Adobe Edge demo - first impressions...

Had a play with Edge over lunch - just a simple keyframe animation (which is all it can really do). First impressions:

  • fairly easy to use if not a little cumbersome – adding keyframes/tweens is a little on the convoluted side
  • no ability to add interaction
  • no scripting ability
  • as you'd expect it outputs a lot of files (.js, .css, .html, image files) - in the very simple animation I did the weight of these files was about 250kb. That's about 240kb more than doing the same in Flash. Flash would only be one file (maybe two if you use swfobject.js to embed).

Final verdict – good but I hope for a lot more features in the final release of the software. However – I still can't see how HTML5 will ever take over from Flash for high quality, interactive, rich media delivered via a browser.

Facebook gets in your face - why are people upset about Facebook's facial recognition?

I'm a little bit confused as to why so many people are up in arms about Facebook's new facial recognition tool.

I guess it is kind of scary when you consider the huge amount of personal data that Facebook has accumulated on over 600 million individuals (and in many cases their pets as well) over the time it has been active. But isn't that kind of the point? We all sign up to social networking sites fully in the knowledge that our personal information is going to be in the public domain. And then we moan when it is.

However we set our privacy settings Facebook will still have all the information that we choose to put on the site stored somewhere on their servers. And also information about us we don't upload ourselves - images our friends have uploaded and tagged, links to things we "might like" posted on our walls by others, places our friends have checked us in to and a wealth of other data. Whether or not we choose to share this information with family, friends, friends of friends or everyone, Facebook still has it all – everything about us.

I agree that Facebook should really have allowed people to opt in to the facial recognition tool but I can't see what difference it makes that they didn't. Your face is on display every time you walk down the street sans paper bag. Most people seem happy for their friends to tag them in photos so why aren't they happy for Facebook to suggest to these friends that you are tagged? Even if you turn the technology off in your settings, Facebook still has the capability of being able to scan their enormous collection of uploaded images for your face should they, for any reason, decide to do it against your will. Facebook's photograph collection is expanding at about 1000 pictures per second… Odds are there are pictures of you on Facebook that you don't even know where taken. Possible in the background of someone else's holiday snaps or maybe snowboarding past a posing couple on a mountain piste in Canada.

I think what people are really objecting to is the realisation that technology can now pick their face out from a crowd - and they've unwittingly submitted hundreds of photos to the system that can do it. Suddenly the anonymity that the internet used to provide is gone. You can no longer hide behind the barrage of your flame–war or lurk in the dark corners of a forum. Over the past few years Facebook has slowly integrated into everything you do online… Console games ask you for your Facebook credentials so you can automatically post status updates on the levels you have completed. Other social sites ask you to link your Facebook account to them (Habbo Hotel for instance) and PC World's news site, only yesterday asked me to log in using my Facebook details so I could post something pretty much the same as this post – I refused which is why I am posting it here. Apparently even adult sites allow you to 'like' the things they specialise in – I can't think why anyone would be happy to post that sort of information about themselves on Facebook but the option is there.

In other words Facebook has managed, since it's launch in 2004, to sneakily infringe on our lives, bit by bit, and now boasts an gigantic database of pretty much every thing we do, everyone we know and all of the things we like. How powerful could that information be in the wrong hands? But I think the hardest point for everyone to accept is that we have all created this database ourselves!

The Big Switch - PC to Mac - Part 1

I've always been a bit of a hybrid computer user. By that I mean I am pretty much at home on both Windows and Macintosh platforms. Two years ago I made a vow never to purchase PC hardware again based on the effort it involves in installing / upgrading / configuring / etc anything to do with a PC. However - I continued to predominantly use Windows (Vista / 7) for a number of reasons - to list a few:

  • Most of my work is viewed by people using the Windows operating system seeing as this is by far the most popular OS - it made sense to text and view websites on the PC
  • All my software licenses (Adobe Production Premium, Adobe Web Premium, etc) are for the PC platform
  • In the past I used to do a lot of multimedia work utilising Director and often making Director talk to the system or peripheral devices - these sort of antics are so much more versatile within Windows

