Clouds on a cold afternoon

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

I had to go outside to go get something my mother left in her car this afternoon. The clouds were interesting so I ran inside and grabbed my phone and shot these. No edits, just used a camera app called “Manual”.

I take back what I said about the cold weather. Now that it’s here, I can’t wait until it starts snowing! I forgot how annoying the cold weather is by itself. Brr!

Clouds 1 Clouds 2

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Why I’m not paying $1.99 for Monument Valley’s new chapters

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

There are some games I have no problem playing through again and again… World of Goo, Chip’s Challenge, Sonic the Hedgehog (yes, all of them), and FEZ just to name a few…

Monument Valley is not one of them.

It’s a beautiful game – It has stunning graphics, a great soundtrack, and the characters will always be recognized as being from it. There are a lot of good games that miss at least one of those aspects which is done so well here.

But the gameplay is so straightforward. You play it in its entirely one time, and you’ve mastered it. I’ve played it four times so far (and bought it for Android AND iOS), so I know!

I don’t have a problem paying six dollars for anything on the App Store, the stuff I have on my iPad Mini cost more than the actual iPad itself even. But developers need to understand that if the gameplay on a four dollar game only lasts you two hours, then people aren’t going to want to give you more money later on. And there were many, many, many reviews left with the original chapters that all stated this concern which were then blatantly ignored with this latest update. To make it worse, they are charging two dollars, not one, but TWO!

There’s a lot of talk going on right now on how consumers don’t understand the real costs of developing a game like this, but while that is justifiable in most cases, people are ignoring the real problem people have in this instance.

Monument Valley is amazing the first time you play through it, but because there is only one way to complete the levels, it’s not something you can pick up and rediscover again and again without it losing its magic. That is the main problem here, and the people who are using the same old excuses blaming consumers need to get on the same page.

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Dear Adobe, do you even KNOW your education market?

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

People are excited about Photoshop coming to Chrome OS, but I just feel that it’s a bad move.

And before I continue, I can assure you that it has nothing to do with me not using the Adobe suite anymore, or having a use for a Chromebook, instead it’s mainly because of my experiences of using Adobe stuff in the classroom.

If you learnt how to use Photoshop fifteen plus years ago like I did, you pretty much know how to use the Photoshop of today. You learn certain workflows, you learn to automate stuff, and sometimes you can get away with a trackpad, other times you need a mouse, and a Wacom tablet ends up being a great tool to manipulate stuff with.

Coming from an environment where I had to constantly help people do certain things in the program, I feel that this is a bad move for the education crowd. It is important that they get proficient at using the software, and all a gimped version of Photoshop is going to do is cause confusion and frustration.

You do not go to college for graphic design, photography, or whatever with a $199 laptop. You’re just asking yourself to spend loads and loads of long weekends and extra lab time doing your coursework on school machines. If Adobe caches the stuff on the hard drive and takes advantage of the RAM, I have no doubt that the Chromebooks will make a nice casual editor, but as a student you’re not doing yourself any good in the long run.

We shouldn’t let hatred of an OS (in this case Windows) prevent us from doing the work we need to do on our computers. People need to stop pinching pennies and invest into hardware that is 100% relevant to their needs.

Don’t help a company who thinks that changing the clothes of their products is going to make them more useful. They don’t have your customers to begin with, nor will your existing customers bother with switching over. Photoshop is just ONE program out of many in a lot of people’s workflow.

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Happy first day of Fall!

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

I took this one while walking around Sunday morning. We were coming back from the park and this leaf on the sidewalk caught my attention. This is my first time shooting in lossy TIFF mode on the iPhone. I was also using manual mode and shot it at 1/289th of a second. Love it, even if it means my photos end up being 30MB a piece.


Did some filtering afterwards with Intensify Pro on the Mac. I used a preset called “Focus” and tweaked the saturation and vignette.

leaves intensify pro

I can’t wait until it gets colder!

