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, January 27, 2005

OMG these people are nuts

Now that's what I call fire. [Quicktime]

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Corpse Bride



Ooh, Velms is going to wet herself over this. It's the trailer for Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, coming (not surprisingly) in time for next Halloween.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Ow

Have you ever been punched in the stomach 50 times? 'Cause that's what this feels like. And that's after a fistful of ibuprofen. Before the vitamin I, it feels like I've been run over by a steamroller.

I'm really sick. And it sucks.

Bogdammit, I don't get sick four times in less than four months. This never happens to me. I don't get sick even twice in a normal year! WTF?! Grrrr... ow.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Indicative of why I like the people I work with

I email my boss a mockup and ask her to approve the design, and she replies: "hells yeah."

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Congratulations Factor Design



It'll come as no surprise to anyone who's familiar with my work that Factor Design has been a huge influence on me for many years. They are celebrating their 10th anniversary with an monograph (seen in the inset picture on their website, above) that I'd really like to get my hands on, but so far haven't been able to locate through normal retail channels.

Interestingly enough, their San Francisco office is about a block away from where I work.

Crazy stuff seen downtown

(within 5 minutes or less)

Two guys in business attire walking down the street with a war protest sign.

A bike messenger bellowing an unintelligible greeting, "Aaaarrghhhh!", to another bike messenger going the other direction, then and heading down the wrong way into Market Street traffic.

"666" and an upside-down cross scrawled in chalk on a utility box. Who knew Satan was the lord of utilities?

Two guys walking down the street wearing a billboard. Seriously. An entire billboard. (TheWalkingBillboards.com)

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Sk8r grrls

Their aren't a lot of female skaters, so in the late 1990s sisters Tiffany and Nicole Morgan started Villa Villa Cola (I have no idea what the name means, but it's not a drink so far as I know) to bring together skater girls wherever they could find them.

Many zines, parties, videos, bumps, scrapes, and bruises later, they have produced -- along with Lisa Whitaker and Lori Damiano -- the indie film Getting Nowhere Faster, which is all about girl skaters.



I saw a flier about it in my neighborhood in November or December, and jotted down the URL villavillacola.com to check it out, but didn't get around to it until just recently. So I was disappointed to learn that I missed the local premier screening at the Roxie.

But the trailer looks very cool. Apparently the film opens for wider release on January 25, so hopefully it'll be back in my neighborhood eventually.

My letter to Apple

Steve Jobs
Apple Computer, Inc.
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014

Dear Steve Jobs,

I have been an Apple customer since 1986, and would like to continue to be one until 2086.

But the environmental stance of the company leaves a lot to be desired.

E-waste is a tremendous threat to the people of countries where we export our garbage. It's unconscionable for any company -- any society! -- to export our problems and make them someone else's problem. Especially when it threatens their health, safety, and their very lives.

If you continue to lobby against progressive legislation that attempts to provide solutions for companies, consumers, and future generations, you will eventually be forced by legislation to swallow a more bitter pill than if you announced a progressive program now. Take HP's example to heart.

Apple is an innovator in so many ways, yet I'm ashamed of its corporate citizenship.

Sincerely,
Mark Bult

� Write your own...

Flame

Photo of the Day | Yerba Buena Center for the Arts | December 2004

I have no idea what the significance of this burning candle was, but it was an interesting sight. It was apparently a live image, projected extremely large onto the wall of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Which, by the way, is a cool place which has an unfortunately terrible logo.

Friday, January 14, 2005

The week

It's been a full week.

Ynnej and Stellah and I went to MacWorld on Wednesday to fondle all the new iGoods. Stellah bowed out early, and actually Ynnej and I didn't really stay that long either. It was kind of liberating to not have to peruse all the little developers' booths on the off chance that I might sometime need their products for some cheap nonprofit (no names here) that either A) isn't capable of using the more expensive but ultimately better product, or B) isn't technologically adept enough to know that they occasionally need to purchase software and hardware to keep their operations going.

So Ynnej and I went back to CNET for an hour and a half so I could get some more work done before heading to my place to ingest alcoholic beverages late into the night with Hunter. But first we went around the corner from CNET to We Fix Macs, where FastMac was hosting a post-MW party. We earned our entry -- and therefore our on-tap beer and finger food -- by listening very politely to the FastMac woman's pitch for about 15 minutes. For the rest of the night, Ynnej couldn't stop saying how absurd it was that she was served a beer at this party without anyone batting an eye, and yet can't buy a six-pack at the liquor store.

