Taskrabbit LogoSure, there’s no paycheck in the mail every two weeks, but look around your home. Do you have a car? A computer with Internet? A backpack and good pair of shoes? You could be paying the rent as a micro-entrepreneur, piggybacking on a new wave of platforms that connect people who need stuff done with people willing to do it.

Continue reading »

Now that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has warned of a possible Cyber-Pearl Harbor, it’s time to change your passwords. And guess what: a more secure password is actually easier to remember, if you follow a very simple rule.

Continue reading »

Valve Handbook  02If you worked at Valve, the videogame company that brought you Half-Life and Portal, you wouldn’t get a title, a boss, or a pre-defined department (or even team). What you would get is a job with perhaps the most innovative company in the industry today.

Studies suggest 3 million jobs are still open if you have the skills, and some companies are even willing to train you on the job. This sneak peak at Valve’s employee handbook tells you what they expect of their employees, from peer reviews to T-shaped people.

Continue reading »

Ruby, Objective-C, Lua, Python…so many languages, so little time. After the UMaine New Media Department decided to teach code across the curriculum, its faculty needed to choose baseline language with an easy learning curve and broad applicability. Their choice? HTML5.

Continue reading »

AlienIt’s been a mixed season for copyright champions and opponents. On the side of copyright maximalism are the Supreme Court’s upholding 6-figure filesharing fines and the revelation that astronomer Carl Sagan had to get copyrights before beaming songs into space.

Continue reading »

Angry BirdsIt’s easy for the old guard to put their foot in their mouths where technology’s concerned, whether you’re a lawyer suing your own Web site, a publisher accidentally rewriting War and Peace, or a Fox News reporter tying Angry Birds to cyberwar.

Continue reading »

Mi c With i Phone and i pad illIt’s never been easier to get music onto a phone, whether it’s yours or someone else’s. These tools help you find and record music–and even bust out an app for your band using HTML5.

Continue reading »

Recruit Talent illNow that one of the world’s foremost authorities on economic development declares capitalism “superseded by creativity and the ability to innovate,” it’s a good time for designers to find work. Here are some recommendations for getting seen and getting paid.

Continue reading »

Bits Projectglass Tmag ArticleAugmented Reality just got a lot more fashionable. That wasn’t hard, as the previous standard was pretty much Geordi La Forge‘s automotive-filter visor.

That said, Google Glass looks pretty serious–like having Siri behind your eyeballs.

Continue reading »

Skateboard manufacturers, coffee bars, and tattoo parlors are all new media industries–they just don’t know it yet. Here’s how to convince them to hire you.

Continue reading »

Hooper Jennifer bat app aFrom assignment to App Store in five months: After creating a demo version in her New Media class, UMaine Intermedia student Jennifer Hooper teams up with NMD alum Justin Russell to release a Community Connector mobile app for local riders.

Continue reading »

Nmd Tutorials Screenshot 2Want to learn new media skills but don’t have the cash for pay-to-use services like Lynda.com or Codecademy? The U-Me New Media Department is planning to launch a repository of how-to screencasts and other educational resources in the coming year–for free.

Continue reading »

3dThe third dimension isn’t just a Hollywood contrivance for repackaging old movies–it’s cropping up in everything from tablet computers to museum exhibits to Web design.

Continue reading »

Photo by Adobe ShadowWho’s got the right strategy for uniting content across desktop and mobile devices? (And who’s utterly failing?)

Continue reading »

The average new media student might hesitate to rent just one application at Adobe’s asking price. But Adobe’s throwing in all its apps, plus the ability to swap work on your project from mobile to desktop application with all changes stored in the cloud.

Adobe is making a big splash into the cloud with its Creative Cloud service, launching an enhanced online version of its sought-after Adobe Creative Suite for $50 a month on a one-year contract….

Adobe Touch Apps. Capture and iterate on your idea on your iPad or Android tablet and then sync your work to your Creative Suite desktop application, where you can refine your design.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/y_yOSoQSiac/

Thanks to new, easy-to-use standards, the Web just got a lot more animated.

There are some really compelling demonstrations out there that showcase the use of video in conjunction with WebGL and other modern web standards. For example, the spinnjng cube at webkit.org and video shader demo from the 3 Dreams of Black interactive film give you a taste of what’s possible when Web pages go 3d.

http://www.webkit.org/blog-files/3d-transforms/morphing-cubes.html

http://www.ro.me/tech/

Three-dimensional effects don’t yet work in every browser, however. Some have been hard-coded to work only in Chrome or Safari, though Firefox should support them soon.

Confused? Help is on the way.

