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Archive for December, 2005

Link: Sports In the Year 2015

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Okay, the idea’s decent enough: What will sports and the sports viewing experience be like ten years from now? That I’m cool with–how we viewers watch sports has changed quite a bit in the last ten years and is sure to change even more in the next ten.

But man, whoever put that project together needs to have their keys to the Internet taken away. Most of the featured “predictions” (quotes necessitated because I can’t imagine most of them were made with any seriousness, especially given that we’re only talking ten years in the future) were laughable and the Flash-based presentation itself was horrible, like the folks at ESPN found an intern in the production department, gave them a copy of the Flash software and some URLs to tutorial sites, slapped ‘em on the ass and told ‘em to let ‘er rip.[1] Awful, awful stuff.

The best part of the presentation was the predictions by Frank Gibeau of EA Sports, who seemed to have the most practical, most considered, most likely–and, honestly, the coolest–ideas for where the sports experience is going. Makes sense to me that the best ideas would be coming from the guy working in the video game industry, since they probably spend more time thinking about exactly how viewers take in sports than anyone else.

[1] To be fair, I think they paid a professional Flash designer to do the groovy animated background and the annoying vapor trails that follow your mouse–but then they gave the rest of it (meaning, of course, the important stuff: the content) to the intern to finish. (This article also published at Sportsgeekz.com.)

Written by Allen

December 30th, 2005 at 5:10 pm

Posted in Web,Web Design

Link: Best Fonts of 2005 (Part One)

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The graphic designer in me was all over part one of Typographica‘s Best Fonts of 2005. These are all gorgeous typefaces (I especially liked Proxima Nova, Arrival and Vista Sans) that I wish were available for free, but of course they aren’t–these are professional-grade fonts and, as such, ain’t cheap. But they do make me want to go find some new fonts to use in those occasional design projects I undertake.

All of this reminds me that I’ve been meaning to mention how glad I was to find that I’m not the only typography geek I know. Upon reading that Microsoft was releasing a new batch of fonts that would be shipping with Windows Vista, a friend of mine installed his beta copy of Vista (he’s got an MSDN [1] subscription and so has a really, really early version of the software) just to get those fonts. That’s right, he installed an entire operating system (a bloated, beta Microsoft operating system, no less) so that he could get six new fonts–mainly, I think, just to get the new fixed-width font so he could use it in code editors.

Of course, I asked him to slip me the fonts, too. Consolas is so, so purty for editing code…

It’s also worth noting, if you’re into this kind of thing, that Windows Vista and the next version of Microsoft Office will also have a new font for its user interface, the first change since Microsoft began using Tahoma back in Office 97.

[1] That’s the Microsoft Developers Network, for those of you who aren’t tech geeks. Or for those of you who are pure *nix geeks. ;)

Written by Allen

December 29th, 2005 at 5:16 pm

A Stantastic Birthday

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Happy 83rd birthday to Stan “The Man” Lee! Without Stan (not to mention his pencil-pushin’ partners, most notably including Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko), the comics industry as we know it today would be a radically different place–if it even existed at all. Stan created or co-created Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Thor, the Avengers–most of the Marvel Universe originally came from Stan [1]. These characters Stan co-created also changed the entire model on which superheroes were constructed: his heroes experienced self-doubt, angst, love, fear–they actually had depth, which was pretty revolutionary for superheroes in the 1960s. [2]

Stan’s still considered something of an ambassador for Marvel and the industry as a whole (which is why, of course, he has a cameo in every Marvel-related movie produced these days). He’s likely still the comics-related personality most recognizable to the general population. Of course, he’s likely the only comics-related personality recognizable to the general population… [3]

(Thanks, Jeff, for the tip!)

