December 2009 Archives

think big

By Michael Mulvey on December 31, 2009 4:11 PM

“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.”

Daniel Burnham, Chicago architect. (1864-1912)

(via Daring Fireball)

You gotta kick off with a killer

By Michael Mulvey on December 31, 2009 10:22 AM

The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don't wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules. Anyway... I've started to make a tape... in my head... for Laura. Full of stuff she likes. Full of stuff that make her happy. For the first time I can sort of see how that is done.

- High Fidelity, 2000

I made a mix MP3 CD for my little sis for Christmas, and it makes these rules for a compilation tape exponentially harder given that it can hold hundreds of tracks. I decided not to fill up the CD, but go for impact.

sky footage

By Michael Mulvey on December 30, 2009 10:13 AM

Just a little snippet I shot over the holidays en route to see my nieces and nephews. The video camera on the iPhone 3G S is really handy.


By Michael Mulvey on December 29, 2009 12:57 PM


As anyone who reads this site knows, I love great design and thus - I love all things Apple (I also own a handful of shares of AAPL) and I have a deep respect for Steve Jobs.

As much as I love Apple products, the press really needs to ease off the amount of published speculation going on with regard to the supposed iTablet.

I'll be the first one consuming real press on the iTablet if/when Apple announces it, but until then I'd like to see actually reporting, not second- and third-hand speculation on a device no one has ever seen.

All the press are accomplishing with this pseudo-coverage is showing that they're a bunch of clueless monkeys.

Enough is enough.

Local (Real) Apps or Web Apps

By Michael Mulvey on December 22, 2009 9:04 AM

While it may be true that there's some developers abandoning the app model for HTML5, there's certainly some that are sticking with the app model and making a nice living at it, like Tapulous, who it was discovered this month, is making over $1 million per month in App Store sales.

It's no doubt that Apple has some fixin' to do with it's App Store approval process, where rules of what's allowed and what's not is unclear at times, but for those that choose to stick with it, the rewards can big huge.

While some argue that the success stories are few and far between for Apple's App Store, at least there are winners profiting off of engaging games and applications. Try finding any runaway success stories for the app stores of RIM, Palm or Google Android. You'll be hard-pressed.

But back to the issue of local apps or web apps. The bottom line is that you're not going to get the same level of experience from a web app that you do from a local app. Perhaps there will come a day when the internet pipes will make this a moot point, but for now local apps are king. This is because JavaScript and HTML (even HTML5) can't match the power from the iPhone OS Technology Layers. You won't get the same level of 2D, 3D, speed or smoothness of animation in web apps.

It's like having your front axle and rear axle connected by a drivetrain that's 50 feet long. Sure you'll eventually start moving, but with a fraction of the response time and speed of a normal sized drivetrain.

Nice spin, Nokia

By Michael Mulvey on December 17, 2009 6:08 PM

Nokia's EVP of Markets at Nokia, Anssi Vanjoki (via

So why didn’t Nokia move more quickly to counter Apple and Research in Motion in smartphones? “We didn’t execute; we were aiming at too geeky a community,” he says. “Apple is made for the common man. It’s more for Joe Six-Pack than techno-geeks. But we understand Joe Six-Pack too.”

That's really interesting. So that's why the majority of Flex developers, Flash programmers, front-end developers and back-end developers at my company all have iPhones.

Far from the techo-geeks Mr. Vanjoki is talking about.

An answer to WHY

By Michael Mulvey on December 16, 2009 8:53 AM

When evaluating one’s own work, a designer should continually ask herself why. Why did she use that color? Why did she place a particular element in that exact spot? Why is it that specific size? Perhaps these were intuitive decisions, but there was still a reason behind them. Understanding those reasons will make a designer more confident in communicating the solution to others, leading to more trust from clients and other collaborators.
- Jack Moffett

The 'What's Next' mentality

By Michael Mulvey on December 16, 2009 7:58 AM


Headlines like this reveal a lot of what's wrong with consumerism, especially consumerism in technology. I'm used to seeing them on tech blogs like Gizmodo and Engadget, but no one is immune to it, even the Wall Street Journal.

