Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Alex Mills Design 2010

It's finally here, the much delayed alex mills design website. The new home of SineWave and Pieces as well as future projects.

Pieces (Brand new iPhone App)

In move to consolidate and upgrade services, I have moved my blog to blog.alexmillsdesign.com. This will be the last post on my much loved google blog but I look forward to a bright future with the new website and wordpress blog.

Please change your RSS subscriptions to the new blog, I hope you enjoy and look forward to sharing it with you!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Introducing SineWave

It's been a while but we all know how life can be! I'm very excited to announce the release of my new iPhone application called SineWave. Designed for electrical engineers and students, it makes the common calculations a little faster and less error prone which is always good thing. If you forget how it all works just flip the device on its side and you are greeted with a list of formulas, examples and a little explanation.

This is my first full iPhone app and the first one to be launched worldwide on the App store! It's very exciting to see Alex Mills Design on the iTunes, a place where I spend too much of my time. I will write a post about the whole experience once it all settles down and I have a few moments free.

Please check out the website and it's iTunes page, if you do purchase the app a review/rating would be greatly appreciated :).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

QuickPost and Tr.im update

Recently Tr.im, the URL shortener service built into QuickPost, announced that they will be not continuing operation. This is an incredible shame as it's a premiere service so it's exciting to see that this morning they announced that the tr.im will become open source in the public domain. 

The last few bugs submitted for QuickPost were in relation to what service we will choose to support, the answer to this will evolve over time but we have decided to go with continued use of Tr.Im. We are looking into the cost and effectiveness of using the source code to derive our own shortener service for QuickPost.

A little update for QuickPost: Its been a fair while since Beta 2 came out and I apologize. Work and intense education commitments take a majority of my time, as well as a new hardware project that I will announce later. Beta 3 is nearly finished and will be released within the next few weeks, good things come to those who wait. 

Saturday, June 27, 2009

QuickPost Beta 3 Sneak

It's been a substantial amount of time since the release of beta 2 but unfortunately education commitments have taken the important center stage. Beta 3 was meant to be released today but this is not the case and to further annoy the anxious users, the next 3 to 4 weeks will be spent mainly on work and school. It will be a while before Beta 3 will be released, but it will be worth it, as you will see in the demo below it has a whole bunch of slick refinements and exciting new features. 

The demo is what we have built so far, introducing support for Wordpress and further refining the current services as well as making the app simpler and easier to use. Something which I'm proud about with this demo is that every submitted bug from Beta 2 has been fixed and refined. Each request and tester report has been taken very seriously, as you will see there are some massive changes to how the app looks and behaves. Please enjoy the demo and remember that an enormous amount of time has been spent on this project, so I ask for your patience during this busy time of the year. Thankyou!. 

Friday, June 5, 2009

WWDC 09 Predictions

It's now time for my regular pre-event predictions and this time it's the much awaited Apple Worldwide Developer Conference 2009, held at the Moscone center in San Francisco. I'm extremely excited as previously the only real announcements from this event were mac hardware and software, while this year we have Mac OS X iPhone (What Apple officially calls it), and Mac OS X Snow Leopard plus a whole bunch of other hardware to go with them. Let's get into it.

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

From a consumers point of view this release doesn't appear to be too much but if you are a business person or developer, it's time to get excited. Previous releases, Leopard in particular, were a whole bunch of new features whereas Snow Leopard will be a bunch of new features for developers. New technology to handle multiple core intel processors called Grand Central, the ability to tap into the vast amounts of wasted power in graphics cards and a complete cleanup and streamline of the operating system. This gives developers like myself new tools, technologies and visual features in our own applications, and in true Apple fashion, with little effort.

