*The* Jeremiah Clark

Hey everyone, this is my sister on Maine Things Considered (NPR)!

It’s surreal listening to a news story and hearing my little sister sounding all professional and grown up. Despite the age difference (I’m six years older), she’s always been someone I went to for advice and a different perspective. I suppose it’s no surprise she ended up in social work.

I couldn’t be prouder.


Tips for dealing with Designers:
1: Don’t belittle the skill and effort it takes to make designs.
2: Don’t assume you can do what we spent years trainings to do just because you took one class in high school or college way back when. (unless you’re a prodigy)
3: Don’t expect good results from vauge, unrealistic requests.
4: Don’t try to worm your way out of paying when its clear you can. (charities excluded) 
Now I realize some people not might realize what they are saying is rude and I am willing to forgive your ignorance, but if you talk like this to a designer you are a jerk. 
For the folks over at Clientsfromhell.net whose horror stories (submitted by anonymous  designers, photographers and other various professions both creative and not) have inspired this comic. This comic is for you.


Tips for dealing with Designers:

1: Don’t belittle the skill and effort it takes to make designs.

2: Don’t assume you can do what we spent years trainings to do just because you took one class in high school or college way back when. (unless you’re a prodigy)

3: Don’t expect good results from vauge, unrealistic requests.

4: Don’t try to worm your way out of paying when its clear you can. (charities excluded) 

Now I realize some people not might realize what they are saying is rude and I am willing to forgive your ignorance, but if you talk like this to a designer you are a jerk. 

For the folks over at Clientsfromhell.net whose horror stories (submitted by anonymous  designers, photographers and other various professions both creative and not) have inspired this comic. This comic is for you.

Dragon*Con 2013 - Consolidated FB posts & photos

I was updating my Facebook page with posts and photos throughout Dragon*Con. Here I’m collecting my posts and many of my photo captions to create a record of sorts of my experiences. I’ve edited some of these posts for grammar and spelling, and others (especially the photo captions, since I’m not including all of the photos) so that they’ll make sense in this context. Tenses and other things may be inconsistent, and these may not be exactly in the right order.

Friday, Aug. 30

I’m starting to freak out a little. I’m helping someone out in the Walk of Fame at Dragon*Con over the weekend, and I’ve just been looking at some of the other people who will be there.

Edward James Olmos (Captain Adama from the BSG remake), Adrian Paul (Duncan McLeod from the Highlander TV show), Billy Dee Williams (Lando from Empire Strikes Back), George Takei (Sulu from Star Trek, and Hiro’s father in Heroes, also an activist for several good causes), and Lou Ferrigno (TV’s Incredible Hulk) to name just a few.

And that’s not counting others who will be at the con, like Jim Butcher (author, Dresden Files), Jonathan Maberry (author, Joe Ledger novels), and Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver!).

I know they’re people like anyone else, but they’re people I respect and admire, who’ve each brought a little joy to my life. It’s going to be a long, hard weekend of fanboy outburst suppression.

Walking around the Walk of Fame before it opens. I’ve already seen Brent Spiner and Josh Gates. Gah!

Brent Spiner used the back of my hall map to get a new marker going.

Brent Spiner is super nice, if anyone is wondering. So is Jasika Nicole, Astrid from Fringe.

Richard Hatch!

He was apparently discussing the politics of Cylons, from what I could hear.

The Walk of Fame is packed.

Lou Ferrigno is huge. That is all.

Finally got to speak to Mitch Pileggi (X-Files) and Josh Gates (Destination Truth). I kept it quick and just said how much of a fan I am of their shows. Both were very gracious.

For a second I thought James Doohan (Scotty from Star Trek) had walked by, then I remembered he’d passed away. The guy really looked the part, and certainly doesn’t shy away from the resemblance (wearing a costume patterned after Scotty’s from the latter ST movies).

I’ve been, like, two feet from Malcolm McDowell most of the afternoon.

Saturday, Aug. 31

Taking the MARTA to DragonCon, and it’s insane.

