Monday, December 29, 2008

Feeling Grateful For The Holidays

From Denali Excursion


I have a secret which I'm not proud of... I have been spending the past couple of weeks booking hours, working. Even on Christmas Eve. It's not by choice! If it were up to me I'd be hanging out on a cheap beach somewhere in Mexico. Anyway, I can't complain especially when I read/listen to the news. Just feeling grateful during the holidays.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Plaxo is Broken - Don't Use It - Use Gmail

Dear Friend,

I'm sorry. Plaxo is broken for me. Several years ago, when I worked at AOL they "automatically" created a Plaxo account for me and associated it to my work email, an AOL account. When I left AOL I found it was difficult to change my information, I just could not log into Plaxo any more because my cancelled AOL email address was still valid in their database. So deep was this magical connection to my old work email, that my identidy was essentially hijacked by Plaxo itself. I would try to fix this now but:

1. I seriously don't want to "figure it out".
(it's software for crist's sake, it should be figuring ME out)

2. I don't really care enough to waste even a few minutes of my time.
(all my free time is already sucked up by other websites)

3. I don't ever want to give my credit card number out to half baked web service for seemingly nothing.

Im sorry to have to sound so negative but there are FREE solutions for the purpose of organizing all your contacts. Anybody can always find me by simply Googling my name or by connecting with me on LinkedIn.com. Personally, I use Gmail to organize all my contacts.

Sincerely,
Steph

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Studioroom.com Domain for Sale?

I couple of weeks ago I was talking to an Angel investor, a VC guy, about stuff. He said Studioroom is a great name, valuable because "you just can't get simple, clear, memorable domains like these easily". Who knew that "Studioroom" has some value?! Cool!

Who would want Studioroom? Artists, musicians, actors, DJs, designers, videographers etc. A whole network? A social network? A news site focusing on art?

So... yes, I will sell Studioroom.com for the right price. Please contact design(at)studioroom.com with reasonable offers.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Shopping for A Husband? Talkeetna Bachelor Auction

I wish I could buy men like I buy shoes. Grab a cute pair, wear 'em out, and throw 'em away! . . . Oh wait, I can!

Before it's too late grab your tickets to Alaska RIGHT NOW and head to the frontier where REAL MEN still exist. This weekend is the 28th annual Talkeetna Bachelor Auction and Ball. This promises to be the most fun anywhere. And it's way more than just some lousy excuse to get drunk and flirt with guys, it's practically a music festival. You heard me, the best live music in the west, all packed into one weekend, in a really cool place called Talkeetna.

With a weekend loaded with music, fun, and men for sale, do you really want to hang out at the mall? Check it out:



More info: www.bachelorsoftalkeetna.org

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Yes You Can Make Money Making Art

Here's a great article in the NYTimes this weekend. I wish somebody handed me this article when I was 20.

Transforming Art Into a More Lucrative Career Choice
By MARCI ALBOHER

Here's an excerpt:
Mr. Niles and Ms. Hellmuth have learned on their own what Elliot McGucken teaches in his course, Artist Entrepreneurs, which he developed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a grant from the Kauffman Foundation. Mr. McGucken’s course, now taught at Pepperdine University, rests on the principle that those who create art should have the skills to own it, profit from it and protect it.

(I wish I got royalties for all the interfaces I designed... I'd be retired right now)

Now, to hell with the intellectual property slavery of your day job! Ignore your parents, quit, grab your pencils, and blaze your own career.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Touring Baltimore Rehab Houses - Photos

I've been dreaming about houses. It's a mystery how many beautiful old victorians stand vacant in Baltimore when it lies just an hour up the road from Washington DC. Sure this is an old rust belt city but it's not like Detroit, it's close to Philadelphia and New York, there's a lot going on. We have Michael Phelps and Ace of Cakes, a symphony, opera, and one of the biggest ports in the USA. So how come there are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of vacant houses in Baltimore?

I explored a few rehabs last weekend in an attempt to learn if they are worth it, I'm sharing some thoughts and photos here with you. I looked at 10 different houses from a 7 bedroom mansion-townhouse in Reservoir Hill (for $200k) to a small but charming house actually in a good neighborhood, Mount Vernon (also for 200k). These homes however are in fairly bad neighborhoods and are as cheap as it gets.

North Avenue Nomansland for $60k
From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1


From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1
For seemingly nothing, $60,000, you can be the proud owner of a four bedroom row house right across the street from Greenmount cemetary. Actually, we saw two townhouses, right next door to each other, and they are not as terrible as you might think, but after you sunk another $200,000 in rehabing this place, you would be lucky to sell it for a loss. I LOVE the 3 story townhouse, but I love having neighbors even more. This is one of the worst neighborhoods in Baltimore, it's a shame, there are so many potentially great houses. There's so much potential.

