DPI & Compression Problems - demo PDF

Seasoned print designers know all about DPI, but it is difficult to convince design students unless they are shown an example as to what can go wrong. I made this sheet where the same image is shown at the same size except in 300dpi, 70dpi and 30dpi. I also included a badly compressed JPEG so that students will know what to look for.

The correct DPI to use will always depend on the printer that is being used so ask! If the DPI is too small then some blurring and pixellation will occur. This can be seen where the text is not clear and where there are square step blocks.

The poorly compressed JPEG shows how the textural detail in the wall and sky are flattened out and bruising artefacts appear where there is a change in contrast (e.g. around the text).

Having a poorly compressed JPEG and DPI that is too low is a double blow to the quality of the output image.

Feel free to share the document. Link: The DPI Problems PDF

maximum_display_size_in_inches = pixel_size divided by the DPI
   (there are 2.5cm in an inch. So, approximately 4 inches in 10cm)


WorkOut Poker Episode 3: HUD

Continuing on with first steps towards an ExerciseUI, this episode adds on a HUD to give stats that help decision making while playing.

The HUD shows VPIP / PFR & AGR / 3Bet stats. These are only basic but there was not much room for any more since the size of the numbers needed to be increased.

I had the dreaded problem where the Kinect would stop updating in FAAST. It turns out that the shortcut I was using to launch FAAST lost "Run in Administrator" mode and you should disconnect the Kinect power USB converter from the computer after a reboot. It was fiddly but once it was running it was rock solid.

Getting the HUD running was not trivial. It causes a huge load on the computer to run FAAST, PokerStars and Holdem Manager 2 at the same time (while I was recording). The FAAST display would sputter and gestures would not be recognised. The solution was to use ImDisk and move the HEM2 database into RAM. I also made a different ImDisk RAMdisk and recorded the video straight to that. Time to buy an SSD.

The HUD stats were useful. There were not many hands on the other players but even still some information was better than none.

Episode List
Episode One: Basic Functionality
Episode Two: Bet Sizing
Episode Three: HUD


A Question of Professional Ethics and Friends

Professionalism and ethics questions between two parties are fairly cut and dried. However, things can very quickly get murky when muliple parties are involved. Justice asked me to advise on a situation.

Justice works for DesignStudio and they have a large client account BigClient. Recently BigClient employed an in-house designer called Riley. Coincidentally Justice and Riley happen to be friends who both move in the same active social circles. One day Justice overhears the DesignStudio execs wondering why they are now getting less work out of BigClient than before. They are discussing the latest design outputs of BigClient and wondering where they are coming from. Justice knows from social conversation with Riley that Riley turned out better than BigClient expected so BigClient is giving more work to Riley instead of taking it to DesignStudio.

Should Justice tell the DesignStudio bosses or not? I would say no.

Telling DesignStudio bosses might win some brownie points and demonstrate loyalty towards DesignStudio. But Riley probably did not intend the information about extra work to go any further than the social group. If DesignStudio bosses acted on this information and spoke with BigClient then that might make things difficult between BigClient and Riley.

One could think that Riley should be more careful with what they say but add in a couple of drinks and people toasting each other's accomplishments for the week and it's easy to let things slip. Telling the DesignStudio bosses is acting in the employer's best interests but loyalty between friends should count too.

There needs to be some leeway and forgiveness between friends. Firstly it would be a sad world where friends could not privately discuss some aspects of their work out of fear of being taken advantage of. People need safe places to vent their excess emotions; happy or sad. Secondly this time Riley let slip some information, next time it could be Justice innocently doing the same. Friendship is not about one-foot-wrong and you get taken advantage of. A good friendship will outlast a job.

For these reasons, if I was Justice, I would not tell my bosses about Riley. DesignStudio's Account Managers will probably be told if they contact BigClient directly and ask.

(Scenario based on a true story, real names not used)


“Should I study graphic design?” Jobs, Career, Money

Having a suitable personality is only one part of the decision to study design. In these economic times (Economic Crisis during 2012) students thinking going to design school need more certainty that there are jobs, careers and money after graduation.

There are jobs in graphic design in the skills NZ employers want. These are; advanced web, mobile, and cross-media design. There are some jobs in other media and the competition for these jobs is fierce.

In 2012 Web design is no longer a specialist role – it is now part of the overall package expected of an entry level designer. Many first jobs expect a cross-media designer who can apply a consistent visual look across many mediums. Specialist web design roles require advanced HTML/CSS with at least one of the following; mobile design, front-end development (such a jQuery), serverside skills or CMS skinning.

