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, January 27, 2006

eBaum's World coming to a TV near you

USA Network is going to make a TV show out of the weird and wacky time-waster of a site (what? I'm not saying that's a bad thing) eBaum's World.

Yahoo! to buy Digg?

Rumors are surfacing that Yahoo! will announce the purchase of Digg next week, although the Diggers are denying it. I've mentioned to a few friends in conversation that I predict social-bookmarking sites like, Digg, and reddit will be snapped up in 2006 like donuts in the PD break room. Then someone reminded me that, um, Yahoo! already bought in December.

I should've mentioned my prediction here earlier.

I'm very interested in social bookmarking sites, by the way, and I may have an announcement regarding a similar service one day soon.

Filed in: social-bookmarking, tech, Web 2.0

Thursday, January 26, 2006

"Gimme a roll"

"Vampires aren't even evil. Football players are." Hey Ynnej and Zonk, keep these guys in mind while you get together your D&D group in Boston.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Distractions for the masses! This week's top 5 totally unrelated links

For the font dork in all of us. Especially useful for web designers, developers, and CSS mavens.

Giving shit to Web 2.0

Clerks II trailer

Ever wondered how the Internet works?

Awesome Flickr hack [Flash].

Photoblog status

I got a bit behind in posting to the photoblog this month. Things have been a little crazy in my life the past six weeks or so... New cat = problem child. Dad's been back in the hospital twice. And there have been some very significant changes in my job at work.

I hope to get back on schedule with a bunch of cool new photo posts this weekend. Any requests? La Voz era black and whites? Hair bands? Twenty straight days of Ynnej with different hairstyles? More BAA Schoolie flashbacks? Nothing but Zia McCabe?

C'mon, gimme some good ideas.

The Bush presidency as RPG


Friday, January 20, 2006

Introducing Google Gulp

"Beta Carroty — Want to be healthy without actually going so far as to eat (shudder) vegetables? Get your daily pick-me-up dose of cancer-fighting carotenoids with this smooth, not all chalky morning smoothie." Oh, those wacky Googlers.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

New reeeeally big iMac

Jenny and I met up with Scott LaMorte at MacWorld last week for about an hour. Scott and I checked out the new 20-foot iMacs. Those screens just keep getting bigger and bigger!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

First impression of your website is important

A recent study by researchers at Carleton University in Ottawa shows that the brain can make flash judgements almost as fast as the eye can take in the information, meaning that a user's first impression of your website is made in the first 50 milliseconds of viewing.

About six or seven years ago I was marginally involved in the beginning of web credibility research by Stanford's Persuasive Technology Lab. Their "How can you boost your web site's credibility?" top 10 list is a good, basic primer for budding user-centered designers and information architects.

Filed in: branding, web design, usability, web credibility

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Custom printed MMs


A couple easy things you can do to prepare for an emergency

Because you never know when you're gonna get hit by a bus.

Get a Road ID with your allergies, emergency contacts, etc.

Add one or more ICE (in case of emergency) numbers to your mobile phone.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Analysis of Apple's new software and hardware announcements

FM tuner for iPods new!
Finally! Now I might buy an iPod. If I can't listen to NPR on it, I don't want to spend $200 bucks or more for a music player. This new little gadget will retail for only $49, but as of this writing it hasn't appeared on the online Apple Store yet. Edit: I lied; here it is. It just wasn't included on the iPod Accessories page (!).

OS X 10.4.4 upgrade
Includes a bunch of new Dashboard widgets, but I'm not sure what else. Run Software Update now and you should get it.

iLife '06 upgrade ($79)
I am soooo going to buy this upgrade for me and Velma. Here's a run-down of five of the six included apps (no iTunes upgrade this time)...

iPhoto upgrade
Faster, support for 250,000 photos, integration with other iApps, fullscreen editing and comparison mode, Effects Panel for color correcting (similar to Photoshop's Auto Adjustments), improved quality for Photo Books, new photo calendars and cards with the extremely high quality Apple template styles, Photocasting (essentially an RSS-based photoblog).

iMovie upgrade
Animated themes, multiple open projects, automatically export to your iPod or to a video podcast.

iDVD upgrade
Widescreen menus, support for third part DVD burners, tighter integration with iMovie and iPhoto through the new iLife media browser.

Garage Band upgrade
New Podcast Studio which will simplify the process of recording and adding effects (audio and video) to podcasts, lots of new effects, integration with iChat, and tons of new free sounds.

iWeb new!
Fantastic Apple templates and effects (image masking, cropping, rotating, reflections, etc.), ability to create and share photo albums, blogs, and podcasts, integration with .Mac for one-click publishing (unclear how easy it'll be to publish to other servers), drag-and-drop playlist integration with the iTunes Music Store, automatic RSS feeds, and even a photo viewer that uses AJAX! It's pretty friggin' slick.

