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Helvetica the Movie Encore Showing in Portland


If you missed the first showing of Helvetica in Portland a few months back, this is your chance to set things right. The documentary has been touring for awhile now and has sold out across the country to mobs of designers, typophiles, and anyone else who can appreciate a classic font that is seen everywhere but seldom noticed.

I highly recommend seeing this film, either at the Hollywood Theater in August, or in a couple of months when the DVD is released.

Tickets for an encore showing, presented by the director Gary Hustwit, are on sale now through the film's website:

Portland Screening
Q&A with director Gary Hustwit
Saturday, 8/4/07, 7pm

Hollywood Theater
4122 NE Sandy Blvd
Portland, OR

I got my Nabaztagtag

tags lightTonight the UPS delivery man dropped off two Nabaztagtag wifi-enabled smart rabbits and an extra set of ears! Ever since I read Aral's post on his, I have been waiting for my order to arrive. If you haven't heard of these amazing devices, I highly suggest you check out their website to see all the cool features this little device can handle. Basically, the Nabaztagtag can play internet radio, send and receive messages to other 'tags, complete voice activated commands, tell you the weather, act as your alarm clock, and a whole world of other internet-enabled services.

I've only had a few hours to play with my new rabbit, but I have to say, this thing is at one of the highest levels of usability I have seen in awhile. The developers (Violet, out of France) went to great lengths to make sure the thing just works. Their website is extremely easy to use, and setup was a breeze once I found a small note with a bug fix for those with Apple's Airport wireless routers.

tags darkThe best use I have found, however, is why I purchased two of the devices: you can "marry" two 'tags and then whenever you move the ears on one device, the ears will move in the exact same position on the second device. So the rabbit in the photos with the pink ears is for my girlfriend who is moving out of town this week. I thought the rabbits might be a cool way to keep in touch over the long distance, and "marrying" and sending messages between the two rabbits will allow for just that.

One other quick thing I should note is that there is a very large developer community surrounding these 'tags. There is a public API that is fairly well documented, and developers have made a ton of cool services available including NabAIR, an Adobe AIR application that allows you to control your (or someone else's) 'tag through a simple desktop application.

Kuler Panel for Flash CS3

kuler Panel for Flash CS3Ben Pritchard of the Pittsburgh Flash Users Group recently posted a cool add-in: Kuler Panel for Flash CS3. The extension adds a new panel to Flash which interfaces with Adobe's Kuler, allowing you to browse the color combinations from within Flash CS3. The best part, though, is that selecting a color scheme creates a layer with that scheme's name and then puts that scheme's swatches on the new layer. This makes using the schemes trivial, and is a great addition to the tool.

For more information, check out Ben's post on the panel, or download it here.

[Updated to reflect updated version of the panel, released June 7th, 2007]

Laser Engraving My MacBook Pro

Yesterday I got my 17" MacBook Pro laser engraved, and I'm extremely excited about the results:

Engraving Finished

Overall the process is actually fairly simple - the artwork gets loaded into CorelDraw (oh how we were missing Illustrator) and then you print the design just like any other document. The printer driver allows you to select the settings for the laser engraver such as power, resolution, and dithering modes. After a test run on paper to ensure everything was lined up properly, we etched directly onto the laptop.

Engraving Close-Up

The hardest part was picking out and customizing the artwork. It is permanent, and as such the task of choosing artwork made me feel like I was getting a tattoo. Because I earn my living as a Flash Developer and I spend much of my day working on my laptop, the design had to be something I was sure would stand the test of time. For that reason I decided to choose something that had a retro feel, but also a bit organic and edgy. I think that was accomplished with this design, and once the process was finished I felt I had chosen correctly.

Engraving Close-Up 2

A big thanks to Joe at Engrave here in Portland, Oregon for spending a few hours helping me get everything perfect. Joe posted a few photos we took (including the two above) to his Flickr account last night, and the design is already getting some great feedback.

Update: Here's a short video I shot with my small Canon Powershot last night of the laser in action:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.jonnymac.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/05/engraving_video.swf" height="340" width="400" /]

Update 2: Looks like someone posted this to Digg! Also, I've gotten a few emails asking about the artwork. It is an illustration I found on iStockPhoto, which I then put a few hours into customizing. So yes, it is unique, but you can find a similar illustration on iStockPhoto.

“Did You Know” Presentation Sequel at XPLANE

At XPLANE one of the projects we're currently working on is a new version of the popular "Did You Know" video from Karl Fisch (read Karl's post on the upcoming sequel) and Scott McLeod (...and Scott's post on the sequel). If you haven't heard about this video, the gist is that it provides you with some extremely provoking thoughts on the world economy, education, and general globalization. The original has been viewed over 2 million times on various video postings around the web, including YouTube.

We're taking what was a PowerPoint presentation (turned video), updating the content with new stats and thoughts as provided by Karl and Scott with some consulting help from us, and then redoing the graphics/design. Instead of limiting ourselves with PowerPoint we're designing in Illustrator, animating in Flash, then exporting to QuickTime. That said, I'm excited to have a project that will allow me to try out several parts of the new CS3 workflow so quickly.

I believe the original video has been accepted to a film festival in Telluride, Colorado, and the organizers will be taking a look at the new one once completed and possibly presenting it. So keep your eyes peeled to Karl and Scott's blog, YouTube, and of course here for more information as we wrap up this sequel.

This is an exciting project, and I'm glad to be a part of it!

Review: Taschen Web Design Books

Taschen Web Design Books

For the past few months I have had several of Taschen's Web Design series books sitting next to my desk. I often spend a few minutes flipping through one of them when I need to take a break from coding, and I always get inspired.

These small-format books offer what they promise: screen grabs of (usually) well designed and well thought out sites. And at less than $10 a piece, it's pretty easy to build up a collection.

What I enjoy the most is that there is very little discussion on the sites. Every book starts with one or two case studies, but after that you get just a screenshot, tools used, budget (hours and/or money) and people involved. It allows me to form my own opinions on the site, and the ones I am interested in I'll go check out online.

Pick one up if you get a chance. If you are in Portland, Oregon, Powell's in the Pearl District has the whole collection on the floor with the art and design books.

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