Monthly Archives: April 2007

Photoshop security issue reported; details pending

Security firm Secunia has reported a vulnerability with Photoshop CS2 and CS3, whereby a malformed bitmap file (.BMP, .DIB, .RLE) could cause a buffer overflow in the application.  Unfortunately I don’t have more useful info to add at the moment, and I’m heading to Death Valley for the weekend & will be out of the loop for a bit.  I’ll post more details as I get them.  In the meantime, I’d suggest steering clear of files in these formats created by unknown/untrusted parties.  (The good news here is that the formats are pretty uncommonly used in Photoshop, to the point where I can’t remember the last time a customer mentioned them to me.)

Adventures in Infographics

I’m intrigued by work that strives to make sense of large, complicated sets of data (see previous).  Along those lines:

  • This London-style NYC subway map is generating a lot of conversation, both online & inside Adobe.  Weird, I remember discussing this exact topic when I first started at an NY Web shop–nine years ago!  Bridge engineering manager Arno Gourdol points out Mr. Beck’s Underground Map, a thorough account of the Tube map design.  And from there I found this page, brimming with more resources on the subject. [Via]
  • PingMag chats with Andrew Vande Moere, creator of the Infosthetics blog, about the beauty of data visualization.  Both links are chock full of loveliness.  (Bonus: No Edward Tufte w/young white-gloved flunkies.)
  • The Strange Maps blog depicts right- vs. left-hand driving around the globe, while providing the interesting back story of how these conventions came to be. [Via]
  • Covering 5000 years in 90 seconds, Maps of War shows the tides of conquest that have swept through the Middle East. [Via]
  • The US government gets into the game, using census data to drive home the aging of the populace.
  • I dig illustrator Christoph Niemann’s witty little visual comparison of some pieces of music.  (I’m a Jaws-level pianist at best.)
  • Pentagram designer Paula Scher created this anatomy of a blog conversation for the NYT. Ahh, the descent into ennui… [Via]
  • At FITC last weekend I really enjoyed meeting Evan Roth, the dude behind the SkyMall demographic visualization, laser graffiti, and much more. Though I’m coming up short on links to it, he’s created a method of visualizing one’s daily clicks: wiring up two USB cables from a single mouse, plugging one into a main work computer, and plugging the other into a machine running Photoshop or other graphics app.  As you click around email, the Web, etc., you produce a drawing (of sorts) on the other machine, with paint blobs mapped to the same coordinates as your clicks.  (It sounds like AttenTV might be doing vaguely similar, for profit.)  Oh, and bringing this post full circle, Evan’s crew at Eyebeam has created an interactive NYC subway map.

Check out the thorax on that guy

I’m a real lightweight when it comes to insects (for example, I could never name my Flash rival after one ;-)), but they do inspire creative photography & more:

  • Buzz illustrates "The Intimate Bond Between Humans and Insects" via some amazing microscopic photography. See inside. [Via]
  • Student photographer Lawraa shares a shot of a praying mantis apparently listening to Snoop ("Throw your prehensile appendages in the ai-ir…") [Via]
  • Der Spiegel had a great gallery of shattered bugs, but now I’ve waited too long and it’s returning a 404 error.  Dang–maybe it’ll turn up elsewhere, as the images were worth seeing. The best the site will now give me is a pregnant cow scaring chubby cyclists.
  • Make any treat more mouthwatering with the help of sugar that looks like ants. [Via]
  • In a similar vein, an ad campaign uses ants–"the most credible ambassadors for sweetness*"– to show off sugar-free eats.
  • [For more bug life, see previous.]

*Snuggle the fabric softener bear was apparently unavailable

Lightroom $199 through Monday, $299 thereafter

Thanks to the folks at for the reminder: the introductory pricing for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom ($199 US) is good through April 30 (this coming Monday), after which the price goes to the regular retail amount ($299).  If you’ve been thinking about purchasing Lightroom, now’s a good time to bust a move to the store. (You can kick the tires first via the downloable tryout version; just don’t wait too long to get the price break.)

Photoshop Extended wins Vidy, more at NAB

I was really pleased to hear film & video peeps’ response to Photoshop Extended last week at NAB, and today we got some more good news: NewBay Media (publishers of Digital Cinematography, DV Magazine, and more) awarded Photoshop CS3 Extended their "Vidy" & "Top Innovation" awards.  Thanks, guys!  Meanwhile Adobe Soundbooth took home DV’s Black Diamond award.

