Swiss Army Knife

June 5, 2007 at 2:41 pm | Posted in Coding, Design, Management | Leave a comment

 

I have noticed over the last couple of days that web development involves a lot more jobs than I initially thought.
I’m only 3 or so years out of university. Fresh meat, you could say. Furthermore, my degree was in software engineering – peripherally relevant to the industry I work in, but not quite a nice mesh. As such, I’ve approached my job thus far with the same mentality I had while going through my studies – that of a code monkey, although the software engineering degree involved more management than I would have liked, but am grateful of now.

Continue Reading Swiss Army Knife…

Logo Rip Offs

March 26, 2007 at 12:41 pm | Posted in Design, General | 2 Comments

Today I was browsing through different blogs and I came upon the much talked about LogoMaid ripoff scandal. LogoMaid is a company that deals in “off the shelf” logo’s. They make (or buy logo’s) and then resell them. Unsurprisingly, their work is not very original or good, and in some cases, is a flat-out rip-off.

One has to wonder how long it is before someone get’s sued. I had a browse through LogoMaid’s “Unique Logos” section and found these gems of design:

I wonder of this designer has ever heard of which looks a lot like

Then there are these two the first one belongs to simplebits.com and the other to LogoMaid. Anyone see something dodgey?

Did xbox rip off LogoMaid? :O

Err, did someone just change the colour and remove the border?

These guys really must like Xbox : /

wait, that looks familiar?

is exactly the same as

I wonder what they were thinking? I found these pretty quickly and there were some more that I could have added but decided they were borderline…

Apperently they also ripped apple, but that got taken off the site soon after it was made public: http://flickr.com/photos/singletrack/429895395/

Where is the world going to when you think you are going to get away with stuff like that.

Pwnd. 🙂

You know you are a design geek when:

March 7, 2007 at 1:40 pm | Posted in Design | Leave a comment

1. You giggle whenever you use the colors F0CCED, EFF0FF and 44DDDD

2. You’re in the sun and you look around for a Drop Shadow to sit under.

3. You give your relatives a lecture about color spaces and profiles when you email them your vacation photos.

4. Seing someone use Lens Flare or Comic Sans adversely affects your blood-pressure

5. You maintain a grid system for your refrigerator magnets.

6. You organise your CD collection according to the Pantone chart.

7. You sit at work for eight hours straight just looking at your monitor, waiting for a spark of inspiration that doesn’t come.

8. You’re up ’til 5am because you came up with the best idea ever while brushing your teeth.

9. The hottest dream you ever had was “Trace contour… Find Edges… Pinch… Extrude… Smudge Stick… Motion Blur…. Sprayed Strokes…”

10. You know Lorem Ipsum by heart.

11. Your kid knows Lorem Ipsum by heart.

12. The preschool teacher complains your child won’t color inside or outside the lines – only indicate colors on a separate sheet.

13. Activating your entire font collection makes your computer crash – and you’re running OSX.

14. You deliberately butcher your perfectly cross browser compatible site in IE by placing a “Too Cool for IE” banner on it.

15. You prefer a Layer Style of 50% Opacity (or less) on your wife’s Satin.

16. You spend $200 on a font for your personal website because “it’s the only one where the lower-case g is just right…”

17. Looking at a menu make you go “hmmm, ITC Baskerville italic” rather than “mmmm, lunch!”

18. And when you finally order, you go for Layer Based Slices with Grain Texture…

19. You use words about fonts you dislike that other normal people reserve for fascist dictators and serial killers.

20. Apple+Z is the first thing that goes through your mind if you drop and break something.

21. You refer to colleagues as Strict, Transitional, Loose and the Future Unemployed.

22. You refer to your privates as “the Magic Wand”.

What Is Creativity?

January 30, 2007 at 3:26 pm | Posted in Design, General | Leave a comment

Much of the thinking done in formal education focuses on the skills of analysis, teaching students how to understand claims, follow or create a logical argument, figure out the answer, eliminate the incorrect paths, and focus on the correct one. However, there is another kind of thinking, which focuses on exploring ideas, generating possibilities, looking for many right answers rather than just one. Both of these kinds of thinking, Critical and Creative thinking are important to a successful working life, yet the latter seems to get ignored.

In an activity like problem solving, both kinds of thinking are important to us. First, we must analyze the problem; then we must generate possible solutions; next we must choose and implement the best solution; and finally we must evaluate the effectiveness of the solution. As you can see, this process reveals an alternation between the two kinds of thinking. In practice, both kinds of thinking operate together much of the time and are not really independent of each other.

What is Creativity?

An ability. A simple definition is that creativity is the ability to imagine or invent something new. However, it’s not the ability to create out of nothing, but the ability to generate new ideas by combining, changing or reapplying existing ideas. Some ideas are astonishing and brilliant, while others are just simple and good practical ideas which no one seems to have thought of yet.

Believe it or not, everyone has substantial creative ability. Look at how creative children are. In adults, creativity has too often been suppressed through education, but it is still there and can be reawakened. Often all that’s needed to be creative is to make a commitment to creativity and to take the time for it.

An attitude. Creativity is also an attitude: the ability to accept change and newness, a willingness to play with ideas and possibilities, a flexibility of outlook, the habit of enjoying the good, while looking for ways to improve it. We are socialized into accepting only a small number of permitted or normal things, like chocolate-covered strawberries, for example. A creative person would realize that there are other possibilities.

A Process. Creative people work hard and continually to improve ideas and solutions, by making gradual alterations and refinements to their works. Contrary to the mythology surrounding creativity, very, very few works of creative excellence are produced with a single stroke of brilliance or in a frenzy of rapid activity. Much closer to the real truth are the stories of companies who had to take the invention away form the inventor in order to market it because the inventor would have kept on tweaking and fiddling with it, always trying to make it better.

