Scanned past.

Monday, January 24th, 2011

At my sister’s behest, I’ve been scanning a large collection of old images from our family. And at this rate, I should have them done sometime in 2017, so, hey, that’s progress. Came across a badly crinkled old black and white contact sheet from my stay in the fall of 1974 in New York’s East Village (I returned some filmmaking equipment for some friends—on the Greyhound—and spent a while living by myself at their Crosby Street loft, which was then a new term to me.)

At any rate, here’s one of the images:

And it didn’t take more than 20 seconds of messing with Google Maps and Google Street View to line it up with the near-present:

This is (and I didn’t know this back in 1974, because my online search capabilities were a bit more limited then) a view toward the The Puck Building, which Wiki-p tells me is “an example of Romanesque Revival architecture”, and during the 1980s was the home of Spy magazine, which I faithfully read, even though their use of tiny type surely led me to my squinty early adoption of reading glasses.

Back in 74, this rust-colored historic place housed a printing ink manufacturer, and in fact I remember the rich smells of toxic ink formulations that wafted down Houston from that fine Romanesque whatever-you-said-it-was architecture. And the smells mixed with the Gulf (hm, now BP) gas station to provide a wonderful urban bouquet in Abe Beame’s New York City.

I’m hoping I can find the negatives from these long-ago pix in all of this mess, but these crinkly scans might have to do.

Target audience.

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Yeah, I thought this was a great example of using design as a political statement:

As reported in Salon, this cover, designed apparently by Dan Savage and Aaron Huffman, reminds us of the power of symbols and the impact of the gun on politics—and personal freedom—on American history.

I’m aghast at the machinations of the Palin/Beck block to try and spin this into something of an attack on right-wing political speech; they attempt to conjure a world where people on the left use the same violent, final terminology as they do. Doesn’t happen. When the very malevolent Roger Ailes has to say “tone it down, guys,” and “make your arguments intellectually,” something has really gone off the rails. They may be so far down the track from the intellectual components of their political arguments that they’ve forgotten how to do that, Roger.

Symbolic.

Monday, January 10th, 2011

This, I think, means ‘go ahead and read your iPhone in the shower.’ (From The Noun Project.)

Hello there from our frozen city, which is suffering through what in most places would count as a minor snow event, but here, we’re attempting to attach apocalyptic terms, but for some reason, they’re just not uh…sticking. I might post a few pictures later, but for now, enjoy this one from last night, as we returned from Buckhead and the snow was really coming down at an impressive rate, for a while.

Backing it up at the beginning.

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

A quiet saturday afternoon in the new year, and I’m sitting here savoring the back-room sunlight watching the winds pick up as we contemplate the threat of another city-paralyzing snow + freezing rain + ice event here in a part of the country that seems highly unprepared for even the mildest of winter weather calamities.

Our plans are to travel the very few miles up to my dad’s house tomorrow evening with a carefully-crafted portable Sammy dinner, but I guess we’ll have to see if that will involve firing up the four-wheel-drive vehicle and creeping back here as the aforementioned storm gets underway (it’s supposed to get bad after dark Sunday night.) Ah, adventures of the winter kind.

Otherwise, it’s been a mercifully quiet week or so after the start of 2011, and we’ve been fairly diligent about taking care of loose ends, small chores, financial recordkeeping, and so on, mixed in with the usual array of tech support questions I find myself fielding from family and friends.

I’m conscious during these arbitrary calendar boundary crossings that it’s a good time to make sure that our various digital assets are being backed up, preserved somehow the way one might expect.

So earlier this week I went out for a run to the twin mega tech merchants of Gwinnett County—MicroCenter and Fry’s—with my brother, mostly to offer moral support for his purchases, but damned if I didn’t end up buying one more 2 TB drive to, well, pile stuff onto. I mean, what future visionary could have possibly imagined that a mere $89 would give me yet another another gigantic data landfill, a virtual blimp hanger of unused space to pile stuff into/onto?

Yeah, if I do have a weakness for impulse purchases, it tends to be in this category. It’s probably much worse that I’ve lived through the entire progression of computer storage from the early days where a megabyte or two cost more than a house—so just forget it—through the early 1980s where I was willing to pay thousands of dollars for a 20 megabyte hard drive (thousands. of. dollars.) to the present where bits live throughout our cluttered home in little silver boxes, just waiting to disappoint me with a random data failure in the future, when I call upon the device to work its archival magic.

