Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Toy, New Project


All of a sudden I'm finding myself working on a project that involves writing code for the iPhone / iPod Touch, thanks to meeting some experienced game artist friends of my girlfriend Tricia. On Friday I'm attending the Apple Iphone Tech Talk in Los Angeles. It's all a bit daunting -- not only have I not built a standalone GUI application before, I've not used Objective C, which is a highly peculiar variant of C. Haven't touched C in over a decade. Whoosh! Luckily there are two other coders involved who can (I hope) digest this stuff faster than I can.

In order to try out apps first hand, I just got an iPod Touch, which is quite a step beyond my venerable 3rd gen iPod. For one thing it has a beautiful color multi-touch screen. It can play back video. It has Wi-Fi. It has an App Store for getting new apps and games. And you can build your own apps if you own (or borrow) a Mac.

So far I'm impressed. There are some glitches, like album artwork not showing, but this is one sexy futuristic device. Makes my 3 year-old Sony PSP feel old, even though it too has a big colorful screen, and many of the same features just not so elegantly executed.

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posted by Brian at 7:17 PM 0 comments links to this post

Friday, August 15, 2008

Jim Henson's "Time Piece" Now on iTunes!

Fantastic! Jim Henson's groovy 1965 Oscar-nominated short film Time Piece is now available on iTunes (for $2). Looks fantastic too, remastered and cleaned up.

Buy it here.

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posted by Brian at 12:13 PM 0 comments links to this post

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tablet Mac Now Available!


Are you an illustrator, photographer, animator, or DJ? This might be the Macbook for you. No, it's not sold by Apple, but it's licensed by them and is essentially a Macbook Pro made of stronger magnesium vs. aluminum, merged with a very strong 13" glass screen covering a Wacom® tablet. Unlike the Macbook Air, it has your choice of CDROM or Superdrive, and unlike the Wacom® Cintiq line of portable tablet screens, you don't need a Macbook or Mac Mini standing by with a cable.

Of course you writers and accountants can hook up keyboards to its USB port if you really want.

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posted by Brian at 11:30 PM 1 comments links to this post

Sunday, August 05, 2007

T.I. Super-genius Life updates

After a few weeks of interviews, I am now working for a comparison shopping site with a name sounding like Godzilla. Great bunch of people on my team into LEGO®, figurines, and 80's music. I will be learning a lot about the architecture of huge websites, quite different from the tiny intranets and simple load-balanced CGI sites I've worked on before. And we'll be doing agile development, a buzzword meaning that we do frequent software releases for incremental and sometimes major improvements, rather than every 6 months or whatever.

The plan will be to get settled into the job and then move closer, away from my noisy apartment. (It's next to a condo in-progress, and an alley frequented by inebriated punk rockers, skateboarders, homeless people, and speeding vehicles using it as a shortcut.) I do like Hollywood, but I'm afraid the taggers and swirling police helicopters get old after a while.

One perk of the job -- I get to have a Macbook Pro! Most of our team is Mac-centric. I love it so far! If you know of any Mac-ish tools or games I should have, leave a comment.

Meanwhile, little Charlotte and her parents are in town this week!

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

If George Bush were Steve Jobs...

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Apple Stores Succeed despite Predictions of Doom

Nice blog entry about an article about the surprise success of Apple stores.

From Signal vs. Noise:
The critics were way off…

“Sorry Steve, Here’s Why Apple Stores Won’t Work,” BusinessWeek wrote with great certainty in 2001. “It’s desperation time in Cupertino, Calif.,” opined TheStreet.com. “I give [Apple] two years before they’re turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake,” predicted retail consultant David Goldstein…

Saks, whose flagship is down the street, generates sales of $362 per square foot a year. Best Buy (Charts) stores turn $930 – tops for electronics retailers – while Tiffany & Co. (Charts) takes in $2,666. Audrey Hepburn liked Tiffany’s for breakfast. But at $4,032, Apple is eating everyone’s lunch.

The stores were prototyped like a product…

“One of the best pieces of advice Mickey ever gave us was to go rent a warehouse and build a prototype of a store, and not, you know, just design it, go build 20 of them, then discover it didn’t work,” says Jobs. In other words, design it as you would a product. Apple Store Version 0.0 took shape in a warehouse near the Apple campus. “Ron and I had a store all designed,” says Jobs, when they were stopped by an insight: The computer was evolving from a simple productivity tool to a “hub” for video, photography, music, information, and so forth. The sale, then, was less about the machine than what you could do with it. But looking at their store, they winced. The hardware was laid out by product category – in other words, by how the company was organized internally, not by how a customer might actually want to buy things. “We were like, ‘Oh, God, we’re screwed!’” says Jobs.

But they weren’t screwed; they were in a mockup. “So we redesigned it,” he says. “And it cost us, I don’t know, six, nine months. But it was the right decision by a million miles.” When the first store finally opened, in Tysons Corner, Va., only a quarter of it was about product. The rest was arranged around interests: along the right wall, photos, videos, kids; on the left, problems. A third area – the Genius Bar in the back – was Johnson’s brainstorm.

Hotel concierges were the inspiration for the genius bar…

“When we launched retail, I got this group together, people from a variety of walks of life,” says Johnson. “As an icebreaker, we said, ‘Tell us about the best service experience you’ve ever had.’” Of the 18 people, 16 said it was in a hotel. This was unexpected. But of course: The concierge desk at a hotel isn’t selling anything; it’s there to help. “We said, ‘Well, how do we create a store that has the friendliness of a Four Seasons Hotel?’” The answer: “Let’s put a bar in our stores. But instead of dispensing alcohol, we dispense advice.”...”See that? Look at their eyes. They’re learning. There’s an intense moment – like when you see a kid in school going ‘Aha!’”

The stores fight clutter in products and elements…

The most striking thing, though, is what you don’t see. No. 1: clutter. Jobs has focused Apple’s resources on fewer than 20 products, and those have steadily been shrinking in size. Backroom inventory, then, can shrink in physical volume even as sales volume grows. Also missing, at the newest stores, anyway, is a checkout counter. The system Apple developed, EasyPay, lets salespeople wander the floor with wireless credit-card readers and ask, “Would you like to pay for that?”

The interiors, too, have been distilled to a minimum of elements. “We’ve gotten it down so there’s only three materials we’re using: glass, stainless steel, and wood,” says Johnson. “We spent a year and a half perfecting that steel. Stainless steel can be cold if you don’t get the finish right.

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posted by Brian at 2:53 PM 0 comments links to this post