Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2006 8:13:07 PM by Jim Babbage
Well I'm back at it again; (mis)shaping young minds in the hopes that they will gain an understanding of the digital industry. College classes started on January 6 and - sadist that I am - my students are already in the process of submitting their second assignment.
I teach two different courses this semester; Imaging for Advertising and Newmedia Production. Imaging for Advertising is an introductory course that gets the students exposed to and working with Photoshop, and to a lesser extent, Dreamweaver.
Newmedia Production is also an advertising course, and in this one the students go throug the entire production of a web site, from concept to final launch. I teach it the same way I do it, using Milestones to mark project progress (and grades).
The course is not designed or intended to turn the learners into web designers, however. Its goal (my goal seeing as I created the course) is to give them a working knowledge of the steps involved in the creation of a web site. In their future careers, these young people may very well be dealing with Web Designers and Photographers as part of their job. So, what better way to understand what we can go through with a client, than to put them in our shoes? The primary software focus for this course is Dreamweaver, with a smattering of Fireworks and the good old imaging stand by, Photoshop.
So far - other than being demanding - the course has been a success. I have spoken with several grads of the Advertising program who became very grateful for the course once they were out there.
I enjoy teaching the courses, although smaller class sizes would make it easier for me and for the students. I find it very rewarding when a student creates something they are proud of. That moment of success is what I live for as a teacher.
Category tags: On the Personal Side
Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2006 7:45:11 AM by Chris Flick
I just thought I'd mention that the stylized self-portrait of myself in the second panel of today's CMX Suite strip ("The CMX Zone") was done entirely on a Wacom tablet. I've been reluctant to use a Wacom tablet because, in the past, the Wacom tablet and I have pretty much had a hate-hate relationship. But I was pretty pleased with the outcome of this particular illustration. It is, by far, the best Wacom tablet illustration I've ever done thus far.
I think the biggest reason that might be is because, in the past, I had always used Photoshop when practicing and doodling with the Wacom. But this time, I decided to see what would happen if I used Freehand. For me, personally, I had found using Photoshop and the Wacom together was very frustrating. I found I had trouble controlling the line width of whatever I was trying to draw. Lines didn't stop or end where I thought they would. I'd end up getting big "paint blobs" when I pressed too hard on the pen. For the most part though, I still couldn't grasp what made the Wacom so "special"... I was finding that it would usually take me two or three times longer to draw something using the Wacom then it would if I had just sketched, inked and scanned something.
But I was determined to see if I could get this thing to finally work for me.
So, for this particular illustration, I already had a rough pencil sketch of myself as a cartoon taken from a previous CMX Suite strip but I needed to add the same kind of pose Rod Sterling was famous for when he was introducing each new Twilight Zone episode. That meant modifying the facial expression and the body arms (and adding Rod's famous cigarette!). I opened Photoshop, imported my original sketch that I was going to use as a guide, and adjusted the opacity to 35% (so it ended up being a very, very light gray). I then imported that illustration into Freehand, locked its layer, created a new layer and then started drawing with the Wacom.
In the past, I had tried placing a sketch underneath the little plastic sheet that's on a Wacom but I found this extremely difficult to look at the Wacom and pay attention to your screen as you "traced" the illustration. I found using the method up above was so much more effective. Here is the result of my initial work in Freehand:
After this was done, I converted the file to a PNG format and imported it into Photoshop where I cleaned up and modified various lines. Here are the results:
But... if this is in color, why is the cartoon strip in black & white?
Well, for me, you're not really watching "The Twilight Zone" unless you're watching it in black & white. The more modern episodes that are in color don't seem to be quite as spooky or illicit the same kind of "feel" as the "classic" black and white episodes do. And, since I was essentially spoofing these "classic" Twilight Zone episodes, it made sense to convert this illustration - as well as the Ryan Celldisbak one - from color to grayscale.
