Wednesday, October 13, 2010

First portfolio website concept

Didn't I tell you that I would update my blog as soon as I had a presentable portfolio website ready? Well I'm going to live up to that promise today by presenting you my first portfolio website concept. You can find it at Leadhoster, which, by the way, is a great free host with support for PHP.

One note of caution though: the version you see when opening it in Internet Explorer is not as fancy graphically as the version you will see when using Opera, Chrome, Firefox, Safari or any other modern browser that adheres to the W3C standard properly, since IE likes to ignore CSS3 code, and as a result, it is impossible to display rounded corners with that piece of crap browser.

To solve this, I have made a custom style sheet for IE which presents the viewer with a box with sharp corners. Hope is near though for IE users: it seems that IE9 finally interprets these round corners correctly, so when the final version is released, IE fans can experience the rounded corners in all their glory. I hope you like my design! I will add some proper functionality to the website during this or next week.

The pathfinder & doubts about the story

Today we concluded filming the "problem areas" in our interactive video by shooting the scene of the pathfinder. During filming we came to the conclusion that our story in its current form doesn't really make any sense. Because of this, we decided to alter the role of the evil force in the movie, and next to that we changed the end scene(s). I would like to tell you about these changes in more detail, but that means spoiling the story and revealing who the evil force is, while discovering the story and unraveling who this force is, is part of the fun of watching / doing the interactive video. With these changes to our story we feel more confident we can deliver an interesting and unexpected experience to the viewer. I'm looking forward to the end result already!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Creating your own place on the World Wide Web...

"Nowadays, anyone who cannot speak English and is incapable of using the Internet is regarded as backward."  – Al-Waleed bin Talal

If you extend this quote, anyone who is incapable of making his or her own "place" on the internet is a backward creator. With this in mind, it is necessary to learn about Web Technology, and we started with that yesterday. A quick introduction to HTML was given to get us started on experimenting with webpage design and in the end make our own webpage.

The end goals for this course are to make your own portfolio and to create the "worst page", a showcase of bad web design. I'm currently experimenting with different layouts for my portfolio, when I have come up with a layout that looks good enough I will mention it here. I'm also really looking forward to the worst webpages, so everybody: do your worst!

The CreaTe Postcard

For Graphic Design our final assignment was to design a postcard to promote the Creative Technology curriculum. Last Friday everybody got the chance to show their design. The ones that stood out most to me were the postcard from Roman, who came up with an idea that very much resembles the design language used by the University of Twente, the postcard from Nick Byerly, who created a postcard showing that pen + mouse = pen tablet, and the postcard from Isa, who realised a postcard is not just a 2D object to look at but can also be used as an instruction to build something else.

This is what I created:

Front Back

The idea was to show that our study is heavily based on cooperation with each other, so in the picture you see different people collaboratively working on drawing a human hand, using a brush as well as using code. To add another element of technology I included a robot hand (thanks for the tip Isa!) that is put together by two people. I tried to give the viewer the feeling that the back of the card really belongs to the front of the card and is not some random addition, so I used the same background for it. To make the text more legible I used a gradient from black to transparent on the left side and a gradient from white to transparent on the right side.

The VECAP Project

Our final assignment for Introduction to Computer Science was to study the documentation of the VECAP project and give an advice to one of the parties involved based on our findings. In this project, three companies, namely The Dinkelland Research Institute for Rehabilitation, Virtual-Fit and ExercITe, work together to produce home training equipment that can send and receive information over the internet. Additionally, an online community aspect is added to keep the users motivated to do their exercises. Soon it became clear that communication between the parties is very bad, and because of this deadlines are missed and the project doesn't evolve as planned.

While this assignment isn't related with Computer Science at first glance, there are some lessons to be learned from it that also apply to Computer Science. Firstly, the principle of a "black box" is also seen in this project. For instance, one party has a trainer with a connection to the internet, and the other parties don't have to know how this works internally, they are only interested in what the input is (a user who trains, resulting in training data) and what the output is (training data via the internet). How this training data is acquired, for example, is not relevant to the other parties. Because of this, the party that manufactures the training equipment has to make sure the input and output are clearly defined for the other parties, since they won't know what is going on internally.

Secondly, it is extremely important to have proper communication between the parties involved in a project. If this is neglected, components are build that aren't compatible with each other. Not only internal communication is important, communication to the press and unions that represent the users is also essential. If you don't report anything about the progress of your project to the press they will come up with their own stories that often don't depict your product the way you want, and if you don't communicate with unions they will feel left out and as a result approach your product with care.

Thirdly, in Computer Science it is important to be able to grasp what exactly a company wants. Often specifications for products will not be complete, simply because certain requirements are deemed too obvious to mention or are forgotten. Building a product to these incomplete specifications will result in a product that seems fine to the creator but isn't acceptable to the company who requested it.