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.

Monday, August 29, 2005

New photoblog

I installed this PHP-based software called Pixelpost and played with it a little over the weekend. It's pretty spiffy. It's free, which is excellent. Another thing I like about it is that I can upload a bunch of photos and then go out of town, and it'll post one a day while I'm gone. Which is exactly what I'm-a gonna do.

So for the next week you should be treated to a photo a day from last year's Burning Man trip, while I'm in the desert hopefully getting some more good photos this year.

Did I mention that my camera seems to be working? The one that's been sitting in a box for the past nine months or more? The one I thought didn't work no more? Well, I fired it up the other night to see if it might work, on the off-chance. And sure enough it works! Sort of.

The internal battery seems dead, so it won't retain the clock setting. So all my photos are going to have the wrong date, and who knows what other EXIF data will be wrong. And the LCD display still flickers strangely every once in a while, which is what is was doing before it died last year.

So I don't actually hold out a lot of hope that it'll last through the next week, but it'd be nice.

I was going to buy a new camera, but it would've pretty much cleaned out the bank to get the one I want, so this is better for now.

Vote for Pete

Finally, Peter Drekmeier is running for Palo Alto City Council. People have been trying to get him to run for ages. I'd definitely vote for Pete if I was still in Palo Alto.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Save CBGBs will be the exclusive webcaster for this Wednesday's Save CBGBs benefit concert in New York City. The show's lineup won't be announced until tomorrow but I know a few of the acts. I'm sworn to secrecy, of course. But I can tell you it's gonna be a great show.

For anyone who doesn't know. CBGBs is the birthplace of punk rock and was the early stomping grounds for artists such as The Ramones, Blondie, The Talking Heads, The Beastie Boys, and so many more it's ridiculous. More recently, acts such as The Strokes have emerged from CBGBs.

CBGBs' landlord has given them notice, but there is an indication that Mayor Bloomberg's office might be persuaded by public outcry to declare the legendary nightclub some sort of historical landmark or something. You can send a letter to the mayor (waaaay better than an email), or sign a petition to the mayor.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Copyright Office IE-only protest

» Update here...

Action alert: oppose Ron Nehring for CA Board of Forestry

[From Forests Forever]

Who is Ron Nehring, and why does the governor think he should sit on the state Board of Forestry?

A Republican political activist since college, Nehring is currently the vice-chairman of the California Republican Party. He is a senior consultant for Americans for Tax Reform, the far-right group founded by anti-tax activist Grover Norquist (see: He was also director of development and public affairs for the National Center for Public Policy Research (, a conservative think tank that, among many other conservative causes, argues against taking action to stop global warming and against preserving roadless forests.

Appointed to the board on July 12 by Schwarzenegger, Nehring promises to bring a strong bias in favor of the timber industry. He also lacks any actual forestry experience. His primary qualification for the job seems to be that his house came close to urning down in a forest fire in 2003.

Nehring's appointment is now before the Senate Rules Committee for confirmation.

According to Section 731 of the Public Resources Code of California, a candidate for membership on the board should have "general knowledge of, interest in, and experience with, problems relating to watershed management (including hydrology and soil science), forest management practices, fish and wildlife, range management, forest economics, or land use planning."

Nehring has not claimed any of these qualifications.

The nine-member Board of Forestry is appointed by the governor and is supposed to represent a range of interests. Nehring's appointment would tip the balance of the board yet further in favor of industry and away from sound conservation practices and citizen participation.

"In addition to his lack of any relevant qualifications," said the Sierra Club's Paul Mason, "Ron Nehring's potential to do lasting damage merits a quick denial of his confirmation."


Write a letter to Sen. Don Perata, the Senate Rules Committee chair, and urge him to hold a hearing on the Nehring nomination before the Senate adjourns on Sept. 9.

Tell Perata you oppose Nehring's nomination and ask the senator not to confirm Nehring's appointment to the California Board of Forestry.

Sen. Don Perata, Chair,
Senate Rules Committee
State Capitol, Room 205
Sacramento, CA 95814


~ Please hold a hearing on Nehring's nomination before Sept. 9.

~ Several important issues are coming up before the Board of Forestry, such as the revised Jackson State Forest management plan, and the proposed rule change that would weaken protections for endangered salmon. This is not the time to seat another potential timber industry advocate on the Board of Forestry.

~ According to Section 731 of the California Code, Nehring lacks the necessary experience to sit on the board.

