Can Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse…?

I’ve been meaning to blog more about my experience with the Surface Pro 3. I posted how the first one I got was a dud after it died the first night. The second one has been rock solid and a joy to work on. But this is not that post. This post is about the Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse.

Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse shown on (curved) and off (pressed flat)
Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse shown on (curved) and off (pressed flat)

It’s a very cool mouse, especially for portability. It’s light, it’s flat (when not in use), and it’s comfy to use. No usb needed. The touch bit instead of a scroll wheel is perhaps a bit odd. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet, but it is definitely far superior to the trackpad on the typecover, and more precise than the touch screen (especially for apps that have tiny UI elements, those not built for the high DPI screen). Overall, great mouse and highly recommended!

It comes with a nifty windows 8 app to configure it. The app is also called ‘Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse’ and the first time you use it, you will be pairing your new mouse to it and that’s when this dialog appears:

Screenshot of UI dialog
Can Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse use your Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse?

Can Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse use Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse?

Sounds like a trick question doesn’t it.

Is it me, or is it just as weird for an app to refer to itself in the third person as it is for real people to do so? Even weirder when the app shares the name of the subject of the sentence. Holy confusion Batman.

I’d ask an editor to bring some sanity to the sentence. You can too—excellent editing services available right now at East Edit, check ‘em out :)

Slidedown transition with scaleY

Here’s another “non-height” approach to slide down transitions: use scaleY (I haven’t checked this for browser support yet, I think IE9 at least will need a prefix for transform-origin).

Neat, I kinda like this one too. The overshoot on the slide down (where it goes a bit further and bounces back) is a touch of exaggeration, easily achieved with cubic-bezier timing. That sounds confusing! But it isn’t all that hard! Use Lea Verou’s amazing preview tool. Here’s the curve I came up with: http://cubic-bezier.com/#.2,.38,.72,1.3

So this approach is still different to animating the height. The jquery slidedown adjusts the box height, revealing more content. The scaleY property squeezes the content which may look weird. Again, a little fade in while sliding may help. Also, scale is more attuned to squash and stretch so, you know, that’s something to play with!

The new life of Ben!

Today I took a leap of faith (no, I’m not playing Assassin’s Creed) at work and resigned. I’ve been a “UI Specialist” in Queensland Government since 2008 (with a stint off in a management role, then project, in 2010) and it’s been an interesting time. Great people, great flexibility (hard to beat working from home 2 days a week!) and some interesting challenges (supporting IE6 was not one of them).

I have known for a long time that it was a great job, and not a career. Some folks can step up to the challenge of middle management in the public service. I’m part awed, part horrified, by their willingness to make the shift—but it’s not for me. I love coding, I love mentoring and now I’m loving animating. I really want to work in that kind of creative space. (You say management is creative? Um. Ok. In the public service? Not my cup of tea, thanks.)

The new life of Ben begins in TWO WEEKS! I’m hunting for the next job—wish me luck :)

ps: Resign from a job. Bucket list: tick!

Now, off to throw a frisbee…

Animation Mentor term 2: Body Mechanics!

That’s right, Animation Mentor is back on and it’s term 2: Body Mechanics! Term 1 flew by, here’s my progress reel:

First week of term 2 is posing, then we get into full body walks and really learn body mechanics—how people move. Fascinating stuff. If you catch me staring at you, I’m probably watching your balance and weight shifts and filing it all away for future animating. And if you catch me wobbling about like a bit of a puppet, I’m probably trying to get a feel for some sort of imagined mechanic. All perfectly normal behaviour for an animator—do not be alarmed!

Here are the week 2 poses. Oh yeah, new rig: Stella!

rollerblading by Ben Boyle
receiver by Ben Boyle

Surface Pro 3 in 24 hours

I’ve been intrigued by Microsoft Surface for a while. The mix of tablet, laptop and sketch pad is a compelling combo! I have an iPad 2. It’s fine, but I’d like a retina display (for comics) and I’d like to be able to code on it! The restriction on which apps you can install bugs me. Also, no flash means no watching Animation Mentor lectures. I have a MacBook Pro, and it’s nice but it’s heavy and has destroyed more than one backpack with it’s weight.

So I was keen to try a Surface and finally nabbed the deal to get the mid-tier model (i5, 8GB RAM 256GB SSD), with $50 store credit and an xbox controller thrown in for $10 more. Good deal. Got a type cover too of course. (Yes, I know it’s not a gaming laptop, but some casual games would play ok!)

It arrived yesterday and was pretty nice. Lovely screen. Good solid feel, nice light weight. Heavier than an iPad, but larger too. Actually a really good size for a tablet. Comics look fantastic—sadly the Comixology on Windows 8 is buggy (like, you must reinstall to download new comics buggy!), which is entirely unlike the excellent iOS and android apps.

Spent an afternoon setting it up and an evening playing with a few things. Tried sketching very briefly with the pen. It’s no pencil and paper, but was interesting. More practice and could be pretty good maybe. Ran Transformers Universe ok for a game which is pretty cool. And I had all my coding apps ready to rock: Sublime, github, browsers for testing…

But today it all went horribly wrong. I turned it on and … nope. I didn’t even get that far. It can’t be turned on. I don’t know what happened overnight (it was fine when I left it), but today it’s a brick. An expensive brick at that. Surface Pro won’t turn on has troubleshooting steps, but was no help in my case.

So I rang up to report the issue. It would take 2–3 weeks for a replacement Surface. Same amount of time for a refund. I took the refund option. Very disappointing, I was hoping to use it on my commute when I go back to work next week.

I agree with Microsoft that there’s room for a device that can replace a MacBook Pro and iPad, but I guess I’m gonna have to wait for another solution.

Update 5 October

Well, my refund came in early and I picked up a new surface from JB HiFi. They gave me a discount too, sweet! It survived overnight and still turns on so that’s a great start. Comics look more awesome than I remember ;) I also quite like the touch input (with keyboard detached). Still need to learn how to use the pen :)

Interacting with digital signs

Been musing about what it might be like to interact with digital signs.

Unlike other devices, a digital sign is more active while idling (not being directly controlled). It should be doing interesting things. At quite a distance too. Even though signs are large, people may be far away from them so it may not be that different to designing for tablets and mobile really. Even more than the “10-foot UI” touted for TVs at home. Need nice large text and images. But if people came up close, that could change.

Should people come up close and interact? Should people at a distance still be part of the experience then? A multi-audience experience? Does the person standing at the sign block that view? What about left- vs right-handed? :)

Can people pause what they see? What if something grabbed their attention and when they reach the sign it’s gone. How easy is it to go back? What if an idea sparks them but they want to follow up later? Is there some kind of handoff to their phone or tablet? (Maybe QR codes or NFC, or something else?)

It’s such an interesting medium. Platform? Form factor? I didn’t know it was ready for front-end developers until I came across Rise Vision’s post: Web Designer Guide to Digital Signage. Cool stuff!

Web developer, Dad, gamer, mentor, animator, universal design advocate, fan of gadgets and sunshine!

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