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, March 04, 2010

Thursday Top 5+1

Google 411
It’s free. The pizza’s not.

The Modern San Franciscan
By local artist Mike Giant. [via MissionMission]

“Under Pressure (Ice Ice Baby)” by Jedward, featuring Vanilla Ice
These two young guys were apparently controversial participants on “X Factor,” one of those TV talent competitions. As I never watch those things, I hadn’t heard of them until this music video hit my radar. It’s actually a pretty good performance/mash-up/parody, for what it is. Inviting the real Vanilla Ice to appear in a version of the song that was so controversial*, and which practically ended his musical career, was a stroke of sheer genius, and kudos to him for taking it on with a bit of self-mockery.

* If you’ve been paying the least bit of attention for the past 20 years, you know that Vanilla Ice’s song was slammed for sampling/ripping off the 1981 Queen and David Bowie hit single “Under Pressure.” Sadly, the Wikipedia article on Jedward’s song did not mention this.

Council of Responsible Advertisers Promoting Accepted Digital Solutions
“Rich media can literally kill you.”

The Sandpit
Cool tilt-shift video. [via Jenny]

You’ve been Yelped!
Great article from Inc. magazine on the power and peril of

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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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

“Can you super-size that please?”

At the risk of sounding un-PC and reinforcing a stereotype, it struck me as funny when a largish person (I think obese is a term with some stigma, although I’m confident she would fit the technical definition) who’s visiting the office for a week asks her nearest cube-mate whether there’s anyplace that will deliver lunch.

In San Francisco, most people who work in downtown office buildings go out for lunch to one of the many, many restaurants, delis, etc. that are squeezed into nearly every crevice that isn’t occupied by a Starbucks or office space. There are probably three or four dozen eateries within easy walking distance (a block or three) of our office, offering everything from cheap soup and sandwiches to exquisite dining.

All I could think when I heard this person ask about delivery was, “Perhaps if you walked a little more each day you would be in better shape. After all, you’re visiting one of the most walkable cities in the country, a city with more restaurants per capita than almost anywhere else, and it’s not even bloody raining or anything.

Since I’m already probably offending people, I might as well just go ahead and add that this woman was a Southerner. Now, before you cry foul and nail me to a piece of wood for my wanton sterotyping, let’s just reflect that nine of the ten states with the most obese Americans are Southern states, and yes, she was from one of those states.

In fact, I’m always struck by the astonishing difference when we travel to Missouri (#12 most obese state) and suddenly notice that we’re the thinnest people nearly everywhere we go, sometimes the only thin people!

I wonder if people who live in the South experience a similar wonder when they travel to the coasts and see more thin people.

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thursday Top 5

7,000 death metal logos? That’s like 1,850,000 spikes!
Vice brings us a brief interview with Christophe Szpajdel, a designer who specializes in creating logos for death metal bands. He says he’s designed more than 7,000 of them in the last 20 years. I don’t know what’s more scary: that he made that many, or that there have been that many death metal bands.

Peter Callesen
Amazing paper sculpture. [via Jenny]

HP computers are racist
The face tracking feature of the HP web cam will not recognize or track black faces. Or, as Dezi (sp?) puts it in the video, “The HP webcam does not pick up negroes.”

MPG Stickers
Get good mileage? Get a custom MPG sticker for your vehicle. Our 1996 Honda Civic DX still gets better mileage than practically any other “modern” car you can buy today in America, including the so-called “fuel-efficient” ones. We love our Hondog.

A Troubling Story of SFPD Bias Against Bicycle Riders
“...As I tried to get information from three SFPD police officers on the scene of the crash, two of them showered me with unadulterated disdain for bicyclists and pedestrians. One officer said she thought bicyclists and pedestrians are always at fault in crashes and that they are stupid for not watching out for drivers. She was very upset with cyclists running red lights. She told me the bicyclist was at fault in this crash without any knowledge that a witness was saying the opposite...”

