Old School


Ahh the good old days of Flash 4 and Netscape 4.7 – the best browser ever

Is it me or have web development jobs become very specialized? Specialization is defnitely good sometimes – you don’t want a team of mediocre people just ok at everything. It just seems when I mention a floating div to a flash animator, they just stare blankly at me and blink.
I’ve come to realize that I am from the old school (like many of my collegues) . I was never taught HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, MySQL, Flash animation or Actionscripting 1 & 2. Grandpa voice: When I was in college there were no interactive courses, and we had to work on computers with 32 MB of RAM. We checked our email through command line programs like PINE and MM….
……. and I rode 2 miles to class on a donkey.

Another reason for my perspective is obviously my environment. First off, for interactive design, you either get it, or you don’t get it. Just like art (and interactive design can be art, but I’ll save that discussion for another day). Most of the people I went to design school with didn’t get it. They didn’t get why I was installing the Flash 3 player and why I thought Urban Desires was so damn amazing (somethine like this was ground-breaking in 1997). In a nutshell, there were no interactive designers and I had to teach myself.
In my senior year of college the head of the design program said he had a job in NYC for me, if I knew HTML. I partially lied and said, sure I knew HTML. The truth was the only HTML I knew was from the handful of tutorials I was taking on WebMonkey. I had never built a website.
When I got hired at Dan Miller Design in 1999, my first web project was to design and build the site for the documentary film Shadow Boxers. I was able to get through it with the help of Dreamweaver and constant nagging of the senior web designer at DMD. Once I had completed Shadow Boxers, I was asked if I knew Macromedia Flash 4. I said sure. A month later I designed and built Art Base Inc (I’m amazed both these sites are still up, if you view the source to Art Base, the Flash version is still 4!).
I decided that I was now going to strictly be an RGB designer. No more CMYK.
From DMD and the other companies I moved on to, it was a constant learning process and never having the luxury of large teams for web projects. It was always just me, or me and a few other people working on a project. I never experienced the glory days of the DotCom bubble everyone recounts. As Flash become more and more essential in web design, I realized that I needed to learn how to make my life easier and so I learned how to automate things with Actionscript. The fact that I learned how to parse XML within Flash had nothing to do with client requests – it was to save my ass time when I had to update Anything to avoid opening up Flash again to change a few sentences. And the concept of separating form from content with CSS just made sense.
I also bring this up, because I’m also in the process of finding new homes for many of my freelance clients and I’ve found it difficult to hand them over to one person who can help them with design AND development. Someone that can design an email newsletter AND use Campaign Monitor to send out the blast.
Update: Luckily Jory at Analogue has stepped up to the plate and has the skills to pay the bills and uh, navigate the terrain over interactive hills….
So I guess I’m wondering – What and how do people learn web design and development these days? Is code still scary to a lot of people? Is money good enough to specialize within the field web design into areas like Flash Video Designer or HTML Expert?
Are there people out there that still design – inside and out?

Microsoft Breaks Stuff A Lot

So Microsoft came out with a patch to fix a security flaw, but broke it instead.
from Security Focus (found via Slashdot):

The flaw, initially thought to only crash Internet Explorer, actually allows an attacker to run code on computers running Windows 2000 and Windows XP Service Pack 1 that have applied the August cumulative update to Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1, security firm eEye Digital Security asserted. The update, released on August 8, fixed eight security holes but also introduced a bug of its own, according to Marc Maiffret, chief hacking officer for the security firm, which notified Microsoft last week that the issue is exploitable.

… I’m sorry, what? I don’t speak Bacchi, C3PO, was that English?!
It’s amazing how many screwups Microsoft makes and and it still can maintain its empire. I wish I had that kind of resilience.
… and in other news:
Dell withdraws from MP3 player market. Haha. Take it deep Dell. I wouldn’t be so happy if it wasn’t for their Apple trash-talking way back in the day. Maybe the smart thing would have been to put those explosive batteries in the DJ Ditty instead of your laptops.

Job Resources for Interactive Designers

Here is a list of solid resources for web professionals, designers developers, flashers and everyone in between:
37signals Job Board – I just discovered this one, and it’s great, I just wish there was a way to filter the results by location or job type.
Newstoday – Click on ‘Find a Job’
Creative Hotlist – I can’t tell you how many calls I get from people who have found me on the Hotlist. In my opinion, it’s a steal at $35 for a 6-month membership.
Moluv – take a look at the job section of the forums on the right, you might find some gems in there.
k10k – they post job opening fairly often in the News section on the right.
Craig’s List – results from Craig’s List can be so-so. I have gotten some great leads from this site, but I’ve also had to weed through a lot of crap to get to them.
I’m sure that many people have benefitted from recruiters. Not me. I’ve found that emailing the top companies on my list has gotten me most of my interviews, coupled with using the links above.

Catch the Buzz

I picked up the new Rolling Stone magazine last night and I thought this ad was brilliant, not to mention ballsy:

*The fold-out is scented just like a bag of … scratch-n-sniff weed.

