I Love This Car (Peugeot 205CJ)

Peugeot 205CJSpotted in a overpass parking space was this lovely red convertible Peugeot 205CJ. According to Peugeot the 205 is the “model which saved the brand, and is (was) the standard bearer for a new generation. The first model was produced on 24 February 1983 in Mulhouse, and the vehicle ended up being sold on every continent, in over 120 countries. In 1986 and 1987, it was not only the highest-selling car in France, but was also the biggest export success. ” Looks pretty cool for a mass production utility car I think.
At Car Survey.org … “Peugeot’s classic Pininfarina supermini was way ahead of its time when launched in 1983 and still looked good in 1996 when the last ones were sold. Great handling and ride are its main selling points although they can be fragile if not looked after properly. The very fast 1.9 GTi was arguably the best “Hot Hatch” of the 1980’s. It’s sharper and cheaper than it’s main rival, the Volkswagen Golf.”
I should have left a note offering to buy it. With a gas mask (for when the hood is down) it is a fun little car to have in Taiwan.
Peugeot 205CJ

My Short Adventure in RAW

I decided today on my usual Sunday morning walkabout to try shooting with my Canon SLR in RAW mode. I’m not sure if that’s the correct way to say this procedure. I have worked with RAW files in the past and thought perhaps it might be time to start using what is considered the best possible file.
Petteri Sulonen gives some pretty solid reasoning to explain as to why I am trying to use RAW files, here is an excerpt:
“RAW gives latitude to adjust everything — color balance, white balance, tone curve, sharpening, noise reduction, contrast. You even get maybe another half-stop of exposure latitude in the highlights, and at least a stop, maybe two in the shadows. Negative film it isn’t, but you breathe a lot more easily than with slide — and not only if you’ve made a boo-boo behind the camera. The fact is that RAW significantly expands your creative options.”
I’m not sure if it is a coincidence but it appeared that my Canon used the available battery power far more readily than in the past. I get great battery life from my camera normally. Unfortunately saving to a RAW file is not as straight forward as I had hoped.
My normal workflow is quite simple. I attache the bundles cable to the camera and transfer my files directly from my camera to my Powerbook using Mac OSX’s image capture.
I organize the files in folders by date and have them open in iView Media Pro where I have created various yearly catalogues all my photographs. This software allows you to save all kinds of data regarding your photographs in a catalogue index but I haven’t really gotten that in-depth yet – I chose this software simply because it is immensely faster than iPhoto when dealing with thousands of images. I don’t discard photos but tend to pick which ones I will use by flagging them and then opening them in Photoshop for color correction and post production. They are then saved in various project folders depending on what exactly I was taking the photograph for. My originals are left untouched.
RAW goes rotten
All of this works fine when use RAW until it comes time to actually open up the files in Photoshop. Photoshop CS will not open these RAW files. In order to use Photoshop to work with RAW I must purchase an upgrade to the whole software package – you cannot upgrade just the RAW plug-in. Typical Adobe tactic.
A quick Google search turned up a number of software titles that would allow me to work with the native RAW files but I don’t really want to add another piece of software to my workflow. What I did use was the bundled Canon Digital Photo Professional. It worked but is an inelegant unintuitive slow beast of a piece of software. It is still doing a batch process conversion of todays shoot as I write this.
Do I go out and buy another Photoshop license so I can use RAW? About have of the time my work in Photoshop is working with photographs. The other time i use it to work up design comps. I never use it for composting etc. I think it’s a good time to consider Apples new Aperture instead of upgrading Photoshop (I hate Adobe draconian drm anyway). Here is what Apple says about their product:
“Featuring a RAW-focused workflow, Aperture makes RAW as easy as JPEG, letting you import, edit, catalog, organize, retouch, publish, and archive your images more effectively and efficiently than ever before. From capture to output, you work directly with your RAW files, never having to first convert them into another format before viewing, adjusting, organizing, or printing them.”
Sounds good but at the moment I don’t have good software for my files.
One other aspect of working with RAW files which gives me pause is file sizes. I never thought it would happen but if I continue to shoot in RAW I will need to buy another CF card. It’s something to consider.
Long term storage is an issue as well. I only shot 60 images today and the size of the directory is 1 gig. I might do this twice or more a week. Thats going to be an expense to consider as all my firewire drives are going to be full in little or no time at all. I could change my workflow, delete the bad shots, and start using DVD’s for more than back-up. I like having the files readily available on hard drives though.
Will Wait
As a result I think I may hold off on my adventure into using RAW files instead of jpgs. At least until Aperture is released and I can get some more storage.
Petteri Sulonen also has a bit on when not to use RAW – a couple of his points are what I have experienced (he writes it much better than I).
I publish some of walkabouts on 35togo.

