The Mac Lab

Archive for April, 2010

Stay Focused (Week 30)

by on Apr.26, 2010, under Blog

kyle_w_dancecrew_smBatting clean up, leading off, you following my drift?
Seeming things not always are, but answers can we sift
Many meanings have few words, and some are even true
Sometimes three roads lead one to, a fourth that no one knew
Footsteps blaze the trail taken, a path that we’ll create
Just because you’re following, don’t mean I can’t relate
Skocko / Dream Yet Complete

Seven and a half weeks. That’s all the time we have before finals begin and another school year winds to a close. It’s time to focus on the set of projects you’ll select for your chapter in our iBook. The workflow in InDesign CS5 is substantially different than CS4 so please hold off on that phase of the project until CS5 arrives. I’ve been in contact with Adobe and there’s a chance we may receive our software in a timely manner this time around. Either way, there will be plenty of time to assemble your chapter, following the step-by-step videos I’ll provide.

Don’t worry about the written component yet; focus on your projects. Keep in mind all the fundamentals we’ve built upon this year, especially the Elements and Principles and Color Theory. (Alternate links: E & P | CT) We’ll also talk a bit about hue, saturation, and value.

Need an Idea? As it says on the Jobs Page: The Mac Lab is looking for posters to promote the Elements and Principles of Design, Color Theory, etc. The Geometric Spectrum (Craig U) is a wonderful example of how you might answer the call. The Rhythm of Art just popped into my mind. (Think repetition and pattern… The recurrence of elements within a piece: colors, lines, shapes, values, etc.)

Need Help Learning New Skill-Sets? CS5 Central has new links. Thousands of Mac Lab Tuts may be found here and scattered throughout the Blog. Heck, if nothing else, check here for some ideas.

Yes, as the stanza at the top of the page intimates, we’ve boldly gone where no Mac Lab student (or teacher) has gone before. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still discover new creative worlds. Focus (Kyle W) on the fundamentals. Fundamentals are fuel for the creative engine.

Scholarship Opportunity: East County group offering five $1,000 scholarships to GUHSD students. Deadline is Friday. Here’s the official line:

As many of you have been made aware, the Leadership East County Association has recently developed the Future Vision Scholarship Program to assist under-privileged students in the Grossmont Union High School District who otherwise may not have the means or opportunity, but are pursuing higher education.

Scholarships will be awarded based on the student’s application presentation, references, and essay questions. In addition, based on the feasibility, thoughtfulness, and creativeness of the essays, one of the five awardees projects will be chosen to receive $5,000 funding toward project completion at the students school.

Very few students will take the time to follow the instructions so your chance of winning is very high if you follow the all of the instructions. Here’s the application (fill it out at home, not in class). Yes, it might take three or four hours to do it right. When’s the last time you made $250 an hour?

Mac Lab iDevTeam: Justin at CartoonSmart has agreed to be our business partner in developing apps for the iPad. He’s provided these tutorials and is developing a new set specifically for the iPad. See me to obtain your copy of the tuts.

Palm Café Redesign: The Director of Food Services is planning on stopping by next week to check on our progress. Details on Jobs Page.

Got Plans?: This Friday is the deadline for Got Plans? poster submissions. Details on Jobs Page.

A Flaming Waste of Time: Not all experiments succeed. Flame and all related pages on are off-limits for the remainder of the year. One hour penalty for defying this directive. If you want to earn the right to use it again, create something worthwhile at home and show me a gallery-worthy composition.

0427: Maybe it’s because of that lost 4G iPhone but for whatever reason, folks are hitting this page a lot recently. I find that interesting because it applies to this year as well. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

0428: The Tutorial Page has been updated to include other obscure, semi-hidden examples of video goodness. I’d continue to collect loose ends but am currently focused on learning new CS5 skills for the videos you’ll find here soon. Your turn to focus: Create great art and service our clients. Discover what’s within you.

0429: It’s that time of the year when kids are asking the same questions their peers asked in years past. Rather than rambling on about what you should already know, please watch the first 31 seconds of this video. Remember all these videos?

Reminder: Got Plans? posters are due tomorrow. Details on the Jobs Page.

