Thursday, December 18, 2008

One place where brand identity could be better

On most things, I think being a little too tight about brand identity is silly. But I have found one place where it's lax to the point of annoyance. That is, it's too easy for the consumer to be mislead about what they're getting. And what product is that? Pencils, of all things. Yeah, you'd think that there wouldn't be that big a deal with some of the cheapest writing instruments around, but if you're a person who draws a lot (like myself) it's noticable. The thing I notice is that an Eberhard Faber Ebony pencil is a lot better than a Sanford Ebony pencil. But Sanford does make a nice Mirado pencil, however when going back for more Mirados, there's yet another company making pencils by that name. So as a consumer I'm being left uncertain or even mislead about what quality I'm getting. So yeah, it's really annoying.

Also on another tangent, what happened to Bic pens. I can't find 'em at the store. I thought they were a pretty established brand and a staple item in the writing instrument aisle. Sure, sometimes their quality varied, but they were consistent more than not for the cheap price. Now they're not there... I guess if I miss a cheap pen, what would it be like if certain auto companies would disappear if I wanted to see what product they had. (But I wouldn't be in the market for a car, until the stupid economy straightens out so I could get paid "real" money to work instead of the namby-pamby stingy bullshit paying jobs out there right now.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Line-up of the interactive drawing programs.

Ok. I ended up finding yet another interactive drawing program. So now I'll write about it but all while doing a comparison to the other ones I know.

The "new" contender I found is, which is a flash based web app. It's neat because not only does it allow you to share the drawing space at the same time, but it puts a username by each cursor so you can see who is drawing what. And it also features a chat window, so you can communicate quickly and without using up the drawing space. The downside is that it's a little restrictive. Even though they request that users are over 16, you're still not allowed to do much of anything considered risque under their site rules. Also new users have to go through a probation type period where the toolset and site features are reduced. So if you're fresh, you more or less have to wait for somebody who has been around longer to save your work or submit it to the gallery.

The next one I'll go over is Flashitool. It's a neat web-based Joomla extension type app. And it allows drawing in a manner similar to, but without some of the additional features. In some ways it's pluses can be seen as iscribbles minuses, or perhaps the other way around. But one thing that I do like is that what tools it does have aren't restricted to a subset of users. And it's probably the most open and anonymous of all the interactive drawing apps.

After that, there's Drawball. It has a really limited toolset, and it's big attraction was anonymous access to one large common drawing space. It's a big grafitti space and used to have some pretty wild and crazy stuff. And it attracted a lot of 4chan people, so it had some freaky rule 34 wtf? kind of stuff amongst the art and grafitti. But now in the process of cleaning it up, a lot of the insanity has been erased and it's more restrictive. So although it may be safer, it's also not quite as fun as it once was.

Then last but not least is probably THE classic interactive collaborative drawing program. Unlike the others, openCanvas 1.1 is a standalone drawing application that runs under Windows OS. Since it's a dedicated art program rather than a script under a web interface, it has the best toolset and responsiveness. And it's a great app for drawing even outside of the network interface. However, it requires some techical aspects to networking if you have to get past a router. (Ports and such must be unblocked.) Also, by being a standalone app, it's restriction to Windows might put off frieds who use Mac OS or Linux.

So here's the quick overview:

  • web based
  • nice interface
  • good toolset
  • big audience
  • reduced anonymity
  • gallery feature
  • interactive portion of design is best so far
  • web based (sometimes it hiccups, or server goes down)
  • toolset is limited for new users
  • gallery feature is limited for new users
  • drawing subjects are limited to PG-13
  • anonymous (draw whatever the hell you want)
  • everything goes into the gallery (if you remember the link, you can share it)
  • no restrictions on newbs
  • web based
  • unrestricted
  • Part of FOSS web content system
  • Available at more than one website (in fact you can have it on YOUR website - for FREE!)
  • anonymous (no official way to claim participation in a drawing)
  • can be slow or buggy sometimes, not every feature works properly
  • everything goes into the gallery (think backlog w/ poor search features)
  • no rules or restrictions (people can mess up your art)
  • One big drawing space for everything (it's like a gallery in a big map or something)
  • anonymity
  • cool art
  • interesting interface design
  • very limited toolset
  • some stuff was too wierd (but it's mostly gone now)
  • forced restriction of "ink" resource
  • One bid drawing space for everything (to do new stuff, old stuff has to be drawn over)
openCanvas (specifically openCanvas version 1.1 b 72)
  • Standalone application (more responsive than anything on web-based Flash or Java apps)
  • Best toolset (Does really neat things with color blending and is pressure sensitive)
  • Good program for drawing even when not using network feature
  • Records the drawing process, and saved files can be replayed
  • Windows OS only
  • Networking program may require some knowledge of computer networking
  • Networked mode only allows four users maximum
  • Program was early "beta" poorly translated from Japanese (Some dialogs produce gibberish)
  • Cache in networked mode prone to glitching on sessions over an hour (remote user input fails to render correctly after that time)
  • Audience for networked drawing is limited (finding other people willing to draw with you isn't as easy as it should be)