It really doesn’t help that the size of my average television project—the raw materials used in making a station package, let alone all the bits and pieces needed for a 3D NFL football game, way, way exceed the capacity of a standard DVD-R (4.7 GB)….and really, they take up more room than a BluRay disk, which is a tech that, nah, I’m not going to invest in.

So it’s big hard drives, which are dirt cheap. That is, unless I am concerned about the drives moving parts over the long run, and instead want to pick up a bunch of flash memory (hey, no moving parts!), which at the moment is, at best, $25 for 16 GB of storage.

And of course, there’s always “the cloud,” which, in theory, is infinite, but in the real world has its own very real costs and risks as well as the costs in time it takes to push all this stuff to and from wherever “there” is.

Which brings me full circle to the mental exercise that really underlies all of this: how much of this exercise is just plain hoarding behavior in high tech clothing? Am I really going to need that background for that station in Birmingham from years ago that has probably moved on to some other perishable design?

Bit of a ponderable, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Autumnal recharge.

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

I’m sitting here watching sunlight drift into Sammy’s family’s Green Cottage in between moments of solar hide and seek in the abundant clouds over Big Manistique Lake. We’re listening to a scratchy FM radio signal and we have internet-via-iPhone, which means that the MacBook and iPad sit here sullenly with light grey wifi logos, craving packets, while the walled garden of the iPhone, as long as we hold it close to the south windows, serves as our tenuous gateway to the more connected world in a place where, most of the time, we’re comfortable not being all that connected.
I am happily recharging and resetting after my August of mostly nonstop work. On a tight deadline, I cranked out graphics in stereoscopic 3D for the first NFL football game to be broadcast in a way that, hey “the players come out right at you,” and, uh, you have to buy a really overpriced TV and still wear silly glasses.
As a design exercise it was a lot of fun and made me even more aware of the delicate dances of 3d coordinate systems as they contribute to what we call vision, seeing, and dimension.
But now, it’s nice to look at the world not through any kind of colored or polarized or shuttered glasses and just sorta enjoy the autumnal light, growing color (those maple trees are reddening nicely) and reset my visual context to something outside of safe title markers and render queues.

Current tools of my trade.

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Current tools of my trade.
See that Lee Filter pack with the rubber band? Very important.

I’ll say.

Thursday, August 19th, 2010


Hi, just checking in from the other side of the screen. I keep composing well-thought-out essay-length things in my head, but then my day job (is that what it is?) distracts me from actually flowing them into this site.
As many of you know, I’ve been working pretty much nonstop on a complete graphics package for a preseason NFL game, which wouldn’t be such a big deal except that this one’s in 3D. As in, yeah, dimensional. Stereoscopic.
So please excuse me while I get back to massive piles of left eye, right eye graphics that have to be designed well enough so as not to give people headaches. Not since my 1981 Braves Baseball open (aka ‘Disco Baseball from Outer Space’) have I had the health concerns of my viewers be a factor in design.
Me, I pump the coffee and ibuprofen.

Pampas Cat.

Friday, May 21st, 2010


Although I admire the developers who see algorithms painted, floating in mid-air everywhere they go, I am most certainly not one of those people. And yet I’m interested in the tech behind the apparent seamless experiences, and I have a sense of the powerful frameworks that spin together to create a user experience that is as visually smooth as it is powerful.

This is a (fragmentary) book review of a book I received on the doorstep (dead trees!) an hour ago. I’ve gone through maybe a dozen pages. I’m already in rapt admiration. This is a great approach for people like me. Apple developer/aesthete Scott Stevenson realizes (I’m paraphrasing from his introduction) that there are hard-core coders who bleed zeroes and ones, and then folks like me, designers who want to understand how to make the underpinnings serve their vision.

So he wrote Cocoa and Objective-C: Up and Running: Foundations of Mac, iPhone, and iPod touch programming, and so far, it’s filled so many of the gaps in for me in the mysteries of the C language, Objective-C, built on C, and Cocoa, the massive framework collection built on Objective-C. See? More clarity already.