What’s Your Balance? Participation is worth up to 50% of your grade. Have you checked the time sheets lately? Is your name RED? Is your balance negative? Progress Reports are next Friday. Make up your time! (It always amazes me that some students ignore this.)

Stay inspired and check these at home sometime.

Rare After School Update: I try to stay current in tech trends and current events. It’s an enormous effort eating hours each day but I feel it makes me a better teacher. Sure, sometimes I get caught flat-footed and miss something obvious but all things considered, I feel I’m better informed than the average tech teacher.

So what? Big deal. I’ve got an inflated image of myself. What’s the point?

The point, dear reader, is that a situation has arisen that I’m unable to wrap my head around. Please allow me to explain…

We all know that we’re living in a 24 hour news cycle where quite often fiction and rumor pose as truth. Rumor sites, fan sites, blogs, and pseudo-news sites scrabble after and republish the tiniest shred, the barest hint of a story to scoop the competition. Right? A new product launch, such as Adobe’s CS5 suite of applications, would surely qualify as big news, right? It’s all about driving traffic, right? So why, I’ve been asking for the past 24+ hours, isn’t the whole tech, photography, and digital art world focused on what seems to be the story that makes all of our hearts swoon?

My daughter wants to play basketball so I’ll get to the point. Yesterday I got an email from CreativePro (via their newsletter, creativeprose). The first line is: Starting this Friday, April 30, you can download free trial versions of the Adobe Creative Suite 5 applications.

What the?! Really?

Next it says: Adobe is sponsoring a 5 Weeks of 5 Competition that starts April 30. Okay, you need CS5 to participate in a competition that starts tomorrow but NOWHERE ON THE INTERNET IS INFORMATION ABOUT THE IMMINENT RELEASE OF CS5 TO THE MASSES.

You see my problem? I’ll write more but my 13-year-old hoopster is calling right now.

Okay, 21 – 19, the old guy wins (but is beat up mercilessly in the process). The point is: What if CS5 is available for download tomorrow? Why the fish isn’t the whole Web a’quiver with the story? How could I see something so clearly when the Web is silent?

If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. But, dang, if I’m right, how in the World Wide Web do you explain the deafening silence?

0430: WOW! CS5 Master Collection installed on 45 student workstations in less than two hours. Go to CS5 Central and look for CS5 Specific Sites within the Individual CS5 App Pages. (Am updating this right now. Should be good to go by 2nd period.)

Important: When launching a CS5 app, select Trial and skip the Adobe ID step. As soon as Adobe provides us with our serial numbers we’ll escape the trial version restrictions. Have fun exploring our new tools!

Reminder: Mac Lab Saturday School™ tomorrow. As usual, I’ll arrive around 6:15. Progress reports next Friday. Next MLSS™ is May 22.

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Rites of Spring (Week 29)

by on Apr.19, 2010, under Blog

nikki_g_01_smEnergy is contagious / Enthusiasm spreads
Tides respond to lunar gravitation
Everything turns in synchronous relation
Respond / Vibrate / Feed back / Resonate
Rush / Chain Lightning

Every fall my wife hacks our roses back to what seems to me like pitifully thorny sticks. I look at them and wonder how they’ll ever grow. And for a while, while winter rolls on, they don’t seem like they will. But every spring the pitiful sticks sprout and branch and bud and bloom. It’s amazing to witness.

Every fall the Mac Lab fills with students. Some of them, like our roses, seem to pass the winter months in dormancy. I look at them and wonder how they’ll ever grow. Like my wife, I tend my metaphoric garden with faith that the miracle of spring will come to pass. Unlike my wife, my garden has never reached full bloom. I replenish the soil and try to provide the nutrients I think it needs but my thumb has never been as green as hers.

This may surprise some of you, but for me, the hardest part of tending this metaphorical garden is standing back and letting it have the the time to grow. I look at some of the pitifully thorny sticks among the early blossoms and know that each will bloom in its own time, just maybe not in here. Sunshine and water (and maybe some Miracle Grow) are all I can provide at this point.

I’ve been an educational gardener for eight years now. My thumb may not be as as green as my wife’s yet, but every year yields more beautiful results (Nikki G) than the one before it. This year more so than ever before (and we still have two months to go).