Inaugural Podcast

Though I undoubtedly have the worlds worst “radio voice” I have produced my first podcast. This may be as close as I get to the career as a radio announcer that my father always wanted me to have. Hopefully listening to it will be far less pain for you than it is me – I hate my voice.
Listen to the result of this initial experiment. It is a huge file! As some will know I have a thing for quality sounding audio but I’m afraid I will soon get into money trouble hosting 20 meg MP3 files.
This is far from a polished program – it’s relatively unedited and with a pretty bare bones set-up. I plan on having a regular weekly podcast with some of my colleagues and friends here in Taiwan. There are allot of cool and smart people here. Topics could be pretty wide – living in Taiwan, art, design, and tech. being the broad categories. We’ll just define and refine as we go along. I should be listed on the ITunes Podcast directory and Odeo soon or if you like you can subscribe to the rss feed which I updated to include enclosures.
Listen to: Inaugural Podcast (15min, 23 meg)

Old Interview – 工研院研究員 Clark Macleod

I linked to this interview I did over a year ago and had completely forgotten about it. During that time the friends I had just happened to work in or have acquaintances in various news media companies so I tended to find myself giving interviews allot. It was fun and yet anothe rof the many great experiences I have had working here.
Here is the interview (such as it is):
物專訪-工研院研究員Clark Macleod
工研院創新研發環境 椅子,來點音樂!
前言:在工研院工作五年多,加拿大籍的克拉克‧麥克勞(Clark Macleod),因為陪著一歲女兒玩玩具,觸發設計音樂椅的想法。在工研院創意中心的支持下,很快地,這張坐上去就能參與音樂演奏的椅子,即將跟大家見面。

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New term coined – Tumblelogs

I created Shao Kelake (that list of links on the sidebar) as sort of a mini-version of this one. A weblog like what I used to have years ago before the proliferation of tools like MoveableType which force you into adding a title to all your babbling. It creates a sense of seriousness that I don’t always appreciate nor enjoy. Shao Kelake has just started and since I have the time I will be expanding it and this blog in the near future. It’s great fun even though most of my visitors to this site tend to be interested in only one or two presentations I wrote quickly a couple years ago.
As an aside, I am amazed as to the seriousness or effort people now put into webloging. Years ago it was people like Volumeone’s Matt Owen who encouraged me to continue doing personal sites (as they were simply called) as a means to learn and push “my limits of online creativity”. These designers always like to use these types of phrases. I’ve always taken that advice to heart though and I have self-published all kinds of crazy stuff over the years – some good, most bad. I’ve lost count as to the number of redesigns, attempts at online magazines, silly flash interfaces, wacky dhtml animations, and personal story telling attempts. Most of these sites required huge amounts of production effort and in some ways that was the point. After all I’m not a writer (yet).
News pages (later called weblogs, logs, and blogs) were different though. Frequent updates required more simple production as everything was done by hand. I eventually stopped trying to do fancy things and just had fun exploring and sharing what I found on the web. Weblogs were my secret weapon at the office as I had my own personal editors scouring the web for the information I needed. It was generally all loosely designed, personal, and fun.
Now look at weblogs. I have been spending a great deal of time lately looking at different sites, hundreds and hundreds of them, in order to inform myself for a few new weblogs I am creating. I am amazed at the effort people have put into the interfaces that frame their written words. CSS files so complete and complex it boggles. Sometimes it feels more about the hidden presentation file than the writing itself. There is allot of great content out there – written ala magazine style – with complete titles, tags, hierarchies, and archives. Bye bye news media, Hello bloggers. A select few are even making a living from writing their weblog. Imagine that!
I’m going to end this quickly and with a long quote from an immensely popular and old school blogger Jason Kottke who informed me today that my desire to create Shao Kelake was not return to the roots of what publishing these kinds of sites was about but a whole new “retro movement” deserving of whole new buzzword.
“On my web travels the other day, I came across a new (to me) kind of weblog, the tumblelog.”
“A tumblelog is a quick and dirty stream of consciousness, a bit like a remaindered links style linklog but with more than just links. They remind me of an older style of blogging, back when people did sites by hand, before Movable Type made post titles all but mandatory, blog entries turned into short magazine articles, and posts belonged to a conversation distributed throughout the entire blogosphere. Robot Wisdom and Bifurcated Rivets are two older style weblogs that feel very much like these tumblelogs with minimal commentary, little cross-blog chatter, the barest whiff of a finished published work, almost pure editing…really just a way to quickly publish the “stuff” that you run across every day on the web.”
His weblog entry: Tumblelogs