Another Neighborhood with Few Neighbors for $90k
From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1

From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1

From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1

From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1

From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1

This 4 bedroom townhouse (the red one in the first photo) is in pretty good shape! It is very similar to the North Ave. houses, but better. Still it needs at least $100k in work including a new kitchen, 2+ new bathrooms, roof, windows, and who knows what else. But for $90k it's a big, beautiful house the likes of which never gets built any more. One major problem (see last pic) most of the neighbors are vacant buildings and shells.


Bolton Hill Beauty Past Her Prime for $160k
From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1

From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1

From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1

From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1

Even bigger and more fabulous than any other townhouses we saw that day, this house is seriously worth buying, if you can afford it. This is the worst house in the "best" neighborhood we saw, Bolton Hill. However it will take at least $150k just to fix the damage of time and water. Similar to the other townhouses pictured but even bigger, this place had been subdivided into apartments in the past.


Competing Against Time & Newer Homes in the Suburbs with Parking
I concluded at the end of my tour-de-rehab that the problem with Baltimore is the suburbs. Why would anybody abandon such nice architecture? Because they want to eat fast food all the time and shop at chains? No, because people are lazy and houses need money & maintenance all the time. All the places we saw lacked modern features, they all had oil heat (or nothing , horrible), and they lacked garages. They were all an efficiency nightmare. But all this stuff can be corrected. Another huge problem is the neighborhoods. To make buying a Baltimore rehab worth it, there needs to be a LOT of people interested in living in those neighborhoods. Nobody wants to go to sleep every night on a block of abandoned homes. Even still, it's not too late for a lot of really interesting people to take control of their city lives. Buy a rediculously affordable house, spread out and make a dream a reality.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Anybodying Getting Federal Handouts Should Be Drug Tested, Including Bailed-Out Wall Street

I got this funny message over email and it made me think... Since the fed has dumped so many billion$ into the banks, why not drug test all those Wall Street guys?! Somehow I have a sneaking suspicion that there would be a lot of positives among the fattest cats in finance. Might explain how the banks messed up so much over the past few years.

Thanks Jen for forwarding this.

THE JOB - URINE TEST
(Whoever wrote this one deserves a HUGE pat on the back!) Like a lot of folks in this state, I have a job. I work, they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit. In order to get that paycheck, I am required to pass a random urine test with which I have no problem. What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don't have to pass a urine test.

Shouldn't one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them? Please understand, I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sitting on their ass doing drugs, while I work. . . . Can you imagine how much money the state would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a public assistance check? Pass this along if you agree or simply delete if you don't. Hope you all will pass it along, though. . Some thing has to change in this country -- and
soon!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Does Technology Weaken Everyday Real Life Experience?

Example no. 1 - The Grocery Store
The Giant grocery store near my house has a bunch of those automatic checkouts where you scan, and ring up all your own purchases and even bag your own stuff too. While Giant might be saving some money from these machines replacing people, I wonder why this is good? It's certainly not an improved experience for me as a shopper. Compare this with Eddie's around the corner where they unload your basket for you, ring you up with a smile, and will carry your bags out to your car. Hands down Eddie's wins more of my dollars just for better customer experience.

Here's the article inspiring this blog post:
Stores Count Seconds to Trim Labor Costs
I can't think of worse customer experience than this. Food is supposed to be a happy social experience. Why would any retailer actively destroy the fun already in shopping?

Example no. 2 - A Walk in the Park
Simple things have become overly complicated thanks to another kind of technology. The automobile has literally changed the landscape everywhere, in so many complicated ways, it has had a compounding negative effect on everybody's quality of life, and the environment. Just trying to get some exercise I need a car. Just trying to get some exercise I have to dodge some cars. Just trying to earn some money, I have to first spend a LOT of money to maintain that piece of technology that has been like cancer to the Earth. That landscape I mentioned used to be green and full of life, now it's coated with asphalt and concrete. Once roads are built they become a permanent part of the environment. People then accept more of it, even though we would all prefer to be living in a green park. I don't understand why cars and their detritus (roads) can't be thoughtfully planned AROUND human life instead of treading upon, and destroying it?

