March 19, 2007

Target boutique

Kiosks, kiosks in my hair! Kiosks, kiosks everywhere!

So where are we going with all of this? I'll tell you, since you asked so very kindly. Our goal with our interactive poster is to improve customer awareness of what is in the whole store. Most customers going into Target stores have a specific purpose for their visit and walk right to that area, pick up their object, and go back to check out. We are hoping that by drawing customers over to the kiosk, and showing them the great deals in other areas of the store, circulation will be increased throughout.

We're planning on attracting customers by having a flashy screen saver that previews the images within a series of moving target symbols. By creating a simple layout and navigation system within the kiosk, customers will be able to easily view several items in a matter of seconds. I'm actually pretty excited about the whole thing and hope we can pull it off so it functions in an efficient manner.

Attention Target shoppers, the kiosks are coming.

March 10, 2007

Digital Billboards? Really?

Wow, the Duluth City Council apparently has a lot on their plate if they are sitting around discussing digital billboards. And when you ask the question whether or not digital billboards should be regulated, I'm not really sure what that means. Should their content be monitored? (I'm sure it already is) Should there only be a certain number allowed in an area? Should there be any allowed at all?

Since I know no specificities, I will just babble on now about digital billboards and hope that I am somehow answering your question. The only digital billboard that comes immediately to mind is the one that is before the long stretch of ugly stores and buildings on Central Entrance. Personally, I can think of nothing wrong with it. I treat it in exactly the same manner that I treat every other billboard I see...with complete indifference. (Except for those pro-life ads. Have you seen those things? They take photos of the ugliest babies known to man kind to try to make you love them more. Sorry pro-lifers, you can take your troll babies and shove it.)

I can only assume that some complaints are heard from the Duluth drivers about how the changing of the images is distracting, or maybe the light coming from it at night is far too bright. Both of these are idiotic complaints, considering the fact that there are things moving everywhere while you're driving, and just about everything is lit brightly at night.

I think that digital billboards are a good idea, in moderation of course. They are a bit more flashy than regular billboards, so I actually glance over at them every once in a while. If there was more than one of them in a 100 foot radius? I think it would be too much, and might push the boundary from slightly distracting into annoying.

I have now put far too much thought into the realm of digital billboards, so I am going to stop my babbling. I leave this discussion up to the Duluth City Council. Weirdos.

March 5, 2007

If you could be a font for a day...

I had to do a little research with the question of which font I like best for web design, because I wasn't 100% confident as to what my possible answers could be. After some serious delving, I have come to the conclusion that Georgia is a wonderful font for web design. I realize that it is a serifed font, there fore not the immediate thought in a lot of people's minds, but I think it does its job well. I think Georgia has a tone of professionalism, but has a comforting side at the same time with all of its curves. I wouldn't use it for every single site in the world, but those that are more text heavy and to-the-point could benefit from its inviting, easy to read features.

That being said, I have been using Georgia on my alternate blog for a while now, and every time I think I want a new look, I try a few different fonts, but nothing works as nice. If I could figure out how to mess with the fonts within this website I would, because this page looks almost less intelligent in the font that it is currently utilizing. Weird how a typeface can do that. My verdict is: If class and beauty are what you are looking for, as well as easy readability, Georgia is the way to go.

Somebody got a little behind....

Yes. I turned into a bad blogger. Its awful. But I'm back for a momentous revival! So...we have a few things to catch up on, eh? I believe where we all left off was the week five blog where we were asked to discuss a kiosk we have found in the real world. Get ready for the most stimulating blogging that the blogosphere has ever SEEN! When we went to Target to investigate the store, we had the good fortune to encounter the kiosks that have been set help to help shoppers navigate the store. The biggest and most blatant problem with them was their location. Shoppers had to walk down a hallway to the right of the main entry to even stumble across these devices, and even then it was still not clear what they were exactly. They were covered in a dark gray plastic that did not seem inviting, and did not insinuate in any way what was happening in the moniter screen that they held.

Onto the kiosks' navigation itself. The screen saver was fun and similar to the feel of Target's current advertisements, which is one of the only positive things I have to say about the screen. Once touched, the screen opened up basically into what looked like a website. You had two options of selecting your choices. You could either use the trackball that was provided, or run your finger over the screen, the latter of which was extra annoying because a small white arrow followed your every move on the screen. There was also a keyboard to go along with the trackball, I'm assuming to mimic the feel of a home computer...which is an interesting concept, but who really feels the need to go onto a computer when they walk into their neighborhood Target stores? Not this chick.

If I were to update them (which I may or may not be doing :) I would say that their location is the primary reason they aren't in use. Secondly, to obtain a more appealing facade around the screen itself would be of vast importance. Eliminating the extra time it takes to type in what the customer is looking for and just provide any easy route of navigation to it instead would make the kiosk more accessible. Target is such an immense store, so I think it would be important to let people know where the objects they want are located, or if they exist inside the store at all.

