Any sufficiently advanced technology
is indistinguishable from magic.
[Arthur C. Clarke]
My first criteria for a good app is, it is simple. I’m a graphic designer and not a computer scientist. I look for apps that behave themselves (they work without bugs), and apps that are intuitive to use (they have a small learning curve). I spend my main self-education time keeping myself up to speed with my major software tools. I want my smaller apps to be more like a manual screwdriver than an electric drill with multiple bits. These two apps fit the criteria and are affordable.
MyScript© Calculator is magic for sure. It was free! How does Vision Objects© do that? Also it works well and is fun to use. Write numerals and function symbols (+, -, =, etc.) with a finger on a touchscreen and then watch your writing change into real equations with the correct answer. It even charmed my five-year old grandson. When I used it in a knitting class to help people figure their stitches and rows from their gauge, it was fast and accurate. Some students even downloaded the app for their smart phones during class.
Desktop Task Timer by Erik Asmussen is also a winner in my book. I track my design time for billing purposes. In the past 30 years, I have tried using a number of methods to accurately record time and translate it in to an invoice. This app ($0.99) is the best I’ve found so far. I’ve even started tracking my non-chargeable tasks just out of curiosity.
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I squirrel away sealed greeting cards that people give me
so I can open them later when I’m having a bad day.
Since my day job is graphic design and illustration, I’m fascinated by everything from antique posters to modern electronic renderings. Typography fascinates me. Animation fascinates me. And applying new technology to old traditions fascinates me (among other things).
Last Advent season, a friend gave me a Jacquie Lawson Advent calendar. It’s festive beauty captivated me. The new one is ready for orders. That is why I encourage you to check out Jacquie Lawson’s greeting cards. To make it easier, I have added a widget to the navigation at the right so that you can preview her cards of the month.
The following is quoted from her website:
Back in the year 2000, Jacquie Lawson, an English artist living in the picturesque village of Lurgashall in Southern England, created an animated Christmas card featuring her dog and cats, and her 15th-century cottage, and sent it to a few friends for their amusement. Those friends sent the e-card to others, and within weeks Jacquie was inundated with requests from all over the world to design more e-cards. In February 2002 she teamed up with a few friends and family members to create jacquielawson.com.
Over the years the collection has grown to a current total of 224 e-cards, each one showing a degree of artistry and attention to detail rarely seen in the medium of e-cards. Even the music is composed and arranged specially for each card! We now have a range of birthday cards, Christmas cards, thank you cards, and so on, featuring dogs, cats, teddy bears, flowers, and many other subjects.
Each card we make takes anywhere from a few weeks to several months to complete. Many of the elements of the animation are actually painted by hand (using real paint, brushes and paper!) because the textures and colours achieved that way are so much more attractive than the electronic equivalent. These paintings are then scanned into electronic form, and the laborious process of animation starts. Finally, the music is created to accent or complement the animation.
I have no connection with the Jacquie Lawson business or website nor do I benefit from this review. I just wanted to share things that I like with you folks.
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Win as if you were used to it,
lose as if you enjoyed it for a change.
[Ralph Waldo Emerson]
I just mailed the new book to Caitlin in Minnesota, the winner of the drawing. However, I want the rest of you folks to win something too so I’m emailing a PDF file to each of you. It is my newest pattern that I developed for a workshop here in Fort Wayne. It is written for any size yarn, needles and feet. It is also written for both magic loop and a 5-needle sock set. Three of the folks who commented are among the only 14 knitters who have seen this pattern so I’ll dream up something different for you.
Thanks so much to everyone for playing along.
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Posted in Knitting, Review, tagged Beth Parrott, Charlene Schurch, Knitting, new knitting book, sock knitting, socks, stitch dictionary, The Sock Knitter's Handbook on May 3, 2012 |
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All things are difficult before they are easy.
I took this book to a sock-knitting class, and the seven class members insisted that they each had to have a copy for reference to carry with them. I listened to their excited discussion about what they liked best about the book. Here’s a partial list:
- The photos are so clear and easy to understand
- The binding allows the book to lie open easily
- There are so many variations to choose from
- The charts and diagrams are useful
- The stitch samples stimulate sock design ideas
- The book size is easy to handle and carry . . .
The Sock Knitter’s Handbook, Expert Advice, Tips, & Tricks by Charlene Schurch and Beth Parrott was published this year (2012) by Martingale and Company. At first glance, this book seems quite simple, but simple usually requires more thought, organization and effort to produce well than something lengthy and wordy. This handbook hints at that underlying effort which has made it very useful.
The authors introduce color-coded photos for parts of socks in the “Sock Architecture” chapter then proceed through the various sections using the color coding to present a number of ways to knit each part of a sock. They also present charts for such information as yarn yardage and foot measurements. Diagrams show how to execute specific stitch techniques, and a stitch dictionary presents a variety of decorative ideas for jazzing up a sock.
Since my day job is working as a graphic artist in publication design, the first thing I notice about a book is its production features. Not only does this book have a pleasing page design that enhances its message, but its binding and paper choices make it user friendly. Since I also design knitting patterns and I want to avoid being influenced by other people’s designs, I must confess that I rarely look at knitting pattern books or magazines. I’m delighted I had a reason to review this one. It will go directly into my knitting bag for future use.
Book Giveaway Contest
Ms Schurch sent me an extra copy of this book to give away in a contest. In one week, I will collect the names from the comments to this post and have a drawing. Then I will email the winner for a mailing address and send the lucky knitter the new book. So, do enter the contest by leaving a comment.
