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.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Lots of monkeys, and a guy with a snake up his nose

The editors who put together SFGate's Day in Pictures feature have, um, an interesting sense of humor. The daily collection of news photos from around the world is the best I've seen on the 'Net, but it's the often captions that take the cake.

At the end of the year, they choose their favorite photos, and 2004 had some great ones. Although I'm left wondering about the preponderance of monkeys.

Bult kicks ass

Through the power of Internet? I have discovered that there's a Swedish metal band called Bult. The songs suffer somewhat from bad translation, but how can you resist checking them out when their website is at -- I kid you not --

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Kevin Cornell, illustrator

This is a very well-designed website. But I think Jason will especially like his drawings.

The E stands for Extra. Get it?

Perhaps it's the final example of my addiction. For the past few weeks I've been seeing outdoor ads around town for something called BE, whose tagline is "Beer with Caffeine, Ginseng, and Guarana Extract and Natural Flavor." Apparently this concoction is prounounced "B to the E." Ah, clever marketers.

I popped into a local liquor store (of which there is no dearth in my neighborhood) to see if they had it, and sure enough, the little shiny black and red singles (it's a 10-ounce can, slightly smaller than a normal beer) were there in the cooler.

That's when I noticed that this brilliant new scheme was brought to us by Anheuser-Busch, the makers of Budweiser. "Oh my," I thought, "do I really want to buy a Bud?"

"But wait," I said to myself, the marketing message obviously beginning to work it's magic, "it's not just a Bud! It's B to the E..."

I bought two cans and brought them home to try one. It's not too bad. It's faintly Budweiserish (did I just invent that word?), but with a lot of guarana taste in each gulp. No significant aftertaste. Thankfully.

Apparently each can contains 22.5 carbs and 203 calories (yikes), and it's 6.6% alcohol by volume. Each contains 54 milligrams of caffeine (only about half a normal cup of coffee), which ain't that much. At least, not compared to my normal daily intake.

Ynnej, why aren't you listed this guy's MVHS Alumni database? Maybe you should kick his ass. Or hack his db. Or, y'know, just smoke a lot and watch TV.

Friday, December 24, 2004

SHHH — Society for HandHeld Hushing

Thanks to the Society for HandHeld Hushing (a.k.a. the designers at Draplin Industries and Coudal Partners) you can now print your own cards (one of several designs pictured above) to hand to those annoying mobile phone users who seem to think that everyone in earshot is equally as interested in their petty conversations as they are.

Download the PDF here...

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Small world

I needed a few things for dinner yesterday afternoon, so I walked two blocks to the Bi-Rite Market. It's a tiny little whole foods market on 18th Street.

As I was queueing to check out, I heard someone say, "Mark?" I turn around and there's Schools Group alum Kristen Hayes. Turns out, she's been working there for three months, the same time I've been living here. She's taking a semester off from college and living with her sister, about four blocks from me.

Makes me wonder if there are any other former Schoolies living in the Mission. I ran into one about nine or ten months ago in Mountain View, and she said she was living up here in SF somewhere.

Speaking of others who live nearby, Acterra's Watershed Council Coordinator Katie Pilat lives a block from me. She bikes to CalTrain every day and takes the train to Palo Alto. Having done that for a couple weeks when I first got the new job up here but hadn't moved yet, I can attest to that making for a reeeally long day.

Above: Olya and Kristen (pictured) and Carmen and Giovanna (not pictured) and I went for ice cream in Arcata, after visiting Headwaters Grove in July, 2001.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Remember the Graphing Calculator?

The story of how the Graphing Calculator managed to ship on 20 million computers is a fascinating and hilarious one.

Ron Avitzur was an engineer at Apple in the early '90s when his project was cancelled and he was laid off. But he didn't let this stop him. He kept showing up for work anyway. His badge still worked, so why not?

"I had many sympathyzers," Ron writes. "Apple's engineers thought what I was doing was cool... They thought my software would show off the speed of their new machine {the PowerPC was about to be launched -Ed.}. None of them was able to hire me, however, so I worked unofficially, in classic 'skunkworks' fashion."

� Read the rest of the story...

Wednesday, December 22, 2004's Staff Favorites 2004

So I've been working on this feature for the past week:'s Staff Favorites of 2004. Staffers could submit their favorite download in the Games, Software, and Music categories on our site.

I'm pretty happy with the way it came out, although it was a tight deadline so I didn't have time to do any interactivity; I would have preferred all the image links to be mouseovers. But there wasn't time.

I did all the HTML in CSS with minimal use of tables (although it gets plonked into a template by our production staff, and the templates are a jumble of terribly bloated table code -- I fully expect to address this early next year). Of course, I also did the design, which is my actual job. Doing the HTML is a bonus. It's a bonus for me because it allows me to learn more CSS as I go. And it's a bonus to our production staff because it makes their job really, really easy.

