Newspaper ad for August Bank Holiday event at The Feathers Inn. Another piece for Rhian and Helen’s excellent pub at Hedley on the Hill, Northumberland. Fonts are from Adobe’s Wood Type series plus various cuts of Caslon and Clarendon. Ornaments and swashes customised in InDesign.
Apple has dubbed the iPhone 4’s new higher-resolution screen Retina Display. So what exactly does that mean, and are Steve Jobs’ claims of “smooth and continuous graphics” – in other words, no visible pixels – technically justified?
It can’t be denied that there’s a certain amount of hype in Apple’s presentation of the feature. The term ‘retina display’, for a start, has been borrowed from a slightly different context: conventionally, it refers to screenless display technologies that project images directly onto the back of the eye. Bumping up the number of pixels in an LCD panel is not really in this class of innovation.
The benefits have also been slightly exaggerated, though perhaps only for the legitimate purpose of clear illustration. The typographic comparison used in the WWDC keynote and on the Apple website shows a ‘before’ image with pixels about nine times larger than those in the ‘after’ image: that is, each original block becomes a 3×3 grid of nine blocks. In reality, the new screen packs in only four times as many dots.
Apple’s simulated comparison of iPhone 3GS vs iPhone 4 screen resolutions (left) vs a more accurate simulation (right). Anti-aliasing mileage may vary.
Only? That’s still a heck of a lot of dots. The iPhone 4’s pixel density comes out at 326ppi (points per inch), meaning each square inch of the display comprises a grid of 326×326 pixels. Anyone familiar with designing for print will spot that this exceeds the magic number* of 300dpi, the standard resolution used for printed images.
Except that 300dpi isn’t actually a magic number. continue
I designed ambient banners for a midsummer night event at the Feathers Inn, Hedley on the Hill. The 7×5ft (2.1×1.5m) piece seen here, manufactured by HFE Signs, featured a trompe l’oeil ormolu picture frame and provided a warm backdrop to the main seating area that took on an extra lustre as night fell.
In a marquee filling the award-winning pub’s beer garden, diners enjoyed an Elizabethan meal created by chef Rhian Cradock interspersed with performances by a local theatre group of extracts from A Midsummer Night’s Dream adapted for the occasion by writer Brynn Younger Banks.
The banners were designed to be re-used at future events, including a deli stall on Newcastle’s Quayside during the regional EAT! Festival. More pictures below. continue
UPDATE: The real details of the real iPhone 4 are, of course, now available.
Today, Steve Jobs will announce the new iPhone, colloquially known as the ‘4G’, though more likely sold as the iPhone HD. Despite sterling efforts, nobody has been able to reveal any substantial information about it, because Apple is highly secretive about new products. Yet the Telegraph’s Consumer Technology Editor, Matt Warman, managed to publish a piece* before the weekend advising consumers of the 4G’s key weaknesses.
How did he do it? Inside information? Nope. Educated guesswork? Not really. No, Matt got the jump on every other tech pundit across the globe simply by basing his article on a combination of stuff about previous iPhones, stuff he made up, and stuff that doesn’t even make enough sense to be right or wrong.
I don’t normally pick on every mistake by a fellow tech writer; I’m sure I make plenty myself. But this was egregious, as a lot of other people very quickly pointed out in the comments. Then they had their comments ‘moderated’ to remove criticisms that Matt, or someone at the Telegraph, didn’t like. In fairness, nutters writing abusive rubbish in comments can be annoying for everyone. I’m not quite sure that well-informed factual rebuttals by a well known tech writer and respected academic really fall under that heading, but, you know, it’s a grey area. No it isn’t.
Today, Matt tweets:
I am still waiting for anybody to point out an inaccuracy
Maybe those comments were redacted before even Matt got to read them. So let’s not keep him waiting any longer. continue
Shared Content is a feature that’s been available in QuarkXPress since version 6, but is often overlooked. One reason may be that it’s one of those clever functions that has myriad possible uses but none that immediately spring to mind. Another is that, with the launch of the groundbreaking version 7, it got tangled up with Composition Zones, an even cleverer function that was presented in such a counter-intuitive way that many users gave up trying to figure it out.