So we met up with Hunter, who's leaving for Mexico for three months, which means that I will once again have to endure the endless sobbing of my favorite Slacktress, who will assuredly spend nine-tenths of the time we hang out together complaining about how she's not getting laid.

We got way too drunk. Goddamn Jack. Anyhow, this state of being didn't prevent Hunter and I from having a long conversation about society, mores, revolution, violence, randomness, the responsibilities of being an American and having children, libertarianism, murder, capitol punishment, philosophy, binary, and probably a bunch of other shit I forgot, while he smoked the longest single bowl in history. Hunter's the best damn thing that's happened to Ynnej in a long time, and I really, really like him. And hey, he's hot too.

Ynnej and Hunter crashed at my house, because of course we're all too responsible to drive in such a condition, and I'm only sorry that the air mattress had a hole in it. Anyone know if you can patch an air mattress with a bike repair kit?

Last night the midget Russian came up to unload the last three weeks' worth of life drama on me, so of course we had to go drinking. I finally, finally got to go to a bar in my own neighborhood! For crying out loud, I've been living there for over three months!

So we got plastered and probably talked way too loud in the bar about how hot this person was or that person was, and she kept preventing me from pointing at the hot people. Yeah, like everybody couldn't hear us already.

Best quote of the night (although I can only vaguely remember what it was about): "Fish and boobies -- awesome, awesome!" By which Olya meant, "Being in the Galapagos, counting boobies (the bird kind) would be coolness."

To address Olya's insistence that she get a steak before the night was out, we went out looking for something that was still open at about 10:30. I was skeptical, but luckily the first person we asked told us about Sparky's, an all-night diner up at Church and Market. So we headed up there to search for it. Hooray for breakfast at 11pm! And steak. And a big sundae. And an even bigger tip for the waitress who put up with our drunken asses.

I had lunch today with Ira L. Black, photographer (see image) and all-around good guy, who was part of my camp at BM04. We went for Indian across the street, and talked about the wonderful ladies in our lives. Oh, and also talked a little about photography and geek stuff. But mostly about the babes and how awesome they are.

So this weekend I'll be in Pescadero saying goodbye to Andi and Josie, who are moving to Wisconsin. Or is it Wyoming? Aw, what's the difference.

Protesters call for Apple to clean up its iWaste

Here's a little news to prove to Mr. Attitude that I'm not just a trumpet for Apple's successes.



Environmental activists engaged in demonstrations outside of the company's Cupertino headquarters and at MacWorld this week, calling on Apple to become a leader in electronics recycling and to reverse its habit of lobbying against legislation that would enact "shared responsibility" solutions whereby manufacturers would be held partly responsible for the end-of-lifecycle recycling and/or disposal of their products.

"I think their image is very much at odds with reality," said Robin Schneider, executive director of the Austin-based Texas Campaign for the Environment. Schneider said the company didn't respond to yesterday's protest or to a letter she delivered to it asking it to improve its environmental programs. [from E-Commerce Times]

"We need to get more big-name companies on our side, and Apple should be a leader, not a laggard,'' said Ted Smith, director of Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. [from TimesLeader.com]

Yes, it's true. Apple could (and should!) be a lot better in this realm of corporate citizenship.

To learn more or to write a letter to Steve Jobs, visit the Computer Take Back Campaign website, www.BadApple.biz.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Direct action gets better results

From New Scientist | vol. 183, issue 2462 | 28 August 2004, page 4

Chaining yourself to bulldozers and throwing paint over company executives is more likely to influence environmental policy than schmoozing on Capitol Hill. So says an analysis of the impact of the green movement in the US between 1960 and 1994.

The study compares the number of bills passed by Congress with tactics employed by green groups in the same year. Jon Agnone, a sociologist at the University of Washington, Seattle, found that sit-ins, rallies and boycotts were highly effective at forcing new environmental laws. Each protest raised the number of pro-environment bills passed by 2.2 per cent. Neither effort spent schmoozing politicians nor the state of public opinion made any difference.

