Archive for January, 2010

The ‘videogioco’ experiment

January 31st, 2010 by Ian

I’ve seen plenty of innovative animation before, but nothing quite like this. Drawings on paper are usually restricted to the paper they start on, but this video is very mobile.

Creative bankruptcy from the Apple iPad

January 28th, 2010 by Ian

The recently unveiled iPad is a metaphor for how Apple has turned away from those who create, to those who consume. Not only is the focus now on consuming at the expense of creating, but the way in which one consumes is very limiting. Here is why:

Apple have always been different. Despite some solid hardware and software design over the past few years, the biggest advantage Apple has is that it’s not Microsoft Windows. Partially because of this, Apple has been the faux-official computer manufacturer for creative folk. Musicians need an OS that doesn’t get in the way of their creativity. Visual artists knew they could install Photoshop on Windows, but on a Mac it felt like it belonged there. Designers not only loved the way the machines looked, but also the way they handled their creations without fuss (or BSOD). Writers and bloggers loved their (usually) good keyboards and subtle UI. For their efforts, Apple have been rewarded with loyal fans amongst those who create.

Image by HappyToast @ b3ta

Image by HappyToast @ b3ta

For some people the internet is a one way thing. You sit back and it washes over you. Videos of cats falling off chairs, news articles, online radio, pornography… whatever. For many people, however, the web is a two way conversation. Whether it’s through IM, writing blogs, commenting on Reddit or even uploading shot film to Youtube, the web isn’t there to just be stared at. The people who demand this contributory attitude are often the creative folk I mentioned before. An on-screen keyboard isn’t the best way to go about all this. Neither is a 9″ screen, but that’s fair enough. We’re all pretty much in agreement that Apple didn’t make this device for creating monstrous Photoshop artworks or hours long Reason jams. No, they made it for the consumption of already created works. So why, Apple, limit so unnecessarily the ways in which we can consume such works?

The answer of course is control and money. You have to get everything through iTunes which means Apple cash-in, big time. What is puzzling is why creative types so readily favor such a creatively-limiting device. It’s understandable in a way: Apple rescued us all from a Windows hell. But don’t they understand that Apples “everything has to flow through us, it’s for your own sake, citizen” attitude stunts creativity? How can a design community be approving of Apple products when their applications are removed from the store, and their time wasted. Not only is this app-store only, no-multitasking world so bad for innovation, but Apple have the gaul to pretend that they’re doing something new. In yesterdays keynote we were told that all these cheap, 1.6GHz netbooks were too slow to be useful. That’s not true. Again, if you want to to some major Illustrator work then it’s probably not the best choice, but we’ve already decided that these machines are for consumption, which i think many netbooks (be they Linux or Windows7) excel at. I know hardware isn’t the only thing that effects performance, but I’m not entirely sure how the 1GHz iPad processor is going to be that much faster.

As a web developer I have to accept that the Apple app-store approach is bad for the web. When one creates an application for the web, be it using the latest HTML5 techniques or Flash, one can be sure that everyone can use it. As crap as Flash is for online video, it excels in some areas (like casual gaming). But that would mean that Apple loose out to free online alternatives to many (if not most) apps in their store. Apple is creating an elite version of the web, for only those who pay them directly, and because of this the iPhone and the iPad must be seen as poisonous to the internet, just as iTunes is poison to the music industry.

Some other ‘features’ of note include: The design looks like it’s a parody from the Onion. I need someone to explain how if a base model costs £388 and the same model with 16GB more memory costs £122 more, then where the hell do they buy their memory? Did they seriously call it an ‘iPad’? Finally, whatever I say, Hitler always has a much better grip on these things.

Future of the Left play Sheffield

January 25th, 2010 by Ian

What’s the sign of a great band? Is it an ability to produce earworms? Many would say so, but I disagree. Otherwise Umbrella by Rihanna would make her, or whoever is operating the strings behind her, the finest artist of our times. I’m going to throw caution to the wind and say she/he/they/it are not. How about delivering songs with clever lyrics that even now, 3 days after I left the gig, won’t stop bouncing round my fucking brain? What if they were delivered over relentless, pounding riffs? Then package them in a compact 3-piece, dripping with a knowing indignation. Some vocals tinged with a mocking, yet not smug, sneer? That’d make a nice change from the usual angst that bands like this often bring. Future of the Left are not a bunch of whiny children. I wouldn’t say they’re angry, I’ve been threatened by Welsh people before and this isn’t like that. FotL are something else. Singer Andy Faulkous is ex-Mclusky, which is irrelevant (much as I liked them). FotL are their own band and are not being carried on the back of “oh, that guy was in Mclusky, we should check them out?”