A couple things I would like to see in particular from an interface designers point of view is the actual tool that was patented to create resolution independent buttons and elements. At the moment to do this in leopard involves subclassing components of buttons etc which is pretty messy. Plus improved toolbars, token fields and easier Core Data migration. It will be interesting to see though if Apple does come through with the new marble interface or something similar, personally if it's going to look anything like the glass in iTunes and iPhoto it will be horrible. They finally got consistent interfaces with Leopard, lets not do a Tiger have 4 please. It would be really sweet if Snow Leopard goes on sale right away.

iPhone V3/Video/Video 3G or whatever it's going to be called

Unfortunately with all the amazing work that's gone into Snow Leopard, any sort of announcement about the iPhone will take center stage. We have already seen the new spotlight and cut/copy/paste in Mac OS iPhone 3.0 so I would believe that it will be mainly about new hardware if the recent rumors have anything to do with it. My requests for a new iPhone would be:

  • Better camera... please a better camera
  • Improved scratch resistance
  • Better bluetooth (Demoed in iPhone 3.0)
  • Improved battery life
  • Better screen!!!!!!
  • More screen colours
  • Cheaper
  • Optus allowing to upgrade at no cost :)
Best of luck to everyone at WWDC this year, my best wishes to Steve Jobs and I hope to see you all next year when QuickPost will make it's conference debut!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Introducing QuickPost Beta 2

Exactly 5 months in the making, I'd like to introduce the second beta of QuickPost for Mac. Beta 2 is one incredible update due to the fact that almost none of the code from the first beta is present in this one, thats right it was built from the ground up. Finished 2 days ago, it's been in private testing while I finish the new website which I'm extremely proud about so go check it out to get the full details on this new release.

New Stuff
  • Offline Post Storage
  • Multiple Blog and User accounts
  • More powerful and stable visual editor
  • Source code editing
  • URL Shortening
  • Tweeting new posts
  • Search and add maps and videos to entries
  • Higher control of web images
  • Powerful hyperlink creator for websites and mail-to links
  • Smoother posting
  • Text formatting
  • Interface
These are just to name a few, head to the website to check out the release notes and download the latest beta. It works with Mac OS X 10.5+ and Google Blogger. Support for wordpress and more coming soon, here's proof.

Please download, if you like, love or hate something about the app, use the built in feedback (In the QuickPost menu) to let me know :). Or just post a comment here. Just remember that this is a beta app so the features, interface, icons and finish are not final and will change over time.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Latest Chromium Screenshots

Chromium is the open source project behind the Google Chrome project. For a couple months now you have been able to download nightly builds of the native mac version which is awesome for fans of the windows app. While these are early builds of the browser they show great maturity and stability, even though most of the preference options don't actually work. Many of the main features work including tab dragging (including to new windows) and incognito mode. It's far from complete and suitable for real world use but it's definitely on the way so we should be seeing a Google Chrome beta for Mac soon. 

I love this browser, the fact that the dock icon doesn't even bounce is great indication of the performance during startup and that address bar, just brilliant! When using my current browser Camino, 90% of the time I open a new tab to search so with Chromium I don't have to tab to the search field, I just begin typing. The interface is just stunning, which is not easy on a mac. It's very hard for designers to create interfaces that use different kinds of controls and make it look like it belongs in leopard but  reckon they have succeeded with this one. This is something the ugliest browser on the planet could really spend time doing. Check out the screen shot of how the leopard chrome works with the browser interface. 

Chromium chrome and interface
Something that could be interesting? Maybe the feature by the same name in Safari 4 is actually a webkit project?

Creat application interface
So go check out the latest nightly builds and test, if you find an issue or the browser crashes, make sure you can repeat the steps and submit a bug report. Check out the screenshot of the full app below.

Chromium Browser

Saturday, May 9, 2009

iTunes could be smarter.. even a little

Check out the screenshot above. Now let me explain. To save space on my MacBook Pro hard drive I keep all my movies (I own the DVD versions, don't stress) on an external drive that iTunes links to. What annoys me is that this dialog suits a situation where the user has changed the location of a file, but not one when an external device is missing. iTunes should detect that the file is located on a external device and then prompt the user to connect it if it isn't already. No one wants to see this dialog when they haven't touched their library for months, and while the new dialog works the same as the old, it tells them why the file cannot be played and how to fix it. I have made a mockup below of an example dialog that I believe would be more suited. It does look the same but the user knows how to fix it and that something hasn't gone wrong with their library.