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The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.
My April was full of activity, and my to do lists were longer than my time and energy. My blog posts were non-existent. Now that I have taken a long breath, I do want to share several things.
First, the Dayton Knitting Guild annual retreat at Bergamo featured Debbie Wilson as our teacher. The tea pot cozy in the photo above was just one of the projects. She also presented us with the challenge of knitting brioche stitch in the round. Hum-m-m. I got the gist of it but raveled my sample to knit the cozy. Debbie is an accomplished knitting teacher and a lovely person. I also enjoyed the yarn market and, of course, renewing old friendships.
Knitting Book Contest
Next, do subscribe if you don’t want to miss hearing about the contest. I plan to review the new knitting book by Charlene Schurch and Beth Parrott later this week. I’ll be drawing a name from the commenters on that post so that I can mail the winner a copy of their new book.
Third, my account of a trip on the Texas Eagle is coming soon. Instead of the Orient Express, it could have been called the Blue Bonnet Special.
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Grace is knowing when to bind off.
Okay, so I got a bit carried away. This Regia Hand-dye Effect yarn caught my eye not only because of its color, but also for its unusual texture. It has what looks like single-spun wool wrapped with a fine strand of nylon to strengthen it for wear, but it knits up smoothly and felt wonderful when I tried it on.
I am currently working on a toe-up anklet pattern for a workshop in May. I have it adjusted for a variety of stitches, yarn weights and needles. I was trying one more variation with this yarn but failed to stop at the ankle and made it knee high. There are cabled clocks up each side, and increases on the back half to enlarge it for the calf of the leg. It actually stays up.
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Posted in Ongoing Projects, Review, Thoughts, Writing, tagged blogging, computers, learning, software upgrades, tachnology, technology on March 6, 2012 |
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Once a new technology rolls over you,
if you’re not part of the steamroller,
you’re part of the road.
We all have our odd turns of the mind. One of mine is a fear of ending up as road kill on the information super highway. After working more than 25 years in graphic design, I still spend as much time in training as I do designing. Software upgrades are a big part of that, and Lynda.com is my main training resource. One of my favorites there is Anne-Marie Concepcion of Seneca Design and Training, and InDesign Secrets.
Fear of not knowing enough can hold a person back from finishing a job, just like fear of the marketplace (agoraphobia) can keep some folks entrenched in their homes. A thought struck me as I was scrubbing out the toilet bowl this morning. I was doing that chore to procrastinate from working on a design job. I really enjoy my design jobs so why put it off? I realized that I don’t necessarily procrastinate because I’m lazy. I usually procrastinate because I’m not quite sure I have the right solution to a production issue. The question is, how much of my mental block is based on a misperception?
I’ve successfully completed countless design jobs over the years, but I’d just watched a video about advances in the software I’ve used for a decade. There were five more hours of lessons available. What if I missed something that would make a difference in the project? Well, phooey, I thought. If I’d waited to upgrade like other designers I know, I couldn’t even do what I didn’t yet know how to do. I simply finished the job. I’ll watch the other five hours later.
The conclusion to all of this goes back to maintaining a balance (but then I wonder if I can get a life-time membership on the training site?).
When I was hunting a “keeping up with technology” quotation for this post,
I had trouble picking just one. Here is another quote that nudged my funny bone:
If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has,
we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1000 MPG
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If we have no peace,
it is because we have forgotten
that we belong to each other.
Jacquie Lawson, an artist in the United Kingdom, offers the most charming eCards and eNotes that I’ve encountered. Her drawings are delightful. The image above is a screen shot of one of the Advent calendars she offers. She also offers a version that can be viewed on an iPad. Every day, a new number is highlighted. When it is selected, a charming animation plays along with a seasonal tune. I am enchanted, especially when I look at it at night, and the sky is darkened with the lights sparkling.
My friend, Jane Roberts, sent this to me as a gift and I’ve shared it with other folks. My biggest curiosity is about the technology behind these fascinating presentations. How does she do that?
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Why do men fight who were born to be brothers?
about Ulysses S. Grant]
They were classmates and friends at West Point. They were army buddies and fought together in the Mexican War. Their high opinion of each other never wavered even when they were enemies during the American Civil War. They were friends after the war and then Longstreet paid his ultimate tribute to Grant upon hearing of his death, “General Grant was the truest as well as the bravest man who ever lived.”
I devour all sorts of history books—not only those about the American Civil War. Some books capture my interest enough that I go through them repeatedly. Most of these books are compiled, sorted and examined works by historians of a later generation. In my search for new histories, I came upon the memoirs of Grant and Longstreet at Project Gutenberg . Not only is the content of these books fascinating to me, but the prose is well-formed. These men who were raised without the most advanced of educational opportunities wrote in a clear, cohesive and interesting style.
From Manassas to Appomattox, Memoirs of the Civil War in America was written by James Longstreet and published in 1896. The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant were written in two volumes and published shortly after Grant’s death in 1885. I am reading them side by side since they discuss events in a chronological order from opposite sides. I’ve noticed interesting details that that give insight into the authors’ ways of thinking. For example, Grant called the northern army, the National Army instead of the Union Army. As I continue my journey through these two books, I grow in gratitude that these authors shared their experiences with us.
Poignant is the word I’d use to describe this reading experience.
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