Monday, March 21, 2011

Visual Programming On The iPad

Processing is so appealing because it enables you to rapidly sketch out and play with visual programming ideas without all the overhead of a traditional graphic programming language, which is why Processing projects are often referred to as sketches. Until now this was done on your PC and required a download of the native Processing application.

Programming on my iPad, directly in the web-based IDE, then testing out the sketch by running right in the web page, no plug-in needed, thanks to HTML5's canvas element and processing.js

You can now code Processing sketches right in your browser, even on your iPad. As the Processing.js website explains:
Processing.js turned your once Java-based code into JavaScript, and your graphics into HTML5's 'canvas'. As a result, anything you read on the web about dynamic web programming, AJAX, other JavaScript libraries or APIs, all of it applies to your sketch now. You aren't running code in a box, cut-off from the rest of the web. Your code is a first-class member of the web, even though you didn't write it that way.
I love it!

Try it out for yourself (on your iPad!) with the code below (via Processing.org). Copy and paste into the code area here and press the run button. Use the internet Wayback machine to go back in time to the Web IDE that worked on the iPad (why'd they change it?!) here, and then copy code into the text area and press the run button.

int number;
int rectWidth;
int offset;
void setup(){
  size(245,245);
  background(255);
  fill(0);
  noStroke();
  number = 1515175624; //magic constant!
  offset = 5; //ofset from the edge of the window.. sort of
  rectWidth = height/8-offset; // width of the boxes
}
void draw(){
  background(255);
  int temp = number;
  for(int y = 0; y < 8;y++){
    for(int x = 0; x < 4;x++){
      if(temp%2 == 0){
        fill(255);
      }else{
        fill(0);
      }
      rect(offset*4+(width-height)/2+x*rectWidth,offset*4+y*rectWidth,rectWidth,rectWidth);
      rect(-(width-height)/2-offset*4+width-(x+1)*rectWidth,offset*4+y*rectWidth,rectWidth,rectWidth);
      temp = temp >>1;
    }
  }
 //number = int(random(-(MAX_INT)))+int(random((128))); //uncomment this - spit brix
}
void mousePressed(){
  number = int(random(-(MAX_INT)))+int(random((128)));

Friday, March 18, 2011

iPad Pro Mockup

While checking out the iPad 2 at the Apple store a few days ago, I wandered over to the Macbook Air. As I held the lid I realized if you take away the macbook air's beautiful body, leaving only the screen lid in your hands, you've got an amazing iPad that is strikingly thin as well as substantially solid. This is what I want in the super iPad. So I mocked this up. I'd buy two.

Figuring out how to fit MacBook Pro level components in this impossibly tight space is what someone in a secret bunker at Apple ought to be working on right now.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

iPad Pro

Following on my previous post about iMovie and the film industry, here's my prognostication on a future iPad, as envisioned coming to an Apple Store near you in 2013.

Meet the iPad Pro - it performs at today's macbook pro speed, and is nothing less than a super iPad. It will have an edge-to-edge screen (at least 2 of the edges), 1080p, and is thinner than any other iPad to date.

It'll cost between $1199 - $1799 be priced starting at $999. A Thunderbolt port has already replaced the 30 pin connector on all iPads.

Scenario A: 
Indy P. Filmmaker pulls out his iPad Pro. He plugs his RED EPIC into the iPad's Thunderbolt port. Connecting the iPad Pro to the RED EPIC automatically launches iMovie (this was set up in iMovie app settings under the Devices section). He now views the RED EPIC camera feed directly on his iPad Pro. He can drive the RED EPIC camera straight from the iPad if he wants with a 3rd party app developed by RED. Though the much higher resolution is captured on his RED EPIC's storage, his iPad Pro is capturing in 1080p for on-the-fly experimentation on the just captured clips right in his lap as filming takes place. Indy is able to select clips he wants to show to other crew members and share them instantly to their iPads. Indy's other camera teams are at the bottom of the hill 200 yards away, but they've already received the clip Indy wanted to show them illustrating exactly how his nearby shots were ending up. After a discussion with the distant second camera crew, Indy decides he needs to see what they see from their camera, so he pulls up the 2nd camera's feed remotely on his iPad Pro. As they film their footage, he sees it instantaneously over the air (thanks to the wireless connection to an adapter daisy chained into the thunderbolt hub which is plugged into the bottom of his iPad - the same hub that the RED EPIC is connected to).