The line for tickets was at least 20 deep spread across maybe 10 ticket machines (thankfully I have ride credits left, so I could skip that). The car was full before leaving North Springs, and people kept getting on. A good number of them in costumes.

I’ve never seen anything like this.

I had to walk something like ten blocks out of my way to get around the parade route and the the Marriott, where the Walk of Fame was. It’s way too hot for that.

The Marriott is a zoo.

Adrian Paul just walked by. Twice.

It’s probably a good thing I wasn’t in a position to say anything, I had a total fan boy reaction in my head. Twice.

Well, I managed to talk to Adrian Paul without gushing. That took an effort, and I’m sure it showed, but he was really cool about it.

A guy named Robert just got Pinky and The Brain to (unknowingly) help him propose to his girlfriend Tiffany (both huge fans). He wrote out a little script for them to read and had his sister record it.

She said yes.

How do you top that?

Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche (Pinky and The Brain, respectively) gave him his money back and asked to keep the scripts he wrote. It was a really cool moment to witness up close.

The video is on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58Gx9iIuKEo&sns=fb

Maclom McDowell asked me where the bathroom was. Not something I ever thought I’d say in real life.

I’m at the Hilton, waiting for the 7pm Dishonored panel.

The panel was fun. I got to meet one of the developers, Ricardo Bare, who also worked on the original Deus Ex. Really nice guy.

Sunday, Sept. 1

I finally got to meet George Takei. I kept it cool until I turned away, my hands were actually shaking a bit.

What a nice man. Very gracious, and that strength of character I admire just shines through in every word.

Ernie Hudson was walking by, saw me looking at him, and waved. He did it all casual, like we knew each other, and I did the same back. That was pretty cool.

Rob Paulsen met two of his biggest, smallest fans. These two little girls were adorable, and so excited to meet the voice of both Raphael and Donatello (one was dressed as Raph, the other as Donnie).

He looked as happy as they did. The man loves his fans, young and old.

My little Tom Bihn bag is easily the best bag I’ve ever owned. It’s taken years of steady use and, aside from some stains, it looks good as new. If only they made one big enough to carry a 15” laptop.

We saw a great Boba Fett. The best part? He had a PA system built into the suit, his voice came out a speaker on his belt.

As it gets to be night, the feel of the crowd changes. It’s no longer thousands of people trying to get places, it becomes thousands of people hanging out, and a party atmosphere takes over.

Not exactly my scene.

Monday, Sept. 2

Edward James Olmos, I finally spotted a moment with no line and jumped on it. We talked about how sad we both were that BSG ended, and he was just great.

Speaking of BSG, I forgot to post that I spoke to Richard Hatch as well. He asked me what I do for a living, and gave me career advice. It was strange but awesome, he seemed like a really cool guy.

Oh, and Avery Brooks. He seemed more aloof than most of the people I’ve talked to, but was still very nice.

My lunch the final day was sushi, fried veggie rolls, and green milk tea. Very good.

Celebrities are fans too.

Brent Spiner (Data on Star Trek TNG) asked for Keegan Connor Tracy’s autograph (she’s on Once Upon a Time, which I haven’t seen, but she was just lovely in every sense) at the next table over from where I am.

Shortly after this she requested an answering machine message from Pinky and The Brain.

Saw an amazing remote control R2-D2.

Except that when it rolled up it went “EXTERMINATE!”

Freakiest fan baiting ever.

Malcolm McDowell looks lonely. He must be exhausted, he’s been tirelessly signing autographs and posing for photos all weekend. He was like a machine, and very kind to his fans.

The Dragon*Con people did a pretty good job keeping things under control. For example, there was person minding the end of George Takei’s line, calling for more from the corral of people waiting off to the side, out of the flow of traffic, a few at a time.

Just stood in line at the DragonCon store half a dozen people behind Noel Clarke (Rose’s boyfriend at the start of the new Dr. Who series). He was with his family and was joking around with the other people in line. I didn’t bother him, but he seemed like a cool guy.

On the last day, just before closing, I found the booth where everyone had been getting their light sabers. These were awesome, and extremely high quality.

I’m hoping to be able to get one of these next year, they’re just a bit much for me right now.

