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, January 29, 2007

And now for something completely different

tags: video, humor

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Oh "Snap!" it's "Wink!"

We hired this cute girl Leah (yes, I can still say that even though I'm married!) for the first video project to be produced in-house at Webshots. The show was being called "Snap!" for a long time, but apparently it got changed sometime in the last couple days to "Wink!"

It hasn't launched yet ( week), but this is a sneak peak. Sort of. It's actually just a test video they produced at MacWorld, and the real show will be a bit different. I just saw the new show intro they shot and it's really cool.

Episode Zero: The Macworld Special

Leah is notable for another reason (other than for being cute). She raised money to buy a MacBook Pro by selling sponsorship space on it to companies who would get their logos laser-etched into the 'Book's case.

tags: work, video, tech, Apple, branding

Three Stooges apparently in charge over at Diebold Systems

First a Princeton University study showed that "a single person with 60 seconds of unsupervised access to the system, who either picked the lock (easy in 10 seconds) or had a key, could slip a vote-swapping virus onto a single machine which could then undetectably affect every other machine in the county to steal an entire election," according to the BradBlog.

Now one of the Princeton guys has discovered that Diebold was stupid enough to post a photo of the key used to access the machines, on their website. Not only that, there's only one key used for every voting machine sold. So, every pollworker in the U.S. had access to one (and could have easily copied it). As if that wasn't idiotic enough, the researcher showed he didn't even need the key. He found he could copy the key using only the photo posted on the Diebold website!

Who runs this company?

On a related happy note, I noticed yesterday that my credit union's ATMs are manufactured by...guess who...

tags: politics

Thursday top 5

It's been a few weeks since I posted some Thursday distractions for you. Here's some stuff that I've been saving for up to six months. Ready...set...waste time!

BumpTop Desktop
This is an awesome little video demo of a computer desktop alternative where the environment is meant to mimick how people actually organize content on their real world desktops (often somewhat chaotically). Every item on the desktop is a 3D object with a physics model allowing you to create piles of stuff, toss stuff aside, shuffle through things, and much moer... I wonder if it would actually be useful. Regardless, it looks extremely cool. I wanna play with it!

"Tamacun" (live) by Rodrigo y Gabriela
Very cool classical guitarists (Jason will approve). They're playing Coachella this year, and I think they're coming back to San Francisco in March or something. A free MP3 of the studio recording of this song is also available from Download Music. Thanks to Liz D. for pointing me to this artist.

"Hey Ya!" Charlie Brown Style

Ooh, finally! Here's my chance to make it big!

Singin' in the rain
I don't know when this came out since I don't see commeercial TV all that often, but this is a pretty cool commercial.

tags: video, music, animation, humor, tech, Thursday top 5

Kim family auction boasts a wealth of artistic talent

Recently a bunch of artists contributed amazing works to an auction benefitting the James Kim Memorial Fund, including screen prints, paintings, quilts, ceramics, jewelry and more. The auction's done, but if you want to see some great art and craft stuff, check out the page.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Hmm...that background looks familiar

Amsterdamn designed a WordPress theme called Royaline that looks an awful lot like my portfolio.

In fact, I'm pretty sure the background tile they used was swiped right off my site (compare theirs to mine).

The rest of the design isn't really a blatant ripoff or anything, so I'm not concerned. They basically just swiped my background pattern and my color palette, which I don't mind. Frankly, the WP theme is decent but not all that great.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

100% so far in 2007

Yay 100%! Er, no wait... I've been sick for 100% of 2007 so far.

This is the longest cold I remember ever having. On Friday, on the way to the airport, I had to get off BART at our stop and run to the loft to drop something off, and then back to BART to catch the next train for SFO. Which meant sprinting. When I got back on the train, I was breathing hard and then something caught in my throat, like a tickle, and I couldn't inhale more than a small breath without erupting into coughs. Nothing would dislodge it and I spent the 35-minute train ride to the airport coughing and tearing up and barely able to breathe.

All weekend after that, my cold felt worse again. And I thought I was almost over it by the end of last week.

Went to the doctor yesterday because it's been three weeks now, and that seems inordinately long to have a cold. She gave me some pills for the congestion, but so far they haven't done anything in the past 12 hours. We'll see...

tags: misc. personal

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Score 1 for Martin

Last week we were in a goals and strategy (sorry: goals and "initiatives") meeting at work and Martin (tha boss-man) pointed out that a couple of the things we were discussing were to be kept under our hats (understandably), and I perked up with, "So I shouldn't mention these on my blog, huh?"

To which he was kind enough to point out that only him, Velma, and about four other people read my blog.

Dissed! No respect from the Man! Okay, so there may be egg on my face. But c'mon! I've got at least ten readers! And how many do you have, Mr. Bigshot?

tags: work, CNET, friends, humor

Saturday, January 13, 2007

What to do with a dead iPod

I mentioned earlier that Velma bought me a new iPod. In part this was because we were planning on taking her older one on the trip to Mexico, and about two days before we left I plugged it in to the Mini to sync some new tunes, and it died.

Velma spent some time and effort the other day researching the error code it was producing, and it seems like it might be a hopeless case.

I suppose we could do this with it...

tags: Apple, tech, gadgets, iPod, video, humor

Friday, January 12, 2007

Designing for actual browser sizes

Update December 2008: Thomas has published a follow-up article, “Browser sizes revisited.” The practical advice is: Design websites to be no wider than 980px. The reasons: Even though most people are browsing on 1280x800 monitors these days, they keep their browser windows minimized to a width between about 1200 and 1300 pixels. The other reason is that mobile phone web browsers all use 980 as their default width.

Original entry: Thomas Baekdal has published a report that fairly definitively puts to rest the notion that there are a lot of people still using 800x600 as their monitor size and therefore that websites should be narrower than 800 pixels.

I've been saying for more than three years that the data show that 1024x768 has been the norm both worldwide and in North America, and the number of people using that resolution has not surprisingly increased a great deal in those three years. Actually, there are a lot of people using much larger monitor resolutions these days.

The report is will researched, and the user types and geographical breakdown is broad, although I wish there was a slightly larger number of actual domains that were used for testing. But at least the type of sites used — primarily fashion sites for teens, men, and women — would presumably cover a fairly accurate and broad age range.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Watch this, it's not what you might think

Monday, January 08, 2007

Creating a custom 404 "file not found" page

I'd been meaning to do this for about two years. But I finally got around to finishing it tonight, and it only took about an hour.

It's an extremely basic page, not designed at all, and even uses a table (!) since I'd started this about two years or more ago and just slapped some links and stuff into it to finish it... I'll go back and redo it later this year when I overhaul the entire site from the ground up. But here's what it looks like for now: File not found.

Here's a decent how-to if you want to know how to do it. You just need to have access to your .htacces file on your web server, which can sometime be a little tricky since files beginning with periods are invisible on Macs and Unix systems. So beware of that.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Mystical Photography captures the beauty of San Francisco, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle, has long been at the forefront of online journalism, often forging the way for new ideas and technologies way in advance of other newspapers.

In the past year or two, they've added two dozen blogs to the site on topics ranging from local sports to local news, and although they don't all get billing on the Gate's front page, they're only a click away.

The one I've only just recently tuned in to is the photoblog of stalwart Chronicle photojournalist Fred Larson, called Mystical Photography. The Gate already had a big hit in my mind with the DIP (their Day in Pictures round-up of artistically exceptional, humorously interesting, and newsworthy photos from around the world), but I hadn't discovered Larson's photoblog until the other night.

Larson is well known as a Bay Area photographer whose images have for 25 years captured the beauty of living in and around San Francisco. I'm not as good as he is, but I'd sure relish the chance to make a living driving around every day just taking pictures. The Chronicle offers a book of Larson's works, many of which have been published in the newspaper, plus now offers prints of all the photos on the Mystical Photography photoblog.

tags: photography, photoblogs, San Francisco, Bay Area

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Some days I'm just so ashamed of being American

Australian satirist Julian Morrow takes the piss.

Sadly, this is why the Democrats will lose the presidency in 2008. But not the only reason.

tags: video, politics, humor

Back in the US

We returned from our honeymoon and vacation in Mexico on December 25, and we had a great time. I've only had time to post a few photos from the literally thousands I took on this trip, but trust me, there will be many more to come. You'll be sick of photos of Mexico soon enough.

After we got back, I was looking forward to another week of vacation before having to go back to work after New Year's, but I promptly got a really bad cold on our second day back, and I've been trying to shake it for a week and a half now.

I finally bought my new camera the week before we left on the trip, so I had a lot of fun with the new gear. I was already fairly used to the model I purchased — the Sony Cyber-shot F828 8.0 megapixel — because Ari was kind enough to lend me his for about six or eight weeks last summer. It's a slightly older model now, but it's the last one Sony manufactured with the pivoting lens design that I like so much. I'm very disappointed the newer Sony prosumer cameras omit this important design feature, and no other manufacturer has anything like it.

I bought an 8 GB compact flash memory card and a handful of 1 and 2 GB cards as backups in case I ran out of memory on the trip. I wasn't taking my laptop so I feared not having enough space for all the photos I'd take. It turned out to be fine, though, and I didn't even need the backup cards. I'll probably sell a few of them, so if you need any, let me know and I'll cut you a deal.

The trip was a lot of fun, very interesting from a sociological perspective, and very relaxing. Plus we had lots and lots of honeymoon sex.

Last week I also bought a new Mac Pro. Two 2.66 GHz Dual-Core Xeons. Yup, count 'em: Four Intel processors in my machine. I never thought I'd say that.

A few years ago, when I bought my G4, I told myself I wasn't going to go any longer than two years between upgrades to my home computer. But it's been three and a half since I upgraded, and I'd been looking to do it for a while. Not to mention saving up money to do it. It's not a cheap machine. Luckily, I located a demo model that'd been pulled off the floor at the Stanford store (10% off), and made nice with the store manager and the sales guy, who gave me his last student discount for 2006 that he hadn't used up (more savings).

Oh, and lest I forget to mention yet another new toy I've been enjoying, Velma surprised me with a video iPod as a New Year's gift (we celebrate New Year's, not that other holiday). She gave it to me a little early, so we had it on the Mexico trip, which made plane rides and many a night more fun for me, since I could listen to the Hitchhiker's Guide BBC broadcasts or watch one of the two movies I'd taken along on the iPod.

tags: personal, hitchin', photography, apple, tech