Surfing with Safari

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The New Safari – I dig the new purple icon!

I love stepping just outside of my usual surfing patterns to learn about something new. Today I discovered the preview version of Apple’s new Safari browser*, a fantastically fast and fresh update! In fact, I am using it right now to write this blog. For the most part, Safari is a reliable browser that I use just about all of the time, but sometimes for whatever reason, Safari won’t load certain web pages for me, like a bitly link or YouTube links and then I need to fallback to Chrome or Firefox. Chrome is okay, but I prefer using the native browser. I am hoping this new Safari browser will have fewer compatibility issues and I won’t see the dreaded partial blue progress bar so much. It’s still an early release, so I expect that there will be some quirks, but Apple will no doubt work most of them out. The browser is so much faster than the current version that I have added it to my dock so I can use it as my primary browser. If you are a Mac user, this is worth checking out!

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*You will need to sign up for a free Apple Developer account to download the browser.

Finishing Stuff is Hard

Maybe you don’t relate and finishing is just another part of your process, but if you are like me, finishing is hhhhard. But why? Why is it so hard to finish a project? They all start out with such promise, reasonably scoped, useful in nature, but then something happens along the way. Sometime after a few milestones are reached, suddenly the project is shone in a new and unflattering light. Something is missing. Is this what I really wanted to make? I think it needs a new feature or maybe I need to go back to the drawing board for a redesign. No one is going to find this useful in this state. It goes on…

At times like these I identify with Lt. Reginald Barclay…

Here is a picture on my yet to be named app. It allows you to load up pictures, alter the transparency and float these windows on your Mac desktop. There might be other features but I just can’t say where this is going.

prototype

I needed to step back but just for a breather. The problem is I am not sure exactly what the finished product should be. With all the Swift development I have been doing lately, I needed a break from Storyboards, View Controllers and delegation. My app just isn’t progressing and the harder I push, the harder it resists. So, on to my distraction. Just recently I’ve taken an interest in a product called Unity 3D. It’s a game creation tool very popular with the indie development community. With Unity a hobby developer like me can create multi-platform games with relative ease, all under a very liberal licensing program (basically if your app makes less than 100K US per year in revenue, it’s free). Beyond hearing the name getting passed around over the years, I knew very little about Unity, so I decided to start at the beginning. That’s when I found an amazing game development tutorial that was just what I needed to hear right about now. It’s like the folks at Unity heard my plight and decided to write some excellent tutorials on gett’ner done!

If you are having a difficult time completing your projects, I highly recommend watching these tutorials. The advice offered is applicable beyond general game development and even the Unity product.

Unity – DEVELOPER ADVICE

Advice on finishing, releasing and marketing your games.

Link: https://unity3d.com/learn/tutorials/topics/developer-advice

This week I am going to take some of this advice to heart and start scoping my project so I can complete it within one month. Next, I’ll set up some milestones and make sure I track my progress along the way. I might even post something here at Adventures in Play to record my journey.

 

Where does the time go?

With a title like that you might think I am about to launch into a sentimental post, but no this blog boils down to two buttons:

red_button Sliders

It all started many hours ago when I got the notion that I might like to create a  custom configuration button for my Mac app. I had hoped it would be a quick task but now I see it’s 9PM and my day is almost done. I feel a little cheated by time, but the truth is, I have been programming in Swift a lot lately and my brain needed a creative break from enums, optionals and NSUserDefaults.

I am still pretty much a newbie when it comes to vector art. I know the benefits of using vector over raster images but creating vector art has always felt unnatural. With raster you can just lay down the brush and go but working with vectors always felt more mathematical, like trying to create art using protractors, rulers and compasses. However, that idea was challenged when I started using Clip Studio Paint (also known as Manga Studios) last year. Vector software has gotten more sophisticated and the process isn’t so different anymore than using traditional paint programs.

This afternoon I decided to give Affinity Designer a go. It’s a program I purchased a while back after a brief foray into iDraw (now Autodesk Graphic). I can’t criticize iDraw too much because I have created a few neat images using it. At the time I was looking for a cheap alternative to Adobe Illustrator and iDraw certainly fit the bill.  Affinity is one of those programs I have been meaning to dive into but haven’t for some reason. Maybe the interface was a little intimidating or perhaps iDraw was just more familiar, but that changed this afternoon when I started playing around with all of the neat shape effects in Affinity. It is an amazing program and a good part of my lost time can be credited to hours of exploration and experimentation.

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 9.16.09 PMWell, I hope you like my configuration buttons. Personally, I like them better than the overused NSAdvance button. I had a lot of fun creating them.

The Medium Distorts the Message

The weekend is here, so it must be time for another post to Adventures in Play. My dwindling site stats are prodding me to write something before my website completely flatlines, but then there is a certain freedom that comes with knowing only a handful of people will ever read my blogs.
In a way my blog is like writing in a personal journal that I intensionally leave out on a sidewalk or subway station for a passerby to discover. Most people either never see it, or just ignore it as they click to their usual Internet haunts. Occasionally, probably by chance, someone stops to give my writings a passing glance, but what they think of it I have no idea. This in itself is an experiment. I often wonder what has drawn a person to my website? Was it a poorly constructed Google search, or were they looking for something more adventurous and informative, or less whimsical or rhetorical? Given how I use Google, I can empathize with the impatient seeker who lands on my page and viscerally clicks away sensing the material lies well beyond their intended search criteria.

At times I question the need for a blog when I could post something on Twitter or Facebook, but after some reflection I know it wouldn’t be the same. The medium matters. I learned that years ago when digital art was still a new medium. Back then I read about artists who had gone digital, replacing their traditional brushes and paints for a digital art studio. They touted the virtues of creating art totally on a computer, a streamlined workflow where there is no need to waste time scanning work or using messy paints and expensive art supplies. A world where one can easily create and destroy with little apparent consequence. So, when I sat down in front of a computer monitor with my fancy Wacom pen in hand, I  wondered why I froze up creatively. At first I thought I was lazy or not focused enough, but after a while it dawned on me that something was getting in the way. For me, creating art from scratch on a computer was like trying to pat my head and rub my tummy at the same time. I wondered why things didn’t just flow, but why should it? I was sitting in a task chair in a dimly-lit, windowless room where I stared expectedly at a bright, blue-whitish monitor for inspiration and creative ideas.  Using a Wacom tablet, I had to get acclimated to a drawing experience where my hand and eye passed through a digital controller. Instead of drawing directly to paper, I needed to draw in one place while looking at the screen, and all the while thinking this was an evolution over pen and paper. However, the experience was entirely different and for me, not better at least not from a starting point. What I learned was I didn’t need high tech tools or software to create something, just imagination and practice. It’s an easy trap to fall into, the alluring idea that the right tool will take you to that next level, but of course you can’t shortcut the process. I am sure many artists can create amazing art directly on a computer, but I believe the path taken to create something, changes it in the process. The more translation between you and the medium means more distortion to the creative message. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but you should be aware of it. Perhaps that is why you often see artists going “retro” to tap back into a medium that speaks to their creative energy. I understand that.

filter_message2

So, if I were to use Twitter to convey the ideas in this post, I would need to somehow condense my meandering thoughts into a series of concise 140 character tweets, a process of reduction that would no doubt distort and mutate my message. This blog post might read something like, “The medium distorts the message #AdventuresInPlay”. Hmmm… not exactly everything I wanted to say, but seems a fitting title for my post. 😉