Things I hope are in Adobe Creative Suite 3
The new Intel Core-powered Macs have been very well-received by the buying public: those iMacs and MacBook Pros are just flying off the shelves, by all current indications.
Professional Mac users are taking a wait-and-see approach, though. New Intel Core-based pro workstations probably won't be out till summer, and most professional apps haven't been rewritten or recompiled as Universal Binaries.
Among these are some of Apple's own Pro apps - Final Cut Studio is supposed to ship as Universal this month, and Logic Pro was a little late out of the gate, too. Large audio-visual and music applications like Propellerhead Reason are also delayed, or, like Ableton Live, available in beta form only.[Update, March 30: Apple released Universal versions of its Pro apps the the day I wrote this!]
The biggest barrier to pro adoption is, of course, the 800-lb gorilla of the industry, Adobe.
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Game Designers aim at winning Nobel Peace Prize
According to CNET, game designers Will Wright (The Sims), Keita Takahashi (Katamari Damacy), Cliff Bleszinski (Epic Games) and Harvey Smith (Deus Ex) are proposing a concept based around networked handheld consoles like the Nintendo DS, which would, through the course of play, blend from online to real-world meetups, in a variation of the "flash mob," in order to accomplish socially constructive tasks.
I think it's a wonderful idea, one which harnesses the competitive nature of gaming and the multiplicative power of networks...I am reminded somewhat of the final scene in Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age, where a literal mass movement of young women, connected and educated through their samizdat copies of the electronic book The Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, save the world. Life imitates art...
New @ The Creative Forum: A Question Of Taste
Fly, my minions, fly!
Teaser: when is it appropriate to play the "bad-taste" card in advertising creative? The answer? Sometimes.
Be sure to check out the linked articles and PDF (in the footnotes) to see examples what I'm talking about. And check out The Creative Forum's lively discussion threads, where you can post comments and argue with other designers.
Stupid login tricks and the quest for single-sign-on
Today I spent an inordinate amount of time banging my head against Hour Magazine's online registration system.
I had gone there to leave a comment on YULBlogger Dave's review of the special-edition DVD of What The ßlSSp Do We Know...?, did the usual signup ritual, only to get an email back claiming that my name was not my "true name," and that they didn't accept "pseudonyms or virtual identities.*" Wha?
I've signed up for dozens of sites using A.J. Kandy and never once encountered a problem. What's the deal with Hour.ca?
One, How does Hour's server know what my "real" name is?
Two, What programmer would code a cockamamie system like this?
I understand that newspapers need demographic information they can give advertisers. The geodemographics game is so finely targeted now that you can target subsections of single zip codes if you want; I expect with uber-personalization, one day the flyers in the newspaper will be targeted to you and you alone.
But this is ridiculous. One one hand, how do I balance my right to privacy (and to even write pseudonymically, if I choose) vs. my desire for access to closed systems. And on the larger question, how else are you to prove that you are who you say you are, short of providing credit card or social security numbers (which themselves are not foolproof?)
There has been some push towards the goal of a universal single-sign-on system, one that would ideally balance your privacy rights with the owners of sites' desire to collect aggregate demographic data; however, very few have gone beyond relatively limited spheres like Yahoo! IDs, TypeKey authorizations, or MSN Passport logins.
If such a system were to be built from scratch today, what features could it (and should it) have? I look forward to my readers' cogent insights.
*And, it must be mentioned, when trying to view their name criteria page, their IIS server threw up a VBE error and died, so no help there.
Update: After human intervention, my signup was finally approved and my comment posted. Apparently the "real name" requirement is for Hour's auctions and contests, where you need ID to pick up your winnings. I still maintain that it should have accepted my name at face value, and in any case, I wasn't signing up for a contest, was I?
Secret Illiterates, Blogs, and the Québecois Media
Scriptwriter and bloggeuse par excellence Martine Pagé notes a strong disconnect between people working in mainstream Québec journalism / media and the blogosphere. What's more, she's in disbelief about how much people are still in thrall to the telephone - there are still lots of people that don't read their email.
