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, August 28, 2008

Thursday Top 5

Skaters shot at 120 fps
Absolutely beautiful video quality; you should click on the full-screen icon.

Amazing photography from the 2008 Olympics
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Roof Ray
An ingenious Google Maps mashup that allows you to calculate your solar power generating potential.

WOXY Vintage iTunes stream
It’s like listening to Live 105 circa 1990.
Link will open in iTunes: WoxyVintage.pls

Porn for Christians
#1 It must portray sex within the context of a Christian marriage. #2 It must be instructional. And it gets better...

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Urge Sierra Pacific to be a better corporate citizen

Sierra Pacific Industries plans to cut down a million acres of California's forests in the next 50 years. SPI is one of the biggest landowners in California and owns most of the forest lands in the Sierra. Our forests are not all parks, like most American believe.

SPI has one of the worst environmental records of California's logging companies due to its years of clearcutting practices and steadfast resistance to adopting to a more sustainable forestry model.

ForestEthics is applying pressure to Sierra Pacific and you can help.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thursday Top 5

An Epic Conversation with Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi, Part 1
An conversation between Cory Doctorow, (technologist, author, and BoingBoing mainstay) and John Scalzi (sci-fi author and noted purveyor of Whatever). The video editing is a bit annoying. Actually, I like all of it except the incredibly annoying, loud intro music. They also use it between cuts. Laaaame. Oh, if you are interested, part two of the video is here.

“This I Believe” by Robert A. Heinlein
This short piece makes my cry every time I read it. The Heinlein Foundation recently found a recording of the original radio broadcast for Edward R. Murrow’s radio show in 1952, and posted an MP3.

Caduceus Cellars
Tool’s Maynard James Keenan has a winery.

Stephen King’s “N.”
An original 25-episode video/comic series. A new episode every weekday through August 29.

Waxing the winker
A couple guys go to LA’s (apparently) famous waxing salon Pink Cheeks. Yeah, um, definitely NSFW. And btw, “anal bleaching?” Ew.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Battle In Seattle

Next month will see the debut of an independent film about the 1999 demonstrations against the WTO in Seattle. The movie looks like it will be pretty good, not the average Hollywood tale in which the “terrorists” all have foreign accents. Independent director Stuart Townsend has taken pains to present the story from many points of view, including lead characters from amongst the protesters, the media, the police, and the general Seattle citizenry who got caught up in something they didn’t understand.

While the the film’s official site features the normal marketing pieces about the cast, et al, it also features three very personal and extremely interesting short clips in which Townsend talks about his impetus to write and make this movie. Even more interestingly, the site features a great deal of information about the issues the demonstrators were trying to bring to light (see screenshot below).

There’s even a separate site, Who Controls the World?, which acts as sort of a historical archive of the 1999 protests, featuring short video interviews with protest organizers and participants, a day-by-day timeline, participant memories, and much more about the pitfalls of globalization.

The film opens September 19 in San Francisco and a few other cities. For a higher quality version of the trailer, go to IMDB entry for Battle in Seattle.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Free the Airwaves

Remember on old TVs how, when you used to switch from channel 5 to 7 (for example), there might be static on channel 6? Those unused spaces on the analog broadcast spectrum are called “white spaces.”

Currently more than half of the spectrum is unused. When TV broadcasters go fully digital-spectrum next year and discontinue their analog broadcasts altogether, there will be a lot more. A coalition including Google, Microsoft, Dell, and others, is asking the U.S. government to turn over white spaces to public use (broadcast spectrum is, after all, a legally recognized public resource). It could be used for better public access to wifi, Internet telephony, and many other things.

While the technology companies that are part of this coalition arguably stand to gain much from this, a variety of public advocacy groups and think-tanks are advocating for public access to white spaces too (Free Press, Public Knowledge, New America Foundation, Wireless Innovation Alliance).

I predict this fight will get nasty when many other companies realize they stand to lose a lot too. Expect the traditional and cellular phone companies, for example, to form a similar coalition on the other side, lobbying Congress for strict licensing and fees which would effectively lock out public access the same way licensing has kept citizens from broadcasting their own TV or radio stations.

For more information, and to sign a petition, visit Free the Airwaves.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

How icons are born

Felix Sockwell walks through the creation of the custom icons he designed for the just-out New York Times iPhone App.

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BushCo is trying to outlaw contraception, without congressional approval

From MoveOn:

Can you imagine living in a place where birth control is considered an “abortion” and health insurers won’t cover it? Where even rape victims are denied emergency contraception?