It’s going to be amazing to watch!

0420: Oops! Turns out my wife prunes the roses in February so my analogy isn’t quite as analogous as I’d hoped. I still like it though, with Earth Day later this week. What I don’t like is the fact that over half of you behaved like pitifully thorny sticks in neglecting to check out the links.

Fact: Yesterday we had visitors from 32 countries and 19 states. Three people in Turkey averaged more pages per visit (4.33) than some of you. Pitiful!

Please hold up your end of the deal.

0421: SIMPLIFY! How many times have you heard me say that? And how many graphic elements should you employ in your logo design? (Think: Less is more.) I ask this because I read a very interesting article yesterday. You see? The correct answer is ONE!

Assignment: Examine your own logo designs today. How many graphic elements do you employ? If the answer is >1, you need to… everyone, say it with me: SIMPLIFY!

ZBrush and Cinema 4D Users: Riptide Pro for round trip workflow. (We have licensing! Will install tomorrow.) More info coming soon.

International Update: Someone from the city of Maseru in the Kingdom of Lesotho spent 38 minutes cruising our blog yesterday. (How cool is that?! If only all of my students were as engaged as that individual.) That visit makes 146 countries and counting.

0422: Will be installing Riptide Pro this morning. We may hit a snag or two on implementation so be patient. The goal is to move C4D files into ZBrush and ZBR files into Cinema 4D. That should open a whole world of creative possibilities. Once we have a successful workflow, it will be posted here. (If it’s not there, I’m still working on it. Asking when won’t speed up the process.)

Our iBook and the iBookstore: InDesign CS5 will make our job soooo much easier! Terry White has an excellent post about the process and he points to a possible publishing solution. This is getting better and better. All that’s left is the question of how to embed video.

International Update: The Republic of Zimbabwe became the 147th country to visit our blog yesterday.

Flaming Clue: Use Firefox instead of Safari to save Flame Files (thank Rebecca and Breanna for that tip). UPDATE: Read this. If you want to include any of these in your portfolio, you must document the rationale behind your color choices as they relate to Color Theory.

Oh yeah, Happy Earth Day!

It’s up to us to save the world for tomorrow: it’s up to you and me.
Jane Goodall


0423: Short and sweet. Interesting development on the iPad front. More on this next week. The Jobs Page is in need of applicants. Galleries waiting to be filled too.

International Update: A visitor from the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia raised the international count to 148.

Reminder: No Mac Lab Saturday School™ tomorrow. May 1 is the next one.

2nd Period Goodness: Samantha D and Sara M delivered rousing solos in an unexpected Mac Lab Valhalla Idol preview performance. Are there more contestants in other periods?

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Reach for the Sky (Week 28)

by on Apr.12, 2010, under Blog

zack_t_la_01_smIt would be much easier, for all of us I think
Look at what we’re standing on, and what we’re on the brink
If now could be just like then, then maybe we could speak
Wouldn’t have to run and hide, from what our wishes seek
If we did not know better, what questions we could ask!
Listening, we’d make believe, and wear the answer’s mask
Skocko / Dream Yet Complete

How many different ways can you interpret those words? Are we on the brink of something special? Are you? Seriously, think about it…

Are your wishes still rich, full of wonder and hope? Are you still curious about the world all around you? About the future that awaits you? Do you still dream of what you might become? Do you still wonder and dare to think what if? Or have you already become cynical in your old age? Is make believe too childish? Have dreams lost their luster?

Growing old isn’t about wrinkles and gray hair. Growing old is about losing your sense of wonder. It’s forgetting that every day can be an adventure. If only you let it. If only you want it.

Growing old is about leaving your dreams behind. It’s about forgetting your hopes and wishes. It’s entirely about giving up and letting life just happen to you.

If you hate Mondays, you’ve grown old. Think I’m wrong? I can show you not only how that’s true, but why that’s true. Want me to prove it? Okay. Go back and reread the stanza at the top of the page but this time think about what those words might actually mean. Then reread the words that follow and try to honestly answer each of those questions.

If that’s too much trouble, if that’s too much to ask, you’re older than I am. It’s like Lyall Watson says. You’ve lost a childlike playfulness which is one of the hallmarks of creativity.