The Interaction Design Association

The Interaction Design Group (IxDG) has officially changed its name and organizational status and have incorporated as the Interaction Design Association – a non-profit, member-supported organization.
I use their news announcement as a means of introducing what is a decent collection of resources contained within their site. The IxD Discussion mailing list is a great first step in getting involved and a wealth of information. I prefer to not be involved with any email lists – I have a hard enough time managing my email without adding to that activity. Why not a threaded discussion list with rss feeds? Email lists seem so old- school. Luckily they do have an archive.
Interaction Design Association

Notes on (Audio) Iconic Interface Design

Notes of interest to audio interfaces from an aging but good paper, “The Use of Metaphors in Iconic Interface Design“.
“Icons are used extensively for communication purposes. The term icon has been adapted from its Russian origins -‘ikon’ meaning a religious painting or statue. Within the context of computing the word is used to refer to a small image which embeds ‘meaning’.”
“… some of the most popular of the new developments are ‘picons’, ‘micons’ and ‘earcons’. Picons are essentially icons that embed a picture (as opposed to a symbol). Similarly, micons are composed of moving pictures or video clips. Earcons, or auditory icons, are based upon the use of sounds and are usually embedded in sonic sequences …”
“… metaphors can play a part in the development of a functional specification. Indeed, metaphor usage should be made explicit at the design stage of application development so that maximum benefits can be attained. In this way a whole range of functions can be identified for which icons are required. In addition, metaphors can assist interface design by providing ideas for individual icon designs.
Second, the use of metaphors can have a significant impact upon end-users. Within an end-user interface metaphors can provide cues for the recognition of iconic symbolism …”
“As well as textual augmentation, audio augmentation may also take place.
Of course, serious problems can arise from the use of textual and audio augmentation – particularly, with respect to international interface designs. Obviously, if an interface is intended for international use then any textual labels which have been attached to it must be dynamically switchable between the target languages.”
How do you localise audio interfaces? The desktop metaphor seems to be transcending culture but what about audio metaphors? A click sound is a click sound but what about more complex functions.
Read the full paper: Metaphors in Iconic Interface design

Not Enough Seconds in a Day

I watched television last night and it inspired me (gasp!). Not real TV since I don’t have cable nor do I have a real TV by Canadian standards, just one snagged from the dust bin. It was a show tapped to vhs then digitized to vcd. I hate television generally but watching this sweet slice of life from the hallmark channel made me realise something. It seems I am always busy but never get anything done. I have an aunt like this but the key difference between us is that I do stuff. The days are too short for me. I would work all night if I could.
The slice of life I was watching from the Hallmark channel was illuminating. Here was an old couple driving place to place actually doing things in the real world – you know that place not formed from pixels and bits but that lives outside of your screen. However simple there life was they were getting things done. This was circa 1980 so no distractions from a blackberry, no mobile phone, no email, no weblogs you have to check every hour, no flickr, and no chat IM. Go here go there, do this do that.
Computing and IT suck at allowing you to get things done.I’m doing so much more, and getting so much less done.
In the grand to do list of life I got more things done in a day driving a tractor cutting grass for the City of Charlottetown (back in 1985) than I did at a job where I “think” for a living. I’m getting tired of thinking – I just want to do.
Todd Levin says: “If I were to make a list of things I am “doing” right now, it would be long and impressive and possibly even make you wonder how a man of my size living in a universe of such constricted physical laws – 60 seconds in a minute, 24 hours in a day, etc. – can get it all done.” You can read more on his site.
Perhaps at the least it is time to unplug the wireless router or just unplug.