The Compounding Effect of Bad Experiences Means Life Sucks More for Everyone!
These are just a couple of examples of very common experiences that need a lot of improvement. Any piece of architecture, infrastructure, any consumer product or software ALWAYS needs to be carefully planned. What I think is shocking is how many people think these negative destructive systems are OK. Why is it OK to commute for two hours a day? Why is it OK to be robbed of sleep simply by using your cellphone too much? Why is it OK to rush little old ladies through grocery store lines? I for one simply refuse to accept these intrusions on quality of life as OK.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Not in New York

I recently finished a successful business trip to San Francisco and I want to remind everyone that, while I don't live in New York, I can and do travel to New York, and places further away, ALL THE TIME. So yeah, I don't live in New York. I had every intention of settling into New York city when I moved back east this spring, but it didn't happen. Since I never ever want to rent again, I'm not really worried about it. I am in Baltimore, also known as "the Washington DC Area"... Also known as the only metropolitan area in the country who's economy never gets that bad because of the big employer here who never goes out of business.

I feel like an idiot for having to write this but enough already with DC and Baltimore bashing! Stop being a location hater! I hate it that LinkedIn and other job websites filter me out of talent seaches just because of where I live. It shouldn't matter, I work on the internet and I should live wherever I choose!

Since I've been here, some folks have been very supportive. These people know how to work with remote consultants. Thanks Fabio, Andrea, Greg, Megan, Anu! For everybody else please bear in mind that I can be very easy to work with, and offer way more compettitive rates than a New York or San Francisco based designer. If you need a website, a usability audit of an existing website, IA information architecture, web product design, or just graphic design, I'm your gal. Just contact me at design (at) studioroom.com.

P.S. I just set up a brand new desktop system installed with a rockin' new Adobe Creative Suite 4. I'm so ready to solve your design problem it's ridiculous.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Trying to Buy A New Apple LED Cinema Display With Porn

I'm starting to become annoyed with Apple as all my shopping experiences with them are tainted by simplistic marketing that never really helps to inform. Last weekend I visited the Apple store in San Francisco for the specific purpose of looking at the new LED cinema display I'm thinking about buying. This is obviously one of those things that I actually need to VIEW WORKING in REAL LIFE.

Here's my experience at the Apple store. First they only had one of the new LED displays out. I had to get an employee to point me to it out of the hundred or so old displays they had out, because it was hard to find in a crowded store (with a band playing) and a couple hundred people surfing the net like a bunch of students. Gee, I guess the LED display must not be that special. The nice salesperson led me to the display tucked away in a corner of the store already in use, by some guy actively engaged in about a dozen porn chats. Here it is, said the sales person, and quickly left me with the pervert, who didn't look up from his chats. I just stood there and watched this guys's screen trying to accomplish my task of evaluating the display. I caught phrases like, "Anal slut" and "hardcore this" and a lot of other things which I really cannot repeat in my blog. It was ridiculous. The guy at the computer there looked like a scum bag and he should have been escorted out by security, but no, nobody did anything. For christ sake, this was on the ONLY LED DISPLAY IN THE PLACE.

Honestly, I don't really care if people look at porn or what, but it is soooo not appropriate in the Apple store. If I wanted to see that shit I'd go seek it out in private. I cannot think of a better way for Apples competition to tarnish their brand than by sending malicious agents into Apple stores and take advantage of their liberal operations by bringing up porn.

Yes I was a little offended. Not by the porn itself but by how appathetic I felt the Apple store was to me as a legitimate customer. Now instead of a new Apple laptop/display combo I'm considering a HP Touchsmart instead.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Please Read: An Email From Alaska About The Presidential Elections

Never in my lifetime has the presidential election been so exciting and never has the internet played such a huge role in disseminating information. From posts on Facebook, websites to rally around, and good old email, everything you need and want to know about is online.

How many emails have you received from friends and coworkers sharing their thoughts about this election? I've got quite a few!

Here I'm posting an email from an Alaskan named Elwood. Because of Palin I'm particularly interested in hearing the Alaskan opinions. I really liked what he wrote and want to share his email on my blog.

- - -

I know it is virtually impossible to change ones political attachments, but for those who have not made up their minds on the coming presidential election, I submit the following. I decided to write my feelings and concerns rather than forwarding the work of others.

Sincerely, Elwood

The 2008 Election - Personal Reflections

I have never been that interested in politics and classify myself as a political independent. I am a physicist by education and find that political issues have many shades of gray that one cannot easily make good decisions. There are always pros and cons that make it difficult to decide what is right. Physics is different as there is usually only one answer, found by several approaches, and you can check to see if you are correct.

