Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.


Friday, August 31, 2007

CNET finally shows some love for the Mac

CNET Networks has acquired the TechTracker Network, comprising the sites VersionTracker.com, MacFixIt.com, iPhoneAtlas.com, and a few ancillary domains.

This marks a significant shift for CNET's tech offerings, since the majority of TechTracker's visitors are Mac users.

While CNET has covered Apple a lot on News.com and CNET.com, their Reviews section has historically been so-so at best with regard to Mac hardware, and Download.com's Mac software offerings have always been pretty lackluster compared to the competition. This acquisition could mark a turning point.

The announcement of the acquisition has garnered a lot of negative comments regarding CNET on the VersionTracker Blog. It's a little sad to see how much general ill-will the commenters have for CNET. More sad, however, is that the majority of the commenters are critically misinformed. *sigh* Either way, it looks like CNET has a long way to go to fix a reputation in the Mac market.

"The Macintosh may only have 10% of the market, but it is clearly the top 10%."
– Douglas Adams

UPDATE: I just noticed that TechTracker also has a little site called GreenTracker.com, created "to institute and promote sustainable practices and reduce TechTracker’s overall energy imprint." I hope it will survive the changes the CNET purchase will bring.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thursday top 5

Greg Morgan
I love this guy's collage work. If you've ever picked up one of the brochures in Starbucks while you were waiting for your mocha, you've probably seen his work too.
www.lillarogers.com/artists/greg/

Charlie Owens
More cool art — create and destroy.
www.charlieowens.com

kin-dza-dza
This is such an interesting photo, but I need one of my Russian peeps to translate the text so I can know wtf.
www.panoramio.com/photo/97671

The origin of "I got some iiiiice cream, and you ain't gotttt none"
www.youtube.com/watch?v=f04BeB0rUtc

Guitar Hero 2: Rush "YYZ" on Expert
"What's up, Internet?" lol! This guy's damn good on GH2, though. Now if they'd just make a Drum Hero...I'd like to see this guy try to be Neil Peart.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ua3hZXfNZOE

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Blogger video upload test

Blogger's added the ability to upload videos. I'm just testing to see how it works, and where the video file lives if you're hosting on your own domain, like me.

video

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indietits



Olya's always bemoaning my tech-centric blog posts, so this one's for her. She won't get the indie band or pop culture refs, but she'll appreciate the humor.

Indietits is a webcomic starring sarcastic, foul-mouthed birds.

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Mobile Web Design



Cameron Moll has published a new book titled Mobile Web Design. I don’t have it yet, but based on his previous work I'd bet it's pretty good.

Despite the name, this book is not just for designers. You may want to check it out if you are in any way part of the development of content for mobile devices. There's a general dearth of info available on mobile web development, so it's probably a good addition to your library.

It’s only available as a PDF download now, and I’m not sure if it’s going to bookstores and Amazon later or what, but I’d be willing to bet it will. However, you can get it cheaper as a PDF now ($19), and the first 599 buyers will entered in a drawing to win an iPhone.

There’s a sample preview available too.

UPDATE: There's also a new article today on A List Apart on mobile web design in the new age of the iPhone and Mobile Safari.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thursday top 5

Hipster Olympics
flol
www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAO4EVMlpwM

Wow. All I can say is...wow.
Finnish cover of "YMCA" from the 1970s. The four dancers in the background are the best part.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCgrG35-3js

A very creative way to ask someone to marry you
est1976.blogsome.com/2007/08/19/sara-and-i-just-got-engaged/

Comment-enabled business meeting
What a business meeting might look like if comments were enabled.
laughingsquid.com/what-if-business-meetings-had-a-comment-system/

Looks like Godzilla's back
www.apple.com/trailers/

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Red-headed creatures

I've been a fan of Robert A. Heinlein since grade school and I've mentioned here and in other venues how much I've been influenced by his characters, how much I've learned from his books.

I recently found a magazine that published two of his poems, which had never been published before, shortly after his death in 1988.

If only I had read this a few years ago.

"The Witch's Daughters"
by Robert A. Heinlein, 1946

Have no truck with the daughters of Lilith.
Pay no mind to the red-headed creatures.
Man, be warned by their sharp, white teeth;
Consider their skulls, and their other queer features.

They're not of our tribe, with their flame-colored hair;
They're no sib to us, with their pale, white skins;
There's no soul behind those wild green eyes
Man, when you meet one — walk widdershins!

When they die, they pop, like burst soap bubble
(Eight hundred years is their usual span.)
Loving such beings leads only to trouble.
By Heaven, be warned, you rash young man!

— —

Oh man, I married one of those "red-headed creatures."

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Domains for sale: Adventurescapes.com and BuddyRoll.com





I've had these two domains for quite a while and it's time for me to get more active in trying to sell them. If you're interested in making me an offer, email me using the link on my portfolio page.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Packrat

Velma has, by now, learned to avoid rolling her eyes when she sees me squirrel away some random slip of paper, or pile of magazines, of worse yet, box of seemingly useless junk. When I do this I still see her give me a sideways glance and a slight shake of the head, like she's given up trying to dissuade me. I usually respond with an indignant-yet-guilty "What?! I'm gonna use this some day, it's gonna come in handy."