MTPaginate Template Example

I have been using MTPaginate on 35togo for quite some time now but I remember having some trouble in the past to get it to work on pages that are primarily text. I can’t remember why this caused so much trouble on that particular client project because it was remarkably easy to get it to work.
My purpose for using MTPaginate was simply to decrease the size of some of my archive pages and to allow for a longer list of entries on my index page ala Gizmodo (and a million other sites). For the archives the benefit is smaller more manageable pages, for the index page it reduces the need for people to enter the archives – those who don’t subscribe to all the feeds on the sight can still get a quick scan of all I have posted over the past 2 weeks.
Here are the tags I used, ignore all the fluffy div stuff:
<div id="content">
<MTPaginateContent max_sections="6">
<div class="date"><MTEnglishOrdinal number='[MTEntryDate format="%d"]'>
<br /><$MTEntryDate format="%b %Y"$></div></MTDateHeader>
<div id="entries">
<h3><a href="<$MTEntryPermalink$>"><$MTEntryTitle$></a></h3>
<p class="entry-more-link">
<a href="<$MTEntryPermalink$>#more">Continue reading: "<$MTEntryTitle$>" »</a>
<div id="tags">
<MTIfCommentsActive><a href="<$MTEntryPermalink$>#comments" class="clink">Comments (<$MTEntryCommentCount$>)</a></MTIfCommentsActive> <a href="<$MTEntryPermalink$>" class="plink">Perma-link</a> <span class="tlink"><MTEntryTags><a href="<MTTagArchiveLink>" title="<MTTagDescription>"><MTTagName></a>&nbsp &nbsp</span>
<div id="pages">
<a href="<$MTPaginateNextPageLink$>" class="emphasis">Next Page</a>
<a href="<$MTPaginatePreviousPageLink$>" class="emphasis">Previous Page</a>

Shirky: Ontology is Overrated

“I want to convince you that many of the ways we’re attempting to apply categorization to the electronic world are actually a bad fit, because we’ve adopted habits of mind that are left over from earlier strategies.
I also want to convince you that what we’re seeing when we see the Web is actually a radical break with previous categorization strategies, rather than an extension of them. The second part of the talk is more speculative, because it is often the case that old systems get broken before people know what’s going to take their place. (Anyone watching the music industry can see this at work today.) That’s what I think is happening with categorization.”
Read: Shirky: Ontology is Overrated — Categories, Links, and Tags

Be warned: Pay your Hsinchu Parking Bills On Time

Parking on the street in Hsinchu like many cities costs money. It’s quite cheap though at a cost of about 20NT$ per hour. The system relies not on parking meters but on “attendents” assigned to a particular territory who go around on their scooters printing out bills. Since the bills are printed by a small hand held computer they are assigned a upc symbol which allows your local 7-11 to enter the bill into their system using a hand held scanner. Yes, you pay your parking and just about every other bill at your local convenience store. They are ubiquitous here. The system works well and is convenient.
It’s convenient except when you forget to pay the bill. It’s not a “pay as you go” but a “we bill you” system. As you’ll see this charming system really works well for the local government.
These little bills of 20-80NT$ tend to get lost in the expanse of my car. Because they are of such low value you might not immediately take the effort to pay or perhaps it’s just me who has poor personal financial management skills. Either way these bills have a time limit of one week from the time they are issued. When that time passes you are issued another bill via snail mail at which time you must pay 600NT$ per bill. If for some reason you neglect to pay that within a week you must pay double – 1200NT$ per bill. Until you pay that bill you cannot have any major repairs done to your car, pay car insurance, or update the car registration. If for some reason they don’t have your proper address, tough.
Due to my negligence and the built in traps inherent in the system I now owe 22,000NT$ (~800CAN$) in unpaid parking bills.
This is one of the reasons that when you buy a used car in Taiwan you need to do a thorough check on the cars history before you transfer ownership. Many people sell there cars with huge unpaid parking bills and you as the new owner are responsible for them.