The invasion of Iraq, the first time we as a nation made a major first-strike attack, took me out of my political apathy and nudged me to communicate and express my view that the Iraq war is and was a mistake of huge proportions – both politically and financially. As we prepare to elect a new president, I increasingly feel obligated to express my views. There are characteristics of the present election that have made my decision, and I want to share my personal reasons for the choice.

The Obama-Biden ticket is the clear winner for me. As a concerned citizen it offers the best chance of regaining our national pride, sense of security, global consciousness, and financial well-being. Even though I personally believe that Congress should be making a larger impact on our nation, I realize that the executive branch of the government holds the reins and has great influence. We need a president and vice-president that will lead congress along a saner, safer and more worldlier path. My thoughts are as follows:

National Pride/McCain’s Platform: I have always admired John McCain. He is a great American and suffered on my behalf as a warrior and as a prisoner of war. I cannot thank him enough for that. However, John McCain is a military man, with a military bent. He is hot-tempered and not used to calm reflection and compromise. That is not what we need leading our country. We cannot be the world’s savior and protector. We have to choose our battles more carefully, less arrogantly, and with diplomacy. In this global world, we must work with other nations.

McCain is pro-life, and I am pro-life, all life. Since we cannot have everything we want we must choose the best compromise. No one likes abortion, and giving women the right to choose what they do with a difficult decision may result in unborn life being lost. But, sending our young men and women off to war has and will result in the loss of precious lives as well. I choose an administration that would look at the larger picture and minimize the loss of life as a totality.

Sense of Security/McCain’s Age: I am two years younger than John McCain, and still make part of my living as a glacier pilot in Alaska. I fly airplanes with old-style instruments, like McCain had in his aircraft. I find it difficult to learn and use the modern glass-panel cockpits that are now a normal part of aviation. John McCain would have the same problems learning these computer oriented systems. His brain, and mine, cannot grasp and use new concepts like younger brains. We grasp and work with what we knew best years ago. We must not accept that in any future president. The president must be capable of learning and intelligently using vast amounts of new material in a short time. McCain cannot do that and that is a huge negative. Age does make a difference.

Global Consciousness/Sarah Palin: As an Alaskan I have admired and respected what Sarah has done as Governor. My family and I met her at the Alaska State Fair last summer and she was lovely, gracious and wonderful. I was so pleased. Mostly I respect the fact that she removed herself from the republican in-crowd that was so closely allied with the oil companies. She recognized the graft and corruption immediately and detached herself. It is not her, however, that is responsible for the major fight to end corruption in her republican colleagues. The FBI has been here for years looking into the interaction between oil companies and legislators. The indictments that have occurred are due to their efforts, not Palin’s. Likewise, Palin did not reduce income taxes in Alaska. There are none to reduce.

Palin’s religious beliefs are of major concern to me. Palmer Baptist minister, Howard Bess, an old friend, says “She’s Jerry Falwell with a pretty face. The key to understanding Sarah Palin is to understand her radical theology.” Sarah’s religious and personal views are just now coming to light. Friends from Wasilla and Palmer, who have worked with her, are now telling of their experiences, and it is not exemplary. She has been videoed-taped saying that we are in Iraq due to God’s will. Even if you lump all Christian-based religions together, that leaves 70% of the world’s population, who worship differently, saying, “To what God is she referring?” She has tried to remove books from local libraries that she found against her beliefs. She has tried to have churches exempt from local building fees because they were of faith-based and she has tried to have building permit fees reduced for members of her church. Unlike her message that she is for the people, she supports her friends and attacks those who disagree with her like many other politicians. She has tried to solve her personal family problems by using government employees. This is small town politics and has no place in a national government.

Palin has a BA in journalism – no honors, no scholarships and five different colleges. In high school she excelled in sports. She does not have the higher education that would prepare her to understand world situations with learned perspective. Her faith in God is what she relies on, and that is not sufficient at the national level. We are a nation whose constitution does not even mention God. The framers drafted a constitution which is secular, and I believe for a good reason.

Taxes and financial well being: My conservative friends all fear that Obama will raise taxes on the wealthy. My liberal friends wonder who will pay for the Iraqi war. We are almost three trillion dollars in war debt, and it continues to rise. Our national budget has a five hundred billion dollar deficit. Taxes must be raised, regardless of who wins the election. The question is who best can afford the burden? None of us wants the problem, and it is not fair to pass it on to our children. I would choose to offer relief to the middle class. America is uniquely strong, in the world, because of a strong middle class. I personally have lost a large percentage of my retirement as a result of lowered interest rates enacted to bail out large financial institutions. I was fiscally conservative in my spending and saving, and now I have to pay for the wealthy corporations to be bailed out. I find that unfair. The greater portion of the burden must be paid by the wealthy, if for no other reason than they can. I see no virtue in people acquiring more money just for the sake of having it in the bank, or living in a mansion beyond their needs. Those that already have more than they can use in a lifetime should take on the greatest taxation. This position may be unpopular but I see no alternative. It is the best compromise. Those who made the most during the past eight years should be willing to get us out of what the last eight years has led to.