.Mac upgrade
.Mac has been updated, mostly to run iWeb and the other aforementioned new features.

iWork minor upgrade
3D charts, better image editing, table calculations, new themes.

Dual-processor iMac new!
Intel's inside! (No, the "Intel Inside" sticker doesn't seem to appear anywhere on the new Macs. Thank bog.) The iMac G5 just came out, to rave reviews. Now we have the next generation iMac, with Intel's Core Duo chip, purportedly 2–3 times faster than the G5. Same design as the G5 iMac with Front Row, built-in iSight, single form-factor, new remote control, etc.

Dual-processor MacBook Pro brand friggin' new!
The new Intel-based MacBook Pro is purportedly nearly 4 times faster than my Powerbook G4. I am instantly jealous. From a branding perspective, it was interesting but understandable that they have departed not only from the PowerPC chip but with the PowerBook name. However, I think the name MacBook Pro is a little weak, but whatever, they finally got the word Mac in the name of the product, which was always a strange omission. So what else? Brighter display, new built-in iSight camera, Front Row, IR sensor and Apple remote control, larger trackpad, Sudden Motion Sensor which parks the hard drive if there's a sudden change in orientation (like getting knocked off a table), DVI out, backlit keyboard, larger HDs and graphics chips, new industry standard ExpressCard Slot instead of PCI slot, and they finally fixed various issues with the shoddy power cable connector with the new MagSafe, a magnetic cable connection to the Book. Ships in February.

Apple Universal and Rosetta
All of Apple's OS X applications, including iLife, iWork, Safari, Address Book, etc., run natively on both PowerPC and Intel chips using Apple's Universal technology. Additionally, the new Intel machines ship with Rosetta, allowing PowerPC applications to run on the Intel machines. Hmm. Carbon anyone? Jobs announced that the entire hardware line will be transitioned to Intel ships by the end of 2006. He premiered the first TV spot, and I was not at all surprised that it uses a Moby song as the background.

Watch Steve's keynote
If you want to see the whole show (it's long but worth it), including premieres of the new iPod and Intel commercials, check it out here [QuickTime].

What's missing?
A couple things I expected to see were an Intel-based MacMini (I guess they need something for next spring, right?), and an upgrade to Front Row, which still seems like an early 1.0 product to me.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

AOL snaps up Weblogs Inc. — Are blog networks the new black?

With a bevvy of successful sites such as the popular Engadget and all their Unofficial XYZ Blogs (Apple, Photoshop, Microsoft, Google, fill in the blank), we should have realized that Weblogs Inc. was a prime target to be picked off. Let's hope AOL doesn't shoot itself in the foot with this purchase.

Weblogs Inc. has built an impressive network of vertical market (a.k.a. niche market, a.k.a. affinity market) blog properties in practically every category you can imagine. While many of the blogs are still in their infancy, apparently that network was impressive enough to earn a reported "about $25 million" pricetag (according to Reuters).

But Weblogs Inc. is not the only blog network. Gawker Media has the popular Gizmodo, Gawker, and Wonkette properties, among others.

And there are a few smaller (but growing) players out there too, such as Business Logs' 9Rules Network.

In a related note, VeriSign recently bought for $2.3 million, and for an estimated $30 million. is a tool which allows bloggers to ping a server to alert people — via pingbacks, newsreaders, etc. — to know that their blog has been updated. processes close to 2 million pings a day. VeriSign's Michael Graves outlined the reasons for the purchase and future plans on the VeriSign blog (apropos, don'tcha think?).

Filed under: tech, business, blogging, blog networks

Everything is gay

Hilarious video on Google Video. You do know about Google Video, right? It rocks.

filed under: humor, video

Spiraling chaos

According to LiveJournal user foundphoto4life, "my friend sarah new hampshire found a journal in a box in a junkyard. there were pictures inside of the girl who wrote it. shes made a livejournal in the name of girl and has been posting some entries from it. its crazy!"

I don't know if it's real or not, but it's convincingly well-written if it's fiction.

Quite a few years ago I realized that I had to consciously divorce chaotic people from my life. I had been affected in extremely negative ways too often by the type of people who thrive on chaos, and I resloved to avoid those types in future.

The turning point was being in a serious relationship with a manic depressive (that was not her only problem, just the main one) who was only happy when she was unhappy. Leaving her house late one night, after apologizing for the umpteenth time for starting a fight I hadn't started, I had the gut-wrenching realization that I was beginning to hate the person I loved.

