Monthly Archives: July 2009

"Anatomy of a Feature"

Brent Simmons, developer of the excellent NetNewsWire (my tool for finding all this ephemera), offers his take on the Anatomy of a Feature. If you’re at all curious about the sausage-making process of software development, you might be interested in just how much thought goes into even the most trivial-sounding changes.

I’d kind of shudder to read/write an equivalent essay set inside a big company, where affecting something like one’s own app installer can require petitioning a dozen people–often without success. The phrase “up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege that I will never fully tell you about” comes to mind.

Just yesterday I found myself calmly declaring that if getting Future Feature X into requires slapping down my credit card and building the Web hosting myself*, so be it. (Know this, suckaz: We. Shall. Prevail.)

* Enabling Configurator for CS4 involved my getting a six pack of Negra Modelo and recording each menu item in Photoshop, then copying/pasting/reformatting/commenting the code, one at a time, 800 times over the course of several evenings. Elegant, pleasurable? Not so much. But no one ever said it was gonna be easy.

"Flickroom": Lightroom-style Flickr browsing

Oh, now that’s interesting: Flickroom is an AIR application that uses a Lightroom-style shell to display photos. According to the site, the app:

“provides the rich browsing experience Flickr users have long deserved. The dark theme ensures that your photographs look better than ever before! You can now receive instant notifications for any activity on your photostream, upload photos by just drag-and-drop, add comments, mark faves, add notes, tweet about your photos and also view all info associated with an image from within the app.”

I haven’t gotten to play with it extensively, but so far I’m finding it fun. (By the way, if you’d like to create something similar using Adobe Flex, check out Juan Sanchez’s LR-style Flex theme.) [Via]

Spam-weasels rip my flesh

Damn… Maybe it shouldn’t surprise me, but apparently spammers can defeat Movable Type’s built-in CAPTCHA system. Because I’d set comments to auto-publish after they passed that checkpoint, a few spams (now deleted) snuck past the goalie. Sorry about that.
I’m now experimenting with “trusted commenters” in MT, and I just flagged the last 2000 or so commenters (going back as far as March) as trusted. Hopefully if you’re a regular reader/commenter, your remarks can appear right away. We shall see.
Note that you can subscribe to a comments feed via RSS. As for threaded comments, I’ll tackle the needed mods soon, bambinos permitting.

The photography of conflict

  • Tom Junod’s article The Falling Man, about Richard Drew’s famous 9/11 photograph, is long, very difficult, and rewarding.
  • Battlespace brings together photographs from Iraq and Afghanistan, 2003-2008. If nothing else see the 5-minute slideshow.
  • “As a general rule, people really don’t catapult ten feet into the air whenever an artillery round explodes near them, despite what Hollywood war movies show you.” Bruce Haley shares amazing war photography and insights on his site. (“After weeks of living on the run in the jungle, eating nothing but rice, that goddamn barbecued monkey leg tasted like filet mignon.”)
  • Photography Served features beautiful (in one sense) B&W’s of 20th-Century War Machines.
  • Design Observer surveys Hiroshima: The Lost Photographs. [Via]

Mark Hamburg returns to Adobe

Well, that didn’t take so long, did it? 🙂

After 17 years on the Photoshop & Lightroom teams, Mark Hamburg left Adobe last year to join Microsoft and work on improving the Windows user experience (as he found it “really annoying”). I’m happy to say that after that brief sojourn, he’s returning to the Adobe Digital Imaging team. Welcome back, Mark! [Via]

Oh, and to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, who wrote at the time of Mark’s departure:

Microsoft’s competitor to Adobe Lightroom gets another champion… My bet is Hamburg will be instrumental in helping Microsoft bring to market its Photoshop Lightroom competitor.

Er, not so much.

(rt) Type: Awesome lettering, awful acronyms, and more

Blog commenting

Housekeeping note: This blog’s commenting system remains a work in progress. As you may have noticed, we’ve moved to a new CAPTCHA system, and valid comments now publish immediately after you submit them. I’m hoping that the latter, taken together with threaded commenting (still working on that one), will make it easier for people to talk back and forth without waiting on me.
If you encounter any problems posting comments, please let me know.
Update: Dammit, something is apparently busted, and if you’ve submitted a comment in the last ~24 hours (and don’t see it published), it hasn’t reached me. I’ve asked the admins for an update ASAP.
Okay, it seems things are working again, Please do let me know if you experience problems commenting.

