Last Impressions of the Epson 7900

November 17, 2012

The amazingly beautiful prints that come from the Epson 7900 purchased Dec 2008 (First Impressions), now come at a steep price. The printer clogs like bastard and it takes days of attention and ink cartridges to get it to print. This is not as much of a problem of a print shop running the printer non-stop. But leave it for three weeks and try to print again.

There is an amazing blog at Luminous Landscape of fellow Epson 7900 owners unable to get Epson to fix the FW or the mechanical issues that cause the print head to clog.  The “solution” requires methods that consume vast quantities of ink and paper and may take weeks.

At any rate, my 7900 is for sale. You’ll see it on Craig’s list for half price. It print’s beautifully, I just don’t have the time to stoke it for my occasional print schedule.

Mark

Content Experiences

March 16, 2012

Some observations. After writing two decades of code, it is time to write content.

I’ve been working many years on a book that I self-published – bit-wise via BookBaby and atom-wise through Amazon’s CreateSpace. (A book in a series about Eleanor of Aquitaine’s life).  As a former pre-press professional, I have a lot to say about the creation process, comparative publishing, pricing and all, but on the whole I am relatively pleased. Bookbaby is strictly a publisher for eReaders and they take a book into half a dozen e-formats and most importantly e-stores. Biggest complaint at this point is the delay in getting the book onto the iPAD.

If you want a modern software position, you must bow down to the Agile management method. The wisdom of the Agile Process is documented well by User Interface Magnate Alan Cooper. If you don’t have the talent to figure out the product in the first place, this iterative method will bring you to a satisfactory camel designed by a committee end – everyone smiling, though not necessarily the customer.

People and machines interact to mediate and stash their content over the Internet into portals ranging from FaceBook to Goodreads to YouTube. The mediation of your personality  is everywhere mirrored and mosaiced.

Building a good-old fashioned web site used to be easy. Apple pulled iDisk and iWeb hosting. GoDaddy will give you space at a fair rate. What tool to use. FrontPage is clunky and Dreamweaver is extremely buggy. What to do…

Good Morning IPAD

April 3, 2010

Lines are good for you. There are good lines and bad lines and I respected the 300 person deep Apple line by finagling a business consultation, the only business being the first one in the timezone to get an IPAD. In at 8:59 out at 9:24.



Experience captured in Video (3:30 mino)

“Gorgeous! The touch is extremely seductive! Just beautiful!” … My wife reminds me I am talking about her, right? Anyway that’s the call- in  minutes from breaking the wrapper and having my “out of the box” experience conducted in the temple of the Apple store. The device is a bit heavier than expected which is a must for these portable times. Long live the battery!

Certainly the 64 GB WiFi IPAD is the best Internet viewer ever. It feels faster than my fastest Mac. Having a 802.11n router behind the curtains is the best way to feel the power and the magnificence and the mighty awes. But wow – the lack of Flash is starting to hurt – I just wanted to catch up on an HBO sidebar – well maybe not the whole Internet.

Audio. It takes dictation, plays great sound, though the speakers are not stereo separated.

GPS – Maps works fine using your WiFi connection. And great news! I drove to work with my MiFi Verizon personal hot spot. The built-in Maps app charted the way exactly!  It pings about every 20 seconds or so.

The iPad is awesome for reading the internet. Books not so much.

The presentation of the New York Times is far superior to the pages in an iBook. In fact if the NYT published books using the Safari web engine – it might be commercially viable, for it is certainly more satisfying to read.  Pinching open and closed web news was possible on iPhone but it is positively exhilarating on the iPad. The web uses a mix of crisp fonts and complex layouts. Why does not the beauty of the page carry forward into the iPad books?  That iPad books can be read in the dead of night is about even with the Kindle that can take a dead-on hit of sunlight.

iPAD vs Kindle
The little things, Apple failed to build the iBook app in. Downloading iBook is easy enough; you have to turn books on in iTunes. The big things. Viewing iBook pages. iBook gives you a free Winnie the Poo. You can download free sample chapters from the store. You can download free books like gad – the entire works of Shakespeare from gutenberg.org  The gadget-awful truth is that the Apple book engine makes text look juvenile. Now the Apple Nav UI is far superior than Kindle. But the Kindle screen is finer, for long reading easier on the eyes. You cannot read the iPad in direct sunlight. Most importantly the typography and layout a Kindle book runs rings around Apple. It is shocking to purchase a $10+ professionally published digital book presented in one cartoon font. Changing a publisher’s font is like changing the New York Times to Comic Book Sans, ok on March 32nd. Changing sizes is ok, but gee isn’t the font the voice of the author?

