Low-Tech

PJ Rey tries to get to the heart of hipsters and their obsession with low-tech media and devices:

the fetishization of low-tech is about the illusion of agency; it provides affirmation for the hipster whose identity is defined by the post-Modern imperative to be an individual, to be unique.

While agree that I have seen many hipsters who try to identify themselves with ‘old school’, analogue gadgets, I also know people my age (35) and older who love and rediscover old technology from their childhood. It’s not just hipsters who want more than the (fake) skeuomophic interface elements in iPad apps (and conversely, the flat, stoic, hard-edged tiles in Windows 8). Antique shops are not the sole domain of hipsters.

I think many of us long for real things, with real moving parts and real buttons. Our brain and our nerves might be an electrical network of neurons, but our senses are analogue.

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Two-In-One

The Bobine is a great example of something my mentor in design school used to always say: The solution to the problem lies in the problem itself.

In this case the problem is the USB cable for the iPhone makes the iPhone lie flat on the table. Instead of buying a separate stand/dock for it, just make the cord function as the stand too.

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via Co.Design

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WD-40

The Home button on my iPhone 4 has been getting progressively less responsive over the last 2 months. It was at the point where I was having to press it 7-10 times for it to register a click… that is, until a co-worker reminded me of one of Khoi Vinh’s posts from January 2012.

Khoi’s solution? Spray a little WD-40 on the Home button, and press it a series of times to get the liquid to work itself into the device. I did it over the weekend and my Home button feels brand new.

Tip: I sprayed it on the tip of my finger so I wouldn’t accidentally drown my iPhone in too much of the chemical.

Speculation: Occasionally I have to remove lint that accumulates in the dock connector opening on the bottom of my iPhone. I wonder if lint and debris are also what cause Home buttons to get less responsive over time by covering up the contact point between the Home button and the surface underneath it.

Warning: Like Khoi, I have no idea of the long-term damage this can do to your iPhone.

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Naked

Joshua Irish practices the same philosophy of iPhone cases as I do—he goes naked.

At my desk next to me sits a 1.5-year-old iPhone 4. I have not had a case since I bought it. It’s been dropped a bunch of times, it has some scratches, but it still works and looks great.

I wrote about this back in 2008 and used a car analogy (big surprise):

As useful as a bra is to protect a car’s front end from oncoming debris, it also does something inversely damaging – It masks the beautiful craft and design of the car.

The same goes for all this crap people use to protect their iPhones.

Take it off people! Unless you’re going rock climbing, your iPhone doesn’t need all that protection. It’s not the delicate flower you think it is. It can handle everyday use. I know mine can.

Or as Jerry Seinfeld says, “Why don’t you walk around with a helmet on too?”

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Making Things I Like

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TLDR Summary:
After 13 years of designing websites and mobile applications, I’ve decided to return to my roots and create (and sell) things by hand at my new site, Stay Vigilant. It’s going to feature posters, t-shirts and other design artifacts. I’m starting slow, but in the coming year I’ll be adding new creations, day-by-day, month-by-month.
One of the first projects I’m featuring on my storefront is the poster series I was able to successfully fund through Kickstarter earlier this year, Bicycles For Our Minds.
If you don’t see something you like, sign up for the SV newsletter (it’s in the righthand column) and I’ll let you know when I post new pieces.
Extended Chunk:
Long ago, in an analogue galaxy far, far away I was a fine art major with a concentration in graphic design. Figure Drawing. Photography. Painting. Print Making. Book Binding. The trunk of my car and the floor of my bedroom included: sketchbooks, x-acto knives, linoleum blocks, gouache, cardboard, stretcher bars, conté crayons, Canvas, card stock, tracing paper, charcoal, oil paint, acrylic paint. Almost every piece of clothing I owned had an ink or paint stain on it.
Back in these days, I stretched (and gessoed) my own canvases to paint on. I developed my own film from the Pentax K-1000 I shot photos with. I cut my own mat board and mounted my design work onto it with spray mount. I wasn’t always happy with my work, but there was a great satisfaction in creating things by hand.
When I brought my wife (then girlfriend) to my parents house for the first time 12 years ago, she saw painting and drawing hung on the walls. She asked me who made them. I told her I did. She was surprised, because even back then, she knew me as a guy who designed websites. Who did things on an RGB screen.
I don’t think she’s surprised by my new venture. She’s caught me sniffing the bindings of hardcover books at bookstores on numerous occasions. The first time, she didn’t know what to think. She probably thought I was doing some weird drug. I had to explain to her I loved the smell of paper and ink. Maybe it transports me back to happy time in college. A time when I decided what I wanted to make and for whom.
Well, there’s no reason I can’t start doing it again.

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Bottles to Glasses

Patrick Lehoux created a tool that lets you cut soda, beer and wine bottles into glasses.
Given that I only buy wines these days based on their labels (and most of you wouldn’t know the difference in a blind tasting), I really need this tool.
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