Rob Paulsen is one of the people I assisted at DragonCon over the weekend. Rob’s list of credits is extensive, and covers essentially my entire life. Here’s my highlight list (in no particular order):

Animaniacs: Yakko, Pinky, Dr. Scratchensniff
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Raphael (1993), Donatello (2012)
Fairly Odd Parents: Mark Chang (the alien with a crush on Vicki)
The Tick (cartoon): Arthur
Mighty Max: Max
Thumb Wars: Oobedoob Benubi
Jimmy Neutron: Carl Wheezer
Goof Troop: PJ Pete
He was also in The Snorks, The Gummi Bears, and dozens of other things.

He’s also one if the kindest, most generous people I’ve ever met. It was a pleasure to watch him interact with his fans. He’d do a voice and they’d laugh or just light up, and you could tell he really vibed off that.

He shared a table with Maurice LaMarche, who voiced The Brain (as well as Kif and a dozen other characters on Futurama, and countless other things), and the two of them constantly played off each other, often bantering as Pinky and The Brain. I heard the same voices and catch phrases and songs all weekend, and it never got old.

Dave Fennoy was the other person I was helping out this weekend, and he shared a table with Melissa Hutchison.

Dave is the voice of Hulu, Lee in The Walking Dead game, and Pong Krell in The Clone Wars. He’s also done voices for Wing Commander II, World of Warcraft, Starcraft II, King’s Quest VI, Mass Effect 2, and many more.

Melissa is Clementine in The Walking Dead game and Ashe is League of Legends. She’s also been in the Back to the Future game, several Sam & Max games, Time Crisis 3, and many more.

Both are extremely nice, down to earth people. They were just as excited about the Con and everyone there as I was, and were great to their fans. Dave kept photo bombing Malcolm McDowell (and anyone else who happened to point a camera in his direction), which was hilarious, especially when Malcolm McDowell returned the favor for one of Dave’s photos.

I’ve decided that if I become a millionaire, I’m going to hire Dave to narrate my life.

I’ve been remiss in not thanking Chris Pope for giving me the opportunity to go to DragonCon this year. I met Chris a few years ago at SIEGE (along with my friend Toni Michelle Chavez), and last year we really got talking and he asked Michelle and myself if we would be interested in helping him out at DragonCon. Of course we said yes.

Fast forward ten months or so and he checked back in to be sure we were still interested. Three of his clients, Rob Paulsen, Dave Fennoy, and Melissa Hutchison were in the Walk of Fame, and he needed some volunteers to assist them (handle money, gopher, etc.). In exchange we’d get full passes to the convention. Again, we both said yes.

I’m extremely glad I did, I had an absolute blast. Sure, I only got to one panel, and only got to the Artist Alley and Dealer Room once each, but I’m OK with that. Sitting with them was a show in itself, and I’ll bet half the convention eventually walked through the Walk of Fame. I sat a few feet from Malcolm McDowell, exchanged a casual wave with Ernie Hudson, and got to shake hands with George Takei, Adrian Paul, Josh Gates, Edward James Olmos, Mitch Pileggi, Avery Brooks, Brent Spiner, Jasika Nicole, and Richard Hatch. I also saw some of the best cosplay I’ve ever seen. I even saw a brilliantly executed surprise proposal.

And all of that is not to mention the overwhelming wave of joy I saw in every fan as they met someone whose work they admired. In some cases, someone whose work has made a real, tangible difference in their life.

I wouldn’t give that up for a whole weekend of panels.

So yeah, thanks Chris, and Rob, Dave, and Melissa. I’m looking forward to doing it again next year, if that works out.

My favorite costumes of the weekend.

Check out my full FB photo album here.

Surface Pro impressions

The other day I went into a Microsoft Store to test drive a Surface Pro. I had dismissed it initially because I thought it was just a more powerful Surface RT, but I’ve recently learned that its not only a full on Windows computer, it actually has a pressure sensitive stylus. That’s a game changer for me, thus my trip. I’m actually quite impressed, it’s a very nice device.

It runs Windows 8 which means you get the very attractive but oddly non-intuitive (for me, your mileage may vary) tile interface from the Windows Phone, but can also access the standard Windows desktop. It still seems like a bad mix to me, but it does make more sense on a touch screen device, where the tile interface actually works. The only thing I couldn’t seem to work out was how to launch regular desktop apps from the tile interface, which only seems to want to launch mobile apps. This is unfortunate mostly because the tile interface replaces the Start menu. Maybe I just didn’t explore that part enough. Regardless of my dislike of the mismatched interfaces, and with Windows in general, that’s also one of the things I also like best about the Surface Pro.

The fact is you can install regular desktop software like Photoshop, Scrivener, or even zBrush or Modo on it. I’ve heard of people getting decent performance out of many 3d apps and even games. That means you can use mobile apps that are designed to be easier for tablet use, and also install desktop apps for getting some real work done. Once installed, you can control them using a normal keyboard and mouse, or using the touch screen or - and here’s the real key - the stylus.

The stylus changes everything for two reasons:

  • First, it’s pressure sensitive. There is a Wacom digitizer built into the screen, and the included stylus even has the eraser that all Wacom styluses have. As an artist, that changes everything. The only app I could test was a fairly limited drawing app that did not include the essential ability to ignore touch input, but it did show that the pressure sensitivity works very well. The Surface Pro is too heavy to comfortably hold in one hand, but resting it on a table should make a very capable drawing/painting/digital sculpting device.
  • Second, related to the stylus, is the best handwriting recognition I’ve ever used. In any app (as far as I could tell) you can bring up an on screen keyboard. After poking around a bit at the poorly labelled buttons I found it could be changed to a two-lined handwriting box. When you write into this box with the stylus and wait a moment, it turns your hand writing into text. At that point you can edit the words one letter at a time, which incorporates a decent autocorrect, and then insert it into your document. I was able to stump it eventually, but the accuracy was astonishing, even when I was writing very quickly and sloppily. I can’t emphasize enough how impressive this is. I’ve used many different OCR apps of the years, and they’re always disappointing at best. Whatever magic MS has working under the hood is mind boggling. Maybe those untold millions they’ve been spending on R&D over the past decade hasn’t gone completely to waste.

It’s not all good of course. I’ve already mentioned some of the worst parts - the non-intuitive touch interface matched to a non-touch optimized desktop OS, the weight, the stupid lack of a start menu - and there’s also the poor reported battery life, and the heat. But the worst part, by far, is Microsoft themselves.

Microsoft seems bound and determined to not sell this thing on any of its true merits. The ads feature people dancing for no reason I can discern. I’ve been actively keeping an eye out for a good digital art solution like this, and nearly a year after release I’m only finding it now. For a company with the presence and capabilities on Microsoft, that’s a massive failure.

I actually wonder if they realize what they have here, since they seem to be focusing on business users exclusively, and barely mention the pressure sensitivity and (as far as I can tell) never mention the hand writing recognition in their advertising materials. I even chatted briefly with an employee at the store, and mentioned that I wanted to test out the stylus, but they didn’t have any good art apps on the devices. She waved her hand dismissively and said that the stylus was only there to help with editing documents. It’s not a good sign when the people selling the things don’t know what they can but used for.

In the end, I really, really want a Surface Pro. It wouldn’t replace my iPad, which is still better as a reader and a casual device, but I could actually see replacing my laptop with one. I could get an iMac, which would get me more power for less money than a new MacBook Pro, and use a Surface Pro as a combination ultra book and digital art tool. Instead, I could get a laptop and a small Cintiq (or a cheaper alternative like a Yiynova) - and then I’d get a bigger screen and a more powerful computer behind it - but this would allow me to take a single device out and about, and then I’d have and even more powerful computer at home when I was there. With tools like Dropbox, sharing files among multiple computers is simple enough, and most of the apps I would use on a Surface Pro are cross platform.

At $800-$900, they’re not cheap, but I think they’re worth it. I just hope MS is able to figure out how to sell the things so they won’t disappear before getting at least a second edition.