Charlottetown – A Good Choice for Relocation

It’s been a couple months now since I have returned to Taiwan from my 3 week visit home to Charlottetown. P.E.I. There are a series of selected photos on 35togo and my flickr stream. It’s hard to say whether it’s my age, the length of my summer absense (7 yrs) but this trip home gave me a whole new perspective on just how special a place PEI is. I was so impressed with my visit that I hope to set-up a summer residence there in the hopefully not to distant future.
There is much to admire about the place. The scenery, people, and laid back culture are all pretty common refrains whenever anyone describes PEI. But what isn’t said all to often is just how much PEI, or I guess more like Charlottetown, is shaping up to be an ideal location to locate a technology based business or a telecommuting career.

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Mix it up.

To create creative groups of people don’t rely exclusively on cohesion – bring in new people with new ideas and different ways of doing things.
“We found that teams that achieved success — by producing musicals on Broadway or publishing academic papers in good journals — were fundamentally assembled in the same way, by bringing in some experienced people who had not worked together before. The unsuccessful teams repeated the same collaborations over and over again.”
“We discovered that assembling a successful team depends on choosing the right balance of diversity and cohesion — achieving the bliss point intersection of the two.” Diversity represents new collaborations while cohesion comes from repeat collaborations.
Dream teams thrive on mix of old and new blood

Shao Kelake launch

I recently launched Shao Kelake (小克拉克), a sort of mini-version of this blog which is also used in my sidebar on the right (Shao (小) is small in Chinese).
When I started a weblog, or whatever the term was then, I primarily posted short off the cuff remarks and links to the things I found interesting. Sort of a pre-Kottke or post suck. No titles and everything was organized by date. I posted regularly and it was for a time a fun and popular project. Later I thought I was getting serious or was simply getting caught up in a trend or was simply conforming to the tool of choice at that time. The trend was for longer entries organised by title. But sometimes I don’t like such serious codification nor do I always have time nor the inclination to write. So many weblogs have become article generators and unlike some not many have much to say.
This entry for example. I seem to be just babbling on about something to fill up the required space when the first sentence would with a little thinking on the visitors part have been enough.
Shao Kelake

Design for the New China Markets conference

conference logoThe Design for the New China Markets (Beijing, 1-2 December 2005, Peninsula Palace Hotel) is an executive forum hosted by the IIT Institute of Design and the State Intellectual Property Office, People’s Republic of China. It is intended for leaders interested in the design and development of products and services for China.
Speakers at the conference will come from both the East and the West, providing a diverse set of perspectives on the issues facing design and innovation in China today.
Attendance at the conference is by invitation only and will be limited to 150 participants.

B!AS-International Sound Art Exhibition

I sorely missed a big event this past weekend in Taipei as Maywa Denki was performing at Luxy as part of the B!AS-International Sound Art Exhibition. I had no idea that particular exhibition and its associated YAGEO Sound Art Prize was taking place. It’s a pity for me as I have a number of works that fit that I would have entered. How does one find out about these events in Taiwan? The exhibition itself runs 9/24-11/20 at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. Here is part of the press release in case it disappears into that Taiwan website wasteland (edited for encoding but not language).
“Since the 1990s, the use of the Internet has been a common platform for the collaboration and the sharing of resources in sound art; hence providing great access for international networking. From the individual experiments of combining technology and music in the Western world decades ago to today’s application of artificial intelligence, audio-visual collage and the exploration and practice of the aesthetics of error (incorrect use of software), sound art has become a crucial trend in the new media art and part of modern living. Through the global sound art community and network, YAGEO Sound Art Prize will encourage the sound artworks in all forms, including analogue, digital, the Internet, etc., whilst seeking the most inspiring sound art pieces with experimental, innovative and visionary quality.
YAGEO Sound Art Prize is also the first promotional campaign for “B!AS- International Sound Art Exhibition.” Curated by Jun-Jieh WANG and Wen-Hao HUANG, “B!AS” will open at Taipei Fine Arts Museum on September 24th. The show will exhibit a number of masters works, including German sound art guru Christina Kubisch, Acer Digital Arts Award first prize winner Edwin Van Der Heide from Holland, and new media art master Paul De Marinis, who specializes in large-scale public interactive installation. The young Spanish art group Alejandra & Aeron will be invited as visiting artists by the organizer. They will not only be on the jury for YAGEO Sound Art Prize will also create a “sound garden” (made of the unique sounds in Taipei), which will be exhibited in “B!AS.”
Press Release
Event Website
Taipei Fine Arts Museum

