• 17 September, 2009

    Paper Shredder Truck Fire, or: Sometimes Life Deals in Blunt Metaphors.

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 7:56 pm permalink

    On a coffee run this afternoon, in the midsts of an utterly craptacular day at work, @chapmanchapman, @ami_with_an_i and I turned a corner off 5th Av and walked past a truck with a trickle of smoke coming out its corners. Not twenty paces later, it had turned into this:

    The smoke actually got much worse; black and dense and inky (of course). The F.D.N.Y. showed up rather quickly and swiftly took care of it.

    As publishing professionals, this implausible bit of synchronicity did not go unnoticed.

    Here are some pictures. I do love the fact that my iPhone has a video and a still camera, although I need to remember to do video in landscape mode….

  • 15 September, 2008

    ePaper—Now we’re talking

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 8:30 am permalink

    It’s no secret that the Amazon Kindle has reinvigorated interest in dedicated ePaper-based reading devices (if not necessarily publishing industry profit margins, just yet). It’s also no secret that the Kindle is absolutely atrociously designed, and that its closest competitors, the Sony Reader and the iRex Iliad, are not much better (although aesthetically much more pleasing).
    Enter Plastic Logic and their as-yet-unnamed reader. It’s got almost everything that would make me want to buy a dedicated reading device. Let’s do the checklist:

    As large as a sheet of paper: Tiny is not always better. I don’t necessarily mind reading books and documents on, say, my iPhone, but it’s nice to have a decently-sized reading area. As long as I can stick this in my bag in place of reams of paper, it’s still a space-saver.

    Thin as all hell, and pretty light: This baby is 0.3″ thin. I could see myself slipping this into my bag along with my MacBook Air, no problem.

    Touchscreen: My iPhone has spoiled me—I want a touchscreen on everything now. I find myself reaching for the screen on my laptop all the time, especially when I’m using an application that’s also present on the iPhone, such as Google Maps. The fact that you can flip pages, use a soft keyboard, and even mark up documents with fingerstrokes is a big, big win for the Plastic Logic reader.

    Full colour, high resolution display: Still lacking, but give it time. Like televisions, personal computers, iPods, and other devices, I can see this reader’s first couple of iterations be black and white, but eventually move to colour, once price and technology make it feasable.

    Open platform: Here’s a place where Kindle and Sony particularly fail. They’ve locked their devices to certain formats. The Plastic Logic reader will be document format-agnostic, as it should be. The presentation at DEMOfall shows the reader explicitly handling PDFs and PowerPoint presentations.

    Here’s that presentation:

    This looks fantastic. Wrap it up in something other than PC beige, price it competitively with the iPod, and I’m pretty sure you’ve got a winner. I’ll be keeping a close eye on these guys as 2009 comes around.

    In the future I can see a device with the guts of the iPhone, or even the MacBook Air, adopting this kind of display, and becoming a full-featured input/output device. I can has touchscreen Mac Tablet?

  • 10 June, 2008

    iPhone 3G Drops, and Apple Unveils MobileMe Service

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 8:18 am permalink

    In case you were hiding under a rock, here’s some news: Apple has announced their new iteration of the iPhone, now featuring 3G and GPS. There’s not much to say about this that others haven’t already, so this will be a short one. As is usually the case, I agree with John Gruber’s analysis, and have the same gripes about the camera that Elliot Jay Stocks outlines here. In addition, I have to add that I’m slightly disappointed in the fact that there’s still no copy/paste functionality (unless Jobs just didin’t go into it in his keynote). On the other hand, I think that Apple’s alternative to background application processes, in the form of push notification services, seems like an elegant solution to the problem. It takes advantage of Apple’s already considerable IT infrastructure, and extends their array of IP services.

    Oh and yes, I’ll be buying one. But I won’t stand in line for one again. That was a one-time thing.

    Apple also unveiled their much anticipated update to the .Mac service, re-branded as MobileMe. This looks very interesting, and as a long-time .Mac subscriber, I can’t wait to see how it shapes up.

    The big news, though, which has been somewhat glossed over in favor of iPhone hype, is the next iteration of Mac OS X, code-named Snow Leopard. According to Apple’s OS X website, Snow Leopard

    builds on Leopard’s enormous innovations by delivering a new generation of core software technologies that will streamline Mac OS X, enhance its performance, and set new standards for quality. Snow Leopard dramatically reduces the footprint of Mac OS X, making it even more efficient for users, and giving them back valuable hard drive space for their music and photos.