She hates that I'm a packrat. Velma's one of those get-rid-of-it kinds of gals. And this occasionally leads to some interesting confrontations.

There are a few reasons why I'm a packrat (and maybe some underlying reasons I'm not even aware of).

Parental influence
My dad wasn't a packrat, but he did have the prerequisite amount of old dad stuff in the garage and the attic that I was always fascinated with. My mom, on the other hand, is definitely a packrat. She's still got some of my toys from when I was little, and lots of old newspapers and magazines from the Kennedy era, and that's barely scratching the surface of the boxes and boxes of stuff squirreled away into every nook and cranny of her house.

My dad actually was actually more like Velma. He got rid of stuff pretty regularly, to the point where his large house eventually had rooms entirely devoid of contents. He kept some momentos and such, thankfully, like photo albums and some family quilts and such.

When I was growing up I kept lots of stuff too. I had bags of seashells and interesting rocks, boxes of Legos and other toys, books stacked all over my room, papers and pens and scissors and tape and cut-up magazines and all kinds of projects strewn about three rooms at a time.

My dad was always trying to get me to clean these up. I was always trying to convince him I was working on all of them at the same time, and that it was pointless to clean them up because I'd just have to get them out again to work on them, and it's not like we ever had any people come over anyway. Well, okay, once in a while we had visitors, and I did clean up my stuff on those occasions. Well, most of it.

And he was always telling me to clean up my room. Typical parent, huh? Fortunately for me, I had two big closets in my room, so I could throw all kinds of stuff into those. Typical kid, huh? Worked pretty well until one day I left my closet door open and he saw all the stuff in there and from then on he was perpetually on my case to clean out my closets too.

Purge regret
One day in my teens I got fed up and finally went down to the garage, retrieved a big garbage can, and spent the entire afternoon in my closet filling the garbage can to the brim. I threw out magazines I'd had since the third grade, stuffed animals I hadn't looked at in years, books, toys, posters...stuff I can't even remember today.

I'd had enough of my dad hassling me to clean those closets, and the only way I could fight back was to give in and throw it all away in a flurry.

Many years later, long after I'd moved out and lived on my own, my dad sold his house and moved to a retirement community. I still had a lot of stuff stored in his attic and Velma and I went to sort through it, to throw some of it away and to see what was worth keeping. Looking through those boxes of kids books, toys, school projects and even stuff from my college years, the memories flooded back to me, from my early childhood all the way through age 21 or so. And as I uncovered box after box of memories, I remembered that day when I'd thrown out a garbage can full of memories, undoubtedly some of them I'd now never recall, and probably some irreplaceable items from my past. I felt sorrow knowing that I'd thrown away a vintage Raggedy Anne and Andy doll set that had been my mother's, and in my adolescent ignorance I hadn't known either its market value or its family worth. Today I still feel the pang of regret when I think of it, and I wonder what else I threw away all those years ago, over half my life ago, things that I'll never remember.

Fascination with history
In school I never seemed that overly interested in history, but somewhere along the line I seemed to have picked up an appreciation for, if not history, historical artifacts. I like old papers and books, vintage magazines fascinate me, and rummaging through a really good antique store or a box of 60-year-old postcards can keep me occupied for hours.

I've recently realized that I'm getting old enough that looking back at my own personal historical artifacts is pretty fascinating too. To see pictures of my friends from the neighborhood, to look at the drawings I made as a child and see the beginnings of my predilection for graphic design. Even to revisit designs I made early in my career (and give thanks that I've improved).

Velma indulges me during these walks down memory lane, she even smiles a bit while she shakes her head. I may not be winning her over, but today she even brought me some old books from a garage sale.

Occasionally my packrat tendencies pay off, and even she has to admit it. A week or so ago, I was hesitant to throw away a mesh bag with a zipper, even though we couldn't think of any use for it. I know she had to try hard not to roll her eyes when I said I was going to put it in the basement because "I might think of something useful to use it for."

Just a few days later, when I was putting a handful of bungie cords back in the car where they normally end up uncoiling like unruly snakes, I realized they would all fit nicely into that mesh bag, and even Velma had to admit it was fortunate I hadn't thrown the bag away.



Today, while sorting through a box of old papers I'd been meaning to get around to since Bill Clinton was in office, I came across a business card with a note written on the back: " 'Break it Down' by Lydia Davis ? short on NPR's 'This American Life'." As far as I could tell, this business card was around ten years old. I didn't remember that story or person's name, but obviously it had made an impression on me or I wouldn't have scrawled it down to try to look it up again later.

I'd been to "This American Life"'s website many times over the years and it was never all that useful if you were looking for a specific episode, so I didn't hold much hope that this slip of paper would go anywhere but in the recycling bin.

But I looked it up again and lo and behold, they've recently redesigned their site and added more functionality. I did a quick search and quickly came up with the show in question, Episode #88, originally aired in 1998. And I could even listen to an audio stream.