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And so I went Pro

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Well, I said I was going to wait a couple of months, but it was more like two weeks. I did the yearly subscription instead of buying it outright. One of the downsides of using a Mac is that things tend to break between OS releases, and Autodesk doesn’t make updates to address problems, they just want you to buy it again. This way I get three years of releases for around the same price.

So far I really like it. I’ve already played a little bit with Flipbook. Coming from Adobe Flash Professional and Toon Boom Studio, it feels a bit weird though. You set it up, and you can’t change anything afterwards, so if you put 24 frames per second, you’re going to do it exactly like that. I don’t like how you have to add a frame and then a keyframe either, nor the fact that if you duplicate one and try to move it, it’ll just leave a blank space. It really makes sense to have storyboards before you even bother with it, and even more sense to do scenes in different files.

And in all seriousness, if I had been in a class this semester, I’d probably only use it for the animatic. It’s the dream toolset for anyone that wants to do frame by frame drawing animations, but you only get three layers to do all your work in. If you wanted to toy around with ideas, you have no way to do so without messing with your main stuff. So I hope that if they do anything to expand Flipbook, it’s that they give us the ability to add more layers.

Next would be the ability to export it to .mov, but that is something that needs to be last on their list as being able to change our frame rate and better rearranging of frames is more important. It defeats the purpose when I’m having to go into Toon Boom to rearrange everything.

I’m also learning Sculptris after someone mentioned it in the message boards the other day. I feel like I’m going to get better and better if I spend enough time playing with it.

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Breaking in my Wacom Intuos

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

I bought the Wacom Intuos Pen & Touch earlier in the year. I planned to use it for my 2D Animation I final, but it didn’t match up with the drawings I was doing with the mouse. So I put it aside. Recently my keyboard on my MacBook Pro stopped working, so instead of giving into a Chromebook, I just bought a Mini DisplayPort adapter and keyboard to hook up to my Vizio TV that I never use.

Originally I was using the old Mighty Mouse I have lying around, but it fell apart and so the Intuos ended up replacing it. It’s nice because I can go between using it as my trackpad, and then when I need to use the pen, I can do so with ease. I’m really happy with the setup overall, and so glad that I might get another year or two before I have to fork over a couple thousand for a new Mac.

Right now I’m playing with the new Autodesk Sketchbook. It’s kind of frustrating because in the past I’ve used Sketchbook Designer (They used to give it to you with Autodesk Student, but they got rid of it in the last couple of years.), Sketchbook Pro on my iPhone, Kindle Fire, and now my iPad Mini, and now I have to get used to the limitations of this basic version. I’m considering upgrading to Pro, and the animation tools in this version are very appealing, but I’m going to give it a few months.

I drew this yesterday, and have been coloring it all this morning. It was fun.

Self Portrait

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Dear journalists, you are not the consumer

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

It’s very easy to say that the App Store needs changes, but it’s harder to come up the actual problems. I think most of what has been said on the internet for the last few days is dead on wrong.

The last thing someone wants to look at after buying a $199 on contract phone is a huge page of editorial picks that prompt them to ask for more money. If you’re like me, you probably do most of your “shopping around” in the charts, looking through each category. I also use the “What’s New?” section and whatever nice curated sections they come out with, but a lot of people don’t like doing that second part.

You have to remember that consumers are force fed the majority of content they consume, and they have been lead to believe that charts are important, and so are numbers. Most are ignorant, and we can’t do anything about that. A lot of people won’t give something a chance until someone with better authority says to do so, and it has always been this way. Only recently did I buy a song last year that is starting to get lots of radio airplay now. I also got mocked by my brother and mother for liking a song by Imagine Dragons, who are now “huge fans”.

A lot of developers seem to think that Apple needs to appreciate their work more too, which I don’t agree with. If you want the spotlight, you have to have the same quality the bigger names apps do. You also have to be something more than a few thousand people would want. Vesper and Overcast are not popular just because of the names behind them, they’re popular because of their quality and ease of use.

