Friday, November 6, 2015

iPad Pro Boss Ross Edition with Apple Brush (concept)

Discovering the amazing app Procreate a few months ago changed my idea of what a tablet (or smartphone) could be used for. According to Savage Interactive their app Procreate "is the most advanced painting app ever designed for a mobile device". I'd go as far as to say it sets a new world standard for all painting apps.

The first thing I noticed about Procreate is how fun and easy it is. The user interface has no clutter. This is why we use computers--to help facilitate what we want to do. A software program that instantly confuses people stops productivity. Photoshop: I'm talking to you. If you have to buy a book or go to classes to learn the very basics of a software program something went very wrong. Books and classes are great for developing technique and learning complex concepts, but the very basics of a user interface (UI) should speak to you. It should encourage you the way Bob Ross does as he whispers about the wonders of paint. Creativity should be enjoyable!

With Procreate the user is (virtually) painting directly onto the surface typically with a finger or stylus. The upcoming "big" iPad Pro will support the new Apple Pencil, offering perfect palm rejection and touch sensitivity. So why did it take Apple so long to come up with their first "pencil"? Simple: the genius Steve Jobs was against the idea.

When I learned the new iPad Pro is going to be larger than previous iPads I had just discovered the Procreate app and something clicked in my head. The tablet should be as potentially huge as the canvas you would like to paint on. Does this mean I want a 42 inch iPad? It sure does! Place that baby onto an easel and go to town! Hopefully Apple will eventually come up with an Apple Brush, where each bristle interacts and can hold its own digital paint.

Using Procreate is very impressive. I see my own artistic skills, while limited, translate directly to the digital medium. It looks like my work. The mind blowing videos people have posted show what more serious artists do when they get their hands on this technology. If you are someone who already has artistic, painting, or illustration skills, you might find this medium very usable and practical. Not everyone has the ability to mess with real paint, or even keep up with the costs of a real painting "habit".

I think Apple is going in the right direction with the iPad Pro line and hopefully it will live up to its name of being "Pro", and get bigger and bigger.

This post is dedicated to Bob Ross.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Fresh Perspective On The Future Of The Gaming PC

Since selling my PS3 a couple years ago I've fallen head over heels in love with PC gaming. I've been on Steam for over ten years, but only within the last couple of years have things taken such a crazy turn.

It all started when my brother bought me a copy of Indie Game The Movie. I loved it, then began buying indie games on Steam and Humble Bundles. My collection of 10-20 games over the course of a decade then quickly turned into a happy library of 142 games. As cloud computing has grown I've always wondered if gaming on an actual physical PC would continue to even be necessary. A few more recent discoveries have answered that question with an undeniable Yes.

I now see the likes of Microsoft Windows, NVidia, Intel, and AMD all having extremely bright futures while it would seems the concept of a dedicated gaming console is simply doomed. Why on earth wouldn't a powerhouse like a PS4 or XBox One be able to run Windows, and Steam? Windows and Steam are the cornerstone of video gaming, whether any of us like it or not, right? Simply being able to run Windows on one of these boxes would actually replace a PC, but I guess it's just too late for that. Sony and Microsoft don't want us doing word processing or production on these systems so they can maintain complete and utter control. At the end of a product life cycle all that potential just goes down the drain as landfills pile up with yesterday's garbage. What could have been, was not.

But here's what really did it: the future of entertainment itself. Right now, on twitch.tv, individual content creators are rampaging something glorious. They are feeding hungry fans with a form of entertainment only the internet has to offer. While streaming video games from one's own home these new content creators are replacing both previous forms of entertainment (like television) as well as the viewing medium itself (a web browser). Give it a healthy dose of ads and we have ourselves The New TV.

Surprisingly, the home computer is now becoming more important than ever. Our ability to house our own data and control our own content is something cable companies and cloud advocates are terrified of. It seems the fans have been ravenous for this type of content for quite a while and their support for fresh new content creators proves it. The secret weapon of video game streaming is the fact that there is an interactive reality show attached to it. The couch potatoes of the world are ready to do a bit more than just sit there and watch.

Games like Skyrim exist locally and get customized by users to oblivion. Only a high-powered gaming PC running Windows can do the job. We all might hate Windows 8.1 to death, but underneath it's Windows. And it isn't going anywhere.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Why I said goodbye to Verizon Android and hello to the T-Mobile iPhone 5S

I loved the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. I really did. But after digging into the latest iPhone I will probably never buy another Android device. T-Mobile, I'm so proud of you. Here's why I made the move.

