The Mac Lab

Archive for June, 2010

Mac Lab Summer Academy

by on Jun.23, 2010, under Blog

james_w_band_pops_smOne does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
André Gide

We may be losing sight of the Mac Lab this summer as the school undergoes construction once again but this time some of us are going to continue the artistic adventure by embarking on the maiden voyage of the Mac Lab Summer Academy. Alumni Steven Moyer, Christian Lim, Zack Tatar, Josh S, and Danny Owens will be working alongside soon-to-be-returning Mac Lab Veterans Christopher Canel, Fadi George, Nikki Goodrich, Diana I, Kyle Wheaton, James Wirig, and Philip Behnam to keep the creative wheels turning.

Who else is interested? (Or who did I forget to mention?)

We do have some unfinished business, though, before moving on to new projects: Mrs. Dufloth’s flyer and poster, Valhalla’s evacuation map, the iParent Poster, and the Palm Cafe menu. I’m sure there’s more but those are the projects that immediately spring to mind.

Check the Jobs Page for other projects we’ll be tackling this fall.

One focus for next year? We have to get better at meeting deadlines. This cool poster by James Wirig never got printed and posted around school and the town. Not really James’ fault as the client did come to us at the last minute but last minute jobs do happen in the real world. We have to be more flexible next year.

Our focus for this summer? Alums continuing to pass the knowledge down. Steven Moyer has been a priceless resource this year. New alums will continue the mentoring tradition Steven began — a tradition we’ll be grafting into our Mac Lab DNA in the coming months. Our veterans will finish existing projects and expand upon their already prodigious skill-sets.

NOTE: If any Mac Lab newbies are paying attention, you’re invited to join in as well. Get a jump on the 2010/11 school year and learn from the best. Leave a comment if you’re interested.

More to add but before I get too caught up on looking ahead to the 2010/11 school year, I have to finish grading this year’s final projects.

About Tomorrow: I’ve got a really, really important phone call tomorrow morning at 10:30 so I’ll only be in the lab from 8:00 to 9:30. I’ll have sign-out sheets for the equipment. Prep your parents. Be there if you want to check out anything for the summer. Pass the word. 593-5446 if the doors are locked. Yes, I’m soft enough to do this Thursday Friday too but it’s first come, first served.

Just got home. Will be in at 7:00 if anyone wants to come in early but I have to leave by 9:30.

0624: Let me know (comment) if you weren’t able to make it Thursday morning but still want to check equipment out for Mac Lab Summer Academy. Tomorrow (Friday) is the last day I’ll have access to the lab. Here’s the contract. I’ll be here at 8:00.

About that Phone Call: Was just made a member of this little club. Your artwork will have a slightly wider and more critical circle of viewers next year. Lucky we’re preparing to kick it into another gear! Oh, it’s going to be a great year!

P.S. No pressure but the MLSA™ will be part of my presentation in July at Adobe HQ. Be sure to document your work, collaboration, Q and A, discoveries, and the rest via the blog in the form of comments and links. Use your blogs as additional documentation. You’re making education history! 😛

0626: Equipment has been distributed to MLSA participants and we’ve successfully completed our first three jobs: the brochure and poster for Mrs. Dufloth’s ISTE Conference presentation and enhanced prints for Mr. Martinsen. A big Mac Lab thank you to Kyle, Philip, and Christopher for collaborating on Mrs. Dufloth’s last-minute rush job. Christopher handled Mr. Martinsen’s prints himself. Details will be on the 2010 MLSA page soon.

Why Not Now? Mike Johnson, our metaphoric fairy godmother at the district, is out of town but has informed me that he’s initiated a segmented FTP remote backup of our little site in preparation for its transfer to our brand new speedy server. He anticipates the work will be completed by Tuesday and we should have no interruption of service during the process.

As you may know, we have tens of thousands of files on our little site (Mike tells me 70+ GB) but the blog is also tied to MySQL and PHP and he tells me that it’s not simply a matter of copying files from the old server to the new. He spoke of mystical incantations necessary for synchronizing the files that I, a simple muggle, didn’t even try to pretend to understand.

Long Story Short: I can work on the site but I have to keep track of every file I add because from here to the activation of our new server, the files are ephemeral; they’ll show now but disappear when the switch is flipped. Mike J would then have to track down the files on the old server and manually transfer them to the new one. So, to spare us both the extra headaches, I’ve decided to keep it simple. Until we make the jump to lightspeed, we’ll just use this post and its comments.