As long as we’re being a little immodest, I’ve seen some other great comments in recent days:

  • "It’s simple, really," writes Jim Heid in Macworld. "If digital imaging is an important part of your creative life, you’ll want Adobe Photoshop CS3. The new version provides so many improvements in so many areas that no serious digital photographer, video artist, or designer should be without it" [emphasis added].
  • "This upgrade is a no-brainer if you’re a regular Photoshop user," says CreativePro’s Ben Long. "The combination of enhancements to staple features, such as Curves and the Clone Stamp, combined with powerful new additions like the Black and White conversion and Camera Raw enhancements, mean that there’s something for everyone in this update."
  • PC World lists Photoshop among "The 50 Best Tech Products of All Time."
  • Elsewhere, MacDirectory had this to say about Adobe as a whole:
    • "Beyond all the products enhancements and features revealed at the CS3 launch, the one thing that made the strongest and possibly most important impression was Adobe’s attitude. They retained all the enthusiasm and drive of a company that’s battling for market share. They know what their customers need and they deliver that and far more. With each new version, their products are not only richer, but also faster. They are not only a market leader, but remain one of the market’s leading innovators. When Adobe required Macromedia, many of us were concerned that the sudden lack of competition in the electronic design marketplace would lead to a creative lull in product development. Instead, it appears that the energies of two great companies have combined to bring us even more dramatic advancements."
  • And lastly, I spied some nice props on the forum : "Chris Cox, I promise you that you will have made a massive contribution to the field of astrophotography with the release of CS3. Your new image stacking + stitching algorithm is going to allow for immense advances in alignment, noise correction, and overall image optimization. This is a hugely powerful tool, and a significant advance over currently available software. I can tell you personally that it will likely save me several hundred manhours of labor per year. Can’t wait to get my hands on a fresh copy. Thanks Chris – this is going to be marked as a watershed moment in astrophotography development."

This all seems to be going over well, according to the analysts at PiperJaffray who surveyed customers at this month’s sold-out Photoshop World. [Via Scott Kelby]

Ad bits: DIY Pepsi cans, custom Wii's, more

Having worked at a couple of interactive ad shops, I’m always interested in seeing what’s being created these days:

Creative misuse of Photoshop layer alignment

By now we’ve probably talked your ear off about the useful things enabled by Photoshop’s layer alignment code–snapping together two or more layers, making it easy to blend group photos, for example; stitching together complex panoramas; and making crisper HDR merges.

After attending NAB this week, however, Photoshop engineer Mike Clifton came up with a crafty (and, to be honest, not "as-designed") use for the Auto-Align Layers command: stabilizing a chunk of video.  First, he shot some deliberately horrible footage out the window on our floor.  He then used Photoshop’s new Import Frames as Layers command* to turn the video frames into Photoshop layers.  Lastly, he selected all the frames and chose Edit->Auto-Align, telling Photoshop to line them all up.  To our surprise, the results are not half bad: check ’em out here (before, after, and cropped).

Now, to be clear, I wouldn’t sell Photoshop as a video stabilization tool, as tools like After Effects are already capable in that regard.  That said, half the fun of building this stuff is in seeing the clever ways people will deploy it, and this strikes me as one of ’em.

*Brought over from ImageReady, actually, but new to Photoshop.

Alternate CS3 icons available

After the, eh, spirited discussion of the Adobe CS3 iconography that ensued last year, I’m a little hesitant to mention the subject again.  That said, designer Adam Betts has posted an attractive set of alternate CS3 icons, free for download.  The imagery is based on the CS3 product packaging, which wasn’t publicly visible when the initial discussion of the icons transpired.  I think they’re rather handsome. [Via Mike Downey]

[Update: Flash PM Richard Galvan points out another set.
[Update 2: My not allowing comments wasn’t intentional; that’s what I get for scrambling to post during a 30-minute layover in Denver… Anyway, comments are open now.]

