Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sexy Disney Princesses by Comic Illustrator Scott Campbell

And here are my favorites:

Well, she's not a Disney princess, but I like the angle, and the way she was interpreted.

And the Beast behind Belle removing/putting on her cape--amazing!

Oozing with sexiness. Best Sleeping Beauty rendition ever. Too bad I'm a girl though, hehe.


Scott Campbell


Update: Sexy Disney Male versions


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Otakus make 3D renditions of dwellings of some anime characters

Otakus were able to replicate (in 3D) the interiors of some anime characters' residences such as the ones in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Kannagi, K-On!, and Toradora.The renditions are 'based on obsessive observations of the anime and some evident architectural ability.'

1. Yuki Nagato (from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)


2. Nagi (Kannagi)


3. Taiga (Toradora)


4. Yui (K-On)

More pictures at source

Accurate? Well, that's another question. Either way, you gotta hand it to these people--they got dedication.

The Need for Speed on the Web

The Need for Speed on the Web
A startup hopes to exploit the growing interest in making websites speedier.
By Erica Naone

The days of dial-up modems may be gone, but some websites are still surprisingly sluggish. The issue has gained urgency after Google recently introduced a change to its PageRank algorithm that rewards sites that run faster. The search company says that users spend less time interacting with slower sites; adding to the issue are users visiting sites from mobile devices with spotty connections.

Aptimize, a startup based in Wellington, New Zealand, that launches its service in the United States today, says its software can speed up website load times, bringing increases of 200 to 400 percent in some cases. It says it can achieve these improvements entirely in software.

Ed Robinson, cofounder and CEO, says that companies often improve the speed of a website by throwing hardware at the problem. He contends that the fundamental problem is often the structure of the website itself.

To illustrate this point, Robinson talks about the way a website is loaded. When a user enters a URL, the browser has to carry out a series of tasks to load the page. First, it looks up the server it needs to visit, and then it contacts that server and retrieves the code that describes how the page should look. The browser has to follow the instructions in this code, often contacting the server several more times in order to load resources such as ads or images.

Robinson says that those round-trips to collect resources are a major culprit for slowing down websites. Even over a fast connection with a fast server, these steps take time, and any delays only exacerbate the problem. While it's possible to design a website in a way that avoids these problems, he says the reality is that many aren't written that way. Aptimize's software optimizes for speed without requiring a customer to change anything about how the site is coded, either when it's installed or in the future.

The software gets into the middle of the page-processing pipeline and makes it more efficient. It combines resources so they only have to be downloaded once. For example, it stitches any images that appear on the page into a mosaic, and sends just one image file to the browser, instructing the browser about how to slice up and display the mosaic.

Websites are often coded so that browsers load the same resources multiple times--for example, each time a user returns to the home page. Aptimize's software identifies website resources that rarely change and tells the browser to cache them for longer than normal (about a year), which also speeds up loading times. And the software has a way of alerting the browser if one of these resources does happen to change. It also performs other optimizations, such as compressing files.

Robinson says that the company currently has about 120 customers, including

In upcoming months, he adds, Aptimize plans to focus on doing more to optimize sites for mobile devices. The company will add features such as the ability to detect a mobile device and adjust for its lower screen resolution by sending less information.

Speeding up websites isn't just important for improving PageRank and performance on mobile devices, says Joe Skorupa, research vice president for data center transformation and security for Gartner Research. In many cases, even a few seconds of delay can cost businesses money. When it's an e-commerce site, he notes, impatient customers will often leave without completing a sale if they feel a page is taking too long to load. Even for internal corporate websites, lost time can mean lost productivity, he says. If, for example, a Web application used in a call center takes 30 unnecessary seconds per call, that can force a company to hire additional staff members.

Skorupa says that the code that's slowing down websites is often produced by the toolkits that developers use to speed up the coding process. Many companies can't afford to spend enough time or money on optimizing their own code. So Skorupa believes there's a lot of opportunity for companies like Aptimize to help optimize applications in new ways. "There is no shortage of bad code," he says. "We see, unfortunately, little risk that the code coming in the future will be dramatically better than what we have today."

Technology Review

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Creative Wall Hook designs, cool furniture

From Freshome.

Here are my favorites:

I always liked the fusion of practicality, usability, and a healthy dose of design.


And isn't this the cutest thing ever?

