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Archive for the ‘LifeExperiments’ Category

Preoccupied

There has been a tiny reason for the complete silence on my blog.  I was sort of preoccupied with this little reason; it kept me up at night and super busy during the day.  It turned my life upside down and forced me to see the world with new eyes.

preoccupied

Occupying such a tiny space, but making your heart overflow with excitement and joy.

All of a sudden, you start to believe in miracles again.

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This is a quick “IllustrationFriday” work of mine; this week’s topic is “Blur”.

 blurry

I really enjoyed the accompanying quote “The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play” (Arnold Toynbee). That’s an ultimate goal I suppose.

The little miss depicted here in the illustration seems to apply a “touch of blur” to anything that crosses her mind. Some helpful pointers about her brain traffic: Need new shoes, call mom, call friends, reply to emails, read that book, promotion?, sale, what to wear, what to cook, plan weekend, plan vacation, diet, exercise more often, this bag doesn’t match, new cosmetics?, house cleaning, gained weight, need chocolate, work too much, talk less, talk more, bad hair day, kids, love, happiness, career plan, 401K, money, chocolate, meditate, freedom, music … la la la la….

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Besides doing freelance web development, I’m also attending a Typography class this fall at California State University. Recently I worked on 2 AIGA typography posters, that were some kind of experimental public advertisement work to visually communicate typographic terms. I based my work on notes that I took while reading AIGA’s mission statement.

 

Term1: STEM

Definition: The stem is the main vertical stroke of a letter.

AIGA Mission Statement: Stimulate creative thinking

Stem has a pretty straightforward explanation. So to stick to the mission and make my target audience think, I took a playful approach and chose to leave out (vertical) strokes from the letters of the alphabet. The end result is like a simple puzzle and in my belief more engaging for the viewer than just listing down the definition of the term.

Sometimes if something is very obvious, we take it for granted and don’t notice it. Once it disappears; it strikes our attention. That’s the basic idea I had, while working on the design.

Stem_Final

 

Term2: Widow/Orphan

Definition: (built into image)

AIGA Mission Statement: Improve the human experience

For the second poster, I wanted to explain the term yet it had to be more than that. In paragraph anatomy, there’s no place for widows and orphans, because it’s simply poor typography. I wished to emphasize that widows/orphans are a BIG NO NO in your paragraphs and columns. Some might not care if there’s a single lonely word (widow) in the last/first line of a column, however little tiny details are what make an experience different (Mission #2) after all.   If you look closer, the definition is there too, so that those interested in the information can check it out. The texture of the sign is somewhat worn out and grungy and the typeface looks rather destroyed. This is also to highlight, that the rule of avoiding widows/orphans is old and shouldn’t be forgotten.

 

WO_Final

 

How cool would it be, if AIGA actually used these posters? Especially since I’m the only one, who isn’t a Graphic Design major in class. Now I’m definitely in tune with my blog tagline; non-stop daydreaming!

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IF – Flying

This week’s Illustration Friday theme is “flying” and here’s my contribution; a little bird named Tombix. She turned out looking clumsy, out of place and obviously out of shape… yet so bright, colorful and determined to fly!

Flying

 

Tombix would perfectly survive without any attempts to fly; yet what’s life without any trials/errors, struggle and adventure? Hence the title “Life is more than merely staying alive“. Enjoy!

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Sometimes we fit too easily in the crowd of unnoticed identities. Only few of us act brave and make an effort to distinguish their precious self.

What makes us invisible is our behavioral pattern to act calm, content, happy, silent and indifferent, while we might have a screaming giant, a murmuring poet or a confused illusionist deep down inside. 

 

pattern

 

The drawing is supposed to be a reflection of my almost weird idea. A tidy recurrent pattern forms an exterior, which safely hides the intricately wired interior. Pretty much – a chaos in disguise.

 

This is my first IllustrationFriday submission; it’s not hard to guess – this week’s topic is “pattern“. Hope you enjoy!

 

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I have been web silent for a while, except for my Twitter updates. Now I feel it’s time to break the ice with my blog.

 Leading an invisible web presence doesn’t mean that I haven’t been active. During Spring/Summer, I completed 4 ART classes at California State University and I had a chance to work with Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign on Mac. In fact, I also spent some messy time with charcoals, pencils and paper. Recently I modestly shared some of my digital work on Deviantart. All these efforts to boost my knowledge in design are not solely for distraction or entertainment. It might be a brave goal to admit, but I’d like to be able to design as a developer.