It seems unbelievable, but the Bush Administration is quietly trying to redefine “abortion” to include birth control. This could wipe out dozens of state laws that protect women’s reproductive freedom and protect rape victims. Access to basic health care for millions of women would be jeopardized. And it’s being pushed as a “rule change,” meaning: it doesn't need congressional approval.

Here’s what some others are saying about this proposal:
  • “The draft regulation would define birth control as could deny access to critical family planning for women across the country.” [source: Letter signed by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and 26 other senators]
  • “The draft rule could void laws in 27 states that require insurance companies to provide birth control coverage for women requesting it [and] laws in 14 states requiring that rape victims receive counseling and access to emergency, day-after contraceptives.” [source: Houston Chronicle editorial]
  • “The administration needs to stop playing word games with women’s health and state clearly they will reject any regulations that will undermine women’s access to basic health care.” [source: Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.]
  • “The birth control pill, the IUD, and emergency contraception might all become unavailable — illegal — as a result.” [source: Brigid Riley, executive director of a Minnesota teen pregnancy prevention organization]
Do something: Sign the petition.

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Is Google making us stupid?

Nicholas Carr poses questions about what the Internet is doing to the way we think, in the July/August issue of The Atlantic. Here’s an excerpt:
As we use...our “intellectual technologies” — the tools that extend our mental rather than our physical capacities — we inevitably begin to take on the qualities of those technologies...

The Internet promises to have particularly far-reaching effects on cognition. In a paper published in 1936, the British mathematician Alan Turing proved that a digital computer, which at the time existed only as a theoretical machine, could be programmed to perform the function of any other information-processing device. And that’s what we’re seeing today. The Internet, an immeasurably powerful computing system, is subsuming most of our other intellectual technologies. It’s becoming our map and our clock, our printing press and our typewriter, our calculator and our telephone, and our radio and TV.
Read the full article: Is Google making us stupid? And try to ignore the irony in reading a long article online about how the Internet is making us unable to read long articles anymore.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Enhancing Gmail’s security

If you use Gmail, you’ll want to read these two tips:

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Russian Heinlein book featured on io9

One of my rare Heinlein books has been featured on io9, Gawker’s sci-fi blog (“In Soviet Russia, Space Opera Really Was Operatic”).

io9 was doing an article Russian science fiction book cover artwork and must’ve seen the book cover I posted to my Flickr group Heinleinia.

The book in question (pictured here) has always been a bit of a mystery to me. It’s a Russian edition of Stranger in a Strange Land published in 2003, but because most of the text is in Russian, I can’t get much information from the title and copyright pages. I found the book for sale on eBay last year.

One of the commenters on io9’s post noted that the cover of the Heinlein book features a painting by Donato Giancola, which was a nice find. Giancola’s produced some great work in his portfolio. Though I’ve never been able to figure out why this particular piece was chosen for the Heinlein book, as it bears no resemblance to anything in the story.

io9’s post also linked to Russian science fiction fan club Solaris (text in English), which features a gallery of other Russian Heinlein editions.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thursday Top 5

Star Wars (1977) Deleted Scene
Underneath that harsh, black exterior, Darth Vader shows he's still a little bit human.

Noise Pop podcast
A monthly podcast in conjunction with KQED Independents, showcasing ten indie songs.

Flight of the Conchords, "Ladies of the World"

Orwell Diaries
The Orwell Prize, a British award for political writing, is publishing George Orwell’s 1938–1942 diaries as a blog.

Free Rice
Play a vocabulary game, and feed the world at the same time.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

“Here’s an interesting case...”

Jason’s IM to me about (among other things) the Bush Administration’s move to gut the Endangered Species Act:

I can see myself now in the old folks home, surrounded by med students. “Here’s an interesting case,” says the MD. “This fella can’t remember his own name and he drools on himself all day. But he has one memory that’s as clear as bell. So clear that he answers every question with it. Go ahead there intern, ask him something, anything.”

Intern: “What’s your name sir?”


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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Logos designed by Mark Bult, 1986–2008

I think this logo for the Palo Alto Golf Course might have been the first logo I ever designed. At least, it’s the first one that I actually still like enough that I keep it in my portfolio. I still consider it one of my best.

I made it around 1986 or so. I was a teenager still, and had a job working at the City of Palo Alto’s Parks & Recreation Department, making fliers and signs and newsletters.

