The Mac Lab

Archive for March, 2009

Conflicted Over Conficker?

by on Mar.31, 2009, under Blog

masochist_ball_smWhile I’m on the topic of oversights, I’d be remiss in not addressing the April Fool’s Day joke being played on some folk when the Conficker worm does its thing tomorrow. What that thing is, and how many people will find out first hand (Cat S), is yet to be determined with any certainty. Google News lists 4,000+ stories published about said worm. This cnet story says, “A quick way to tell if your computer is infected is to try to access the Web site of a major antivirus vendor, which the worm blocks” but I have no idea if that’s a foolproof method of checking.

If you have a PC and have not taken any precautions, Microsoft has details here and here. See the “Manual steps to remove the Conficker.b variant” in the first link for specific information. You may want to speak to someone wiser than I about this as I’m pretty clueless about protecting oneself in the Windows world. Mac Users are not at risk from this worm unless you run Windows as well as OS X. (This is NOT bait for the Mac/PC debate which was outlawed in right here so don’t even try to post inflammatory comments.)

As always, make sure your OS/security patches and antivirus software is up to date. See the vendors’ sites for the latest information.

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A Bonehead Named Skocko Part II

by on Mar.31, 2009, under Blog

google_new_shadow_smThis is another in a continuing series of posts about the failings and foibles of a guy named Skocko. In lieu of stoning (a proper punishment for his latest bumbling blunder, but we don’t want to inadvertently damage the computers) a new Mac Lab tradition is introduced to mark the occasion. On days when a new installment of the Bonehead Series debuts — and only on those days — you may refer to Skocko as Bonehead, or if you prefer the more formal appellation, Mr. Bonehead. You are strongly cautioned not to try this moniker on any other day as the consequences will be swift and decidedly unpleasant for abusers of this privilege. Now for the story…

Remember that post about deadlines? Well, today’s the deadline for the Doodle 4 Google contest. Oliver finished his doodle yesterday. It’s a wonderfully conceived and beautifully executed design. I planned on gathering the other submissions, picking the allotted six, and sending them off with a click of the mouse later today. I went to Google looking for the email address and a cold chill ran down my spine as I read:

Mail your school’s entries to the address below…

Mail? But… But… Mail?! I frantically searched the fine print looking for the alternate form of entry, the 21st century version, the click send or submit button version, and a memory of Andrea C saying something about the rules suggesting entries be sent 5 days early started playing in my head. (I hate it when that happens because once it starts it plays over and over and over. Alright. Enough already! You were right, Andrea!)

So, with my sincerest apologies to Oliver and the rest of our Google doodlers — including Andrea — this is Mr. Bonehead signing off with a final word of caution: If you’re considering entering any of the other contests, read the rules thoroughly! (Then let me know about things I may have overlooked.)

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Shifting Gears

by on Mar.30, 2009, under Blog

biker_edit_smAn all-day grading grind yesterday and I’m still not through. Formal assessments are almost enough to make me want to quit this dream job. Why won’t kids just do what I ask? Why won’t they act in their own best interests and take the easy road to an A? Why do so many make me work so hard to find excuses NOT to fail them? (Insert blood-curdling, bone-chilling, student-scattering, barbaric yawp here.)

I’ll tell you one thing, finals this year are going to be a different story in here. I’ve added a final 0809 tag so you can find exactly what’s required. No excuses. Details will follow. For now, use this last week before break to sharpen your skills and think about how to finish the year at the top of your game. There’s not a lot of time left so you’re going to be racing the clock (Amelio S) all the way to the finish line. Your assignment today is to take a good, hard look at your Webpage. What might be improved? What might be deleted? What might be added? After a serious look at your own work, turn and ask the person next to you what they think of your work (and review their work in turn). Again: What might be improved? What might be deleted? What might be added? If there’s no one sitting right next to you, get up and find someone to interact with. Anyone who chooses to ignore this assignment will win 5 Hours of Fun™ on April 25 and referral for defiance. Those of you in multiple periods are required to repeat the assignment with due diligence. No one is exempt. Everyone plays along every period. Be honest with yourself and with others. Help one another. Take at least 10 minutes to complete the assignment. Work with more than one other person if you want.

Now, get on your metaphoric motorcycle and win this race to excellence!

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Put a Little Spring In Your Break!

by on Mar.27, 2009, under Blog

adobe_yum_smSpring Break is right around the corner and I know many of you will be suffering from horrible withdrawal symptoms. To ease the pain and anxiety associated with going off the Mac Lab cold turkey for two weeks, might I suggest Adobe’s wonderful software trials? Rather than simply downloading the Master Collection, why not just try a program or two at first? Since the software times out after 30 days, it makes more sense to download only what you’ll be able to use over the next month, yes? Think about how delicious (Steven M) that would be! 3D students may also download the Cinema 4D trial.

If you plan on purchasing the software, use an academic reseller and consider buying one of Adobe’s collections rather than individual programs to save money. Here’s one example of collection pricing. Even better pricing can be had through Cuyamaca or Grossmont Colleges. C4D is also available.

While we’re talking about purchases, Wacom just release their newest graphics tablet at Photoshop World. For a real treat watch this promo for the product. It moves the creative spirit in me and both Scott Kelby and John Nack are raving about it, and for good reason. The folks at Wacom hit one outta the park. What an artist’s tool! I’ve already begun searching for grant money to put one of these at each computer next year. As for Photoshop World/Vegas in September… I took 5 kids to the one in San Diego in 2002 but it’s only been in San Francisco and Las Vegas (the permanent West Coast location now) since then. I’ve gone alone every year except the last one (because we hadn’t landed CS4 yet). It’s an unbelievable experience, learning from the best of the best, and I wish I could take a few choice students in September. But chaperoning kids in Vegas?! That’s too scary to contemplate. Well, almost too scary. We’ll see.

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Show Me the Renders!

by on Mar.26, 2009, under Blog

shivercell_smI’m beginning to think your 3D teacher should be fired! I mean, if he can’t motivate the students, he’s not doing his job. Hey, I know you’re working and I know some of you have winning creations but where are they? I’d love to share your work with everyone but if you’re not going to submit, it kinda makes it hard for me to feature you, right?

I went digging through Wayne V’s computer this morning looking for the Cinema 4D and Photoshop files that led to one of the jpgs he submitted. This is one of those hybrid 3D/2D compositions I’ve been pushing some of you to try and I wanted to check his workflow. Digital artists, this is going to be part of our curriculum as well next year and the creative possibilities boggle the mind. (I love it when that happens!) For those who might be interested in what I’m talking about, see the work at Aeriform and you’ll instantly understand (because you’ve seen oh-so-cool work like this many times this year).

As for Wayne’s PSD, never did find it. Wayne? And while I’m asking questions, why is the matrix-extruded sphere out of focus? Is that intentional? As for the rest of you, watch this movie. I expect you to understand resolution/print size from now on (no more remedial lessons). This short video should clear up the last of the confusion. Watch it! Learn it! Special invitations to 5 Hours of Fun™ await those who ignore this fundamental information after today.

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Learn it all.