Taking AirPlay one step further.

We have an iPad and an Apple TV. I love the ability to send video or audio to the Apple TV via AirPlay and have it show up on TV. But I would love to see Apple (or someone else) take it one step further. I want an AirPlay projector.

Imagine a small, simple projector that AirPlay capable. Walk up with your Mac or iOS device and send your presentation or video to the projector. No cables. No configuration. By default, the projector would simply mirror the display, but developers could build additional capabilities into their apps.

Is your projector on the other side of the room (or on the ceiling)? Stream your presentation without long and unwieldy cabling. Need to have multiple presenters? Disconnect one and connect the new machine without having to plug or unplug and cables. Need to sync multiple projectors? Wireless.

I don't see any reason why this wouldn't be feasible from a technical standpoint. I'm not sure how expensive such a projector would be, but considering that the Apple TV seeks for $99, I can't imagine it would be cost prohibitive for someone like Epson to add to one of their existing projectors.

Anyway, I can wish...

FontStruct on iPad

I love my iPad. And I really don't care about the fact that iOS doesn't support Flash. With one exception... I'd like to run FontStruct on my iPad.

The other day, I found iSwifter for the iPad. It's essentially an alternate browser that allows you to open websites with Flash. It's "free" to try, but if you want to use it for more than a few minutes you have to pay $0.99.

And using it, I was able to open FontStruct on my iPad and create a typeface. It's slow - really slow - but it works. The real problem is that FontStruct isn't designed for a touch interface. The controls are too small. And it's very hard to be precise. After creating a few characters, I gave up. For FontStruct to work well on iOS - or any tablet - it's going to need an interface redesign. It's more than simply supporting Flash.

So I'm still waiting for FontStruct on my iPad (and I'm very willing to pay for an iOS app.)

“This book assumes you have a working knowledge of C.”

I’m slowly plodding along with learning Objective C, with the goal of developing an iPhone application. I really don’t have time for classes. So I wanted to find a book to get me through Objective-C at my own pace. But when I started looking at iPhone programming books, many of them started with the phrase “This book assumes you have a working knowledge of C.” Well, I don’t. I’m a designer, not a programmer (yet).

So I started looking into books on C. But there’s a problem with that. Objective C - the programming language that is used for iOS and Mac programming - is different than C. So I’d have to learn C, and then learn Objective C. I’m not that patient. Plus most of the C books started with “This books assumes you have some programming experience.” Which I don’t. I’m a designer.

Finally, I found Programming in Objective-C 2.0 by Stephen G. Kochan. And in the introduction, Kochan writes “This book does not assume much, if any, previous programming experience. In fact, if you’re a novice programmer, you should be about to learn Objective-C as your first programming language.” Perfect. Exactly what I was looking for. So I bought it for Kindle so I could view it on my iPad and my Mac.

I’ve started going through the book chapter by chapter. And so far, I like it. It’s challenging. I’m doing the assignments at the end of the chapter. Writing simple programs to solve mathematical equations or perform simple functions. All command line programs with no graphical interface. Sometimes, it’s easy and sometimes, it’s really not. iOS and Mac programming are still a long way away, but I’m making progress.

Learning something new

When we are young, we learn lots of new things. And when I say new, I mean completely new. Something with which you have no previous experience… Like learning a new foreign language. Or a musical instrument.

Challenging. And sometimes frustrating. But most of all, it’s exciting.

As we get older, it’s rare that we are presented with these kind of monumental challenges. We forget what it’s like to struggle with vocabulary words in a new language. Or learn scales on a musical instrument.

I don’t think it’s that we become lazy… Instead, as we get older, we focus on things that like. Getting better at doing things that we already do well. It’s rare when we challenge ourselves to learn something completely different. Something radically outside our comfort zone…

Well, I’m there. Completely outside of my comfort zone. As part of my new focus for 2011, I’ve started the process of learning Objective C with the goal of releasing an iOS app. And while I’m familiar with the basic concepts of programming, I’m anything but comfortable. I’m a designer. I’m used to the visual side of things. I swear I’m using parts of my brain that I have used since high school calculus.

I’m working through books and tutorials. And I’m making progress. But, right now, I’m doing the programming equivalent of learning basic vocabulary or musical scales. Slow and simple progressions. And hopefully, before I know it, I’ll be doing the programming equivalent of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

I’m definitely challenged. And occasionally frustrated. But most of all, I’m excited to be learning something completely new. I’ll be posting more on the books and resources I’m using and other observations along the way. But for now, back to work… 

New emphasis for 2011

I started Sketchbook B as a reason to explore creative projects that fell outside of my normal, everyday job. My original emphasis was projects that I didn’t get to work on often… but over time my interests have shifted. So starting in 2011, my goals at Sketchbook B have changed as well.

iPhone and iPad apps

I’m intrigued by the possibilities that iPhones and iPads offer designers. I’ve already started working to learn Objective C - the programming language for iOS and OS X. So hopefully in 2011, Sketchbook B will release it’s first iOS app. And I’ll be posting about the process of learning to program and resources that I find helpful. 


Another area that I find interesting is eBooks. Right now, eBook design is in it’s infancy. As Kindles and iPads evolve, the potential for electronic publishing will continue to increase. I really believe that it will become a major distribution channel for information and I look forward to experiencing with design and distribution of eBooks.

Some old standbys

I still plan on working on type design projects, although my main focus for 2011 is releasing at least one commercial typeface. That doesn’t mean I won’t play around with Fontstruct… just not as often.

And I will continue to post tips and techniques for Adobe Creative Suite, especially InDesign and Illustrator.

Of course, I also would like to post more frequently here on Sketchbook B. That’s a New Year’s Resolution that I make every year, but for 2011, we’ll see…