I’ve created a lot more logos since then. Here’s a sampling of my favorites from the past 20 years or so. Click on “Next” to scroll through them all.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Thursday Top 5

“The Streets of San Francisco” might get remade
This was a great show, and it looks like CBS might remake it. The original made a star of Michael Douglas. But the best part was the theme song. Even today it still starts playing in my head whenever I drive around the hilly parts of SF. I need to burn the song to a CD and keep in it my car's player at all times.

Trailer for the biopic of the most unpopular president in history, by Oliver Stone.

Save Polaroid
Polaroid announced early this year that the company would cease making instant film. It’s a shame that this unique and distinctive photographic medium will go the way of the dodo. But you can do something about it.

Ani DiFranco
I've never really been much of a fan of Ani DiFranco; while I like some of her songs, and I greatly respect her socio-political views and her DIY work ethic, I just never really liked her voice much. The interview with her on “City Arts & Lectures” was worth it, though. Unfortunately, the program doesn’t make downloads or streams available of past shows, so unless you catch the show some time on a rebroadcast, I guess you're outta luck : \

Walmart's growth
A map that animates the stunning spread of Walmarts across the U.S.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Duffy & Partners

Duffy & Partners has long been one of my favorite firms. They’ve put out some fantastic work over the years, including one of my all-time favorites, the Knob Creek Whiskey bottle (seen below). I bought a bottle years ago just to put on my shelf, to admire and take inspiration from it. Unfortunately, one night a friend opened the bottle and started pouring drinks from it, not realizing I was keeping it for less practical purposes.

Duffy has a new website which showcases their high-quality work very well. It also gives a good insight into principal Joe Duffy’s M.O., which really sees the client as collaborators in the creative process, from the very start, before pencil has even been put to paper. This is central to my design process as well, so I'm drawn to this company on many levels.

They’ve included some videos on their site too, one of them featuring a few of their clients. I was struck by this comment by Andy Wyatt, CEO of Cornerstone Capital Management:

“We had an idea of what we wanted for our website, and frankly if we would’ve gotten what we wanted, it probably wouldn’t have worked as well. We needed to let go of the reins a little bit and bring in a professional.”

This is the kind of client every designer wants.

Wyatt cut to the core: “Do what you do best, and hire the rest. And let them do it, when you hire them to do it.”

When one is looking for a designer, it behooves one to have this attitude. You may know what you want, but it’s best to hire talented professionals and to let them simply do their jobs. Of course, it’s also best for you to hire a creative team that will collaborate with you, as Duffy does.

But if you had to have your pancreas operated on, you wouldn’t seek out the best medical professional in the field, and then presume to tell him/her how to do his/her job. You’d work with the surgeon to ensure s/he was getting all the relevant information about your medical history, what outcome you were looking for, and what risks you were willing to take.

It’s more useful to recognize expertise in others, invest trust in that expert’s skill, and let them work unfettered to bring your project to the best result in the end.

Whether it’s your pancreas or your new logo.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Possible new logo

I'm thinking of using this new logo I came up with yesterday. I've been sketching logos and symbols for over a year, trying to come up with a logo that I could use for personal use as well as my design company.

I was playing around with the concept of a coat-of-arms sort of design, where the illustration is symbolic of my ideologies, similar to the way a family's coat of arms tells a story of their history.

It's a skull and crossbones made out of a coffee mug, a pencil, and a monkeywrench ; )

If you don't get it, that's alright. I don't mind. Just means you need to get to know me better.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Hey "New York's finest," don't forget: You work for us

On July 25 a New York City rookie cop assaulted a bicyclist participating in a Critical Mass ride. According to the New York Times, Officer Patrick Pogan has sworn a statement that the cyclist, Christopher Long, rode straight at him. Clearly, the video (seen below) shows another story. Meanwhile, Long has been charged with attempted assault of a police officer, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.

This is why cops get a bad name. This is why people hate cops. The New York City Police Department needs a reality check. Perhaps forcibly making all officers learn the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights might help. Protest is not a crime. Bicycling is not a criminal activity. Assaulting a protester is a crime.

Hiring rookie cops who have anger management problems, gigantic chips on their shoulders, and the barest possible understanding of the concept of civil rights should be a crime, and the bureaucrats that do it should be put in jail.

Here's a second video that shows some of the tactics (and incompetence) of the NYPD in dealing with Critical Mass.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Thursday Top 5

Requiem For A Day Off
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, trailer remix.

I really like this half-hour weekly media program on [via Ynnej]

The right way to cook bacon

"Green" graffiti makes paint-free protests
Photo gallery of culture jamming and graffiti techniques that don't rely on spray-paint.

MIT Bunny Letter Opener

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