Recently I have done less and less Director-based work. I was also getting more and more frustrated with Windows Vista and Windows 7 (which, in my opinion, is as bad as Vista for crashing and silly glitches). I was spending most my days fighting with the Windows OS, trying to get it to do the simple things I wanted it to do. Things like opening a program form the ridiculously named 'Start' menu - for some reason most programs would not run by clicking on them. I had to physically locate the .exe file the shortcut pointed to and open it from there. Why this happened I don't know. I had also lost the will to find out. Copying files was also ridiculous - it would sometimes take literally hours to copy just a few hundred megabytes. Other times Windows would cite me 'days' as the estimated time.

The final straw however was when the fully licensed and legit version of Windows 7 I ran on my MacBook using Bootcamp suddenly started to tell me it was not valid. All day, every day I was constantly reminded of this erroneous fact via a popup at the bottom right of the screen. My attempts to call Microsoft and resolve the issue resulted in being competely unable to contact anyone at Mircosoft. At all. I would constantly get referred back to my vendor or to a 'buy a new licence of Windows 7 now' webpage. My choices were a) pay another £150-odd for an OS I had already spend £150 on or, the more drastic approach b) sod it off and move over to Mac OS entirely. I chose to sod it off.

This wasn't going to be a cheap switch but I needed to upgrade a lot of my software and hardware anyway so decided to take the plunge. My plan was to do the following:

  • Purchase a brand new 27" iMac as my main workhorse to replace my almost useless Dell running Vista
  • Invest in a Time Capsule to handle day-to-day backups from the iMac and act as a WiFi base station (I had no ends of issues with communication between my PC, Router and Airport Express)
  • Continue to use my RAID 2 ReadyNAS to archive old projects
  • Upgrade (memory and HDD) and reformat by MacBook for use on the road
  • Use OSX Snow Leopard on both iMac and MacBook as my main operating system. The iMac would then have XP and Vista running on Bootcamp / Parallels partitions whilst the MacBook ran Windows 7 under bootcamp
  • Cross-platform upgrade my licenses of Adobe CS
  • Smash a thousand shades of living hell out of the pathetic Dell piece of crud that had been maing my life hell for so long

I have run out of time now but I will blog soon on how the Big Switch went and the teething problems I ran into.

Google screen resolution statistics overlay...

This is a useful, although it could be designed nicer, tool for seeing the percentage of users viewing web pages at a given resolution (illustrated by the coloured areas):

 

browsersize.googlelabs

 

Further information on the development of the tool can be found here.

Dave White's GUID generator...

This is a great little tool for generating files full of randomised GUIDs... In Dave's words: "think index colums of databases and record IDs for user lists etc"

http://davewhite.net/guidgen/

Ten ways to look like you have an iPhone when you don't...

1. Talk about iPhones ALL the time. If someone tries to change the subject tell them about the new 'App' you have downloaded that fits with the new course of conversation.

2. Apend the words 'Sent from my iPhone' to the bottom of all your emails

3. Encase your existing phone within 3 inch think rubber padding. Get upset if you get a fingerprint on it.

4. Walk around looking down at your existing rubber-clad phone, try to bump into people

5. When turning your existing your phone on pretent to wait for half an hour before you can use it

6. Frequently moan about 'lack of cut and paste'

7. Charge your existing phone every two hours or immediately after any phonecall

8. Obtain some white headphones. Wear them all the time.

9. Tell everyone without an iPhone how they would be 'better off with an iPhone'

10. Become very, very angry if anyone says anything negative about Steve Jobs, Apple, iTunes or anything associated with these three things

What the Font???

How cool is this? new.myfonts.com/WhatTheFont/ 

If you've ever been wondering what a certain font is you can upload an image of it at this URL and it comes back with some guesses. I tried it with an image of some Rotis Sans Serif characters at 25pixels height (25% of the recommended height of 100pixels) and it was spot on!

