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October 24th, 2008

CS4: Now in store.

24 October 2008

Adobe’s developed a reputation for doing things on short notice and this time was no different. Creative Suite 4 was announced on Sept 23. It’s in stores already. And it’s really rather good.

CS4 is the latest version of Adobe’s award winning Creative Suite solution, and it’s carrying some nice new changes. CS4 now supports 64-bit and multi-core processors, and early tests showed performance increases of up to 12%. For those who work with really large files, digital video and the like, CS4 renders and processes up to 10 times faster.

CS4 also boasts nice, shiny features like a ‘Unified Application Interface’, as well as ‘Adobe Dynamic Link’. This means that CS4 launches within a central program, and all the other Adobe programs, like Photoshop or InDesign, will be tabs within it. Once you have multiple programs running, the Dynamic Link means you can work on the same thing in different programs without having to render or save first. Recording a digital video? Save it directly to disk with On Location – no time-capture needed. Once that’s done, fire up Premiere. Any edits you make will be exactly the same when you open After Effects. Photoshop a title frame? No problem. That frame will automatically update in Premiere as you change it in Photoshop. As will audio, while you work on it in Soundbooth. Seamless integration.

Impressed yet? I am.

Photoshop, Premier, After Effects, InDesign, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and Flash, have all been tweaked and touched up. Photoshop does 3-D, for example. Premiere can turn spoken audio in a video directly into text. There are new features galore. Check them out here:

The Adobe website seems to use certain phrases a lot. Integrated. Dynamic. Intelligent. Flexible. With CS4 I can see why.

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October 16th, 2008

Don't Be Google!

Don't Be Google!

Everybody knows how Google started. It was founded by Larry Page, who was then working on his PhD thesis about web search, and Sergey Brin, his Stanford mate. They didn’t initially realise what a huge commercial potential their creation had. But everybody knows today.

For those of you who’d like to know more, this video shows why they have gone so far, even if some have not appreciated their unstoppable success. One of the most thrilling things I learned from the video is that Google projects involve biosciences, which could lead to important medical and scientific breakthroughs.

At Google they already know what’s in my webmail and what I search for, and what my needs are. And they know what URLs I visit and virtually everything else about me. Of course, the data is gathered to enable the delivery of cut-to-measure, powerful advertising. But it’s all quite scary. Nobody knows what is going to happen next.

Before I started writing this post, I spent some time searching for more information about Google to make my post objective and complete. What I found glued me to my screen for more than five minutes: an image on the Undergoogle website called Google masterplan, a hand-drawn plan supposedly made by the Google engineers showing that they are clearly trying to involve themselves in everything, from people’s personal lives to their workplaces.

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October 15th, 2008

Born in the 80s

Born in the 80s


The mobile phone (or cell phone) celebrated its 25th birthday this week.* Depending on your age and how early you were to adopt these now ubiquitous devices, you’ll either be amazed they’ve been around so long, or will be astonished people could actually exist without being constantly contactable until so recently.

Today we live in a world where a commitment of twenty quid a month or so can get you a sharp looking phone capable of making voice and data calls across multi-megabit high-speed digital networks as well as taking high-resolution photos, storing every CD you’ve ever owned, playing up to the minute games and films, and organising your entire business and social life.

Back on 13 October 1983, the very first commercial mobile phone call was made by Bob Barnett, president of Ameritech Mobile communications using a Motorola DynaTAC handset that weighed over a kilo. Affectionately known ever since as ‘The Brick’ this phone retailed direct from Motorola for $3,995, with customers then having to pay $50 per month rental and up to 40 cents a minute for calls made across embryonic 1G analogue radio networks

And as CNET pointed out recently, it’s not just the technology of mobile phones that has changed so dramatically over the last 25 years, but the customers. In the 80s mobiles were strictly the remit of the very rich. It didn’t matter whether you were a banker or a plasterer, as long as you had the money, a massive inside pocket, and the front to use such a preposterous device in public. Nowadays of course, even our children carry smartphones with enough computing power to manage a moon landing or two, as long as they are able to guarantee a well-paid Saturday job and no social life for a minimum 18-month contract. Consequently the 12,000 total subscriber market of the Motorola DynaTAC has now grown to over 260 million mobile customers in the US alone.

So what’s next for mobile phone operators, handset manufacturers and subscribers? One thing is for certain, there’s absolutely no point at all trying to predict how we will be making calls in 25 years time. Mind controlled messaging or precognitive perception – your guess is as good as mine – but the likelihood of us carrying around 100g plastic screens with novelty rings is probably zero, all things being well. More immediate challenges are easier to tick off – fourth generation broadband networks, desktop identical functionality, and more multifunction convergence in our pockets than we truly need or frankly, want.

Expect all of this in around 25 months though, rather than another 25 years. Scarily, that’s not a lot longer than your next iPhone contract.

* Well, kind of. People had been trying to get mobile phones off the ground (literally) since the first decades of the last century, and NTT in Japan was really the first to toy with the idea of commercial mobile phones back in the late seventies, but Motorola’s DynaTAC system was the first mobile phone that an average, if affluent and American, man on the street could practically buy and use.

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October 9th, 2008

Boy bands apparently love Windows 7

Boy bands apparently love Windows 7


Microsoft has been really making some weird videos lately, from their short-lived commercials with Seinfeld, to an ad tricking people testing Vista thinking it was the next OS, and now the video below. I think that Bill Gates leaving his day-to-day role at the company may have had something to do with the company going completely and utterly crazy.

Microsoft hired a boy band and filmed in a video about it in an ironic style that came right out of The Office (how fitting for Microsoft to use that style) to promote its upcoming Professional Developers Conference 2008. Someone at Microsoft must’ve said “hey guys, let’s make a bad boy band song for Windows 7,” realized that it really did come out bad and then said “well, let’s make an ironic intro and outro so it seems like we meant to do it like that the whole time.”

It’s actually pretty catchy, and better than most NSync and Backstreet Boys songs were. That still doesn’t cover up the sheer finger-scratching-against-the-chalkboard terribleness of lyrics like:

“Windows 7 my love is true,
Now let me use Direct3D to unlock your GPU”

“PCD 2008, Windows 7 is coming and I can’t wait,
I’m going to get the first one out of the crates, wrap your Windows around me”

“I’m going to need my developer guys, get tons of content on 160 Gigabyte drives”

It could’ve been a hit if Microsoft didn’t go for the ironic angle. It worked for Wrigley’s.

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