design of stuff

Thursday, June 03, 2010

ok go from nasa via spaceweather

Happy June. I think.

This utoob video of OK Go singing “This Too Shall Pass” comes via a NASA blog, which I arrived at by clicking a link on Spaceweather after I clicked a link in my email about noctilucent clouds over Europe. Sometimes I feel like I’m on a Rube Goldberg trip as I click my way through the interwebs, which is fine with me since I just love Rube Goldberg contraptions—and I love this video. Would’ve been fun to be on the team.


Sometimes it’s just necessary to take a break from all the horror stories.

posted by lee on 06/03/10 at 02:58 PM

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

cynic’s calendar 1906

Sunday I emptied another of the boxes of books that went from Stanley’s storage bin to our front room (three or four years ago—yikes!) It was a box of the books collected and sometimes rebound by Stanley’s mother and father.

It took me about an hour longer than it should have since, of course, I wanted to look at every book. It struck me how much more care and thought went into making books up until, I’d guess, the late 1950s or so. The typeface, the ornaments, the decorations, the endpapers. The publishers were as proud of their books as the authors—so much so that colophons seemed to be the norm. I haven’t seen a colophon in a new book—at least, none that I can recall.

Of course, I have a passion for type (the road not taken, I think), so I’ve always noticed it in book designs (and ads and magazines and ... ) Stanley’s father, Tommy Thompson (Samuel Winfield Thompson), was a type designer (he designed Quillscript, Mademoiselle, Baltimore Script among many other faces) so I thought I’d died and gone to heaven with the wealth of type-related resources in this house. Tommy was a protegé of W. A. Dwiggins, one of my favorite type designers (Metro is probably my favorite face), so there is a good-sized collection of work by and correspondence with Dwiggins. I even found a book designed, set, and signed by Goudy! But, what I’m writing about now is ...

One book really caught my fancy: The Complete Cynic’s Calendar of Revised Wisdom for 1906 by Ethyl Watts Mumford, Oliver Herford, and Addison Mizner. The cover is wonderful:

The Complete Cynic's Calendar of Revised Wisdom for 1906 cover

The days of the week per date are the same this year as they were in 1906—maybe that’s why this particular book struck me (or it could’ve been the quotes—I, and particularly Stanley, are as cynical now about the things people were cynical about 100 years ago. Some things never change, it seems.) Here is the page for the first week in January:

The Complete Cynic's Calendar of Revised Wisdom for 1906 week one

This book was published in 1905 by Paul Elder and Company of San Francisco, and printed by The Tomoyé Press (San Francisco). I’ve scanned a few more pages from this book and put them on the jump page if you care to see them.

More "cynic’s calendar 1906"

posted by lee on 01/02/07 at 06:16 AM

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005 gag changed its interface yet again. After a couple of months of really ugly huge pictures of the books taking up the right quadrant of the screen, they changed back to the old, perfectly fine book image size. But the top tabs are now different. Besides that hideous popout, a hiermenu gone insane, they redesigned the graphics to appeal to thirteen-year-old girls. Really gag-inducing. Worse than Apple’s tooth-rotting interface. Somebody needs to be slapped back into adulthood over at Amazon.

posted by lee on 05/10/05 at 03:08 AM

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Friday, May 06, 2005

a site for stan cohen, artist

There’s something very satisfying about putting up a website for an artist. Sometimes it takes us a while to capture the mood. Sometimes the artist knows pretty much what he or she wants and trusts us to execute his or her vision. Sometimes, when seeing an artist’s work and asking a couple of questions, we just know what to do. And sometimes the technology we need to do the best job becomes available at just the right time.

We are working on sites for, or have made sites for, five artists: a glass artist; a ceramicist; a watercolorist; an artist who works in pastels; and one who combines a variety of media from dance and music to digital photos and acrylics (we host her site, but have not been able to start the redesign yet). All fascinating to us, all work that we love.

copyright 2005 by Stanley I. Cohen, Ridgewood, NJ. All rights reserved.
“The green flash observed, by Stanley I. Cohen. (click to enlarge)
Go to his website