Friday, May 8, 2009

End of an era

I'd like to take this time to talk about a period of my life that has now come to an end, Digilife. In early 2006 I walked into Perth's best Apple store ready for my first day of work experience as a year 10 student. Starting out in the admin, it quickly became clear to my supervisor that the workshop gained most of my attention and on the third day I became their first and only student to work on an Apple product. That Apple product was a 17 inch Powerbook G4, at the time it was their flagship notebook so you will understand that I was more than nervous. 

All through year 11 and 12 I worked as an Apple technician for Digilife through workplace learning and as a part time job, it was amazing. I can proudly say I have worked on every non-vintage mac produced, and my favourite being the 17 inch MacBook Pro due to ease of access with the case. Though the new unibody macbook's are beautiful inside and out, they are a little fiddly and the connectors are a nightmare. 

All through my time at Digilife I worked with another Alex, Jason and Christolph. Unfortunately both Jason and Christolph moved onto different things and I give my best wishes to them. 2009 was the first year of my teenage life where I didn't have to turn up for school, though Tafe is pretty close, and working at Digilife was now my part-time job. That was until a couple of weeks ago. Tough economic times had forced us to close our retail store in the Perth mall, leaving just the flagship store and service centre in osbourne park. Unfortunately the sales team was not able to sell enough products so on the 9th of April, Digilife closed it's doors for good. 

After spending over three years working with the same team that we call a family, it was incredibly difficult to face the fact that we would never return to work together again. Sure some of us may end up working in the same company but not as a team and thats a real shame. Some of the team were angry with the owners Chris and Anne for loosing heir jobs but I'm the complete opposite. Yeah it sucks that I lost my job but if it wasn't for Anne and Chris giving me a chance as a young boy to prove myself to becoming part of the technical team, I would not be the kind of person I am today. I'm so so very proud of what I built in the past four years, relationships, memories and skills. So while I miss everything we have done, I raise my glass to this family and wish them all the very best. Thankyou guys, for accepting me into your lives and hearts, it's been an absolute pleasure to work with you all. I hope the future is fruitful for you and that you make your dreams happen. Peace.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

New QuickPost website - Beta signup

I finally got around to making a decent looking website for QuickPost. This version is basically a teaser/signup page for the beta that will be released around the end of May. You get to see the new app icon and a little bit of the new editor, with this beta now feature complete, the next couple weeks will be spent tying up loose ends and testing. Just pop your name and email into the register section and you will be notified of any updates and get early access to the beta. Hope you like it!

Check it out and sign up!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

QuickPost Status

So after I a two week break at home I return to the big city to continue work on my blog editor, QuickPost so I thought i'd provide a little update of where I'm at. Offline editing, account storage, multiple blogs, twitter & tr.im support and a new Editor. "What else is there to do"? you ask, well I want to take a second to talk about the new editor. 

Its really neat and powerful, providing full rich text editing, images, videos and maps. It was rebuilt soon after the first beta was released as it was found to not handle large amounts of text very well but the new editor requires more code to do the... editing. Which is all fine and well but when it comes to showing the source code, it all comes to a screeching halt. So in other words, it's not very efficient and stable when working with the HTML source code. But I'm making small steps to building a better editor with the help of some famous developers, hopefully in only a little while I should have a beta out for you guys. The beta will be google only but wordpress has been tested to work but requires more time to implement it into the app properly. 