Now, to get the Mac Pro set up so I can begin preparing a new best of reel.

0628: Valhalla’s architect contacted me today. We have a new project and here are the details, straight from the man himself:

We’re looking for some concepts that might be recognizing drama and music performances at VHS — all fiction at this time, of course, but also could be based upon past themes. I’m not sure that this will be successful, but it could be fun to recognize some of the student creativity in the SD drawings. Of course, everyone needs to recognize that there is no monetary reward or ownership that goes with the task, and it will be difficult to acknowledge the individual participation of the students involved. All or none of the concepts may end up being used. However, if there is a way for you to display the concepts at the school, we won’t have problems. Any concept drawings that we do become the property of the District.

He doesn’t pull punches, does he? My kinda guy! 😛 And our kinda project!

Here’s the type of banners he’s looking for. Dimensions for each are 30″ wide by 60″ high. See what you can come up with in the next week or so. Drama and Music performances. Hey, I wonder if we’ve done work for them recently… BTW, he’s not looking for one or two ideas, he’s looking for 10 or 12. Get creative! Alert absent members of the MLSA.

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Book of Art (Week 37/38)

by on Jun.14, 2010, under Blog

bashar_o_mla_smwyrd (Old English, “fate”)
The Anglo-Saxon concept of fate that manifests itself chiefly in a hero’s willingness to test fate by matching his [or her] courage against heavy odds.
Benét’s Reader’s Encyclopedia

Are you a hero? Just as we change over time, so do words. Today, most of us equate hero with someone who risks his or her life in a noble cause. Certainly true, but hardly the only definition. My favorite expression of what makes a hero comes from Romain Rolland: A hero is a man who does what he can.

I’m sure that some of you are thinking: That’s it? Skocko believes that a hero is someone who does what he (or she) can? He’s an idiot!

Sure, I’ll grant you that I occasionally behave like the village idiot, but not this time. Think about it. How often do you do what you can? That means giving your all. Trying your hardest. Testing fate by matching your courage against the heavy odds of the moment. How is that not a noble cause?

Face it. None of us gives our all every minute of every day. In fact, most of us coast through many of our days. The few who try to sustain the effort, who try to give it their all every day… Well, they’re heroes in my book. And the Mac Lab has more than its fair share of heroes.

There are so many students I could highlight at this point (and I really wanted to select one of the girls to offset the patriarchal flavor of Rolland’s hero quote) but Bashar O just happened to have the perfect image for this post sitting in the gallery’s queue. (Yes, I’ll update the galleries soon.)

Bashar, like so many Mac Lab students, is new to America. He’s learning English at the same time he’s learning to use industry-standard tools in a professional manner. He takes my brutally honest critiques with a smile, makes the corrections I suggest, and works hard to make himself a better digital artist.

Bashar, like so many Mac Lab students, is a hero.

What about you? Anyone can be a hero. All you have to do is try.

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••

Most Asked Questions (from yesterday): What’s Wrong With My Color? | Why is My Image Blurry? | Why Won’t My Image Save for Web? | (Yes, this is only 4 and I say 5) How do I Insert an Illustrator File? | Why Does My Image Look Weird? | Skocko’s Bonehead Mistake See? I told you I’m occasionally the village idiot. 😉

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••

Posted Prior to the Above: Full post coming tomorrow, or later today… maybe. I’ve been working (almost) around the clock to help you finish strong, so, if I may be so bold as to make a suggestion… finish strong!

iBook Videos: Follow all instructions. (See: Building Your Chapter) Don’t skip any steps. (That means watch the Final Instructions videos that you were supposed to watch a couple of weeks ago too, if you haven’t already).

Extended Deadline: You may work on your chapter until the end of finals. More details in class.

0616: You’ve got plenty to do. Get to it!

0617: Wow! The last day of school before finals. What a year!

If you need more time to work on your projects, feel free to come in before school or during period 1 or 7 tomorrow. Since we’re simply completing our iBook chapters, it’s actually okay to come in any time to work. I want you to succeed. You may come in before or after school next Monday or Tuesday as well (even if your final is tomorrow).

