Archive for April 2005

Dream Job at The New York Times

So the New York Times is looking for a Design Director to lead the redesign of their flagship site, nytimes.com. Wow. Talk about a dream position.

If I didn’t love Seattle and what I’m doing right now so much, I’d be talking to them in a heartbeat. A chance to lead one of the world’s all-time most respected newspapers in an all-encompassing redesign and live in of one of the greatest cities on earth? What more could one ask for?

If you or anyone you know fits the bill, head on over to the Times job site (direct job link here) and check it out. We need more good people running more major news organizations’ web sites these days.

Hat Tip: Mark Hurst of Good Experience

sIFR 2.0 Released

It’s released! A long effort of several months is finally complete. sIFR 2.0 is here.

I’m all worn out from writing the official sIFR landing page so I’m going to keep this entry short, but I’ll just say that this release is the realization of everything we’ve always strived for in sIFR: rich, accessible typography for the masses with no pitfalls under any reasonable browsing conditions.

Release Candidate 4 was pretty solid, but this final release adds two improvements to the already rich feature set: the ability to show browser text while Flash text is loading (if desired) and graceful degradation to HTML text if users have FlashBlock installed. We’re particularly jazzed about working through the FlashBlock issue because it was the only circumstance where we felt sIFR wasn’t degrading perfectly, but thanks to the FlashBlock folks’ willingness to work with us and upgrade the FlashBlock extension, all is good in Flash-blocking land now. :)

I’d like to give a final thank you to the following people for the following reasons:

  • Mark Wubben — Mark’s world-class javascript skills are the reason that sIFR is as robust and well-formed as it is. He and I have been working together long-distance from Seattle to The Netherlands for several months now, and I can say he’s the easily the best javascripter I’ve ever collaborated with. His only shortcoming is that he doesn’t have a Mac yet, but that will change before the summer I’m told. If you’re ever in need of a great javascripter or just an object-oriented developer genius, Mark is your guy.
  • Shaun Inman — I can’t really say anything about The Wolf that hasn’t already been said. He is the man. His original IFR DOM-based Flash replacement routine was the catalyst for the creation of sIFR, and to this day, he’s still the first person I bug on Instant Messenger when I have a problem. In fact, I find him so useful that I embedded him in a Dashboard widget earlier this week… details possibly forthcoming (seriously). Shaun has some interesting things he’s getting ready to release as well, so keep an eye on him.
  • Stephanie Sullivan — Hot beach volleyball mom by day, rabid sIFR advocate by night, Stephanie has helped write a lot of the sIFR documentation on the official sIFR Wiki as well as evangelize the technology at conferences and classes around the country. Tonight, Stephanie’s introducing sIFR 2.0 at TODCON in Las Vegas… we wish her luck.
  • Danilo Celic — Along with Stephanie, Danilo is a key contributor over at Community MX. Danilo took the time to create a Dreamweaver extension to export sIFR swf files and even made sIFR tutorial in the form of a slick Breeze presentation… go check it out.
  • Matt May — As an accessibility expert, member of the W3C, and just all around great guy, Matt’s opinion means a lot to us, and when he gave a clean bill of accessibility health to sIFR, we really started to feel great about what we’d done.
  • Joe Clark — Much like Matt, Joe’s opinions on accessibility mean a lot to us. And much like Matt, Joe sees nothing inaccessible about sIFR. We like Joe.
  • Dave Shea — Dave provided a very even-handed review of sIFR back in the beta days which helped us focus on making the good better and making the not-so-good, not-so-bad anymore. Thanks for a good post and the healthy discussion which followed.
  • Andrew Hume — Andrew wrote a great article on his site, Usabletype.com, about how and when to use sIFR. He’s also been helpful in explaining proper usage to people when the opportunity arises.
  • Jeff Croft — Croftie’s a big sIFR guy and much like Andrew, he’s been helpful in mitigating some of the discussion around the internet about proper use of this method. Jeff’s site is also a great example of beautiful sIFR use.
  • Everyone who has used sIFR — Without the pool of hundreds of developers putting sIFR through its paces, we wouldn’t have made it as good as it is. There are simply too many combinations of browsers, OSes, plug-ins, and extensions out there to properly test something like this by yourself. To all who have helped us over the last several months, a big thank you.