I encourage you to make Obama and Biden your choice for President and Vice President as well.
- - -

Thank you Elwood for writing these thoughtful words. - Stephanie

I Left My Heart in San Francisco - Strait People for Equality - No on 8

The last time I checked, the world needs more love, not more hate. I cannot think of anything more hateful than pointing a finger in a group of human being's faces and telling them that they are evil.

I find this christian hate video to be completely laughable. Don't you people have better things to do with your time? Can't you go help some homeless people or drug addicts? Or do you just like to feel righteous and spread hate?



I myself am a married strait woman. I see the real legal inequality for same sex couples every year when I do my taxes. A marriage immigration visa allows my British husband to actually be here with me, and would never be granted to same sex couples. In my mind, this unfairness in our laws actually diminishes my marriage. I don't feel special, or sacred just because I'm strait. I just feel hurt for my friends in San Francisco.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Baltimore Open Studios 2008

I was really inspired with last weekend's Baltimore open studios. It's great to be in a city where I can meet such interesting, warm, and talented individuals. It was also interesting to compare San Francisco open studios to Baltimore's. Overall there were a lot less artists participating, but the caliber of the work in Baltimore is impressive. Artists here seem a bit more comfortable being themselves, which comes through when you speak to them. Everybody was really friendly and very open.

This is my favorite piece,

Imaginary Security by Dave Foust

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Just A Rant About A Sequoia Falling

Are web companies reacting stupidly to the credit crunch? Already I've been hearing rumors from my internet friends about how start-ups are reacting to VC tightening.

Venture capital slashed $476 million in quarter
Deborah Gage, Chronicle Staff Writer

People are saying, time to cut the designers. Why? Why cut the people who can help you plan? Help you strategize? Who help you measure and gauge the success of your website? Why cut the people who are the most obvious and direct connection to your customers?

Let me just say to every User Experience professional... this is BS, and you should not believe it.

If any business is going to succeed then they will do so by practicing good experience. They will succeed with thoughtful planning and strategy. By giving users carefully designed products that they really want.

If anything this economic downturn will be a great time for innovation. It might empower more designers to rise up and do more meaningful work.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Times are Bad but Times are Good!

I don't really know what's going on with this economic meltdown but just posting to say that times are good! I've been busy and have set up my freelance work so that I'm pretty unaffected by the market and all this economical BS. I do think things will be rocky for web designers over the next 6 months. I'm really glad I slashed my overhead. If things slow down for me I will finally have some time to redesign my website, learn some new skills, and ask everybody I know to read Deep Economy. Hopefully I'll be able to afford Creative Suite 4.

Anyway, I can't really post anything to my blog right now for several reasons. Most of my life is under NDA, and the only interesting thing I have to rant about are the elections. Since I have clients in Alaska I have to be a blog diplomat so I'll keep my political & philisophical rants to FB.

If you're a web designer post a comment about your approach to this downturn!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

When to Block and When to Friend People in Facebook

Some people don't deserve your online friendship. You know who I'm talking about, the ones who take and take but never give.

Here are 10 reasons to unfriend people in facebook:


1. Never add a person who you can't trust.

2. That housemate you had in college who stiffed you on the security deposit. BLOCK!!!

3. Facebook is for friends. If you're not sure about a new friend (because you haven't seen this person for 15 years) then give them the benefit of the doubt. If they start getting annoying then don't hesitate to BLOCK! them later on.

4. The Mayor of your city. It's like spam overload, make it stop.

5. Size doesn't matter. The number of friends you have is not what matters. KEEP the nice re-acquaintances from College and High School. DELETE the perverts and stalkers.

6. Don't use facebook to be annoying just by advertising to everybody all the time. BLOCK the heavy self marketers who suck your time.

7. The tech/internet people who are just testing out the facebook UI. Or if you used to work with folks, who weren't nice, here's where you draw the line. Your email address was imported along with 400 other people in their contacts anyway.

8. DELETE the wanna be rock stars (unless they are actually your friends). Myspace.com is the social network for music.

9. The former manager who drove you to quit. I don't care how many people they know, that's all they have going for them! Never ever reward jerky managers with your friendship after the fact. Otherwise that's like rewarding banks for making bad loans!