In version 8, Shared Content remains a powerful way to automatically update similar items within a layout or, via Composition Zones, across multiple documents. The basic idea is that when you change one instance, all the others immediately update to match. This is, of course, the point of paragraph styles (long established as essential for text), item styles (more recently adopted for objects) and picture links (when you edit a placed graphic in Photoshop, for example, it updates in your layout) – so why use Shared Content instead?
Firstly, because it just works: whoever’s editing your document doesn’t have to figure out how your styles are set up and that they need to update a style to change further instances. Changing any item immediately and visibly updates the rest. Secondly, because text styles only change the appearance of text; Shared Content can change the text itself. And thirdly, because you can do cool tricks.
Read the tutorial in MacUser Vol 26 No 10, on sale now.
Some of what he says makes sense. It really does. I don’t necessarily disagree with the decision not to support Flash directly. I do think it’s a bit like Apple’s decision to pre-empt the market by dropping serial and parallel ports, rewrite its OS from scratch instead of crippling it with backward compatibility, and so on. In other words, brave and forward-looking.
Then again, there’s stuff here that Steve is Just Not Getting. continue
Every year, the latest Macs get faster and faster. But do we? No matter how many teraflops it can flip, your computer’s ability to save you time and effort depends on you finding your way around its features and functions. Even if there’s nothing you don’t know how to do, it’s knowing the quickest and simplest way to do it that divides the true power user from the person who’s still trying to get that coffee they promised themselves before they started that job that was going to take them five minutes.
Unlike certain other operating systems, of course, the Mac OS has a habit of making it pretty obvious what buttons you need to push. But its very ease of use can lead even seasoned users into competence complacency. OK, so you’ve sprinted up that gently sloping learning curve and are sunning yourself on the lush plateau of computing confidence. Take a peek just ahead of you, though. What’s that twinkling through the undergrowth, a few short steps out of reach? Yes – it’s effiency nirvana: the place where you can finally relax because everything takes a little bit less time than you expected.
The following tips don’t delve into uncharted territory or unearth strange artefacts from the bowels of the operating system. They just shed new light on familiar everyday tasks, revealing secrets and shortcuts to smooth your journey. Follow our map, take note of the pitfalls, and we’ll see you safely from ‘to do’ to ‘done’ in time for elevenses.
Read the full article in MacFormat issue 221, on sale now.
It’s only software – but for creative types, every upgrade to Adobe’s professional bundle can be a life-changing experience.
If your job involves creating content, you’re probably running Creative Suite. It’s hard to match the power of Photoshop, the depth of InDesign or the intricacy of Illustrator – though Apple is having a pretty good crack at Premiere Pro with Final Cut. Dreamweaver is in a world of its own, and Flash – well, if you thought Apple’s opposition had rendered it irrelevant to the most exciting new platforms, read on.†
Read the full preview in MacFormat issue 221, on sale now, or read an abridged but still thoroughly useful version at TechRadar.
*All right, four reasons (see above).
An extension of TrueType, OpenType can also accommodate PostScript data, allowing fonts created in both formats to be converted. It also adds new features, notably vastly expanded character tables, allowing variants such as oldstyle numerals, small caps and even complete foreign alphabets to be included in a single font file, and automatic alternates, so a different letter shape or ‘glyph’ will be selected for a character depending on which characters come before and after it.
Adobe, one of the creators of the OpenType format (now an open standard in the form of OFF), converted its entire type library from Type 1 as early as 2002, and the fonts bundled with the Creative Suite are supplied as OpenType – so these files, with their .otf extension, are familiar to Mac users. However, the fonts themselves vary from straight conversions of Type 1 faces to extravagant new cuts with hundreds of special characters.
Here we’ll take a look at how to access the extra features of OpenType fonts in InDesign (similar functions are available in QuarkXPress 8, controlled mainly from the Character Attributes dialog). Older software can also use these fonts, but without the clever glyph replacements.
Read the full article in MacUser Vol 26 No 9, on sale now.
Another ad for The Feathers Inn, Rhian and Helen’s amazing pub, which continues to win every major award for food pubs in the region. This piece will run in a supplement to the Hexham Courant. Trying a slightly cleaner variation on our established look to keep the branding fresh.