Danish by Design are pleased to introduce a new range of 3 dimensional Play Rugs for children of all ages. In an age when so much technology is crying out for your child’s attention, including video games, TV, DVD’s, MP3 players and chat sites, it’s refreshing to know that their next favourite play mate doesn’t even require batteries. Just pull out your child’s toy farm animals, cars and dolls and enjoy watching them rediscover their creativity and imagination on their new IVI Play Rug.

I wished I had this when I was a kid. Here are more designs to choose from:


Freshome has a new website look

I frequent this site regularly, and is one of my sources of wonderful interior/architecture/furniture ideas and designs.

Their new layout is much more cleaner than the last one. They use links for individual pages, especially for those topics with lots of pictures. It saves space, and it helps the reader sort out and choose the topics they want to read (at least for me).

Looking for crazy pancake ideas? Well, Jim made a website of all the pancakes he's doing for his daughter. Talk about fatherly dedication and love.

Here are some of the designs he made (and some of them stands too)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Redesigning the Web for Touch Screens

Redesigning the Web for Touch Screens
A new crop of touch-based devices is changing the way users interact with Web pages.
By Erica Naone

Last week, in an essay criticizing Adobe's Flash platform, Apple CEO Steve Jobs drew attention to, among other things, its lack of support for touch--something essential to the experience of an iPhone or iPad. "Flash was designed for PCs using mice, not for touch screens using fingers," Jobs wrote.

But Flash is hardly the only Web software that wasn't designed to handle touch, and the advent of touch-based devices "is almost asking the entire Web to change its behavior from what's been built up over 20 years," says Raju Vegesna, evangelist for Zoho, a company based in Pleasanton, CA, that produces a suite of complex online Web applications.

Individual problems are often small, but they add up to something more significant, Vegesna says. For example, roll-over interactions are common on many websites, but these don't work on touch devices. Other common tricks, such as hovering over a link to see the connected URL in the status bar, have to be adjusted before a user can perform the same function.

A serious problem for companies like Zoho that specialize in complex Web software is that many sites aren't equipped with the ability to trigger the "soft keyboards" used on touch devices. Vegesna explains that touch devices pop up a keyboard when they recognize a text field on a Web page, but it's different for the more complex editors used as part of Zoho's online word processors.These These usually cannot trigger a soft keyboard to pop up, leaving users frustrated.

"This is a big user interface problem for Web applications," Vegesna says, "and means that many will need to be redesigned."

These issues are significant but nothing new, says Ben Bederson, an associate professor at the human-computer interaction lab at the University of Maryland. "There are a wide range of input and output devices," Bederson says. "Whether you are building a Web app, Flash app, or native app, you have to decide which range of devices you're going to support."

Bederson notes that Web designers will have to wrestle with several issues when considering touch computers. For one thing, touch interfaces don't give users the fine-grained control that they have with a mouse. Though tests have shown that a stylus can be an effective substitute, Bederson notes that the market has largely rejected that option. So designers need to simplify a website and increase the size of interaction points such as buttons and scrollbars.

There's a more subtle technical problem too. For example, a lot of Web applications were written with a certain sequence of mouse actions in mind. An application might be coded so that it must see a mouse hovering over a button before that mouse is able to click on it. In this case, it's not simply that the mouse-over action doesn't work as expected--it's that the site actually can't register a click without it, meaning that the application breaks when used on a touch device.

Designers can help avoid these problems by building websites to adapt to different interaction situations. Bederson recently worked on adapting the website of the International Children's Digital Library for viewing on the iPad. The designers aimed to make the site flexible enough to deal with a variety of languages, nonliterate users, and kids. As a result, the elements turned out to be flexible enough to adapt easily to touch. Bederson says the designers only needed to fix one bug in order to adapt the site to the iPad.

In general, however, redesigning outdated websites "is going to be huge," says Jared Spool, founding principal of User Interface Engineering, a consulting firm based in North Andover, MA. But Spool believes the coming changes will be largely positive. "To me, the little interaction problems of how to react when a user touches something will work themselves out pretty fast," he says. What's more interesting, he believes, are the emerging possibilities for interaction based not only on touch but on motion sensing and location information. For example, Spool points to the Star Walk application for the iPad, which uses this sort of information to show users a labeled image of the night sky matched to the spot where they are currently standing. That kind of interaction simply wasn't possible before, he says.

Spool also looks forward to user interfaces made possible by greater connectivity between devices, such as interfaces designed for a group of iPads working in concert. "I think the next year is going to bring out amazing creativity as people start to play with this interaction palette that's far richer than what you had before," he says.