Using DNG profiles: A video demo

Last summer I wrote,

When we look back at how things changed with the arrival of Lightroom 2, I think the new DNG Profile Editor (presently kind of a sleeper technology) will stand out as transformative.

I still believe that’s true, but I think photographers need an assist in learning how to make profiles practical. The inclusion of camera profiles in recent updates to Lightroom & Camera Raw greatly simplifies their use, and now Julieanne Kost has posted a 15-minute walkthrough showing their use & benefits:

(For higher-res viewing, I recommend clicking the full screen option above, or watching the video on the Adobe TV site.)

CS4 eSeminar Series for Pro Photographers

If you’re a pro photographer, check out the CS4: Shortcut to Brilliant eSeminar Series for Professional Photographers, starting this Thursday. Titles & times at a glance:

  • Discover the Timesaving Benefits of Adobe® Photoshop® CS4
    • Thursday, July 23, 2009 10:00 A.M. PDT
  • Accelerate your Workflow with the Combined Power of Adobe®Photoshop® Lightroom® 2 and Adobe® Photoshop® CS4
    • Thursday, July 30, 2009 10:00 A.M. PDT
  • Expand Your Creative Possibilities with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2
    • Thursday, August 13, 2009 10:00 A.M. PDT
  • Spend More Time Shooting and Less Time Computing with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2
    • Thursday, August 20, 2009 10:00 A.M. PDT

See the events page for more details.

The progress of Configurator

Adobe evangelist Julieanne Kost has worked with Kelby Training to create a video tutorial showing how to assemble custom UI panels using Adobe Configurator. Note that you need to be a KT member to watch more than the intro segments.

Elsewhere, I see that photographer & author Vincent Versace is using Configurator-made panels to enhance his writings on black & white conversion and selective blur/focus. Way to go, Vincent. I love seeing experts embrace a new way to download their brains right into Photoshop.

Normally I don’t talk about unannounced products, but I’m happy to report that development of the Configurator authoring tool is proceeding nicely. (Didn’t want you to think it was a “one-and-out” kind of endeavor.) Besides addressing key requests from users of v1.0, we’re focusing heavily on plumbing like object containers, auto-layout, and localizability. That’ll let us eat our own proverbial dog food, using Configurator to create Photoshop enhancements that ship in the box. (I expect our ideas here to generate much discussion and maybe even some controversy, but no one ever said that progress was easy. I’ll be asking for your input soon.)

If you’re using Configurator today, I’d love to hear from you & see examples of your work. Let us know how you use the tool and/or how you’d like to use it.

Moon reunion

Happy 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing!

Monday Photography: Cities in Dust

Quick Illustrator tips: Create a ribbon; batch convert

A few Adobe technical folks bounced around some ideas last week, responding to a question about how one would create a pink ribbon-style illustration. Stéphane Baril made some great suggestions in this very brief, five-step tutorial (PDF). (Live Paint is your friend!)

Elsewhere, developer Richard Bates has created a free utility & notes on Batch SWF Conversion with AIR and Illustrator CS4. [Via David Macy]

Saturday Illustrations: Paper madness, Grassfitti, & more

Blog server updating; commenting offline

The blogging infrastructure folks are pushing another big update live this weekend, so my ability to post & your ability to comment are likely to be restricted for a while (up to 72 hours). I’ll post a note when things are supposed to be working properly.
I’m looking forward to using the new platform, and in particular to enabling threaded commenting (should be good for those spirited back-and-forth debates). We shall see.