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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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Thursday Top 5+2

Last night of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”
I haven’t watched Leno for years, and he was never my favorite, as I preferred the wacky ’80s and early ’90s era of Letterman, but Leno’s not bad at all. Last week was his final night on “The Tonight Show” before Conan takes over the reins in L.A., so I decided to watch it for history’s sake. They did about ten minutes of “Jaywalking,” the man-on-the street comedy segment where he just asks simple questions of normal, everyday Americans on the streets of L.A. (assuming there is such a thing in L.A., I suppose), such as “Who was the first president of the United States?”. This segment has always struck me as funny and excrutiatingly painful at the same time, as it shows just how terribly stupid Americans are. Worse yet, on this last show Jay tells us that they don’t even have to work hard to compile the funniest/dumbest moments after each outing. They only go out for about an hour, he says, they talk to a dozen or so people, and they use nine or so. That means over half the citizens of the republic are so retarded they can’t tell you which countries border on the U.S. or name any of the Founding Fathers. Oh, cry for our future! [43:29, 5 commercials]

First night of “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien”
Meanwhile, across town at the Universal Studios lot, the finishing touches have been put on a new studio for Conan, who took over the reins from Leno the very next week. Andy Richter returns as the show announcer, Max Weinberg and the band now get to call themselves The Tonight Show Band, and Conan was in fine form for his first time hosting the legendary show that’s been around since 1954. Musical Guest was Pearl Jam. [43:31, 5 commmercials]

Schwarzenegger answers real people’s questions
The member communities of’s iReport and Digg Dialogg teamed up to interview CA Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger on May 27. In an unusual example of democracy, the Republican actor-turned-guv answers questions posed by and voted on by the Digg and iReport users. Showing a little more moxie than even the traditional press can sometimes muster, there were a few hard-charging queries, leading off with “Do you support same-sex marriage and do you think the GOP should become more gay-friendly?” Of course, there were some softies too, like “Does the term ‘Governator’ bother you?” All questions and video here [30:31 min].

BART swingers
Apparently a few weeks ago somebody surreptitiously installed swings on a BART train. And thus the fun did ensue. More pics...

New Yorker cover created on an iPhone
Artist Jorge Colombo painted the cover illustration using the Brushes app on his iPhone.

Beatles come to Rock Band
Apparently Microsoft has been able to make inroads where Apple hasn’t, since the two remaining Beatles and the widows of the other two members joined various tech and gaming notables to announce that the Beatles are coming to Rock Band this fall. The animation sequence at the beginning is cool enough to merit watching in HD, but the rest of the long presentation isn’t probably interesting to you unless you’re into gaming. I watched the whole thing, though, and as a non-gamer I’m always impressed at the continually-improving, nearly-cinematic quality of the visuals in today’s games. In fact, if you’re really into seeing where the entertainment and social media technology is going in the next few years, there are some pretty amazing things unveiled in the last 25 minutes or so; look for Steven Spielberg’s appearance to tip you off.

“We Didn’t Start the Flame War”
Warning: nsfw. Gotta hand it to the CollegeHumor folks, they nail the ridiculousness of the internets (including self-satire) in this one. [2:44 min]

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

How to recycle practically anything

I’m a master recycler, but aseptic packages (like juice boxes and soy milk boxes) and Tyvek envelopes have been two of my most frustrating challenges. Even in San Francisco, where our recycling program is exceptional in the amount and variety of stuff it accepts, we can’t get rid of these items by just tossing them in the blue or green bins.

Google to the rescue. Today I found a great article from E magazine, “How to recycle practically anything”, which gave me answers to both of these.

The article is great, I recommend you peruse it if you ever wondered how to recycle any of the following:
  • aerosol cans
  • aluminum foil
  • autos, jet skis, boats, RVs, etc.
  • books
  • car batteries, motor oil, oil filters, antifreeze
  • carpet and padding
  • clothing
  • eyeglasses
  • fruit rinds, veggie scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags
  • magazines, catalogs, phone books
  • crayons, art supplies, wine corks, fabric
  • ewspaper, aluminum cans, metal cans
  • paper, cardboard boxes
  • plastic bags
  • 1–7 plastic containers
  • packaging “peanuts”
  • pots and pans
  • Priority Mail (Tyvek) envelopes
  • records
  • styrofoam
  • videotapes, floppy disks, Zip disks, DVDs, CDs, jewel cases
  • wire hangers
Two they didn’t cover, which I wish they would: wax paper and waxed containers like milk cartons. If you live in San Francisco, you can now put them in your compost bin. In most other places, I think this one’s still a challenge.

