Monday, November 29, 2010

Thank you, Irvin Kershner

Irvin Kershner, the director of The Empire Strikes Back, perhaps the most beloved and critically-acclaimed film of the iconic Star Wars franchise (and considered the best by many fans and industry professionals), has passed away. He was responsible for, with that film, shaping many childhoods and changing many lives.

The forums have a thread commemorating his passing, with many heartfelt sentiments and poignant stories from fans who are posting.

Star Wars director George Lucas has posted thoughts on

"I am serious . . . and don't call me Shirley."

Thanks for all the laughs, Leslie Nielsen.

Click here for the New York Times obituary.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Traffic lights

This is an interesting design for traffic lights, utilizing an hourglass-inspired visual indicator of how much time is left in the different phases of the light cycle. As Ryan Wieber put it on his Twitter feed, however, "anything that lets you anticipate when to go will result in people drag racing 1 second before it's green."

Check out the site for the design here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

I know this is random

I saw this headline in my e-mail today, and just noticed how weird this word looks spelled out.


It's all S's and vowels. Kind of fun.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving iOS game sales

Thanksgiving is traditionally a great time for iOS gamers, as many developers put their games on sale for the holiday.
touchArcade has a great article detailing many of the noteworthy sales of the day, and a forum post with an even more comprehensive list. Check it out, and enjoy!

No wallpaper for you!

It looks like the second-generation iPod Touch won't support a background wallpaper in 4.2
after all; Apple's iOS page's compatibility chart has changed to the one above.

In the meantime, though -- 4.2 has been amazing on the iPad. In my opinion, it's the best thing to happen to my iPad since it was invented. Are you all loving it, too?

Monday, November 22, 2010

4.2 has arrived!

iOS (and especially iPad) users, rejoice! The amazing iOS 4.2 update is here, bringing with it all of the AirPlay, multitasking, folder app organization, multitasking bar settings access, Game Center compatibility, in-Safari word search, and more that we've been waiting for. Now if only iTunes would show it as being available for me to download . . .

Two interesting (and unexpected notes):

First, MobileMe's "Find My iPhone"(/iPad/iPod Touch) feature has been made free for all owners of current-generation devices. This is a fantastic feature, and one that will help a lot of people -- but one wonders what will make people buy MobileMe when they can get a lot of it's other features (contact/calendar syncing, online storage space, web hosting, etc.) for free or much cheaper through other services. Of course, part of MobileMe's appeal has been its ease of use and unification of all these features, and that may still prove to be enticing for many customers.

Second, did anyone else notice how the second-generation iPod Touch suddenly has a wallpaper background (a previously-unsupported feature) in the 4.2 compatibility lineup image? If there's anyone out there with a second-gen Touch upgrading to 4.2, let us know if you can add a wallpaper now!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Giving Apple feedback

Especially after writing about my recent Aperture woes, I thought it would be a good idea to highlight a resource a lot of people don't know about: Apple's Feedback page. I've used it personally a few times, most recently about the D7000's RAW compatibility in Aperture, and while they don't respond to the feedback personally, it's good to know where one can go to send such information when needed. As seen below, they have separate feedback categories for various Mac applications, and above those, they have forms for different hardware (as well as Apple iOS apps).

I've talked to some Apple engineers personally in the past, and I know they take feedback seriously; the comments are read, and often are incorporated into future product developments in some way -- and if not, they've at least been considered. Check it out!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Twitter as an Adult

I still consider myself relatively new to Twitter, and so I find it interesting to learn more about what others use the service for, and how they manage this brave new world of brevity-based communication (came up with that one myself!). I stumbled across this interesting article, appropriately titled "How to Use Twitter as an Adult" -- though one could substitute "like" for "as", and it would still be pretty accurate. A relatively brief but thoughtful read, giving some advice, best practices, and expectation-setting. And a concluding thought in the article makes me feel a little better about sometimes not feeling like I fully "get" Twitter:

But Twitter is still evolving, and its usage evolves, too. How we use it now is different than how we used it a couple years ago. There is no one right way to use Twitter, and you should ignore anyone who says there is. Including me.

P.S. The header image was taken from here, though I'm not sure they created it.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Great 404 Error Pages

I just saw this, and had to share. There are lots of great 404 (page not found) error pages here -- funny, artistic, and more. Enjoy!

