Posts Tagged: creation

A New Mobile Era

A new era in my professional life begins this month, as I have devolved my web design consultancy of the last 11.5 years and now take the leap into full-time mobile work.
Since the beginning of my web design career, due to my love of minimalism, my web sites worked on nascent mobile browsers, but my true love since late 2004 has been in all things mobile, particularly mobile software that enables users to create rather than just consume.
I have slowly but surely since 2006, been teaching myself and going to workshops and trainings in programming – Python, Qt/QML, among others – and now feel ready and confident in my skill level to take the leap into mobile software development – be that mobile web apps or native apps.
I do not presume to call myself an engineer, but instead a designer/developer hybrid whose strengths are in user experience & systems design, as well as coding/programming to a working application.
Mobile World Congress 2012 was an excellent conference for me to attend as I had an opportunity to talk to a wide variety of people in mobile development, be they a single developer, at an agency, or embedded in a large company creating mobile web sites/applications or mobile software development, and the feedback that I received on my plans and elevator pitch was positive.
Yes, I used the phrase ‘elevator pitch’. I didn’t know I had one until a business development fellow at Mobile Sunday asked me what I am doing, I told him, and he said, “Great elevator pitch! Good ideas!” That feedback was repeated several times over the course of MWC12.
The best part of MWC was the announcement of the Nokia PureView 808, not just for my camera phone addiction, but for my mobile creativity app plans as the PureView will be the perfect camera phone creation platform for my app, be it on Symbian or Windows Phone 8 (when it comes).
Wish me well and if you know of any angel investors who are funding imaging apps, let me know.

DIY Dev: Program or be Programmed

Fifteen years ago, to prove a snotty engineering student wrong who said artists couldn’t make websites, I taught myself in less than 2 hours how to code a website. Ten years ago, I wanted to do more than just write HTML and use Photoshop, so I checked myself into Long Beach State’s Extension and took a class on Javascript and one on Flash Actionscripting, more classes and trainings followed. Five years ago, I wanted to learn even more programming and checked myself into a graduate program that took 1/2 designers and 1/2 programmers and taught them both disciplines.
My programming professor at Trinity after our classes were over encouraged me to learn Python, of which I have done over the course of the last few years. In the last two years, I have had the opportunity to write several full web apps from the ground up. All of this has been hard, satisfying, and more than a bit of a stretch.
But I am glad that I have pushed my own boundaries and didn’t listen to the naysayers, not the ones 15 years ago or last week, who said that an artist/designer/webdev can’t learn to code/program.
If you can learn to speak/write/read a language and can reason, of which most of us have done at least once, you can learn to program.
Over the last few years, I have found myself getting increasingly frustrated that there is not the mobile app that I want out there or the one that is out does not have the features that I want, etc etc etc. Up until recently, at least from my perspective, programming a mobile application has been hard as one has to be a “real” programmer, the kind that learned Java/C/C++ in a four year Computer Science bachelors degree.
I am an optimist and frequently over commit myself by getting excited about how easy it will be to learn a new technology or language and then find myself more than a bit overwhelmed. But a funny thing happened along the way, C++ doesn’t seem so obscure/opaque and/or hard any more. In experimenting with it recently, I found myself delighting in how easy it was for me to learn it and make simple apps. All that programming in python for Google App Engine over the last 18 months has paid off.
This has me excited. Excited enough to go two weeks ago up to San Francisco for the Nokia Developer Day at CTIA to see the demos and presentations on Qt. Excited enough to then go to the Qt Training Days in Austin this week.
I have mobile app ideas running around my head and now is the time to start programming to get them out and about.
Ms. Jen’s DIY Programming Series:
DIY Dev: Program or be Programmed
DIY Mobile Programming: Get Started with HTML, CSS, and Javascript
DIY Programming: Should HTML be Required for Literacy in the 21st Century?

