Creative Cloud

July 13, 2013 — Leave a comment

 

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Recently Adobe released Creative Cloud and naturally I did an instant upgraded. This update includes a major shift in how Adobe does business. Adobe has essentially transitioned from product vendor to a services vendor, which now means that one pays a subscription in order to use their products. Traditional software owners object to this, but it seems like a good shift.

The biggest advantage for subscribers is the option of subscribing to single applications, assuming that’s all you need, or to the full product line—which is significantly cheaper than having to purchase what was previously their Master Collection suite. For those who cross the boundaries between design for physical and digital destinations this is good news.

What I’m happiest with: InDesign

I’m happiest with the changes to InDesign. They’ve addressed my biggest frustration with InDesign CS6—a 32bit application for layout that’s slow to process images and graphics. Transitioning to a 64bit application and to the Mercury Graphic Engine means that working with InDesign is a significantly more pleasant experience. Speaking plainly, its smoother and faster. Something I appreciate significantly when working on larger and more complex publications.

Not only have Adobe included new products they’ve also removed the limitations faced by owning a limited range, focused on either print, web or media production. It is now easier to create products without being boxed into one speciality.

 

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The season 3 premier to Game of Thrones has officially been recognised as the most pirated TV episode ever (cnnmoney; thereview; cbcnews). I haven’t watched it yet (which means I haven’t contributed to the score). But I do challenge the statement. Why? Because many of those who’ve downloaded it have already paid to watch it through their network subscriptions!

Understandably – its a brilliant series and people really want to watch it. I, for one, am really keen to see Season 3. Broadcast subscriptions are the new CD’s – they’re pretty outdated and far too dumb to change their model of doing business.

So, even though I pay for it through my network subscriptions and don’t watch it on my network I’ll be considered guilty of piracy if I download it so that I can watch it. In that case, maybe HBO can reimburse me for not having watched S02 on my network. Then I can buy it in iTunes and watch it at my convenience.

This leaves me wondering how many others choose to watch series like Game of Thrones through downloading it while legitimately having contributed to the series by paying network subscriptions.

Seriously HBO, you’ve got a product people really want. Wake up and and help them to give you money so that they can watch your show.

On piracy

November 20, 2012 — Leave a comment

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Recently there’s been a lot of clamping down on filesharing websites. The music and movie industries believe that they’re losing masses of income through people downloading copies of their productions. Those pirating feel that those industries take enough of their hard-earned cash, through various means, and should stop crying about file-sharing.

Piracy differs from theft in that the loss of physical property differs to the duplication of media files. According to Wikipedia the term “piracy” predates the digital era and “has been used since 1603 to refer to unauthorised copying, distribution and selling of works in copyright” (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_infringement). What’s important for us to recognise is that there is a difference between acts of copyright intentionally committed for financial gain and accessing and sharing media for private/personal use.

What people on either side of the practices often fail to take into consideration is the other party.

Two values need to receive equal weighting:

  1. One one hand the publisher is devalued by piracy. The originator (or packager, publisher, distributor) of media needs to be reimbursed. This is important because the costs associated with producing the original media can be high. The cost of publishing and distributing is, however, reduced considerably with virtual media (comparative to physical media).
  2. On the other hand the viewer is devalued by the media industries. The viewer’s lifestyle needs to be valued and not just their money. There are various traditional media outlets – movie theatres, packaged products, media channels – that worked in the past. The problem is that they’re not current, they’re based on physical media (like CD’s and DVD’s) and public institutions (like TV and Radio stations). We need more creative solutions, like iTunes, to deliver digital content to the various screen destinations of users.

It is the second issue that bothers me most (understandably, as I am a consumer). In the past I would purchase physical media like CD’s and DVD’s for music, movies and series. This presented several downsides. From having to region like my DVD player through to the bulkiness of physical media through to the wastage of my time resulting from poorly laid out menus and unskippable warnings and adverts. Movies and series watched on TV are similarly problematic. Usually the times they’re on are inconvenient and I’m not willing to let my schedule be a hostage to their schedule. In addition, I’m not interested in having my entertainment liberally peppered with adverts.

No thank you.

I’d rather download my music, TV series and movies or convert them or convert my physical media to digital versions.• This means that I’m able to access them on whichever device I prefer (iPad, on my TV via my digital media player, or my laptop) at a time (between or after work) and place when I’m happy to watch them (at my desk, on my couch, in bed, in transit).

While media companies devalue the people who are their customers file-sharing will continue in ways that are financially detrimental to them. An alternative model would suffice, whether subscription or micro-transaction based (iTunes would be great except that TV Series and Movies aren’t available in my country).