Monday, November 08, 2010

D7000 RAW support in Aperture = :-(

I finally got my shiny (a.k.a. nice matte black) new D7000 in the mail last week, and I've been psyched to try out its many amazing features -- in particular, its excellent low-light performance. While I won't always be shooting in RAW (the images are over 20 MB each!), I wanted to see what full-quality images looked like, and how much I could push them in post. So I hooked up the camera to my MacBook Pro, fired up Aperture, and imported the contents of my SD card -- only to find that all of the RAW images I had shot (which were luckily in the minority, since I was trying out many different quality modes) came up as unsupported images, and had very strange (and inconsistent) thumbnail previews, as seen below:

What's especially weird is that as they were importing, there were actually accurate previews of the images . . . which disappeared once the images were fully imported. Maybe they were coming from the thumbnail previews on the camera itself? Either way, I hope an Aperture software update comes to add D7000 NEF support soon . . . otherwise, I may have to start doing my RAW editing in other programs, then export JPEGs back to Aperture. And we all know I don't want to do that . . .

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Signs of the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

As promised, I've posted the gallery of signs (and the occasional pin/item of clothing/etc.) I saw during the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear this past Saturday! As soon as I arrived, there were tons of people around me, and I didn't really move much during the event itself, but I tried to get the best shots I could from where I was standing. I also ran into a few great ones after the Rally itself, as we walked with the crowd streaming from the National Mall.

These are just a few of my favorites, with plenty more in the gallery itself, which you can see here! Enjoy!

You can also see a slideshow of the images below. Make sure to click on the gallery here to see larger pictures, read captions, and leave comments!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


I found mention of this site a while back, and thought it was neat. Cramberry is an electronic flashcard system, for quizzing yourself and sharing your electronic flashcards with others. I still haven't gotten around to trying it -- I don't have much need for it in my current line of work -- but I take comfort in knowing that it's there if I want it, and I thought some of you currently-studying types might find some use for it, as well. What seems especially great is the integration with their native iOS applications, including the free, ad-supported iPhone version here.

If you try out the service, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Mind Mapping for Creative Writing

I bought iThoughts HD a while back for my iPad, for the express purpose of trying non-linear outlining for story-writing. And now that I'm all excited about Scrivener's ability to sync project files with my iPad, I'm looking to re-take inventory of my writing tools, mentally organize them into a prospective workflow, and start writing from there.

For those of you interested in using mind mapping for creative writing, this is a great article that not only talks about why you would want to, but also breaks down the author's practical system for doing so. The template he provides is a great starting point for anyone wanting to try it!

Have you used mind mapping before? How about for creative writing? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments!

The polls just closed here, but . . .

. . . if your polling station is still open, and you haven't gone to vote yet, make sure to do so! Even if you don't have a specific candidate or question to vote for, showing up and submitting a ballot still makes a difference with regards to voter turnout. Participating in democracy, civic duties, and all that.

Also, as the above image (which Comedy Central e-mailed to me this afternoon) shows, Stewart and Colbert are teaming up again for a live election night special, starting at 11 PM Eastern. I won't be able to watch it live, but if you do, enjoy!

Scrivener 2.0 Released!

When I first switched to the Mac, I did a lot of searching around the Interwebs for great Mac software that I hadn't heard of before. One name that kept popping up was Literature & Latte's Scrivener, which, according to the headlining quote on their website, is "the biggest software advance for writers since the word processor." I got myself a copy of the 1.x version, but never really got around to using it -- not only did I have lots of other things to do that distracted me from a) writing and b) learning to effectively use a new software tool for writing, but I also started using my Mac less and less as I started to rely more on my iOS devices. Especially once I got my iPad, I started taking it with me on longer trips far more than my Mac -- which meant that if I was going to use a software tool to help me write/be creative, I wanted it to be as accessible as possible for me, wherever and whenever I wanted to work. In essence, I loved the concepts Scrivener brought to writing, but didn't want to be tied to my Mac to actually work with it.

While the Literature & Latte team has not yet made an iOS version of Scrivener, they have introduced an important new feature with the 2.0 release (among many wonderful tweaks and pieces of added functionality, from what I can see): Sync with External Folder. This feature allows your Scrivener project to synchronize its separate textual pieces with a folder outside of the project -- which includes a Dropbox (or other sync services') folder, which can then sync with a Dropbox-integrated text editor, like the great, free, (and Universal!) PlainText! Very exciting! I can't wait to actually try integrating Scrivener into my creative written pursuits.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Rally Signs

I was at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear on Saturday in Washington, D.C., and took a lot of pictures -- especially of the many awesome original hand-made signs I saw fellow Rally-goers carrying. I'll be posting a special gallery of these signs within the next few days, so you can see a sampling of the creativity, irony, and thoughtfulness felt on the ground at the event.

BlogPress Beginning

So I'm trying something new -- blogging from an iOS app. I've wanted to do this for a while, but haven't found an app that does what I need (which apparently hasn't really mattered, because I haven't been posting much, anyway). So here goes -- we'll see how this app does, and take it from there! I'm hoping this marks (another?) triumphant return to writing . . . something.