10.
People who aren't real people. OK now I know some of these "avatars" can be amusing to some people some of the time. But they get in the way of the "social utility" of Facbook. Block them!

Friday, September 26, 2008

BBC Radio 1 Website Has Great FREE Music and No Advertising

Since we are all looking for free entertainment this weekend I thought I'd share this, I am sooo loving the BBC Radio 1 online. All this great content for FREE. Is there anything comparable to the BBC in the United States? Check it out, all this free internet radio, from rocking beats to experimental rhymes. As somebody who's designed a few music pages in my day I'm surprised by the lack of advertising on their website. How can they do that? Isn't that like, forbidden or something? Just goes to show that the editors across the pond want to promote the best music.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Can See The Future and it is a DEEP Economy

Every member of congress should read Deep Economy right NOW before voting on this bailout.




As I sit here and watch Bernake grovel before Congress, and the President speak about the banking crisis I'm really not that worried... I just finished the book Deep Economy The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben. Deep Economy is a fantastic and crazy-relavent book for our current ecconomical events.

McKibben's book is informative and just really helpful. He gives examples citing small ideal communities and illustrates how people in them are happy, and prosperous, and acting like a community should act. Why isn't "happiness" measured by the federal government? Why are tomatoes from Chile? We must be buying our food with jobs because why else would our food come from overseas. Deep Economy is mainly about sustainability. How less is more. McKibben offers real solutions to real social happiness. If you wanted to start a green project, or if you wanted to just learn about sustainability and permaculture this is a great book. If you're worried about the future health of the economy, in the long term, you should read this book.

I'm not worried for another reason, things are great in beuatiful Baltimore. I'm picking free food out of the garden, blogging, getting lots of sleep. I hope the fed sees some of this nice weather here in the area and realizes. Life is good, life is free! It's supposed to be free. For EVERYONE.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Two Coasts Three Perspectives on the Mortgage Meltdown

About five years ago my friend Steve and I were talking about the real estate market (in San Francisco). He remarked how absurd it is that home values can go up 20% or more year over year while actual salaries were not going up much at all. Somebody was obviously making money in real estate boom, but it was (and still is) impossible to find the actual value of the homes we were looking at.

Here are THREE articles today from the New York Times and LA Times. One about Banks and another about the people on the receiving end of our unsustainable housing market. And one about the European perspective on our financial meltdown.

The People:
The golden years have lost their glow
With home values down, costs up and their 401(k)s declining, some seniors have had to rethink retirement.

The Banks:
A $700 Billion Rescue Plan for Wall St., but Will It Work?
... The financial crisis gripping the United States is the direct outgrowth of the speculative orgy in real estate that began early this decade. Once home values began falling two years ago, the financial institutions that had poured capital into real estate confronted a very big problem.

Those pesky Europeans:
Europeans on left and right ridicule U.S. money meltdown
"Greenspan was considered a master," Tremonti declared. "Now we must ask ourselves whether he is not, after [Osama] bin Laden, the man who hurt America the most. . . . It is clear that what is happening is a disease. It is not the failure of a bank, but the failure of a system. Until a few days ago, very few were willing to realize the intensity and the dramatic nature of the crisis." - Italy's finance minister Giulio Tremonti

I kind of agree with the Euros on this one.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

If I were in SF tonight I would be going to see Irvine Welsh

Saturday, September 20, 9:00 PM
Edinburgh Castle Pub
950 Geary St, San Francisco, CA

Sunday, September 21, 3:00 PM
Diesel Bookstore
5433 College Avenue, Oakland, CA, 94618

Monday, September 22, 7:30 PM
Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing
2720 NW 29th Ave, Portland, OR 97210

Wednesday, September 24, 7:00 PM
Elliott Bay Book Company
101 S Main St., Seattle, WA, 98104

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Complaining is Fun! About-Face.org

I'm a designer who is constantly seeing things that don't work right, so naturally I love to complain. I'm also a woman and let me tall ya, there are a lot of things to complain about if you're female. So today I was amused to find About-Face.org, an organization which is fighting the harmful stereotypes of women that the media disseminates. This is a good one to add to your RSS reader ladies! I think every woman will find something interesting in About-Face.org.

Check out the gallery of offenders, it's wonderful. Vodka ads, BOOO!