Stan Cohen is the watercolor artist, and his is the third site we’ve built for an artist. He’s a retired mathematician and statistician, learning just a few years ago that he has a previously undiscovered talent for, and love of, painting in watercolor. We set up Stan’s site with ExpressionEngine primarily because of the Image Gallery module, which was released with version 1.2. It works well (when it’s set up properly, which mine isn’t since I haven’t fixed it since I broke it ... ) It’s very difficult for me to decide which of Stan’s paintings I like the best. I love his paper airplanes, but this one, of the green flash, is my current favorite of favorites. Creating the templates and getting them all to work together was a lot of work, but the hardest part of this build was processing the photos of Stan’s paintings—and Stanley did a great job with them. He is much, more more patient for this kind of work than I am, and better at it too. We’re working on several interesting projects right now—we’re almost too busy. A lot of work that we had to push back during February and March is coming due now. Most of it is web work; one project is a book design project, which I’d be done with by now if it didn’t require that I learn InDesign, which is way more software than I need for this project (I want to master it, but it’s ten times more complicated to use than the old Ventura Publisher, which I used back in the last century.) At any rate, time for bed. I’d normally stay up another couple of hours, but last night I got a bee in my bonnet and finished the template for another site we’re building (not for an artist, but for an entrepreneur planning to sell a product that interests me a great deal since it’s the type of product I used to write—in the last century.) So I’m falling asleep as I ramble on trying to find a graceful way to end this entry ... zzzzz

posted by lee on 05/06/05 at 04:01 AM

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Sunday, April 24, 2005

the new food pyramid

When I first got a look at it, it kind of reminded me of Chitzen-itza. Then I looked at it, and realized it conveys no information. None. Emblematic of the Bushies, I think.

The design and the website the goes with it cost US taxpayers at least $2.5 million dollars.

But other who know more about design than I have written better rants about it than I can. Michael Beirut of DesignObserver comes to mind:

The new pyramid has none of the bracing clarity of the old one. As a seasoned graphic designer, I find myself with the dismaying ability to look beyond any new design and see the interminable series of meetings that was its genesis. The brief the Department of Agriculture gave its consultant, Porter Novelli, must have been daunting.

Indeed. Make it look busy while saying nothing, offending no one (except those of us who expect information graphics to, um, provide information).

posted by lee on 04/24/05 at 04:16 PM

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Friday, January 14, 2005

learn from the best

National Press Photographers Association is accepting entries for the 2005 best of still photojournalism awards. You don’t have to be a member of NPPA to enter. Take a look at last year’s results: there are some remarkable photos in this bunch. Then, with some luck and perseverance, you can find even older archives. The photos are worth studying to get an idea of what constitutes the “best.” You can tease out some of the reasons by reading the captions. It will be quite interesting to see the 2005 winners as there were so many newsworthy events—and so many of these so tragic.

A wording of warning: this website is maddeningly ill-organized. Aside from the unobvious navigation, it could greatly benefit from implementation of an organized gallery—it would be a good feature, for example, to be able to see a thumbnail listing of the entire group of winners and the same within individual galleries. Even PhotoShop’s automated gallery function does a better job of presenting images in a coherent structure than this site does. It’s a pity, because there’s a lot here for the patient. I think it does a disservice to the members.

posted by lee on 01/14/05 at 03:45 PM

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Thursday, December 30, 2004

crossword puzzle

Stumbled upon a very interesting collection of calculators and related stuff done by web developer (I guess that’s his title) David Rose. Besides the fact that they work, I love his clean designs. Go ahead and try this crossword puzzle, but be aware that the little letter selector pops up close to the top of the page (at least in Firefox).

His professional website is Rose is also a photographer, and has a nicely done site with some of his photos for sale. Definitely worth poking around.

posted by lee on 12/30/04 at 05:55 PM

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Monday, October 25, 2004

VisiBone: tools I use a lot

There are certain tools that I use a lot when I make websites. Aside from software to make webpages, I regularly use Bob Stein's VisiBone color chart, laminatad reference cards with stuff such as common fonts installed on computers and tag reference and more, and some of his foldup reference cards, such as the one for javascript. I love them, they're (mostly) easy to stash on my desk, and the color wheel is a great poster. Twitch consults it pretty regularly and lets me know if he likes my choices.

Twitch consults the VisiBone color chart
posted by lee on 10/25/04 at 08:32 PM

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Tuesday, June 15, 2004

celebrate solstice

Take a look at Secular Seasons. I love the graphics and design of this site (as well as the sentiment behind it). The site has some bugs, but it has some very interesting content (especially if one is a [gasp] secular humanist!)
posted by lee on 06/15/04 at 06:52 PM

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Sunday, November 23, 2003

here and there

The Greatest Album Covers That Never Were: an interesting collection of quite a bit of good art -- often with links to the artist's own website. Besides, it's fun.

And from the above, I got here: Kurt Vonnegut's website.

Where it began: Urban Legend Magazine. All because I clicked the link in WebDesign-L. Especially when the discussion is making my eyes cross.

I'm in the process of making an entire news-oriented website in MT. It's interesting. More about this as I do it -- the links that were most useful to me, etc. (such as this from Brad Choate ... )
posted by lee on 11/23/03 at 04:09 PM

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