Lightroom Podcast #30: Compare View & Quick Develop

Adobe photography evangelist George Jardine is switching gears a bit in his latest Lightroom Podcast.  He’s posted a video "mini-tutorial showing you how the Quick Develop Panel can help you make a snap correction in the middle of an edit using Compare View, without breaking your concentration or workflow." George writes,

This mini-tutorial podcast is the first in a new series that will cover bite-sized tips and techniques designed to help you get the most out of Lightroom. The focus of this series will mostly concentrate on basic color correction techniques using the Develop module, but will also touch on many other parts of the application. This first tutorial shows the basics of using the Compare View to edit a small group of pictures to “find the best shot,” and how to use the Quick Develop Panel during the edit.

The podcast is available via George’s iDisk (look for “20070418 Tutorial Podcast – Compare View + QD”).  It’s also available via iTunes (search for "Lightroom"), and via the Lightroom Podcasts RSS feed.

Going to FITC? Want to talk?

I’m headed to the airport at 5am Saturday morning (yeah! all glam, all the time, this gig–though I’m not complaining), off to the FITC (neé Flash in the Can) conference in Toronto.  If you’ll be there and feel like talking about Photoshop, Flash integration, or any related topics, drop me a line.  I’ll also be speaking on Monday afternoon, giving an overview of Photoshop CS3.

CS3 cleanup script for Windows available

Adobe has posted a Windows cleanup script (alongside the equivalent Mac version) that removes vestiges of the Photoshop CS3 beta as well as other Adobe pre-release software.  If you’re having trouble installing Photoshop CS3 or other new Adobe apps, this script may help.  You may also want to consult the tech notes on removing the PS beta on Windows XP, Vista, and Mac OS X.

The download page warns of nuclear holocaust, rivers of blood, etc. resulting from the use of the script.  I think the team is just being extremely conservative and cautious, but I believe there is a chance that the script will remove serial number info for Acrobat 8 (meaning you’ll need to re-enter your serial/reactivate).

One specific point: A number of people have asked whether it’s strictly necessary to deactivate the beta prior to uninstalling it and installing the shipping version.  Deactivation is accomplished via the Help menu, so it’s obviously a problem if you’ve already uninstalled the app.  The good news is that although deactivating is a good idea, it doesn’t seem to be necessary prior to installing the shipping version.

All this stuff can be pretty tweaky and system-specific, so please let us know if you run into problems.  Chances are I don’t know the answers myself, but I can route info back to the right people as necessary.

Illustration bits: Dust My Ride, Creep My Clown, & more

  • It’s tax time in the US, and illustrator Christoph Niemann created an elegant commentary for the cover of the New Yorker.  Elsewhere, his "Empires of Evil" flags (lighter-hearted than the name would suggest) are inspired, and he certainly has a new take on, er, dental hygiene. [Via]
  • Dust artist (yes, dust) Scott Wade has produced some amazing images for Mitsubishi’s new ad campaign. (For more dustiness, see previous.)
  • I can dig illustrator Tara McPherson’s muted palettes. [Via Geoff Scott]
  • On the other end of the chromatic spectrum, Nathan Fox punches up retro-fueled imagery.
  • Our pals at the Chopping Block have launched Chop Shop, a spot to sell all manner of groovy swag (gotta love the 10-Year Plan).  I delight in the great spit and polish (try rolling over the little characters in the header, for instance)–excellent A2Detail.
  • Everyone’s favorite alcoholic raven/alt newspaper survivor, Drinky Crow, is getting his own show. [Via]
  • And lastly, Digital Newsflash offers an interesting moniker for a certain CS3 branding image: "Creep-o the Clown." Heh–yeah, that does induce a little coulrophobia, no?

New guide: Getting Started in Lightroom

Last year Adobe released a series of digital photography guides to great acclaim from the photographic community.  Lots of folks chimed in with requests for more of the same, so I’m glad to report that a new 41-page title, Getting Started in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, is available as a free PDF download.  The high-res version is illustrated with 65MB (!) of beautiful images, while the lower-res version is around 1/10th the size. [Via]

Clean-up script for CS3 Mac betas available

Adobe has posted a clean-up script for Mac that will remove vestiges of the Photoshop CS3 public beta as well as other pre-release apps.  It’s important to run this script (and not just throw the app folder into the trash!), and/or to use the application uninstaller, before installing the shipping version of CS3 apps.  An equivalent script will be posted for Windows later in the week. (I’m told that tech support is seeing fewer installation problem reports on Windows because people are used to uninstallers on that platform).