I would also like to point out this recent Washington Post article;
Despite Strides, Women Still Tripped Up by Confidence Gap
By Michelle Singletary

Now all of this makes me wonder, what if there was a daily, national newspaper dedicated to women?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Not Quite Loving Google's Gadgets

Last week I added to this blog a couple new Google Gadgets. There they are >> in the sidebar, they help me show more dynamic info and news on this blog, and I don't need to know any HTML coding whatsoever. I thought I'd be clever and try to use the magic of the internet to make it look as if I'm updating my blog, when I'm not. But as you can see the gadgets look like crap. Since I'm a designer I'm all about looking good, so this is really annoying me.

After I installed the Gadgets my first thought was, "holy crap, I think I need to start using WordPress now". That's how bad they look. But soon I realized that I should be able to customize these gadgets all on my very own. After all, I am a designer, and what's the point of knowing HTML and CSS?

If successful (hopefully this won't just be a load of non-billable work) Informational Geometry will be VERY Informational and will actually look nice and tight. And then, I can write a whole blog post on how to engineer a website (which could potentially earn money) without having to engineer anything at all.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Wisdom of Experience

I wish everybody involved in building websites, everyone, to take a look at this presentation from Agile 2008. This presentation basically explains how the whole process should work, and why. It's too revealing to summarize, you just just have to check it out.

The Wisdom of Experience
by Alan Cooper

http://www.cooper.com/journal/agile2008/


OK fine here's a quote,
"No competent business person would choose speed over correctness if they had confidence in the outcome. "

Thanks.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How is That a Sport?

Every four years a phrase is uttered from living rooms and bars across the USA. It's the Olympics, and along with the spectacle and grandeur are few questions about what constitutes a "real" sport. Comments like, "Where's the skill in that?" and "Look, he's got a gut" are exchanged, and of course, "How is that a sport?"

Here are the most questionable sports, from a broad panel of Baltimoreans:
- Badminton? Hello! Tennis people.
- Synchronized diving? Isn't just "diving" enough?
- Rhythmic gymnastics? What's the deal with the ribbons?
- Target shooting? You don't DO anything, you shoot a gun, how is that a sport?
- Beach Volleyball? In those bikinis? This just can't be taken seriously.

I myself am not a sports fanatic. I'm just happy to be entertained by the great big show that is the Olympics. Leave a comment about the Olympic sports you find questionable!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Is Your Website a Turn-Off to Women?

Are most of your users female? Statistically women spend more money, and make more household purchasing decisions than men do. Are you loosing business on the net because your site isn't targeted to your audience?

I found this research article on the BBC about gender bias within web design. I think most internet professionals already know this, but they don't really practice it. I thought it'd be fun to share.

Website design is 'biased to men'
Websites could be missing their target audiences because their design is biased towards what appeals to men, researchers have found.

...Co-researcher Dr Rod Gunn said: "The statistics are complicated, but there is no doubt about the strength of men's and women's preference for sites produced by people of their own sex."

His research colleague, Gloria Moss, added: "What we have found is that organisations are not considering how they can tailor their websites to appeal to their entire target audience. ...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

For UI Simplicity Rules

One of the biggest trends on the web for 2008 is the reign of simplicity. Over the past few months, some of the biggest websites have revamped their site design, opting for sophisticated but simple over gratuitous graphical bloat. Stripped away are the blends and visual effects, replaced with meaningful information, helpful text, and thoughtful interactions. It seems as if some of the best practices in user centered design are finally getting through to people.

Facebook launched a new "cleaner, simpler design". They say, “We’ve made the changes... in order to highlight the most recent and relevant information that users value, give users even more control and ownership over their profiles and simplify the user experience,” said Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

And a couple month's back MySpace launched a design update, one of many, which they are working on with Adaptive Path.

My personal favorite new design is the BBC website. Launched in April after an open beta, their new design incorporates (gasp) actual user feedback. I think bbc.co.uk strikes a wonderful balance of visual aesthetics, user experience, and customization.

One note, the most important thing in regard to any website design is not to loose focus and over-design the interface. The content should be the focus. Facebook & MySpace would be nothing without their members. BBC would be nothing without it's news and entertainment content. Already I'm drawn in to the stories... what UI?


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Forcing Inspiration

It's been a few weeks since I've written anything in my blog and so I've decided to force some inspiration. I do this for work all the time right? I sit down and design internet detritus for random clients, every day, so why can't I just force inspiration on myself?

"Force" is a bit harsh, I should use "process"... let's go.

Researching "inspiration" on Google uncovers:
- Way too many utterly useless search marketing pages
- Christian references
- Women's fitness
- "Forgiveness"
- Inspiring Quotes
- A couple of blogs (I like http://www.wdydwyd.com/ )

A couple clicks and I get to the wikipedia post on Artistic Inspiration. All this is very interesting, but I'm not waiting for divine truth to compel me.