By the way, how do you make and add your own book?

Miscellaneous

Apps load like lightning sting like a bee. best iPad app? Once you  hold Star Walk to the sky, you will never let your iPad go.

Remote (iphone app) is a great way to control Itunes/Airtunes around the house.

Personal Content- Good syncing, organization and interaction with pictures. OK I have to go back now and build some picture frame rolls. Great picture scrubbing and Apple has made it so you can sort by faces, events, places.

Video – Awesome. Simply awesome, both streaming YouTube and loaded video.

Tips so far – If you write long matter, (I just bought Pages) get the small Apple wireless keyboard – sync with Settings->BT On and pair it. The Apple iPad KBD shown in the launch videos is not ready for sale yet. Pages documents are not quickly sharable.  Email is good to transmit drafts. iDisk is better or some kind of a back to myIPad app. Apple is experimenting with iWork fileshare that is not ready for primetime, and would be better off unified with iDisk.

– mrb 5:50pm PST

Ads for the Chile Quake

February 27, 2010

While browsing the web Saturday morning to learn of the massive earthquake in Chile, I went to the New York Times. This mash of news and advertising is very 21st century. These  captured screens of the Internet show how  cultures collide between the story and  the “targeted” ad promises of  click-thru companies.

“We drive customers to your web site with our patented ad banner algorithms.We target your customer and deliver your brand. Get ads that make an impression.  Grab eyeballs and achieve your business goals. Break down the barriers to revenue. Your brand, your corporate identity matters.”

Whither Kindle Yon

February 2, 2010

Hi Brian,

I got to spend 24 hours with your Kindle DX  and wanted to share the experience.

I love most, that every time I open the lid, a cool full-page black and white illustration grabs your attention – some famous author or literary inset. My instinct was to touch the picture to find out more and discover a new world. Overprinted on the picture is a message asking you to swipe the slider to power it on. Sadly the image goes away, as no further thought was given to the use of the cover page.

Pages read well. The fonts are clear and the screen size is right  Again my instinct was always to touch it and pinch open pictures and thumb through pages – natural for iApple devices. You have to learn the keys and ways of the Kindle. The menus have inconsistent layouts and terms but you can get used to it. The conceptual model was blurry and I often got lost in navigation having to think how to get to indexes, sections, pages or the library.

But here is the telling difference – as a “single source appliance”, though the design was not bad – it did not deliver the goods – for both book choices and newspaper sections, to wit:

One of my recent quests was to read a bit of JD Salinger who just died last week. The Kindle is marketed to download a first chapter for free. A quote from Franny and Zoe had me wondering about buying the physical book. So I went to the Kindle Store and searched for Salinger – nothing but theoretical reviews written by literary reviewers. OK well. But as a potential buyer for the physical book, there was WAY TO GET TO THEIR OWN PRODUCT! Just eform please.  SO HEY this is supposed to be my portal to all things literary. By comparison the iPad (poor name for many reasons) is the whole internet.

Two times I tried working through the NY Times. At night the light was dim in bed – unsatisfying to my tired eyes. And the Times articles were odd to me.  Where is my Science and Technology section? This morning when I woke, I picked it up, went to the jon expecting to read about the Academy awards just announced – NOWHERE to be found.  No internet-ready front page layout. No listing in front page table of contents. Nothing in the Arts section. THE ACADEMY AWARDS for Chrissake. I settled for some good writing of the Grammy awards that I saw last night. I put the sucker down and went over to the real Internet to read the realtime news at oscars.org. Kindle Times is Old Times. When the news is the olds, you miss the real Internet. I want to believe Amazon sees the Internet realtime portal opportunities, something delivered well on iPad.

I went to a Kindle-delivered web page I like – it was SLOWWWWWW – it took 90 seconds to paint.  I realize Amazon has not been paid by me for web access, but… perhaps they could include WiFi for the home to get a boost, if not to offload my use of the Sprint network. Kindle painted the page badly, apparently filtered by some Amazon transcoder.  If the web page you are looking at has fifty links, then you have to tap the book’s throttle button fifty times to get to the end – sheer agony.  By comparison the iPad is a quick touch away for the whole internet. Using the Kindle brings to mind this great scene in Dune where Kyle MacLachlan has to put his hand in a box as a test of courage; experiencing horrible pain but willful enough to obtain his want.