The NZ Government Careers advice section now says:

Number of design graduates increasing, which has created more competition for jobs. Because of the high numbers of design graduates, competition for most entry-level design jobs is high. Employers often prefer to hire people who have specialist knowledge and/or experience with design programs. People wanting to enter design jobs may have work on a short-term or freelance basis, or volunteer their time, before they can get full-time work.
Why is website gloomy? Their definition of graphic design is narrow and outdated. Print is seen as key and web only gets the barest mention. This does not reflect the reality of the job market.

Now entry level jobs pay less, expect more and require new hires to be immediately profitable. There is no time or patience to train because employers can be choosy. A new entrant designer might earn just over minimum wage until they have proven themselves. Employers now use word of mouth to fill entry-level positions because they do not want to deal with the hundreds of unsuitable applicants who apply to any and every design job ad. How does this affect the decision where to study design?

Does the design school have specific training in the skills, mediums and technology that are currently employing. One red-flag phrase you might hear is: “Technology changes but good design does not”. This view ignores the rising role of the aesthetics of time and interaction and neglects how a viewer's relationship with a medium affects communication. Each medium has its own peculiarities that require specific skill masteries. Furthermore, that red-flag line would be unaffected if the students were trained in more employable mediums. It is simply no longer enough to hope an overall strong aesthetic sense will be enough without employable media skills. Consider also how the school is working with future technology. Graphic design and technology have always gone hand in hand and big changes are coming.

A good design school will have a strong visual culture. Most will claim they do but check the work by attending their graduate exhibitions. Look at the typography. Look for a variety of work in different styles. Look for consistency of design across mediums. The work should be aesthetically rounded and conceptually pushing boundaries.

How successful are graduates of the school jobs in design? While finding you a job is not the design school's role, the percentages of graduates transitioning from study to jobs in graphic design within six months of graduation can be telling. Beware of the super-star stories; “Famous Person studied here”, "we have graduates working for Famous Company". A few super-stars is not a good indicator of an excellent course because some people will just succeed despite their education. Instead look at what happens to the average graduate. How are the B students doing?

There are far easier ways to make a living than graphic design but it is a very rewarding field full of change and challenge.

Read more articles about graphic design careers.


WorkOut Poker Episode 2: Bet Sizing

Continuing on with first steps towards an ExerciseUI, this episode makes some improvements to existing gestures and adds gestures for bet sizing.

Some of the existing gestures needed a bit of fine tuning so that they would trigger more reliably and not trigger at unwanted times. The gesture for fold changed into three raises of the knees in either a left-right-left or right-left-right pattern. This is to allow some variation in the marching step used to fold. The previous left-right pattern just didn't quite feel right when playing.

In the last episode the Kinect would stop updating in FAAST. This was edited out of the video, but having to restart FAAST every seven or eight hands was tiresome. To anybody else having this problem, the answer is to run FAAST in administrator mode and to plug the Kinect into a USB that connects directly to the motherboard. Usually these will be on the back of the computer. It seems that the Kinect does not play nicely when going through intermediary USB hubs.

There are four betsizing actions for 33%, 50%, 75% and 100% of the pot. It was ticky getting the 50% and 75% actions to distinguish from each other. Doing cross hand above the shoulders move would trigger both the 50% and 75% pot size bets. I did manage to get something workable, though some care must be taken such as; squarely facing the Kinect camera, pausing after raising hands and pausing after hands are crossed. I hope to make this even more robust in future.

The increased stability meant I got in a 50min poker session. I ended this voluntarily - the software was rock solid this time. The activity level is still very low but it does beat sitting around. The next episode will experiment with multi-tabling to see if that improves the activity level to something more resembling a workout.

Episode List
Episode One: Basic Functionality
Episode Two: Bet Sizing
Episode Three: HUD


WorkOut Poker Episode 1: Basic Functionality

In a previous article "The ExerciseUI" I explored the idea that exercise should be something integrated into our daily workload. Technology is becoming cheaper and easier to use. Here are some baby steps.

I happen to really like Poker, so I made some custom gestures in the FAAST Kinect software for PokerStars. The three man gestures are: fold, check/call and bet.

Playing one table of Zoom poker creates a low tempo of activity. The most common poker action is folding so this is linked to the most common exercise: walking on the spot. The other actions require big hand movements with energy levels that correspond to the severity of the action.

This is early days yet; there is much more to do. While the activity levels are low, making this control more than one table will improve the tempo considerably. I also hope to estimate loads placed on different muscle groups to vary the gestures for actions to meet exercise goals. In this way we can work AND exercise.

Episode List
Episode One: Basic Functionality
Episode Two: Bet Sizing
Episode Three: HUD