Monthly Archives: November 2006

Pound high dollar low

The pound has hit a 14-year high against the U.S. dollar, amist rumours of the Bank of England raising interest rates again in January as house prices continue to rise.

Sitting up straight is bad

Sitting up straight is bad for your back, you should be leaning back instead.

Railway Tycoon for free

Good ol’ Sid Meier’s offering the classic Railway Tycoon for free! It’s only a 14.2 MB download too.

Prank calls

A hilarious prank call made on a telemarketer. Worth the listen. (Via Daring Fireball).

Top Secret

Contrary to popular opinion, I quite like the new matt unified look of iTunes 7, and I do hope it makes an appearance in Leopard. As for it being the Top Secret Steve Jobs was hiding, maybe not.

Flickr + Yahoo

While Flickr rolling out new features is nice, I don’t think I’ll be using any of them; my mobile bandwidth bill is high enough thank you.

And I also find: As a gentle reminder, we will be requiring Yahoo! accounts for all Flickr.com members at some point in the future. Which would be fine, if Yahoo had any decent user names left. I’m sure not going to be called weiranzhang1986ukkent.

Moleskine

Work has been keeping me quite busy lately, and other than having the side effect of giving me less time to dedicate to writing, it also means I’m forgetting many ideas that pop into my head during the course of the day.

I could write down notes on my mobile phone, but seeing as my M600i is acting up at the moment, writing a quick note using a number key pad on a W800i isn’t ideal. And you can forget about some online note taking application like Stikkit as I don’t want to be tied down to a computer when I want to take notes. I needed something I could use on the spur of the moment, so something I could carry with me everywhere I went.

moleskine

Since I got my Moleskine yesterday, it’s been in my bag since and I’ve made many notes with it already. As I travel four hours a day, I do find that I get ideas while sitting on the bus thinking to myself. I’ve already written down many ideas for a couple new writing projects, which will be revealed soon, and hopefully I can improve the writing quality and originality on Ejecutive too.

As you probably know I love well designed products, and the Moleskine is as well designed as any. The rounded corners makes it slip into pockets with ease, the elastic holds closed the notebook and any loose bits inside, which you can put in the pocket at the back anyway, and the quality and appearance of the paper just makes you want to write on it. The size is just perfect to fit into a pocket in my bag (coincidence?) or in my pocket, which means it’ll probably go wherever I go from now on.

So forget about submitting your site to Digg or writing as many top ten lists as you can; get yourself a Moleskine and start writing down your ideas and watch the quality of your writing improve.

RCADefaultApp

RCDefaultApp is the missing piece in the puzzle that is OS X’s file association management. Best of all its freeware.

Computer industry ‘faces crisis’

The president of the British Computer Society has warned that there is a major shortfall of Computer Science graduates in the U.K., and we face loosing jobs to developing countries such as China and India.

More jobs for me then.

Stupid Alert: Sony DS Lite

The microphone on my Nintendo DS Lite broke a couple days ago, so I took it back to the Maidstone branch of GAME. The tills were quite busy, so instead I went to a scrawny little chav idling around. His ID tag had the title of “Sales Assistant”, which made me think he would know what he was talking about. This is an exact transcript of the conversation I had with him:

Me
Hi, the mic on my DS is broken.
GAME
Ok, I think you need to send it back to Sony.
Me
Sony? Why would I send it to them?
GAME
Yeah, Sony make them.
Me
Sony make the Nintendo DS?
GAME
Yeah I think so.

At that point, I made my excuses and joined the queue for the tills, where a helpful staffer took my DS, went into the back of the shop for five minutes, and then returned with a brand spanking new DS, no fuss.

Perhaps they should train their staff more, or just not hire complete idiot chavs as sales assistants.

Who wants to be a cognitive neuroscience millionaire?

A contestant on the US edition of Who Wants to be a Millionaire manages to win $500,000 purely by using his knowledge of cognitive neuroscience.

More Republicans will resign

The effects of the Democrats winning control in both houses of Congress are already showing, with two right wing neo-conservatives being replaced by (hopefully) someone with a brain:

Mr Bolton was appointed in August 2005 during a Congressional recess. This was a procedural manoeuvre which avoided the need for him to be confirmed until the end of this year.

Another big change is on the Senate environment committee, where a Republican who disputes the existence of man-made global warming is being replaced as chairman by a Democrat who says the issue is the challenge of our times.

Open & Closed Project Micropatronage

Joe Clark is asking for our support to help him kick start his Open & Closed project:

My donation goal is a convenient $7,777, which, apart from being a lucky number, will keep me afloat at a subsistence level for four months [as I try to raise about $7 million Canadian].

Open & Closed project Micropatronage

Opacity Strikes Back

Here it is, the new design for Ejecutive, which I’ve dubbed Opacity Strikes Back (or Opacity2).

Being a Minimalist, I was never completely happy with the original Opacity. The initial design was too complicated, and so when I tried to implement it, the complexity got out of hand, to the stage where the CSS alone was split into seven different files and totalled over 20KB.

I didn’t put enough thought into the whole design procedure, and in the end design aesthetics won over usability. Even though the design was eventually scaled back and improved, a dark blue background made text hard to read for all but the lucky few with high contrast monitors. I also choose to justify the text, without doing much research into why this would make the text harder to read.

The problem lies in the current trend of having fancy graphics, reflections and bold colours, when the real design issue is typography. Information Architects explains the problem well:

Information design is not about the use of good typefaces, it is about the use of good typography. Which is a huge difference. Anyone can use typefaces, some can choose good typefaces, but only few master typography.

I’m not saying I’ve mastered typography, but I can tell the difference between good typography, and bad typography. Opacity had bad typography, and I was a little ashamed to have designed and used it on my website.

Opacity2 is the expression of my Minimalistic ideals. Every superfluous feature has been striped out, and replaced by white space. In fact, you’ll notice that there is a lot of white space between almost everything. I’ve optimised and tweaked the line spacing, letter spacing and word spacing to create what I believe is currently the most usable typography I can muster out of Georgia. You may also notice there are lots of white space between posts and between paragraphs, and all the white space is relative to each other, so the space between posts is three times that of the space between paragraphs, and so on.

It’s about time us so-called “designers” starting educating ourselves about the real design, and face the fact that over 95% of the content you create will be text, so you number one priority when designing should be how to treat the text.

Going off on a tangent here, but this is also the first design and theme I’ve made using completely open source tools, not relying on Macromedia Dreamweaver or TextMate as I usually do1 but instead using the excellent Notepad2 by flo. Thumbs up for using the right tool for the job.


  1. Although I admit that if I had access to my Macbook during the time I spent designing Opacity2, I probably would’ve used TextMate instead.

Text Link Ads acquired by MediaWhiz

Text Link Ads has been bought out by MediaWhiz, who also seem to be an Internet marketing company. This is only of interest to you if you publish (which I do) or advertise using Text Link Ads. Hopefully we’ll start getting more advertisers in the game and still have the same very quick and helpful customer service I’ve always had.

Publishers: by leveraging MediaWhiz’s agency relationships and sales staff we will be able to sell more ad space on your website. We also will be adding the ability to monetize your website in new ways including: CPA offers and CPM display advertising.

Constitution of a new website

If you’ve ever found yourself fighting between departments for control over a new website, then point them to Bruce Lawson’s Constitutions of a New Website which should help solve conflicts.

The most important rule is the first one:

The user is sovereign. The site must be designed around user needs, not organisational structure or operational convenience.

On the move

Ejecutive is on the move to a new home with Dreamhost. If you see this post, you are seeing the new site, and the DNS changes have reached you. Give yourself a pat on the back.

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