I wrote and published this using QuickPost Beta 2 as proof of the progress I'm making. If you want to join the beta team, just drop a comment on this post until I have the new signup page finished. So much to do! 

cheers guys!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Awesome iPhone Ad

A friend of mine gave me this link to a parody by Saturday Night Live of the iPhone commercials Apple did with real people on the street. It's awesome, funny and pretty creative so I share it here today. Though I do not condone meth or punching cops, it's still a funny watch, check it out below. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Microsoft Analytics

Since the release of my website and not long after the conception of the blog I have been using the Microsoft adCenter Analytics Beta for tracking the page traffic. My choice for using this system over Google is that it actually works and pretty neatly at that. Unfortunately about a week ago I was notified that as of the last day of this year, the service will be discontinued, which is a real shame. This blog will continue using the service to the end but the new company website will have to use a new service. Maybe I should give Google another go, recommend any other analytics services? Thanks for all the page tracking data, it was very helpful!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

iPhone OS 3.0...Wow

I woke up this morning to a whole bunch of new information regarding the iPhone OS upgrade from the Apple media event and wow. Over a thousand new API's for developers including the much delayed Push Notification System, in-app purchasing, live content streaming and access to hardware to name a few. For consumers they finally get cut, copy & paste and in true Apple fashion, it works brilliantly in almost every app! I'm not going to copy what has been said on the likes of TUAW and Engadget but as of now every request I wanted for the OS has been met. This includes MMS support in the form of a new messaging app, the ability to search your music not to mention everything else, increased Bluetooth support and landscape keyboards for Mail and SMS!!!!!. They also laid to rest a few common talking points including background apps and why the Push System was delayed though the App Store Approval process got the typical/standard/boring/not helpful response from the iPhone team.

1000 new API's, that is truly incredible for any platform. They applications demonstrated at the event were very cool, putting the in-app purchasing and notifications to good use. So when the update appears in iTunes for free ($10 iTouch) sometime in June, expect some amazing applications to go with it. Obviously there is long way to go and it will be interesting to see what gets added and what gets dropped.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Accepted by Twitter

QuickPost just became more connected, starting today it's recognized on the twitter website. Check out on the screenshot above "2 minutes ago from QuickPost", how awesome right? QuickPost takes advantage of twitter in a pretty neat way and along with the tr.im service, makes it easier than ever to use. Beta 2 is on the home stretch, all that is left to do is tidy the interface and current features and finish off implementing the tr.im api. Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

New QuickPost Icon

Icon beta 2 for QuickPost Beta. What do you think? There have been so many icons for this app that I have lost count but this one I like. I think of it as the 'QuickPost Machine' capable of combinig your words, photos, videos and maps into one gorgeous post and announce it on twitter so the world knows. Ooh did I let something slip? Beta 2 which is coming real soon is an amazing leap forward in usability and features compared to the first beta. I'm still undecided though whether to drop Fern and make this the all-in-one editor the mac world has been waiting for? What do you think? 

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Safari 4 Intro Motion

When you launch Safari 4 for the first time you get some little introduction graphics courtesy of the new CSS effects built into the browser. Its pretty cool that all this is possible without flash, video or javascript. Just CSS and HTML.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Post Title

Apple just announced the new Beta of Safar 4 which has some really neat features and interface changes. The problem is that it pretty much copies chrome just by looking at the screenshots, even more so the windows version. I have Tafe now but I'm downloading the Beta for mac I will post my thoughts later. I haven't been this escited about a browser in a long time...

Monday, February 23, 2009

My favourite Apple Commericals

Along with producing the worlds greatest products, Apple also employs one of the best marketing teams in the world. Below are three of my favourite Apple commercials.

I love this song and I love the colour scheme first introduced with the AppleTV. The effects are amazing.

Apple Ad from FT on Vimeo.

Here's to the crazy ones...
One of the most famous and classic advertisements of all time. Placing Apple as a true pioneering company.

This is a funny one, demonstrating the ability of the very cool iMac G4. Gotta love the CD tray gag :).