Growing old isn’t about wrinkles and gray hair. Growing old is about your frame of mind. Growing old is a conscious decision. Old people are bored. They think they have nothing to do.

Some of the oldest people I know are teenagers. Lucky that it’s never too late to grow young again. Reach for the Sky (Zack T) and remember:

Questions in our upraised hands, and answers we’ll surprise
Like the caterpillar who, does seem to death defy
It might take a miracle, belief may then belie
Fate it seems that common sense, is fated to deny
Battles rage within us all, where truth is compromised
There dreams, like tissue paper wings, are torn and tossed aside

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••

CS5 Info is Already Out: Adobe, for some reason, jumped the gun on their own unveiling. CS 5 Master Collection | CS5 on Adobe TV And here’s the NAPP CS5 Learning Center. CS5 has yet to ship. I’ll let you know the moment I have more news. I can’t wait to get it either!

This Week and Beyond: Work on your chapter for the book. For now, focus on your artwork. More specifics about the written component will follow soon. We’ll know more about how CS5 will play it’s part in the creation of our iBook later this morning.

0413: Watch this video, do what it says, then work on your projects.

0414: Apparently the m4v I used isn’t the all-purpose file format I had hoped it would be. A colleague tried it on his new iPhone yesterday with no joy. I notice Michael W got it to work (show me today in class) but Steven K didn’t. Oh well.

Stats Don’t Lie: About a quarter of you skipped the video yesterday. Not very smart. Please watch it today and follow the instructions. (You don’t want me poking though your browser’s history, do you?) Everyone else: View another archived post before getting to work today. Perhaps fate will present you with a bit if unexpected inspiration.

CS5: I’ve just begun building Mac Lab CS5 Central™ so we get off to a flying start once the software arrives. And no, I still don’t know when we’re getting our copy. But as soon as I do…

Considering a CS5 Purchase? Students and faculty at Cuyamaca and Grossmont Community Colleges can buy the CS4 Master Collection now for $510 and get a free upgrade to CS5 when it ships. Info here. (Expires April 28. Could that be the day CS5 ships?)

New Alumni Blog: The fabulously creative Mariam Bier has her own blog now. Congrats, Mariam! Looking forward to following your progress. 😛

0415: I’ve been watching CS5 videos and getting ideas for our new Mac Lab CS5 Central™ section of the blog. I have a Photoshop CS5 HDR idea that no one seems to be covering (or I haven’t discovered it yet). Very cool and obvious, hiding right in front of us. Who knows, perhaps it’s even original (or 20 people have already thought of it). Either way, the tut will be on the Photoshop CS5 page soon. These pages will grow daily so you might want to check back. I have scores of links yet to add. (I’d get more done if I quit watching the videos.)

Make the most of your remaining time in here. And remember that there’s Mac Lab Saturday School™ this weekend.

Update: New Light Painting photos up. Are yours missing? If they’re worthy, I’ll be happy to add them to the mix.

0416: I had high hopes for the Jobs Page this year but I never expected this level of achievement. There are still jobs to be had if you want to compete for clients.

CS5 Interest: Many of you are exploring CS5 Central. That’s good but don’t wait for our copy of CS5 to arrive to try out some new skills of your own. Plenty of CS4 tuts at the other end of those links too. I’ve just added a Cinema 4D and ZBrush section. Watch for these new pages to grow!

Mac Lab Saturday School™: Tomorrow is the last one until May 1. Take advantage of the extra time to work on your projects. As usual, I’ll arrive about 6:15. Remember that the Mac Lab is also open each morning around 6:15 (and school starts late on Mondays). Finish the year strong!

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Final Stretch (Week 27)

by on Apr.05, 2010, under Blog

philip_b_got_plans_03_smKnow this and know it well: time is never wasted. Wherever we go, whatever we do, everything is an aspect of education. Even when we don’t immediately grasp the lesson.
Robert Silverberg / Lord Valentine’s Castle

Finals begin in 11 weeks (0617). How will you spend what time we have left? What will your lesson be? Are you one who considers the blog a waste of time? (Read the second paragraph, if nothing else.) Are you one of my academic doppelgangers? (Third paragraph) What will the future hold for man or woman you’re to become? Though miracles do sometimes happen, it’s probably not a good idea to expect one to save you too.