TheGoldenRatio_crocusgirl

Though irrelevant, I also started to learn French and completed two classes. Now and then, I get some instant moments of happiness, when I catch a word or two in some lyrics, a restaurant menu or a beauty magazine. C’est merveilleux!

But besides my artsy aspirations, I kept my geeky persona alive. I worked on .NET web development assignments, continued to experiment with Silverlight 3 and tried out the new features of Expression tools. Here’s a more accurate list of my routine…

 

My latest geeky reading list

Silverlight 3 – Programmer’s Reference

Accelerated Silverlight3

Expression Blend 3 with Silverlight

The Passionate Programmer

The Golden Ratio – The Story of Phi, the World’s Most Astonishing Number

 

My latest geeky activities

being a community volunteer at Digigirlz Camp, Culver City, LA and proctoring Small Basic, Kodu, Blend 3, Windows Live Movie Maker classes

writing about MSDN Kid’s Corner and Digigirlz events/sessions on Digigirlz’ Space – Windows Live

tuning in to the Silverlight 3 Firestarter event

watching Ignite Your Career WebCast Series

solving puzzles while playing Professor Layton and the Curious Village

refreshing my algorithm skills through Programming Interviews Exposed

 

In case you missed it, you can find the Silverlight FireStarter slides on Mithun Dhar’s blog; the sessions will also become available soon on-demand. The next Firestarter live webcast I’m looking forward to is the ASP.NET MVC event. ASP.NET MVC seems so much more familiar for someone who has done Java development with MVC methodologies and it’s great that you can associate your former coding experience with all the features you are reading about. Basically; it’s nice to know that you already know something.

Another interesting news to mention is the WebsiteSpark program that Microsoft announded yesterday. It will offer web developers and designers access to Microsoft services and products at no upfront cost.

 

For someone keeping silent; I’m surprised about  how much I had to write about. I’ll do my best to keep up with the writing. But from now on, I won’t wait till I come up with a crazy invention or original topic, but rather simply share the basic discoveries that I make during my developer work, my Silverlight experiments, my design progress and my daily life. The longer I plan, the less I can share and the less genuine it will be. 

 

After all, why should we have a web presence, if we don’t use the opportunity to share and provide information that could be useful or interesting to others; even if that turns out be only one person.

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I have spent some time reading about + playing with Silverlight video player applications. There is lots of info out on the Web about Silverlight video players and it is really hard to work your way through all of them. So I thought I should share the links, which proved to be the most useful for me.

 

Jesse Liberty’s Hypervideo Tutorials

These video tutorials are pretty awesome. You get a chance to see how to edit Expression Encoder templates in Expression Blend and add hypervideo links and markers to your video. By the way; if you haven’t been to the How do I? section of the Silverlight.net web site, you are missing out on very informative plus free learning material.

 

Streaming and Progressive Download Info

Vertigo is a company, that has lots of cool Silverlight projects like Hard Rock  Memorabilia using DeepZoom, Slide.Show/Video.Show and the most recent one, HD quality live streaming player for the Inaguration of Barack Obama. They teamed up with CBS, Microsoft and Move Networks to make that happen. A while ago, scanning through their blogs, I discovered Elisabeth Boonin’s entry titled “Streaming, Progressive Download and Silverlight“, which provides a brilliant clarification of the differences between video download, progressive download and video streaming. Especially if you tried to start off with streaming through Silverlight’s Streaming web site, you might be dazzled with the misnomer. The Silverlight Streaming website provides progressive download services and not (live) streaming; to do streaming you actually need a streaming server. The article is a quite detailed orientation to video delivery mechanisms and I enjoyed reading it.

 

The Open Video Player Initiative

This is  a community project that concentrates on sharing best practices for video player development and monetization. The website has source codes available for a video player in Silverlight and Flash, which can be downloaded from SourceForge. The Silverlight open video player includes a ready interface for setting parameters and I could replay videos with progressive download and streaming without any problems. Yet I did not look into the source code in detail; therefore I cannot comment on the coding so far. You can check out the SmoothHD site to experience an Open Video Player sample in action.

 

Silverlight 2 Video Player

Currently I am checking out the Silverlight Video Player 2 source code, which can be found on CodePlex. The video player features include support for streaming video, startup parameters, full screen playback and timeline marker support. The player is resizable and rescalable too. The participating developers in the project are Joel Neubeck and Tim Heuer. Actually, I  always find tons of Silverlight media goodies on Tim Heuer’s blog and it’s always worth a visit. Recently I also read on Joel Neubeck’s blog that their video player is now used on Microsoft’s MediaRoom site.

Once I come up with my customized sample of the Silverlight 2 Video Player; I plan to share more bits and pieces about my own development experience.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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