For many, plastic bags are also a little challenging since most curbside programs don’t take them (including San Francisco), but you can recycle clean bags at Safeway stores (in bins usually located near the front, outisde), so it’s just a matter of having the discipline to save them up and deliver them. In our home, we separate them into ones we can reuse and ones that aren’t worth it. We stuff them in a bin until it’s full, then find the largest bag and fill it with all the others, and migrate it to the garage or the trunk of the car, where we’ll remember to take it out the next time we go to Safeway.

E’s article also includes a few things you may not realize are hazardous materials, and shouldn’t be just thrown in the trash:
  • batteries
  • fluorescent lights
  • consumer electronics (iPods, cell phones, pagers, computers, etc.)
  • paint
  • smoke detectors
The last one I wish they’d covered was prescription medicine. While you can’t technically recycle it, it’s very hazardous to throw into the garbage, or worse yet, flush down the toilet. That stuff goes right into our water system and get gobbled up by fish, frogs, birds, and others, and it comes right back around to you and me in the form of rainwater and the fish we eat. Do you really want to eat salmon a la viagra?

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Terrible news: Stacey’s Bookstore in SF to close in March

SFGate reports that the 85-year-old store on Market near 2nd has taken a severe hit with the latest plunge in the economy, on top of a 50% drop in sales since 2001.

I’m very sad about this. I used to shop almost every week at the Stacey’s in Cupertino when I lived in the South Bay, and I was bummed when they had to close that location years ago. I shopped all the time at the SF location once I moved up here, in part because it was only a few blocks from where I worked, but also because they have a great selection of magazines and design books, the two things I buy most of.

I buy a lot of stuff from Amazon, so some might call me a hypocrite. But I buy a lot of books and a lot of my magazines at independent local bookstores. And anyone who’s been to my house knows I have a lot of books.

Here are my top local (San Francisco) fave bookstores, in no particular order:

Stacey’s Bookstore
581 Market Street, near 2nd
Great selection of magazines and design books, plus one of the best selections of computer/technical books. Stacey’s is large, clean, and well organized, and I will miss it a great deal.

Alexander Book Co.
50 2nd Street, near Market
It’s easy to miss this store if you don’t know it’s there, but they have a fantastic selection of graphic design books, maybe the best in the Bay Area, probably because they cater to students at the nearby Academy of Art University. Design books are pricey, typically being $35 to $55. I try not to go here too often ; )

Borderlands Books
866 Valencia Street, near 20th Street
This place only has sci-fi, fantasy, horror etc., with some graphic novels and a small selection of DVDs. I buy a lot of science fiction here and sometimes get really good recommendations from the staff. They carry some used but mostly new.

Modern Times
888 Valencia Street, near 20th Street
Full of leftist propaganda and I love it for that. Modern Times has a brilliant selection of progressive books on everything you can imagine, and it’s my go-to place to get the Slingshot organizer for Olya.

Dog Eared Books
900 Valencia Street, at 20th Street
I occasionally buy a used book here, but mostly I like Dog Eared’s selection of graphic novels and their terrific variety of outsider art books.

Aardvark Books
227 Church Street, near Market
I don’t get to this place very often but when I’m in the Castro I try to drop in here for a look through their big, round table in the front of the store featuring a ton of used graphic novels, comics, and art books. Most are in very good condition.

Adobe Books
3166 16th Street, near Valencia
I like this funky used bookstore but it’s really hard to find anything worthwhile in the mess of unorganized stacks of books. I usually take a quick look in the two or three sections I regularly peruse (art, photo, and sci-fi) when I’m waiting for my Pakwan takeout order to be ready. One of the coolest things I saw in 2004 was when a local artist was allowed to rearrange all the books by color for a couple months.

Please go support your local independent bookstore!

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thursday Top 5

Leona Naess “Heavy Like Sunday”
Her site is

“Humboldt County” the movie
At least the two writer-directors are being realistic about their movie’s chances. More about the movie at

Bear Creek Apartments
Hope Larson and Bryan Lee O’Malley have released a new short comic online, written by Larson and drawn by O’Malley. In releated news, Michael Cera has signed on to play Scott Pilgrim in the film version of O’Malley’s popular comic book series.

