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March 28, 2007

Adobe Creative Suite 3 (Design Premium)

Writing about web page http://www.adobe.com/uk/creativelicense/?id=design&sdid=VWGH

This week the creative world has stopped holding its breath following a big build-up to the release of its latest suite of software, CS3. Adobe promises to further extend the integration between applications and push the capabilities of the software. Most noteably Photoshop now exists in two applications – Photoshop CS3 and Photoshop CS3 extended, the latter of which offers a new range of 2 and 3d tools. The basic version doesn’t seem to have taken an enormous leap (not that is needs to), but the most obvious new feature is the introduction of Smart Filters.

Illustrator CS3 offers a host of new features including integration with Flash, allowing for the import of native files; an erasor tool like Photoshop; a new feature called Live Colour and new crop tool, which has been missing to date.

Indesign CS3 now offers table and cell styles, robost long-document support and new creative effects and greater controls which leave Quark Xpress trailing behind creatively.

The new version of Flash allows for the import of PSD and AI files, and a whole range of new easy-to-apply behaviours.

For CS users it really does get better all the time as Adobe clearly listens to the users and continually improves both individual features and integration between its products. Integration with Flash and Illustrator sets it as the leader and moves Illlustrator into the domain that Freehand once held. The introduction of Design Premium, Web Premium and Production Premium clearly sets to target specific user groups more clearly, and a helpful guide is available to help make the choice between the versions.

The challenge is always when to upgrade, the new features are enticing but readability of documents with other colleagues is also important.

April 07, 2006

Boot Camp Turns Your Mac Into a Reliable Windows PC

Writing about web page http://ptech.wsj.com/ptech.html

I wonder if now is the time to revive my relationship with the Mac. After years of working exclusively on a Mac working in a design studio and as a freelancer I moved to the PC when I came to the University in 1999. All the software I acquired was for the PC and even though the opportunity presented itself to have a Mac it seemed pointless given that all the software was PC-based. It was also somewhat of a relief to lose the problems associated with the earlier Mac OS's such as corrupted files, regular system seizures and PS printing problems.

I have found few drawbacks with using a PC exclusively, with the exception of occasional problems sending artwork for commercial printing and working with files created on a Mac. For all of these there are easy work-arounds. Adobe and Macromedia software is almost identical on both systems, only keyboard shortcuts differ. Open Type fonts are cross-platform. However, I am aware that there now exists is a world of Mac that I am now largely ignorant of. As a designer it makes sense to have cross-platform capablities and to be competent with both systems, although given the option the dilemma may well be selecting the platform for the task. I just wonder whether I have now been working so long now on a PC that having a Mac would provide any extra benefits, apart from the use of some extra Apple applications, potentially faster graphics processing, opportunity for a colour-calibrated monitor, and, of course, the added feel-good factor.

March 28, 2006

Dispatches: Living with Illegals

Writing about web page http://www.insightnewstv.com/illegals/

Channel 4: 27th March 8 pm

In "Living with Illegals", award-winning journalist Sorious Samura becomes an illegal immigrant. His journey is epic as he travels from Morocco into Europe through Spain and France, finally crossing the English Channel to Britain. Samura wants to understand the reality of being an illegal immigrant, so he lives in the exact same conditions and experiences the same gruelling hardships as his companions.

This incredible documentary, shown last night on Channel 4 is moving and eye-opening as it traces the journey many Africans undertake in order to reach the UK. It is both thought-provoking and challenging, showing at first hand the stark and harsh existence many face in order to start a new life. Often the debate over assylum becomes polarized and politicized with individuals becoming faceless statistics. It is difficult not to be moved by the journey Samura undertakes, and by those who face death in the face for the hope of a new life in the UK.

March 05, 2006

Antony Gormley's 'Another Place'

Writing about web page http://www.antonygormley.com/

Another Place figureOn my second visit to Antony Gormley's 'Another Place' at Crosby beach Liverpool I took the Canon with me. Late afternoon in early March isn't the best time for outstanding pictures but I was able to take a few images (navigating the tide and human obstacles). I had hoped to take some images of more figures together, but the beach was full of people which made if difficult. I concluded that the best time to take images would be very early in the morning.

