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.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A 2008 holiday gift for our friends and family

Velma and I decided to do something a little different this year. Happy holidays to you and yours.

This mini-site took me about 2.5 days for design, about 2 days for coding. I hope you enjoy it.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Thursday Top 5+1

Abby & Brittany Hensel turn 16
Holy crap talk about a back-seat driver!

Cats have the best damn reflexes. I wish I was a cat.

John Ashcroft “stunned” people think detainees deserve trials
What a disaster this attorney general was.

The Muppets’ musical salute to America
Culture, morality, and patriotism...Muppet style. I’d actually like to see McCain walk onto the floor of the House to this music.

The Polaroid instant camera, as we knew it, is now officially dead. Polaroid pulled the plug on it. For those of us who still like the look of those instant prints, there’s Poladroid, a little application that will turn your digital images or scans into digital Polaroids. Download Poladroid OS X (also coming soon to Windows), or check out the Poladroid Flickr group.

Funk Nog! The Tatum Family Holiday Mix ’08
A late arrival from my friend Mike Tatum.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday Top 5

Did Coldplay rip off Joe Satriani?
A music theory analysis for the musician dorks. And then there’s this little twist.

Pictures of baby animals from zoos and aquariums.

Zia McCabe (of The Dandy Warhols) on being a Rock N Roll Mama
From a still-in-production documentary called, you guessed it, Rock N Roll Mamas. Here’s more.

Sea Forts
They’re just cool.

University of Washington and Adobe Systems are presenting a new technology called Zoetrope that allows people to, among other things, browse a web page over time [video]. Meaning you can skim through the last 50 or 100 front pages of the New York Times, and see what’s changed over time. It works with portions of a page too [article], so you can compare two or more things on the same page over time, or even on different sites!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Who’s been naughty this year in the direct mail industry?

ForestEthics has released its annual Naughty/Nice List, their report on the direct mail industry and who’s been playing nice in the past year (phasing out their print catalogs, for example), and who’s been naughty (being secretive about the source of their paper, for example).

If you shop at or receive catalogs from any of these companies, you may want to download the 2-page PDF:
  • American Express
  • Bank of America
  • Bloomingdales
  • Capital One
  • Chase Bank
  • Citi
  • Crate & Barrel
  • Dell
  • Eddie Bauer
  • HSBC
  • JC Penney
  • L.L. Bean
  • Land’s End
  • Macy’s
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Patagonia
  • REI
  • Sears
  • Timberland
  • Victoria’s Secret
  • Williams-Sonoma

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday Top 5

Lies, lies, and more lies
Sadly, I predict the BushCo administration will fade quickly from the minds of Americans who wish that it had never happened and have been yearning for a new start for so long that they’ll revert to the sort of apathy that allowed it to happen in the first place. I don’t think any of the BushCo cronies will ever be impeached or prosecuted. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want it. Articles of Impeachment, drafted by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

Chris Dane Owens
This man shines on me with the power of his awesome. [via Jason]

Incredible-looking PlayStation game.

NASA JPL Climate Time Machine
Great site. Scary, but great.

Cool! Design and print your own fabric. No minimum order.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

What I’ve been doing, part 3

Early this year, when I decided to take a few months off, I started getting questions from friends and former co-workder like, “So what are you doing with all your time?” Obviously these people didn’t know me well enough to realize how many side projects I always have simmering on back burners.

The prospect of six or seven months off did not, in fact, present me with a quandary over how to fill my time. I had so many things on my want-to-do list that I knew there was simply no way I’d be able to accomplish all of them. And of course, Life always feels the need to rear its ugly head and present you with plenty of vexing obligations and a healthy helping of unexpected obstructions you have to deal with (like breaking your clavicle, for example).

I started keeping a list of what I do each day or week, just to illustrate all the little things one has to deal with and work on, even if one doesn’t go to a 9-to-5 each day. Here’s list #1, and list #2.

