Capn Design

April 2011

This month I posted 10 entries, listened to 481 songs, bookmarked 46 sites, favorited 50 things, crafted 47 tweets, watched 47 videos and took 35 photos.

Cinemagraphs: Harry Potter Meets the Animated GIF

Posted April 21, 2011

Jamie Beck, who blogs at From Me to You, has worked with Kevin Burg to elevate the lowly animated GIF to new heights. As you can see below (and on her blog), it’s quite striking.

A cab passes

A flickering light

They’re calling them cinemagraphs and this interview sheds some more light on the subject, even though they don’t walk us through the process. They do explain that these are still photos being combined and not snippets of video.

The effect definitely reminds of the moving photographs from Harry Potter. Granted, we’re not seeing this in our newspapers, but it has a similar haunting effect. I’ve seen Noah Kalina use a similar effect in some of his short videos. I guess they’re more of the long photograph style. In all of these cases, I find the concept fascinating. Of course, sometimes it can be incredibly creepy.

Finger tapping

Web Dev Treasure Hunt to Apply to Bandcamp

If you want to apply to work as a developer at Bandcamp, you start at their jobs page and they have the usual spiel — you should be like this, you shouldn’t be like that. But at the end of the job description, they tell you to check the HTTP headers. This leads you on a treasure hunt that requires a love of puzzles and some background as an engineer. I was happy to have made it to the end, but I won’t spoil it for you.

The treasure hunt was a lot of fun and I think it’s going to make an engineer more interested in working with the company. Sure, it’s a little quirky but it requires a slight time commitment (it took me about 15 minutes to figure it all out) and a knowledge that will immediately cut the wheat from the chaff. I love this kind of creativity.

The Usability of Passwords

There are two great tips in this article — one for users and one for developers. For users: your password should be multiple words; “this is fun” would take 2,537 years to crack using today’s technology. For devs, adding a 5-second time delay between password attempts moves the time to crack “alpine fun” from 2 months to 63 years. [via]

A Floating Soccer Pitch

A small Thai island had very little land, but the kids wanted to play soccer. So, they built a floating one. They got good and started competing against other teams.

While the story is awesome, the reenactment is better. I’m not sure if these kids are actors, but I don’t care. They are having so much fun and you can’t help but smile.


20110411japanphotos.png Japan Before and After Tsunami

The photos are devastating, but the design of the page makes it feel real. Using a slider, you can choose how much of the before or after you want to see. Something about watching the landscape change from whole to decimated and being able to control it is powerful. It’s like a simplified, horrific version of destroying a Sim City with a natural disaster. Somehow, it brings more gravity to the images.

20110410autism.jpg Moving Photo Essay on Autism

In Focus, the Atlantic’s new photo curation blog by Alan Taylor (creator of the still fantastic Big Picture), has a photo essay in support of Autism Awareness Month. Not only is the photo essay fantastic — I don’t think I’ve ever read each word of every caption — but it reminds you just how powerful this medium can be. Some of these photos have been around for years, but the right context and audience makes a world of difference.

Aflac's Silent Movie Commercial

After firing Gilbert Gottfried, Aflac needed a way to turn out new commercials without having to reinvent their brand. So they took an old, silent film style commercial from 2006 and ran it today. The commercial is fine, but the creative solution is great.

How To Steal Like An Artist

I can tell this is good because nothing on this list is surprising, but I nodded along the whole way and felt inspired when I finished. For example:

The best way to vanquish your enemies on the internet? Ignore them.

The best way to make friends on the internet? Say nice things about them.

Real Toy, Augmented Reality

Posted April 5, 2011

Dentsu London and Berg are developing Suwappu, a set of toy woodland creatures that create signposts for an augmented reality. When you view the creatures through a tablet or phone, you see a new world spring up around them. Enough explaining; let’s just watch it in action (skip to 2’36” to learn more about how it works).

I also really enjoyed the video for Helicopter Taxi, an iPhone game where kids can see a helicopter on their screen, floating above everything. When they put the phone down, it can pick up passengers.

It seems like AR has found a home in toys. While I do think there will be apps that are incredibly useful for adults once they become seamless — building them into glasses or contacts and displaying contextual information when I want it — we’re starting to find real value today. Of course, it is weird that we are creating a fantasy land for kids instead of letting it live in their imagination, but they’ll let us know what they think with their (parents’) pocketbooks.

[Suwappu via @chrisfahey, Helicopter Taxi via Andy Budd]

Trimming the Times

Posted April 3, 2011

In response to the Times’ new paywall, the Atlantic Wire is planning to pick out the best articles from each day’s edition in a new series called Trimming the Times. The Nieman Journalism Lab puts it succinctly:

“Trimming the Times” isn’t — per its framing, at least — about gaming the Times’ meter, per se; it’s about helping readers navigate stories within an ecosystem that, from the payment perspective, punishes aimless exploration.

While our household subscribes to the weekend edition of the Times, this was my biggest concern. I didn’t want to have to worry about how many articles I’m viewing. Even though I know I won’t hit the paywall, I find myself avoiding articles that are purely factual, figuring I can save the click and get the information elsewhere.

While I’m busy quoting, my coworker, Mr. Andrew Anker, reframes the discussion by pointing out the real value that the Times provides:

The New York Times’ value to me (as my hometown paper) has never been its hundreds of writers who create a bunch of content every day; it’s been the tens of editors who picked exactly everything I need to know today. When I grew up, that one package on my doorstep every morning was by far the easiest way to figure out what mattered. Now with the internet, social media and portable devices I want more than one set of editors can provide. But I still would like one easy package and I wish more media companies would redefine their editorial mission to include creating new types of packages, not trying to C&D others out of business.

Andrew’s post falls into the category of “I wish I wrote that”, as suggesting that companies make their package more valuable instead of trying to litigate is right on the nose. It’s been said before, but people will happily pay more for additional value. It is now harder to read the Times online and I have to pay to make $35/month to not have to worry. I am happy to pay for the Times, but hate that they make it feel like extortion.

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