Archive for June, 2007
As you might be aware, I’m currently on the lookout for a job. And when I get one, I’ll have to settle for an apartment. Not only is it something I’m looking forward too, but I’m secretly praying that it won’t come with furniture 😉 Yeah, I know, I’m kinda weird in that way. It’s just I would really like to make the place my own. Perhaps with a fatboy “couch-pillow”? I mean, how awesome are these things?! 😀 (pink color shown because it fits with the theme of the blog)
Or maybe a fatboy Headdemock? It sure looks like I could fit my entire family in that thing! (might consider switching out the family for the Mac Pro)
If YOU also happen to be part of the IKEA generation, consider leaving a comment below with more tips for cool stuff to put in a room.
Slow news day, so I decided to post this classic 🙂 What makes it fun isn’t just the fact it pokes fun at Windows, but also that it is so well produced. Oh, and you simply can’t miss the beautiful song “I Want A Mac”.
If you, like me, enjoy cars (enough to own one anyway) and music, chances are you have a stereo of some sort in your four-wheeled bungalow. And if you also happen to be a sucker for gadgets, chances are you have an mp3 player of some sort. You have no doubt already read the dozens of reviews of the iPod FM transmitters out there. You can stop reading them, because they all suck. And so does that cassette adaptor your grandpa got you from his old Chevy. And the mini jack cable. What you want is a proper way to hook up your baby to the head unit. And the fact is: most manufacturers today provide a solid way to do exactly this. Most of them are adaptors that hook up to the CD changer connection, and gives the head unit the feeling your iPod is such a thing. Adaptors exist for head units from Kenwood, Pioneer, Alpine and probably many more. They will all run you about $100. Well worth it in my opinion, but read on and see if it is for you.
The Kenwood adaptor hooks up to the dock connector of any iPod with said connection. Lucky for me, I am the proud owner of this almost brand-spankin’ new iPod mini. Fits like a glove…
Speaking of which… you can shove both the iPod and the adaptor into the glove compartment along with the rest of your crap, if you like. Thieves won’t see it – plus you don’t really need the access any more!
You now control your iPod from your head unit. In my case, up/down on the joystick flips through playlists, while left/right changes track.
You can stick with the basic information of track name only (fetched from ID3-tag, of course)…
Or you can opt for a bit more details. Right now I’m showing name of current playlist as well as name of current track. Since you will no longer have the scroll wheel to flip though songs, I can recommend you start organizing your music into playlists. Changing playlist or track is easy, and faster then when changing songs on a CD. The sound quality is also as good as it can be. You won’t be getting any better sound if you burn your music to CD. I know, because that’s what I have done for the past year. “I already have all my music on CDs (uncompressed)”, you say. Then rip them in the Apple Lossless format. That will sound pretty good too.
Sound is streamed from the iPod. Yes, sound. Not audio files. This means that you can play back any format that your iPod supports, protected music from the iTS included.
What about coverart? My head unit support cover art in some way or another, but I don’t think you can get it through the iPod adaptor. Don’t quote me on this, but the way I believe you can get it, is if you use Kenwoods own jukebox software (Windows only) to rip your music, and then you can assign artwork from there. All I know for sure is that it won’t read artwork from ID3-tags. You shouldn’t be looking at that while driving anyways.
Kenwood delivers a good solution for iPod integration. I was sceptic before trying it out, afraid it wouldn’t give me the good experience any iPod owner is used to. So it doesn’t do coverart (at least not with my iPod). It will still keep your iPod hidden, and charged. It will allow you to control all the aspects you would want to control (play/pause, previous/next track/playlist), and it will even display the information you want. The sound quality is great, and the price is pretty much what everyone else is charging, even though I agree it’s more than an FM transmitter or a cassette adaptor. If you are at all serious about music however, you owe it to yourself to get a solution like this.
Ever wanted to know how to make a reflection effect like the one in my header, in Photoshop?
There are several ways to achieve this, and I’m going to show you the one I use. The easiest one in my opinion. For this example, I will be reflecting text, much like in my header, but you can of course use any graphics.
You might have noticed how the reflection effect is more or less a gradient. In fact, in my example I could have achieved the desired effect by using a gradient going from black to transparent. Often though, you want the fade to be transparent, not black. That is, what you really want is a gradient that erases instead of painting over.