Scenario B: 
Indy P. Photojournalist is on the set documenting Mr. Filmmaker and his preference for using the iPad Pro as an integral tool in his production process. Photojournalist opens up Photoshop on his iPad Pro (this is the full version of Photoshop for the iPad) and makes some color adjustments to his newly-captured image, and posts it directly to a media client for sale and publication. Mr. Filmmaker was watching him use Photoshop. "When did they release Photoshop for the iPad?", he wondered. "It's been out for a few months, but man is it expensive. $199!" The director blinks. "I think I'll stick with Aperture for my iPad. $4.99. I love it." Under his breath Photojounalists mutters... "cheapskate."

Scenario C:
Ima Bigg Director is at a meeting with his art director and creative staff working on next summer's blockbuster (of 2014). Every team member has their iPad Pros in hand. They're brainstorming ideas for an intense action sequence. Mr. Director pulls up an app called PrevizPro, a 3D-based application letting him easily set up and play out realistically rendered scenarios on his iPad Pro. He shows the crew something he thought up in the middle of the night. He sends the "previz" to everyone to view on their own iPads and they collaboratively manipulate the scene over the course of the brainstorming session.

Note: I mentioned the following real products: RED EPIC, Aperature (not yet on App Store), Photoshop (not yet on App Store) , and Previz (not yet on App Store).

Follow up note: If an iPad Pro materializes, many of the "pro" apps will be more pro-oriented in price. If Apple released Aperature on the App Store, I could see it being $15 - $20. If Adobe does Photoshop for the App Store, I just can't see it being $4.99, though that would be amazing. I think Adobe would try to sell for at least $150. Some of these apps would probably be $4.99 universal apps with upsell pro capabilities through in-app purchases.

Friday, March 04, 2011

iMovie Will Change The Way Movies Get Made

iMovie for iOS 4 delivers a streamlined method to capture and edit video anywhere, anytime

I have a hunch. I predict that iMovie - Apple's new iOS software for the iPad 2, iPhone 4, and iPod 4 - will have a game-changing impact affecting yet-to-be-made big budget films that will come to theaters. While I predict that we'll see at least one low-budget quality independent movie filmed and edited entirely on iOS devices, this is not what I'm talking about.

I predict that the film industry, as well as every burgeoning young film student, will be using iOS devices as essential tools in their process, including and especially conceptualizing and designing scenes in real-time with on-the-spot previz exercises; Real-time exploration of their vision and ideas; Experimentation at any place and any time. I think that imaginary camera lens that directors make with their fingers will be replaced by the iPad 2 overnight. And now they'll play with that formerly-imaginary clip right there on the spot, in the same breath, instantaneously. Anyone care to bet this doesn't happen?

With the combination of iMovie and an iPod, iPhone, or iPad 2, the factors that stood as barriers of entry to easy and instant moviemaking exploration are really absolutely gone. This is momentous.

I'm predicting that in a short amount of time, what we see in many movie screens will have been conceptualized, visualized, imagined, and experimented with on an iOS device before it was ever actually shot on film.

I'm also predicting that iMovie will be so significant to the pro and indy Film/TV industries (as well as students and hobbyists) that a category will eventually be created on the App Store for Moviemaking tools, because apps targeting this industry are going to boom; apps will be made to improve and support every aspect of the production process, all because of iMovie.

I'm no Charlie Sheen, but I know some little bit about the film industry. I don't know the music industry nearly as well, but I also happen to have the same hunch about GargageBand and the effect it will have on the music industry. That is because these tools are creative incubators; They are content laboratories.

These tools are going removing the barriers to entry in these fields, which will increase the amount of creation that goes on, and hopefully, the amount of quality-based competition resulting from that will produce higher quality, innovative content, and more interesting ideas will see daylight than ever before.

This is going to be really amazing.

iPad 2 & Steve Jobs' Message

The iPad 2 comes to stores in 7 days. Dual core chip, 9x faster graphics, 10 hour battery life, front & back camera, 1/3 thinner than original iPad, iMovie and Garageband, smart covers, video mirroring, same price
What makes the iPad situation different this year is that everyone already knows that this time it's a home run. It was a home run last year too, but many wouldn't see it. This time, there's no arguing. Apple has invented something amazing.