And here’s list #3, started June 1:
  • Made minor updates to my résumé.
  • Thought a lot about TICs in a marathon three-day last-minute option to buy into one. It didn't happen after all.
  • Went to see two of the flats in the above-mentioned TIC a couple times, and measured their floor plans completely.
  • Went to Muir Woods to be in a photo shoot for Save the Redwoods League.
  • Listened to and reviewed some CDs.
  • Went to the SFMOMA with Jenny.
  • Bought a new (used) coat for $18 at a thrift store.
  • Waited around while our landlord and some guy installed a new water heater for the upstairs neighbors’ flat (the heaters are in our back hallway).
  • Did some laundry.
  • Watered the garden regularly. And ate strawberries.
  • Downloaded a lot of live bootlegs and other MP3s.
  • Did some photo manipulations.
  • Scanned some more old prints.
  • Made several more iterations of the seemingly decades-long redesign of
  • Gave the cat a bath (with Velma).
  • Posted a Thursday Top 5 every week.
  • Met with Diane Choplin to discuss updating her website, which I’ve been hosting for years but which neither of us has had time to work on.
  • Evaluated several kinds of photo gallery software for Diane Choplin’s website redesign.
  • Went to a one-year-old’s birthday party. Ate marmite.
  • Went to see Denice and Alex’s house in the Oakland hills.
  • Read about the new Apple stuff announced at the WWDC.
  • Went to the coast for a long weekend to celebrate Velma’s and my birthdays.
  • Backed up my laptop, and finally upgraded it to Leopard.
  • Watched the very long WWDC keynote video.
  • Spent a lot of time looking for the cat when he escaped.
  • Cut down the 4-foot stump next to the fence that we thought Orson was using to get out of the yard.
  • Updated some blog posts.
  • Backed up my entire personal photo library (70 GB of digital pictures I’ve taken since 2000, plus a smattering of pre-digital pics from 1974 through 1999 that I’ve scanned). It took two full afternoons and 15 DVDs.
  • Went to Walgreens for some stuff.
  • Got a burrito with Olya and Jenny and then went to free beer hour at the Double Dutch.
  • Went to Scoma’s restaurant with my mom and Velma to celebrate our birthdays.
  • Washed the kitchen and bathroom rugs.
  • Installed MAMP and WordPress 2.5.1 on my computer.
  • Downloaded the Yahoo! Design Stencils.
  • Transplanted my Japanese maple into an oak barrel.
  • Pruned several plants that weren’t doing too well.
  • Pulled weeds and cut back more ivy in the garden.
  • Made berms around some plants whose water was flowing away.
  • Trained and trimmed the four kinds of vines we’ve planed on the fence lines.
  • Picked the rotten fruit off the ground in the garden, and the two dog poops, so the flies would fuck off.
  • Remained polite while the landlord changed perfectly fine batteries in the three smoke alarms in our apartment. *rolls eyes*
  • Packed for our New England trip, gathered addresses so we could send postcards to people.
  • Transfered a bunch of photos to the iPod so we could take it to New England and run slideshows on people’s TVs.
  • Went through my dad’s old family slides to take some along to New England.
  • Sent a lot of postcards from New England.
  • Did a little historical research into my mom’s side of the family.
  • Sketched out an idea for a photo gallery called 10 States.
  • When we got back from New England, made an initial design of the 10 States gallery.
  • Met with a new client about possibly working with them.
  • Met with Save the Redwoods League about a small print project.
  • Spent an afternoon and evening showing my friend Dave W. around our neighborhood, taking him to the best burrito joint in SF, and going through my collection of Ozzy memorabilia. (We became friends in the 7th grade and he introduced me to heavy metal. So now you know who to blame.)
  • Watched a bunch of funny cat videos.
  • Went to see Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band for Velma’s birthday.
  • Watched a bunch of videos on Current_tv, aka
  • Cleaned a bunch of stuff of my desk.
  • Looked at the Flickr pool for the Unclutterer blog.
  • Had lunch with my former boss to seek his advice on a project.
  • Accepted a reference-check call regarding a former co-worker.
  • Organized a bunch more digital files.
  • Picked up Jason and Phu from the airport after Continental screwed up their flight and moved their arrival from San Jose to San Francisco.
  • Color-corrected and posted some more old photos to the BAA Flickr group.
  • Talked on the phone with Aaron N. about an advertising-related project he’s working on.
  • Updated Olya's research website with a few new photos and text changes for the 2008–2009 year.
  • Made an appointment to take the car in for service.
  • Deleted a bunch of ancient useless files from my webserver.
  • Added a bunch of new stores to Ozark Handspun’s Where to Buy page, including two new countries: Sweden and Japan.
  • Had dinner with my mom and showed her pictures from our New England trip.
  • Designed a new logo for myself.
  • Had lunch with some CNETers and dropped in for a brief look through the Academy of Art gallery on New Montgomery.
  • Created new presentation templates for Save the Redwoods League, based on their new visual identity system.
  • Made a little widget of a bunch of logos I’ve designed.
  • Went to Susan and Cedric’s third wedding. Third to each other. Yep.
  • Took a lot of paperwork to our tax accountant.
  • Met with a new client, signed a contract to start work on their product.
  • Had coffee with Anne and saw her new workplace at Pier 38.
  • Had lunch with Jason to celebrate his one-year anniversary at CNET Networks (now CBS Interactive).
  • Saw Toad the Wet Sprocket and the Bodeans at the Mountain Winery.
  • Went to the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers and took a lot of pictures.
  • Made a new ad for Ozark Handspun.
  • Transfered some domain names I registered years ago for friends, as presents.
  • Finally got a new pair of shoes. Keens.
  • Turned down more job offers. I usually average one or two a month, but there have been quite a few the last couple months. I have no idea why there’s been an increase.
  • Observed two user testing sessions on a design prototype.
  • Dealt with a state agency whose form was unclear (what a surprise), causing some confusion with my records.
  • Went to the DMV to renew my license. Got out in a little over an hour. Zow!
  • Shipped two more books people bought through my Amazon store.