I’m attending NAB in Las Vegas at the moment, so staying on top of developments is tricky, but I’ll post more info as I get it.  Thanks for your patience as I work through approving a backlog of comments.

CS3 shipping; AE/Premiere ready for download

I’m delighted to say that the biggest and best release in Adobe’s history is now shipping!  Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash, Fireworks, Dreamweaver, Bridge, Contribute, Device Central, and Version Cue are now available via the store and can be downloaded in tryout form shortly.  The CS3 editions of After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Soundbooth will be shipping this summer, and they’re available as pre-release downloads from Adobe Labs.

One important note:  If you’ve installed a beta build of Photoshop, Flash, Soundbooth, or other CS3 software, you must first uninstall the app(s) before installing the shipping versions:

  • On the Mac, the uninstaller is in Applications/Utilities/Adobe Installers.  Note: You cannot uninstall by dragging CS3 applications to the trash; instead, you must use the uninstaller.
  • On Windows XP, uninstall via Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel.
  • On Windows Vista, in the Programs section of the Control Panel, select Uninstall a Program.

If you experience problems with the uninstall or the install, you may need to use the Adobe CS3 Clean Script which will be available within a few days. [Update: The Mac version is available now; Windows is due shortly. –J.]

Some perspective on how Adobe apps are built

Mordy Golding, who spent a couple of cycles working as an Illustrator PM, has posted some perspective on how Adobe applications are created.  It’s a bit of a long read, but Mordy touches on some common questions, including:

  • How does the team decide which features to build & for what markets?  For example, how is something like Flash integration weighed against something like N-color printing support?
  • Why doesn’t the team have more resources to put towards various priorities?
  • Why doesn’t Adobe typically add functionality in small dot releases?
  • If a feature exists in one application (e.g. the OpenType palette in Illustrator, or separations in InDesign), why is it hard to move to other ones?

I’m never quite sure how much of this people outside the company will find interesting, vs. thinking "Just get it done, guys."  (I bounce between those poles myself.)

As for resources, I think a couple of points are worth making:

  • Very often, products don’t get staffed in accordance with the money they bring in.  Photoshop, for example, doesn’t get anything like the number of engineers you’d expect based on revenue.  Why?  Because the revenue is needed to fund new areas of development that may not turn a profit for a while.  Years ago, I’m told, the PostScript group (then the big bread winner) resented having to fund the dinky little applications group.  Clearly, though, that was the right move for the future.  At present it can be frustrating to know that you could do Kickass/Long-Requested Feature X if you had just one or two extra bodies (very frustrating) , but that’s the nature of the biz.
  • Although we all clamor for more engineers & QE folks, without whom we can’t build anything, it’s probably good that we’re constrained.  Otherwise, we’d go nuts building features, resulting in tons of complexity. That is, we’d be knocking ourselves out to serve customers, but rapid unchecked growth would probably overwhelm just about everyone.

Wireframes, giant Donkey Kong, and more

//na// Whether or not the medium is the message, it certainly influences it.  People love turning computer bits into big physical forms:

  • Design Observer catalogs examples of computer GUI made real (masking tape folders, huge scrollbars, etc.).
  • The various "Web 2.0" trends are imagined as a supermarket in this clever video. I want to go around saying "Quakr, Quakrrrrr" but I think I’d get kicked out of the house. [Via]
  • Thomas Raschke makes groovy wireframe sculptures.
  • Speaking of wireframes, British artist Benedict Radcliffe has created an amazing 1:1 scale Subaru Impreza wireframe sculpture.  Not only is it not a Photoshop job; it apparently it even got a few parking tickets!  Via John Peterson, who writes "It’s s ort of an extreme example of the cursor-kite or the giant red Google pushpin."
  • And speaking of vehicles, check out this life-size model car.  Having carved myself up plenty while modeling, I fear equivalently large X-Acto knives. [Via]
  • And finally, for those of you that love primates and/or small Italian laborers, there’s a 4-storey Donkey Kong made from Post-It Notes. [Via Veronique Brossier]

Do Bloods & Crips get Pantone chips?

