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February 2004 Archive

Eerie and Lovely

posted by DL Byron on February 29, 2004

I had not seen the work of Loretta Lux until I read the NY Times review (subscription) of her new show. We used a similar, but not as lovely, digital technique for one of our net.art pieces. The photos remind me of the Cremaster Cycle, where a whole other world is created across mediums. To me, her work captures the secret worlds children create that are neither here nor there.

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posted by DL Byron on February 27, 2004

I was wondering when art and technology would meet rss feeds and saw reblog today. Their hack is interesting and put into the context of blogging for business, the potential to group feeds to industries and add commentary could attract visitors to your site and prove useful. That’s what we called vertical markets in the dot-com days - a business to business blog. For example, I may want to learn everything I can about patenting an invention and the “invention reblog” shows me all related posts. It differs from a blog search engine because it’s selected by an editor and actually works well. Maybe it’s a blog+wiki with some structure and a friendly user interface.

reBlog also got me thinking about the all-news nature of rss feeds and how art in a feed might be interesting. Say, a haiku feed? Or the one perfect post, like the great Amercian novel, but the one post. Is feed marketing about to happen - the viral feed?

And, on feeds, Apple has quietly been publishing a variety of RSS feeds.

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Flash MX Panic Guide

posted by DL Byron on February 25, 2004

Digital Design World went well and I’ve updated the Flash MX Panic Guide with a few tips. The panic guide is provided for a quick reference and should help if you need to understand how Flash accessibility works.

Up next is SXSW and the i3Forum.

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Digital Design World

posted by DL Byron on February 19, 2004

I’m flying to San Francisco today and speaking tomorrow with Scott Benish at Digital Design World. We’ll discuss Flash MX accessibility and what’s new in Flash MX 2004. The presentation, samples, and panic guide are now available.

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Marco Pantani

posted by DL Byron on February 18, 2004

I was shaken up over the weekend when I read that Pantani, a pro cyclist, had died. When I first started seriously watching cycling and racing locally, he won the Giro and Tour. He was a tragic hero and was buried today.

Here’s a funeral gallery and a report from cyclingnews.

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posted by DL Byron on February 12, 2004

I’ve been invited to attend the i3Forum, an invitation-only gathering of digital artists and photographers. The theme of the forum is Inspiration, Innovation, Influence. Details at i3Forum.com.

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PowerBook in the enterprise

posted by DL Byron on February 09, 2004

Byron asked me to log my experience integrating and using my new 12" PowerBook in a tech enterprise . I'll continue with a post every day (or thereabouts) until I run out of new anecdotes or Byron tells me that I'm boring everyone to death.

This is the first day of the PowerBook era. In spite of using Macs exclusively at home my entire adult life, I haven't worked full-time on a Mac at work since 1993, and I'm very excited about returning to an all-Mac environment.

My colleagues are excited as well--several of them gathered at my desk to see the Mac. These are not Mac users and I'm guessing that most of them have never seen a Macintosh OS live before. I fire it up and show them the Finder and Expose and import some photos into iPhoto. I turn on all the Dock animations and genie effects just to show off the Mac-ness of the UI. The masses are pleased, and I get to work.

Some observations from my first day:
* When it's time to actually do work, I don't know where to start. Having a Mac at my work desk totally disorients me. I simply don't know how to go about doing my daily chores like checking e-mail, reviewing a requirements document, posting a UI demo on our intranet. The Macintosh environment that is so familiar to me at home is totally foreign to my work place. It feels a bit like when I drove a car in England. It takes me a full day to finally settle in. I leave for home with a terrible headache, but my development environment is finally in place.

* I can't go another day without a full keyboard. The PowerBook's keyboard is very usable, but it's not an extended keyboard. It only has 12 function keys, it has no Del key, and there is no number pad. I must have all of those things, so I'm off to CompUSA first thing in the morning.

* This machine absolutely needs more RAM. My model shipped with 256 megs, but I'm going to pop a 512 hunk in the open slot as soon as I can scrape up the $100 or so. The performance is acceptable until I have Entourage, BBEdit, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Mozilla, and a half dozen terminal windows open, which is pretty much all the time.

* I'm driving a 19" Dell monitor for my desktop, with the notebook's screen as an extended display. This is very cool. People can't get over how easy it was to do this out of the box. This arrangement is so productive for me that I'm going to start doing it at home as well.