Another Place consists of 100 cast-iron, life-size figures spread out along three kilometres of the foreshore, stretching almost one kilometre out to sea. Each weighing around 650 kilos, they are made from casts of the artist's own body and are shown at different stages of rising out of the sand, all of them looking out to sea, staring at the horizon.

Acording to Gormley, (the Angel of the North artist), Another Place 'harnesses the ebb and flow of the tide to explore man's relationship with nature'.

In themselves the figures are not in any way spectacular. Close-up, they might even be described as crude. However, it is the drama and presence with which they stand silently staring out to sea that is so gripping, and the manner in which they are dotted along the beach. They never look the same in the changing light and tide. During an hour-long visit in bitterly cold winds, the figures stand silently as the sun passes in and out, as a ferry drifts by, as passers-by walk up and touch them, all against a backdrop of distant slow-capped mountains.

These human casts change depending on the time of day and the tide – at low tide many figures are on view, and at high tide they may see just tips of heads or nothing at all. Some people think it is about death or drowning. However, Gormley himself has said that the work is:

a response to the individual and universal sentiments associated with emigration, sadness at leaving, but the hope of a new future in another place
a kind of acupuncture of the landscape, but also acupuncture of peopleís dreamworld

Each individual viewing the figures will respond in a different manner, possibly depending on their own mood, the hour and the season. To me it speaks of the relationship man has with nature, of resilience and determination. There is a sense of the profound isolation in which we so often exist, even in community. However, such poignant reflection is also accompanied by a message of hope, of something deeply spiritual. Submerged to his waist in a pool of water, one of the figures could be sinking or he could be poised for baptism. As the sun shines down on each figure there is a sense of the profound nature of mans existence, instrinsically linked to the raw elements of the physical world around him.

Another Place will be at Crobsy until November next year, before it crosses the Atlantic.

See the gallery for a few more images. I plan to return in early Summer and take some images in clearer light.

February 28, 2006

Urban 4×4's

Writing about web page http://driving.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,22749-2060433,00.html

Drivers of gas-guzzling cars are to be penalised under measures being developed to tackle climate change.
Ministers are particularly keen to target the growing number of people who drive large 4X4s around cities and venture off tarmac only when parking on grass verges.

I couldn't agree more! Every morning on the drive to work I notice how many of these are on the roads. There should be strong disincentives in order to discourage people from driving 4×4's around town. Whilst there are environmental issues, this is not my main gripe against urban 4×4's. Simply, it is that they are an unnecessary and dangerous menace in cities. Having driven one recently, my assessment is that there is no added value to the driving experience round town (other than protecting you like a tank).

My main issues are that they reduce visibility for other drivers; are too big and bulky for many of our streets, and the people who drive them usually don't have the skill to manouvere well. A parent dropping off a small child for school or someone going to the supermarket in such a vehicle is simply not adding any value to the community.

They should be kept on on the drive for the long journey or off-road experience, which is what they were designed for.

February 27, 2006

Weather on Friday

According to the BBC this morning, we can expect rather alarming conditions on Friday.

BBC weather snapshot

February 24, 2006

Walkers Crisps 2006

Writing about web page http://walkers.corpex.com/cr15p5/products.asp?snacktypeid=26

Walkers have re-packaged their crisps with a £20m facelift by owner Pepsico. The healthier crisps now contain a reduction in saturated fat by 70%, with less salt.

Walkers Crisps packaging

The Walkers logo has evolved bearing a new typeface, and although it retains its trademark red banner, it now sits on a 3D glowing sun. It does make the logo stand out more (presumably to grab the attention from a distance), whilst the flavour heading has been considerable enlarged and treated with a rather retro space-age feel. Pepsi springs to mind. It is more striking and attractive but I can't help feeling that they have slightly too far in this development of the brand. However, such packaging is designed with sales in mind, and to match other products on the shelf. Clearly they have selected a different path and different target audience from the more sophisticated cousin Walkers Sensations. My guess is that this will do the trick to keep Walkers as a top brand, even if it does temporarily dismay those attached to this quintessential British snack in its original form.