I never really colored anything in grayscale before so I was reluctant to "paint" with a grayscale palette. I was afraid if I did so, I would end up making the gradient levels way too dark so I decided to draw inspiration from Mel Brooks and the "Young Frankenstein" comedy he wrote and directed years ago with Gene Wilder.
I remembered seeing "behind-the-scene" photos of some of the make-up work from that movie and could never understand why Mel decided to have all the make-up (especially the Frankenstein monster) in colored make-up when he was going to eventually film in black and white. At the time, that didn't make sense but today it does.
By initially coloring all the characters in full color and then converting to grayscale, I got much richer details and the results were much more softer and gentler on the eyes then had I done everything in shades and tints of black.
Anyway, that's my little road to discovery with today's strip. I hope you enjoyed it.
Posted Friday, January 27, 2006 5:34:18 PM by Sheri German
On this day - Jan. 27 - in 1756 the man many musicologists call the most natural musical genius who ever lived was born. Today the whole world celebrates, and even a city such as Nashville, where country music is the genre of choice, will acknowledge Mozart's staggering contribution to music by playing his Piano Concerto #21. Vienna and Salzburg are celebrating with lots of parties and events, and have a Web site dedicated to Mozart 2006. Even as I type, I am listening to Mozart's 1st Violin Concerto over the Internet on WGMS.
What do I prefer most in Mozart's oeuvre? His operas. There are other composers I love as least as much, but no composer, none at all, wrote as gloriously for the human voice.
Several years ago when we decided to take the kids to their first opera, it was Mozart's Magic Flute that we chose. Not openly opposed, but probably not overly enthusiastic accomplices in this idea either (our son was no doubt calculating how many video games he could have purchased for the price of his ticket alone), the kids nonetheless tagged along with us to the Baltimore Lyric Opera House where our son's viola teacher was playing in the orchestra pit. What a wonderful experience it turned out to be! The kids had to agree with The Baltimore Lyric Opera House's recent radio ad campaign that ended with the tagline "Opera: better than you think - it has to be..." The Lyric went all out to make the opera accessible to kids, right down to a big, comical, purple dragon. There was the excitement of the opening overture, the anticipation over whether the Queen of the Night was going to make her high C's or not (well, she mostly made them), and the sheer fun of the interactions between Papageno and Papagena. And through it all was the most divine music.
Do something to celebrate Mozart's birthday today - even if you prefer some other kind of music. Join in the fun by taking The Mozart Quiz. Listen to 10 musical exerpts and decide which were written by Mozart. Post here and let me know how you did. You'll do better than you think - you have to. ;-)
Happy Birthday, Mr. Mozart!
Category tags: Music
Posted Monday, January 23, 2006 2:18:11 PM by Stephanie
I have just spent the good part of two days trying to figure out why my 17" Powerbook (1.67GHz) has narcolepsy. And an annoying couple of days it has been. I've narrowed the problem down finally, but I still have not come up with a solution. I'm blogging here in hopes that someone has either A) seen the solution or B) can answer a couple questions I have that will lead me to it. C'mon Mac-heads, time to step up here! Imagine my surprise when I logged in to find the last post here was Tom Mucks' post on his dead Toshiba laptop. LOL I haven't had trouble with this one at all until this. And no, I don't have Apple Care and it's out of warranty.
Before someone hops into the comments and tells me to:
- Repair permissions
- Zap the PRAM
- Reset the PMU
- Repair permissions
- Boot into single user and run fsck -fy
- Repair permissions
- Create a new user and test while running that
- Check the console.log and system.log
Let me just save you the time and let you know that I've done all that ad nauseum... and none of it works for more than a little bit. However, in doing all that, I found that I do have the error in my system.log that states that the machine has overheated and is being put to sleep. The problem is, after installing Temperature Monitor, and keeping track for a couple days, I found that I don't have an overheating problem at all. What I have is an insanely whacked out Trackpad sensor -- or at least a whacked out reading -- caused by "I don't know what." And that's what I'm determined (hopefully with your help) to find out -- with as little down time as possible. A gurl has to work y'know! (The sensor readings can vary within a two second readout period from -193F to 243F. Likely these are incorrect since I'd either be freezing or burning at either temperature.)
