Monthly Archives: September 2010

The Portal Speaks: Our Latest Stop Motion/Animated Feature

Standard

September is always a cruel month when you provide support to courseware at a University. A ton of new users, a ton more use of the system, people doing cooler and more difficult things, systems that are more interactive than ever…it all means things tend to slow down. This September has not been our worst by any means, but everyone is used to systems working perfectly and being perfectly fast, so Lauren and I created this:

It was a great experiment in mixing stop motion with animation. The whole thing took about two hours from start to finish. We shot it with the lights off in my office. Easy! Our key message was this: everyone, and I mean everyone, is doing their best on this. All your issues are being heard and strategies are in place. Since we created and posted this, new hardware was bought and installed. I fear people imagine that those working deep in the systems don’t know/care/worry about how things work for students and instructors. We know exactly how much they do care, so we really wanted to communicate that.

Plus: making videos is fun.

iPad reflections

Standard

I am writing this post from my new iPad. I’ve been waiting for this moment for some time…I have had high hopes. Here are the pros and the cons.

Pros
It’s remarkably easy to use. Any interface works well only if the symbols in use resonate deeply with the user. Apple has the advantage of many years of symbol generation in it’s favour. I’ve managed to accomplish quite a bit without having to turn to a manual.

Others have commented on how awesome it feels to interact with the web using your fingers instead of a mouse; the immediacy of it, the intimacy…it’s like meeting the web in the flesh for the first time. Intimacy like that with places and content is extremely powerful. I can’t see being satisfied with less having experienced it.

Typing is okay. It autocorrects a lot, but it has to. Most of the time it’s right. It pit all your apostrophes and capitals in, which should clean up a great dal of grammar on the Internet.

Mail is stunning. I don’t even know what makes it so beautiful, but it is. So is the calendar. I get a little shiver imaging that my activities will be documented in such an elegant way. So far I’m only viewing,so I can’t speak to it’s functionality. Apple appears to be appealing to the secret aesthete in us; the style and slickness makes you feel like you’re transcending some kind of hitherto unknown class boundary. I admire and appreciate their attempt to surround me with prettiness.

Cons
It never once occurred to me that the ipad’s web browser (safari) would struggle with google docs. Google docs is my word processor of choice, and since it’s a app, I presumed I would have no trouble at all composing docs on an iPad. But no: I can view but not edit google docs on the iPad. I’d really like to know why. Does docs rely on flash? I was under the impression that it didn’t. Is it’s functionality deliberately disabled, and by which party? My guess is that apple is responsible, not google, but this like like picking one parent over another. I’ve been a Mac user since 1997 and I become more of a google fan by the day. Why apple makes the products I’d rather spend the day with my fingers on, google makes the functionality I need. So I hope safari gets it’s act together. In the meantime I’m making do with a very slick app called Office2 HD, which is beautiful. But I believe that the future is in the mobile web, not locked away in apps. If google comes up with a rival device that ties seamlessly into it’s apps package, I may be lured away from apple products.

iBooks. The reading interface is quite lovely, but I’ve never seem a more poorly organized collection of fiction. Books for young adults are listed in the children’s section. Beyond basic author, title and rough genre, I can’t dig though the collection in any comfortable or interesting way. And the bookshelf display is far too simple for the eventual cluttered collection any book loving reader will accumulate. It looks very much slapped together with no serious thought about categorizing fiction.

Lack of flash? Doesn’t bother me in the slightest. YouTube looks fantastic embedded on a page or otherwise.

Thus I find myself partly pleased and impressed, and partly unexpectedly disappointed.