I started out with my image in Photoshop, and made sure the text was on a separate layer.
Next I made a duplicate of the text layer (Layer -> Duplicate Layer). I then flipped this layer vertically (Edit -> Transform -> Flip Vertical), and moved the duplicate layer right below the original text. Also I made sure to rasterize the copy (Layer -> Rasterize -> Layer).
The third step was to create a selection around the flipped layer. The selection should cover all the text, and then some. At the top of the text, the selection should preferably follow the edge.
Now the fun part. The “secret” in my recipe is Feather. I go into Select -> Modify -> Feather… The radius I set here determines how tall the reflection will be in my example. I used a Feather Radius of 5 pixels. Notice how the selection gets rounded corners to indicate the radius. Feather is sort of like a blur filter, for selections.
Then just hit delete, and that’s it! Pretty much the effect I wanted.
And just to prove it really is transparent…
This is not meant as a definitive answer, but more of a starting point. You will probably get a decent result if you follow my instructions, but play around a bit with the selection size and the feather radius. And as with any fancy effect, don’t overuse it 😉 Happy reflecting!
Wow, this proved to be a quite lengthy post in the end. My goal was to collect a bunch of tiny bits that I didn’t feel like making dedicated posts for. I guess some of it probably could’ve been split up after all, but oh well…
Marvin once again has something to say in regards to About pages. And I like his “5 Tips to Spice it Up“. I was originally hoping to re-work my own site, but after thinking it through, I decided to stick with it for now. What I can say is that I will be updating my picture hopefully soon! Now go and check out the tips and see if you need to re-work your own site.
When I presented my bachelor project recently, I used PowerPoint, like any person would. However, as is usually the case, people often tend to think of PowerPoint as “Word in slide-form”. PowerPoint is not Word with a different layout people – it’s a whole different way to present content. Don’t fill up your slides with 12 pt text! To be on the safe side, you should probably just read Seth Godin’s 5 points first.
Switched to Firefox recently? Or been using it “forever”, but still don’t know all the keyboard shortcuts? Check the Firefox Cheat Sheet!
What’s the REAL reason Apple released Safari for Windows? Is it simply Apples SDK for the iPhone? Alex Hung over at Download Squad seems to think so. I can’t help but think he might be onto something…
Commenting on my blog lately?
If you have, you might have seen that I implemented support for Gravatars. What are Gravatars you ask? (if you don’t ask, you may skip this part) Gravatar stands for Globally Recognized Avatar. And an avatar, for those who don’t know, is a small picture representing you on blogs or forums. It’s usually tied up to an account you create at a given site. The problem with avatars is that you have to create a new one for every site. Gravatars aim to solve this by hosting your avatar in one location, and letting you use it anywhere. You need to sign up for a free account in order to upload your picture.
How does it work from a users POV?
Your Gravatar is linked to your email address. This means that the email address you use with the Gravatar service should be the same one you are using when commenting on blogs that are Gravatar enabled. When you make a comment on a blog, your email address is encrypted before it’s sent to the Gravatar servers and the correct image is returned. In short: no need to login, or do anything in fact.
How can I enable Gravatar support on my blog?
There are a lot of tools and plug-ins out there, but if your blog is powered by WordPress, just install the Gravatars2 plug-in. You might need to add a line of php code to your comments.php template for the Gravatars to show up. “Might” as in if you didn’t create your template from scratch, chances are the code is already in place and will be activated once the plug-in is installed.
If you don’t have a Gravatar account already, go get one right away. It’s free. It’s easy to use (no logging in once you have created your avatar). You could say it is for avatars what OpenID is for logins.
MacApper has an article up on a simple dashboard widget that can upload an image to ImageShack and copy it’s URL to your clipboard. A simple way to share a picture with friends or family over for instance an IM.
I use a different approach however. ImageWell.
ImageWell is a simple app where you drag in a file, or paste from the clipboard, and then with the click of a button it will upload it to a location of your choice, and if desired copy the resulting URL to your clipboard. And close the app. ImageWell doesn’t integrate with ImageShack or the likes, you will need your own server for hosting. FTP or iDisk works fine. It also has a ton of options for everything from watermarking to scaling, rotating and setting the quality (compression). That’s the beauty however: it can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. You can have your picture hosted, with the URL on your clipboard, literally with one click. Or you can do a whole lot more.