I found two posts (actually more, but two that were somewhat helpful and confirmed my findings) outside the Apple forums. Why am I outside the Apple forums you ask? Well, for one, I found at least three threads there with the same problem -- but no solution. And also, because something is bad wrong with those forums right now and sometimes I have to click and time out five times before a page loads. Forget it. I done quit and gone ta googlin'...
In the first post I found at MacFixItForums, the guy was in Korea and ended up sending in his machine. Apple fixed it and according to him, the way they fixed it was, "Something about two contacts being pressed together under the surface to the left of the trackpad." OK... that's plausible. But I don't really want to take my machine apart to check for such unless that turns out to be the solution with none other.
In the second thread I found, a gentlemen that apparently works on Macs seems to have fixed it another way. He states he "repaired permissions using Terminal and discovered a library widget had the wrong permissions. Once the Widget permissions were fixed, the laptop immediately stopped going to sleep and had been fine ever since." This sounds much more like a solution I would like to try for myself. However, I've not figured out how to use the terminal to repair permissions. I know how to do it using Disk Utility only.
Does anyone have any clues for me? Has this triggered thoughts in your brain you might like to share? Here's hoping...
Posted Saturday, January 21, 2006 2:52:28 PM by Tom Muck
I've blogged about my various laptop problems (Toshiba Satellite Pro 6100), and have come to the conclusion over the years that a laptop cannot be depended on. My latest use of the laptop has been strictly using remote desktop to my main workstation, and for things like browsing the Internet and playing poker. Anything that requires storage dependability is not worth putting on a laptop. This includes things like running a web server with ColdFusion, PHP, SQL, etc, and also includes programs like Dreamweaver. After running numerous installs, it seems like I was getting at most a few weeks or months before having to do it all over again. Summing up the various repairs I've had in 3 years:
12 total repairs:
Reseat VGA board
P000372720 VGA support assembly
Boot failure, no boot
HDD, LCD Hook, HDD Unit (60 GB)
HDD Failure, no boot, grinding HDD
HDD Unit (60 GB)
Cursor drifts every day, unit shorts out and shuts off when moved
Defective PCB Main Board
no boot, just had M/B and video card replaced
Reseat and Secured all internal connections
Main Board PCB Assembly
LCD goes grey, mouse only works on horizontal axis
Boot failure, no display
Power supply, CPU 2.0 GHZ P4 Processor
No boot, blue screen, DVD not working
Update Win DVD
HDD failure, no boot
HDD Unit 60gig
Unit gets extremely hot, fan not working
HDD Failure, no boot, grinding HDD
HDD Unit (60 GB)
Unit dead, warranty expired. RIP.
Summing up: 4 hard drives, 4 motherboards, 2 video boards, one P4, one keyboard, and miscellaneous other parts. Luckily I had a 3 year extended warranty, so all repairs were free, but there was way too much time consumed with all this crap. It's not like I abused the machine. It sat on my table and I used it a few hours a night. Once in a while it would go into a bag and be taken to a hotel room where it would sit on a table. Here's the good part: after blogging about it a few times, one of the comments on my blog talked about a lawsuit against Toshiba for the faulty 6100:
The lawsuit alleges that the Satellite Pro 6100 contains a design defect that causes certain power-supply, display and related failures. The lawsuit further alleges that Toshiba knew of, and concealed the existence of, the alleged defect at the time it sold the Satellite Pro 6100. Toshiba denies any and all liability to Plaintiffs and the Class and has agreed to settle the actions for the sole purpose of avoiding the expense and time of further litigation.
Sounds like it applies to me! I signed up at the settlement site and should be getting a credit of $1500 for a new laptop (which I have to spend at Toshiba, unfortunately). The unit was about $2200 originally plus $300 for a warranty, but $1500 is better than nothing and will get me a new laptop. So who says blogging doesn't pay?
Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2006 7:40:56 AM by Stephanie
You may have already heard that the Dreamweaver 8 updater was released yesterday. You can go to the updater page to download it. It fixes some niggly bugs, as they always do, but this one has two other benefits as well.
First, if you have a trial of Dreamweaver 8, it will extend your trial for another 30 days. This happens even if your trial has already expired. So if some of the bugs at release time affected you -- and stopped you from purchasing Dreamweaver 8 -- this gives you another chance to try it on your system and see if those are now resolved.
The other helpful issue (to me) is the new options for template updating. If you read my blog post about the Changes to Dreamweaver 8 Templates, you're aware of an issue that smacked some of us up side the head. We now have the option of either leaving it "as is" (if you learned your way around it) or reverting back to the old behavior.
After installing the updater, open a site where you have the template directory problem. Open the site definition (in advanced mode) and notice on the left, in the list of categories, there's a new option -- Templates. In that panel, by default, Template Updating is checked. This tells DW not to manage the relative paths within templates. This is "the old way" of doing it. And that's how it's set by default. If you prefer the "new DW 8" way, feel free to uncheck that box. You can read more about it in this technote at the Adobe site.
Posted Monday, January 16, 2006 1:15:09 PM by Danilo Celic
Dreamweaver 8.0.1 updater has been released, check out the Dreamweaver Updaters download page for are a link to the updater.
Read over the Resolved Issues in case you're one of those, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it crowd" to see if it'll help you with any problems that you're experiencing.
Also, before you install, or if you have installed and ran into a problem or two, make sure to check out the Dreamweaver 8.0.1 Updater installation issues page.
Posted Saturday, January 14, 2006 1:13:25 PM by Danilo Celic
MMUG Chicago, The Chicago Area Macromedia Users Group presents:
"XSLT Authoring with Dreamweaver 8"
Unless you have been snoozing, you know that the use of XML is growing by leaps and bounds, especially with RSS rapidly taking off. Briefly, XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations) is a way to format and display XML documents.
Join us Monday January 23rd when Danilo Celic, of Team Macromedia, will explain exactly what XSLT is, why you'll want to use it. Danillo will demonstrate how you can use the new XSL tools in Dreamweaver 8 to assist you in creating content for your pages with data derived from XML sources. In true Dreamweaver fashion, these new features enable you to visually edit your XML derived content with drag and drop ease.
MONDAY, JANUARY 23rd, 2006
Illinois Institute of Art Room 234
180 North Wabash Chicago, IL
Doors open at 6:00 meeting starts 6:30PM
Parking garages around the area and accessible from the Randolph/Wabash EL stop, or Lake Street Red Line Stop.
Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2006 7:43:16 PM by Big John
It's the little things that get you.
The day started normally, as I arose to go fetch a load of horse dung (from a friend who owns several of the big guys), for use in this spring's garden. The air was crisp, the sun was shining low, and all was right with the world.
I arrived on time, and Les was inside his house practicing on his saxaphone. We both play in the same band. Les is so experienced that he sometimes serves as director, and a hard taskmaster he is. Knock knock, and he comes out, insisting on helping me bag. What a guy.
We got straight to work, and commenced to engage in deep intellectual discussions, whilst scraping up the stuff not mentioned in those exciting western epics. The time flew by. Soon there was a big pile of bags.
When we had a full load, I threw the bags in the van. The physical work done, we got down to serious dicussifyin', and then it happened. There was something tiny in my throat, and coughing was not helping. After a while the tickle eased up, but a new problem appeared. I realized I was rubbing my left eye far more than usual. It got worse. And worse. Soon the right eye was involved too.
Not being the panicky kind, I broke in, to "mention" that there was something amiss with my eyes. Mere moments later, you would have seen me, arms akimbo, stumbling into the house to irrigate my protesting pupils in the first wet concavity I could find.
Mind you, this western boy does NOT get allergies! And yet, here was proof positive that invisible airborne "pollutants" could easily lay me low without warning. Oh no! Somehow I pulled it together, and hied on back to town with the goods. There, my wise old landlady applied aloe vera to the affected orbs, and it got a little better. But even now, many hours later, the painful puffyness persists.
Was this a Judgement? Have I become complacent, thus inviting a stern universe to apply some "real world schooling?" Don't know, don't care. All I know is, I'm really, REALLY, tired of this crap.
Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2006 6:42:40 PM by Jim Babbage
As bizarre as this may sound, I just recently discovered flickr.com. I found it by seeking out a disheartened poster on another newsforum. Some of the other posters had been giving her a rough and rude time because of her frustration with a new digital camera. Well I know ALL about that! Anyway, I found a link in one of her posts to her space on flickr and went a-lookin'. What I found - aside form some great images of her dogs and local scenery - was how dang easy flickr was to use! I htink that very afternoon, I set up my free account and started uploading images.
Flickr is a boon to me, becasue I've plum run out of room on my own web space for posting images, and I didn't really want to buy more disk space right away.
The software for uploading files is dead easy to use; you can even download a system-resident app that will help you find, size and upload your photos. It's like the iTunes of photo gallery apps.
I'll soon be buying a pro account, which is only $25/year and gives me a huge amount of uploading bandwidth, including the ability to store my hi-res images. Possibly a great option for backing up my files, but I'm still looking into that.
Anyway, feel free to drop by and see what I've got on display at my flickr page. Don't forget to say hi!
Posted Friday, January 06, 2006 8:05:28 AM by Sheri German
Amid the news of Sharon returning to the operating room and the one surviving miner still in a coma, the tragedy of classical music doesn't seem like much of a story. Still, when I turned to WGMS on my car radio the other day, the Washington D.C. metropolitan area's only commercial classical station was no longer there. It had been replaced with an all news station, WTOP. The Washington Post carried the story on the next day's front page: WGMS is still breathing, but barely. Bonneville, the company that owns it (along with its replacement WTOP), moved it to a weaker signal that most listeners outside the city proper itself will have trouble getting. We can all guess what will happen next unless another company buys it.
I posted here last year when WETA, the NPR station that used to carry classical music, switched to an all-talk format. (The reports suggest that this has not been wildly popular-not that I am gloating too much.) I am now left with one NPR station, WBJC in Baltimore, that carries classical music with a signal strong enough for me to hear it. Think of it: a major metropolitan area cannot support classical music. What does that suggest for less urban localities?
As we drove to New Jersey during the Thanksgiving holidays, we heard a discussion with a pianist about the state of classical music. The pianist talked about "the tragedy of classical music" and how it is something that is perpetuated in part by well-meaning music teachers. They convey the idea that one needs special knowledge and training in order to appreciate classical music, when all you really need is feeling.
Do I listen to classical music and blurt out "Aha! An augmented sixth chord! Oh joy, oh rapture unforeseen!" On occasion. But usually I am just trying to absorb the emotional meaning of a piece, something that is available to anyone with an open mind and a little sensitivity to beauty through sound.
Though I wish the unfortunate misconceptions about classical music would abate, I doubt anything much will stem the trend towards abolishing anything that is not part of mass pop culture. Now even our NPR stations, which originally were intended to take up where the Darwinism of capitalism left off, are abdicating their role.
Now all I can do is pray that WBJC hangs in there.
Category tags: Music
Posted Sunday, January 01, 2006 10:35:03 AM by Tom Muck
New Years Resolutions
Everyone has 'em, but I thought I'd make a list of 10 things I'd like to do this year:
10. Be nicer to people with cloven hoofs.
9. Maintain my 0:1 vomit:year ratio.
8. Scratch my butt less.
7. Spend more waking hours in bed and more sleeping hours at my desk.
6. Never open a bottle of beer with my eye socket.
5. Learn to fly without the use of my arms or legs.
4. Eat kumquats and boysenberrys without giggling.
3. Learn a new trade, like toaster repair or clown tickler.
2. Open a home for wayward midgets.
1. Stop making lists.