"The new Canon camera has 12 megapixels, but when is the 20 megapixel version coming?"

"Why is everyone still excited about the iPhone, they haven't updated it in 3 months?"

"I can't believe they just announced a new Dell Adamo laptop, now the one I bought yesterday is obsolete." (here's a tip, jerkoff - the laptop isn't obsolete, your brain is)

"Product X has an automatic Jell-O dispenser, when is Product Y going to have an automatic Jell-O dispenser?"

I'm not suggesting we not strive for progress and improvement in technology. That's not what this is is about. This is about asking for improvement in the absence of a reason. Megapixels for the sake of megapixels. Speed for the sake of speed. Features for the sake of features.

When a product is designed, the goal should always — yes always — be to solve a problem. If I point to a feature on your product and ask why it's there, and your only answer is "because we could", you have failed as a designer.

Now the fact that you've added said unnecessary feature does not mean the product will fail, or the feature is useless. It just means you've wasted time solving a problem that doesn't exist. You've added an ornament. Polished the bumper. Put on some lipstick.

So when I see Kara Swisher announce that the Bing app is available on the iPhone, but wonder where the Android version is, I said to myself, slow down girl, take some Ritalin. Let's not waste internet space with unnecessary HTML, but you have two articles in your title, let's stay on topic shall we?

As far as the second question, 'where's the Android version', she's asking the wrong question. The question isn't where, it's why. Why hasn't Microsoft launched a Bing app for Google's mobile operating system, Android? Perhaps because Apple's App Store has 100,000 apps and has much more exposure and profitability than Android's 20,000 app Market? Perhaps it's easier to develop a better working application for the iPhone platform, than the increasingly splintered Android platform and less refined SDK?

In addition to rephrasing the question to make more sense, this also gets back to the 'feature-matching' that tech blogs and news outlets love to indulge in. The irony is that if competing products had the exact same features and the exact same Human Experience and design, they wouldn't really be competitors because we'd be talking about one product duplicating another in which case we might as well be talking about just one product.

UPDATE: I need give credit where it's due. I remembered where I got the idea for 'needing reasons for everything in your design'. It comes from a beautifully concise post by Jack Moffett.

thoughts on ActionScript 3.0

By Michael Mulvey on December 15, 2009 8:43 AM

What do I think about ActionScript 3.0, as someone who hasn't really coded a (micro)site in over a year (save for the splash page I just made for one of my clients at Roundarch, I hope no one ever has to see the redundant, convoluted code I created to make it work)?

I like it. I'll be getting up to speed for another few months with my new copy of Learning ActionScript 3.0, but luckily the side projects I have right now will help me figure it all out. That's how I learn new technologies - I need a problem to solve first.

Sometimes these problems are self-imposed, like when I was unemployed for 6 months in 2002 and decided to teach myself how to build database-driven Flash sites with MySQL & PHP (which I installed and ran locally on OS X 10.1). And other times these problems are directives from employers - back in 2003, I was told we needed to make the Flash navigation bar for a client website XML-driven, so I grabbed a FriendsOfEd book and figured it out.

But back to AS3. It's good. From what I can tell as a non-programmer, it's all growns up. A real scripting language. At first syntax seemed verbose, but now I'm starting to appreciate adding event listeners and strict typing for variables (Actually, I got used to strict typing in AS2).

What I've also become a big fan of is how the whole display list has been rewritten and how you add and show objects on the stage using the addChild() function (check out the DisplayObjectContainer). What I like about adding children to the stage is that they're not displayed until you load them. In the past, you had to make sure a movieclip's visibility was set to false, or it's alpha was 0.

Again, it seems like an extra step to explicitly tell Flash to show an object that's been loaded, but it's really an extra level of control.