0618: Finals for Period 1, 4, and 7. If you choose not to continue working Monday or Tuesday, you may finally say it: I’m finished! Well, you can say it, but you’re not really finished until you do the following:

In the Finder: File > New Folder (Shift-Command-N)
Name it: 00 Last First (your period and name, last name first)
Fill it with:
1. Your InDesign and EPUB file
2. Your iBook PSD and JPGs you Saved for Web
3. Your best Illustrator and Photoshop files

Do NOT put this new folder in my Drop Box. I will have several hard drives handy to collect your work. Make sure I get this folder. It’s your final exam. Watch this video so there’s no confusion.

0621: Finals for Periods 2 and 5. See instructions from 0618.

International Update: A visitor from Gibraltar nudged our country count to 153.

0622: Finals for Periods 3 and 6. See instructions from 0618.

International Update: The Republic of the Fiji Islands is the 154th country to visit our little blog.

Final Words: I know that some of you are glad to be rid of me and the Mac Lab, but for those who enjoyed the experience, you’re invited to continue following the blog as the first ever Mac Lab Summer Academy™ kicks off next week. Details will be posted here and you can play along even if you don’t have CS5. Web 2.0 tools rock too!

Thanks for helping to take the Mac Lab into uncharted territories yet again this year. You made a difference. Always remember that life is an art. Don’t settle for good enough. Make your own life extraordinary. Take it that extra 10%.

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Evolution Revolution (Week 36)

by on Jun.07, 2010, under Blog

ontvNow I believe there comes a time
When everything just falls in line
We live and learn from our mistakes
The deepest cuts are healed by faith
Pat Benatar / All Fired Up

Last Friday I was struck by one of those ideas that comes from being immersed in the 5 Stages of the Creative Process. You see, like I said last week, I’ve been focused on developing the plan for next year in the Mac Lab (while simultaneously guiding you through the last weeks of this one). Without a moment’s warning, the idea struck. Oh, there’s no doubt that 90% of you will think this is insane and that’s just fine. For the other 10%, how does a Mac Lab Summer Academy™ sound?

Details coming soon.

Speaking of 10%… With only eight work days left (plus the final Mac Lab Saturday School™ this weekend) I sure hope everything is falling in line for you. You’ve been polishing your work, right? Like it says here:

The last 10% takes your project 90% of the way from good to great. Attention to detail is critical. But before you begin looking for little things to improve, start with the big ones. Is the composition balanced? Does it need to be cropped? Is it properly enhanced? Are your files the right size? Are they named correctly? Did you follow the instructions?

You’ve been working on your written component too, right? Video one and two. Remember to include the Elements and Principles and Color Theory. (Alternate links: E & P | CT)

Don’t sweat the InDesign portion of the process. I’ve been working on tutorials that will make this step as simple as possible. You’ll have plenty of time so long as you’ve been following instructions (see above). I’ll upload the new videos in the next few days.

Participation Points: Check the clipboard. Participation is up to 50% of your grade. If you owe time, make it up. If your name’s in RED, the Mac Lab is open a minimum of nine hours every day (6:15 to 3:15). I was here this morning at 5:15 (and the first student showed up at 6:10). If you want to come in earlier than 6:00 to work, just ask and I’ll show up. This Saturday the lab will be open for seven hours (5:30 to 12:30).

Deadlines: I like how Seth Godin suggests we call these live-lines in his blog post today. Nice coincidence, eh? Stay alive! Now that you know the song (and wish you could get it out of your head), read this one. For your own academic survival, know that your final project is due Wednesday, June 16, at the end of the period.

Kudos: Thanks to Shaun Cunningham, Danny Owens, and James Wirig for this week’s featured image video. Hey, Shaun’s not even in the Mac Lab any more. Well, except that he follows the blog and participates on projects via the Web.

Hey, that sounds like an idea we might utilize this summer! 😉

0608: Stay focused on your projects and follow instructions. Only seven work days plus Mac Lab Saturday School™ this weekend (5:30 to 12:30). Mac Lab Finals begin Thursday, June 17.

Reminder: Next Monday is NOT a Collaboration Day. First period begins at 7:25.

0609: So, Behance holds a world-wide competition (5 Weeks of 5), hosted by Adobe, and Mac Lab students submitted two entries. Michael Weekly won a copy of Photoshop Extended during Week 1 and the team of Christopher Canel, Kyle Wheaton, Danny Owens, and Zack Tatar won Week 5 yesterday with this submission:


Besides executing a terrific but challenging concept, they took their project the extra 10%. Perhaps even more importantly, they read and followed the rules, thereby setting themselves apart from the other entrants in yet another way.