Future of the Left @ Corporation, Sheffield

Future of the Left @ Corporation, Sheffield

In all honesty, I’m still reeling with disappointment from last years Interpol gig. Sure, I know they’re not the same deal as FotL, but the difference in showmanship was so dramatic. None of that disinterested, wandering, crossing of guitar cables whilst they prettend to look interested in their fret boards. No. The three members of FotL try so bloody hard, which combined with their competency in, seemingly, all areas of the craft results in one of the best shows I’ve seen. Their new album is very solid, consistent stuff and at this Sheffield Corporation show they played stuff from across their two albums. They hardly need to cherry-pick and I’m very glad that the well-thrashed synthesizer is with them.

I had seen a FotL show before at the Kasbah which, although a smaller venue (and thus better), didn’t leave the same impact on me. But now that they are 2 albums deep, they did. One benefit of Corporation was that it provided a number of hecklers whose only frame of reference to the Welsh people seemed to be late-night BBC3 repeats of Gavin & Stacey. Still, the band dealt with the hecklers in much the same way they seem to with anything else. Amusingly, harshly and definitively.

My first gig of the year and I’m very happy. I’ve spent all day at work trying to improve my javascripting with #“Mark Foley was right – there are no ghosts in this town, there is not reason to fear, there are no obstacles here” running through my head so screw you for that, Future of the Left, but please, please come back to Sheffield again.

Watch the music video to ‘The Hope That House Built‘ to get a vague frame of reference. It stars a donkey.

Schwarzenegger presents ‘Abadah’ at the Golden Globes

January 18th, 2010 by Ian

Everyone is talking about Gervais’ speech, but in the UK we’ve all seen his snively character do the same routine million times. Yawn. So here, for your entertainment, is the ever awesome Arnie talking about a film that he can’t pronounce. Rather cruel of whoever is in charge to get him to talk about Avatar, but it’s a routine that I will never tire of.

via Gotcha Media

Parks and Recreation is the Wu-Tang of Comedy

January 13th, 2010 by Ian

If it was anyone else I’d hate this, but for some reason RZA makes a pretty damn convincing Leslie Knope. Yeah, RZA again in non-RZA-like surroundings.

Parks & Rec. is pretty good, by the way. Now it’s entered season 2 and has stopped feeling like a cheap the Office rip off. It’s characters have, what’cha call it? Character.

How to Smack My Bitch Up

January 9th, 2010 by Ian

I don’t believe that The Prodigy’s album The Fat Of The Land is 12 years old. This YouTube shows what samples were used in lead track, Smack My Bitch Up and how to recreate the whole thing.

I was never aware of the Prodigy – Rage Against the Machine link. Hurrah for samples.

Via Fascinated

eBoy Amnesty poster

January 6th, 2010 by Ian

Amnesty International poster by eBoy

A seriously tempting buy, especially as 4 euros per poster goes to those good chaps at Amnesty International. The usual busy scenes you’d expect from eBoy.

Hungry Horace in Sheffield

January 3rd, 2010 by Ian

Everyone with a ZX Spectrum had Horace Goes Skiing. That’s fact, surely? I did. The protagonist, Horace, was in a number of games and should be instantly recognizable to those who spent far too much of their childhoods loading games from tape. For a while now he’s been springing up round Sheffield. I’m going to leave any argument about the rights and wrongs of graffiti aside (primarily because it’s boring) but he tends to pop up in easy to see, yet hard to access places. I snapped him here, behind the famous Roneys butchers.

Horace can be seen sometimes with or without a message

Horace can be seen with a message and sometimes without one

The locals have already discussed his presence here, on the much-used Sheffield Forum. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more occurrences.

Vimeo Top 25 of 2009

January 2nd, 2010 by Ian

Through 2009 Vimeo has played 2nd fiddle to YouTube, but the quality always seems much higher. Here lies a breakdown of their favourite 25 videos.

My favourites include Reulf (which you can see here), where a range of colorful little cuboid creatures take over a black and white Paris, and Born that Way. It has shotguns. Forever’s Not So Long has a great (very original) take on the end of the world.

Vimeo’s 25 favorite videos of 2009

Also: happy new year, as this is my 1st blog of  2010 x