I have gotten to the point where I live and breathe kiosks. I'm not sure if that's healthy or not, but I can't do much about it now. Viva la kiosk!

February 5, 2007

Second Life takes creepy to a whole new level

I really am trying to be open minded about this whole game, because really, it is an insane concept. The fact that we can exist in another world, while being a completely different person and doing things we never would have dreamed of...well, it blows my mind.

All I could think of while watching the demo in class was a South Park episode I saw a few weeks ago. The four youngins' are getting miffed because a guy has built up a character with enough power to defeat everyone in the World of Warcraft. They go on this huge mission to defeat him, and in the process all get immensely fat and develop arthritis. Throughout the whole episode, we hear their dialogue through their World of Warcraft alter egos and it is so hilarious that a seven foot tall, muscular Orc is really just a seven year old, overweight boy in a small mountain town. (Yes, I know what an Orc is, so sue me) If you haven't seen this episode, you need to, because it is wonderful.

Back to the point at hand. As cool as Second Life is, I think it's extremely impossible to draw the line between game and second reality. I remember reading an article on how wrapped up people get in this game, and don't sleep for days at a time. That's what happens when you take drugs. Coincidence? No, I don't think so either. We have so many other ways to interact with friends and strangers over the internet, I don't think it's necessary to spend time and money marketing contact in another world.

My brother goes to school in Kansas City and I see him maybe 2 or 3 times a year. Recently, we both obtained access to video chat and its a really great way to actually see my brother and talk to him in a somewhat face to face manner. When options like this are available, I can't really justify spending money to buy new skin and giant lips so that my avatar is more appealing to other stunning 3-dimensional characters. In all honesty, if I joined Second Life, I would probably be in the strip club or at the nude beach ALL the time. That's just too funny and strange an opportunity to pass up.

Sorry this is so long, my tired mind just keeps rambling. I could see potential benefits within the X-rated world though. The idea of holding a class within the Second World is extremely appealing to me, seeing that you could learn things from people all over the world. I really like that concept. Also, as I was browsing through the Second Life webpage, I saw that there was a 'Linden Gallery of Resident Art' and I thought that was a cool concept as well, that people could display their art work from the real world to their counterparts in a surreal world. I guess the concept of the sharing that would occur holds the greatest benefit in my mind. It's still creepy though, I don't care what you say.

And to the iPhone I say: Are people even going to know how to interact face to face in a few years? We have so much around us to distract us from the everyday that pretty soon we're not even going to know where we are or what the person sitting next to us on the bus sounds like because we'll be too busy watching the new episode of Gray's Anatomy and listening to the Shins CD. Simultaneously. I'm curious to see what the children growing up in the midst of all this are going to be like. Attention spans of 2 seconds? Probably. Hell, I have friends like that already!

Thus concludes the end of my banter. Congratulations.

January 29, 2007

The Ever-Addicting World of The Sims

When the clock hit midnight, I remembered why I never play The Sims during the school year. My intention was to click and fiddle around until I could scratch down a bit of information on the interface of the game. But how can you just hit the 'quit' button when Jan and Linda are fighting over the same guy, who just happens to be their roommate? It's so tense, so exciting! Almost as exciting as it is to make imaginary people take a shower and pee! After three hours of completely wasting time that probably should have been spent doing things in real life, I reached my conclusion of the interface of The Sims:

The designer of this game designed it for those who completely lack any sort of video game skills; basically with a sense of complete simplicity. Initially, the player is presented with a small town the several houses/plots of land within it. Each house represents a saved game, or, more correctly, a different family. After choosing the household you care to control for the next few hours, the player is presented with a close up view action.

A vast majority of the screen is taken up by the household and the action of the sims themselves, but a small navigation bar is found on the bottom quarter of the screen. Within this control panel is where the player can check out the info on each of their sims. When a sim is selected, you are shown a glimpse into their level of life satisfaction, quality of relationships with other sims, and job performance. When you go into each of these sub-categories, you can see what can be done to improve that sim's life in each of the categories. No wonder he's so angry, he's starving!

Also found in the control panel is the option to build your own house and shop for furnishings to complete your surreal sim life. Simple icons are used within these buttons for navigation. For example, if you clicked on the image of a faucet you would find yourself shopping for sinks, showers, bathtubs and the like. If you find an item you enjoy, you have the option to click on it and read further about the product (which a good shopper ALWAYS does). Other items within the navigation bar are the time display and the option to change the perspective of the household where all the action is taking place.

When you want to control the characters and tell them what to do, you just have to select them and click on the object, or sim, you want them to interact with. Small bubbles will then pop up asking what you would like to do specifically with that object. If I want John to interact with Sally, I just click on her character and select from the many options, including 'Hug', 'Talk', 'Entertain', or the ever-so-scandalous 'Give Back Rub'. Of course I pick the last one because for some reason I can never shake the 13 year old out of me. Sigh. The better you get to know other characters, the more options are presented to you. You can always tell what sim you have selected by the green diamond that floats above their pixelated little head.