~ Given his background, Nehring can be expected to tilt the Board of Forestry against environmental protection. He will not fairly represent the community, and should not hold a seat reserved for members of the general public.

~ Please reject the nomination of Ron Nehring to the Board of Forestry.

Other Rules Committee members are:

James Battin (Vice-Chair) (R-La Quinta)
State Capitol, Room 3067
Sacramento, CA 95814

Roy Ashburn, (R-Bakersfield)
State Capitol, Room 5094
Sacramento, CA 95814

Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach)
State Capitol, Room 4040
Sacramento, CA 95814

Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles)
State Capitol, Room 5100
Sacramento CA 95814

Big announcement tomorrow from Music

I can't say what. But it's cool. Check the site tomorrow.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I need your phone number

As I mentioned in a previous post, my mobile phone died last week (for the second time in a about a year) and I lost all my address book data. So, I need your phone number. Yes, you.

As long as you're sitting right there at your computer, why don't you email me all your current contact info? And the reward? Well, now I can send you a postcard from Black Rock City next week : )

BTW, the phone I finally settled on (I researched this for many weeks this year, knowing my crappy old phone needed replacing), is the SonyEricsson S710a. I unfortunately had to also go with Cingular Wireless, and a two-year contract to boot, but I'm trying to get over that by repeating to myself: "It's alright that the coverage sucks in many places, it's alright that the coverage sucks in many places, it's only a cell phone..."

The main reasons this particular phone was a must:

A) It's got Bluetooth, so I can wirelessly sync to my Mac.
B) It syncs with my Mac without having to hack the software (enabling me to back up my phone book easily).
C) It as a highly-rated 1.3 megapixel camera.

Oh, and you want my new phone number? You'll have to email me your contact info first, because there's no way I'm putting it on the web : P

Weekly Standards spotlights redesign

The Weekly Standards is a website that features large corporate sites that have been redesigned using web standards. They approached us for an interview-via-email and luckily our new CSS wizard Greg Penhaligon took on the task of writing a full article [Update: The Weekly Standards went down for good, but you can still view this article on] for them. A few of my initial responses to TWS's interview questions are also included as pullquotes (the last paragraph, which begins with "My advice for other designers..." is also a pullquote from me, but they style it incorrectly so it lacks an attribution. I've let them know and it might be fixed by the time you look).

There's been more feedback on the web about the redesign, and I've been collecting links to all the various places where people have commented. I'll post a list soonish.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Worst album covers ever

Okay, I don't know what's funnier.

The Sun collected some of the worst album covers ever. They're great. And I mean that in the they're-actually-really-awful way.

But then imagine my surprise when I got to number 8. I know it's not nice to laugh at the expense of my dad while he's in the hospital, but who knew he had this alter ego? And how creepy is it that the guy is apparently feeding alcohol to a 16-year-old? Ha ha ha! Hilarious.

'Course, when you're done looking at those, you can always check out the Sun's Page 3. What's that you say, ya don't know what Page 3 is...?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Spock sings an ode to Bilbo Baggins

All I can say is, thank bog the '70s are dead. Filed under: wtf?!

Thursday, August 18, 2005


I carry a Moleskine around with me in my pocket wherever I go, every day. It's helpful for taking notes, jotting down ideas and thoughts to blog, writing reminders to myself, and drawing icons and other designs (I'll probably upload some pics of some of them some time, when I have a camera again).

I never get as detailed and complex as some of these journals from the 1000 Journals Project, Book, and MoleskineArt. They're beautiful. Works of art even. Book is actually on display in a museum in Ireland right now.

I've known some artistic people over the years who made great journals too. Aaron, Hilary, and Olya come to mind, and I've seen a few of Jason's jottings although never a whole journal.

So this is an open invitation. I'd love to see photos or scans of your journal. I'll post ones I think other people will like too. Email me, or leave a comment if you don't know my email address.

That weight on your shoulder god.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

New Copyright Office service to work only in IE

The U.S. Copyright Office is developing a tool by which citizens may pre-register copyright claims via the agency's website. Only problem is, it'll only work with Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which is not exactly known as the most secure browser in the world. Not to mention the fact that government agencies shouldn't be leaving out large numbers of the public when they offer services.

I've registered my dissent. You can to, through the Free Software Foundation.

To whom it may concern,

In the web development world, professionals create web applications that will work for the widest possible audience. By developing a Copyright Office interface to the public that will not work for a significant and growing number of citizens who use browsers other than Internet Explorer (IE), the Copyright Office is sending a clear message to citizens who use browsers other than IE: "Sorry, you're a minority of users, therefore you're not important."