A new website helps web developers decipher the often confusing world of HTML5 and CSS 3. Which elements are ready to use? Which are still not widely supported? And where can you find polyfills and fallbacks for older browsers? HTML5 Please has your answers.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/ufTC42Hm6o8/

For many developers, the best thjng about HTML5 is that it will drastically simplify the now byzantine process of adding video and audio to a Web page. Here’s a report just on exactly where it’s safe to use this new technique:

For a very thorough rundown of exactly where and how well HTML5 video works on the web right now, check out the excellent report on the state of HTML5 video from Long Tail Video. Put together by the makers of JW Player, an HTML5 video player toolkit, the state of HTML5 video report is mercifully free of any evangelism for any particular technology. Instead it offers a level-headed look at reality, answering the basic questions — where can you use HTML5 video? How well will it work for users? And when will you need Flash fallbacks?

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/iZZg_GSuQEo/

Firefox 10 now has a suite of sophisticated developer tools baked in–though my early tests suggest that its popular add-on Firebug remains the best debugger in the business.

Mozilla has released Firefox 10, which features new and improved tools for web developers as well as more support for emerging web standards.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/6XwMzKq0eJ0/

One problem that Mozilla hasn’t solved is less technical than philosophical: whether to add DRM to an open video standard so Netflix et al. will adopt it.

“The problem is that some big content providers insist on onerous DRM that necessarily violates some of our open web principles (such as web content being equally usable on any platform, based on royalty-free standards, and those standards being implementable in free software),” O’Callahan wrote. “We will probably get into a situation where web video distributors will be desperate for an in-browser strong DRM solution ASAP, and most browser vendors (who don’t care all that much about those principles) will step up to give them whatever they want, leaving Mozilla in another difficult position. I wish I could see a reasonable solution, but right now I can’t. It seems even harder than the codec problem.”

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/J2ty5AACSVw/

Hollywood’s resort to draconian tactics like SOPA may have cost them the moral high ground.

Venture capitalist Paul Graham is already looking to fund Hollywood’s successors.

Hollywood appears to have peaked. If it were an ordinary industry (film cameras, say, or typewriters), it could look forward to a couple decades of peaceful decline. But this is not an ordinary industry. The people who run it are so mean and so politically connected that they could do a lot of damage to civil liberties and the world economy on the way down. It would therefore be a good thing if competitors hastened their demise.

That’s one reason we want to fund startups that will compete with movies and TV….

http://ycombinator.com/rfs9.html

Fortunately those successors can take advantage of technical infrastructure like the Cloud, as the chief creative officer of a small digital arts company attests.

After turning to Amazon’s Elastic Cloud Computing service for the first time to finish animation under tight deadline, [John McNeil] was impressed by how it would let him compete with bigger studios. He said, ‘Cloud computing is the first truly democratic, accessible technology that potentially gives everyone a supercomputer…it’s a game changer. I could never compete or be able to deliver something at the level of a Pixar or a Disney, given what I have at my disposal inside the walls of the studio,’ McNeil said. ‘But if I factor in the cloud, all of a sudden I can go there. And then the limitations of whether or not I can deliver something great will be on my own talent and the talent of the people that are part of the studio.’”

Meanwhile, an admission from the horse’s mouth: the movie industry’s real worry is not piracy but the loss of control.

“Miramax CEO Mike Lang has admitted to what we all suspected. The biggest worry is a distribution monopoly, not piracy. They saw what happened to the music industry with iTunes, and vowed to not lose control and be at the mercy of Apple or whoever becomes the dominant distributor. From the article: ‘Lang, whose company today debuts the Blu-Ray version of the cult classic Pulp Fiction, emphasized that people don’t necessarily want to pirate, as long as they get what they want. “Innovate or die,” should be the motive of entertainment industry companies, where it’s key to listen to customers.’”

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/10/07/0032233/Movie-Industry-Loss-of-Control-Worse-Than-Piracy.

Gabe Newell, chief of the company that brought you Half Life and Portal (and former classmate of mine, hi Gabe!), finds a comparable misunderstanding in gaming:

“In general, we [at Valve] think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem. For example, if a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the U.S. release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate’s service is more valuable. Most DRM solutions diminish the value of the product by either directly restricting a customers use or by creating uncertainty.”

http://games.slashdot.org/story/11/11/25/2217247/valves-gabe-newell-on-piracy-its-not-a-pricing-problem

One game company is taking control of this…loss of control?