Conan learns what it takes to be a UPS guy
Conan rules. That is all.

Very dangerous. You go first.
A giant Lego boulder chasing Indiana Jones down a San Francisco hill.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Restaurant review: Home

Meeting some friends at the corner of Market and Church for brunch, it was going to be between Sparky's (which I love), Chow (which I like), and Home (which I'd never been to). Velma loved Home's chicken pot pie last time she ate there, so she enthusiastically voted for it. The others were amenable to any of them, so it looked like we were Home-ward bound.

On Velma's urging, we opted for the patio, which has a decidedly more laid-back and cozy feel than the main dining area inside. On the way, we passed the a-la-carte Bloody Mary table, which a gaggle of slightly bleary-eyed hipsters were making good use of.

Home serves brunch on the weekends from 10am to 2pm. We were there at 11:15 on a May Sunday, and it was suitably busy without being crowded.

Home serves up classic American comfort food with a gourmet twist. They offer vegetarian alternatives and free-range Niman Ranch beef, although organic eggs come at a slight cost increase. You'll pay a tad more for your brunch here, but not much more.

I ordered the California omelet, which contains tomatoes, scallions, and pepper jack cheese. It arrived with two gigantic dollops of avocado on top, which was my first indication that I was going to like this place. Any place that doesn't scrimp on the avo gets at least three stars in my book. My plate was further festooned with Home's breakfast potatoes, large cuts of small roasted potatoes that are highly seasoned in a way that made my heart sing with love. Another two stars. The omelet's very fresh ingredients and zesty taste (albeit with few ingredients) sealed the deal. I had been looking forward to a filling omelet at Sparky's, but Home stole the show by leaving my taste buds awed and my stomach full.

Velma chose the buttermilk biscuit and country sausage gravy with two eggs. Having tried a couple bites, I can confirm that it was splendid, maybe even better than mine. I think Chris opted for the eggs Florentine, English muffin, poached eggs, sauteed spinach, hollandaise, and breakfast potatoes, which I didn't try but he finished as quickly as I did, so I guess it was good. Jenny had the buttermilk pancakes, which she said were great but didn't finish, because they were huge. And because I've never seen Jenny finish a meal ever. Carmen had already eaten, so I'm mentioning her only to add a blonde to the mix.

Taking a look at their dinner and dessert menus makes me want to go back some evening. Home has a wide variety of wines and spirits as well. Happy Hour is daily from 5 to 7pm.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008


Need some new games to fill your time? SFZero (SF0) is sort of an "open source" game where players both invent the tasks and complete them. One of my favorite tasks, trespassing in Cherokee Cave, uncovered some details about the Lemp brewery, a place Velma and I had wondered about when she first showed me around St. Louis.
Some of my other faves:
Specialization Is For Insects
Bus Stop Seating Conversion
Public Sign Makeover

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Hunters Point Open Studios, spring 2008

I've raved about the Hunters Point Open Studios before, and since I just went last fall I was a little afraid that there wouldn't be much new to see this spring and that I'd be bored.

Didn't happen. This Sunday I spent most of my afternoon at the old Hunters Point Shipyard looking at the work of artists whom I'd never seen before at all, either because they were new tenants, they hadn't opened their studios the past times I'd attended (not everyone participates every time), or they were borrowing space from other resident artists who weren't showing this spring.

Here's a sampling of the new art I really liked...

Sharon Beals
I really liked her nest series, which you can see on Flickr. The small pictures are great but don't do justice to seeing the truly stunning large-format prints she was displaying in her studio.

Zabrina Tipton
Zabrina's San Francisco Urbanscapes appealed to me both because of the familiar hometown sights and because the saturated colors and posterized look evoked some of the 1970s pop art I grew up looking at in magazines.

Rebecca Haseltine
Haseltine makes her “pourings” using pigments and water, achieving an interesting effect on a translucent mylar that's almost incandescent when displayed in front of a window.

Leslie Lowenger
I liked a couple of the prints by this artist, especially the one pictured above.

