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, January 28, 2010

Thursday Top 5

Frank Zappa on “Crossfire” 1986
This is an awesome segment broadcast during the height of the music censorship wars of the 1980s and ’90s. I wasn’t into Frank Zappa but I really liked the way he stood up for the rights of his fellow musicians and the public in general. I read the Wikipedia pages on the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) the other night, plus about 80 pages of the testimony from the Senate hearings on “porn rock” in 1985. Speakers included Frank Zappa, John Denver, Dee Snider, Senator Al Gore, Tipper Gore, and others. This hearing was one of the reasons why I hated Al Gore for a long time. He was a member of the committee hearing testimony from his own wife, and didn’t recuse himself in the face of an obvious conflict of interests. And he wasn’t the only one: All the founders of the PMRC were wives of influential government officials, including other Senators. This is a big part of why I didn’t vote for Bill Clinton when Gore was his running-mate (although not the only reason, for sure), and didn’t vote for Al Gore when he ran for president. I love what he’s done for environmental awareness in the world, but I detest what he did in 1985. For the record, I voted for Jerry Brown and Ralph Nader (whose platforms I actually believed in), regardless of the fact that they were unlikely to win. I followed the testimony by watching a great segment of CNN’s Crossfire from 1986, where Zappa faces off with three hopelessly out of touch old white men.

Protect yourself
Not exactly safe for work. [via Jenny]

How to bake a car

You are Dr. Tran Fan?

You may not “like” or “do” or even “get” Twitter, but if you have any sense of humor at all, you owe it to yourself to at least read this Twitter stream once. NSFW if you read out loud. You will laugh out loud.

The weekly Thursday Top 5 lists the five most notable, interesting, funny, outrageous, cool, or simply strange things of the week. It is intended for distractionary purposes only. Do not take orally. If ingested, seek a doctor’s advice. If you like it, share it with others, or check out the long list of previous entries.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thursday Top 5

Christmas Decoration Win
From Failblog: “Good news is that I truly outdid myself this year with my Christmas decorations. The bad news is that I had to take him down after two days. I had more people come screaming up to my house than ever. Great stories. But two things made me take it down. First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents as they almost wrecked when they drove by. Second, a 55-year-old lady grabbed the 75 pound ladder almost killed herself putting it against my house and didn’t realize that it was fake until she climbed to the top (she was not happy). By the way, she was one of the many people who attempted to do that. My yard couldn’t take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard.”

White House iPhone app
With the announcement of the first-ever official White House App, the Obama administration to pursue technology and communications as a means for public engagement, in stark contrast to the previous administration. Among other things, the app reportedly delivers live video streaming for the president’s public events. Browsing the App Store, there are several other White House and Obama related apps, although some of them appear outdated (originating pre-election), or just plain lame. One other that caught my eye, however, was the White House Photostream app (will open iTunes), which is probably pretty cool. I’ve mentioned before that the White House’s photos are available on Flickr.

Dear American Airlines
Fascinating story in which a solo designer decided to redesign American Airlines’ crappy home page and publicly call out their design team. Then a member of the AA user experience design team responded. Shortly thereafter, that employee was fired.

Sea Shepherd vs. the Japanese research whaling fleet
It’s terribly interesting to read the press releases of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society regarding the January 5 ramming of one of their vessels by a Japanese whaling ship, and the ensuing battles in the Antarctic Ocean. There’s no dispute that the Japanese ship rammed the $2 million speedboat that looks like it comes right out of a Batman movie — the smaller craft wasn’t even running its engines and there’s video evidence from at least two angles showing the impact.

The Third & The Seventh
Watch this short film ( would definitely suggest watching it in full screen at least, if not HD), then afterward, hover over this link to learn a secret about it.

The weekly Thursday Top 5 lists the five most notable, interesting, funny, outrageous, cool, or simply strange things of the week. It is intended for distractionary purposes only. Do not take orally. If ingested, seek a doctor’s advice. If you like it, share it with others, or check out the long list of previous entries.

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Friday, January 08, 2010

What I use to create and related websites

A drive-by reader sent me an email today months ago after seeing Mark & Velma’s Hitchin’ Party picured on a roundup of “30 Green Websites” on TutorialBlog. I replied via email, but then thought I might as well post it here too.
Found your website by accident while searching for other things.

First off, I am overly impressed with all your efforts under! As a web services manager of many years gone by, I’ve been trying to spend more time for myself and my wife putting together little jewels like I’m not looking to start up any kind of consulting gig. I just want to have some weekend fun geeking out on some web goodies to kinda kinda combine a lil’ blogging and a lil’ photo collections of our trips to like Tuscany, Germany, San Fran, and the like.

I’ll admit to you that I’ve been looking at some of your source code under trying to determine what tool(s) you’ve used to put it all together. Besides movabletype and PixelPost, you’ve succeeded in keeping is all a secret. I did get a chuckle out of the witty repartee of ‘Powered by web geekery and strong coffee’ !