QuickPost Beta 2 Baby!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A little sneak peak

Beta 2 of a certain recently released app is nearly finished, heres a little sneak peek of what may or may not be coming...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

First Chrome for Mac screenshots

Mike Pinkerton (former Mozilla) has been working with Google on the mac version of the worlds quickest browser, Chrome. He has released screenshots of the first web page loaded by the app, indicating that they have the multi-process system working. This is something I'm really looking forward to as Chrome is my default windows browser, it will be real nice to use it on my main platform, Mac OS X. 

Here is a screenshot of what a 'crashed' tab looks like, I love the little icon,

Monday, February 9, 2009

WALL-E & Steve Jobs

Wall-E is one beautiful movie, both graphically and emotionally, something that could only be produced by a company like Pixar. After the pixar computer was developed at Lucasfilm, Steve Jobs purchased it and turned it into a viable company (have I heard this before?) before it was purchased by Disney. That purchase makes Steve Jobs the single biggest share holder of the Disney company, now with that out of the way here is the actual reason of the post: Upon purchasing the DVD for Wall-E I found two little easter eggs on the main screen (The B&L logo and the compass), clicking the compass opens the screen you see above. This provides the overview for the short title clip that was used in the pitch for Wall-E to John Lasseter and Steve Jobs. I love the last bit "Steve Jobs' un-enthusiastic response was: "I don't like the title."" After  20 minute demo and that was all he could say...he is a salesman, pitch is everything. Wall-E is ripe with Apple goodness from the 'Mac Chime' that plays when he boots up, the iPod he keeps and EVE being designed by John Ive, the worlds finest industrial designer. Johny Ive is responsible for the design of the iMac that saved Apple (and every mac that followed), the iPod, iPhone and more recently the worlds most advanced notebook, the MacBook. Just thought I would share this little 'Steve Jobs Moment' for you all. :) Want to see it for yourself, click the compass. Screenshot below.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Leopard Intro Movie Found

I have finally found the absolutely stunning intro movie that comes with leopard, viewed when setting up a new machine or fresh install of the OS. While browsing the example Quartz projects included with Xcode I found the file path of the mysterious video and I'm going to tell you how to get it. Disclaimer: This file is deep within system critical files, do not move, delete or rename anything inside. I accept no responsibility if you screw up :). Maybe you should make a backup if you are not sure. Lets begin shall we?

To begin, locate the 'System' folder on your boot drive and follow this path: System > Library > CoreServices. Inside of this folder you will find an app called 'Setup Assitant', right click it and select 'Show Package Contents' as indicated below.

In the new finder window that opens up navigate: Contents > Resources and locate a file callled 'TransitionSection.bundle', right click it and select 'Show Package Contents".

In the new window that opens navigate: Contents > Resources and you will see the intro.mov video file which you can copy to a more convenient location(Make sure not to remove it when copying). If you want the snazzy song that goes with it, the file intro-sound.mp3 will complete the experience.

Amazon Kindle 2 ...wow

Amazon has just released some photos and launch details of their new Kindle, an ebook that uses and electronic paper display. A neat little feature is that it has access to the Amazon Wispernet via Sprint EVDO. My current Tafe course is based around designing and building electronic hardware, something I have always been fascinated about, with companies like Apple building devices and computers into incredibly thin enclosures. The kindle 2 as demonstrated below is an incredibly thin and sexy peice of hardware. From the creamy front to the aluminium back, design cues from a certain device have been used to their full extent. Great stuff Amazon, keep it up.

Monday, January 26, 2009

QuickPost 1.0 Beta 2 Build 001

Due to a brainwave while trying to sleep at 2AM, QuickPost can now edit the HTML of the view and still post with no problem. Check out the screenshot below:

This was posted with QuickPost 1.0 Beta 2, which should be out soon though some major changes to the way FernEngine handles images and the QuickPost Interface.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Introducing QuickPost 1.0 Beta 1

QuickPost is a new blogging application designed for the Google Blogger service. Based upon the new FernEngine, a Javascript based WYSIWYG editor. QuickPost is a testing platform for the editor that will be built into Fern, a premium editor coming soon. With QuickPost you can write blog entries with labels, login with your google account, select your blog and post. It's that simple.

