Function Follows Microsoft who Follows Form, er Something

I’m always amused by the attempts every year to ‘dethrone’ the iPod. Actually I’m amused at anyone who talks a big game and then doesn’t deliver. It’s not that I don’t think it’s possible to beat the iPod, it’s the fact that these companies and CEO’s talk all this smack, and copy Apple – but only on the surface.
Just because you approximate the layout of the iPod (vertical orientation, screen on top, pseudo-click wheel area below) has nothing to do with that player being a success. In fact, I would say that companies might have better luck with a completely different mp3 player design. Apple invented the ‘wheel’ (no pun intended) in the mp3 player world, don’t reinvent it.
If that wasn’t enough amusement, then I read that Microsoft is trying to push some design methodology on PC makers to compliment their perpetually delayed Vista operating system.
From BusinessWeek Online (Found via MacNN):

A How-To kit for the ideal PC has been making the rounds of leading design shops. It calls for “accelerated curves” and “purposeful contrast.” The preferred colors include a shade of black called Obsidian and a translucent white dubbed Ice. “We want people to fall in love with their PCs, not to simply use them to be productive and successful,” reads the enclosed booklet. “We want PCs to be objects of pure desire.”

On one hand I somewhat appreciate Microsoft’s attempt to emphasize the importance of good design, but it just smells so fake for me. Apple’s philosophy on design and function is engrained into the daily operations of its company and it applies to everything from iPods to their operating system to packaging to writing to store architecture…. I could go on, but you get the point. Microsoft is just telling all PC makers to use this pallet of colors.
That’s brilliant – have all the PC makers look alike. So smart. That will be great for competition and it’ll distinguish them all from each other. Again Microsoft, it works for Apple because Apple is a brand.
I’m going to stop trying to understand what they’re trying to do. I’d rather just watch the train wreck happen.
*fun reading on Microsoft’s Zune can be found at Daring Fireball

Where There’s Will There’s Away… Messages

I’m proud to announce that my brother Mark has published his first book at the old age of 23. To say that the book is a collection of clever away messages wouldn’t be giving it justice. When Mark sent me a copy of book I thought it was hilarious, but then later he sent me the introduction and the conclusion and it made me realize that he really went beyond publishing a collection of things. Anyone can collect a bunch of stuff – He has a methodology behind his away messages and he empowers the reader to do the same.


Where There’s A Will, There’s Away… Messages:<br/ > A 21st Century Guide to the Art of Absence From the back cover:

Book Description What do Canadian Evangelicals, stupid pelicans, and the Associated Press have in common? All are all mercilessly lampooned for the sake of comedy in Where There’s a Will, There’s Away. Messages: A 21st Century Guide to the Art of Absence, a book that explores the limits of the Away Message as a vehicle for shameless amusement. Each page features a different Message, gathered into curious subcategories such as, “Fun with Advertising,” “It’s A Thinker,” and “Religious Shmreligious.” Prefaced by an analysis of the creative process and the author’s personal writing philosophy, this collection irreverently undermines the purpose of Away Messages while surveying the extent of the instant messaging phenomenon. Perfect for the college student and business executive alike, Where There’s A Will, There’s Away. Messages is THE book with a finger on the pulse of digital pop-culture. About the Author Mark Mulvey is a native of Long Valley, New Jersey and a graduate of Rutgers University where he earned his B.A. in Music and cultivated an affinity for satire and writing. This led to an outpouring of daily posts over the Internet. He currently lives and works in New York City.

Good Plugins for Movable Type

I’ve only been blogging for about a month now, and I’m trying to make a concerted effort to do at least an entry a day. Why? I feel like so much of my time is spent reading and interacting with other sites – I need to start moving the information in the other direction.
I’m on the computer a lot as an interactive art director and like all jobs, the key to successful work is efficiency and they key to efficiency is having the right tools. So far, here are a few tools that make blogging easier for me:

  • EnhancedEntryEditing – this is a WYSIWYG editor letting you add formatting (bold, italic etc.) and URL’s to blog entries. I don’t understand why this functionality isn’t built into MT
  • Sidebar Manager – a drag-n-drop interface that lets you switch up the order of sections in your sidebar
  • FormatList – select the text you want to make into a list – boom! done. (like this list)
  • BigPAPI – not really a utility, but it needs to be installed for Sidebar Manager and EnhancedEntryEditing to work on your server
  • Adding Flickr photos to your Blog – let’s you, and anyone else you want, add a blog entry with a photo right from flickr. I love the integration available on the web these days. Hotness.

I know there’s many more plugins out there and I’ll be adding to this list in the coming months. If you have any recommended plugins not on this list, let me know or post a comment below.

Why I’m In A Good Mood

I’m in a good mood today for a number of reasons:

  • A check cleared from one of my new clients
  • I moved out of Miami and am back in New York
  • My wife and I are going out drinking tonight with friends in the East Village
  • I dig my new job at Deep Focus
  • NECKFACE has his own Wikipedia entry
  • A check cleared from one of my new clients

Did I mention I have money to go out drinking tonight?

National Drop Shadow Day

I’d like to give a shout out to my friend the drop shadow. Without you, my job as an art director wouldn’t be possible.
Look around you right now in cyberspace… they’re all around us. If you didn’t realize they were there, they’re doing their job correctly.
As a thanks to you, drop shadow, I’m declaring July 25th – National Drop Shadow Day.