Alan Mazzetti
I usually prefer abstract painters to strictly representational, and Alan Mazzetti's didn't disappoint. I especially enjoyed his Foils series, inspired by wine, and talked with him about the interesting characteristics of viewpoint and motion exhibited in his Probabilities series.

David Goldberg
I talked with David about traditional photography and his adept use of multiple exposures. I couldn't find him on the web, though.

Kathryn Kain
I may have mentioned Kain before, but she was displaying two large pink works from 2006 (I think) that were stupendous. Since they were predominantly pink, it was amazing that I loved them so much, since that's my least favorite color. Unfortunately they're not on her website, and there's nothing else featured there that I particularly like.

I also saw jewelry by two artists I really liked, which is rare since I'm not interested in most jewelry. Many of the pictures on their respective websites don't really do justice to their work, but in person they were fabulous.
Josie Adele –

Even though I've mentioned them before, I'm going to feature these two artists whose work continues to blow me away.

Ivy Jacobsen

Kim Smith

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thursday top 5+1

Chuck Norris approved
Well, now I know who I'm voting for.

Pierre Henry "Psyché Rock"
Listen for the origin of the "Futurama" theme song.

Jim Houser interview
A typically conversational Fecal Face interview with illustrator Jim Houser. The best part is the ton of pictures of his home/workspace.

The Small Stakes
I have this Death Cab for Cutie shirt I really like, and it was designed by Jason Munn, who has churned out some amazing posters and designs over the past five years from his Oakland studio.

Consumer Consequences
An interactive game that asks, "What would the world look like if everyone lived like me?" You may have played games like this before (sometimes it's more like a quiz), but this one is notable in that it allows you to compare your answers at the end to other people's, including some American Public Media personalities. Thanks to Ynnej for the link.

"Here's to San Francisco Values!"
By a certain Julia.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Room 641A: AT&T's complicity in Bush's Orwellian America

I pass this windowless, metal-clad behemoth of a building every day. It's practically across the street from my office downtown. It's an AT&T building, but I never understood why it would have absolutely no windows. I always wondered what was inside.

A whistleblower who used to be a technician working for AT&T in this building revealed that it contains a room which is only accessible to National Security Agency (NSA) personnel, into which all communications traffic — internet and telephone — flows and is copied.

"My job was to connect circuits into the splitter device which was hard-wired to the secret room," said whistleblower Mark Klein. "And effectively, the splitter copied the entire data stream of those internet cables into the secret room — and we're talking about phone conversations, email web browsing, everything that goes across the internet."

In January 2006 the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T, accusing the telecom giant of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the NSA in a massive, illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans' communications.

The traffic routed through these secret rooms is not limited to AT&T customers, and AT&T is not the only telecom company complicit in the government's conspiracy to surveil the entirety of American civil communications. The EFF has filed briefs seeking information on similar locked rooms in facilities owned by Verizon, MCI, and others.

Coverage of Room 641A:

Washington Post: A Story of Surveillance: Former Technician 'Turning In' AT&T Over NSA Program
PBS's Frontline: Spying on the Home Front
Wired interview with Mark Klein: Spying in the Death Star: The AT&T Whistle-Blower Tells His Story
Wired: AT&T Whistle-Blower's Evidence
Electronic Frontier Foundation: Hepting v. AT&T
Wikipedia: Room 641A

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Hunters Point Open Studios fall 2007

Last Sunday I went to Hunters Point Open Studios with Aaron Zonka and Olya Milenkaya. As usual, I enjoyed it a lot. I always get inspired, and usually I see a few new artists whose work I've never seen before.

Aaron and Olya, both artists, seemed to like some of the work, but their general comment was something like "I didn't see anything that really blew me away."

Remind me not to go to Open Studios with artists anymore.

Anyway, here are most of my favorite artists from this year. Of course, these little images can't do justice to seeing the real thing in three dimensions. Most of these are really tactile and the subtleties are absolutely lost when photographed and shrunken.

Ivy Jacobsen

Kim Smith

Mirang Wonne

Dennis Parlante

Thea Schrack

Derek Lynch

Carol Aust

Susan Spies

Bob Armstrong

Deborah Hayner

David Jay Trachtenberg

Peggy Snider

Patty Neal

Qi Re Ching
no website : \

And this one's for Velma...

Debra King

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