Archive for November, 2011

Kids Media Centre engages kids in the technology conversation

I dropped by my former stomping (er, teaching) grounds last week to say hi to my many friends at Centennial College’s School of Communication, Media and Design. And while chatting with the Dean, Nate Horowitz, about my role here at Adobe, he suggested I call on Debbie Gordon, the Director of the KidsMediaCentre at Centennial College. Debbie and I had a great chat about digital readiness in public schools and she shared with me the KMC’s new blog, just hot off the digital press last week.

The kidsmediacentre is an industry and creative content think tank at Centennial College’s Centre for Creative Communications.  Working alongside Centennial’s Children’s Entertainment Program, they research kids’ relationships with 21st century media and connect their students with industry partners to help incubate and produce the next generation of children’s entertainment and media. Their hope is to engage kids in assessing the worth and contribution of a media product or idea: what works for kids and what constitutes a good idea and value proposition for the industry. One of the kidsmediacentre’s main goals is to help bridge that gap.

Based on what I read on their site, it’s working.

The kids aren’t just listening and learning; they’re involved in the conversation. You’ll see some of their contributions on the KMC site, in a section called the Kid’s Panel. Broken into three age categories, 4-8, 9-15 and 16-19, these kids test out a review a wide variety of media and technology, from games to music, books to eBook readers, iPhone Apps to software reviews on products like Adobe Photoshop. And the reviews are remarkably on point, honest and act as a window into how kids see certain aspects of the world. I found the Kids Panel blog posts refreshing.

For example, the review on Photoshop  (Bella checks out Photoshop) examines some pretty savvy points about self image and our culture – from a 15 year old!

In the 4-8 category, 6 year old Salmah checks out the book, The Missing Piece, which was read to her class by her teacher (Gosh, I still remember those days…), and summarizes that “… it is good to keep going. When you keep going, you can learn more things.”

There are reviews of music and politics, among other things, in the 16 – 19 category. 16 year old Ian gives a very knowledgeable review of the Miles Davis album, On Green Dolphin Street.

I was impressed by the insight provided by these young people. And I think you will be, too. These are not kids who are just blindly using technology; they’re engaged, aware and see technology for what it is – a tool to help extend creativity or productivity or personal growth, not a replacement for the passion that makes those things possible in each of us.

Amazing Photoshop Touch Technique

Russell Brown thought up a great Photoshop Touch hack that is just too darn cool! Check out this short video on how to use Photoshop Touch and a flashlight to create some AMAZING lighting effects.

 

Now Available: New eBook on Fireworks’ CSS and jQuery Mobile features

Using the CSS3 Mobile Pack for Adobe Fireworks CS5

Using the CSS3 Mobile Pack for Adobe Fireworks CS5

If you’ve found yourself wondering how Adobe Fireworks can fit into your web and mobile design workflows, or how you can introduce students to a visual method of designing for mobile, I may have just the thing for you.

Today, my new eBook, Using the CSS3 Mobile Pack for Adobe Fireworks CS5, went live at http://www.peachpit.com/.

While there are already a couple good how-to tutorials available at the Fireworks Developer Center, I wanted to take a deeper, more practical approach to this new extension. I wanted to go beyond the how and hopefully address the why. I walk you through the basics, but then I move you to a realistic application of the extension. You will learn about both parts of the CSS3 Mobile Pack:

  • CSS Properties Panel
  • jQuery Mobile Theme Builder

CSS Properties Panel

In the chapter on the CSS Properties panel, for example, you’ll be doing more than simply exporting a rounded corner rectangle as CSS3 mark up; you will be taking a completed web page design and – using Fireworks and a Dreamweaver HTML5 starter page layout – building a standards-based web page, complete with navigation, semi-transparent content areas and stylized text.

Final web page design that matches the original Fireworks mock up

Final web page design that matches the original Fireworks mock up

The only bitmap in the page is the background image. And it was all done with a minimum of coding. Maybe it’s just me, but I think that’s pretty cool.

jQuery Mobile design, mocked up in Fireworks, then exported to Dreamweaver and previewed in Device Central.

jQuery Mobile design, mocked up in Fireworks, then exported to Dreamweaver and previewed in Device Central.

jQuery Mobile Theme builder

In the chapter on the jQuery Mobile Skinning, you will study and work with the jQuery Mobile template file, also part of the CSS3 Mobile Pack, and learn how to customize an existing skin and export that new mark up over to Dreamweaver to quickly create a simple, customized mobile web site.

Time-saver in production and in the classroom

Whether you are comfortable with code or not, the new tools in this extension can be a creative and time-saving boon.

A designer  can export out standards based mark up, which can be further edited and tweaked by a developer in their preferred web page editing environment. Or if the designer wears both hat, he or she can move quickly from a visual design to realizing that design in HTML and CSS. I think this is a great example of Fireworks bridging the gap between designers and developers.

And for students learning the craft of web and mobile design, it gives them the opportunity to create their design first, and then see how that design becomes converted to code. Or, depending on the design itself, learn about the limitations to be aware of when building a standards-based design that targets multiple devices.

Either way, it’s a win-win.

Final thoughts

The fact that the extension is also FREE is another bonus. I think it’s pretty cool that Adobe released this extension now, rather than making anyone wait for the next version of Fireworks.

If you’re interested in the ebook, it’s available for less than $6.50 USD at http://www.peachpit.com/. Feel free to follow me on twitter @JimBabbage. If you’ve got questions, that’s a great place to find me.

 

Tutorial Magic – Adobe Tutorial Builder

Adobe “Tutorial Builder” is like the “Harry Potter” of tutorial applications! This amazing application from Adobe Labs magically records your Photoshop knowledge into slick tutorials that can be shared via iPad.  So…what’s so magical about it?  Press the instructional link on the iPad and it will demonstrate the referenced step in Photoshop.  This instructional hocus-pocus creates a communication channel between your tablet and a computer running Photoshop using the TouchSDK.

Tutorial Builder looks like a great application to add to your instructional “charm bag”!

Try it out…