If the developers of this web application suggest that the number of citizens using browsers other than IE is insignificant, I'm afraid that their data are fatally flawed. Check their facts; they are selling you a product that won't work for all the people who will want to use it.

By effectively turning away large numbers of citizens who want to use this service, the agency will treat them like second-class citizens. This is unconscionable.

Only an amateur would build a web app that's browser-specific and later have to back-engineer for it to work for the rest of the audience or market. And since no timeline for this future functionality has been announced, the public must assume that it is a low priority. What happens, then, if a budget constraint cuts it altogether? The public's saddled with a tool that many can't use.

Mark Bult
web development and usability expert

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


I promised I'd post a screenshot of the progress on the redesign, and I know you've all been waiting with bated breath ever since (wtf does that phrase mean, anyway?), so here it is. So far. Because, as you know, I'm an endless tweaker of minute Photoshop details. Plus I haven't finished all the sections yet, and the changes I made tonight on the Rants template are going to affect the designs I'd almost finished for the Portfolio template... Ah, hell. I'll probably finish by Halloween.

Monday, August 15, 2005

That's a little harsh, isn't it?

Photo of the Day | Kill Your Boss | August 6, 2005 | in the Mission

I guess this guy had a bad day. I'd rather kill my television, personally.

Rupert or Bob?

New Scientist collected the top ten suggestions for naming the Solar System's recently discovered tenth planet. I can't decide whether I prefer Rupert or Bob.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Highlights (lowlights?) of the past month

Jeesh, there's been much too much going on, but just not enough time to blog it all. So here's a brief synopsis...

My dad's still in the ICU, it's been over a month. He may be transfered to another bed in the hospital soon. This has been a very difficult thing for me on many fronts. First and foremost ? and most obviously, I would think ? I was just plain worried. But it also has meant a ton of driving up and down the peninsula from SF to Los Gatos and back. It's all very tiring and time-consuming, and a lot of the time it's unsatisfying and pointless because there's little I can do if I get there on a day he can't talk or if he's completely zonked out from drugs or physical therapy.

Of course, this all happened at the same time as mucho work craziness: We were launching A) the redesign I'd been working on for 6 months, and B) a completely new Videos section.

Velma had also moved in during this time, and living with a person in an open loft with no private room one of us can retreat to is going fairly well but nevertheless takes a lot of work. I'm accustomed to more privacy and our sleep habits and some other things don't sync 100%. There are benefits, too, but I'll address those some other time.

There's been plenty of other stuff at work happening, keeping me a little stressed. Nothing bad, just major deadlines and a landslide of projects.

I've been feeling verrrry tired and run down.

To top it all off, my mobile died completely again, wiping all my numbers. So if you call me on that 408 number, I probably won't get the message. I'm scrambling to try to get the new phone I want, so I should hopefully be able to send out new deets in a few days.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Not quite ready for prime time

I've been diligently working on the redesign of this here blog and as a whole, and I'm nearly done with the design phase. Of course, then I have to do the hard part ? produce the HTML and CSS and *yikes* PHP. I'll be relying heavily on my Movable Type book and probably have to call Jason a few times for help. I'll try to post a screenshot tonight or tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The DST bug?

I was musing the other evening that it was getting dark earlier, and that soon I'm going to be riding home in the dark again (always a fun addition to the set of circumstances that endanger an urban cyclist's life on any given day), and Velma mentioned that she thought daylight saving time (DST) had been pushed back by a month this year.

The 2005 Energy Policy Act, signed recently by Resident Bush, does push back DST by four weeks. But, I learned today, it doesn't go into effect until 2007.

This will, in turn, create a series of unfortunate problems that some technology analysts are saying trumps the famed Y2K bug. Most people have lots of electronics with clocks or timers. Often these gadgets auto-update their clocks to compensate for DST. When the correct date in spring and fall roll around, the chip in your VCR or microwave or digital camera or cellphone or the-list-goes-on, knows to change it's internal clock. Some Internet-enabled devices, like my Macs, can set their clock by syncing with an online clock.

But many devices are never going to get the update they'd require to know that DST starts a month later in 2007. Can you imagine your DVD manufacturer providing a downloadable firmware update on their website? Not likely.

So does this mean we'll have millions of wrong clocks and potentially obsolete electronics heading to America's already overfilled landfills starting in 2007?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Daniel Clowes on his f*&%king awesome job

ReadyMade (which is a really great magazine I should've mentioned in this earlier post), asks comic book artist Daniel Clowes, "How did you get that f*&%ing awesome job?"