The editor is capable of making text bold, underlined, italic, linked, strikethrough, superscript & subscript.
Text can also be any color.

Text & images can also be aligned in the centre
or to the left.
The complete editor toolbar is below:

The labels field:

The login view is below:

QuickPost is in Beta, there are still things to be done to this app, as well as the FernEngine before either of it can be implemented into Fern itself. Especially in regards to how images are handled. It's still impressively quick. Please download and test, if you have an issues or want to add something, drop a comment here.

Posted Screenshot

Requires Mac OS X 10.5, Google Account

Coming Soon

Just an example of what is coming soon

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New iPhone website

As you can see by the previous posts that I have been focusing on the iPhone, which due to a little free time has allowed me to try somethings I have always wanted to do. I decided to make an iPhone version of the 2009 Alex Mills Design preview page. In my research for a script to tell the iPhone to use a different CSS file, I came across this tutorial. Unknown to me was the fact that the Safari browser on the phone runs a little script every time it gets rotated, with a result of either 0 (vertical), -90 (left) or 90 (right). The tutorial covers writing the javascript that intercepts the angle result from the browser, which then tells the CSS to display a certain div. So I built a vertical, left side and right side 'view' in Keynote, imaged them using skitch and built them into a neat little site using Coda.

The image below is was is displayed when the iPhone is held vertically, with instructions on how to see the other views.

Rotate the phone left and the view will change to one with links to Donald's blog and to mine. Plus another little instruction on how to return to the normal view.
Rotate the phone to the left and the view will once again change to one almost identical to the previous, except with only one link to the current website and a different rotate instruction.
Yeah I could have just put the links on one view and while this setup wont be suitable for every page, it gives you complete control over how the page works in the browser. Also the fact that it's designed for one browser on one phone* makes testing simple, though you will need an iPhone or iPod touch due to the way the CSS hides everything, making desktop testing impossible.

Check it out and let me know what you think, its just a little weekend project but I'm happy with how it turned out. Just head to www.alexmillsdesign.com with your iPhone or iPod touch and it automatically send you to the iPhone version.

*Though the webkit browser is used in a number of other mobiles including android, the detection script is only looking for iPhone and iPod in the UserAgent.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It doesn't happen often

I'm not one to brag, its just how I was brought up but even my parents are bragging about this one. A recent Curriculum Council High Distinction Award in IT means that I'm officially the #2 IT Student in Western Australia! I'm super stoked and really appreciative of all the teachers, parents and workmates who have helped and supported me along the way. Lets just hope I can make use of it :)

From the media interviews I have done I should be appearing in at least one magazine, which would be very cool.

A little something...

A design project I have been working on for possibly a pretty important client. Will give more information soon. This is my first time at designing an iPhone app.

New Alex Mills Design preview page

With 2009 here and no equivalent design website ready, something had to be done to indicate that 2009 will offer significantly different services and style. My first true XHTML/CSS page, giving you the option to view this blog to keep track, Donalds or continue onto the current website. One unique thing about this page is that it was designed and built completely in Keynote 09, using Skitch to extract the images into Coda for engineering.
2 major updates to Keynote that allowed me to do this easily was the new measurement system (my major feedback request...they listened), resulting in accurate real world measurement and common placement guides. An example below. The second is that a 1px stroke on a shape is a 1px stroke, no shadowy crap like in iWork 08. I will post an overview later on, as you know I design my websites, interfaces and icons in Apple Keynote, using in-app graphics and photoshop. Nothing can touch the layout system in this app.

Check out the page and let me know what ya think. See anything out of aligned or another error, please let me know. It has been tested with mac browsers (Firefox 3, Safari 3 & Camino 2.0) and iPhone with no issues.