  • Downloaded trial versions of LightRoom and SlideShow Pro to evaluate for
  • Made some color schemes using Adobe’s Kuler.
  • Researched and created four large moodboards for a client project.
  • Weeded the garden some more.
  • Went back and forth to the Presidio a bunch of times for meetings.
  • Took some product shots for OzHa, including some significant post-processing.
  • Went with Velma to the member preview day at the new California Academy of Sciences.
  • Went to Humboldt County for the big three-day annual meeting that Velma organizes for Save the Redwoods League, and took lots of photos for them.
  • Finally updated my desktop machine to Leopard.
  • Ran Cocktail to tune things up.
  • Updated software where needed:
  • Went through a big stack of mail.
  • Ordered ballcap washers. Yeah, the sort of things you’d see in one of those lame catalogs with “As Seen on TV!” next to it. Verdict: They don’t work for shit.
  • Paid the DMV car registration renewal.
  • Created three design directions for the e-commerce website I’m working on.
  • Read the very long Wikipedia entry on Lenin.
  • Endured, for over a week, and with increasing fury at the landlord, being woken up each morning at 8:30 by workmen pounding and sawing on the wall outside my bedroom. It was supposed to last “a couple days.” Which ultimately meant seven, I think. And did I mention that they punched a bunch of holes in our bathroom interior wall, knocked all kinds of shit down, and generally made a mess of the garden?
  • Went on a long weekend trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks with Velma.
  • Sorted about 10 years worth of miscellaneous digital files into more logical groupings.
  • Finally got the last few re-calculations to our tax accountant.
  • Updated my credit card info on a bunch of auto-bill-pay websites.
  • Picked up some packages at the post office which I missed when we were out of town.
  • Showed the pest control guy around, thereby learning way more than I ever needed to know about mice, rats, and traps. What is it about tradesmen that they have to tell you their life story?
  • Showed the landlord and pest control guy around again.
  • Drove around the city for 3.5 hours to get our taxes to the post office on time. Got it to the post office with 11 minutes to spare.
  • Went to lots of meetings for a project that I thought was supposed to be a lot simpler.
  • Renewed some of my domains.
  • Put together an icon set.
  • Answered the questions of Velma and two classmates from her permaculture class, because their class project included designing a new plan for our garden.
  • Bought and installed two new 1.5 TB Seagate hard drives, and moved files to them. The two 750 GB drives I removed will be used for off-site backups.
  • Bought some supplies at OfficeMax.
  • Listened to a lot of KQED, NPR podcasts, and WOXY Vintage.
  • Went to the Alternative Press Expo with Ynnej.
  • Updated my journal entry titled Green Design: Designers, studios, and ad agencies that work with environmental groups and green companies.
  • Met with Diane to finalize designs for her website.
  • Purchased and installed SlideShowPro for Lightroom, to use for a client project. Also sent SlideShowPro a suggestion to improve one of their support articles which omitted a somewhat important step.
  • Designed, coded, and launched
  • Checked the mousetraps every few days.
  • Renewed my lapsed membership to AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts).
  • Made some contributions to nonprofits.
  • Voted!
  • Drank tea.
  • Worked many many hours on the e-commerce client project, including enduring numerous days with the creative director sitting with me at me desk while I worked (yeah, because working with someone looking over your shoulder and having to explain every simple thing you do makes for a great work experience and doesn’t slow down the productivity at all).
  • With Velma, bought a new sleeper couch, matching chair, and two new large bookcases from Ikea; moved two smaller bookcases (and all contents) into my office to make way for the two larger ones (which Velma put together while I worked).
  • Reorganized some stuff in my office to get it off the floor.
  • Searched for the cat when he got attacked by the neighbors’ dogs and went missing for 24 hours.
  • Worked on a new design for my photoblog.
  • Added some movies to my Netflix queue [RSS] by creating a third person on our account.
  • Attended a half-day workshop about the new features in CS4 at Adobe’s SF office.
  • Helped Velma assemble and put covers on our new couch and chair, and hauled the old ones out to the curb, where some neighbors wanted them immediately.
  • Finally put up a bulletin board near my desk so I can have some things easily at hand.
  • Had coffee with Carlos from Scrapblog while he was in town for the Adobe MAX Awards (they won two!).
  • Changed a flat tire on the Hondog. Then took it the next day to get four new tires and wheel alignment.
  • Had a really terrible cold for two weeks, and was a grumpy bastard.
  • Drank lots of juice.
  • Uploaded and organized all the photos I’ve taken at various Save the Redwoods League (SRL) events over the past two years.
  • Designed another internal document for SRL.
  • Worked on an idea I had for a holiday gift.
  • Sketched out some poster designs.
  • Picked up an old army footlocker at the thrift store.
  • Started trying to organize the roughly 3,000 fonts I've accumulated over the past 20 years.
  • Removed a useless patch of bricks from the yard to make way for a new bed.
  • Created a new format for listing the movies and books I’ve been consuming.
  • Went to the hardware store for a bunch of things.
  • Picked up Velma’s dad Dave at the airport, drove him to some appointments at yarn shops in Half Moon Bay and San Francisco.
  • Spent a couple days gardening with Velma and Dave, making a new herb spiral and planting bed, pulling up bricks, and having a party and backyard fire with a bunch of neighbors and local friends.
  • Went to the SF Conservatory of Flowers with Velma and Dave, and the gardening store with Dave.
  • Took Dave back to the airport.
  • Dispatched another book sold through my Amazon store.
  • Uploaded several months’ of cool web designs to Flickr.
  • Started catching up on two years of Sinfest comics.
  • Put a nifty red banner in the corner of my site : )
  • Started coding my new site design.
  • Updated this post from 2005 about the toilet plume.
  • Edited and posted my friend Dave’s concert review.
  • Kept this list, added links to if, and posted it.