Overall it's a good episode, but it's Act 6 that tips the scales. That's the part called "Break it Down" which had caused me to scrawl a note on a business card all those years ago, and the act's a perfect example of why "This American Life" is one of the best things on the radio and why I try to listen to it every single week.

I'd forgotten this episode and this act completely in the ensuing years since I'd written that note. But I'm glad I squirreled it away and that it eventually found its way from my desk to a pile of papers to a box. And that I kept it in that packrat way I do, and that I found it again today, and that I looked it up and found it and listened to it again.

And now, I can finally throw that business card in the recycling bin.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday top 5

Big Rig Jig
This sculpture is going to be at Burning Man. Waah! I wanna go.
www.bigrigjig.com

Spoon's "Don't You Evah" (featuring Keepon)
Heh heh, cute dancing robots.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPdP1jBfxzo

How to take a product-shot photo on a white background
A pretty simple method. I tried it out the other night, and while it's a little harder to get a really good result than it might first seem from this tutorial, it works pretty well.
www.sxc.hu/blog/post/133

Horn guy
www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5x5s3xo6tI

Original Design Gangsta
"No widows, ya heard?!" Okay, only the design geeks are gonna get this, but what the hell.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJexyQT0l1c
BTW, the video's by illustrator Kyle T. Webster.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My Gap photo used alongside an article on NowPublic



Kaitlin posted an article on NowPublic, a social media site, about Gap founder Donald Fisher's intention to open an art museum in San Francisco's Presidio. She found my photo on Flickr and asked if she could use it along with the article. Thank bog some people ask.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

New desktops

I had a bunch of requests for desktops recently, but only had time to make this one so far. I'll add some more soon.



Light From Above 1024x768
Light From Above 1280x1024

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Goodwill now recycling computers

Goodwill is now accepting electronics for recycling at some locations in California, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

In a partnership with Dell called Reconnect, Goodwill is apparently keeping anything that looks like it is in working order, and anything that's broken or otherwise not usable is going to Dell's Asset Recovery people for recycling. This means they take all kinds of e-waste: broken CRTs (monitors), random parts, old CPUs, and pretty much anything.

Check the site to see if your local location is participating and what they'll take.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Thursday top 5

Lions vs. water buffalo vs. crocodiles
This video made me emotional it's so incredible. You'll never guess who wins in the end.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU8DDYz68kM

Presidential candidate selector
This is based on a popular chart from 2decide.com, but a coworker of mine made it tons more useful. Hover over the left-hand column to select your position on the issues.
jrm.cc/extras/candidate-selector/

You go, Cepheis!
Holy crap. That's a big coupl'a stars ya got there.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyhT2v5DMwU

To catch an iJacker
NBC's "Dateline" set out to see if it could track down a stolen iPod. They left out brand new iPods in places like shopping malls and on the dashboard of a convertible in Santa Monica, New Jersey, Las Vegas, and the the Bay Area. Using hidden cameras and the serial numbers from the lifted electronics, they tracked down some of the thieves. It's a long show, but if you watch all the segments, you'll get to the part where they start asking Apple why the company isn't doing more to help customers whose iPods get stolen.
video.msn.com

Asperger Test
I'm an "Average male scientist." How geeky are you?
www.piepalace.ca

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Thursday top 5

A very little planet
wvs.topleftpixel.com/07/06/20/

10 real-life superheroes
Bet none of them are as cool as Squeak the Crimefighting Cat.
www.oddee.com

Mookie & Sam
And now, for the dog lovers...
www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdQTHadneLs

Playing beach volleyball over the 20 foot-high fence that separates the US and Mexico
article: www.laweekly.com
video: wholphindvd.com

Jack Black on music piracy
gorillamask.net/jack-black-piracy.shtml

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No, this is not OK: Oklahoma fights global terrorism with, um, license plates



This is just dumb for so many reasons. Plenty of others will, I am certain, point out how retarded this is. But since few of them will likely discuss how retarded the design is, let me just do it briefly.

1. Dessert camo? Really? In...Oklahoma? And need I point out how completely offensive it is to presume that all terrorists live in dessert regions?

2. Nice clip art, buddy. Who designed this, an admin? Just so you know, copying a clip art building to make two of them does not exactly make you a designer. And you might want to make it the right building, or at least close. The World Trade Center didn't have big horizontal stripes between floors, you twat.

3. Design 101: Black on red is not readable. Especially tiny black numbers on a tiny little red banner...from a distance.

Hey Oklahoma. This makes you look like a bunch of idiots. And I'm not even talking about the design. I really wouldn't expect much better from a state agency, nor a license plate. I'm talking about the whole idea of commemorating (celebrating?) the "global war on terrorism" with a license plate. That's so incredibly nationalistic it's hard for me to put it in words how offended I am.

Not to mention the mind-boggling idea that some official at the Oklahoma State Tax Commission actually had the thought, "Hey, we could make money by offering a terrorism plate."

Oh, and your "designer" sucks too.

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