Buy CS4, save $400 on Adobe MAX

If you’re thinking of attending Adobe MAX this fall, know that you can save $400 off the price of admission by buying software through the online store. Check out the details.
[ Note: This discount applies only to purchases made in the US. I know that sucks for folks based elsewhere. From recent experience I can tell you that cross-border pricing, promotions, etc. have a way of becoming nightmarishly complex. ]

Where Eagles Dare

Today, as you’re probably reading elsewhere, marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11, humanity’s first landing on the moon. Follow along with the mission on the beautiful We Choose The Moon. Related links of interest:

[For many more space-/imaging-related links, see this blog’s scientific & technical imaging category.]

Vive la différence

Interesting observation from Daring Fireball the other day:

“So I think Gnome and KDE are stuck with a problem similar to the ‘Uncanny Valley.’ By establishing a conceptual framework that mimics Windows, they can never really be that much different than Windows, and if they’re not that much different, they can never be that much better. If you want to make something a lot better, you’ve got to make something a lot different.”

It’s kind of a drag to see other image-editing apps just imitate Photoshop. I certainly understand the rationale for doing so, but their creators are tying their own hands. Why not break some really new ground? That’s what Mark Hamburg & the Lightroom team did, rethinking a lot of problems from the bottom up.

Oh Boy, Oh Henry!

I couldn’t be happier to announce that (not-so-)little Henry Seamus Nack–marvel of creation, California King, Little Brother to the Stars, & general delight to behold–sprang into the world at 2:47pm yesterday afternoon.

Mom & baby are doing great after a crazy-fast labor (end-to-end 20 minutes in the hospital!*), and big brother Finn is suitably intrigued** with baby “Goonie” (short for “El Segundo”). The big-little man bested his whopping bro’s marks, coming in at 9lb 12oz (what’s that, about 4 hectacres in Metric***?) and 21″. He and mom are chilling at the hospital while dad squires Finny around and runs sandwich-fetching missions.

Here’s a little gallery of the goings-on, and of course we’ll be updating the soon-to-be-renamed Finnegan Wakes as we bring our buddy home and learn to niño-juggle. Wish us luck!

I expect to be taking a little break from work-blogging, though I have a bunch of links set to publish on an automated schedule.

* “No epidural for you!”
** “Pop! Egg!” he says, a la Very Hungry Caterpillar
*** Can you tell I’m American?

Wide-angle image correction tech

Adobe researcher Aseem Agarwala, working with Maneesh Agrawala & Robert Carroll at Berkeley, has demonstrated techniques to enable “Content-Preserving Projections for Wide-Angle Images.” That may sound a little dry, but check out the demo video (10MB QT) to see how the work enables extremely wide-angle photography. [Via Dan Goldman]
Aseem contributed the depth-of-field extension feature to Photoshop CS4. For previous entries showing advanced imaging work, check out this blog’s Image Science category.

Unique photography workshop in September

Reader Erin English let me know about a cool photography workshop being held this fall in Crested Butte, Colorado, for individuals with cognitive disabilities. She writes,

Individuals with cognitive disabilities are invited to take part in this nature photography workshop held during prime “leaf-peeping” time in the Elk Mountains. The camp will cover all of the basic skills needed to take great photos: lighting, composition and subject. Photographers will find plenty of adventure along the way as they search for their perfect shot. A slide show presentation wraps things up on the final day, and will be sure to please. Families are encouraged to participate; all ages welcome.

Check out the Adaptive Sports Center site for more info.

On a tangentially related note, I see that the InDesign team has just posted a document on how to create accessible PDFs using ID–documents that are screen-reader-friendly, for example.

Classic type, new and old

Wednesday Illustrations: Geekery, skating, & more

Tuesday Infographics

Handy new Lightroom, ACR utilities

Monday Illustrations: Snacks + Chroma

The beautiful world

Set the Controls for the Art of the Son

A little housekeeping note: I’ve been taking advantage of vacation + the wait for baby “El Segundo,” using the time to queue up lots of links & scheduling them to auto-publish. So, if

  1. you happen to see me publish big news in what looks like quick succession with the usual doses of ephemera, and/or
  2. it appears I’m blogging instead of caring for a newborn,

please don’t think it makes me a terrible dad! (I’ve got that latter part covered through things like indulging play with a rusty, severed car antenna. ;-))
Autopilot, engage,

Saturday Illustrations: From subways to space