When the Kindle device is open and at rest,  it is nice to know you are not using any battery because of the eInk display.

Amazon broke new ground by having content come over the air on the cellular network for free – meaning I did not have to buy a data plan. This is a pre-activated device, unlike Apple which makes you activate. Amazon has the makings of a good strategy. They could put a radio in everything. That way a loyal Kindler might be tempted to try a temporary data plan in a moment of impulse weakness.

So bottom line – after years in the market, Amazon did not build the Kindle to channel all things books, neither the literature of the past, present, or future. The googley future is multi-mediate; not single purpose but plastic; the whole internet unfiltered taps content and connections from every source. I hope Apple ,when they look at why people experience books, does not mess up the iBookstore with DRM and EPUB as we know it today. It is arcane, ugly and hard to produce. Final digression is that the Apple device needs a camera (it has a microphone).  Stick to the knitting and give us a scrubbable book and make books sexy. Let me count the ways.

In the modern end, presentation is all. The interface is the tie that binds hardware, software, media and experiencer. There is no content is King. The goal is the unbridled access to the Internet of people in whatever media they choose to mediate their ideas, the stuff of one’s personal identity.

mrb
san diego

Printing Digital Photos on Canvas

September 8, 2009

fwy_em_IMG_0159

Using the Epson 7900 and the Breathing Color (BC) Lyve Canvas (their best), David & I generated a volume of prints ranging around 24″ x 36″.  I built a plastic-lined spray booth in the breezeway of the home, mounting a 4’x8′ panel at 60 degrees.  The Rhoplex spray mix was kept warm with 50% water, 40% matte, 10% glaze.

The “bedroom” print above is the first stretched canvas for a forthcoming exhibition of California Freeways. Roughly 18″x50″.

General notes: When stretching canvas, the print surface should be treated like solid gold. Under not circumstance should the image be put face down. Work the canvas from the built stretcher, standing up or face up.

Observations:

  1. The Rhoplex spray darkens the image by about 1 stop and tints the image to yellow. As a refractive polymer it puts more light into the darker areas, giving them more visual latitude in detail.
  2. Pictures look smaller in canvas. You sacrifice 5″ in each direction to wrap the canvas around a stretcher bar. Kind of  a drag on a 24″ printer to only end up with 19″ viewable.
  3. Where the image rounds the frame, the transition is noticeable. It must be stretched precisely and the visual transition from photo to canvas edge takes thought in your print process.

Lessons from observations

  1. Rhoplex amber color shift is intolerable in the current run. Need to check various Rohm and Haas suppliers.
  2. I am working on a plan for a 1×2″ stretcher where I can reduce this to about 3″, but still there is a loss.
  3. Allow 1/16″ of the image to wrap. A hard line where the photo ends and the canvas matte resumes is one approach, but better is applying a Gaussian blur in the print process. Carefully extend the light and dark patterns of the image or you defeat the rounding purpose.

More later – Mark

Snow Leopard not printing Epson 7900

August 31, 2009

Installed Apple’s new Snow Leopard at my print studio. I could not print on my Epson 7900. I sent my first print thinking “Ahh Snow Leopard – the latest and greatest”, then up pops some new printer dialog with dumbed down driver values that did not make sense. And 0 bytes went over the wire. I will save you the curses and hours – here is the fix.

  1. As Epson says,  go back to your Snow Leo disk to the optional package and install ONLY Rosetta.
  2. Reinstall the latest Epson printer drivers. They don’t say that, but you will not get a print without it.
  3. Reboot. They don’t say that, and you may not have to. But it is good voodoo.
LATER NOTE: EPSON has some lag catching up with the MAC OS releases.

The hum in the background is my 7900 working away. Apple get it right! Make an OS installer for the rest of us artists.

July 20

July 20, 2009

stargate_face

Google Moon provided an impressive recreation via map/multimedia of the moon landing July 20, 1969 – 3:17 PM Houston touchdown + seven hours later lunar walk. At the moment of the broadcast I was a teenager, and the day was TV trays sometime in the afternoon in Hawaii watching the black and white blur box cracking “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”  Exciting times, because one year earlier Stanley Kubrick’s 70mm film from April 1968 planted in our minds where we would clearly be in 2001.