After I get up to speed with AS3, I plan on checking out in more detail what Joshua Davis and Branden Hall are doing with HYPE. The gist is - they're trying to reduce the complexity and bring Flash back to the designer.

This is what they say:

HYPE is a creative coding framework built on top of ActionScript 3. A major goal of HYPE is to allow newcomers to Flash and ActionScript to creatively play and express themselves while they are learning how to program.

Sounds like a good objective to me.

it's not that cold ...yet.

By Michael Mulvey on December 11, 2009 2:05 PM

...and even if they hadn't told me, I would have known it was the coldest winter ever ...because ...I have not had one THOUGHT ...I have not been able to complete a sentence in my own head. I find myself walking around going, 'You know what I should really -- FUCK IT'S COLD!'

NYT: Microsoft Is Losing Fight for Consumers

By Michael Mulvey on December 11, 2009 11:04 AM

via the

The underlying problem, Mr. Anderson said, is cultural. “Phones are consumer items, and Microsoft doesn’t have consumer DNA,” he said.

Microsoft, surrender the whole battle for the consumer markets.

Lose the Silverlight, you don't know how to make emotional experiences. Put that Surface table out on the curb for recycling to pick up. The XBox? Leave the gaming to Apple, Sony and Nintendo. Expression Studio - no, Adobe has the Creative Suite covered. The Zune? Apple has had that covered for a long time, you can trade that in too.

Stick to beige PCs and speadsheets and email programs. Oh, and that Solitaire game my father loves to play, did you make that? That's a good one. Stick to software - although I do admit I like some of your mice and keyboards, but you don't make much in profits on those, so drop em.

Oh yeah, Exchange Server - you seem to have a stronghold on corporate email, hold onto that, but stay away from the 'cloud'. Clouds are pretty high up, and you might get a nose bleed, Google is much better with clouds.

meat x4

By Michael Mulvey on December 10, 2009 9:51 AM


IKEA, Elizabeth, NJ

By Michael Mulvey on December 10, 2009 9:36 AM


pay half

By Michael Mulvey on December 10, 2009 9:25 AM


Affecting Google's indexes

By Michael Mulvey on December 10, 2009 9:00 AM

When I first read this Mashable post on Rupert Murdoch wanting pulling his online properties from Google's indexes I immediately went on the defensive, laughing at how these old media guys don't get the Internet.

But being the devil's advocate that I am, I played devil's advocate to my own opinion. Who's to say you can't pull your site from Google's indexes? Don't tell me what I can and can't do. I mean, in order for Google to ignore your site content, it's just a matter of changing a META tag in your source code to say "NOFOLLOW".

So I was both pissed at Murdoch for having the audacity to suggest pulling his properties from Google results and simultaneously exciting that someone was (thinking of) going up against a company that is making it's way into more and more aspects of our lives and finding it increasingly hard to stay true to their 'do no evil' matra.

Now it's great if you have the balls to suggest making your content un-indexable, but you better have an amazing fucking plan in place to maintain relevance and profitability. NBC, CBS, Fox and other TV networks were able to pull their content from Youtube by banding together and forming Hulu. Perhaps the news media will do something similar.

...but part of Murdoch's closing of the Google Juice hose also involves charging for content.

Good luck with that.

So THAT's what this mess is, 'Innovation'

By Michael Mulvey on December 9, 2009 4:40 PM

From The Huffington Post:

Amid throngs of bankers arguing that new regulations should not impede on financial "innovation," Volcker pushed back, blasting Wall Street's increasingly complex financial products as useless to economic growth. In what seems to have been a shot at exotic securities, he named the ATM cash machine as the most successful financial innovation in the past 20 years, the Times reported.

Youtube Feather - same videos, less code

By Michael Mulvey on December 9, 2009 9:55 AM

Youtube launched a trimmed down version of their site a few days ago called Feather (currently in Beta).

It works for me because I'm by no means any sort of power Youtube user, so I don't mind tossing out any bells and whistles that JavaScript and CSS can provide.

