World Cup Wallcharts

Football Comments Off on World Cup Wallcharts

The World Cup is here! Huzzah! A wallchart to follow the tournament is a must, but having missed out on one of the freebies from pretty much any newspaper over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been searching for one to print out.

Thanks in part to The Drum’s wallchart design competition, there are plenty doing the rounds this year. Although there are lots of charts that would look brilliant in A2 on glossy paper, I needed one that would work well printed on a couple of sheets of copier paper. They had to be easy to read, write on and preferably not use too much printer ink!

Here are a few good ones if, like me, you’ve found yourself unprepared for the incoming deluge of results.

What is the iPad really for?

Apple & Mac 3 Comments »

Let’s be honest. Apple make some very desirable gadgets. On Wednesday (27th January), they announced the iPad, the latest addition to their family of (serious) toys.

The iPad is a new handheld, touchscreen product that seems very much to have evolved from the iPhone, with a similar multi-touch interface and applications that are downloaded from a proprietary online store. On the face of it, the iPad looks like a touchscreen portable computer, and, technically, that’s true. However, there seems to be a lot that the iPad can’t do that a typical laptop can. While it does have Wi-Fi connectivity as standard, and 3G as an option, it isn’t a phone, either. The iPad has already received a good chunk of criticism and a chorus of “Meh”s for its ‘missing’ features.

However, what the iPad doesn’t do isn’t important. It’s what it does do. Apple have a knack of taking existing products and streamlining the feature set to improve the user experience. Just look at the iPod for a good example of that.

I don’t believe that the iPad should be compared to a PC, or a smartphone for that matter. It seems to me to be more of an everyday consumer device, just like an iPod or ebook reader: something that has a limited set of features that it does very well.

These features are, by today’s standards, pretty basic things that your average computer user wants to do, such as browsing the web or playing media like videos and music. These don’t require stacks of computing power or a complicated interface.

Instead, the iPad has some advantages over a conventional laptop computer. The most obvious is the touchscreen interface that has proved such a success on the iPhone. Less immediately obvious is that the device is designed to be powered on all the time, just like a phone, with Apple claiming a whole month of standby time. Having to boot a computer to quickly check something online can be a pain (for the impatient like me, at least).

The form factor also lends itself well to casual use: easy to keep on the coffee table or by the side of the bed for some late night Twitter action. I can imagine myself using it for a spot of catch-up TV on iPlayer or 4od in the evening (but not ITVplayer — all their programmes are crap!) or at last, ploughing through some of the many ebooks I’ve acquired on the bus.

The iPad is also able to run a variant of Apple’s iWork suit of applications, games and any applications from the iPhone app store. It will also be interesting to see how developers exploit the features of the iPad once they get their hands on it.

The price, while not cheap, is also much lower than that of one of Apple’s line of portable computers: $499 for the cheapest model, which I expect will convert up to £399 for the UK. More expensive models add more storage or 3G capability, so it really depends what you want to do with it how much you might want to invest.

I truly believe that Apple have hit an untapped niche with the iPad. More user-friendly, convenient and cheaper than a laptop or netbook, but more versatile and better suited to general use than a smartphone. It’s neither, but something that takes some of the most loved pieces of each and comes up with something new. Whether the marketplace agress with me, we’ll have to see.

More on fear of failure

Life Comments Off on More on fear of failure

Here’s a good example of the point I was trying to illustrate in my last post, from The 40-30-30 Rule: Why Risk Is Worth It.

Only by trying something new, struggling, learning, and then trying again do we improve our performance. It’s a simple matter of acclimating to unchartered territory.

A hat tip to @joshr for tweeting the article.

Creativity and fear of failure

Life 1 Comment »

I recently stumbled upon this talk on the excellent TED site: Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity.

In the talk, Sir Ken Robinson discusses how we ‘unlearn’ creativity by becoming scared to fail. Coincidentally, I found myself thinking something like that a few days prior to watching the talk. I realised that I was scared to do anything that was ‘sub-standard’ and this was prohibiting me from practicing and developing new skills.

As the old adage goes, though, ‘don’t run before you can walk’, and this is something I keep having to remind myself.

I see other people doing fantastic work and take great inspiration from what other people create, but I also feel disheartened to know that I can’t produce what they do. I have come to accept that I don’t have to follow other people’s approaches. Creativity is about doing things for yourself in a way that pleases you.

Oft-imitated Illustrator/doodler Jon Burgerman summed it up quite nicely in a recent issue of Computer Arts magazine.

“Maybe there is some sort of doodle style, but the way I draw is just the way that I draw… I always assumed that I drew in a very bad way.”

If you try to imitate others from the off, you will only end up frustrated. Just do what makes you happy and keep doing it.

Greg Wood: Bespoke post design

Web Stuff Comments Off on Greg Wood: Bespoke post design

I have a lot of admiration (and a little envy) for Erskine‘s Greg Wood, who has been producing some really eye-catching designs, unique to each blog post he produces.

I was particularly taken with his latest effort: Chilli Babies.

Greg Wood: Chilli Babies

Of course, I can’t mention bespoke blog post designs without referring to Jason Santa Maria, who has been producing impressive customised layouts for some time.

Inspired as I am to produce unique work for each post, a bespoke blog theme would be a good start…

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