are you thinking of going to MIx 08?

There’s good news and bad news.

Let’s deal with the bad news first. The bad news is that Mix 08 is totally sold out so if you’ve not got your ticket you’ll have to wait until next, book early! Well done to the Mix team for putting together a great schedule.

The good news is that visitmix.com will be hosting videos of many of the sessions. Not the same as seeing them live and interacting with the other delegates and speakers but definitely better than missing out altogether.

Keep your eye on visitmix.com for all the latest news.


Silverlight to power ‘jackass 2.5’

On December 19th, Blockbuster will premiere the first full-length feature film release to the web, Jackass 2.5, directly to online audiences using both Windows and Mac via Microsoft Silverlight

Jackass 2.5 will be made available for FREE, to anyone in the United States 17 or older.

As you can imagine this is one of the largest projects in Blockbuster history, made possible by using the rich media CDN from Limelight Networks and Silverlight. I think shows how rapidly Silverlight is maturing from its new born status back in September to where it stands today.

This is a massive first step by one of the biggest players in the movie rental market and it will be interesting to see the direction they, and other companies can take this in the future.

Jackass 2.5 – www.blockbuster.jackassworld.com beginning December 19th through December 31st, 2007 – Enjoy!


designers Throwing things over the wall…

The workflow for both desktop and browser based apps using Expression Blend and Visual Studio is very much in the mould of the ‘designer’ builds the visual look and feel of the application in Blend and the ‘developer’ codes against those UI elements in Visual Studio. In some workflow scenarios the designer/developer are different people, in others, particularly if you are coming from a background of Flash, they are the same person.

The Blend/Visual Studio workflow doesn’t favour one or the other.

I think Ryan’s comment about ‘throwing things over the fence’ is generally true of a traditional designer/developer workflow when a Photoshop comp is thrown over to a developer to be made into a functional application, in this scenario the end result would almost certainly look different from the designers original visualisation and the smallest change would often involve a fair amount of work. Thermo, from it’s early showing definitely seems to be going in the right direction to help solve this sort of dilemma.

Expression Blend and Visual Studio, well it’s just different from the traditional model. There is no throwing over the wall, it’s more… a very slick passing of the baton 🙂

Both products use exactly the same file formats, open the same project files, and the designer and developer can work on the same project at the same time seamlessly. The end result at the UI layer will look exactly the same as the designers original vision as there is not slice and dice, no trying to stitch together in code what the designer created with pixels in the first instance. The exact same visual the designer created in Blend (Design, Illustrator), is the exact same visual that is delivered as part of the final project, now it simply has some code behind it to make it interactive.

In my case my workflow is simple.

I have Blend open as my Interaction Design tool (either Expression Design or Illustrator if I want to do more serious graphical work), Visual Studio as my code environment and my browser as my test environment.

Once I’ve tested the project once I leave it running in the browser. After I’ve written or changed code in Visual Studio I literally hit browser refresh to check the interactions and see if I like the changes. Exactly the same from the design side, if I’m not happy with the look and feel I simply go back to Blend, make the changes I need, save, and hit browser refresh and look at the updated application.

The visual aspects of the application are decoupled from the code, there’s no set limit on what you can do in each environment, and when you do handover from design to code the transition is seamless.

I see this as much more of a design/developer continuum than just throwing things over the wall.


Make my logo bigger

Occasionally you see something that simply nails an idea so perfectly – this is one of those times.

Who needs designers when you can just use the ‘make my logo bigger’ cream – works on both printed and web material 😉

Just check out the video at ‘Make my logo bigger‘.

And the sad thing is we’ve all had to fight this experience in real life.

Thanks to the guys at Agency Fusion for making my day.


the right image, the right place, the right time

I’ve only just seen this and although it’s been kicking around for a while I thought I’d share it.

Often getting the maximum impact for your design is a combination of many things, understanding the market, the right message , the right look and emotional attachment, some times the ideas that seem so simple have the greatest impact.

The Red Cross wanted to raise awareness of the devastation that an earthquake can cause and if we’re honest words don’t really capture the huge impact, in reality neither do images of some far away place that has been hit by a quake. Those images have shock value, but not the emotional attachment… so how about a graphic example of how a quake would impact you…


The power of using the right image to deliver a message!

You can read more at coolhunter.net


MIX winding down for 07… looking towards 08

MIX has changed dramatically since it appeared on to the event map as a single event in Las Vegas in 2006.

This year MIX blossomed into a worldwide extravaganza which started in Las Vegas in late April, to then spread out across the globe at 17 other events.

  • MIX 07 – April 30 – May 2
  • Sweden – May 24
  • Italy – May 30
  • Hong Kong – June 5
  • Hungary – June 11 – 12
  • Netherlands – June 13 – 14
  • India (TechMela) – June 13 – 16
  • Switzerland – June 18 – 19
  • Korea – June 19
  • France – June 21
  • Silicon Valley – June 22
  • Australia – June 25 – 26
  • South Africa – June 26 – 27
  • Singapore – June 29
  • Taiwan – August 30
  • UK – September 11 – 12
  • Tokyo – September 19
  • Germany (XTopia) – October 10 – 12

    Having been at Microsoft for just over 12 months working as a User Experience Evangelist (UXE) seeing this kind of investment this early in Microsoft’s entry in to the creative market has been a fantastic thing to witness first hand. No toe in the water here, it’s been jump in with both feet and really embrace the market.

    For me personally it’s been a great experience getting to meet so many people across the globe from so many differing backgrounds, pure .Net developers, ActionScript gurus, pure Flash animators, Photoshop masters, Ruby and Python experts… this for me is what has made the events so – eventful – such a diverse range of people brought together at one event. MIX, really does live up to it’s name!

    It’s been a packed six months, I can’t really believe it’s only been that long but from sitting in as part of the audience at MIX in Vegas, hearing and seeing the amazing reaction to the announcements that day to presenting sessions at 6 of the different ReMIX events around the world, it’s been a real buzz being part of this adventure. I mean, little did I realise when I saw Wayne Smith deliver his Expression piece of the keynote in Vegas that I’d be on stage doing the same thing in keynotes in Sweden, Italy, Hungary, South Africa and the UK! A few late nights, and the addition of a few gray hairs 🙂

    So why post about MIX now? For me MIX is only over now. MIX:UK is the last MIX event I’m involved in this year and it just seemed a good reflection point.

    MIX:UK itself was a blockbuster. A sell out event. In reality it was over subscribed so no doubt we’ll be looking for a bigger venue next time!

    It was a hugely ambitious project for a first time event, 4 tracks, 36 sessions, 58 speakers, the obligatory party – with a full on Guitar Hero 2 competition. What I feel worked really well in this event was that of the 4 tracks only 2 were owned by Microsoft, the other 2 tracks were run by the community, 1 track for designers, 1 for developers. In the spirit of ‘mixing’ it up the owners of those tracks had full autonomy over who they invited to speak – so we had sessions that included Ruby, Python, work by Flash designers, and session titles such as ¨a nice cup of tea¨ and ¨swaggily fortunes¨, yes MIX:UK is definitely the right title for this event. Response to the event has been great, you can read some of the feedback, reviews, summaries etc on the backnetwork, or if you’d prefer a quick summary in a different format then you can can listen to the BBC podcast here (updated BBC link).

    This is what makes the MIX events so great, they’re literally the physical embodiment of Microsoft’s reinvention, from a company that seemed to be inward looking and risk averse to one that is trying new things on almost a daily basis, Silverlight, Surface, Photosynth, Seadragon and in terms of technology is now practically an open house!

    The change has been massive and it’s just the start… and the place to be to witness the next stage of the evolution… MIX 08 Las Vegas March 5-7 2008, see you there 🙂

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    Who are the Top Brands in the UK in 2007?

    So just who are the top brands in the UK? Well that depends on who you talk to as the marketing experts have a very different opinion to the general public polled in the Superbrands survey.

    Every year Superbrands polls a sizable set of people, 3200 this year, which is a great data set to work with. For a more in-depth look at the study and result visit http://www.superbrands.com/uk/ which has some great data.

    It’s always great to see the company you work for doing well in these surveys, and for the second year in a row Microsoft came out as the top brand in the UK with a very strong showing across all age groups both male and female.

    It’s also great fun putting together your own top ten and comparing… and there we’re some big surprises!

    Personally I would have put the iPod in my top ten. It’s been the buzz product over the last 3 /4 years and gets a huge amount of coverage. The experts thought so as well and had it placed at number 3 in their top ten. The public placed iPod at number 153, a full 150 places below what the experts thought.

    It highlights how difficult it is to gauge ‘brand’ across a wide cross section of people.

    In fact in the top ten only three companies showed up in both the public and expert lists!

    The public are blasted with brands 24/7 and have obviously started got very adept at filtering out brands and buzz noise that are less relevant for them. What will be interesting next year is to see whether the public vote follows what the experts said this year, or whether the public continue to go in their own direction. I’m betting the latter.

    It’s also interesting looking at how different brands fared in different ages groups, and genders, women voted Moët & Chandon into their top ten, while men voted in Guinness…

    Tiffany & Co. placed 293 placed higher with women then men, and Wall’s Ice Cream placed 265 places higher with men… anyway here’s a run down of the top ten Superbrands in the UK in 2007:

    1: Microsoft

    2: Coca-cola

    3: Google

    4: BBC

    5: BP

    6: British Airways

    7: Lego

    8: Guinness

    9: Mercedes Benz

    10: Cadbury