Sunday, October 24, 2010

Project: "G4 Cube"

Last semester I was introduced to the Power Mac G4 Cube, or more affectionately known as, the “G4 Cube”. This computer was made for only one year between 2000 and 2001. This machine was, to put it simply, beautiful. In fact, the New York Museum of Modern Art holds a G4 Cube in its collection. The G4 Cube shipped, in its most basic form, with a 450mhz G4 processor, 64mb of RAM, and a 20 GB hard drive all in the 8" x 8" x 10" form factor. One of the more remarkable features of this computer is its convection-based cooling system, meaning it has no fans and can run completely silent.

I decided I wanted to find a Cube for myself and eventually was able to track one down on eBay. When I got it everything was stock, including the original ten year old 20 GB hard drive which by now was quite noisy. It was time to do a few modifications…

At first my only intention was to put a new hard drive in. I got a 500 GB IDE hard drive from my dad that wasn’t currently being used and swapped it out for the old 20 GB. I cloned the data from the old drive to the new one and to my astonishment it booted up just fine. Then I decided it needed more ram, so I went downstairs and found some old PC133 ram that wasn’t being used anymore and installed what I could find and what would fit, bringing my ram up to 768mb. Next I discovered there was a slot inside the computer for an Apple Airport card, which would give this old Cube wireless internet capabilities. I found one of those on eBay for $1 and put it in too.

At this point I was only using this computer for file storage and as a media server so I wished I had even more disk space available. I decided to remove the DVD drive from the Cube and replace it with a second hard drive. This got a little tricky because a hard drive is quite a bit different size than a DVD drive. After messing around for a while I found a solution holding the hard drive in place by using longer screws to suspend the drive from the metal frame of the computer.

Now this old computer can sit in my living room hooked up to my stereo and I can access it from my iPod, iPad, or macbook and tell it to start playing music. It also now has 750 GB of space instead of the original 20 and I store and back up my files on it. I can let it sit there and leave it on 24/7 and it is totally silent, not to mention it looks really cool. Pretty good for a 10 year old Mac.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Color: Evaluation of an Existing Design

Apple iMac “Five Flavors” Campaign

It’s almost hard to believe that a company like Apple, whose image today is sleek aluminum form factor machines or high grade finely shined white plastic casings, could be responsible for the computers pictured above. However, in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, these machines were all the rage. Apple, which in the early ninety’s was a near bankrupt and crumbling former empire, decided to make some drastic changes. Steve Jobs was brought back as CEO and he led the company back to doing what it did best in its earliest days of success: giving the people what they want, even if they don’t know they want it yet. The introduction of the iMac was one of the first things Jobs did to revitalize the company and as successful as that was it just wasn’t quite enough. The iMac would not only be an easy to use all-in-one computer, it would also come in five vibrant and very different colors.

This was a bold move at the time. If you check out other PC’s of the era, they aren’t much to look at. Sure, the computer is mainly used for doing work and making day-to-day tasks easier, but why can’t it be fun and good looking too? When you went to the store to buy an iMac, you didn’t just grab a computer and go. You had a choice, which color are you? There was something for everyone. A calm and cool “blueberry”, a sharp and eye catching “strawberry”, a refreshing and envious “lime”, a rich and regal “grape”, and a vital and bold “tangerine”. The color choices are really quite ingenious. Those colors form the same flower shape that is pictured above on the color wheel. The colors are well spaced and encompass all the main color hues. It’s quite obvious that the chosen colors were not picked at random. Somebody with knowledge of color and design carefully picked each color for a reason. Each hue has a different feel and potentially appeals to a different audience. The five colors work very well together, yet are very unique and distinctive on their own. They look great sitting together on a shelf at the store, but any one of them will also look great on your desk at home.

Apple is a master of product design and giving people what they want in the modern market. Their bold use of color in an era of drab off-white boxy computers just goes to show how well the company can read the market. A marketing team that knows what the customer wants before the customer does is a highly successful one. At the time, people just needed something different and unique to make the computer fun, and the “five flavors” campaign did just that.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Notepad Project

In this project we were to design a notepad that could be given away to high school students who might be interested in the Graphics and Imaging Technologies department here at PSU. The pad had to be black and white, perfect bound, 50 sheets, and have a chip board backing. The rest of the specifications, such as size and design, were up to us.

In deciding what I should do for my notepad design, I had to narrow down my potential audience. These pads would, theoretically, be given away at senior day GIT booths and displays or something of the sort. Now, this alone gives me a much smaller high school group. With the exception of a few people who are up in the air about what they want to do in college, the majority of people who would visit the GIT booth or display would be interested in graphics, art, and creativity in general. So I tried to think of what things appealed to me in that position, what would I want to pick up and take with me?

Ultimately, I decided to use a design that mimicked an iPad with the screen of the device being where you would write. Now, of course this is something I like and think is fun, but I tried to think outside that just a bit too. Apple products have always been known for being designed to help artists be creative in a digital world. Now with iPods, iPads, and the iPhone Apple products are in the hands of millions of loyal customers who love their iDevice. I figured using a design like this would not only appeal to potential graphics students, but might also reach out to other people as well. I ended up choosing 5 x 7 as my dimensions, because it is a very familiar size to most people and yields a good design to write space ratio. My overall goal in the design work was to keep everything clean and simple, I know I don’t like notepads I use to have too much going on that would distract from what I was trying to write or drawn on them.

In the end, I decided on my design because it was fun and I thought it would be appealing to a wide variety of people. I wanted my design to be relevant to graphics and imaging, but also be something clever that high school kids might appreciate or want to use. I wanted it to be clean and simple and since we could design whatever we wanted, I wanted my design to be something that I enjoyed as well. I think my design accomplishes all of these things.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Gap Logo Change


I think this whole thing has been blown way out of proportion. Gap decided it was time to change their logo and put the new one on their website. People started going crazy about it. This is a beautiful publicity stunt in action. All Gap had to do was change the logo on their site for a couple hours and all the sudden they’re all over the news. Every article I can find says they didn’t even print it anywhere, just uploaded it to their website. Now Gap’s facebook is asking for new logo ideas from the general public, generating even more publicity.

Personally I don’t see what the big deal is anyway. The new Gap logo looks way better than the old one. I’m not sure what font the old logo uses, but it’s way too narrow. The Helvetica of the new logo looks very clean and easy to read at a distance. I also like how the blue square has been preserved in a simple, yet elegant way. This kind of logo is my favorite, as simple as possible yet still can convey a brand. I’ve read many quotes about this new logo from people who think they’re just hilarious and say that it must have been made with Microsoft Word. They could come right out and say they did use Word and I don’t think it should matter. A good simple logo is a good simple logo. The problem with the change is that the old logo had been used and established for over 20 years. Major companies have learned over time that a big change in their identity can lead to drastic customer backlash. Gap’s marketing team isn’t stupid, they know this as well as I do, which is what leads me to believe this could all be a big publicity stunt.

If Gap learned any lesson here it’s that all they have to do to get in the spotlight is something as simple as changing the logo on their website. Bad press or not, media coverage is media coverage and free publicity. I hardly think that Gap shoppers will simply stop going because the company tried changing their logo, but people who hadn’t thought of Gap in a while might be reminded of it. I wasn’t sure if Gap even still existed a few days ago, but I certainly know now.

Gap Images obtained here: