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, September 24, 2007

A possum under your dishwasher at 3am means you aren't getting much sleep

This was the scene last night / early this morning when I went to put the cat out and close the back door. Cat peering under the dishwasher (even for strange Orson, this is strange), and a little possum under said dishwasher.

Hmm. This is not ideal at 3-something in the morning.

We locked Orson in the other room, then tried shooing the scared little guy out, which he would have none of. We tried luring him out with cat food, to the same effect. Finally, after an hour or more of scratching out heads, we just built a barricade that made a corridor to the back door, and went to bed, hoping he'd make a break for it when the coast was clear.

In the morning, there was no sight of him. So he probably left of his own accord. Hopefully when I get home tonight there won't be a possum under my bed.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ozark Handspun featured in a book

The in-law peeps, Dave and Terri, have been featured in a cool new book for hip knitters: KnitKnit: Profiles + Projects from Knitting's New Wave, along with our buddy Sarah Kohl, who makes ultra-cool handbags out of Ozark Handspun.

I'm still their "webmaster" (man, that term sounds so outdated), making occasional updates, especially to the ever-growing list of stores where you can get the yarn (now in four countries!).

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thursday top 5

"Drifting" by guitarist Andy Mckee
Did I post this before? I can't remember, but it's a great performance.

Mashing up two of the most famous Internet memes.

Awesome coffee art

Light grafitti
A cool photo set.

Piece of Mind
Cool short by a Vancouver Film School student.

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Everything has an environmental impact

I try to reduce my footprint, but I know I can do more. We can all do more — always — even the most eco-conscious of us.

I recently read "Waste Couture: Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry," in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), a peer-reviewed journal published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and it made me think.
Globalization has made it possible to produce clothing at increasingly lower prices, prices so low that many consumers consider this clothing to be disposable. Some call it "fast fashion," the clothing equivalent of fast food.
Some things I knew, some other I didn't:
  • Polyester, the most widely used manufactured fiber, is made from petroleum.
  • The manufacture of polyester and other synthetic fabrics is an energy-intensive process requiring large amounts of crude oil and releasing emissions including volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, and acid gases such as hydrogen chloride, all of which can cause or aggravate respiratory disease.
  • Cotton, one of the most popular and versatile fibers, accounts for a quarter of all the pesticides used in the United States.
  • Fierce global competition in the garment industry translates into poor working conditions for many laborers in developing nations.
  • Some Chinese textile workers make as little as 12–18 cents per hour, according to the U.S. National Labor Committee.
  • Americans throw away more than 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year, and clothing and other textiles represent about 4% of the municipal solid waste, according to the EPA. And this figure is rapidly growing.

There are rays of hope:
  • The U.S. government offers tax incentives for citizens who donate household goods to charities such as the Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries, which salvage a portion of clothing and textiles that would otherwise go to landfills or incinerators.
  • Shopping at these kinds of stores is increasing — a 2006 survey conducted by America's Research Group, a consumer trends research firm, found that about 12–15% of Americans shop at consignment or resale stores.
  • The Council for Textile Recycling estimates that 2.5 billion pounds of post-consumer textile waste is collected for resale, and thus prevented from entering directly into landfills.
  • The International Standards Organization (ISO) is developing standards for a labeling system to identify garments that meet criteria as environmentally friendly.
  • While it still only represents 0.03% of worldwide cotton production, the sale of organic cotton fiber grew by an estimated 22.7% in 2004, over the previous year, according to the Organic Trade Association.
  • Sales of organic cotton women's clothing grew by a healthy 33% in 2004.
  • In 2004, Wal-Mart, America's largest retailer, began selling organic cotton women's shirts at its Sam's Club stores. Today the company is the world's largest buyer of organic cotton, offering several lines of organic cotton apparel.
  • Patagonia has been selling fleece clothing made from postconsumer plastic soda bottles since 1993. The company estimates that between 1993 and 2006 it saved 86 million soda bottles from ending up in the landfill.
Read the full article...

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Yahoo! easter egg

Go to the Yahoo! home page and click on the exclamation point.

Here are some other easter eggs, courtesy of CNET TV.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Google's going to the moon

Google is sponsoring a new X Prize challenge — the first commercial lunar landing. Most of the $30 million prize will go to the first private company that can land a robotic rover on the moon and beam back a gigabyte of images and video to Earth.

Can you imagine? It's been over 30 years since we went to the moon, and we haven't been back. Think about it. That was last century. At this point, there are two or three generations of children who have no memory of the first lunar landing taking place during their lifetime. Including me, by the way. I was one month old.

I met X Prize founder Peter H. Diamandis at the Heinlein Centennial in July. His talk was simply amazing.

X Prize site: article:

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

I almost walked pi

I walked home from work a couple nights ago and my calves still ache a bit today. I used the Google Maps Pedometer to measure my route and it turns out it's farther than I'd thought: 3.66 miles one-way.

[Now playing: Sigur Rós & Steindór Andersen - Fjöll í austri fagurblá]


Two upcoming conferences

I'm looking forward to these two conferences coming to San Francisco next month: An Event Apart happens October 4 and 5, and the Voices that Matter Web Design Conference happens October 22–25. I'll be heading to both.

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Thursday top 5

Flight of the Conchords, "Jenny"
This one's for Ynnej since I missed her birthday by a couple days last month. These two Kiwis are hilarious. There are a whole bunch of good vids of them on YouTube.

Burning Man double rainbow
Yes, this is a real picture.

Family Guy Star Wars
A preview of an upcoming hour-long episode in which the cast of "Family Guy" does the entire first Star Wars movie.

For font geeks and/or Nippophiles
Shuetsu Sato is a railway employee who makes intricate, creative, hand-made signs and maps out of colored tape.

Internet People
If you recognize more than half of these people, you're spending too much time in front of your computer. Like me.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Why some people hate cops

Because some cops are worth hating.

Brett Darrow, 20, was questioned and repeatedly threatened with false charges by Sgt. James Kuehnlein in St. George, MO. It was all caught on video by Darrow's in-car camera, and he posted the video on the Internet.

I can hardly maintain my composure watching this video. This hysterical asshole is soooo out of line, he needs to seek new employment, a psychiatrist, and a vasectomy.

Wikinews: 20-year-old captures abusive police officer on tape
St. Louis Today: Officer in trouble over motorist's video in South County

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Starting a group on Flickr

I've been researching how various community sites handle their offerings and features for groups, so I decided to make a Flickr group. I'd participated in a couple before, but I'd never made one of my own on Flickr.

It was easy to set up and fairly feature-rich, although I think the discussions feature needs a little work. I did a Flickr search for "Robert Heinlein" and then invited a dozen or so people to join the group and add some of their photos. Within about an hour I had five group members.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

How to merge Blogger accounts

I actually have six Blogger blogs, and until today they were spread across two separate Blogger accounts. But I finally tracked down a way to merge accounts. Well, actually it's not merging, it's transferring permissions from one to another, but it accomplishes the same thing.

Until a few months ago this was not possible, according to this helpful post on the Google Groups site. Read post #4 by dancingbrook for the method. It worked like a charm for me, and I was able to move three blogs from one account over, merging them with my primary blogs on my main account.

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Designing and maintaining email newsletters and marketing campaigns

Updated May 12, 2009: Added Mailer Mailer, AWeber, StreamSend, Spam Meltdown, and Equinux’s Stationery Packs.

Updated January 30, 2009: Added iContact and VerticalResponse to the list.

Updated December 16, 2008: Added Emma to the list, the Premailer service, and a Flickr group.

Several web-based companies have sprung up in the past five or six years to provide small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals with better tools for managing large email lists and collecting statistics on how well one’s email marketing efforts are working (or not working, as the case may be).

I have a long history of managing large email lists, having done so for a number of nonprofits in the past 12 years. I used to manage a sizable list for the Graphic Artists Guild, and a couple of pretty large ones (several thousand email addresses) for Headwaters Forest preservationists and for Bay Area Action and Acterra.

Back then, you had to do all the list management with your email program (I used Eudora, which was pretty good for this sort of thing), or often a server-side program called a Listserv, and there was practically no way to measure success other than counting your “Message delivery failed” bounce messages.

Things have come a long way since then. Now we have online services that take a lot of the headaches out of managing your data, and which provide a lot of extra functionality and usually offer a lot of info on best practices for creating and sending email marketing.

Some advantages of these services:
  • Far less administrative time required by your staff or volunteers.
  • Email examples and templates are provided, or you can often upload your own.
  • How-to articles which offer best practices and insights for content and design.
  • Automated list management removes duplicate emails, invalid addresses, and more.
  • Robust statistics track your success: open rates, clicks, and more.
You have to pay for these services, but it’s generally very reasonable compared to the savings your likely to realize in saved time and headaches.

If you’re in the market for this sort of service, here are some you may want to look into:

I can recommend Campaign Monitor because I’ve actually used it (here’s the email event invitation I made with it). The others I have looked at a little bit, but haven’t actually used. I’ve received some good emails from others using Emma and VerticalResponse, though.




Constant Contact



AWeber Communications


Designing HTML email

When it comes to designing and coding for the various email programs, platforms, and browsers people use, it’s even harder to make your email work the same for everyone as it’s to make a web page look the same in every browser.

Among other problems you face, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, and all the other services and programs each display emails differently, plus they all have their own bugs and quirks. For example, you can’t attach CSS like you normally would to a web page, you can’t even put it all in the <head> tag; you have to do all your CSS inline.

More email design resources

Premailer is a free web-based service that runs your HTML email through a script to convert your CSS to inline, checks your HTML against email clients, and other helpful stuff.

Email Design is a small but growing Flickr group showcasing screenshots of good email designs.

Spam Meltdown is a showcase of design trends in HTML email design, categorized by color, industry, design technique, etc.

For Apple Mail users, Equinux offers several Stationery Packs of professionally designed templates (works with OS X Leopard only). I’m not sure how compliant they are with the various webmail apps, etc., but the designs are high quality and easy to use.

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Thursday top 5, double dose!

"Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Muppets"

Taking transit advertising to the next level

'80s video game Joust to be a movie
Two words: Awe. Some.

Ron Paul. Hmmm.
This video makes him out to be the kind of conservative I almost like. Notice I said conservative, not Republican (although he's that too). He's also an MD — an OB/GYN no less — but he's against a women's right to choose. Meh.

This could be me in a few years
I just need to work on my Proust references a bit.

Extreme funny
It starts off a little slow, but half-way through it does actually get really funny.

Definitely NSFW (or little kids)
Pulp Fiction Fuckin' Short Version

High Tech Noon

Funny cats
Because what's a Top 5 without funny cats?

Iggy Pop's entertaining rider
A rider is a document that spells out what a band requires a venue to provide for the artist. There have been some legendary strange requests over the years, but this one's just plain fun to read.

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