Who knew that Pantone is into snuff films?  The company has gotten inkthirsty, urging customers to bust caps into outdated formula guides, then rewarding them for their trouble. Whoever creates the best video of colors getting clipped (ba-dum, tssch) will win an iPhone & other loot.  More info is in Pantone’s press release.  Please tell me that someone will get Sean Penn involved…

In more tranquil color-related news:

  • Designer Veerle Pieters gives some good advice on picking palettes.
  • Tangerine is a little Mac app that provides "a universal color palette system," making it possible to manage and apply color schemes across apps. [Via Bryan O’Neil Hughes]
  • Colorstrology aims to pair you with "your personal birth color."  I, apparently, get "Azalea." Meh.  Can’t I get something cool, like Gunmetal, or White Chocolate?
  • Color in Motion imagines colors as characters, acting out the qualities of each & giving a little background info.
  • KolorWheel turns iPods into color scheme picker.  The idea, apparently, is that you can hold the ‘pod next to an object while picking colors.  [Via]

Now, how can I get Ice-T out of my head?

Photoshop CS3: Canine Edition

Hey, you know who’d probably like multi-touch input?  Dogs, apparently.

That video reminded me of a little anecdote: Not long after I joined the Photoshop team, I was treated to the very unique experience of having Jeff Chien and Todor Georgiev (who really should start Todor & Jeff’s Image Science Hut) simultaneously trying to explain high-powered image science concepts in their respective accents (Taiwanese & Russian Bulgarian*, respectively). When I’d fail to grasp what one was saying, the other would get frustrated and break in–not exactly making things better (though not for lack of trying).  I was a little bewildered, bemused, and unable to believe that these guys would spend their time trying to educate me, of all people.

Anyway, Todor started to explain color matching by holding a CD on three fingers, saying, "It is like a table, you see?  You remove a leg, it becomes unstable…" He illustrated his points by explaining the human perceptual system, noting that whereas a person would respond to certain colors, "If I show this to a dog, the dog will not like it. I show it to a fish, the fish will not like." At that point I interrupted to say, "But Todor, we’ve already sold it to all the humans; dogs are our next target market!" "Okay okay," he replied, "You want dog version, I’ll give you dog version…"

So, do be careful what you wish for. 😉

PS–These Reactrix guys (of the dog/ball demo) have an interesting reel on their site, showing more applications of their technology.
* D’oh; Sorry, Todor, and thanks to Marc Pawliger for the correction.

New podcasts: JNack Explains it All

On the insane off chance that you aren’t hearing enough from me already, you can tune into some new podcasts:

  • Inside Digital Photo is a new program from Popular Photography & Inside Mac creator Scott Sheppard. In the latest episode (recorded at Photoshop World last week) I spoke with Scott about all things Photoshop, Bridge, Camera Raw, and Lightroom.  Scott also recently spoke with Lightroom peeps Tom Hogarty & George Jardine.
  • Tips From the Top Floor is a digital photography podcast hosted by Christoph Marquardt. We chatted today about Photoshop, hitting features big and small & talking a bit about the future. (Look for the various subscription links below the intro text, or click little Play button to listen right on the page.)
  • I also spoke with Justin Seeley of, demoing some of the new CS3 features for a video podcast.  I don’t yet see it on the site, but I’d expect it to appear there soon.

Hexagonal storms, ancient beasts, & more

//na// Scientific imaging bits of interest:

Great 3D add-ons for Photoshop

No sooner did Adobe announce Photoshop CS3 Extended than we started seeing developers pop up with interesting new solutions.  Among those just announced:

  • Strata has announced three new plug-ins for Photohop Extended, all demonstrated in this four-minute video.
    • Strata Design lets you drop 3D objects into 2D photos, matching perspective and lighting.  The trick is that it leverages Vanishing Point’s new ability to export perspective planes as 3D objects.  From there the plug-in can drop in models, move them around, and do a high-quality rendering pass to make the models fit the scene.
    • Strata Photo can transform a series of photos (taken of an object sitting on a specially printed piece of paper) into a 3D model for use in Photoshop.
    • Strata Live connects Photoshop with Acrobat, exporting 3D models for viewing inside PDFs.  (Did you know that Acrobat does 3D?)
  • 3Dconnexion (a part of Logitech) has announced that their SpaceNavigator for Photoshop.  Here’s a video demonstration in which marketing mgr. Tad Shelby shows the device controlling a 3D model in Photoshop Extended.  At less than a hundred bucks, it seems like a steal for any serious 3D user (and it works for 2D, too).