I've known a lot of chatoic people in my life, and of course some of those relationships are not as bad as others, are still worthwhile even with the all the headaches they can cause. But one of the most important life lessons I've ever ever learned was that sometimes it's just not worth it anymore. You have to have enough self-respect to protect yourself and your sanity and sometimes that means just saying, "I don't need this person in my life anymore."

This girl's lj makes some of the chaotic people I've known look like saints. Here's a sample:

"... i guess i should explain myself. the past couple of entries i've written have been jumbled and infused by crystal meth. they are ramblings that make no sense out of the moments in time they were spewed out of me... i didn't mean for this to happen and now i am being swallowed whole..."

Friday, January 06, 2006

"Brace! Brace! Brace!"

You probably didn't see mention in the news of Delta flight 1187's engine burnout and emergency landing on December 23. Brandon Heckman, a passenger on that flight, writes of the experience on his website.

"...I rolled forward, wrapped my arms under my knees, and wrapped my fingers around the seat frame. I closed my eyes...and imagined giving all of myself to the plane — I thought that by giving my soul to the plane, I could make it somehow lighter and that we'd land safer because of it... I didn't realize we'd landed until the nervous applause started..."

As I read the story, I realized...I think that's the same day I was flying to Missouri.

Makes you think.

Star Wars as an animated gif

Yeah, the whole movie. As an animated gif. Cool : )

Thursday, January 05, 2006

MacWorld prediction: New mid-level consumer machine

Perhaps only a web designer would notice such a hint, but there's a placeholder space for a new image on the Apple website, exactly where a new addition to the mid-level lineup that includes the iMac and Mac Mini.

If your monitor's not too poorly calibrated, and you look carefully, you'll see a color shift in the gray backgound where the new button will probably be added on Monday, right about the time Steve Jobs is uttering the words "...and one last thing..." at Moscone Center in San Francisco.

My guess is that we'll see an entertainment-based Intel mini there.

Intel rebranded

Intel this week debuted its new corporate identity, plus a completely redesigned website. The new logo plays off the huge brand awareness of the company's "Intel Inside" mark with the swoop-mark around it. The new site's good and clean, but somewhat evocative of SGI's design from a few years ago (before they let it slide downhill), even down to the display font.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Yahoo! continues to bolster its offerings with purchases

Yahoo!, like many of the biggies, quietly buys up other companies and then integrates their technologies into Yahoo!'s offerings. This is usually only noticed when it's a relatively well-known company they gobble up, like Flickr.

Here's a partial list of companies you may have heard of, from the SEO by the Sea blog:

The original widget makers, pre-Dashboard. Now dubbed the Yahoo! Widget Engine.
A cool calendering/events listing site.
The popular social bookmarking site. Looks like they finally redesigned and got rid of the ugly UI.
Ping service sort of like and, with social bookmarking qualities sort of like

Travel search engine already integrated into Y! Travel.

Email and RSS aggregation that's been compared to Gmail.

Music site already integrated into Yahoo! Music.

Internet telephony/VoIP. Look for integration into Y! Messenger.

» Full list and analysis...

Filed under: blogs, technology, software, business, VoIP

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Things I'm passionate about, in no particular order:

  • music of all sorts, but most especially ze rock en roll

  • technological wizardry, especially in the software realm, and less so about hardware

  • sharing information with others (why else would I spend so much time writing stuff here?)

  • trees, and environmental concerns as a whole

  • indoor sports with Velma

  • modern architecture

  • art, graphic design, and typography

  • photography

  • enabling activism for others

  • learning

  • the future — envisioning it, exploring its possibilities, dreaming and wondering about it, exploring other people's visions of it, keeping abreast of our progress toward it

  • humor, of the dry or surreal kinds

  • books

filed under: lists, about mark

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Orson the sugar-coated cat

When he's not busy attacking my feet or jumping half-way onto my lap but actually succeeding only in plunging every last one of his front paws' nails into my upper leg so he can pull himself up onto my lap, Orson is the sweetest thing since pure sugar. Come to think of it, he kinda looks a bit like a large bag or pure sugar exploded and completely covered him :) He's the sugar-coated cat!

Now, he looks a little funny in this photo, because he still had stitches in his lower eyelid when I snapped the pic. And you'd look a little weird with your eye half stitched shut too, okay?

I picked him up (again) from the SPCA a couple days ago; he had to be checked back in because he developed a cold and was sneezing green kitty snot all over Nanette's house. Yay for green kitty snot!

But when I picked him up he'd had his sutures out that morning, and I signed all the paperwork and paid the $80 and took him home as our first adoptee.

Now if I can just get him to stop waking me at 6am by pouncing on my face.