Teaser Posted For Pixar’s New Film “Up”

The Teaser for Pixar’s new film Up is now online.

Not much is known about the film. However, a recent newspaper article described it as “a comedy about a cranky, cane-wielding 78-year-old who transports his home to exotic locales by attaching hundreds of helium-filled balloons”.

[EDIT: The tech blog Gizmodo offers this description:

The hero of the film is a 78-year-old man named Carl Fredricksen, who walks around hunched over with a tripod cane. When he was a kid he met a girl named Ellie, who grew up in small midwestern town. The two fell in love and eventually got married. Her dream was always to explore the world and visit paradise falls, but as usually happens, life got in the way. They were never able to make good on their promise, and Ellie eventually passed away. Now Carl is a widower living alone in his small home. Developers are threatening to move him into an old folks home.]

I really like the look of the house and design of the old man. Everything has a light, fun feel to it as opposed to the hyper-realism of Ratatouille and Wall-E. Of course you can’t tell too much from such a short teaser, but I get the feeling the story might take place in a more cartoonish alternate reality.

Up will float into theaters May 29.

We Are Currently Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Some days it seems like everything goes wrong at once. A couple of weeks ago my computer started acting funny, and after several hours on the phone with five different tech support people, I was told I have to completely wipe my hard drive and reinstall everything from scratch. While I wasn’t thrilled, my Mac is getting old (going on five years) and gets used heavily so I guess it was due for a meltdown.

Before reinstalling, though, I had to back everything up. Apple’s Time Machine backup software has been acting goofy (part of my overall computer going haywire, I think) so I spent all day yesterday trying to get a decent backup. In the mean time, my internet connection also decided to quit on me. Turns out my eight-year-old Airport is dying (I guess Mac products like to all go at once). Have to buy a new one today.

At least I can still access the Internet (and write this post) on my iPhone.

Oops. Maybe not.

For several hours last night AT&T’s Edge network was down in my area. So for a few hours last evening I was in a technological Bermuda Triangle with no computer, no internet, no network, and no phone. Makes me realize how utterly dependant I am on technology, and how frustrated and helpless I feel without it. I rocked myself to sleep curled up in the corner and sucking my thumb.

All that to say, it may be a few days before my life stabilizes enough for me to have time to write a decent blog post. I’ve got a few drafts going but need to get my computer fixed and then catch up on client work first. My apologies to all you faithful blog readers.

My Blog Is Three Years Old

Cedric’s Blog-O-Rama officially began three years ago today. I’ve sinced switched from Blogger to WordPress, and moved from a semi-daily to daily format and then back again. Readership has more than tripled. Besides just my Mom, I know of at least two other people who read my humble ramblings. A hearty thank-you to all of you!

Favorite iPhone Apps (and most are free)

One week ago today Apple opened the iTunes App Store, officially allowing third-party developers to write software for the iPhone. So far over 500 apps and games have been posted for download. Most are inexpensively priced (around $5-$10 each), and a large number of them are free. During the first weekend over ten million apps were downloaded by iPhone users.

The results so far are a mixed bag. Since Apple is allowing each developer to set their own price, higher cost does not necessarily equal better features. In fact, some of the free apps are better than similar apps that other developers are charging for. There’s also inconsistency in quality. Some apps are very stable, while others are rather buggy and/or seem to crash often. The good news is that developers are allowed to post free software updates to add new features and address bugs, although there seems to be a lag of days or even weeks between the time when an update is submitted to Apple and when it finally appears in the App Store. iTunes lets users rate each app, so you can tell at a glance which apps are worth downloading.

So far I’ve downloaded about twenty apps (mostly free). I was a little hesitant at first, fearing that a poorly-written app could wreak havoc on my iPhone’s overall perfomance. While I’ve had a few apps crash here and there, overall I’m happy to report that so far my iPhone is playing well with its new roommates.

I’m not much for video games, but here’s a few of my favorite non-game apps so far:

OmniFocus ($19.99)— A souped up task manager . The price is a bit steep but its worth it.

Since the iPhone was first released users have been scratching their heads wondering why Apple doesn’t allow them to sync their to-do lists onto the iPhone. It’s been a year now and there’s still no to-do feature from Apple, so many software companies have stepped in to fill the gap. There are several to-do list applications to choose from, some with more features than others.

OmniFocus is by far the best. It allows you to not just keep track of your daily tasks, but to also group them by project and by “context” (i.e. phone calls, errands, etc.). For example, if you want to run errands, just click the “errands” list and you can see every to-do that you’ve marked as an errand. There’s also a “due soon” folder that automatically gathers together every to-do item that is due in the next couple of days, and an “overdue” folder that lists each item that is past due. So far I’ve been very impressed. I never made much use of Apple’s to-do feature in iCal, but OmniFocus is so smart and easy to use that it’s become my main method of keeping track of all my daily tasks.