Just only the other day did I see a developer promoting a picture based shopping list app that cut off every single word after like five characters. It looked great, but the execution was poor. There’s a lot of others out there who have been making apps for years, but have not made something that people can stand behind. Unread came to the RSS scene not only pretty late, but it’s trying to change how we use RSS feeds, by actually getting us to open them and read. CNN’s RSS feeds don’t work at all in Reeder, and some other sites are a nightmare to read through in that app, but I at least like that I can get headlines, mark as read, and move on. On the articles it does work on, it’s a pleasant experience, and there are things like turning on grayscale for images that I absolutely love.

It’s really hard to get people onboard with RSS feeds too. My dad loves StockTouch and Yahoo Weather, but he didn’t appreciate Flipboard. Heck, he even refuses to install Yahoo Mail and Gmail and uses Safari to access them. We’re talking about a guy who has a server and two computers in his office!

And what most of the people who are coming up with ideas to change the space forget is that a lot of these consumers are children and teenagers who won’t and can’t pay for the majority of paid apps.

There isn’t an App Store problem, there’s a consumer problem, and it’s really hard for us as individuals to deal with because they don’t want to listen to a minority of people who understand that free-to-play games are a bad thing. Regulations are a bad thing, but it’s the only way to fight companies who are willing to take advantage of the clueless.

Harsh, but there you go.

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Lewisville Lake – July 2014

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

I checked out this app called Lenka yesterday. It’s so niche, but I love it. You can argue all you want about digital black and white, but then why do they still have black and white film when we have color? (By the way, I know it’s easier to develop) Anyway, it was fun!

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RE: Death of Comics

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

I saw this post from a GoComics sponsored blog in Reeder the other day and found it utterly ridiculous.

The New York Post obviously hasn’t cared about comics in a few years. I don’t blame them. Garfield is pretty stale nowadays (the comic book series is amazingly great though), and FoxTrot moved to Sundays many years ago. You can’t keep throwing money at syndicates, and you can’t risk it on newer strips. You don’t have parents bringing home the huge Sunday paper home every weekend like mine used to do, so you don’t have five year olds coming across that treasure of a section either.

And even if you did, the comics these days are just too complex, and maybe a little obscene. They’re political, very true to life, and have big vocabulary. Of course there have always been comics that have been written for older audiences, but it’s now more common than ever.

Years and years ago I posted a note to one of my favorites. The Dallas Morning News had stopped carrying their strip for whatever reason. It surprised them because they had no idea they were even in our newspaper to begin with. There is so much disconnection between newspapers, publishers, and cartoonists in general that it doesn’t surprise me that the New York Post incident wasn’t on the radar until weeks later.

I’ve been reading Garfield online since 1997, and am very happy to now have all of my favorites easily accessible from my iPad. And it’s easier than ever now to jump into a new (to me) series, read past strips, and enjoy tomorrow’s. For me, as someone growing up reading comics, this is HUGE, and I wish everyone would see it this way instead of panicking that nobody reads newspapers anymore.

The audience who wants to read your work has been here all along, now you just need to figure out a way to continue bringing in profit from us. I honestly wouldn’t mind better eBooks that aren’t just straight copies of the printed version for instance. I have bought the majority of the Garfield books outside of the regular strips too. I know that doesn’t work with comics based on one huge storyline, but it would work for some. I’d probably buy a few games too as long as they’re good (and you’d probably reach new audiences through a medium like that).

Think outside the three panel for once!

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Austin, Texas – May 2014

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

The last time I went to the capital was around 2004. I still have my negatives from my Canon T70 that I’ll have to scan in someday. It used to be much easier to see from the freeway, but not so much now that there continues to be more and more buildings built around it.

This time around I focused on the actual building. There are lots and lots of portraits, charts, and statues that are interesting from a knowledge point-of-view, but don’t make great photography.

View from the Capital

View from the Capital – A picture I took of the capital, with an overlay of the view out a window on one of the floors.

Here is the capital in its original shot:

View from the Capital 2

These two shots are from the same trip. I edited them with an app called “Living Planet”. I didn’t think they were interesting shots on their own, but they’re pretty fun when warped like this.

The weird line in the middle is a small price to pay when you’re dealing with editing on mobile.

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