February 21, 2006

Blogs Campaign wins CIPR Pride Awards

Writing about web page http://www.cipr.co.uk/prideawards/midlands/winners.asp

As Kieran has already blogged, the Warwick Blogs marketing campaign won Gold in 'Use of Photography, Design or New Media' and also a Silver in the In-House Campaign, with the Launch of 'The University of Warwick in London' winning Gold.

The judges comments can be read here.

CIPR Awards

Thanks to Karen for the photo, more can be viewed on Karen's blog

January 31, 2006

Steve Fuller: Designer trouble

Writing about web page http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/profile/story/0,,1698284,00.html

Warwick Sociologist Steve Fuller writes in The Guardian on the emerging debate over Intelligent Design. See also the Podcast: Intelligent Design or Evolution.

Darwinism has had it all its own way for too long, Warwick's controversial sociologist tells ZoŽ Corbyn

For Fuller, religion and science are compatible. He complains that evolutionary theory is being taught as dogma. It needs a "critical foil" and ID satisfies that function as well as anything else.
Historically, he says, it's religion that has motivated people to study science. "We wouldn't have science as we know it today if it weren't for monotheism," he argues, reeling off references to Newton and Mendel and their belief in divine plans. "Dawkins says religion is the root of all evil. Well, even if that were true, it's also the root of all science."

The full article can be read here.

An article also appeared in the Telegraph Saturday 28th January by Stephen C Meyer (one of the architects of the theory) entitled: Intelligent design is not creationism

October 13, 2005

Pork, Mozzarella and Pesto Parcels

Writing about web page http://www.sainsbury.co.uk/food/foodandfeatures/sainsburysmagazine_november/recipeidea/takeonemakeone.htm

I found this recipe in the Sainsburys magazine. Its always interesting to take a recipe and make it my own.

Simply, take a thin fillet of pork and flatten it a little more with a rolling pin. Spread a layer of pesto onto the fillet and then add a slice or two of mozzarella. Roll it up (not that easy since the pesto and mozarella tends to ooze out if you put too much in as I did). Keep it together with a cocktail stick or two, season it and fry for about 6 minutes on each side in olive oil, adding white wine to the pan for a few minutes. I found it needed more cooking than suggested.

Serve over a bed of warmed cannelloni beans added to a blend of olive oil, lemon juice/garlic and parsley. I added a red pepper for a bit of colour to the mixture.

Serve with rocket leaves. The pork, pesto and mozzarella is a great combination, and the beans and salad complement it well, balancing its richness.

June 28, 2005


I spied these lovely poppies along Kings Hill Lane yesterday so returned with the Canon SLR in the evening and took a few shots but the poppies looked a little jaded and the shadows were too long. Returning this morning the lighting was perfect and the poppies looking even more gorgeous so I played around with the Av settings to alter the depth of field. The barbed wire fence, fence posts and grasses gave me plenty to play with in terms of composition.

Poppy gallery

June 08, 2005

Adobe Live 2005

Following on from Adobe Live 2004, I wondered how Adobe Live 2005 (26–27 May)would fare. The change of venue to the Design Business Centre in Islington was welcome – making it easily accessible from Euston. Last year the event was used to launch the CS Suite, and this year CS2; leaving me wondering whether subsequent years will follow suit.

The main auditorium sessions focused on design as the central focal point of all Adobe software development and the new opportunities the CS2 presents to the design world.

Multimodal: 'Create once, publish everwhere' seems to be the buzzword, and is the thinking behind Adobe's software development, recognising that many designers are now working cross-platform and publishing to a multitude of channels.

Photoshop CS2
Photoshop CS2 was show-cased, focusing on new features, many which are quite impressive, especially the filter vanishing point and the healing brush, which drew hushed tones from the audience.

Illustrator CS2
I am always eager to see what has been developed in Illustrator, especially terms of the vectorising of photos, something I often want to do. I was not dissapointed! The new Livetrace feature resembles Streamline (which dates back to a time only a few members of the audience could care to remember) which was a really useful tool. Livetrace has been independently developed by Adobe, and works in a similar manner to Streamline. A powerful and sophisticated development on the current trace tool in CS2, it is a big leap forward in the ability to vectorise photographs.

