April 2010 Archives

Taking direction from the sign posted yesterday.    

Just a reminder from a shop window. (If you want to see this larger, click on the image.)
I posted this in early January:

I'm always testing new bits of software, new tools.  Oooh, pretty-shiny-new, how does it work? Most of the time I use a thing once or twice and then forget about it.  I move on.  But every so often, I find something that naturally suits my way of working, and it becomes part of my life.

My newest favorite thing is OmmWriter - an application created for writing and concentration.  A pared-down space.  I can imagine making some changes to it (I'd love to be able to add my own background picture someday, or choose my own ambient sound) but the defaults are fine.  The software reminds me to be still, to take my time, to think, and then it gets out of the way.

I still feel the same way about OmmWriter.  I hope the version they are planning for the iPad is available soon.

Michael Nobbs has a .pdf book now available as a free download on his website: "Start to Draw Your Life."  It's full of encouragement and inspiration for anyone who is interested in beginning to draw...
Another great soft circuit resource - Angela in NH creates soft circuits projects and shares them on her blog, Soft Circuit Saturdays. She has a great page of links, and posts to Instructables, Vimeo, Flickr, and the Fashioning Technology blog as well.

Yesterday was Art All Night, a giant one-night art show in Pittsburgh. Each artist can only submit one piece, but there is no jury, no censorship, no cost to participate. Organizers told me that this year 1175 people submitted art to show. More than 10,000 people attended. Inspiring to see the outpouring of work.
In downtown Pittsburgh, one of the Louise Bourgeois eyeball benches sprouted an umbrella for a few minutes today.

I am going to use the "Sundry Notes" application for typing the text of this post, as I figure out what are the best ways I can use my iPad in the general flow of things I do.

Meanwhile, I listen to the tone of a late train whistle and think about turning off electronics in favor of a book tonight. 


A visual clip from Tim O'Reilly's keynote at a recent conference. The video on You Tube is worth a listen - a chance to hear what O'Reilly thinks of big data, the  cloud, and where technology is headed.
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.

--Martha Graham
Spent a while today working with Live Trace in Adobe Illustrator, to turn a colleague's pencil sketch into a black and white vector illustration. Happy with the result, as was she.  (Best strategy included working with the image in Photoshop first, to simplify and resize it. The second step was to use the "Place" command to open the .jpg file in Illustrator.) Final step was to trace, adjusting the presets as needed.
After looking around on line, I don't see anyone else posting about using HP iPrint Photo to print from the iPad.  So I put pictures up on Flickr, left a comment on a BoingBoing thread, and sent how-to info as a submission to Make. 

If more people start using this workaround, maybe someone else will figure out how to print full-sized pages and .pdfs.
Even with knitting, which is a craft I've practiced since childhood, my focus tends to be more on the pleasures of the process than with speedy results.  I bought yarn yesterday, knit a swatch, cast on some stitches to make a hat, knit half a dozen rows, decided that my gauge was off and the hat was going to be gigantic, ripped out those rows, untangled the yarn, cast on fewer stitches, and knit five rows... Two days of entertainment and play with color, and the hat is less than half an inch tall.

(Click to enlarge note - which was made with School Notes Pro on my iPad.)

Not a perfect solution, but it is possible for me to print images up to 5" x 7" from my iPad, via wifi printing to my HP printer.

2 key bits of information:

1. You can take a screen shot with your iPad in the same way you do it with an iPhone - briefly press the power switch and the home button at the same time.  The resulting .png image turns up in your Photos application.

2. HP makes a free app called iPrint for the iPhone and iPod touch which lets you print photos to your wifi-connected HP printer.  iPrint also works on the iPad.

Challenges I have not yet resolved:
While photo resolution is crisp-ish on screen shots, the .pdf files that Mail will let me save to the Photo app are fuzzy.

I can't persuade the application to let me print anything larger than 5" x 7".

Still - it was very cool to press print on the iPad this afternoon, and hear the printer in the other room rumble into action.

I always plan to start the weekend by going to bed early... but one thing leads to another, one idea to the next, and soon I realize it's rather late.
As a child, I loved how I could lose all track of my surroundings when reading a good book.  I still love that feeling of flow and of the world dropping away when I'm in the middle of a great story.  I notice the same feeling when reading on the iPad, especially in the iBooks application.
I noticed while reading a book from my iPad (Anne of Green Gables, out loud) that I expected to be able to close the covers when I finished that chapter. 


Trying out new materials. Instead of making this painting on paper, I used an 8″ x 8″ cradled wooden panel. I'm still painting in gouache, but the colors and brush behave differently on gessoed wood. (The best way for me to grow is to take on new ways of doing things.)

The traditional personal computer market (if there is such a thing, but that's another topic) is changing.  On one side - new consumer mobile devices make it easier to do the stuff you want to do, with elegance and less hassle - receive, create, share..  On another side - the maker/hacker movement inspires happy amateurs to create playful homemade devices using sensors and programmable microcontrollers with non-traditional materials, in non-traditional ways.  Neither of these groups treats technology the way we used to treat it.  I see some overlap in the groups, too.

As I think this through further, I'll write more.
I don't especially enjoy the process of housecleaning, and it requires a major event to motivate me, but I'm happy in the space when it is done.  Major event?  We had a party, and now we have a clean house.
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Screen shot 2010-04-10 at 12.43.30 AM.png

(Or, "Do I like Phil Gyford's Infographic?")
After 5 days of use. 

Has my new iPad utterly transformed my life? Not in ways immediately apparent.

But I now take it for granted that Netflix streams to a thin wireless screen with nothing else attached to it.

Since the device just gets out of the way, I wonder how that invisibility will be used for art?
I made my own iPad case this weekend from felt and fabric. I've put a set of photos from this project over on Flickr.
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over on Clusterflock, where someone asked who had gotten an iPad:

I did get one, and so far I like it very much.  (I also have a MacBook Pro, and in my house we have 2 iPhones and an iPod Touch.) 
The iPad partly works as an intermediate device, something between phone and the laptop, a better space for reading web text and watching movies.
But as I use it more and more, it seems like its own new kind of technology.  Example: I tried to use a keyboard shortcut to save some work in Pages.  No command key.  I looked for a "save" button on the screen.  No "save" button.  Why?  The work is always already saved. Why? Why wouldn't you want to have your work saved?  Why should you have to explicitly save it?
The designers have stripped away a lot of our habits and assumptions about how technology works, and have thought about what we actually want to do.  This can be frustrating or delightful, depending on the context and your point of view.
For the most part, I'm having an awful lot of fun exploring.  A ten-inch, responsive, multi-touch screen is incredible to use.
I've made my own envelope case for the iPad.  I used materials we had on hand: industrial felt, bright fabric scraps, and velcro.  Will post some pictures tomorrow.
Spent much of the day setting up and exploring the new iPad.  I like it. I was thrown off balance a bit by the discovery that the onscreen keyboard has no command key, so no keyboard shortcuts. No save button in Pages either - everything you create is already saved. Discovered for myself that you can take a screen shot by pressing the home key and the on-off switch, just the way you take screen shots with an iPhone.
Tomorrow I will go to the Apple store and pick up my iPad.  I'm getting the 32 Gb WiFi-only version.  I'll be interested to see whether it is a device that lets me make things, whether I'm even inclined to create with it, or whether I will mostly use it for consumption: browsing, learning, reading, entertainment.  I have already gotten Pages and Keynote, and am thinking about the enhanced Brushes application... I don't yet know about keyboard/dock/case.


Tomorrow I can go back to believing everything I read on the internet.  Meanwhile, I'd love to get a Monolith Action Figure



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