Clowes earned a following for his self-published Ghost World comic books, which he later adapted into a really good and well-received movie. United Artists will release Art School Confidential [set pics] reportedly later this year (which I obviously have to go see with art-school geek Aaron), an adaptation of a story from Clowes' Eightball comics.

Arty decks for a good cause

Skate Press is autioning off 50 skateboard decks, designed by artists such as Andy Jenkins, Don Pendleton, and Andy Mueller. Proceeds will go toward building a skate park in curator/designer Joe Kral's hometown in Minnesota.

� Skate or Die Auction...
� Opening exhibit photos...


In case there's anyone left who still doubts that Richard Simmons is gay [WMV].

Friday, August 05, 2005

Top 5 for Friday

Excellent photoblog

This guy's design portfolio is really good.

Slick alternative theme to Windows XP
Vista might sport some better looks when it comes out next year, but this XP theme, by an awesome Chinese designer, is waaay better.

Apple's Mighty Mouse

Things that are not in the U.S. Constitution

A warning label I actually approve of

Is there any way we can really get warning labels like these? I mean, I'll sneak into every hotel room in California and affix them myself if I have to.

First look at Vista

Early screenshots of Vista (the operating system formerly known as Longhorn) indicate that Bill and his team have once again been paying some attention to what Cupertino's been doing for the past two years in OS X.

Some of the UI improvements in Vista look promising: Finally decent-looking text rendering (hopefully this will extend to all apps), support for inline changes to the assumedly XML metadata associated with all sorts of files (like "Rating:" above -- doesn't that look familiar?), and an overall cleaner interface. Although I've always preferred this awesome theme done by Chinese designer Rokey.

Of course, the look and feel is merely a fancy dress on a pig (or a steer in this case?) if it isn't backed up by significant changes in usability, operability, stability, trustworthiness, and a long list of other things Microsoft has a less than stellar track record on.

But I was fairly impressed with XP. It wasn't gonna make me switch or anything, but XP was a vast improvement.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Don't trust Trusted Computing

"My data is my life, and I won't keep it in a strongbox that someone else has the keys for."

Cory Doctorow, on the news that Apple's kernel makes use of Intel's controversial Trusted Computing technology [ 1 | 2 | 3 ], swears he will switch away from Apple in a heartbeat if it comes true, and maybe even have his Apple tattoo removed.

As Cory points out, Trusted Computing renders the concept of "open formats" meaningless. You can have a program that writes documents in a supposedly "open" file format like .html or .mp3, but Trusted Computing can restrict .mp3s created by, say, iTunes, to only play in iTunes. Or another example, you can have .html files that are only authorized/recognized by a certain browser.

This is the sort of thing we expect from huge corporate monopolies from Washington state, not from Cupertino. Let's hope other Mac addicts rattle the cages furiously and loudly about this dangerous development. Videos

Yesterday afternoon we launched Videos, a new section joining Software, Music, and Games. So far there are over 500 videos in categories such as Extreme Sports, Animation, Movies & TV, ESPN, Music Videos, and more. Five hundred may not seem like a lot, but considering we only had 90 days to develop this whole beast from designs to publicly launched beta product, that's pretty good.

This was a little challenging for me, and I'm not particularly enamored with the design of the section, but I had less than two weeks to do all the design, and a lot of changes had to be made during the development process, all the way through last Friday night. Aaron, who's the product lead, heard more than a couple "Fine, I can live with that"s from me. He's no stranger to the phrase, it being the mantra he had to adopt when creating Music about a year and a half ago with a fraction of the functionality he wanted to see on it for launch.

The main problem for me was that the Videos category came to fruition about 3/4 of my way through the overall redesign project, and I had to hurriedly fit in this new section.

Fitting its tabs into the UI was not a problem, since I had been warned to keep plenty of room for new tabs so we could expand into other content areas in future, but now I had to design this whole new section from scratch, right in the middle of crunch time finishing all the rest of the site's designs. So it came out looking rather hurried to me. But hey, it's beta.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Xena, warrior planet?

Scientists have confirmed the tenth planet in the Solar System, the first identified since Pluto in 1930. They've dubbed it Xena (is Dr. Brown a Xena, Warrior Princess fan?).

Now we'll have hundreds of TV and radio reporters trying to figure out how to pronounce it. "Is it 'ecks-eena' or 'zee-na'?"