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• For the legal trolls out there this statement is expressive and entirely theoretical and not acknowledgement of any the mentionable infringables related to copyright infringement ;-)

Skippable advertising

October 1, 2012 — Leave a comment

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Advertising involves spending a lot of money to make a product known to an audience. In practical terms advertising means “annoyance.” Do advertisers not realise that many people have successfully trained themselves to ignore advertising?

With advertisers paying for “impressions” and “click throughs” this often means that real money is being sent on the hope that a consumer will meaningfully engage with the advert. Recently I’ve noted YouTube presenting two options 1.) choose an advert so that I can watch what I’m interested in uninterrupted or 2.) been presented with an advert that I’ll have to endure 5 seconds of before being permitted to skip it.

With those I can’t skip through I realise that they certainly don’t need me to buy their product because they’re spending money on advertising they could’ve spent on making a better product. With adverts I can skip there’s little chance I’m going to get to know what the product is or pay attention to the brand even if I see it cause my focus is on skipping it or multi-tasking back to something else while the advert spools.

Its definitely time for a new model for making products discoverable in a meaningful way without resorting to ridiculous flash sights and un-escapable newsletters.

Choosing a firearm as a Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) for home defense is a real challenge, especially if you’re not a gun nut and aren’t surrounded by gun nuts. Trawling the Internet and seeking advice from accessible gun nuts yields varying opinions about what to get and why. I’ve recently started to consider acquiring one.

The starting point ought to be an evaluation of your motivation. Why do you want a firearm? For me the answer is simple – self and personal defense.

South Africa is rated #7 with regards to violent crime and stated as being #1 with regard to murder. Though the statistics are dated it does provide a foundation for the popular opinion people I know have of my country. The basic fact is that the average criminal involved in hijacking, home invasions, rape, and robbery is likely to be armed. In the city where I live in violent crime, including murder and hijacking and rape, is a concern and protecting my family is important to me. I’ve been lucky enough to make it this far in life without the sense that the world is a dangerous place. Whether its my sixth sense, the leading of the Spirit, or recent re-exposure to firearms, the urge to acquire a firearm for CCW has dawned.

The last time I fired a gun with any kind of consistency was between the ages of 5 and 7. I’ve done one or two fun shoots in my adult life and put over 30 years of time in between. The only serious attempt at firearm usage was recently doing a Combat Shooting course through Golani Krav Maga. This means that I don’t have a large volume of experience. Understandably you’d want to file my recommendations here under the realm of “opinion.”

Disclaimer: I’m not a very experienced firearm wrangler. Hence, this piece of writing doesn’t count as professional advice. Consult a trained professional, do your research, participate in some training, do a few tests, and make up your own mind. Continue Reading…

I recently saw the video to Clear by Realmac software. I loved their interpretation of the ToDo manager so much that I simply couldn’t resist posting a quick note.

On their website they state:

“With its beautiful interface, and gestural interactions you already know how to use, it’s the future of todo lists.”

I believe they’re right. This has got to be one of the best understandings of user interaction and animation I’ve come across to date. Clear is available in the app store.

Purple

June 5, 2012 — Leave a comment

I’m very pleased to add Purple to my list of software. Purple is a tool designed for HTML5 animation and is really useful for producing infographics for inclusion in iBooks Author documents. Infographics are increasingly important in rich media documents where engaging with material is important, like interactive textbooks. Some fantastic and inspiring examples of info graphics may be found in Al Gore’s app Our Choice.

Error message

May 29, 2012 — Leave a comment

Error messages are often not helpful. Above is an example from Illustrator CS6, which started doing this yesterday. A reboot seems to provide temporary relief from the problem for me though Googling the error message reveals that for others it doesn’t.

One of the advantages of working as a typesetter in South Africa is that we get to work in 11 official languages. With clients in the US the number of languages I work in grows to 12, with American English differing from the British English we use.

Producing titles for education requires producing titles in each of the 11 languages. There are two key approaches used:

  • Create a book in English, then translate into each of the languages with adaptations
  • Create each book, even with a range, in its own language

Both processes have their advantages and disadvantages. When using a single source as a foundation one can automate production using XML to distinguish between content blocks. This has the potential of speeding up production. An author and subject specialist produce the master, with translators involved in translating the languages and adapting culture-specific nuances and examples. The second process is slower and costlier. With more human resources involved the cost goes up. Some material, like the design and much of the commissioned artwork, can be shared across a title. However, an author is involved in each title. The single most significant advantage here lies in concepts being communicated from the outset in keeping with the language and culture of the reader.

The past few months I’ve been working on several titles – several of the same titles in two African languages (English and Afrikaans) and one other indigenous African language (Setswana). Once they’re approved by the Department of Education and the Non-Disclosure Agreements lifted with the publisher I’ll post a few of the pages.