in stroke feel between Ink and inkBook: inkBook is a third party creation by Mage Software and Square fish.comes installed on the Modbook. This modbook has version 1.3.4; I can only find 1.3.3 on the web, and a 2.0 beta. The software has received some great press and has features that I knew nothing about.

I think inkBook will require some separate investigation. I never took notes in school, but include here my notes from the Steve Krug talk at WC08.

• At the conference I have a number of things running and have noticed sporadic failure of the keyboard. I look directly at the keyboard while "texting" and when I check what I've typed, there are instances of three and four characters in a row that are wrong; that isn't wrong as in hitting the key nl r ' to the one I want, but like the word "next" I just typed, I get completely wrong input. Possibly pen tilt is an issue? Slow processing?

• Generally, I appreciate the keyboard always being on top and not stealing focus. I have, though, had it inadvertently right overtop of a dialog that needs my input. I thought I had shut down, and when I pulled out the Modbook again, it was still running with the keyboard overtop of two VPN warnings.

• Ink and inkBook prefs revert on their own. It's a minor annoyance, but makes demos to colleagues somewhat less than stellar. I've trailed yellow stickies several times now.

• As a late note, I really need to add that the documentation that came with the Modbook is almost useless.

mac modbook 08

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Stop the presses; I found out why half of the people on the Modbook Forum are physicians and scientists- and I’m impressed.

I realized that most of what I found useful in the Modbook was dependant on the Adobe applications and I decided to try the other standard apps. I opened Word, and after a few minutes of looking and some searching on “draw” and “pencil”, I realized that there were no drawing or, in fact, no marking tools at all.

Oddly, I couldn’t find marking tools in the Mac toolset either. What ever happened to MacPaint? Nothing in iMovie, iPhoto, or TextEdit. Possily there’s something available in Photobooth, but I didn’t think a group of scientist would use a kluge from Photobooth. That left Inkwell.

I turned on Inkwell in the system preferences (it’s detected and made available there if you have any pen installed) and there was my epiphany. You can choose to view the Inkwell window, which is large and not as jumpy as the little yellow “stickies” that seem to come and go on the computer’s whim. This window stays open and where you put it so that text recognition actually works. Not perfectly, but it could actually fill a need. Then, I saw a button in the window’s lower left corner.

It looks kind of like this:Letter A and star.Pretty cool, huh? I couldn’t figure out where text from the little yellow stickies went- there’s no “save” button available, onlyClear. andSend.It turns out that send places the contents of the Inkwell window where ever you have an application with an active Insertion bar.

You can toggle between drawing and text modes.

So lets say I’m working with an engineer who is describing a process. I could put this conceptualization into a Word doc or an email:

Silicon bombarded by ions

We can easily discuss it, share it. The work-flow is incredibly easy, and I can see this as the biggest selling point.

Let’s face it- people who want a computer to sketch on might form a sizable fan base, but engineers who need to make visual notations are the money group. It’s a fantastic addition to anyone’s toolbox, and I can see our instructional designers presenting this as a solution to mathematicians, scientists, physicians, and engineers.

And don’t forget all those people in the College of Visual Arts.

Inkbook on the desktop.The only downside to the Ink window is that it can only be as big as the desktop and doesn’t scroll. However, there’s one more little application called InkBook. It’s a spiral bound stack of Inkwell pages that you can save as a Rich Text document. Strokes seem a bit different here, but I’ll spend some time figuring it out. Maybe there are bugs that I don’t know about.

These drawn images were done in Ink then sent to the Word doc I was entering the text of this post into. If you want to see the doc, it's available as a download. I haven't examined the file size or format used as yet.

mac modbook 07


Photo of the Modbook desktop.A few things to follow up my last all-text post: The actual on screen keyboard for the Modbook is 4.12 inches wide. The photo gives a good sense of it. I zipped an "actual size" version of the photo if you want a closer look. Or want to try tapping it with a pencil or something. Keep in mind that you can turn the keyboard off and on as needed, or leave it out-which is what I do. Clicking on it does not make Photoshop lose focus.

Also, carrying this thing across campus in a shoulder bag, which is necessary to protect the always exposed screen, I really noticed the weight. I placed just the modbook on a scale at the market and it weighs 5.23 pounds. Not much to lift, not much to carry for short distances; but on a long hike, a backpack or wheels might help. I've heard that students complain about the weight of laptops when going to and from class. I think something would have to be developed to ease transport for field exercises with the Modbook.