Would you be willing to share some of your secrets behind a project like &

My reply:

The original Hitchin’ site on was built with Photoshop and Dreamweaver, and uses Lightbox2 for the photo gallery. I was intending to power it with WordPress but I didn’t have enough time before the wedding to set it up, and I haven’t had the time or impetus since, although I still intend to convert the whole mini-site to WP some day, so Velma and I can use it as a singular place for posting family news and pictures and stuff.

The Holiday Gift mini-site we put up there in December 2008 was also created with Photoshop and Dreamweaver, and uses a customized version of a JQuery-powered unit called the Coda Slider.

As you saw, I use Pixelpost for my photoblog. I like Pixelpost a lot and I’ve been trying to find time to upgrade to a newer version so I can start putting photos up again. I created a custom template for my photoblog using, you guessed it, Photoshop and Dreamweaver. There are a couple worthwhile WordPress photoblog plugins which I may consider using instead, but I really like Pixelpost, so I’m not wholly interested in moving from it until a better alternative comes along.

The rest of was cobbled together a few years ago using Photoshop and Dreamweaver for the portfolio page and home page.

The blog is powered by Blogger and uses a slightly tweaked version of one of their standard templates, although I host on my own server, instead of on I’ve always like Blogger but it’s not customizable enough and the Google team develops new features mostly for the customers and the self-hosted folks like me get left out. I installed Moveable Type a few years ago and fully intended to switch to it, but ran out of time. Later I decided WordPress was overtaking it in terms of development and add-on support, so I decided I’d use that in future. But I still haven’t finished converting it, so it’s still Blogger for now.

I’ve been working on a huge redesign of everything on, to make it all finally look the same, but I keep getting inturrpted by things like contract work. Since that pays the bills, my side projects go on the back burner for another month or two at a time. Oh well. Things could be worse, right?

It currently is just Photoshop, Dreamweaver, JQuery, and Coda Slider, but it’ll be converted to WordPress once I’m done formalizing all the templates, which are still in development and haven’t been optimized yet.

I heartily recommend leveraging the many, many, many services and technologies that keep emerging that allow hobbyists like us to do these sorts of fun personal sites faster and easier than ever before. There are so many of them, with varying offerings, it’s impossible to recommend just one. But since you mention you interest in putting up photo collections and blogging in a family context, there are a couple I’ve been impressed with: Vox and Kinzin (I saw another one recently I liked even more, but I can’t remember the name). The thing about these two that a lot of people like is the ability to manage persmission so only invited guests can view your vacation photos (for example). You can do this with WordPress plug ins too, btw, you just have to install an add-on or two.

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Thursday Top 5

The Boston Globe’s 2009 in Photos on The Big Picture
I’ve posted this amazing news photoblog before, but their year-end round-up is always especially astounding.

Beatles 3000
What were the Beatles really like? [via Jenny]

A nifty web app for daily to-do lists.

Carl Sagan, “A Glorious Dawn” featuring Stephen Hawking (Cosmos Remixed)
The PBS show “Cosmos” was one of my favorite things to watch with my dad when I was young. This remix just makes it 100x awesomer.

Romance Reader, Unashamed
Daily Kos contributor Laura Clawson examines the myths about romance novels (many of which I held until recently; and some of which I’m still having a teensy bit of trouble disavowing, but mostly just to tweak Velma).

The weekly Thursday Top 5 lists the five most notable, interesting, funny, outrageous, cool, or simply strange things of the week. It is intended for distractionary purposes only. Do not take orally. If ingested, seek a doctor’s advice. If you like it, share it with others, or check out the long list of previous entries.

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“Find my iPhone” function = mixed results

Having returned from a short getaway trip to Orr Hot Springs last week with the redhead, I panicked for a few minutes when I couldn’t find my phone in my backpack.

When we arrived there, I had turned it to Airplane Mode and put it in my backpack, since there was no cell reception. When we returned home a couple days later, it wasn’t there. Begin to panic.

Since Orr Hot Springs has no locks on lockers or rooms, I was definitely thinking there was an iPhone thief. I logged in to Mobile Me to use the “Find my iPhone” feature, and it didn’t work. Deepening panic.

A minute later I thought of one other place where the missing phone might be, and there it was! I’d forgotten that I’d slipped it into the bag of cables and chargers that accompany us on trips.

I went back to try “Find my iPhone” again, making sure Airplane Mode was off and even Googling the setup process to make sure finding was enabled. It still didn’t locate my phone, which was now sitting right next to the computer, about 4 feet from the wifi connection. Meh.

Sadly, I don’t know whether to blame AT&T or Apple.

Update: I tried it again a couple days later, and this time it worked. Hmmm. Leads me to blame AT&T, since my cell signal is notoriously flaky at home. Doesn’t explain why it didn’t work over my Wifi connection, though. Still meh.

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