Visual simplicity: Steve Jobs does it again

“… good examples of “simple yet effective” slides. Well, you can see some good examples – one man’s examples – if you take some time to watch how Steve Jobs used slides to support his presentation in yesterday’s special Apple event at San Francisco’s Moscone West. Your own style and use of visuals will be different and unique to your own situation, of course. But I think we all can learn a lot by observing Jobs and being mindful of his natural interaction with the audience and his visuals as he tells “his story.” ”
A compelling story (told without looking at the slides) and simple supporting visuals.
Read: Visual simplicity: Steve Jobs does it again

Explain “Information Architecture” in 10 words or less

Jason Fried of 37signals is making an interesting point, there is no common concise answer to what the terms means.
Three years ago I threw together this definition from various sources:
Information architecture (IA) is primarily about cognition – how people process information and construe relationships between different pieces of information. Information design is primarily about perception – how people translate what they see and hear into knowledge.
These days I tend to believe “I don’t know, but I’m sure the information architect does” and “Information Architect (noun): title invented by web designers desiring a software engineer’s salary.”
Read: An exercise in clarity: Explain “Information Architecture” in 10 words or less

Beeps and blips

Quote:“Sounds are critical,” said Donald Norman, co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group and a University of California San Diego professor emeritus in the departments of cognitive science and psychology. “You have to spend the same type of attention to designing sound as visual appearance. Companies these days always hire graphic artists. They need to hire sound artists.” ”

Apple Bluetooth Mouse

There is a neat little feature I noticed today where Apple’s Bluetooth mouse will first in a semi-opaque window and then a flashing icon on the menu bar that the mouse batteries are running low. It’s an especially nice touch since I forgot that there were even batteries inside.
Bluetooth menu icon
I like this mouse. The batteries inside give it some additional weight that just feels right in my hand. So many mice (mouses?) I have tried are so light I feel like I am slipping all over the desk surface. The extra weight seems to give me more accuracy. It also tends to make me slower but I’m playing game tournaments just accessing menus.
Bluetooth helps gets rid of all those wires as well. I hate wires. Wires are ugly and, even in the case of Apple industrial design, inelegant. My old Apple mouses’ wire (I’ve never used a two button mouse) always got tangled and in the way. Good riddance.

Back at it

As I started to write this for some reason the Creek Nickel song (not to be confused with the band Nickel Creek) “Back in the Saddle Again” (.wmv) keeps repeating itself over and over again in my head. On top of that I have a bad headache today – which came first the song or the headache?
I’ve redesigned my weblog, yet again, for about the .. well I’d give it a number, but at this point, I’ve lost track of how many times I redesigned this site. No actually about 5 times. Every year, which is still too much. Primarily this redesign has meant I have time to write my thoughts here again and fine tuning what gets displayed and how.
Much has happened this past summer, including a trip to Charlottetown, diverting my attention away from the pleasures of babbling about the things that interest me. The time I did have I tended to devote to changing 35togo, my photo weblog, and a couple “money” projects.
In most of design for the screen I try to “keep it simple with personality” . Doing so in this redesign seemed far more difficult than I had hoped primarily because my cms tool of choice has become excessively difficult to use. I have this tendency to want to upgrade software and software publishers have a tendency to release features that make you think you need to upgrade. In the case of Moveabletype – never again. One thing positive came out of this, I want to be a programmer. The time I spent upgrading mt, troubleshooting, and developing templates could have been far better spent rolling my own simple system. That is if I had the skill. Perhaps I am naive in thinking it possible but I would rather devote my “mindshare” to my own product than someone else’s.
This time, in addition to spending an inordinate amount of time on the system, I focused on simplifying the site structure and updating the archives. I’ve neglected my archives in the past but after collecting 4 years worth of entries it’s worth spending some effort. My inspiration is certainly Peter Rukavina’s weblog – he has the best weblog archive I have seen. Many of us tend to forget that there are a whole sea of visitors who never see your front page or that some people might actually be interested enough in what you say to actually navigate through your site. Peter raises the bar.
I still have allot to finish and will write more about some of the difficulties I faced later.
The comment system is broken – nothing gets through. Moveabletype won’t let me install a new system comment template to fix part of the problem. Lovely.