May 16, 2005

R.I.P. Weather symbols

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4550703.stm

Weather Symbols have disappeared from BBC TV forecasts for good, causing a depression to form among fans of the traditional yellow sun and fluffy cloud.

So, new technology ushers in a new era in weather forecasting. Apparently, audience research showed that people found the symbols 'old fashioned' and 'boring'. I guess even weather forecasting has to move on with the times, but personally I have always liked the symbols, finding them clear and easy to understand, strangely comforting even if inaccurate! They have always had a slight authoritarian tone too which I have always associated, somewhat reassuringly, with the BBC.

May 09, 2005

Around average

Writing about web page http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/features/understanding/uksummers_review2005.shtml

Musing on what might lie ahead for the English summer 2005, I had a look on the BBC summer forecast. Apparently the trend is 'above average' temperature in Scotland and southwestern parts of England, however…

For rest of the UK however, temperatures look to be around average….. rainfall amounts are likely to be around average.

So, I guess, all in all it will be average! So, expect an unpredicatable mix of rain, sun, cloud and wind and a few hots days in July and August. Oh, and if you plan a BBQ, always have a contingency plan.

However, despite all this talk about 'average', I will, optimistically, expect and hope for better than average.

May 06, 2005

Adobe buys Macromedia for 3.4 billion

Writing about web page http://www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/invrelations/adobeandmacromedia.html

By combining the passion and creativity of two leading-edge companies, we will continue driving innovations that are changing the ways people everywhere are experiencing and interacting with information.

According to an article in Digit magazine (June 2005), analyst Steven Brazier at Canalys that he sees this as both companies bulking up against Microsoft. The first step will be both vendors supporting each others formats with Adobe likely to start integrating Flash into its products.

It will be extremely interesting to see how such integration develops over the next few years.

See also: BBC, Digit magazine.

May 05, 2005

Warwick Blogs in the Guardian

As John has drawn attention to in a recent post, todays G2 supplement carries an article about Warwick Blogs.

There is a scanned version of the article in here ,and although its probably easier to read in the on-line version, this shows the layout and inclusion of one of the poster graphics, which is somewhat pleasing to see in a national newspaper! The back page contains an image of another of the posters also.

February 08, 2005

Google maps

Writing about web page http://maps.google.com/maps

Yesterday Google launched the beta version of Google Maps.
This version consists only of the US, but hopefully they will expand it at a later date..

January 24, 2005

The Aviator

Writing about web page http://www.channel4.com/film/reviews/film.jsp?id=135655

Not flawless, and arguably not that deep, but this is an entertaining film that's three things in one: a portrait of a fascinating man, a trip to golden age Hollywood and a compelling political drama.

Leonardo DiCaprio joins a host of other stars in this substantial re-creation of the life of Howard Hughes the quirky inventor/film director. The life of the dedicated obsessive-compulsive is superbly crafter by director Martin Scorsese. I am not a particular fan of Di Caprio but his character acting is superb, drawing the viewer is into the complex personal life of a genius who constanstly teeters on the edge of reality yet never ceases to surprise.

December 21, 2004


I took this picture this morning near Kenilworth as the faint winter sun attempted to push its way through the clouds. It wasn't actually very dark but the effect of the sun has silhouetted the twigs in the hedgerow. I like the way the twigs seem to be pushing themselves towards the light, there seems to be a message of hope in there also. A larger version is the the winter gallery.

December 13, 2004

Make Trade Fair: Sugar Coated Profits

Writing about web page http://www.maketradefair.com/en/index.htm

Sugar giant, British Sugar made profits of more than £175 million pounds this year. It makes these huge profits from an EU arrangement that keeps almost all African sugar out of European markets and contributes to sugar dumping. While the government is lavishing loads on big companies like British Sugar, small-scale farmers around the world are struggling to survive.
This unfair system costs you money, too. Not only in the tax you pay the government for subsidies but also because the lack of competition means you pay more for your sugar. British Sugar is doing everything it can to stop the reforms and keep more efficient African farmers from lifting themselves out of poverty. Ask the government to do everything in their power to change this.

The 'Make Trade Fair' is running a campaign to push for sugar industry reform. All you have to do is click on the link and the site and send an email to Margaret Becker via the website.

On a design note, I love this site for combining style and substance beautifully.