Doors & Rooms Level 2-6

For anyone who can’t see the numbers on the iPhone game Doors & Rooms, here’s a little sample graphic to help you. Sorry about the dodgy Photoshop. This level required you to click on the picture above the door and tilt your screen to see the numbers.  It’s almost like doing a magic eye where the lines finally meet together and you close the shapes off.  Once you have these sequence of numbers just eliminate the numbers that are on the door to get the passcode. It frustrated me to no end as I couldn’t see the numbers for ages.  I just wanted to help those out there who were in the same boat.  Overall, a fun free game!

Artworks on Roar Drawing

It was rather pleasing to find my drawings featured on the Roar Drawing Blog hosted and run by Amanda Schunker.  I’ve been challenged by Amanda’s life drawing classes to move from my resolved structured style to something that is a bit more unpredictable; to see drawing as more than representation and reproduction.  It’s always interesting to read about what others see in your work.  Amanda wrote about my experimental drawing style, “… his bluntness generates delicacy”.  Who knows where this will lead?  You can read the rest of the review here.

For the Record

“…I’ve committed to nothing…and that’s just suicide…by tiny, tiny increments.” – Nick Hornby, (High Fidelity)

High Fidelity, the movie based on the book by Nick Hornby, was a bit of a disappointment when I watched it in my early twenties.  The main character, Robert, the owner of a record shop, didn’t seem to have any redeeming qualities.  Despite his witty observations of life, he gave little to deserve any compassion or love shown to him.  Watching movies about people dealing with the stumbles of their thirties while being in your optimistic twenties can be a remote experience.  When I encountered my thirties I found myself revisiting this movie again, really out of a cosmic recognition that it was time to give it another go.  Robert was still a selfish arsehole but I now understood he didn’t know how not to be one.  The small incremental shifts he made; which really frustrated me when I first watched the movie, now were the same changes I hoped for.  I empathised with the pathetic ways in which he held onto his convictions and came to terms with the knowledge that I, and perhaps we, are often selfish arseholes.

Growing older may not make everything clearer but at least it can broaden the movies we connect with, however, I  now struggle to listen to listen to “wisdom” from musicians younger than me.  With the absence of sages and gurus in our lives, it is fortunate that we have writers, movie makers and entertainers marking out our life stages.

“I’m very good at the past. It’s the present I can’t understand.” – Nick Hornby, (High Fidelity)

Note: This post could easily be written in relation with the movie Clerks II but I wouldn’t know which scenes I’d dare compare myself with.

Blackberry Bold 9700: First Impressions

I’m a little late with this review as many have already reviewed this latest Blackberry Smartphone.  Instead, I will focus more on the emotional impact of stepping into the Blackberry world and why I chose it instead of the iPhone.

Blackberry phones have always held a mystique for me.  It was a phone for people who had important roles of responsibility or at least a more exciting life.  What other person would need a phone with that many buttons or just had to to edit documents on the go while chugging down their espresso coffees?  Still, it was the phone’s enduring form factor and dedicated fan base that made me consider if I could be one of these people.

For starters, I own a 32Gb iPod Touch and the user experience is simply magical.  I love the touch-screen of an iPhone/iPod Touch and the immediacy it brings.  It is a welcoming device and over time I found that I could type with the virtual keyboard very quickly.  The app store is brilliant.  So why didn’t I move to the iPhone?  My biggest deterrent was simply that I would find it too much fun and never get any work done.  My conversations would be drawn to other users about the latest version of “Paper Toss” or how cool the camera photo filters are.  By the time it came to actually use the phone I would probably have run the battery dead.  Besides, EVERYONE has one.  Apple is no longer the alternative, it is well and truly mainstream and they know it.

Since hearing news about Apple’s decision to sue the HTC mobile company on copyright patent infringements, I decided to punish Apple by starting a phone contract with the Blackberry Bold 9700.  I had decided to choose a phone that would be a good phone, including long battery life and decent call quality.  These Blackberrys have been around so long that I felt any bugs they had would have been worked out by now.  My contract came with unlimited internet use and I was sold.  I decided I would dedicate myself to learning all the buttons and forgive anything that the iPhone did better.

Upon starting up the device I quickly learned that this was not simply a different phone, it was an institution of traditions and sacred practices.  What I mean is that it felt like Blackberry did not feel any need to update the user interface as the previous generation of users had already learnt of it’s secrets.  Searching through menus and option screens was anything but straightforward.  It seemed like everything I wanted to do or customise required a search on Google for forum discussions. It would be easier to find out the secrets of the Free Masons than to work out how to change the ring tone for SMS messages on this phone.