* I'm not able to use Entourage as an Exchange client because we're not using the required version of Exchange Server. My workaround is to use Remote Desktop to drive my Dell PC and run Outlook. I've moved the Remote Desktop window to the notebook's screen. So I'm all Mac on my big monitor with a little Windows window floating on the PowerBook . I'm going to use the same strategy even when Entourage is working, because it's nice to have my e-mail client always visible, but not in the way of my work.

* Everyone wants to take a look at this thing. All day people are dropping by to see the PowerBook , the Mac OS, talk about Macs, talk about notebooks, or just gawk at someone not using Windows. It's fun and a little surprising. I've told my work friends about my plan to be all Mac, but people I barely know are asking to try out the keyboard or click around the system. I'm just settling in, so I'm happy to answer all their questions and give all the demos they want. One engineer promises to buy one for himself after I've used mine for a few weeks. He says he wants me to "smooth out the edges" before he takes the leap. I hope he does.

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More than shilling product

posted by DL Byron on February 07, 2004

Thinking of Blogging for Business, I recalled that I had a personal site for years that became a blog when I started using MovableType instead of Homesite or BBEdit, posting almost daily, adding comments and archiving, and feeds.

I know many of my peers did the same thing and there are still a few that are not actually using blogging software (Zeldman for one).

I’ve explained to a few clients to think of a business blog as that email newsletter you send out every month, but with a personality, more immediacy, and client interaction. Most of them still think blogging is someone posting about their pets, but that’s certainly changing.

One of my business blogs got attention because we just talked to our customers about what we were doing, much like Macromedia does and now Microsoft. And our entire marketing budget is blogging and Google adwords (small business). We see little direct sales from the blog but do see brand recognition and that’s what our goal was – we spent little and got a big return.

Interestingly, I read a "don’t believe the hype" article in the New York Times and heard a story on NPR about Howard Dean. The conclusion of of the two pieces is that the web (blogging and community) brought Howard Dean up and traditional media brought him down.

We’re on another media convergence of the old and new and I’m not sure where it’s going, but it’s definitely more than just people loving their pets, shilling product, politics, instant pundits, or wardrobe malfunctions.

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Flash MX Presentation

posted by DL Byron on February 03, 2004

Stephen Hawking and Me: Flash MX Accessibility has been published. Thanks to Jeffrey Zeldman, Doug Manis, Bob Regan and Nick Finck for the peer review. Scott Benish and I will be presentin’ and representin’ it at Digital Design World later this month.

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size 4?

posted by DL Byron on February 02, 2004

I knew some of the cheaper american clothiers were sizing their clothes big to make us feel smaller. But I didn’t realize everyone was doing it until I tried on suitpants at Nordstrom yesterday. What’s the incentive for our nation to slim down when the manufacturers play to our vanity and customer demographics?

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An aging population needs accessible technology

posted by DL Byron on February 02, 2004

New research from Microsoft and Forrester finds that “Millions of Aging Baby Boomers Can Benefit from Accessible Technology.” As the workforce ages, the need for accessible technology grows. The research shows that the target audience for accessibility is much larger than expected. Baby Boomer’s can experience mild-to-severe physical and cognitive difficulties and impairments. Building accessibility into your sites can make it possibly for even more people to get their work done by accommodating their personal needs and preferences.

We had just finished the draft of our Flash MX presentation when I saw this press release. I’ve added a "Baby Boomer" bullet to the updated slides (live later this week). I hadn’t really thought about the needs of Baby Boomers, even though my dad has his computer set to 16 bit color, 800 x 600 resolution, and mondo fonts. That’s 57% of the population and it’s only going to grow. Besides resizable fonts and other techniques, one thing to consider is the complexity of the site. Is it easy for a Baby Boomer to purchase your product or read your blog? Or is it hidden behind a complicated design?

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One up

posted by DL Byron on February 02, 2004

Apparently the way to one-up Madonna kissing Britney is to expose a breast with studded, pierced nipple jewelry.

I eventually just tuned out after watching the show to see the commercials and have something cultural to talk to my designer friends about. Pam and I thought it’d be a good time to shop and apparently thousands of other couples thought the same thing. The stores were packed with people who were not watching. Interestingly, the TV section was not crowded with people watching it either. I haven’t seen the ratings, but from my informal poll, many tuned out as well.

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