Googling and Photoshopping

Google is cracking down on the usage of google as a verb. This reminds me of when Adobe got their panties in a bunch over the verb photoshopping.
Mozilla’s new Sea Monkey application – Web-browser, e-mail, newsgroup, IRC chat, and HTML editing all in one program.
Flash turns 10 years old – damn, I’m getting old. In tribute to Flash’s birthday, theFWA is having a contest for the most influential Flash sites. And for all you kids out there who were too young to remember, the Birth of Flash.
Key Xing is now on my Top 10 Applications for OS X – bummer it’s no longer being developed.
Macrodobe has seems to be a busy mofo, working on their new Spry framework.
A Captain Murphy soundboard …..my day is complete.

Airlines Ban Macgyver Items

If you’re in the midst of booking a flight, you’ll have to double check the items you’re packing, because if you have skills like Macgyver, you probably won’t be allowed to fly as airlines are upping security measures in react to the recent terror plot that was foiled.
From SFGate.com:

First aviation security officials required tickets and identification to get to the airline gates. Then passengers had to turn on their laptops and take off their shoes. On Wednesday, anything liquid — from eyedrops to Red Bull to lip glos — became verboten.
Some countries have gone further and on Thursday banned iPods, cell phones, computers and even battery-powered watches — anything that could produce a spark and detonate a bomb aboard a plane.

I’m taking this a step further because I’m serious about freedom, I’m serious about stopping terrorism and I want to protect others from myself and that is why I’m removing my brain before I board planes.
Why am I removing my brain? Well ya see, my brain is full of FLUIDS and along with fluids, my brain has millions of neurons that carry ELECTRICITY. See, if the FLUIDS and ELECTRICITY inside my brain get on a plane, it could spell trouble for everyone on board. I could detonate a bomb with the eletricity in my head. First I would suck out the water in my brain and run that electric current through it to separate it into hydrogen and oxygen.
I don’t need to show you where this is heading.
Stay vigilant my keen readers. Stay vigilant.

You’re gonna eat lightnin’ and you’re gonna crap thunder!

I don’t go to movies to see unbiased fact. I go for fantasy, humor and excitement. A 60 year old Rocky fighting a young champion? Sure, why not?
I think there’s other guys out there like me that are like Pavlov’s dog when it comes to Rocky – all you need to see are those training sequences and hear that theme song and you get PUMPED!
It’s not even a conscious decision I made.
Official Movie Site, and the trailer

Partying Like It Was 1999 Again?

Just when it seems like browsers are getting better at respecting standards I have to go and read articles about Internet Explorer 7 ignoring CSS standards. Obiously it’s good that Mozilla Firefox is still gaining ground on IE but c’mon kids.
Browsers not respecting web standards, venture capital flowin’ like wine to ‘Web 2.0’ start-ups. This all feels very familiar to me. Aren’t we learning from our mistakes or are we ignorantly partying like it was 1999 again?
I still love being an interactive designer but it all feels like a sick dream (with the occasional highlight) …

I had this dream the other night that they had come out with IE 7, but it wasn’t really IE 7 because it had tabbed browsing like Firefox, but it was even worse at being standards-compliant. And then Adobe had bought Macromedia and now they were just Adobe and Apple Computer had moved their machines over to Intel architecture and were phasing out their Power Mac line. Oh yeah, and you could run Windows on the new Macs. Then Google came out with a Map program that was rendering MapQuest obsolete… and their stock price was over $300

Yes this is a very strange dream indeed.

Dead Space

I’m not a Microsoft basher by nature, they’ve just been setting themselves up to get slammed for their antics lately. When I got to work today, our CEO sent out a link on our email listserve – Windows Live Spaces Goes after MySpace. I trembled in anticipation of the revolutionary product imitation that Microsoft was launching now (As if tremebling in anticipation of Zune wasn’t enough excitement for me).
From the VOX article:

Hotmail users, for example, can share their address book (Live Contacts) among their IM service (Live Messenger), web mail (Live Mail), and blog (Live Spaces) That integration facilitates security, with Live Spaces allowing users to specify who can contact them, see their profile, and access their blog. Live Spaces users can also select “gadgets” to personalize their pages – ad a news ticker, quote of the day or weather forecast, for example.

And here is a tasty screenshot of the product:
Friggin amazing Microsoft. You’ve done it again with another bland imitation of a successful original. Let’s run through the list of ‘features’.
Live Spaces integrates with these MS products:

  • Live Mail (Hotmail) – I don’t use my Hotmail account anymore
  • Live Messenger – I use AOL Instant Messenger

Now when MySpace came out, people felt the need to switch from Frienster because it did things its competitor didn’t. You could up media files (video, audio, flash) and you could ‘hack’ your profile page through Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) adjustments.
Now Microsoft is doing what it has done in the past and to only copy something on the surface. There’s no underlying concept or vision for the future with their new product, other than, We are 800 pound gorilla, We need control this market, we get angry if can’t win, grunt, grunt.
Now there are 2 train tracks with wrecks waiting to happen. First Zune, now Live Spaces. Hey Microsoft, how about making it a trifecta?
Take a look at Live Spaces.