The Egyptian boy-King gazes past his destiny in 1320 BC.

tut_face

Ringtone Practice and Theory based on iPhone

July 18, 2009

Making ringtones for iPhone is easy. No need for a fancy program or buying it from a commercial source. You can make a unique sound for each caller.

An iPhone ringtone is just a standard iTunes song format changed to an .m4r extension. Here are the steps.

Create/ edit sound.
Save as Mp4 or ACC
Change extension to .m4r
Select the ringtone files tab in iTunes
Drop file in iTunes ringtone section.
Sync phone making sure Ringtones is selected for sync.
2. (alternate method) create a .wav file.  drop in Itunes, select it, choose Create ACC, move both the .wav and .acc file out of itunes.
  1. Create/ edit sound.
  2. Save as mp4*
  3. Change the mp4 file extension to .m4r
  4. Select the ringtone iTunes files tab
  5. Drop .m4r file in iTunes ringtone section
  6. Sync phone making sure ringtones is selected for sync
  7. On phone got to settings to assign as default, or to contacts to assign to a person.

*Step 2 expands if you are editing .wav file.s Here is the method to create mp4 (ACC) format from .wav files.

  • create a .wav file in Soundedit, or any sound program.
  • drop in Itunes
  • right click it and choose choose Create ACC Version
  • copy out the .acc file from iTunes
  • delete both the .wav and .acc file appearing in iTunes
  • continue with step 3.

Theory of Ringtones

A unique ringtone is your ring tone, and in a room of ringing phones, you know for sure when it is your call. In fact you can tell who is calling, if you have that tone assigned to a person in your contact book. Making a set of personal ringtones that are in a family is even better. I email my personal ringtone to my friends so they can assign it to me.

Which makes a good ringtone? That loud boom-box phoney who strolls down the hall annoying everyone, screeching acid music or a voicetone saying “Jim, this is Steve, I want to talk to you”. These are the Darwinian dead ends of call tone culture. Music itself is often offensive to someone. Some people love country, others hate it. Some love rock, others hate that. But clearly it says to the world you are a fan of one particular tribe. Ok, but is it really you? And might you better be served by an abstract tone?

Generally it is good to stay abstract and somewhat musical aiming for “bell perfection” – the original hailing tone of ancient telephones. Let’s look at the original bell, once cliche, now an archetype.

Bells and Cells

It is hard to beat the bell. That sound is instinctively recognized, and when you hear it, you know what to do. However that same sound comes from anyone’s phone.  How many times have you been in a room when a ringer goes off and everyone is turning to answer their phone? Avoid this by getting personal. You want a bell, but different. Apple launched iPhone with the percussive Marimba. The sound is brief, the short beats warrant attention.  But it could come from anyone with an iPhone.

A percussive-oriented sound is good. The best ones are original, made from scratch. The second best are “obscure” samples that you edit, and even modify.

Let’s look a little closer at the principles of the bell sound.

Ringing 101

The original phone had a metal bell with an electric ringer. Over years of repetition of the same bell construction, the tone is identical everywhere. Millions of people are used to hearing and practiced at picking up the instrument. The pickup cancels the bell and opens the circuit for conversation with the caller at the other end of this phone.  But the actual tonal of an “alarming” pattern of percussive sound, silence, and its repetition is what people are used to.

In the era of the computer any digital sound is possible to shape any tone and assign this so a specific calling device. Personal sounds are an interesting subject. You could not do this on the old phone system with a single bell. On a cellular system the ringtone designates the caller.

For a mobile cell phone, the ringtone should be relatively short. When the call tone cycles back to itself, the end should fit with the beginning.  The tone should be able to be heard in a room of people, so the tone should be of higher pitch than the spoken voice. Low tones and low volumes on a cell phone are almost impossible to hear. Better tones are percussive and have an alerting function. Using a sound editor you are likely to raise the volume and use an audio compressor.

- to be continued

Art Scientist Manifesto in Progress

June 13, 2009

Notes for digital artists presented at the Escondido Art Partnership June 13 2009.  – A set of inquiries about modern science and personal art. The notes are here.


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