“Indie game company tinyBuild Games, who released a platformer called No Time To Explain recently, uploaded their own game to the Pirate Bay. However, there’s a key difference between the game they uploaded and the version you can purchase: the game characters wear pirate hats, and everything else has a pirate theme. One of the company’s founders, Alex Nichiporchik, said, ‘[S]ome people are going to torrent it either way, we might as well make something funny out of it. … You can’t really stop piracy, all you can do is make it work for you and/or provide something that people actually want to pay for. For us this is humor, we like making people laugh.’”

http://games.slashdot.org/story/11/09/14/0517245/Indie-Devs-Upload-Their-Own-Game-To-The-Pirate-Bay

Mompreneurs look to family life for product inspiration. And maybe Steve Jobs did too.

The rise of “mompreneurs” has been helped by the rise of Internet and social media, which allow child-raising women to exchange ideas without having to leave the house….

“In many households, moms are the chief buyers. And in the new millennium, if they can’t find what you need, they just invent it themselves.”

THAT was true for Ms. Monosoff, who couldn’t figure out how to stop her 8-month-old daughter from unrolling all of the toilet paper and stuffing it down the toilet. “I was like, ‘O.K., where’s the gadget?’ ” Ms. Monosoff recalls. “I was trying to figure out how to design something like that, but I really had no experience. Then I was buying shampoo at a beauty supply store, and I saw a hair permanent rod, that little roller thing, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that might work!’ ”

She worked on a rough prototype of what would become the “TP Saver.” The basic concept is that a small, plastic rod — that grown-ups can lock into place — keeps the toilet paper from unspooling.

http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=ffac44920a28697da6e791ee5ef96652

(This mom ends up a commercial success–though one hopes other moms would question whether we really need more gadgets manufactured in China.)

Steve Jobs was renowned for his attention to design detail, calling Google’s senior vice president for engineering one Sunday morning with the urgent message that, “The second O in Google doesn’t have the right yellow gradient.”

It turns out one of Apple’s most “human” design features was also Jobs’ idea. If you’ve ever watched a loved one sleeping, you know why that rhythm is so compelling.

But the greatest example of Mr. Jobs’s attention to detail and design can be found in the little millimeter-sized glowing light that appears on every MacBook Laptop. The light, known as a sleep indicator, glows when the laptop is closed, or sleeping. Competing laptops have this feature too, but Apple’s is different.

The Mac sleep indicator is timed to glow at the average breathing rate of an adult: 12 breaths per minute. As with the space between typographic letter on the Macintosh, only Mr. Jobs could pay attention to such detail.

http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=73fab914e0c92349501d148ba10d64eb

One author in the New York Times argues that those who run our government should take a cue from Jobs’ focus on the human scale.

After all, if you wanted to really get a picture of how the national culture has evolved in the last few decades, particularly in the urban areas that drive economic growth, you could do a lot worse than to study Apple’s string of innovations. Mr. Jobs understood, intuitively, that Americans were breaking away from the last era’s large institutions and centralized decision-making, that technology would free them from traditional workplaces and the limits of a physical marketplace.

This was the underlying point of “think different” — that our choices were no longer dictated by the whims of huge companies or the offerings at the local mall. This was the point of a computer that enabled you to customize virtually every setting, no matter how inconsequential, so that no two users had the exact same experience. This was the essential insight behind devices driven by a universe of new apps, downloaded in seconds depending on your lifestyle and interests.

At the same time, while Mr. Jobs saw a society moving inexorably toward individual choice, he also seemed to understand that such individuality breeds detachment and confusion. And so Apple sought to fill that vacuum by making itself into more than a manufacturer; it became a kind of community, too, with storefronts and stickers and a membership that enabled you to get your e-mail, or video-conference with your friends, or post a Web page of your vacation photos.

http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=13f8170588e641086d46aff02e1a48af

As covered previously on NMDnet, Wikipedia will interrupt its usual service to netcast a clear signal that proposed antipiracy legislation in the US congress would hurt the Internet more than pirates.

“Should Wikipedia shut down to protest censorship?”

http://www.nmdnet.org/2011/12/17/should-wikipedia-shut-down-to-protest-censorship/

Wikipedia is the latest Web site to plan a blackout for Wednesday to protest two Congressional bills intended to curtail copyright violations on the Internet….

“This is going to be wow, ” Mr. Wales wrote. “I hope Wikipedia will melt phone systems in Washington on Wednesday. Tell everyone you know!”

http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=5d1438dc4f2f5b3c65104aba659248c4

Snap a photo of that Andy Warhol print, and your phone tells you what similar artworks lie in your price range. Tech startup Art.sy is hoping their recommendation system will make the art market more accessible to normal mortals–or at least make them a bunch of money in commissioned sales.

Continue reading »

© 2011 UMaine NMDNet Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha