Archive for January, 2011

CD Artwork Concepts for a Local Band

I have close ties to a local funk/rock band called Buffalo Everything. They graciously let me fiddle around with a lot of their design stuff such as their website design, gig posters, a bit of photography and now CD artwork.

The band will be launching their first EP in the next couple of months – well, they *should be* anyway, at least if they never do, this blog post will document the results of my effort. For the EP launch, they wanted some artwork concepts to make their CD look professional. Consider this a sneak preview for all of the BE fans out there ūüôā

I haven’t been exposed to a huge amount of print design before, and I definitely hadn’t done any CD design to this extent before. So this was a new and interesting opportunity to put some of my basic Photoshop skills to use in a really creative way. After opening up Photoshop, I pretty quickly came up with a few concepts which looked fairly grungy and I thought might suit the style of the band. After a bit of initial feedback from the band, I managed to come up with the following 5 concepts (ignore the largely dummy text).

Concept #1:

Concept #2:

Concept #3:

Concept #4:

Concept #5:

My personal favourite is #2 or #4!

The band decided to go with Concept 1. This was¬†mainly because although they mostly liked the other concepts, they didn’t want their first EP to look to “showy” or “over the top” – considering they are really just starting to get their name out on the local band scene. I thought this was a good choice in the end and good reasoning behind their choice.¬†I am looking forward to finalising the concept and seeing the final product printed.

As I am a beginner designer, I would be interested in any feedback from those more experienced or just what your preferred choice would have been and how it could be¬†improved¬†for the future. I know the basics of Photoshop fairly well, and with a few free grunge brushes this was pretty easy to whip up. But I know there’s a lot of room for improvement to perhaps get a more polished look for next time.


Eye-Fi With My Little Eye


I purchased an entry level DSLR about 10 months ago, and since then, I have developed a keen beginners interest in photography. But the one thing I absolutely detested about taking photos was the process of getting them onto my computer. As you probably know, this involves having to turn the camera off, take out the SD card, put it into the USB reader, plug that into my macbook and then use some terrible software to transfer them to my macbook.

I know this sounds incredibly lazy of me, but ugh. After a while, it becomes a tedious process.

So being a stickler for convenience (I will seriously do almost anything for the sake of convenience and efficiency), I heard about this “Eye-Fi” product through a work¬†colleague¬†and thought I would give it a go. The idea being that the SD card itself magically will transfer your photos “as you take them” whenever you are in range of your wifi hotspot.

Since there is no distributer in Australia, I had to buy it from Amazon.com. There’s a number of models available, which differ in terms of size/capacity and some features. I settled on the top of the range card, the Pro X2 8GB which was a little over $100US. After a short 4 day wait, it was delivered and ready to use. I wish I could say it was smooth sailing from there. But unfortunately it wasn’t.

The Eye-Fi product consists of the SD card, and a small USB reader (used only during setup & configuration). Upon plugging in the SD Card and USB reader, I was prompted to install the Eye-Fi Center and Eye-Fi Helper software. The “Center” is the software you use to manage your Eye-Fi card, and the “Helper” is a system-tray like application which is used to detect the card, firmware updates and debugging logs etc.

The Helper software is fine and uneventful. The Center software on the other hand, is pretty terrible to use. It requires Adobe Air (not so much a problem in itself) and the user interface is terribly clunky and the response times are slow.

Nevertheless, I installed the software and this is where the initial problems started. It seems my card suffered from two main problems:

  • The card would simply not connect to my wifi
  • The card would randomly eject itself, and sometimes I needed to wait a bit before it would remount the card when plugging it back in

Since I am not a complete novice when it comes to software & wifi setups, I tried a lot of troubleshooting myself before contacting Eye-Fi Customer Service. I made my wifi network completely open (no mac address filtering, no hidden ssid, no wep/wap keys etc) just to rule that out as being the problem. When the Eye-Fi failed to connect to this as well, I knew I probably had a dud product. So I sent an email to Eye-Fi support with router & wifi details and logs of the card. After a few days, I had no response and was sadly a click or two away from confirming a product return via Amazon. But then I thought I would try the Eye-Fi  support forums which seemed fairly active.

So I posted a thread which outlined the issues. I quickly got a response from a Customer Service Rep (CSR) who confirmed that it sounded like a dud card and he would arrange a replacement straight away. This was great news.

A few days later, the CSR posted in my thread for me to try the “just released” new firmware update as he thought it might solve my problem. I tried the firmware and (despite some more issues with the Eye-Fi Center software) it worked! Turns out the firmware update tweaked a few sensitivity (?) settings on the card in order to improve compatibility with certain routers.

Once the wifi network was setup and working as normal, I was very quickly able to finish the setup process for the Eye-Fi card and I was transferring my first photos within minutes. After the initial (and significant) teething problems, the Eye-Fi really has been fantastic.

At the moment, I have the photo’s being transferred to my Drobo, although I can also have them¬†transferred¬†to a huge range of online¬†services (or FTP) if I really wanted to. I also think I will become a big fan of the “Endless Memory” feature – which seems to involve the Eye-Fi card knowing which photos I have safely already transferred, and so when my SD card becomes XX% full (user defined) it will start deleting the photos which have already been transferred to make room for new photos – all while I am out on the road taking photo’s. This will save the other annoying part of photography of needing to clear the card and sometimes not knowing if you are deleting images which haven’t already been backed up.

There’s also been an announcement from Eye-Fi that a future firmware update will enable a “direct mode” which will transfer my photos to my iPad directly. This could be pretty cool in order to preview photos on a larger screen if you are out and about (especially useful for those more serious togs who might like to show clients some photos on the fly).

All in all, I am not so reluctant to take photos with my camera anymore! I would recommend the Eye-Fi product to anyone.. just please don’t ask me to help you set it up ūüôā That was a pretty frustrating experience for a while.


A new year & an attempted resurgence of this blog

Long time…

VERY long time. 2 years in fact!

I have decided I will give the blogging thing another go. And in the process will blow away most of the old posts I had on this blog – since they are not too relevant to what I am doing these days. I have also renamed this blog from “leeane’s webdev blog” to “{leeane}blog” since it will be a lot more general in content. Website development still plays a large part of what I do.. but the passion I have for that has diminished somewhat.. although I admittedly do feel I am just a cool idea away from a resurgence.

So a little bit about me, and what I have been up to (see my full portfolio here – http://www.leeane.com)

Since teaching myself PHP/MySQL back in 2004 I have amassed a decent portfolio of website applications that I have built & designed from scratch. Even having one of my sites featured on the hugely popular and influential technology blog called TechCrunch. I tend not to develop websites for other people – instead I build things for my own enjoyment as its a lot more fun that way.

In addition to websites, I also dabble in iPhone Development (see my app called “Posted”) and small utility application development. I also have a huge passion for design – and although I lack the raw drawing talent, I do think I have a fairly good eye for layout and what “looks nice” (don’t judge my comment by the design of this blog!).

I also am in the beginner stages of getting into photography. So I expect I will have some posts on my learnings in this area in the future. Other topics to expect include fitness, exercise, restaurant reviews, movie reviews, gadgets and general tech.

Lets see how long I can keep this up!