Design Atrophy

My team will complete Phase 0 of our app in a couple weeks. I wanted to help the human factors guy out and bring some funk to the table so our first deploy to QA and others would be mad-sexy. The whole hiring of graphic designers has been all over the map because of my seperation distance from the decision makers, which is fine. I just took it as an opportunity to do some design work for a change.

I was surprised, while at SIS, that when spending about a week with a pad of paper, Fireworks, and After Effects, I got back into a design groove pretty easily. It wasn’t fantastic, but I definately felt I was earning my paycheck via design vs. programming. It was tough adjusting things to my manager’s suggestions, but I attribute 90% of that to the fact that I was in a development department vs. a design/creative/marketing one.

I tried, twice, this week to get into the groove for laying some funk down for some designs to propose today to my team. Hit some major brick walls, though. I think the pressure of having a human factors guy here who’s so talented and knowledgable, submitted the first design in the first place, the imminent arrival of 1-3 graphic designers (maybe), and the target audience not necessarely digging my design style… it’s tough both mentally and in execution.

Really, though, I’ve noticed that over the course of the past 4 years, while my eyes have learned to appreciate good and bad design, it hasn’t worked both ways. Flawless execution of an idea doesn’t just come from talent; part of the reason Flash development for me is so easy to talk about is the actual process of idea to workable prototype is extremely streamlined. Not only does the tool make it very easy to help bring my ideas to fruition very quickly, but my grasp of how to use it does what any good manager should: remove boundaries. I have none.

You would think the same holds true on the design front, but that just isn’t the case. I think it comes down to what her majesty said about one of my designs: “It doesn’t look like you do it everyday.” I’m guessing the reverse holds true about my appz I develop (here’s to hoping anyway). There is a mountain of frustration I go through each time I start getting back into design mode. I’ll throw together a few layouts, and just as quickly toss them as they are repetitive styles, aren’t going anywhere, or don’t solve the problem I’m trying to solve. Eventually, I latch onto a theme and go with it. Same with trying to find an efficient tile based game approach in Flash. Requires an extensive amount of throw away code/FLA’s.

Really, I’m attributing it to working out. I haven’t worked out since November. Once the house purchasing became quickly to the forefront, combined with school and contract, I really started to need every second I could get and bigger pecs wasn’t helping me keep tabs on everything. Now, I’m sure if I head to the gym, the first 2 weeks will hurt pretty bad, both physically and mentally because my body has suffered atrophy from lack of use. I know the benefits, so it’s worth it, but I can see how my design challenges relate. I have the will and the technical capability to utilize the tools (Fireworks/Photoshop/Paper/AfterEffects), but I think a couple things are lacking. First off, it is hard for me to see the benefits. I realize that there are more capable individuals to complete the design tasks we have. Second, it’ll take a few go arounds for me to again attain the level I want to be at. The latter won’t happen in the timeframe I want.

Another interesting issue is the amount of work put into my design esque projects seem to generate little return. Not just monetarely, but emotionally. I think, too, it is because as a hobby, it is best done for myself vs. clients. However, coding has become both hobby and fulltime gig, so I’ve had little opportunity to really need a design for myself aside from the occasional icon. I wish there was some way to “work out”. I have some small side projects I need to finish for her majesty, so maybe that’ll help. Maybe I should just go mix audio this weekend… something.

Motion Man, No More Statcom Neihbors, Bling Bling, LCService Stalemate, & Lack of Follow Up

Dude, I used After Effects most of the day. Talk about a serious change of pace. After a long time (really long) of Flash MX, Dreamweaver MX (for coding), and Visual Source Safe, it’s just a totally different feeling. May not last long, but gonna lay down the funk as much as possible so the peeps at the meeting my co-workers and I have Tuesday with the another dept. are impressed and inspired enough to really get hyped up about what we are working on, therefore making collaboration that much more positive & constructive. Naturally, as much as I loved what I was able to accomplish in a day after such a long absence from using AE, I seemed to have failed once again in my Typography. Her majesty gave me some great suggestions, but I don’t think I can just stick to being an Animator when I’m not coding (or mixing audio); I really need to take a Typography course or two so I can at least get a good jolt in the right direction. It’s gotta be my weakest point next to networking in my skillsets. Thank God for geek friends!

<a href=””>Statcom</a>, a sister company of sorts, had some devs working nearby me (across from my cube, in what I call no-mans-land, QA is on the East Side, I’m on the West SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIDE with the managers and Vice President of SIS). Erik, the other Flasher that works in my department, said farewell this week as well as the Java guys who I also love to hang with. They headed to the 5th floor (it’s pretty pimp when I went up there), but man, I’m gonna miss just knowing they are there. Yeah, we can still play DoD together, and go to lunch, and play pool in the break room, but… the same reason I miss them is the same reason I love tech-conferences; MORE GEEKS! Change is good, though, and this is for the best as they grow as a company.

Her majesty <a href=””>scanned the rock</a> I got her… no, that is NOT glass…

Dude, 2 new features I GOTTA implement into my blog somehow:
– comment subscriptions & management so you can unsubscribe from a post’s comments (that’s it on the management; wanna keep simple). I have a hard time continuing discussions with people on blogs longer than about an hour as I usually garbage collect my windows and close what I’m not using anymore, thus, closing the blog’s post I was discussing with people (cept for <a href=””>Oscar’s</a>… that mofo has a sweet system, I’m so jealous…).

Sent off the sample app I developed to learn Central to my man <a href=””>D</a>. Got my arsed kicked by LCService (App to Agent I smoked, Agent to App I befuddled). Tomorrow evening, I’ll read <a href=””>that article</a> <a href=””>Mike</a> pointed me to, and hopefully I’ll see the error of my ways. I did everything in Central and had NO problems with any of the code, so didn’t really care about my battle with the Central debugger. That’s what bothers me about LCService… I must have been tired, because I just couldn’t see what I was doing wrong in my Agent. Didn’t matter, the elated high of getting my LCDataProvider to work was a good painkiller.

Off to code Flash for the potential future of my country… :: dun, duh-daa, dahhhhhh!!!! ::