More good stuff is on the way as well:

  • NewTek has announced LightWave Rendition for Adobe Photoshop, bringing LightWave’s lighting and rendering tools to Photoshop (I’ll link to more details when they make ’em live);
  • eFrontier, the folks behind Poser, plan to release a free exporter to make their models compatible with Photoshop;
  • Daz 3D is cooking up some great stuff as well;
  • And various other parties have irons in the fire as well (more details to come).

All in all, it’s really exciting to see developers already building upon the 3D story in Photoshop Extended.

Poster art, giant chickens, & more

//na// Illustrated bits worth sharing:

Nice demo of Quick Selection in PSCS3

Martin Evening has posted a great intro to using Photoshop CS3’s new Quick Selection tool together with the new Refine Edge* dialog.  He demonstrates using the tools together with a gradient map adjustment layer (a venerable tool that might get some "I-did-not-know-that"’s on its own) to replace the background in a photo.  Additional details, plus his downloadable PDF overview of Photoshop CS3 and Bridge, are on [Via]

* What Martin quite modestly doesn’t mention is that it’s because of his urging–and engineer Jeff Chien’s late-stage efforts–that Refine Edge works not only on selections, but on channels & layer masks as well.  Seeing this demo makes me glad he talked us into it.

A great video tour of Illustrator CS3

"Oh my–it’s like Illustrator and Flash have run off and gotten married," says Mordy Golding in the latest episode of his Real World Illustrator video podcast.  Mordy, formerly a PM on the Illustrator team, hits not only the big-ticket items, but also the little things that sometimes matter most.  I only wish Mordy had spent more time on the rad Live Color feature in AICS3–but he promises to delve deeper into it in a future episode.  (It’s one of those features that makes Photoshop and the other apps jealous, so we’ll have to try to steal it in the future. ;-))

From the podcast I learned a little detail that I think is quite cool: the new Flash Text panel (screenshot) lets you designate text to be used in Flash as static or dynamic.  You can even designate the URL from which the text is fed.  And, as I’ve mentioned previously, Illustrator now lets you name & edit symbols just as you do in Flash, and symbols, instance names, gradients, etc. are preserved when you copy and paste from Illustrator to Flash.  Niiice.

Swords, plowshares, photos & art

  • Armed America photographs some of those who own the nation’s ~200 million firearms, sharing bits of their perspectives.
  • Armed Appalachians appear in Shelby Lee Adams’s Napier Family series.
  • Slate features Gitmo in Black and White, a Magnum photographers’ slideshow documenting the prisoner detention center at Guantanamo Bay.  (If there’s a more surreal location for a Starbucks, I’ve yet to hear it.)
  • Juxtaposing wealth & war, this image from Lebanon was named "Photo of the Year 2006" by World Press Photo.  There’s more info in this NPR story (which for whatever reason won’t play on my Mac). [Via]
  • Unflinching war photographer James Nachtwey has been honored at the TED Conference.  They’ve created a video discussing his & others’ work, and Nachtwey is covered in the documentary War Photographer (3-minute excerpt). [Via]
  • Hoping for a more peaceful world, Retired Weapons depicts another future for military hardware.  (I hoped for a bit more from this one, but maybe it’s deeper than I’m seeing.) [Via]
  • Lastly, a reason to go bigger than Shuffle: this iPod saved a soldier’s life.

Handy CS3 configurators

With all the new products Adobe is introducing, figuring out which Suite configuration(s) make sense based on your needs can be a bit challenging.  The company created a Flash-based app that lets you view configurations according to job function ("I want to make videos, plus print some stuff…"), but I like the way Web developer Mark Eagleton (not affiliated with Adobe) cuts to the chase with his little configurator: pick the apps you want & view the different pricing options for getting them.  Nice, and right to the point. (Thanks, Mark.)   [Via John Dowdell]

PS–No word yet on a CS3 Retroencabulator…

Command lines: Back to the future?

With the mouse turning 40, and with the number of photos, emails, and other documents ever growing, do we need a new kind of user interface?  Do we need, maybe–dun dun duunnh–a return to the command line?

That’s part of what usability expert Don Norman thinks.  He notes that search engines, both on the Web and on the desktop, now support commands (e.g. "define:photography" in Google), and that computer interfaces are now enhanced by, rather than dependent upon, typing in specific commands. If a command isn’t valid, modern search implementations fall back gracefully to basic searching.

This is something we’ve been discussing for quite a while at Adobe. What if, instead of hunting through menus ("Hmm, is commenting under Edit, or Format, or…?"), or having to memorize the keyboard shortcut for each command, you could simply start typing & getting a list of matching commands? The CS3 generation of tools makes some moves in this direction:

  • After Effects has offered searching for filters (as it has for a while);
  • Illustrator CS3 includes a new, Flash-based "knowhow" panel that can search the Web for info related to the current tool;
  • InDesign CS2 introduced a "Quick Apply" capability.  In CS2 it could apply styles (here’s a demo), and in CS3 it can invoke menu items as well.  InDesign PM Chad Siegel explains:

    "In CS3 we expanded Quick Apply to optionally include all menu items and commands within the application as well as scripts. Once the item is displayed, it can be either applied or invoked simply by selecting it from the list. [See a quick demo, under "Productivity Enhancements"]

    "That’s a lot of information that could be displayed so we also provide the ability to limit your search to certain classes of items (e.g. Paragraph Styles and/or Character Styles only). We also added shortcut codes which display within the UI that can be added as a prefix to limit the scope of individual searches. For example, p: is used to limit the search to paragraph styles and m: to limit to menu commands, etc. So users can type m:print and see any command in the list that included those characters. It also searches the characters that customers enter from both left to right and right to left, giving preference to exact matches at the top of the list.

    "Finally, it also displays the location of the commands so that folks can find it more easily within the UI. For example m:print shows File>Print in the list.

So, what about Photoshop?  The app doesn’t presently feature built-in support for something like Quick Apply, but it’s an intriguing possibility for the future.  I’m hoping we see some developments here soon (not from Adobe, so I’m not sure how much I can say just yet).  On the Mac there’s also Quicksilver, the darling of power users.  I’ve found a beginner’s guide; some tips for searching menus; and Merlin Mann’s podcast on the subject… but damn if I’ve yet had the patience to configure my copy (it’s death by options).  I may get there yet.

In any case, I think we’ll see plenty of interesting app-searching developments in the future.

What my parents hear when I talk about work

When you talk to loved ones about techy stuff, do you imagine it sounds to them something like this?  The video, pitching a device called "The Retrooencabulator," may or may not be a gag, but it’s brilliant either way.  Now, as I get ready to take a stage at Photoshop World, I can only hope my demo doesn’t sound like so much mumbo jumbo…  [Via Michael Tapes]

The vid reminds me of my first real Web job, when my company was designing a site for Brisk Iced Tea. (Remember those claymation ads?)  I was so proud that I called my folks and walked them through pulling up the site.  Even the most basic terminology can be a problem:

  • Me: "Now click the window with Bruce Lee in it…"
  • Them: "Oh, there’s no window."
  • Me: "What?  I mean, you see Bruce Lee, right?"
  • Them: "Oh yes."
  • Me: "Okay, now click the window he’s in…"
  • Them: "But he’s not in a window, he’s in a temple of some sort…"
  • [Continue like this until I finally realize that they’re looking for a literal, physical window, and have no idea what the little box around the Web site is called.  Aaaaand, cut.]

[Update: Okay, it’s gotta be a gag; see also this Chrysler video. Sometimes during a long press tour, PMs will challenge one another to sneak little phrases into their demos (“the ol’ college try,” “gonna end in tears,” etc.), just to keep it interesting. Now I really want to hear Chad Siegel talk about InDesign’s sinusoidal magneto-reluctance…]

Let there be light

//na// Hitting Opt-Shift-Y*, switching to Luminosity:

  • Rock and Royal makes crazy bespoke lighting–chandeliers & mosaics as skulls, pistols, globes–you name it. [Via]
  • The folks at the Baltimore Museum of Industry really like light bulbs.  I mean, they really like ’em–to the tune of collecting more than 50,000 historic bulbs. Catherine Wagner spent two years in residence there, photographing "A Narrative History of the Light Bulb."  Here’s a small gallery of her images. [Via]
  • Enjoy wearing clothes, but wish they consumed more natural resources?  Try Lumigram’s luminous clothing. [Via]
  • The crew at Universal Everything created a "software-based realtime wind tunnel" to make bits of light silhouette the new Audi TT. [Via]

* In a blog full of obscure nerdery bits, this is quite possibly the most obscure and nerdy thing I’ve yet said–quite an accomplishment, don’t you think?