Alright, now go check it out already!

Xylescope: Visual CSS Viewer

A great little CSS viewing app which embeds WebKit and lets you see style rules in context.

CMS Matrix: The Content Management Comparison Tool

A comprehensive guide which outlines all major CMS options out there.

BitTorrenting Tiger

While playing poker last night, I was telling a friend from Microsoft how excited everyone is about the coming release of OS X 10.4 (Tiger). He asked me when it was coming out. I told him April 29th, but apparently it was already beginning to make its rounds on P2P networks.

To which his response was “Why didn’t Apple just release it on P2P networks?”

To which my response was “How would they collect money from the sales then?”

To which his response was “Require activation.”

To which my response was “Umm, yeah. I’d already have it by now then, wouldn’t I?”

What a great idea. Distributing something like a song or a movie on P2P where you want people to voluntarily pay you a few bucks is a tough proposition because of the extra effort involved for the sake of a few bucks, but Tiger is $100-$130 and people are already planning on making the same payment to Apple or Amazon or whoever for a mailable copy of the OS, so what’s the extra effort here? There isn’t any. Combine that with the fact that by using BitTorrent, it wouldn’t even cost Apple any bandwidth to distribute, and you have a winning proposition in my opinion. I’d gladly “activate” my copy of Tiger were it made available to me in this way. How many of you would?

Perceived typos as an attention-getting tool

This clever ad from TBWA Chiat Day for an Infiniti creates the illusion of a typographical error in order to draw your attention.

OJR: Tying bloggers' salaries to traffic

OJR looks at how the different blog publishing houses are paying their writers.

April Randoms

Every month, I end up with several items I’d like to post about, but none is particularly worth dedicating an entire entry to. Rather than let these little things go unposted, I figured I’d just aggregate them into one post per month, and perhaps together, they are worth one post. Here goes:

Logotypes.ru

I’ve used this site for years but I don’t think most people know about. It is a huge repository of logos from various companies, mostly in vector format. If you’ve ever found yourself doing mockups involving corporate logos you may not have easy access to, check out logotypes.ru before trying to grab badly compressed web versions from production sites. Is it legal? I don’t know. But the .ru means Russia, and I doubt our comrades overseas really care about such formalities.

Safari 1.3 is out

Dave Hyatt announced the release of Safari 1.3 today, which uses the same codebase as the version of Safari (2.0) that comes with Tiger. I just downloaded it and I’m quite impressed. Aside from the 35% speed improvement, Safari 1.3 adds support for such features as getComputedStyle and contentEditable (yay!). This version of Safari also squashes the long running bug whereby Safari would need an innerHTML “kick in the ass” in order repaint elements which had been changed via the DOM. As you can imagine, all of these under-the-hood improvements benefit sIFR greatly. In fact, we used sIFR to help Dave and Apple squash a DOM bug a couple of months ago. I personally can’t wait to begin using contentEditable on some of my projects. I’ve always loved how it works in PC IE, and now finally Mac users can use it too. Firefox, where are you?
UPDATE: There do appear to be some newly introduced bugs in Safari 1.3 from looking at all of the latest comments over on Dave’s site. Some caching issues have arisen, as well as some JS and DOM issues. Hopefully a quick update will be forthcoming.

Levis Jeans

Did you know you can’t even buy Levis at most department stores anymore? I walked into my local Macy’s last week to buy some Silvertabs and was shocked to find no Levis whatsoever. The salesman told me that barely any department stores carry them anymore because most Levis are now sold through discount warehouses like Costco and Sam’s Club. Turns out that in order for Macy’s to sell Levis at a competitive price, they’d have to take a loss on them. I know there are plenty of other jeans around these days, but I have to wonder if Levis’ decision to whore their jeans out to discounters might bite them in the long run. In the short run, I’ve been reduced to shopping at J.C. Penneys (ouch!) in order to get a pair of Levis… they still sell them for now.