Is It Real?

After decades of being surrounded by synthetic, mass produced, generic products, consumers are yearning for the authentic: For the tactile sensation of genuine materials, for the %u201Creal thing.%u201D For goods that make an emotional connection with the artisan who crafted them. This yearning is evident in both marketing and product design, where perceptions of quality are strongly associated with the presence of authentic materials.
Continue reading Is It Real? The Trend toward the Authentic in Product Design

Audio in the Computer User-Interface

“A number of studies have shown how audio contributes to the interaction process in order to provide a richer, more robust environment than with mere graphic feedback. Auditory feedback can present further information when the bandwidth of graphic information has been exhausted, as is often the case with the present emphasis on graphic presentation. By expanding conventional interfaces in another dimension, sounds make tasks easier and more productive. Other studies have even shown certain types of information to be represented better by sound than through graphics or text. Additionally, audio feedback may complement graphics and text to create valuable redundancy, reinforcing or reconfirming a concept in the user’s mind.”
Noise Between Stations: Audio in the Computer User-Interface

Offshore design

“Web designers are everywhere, and web hosting is cheap. It is just much cheaper in India. So, 30 gbp paid via PayPal.com to templatekingdom.com got me a website design, an hour of the designer’s time for changes, and a year’s hosting for good measure. In 24 hours, and for less than the price of a few rounds in a pub, I had a new, uniquely designed website up and running. For small businesses needing a home page, why spend hundreds of pounds on a domestic designer, when something just as good can be commissioned from designers in India or Bangladesh?”
Guardian Unlimited | Online | Ben Hammersley: Swift and offshore

Feeds.App trial

I’ve spent the past week trying out various new plug-ins for Moveable Type as I go about redesigning a couple sites that use MT to manage them. One of the ideas I had, and I am a bit behind in this, was to be able to publish rss feed content within MT templates. There are quite a few services that allow you to do publish rss feeds on your site but I wanted to remove any outside dependencies. And doing it alone is just plain fun.
There used to be a neat little plug-in called rss feed written by Timothy Appnel that I thought would work just fine – it’s still listed on the MT plug-ins directory but it has been unfortunately been discontinued as Timothy Appnel has totally rewritten the plug-in and renamed it Feeds.App. I say unfortunately because despite following his directions to a ‘T’ it has yet to work. Some of the internal uri are wrong as well. It’s a shame that the older plug-in cannot be found and it’s unfortunate that MT doesn’t have a viable plug-in for this purpose. I wonder if developing for MT is slowing compared to the equivalent alternative content management systems.
If you are looking to publish syndicated content using MT you might want to give some thought to using CaRP instead. It works outside of MT but it does work and it is easy to install. As stated in Feed.app’s documentation ToDo, Feed.app is not. Your mileage may vary.
This isn’t all negative of course. I had great fun reacquainting myself with the command line as I had to install various perl modules in an attempt to get the plug-in to work. I miss using telnet and pine.
Edit:I should mention that Timothy Appnel was quite responsive to queries on problems installing the plug-in. The process just seems a bit hit and miss and far too time consuming at this point to make it worthwhile.

Dan Harden gets it

“If there’s anything anyone in this field is chasing, it’s Apple’s quality and simplicity. Pick up an iPod, and you get it, you feel it, you sense it. But let’s not forget that these things are made in China. It’s nothing different from what everybody else is doing. The difference is that Apple will spend a lot of time and a lot of money to train quality-control standards. Unlike smaller companies, it can afford to get to the microlevels and really think through how a button feels. As a result, it has made digital audio seem so easy, so fast, so seamless.”
Read the whole Fast Company article

Open Loops: Sleep and Productivity

“As we rob the night of sleep hours to get more things done, we are depriving our body of much needed time for it to repair and rejuvenate itself. Sleep is what we need to stay alert and focused on the day’s activities.”
“Exhaustion, fatigue and lack of physical energy are common sleep deprivation symptoms. Exhaustion and fatigue affect our emotional moods, causing pessimism, sadness, stress and anger. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) has suggested that social problems such as road rage may be caused, in part, by a national epidemic of sleepiness.”
Open Loops: Sleep and Productivity