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The guys (and now, it seems, gal) at Whiskey Media have offered up another round, adding a just-launched anime/manga site to their growing list of entertainment-related wiki/encyclopedia/community sites. joins the stable of niche sites that already include computer gaming, comics, and um, politics. AnimeVice, however, takes it up a notch with, *wink*nudge* an entire section for cosplay pictures.

Whiskey Media, if anyone’s not paying attention, is the startup founded and staffed by many ex-CNETers. Not surprisingly, they are taking a very CNET-influenced tack to their business strategy: Build individual, highly functional sites in smaller markets where you can compete aggressively.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Concert review: Journey, Heart, and Cheap Trick

Foreword: This is a review my friend Dave wrote and sent to a bunch of people over email. I asked him if I could publish it since I knew he would never have a blog and I thought it should see the light of day. Among his friends Dave is known for his particular proclivity for attracting flames, so feel free to leave comments here for him (although be aware that he’ll probably respond). His tastes are also kinda stuck firmly in the 1980s and ’90s, which I think will be evident from the review. –Mark/espd

Photo: Richard Cawood

Journey, Heart, and Cheap Trick — Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View, CA — September 27, 2008

by Dave Wight

I can see why all three of these bands were constantly asked to play Day On the Green in the late ’70s and early ’80s. I have never seen the Shoreline as packed as it was for this show tonight and people actually stayed until the end. I’ve been to over 200 concerts in my life (Mark can maybe help me on the actual number) but this one will rank near the top. These bands deserve to play before 20,000 people...they’ve worked and have made their indelible mark and cemented their legacies with their classic tunes.

I’m not a huge Cheap Trick fan but they are a fun band to watch and would certainly dominate any contemporary band still. Even Cheap Trick has songs on Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

Superstar egos were not in evidence — members of Journey jammed with Cheap Trick during their set.