Incomplete Redesigns

There seems to be a practice lately of relaunching sites before they are ready. It’s mainly blogs, but I’ve noticed a lot of relaunches lately with disclaimers like “try not to pay attention to the navigation” and “the comment system doesn’t work yet” and all sorts of other warnings. Maybe I’m just old school about design, but I would never dream of launching anything that was less than about 90-95% ready. If you have a few chunks of invalid code or a couple of enhancements which aren’t ready yet, fine…. but if the state of your site requires a disclaimer of incompleteness, it probably isn’t ready to be launched. And if it isn’t ready to be launched, then don’t launch it.

The Pontiac Solstice

I have never come close to buying a Pontiac. I’ve never seen one which had any appeal to me whatsoever. Being a European/Japanese car snob my whole life, I’ve pretty much tuned out American cars as being anything I’d ever want to own. Pontiacs, to me, have done nothing to dampen this sentiment. They are often rental cars, and they are just never fun or attractive (apologies if you own one). But wow… have you seen the new Solstice??? It was featured on The Apprentice this week and I am just completely taken aback by how beautiful it is. Take the emblem off of there and you’d think it was an exotic car. The Apprentice has really set the new standard for product placement on TV, and I must say, whatever Pontiac paid for that placement was well worth it. I’m still not big on two-seaters, but the Solstice’s appearance on The Apprentice is enough to at least get me out to the lot.

Mind Control

If you’re at all interested in the power of persuasion, check out some of Derren Brown’s tricks of the trade. Interesting, and a tad scary.

Mind Control for Dummies

Some amusing video clips from Darren Brown illustrating the power of persuasion.

Boxes and Arrows: Planning For Ad Placement

A realistic piece examining how to best integrate advertising into commercial sites.

Shared
Humanity's deep future:

A group of researchers at the Future of Humanity Institute talk about where our race may be going and how artificial intelligence could save or kill us all.

Steve Jobs speaks about the future at the International Design Conference in 1983:

31 years later, it’s safe to say this is one of the most prescient speeches about technology ever delivered. Jobs covers wireless networking, tablets, Google StreetView, Siri, and the App Store (among other things) many years before their proliferation. A fantastic listen.

How to travel around the world for a year:

Great advice for when you finally find the time.

LiveSurface:

A fantastic app for prototyping your design work onto real world objects like billboards, book covers, and coffee cups. This seems like just as great of a tool for people learning design as it does for experts.

50 problems in 50 days:

One man’s attempt to solve 50 problems in 50 days using only great design. Some good startup ideas in here…

How to Do Philosophy:

If you’ve ever suspected that most classical philosophy is a colossal waste of time, Paul Graham tells you why you’re probably right.

TIME: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us:

Stephen Brill follows the money to uncover the pinnacle of corruption that is the U.S. Health Care system. A must-read article if there ever was one.

DIY Dot Org:

A beautifully designed site full of fun and challenging DIY projects. I could spend months on here.

The Steve Jobs Video Archive:

A collection of over 250 Steve Jobs videos in biographical order

Self-portraits from an artist under the influence of 48 different psychoactive drug combos.

Water Wigs are pretty amazing.

David Pogue proposes to his girlfriend by creating a fake movie trailer about them and then getting a theater to play it before a real movie. Beautiful and totally awesome.

Jonah Peretti's letter to BuzzFeed’s employees:

If you’re wondering what a excellent blueprint for a modern media company looks like, look no further than Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti’s latest email to his employees. In it, Peretti explains a lot of his company’s virtues, the most important being a relentless focus on always providing what’s best for the user. Vox Media (operators of The Verge) is the only other company I can think of which approaches this level of reform and execution.

The Covers Project:

I love this so much: a cross-referenceable database of cover songs, searchable by song or artist. Slowed down, acoustic covers — no matter the song — are so enjoyable to me that I wish it was a requirement to play one at every show. If you like them as much as I do, make sure to check out M. Ward’s Let’s Dance or Sun Kil Moon’s entire album of Modest Mouse covers.

“More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.”
- Tim Kreider’s denunciation of the cult of busyness is excellent. (via jimray)