Steve Jobs wrapped up the event with an explanation of what is the essence of Apple.
"This is worth repeating. It's in Apple's DNA that technology is not enough. It's tech married with the liberal arts and the humanities. Nowhere is that more true than in the post-PC products. Our competitors are looking at this like it's the next PC market. That is not the right approach to this. These are pos-PC devices that need to be easier to use than a PC, more intuitive."
This is why Apple has been so stunningly successful, time after time after time. It isn't really a statement about Apple's DNA, but an awareness of our DNA. This statement reveals a human-centered awareness of why we really even want technology in the first place. This way of thinking resonates with people at a very core level. We are humans, not robots... not droids. We seek technology that conforms to us at our human level, not the other way around.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Imagineering The Home

The Disneyland Railway was inaugurated on July 17, 1955. The live steam railway was constructed for $240,000; each of the original two locomotives cost $40,000. (source: wikipedia)

I wonder if Disneyland would be Disneyland without the Disneyland Railroad. The train is a defining factor that makes the place magical. The railroad encompasses the park and is infused with that famous imagineering spirit. That same imagineering spirit embodied in Disney's unforgettable locomotives and railroad is also chugging around a few homes on living room ledge railroads and outdoor home garden railroads.

I think running the tracks through the living room might be pushing the boundaries of good taste. It'd probably  take some ingenious chops to to make that move work without getting tackied-up. I can see perhaps going through a play room, or through a loft and some kids rooms. 

The line between tacky and wonderful can be dangerously thin with a creative backyard endeavor like this. I think committing to go all the way is key. Perhaps intensely studying Walt Disney and park projects and his attention to detail could provide added safeguard against ending up with a tacky-flavored project. This example is a pretty good one (except for the above ground pool in some of the photos, that kills it and screams taste-lapse).

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

A UML Tool I Actually Like

After a very frustrating week full of wrestling with junk tools to muster out quality UML sequence diagrams, I stumbled upon what in hindsight seems an obvious solution for UML sequence diagram creation: Microsoft's Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate.



VS 2010 Ultimate is extremely costly (relative to the other Visual Studio editions), and the only one of the Visual Studio 2010 editions that provides great architecture capabilities such as the UML diagramming tools. My understanding is that pricing for this edition of the software with a new MSDN subscription is about $12,000. Seeing this pricing reveals to me the wisdom of Microsoft initiatives such as Bizspark, which allow startup level businesses/developers MSDN access for up to three years for next to nothing - a smoking deal. But it also underscores a real contradistinction between the business models of Microsoft vs Apple, and why I think Apple's strategy is brilliant and Microsoft's is unwise in the long run.

Nothing highlights the difference in approach to making and selling software between Microsoft and Apple as much as the convoluted mess that is Microsoft's multitude of editions of their OSs and Developer Toolsets. Ultimate, Professional, Semiprofessional, Psuedoprofessional, home edition, apartment edition, outhouse edition, basic edition, free but limited edition, homeless edition, etc. Contrast this to Apple's one-edition OS and one-edition development platform, XCode. While Microsoft has an amazing development environment, one can only wish that it was a consolidated edition, rather than at least 4 editions. Not only does Apple have a rock solid world class rockstar development environment (see XCode 4!), it has only one edition, and is free; not four different editions with various limitations and price gradations.

But back to the VS 2010 Ultimate UML tool. I love it (insofar as one can actually love a UML tool). It is done the way I had hoped anyone would have developed it, but no one else did. I'd suspect that many companies who fail to use good UML tools in favor of the lame free ones are spending far more money in time lost than they would have in purchasing VS 2010 Ultimate edition.

Inventables: The Innovator's Ice Cream Sampler Buffet

It took me about 3 minutes to add over $1000 to my shopping cart. Despite the urgent desire to push "Proceed To Checkout" to get myself some squishy gel magnets, translucent metal foil, or talking tape, I canceled the order. But one day. Some day...

But until I garner the courage for such a purchase, I'm considering spreading my Inventables taste-testing over a larger span of time. Maybe I'll just pick up a hand-moldable plastic sample here and a permanent switchable magnet there.

But to provoke the cravings of a madman, the Inventables website provides a tantalizing product catalog searchable by properties (like abosrbent, magnetic, liquid, crushable, elastic, heating, etc) or by ingredients (flavors, fragrance, inks, soaps), or by fastener types, or coating types, or electrical types, etc.

Inventables calls itself the "innovator's hardware store", but to me it's more like a big ice-cream shop where you can sample all the flavors (for a small-scale fee) by the spoonful before you decide to commit to the quadruple-stack cone.

I love it!