This site showcases the (mostly) digital work of Andrew DiFiore from both Virtual Arts Studios and answerYES Interactive as well as random thoughts and experimental projects too volatile to be contained anywhere else.

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    Google Maps Street Views for Hiking Trails

    Seems like a natural evolution of things… only a matter of time that Google would bring its street-view cameras to the beaten (and no-so-beaten) paths.

    You already can take a virtual tour of Ferris Bueller’s Chicago (via Google Sightseeing) or one of the world’s greatest landmarks like Stonehenge in Avebury (via Google’s World Wonders Project) but now Google is taking you where no horse and buggy has ever gone before.

    Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel Trail, a nearly 10-mile hike to the Colorado River, is the first official collection of data by the so-called trekker — a 40-pound backpack fitted with 15 cameras that captures images every 2.5 seconds (Source: Associated Press).

    Google Play in Play

    Move over iTunes, Google Play has arrived, keeping all your apps, movies, music, and books on the cloud where they belong. Now you can save precious storage space and play (watch and read) any where, any time, on any device. Well, sort of any device, for iPhone or iPad you’re going to need a native iOS app (e.g. gMusic) but I imagine we will see more native iOS support soon.

    Google announced earlier this month the new cloud-based service that consolidates Google Movies, Google Music, Google eBookstore, and the Android Market under one entertainment hub (Play even gets its own spot on the Google menu bar).

    This is a big step forward in Google’s effort to dispel user concerns that offerings are too fragmented. Yes, indeed, they are fragmented, but the company has a plan to bring tighter integration via its social network Google+ while, at the same time, cutting deals with content prividers like Paramount.

    On a related front, Google is waiving its $25 setup fee (from 3/27 through 4/3) to encourage musicians to set up a store page and sell their music on the Google Play Artist Hub. No annual fee and artist get to keep 70% of what they make, paid monthly.

    Cool Tool of the Month: Pixlr

    Pixlr is a free online photo sharing and editing tool from Autodesk (the folks that bring you AutoCAD and Maya). Actually, it was acquired by Autodesk last July for an undisclosed amount.

    Pixlr is really a suite of Web-based tools that include Pixlr EditorPixlr-O-Matic, the screen-grabber browser extensions Pixlr Grabber, and the photo sharer All designed to empower the non-professional to create, edit, and share images via social networks such as Facebook and Flickr. For Autodesk’s part, the company expands the image formats you can import/export, including formats with layers.

    With Picnik moving under Google+ next month, now is as good of a time as any to check out Pixlr.

    Pinterest, Latest Social Media Darlin’

    Just when you were getting used to organizing your Circles on Google+ a new kid hits the block: Pinterest. This nubile social media site describes itself as a “virtual pinboard” designed to bridge the gap between your real life and your online one. But you can think of it as a sexy blend of Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

    In just six months Pinterest has skyrocketed to 11 million strong, making it the latest social media darlin’ on the Web. And it would seem investors are as infatuated as the early adopters, pinning $37 million on the 8-person start-up. For sure, Pinterest is easy to use and easy on the eyes. I’m certainly more eager to go out on a date than I was when my cousin set me up with Tumblr (but that was in ancient times when computers had vacuum tubes, powered by mice in steel wheels).

    Alas, I guess I’ll have to add yet another social icon to this blog.

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    This month’s Cool Tool post goes to FFFFallback, a handy little bookmarklet that lets web designers easily test different fallback fonts for their web-based creations.

    To install, simply drag the bookmarklet to your browser’s toolbar (only works for browsers that use WebKit such as Chrome, Safari, and FireFox). To use, simply click the bookmarklet and it will scan the current web page’s CSS for existing Web Fonts and list them on the right side of your browser along with input fields for changing the fonts and font styles (e.g. font-size, color, line-spacing).

    FFFFallback was created by two self-proclaimed “professional nerds” Josh Brewer and Mark Christian who eke out a living at a little known company called Twitter. You can download the source code on github.

    Looking for Web Fonts to fill out your @font-face tag, start with Google’s open-source fonts (with over 400 fonts). If you don’t mind paying a monthly fee for fonts then try Adobe’s Typekit (with over 700 fonts). There is a free plan under Typekit but you only have access to a “trial library”  (at last count 192 fonts) and requires you to display the Typekit badge.

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