I could tell from the layout that there was fat trimmed, but I wanted to see how much actual code was cut so I cracked open Safari's developer panel (*note that the majority of the grey 'Other' category is the actual video being loaded, so that's going to be the same size in both modes).

normal page size:

Feather page size:

And here are the layout comparisons.

normal page layout:

Feather page layout:


By Michael Mulvey on December 8, 2009 3:28 PM

Photography doesn't always have to be deep and conceptual.

Sometimes when I'm out shooting, I'm just looking at colors and textures.

Here's a few abstract, deliberately unfocused shots I took that are making for great wallpapers.

UPDATE: I remembered the quote that belongs to the reasons behind these non-conceptual photos, from the movie High Fidelity:

I don't wanna hear old sad bastard music, Barry, I just want something I can ignore.

Click on the images below to download and ignore the full-size versions.




highend laptops and competitive phones

By Michael Mulvey on December 8, 2009 2:29 PM

While Apple continues to dominate high-end laptop market, their strategy with the iPhone has been to be as competitive as possible by selling the iPhone 3G for $99 (with AT&T contract) and the 3GS for $199 & $299.

This pricing has screwed up everyone else in the smart/touchphone market. It's no longer a matter of deciding if you want to invest $300+ on an iPhone or one of a myriad of $99 touchscreen phones that *look* like an iPhone, but have none of the gaming, video, music, application, mapping or full web browsing capabilities.

Case-in-point as noted in this Palm Pixi review at Engadget:

As some commenters have pointed out, the Pixi is showing up for $29.99 (after an instant discount) at Walmart online right now. Let's be very clear here -- one of our major issues with this phone was that it doesn't offer enough differentiation from the Pre, a point which is particularly important when there is only a $50 difference between the two. Without question, this phone for $30 is an incredible value and without compare in the world of smartphones. If that kind of price becomes the norm with this device, it would be hard not to recommend it to buyers.

So when I say Apple is 'screwing everyone else up' what I mean is other mobile phone producers used to create and exaggerate price tiers for the different versions of their phone - price tiers that don't have the additional features to warrant them. The main difference between a Palm Treo and a Pixi is that one has a touchscreen keyboard and the other has a touchscreen keyboard and a full QWERTY. Come again?

So while I've heard the critics say that Apple needs a 'nano' version of the iPhone and they need to expand the range of models, we're seeing how having one iPhone (the 3G and the 3GS run the same OS, have the same dimensions) gives Apple a huge advantage against competitors who love to offer dozens of different models with negligible differences.

click and drag ANYWHERE ...I'm Hooked.

By Michael Mulvey on December 7, 2009 4:27 PM

I found the website for interactive agency Hook a (surprising) joy to navigate.

Maybe it's because I've been an iPhone user for 2 years and I'm used to everything being draggable, but it seems just as useful (if implemented correctly) on interfaces that aren't multitouch, like my good old MacBook & mouse/WACOM tablet.


In the end this gets back to Fitt's Law - Hook is effectively eliminating the distance you have to move to grab a scrollbar. Your scrollbar is everywhere.

So obvious, yet, I haven't seen anyone else doing it.

Thanks Hook.

who's laughing now, bitch?

By Michael Mulvey on December 2, 2009 1:24 PM

Great and obvious post by Jesus Diaz (that everyone is doing) on how all the big dogs misjudged the iPhone.

My favorite quote is still from Ed Colligan, Ex-Palm CEO (I liked this one way back in 2006):

We've learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They're not going to just walk in.

Mr. Diaz's response is delicious:

Apparently, Ed, they walked right in, stole your lunch, your dinner, your wife, your car, your horse, and all your pudding. And then they ate it. And pooped it out.


By Michael Mulvey on December 1, 2009 9:15 AM

if you don't have power, act powerfully.


I dig this quote but I don't know know where I got it from. If anyone has a clue, can you email me?

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