There is a free version available, which works just fine. Paying a slump of money will get you batch processing and more.
This is one of a handful of apps that I can say I use on a weekly basis, if not daily.
As some of you are already aware, I finished my bachelors degree in Multimedia Technology and Design this past Thursday. The past few months have been dedicated to my bachelor project, in which I have been working together with two other great guys on creating a new visual profile and website for a car stereo dealer.
The picture you see above is an excerpt (click for full article) from a local newspaper, in which we got featured for our work. The headline reads: “Freshening up graphical profile”.
Our work included a new logo (a variation is seen on the car in the news article), business cards, signs, letterheads, and as mentioned: a complete and new website. Website consists of a CMS for posting of news and B grade products, a newsletter system, poll and a full image gallery for customers to upload images of their cars and stereo installations.
Have a look at the website at http://www.tk-teknikk.no if you like.
As for me, I’ll be enjoying the summer holidays while I’m looking for a full-time job. I also have more posts coming up in the next few days!
I try to add some flavor to this blog, and when I sat down a while ago, trying to come up with something new, I decided I wanted to do some short interviews. With multiple people. So I came up with a question that I hoped could be of interest, and I emailed a few fellow bloggers. 5 to be precise. For this first round, I was interested in what made a website look good.
There are many techniques or effects that can be used on a website, some of which Apple is known to have pioneered. Blue glowing buttons, reflections, striped backgrounds, web 2.0 “beta”-badges, pixel-fonts or a specific color.
Which effects or techniques do you still find fresh, and eventually find yourself using if/when you design a site?
And which are you just plain tired of?
I have no problem with flashy glowing designs, it sure beats boring simple ones, but it can easily go too far. I’m partial understated striped backgrounds, reflections, trendy colors, etc., but only when they’re just that: understated. I don’t think anyone takes beta badges seriously anymore, so I wouldn’t put that on a site unless it was a joke. I’d say a good measure of this is the designs by Adam Betts. Check out My Dream App, it’s blue and glowing, but it can still be taken seriously.
I’m not sure I understand what “blue glowing buttons” are. All of those techniques, if properly used, can still make a site look fresh. It’s the sites that over use them or sites that have badges just for the sake of having badges that I’m tired of. Obviously color scheme is very important in a website but I’m not sure which specific colors you’re referring to.
I still love the pages Apple create on such products as the Mac Pro, etc. The black and glossy pages really stand out in my book. I also really like clean designs, black and white grid-based designs are really in at the moment. I don’t personally design, though I love watching other designers whip up themes for their own sites.
I’m tired of seeing sites try and take a “Web 2.0” look. Big fonts, huge buttons, they just look awful if not done right.
Eivind Lie Nitter:
I find that most techniques works, old or new, if they’re used properly. For example, you could absolutely say that reflections have been overused and are now “old”; however, I find that e.g. Apple is using them in such a way that it just adds a touch of elegance to their web sites. Or striped backgrounds, which I myself use – on some web sites they work, on others they don’t. Gradients, too, are a simple way to make something more interesting; again absolutely overused, but it works.The problem with many web 2.0 sites these days are not really the techniques – although I’m really getting tired of the beta badges -, but the fact that many of them lack something that distinguishes them from the rest of the pack (I’m guilty of that, too).
On a general basis I can say that the quality of the work put into a site is much more important than any element put there to give it the web 2.0 feel. As long as it feels natural and is an integrated part of the site I don’t mind. That is not to say that some colour schemes should not have been retired a long time ago (the blue/lime green for one). The same goes for the ever present beta badge…
Well, that’s it for this round. I want to give all of you a big thank-you 🙂 I hope to make this a monthly, or perhaps semi-weekly feature, but that requires one thing: people. I want to bring in new people every round. Questions will concentrate around technology, gadgets, computers, the internet and design. If you are interested, please leave a comment, or send me an email (address is in the sidebar).
Anything to add? Voice off the comments! And please let me know what you think about this feature!