Last but not least, a small pop-up window appears in the lower right-hand corner to let the player know that the sims' car has arrived to take them to work, or if an unwanted visitor is approaching. (Damn burglars ruin everything) So that was my adventure with The Sims, and I'm not going to lie, it was really great to get reacquainted with them. I am a little upset that I wasn't as productive as intended for the night, but hey, in the world of college, there's always tomorrow.

January 24, 2007

Web Terms, Web Terms Everywhere!

Web Terminology

Internet: a large computer network linking smaller computer networks on a worldwide scale

World Wide Web: a system of interlinked, hypertext documents that runs over the Internet.

Web server: A computer responsible for accepting HTTP requests from clients (Web Browsers) and serving them HTTP responses

Host: A computer system that provides services to other computing systems

Web site: A collection of web pages, typically common to a particular domain name or subdomain on the Internet

Web page: A resource of information that can be accessed through a web browser and usually in HTML or XHTML format

Web browser: A software application that enables a user to display and interact with text, images, and other information located on a web page

Podcast: A media file distributed by subscription over the Internet using syndication feeds, for playback on mobile devices and personal computers

Cache: a block of memory for temporary storage of data likely to be used again.

HTML: HyperText Markup Language – provides a means to describe the structure of text-based information in a document and to supplement

XHTML: Extensive HyperText Markup Language – stricter syntax than HTML, documents allow for automated processing to be performed using a standard XML library

XML: Extensible Markup Language – a general-purpse markup language that supports a wide variety of application. XML languages are easy to design and to process

JavaScript: A scripting language based on the concept of prototype-based programming. Best known for its use in websites, is also used to enable scripting access to objects embedded in other application

IP Address: Internet Protocol address – unique address that devices use in order to identify and communicate with each other on a computer network

URL’s: Uniform Resource Locater – a protocol for specifying addresses on the Internet

Domain name: Provides more memorable names to stand in for numeric IP addresses, allows for any service to move to a different location in the topology of the Internet

HTTP: Hypertext Transfer Protocol – a method used to transfer or convey information on the World Wide Web. Defines eight methods indicating the desired action to be performed on the identified resource.

FTP: File Transfer Protocol – used to connect two computers over the Internet so that the user of one computer can transfer files and perform file commands on the other computer.

ISP: Internet service provider – a business/organization that provides to consumers access o the Internet and related services.

IPP: Either, Internet Printing Protocol – an Internet protocol that allows universal solutions to users trying to print documents from the Internet OR Internet presence provider, which is the same thing as a host

Modem: a device that modulates an analogue carrier signal to encode digital information, and demodulates such a carrier signal to decode the transmitted information. Whoa.

Cable Modem: A type of modem that provides access to a data signal sent over the cable television infrastructure.

Ethernet: A large, diverse family of frame-based computer networking technologies for local area networks

Wireless: any system or device for transmitting messages or signals by electromagnetic waves

CSS: Cascading Style Sheets – a stylesheet language used to describe the presentation of a document written in a markup language, most common application is to style web pages written in HTML

Blog: A user generated website where entries are made in journal style and displayed in a reverse chronological order

MP3: MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 – a digital audio encoding and lossy compression format and algorithm designed to reduce the amount of data required to represent audio

JPEG: Joint Photographic Experts Group - standard method of compression for photographic images, provides for lossy compression of images

GIF: Graphics Interchange Format – 8 bit-per-pixel bitmap image format using a palette of up to 256 distinct colors, employs lossless data compression so the file size of an image can be reduced without degrading the visual quality

GUI: Graphical user interface – particular case of user interface for interacting with a computer which employs graphical images and widgets in addition to text to represent the information and actions available to the user

PHP: A reflective programming language originally designed for producing dynamic Web pages, mainly used in server-side application software

January 17, 2007

The day of the Syllabus

My blog. Tight.

What is Interactive Design?
A fabulous question to which I have a very unfabulous answer. Interactive design is design which allows the user to interact with a visual object. It involves buttons and bells and whistles and moving objects. And it's fun.

What do you want to learn in the course?
After taking motion graphics, I realized that I really, sincerely enjoy working with programs like Flash and After Effects. I would like to delve deeper into the realm of Interactive Design because I had, dare I say it, a lot of fun with it all. I'm well aware that there is so much more I need to learn and I am so excited to do so. Whew, alright, I'm done geeking out for the day.

What applications / programming languages do you know or want to learn?
I know a small bit of Flash, mostly tweens and fun things like that. I have become really comfortable with After Effects as well, the program which has thus far proven to be my favorite. I don't even know if those count, but there you have it. My knowledge of programming languages is completely nonexistent and I would love to learn anything I could about those as well. Bring it on.