take pride in your work

I’ve completed the identity and printing for American Pride Landscaping.
A big thanks goes to Erik for being a great client (and now friend). I’m glad he let me have some fun with the back of the card.
The name of his business made a whole lot more sense when I discovered that he flies a C-5 Galaxy for the U.S. Military. You could say he’s just a little bit brave.
bizcard_apl.jpg

i like that idea

Nash equilibrium – I found this one in a Wired article about traffic & congestion, even though the original theory referred to games:

In game theory, the Nash equilibrium (named after John Forbes Nash, who proposed it) is a solution concept of a game involving two or more players, in which each player is assumed to know the equilibrium strategies of the other players, and no player has anything to gain by changing only his or her own strategy (i.e., by changing unilaterally).

Osborne effect – I found this one in the book, Inside Steve’s Brain:

The Osborne effect is exhibited when a company’s revelation of information about future products results in customers not purchasing (or delaying purchases of) the current offering. Its origin is a purported suicidal marketing mistake made by the Osborne Computer Corporation in the 1980s when its announcement of a successor to its Osborne 1 system led to a sharp reduction in sales, and the delay of the successor system created a revenue vacuum from which the company did not recover. This statement is a common myth[1][2].

This is why Apple keeps it’s mouth shut about product updates. Companies like Nokia should take some notes.

terminal velocity
– I was curious what Evelyn McHale’s speed was when she jumped off the Empire State Building and landed on a car. I didn’t know what terminal velocity meant until today (thanks missiletest):

As the object accelerates (usually downwards due to gravity), the drag force acting on the object increases. At a particular speed, the drag force produced will equal the object’s weight (mg). Eventually, it plummets at a constant speed called terminal velocity (also called settling velocity). Terminal velocity varies directly with the ratio of drag to weight. More drag means a lower terminal velocity, while increased weight means a higher terminal velocity.

the only other place I remember hearing about velocity is Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

Words with the Sounds

NIN_lyrics_iPhone.jpg
I made a discovery last night after I downloaded the Nine Inch Nails new album, The Slip.
Apparently the mp4 format tracks have embedded lyrics and track art (yes, individual track art, not one single album graphic).
I wasn’t even aware the iPhone had this capability.

No Other Way

Well, GotVMail, you did it. You nailed a successful viral video campaign.
I’ve heard some people say companies can’t “do” viral, but they can. Viral videos are not just made by random people, kids in their rooms, or made accidentally.
How did GotVMail do it?
They took a big risk.
And that risk is named Gary Busey.

$000,000

nin_the-slip.jpg
So the new Nine Inch Nails album, The Slip, is out.
You can purchase from the iTunes Store.
Or you can download for in a variety of formats from the NIN album site.
For free.
Based on his music moves these last couple years, I think Trent Reznor meant to create Rage Against the Machine, not NIN.
(Thanks Jory)

Seems easy doesn’t it?

My brother said something years ago when we were kids and it’s always stuck with me.

my brother: Picture something funny…
me: OK. heh. hehhehh… hhehhehhee…
my brother: See? Isn’t that funny?

Well, this is exactly what Michael Arrington over at Techcrunch is proposing with his ‘Dead Simple $200 Tablet‘ (careful that link crashed Firefox on me a few times).
Here’s a little nugget to chew on from the article:

I’m tired of waiting – I want a dead simple and dirt cheap touch screen web tablet to surf the web. Nothing fancy like the Dell latitude XT, which costs $2,500. Just a Macbook Air-thin touch screen machine that runs Firefox and possibly Skype on top of a Linux kernel. It doesn’t exist today, and as far as we can tell no one is creating one. So let’s design it, build a few and then open source the specs so anyone can create them.

Wow! Perfect! He pictured his invention so it seems as good as done.
I’m currently reading Inside Steve’s Head by Leander Kahney and it’s a good read. I just finished the chapter on Jonathan Ive, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Industrial Design. He’s responsible for the iMac, the iPod and the iPhone to name a few products.
In this chapter he talks about simplicity in Apple’s products:

Ive has often said that the simplicity of Apple’s designs is deceiving. To a lot of people, the products seem obvious. They are so plain and simple, there seems to be no “design” involved at all. There are no frills or accoutrements that trumpet the design process. But to Ive, that’s the point. The task, Ive said, is “to appear inevitable and incredibly simple, so you have no sense how difficult this thing was.” [emphasis added]

Daring Fireball has some similar thoughts on everyone’s bitching about the iPhone lacking Cut and Paste functionality:

Additional features take additional time to develop. Many commenters at Engadget, for example, seem to think adding copy and paste to the iPhone is simply a matter of “storing a text string into memory” or writing two lines of code.
Writing the code to implement a system-wide clipboard isn’t the hard part — as I wrote in August, the hard part is coming up with the right UI design for it. Whatever the UI for copy-and-paste for the iPhone OS eventually is, it’s very likely to remain as the UI for copy-and-paste on the iPhone for decades to come. (The basic UI for copy-and-paste on the original Mac remains in use today by everyone using Mac OS X and Windows — same concepts, same menu commands, even the same keyboard shortcuts.)