If you haven’t already, please read the Spring Break post before beginning to work today.

Reminder: Make some plans for your own future (Philip B).

0406: The statistics don’t lie. Not everyone followed the links (above) yesterday. Rather than declaring another Groundhog Day and repeating the process, as we have several times in the past, I’m going to let you decide how to proceed. Call it an experiment in self-government. Like I wrote a few minutes ago, I just want you guys to be responsible and reliable.

Final Exam Requirement: We’re going to publish a book. That’s right, a book. And you’re going to write it. Well, at least part of it. More details will be coming soon but if you want to blame someone for this new requirement, blame Terry White.* He’s the one who gave me the idea. Smack in the middle of this review (Command-F and search for: epub) is the heading: Making your own iBooks. He’s even got a link to a how-to video (you don’t have to watch it) that sealed the deal. We can and we will do this. Your art and written reflections of your Mac Lab experience will fill the pages. You’ll each have your own chapter. Heck, we may just use the iPad and projector to present the book during finals.

WARNING: That last sentence has the distinct feel of inevitability. 😛

*Did anyone notice his motto? If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over? I love it!

Speaking of loving it, the video team now has its own blog. Mac Lab Media is yet another way that Mac Lab students are poised to rewrite education history.

Note: Zack Tatar’s latest post includes light painting with his cousin (who just happens to work at a pretty cool company). Our own Light Painting Gallery has been updated as well. Where’s your latest masterpiece?

0407: You’re in luck. Since I was busy all morning writing a very cool company on behalf of the iPad App Development Team, it’s a work day. If you need ideas, there are new projects on the Jobs Page and Inspiration always beckons. Oh, and did I mention Grand Central Linkage? While you’re working, keep your own chapter of the first Mac Lab iBook in mind. Think: 5 Stages. Where are you in the process? How will you set yourself apart?

Another Idea: Are some of your old projects in need of polishing? Do you remember that this is not only allowed, it is expected! I want to see your best work in the iBook. (Thanks to Philip for this reminder.)

0408: Christopher and Kyle got together 7th period and succeeded in the proof of concept for our iBook project. So long as you follow some very simple directions (coming soon), this will be a gorgeous way to present your work! The iPad will be available for viewing the initial iBook example today (after I introduce it at the start of each period). I’m going to suggest a few changes and we’ll have a more focused example by next Monday. (No pressure, guys.) 😉

The CS5 Master Collection: It’s bought, paid for, signed, sealed, and almost delivered. The official unveiling is Monday at 8:00. I’ll be streaming the presentation in the lab. (Hopefully Adobe will be able to support the bandwidth demands.) I wish I could tell you more but I agreed to honor the NDA. Adobe hasn’t announced shipping dates so I don’t know when we’ll get our copy. All I know for sure is that it has freakin’ unbelievable features! (No lie. Some of what I’ve seen borders on science fiction.)

Cameras: Several of you have yet to return cameras from last weekend. Bring them back tomorrow morning or lose the right to check out cameras for the next month. And to whomever has the missing multicolored flashlight: Please return it tomorrow. Thanks.

0409: What a great way to start the day! I hope some of you are feeling the same enthusiasm for the iBook final. I’ll have something new to show you on Monday. As will some other folks. Streaming begins at 8:00. We have the coolest tools in the universe! Well, almost.

Reminder: Mac Lab Saturday School™ tomorrow. As always, I’ll arrive around 6:15.

Light Painters: The Moon won’t rise until (about) 4:00 this weekend so the nights will be dark. Take advantage!

Need Ideas? I’ll be expanding the Jobs Page again this morning. Improve your self portrait, your logo (including the much-neglected 3D version), your illustrations (including this style), and all the rest. 3D students especially need to step up! What about this style of 3D render? Too easy and way too cool! Always, always, always refer to Inspiration to feed your creative self.

New Release: The Video Team has a few finishing touches left but here’s the first video in their Stop Bullying Campaign. Reminder: We’re still looking for Stop Bullying posters. More info on the Jobs Page.

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