Mac, Linux or PC?

Obviously I am a creative based person, so everything on my website is creative based, so if you’re here, chances are, you are creative based too. It’s generally accepted as the indie hipster artist wannabes we are, that we use Macs, sit in windows of Starbucks Coffee Shops and wear Raybans. So I am interested to find out exactly what kind of OS everyone is using.

(I realise it makes no difference, but if more people say Mac, I can create more Mac based customisation tutorials!)

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GeekTool – The Simple Way

GeekTool Implementation

When I downloaded GeekTool from the App Store I was confused totally about what does what and how to make it work. Especially with the 2011 launch of the Lion operating system, it was hard to know what commands and codes went where and which ones worked and didn’t. So here is a VERY simplified and brief tutorial on how to use GeekTool

First of all, when you open it up you will see this dialogue box appear. We only need to know about one bit of it really and that is the “Shell” button. Simply click and drag this onto your desktop as below and it should look like this:

Notice the empty square in the top left hand corner. That is where we are going to create a digital clock to go over the background.

Look at the dark coloured dialogue box. The only bits we need to worry about are the ‘Command:” section and the “Set Font and Colour” section. to create a 24hr clock, simply paste this code into the “Command” section

“date +%R”

Next, click on the “Change Font and Colour” button. We can’t see the time at the moment because it is black font by default, so click the button and it should look like this:

Choose a colour and a font that suits you, then click anywhere on the desktop or exit GeekTool to see how it looks.

In this case I want red font and a simple almost pixelated font that will match my clock. The fonts in GeekTool are a bit limited but you can get a simple effect that does the job. Here is my finished clock:

See? Complicated at first, but once you know the basics it’s easy to add more and more commands in different boxes, and get as creative as you like.

Below is a list of commands I have found that work as of January 2012 with an up to date Lion OSX.

Time: date +%R
Date (Numerical): date +%d
Date: Month
Day: date +%A

Now the Weather section is a bit more difficult. For this you need to get GeekTool to recognise an external RSS feed.
This is the code I use on mine. I haven’t set mine to find my location yet, so it’s default is London.

curl –silent “http://xml.weather.yahoo.com/forecastrss?p=UKXX0085&u=c&#8221; | grep -E ‘(Current Conditions:|C<BR)' | sed -e 's/Current Conditions://' -e 's/
//’ -e ‘s///’ -e ‘s///’ -e ‘s/
//’ -e ‘s///’ -e ‘s///’

Just change the bit that says: UKXX0085 to your own Postcode to change it to your location.

Same goes for the 2 day forecast. Just use this code and edit it to how you want it.

echo && curl –silent “http://xml.weather.yahoo.com/forecastrss?p=UKXX0085&u=c&#8221; | grep -e “Forecast:” -A 2 | tail -n 2 | sed -e ‘s/
//’ -e ‘s/
//’ | sed “s/\(.*\)\.\ \(.*\)/\1\?\2/” | tr “?” “\n” | sed “s/High\:\ \(.*\)\ Low\:\ \(.*\)/\?High\: \1\ Low\:\ \2/” | sed “s/\?\(.*\)/\\1/”

And there you go! A complete how to on how to use the basics of GeekTool.
Now obviously it can be far more complicated than this, and for the real nerds out there, it can be utilised much better than I managed.

Mac OSX Lion Customisation

Right, so some of you saw the post I uploaded yesterday about using GeekTool to create a live desktop on Mac OSX Lion. I have now updated it and created a whole new wallpaper.

So how was it made?

Background Image

The background was created entirely from stock images from deviantART.com. Every item on the desktop is individual and can be easily created with a bit of patience and time. The trick is to make sure the lighting is correct across every object, keep in mind where your light source is coming from, and then paint in shadows behind. You can find tutorials for creating basic scenes on google or deviantART again.

You can see from the screenshot below, the most important thing of all is to get a basic lighting setup, and a nice clean background that isn’t too overpowering, then just go and add your furniture as you like.

Just one recommendation, if you decide to create one on Photoshop as I did, name your layers! I had close to 40 layers by the end and it was chaos trying to find that one level with a tiny shadow…

I will post a tutorial on how to use GeekTool this evening so check back later if you are interested in learning more about how to make a live background that doesn’t waste power resources on Mac OSX Lion.

Getting my nerdy on as we enter 2012

So today I discovered a neat little program called GeekTool. It was pretty difficult to use at first, but there are plenty of tutorials available on google. The basic premise of it is that using a few codes, you can embed different properties into your wallpaper as though it’s an animated wallpaper. I definitely recommend searching it and having a go.

I also upgraded my RAM today so the specs of my little MacBook are now:

Processor 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
Memory 4 GB 1067 MHz DDR3

Photoshop seems to start up in just a few seconds and booting time is dramatically decreased. Well worth the £20 on Crucial.co.uk

And yes, my MacBook IS called Brian The Brilliant 🙂

Representation of Children in Advertising

Here is another excerpt from my Literature Review. It is of a controversial nature but I believe it to be a point that needs to be made more often.

Considering the younger generation and it’s views on advertising:

Now of course there are always going to be children on television, or posing in childrens clothes, selling products for children. What happens when this steps over that narrow line? Children are growing up much faster these days, and most of that is due to exposure to material that is above their age range. An article written by Emma Rush and Andrea La Nauze called ‘Corporate Paedophilia – Sexualisation of children in Australia’ is particularly relevant and it states that;

“Children who appear aged 12 years and under, particularly girls, are dressed, posed and made up in the same way as sexy adult models.‘Corporate paedophilia’ is a metaphor used to describe advertising and marketing that sexualises children in these ways. The metaphor encapsulates the idea that such advertising and marketing is an abuse both of children and of public morality.”

This is an interesting phrase. The notion of ‘corporate paedophillia’ is of course an awful thing to consider, on the other hand it is interesting to consider its effect on public morality as Rush and La Nauze state. They go on to describe an unnamed advertisement selling perfume to Secondary School aged children. They describe how the girl (about 12 years of age) is posed and dressed, and in particular reference to the fact she is wearing red lipstick. They say;

“[fig1]The lipstick would be widely considered ‘attractive’ on a woman, but the evolutionary basis for this is that it mimics the increased blood flow to the mucous membranes when humans are sexually aroused.”

Is this an argument against Michael Gauza’s previous statement? He stated that it is all about perception. Whilst some people may consider the appearance of lipstick on a minor to hint at sexualisation of children and showing provocative arousal, others may consider it as an innocent act of the young girl trying to appear like her older sisters or mother. The subject is most certainly up for debate. However the posing of the girl in said advertisement was also up for debate as the two authors state;

“[fig2]In a woman, the effect of the outfit and the pose would be to draw attention to the features that signal women’s sexual difference from men, in particular the breasts, waist and hips, as well as the lack of body hair. “

This gives the advertisement in question an overall darker side. Their description of the girl’s pose certainly reflects the sexualisation of the advertisement. It is disturbing to read of a young girl essentially dressed and made up to appear ‘sexy’. The culmination of all of this led to the same two authors making the below statement;

“[fig3]The representation of children as miniature adults playing adult sexual roles sends a message to paedophiles that, contrary to laws and ethical norms, children are sexually available.”

([fig1,2+3]Rush, E. La Nauze, A. (2006 ‘Coroporate Paedophillia, Sexualisation of Children in Autralia’ Available: http://www.portadimassa.net/site/files/upload/pdf/DP90.pdf. Last accessed 13/5/11)

This brings up the most terrifying question of all, does this marketing and advertising technique permit potential paedophiles to think that it is acceptable? Advertising takes a much darker turn when you consider what is possibly the most grotesque outcome of overly sexualised advertising.

Comic Sans

Can someone please explain to me why we are all hating on Comic Sans?

Alright it’s an ugly font that is used far too often for Village Parish posters, any posters relating to children and godawful home made websites, but it works. If it was an object being sold, it would have made a fortune. It was created by Vincent Connare in the early 90’s to replicate the font used in comic books, and it does exactly that. It is a typeface that had a strong brief, and people continue to use it nearly 20 years down the line.

So I am asking all designers, typographers and graphic artists out there, why the hell are you up on your high horse about it? When you design a font that gets every housewife, wannabe designer and children’s entertainer all excited about a happy go lucky typeface, I will listen, but for now, stop hating on what works!

Controversy in Printed Advertising

I thought I would start my blog off with an excerpt from my Literature Review, as it relates so closely to my Current Project (See in ‘Portfolio’ tab)

“Print has long been an easily accessible form of advertising, from newspapers to magazines and even large scale prints such as posters and even billboards. It is widely used in advertising because of the mass audience it portrays too, however it is seen 24/7 by every age group, so advertising agencies have to be careful of what is on the billboards themselves. Whilst they are in someway protected by watersheds and regulations on television, the billboards do not get this same treatment. An example of this is Steven Miesel’s campaign shot for Calvin Klein in 2010. The advert was banned in Australia on the grounds that it depicted rape and violence. The Advertising Standards Bureau stated that “Highly sexualised and clearly suggestive of sexual behaviour.” The law in Australia says; “Industry standard says you can use sexuality and nudity provided you use them with sensitivity with the audience” This is interesting because it states that it is not an issue if the advertising techniques and imagery is relevant and target audience regulated. The issue with Steven Miesel’s campaign was that it was printed on a billboard where audience of all ages and cultures could see it. If it was a case of the film advertisement being shown on post watershed television, then this controversy would perhaps not have arisen to quite the extent that it was banned in Australia.

Continuing on the theme of overtly sexualised images, the predecessor to Miesel’s Calvin Klein campaign is certainly the Dolce and Gabanna campaign for their spring/summer 2007 range. It again hints at the rape and power over women, although there is also an image considered to be the ‘gay alternative’. This sexual power that is presented in the images is where Steven Miesel possibly got his inspiration. The images have an overall more ‘polished’ element to them. They look like high society sexual exploits as opposed to the Calvin Klein campaign that is photographed in high contrast black and white, portraying an overall more seedy and ‘heroin chic’ theme.

So at what point is advertising considered controversial and/or banned? The Advertising Standards Authority states that; “The Advertising Codes contain wide-ranging rules designed to ensure that advertising does not mislead, harm or offend. Ads must also be socially responsible and prepared in line with the principles of fair competition.” http://www.asa.org.uk/Advertising-Codes.aspx The statement that advertising must be ‘socially responsible’ is of particular interest.  My interpretation of social responsibility is awareness of the audience you project to (as previously stated). Advertising can be used to whatever degree the company feels is necessary, so long as it is pitched appropriately and to the correct audience. The notion of children seeing, with increasing regularity, examples such as Miesel’s Calvin Klein campaign showing the ‘gang-rape’ of a woman is where most people seem to draw the line.”

What are your thoughts on the matter? Is controversial advertising entertainment or dangerous?