Palmer interior stair case.One feature that I remember from a brief encounter with a Toshiba Tablet PC was the ability to rotate the orientation of the desk top. You can't do that with the Modbook; though for drawing, that's no inconvenience. This image was drawn at 25% of full size, and I held the laptop so it was oriented vertically. Possibly being able to click an arrow on the keyboard to rotate it 90 degrees would be appreciated by some. Again, I didn't feel inconvenienced.

I can only muster a "who cares?" In past years, I've always looked forward to the Penn State Web Conference. Each of the past two made me think that the event could be opened up to other CIC schools, with additional tracks aimed at engaging educators. This year, though, I can't get psyched. Okay, I'm looking forward to Krug as in past years I've looked forward to Kelly Goto, Jeffrey Veen, and Jared Spool. Overall, though... over all, I can only muster a "who cares?"

Who cares?

Like the tired Web 2.0 label, Web Conferences have become tired indicators of a focus that seems shallow and generally far more useless than I would have once admitted. There's nothing new- it isn't sessions full of brilliant minds engaging to discuss something that they've waited till the conference to anxiously reveal. In fact, most of it is old news; and the brilliant minds aren't engaging down here in the press room. They're all up a few floors in the editorial department, the news department, or on assignment.

The web is a piece of infrastructure to be used. Just do it. There are more important things. Look it up in the damned manual and just do it.

Maybe I'll feel differently on Tuesday.

This post was "typed" at the Creamery using the four inch keyboard that's on the modbook screen. I was curious about how it would serve- it's larger than phone keyboards, so it could conceivably be mastered for "texting". This wasn't as tedious and slow as I had imagined; with practice, I could get pretty quick, and I'm sure students could do quite well.

Screen shot of Jerry's web page. Jerrold Maddox has a must see group of photographs on display at the Waskob Gallery in the Downtown Theater. I've seen Jerry's work online, looked at a few larger versions, but this collection has a quality that blows me away. He shoots digitally with a Canon 20D and prints on Hahnemühle fine art papers with a twelve color Canon printer. If that sounds too technical, sorry. What the result is, is a group of gorgeously composed gray scale images. There's incredible detail in both highlight areas and shadow areas, no burn out, and to my unaided eye, no visible dots. There's visible range in a bank of well lit clouds and in hedgerows silhouetted against them. In fact, I would have sworn the images were developed on photo paper until I found Jerry's information sheet. Gorgeous tones, amazing textures; just beautiful stuff. Two Apple Trees caught my eye first, but the Water Tower, Barn and Fence and Route 45 at Tadpole among others became instant favorites. It was hard pulling my eyes out of them.

I can't deny that Jerry's web sites are beautiful as well, right down to his font treatments- the image here is linked to one. Look online, but then be sure to catch the full size prints. It's just a short walk and the show runs till June 30, so there's lots of opportunity- but be careful, the gallery also books lunchtime activities that you may or may not want to deal with.

batch resizing

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Screen shot of Photoshop. A friend sent me a note asking if I knew of a way to batch process a folder of images so the assorted images would be suitable for a Powerpoint presentation. The thought of typing out the process was a bit daunting. To make a screen capture of the process, I just have to swap out a monitor for a microphone and do it.

Real simple help desk stuff. Regardless of a number of problems, it seemed to turn out to be usable. All of the possible caveats aren't mentioned, all of the alternatives aren't discussed, nor is all of the potential explored. One problem; one answer. Cinéma vérité.

Dame's rocket.Starting in mid May, dame's rocket blooms throughout the county. Its white, pink and violet blooms form vast seas of color. I've always loved the way it looks. It's considered an invasive species, and some states request that hikers pull up the plant, roots and all if they come upon it in the woods.

Dame's rocket is often mistaken for a similar perennial called Phlox. Phlox blooms about the same time, has the same color range but is labeled a "flower" rather than "weed". The easiest way to tell the two apart is to count the petals on the flower: dame's rocket has four, phlox five. Phlox also has five letters. Now you won't forget.

From eight or ten feet away, I can't see if the flowers have four petals or five. I have to get closer to see if it's ugly or not.

The watercolor was done as a modbook experiment, but that aspect of it is only incidental. I think the tool served my purpose adequately.

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


Blogging at Penn State. Podcasts at Penn State.

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Me with a camera.

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