But conventional politics does play a part. Environmental legislation is 75 per cent more likely to pass when Democrats control both houses of Congress. And it gets a 200 per cent boost in congressional election years, presumably because politicians see it as a vote winner.

Agnone, who presented his results on 17 August at the American Sociological Association's meeting in San Francisco, says protest groups lose their edge when they become part of the system. Their most effective weapon is disruption. "If you make a big enough disturbance then people have to recognise what you are doing."

[Also reported here.]

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

iTunes'll get you laid

Says so. Right here.

2004 paintings added to Olya.net



Although she doesn't believe I've been working on them (sheesh, some friends I have), I've added five of Olya's most recent paintings to her gallery. These are all from 2004, during her time in the tiny village of Klyuchee ("clyoo-chee") in southern Siberia.

� Visit Olya.net...

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The iGoods



So, my two predictions proved to be true (I'd surmised that we'd see iWorks and a Flash-based iPod, based on the industry scuttle and trademark applications I've been hearing about for the past two months), but Apple surprised even me by coming through with the rumored miniMac, actually dubbed the Mac Mini.

The new iPod Shuffle is actually cooler than I had envisioned. And although Notes (part of iWork) looks very cool (but I reserve final judgement until I've demoed it), I'm surprised there are only two apps in the first rev of this suite. I presume, though, that we'll be seeing additions to the suite in the next two years.

� Get all the info at Apple.com...

Monday, January 10, 2005

Updating the Beauty gallery



Here's a preview of another section of enews.org I've been working on. I've finally gotten around to updating the Beauty gallery, after about two years, with some new photos.

You'll have a short wait before it's posted, though, since I'm still getting ahold of a few of the women in the photos whom I haven't talked with in a while, to reaffirm their permission to use these pictures.

Suckage of rain

Well that completely sucked. I just biked home in a downpour that left me drenched all the way to my socks and underwear.

Exclusive! MacWorld product announcement

While all the popular Apple rumor sites [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 ] are buzzing about the headless iMac, iWork, a flash iPod, the unlikely iHome, whether or not Tiger will be introduced, and a half-dozen other rumors, yours truly, enews.org, brings you the exclusive to end all exclusives.

Steve-o will definitely be announcing the iBitch tomorrow morning.

Remember, you heard it here first.

Michael Wolf, photographer

Photo of the Day | by Michael Wolf



Anyone interested in going to the reception?

Michael Wolf
Architecture of Density
January 6 - February 26, 2005
Reception for the Artist: Thursday, February 3rd, 5:30 - 7:30 pm
Robert Koch Gallery, 49 Geary St, San Francisco

Robert Koch Gallery is pleased to present Architecture of Density, an exhibition of large scale color photographs by Michael Wolf. Wolf has lived and worked in Hong Kong for ten years. Stimulated by the region's complex urban dynamics, he makes dizzying photographs of its architecture.

One of the most densely populated metropolitan areas in the world, Hong Kong has an overall density of nearly 6,700 people per square kilometer. The majority of its citizens live in flats in high-rise buildings. In Architecture of Density, Wolf investigates these vibrant city blocks, finding a mesmerizing abstraction in the buildings' facades.

Some of the structures in the series are photographed without reference to the context of sky or ground, and many buildings are seen in a state of repair or construction: their walls covered with a grid of scaffolding or the soft colored curtains that protect the streets below from falling debris. From a distance, such elements become a part of the photograph's intricate design.

Upon closer inspection of each photograph, the anonymous public face of the city is full of rewarding detail -- suddenly public space is private space, and large swatches of color give way to smaller pieces of people's lives. The trappings of the people are still visible here: their days inform the detail of these buildings. Bits of laundry and hanging plants pepper the tiny rectangles of windows -- the only irregularities in this orderly design.

In 2002, the San Francisco Chronicle called Wolf's work in Hong Kong "most improbable and humanly alert". In previous series, Wolf described the vernacular culture of the street. His early vision of the region dwelt on personal aesthetic gestures left in back doors and alleyways, such as makeshift seating in the streets. In these photographs, small tokens of human presence took precedence over monumental architecture. Wolf continues to explore the theme of the organic metropolis -- that which develops according to the caprice of its citizens as much as the planning of its architects. In Architecture of Density, his vision has evolved to evaluate the high-rises that shape the spatial experience of Hong Kong's citizens. Wolf finds in each building a singular character, despite its functional purpose and massive form.

