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.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday Top 5+1



Yes We Did
MoveOn’s pimping a commemorative “Yes We Did” poster and sticker by Shepard Fairey (of Obey Giant fame). You can get one sticker for free, although I’m pretty sure it’ll put you on MoveOn’s email list. I contributed $35 to get two posters. BTW, MoveOn’s new home page design is a leap forward, I hope they’ll extend it to the inner pages soon. [via Jason]



Candid pictures of Barack Obama
By Time photojournalist Callie Shell, who’s been photographing Obama for four years.



Pomegranate Phone
Awesome! Screw the iPhone, this is the one I want! It even makes coffee!

Mission Blues
Conceptual artist Daniel Dancer transforms 200 Presidio Middle School kids into an endangered mission blue butterfly. Pics and video.

Classmates.com User Sues
Anthony Michaels has filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that Classmates.com used deceptive marketing to get him to sign up for a premium account, when former schoolmates weren’t actually looking for him.



Oops
Best man drank a bit too much last night I guess.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Battle In Seattle



Next month will see the debut of an independent film about the 1999 demonstrations against the WTO in Seattle. The movie looks like it will be pretty good, not the average Hollywood tale in which the “terrorists” all have foreign accents. Independent director Stuart Townsend has taken pains to present the story from many points of view, including lead characters from amongst the protesters, the media, the police, and the general Seattle citizenry who got caught up in something they didn’t understand.

While the the film’s official site features the normal marketing pieces about the cast, et al, it also features three very personal and extremely interesting short clips in which Townsend talks about his impetus to write and make this movie. Even more interestingly, the site features a great deal of information about the issues the demonstrators were trying to bring to light (see screenshot below).



There’s even a separate site, Who Controls the World?, which acts as sort of a historical archive of the 1999 protests, featuring short video interviews with protest organizers and participants, a day-by-day timeline, participant memories, and much more about the pitfalls of globalization.

The film opens September 19 in San Francisco and a few other cities. For a higher quality version of the trailer, go to Apple.com. IMDB entry for Battle in Seattle.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Free the Airwaves

Remember on old TVs how, when you used to switch from channel 5 to 7 (for example), there might be static on channel 6? Those unused spaces on the analog broadcast spectrum are called “white spaces.”

Currently more than half of the spectrum is unused. When TV broadcasters go fully digital-spectrum next year and discontinue their analog broadcasts altogether, there will be a lot more. A coalition including Google, Microsoft, Dell, and others, is asking the U.S. government to turn over white spaces to public use (broadcast spectrum is, after all, a legally recognized public resource). It could be used for better public access to wifi, Internet telephony, and many other things.

While the technology companies that are part of this coalition arguably stand to gain much from this, a variety of public advocacy groups and think-tanks are advocating for public access to white spaces too (Free Press, Public Knowledge, New America Foundation, Wireless Innovation Alliance).

I predict this fight will get nasty when many other companies realize they stand to lose a lot too. Expect the traditional and cellular phone companies, for example, to form a similar coalition on the other side, lobbying Congress for strict licensing and fees which would effectively lock out public access the same way licensing has kept citizens from broadcasting their own TV or radio stations.

For more information, and to sign a petition, visit Free the Airwaves.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

BushCo is trying to outlaw contraception, without congressional approval

From MoveOn:

Can you imagine living in a place where birth control is considered an “abortion” and health insurers won’t cover it? Where even rape victims are denied emergency contraception?

It seems unbelievable, but the Bush Administration is quietly trying to redefine “abortion” to include birth control. This could wipe out dozens of state laws that protect women’s reproductive freedom and protect rape victims. Access to basic health care for millions of women would be jeopardized. And it’s being pushed as a “rule change,” meaning: it doesn't need congressional approval.

