Friday, November 22, 2002

good collection, lousy design

I look at several information design, information architecture, and usability/experience design/whatever the latest buzztitle is these days sites to try to keep up. There are a lot of them since web builders have the ability to take navel gazing to vast heights simply because we know how to make web pages. Some are better than others. I kind of lean toward by John S. Rhodes because he seems to have a better crap detector than most.

But one site, in particular, has been bugging me and I finally nailed down why. Take a look at the navigation on InfoDesign. Once you've figured out the menu (it's those icons in the third row), can you tell me what each of these mystery meat icons is supposed to represent? An Icon that conveys no information is bad information design. Another website/web designer tainted by Razorfish.
posted by lee on 11/22/02 at 10:22 AM
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Sunday, November 24, 2002

skinwalkers & harry potter

Tonight we (Stanley and I) watched PBS's Mystery! Skinwalkers. Robert Redford funded this movie, with the screenplay written by his son, James -- based on the Tony Hillerman novel of the same name. They did an excellent job, I thought -- I love Hillerman's Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee mysteries so much so that I actually buy them in hardcover as soon as they're published. Adam Beach played Jim Chee, and he acted just as I envisioned Chee would be as I read the novels. (Lou Diamond Phillips did a good job as Jim Chee several years ago in Dark Wind -- an underrated movie.) It wasn't a perfect production -- the story was a little confusing at times if one hadn't read the book -- but all in all, a fine movie, very satisfying. I would love to see Redford et al. make more of these mysteries into movies. I was also glad to see a Mystery! I could understand -- meaning I long ago gave up on watching the British mysteries they usually have since it takes so long to decipher the accents I never catch up with the plot. (So I'm a little dimwitted in the accents department.)

We also went to see Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets this weekend. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and I suppose it was at least a decent movie but I cannot give an objective review since I'm so familiar with the books. It seemed not to last long enough to explain everything -- we were surprised that it was 2.5 hours long! What was most fun was listening to the little kid in the row behind us -- he had one of the best laughs I've heard in quite some time. So even though we went to a matine to escape the hordes, we did have the pleasure of watching it with some children in the theater. Just spared the popcorn & jujube-throwing masses. This version is better than the first, and scary, but I'm looking forward to the next version because it won't be directed by Chris Columbus, who manages to make the story a treacly in a way that Rawlings never does.

Oh, cool, Stanley just told me Skinwalkers is the first of a projected series of Hillerman stories on Mystery! Very good!
posted by lee on 11/24/02 at 10:12 PM
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Monday, November 25, 2002

The Starfish Story

This is all over the web, via email, via webpages, etc. But I saw it for the first time today, and it touched me. It makes things seem less, well, hopeless.

by Loren Eiseley (1907 - 1977)

Once upon a time, there was a man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one."
posted by lee on 11/25/02 at 09:09 AM
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Friday, November 29, 2002

a post-thanksgiving meander

We're in Massachusetts for the Thanksgiving weekend. Yesterday, with my sisters Jamie and Maureen and my niece Kate, we spent the day mostly cooking and talking. Traditional, for us, food -- my mother's recipe for sage stuffing, a new recipe for gravy (a lot of silly work for gravy that's not as good as my made-up recipe), candied yams ... it was a peaceful day, no strife, very pleasant. My brother-in-law Jeff pointed out how lucky we are to have Maureen present, that the Wegener's Granulamatosis didn't kill her in September -- and Maureen is thankful to be off cytox for a little while, even though it's not for a good reason. Stanley spent the day fixing my nephew Ben's computer, and the dog spent the day playing with Ben -- one very happy dog. The cat went from lap to lap, content just to sleep.

I like Thanksgiving the best. Nothing is required except a good meal -- and I like to cook, so even that requirement is fun.

It's gloomy outside right now, and we're due for another inch of snow to add to the five on the ground. I hope this isn't an indication of what this winter is going to be like. I'm spoiled -- two mild winters in a row and I think that's the way it should always be. I can live without snow and ice -- it's pretty to see after it falls, but not pretty enough to deal with afterwards. The dog sure loves it, though, and it's fun to watch her streaking through the fields and diving into Ben's snow fort and trying to catch Ben's snowballs.

I feel kind of wrapped in cotton right now -- I know I have some work to do, but I can't seem to get motivated enough to do it. Maybe after we get back from a quick trip to Cambridge.
posted by lee on 11/29/02 at 11:47 AM
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Saturday, November 30, 2002

Are they?

Pitchfork: Top 100 Albums of the 1980s. So they say. I wouldn't really know -- I'm pretty retarded when it comes to music. Probably because I'm so hearing challenged. Or there could be other reasons, but I choose not to go there. Stanley thinks I'm a moron when it comes to my tastes in music, for the most part. At any rate, this site looks like an interesting place to kill some time with.
posted by lee on 11/30/02 at 10:06 PM
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I stumbled upon Metacritic a little while ago. The site features movie, video, DVD, game, and music reviews -- well, mainly they keep track of all the reviews they can and then combine the results into a metascore. But what I really like is the list of review summaries with links to the entire review, plus reader reviews (some of which actually make sense). Maybe this site is widely known, I dunno, but it's new to me.
posted by lee on 11/30/02 at 10:30 PM
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