New Office 2007 suite

Interesting video presentation of the upcoming Microsoft Office 2007 suite.

At one point in this video Mr. Jensen Harris, Lead Program Manager of the Office User Experience Team seriously poses the question “Why not redesign the software around the results users want to achieve.”

Redesign the software around the results users want to achieve. Pause & relax while this sinks in.

Again: redesign the software around the results users want to achieve.

So what was the software designed for in the past? Obfuscation? Disorientation? Maybe it was designed around how the software wanted to be used?

One cannot but admire the marketing & sales strategies of Microsoft.

Webdesign: tips & tricks 1

Never base your design on a single photograph (or illustration) provided by your client.

Insist your client provides a series of at least 10 photographs (or illustrations) which are actually going to be used in the website. There can be an enormous difference between the material a client provides during the kick-off meetings and the material which will actually be used on the website.

Of course I’m talking about  websites with a CMS system, where your client can manage the content, including pictures, by himself. An online catalogue, e.g.

Typeface poster

One of the problems I often encounter when working on a design which encorporates type is the problem of actually selecting a suitable typeface.

Sure, I have a general idea of what I’m going to use in any particular piece, that’s not the issue. The problem pops up when I want to try something different, something new. Selecting a typeface I’ve never used before, usually involves wading through several sites of typevendors, flipping through a very thick typecatalogue or some other tedious, time-consuming activity.

In the end I become bored with this useless search & fall back on my favourite 12 typefaces.
So one day last week, this idea pops into my head of making a poster of the typefaces I like best and hanging it in my office. This way I could just glance up from my computer screen, look for something I like, walk closer to the poster (this solves the “stretching-the-legs-every-now-and-then” issue too) and select something appropriate for the job at hand.
Of course this won’t solve my problem with any newly available fonts, but it’ll hopefully inspire me to select some new typefaces for use in my work.

Anyway I drew a sketch up of how to organise the different typefaces on the poster. I was not planning to put them in alphabetical order, thank you very much. Just take a look at the sketch.

Typeface poster.

The 12 typefaces I like best go in at the center, the rest I’ll have to catagorise in work/play and simple/complex. Nice & simple. No complex catagorisation in serif/script/sans serif/etc.

What do you think? How do you select a typeface from your collection?

Basic rules of typography

Just look & see what pops up when you feed the above sentence to a searchengine. This one I like, in fact I like it so much I’m going to print & hang them at the office. A true gem:

  • Rule No. 1- DO NOT use all the fonts in one document.
  • Rule No. 2- Serif type is easier to the eyes than sans serif.
  • Rule No. 3- Putting two spaces after a period is a no-no.
  • Rule No. 4- DO NOT use all capital letters.
  • Rule No. 5- DO NOT center large quantities of text.

Brilliant! I like it when life is simple.

Motion 2: fiddling with particles & paths

Following the Motion path tutorials in Motion 2 by Dave Nagel over at CreativeMac.com, I started fiddling around with the concept of placing a particle emitter on a motionpath, and making the particles follow the path.

I’ve been thinking about this concept for a bit now, as I need some visuals for the website for a client who suggest motion, complexity, direction, connection and depth. Our client specializes in very specific hosting services and network solutions. A good idea, all in all, I think to push the visuals in the afore mentioned direction.

Anyway, as I was fiddling around in Motion 2, I stumbled across the Drift Attractor behavior, which solved my problem pronto. It’s really easy: just draw a shape, select Make Particles from the Object menu, drop on a Motion Path from the Basic Motion Library (change the shape of the Path as needed, from the Simulations Library drag & drop the Drift Attractor Behavior & pronto: your particles are attracted to the Motion Path.

Hmmm, maybe I’ll have to re-write this in a decent tutorial. Maybe.

Below is one frame of the result and you can download the file here: Apple Motion 2 file. (Right click on the link and choose “Save Link as…”. Mind you: you’ll need Motion 2 to open this.)

Drift Attractor Test in Apple Motion 2.

Learning Motion 2

I received my copy of Apple Motion 2 a couple of weeks ago. I was fortunate enough to find one of the last remaining standalone versions of the application with a local Apple reseller.

I don’t think it’s a very good move by Apple to make Motion exclusively available as a part of the Final Cut Studio. Sure if you want / need the full suite you get good value for money. If your only interested in Motion or another single part of suite… you’ll be paying through the nose.

Anyway, as I’m just starting out with Motion I was looking around for some tutorials on the web. There’s a fantastic set of tutorials included with the application, but there’s more interesting, experimental stuff to be found elsewhere. Here’s a small list:
Creative Mac has a great set of Motion tutorials.

There’s some more over at Digitalmedianet.com by the same author (Dave Nagel).

I’m going to start with these… see where I end up. I’ll be posting my experiments right here.

More Later.

Type experimentation

Stumbled across this very interesting series of typographical experiments involving particle systems and the overall shape of letters. Fascinating stuff.Ricard Marxer Piñón, the guy who runs the site & the experiments describes it as “Crafting new computational calligraphies.” His personal site (www.ricardmarxer.com) seems quite interesting aswell. I wish i could read Spanish.

Some of the works remind me of the Nodebox Letterknitter

Netlash typographical experiment

OS X DVD Player screenshot

A quick and dirty way to make a screenshot of a DVD playing in DVD Player. Remember: when DVD Player is open, you can’t capture the screen with Grab. Command-Shift-3 and Command-Shift-4 both do not work when DVD Player is open. So:

  1. Put your DVD in your computer and open DVD Player (Applications -> DVD Player) if it does not open automatically. Fast forward to the frame you want to capture, or select the scene to start at. Pause.
  2. Open the Terminal (Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal). Type this, or copy / paste it right in the Terminal:

    screencapture -i ~/Desktop/example.png

  3. Your mouse should turn into crosshairs. Now hit the space bar. Your mouse should now be a camera. Click the window the DVD is playing in. A file called “example.png” will appear on your desktop.

I guess this only works when you’re watching a DVD in windowed mode. But it’s better than nothing.