The first warning sign was no update to my Galaxy's OS while other devices somehow deserved this manner of love. Even with its beefy specs it seemed like Verizon or Samsung or Google (or maybe some magical phone developing woodelf) just didn't care about supporting the Samsung Galaxy Nexus TI chipset anymore. Then there was the Google Wallet failure. The $20 I put into Google Wallet a year ago is still there. I never spent it because the whole concept of not having a physical wallet so I could pay with the Google Wallet app never worked. Google Wallet blundered so badly they now offer a standard plastic card that can be used to spend the balance. Sorry Pete's, it seems I'm tapping my phone against your payment system and nothing is happening. There might be some real cash somewhere in my pockets. Let me check.

The second warning sign was the incredibly slow data performance Verizon provided to my "unlimited" data plan when I was living in a more rural area. What good is unlimited data when you're being held back to a snail's pace? 4GLTE seems to actually work if the phone is right next to a tower. Now isn't that special? I just love hanging out right next to cell phone towers. Let's get a sound system and have a cell phone tower rave, shall we?

The third, and most critical issue, is my favorite developers. Companies like Propellerhead Software and Native Instruments do not create their apps for the Android platform, and this is a total deal breaker for me. As a computer consultant I tell my clients to buy systems based on the applications they plan on running and that's exactly what I'm doing right now. When I look at the reasons behind developer love for Apple the answer is clear: Android's fragmentation and inferior money. Android, with all of its powerful wonders, is a fragmented mess of a platform that often doesn't seem to line developers' pockets with the money they need to put food on the table. I can only hope this situation improves in the future. For now Apple has a model that is allowing developers to make a living while providing the best apps available.

While I do remain a big fan of the Android platform (on principle) I no longer want to hang around while the growing pains are worked out. I'm also a huge Humble Bundle fan who owns a pile of Android games which I can thankfully still run on my old depraved Galaxy Nexus (if I ever stop playing Skyrim).

When I read the recent news that Samsung is phasing out Android I shook my head and made the switch. Ver-goog-sung dropped me dead-in-the-water as a customer, and so now I drop them. Congratulations to both T-Mobile and Apple. You done something right, son.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

HP Scanjet 2200C driver XP SP3 / Win7

UPDATE: Rumor has it this driver will work under Windows 7, according to one guy from the forums on the HP website.

I originally posted this while working with a Windows XP SP3 system. I had the need to get my HP Scanjet 2200C flatbed scanner working after being inspired by the art of Tim Fleming. The installation on this XP SP3 computer seemed to be going just fine until I got the well-known "Class Installer" error. Looked like I was out of luck! To my surprise the thing came to life about 40 minutes later. Using the original CD that came with the scanner and the 1.22 update file from HP's site I finally got it working. In case you are on XP SP3, here's what I did:

1. Unplugged the scanner (power and USB)
2. Installed the drivers from the CD (download also available)
3. Re-booted
4. Installed sj645en.exe (This is the 1.22 update directly from HP's site)
5. Plugged in the scanner (Class Installer error again!)
6. Installed sj645en.exe AGAIN just for the heck of it. The scanner now wakes up with a few happy noises. Checking the device manager I notice that the yellow ! also disappeared showing a correctly installed device.

Welcome to my technology blog

Dear Friends,

Welcome to my technology blog! Here I will post my favorite apps, tips, procedures, and some technology opinions.

Hopefully you'll find my posts useful, such as nerdrific posts like: Skyrim modding basics, digital audio tips, video animation nuggets, reviews, and how to find rare yet important apps and drivers.

Starting at nine years old I began providing professional technology consulting services. With a dirt bicycle and minimal knowledge I hit the pavement (with my face). My first paid gig was helping my neighbor print her homework. Who knew people would be paying me to make their documents print for the next thirty years. My personal systems included the Atari 2600, Commodore Vic-20, Commodore 64, Atari 1040 ST, Amiga 1000, Amiga 500 (modded), Amiga 2000, and Amiga 3000 with the chassis cut to accommodate a Video Toaster.

The first Windows PC I built was primarily for playing Diablo and featured the glorious Windows 95 operating system. I then learned Windows 3.1 on a Toshiba laptop, and NT 4.0 in early IT jobs. My most modern OS was Windows 8.1 before I happily wiped it so I could upgrade to the very wonderful Windows 7. My eye is keenly pondering OSX since Apple's latest announcement of sub-$1000 MacBook Air's.

This is my fourth blog; the other three are the recipes, the photos, and the poems.

Thank you for loitering,
Damien