Loving it!

AIMS Accountants - Online Business Directory...

Being a happy customer of AIMS Accountants for Business I have just signed up to the AIMS Online Business Directory. You can visit their site here: AIMS Accountants for Business

Wilf Turnbull website goes live...

A recent project for a kindly gentleman I met who goes by the name of Wilf Turnbull. He has recently discovered technology in the shape of a laptop and, whilst sitting listening to his radio in his kitchen, enjoys nothing better than typing letters to the artists of the songs he hears. Updated frequently this site is definately worth checking out for five minutes of mirth whilst waiting for the clock to strike five on a Friday.

The Letters of Wilf Turnbull...

You can also check Wilf out on Facebook by following this link.

Ten iPhone tips and tricks...

It’s about time I wrote the official Oast One top ten tips and tricks for the iPhone. Little things you may not know about that could just make your life that tiny bit easier.

So – no chat, straight down to business:

1. Screen Grab
This is an easy one. Simply press both the Home and Sleep button at the same time and you’ll hear a shutter noise whilst the screen flashes white. A picture has now been taken of the screen – you’ll find it in your Camera Roll.

2. Type Tools
In most applications that use the keyboard you can hold down various buttons for extra functions. Once the pop-up appears simply slide your finger to the character you need and lift off to select it. Hold down normal letters to get alternate characters with diacritic marks such as acute accents, umlauts and like. The ‘.com’ key will give you alternates such as ‘.net’ and ‘.org’. Holding the ‘123’ key will allow you to slide to a character and select it before returning the keyboard to normal characters – saving you from having to tap the key again afterwards. You can do the same with the shift key.

3. Tidy up email
You can quickly delete pathetic spam email without having to open it up or use the edit button. Just swipe the email to the left or right in your inbox. A delete button will appear. Tap to delete the message for good.

4. No place like Home
The innocent looking home button can be used for a number of time saving tricks:

  • Use the home button in the same way as the sleep button when your iPhone is locked
  • When browsing your Apps, press it once to return straight to the home screen
  • Double-press the home button to open your Phone Favourites for quick calling
  • When your iPhone is locked double-press the home button to access your iPod controls. Excellent for changing music when on the go.
  • You have some control over the above by going to Settings > General > Home Button

5. Unlock hidden Emoji
Ever wondered how to unlock the hidden Emoji (Emoticons) on your iPhone (2.2.0+)? Simply follow our instructions here.

6. Use your head (phones)
It’s surprising how many people don’t know that the microphone on the headphones houses a useful button. Simply squeeze it and you’ll feel it click. You can use this button for a number of functions:

  • Click the button once to play / pause music
  • Click twice to skip to the next song
  • Click thrice to rewind the current song / skip to the previous song

Whilst on a call:

  • Click to answer an incoming call / end a call
  • Click twice so send an incoming call to voicemail
  • If a second call comes in when you’re on one: click once to switch to the new call or twice to ignore it.

7. Sleep button
You can use the sleep button to silence a call or send it to voicemail. Press once to silence, twice to route it to voicemail.

8. Text to fit
Whilst browsing text in Safari you can zoom in to columns of text by double-tapping on them. The iPhone will scale column of text to fit the width of the screen. You can do the same with images and menus. Double-tap again to zoom out. You can also zoom in and out of images in Camera Roll by double-tapping.

9. Save images
You can save images to your Camera Roll from Safari by holding down on the image. A pop-up will appear with a save button. Useful for changing your Wallpaper image.

10. Tap areas
There are various areas on the iPhone you can tap and certain times to useful effect. For example – if you tap to the left or right of the white dots along the bottom of your home screen it will switch pages without the need to swipe. In Safari if you tap the bar along the top of the screen the page you are viewing will scroll all the way back to the top (also revealing the address/search bar).

Please note that I am running iPhone software 2.2.1 on my iPhone. Some of the tricks mentioned in this article may not work on previous versions.