Daily Practice Makes for Good Creative Habits

Tues 11.03.09 – Regardless of whether you are participating in National ________ Posting/Writing Month or just reading/watching others, I think the best part of the November novel writing, blog posting, vlog posting, drawing, and any other permutation, is that daily practice really does hone one’s creative skills and ingrains, in a good way, the habit of the activity.
One of my favorite authors of all time, Madeleine L’Engle, frequently in articles, her books, and in writers workshops would encourage folks to write at least 30 minutes every day. She stated that with the daily habit comes the inspiration, not the other way around.
For a few years after taking the workshop with Ms. L’Engle, I would draw for 30 minutes every day. And then by the late 1990s, it became taking photos for at least a total of 15-20 minutes every day.
Rather than attempt to count up time and compare it to one creative activity, now I make sure that I reserve 30 mins to 1 hour every day for a / some creative activity be it writing, drawing, blogging, photography, or mobile blogging. By doing this regardless or schedule or busy-ness, it means that I carve out time time to slow down, time to create and explore.
Today on Twitter I started asking who of my circle of association is doing one of the Na__ __ Mo’s? I found that a good variety of folk were participating in the original NaNoWriMo, NaBloPoMo, NaVloPoMo (video blogging), and NaDrawMo (drawing).
One of my Twitter friends made apologies for his lack of participation saying he was not creative, I replied back that one can blog about whatever, it doesn’t have to be a story or long post. I would like to reiterate that this month is not about being the best or most polished or even the most creative, but about clearing a space for yourself to establish a new daily habit or even just to challenge yourself in something that you have always wanted to do but never did. So many of the folk who are writing novels this month have never written fiction but are doing the NaNoWriMo to really let go and loose their inhibitions about the activity.
It is not too late to join us.
Here is a list of the folks that I know in real life or via the Internets who are participating in National DoSomething Everyday Month:
Kasper Jespersen
Steve Lawson
James McNally
Sudhamshu Hebbar
Velvet Verbosity
Mrs. K (of course)
Jessica Spengler
Vikki Chowney
Lauren Isaacson
Laurie White
Mauricio Reyes
Utku Can
Ann McMeekin
Mike Maddaloni
James Whatley
Lloyd Davis
Benny Crime
Rupert Howe
Shaun Inman
Trey Piepmeier

iPhone 3G : Still Consuming, Less Creation

Alternate title: Why my next phone will be a black Nokia N82 & not an iPhone…
The iPhone 3G that was announced today during Steve Jobs’ keynote at the Apple WWDC in San Francisco and the Apple fanbois/grls were drooling, as well as drowning Twitter into a catatonic state with their drool.
I waited patiently next to my laptop for over 2 hours this morning to see if Apple would add two features to the iPhone that would convince me that it might be a good phone for creators. What two features would that be?
1) An upgraded camera that would make it at least competitive with other phones in its price range, at the very least a minimum of a 3.2 megapixel camera. If Apple really wanted to make creators drool, then 5 megapixels with a good lens that would be competitive to the Nokia N95 and N82.
2) Video recording capacity. My mom’s crap little camera phone that she bought 2 years ago for half the price of an iPhone can record video. iPhone’s can play video but they can’t record it.
So, I wait by Twitter, MacRumors, and Engagdet Mobile. The announcements starting rolling in… $199! 3G! GPS! Approved applications store coming! Thinner! Plastic! White & Black!
Wake me up when the Jobs announces a real camera… snooze snooze snooze…
zzzzzzzzzzzzz……. Twitter dries itself off and comes back online and I notice that none of the fanbois/grls are tweeting about the camera. Hmmmm…
Off to the Apple site I go looking for the new iPhone 3G specs… After 10 minutes of reloading it, the new specs come up just before noon.
Guess what?
1) No new camera. Same old 2 megapixel, puny lensed, blurry non-wonder as last year, only addition is geo-tagging of photos with new GPS feature.
2) No video capture / recording.
The iPhone 1.0 and 2.0 are beautiful mobile devices with a lovely User Interface (UI) but why nearly all consumption and very little creation?
I am disappointed. I wanted to be able to have more than just the Nokia N95 and N82 to recommend to fellow artists, friends, and family when they are looking for a new kick ass camera phone with an easy to use UI, internet, and GPS.
To quote James Whatley, “Meh. Next.
To quote me, “One would think that Apple would have upgraded the phone to at least 3.2 megapixels… As Bill the Cat would say, ‘Ack! Pphhhbbbtttt!’
Unless something better comes down the pipe, my next camera phone will be the black Nokia N82. Nokia, release a North American 3G version of the N82 at $199… Kick Apple’s bootay!


