Jeremy Schultz
eSources

May 2010

New consulting packages for CS5

CS5 icons

Now that Adobe's Creative Suite 5 (CS5) is shipping, businesses have new purchase decision to make. I've been using CS5 for months and I think it's a good upgrade overall, but it's not necessary for everyone and I point that out in my reviews. The most important question is whether the CS5 upgrade or purchase is right for you, depending on your unique business and financial factors.

This year, I am offering some small consulting packages designed to answer your questions about CS5. This is not software training, which I do also offer, but an analysis of how CS5 can impact your marketing communications and whether an upgrade is worth the time and money.

Is There A CS5 App For That? reports on how specific CS5 applications can improve productivity and ease of use for your creative staff, based on the marketing materials you currently produce. I will survey your marketing materials, talk with your staff and report on new features in CS5 that can help you. Demonstrations and training of specific features are also available.

Upgrading to CS5 reports on the upgrade options for your business. I will research your current software setup and what you and your employees use most, and then explain the various upgrade paths available and make recommendations for the most cost-effective and smartest approach. A little consulting before a purchase can save you hundreds of dollars and keep hardly-used applications off your equipment.

Pricing is dependent on the complexity of your business and the addition of things like training and demonstrations, but basic packages would be a fraction of the cost of a single CS5 product. Click here to request more information.

Let's Communicate

Family photos and videos on DVD

Enjoying photos and videos on DVD makes a local family proud

Marin Second Year menus

Every family has batches of videos and photos of their kids. My son Will is almost 18 months now and I can count almost 18 hours of footage and a thousand digital photos on my media server.

Printing digital photos is easy: home printers, local photo labs and online websites all can print good photos. Digital video is also fairly easy to deploy with the right software.

However, solutions are more limited when combining the two into one accessible media. I like to use DVDs for such projects. Blank media is widely available and suitable for any DVD player—computer or TV—if properly encoded. Interactive photo slideshows and video playback are both supported. And the cost of producing a DVD is less than the cost of a professional photo session.

Mike Letsch has been bringing his daughter Marin's photos and videos to me for two years now. I organize the materials, build menus, add music, burn the disks and package everything with a label and case insert. "Jeremy has always done superb work," says Mike. "Both projects have been FANTASTIC. Seriously excellent work. It is more than worth the money."

Technology Trends

What's going on with Flash on iPhone?

A recap of the Apple/Adobe/Flash battle, and my opinion of it

Apple vs Adobe buttons

Most of my clients have heard about the debate between Apple, Adobe and the developer community about Flash and Apple's recent products, including the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Here's a recap of what's happened and what I think of the whole situation.

Adobe's Flash technology powers most of the interactive elements on the Internet today, including video, games, rich Internet applications and animation. Flash has had a lock on the PC market for years and Adobe has tried to gain the same niche on mobile devices, though it's been hard due to the state of technology and the plethora of mobile products on the market. HTML5, an emerging web programming language that supports video and other interactivity, has further complicated matters.

Apple approves what goes into the iPhone App Store, where customers buy apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has not allowed Flash Player onto those devices, believing Flash technology to be poor quality. Adobe responded in October by announcing that Flash Professional CS5 would translate Flash projects to iPhone-compatible code, making the Flash Player plug-in unnecessary.

The debate went quiet until April when, days before Adobe officially released Flash Pro CS5, Apple changed the iPhone Developer agreement to ban all developer conversion tools such as the Flash translator. Adobe attempted to curry favor among developers and convince Apple to change its mind, but Jobs made his feelings clear and Adobe appears to have given up on the iPhone, now focusing its efforts on deploying Flash on BlackBerry, Android phones and other devices.

Here's what I think:

  • Flash may be imperfect, but it's here now. Building technology for the future is one thing, but ignoring technology in the present only makes things harder for users. I'm building my HTML5 chops for an eventual move from the XHTML code I currently use, but I will still use Flash because it's here today.
  • Apple won't budge. Apple controls the iPhone App Store, the hardware and the developers through their agreement. Some have called it a "walled garden"—beautiful but under tight control. Some say Apple will lose relevance in the mobile market if they don't open the garden, but I don't expect Jobs will listen.
  • Adobe needs to move on. Apple is in control, and Adobe can't do anything about it. Their strategy to focus on Android may pay off: sales figures suggest Android phones sold more than the iPhone in 1Q 2010.
  • Customers lose. Customers care about getting things done, and when customers can't watch a video or play a game it doesn't matter if HTML5 is on the horizon or if the iPhone is beautifully designed.

Ideas

Video games as art and marketing

A blog and a logo have illuminated the role of games in our world

Google Pac-Man

Like most guys my age, I grew up playing Atari and Nintendo and I still play a video game almost every day. A couple news items have made me think about video games and the role they play in our culture and the marketing world.

Famous film critic Roger Ebert recently wrote "Video games can never be art," a blog post that states, in principle, video games cannot be art and no truly artistic game will be produced in our lifetimes.

Ebert's post has been both popular and polarizing, with over 4,000 comments. Game developer Kellee Santiago, whose presentation spurred Ebert to write his post, responded here. Other writers such as gaming journalist Brian Ashcraft and Grant Tavinor have written similar responses. Generally, the gaming community defends the notion that video games can be art.

The other news item is Google's surprise rendition of its logo as a playable Pac-Man game to commemorate that game's 30th anniversary on May 22. Some businesses had to block access to Google that day because employees were playing the game instead of working. The tiny game is popular enough that Google has given it a permanent home at www.google.com/pacman.

I've designed some Flash games for my personal use along with the usual interactive Flash video and eLearning projects I receive from clients. The more interactive an experience is, the more it sticks with users and customers—the popularity of games like Google's Pac-Man is an example. If you can make a game like this and make it relevant to your brand or your website, customers will notice in the same way they notice an action-packed trailer at the theater or a striking cover at the bookstore.

As for Ebert's post, I think some games are more artistic than others but many games have a plot, characters, setting and conflict—all elements of a story. Other games focus on the physical aspects of gaming: reflexes, visual stimuli and simple rules. These are the games you find on Facebook and other websites, and it's often these simple games that are used to market products and brands.

How do games support your own work or business?

My Reading List

Suggested reading from the Academy

Academy panel book list

The April session of the West Des Moines Leadership Academy featured a panel of local leaders including:

One question asked was what books the panel's members are reading now or have had a major impact on their business. Here's some of the books they cited:

  1. The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow
  2. Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson and Kenneth Blanchard
  3. StrengthsFinder 2.0: A New and Upgraded Edition of the Online Test by Tom Rath
  4. Doing Church as a Team: The Miracle of Teamwork and How It Transforms Churches by Wayne Cordeiro
  5. Jesus, CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership by Laurie Beth Jones

Fun With Photoshop

Missed the group photo?

Melany Stonewall composite

On May 1 I was shooting photography for the "Putt Your Best Food Foreward" golf event to benefit the Des Moines Area Religious Council. The event was produced by the West Des Moines Leadership Academy's Class of 2010. After I coordinated and shot the class's group photo, we realized we had missed one person: Melany Stonewall of GuideOne Insurance. This is when it pays to know Photoshop!

I've been doing this kind of photo correction since my summer job at a graduation photo company in 1997. I shot Melany's photo in the same location and took the photos into the studio for some compositing and retouching. I put Melany's image into the original photo and resized and masked her so she would appear behind the front row. I had to remove some direct sunlight from her jeans, so I ended up copying and pasting new jeans over hers.




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Jeremy Schultz
1502 Nine Iron Drive
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266
US