A creative person knows that there’s always room for improvement and knows that there’s never only one answer for a given problem.

For further reading, I suggest taking a look at Psychologist Jay Brand’s article, “Creativity Demystified”.

Original Article: dA News

The Unspoken Rules Of Design

January 30, 2007 at 10:05 am | Posted in Design | Leave a comment

1. The less time you have the more useless your computer will become

2. If you have two versions of a photo, the wrong one will make its way to the printer.

3. Promises made by the sales staff have no basis in studio reality.

4. The sales staff will promise anything.

5. If the text consists of two words, one will be misspelled.

6. Speed.Quality. Affordability. Pick two.

7. Proof readers are useless.

8. The index entry you leave out will be the first one the client looks under.

9. If three designs are shown to a client, your least favourite will be chosen or any combination of worst components of each.

10. If two designs are shown, a third will be requested. If provided, then one of the first two will be chosen.

11. If you ask for more copy it will be sent as a Jpeg. If you ask for images they will send PowerPoint presentations.

12. Clients don’t have their company logo in a usable print ready format so don’t bother asking.

13. The best designs never survive contact with the client.

14. Your best idea is already copyrighted.

15. There is no stock photo ever made that matches the image you have in your head

16. Creative inspiration flows in inverse proportion to the distance from the studio.

17. Doctors, astronauts, and plumbers need training to do their jobs, but anyone with a computer is a graphic designer

18. The client’s disk won’t run on your equipment & when it does will contain unusable copyrighted images

19. If you purchase new equipment to read your client’s disk, it will be the last disk of that type you will ever receive

20. Your client will often not like your design but not quite know why.

21. Computer crashes always happen exactly 30 seconds before saving.

22. A client who knows exactly what he wants is worse than one that has no idea.

23. Clients who do not provide content upfront will complain about the use of dummy layout Copy

24. Everything has to be done immediately, deadlines are incredibly important unless client has to provide materials or approve your work

25. The customer is always right?

A New Ball To Juggle

January 30, 2007 at 8:24 am | Posted in Coding, Design | 1 Comment

A few days ago, I recently received a Microsoft automatic update containing Internet Explorer 7. This automatic roll-out coincides with the release of their new Vista operating system for purchase earlier in the month. However, I didn’t really appreciate the full ramifications of the roll-out until yesterday, and earlier this morning.

One of the more important technical aspects of developing websites is the support for the W3C’s CSS standards amongst the myriad of browsers available to the public. Microsoft haven’t had a very good track record with their support of standardised CSS, and considering that Internet Explorer 6 is the dominant browser among the Internet user-base, the standardised CSS support of IE 7.0 was a hot topic.

The current list of CSS bug fixes in IE 7 is quite long, and on the surface, this may appear to be a very good thing for web developers. However, as stated earlier, there are quite a few ramifications that I personally didn’t really consider, the lack of full compliance aside.

I was on the way to a meeting with a client, in an attempt to finalise a run-away project. 5 minutes after leaving my office, I recieved a call on my mobile from said client.

“It all looks wrong”

Long story short, what had happened is the client had also received the same update that I had received a few days ago, containing IE 7 . Subsequently, his optimised-for-IE-6 website had broken. While most of the errors were picked up by my developing primarily for Firefox and using an alternate style sheet for IE 6, there were still a few quirky things that broke, layer padding and margins to be specific. And the client, in all rights, pointed out these errors, and refused to meet until they were fixed, citing that they were “simple, common sense layout stuff.”

I ask how many developers in the community employed CSS hacks to get around annoying IE 6 bugs. From my experience learning CSS, hacks are very prolific, and many developers opted to use hacks over using alternate style sheets. The release of IE 7 will likely break many websites designed and coded using CSS hacks, and these websites will need to be fixed, especially when the client finds out when they check next. And, considering the previously linked stats, IE 7 is by no means the dominant browser yet – IE 6 still reigns. And likely will for a while. Why?

Going back to my experience, upon hearing that the website had broken due to a forced release of IE 7, I thought:
That’s easy. I’ll just install the update I had been sitting on and restart my computer and I’ll just fix it, easy as that. Until the IE 7 install started checking the validity of my Windows XP install. Which lead me to find out that 22.3% of all XP installs are pirated. Which, to me, is a huge percentage.
What that means in a nutshell is that roughly 10% of your IE 6 users will not be able to upgrade to IE 7.0.

10% may not seem like a lot, but as of January, 45.3% of users are still using IE 6 or earlier, and the current trends show a 3% change per month since October last year, which was when the final Release Candidate of IE 7 was released for public consumption.

With those sort of statistics, it doesn’t make much sense to replace IE 6 CSS hacks in favor of IE 7 valid CSS, due to the fact that at least 20% of the current viewers of broken websites will not be able to upgrade at all. The likelihood of those 22.3% of people running out and buying a legitimate copy of Windows XP is pretty low, considering they have Windows Vista to pick up, and their computers likely can’t run Windows Vista well enough yet. People don’t like buying software that has already been superseded. What it essentially means is that these people will stick with IE 6 until they upgrade their computer some time later this year, or next year.

Microsoft have attempted to do a good thing with the release of IE 7, especially for web developers, increasing their standards support. However, things will not pan out quite as smoothly as most developers thought. Microsoft have introduced yet another ball to juggle in the browser compliance world. Before it used to be Firefox and IE 6 and below, now it will be Firefox, IE 7 and IE 6 and below.

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