Here’s what some others are saying about this proposal:
  • “The draft regulation would define birth control as abortion...it could deny access to critical family planning for women across the country.” [source: Letter signed by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and 26 other senators]
  • “The draft rule could void laws in 27 states that require insurance companies to provide birth control coverage for women requesting it [and] laws in 14 states requiring that rape victims receive counseling and access to emergency, day-after contraceptives.” [source: Houston Chronicle editorial]
  • “The administration needs to stop playing word games with women’s health and state clearly they will reject any regulations that will undermine women’s access to basic health care.” [source: Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.]
  • “The birth control pill, the IUD, and emergency contraception might all become unavailable — illegal — as a result.” [source: Brigid Riley, executive director of a Minnesota teen pregnancy prevention organization]
Do something: Sign the petition.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Hey "New York's finest," don't forget: You work for us

On July 25 a New York City rookie cop assaulted a bicyclist participating in a Critical Mass ride. According to the New York Times, Officer Patrick Pogan has sworn a statement that the cyclist, Christopher Long, rode straight at him. Clearly, the video (seen below) shows another story. Meanwhile, Long has been charged with attempted assault of a police officer, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.



This is why cops get a bad name. This is why people hate cops. The New York City Police Department needs a reality check. Perhaps forcibly making all officers learn the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights might help. Protest is not a crime. Bicycling is not a criminal activity. Assaulting a protester is a crime.

Hiring rookie cops who have anger management problems, gigantic chips on their shoulders, and the barest possible understanding of the concept of civil rights should be a crime, and the bureaucrats that do it should be put in jail.

Here's a second video that shows some of the tactics (and incompetence) of the NYPD in dealing with Critical Mass.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Room 641A: AT&T's complicity in Bush's Orwellian America

I pass this windowless, metal-clad behemoth of a building every day. It's practically across the street from my office downtown. It's an AT&T building, but I never understood why it would have absolutely no windows. I always wondered what was inside.



A whistleblower who used to be a technician working for AT&T in this building revealed that it contains a room which is only accessible to National Security Agency (NSA) personnel, into which all communications traffic — internet and telephone — flows and is copied.

"My job was to connect circuits into the splitter device which was hard-wired to the secret room," said whistleblower Mark Klein. "And effectively, the splitter copied the entire data stream of those internet cables into the secret room — and we're talking about phone conversations, email web browsing, everything that goes across the internet."



In January 2006 the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T, accusing the telecom giant of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the NSA in a massive, illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans' communications.

The traffic routed through these secret rooms is not limited to AT&T customers, and AT&T is not the only telecom company complicit in the government's conspiracy to surveil the entirety of American civil communications. The EFF has filed briefs seeking information on similar locked rooms in facilities owned by Verizon, MCI, and others.



Coverage of Room 641A:

Washington Post: A Story of Surveillance: Former Technician 'Turning In' AT&T Over NSA Program
PBS's Frontline: Spying on the Home Front
Wired interview with Mark Klein: Spying in the Death Star: The AT&T Whistle-Blower Tells His Story
Wired: AT&T Whistle-Blower's Evidence
Electronic Frontier Foundation: Hepting v. AT&T
Wikipedia: Room 641A

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ubuntu designers get "inspired" by Download.com button



I was browsing the Ubuntu* site today and I noticed a very familiar-looking green button. I opened up a separate browser window and went over to Download.com, and sure enough, whoever designed Ubuntu's website had used the button I created for Download.com.

Luckily, they'd changed the icon inside the button, since that's a Download.com trademark (you'd be amazed at how many software sites use that trademark without authorization, though).



I don't mind this, I don't even consider it stealing. I'm sure every designer has once or twice taken a small element from someplace else and used it, changing the critical parts so there's no major similarity anymore. In this case, if they'd used the Download.com icon, it would have been a blatant ripoff (not to mention trademark infringement). If they'd just changed the color, again it'd be a serous ripoff. But when it's just the outer part of a button, a button ferchrissakes, I don't care at all. I mean, it's just a button shape, not a logo or an illustration that I'd spent hours or days on. It probably took me less than ten minutes.

This is similar to the incident I wrote about recently where someone made a WordPress theme that used some of my design elements, but in a way that the result didn't really look like my original design much at all.

* Ubuntu is a free, community-developed, Linux-based operating system that you can run on Macs, PCs, and other Unix-capable computers.

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