Photo: ladybugbkt

What can I say about the Wilson sisters? Nancy Wilson is still a hot piece of ass and she would dominate any current guitar player, which is not saying much but still...she’s a very solid player. “Barracuda” and “Crazy on You” still are timeless. The Police could take some lessons from these sisters on how to change the song tempo and not butcher it. They played many of their classics as acoustic numbers and pulled it off very well. Their tribute to Led Zeppelin and The Who were solid.

Photo: ladybugbkt

Nancy Wilson is a goddess and Ann Wilson sounds as good as she ever has. The three stiffs in the backing band are nameless for obvious reasons. A lot of bands do gratuitous encores but the crowd definitely forced the Wilson sisters to come out again — the sound was deafening. Nancy Wilson dedicated “These Dreams” to Bill Graham, a legend in his own right.

And finally, most of the crowd had come to see the Bay Area’s own Journey on their triumphant return. I never thought I would say this but Journey defines Bay Area rock music. Their legend has been etched and it supersedes even that of Metallica. Journey made it on their own, whereas Metallica would not even exist had it not been for a a certain singer from Black Sabbath taking a risk with the then-unheard-of thrash metal band and letting them open up for him...and the rest is history.

I will also point out that I have never seen such a diverse crowd at a rock show before. Usually it is 99% caucasian and redneck. It was nice to see some cultural diversity finally.

Photo: ladybugbkt

I think one of Journey’s new songs, “Changes for the Better,” summarizes this evening. Steve Perry is always going to be a part of the band’s towering past but the new singer Arnel Pineda is every bit as good and is far more energetic. He was phenomenal on vocals. But let”s face it, the band revolves around Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain.

How many times did I flashback to 7th and 8th grade dances during this concert? Too many times. I saw some bad things during the slow tunes. Some people should not be allowed to slow dance at a concert. I may not be able to close my eyes for awhile. Usually slow songs destroy the tempo of a set, but Journey’s ballads are so classic that people were standing the whole time: “Open Arms,” “Faithfully,” and of course “Lights.” It is very cool to have a song written about the area you grew up in and have it become a huge hit.

I enjoyed “Don’t Stop Believin” but had bad flashbacks to the Journey arcade game from the ’80s. Of course by the end of the song, there was a Journey logo draped on the big screen with a gun hanging down as the ‘r’ (like the Sopranos logo). That show obviously gave the band a huge kick start to regaining their popularity.

Photo: MrBeng

Journey did not disappoint and no one left early. Current bands need to take note that they have quite a ways to go to get to the level that these three bands are at; the talent on stage this night was phenomenal.

Now someone needs to do the right thing and bring back Day On the Green. How huge would it be if they got Led Zeppelin (last U.S. appearance was Day on the Green in 1977), Journey, Heart, Van Halen, and AC/DC? They’ve played Day On the Green in the past. That would be the biggest show of all-time. They could pick some contemporary band to open up so people could boo them off stage.

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Thursday Top 5+1

Prop 8, the Musical
Gay marriage will save the economy. [via Aaron]

Design Coding
By the Poetic Prophet (aka the SEO Rapper). [via Ynnej]

“Atheism Song”
“Put away your fakeyism, here comes atheism.” Sung to Adam Sandler’s “Hannukah Song.” [via BoingBoing]

The Cartoon Network rickrolled the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade
Video after the link, since there was no way to embed.

Augmented Reality
This interactive company figured out a way to insert a digital character into live video using a webcam, a small piece of paper, and Flash.

The original Indiana Jones
Otto Rahn and the temple of doom.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sneak peek of the upcoming redesign

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I had some time to do some personal work on three evenings, so I started coding the new template for my redesigned portfolio. I’ve been working on this design in Photoshop for years. Seriously! (Although only in fits and starts, with long gaps in between.) But I’ve been planning for the past four months to take off this December from all other work, to concentrate on finally redesigning the whole website.

Here’s a sneak peek of the new design. This is actually a screenshot of the HTML-rendered page. It’s coming out almost perfectly identical to the PSD, so I’m psyched about that. “Every pixel matters.”

So far so good — no major coding problems so far (had to ask my friend Aaron to help me debug one JavaScript I couldn’t get to do exactly what I wanted) and all my code is validating (although it’ll break as soon as I embed the first YouTube video on the new site — meh).

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