BTW, I'm not the guy with the bag over his head. But yes, my photo is included on the feature.

Citical flaw in PHP

Mr. Attitude and Ynnej may want to download the update to PHP that addresses a critical flaw discovered last week.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

1000 Journals Project

"...If you ask a kindergarten class how many of them are artists, they'll all raise their hands. Ask the same question of 6th graders, and maybe one third will respond. Ask high school grads, and few will admit to it. What happens to us growing up? We begin to fear criticism, and tend to keep our creativity to ourselves. Many people keep journals, of writing or sketching, but not many share them with people. (when was the last time a friend invited you to read their diary?) You will not be judged here. And you will have company. This is for you. For everyone..."

The 1000 Journals Project is a fascinating collaborative art project. I know a few people whom I think should add their names to the queue to received journals. Hilary, Holly, Velma, Olya, Jason, are you listening?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Does anyone remember SoundJam?

Those guys over at Panic (a really great software company in Portland) help fill in some of the story of the birth of iTunes, through the story of their own product, Audion. Sound convoluted? Well, it's not really. Just read the story.

It's a little on the lengthy side, and certainly features too much Jobs-worship for Jason's taste, but it's really, really well written, quite funny, and features lots of little anecdotes and historical graphics.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Motor Trend ad

Here's a sampling of the many exciting things I get to work on here at This is a half-page ad for our Music section. It's going to run in Motor Trend magazine.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Pixar likes Macs, what a surprise

Ynnej will be interested in this article about one of Pixar's tools, Review Sketch.

"The Review Sketch tool...resides on all the Macs at Pixar," says the article. "...The director could draw on an image, and then play it back with the image moving underneath his drawing. A slider let him choose the width of the anti-aliased line."

Anyone surprised that Pixar uses Macs? Can you say "Steve Jobs"?

Rumor: Flash-based iPod

Rumor has it that Apple will introduce a Flash-based iPod at MacWorld SF in January.


� Love

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Note to self

Note to self: When a homeless guy asks you if you have a light, first make sure he's wearing pants.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Spring water from the headwaters of Headwaters

In 1999, shortly after the public acquisition of Headwaters Grove and Elk Head Springs, I traveled to Humboldt for a rally for Julia Butterfly. The other reason I went was for a quick day trip to the main grove, where I wanted to pump a few gallons of water from Little South Fork of the Elk River.

Susan Stansbury, Anamar�a Ni�o-Murcia, and I hauled that water out of the forest and down the mountain (water's heavy!) and back down to the Bay Area, where I bottled it in some attractive bottles and offered them for sale as a fundraiser for the Headwaters Forest Project (now sadly defunct).

We didn't end up selling many. So I still have the water today. That is, I have some of it. Most of it has evaporated over the years, especially the years I lived in the Mountain View hothouse I called The Studio.

The Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters had a fundraising auction last Sunday, and I donated four bottles of the water with a slightly updated and larger version of the label (pictured above). BACH's a great organization, so if you're interested in Headwaters Forest, definitely get plugged in with them.

Big Rick

I happened upon Big Rick Stuart's website today. He was my favorite DJ on LIVE 105 a few years ago, and I was bummed when he was let go. He's still on KFOG today. But I never listen to that station. Maybe I should...

Anyway, Rick's site is cool, but by far the coolest part is his six-page personal timeline of the stations he's been at over his entire career. It's a venerable mini-history of Bay Area (and a few beyond) radio, and it brings back a lot of memories. Rick's had stints at KUSF, the Quake, KITS (aka LIVE 105), and even KNAC in SoCal, which later became the legendary "Pure Rock" station that broke all those LA hair bands I covered back in the Western Front News days.

German stop frame animation

Peter Licht does interesting stop frame animation videos. [requires RealPlayer]

Monday, December 06, 2004

Apple should use this

Will this be the next iPod TV ad you see? party?

Howard Dean will "lay out a vision for the future of the Democratic Party" in a live webcast this Wednesday at noon (Eastern time) from Washington, D.C.

More interestingly: "He will outline not just a direction for our party, but a concrete destination: a party built from the ground up," wrote Democracy for America Executive Director Tom McMahon in an email to DFA supporters this morning.

"That means a party powered by millions of small donors, not millionaires. It means a party that speaks plainly and commits to concrete outcomes that affect real people. And it means a party that competes in every single race, for every single vote, in all fifty states," wrote McMahon.

I think I'll tune in at on Wednesday to see what's up. I'd still have preferred that the Green Party would have been an actual presence in this year's election, but I'm all for having more kids in the pool -- especially if it means a challenge to America's retarded two-party stronghold -- and a new party with Dean at the forefront could be an interesting species indeed.

Now if I can just convince congress to switch to a parliamentary system...