So what do these two examples have to do with Michael Arrington’s $200 Dead Simple Tablet from the Gods?
The point is, it’s always easier said than done. Once you dive into the circuit boards and screws and plastics and metals and cooling and heating and venting – things start getting tricky.
That’s not to mention when all those physical things are done, getting the software in tip top shape. Debugging, crashing, GUI, the interaction model for this ‘touch’ tablet. Arrington talks about his future tablet casually, as if everything he needs is at Radio Shack, and he just has to slap em all together. Like Ive said – all this appears inevitable in heinsight.
Oh yeah, and designing by committee always seems to work out well too.

ordering icons

I’ve noticed that many iPhone owners leave their icon arrangement in it’s factory setting position on the home screen. This is fine if you don’t install any applications or bookmarks.

What I’ve found that is very effective for me is to organize my home screens into these categories:

  • my most essential and frequently accessed bookmarks & apps – games & apps
  • frequently accessed websites (that I may or may not read in Google Reader)
  • infrequently used apps

I’ve also arranged my bottom tray in descending order of use, from left to right. Ironically, I use the iPhone as a phone the least, so the phone icon is at the far right.

iPhone_screen_01.jpg

For the first home screen are the essentials – texting, maps, calendar, weather, calculator, clock, photos, my website statistics (via Mint), YouTube, Google Reader, Apps Store and Settings. Most of these are obvious with the addition of Mint, Google Reader and Istapaper.

Instapaper lets you locally cache websites to for later viewing. A must for anyone riding the subway, or anywhere else with no reception or wifi. (found via basement.org)

iPhone_screen_02.jpg

On the second screen we have just applications and games. I haven’t found many applications worth getting (or keeping), so this is it for now. And any webi with half a brain will be strapped with a light saber. Duh.

iPhone_screen_03.jpg

Screen three just has bookmarks. The first two are for my 2 main sites, TCC, and this blog (to learn how to make your own custom bookmark images for your site, read this). The others are spots for a quick fix on my social networks, images, research and reading.

iPhone_screen_04.jpg

Home screen four has apps I don’t use on a regular basis. I know people who use Notes all the time. Not me. And I don’t buy much music from iTunes. And I don’t follow the stock market often. For contacts, thats just one click away on the Phone icon, no need to be cluttering up my first home screen.

gotta get organizized

deniro_with_iphone.jpg

Travis Bickle: One of these days I gotta get myself organizized.
Betsy: Organizized? Dont you mean organized?
Travis Bickle: No, organizized. It’s a joke.
Betsy: Oh, like those signs that says, “Thimk”.
– from Taxi Driver, featuring Robert DeNiro

You need a new contractor

A few weeks ago I told a client of 6 years, that I could no longer update their website. I explained to her that I didn’t have to time to give them the top quality service I like to give to my clients. I wasn’t comfortable with giving them answers like, “I’ll post the updates soon…” or “I’ll try to have the changes up by the end of the week.” (even though they were comfortable with it).
The bottom line was I had outgrown the client (or the client had not grown with me).
While I try to resist the urge to talk in metaphors and analogies, they always seem to convey my ideas very well. Here goes…
My design career is like a tree, and this client of 6 years represented a low lying branch that wasn’t getting sunlight so I had to clip it off. It was doing nothing but sucking up my resources without providing any value to me.
Yeah, that’s right, this isn’t just about the client, it’s just as much about the designer too.
My client is computer and internet illiterate (I’ve mentioned her before) and asked me if my not working with her meant that she didn’t need to pay for website hosting anymore.
Heh. She’s a riot.
She has asked me what website hosting was in the past, so I repeated the same story as before:
“No [Terry], website hosting is like paying rent on your apartment, it has nothing to do with design updates done on your site… you still owe me for hosting each year… there’s a server that ‘houses’ all the files for your website, and your domain name, well, that’s sort of like a PO Box that forwards to your ‘address’…”
She asked me if there was cheaper hosting, and I told her I could guarantee there was cheaper hosting than mine (I’m a Dreamhost reseller), and that she was free to use whomever she wanted. All I needed to do was burn all her website files onto a CD-ROM for her.
I explained to her that I provided a service, that if she ever needed a new email address or her site was down, anything, i was there to handle things.
She dropped the subject.
In the end, I dropped her as a client because I had ended up being a contractor. I was spackling walls, replacing beams, replacing tiles in the bathroom.
I’m not a contractor.
I’m an architect.
I’m a designer.

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