    Smart move, I think. Leveraging their considerable lead in features and stability over Vista, Apple has decided to take some time to refine their product (and squeeze a bit more life out of an ever-dwindling pool of ‘big cat names’ for their OS line). Additionally, one of the key phrases in the above quote is ‘delivering a new generation of core software technologies.’ Core multitouch, anyone?

  • 21 April, 2008

    New York Comic Con 2008

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 7:39 am permalink

    Comic Con this year was amazing. I had a blast, met so many people, saw so much kick-ass work, and learned so much! It was also a great opportunity to spend some time with the amazing people I work with, outside of the context of the day-to-day bustle of the work week. 

    As opposed to last year (when I only had a day Saturday pass), this year, by virtue of volunteering to staff the Tor booth on Sunday afternoon, I was given a full weekend pass. It made a huge difference: I got to walk the entire floor on Friday afternoon, before the fans were all let in, so I could sort of get an overview of the entire Con, and was then in a better position to go and look at the particular things I wanted to check out in detail later on; I also got to attend a bunch of panels, relevant to me both professionally (Manga-related stuff for our Tor/Seven Seas collaboration) and personally (I got to see Neil Gaiman read from The Graveyard Book, w00t!); I also got to create a continuous thread of day-to-day interaction with some of the professionals I met, which hopefully will help establish more permanent relationships with my colleagues. In all, a wonderful experience. 

    Highlights include:

    I went to a panel titled Working Digitally, moderated by Dan Goldman, and featuring Frazier Irving, Héctor Casanova, and Lincy Chan. All four discussed their process, and showed us slides (or should I say screen shots, really?) of their work in progress. It was fascinating to see how the pros put it all together—as a person who favours an all-digital process as well, I found the session highly informative. One of the main points that came across while listening to them talk, and something that I discussed afterwards with both Héctor and Dan, is the fact that as the artist finds s/he has more control over the process, and faster tools at his/her disposal, there is a deliberate rejection of the old ‘division-of-labour’ workflow (penciller, to inker, to colorist, to letterer) of Marvel and DC -style comics production. In the words of Héctor Casanova (accompanied by a look of abject dismay): “I couldn’t imagine having someone else ink over my work. I just couldn’t imagine it!”. The only one caveat I would add to this, is that I don’t necessarily agree with the elimination of the role of the letterer. Coming from a typographic perspective, I can attest that a lot of artists (there are exceptions) who insist on doing their own lettering are doing themselves a huge disservice. Typographic communication/expression is its own craft and mode of communication, requiring skills and an eye rather different from that of an illustrator. Sometimes the two skill sets are present in the same person, more often than not, they aren’t.

    On Friday night, my boss, Irene Gallo, was gracious enough to invite Theresa DeLucci and me to dinner with a bunch of illustrators, including Arkady Roytman, Steve Belledin, and Doug Cowan. The latter two being Pratt graduates (Doug and I actually graduated the same year, and were booth-neighbours at the Pratt Show), we had plenty to talk about. I had a particularly fascinating conversation with Steve about the state of art education at Pratt (and universally, to a certain extent), lamenting the fact that the curriculum is not set up to encourage the collaboration between Graphic Designers, Illustrators, and (to a lesser extent) Photographers. This then segue’d into yet another iteration of the e-books conversation, pieces of which can be found in the comments sections here and here. The clock is ticking—everyone’s thinking the same thing. It’s time to move on this before someone does it for me!

    In all, a wonderfully positive experience. A weekend full of comics (I’ve doubled my to-read pile, ohnoes!), fun people, great times. The one shame is the lack of good images from my camera. I really must get myself a real camera. The crappy phonecam on the iPhone really is a poor substitute for the real thing. In the meantime, check out some pics from Irene here, along with her own Comic Con write-up; and from ignorancehere’s photoset here.

  • 20 March, 2008

    Pandora on iPhone. . . .

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 7:27 am permalink

    This very short article on posits that one of the reasons that Apple is so reluctant to include the Flash Player in the iPhone is because of fear that Pandora, the amazing user-customizable internet radio station based on the Music Genome Project, could cut into its iTunes sales. While a little far-fetched, it’s worth reading nonetheless. 

    Oh, and if you haven’t done so already, do yourself a favour and check out Pandora. Yes, it’s so good, I’ve linked to it twice.