Typing with the Blackberry is supposedly a superior experience than on any other phone but I could never decide whether I should be using my fingernails or the corner of my thumbs to accurately hit the tiny buttons.  Only elves or ninjas could type quickly on this device.  I felt a strange desire afterwards to play Twister on the floor.  The Bold did have some cool customisable buttons but that is a whole other tutorial that you will need to search for.

My heart started to shrink as I realised that I didn’t love the Blackberry.  It felt like being stuck chatting with an accountant at a party about income insurance.  I looked at all those teeny buttons and felt cheated.  Then I realised that after two days of ploughing through every menu function and web surfing on this device, it still read 80% power.  I remembered that I took on this phone because as a phone, it was pretty good.  The calls were clear, I had usable internet connection with adequate browsing capabilities and the downloaded Google apps made up for many missing functions.  The speakers were loud and clear and it had a slightly more flexible media player.  It was a good workhorse and deeply customisable despite some glaring omissions like not being able to turn off the email message notification.

Learning a Blackberry is really like integrating yourself into an ancient alumni, where everyone seems to know more than you and some of the things they do simply baffles logic.  However, I hope that once I’ve set up all I need to on the phone I can get on with my life, rather than dedicating my life and activities around a device.  I’ll secretly envy iPhone users and the euphoric experience that is the iPhone but I don’t want to spend all my time asking W.W.S.J.D. “What Would Steve Jobs Do?”.  Besides, I still have my iPod Touch.

Aperture 3 Review

As a Lightroom user I was a bit biased against Aperture.  My first experience with Aperture was trying to load the trial of Version 1.0 on my 12″ ibook and finding out that it was not compatible due to the processing power needed.  This should have taught me something about the way Aperture works, or rather doesn’t.  Lightroom came out about the same time and loaded beautifully on my old machine and I have used it for all my digital workflow ever since.

Fast forward a few years and Apple announces the huge improvements to Aperture 3 and photography celebs like Chase Jarvis tout the beauty of this software, and its ability to bring out their creativity.  I was intrigued by the brushes tool that allowed specific control to burning and dodging as well as skin smoothing.  I now had a Macbook Pro with 4gb ram and figured I was good to go with this new software.  Downloading the 30 day trial I proceeded to import a set of photos from a recent shoot.  The following are some initial reflections.

Editing with Aperture is relatively similar to Lightroom, except for a few different short cut keys and editing terminology.  The biggest difference I felt with Aperture was that it was SLOW… way slower than Lightroom in load times and waiting for editing changes to be made, especially with the skin smoothing tool.  I even managed to crash it a couple of times in the first day of use.

One of my favourite features of Lightroom was the ability to hover my mouse pointer over the sliding adjustments and use my arrow keys to make changes.  Over time, this allowed me to be less fatigued from dragging little sliders back and forward in small movements.  Aperture does not allow this and this also made making consistent changes more difficult.  The loop tool was largely useless as well because waiting for the zoomed section to load properly was a huge pain. (Update: Someone pointed out that by clicking on the number value, you can do the same thing.  Still slightly slower, but a very useful tip)

Despite my grievances I really wanted to like this software.  At nearly half the price, Aperture had some ingenious tools that allowed me to achieve some interesting editing effects.  The curves tool was more flexible (and Photoshop like) in adjusting contrast of different colour channels, creating multiple curve layers and the ability to brush adjustments in and out.  The colour toning tools also made making retro looks easier.  It was useful having the skin smoothing tool despite the unbelievably slow lag.

I am curious as to how advanced and powerful a mac is needed to enjoy editing the way these other photographers have so warmly endorsed.  My Macbook Pro with 2.53 GHz and 4 GB ram struggled with this version of Aperture and I can’t see how editing a wedding job with over 500 photos could be an economical exercise, let alone trying to stay sane waiting for it to do anything.  There is much more to explore with this editing software and there are some truly useful and fun features but the slow speed will always bring me back to Lightroom.  I hope someone out there can prove me wrong.

The above image was edited with Aperture 3.

Updade 14/02/2010: Here is a link to another Aperture 3 review, this one reporting some screen graphics issue.  Check it out at fiftyeight.net.