Wolf was born in Munich, Germany in 1954. He studied first at the North Toronto Collegiate Institute in Canada, then UC Berkeley and, in the mid 1970s, with Otto Steinert at the University of Essen, in Germany. Published monographs include Sitting in China (2002) and China im Wandel (China in Transition) (2001). Hong Kong: Front Door/Back Door will be published by Thames and Hudson in 2005.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Rainbow-colored bookshelves

Adobe Books has allowed it's books to be rearranged by color by a Bay Area artist named Chris Cobb.

Adobe Books is one of my regular stops in my neighborhood. It's on 16th Street, between Guerrero and Valencia, and near enough to one of my favorite takeout places that I can stop in there while my food order's coming.

I learned about the impending color-coding a few weeks before it happened. Several of the bookstore's employees were less than enthusiastic about the impending exercise, and one in particular grumbled audibly about it on more than one occasion when I was browsing the pre-reorganized shelves.

A couple weeks after the change, the Adobe was the buzz of the town. There was a busy opening night (I've never seen so many people in that little store), the press were calling (I saw it on SFGate/the Chronicle, and heard it on NPR), and people have been coming in droves (well, not quite droves, but some other word that means more than normal amounts) to see and browse. And hopefully they'll buy a book or two.

The employees haven't seemed nearly as angsty about the whole affair since it meant so many new patrons, and the colorful run has been held over a number of extra weeks. As of this posting, it's still there, or at least was last night. But it won't last! Check it out soon.

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Sunrise

I mentioned that I stayed up all night the other day. I went up on the roof at sunrise to capture the SF skyline.

Update: Ynnej requested a copy of this photo as a desktop, so here it is (1024 x 768).

Photo of the Day | Sunrise from the rooftop | January 3, 2005

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Big news in the blogosphere: Six Apart buys LiveJournal

Ynnej can no longer stodgily claim that "a LiveJournal is not a blog," since Six Apart (makers of Movable Type and TypePad) today announced that it has purchased Danga Interactive, the parent of LiveJournal.com.

For those unfortunates who have been living in a hole for the past year or two, bloggers have been responsible for breaking all kinds of national and international stories, blogs have had a tremendous impact on coverage of the Iraq war and the 2004 election, Time magazine included bloggers among the People Who Mattered in the Person of the Year issue, and "blog" was Merriam-Webster's #1 word of 2004.

The number of bloggers is growing rapidly, as are the readers. Movable Type is the industry leader in high-end server-end blogging software (MT powered the blogs of both George Bush and John Kerry's websites, for example), and TypePad is its mid-level counterpart.

LiveJournal, on the other hand, has been around slightly longer. But that doesn't mean it's necessarily more mature. Most LJ users are in their teens and 20s, while MT and TypePad users tend to be a little older. And LJ is certainly not as robust nor as flexible, and it certainly leaves a lot to be desired in its UI and it's overall look. It's not pretty. But LJ also has its benefits (it's open source, for example, and has a very large user base), especially for the segment it serves, and that's exactly why it's a great purchase for Six Apart.

Rumors started flying a couple days ago about this purchase, and there were a lot of fears, on the LJ users' side, that Six Apart would change the fee structure, change LJ's open source status, and other such idle chatter. But posts by both SA president Mena Trott and LJ founder Brad Fitzpatrick should bely those fears.

LJ will actually remain a separate service with separate a develpoment team. Interestingly, though, the LJ employees will be relocating from Portland, OR, to Six Apart's new San Francisco headquarters (SA moved from San Mateo over New Year's, but I have no idea where their new office is).

As a side note, although my own blog has been powered by Blogger since I started it a year and a half ago, I've been planning to move to Movable Type for six months. And it should be happening soon. I also have a LiveJournal account, by the way, but it's only so I can comment on my friends' LJs.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

If at first you don't succeed

...then email me again.

Honest, it's not because I don't like you. I'm not ignoring you. Your email message may just have been lost among the 1,500 spam messages I normally receive (this is not an exaggeration) over any period of a few days.

If you don't get a response from me, perhaps I never saw your message. Try again (you do save your outgoing messages in your Sent or Outgoing folder, right? If not, here's a valuable tip -- most email programs allow you to turn this option on if it isn't on by default).

I just spent an hour wading through over 4,600 accumulated messages in my Junk folder, looking to see if there was anything that slipped in there that shouldn't have. There were a few things. But c'mon, there's only so long one can stare at messages with subjects like "Get cia|is today" and "Fwd: Downl0ad spongebob movie" before your eyes glaze over and your head begins to ache.

Why do I get so much spam? Well, it's not for lack of spam-blocking technology. I use three layers of spam filtering. But I happen to be particularly susceptible to this annoyance, and here are a few reasons why:

Long-term email addresses -- I've owned the enews.org domain since 1995. And that gives spammers a long time to have archived my address(es), added them to databases, and sold them them all round the world.

Email addresses published publicly -- My enews.org address has appeared all over the web for many years, since I was a contact for so many organizations and campaigns (Bay Area Action, Acterra, Headwaters Forest Project, Schools Group, etc.), not to mention so many companies (Western Front Graphics, Flux51, Mark Bult Design). Every time your email address appears on the web, it's liable to be scavenged by automated 'bots that crawl the 'Net looking for email addresses to add to their spam databases.

Catch-all addresses -- I have my enews.org mail server account set to filter [anything][at]enews.org. This is called a "catch-all" address. There are several important reasons why I have to do this for my domain, but I won't bore you with them, as they're relatively obscure and technical. But this means that spammers can simply guess at addresses at my domain, making them up to see if anything goes through, and I'll get exponentially more spam than the normal email user because I get everything coming to addresses like Floobified[at]enews.org through Zombified[at]enews.org, and everything in between.

Here are a few quick tips for you, however, so you don't fall into the trap I'm stuck in:

Use spam filters or other anti-spam technology -- Obviously. Do I really need to tell you this? If the answer is yes, please leave a comment and I'll try to find time to compile some suggestions for good spam protection services or software.

Change your email address regularly -- If you don't own your own domain (that's the "something.com" part), you have the luxury of being able to abaondon an address that becomes too bloated with incoming spam. Obviously, it's best to notify everyone in your address book when you do this, so they have your new address.

Have a private account and a public account -- It's best to have a private address that you give only to your friends and family, and that you ask them to guard it against becoming public. Then set up a free account at gmail or Hotmail or Yahoo! or someplace. This would be the address you use if you're posting on a website forum, or subscribing to a listserv / email newsletter, or responding to an eBay posting, for example. You can always shut this account down on a yearly basis if it gets too spammy.

Don't use catch-all addresses -- Avoid this if you can. If your ISP asks you if you want a catch-all email address, decline. If your address is "[email protected]", and you regularly get mail addressed to other people, like "[email protected]", your account may be set up with a catch-all. Turn it off in your webmail control panel, or ask your ISP to turn it off.

Don't let your email address be published on web pages -- Avoid this if you can (if you have to, use the public address I recommend above). If a link to your address has to be on your website -- say, for example, as the contact for your small business -- don't let it appear as text on the page, use some technique that obscures the address with JavaScript, spells it out like "fred [at] whatnot [dot] com", or something else. This foils some, but sadly not all, the 'bots. [I'll eventually post some good ways to obscure your address, foil the 'bots, and still retain link functionality.]

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P2P Wars, Episode II: A new hope

Ynnej, being a (former?) BitTorrent user, may be interested in this article about Exeem from CNET News.com:

A new hope for BitTorrent?

Just weeks after legal attacks crippled the popular BitTorrent file-swapping community, an underground programmer from its ranks has stepped forward to announce new software designed to withstand future onslaughts from Hollywood...

� Read the full article...

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Tired, so damn tired



I stayed awake all Sunday night, working, to try to force myself back onto a normal sleep schedule. I crashed for a few hours in the late afternoon Monday, which pretty much screwed up the plan. Now it's 1am and I really should've been in bed three hours ago.

So why the hell am I up posting, instead of upstairs snoring? Well, I wanted to upload this screenshot of the impending enews.org redesign, which I spent all weekend working on, because I knew I'd forget to upload it otherwise. There's a lot more work to be done (I haven't even begun coding, and I'll have to figure out Movable Type), but the design is coming along nicely.