Zenbe (Free) — A simple and easy way to make and share lists. You can add/edit a list on your iPhone, and instantly share it with other users who can also add to or edit the list. My wife and I use this for shopping and running errands. When one of us notices that we are low on groceries or need a household item, we simply add it to a list. Then whichever one of us goes shopping can view the list and delete the items as we buy them.

WeatherBug (Free) — A souped-up version of the iPhone’s bare-bones weather app. It gives detailed weather forecasts for up to three cities including chance of rain/snow, wind speed, heat index, humidity, and dew point. It even lets you track weather radar in your city or anywhere in the country.

SpeechCloud (Free) — Finally, a voice dialer for the iPhone! Speak a name and SpeechClould will search your address book to find the best match and bring up the contact’s phone number(s) for dialing. This one’s a little buggy. It’s not as accurate as it could be and its doesn’t always bring up every phone number, but it’s better than nothing when you are driving and don’t want to take your eyes off the road to make a call. Hopefully an improved update will be coming along soon.

Jott (Free) — A handy companion to Jott’s phone service. For those of you who don’t know, Jott is a free online service that transcribes voice notes. I use it a lot while I’m driving and wish I could stop to write down a thought or a reminder. Simply dial the toll-free number, speak into the receiver, and Jott will transcribe your message and send it to you (or someone else) as an email. Pretty slick!

SaveBenji’s (Free) — That’s Benji’s as in Benjamin’s, i.e hundred dollar bills. This is the kind of software that can save you big bucks when shopping. Search for any item by brand name, product number, or barcode, and you can instantly see how much it would cost to order it online from over 100 major retailers (i.e. Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Bestbuy.com, etc.) The cheapest price automatically floats to the top, and SaveBenji’s lets you order directly from your iPhone if you’d like. This should come in handy especially when shopping for big-ticket items such as electronics or computer equipment.

Light (Free) — Turns the iPhone screen bright white, giving you a handy pocket flashlight and/or reading light.

Ebay (Free) — Shop, watch, and track your items straight from the iPhone. A pruned-down but easy to use version of the full ebay website.

PhoneSaber (Free) — This is just silly fun. Turns your iPhone screen into a light saber and makes saber noises as you swing it through the air.

These are just a few of the hundreds of apps available for iPhone users. Yet another reason to consider getting an iPhone if you don’t already have one.

Creative Freelancer Conference Early Deadline Approaching

Don’t forget, the early bird deadline for the Creaative Freelancer Conference is Tuesday July 15 extended to July 31. Register by then and save $60.

The Creative Freelancer Conference (Augut 27-29 in Chicago) is a brand new venture presented by HOW Magazine and Marketing Mentor. Topics will be tailored for creative freelancers (i.e. illustrators, designers, photographers, copyrighters, etc.) and include:

  • How do I balance finding work with doing work?
  • What niche should I target, and how do I position myself within it?
  • How do I create a continuous stream of good prospects?
  • How do I find out a client’s budget?
  • Am I charging too much or too little?
  • What should my contract include?

There are also still openings to sign up for a one-on-one review of your portfolio and/or marketing materials. A creative marketing professional will give you advice about your business strategy and suggest ways to improve how you present your work to potential clients.

If you are a freelancer and you only go to one conference this year, this would probably be the one. More info can be found at the conference website: CreativeFreelancerConference.com. I’m planning to attend. Hope to see you there!

Free Finger Puppet Business Cards

A couple of weeks ago I announced my new finger-puppet business cards. I designed them to serve several functions:

  • To demonstrate my abilities as a character desginer;
  • To stand out and be a good conversation starter at networking events;
  • To display not just my contact info but list past clients and quotes/endorsements from satisfied art directors.

So far the cards have been a big hit. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback. It’s fun to watch grown professionals turn silly for a moment as they put their fingers through the little holes and move the character’s “legs”. Several people have asked to have one of each. So I’ve decided to offer them for free through my blog.

If you’d like to own a set, just send your name and address to me at blog@cedricstudio.com and I’ll drop all three in the mail to you. No charge. My treat as a small thank-you for reading this blog. (Be sure to write “business cards” in the subject line of your email).

Another way to get the cards is to sign up for my mailing list. It’s a quick and easy way to keep up on my latest projects. Every month or two I send out a short promotional email showcasing my latest work, and I also mail out a postcard about once a year (I should do it more often but, well, I don’t). When you fill out the form just write “business cards” in the comments line and I’ll mail ’em to ya.

The cards are totally free with no strings attached. But if at some point you happen to need a freelance character designer/illustrator, I hope the cards will serve as a reminder that I’m out there and available.