[1] Please don’t think I’m leaving out Kirby and Ditko and the rest of the artists who worked with Stan on those books in the 60′s and 70′s. Stan himself freely admits that he’d usually toss off the initial beginnings of character ideas and the artists would do all of the work on the visuals, meaning they had as much to do with the character creation as Stan did. Anyone who knows me knows I would not disrespect the role of the artists in this process–but it’s Stan’s birthday, so he gets the focus. [2] Most of the general population’s images of superheroes as hyper-inflated Boy Scouts who call civilians “citizen,” spout cornball dialogue and generally exhibit all the depth of the paper they’re printed on are based on comics and other media representations from the 1940s and 50s. That’s a stereotype that hasn’t been valid for almost half a century, yet still persists because most people don’t read comics…in no small part because that stereotype still persists. That particular catch-22 really, really gets my Superman Underoos in a bunch. Grr. [3] Not counting someone like Kevin Smith, who started in other media and then came to comics after earning his fame/notoriety elsewhere.

Written by Allen

December 28th, 2005 at 1:07 pm

Reading List Update

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Thanks very much to everyone who suggested books to add to my reading list. Pretty much every recommendation you gave me has gone on the list; how soon I get to start working through those books, I don’t know. Probably depends on when I can get to the library.

In the meantime, I’ve started (for the third time) a book I’ve been meaning to read forever-and-a-half: Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I keep starting it and losing the thread of it–not out of lack of interest, but just because my ADD self hasn’t quite been able to keep my head in the book. But I’m hoping this time to stay with it and finish it. Maybe telling all of you that I’m reading it will help keep my head in it.

Also added to the list was the book Terry got me for Christmas: The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini, which I hadn’t even heard of but sounds fascinating. I’m not completely sure what it’s about just yet, though I know it deals a lot with the situation in contemporary Afghanistan. Tell you what: I’ll give you guys a full book report when I’m done.

Written by Allen

December 28th, 2005 at 9:57 am

Posted in Books

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Good Deal

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As I’ve been predicting since early in the negotiations, Disney and Pixar are nearing a deal to re-up their distribution deal, which was set to expire after the release of Cars next year. I can’t honestly see how anyone might have believed this deal wasn’t going to happen–both companies stood to lose way, way too much if they parted ways: too much money for Disney, too much caché for Pixar.

I do have some concerns about the new agreement, if the information out there right now turns out to be true. If Disney were to outright purchase Pixar and make them the official Disney animation division, as one rumor has it, Pixar would lose the independence that’s allowed them to craft their movies they want the way they want to make them. If Disney owns them rather than simply distributs their product, Disney would likely want to have more of a white-gloved, three-fingered hand in what Pixar does and how, and we’ve already seen how wretchedly Disney manages their current animation department. I might be less concerned if they installed John Lasseter as Almighty Inscrutable Pixar Overlord and left them alone, but I have trouble imaginging Disney buying a new toy and not wanting to play with it.

Part of the deal might also include allowing Disney’s current 3D animation department to produce Pixar-sanctioned sequels to some of the Pixar catalog. I’m not sure if this one’s true or not, since Disney’s in-house 3D division seems to be nothing more than a poorly-constructed sham (“Circle 7 Studios” taking its name from the logo for the ABC studio across the street from their offices). I had been thinking that Pixar wouldn’t want to be involved with making any direct-to-video sequels of their work…until I remembered that Toy Story 2 was originally intended to be exactly that. So we’ll see; I’m going to leave this development in the “skeptical” column for now.

Those concerns aside, though, I’m very glad this deal’s going to get done. I’m not the biggest fan of The Mouse, but I realize that Pixar’s better off having their name connected to Disney than not. The distribution and promotion they get (like, say, having their creations slapped all over theme parks around the world) from being associated with the Disney Multimedia Conglomerate can’t be beat by anyone else they could have snuggled up with. And they certainly didn’t want to get into distributing their own movies; far better to let a company with that infrastructure in place take care of it so Pixar can stick with what they do best.

Written by Allen

December 27th, 2005 at 5:59 pm

Posted in General