End of the Year Tech Confessions or how one Machine can Make all the Difference…

After a stressful and full last half of 2007, I decided to go semi-offline in the last week. I have blissfully caught up on novel reading, walking, cooking, cleaning the house, blog reading, going out to see Royal Crown Revue on Friday and the Irish Brothers on Thursday, and otherwise vegging out. I had only one client meeting and I have completed very little of any “GTD” on my computer.
This has been good. But odd.
Before my little love – The Silver Princess – died an untimely death at the Philadelphia airport in late April, it was hard to pry me away from my 12″ Powerbook G4 computer. Then when the June Death of my Nokia N80, I found myself a bit soured on technology and machines as tools to create. Yes, I now have *supposedly* superior replacements in the 15″ MacBook Pro and the Nokia N95, but I have found my joy in using my machines has dissipated rapidly, esp. with the MacBook, as the months have worn on.
I don’t know why, but I don’t enjoy using the MacBook Pro as much as my beloved Powerbook. As a result, I don’t enjoy designing or coding as much as before. Odd how a tool can effect ones work and passion.
I am not the only one who loved their PowerBook, as Ian Lloyd has Tweeted about it and told me in person that he still loves his 12″ PowerBook even with the MacBook as his primary machine.
I don’t know what it was. Maybe the 12″ PowerBook was smaller yet chubbier and easier to fetishize. Or maybe the small toy-ness of the laptop fooled me into thinking that every activity was a game and fun. Maybe the small screen and heavy size were comforting, I don’t know what it was, but I have taken the dead Silver Princess to two different repair places this fall to see if someone can resurrect her, to no avail. And both times I was very upset to find out that nothing could be done. And then spent time on eBay wondering how I could justify the expense of a PowerBook logic board…
I don’t have any such affection towards my Chick-a-Poo the MacBook Pro. I wish I did, but I don’t. I don’t find each day to be a new adventure in computing with MacBook Pro, and thus, I have a hard time getting excited about working on a machine that leaves me relatively cold. This effects my output, trust me.
I love web design and development, but my love for the tool that helps me create and code is lacking. Lately, I have wished for a direct brain to server link, as I have been thinking up code and designs in my head, but have not wanted to open the MacBook to make it happen. When I do open the machine, I don’t want to work on it.
In 2003 and 2004, when I was having issues and productivity problems with my digital photography never making it online and my computer’s hard drive as a black hole, the introduction of a Nokia “smart” camera phone with an unlimited data plan made all the difference in my life. Instead of frustration at the process of getting my digital photos to the web, the lovely Nokia 7610 allowed me to snap a photo and send it directly to Flickr or a blog with no permanent stop at the black hole of my hard drive.
I am yearning for such a leap in my web design and dev life. A device that so entrances me with its design and its leap in process that I am once again in love with what I do, rather than in frustration and self-condemnation.
Apple, please make a lovely work / life machine that is delightful, possibly another 12″ laptop with all of the power and guts of the MacBook Pro but with the cute factor of the PowerBook G4. Add a revolutionary fully working voice recognition system so that I can move about hands free and talk my code to my machine. Help me to fall in love with my computer again. Thank you.