I have a theory about this latter point: that there are more secret illiterates and/or dyslexics in the workplace than we are generally aware of. It is so necessary to succeed today, and such a stigma to be found out, that they will spend enormous amounts of time and energy to avoid being "caught."
You know these people, perhaps: Those people whose computers are always mysteriously "down," and can't get your message. The ones that you send 10 urgent emails to, until you break down and phone them. They always prefer to schedule a phone call or meeting to sending a quick email, much less use instant messaging. Those managers or clients who don't read anything printed you give them, and ask you to summarize it verbally. And those that use instinct, bluster and aggression to bluff their way through decision-making situations.
Dwight Silverman of the Houston Chronicle's TechBlog noted that there seems to be a "hardcore" percentage of people who are in the potential Internet-using demographic, yet stay steadfastly offline. In 2002, actor James Earl Jones testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, quoting statistics that tallied 92 million Americans as functionally illiterate, topping out at a 6th grade reading level.
Are these statistics somehow related? I think so.
Things I Hope Are In Mac OS X 10.5
Call me an early adopter.
I've used OS X as my main Mac operating system since 10.0 and haven't looked back. I didn't have a huge investment in legacy OS 9 (aka Classic) apps, so it was easy to make the jump.
Since those early days, when OS X seemed a lot more like its parent OS, NeXTStep, the Finder became slowly more Mac-ified, the rough edges were polished, the underlying system grew more stable. I (touch wood) haven't had any serious crashes -- the kind that bring your computer to a grinding halt -- in years.
This summer, developers will get an extended preview of 10.5 Leopard. Details are scarce, but one persistent rumor is that the Finder is going to get a major makeover. Here's my wishlist, if that's true.
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The Social Economics of Indie Rock (Part Deux)
I know I'm going to get in trouble with the rock cognoscenti for saying this, but so be it: The appeal of Broken Social Scene's You Forgot It In People was completely lost on me.
I bought it in 2003 at Sam The Record Man in Toronto. I popped it into the car CD player to give it a spin during the long drive back to Montreal – my wife being the driver.
After skipping through at least six songs that seemed like extended experimental intros, her reaction was "turnitoffturnitoff turn it OFF!" She was actually afraid she'd fall asleep and drive us into the ditch.
So my marketing antennae were shooting straight up. This sort of disconnect doesn't happen very often.
Why were we expecting memorable, punchy singles with hooks, harmonies and choruses, when in fact YFIIP is a longish collection of mostly post-rock, experimental-ambient songs? Or to put it more succinctly, why was I expecting a New Pornographers album, to bring up another "indie supergroup?"
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37signals Gets Real
Jason and the fine folks at 37signals have published a new PDF book called Getting Real.
In their own words:
Getting Real details the business, design, programming, and marketing principles of 37signals. The book is packed with keep-it-simple insights, contrarian points of view, and unconventional approaches to software design. This is not a technical book or a design tutorial, it's a book of ideas.
Sample chapters (in PDF format, boo) are available to peruse. Seems like a good documentation of their own internal process, a bit of the it's-so-obvious-why-doesn't-everyone-do-this, cluetrainy thing about it, but probably worth reading.
What I like about it is that it's largely applicable to any sort of startup or product launch process, not just web or software applications. (Although I don't know how iterative you can be about cars or dishwashers. Hmmm.)
Oh yeah, on the Web 1.56 front, our Transcribr podcast transcription service is doing better than expected...Look for more announcements on that front soon.
Use and Usability: Yahoo Open-Sources UI Library, Design Patterns
So will drag-and-drop shopping carts become the new Flash intro? Not if you follow the eminently sensible Yahoo Design Patterns, a series of behaviour standards and interface designs intended to help improve the Web experience overall, no matter what tech lies underneath.
Also, check out the Yahoo User Interface Blog, at yuiblog.com..