Category Archives: AIR

2011 in Retrospect

I am Repetitive
In my two previous end of year posts, the first sentence tells that I had a strange year. Mostly due to the transition to freelance and all that entails. This year I was fully prepared for how weird freelancing is and was ready to rock and roll the highs and lows. So suffice it to say, I embrace the “strange”. 2011 was an amazing year!




Witches! …no… sorry… Watches!
Scott Wilk of Wilk Watchworks approached me at the tail end of 2010 about collaborating on some watches. In 2011, the two watches I’d designed came to reality!

On the left is the Tron-inspired watch and on the right, the Rounders-inspired watch. Available from Scott’s Cargoh shop.

Scott’s just ordered cases for my next three watches and I am super excited.




Working in Rarified AIR
At the beginning of the year I was asked by the superb folk at Invivo to build a desktop AIR application that could take communication from an iPad as a sales tool. The answer, of course, was “sure!” To be fair, I’d never built an AIR application before, nor communicated with an iOS device, but whatever, right? With a little finagling and a socket server, we did just that.

Invivo seemed to like the work because shortly after they asked me to make another desktop app. This time, it was a quiz show with two states; one on one moderated and team-play. Once again the ask was to communicate with iOS devices. This time the devices would be 7 iPod touches and an iPad. Using a socket server, the communication was one-sided (the iPods only broadcasting, not listening) Anyway, this was another challenging, super-cool project.




Making a Movie… ?
I spoke at the 10-year FiTC in Toronto. (The Influxis Voodoo Lounge, to be specific). I was announcing my intention of making a documentary about the roots of inspiration in the digital industry. I’d called it, brazenly, Influential – The Age of Digital

Seems that, once again, I think HUGE while having small capabilities. Here’re some observations as I mosey along, slowly.

  • I don’t know how to make a movie/documentary
  • I don’t have money to make a movie/documentary
  • I seriously misjudged my ability to pull contributions
  • In the meantime, check out this awesome doc released recently. AND IT’S FREE! PressPausePlay It’s worth the watch. I promise.




    I am NOT an Activist
    On July 16th, my 4 yr-old son (4 at that time) asked me to write a letter to the Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, to tell him:

    The response was so overwhelmingly positive, I told my pal, John Breton, to register the URL, Dear Mayor Ford and work up a little database and form for people to write letters to the mayor. It took off from there. The super cool Amber MacArthur mentioned us in a Globe and Mail post and John was interviewed on CBC’s Metro Morning! There’s a facebook page with some lively discussion and you can still write a letter to the mayor. It appears he won’t read them although we’ve offered him access to write responses to his taxpaying residents.

    Whatever, it’s been an interesting experience.



    Displacer’d

    My friend, Michael Morton, is a musician who goes by the name Displacer. He approached me about doing live visuals for his performances. I’ve already blogged about it, but man, it’s been a trip. I cannot wait to do this again with Mike.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ay6nLicfErw




    A Ring for September

    I was approached by my good friend, Spencer Saunders, about helping his company, Juice Agency, out on a worthwhile cause: Septembering, an effort to raise funds for Trillium Childhood Cancer Support Center. The project is now offline, but it was a great project and allowed me to play with Box2D a little.




    AIRing out my differences

    My last major project for 2011 was an AIR application for MacLaren McCann and HP. An interactive screensaver that allowed users to get a pretty look at the new notebooks on offer from HP.




    I also renovated my kitchen this year (honestly it’s still in progress, embarrassingly, but it’s almost done.)




    Rhymes with Sleeve

    Most importantly, my wife, Libs gave birth to our beautiful daughter Niamh Ava on October 17th.




    There was a lot more work I did during the year, but I just have no energy to list it all. If you’re a client reading this, I love you. If you’re a potential client reading this, I want to love you. Wait… that sounded wrong… unless, you know, you’re into it… koff…

    Invivo FlickApp

    Although I haven’t posted in a couple of months, it’s not because I haven’t been busy. I’ve actually been overwhelmed by work, thankfully. It has a negative effect on personal work but it does pay the bills. One project last month was unfortunately for a proof of concept and I am not allowed to blog about it. That’s a shame, as I was quite proud of the final product.

    On the other hand, I simultaneously worked on something I’d never done before; an AIR app running on a touchscreen. An AIR app that would be controlled by an HTML5 app running on an iPad! That’s right. Somewhere, Steve Jobs had a pleasure shiver run up his back. This was to be a slide presentation sales aid. The salesperson would be able to flick the slide from their iPad to the big screen, all nonchalantly, and continue their pitch on the touchscreen. Seeing this work for the first time was super cool.

    This was an incredible learning experience. It was no surprise to my client that I had never written an AIR app before. Partly because I didn’t tell them I’d never written an AIR app before. Koff. Sorry, guys.

    I’d love to get into the nitty gritty of this project, but I’m sort of under the gun time-wise on another project. I want to speak to a couple of things:

    1. We used a socket server to do the cross-app communication. Until I was able to get into the actual environment, I used a XML socket server in the form of Oscar and controlled it from my iPhone using TouchOSC. This was thanks to Dr. Woohoo who had used something similar for a project. These two things gave me a leg up in building my app. I am very thankful to have so many knowledgable friends.

    2. There are minor, but distinct, differences between XML socket servers and socket servers. Christian Cantrell has some really informative posts on how to implement a socket server. I highly recommend checking them out.

    3. Be completely aware of what your client wants and try to write your app so it does more than it should, not less. It’s easy to scale back on functionality by simply not using it. It’s far more difficult to add functionality to a nearly-finished app.

    4. Version your app when you create it. It makes it easier when you overwrite it on install.

    5. Educate your client on aspect ratios. The iPad version is 4×3, while the touchscreen version is 16×9. That means two differently-similar designs.

    Onsite, at the conference, the tech took a short video. I would have liked something a little more expansive and better framed, but beggars can’t be choosers.

    I’m currently working on another AIR app. Well, technically, two AIR apps using iPod touches and the Oscar socket server. Very exciting! If there are questions, please feel free to ask them, I’m not unavailable.