Blast from Apparent Software – Recent Files on Steroids

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As a first of many reviews to come, I would like to highlight a great utility from Apparent Software called Blast.
For some time I had been searching for great way to keep track of the my recent desktop activity. As a graphic designer I find myself regularly trolling through many iterations and drafts of project files, as well as supporting photography and artwork. I also routinely find myself forgetting which files I have been working out of and where I have most recently placed the project folder.
While OS X has the built in functionality to track recent files, it’s capability is notably anemic. And unfilterable. Only the ten most recent Applications, Documents and Servers are listed. And it only seems to glean a small number file types.
Blast, however seems to lean the other direction. It captures virtually everything, short of system files (if you leave it set to skip them), while occupying a small system footprint.

While constantly tracking, Blast resides in the menu bar giving quick access to files with a number of filters. Access is provided via either a menu bar click or assignable keyboard shortcut. This presents a filterable pane of recent files with built-in filters including a catch-all, documents, images, movies, sounds, folders and applications. It also features a small dock where you can drag commonly accessed items.
Blast offers the option to whittle down the body of items be catalogued. Locations can be excluded as well as small number of item types. One of the highlights of Blast’s functionality for my needs is it’s ability to include every item’s actual location alongside it’s listing.

On the UI front, Blast sports a HUD style, black transparent drop-down overlay with easy access to all filters and options. While it isn’t drop-dead gorgeous or overflowing with refinement, it is nice, simple and easy to navigate. With a little more work, it could feel less dated and live perfectly at home in the mac environment.

Overall, Blast is a great utility that does exactly what it claims to, filling a gap I had felt in my workflow for some time. While it hasn’t yet become invaluable in my day-to-day grind, I have to express my thanks to the team at Apparent Software for allowing me the chance to review this great and unique utility. 2.0

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After a highly successful launch year, the executive team at Qivana wanted to inject some energy into their corporate site. In a crowded industry, Qivana needed to stand out as a clear winner. I hit the mark they were looking for in round 1. Now, after a period of art direction and adaptation, is launching with a new look that borrows branding cues from the past site, while further unifying the different components in the site. I am particularly proud of this effort, having had almost complete control over the look and functionality. This site will be live as of Sept 11, 2010, 6pm MST. It also marks the inaugural addition to the new I’ve included some before and after shots of some primary and secondary pages. ROI to come.

My level of involvement: Art Direction & Communication with developers, Creation of Visual Aesthetic and incorporation of existing brand elements, and Most of the production design work.

Aesthetic including incorporation of existing brand elements, final

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Claiming little influence over the visual style of the new Salt City Candle Site, I am still excited to announce it’s official launch. It has been a long time coming, but it has been worth it. A steady portion of my time over the past few months has been dedicated to production-side preparation and copywriting for Salt City. I created most of the variable page promotional content, including some accompanying copy. I enjoyed the writing more than the visual elements of this project.

My Level of Involvement: Mostly Production Work including Photo manipulation, Content placement, Visual adjustments and Ad creation.

A Final Pick…and no, this isn't the only project I've been working on…

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Actually, most of my time over the last couple weeks has been devoted to content creation and bug fixes for the very soon-to-launch website for Salt City Candles. That work, however good, doesn’t really showcase my design taste and aesthetic as well as this project does, so…

The qivana web redesign has been finalized and approved and I am currently working on creating the necessary photoshop collateral that our developer needs. He is great, by the way.Haven’t found his web address…however.

I’ve created the secondary pages for the new qivana site. Here is a sample of the whole project.

Round Two

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After a brief panic, the different bodies within Qivana realized we weren’t as far off on this one as some poor communication had indicated. It was actually pretty spot on, but here are some shots of the next round incorporating an expanding event calendar, international marketplace tab and larger information and promo buckets. I realized on this one how difficult it is to create icons less than 20 x 20 that actually communicate something.

New Qivana Web Proposal

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Searching for a refresh and a new unified interface panel, Qivana wanted to take a stab at a fresh, powerful, and this time dark interface…this is my proposal. It is still being discussed…
The piece features more animation than the previous site and incorporates one news feed, a video player, and two product promo image players. It also has a mouse-over revealing login panel.

USUCCU Collateral

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While some would get bored working for the same client, I have found that USU Charter Credit Union has provided an ample variety of odd marketing problems to be solved and media to be created. With work ranging from auto loans to student promos, from print communications to motion graphics, I have rarely been left wanting more variety from USUCCU.

My Level of Involvement: Conceptualization, Creation and Delivery of final artwork. Some collaboration existed in the early stages on a couple of these items, but I pulled them all through.

IRA in Words

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The first of many such steps, the “IRA in Words” campaign developed a fresh, concise message for the USU Charter Credit Union. A campaign in the previous year by another agency garnered 18 new accounts and $285,000 dollars. “IRA in Words” resulted in 33 new accounts totaling $546,000…estimated ROI: 83% increase in accounts and a 92% increase in deposits. A great stepping stone in client relations, the success of this campaign laid a foundation for permission to develop a more sophisticated brand for USUCCU. The campaign featured clever storytelling, beautiful origami artwork, and a great visual aesthetic…apparently one worth emulating. Shortly after the final launch of this campaign, a much larger bank and competitor also launched an IRA campaign featuring origami bills…coincidence? I think not.

My level of Involvement: I entered this project after initial sketches had been approved, but established key layout and visual styles, as well as creating all final artwork.

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Zen , a holistic getaway for the already financially secure offes the opportunity to truly explore escapism. Conceptually, Zen would be a resort designed to employ minimal staff interaction, and offer easy self-discovery with little environmental interference. An extension of the existing Waldorf=Astoria brand elements, Zen logo, and all internal wayfinding elements have been included.
Featuring the fantasic architectural photography of Michele Alassio (with permission), this project also received the honor of making it to the semi-final round of judging for the 2007 Adobe Design Achievement Awards competition.

Buddy Performance

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Buddy Performance is a line of dog food conceptually concocted with a specific audience in mind. Buddy targets an 18-25yr-old, single urbanite demographic by lending itself the the bigger, tougher, faster mentality. It’s products allow greater dexterity in both training and canine development.
Buddy Performance employs a custom concept, logo, branding and packaging system.