Cardiff Comic Expo: My first convention

Outside Cardiff Comic Expo at the Mercure Hotel, February 26th

Yesterday was the first Cardiff International Comic Expo, the first comic convention I’ve ever attended. I had a great time, saw some cool stuff and spent a little more than I expected!

Here’s a quick rundown of the highlights for me… Continue reading

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Cardiff Arcades Project

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These wonderful pictures are from the new Cardiff Arcades Project by Amy Davies. I particularly love the wide-angle architectural shots.

The blog has also inadvertently kicked off a bit of an investigation into the claims that John Lewis is enjoying a 20-year rent free grace period. According to Amy, their PR representatives have denied this and are issuing a press release tomorrow. If there’s any truth to the rumour at all, it will be big news.

QRobots: A QR code alternative with personality

QR Codes are a great idea but they are big and ugly. You can customise them to a degree, but they still lack personality. For example, here are some I made to print as Moo stickers:

There is also the Microsoft tag, but that looks even worse.

I wonder if it would be possible to create another type of code that works in the same way, but instead of generating a random checkerboard pattern, it created some kind of face. I’ve quickly drawn up two examples of what these could look like (at the top), but I imagine a much more detailed/abstract look would be required to accommodate the amount of information they would need to contain.

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Google’s Jules Verne doodle: The whole picture

The novelty value of the Google Doodles is starting to wear thin. What used to be an amusing quirk of the company has now become a regular occurrence. It’s interesting to look at the kind of topics they choose to give the doodle treatment too: Nothing overtly religious (not even Christmas) and nothing likely to be at all controversial, but it’s fine to promote Scooby Doo or run a weeks worth of Sesame Street doodles.

Still, they do some good stuff, and today’s interactive 20,000 Leagues themed Jules Verne doodle is particularly nice. It’s also fantastic that they use web native technologies, and don’t just slap up some Flash movie. The geekier doodles are brilliant too, especially the Pac-Man one, if only because of the chaos it caused.

The above picture is not entirely accurate because I didn’t edit too much to account for the parallax effect. And here is the image sprite that makes up the frame:

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Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Noah’

Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Noah’

When Darren Aronofsky was 13-years-old, he won a United Nations poetry competition at his Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn school for a poem about the end of the world as seen through the eyes of Noah. And so started Aronofsky’s obsession with the biblical figure. In September 2008 we talked to Aronofsky about his idea for a film based on Noah:

“It’s the end of the world and it’s the second most famous ship after the Titanic. So I’m not sure why any studio won’t want to make it,” said Aronofsky. “I think it’s really timely because it’s about environmental apocalypse which is the biggest theme, for me, right now for what’s going on on this planet. So I think it’s got these big, big themes that connect with us. Noah was the first environmentalist. He’s a really interesting character. Hopefully they’ll let me make it.”

Aronofsky has later revealed that they have a script and even a “big name” actor attached to the project, but that isn’t enough to get the studios interested.

First Look: Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Noah’ – via slashfilm.com

Sounds like a Kickstarter project to me! I wonder if that model could be scaled up to support $100million+ feature film budgets? Then we’d finally be able to see if people really do just want to see mindless action movies and romantic comedies…

NoteSlate

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This looks great. Sadly, judging by the roadmap it doesn’t look like the NoteSlate will be really useful until version 2 (which adds handwriting OCR), so I hope the device can survive until then. An iPad type tablet may be a lot more fun, but I can see a £50 tablet like this being incredibly useful.

When it’s produced, supposedly by June, you’ll be able to select from the traditional white background and black foreground or go with a black background with white. Other colors, including green, blue, or red text, or a “4 colour edition” that does all of them at once, are due sometime down the road. The tablet works with touch or pen input, will offer 180 hours of battery life, and is to be fully open-source, with the initial software release supporting simple drawing, storing of notes, and MP3 playback. Version 1.5 will add PDF and text viewing, while version 2.0 will be rocking OCR handwriting recognition. The best news? It’s said to be just $99, though surely the multi-color edition will cost more. Right now it exists only as renders but with, a release mere months away and a decidedly attractive price point, we’re intrigued. Skeptical, but intrigued.

(emphasis mine) via $99 concept NoteSlate tablet does electronic ink in color, but only one at a time – engadget.com

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Why are…

Google have become the giant they are by giving people what they want. They’re now so good at this they can actually predict what people are most likely to want. This has given them a lead in areas you wouldn’t imagine, like spelling correction or translation.

I wonder if this approach will have negative consequences down the road though. Google isn’t suggesting the best results, it’s suggesting the most popular.

I don’t think we really need this kind of help.

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Adventures in WordPress theming

I’ve been a bit quiet on this blog and Twitter for a week or so now because I’ve been concentrating on a few personal projects:

A WordPress theme for hyperlocal bloggers

This one is just a Photoshop mock (the provisional name ‘The Local’ is going to have to be changed as I since found another theme with that name), but I’m quite pleased with the look and feel of it all. I wouldn’t usually do a mockup like this, but as I’m going to be learning WordPress theme creation from scratch, I didn’t want to have to be worrying about the design at the same time.

About halfway through creating this I realised it looked very BBC-ish. I’ll probably just try to give it a different default colour scheme to combat this.

The design has a lot of space for different widgets and I plan to give the nameplate area a lot of configuration options so no two of these blogs should look alike. 

One feature I quite like, but you can’t really see in this mock, is the image copyright ID icon. In the bottom right corner of the main cathedral pic, there’s a CC licence symbol. I imagine that when you hover over this, a full credit will pop up over the picture, with link to the source, etc. It seems like a neat solution to me, and not one I’ve seen elsewhere.

I’ve stalled work on this for the time being as I wanted to get my second project up and running first…

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