JPEG 2000 – Do you use it?

As you may or–as seems overwhelmingly likely–may not know, Photoshop ships with a plug-in for reading and writing JPEG 2000-format files.  Compared with the regular JPEG format (technically known as JFIF), JPEG 2000 offers advantages such as support for higher bit depths, more advanced compression, and a lossless compression option.  Adobe developed the plug-in in anticipation of cameras entering the market with native JPEG 2000 support on board.

The thing is, that hasn’t happened, nor have we seen other widespread adoption of the format in places we know Photoshop is being used.  Therefore with Photoshop CS2 we made the call to stop installing the plug-in by default, but to continue making it available via the product CD.  What’s probably not obvious is that existing features keep consuming resources to maintain & test, even if no features are added to them.  As we plan for the future, we need to retire features that no longer make sense & focus instead on capabilities that matter.

So, do you use JPEG 2000?  If so, please give a shout and let us know how & why you use it.

PS–Note that support for JPEG 2000 as a file format by itself & support for the compression options it offers are two separate things. PDF supports JPEG 2000-compressed images, so we wouldn’t remove that support.  I’m just trying to gauge the value of supporting standalone JPEG 2000 reading and writing.

[Update: We’re not planning to change Photoshop’s JPEG 2000 support strategy anytime soon. Thanks for all the feedback. We’ve got what we need, so I’m switching off comments. –J.]

Ctrl-Z your wrinkles away

Nerdery for the masses: Oil of Olay taps into the world’s love of Undo in this crafty new ad. [Via]

The piece reminds me of a concept from an ad agency that was pitching Adobe.  They showed a sequence of images of Michael Jackson in reverse chronological order, running from scary-present-MJ to Jackson Five-cute.  The caption: "Multiple Undo."

On a related note,
the crew at PhotoshopCafe had fun creating spec ads for Photoshop.  I really like the Biblical Sampson bit.  "Go ye forth and bringeth down the house," indeed… [Via Colin Smith]

Lightroom Podcast #29: Adobe raw team + Jeff Schewe

"We didn’t get local tone and color correction and that’s something Bruce Fraser had wanted," says Jeff  Schewe in the latest Lightroom podcst, "so I’m going to get Mark in a noogie and not let him out until we get a commitment for 2.0." George Jardine writes,

This podcast was recorded on Friday March 16, 2007, at  the home of Ruth and Thomas Knoll in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Zalman Stern, Mark Hamburg, Michael Jonsson, Thomas Knoll and Jeff Schewe ramble all over the place, discussing the upcoming ACR 4.0, compatibility with XMP and Lightroom raw controls, noise reduction, sharpening, the non-destructive editing model, shooting in dusty environments, etc. The team also spends a bit of time discussing the ins-and-outs of the raw + JPEG workflow, and why Lightroom does not support it… yet.

The podcast is available as an MP3 file via George’s iDisk (under "20070316 Podcast – Raw Engineering + Jeff Schewe"). It’ll also be available via the Lightroom podcasts RSS feed, and by searching for "Lightroom" in iTunes.

Your eyeballs' resolution, historic photos, & more

  • As traditional photo printing heads into obscurity, photo conservationist Dusan Stulik & his crew at the Getty Conservation Institute want to capture what’s being lost. They’re "working on what might be described as the genome project of predigital photography: a precise chemical fingerprint of all the 150 or so ways pictures have been developed" over the last 170 years.  19-century leather printing sounds cool, but as for the uranium prints, he can keep ’em.
  • Taking a different angle on photo preservation, Shorpy is "The 100-Year-Old Photo Blog." (It’s named after this little dude, apparently.) [Via]
  • I haven’t gotten to poke at it much, but Focus, The Photographic Search Engine, sounds interesting. [Via]
  • Your point-and-shoot has a little way to go before reaching the 576-megapixel resolution of the human eye [Via]
  • And lastly, speaking of resolution, who knew that Google satellite aerial photography could go so insanely close?  If I start balding, they’ll probably know before I do… [Via]