Hmmm, following instructions and going the extra 10%… where have I heard that before? 😛

Their prize, btw, is a copy of Adobe’s CS5 Master Collection (retail value $2,599). I’ll speak with Adobe to see what, if anything, can be done to exchange the professional version for multiple copies of the student version. (Don’t hold your breath, guys. It’s a long-shot.)

Countdown: Only six work days until finals start on June 17.

In Appreciation: A special thank you to the Wollitz family for their generous $100 donation to the Mac Lab.

0610: Quite the buzz in class yesterday about the difference between the full and academic versions of software. I heard otherwise intelligent students claiming that the academic versions are crippled in some nefarious way and that it’s no good because it places watermarks on final projects!

HELLO?! We use academic versions of the software. Have you seen any watermarks lately? Have you seen any tutorials that distinguish between feature sets of the two versions? The programs function the same way.

That brought on the debate about the cost and how stupid professionals must be to pay full retail. I really thought we’d covered this early in the year. For those who’ve forgotten, here’s a refresher…

The Master Collection costs $2,600. That is the retail value and, as I’ve said, I consider that a very fair price. This is serious, professional-grade software. It is used in business for commercial purposes. (People make money using it. Lots of money.)

Of course schools, with few exceptions, could never afford to purchase the software at the full retail price. Adobe, like many companies, offers academic pricing so that we may equip our labs and train students for careers in the field (their customers of tomorrow). The site licensing pricing is the ONLY way we could ever equip our labs with such powerful tools for you to use.

Individuals who wish to purchase academic versions from Adobe (or licensed academic resellers) must provide proof of enrollment (or employment for educators). Once out of school, can you cheat and lie to continue to purchase the academic version of the software? Of course. You can even steal it through warez communities. (Enjoy the malware that comes along for the ride!) We all have the opportunity to cheat and lie and steal through our lives.

But then there’s those dog-gone consequences to face.

Our society, to a large extent, depends on individuals freely choosing to do the right thing. It’s as I’ve written:

Of all the lessons in the Mac Lab, the most important have nothing to do with media arts. The most consistent, persistent lessons I teach revolve around personal responsibility and doing the right thing. (Remember, my favorite quote is Richard Bach’s: You teach best what you most need to learn.) I make no secret of the fact that I was a surly, arrogant, know-it-all (or at least I thought I did) or that I made foolish choices in high school. Above all else, I try to teach the kids to be responsible, reliable, moral, ethical, honest, dedicated, hard-working individuals. I encourage them to dream, to choose wisely, to learn from their mistakes, and to just do something! Above all, I try to persuade them to look within, to search for what it is they want to do in life, to find their bliss and work to make it a part of their individual lives.

Or, if you prefer, I’ve said it in fewer words:

Battles rage within us all, where truth is compromised
There dreams, like tissue paper wings, are torn and tossed aside

Don’t let that happen to your dreams.

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••

Countdown: Only five work days — plus the final Mac Lab Saturday School™ this weekend (5:30 to 12:30) — until finals start on June 17.

0611: On Monday, you’ll use the new InDesign tutorials to assemble your chapter of our book. Ideally, you’ve already written the required information: Video one and two. Remember to include references to how you’ve used the Elements and Principles and Color Theory in three of your projects. (Alternate links: E & P | CT)  If you’ve done that, continue to polish old projects and/or create new ones. Make your chapter shine!

Reminder: Tomorrow’s Mac Lab Saturday School™ is 5:30 to 12:30. (A whopping 7 hours of fun!) Come early if you want to claim your computer before the line begins to form. Remember what happened last year

At 7:25 during the 19th and final Mac Lab Saturday School™ of the 08/09 school year, there were 55 students in the room. (The clock always reads 10:30, and if you’re counting, the others are out of frame behind the file cabinet, far right.) When I got here at 6:15, 27 students were waiting outside. (Kevin L and Atheer M were first in line at 5:40.) Thankfully, the incoming flow tapered off and “only” 65 kids showed up. 

Reminder: Next Monday is NOT a Collaboration Day. It’s a regular bell schedule. First period begins at 7:25, second at 8:25 (just like today).

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Learn it all.