Isn't the entire internet, potentially, a source of inspiration? But there's something intrinsically wrong here trying to find inspiration online. I'm staring at a screen, but it's sunny outside. Plus I'm overwhelmed by hundreds and hundreds of useless websites set up only for the purpose of hosting ads. I go off line...

(a day later)
After wandering around the neighborhood and asking myself "What is inspiring?" Seeing things which capture my attention and thinking, "What is the essence of this inspiring feeling?" Here's what I discovered:

The weather - Because the sunshine, warmth and greenery feels good.
A cafe - Because of the friendly vibe and the comfortable decor feels good.
Music - Because it makes me feel good.
People - All our neighbors are friendly, nice, and interesting.
Animals - Why is cuteness inspiring? It just is.
Beautiful things - I think beautiful artwork & homes are very inspiring...

It's clear that actual Experience is inspiring. Life. I'm sure everybody finds different things inspiring but somehow I don't think anybody really thinks their iphone, the internet, or anything on a screenis inspiring. Like the difference in feeling when watching a game on TV versus seeing it live. But this is just me. I wonder what inspires other people, and how they translate that inspiration into their lives.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Alaska is a Frontier

I used to think that frontiers didn't exist anymore. That man had gone and tamed every place, everywhere. Especially in the United States, but I was wrong.

Here are some important facts about modern frontier life:
1. People have the Internet but it's slow and just not that important.
2. Being successful means you have heat & electricity in your home all year round.
3. Dogs are home security - ski pulling - bed warming - friends.
4. You fish for FOOD, not fish for photos.
5. Alaska time is "whenever" time. Mother nature is in control of your time more than anyone or anything.
6. Being affluent means you have a lot of high powered rifles and gas guzzling trucks.
7. There really are a lot more men than women.
8. Fresh vegetables are imported.
9. Personal freedom is sung about in bars, more than talked about.
10. Most people are Republicans, but in Talkeetna they are Democrats.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Frida Kahlo

I think the Fida Kahlo show was the best major Art exhibit I have ever seen. Better than Murakami or even better than her contemporary Salvadore Dali.


Although I knew a lot about Kahlo, I had seen the movie, and studied some of her work in school, for some reason I had never actually seen any of her paintings in person. I'd seen her husband's stuff (Diego Rivera) but not hers. What surprised me most about seeing her paintings was the strong emotional response I had to her work. Most of the artwork, I realized, were stories without words. Deeply personal and touching.

As with all art, a reproduction will never show the quality you'll see (or feel) if you look at it with your own eyes. If you missed this show in Philadelphia then it would actually be worth the trip to San Francisco to check it out.
Frida Kahlo at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Through September 28th 2008.

Frida Kahlo
Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird (Autorretrato con collar de espinas y colibrí), 1940
Nickolas Muray Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the University of Texas at Austin
© 2008 Banco de México, Trustee of the Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Av. Cinco de Mayo No. 2, Col. Centro, Del. Cuauhtémoc 06059, México, D.F.

Greetings from Where the Sun Doesn't Set

I'm traveling now through the end of July in Alaska. Here's the first batch of photos from the wilderness.

The Denali Excursion
http://picasaweb.google.com/ssawchenko/DenaliExcursion
Denali Excursion



In and around Talkeetna, AK
http://picasaweb.google.com/ssawchenko/AlaskaIndependence
Alaska Independence


If you're in Alaska this July come visit me!

Enjoy!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

An Overly Complicated and Elaborate System of Ownership and Rules - Cities & Feaudalism

A couple of weeks ago I was in New York interviewing for a job. Currently I'm living with my sister in Baltimore for free. As I was interviewing I started to explore what it would mean to get an apartment up in New York. The day of my interview I ran into an old classmate from college and who's now a real estate agent. When I told him I wanted help finding an apartment, and that I wanted to pay no more than $2000/month, he brushed me off saying "oh that's way to low I don't work with people like you". I don't think he meant to be mean... he was just looking out for himself.

So there I was yet AGAIN staring down the prospect of paying too much rent, for too little space, for who knows how long. Probably handing over a third of my income to some self interested stranger just so I can go to work in New York City. Reality was sinking in fast. I don't think I can afford New York. Not emotionally, not financially, not now.

In history classes I learned about feudalism, where the people who owned the land sat around and didn't actually do anything while they had the people who didn't own a thing doing all the work for them as slaves. Today we say we're free but actually it's the opposite, the cities are where the landlords concentrate in a much more complicated and elaborate system of ownership and rules. It's weird. I thought the whole part of being a free American was so that we could escape the old European style of elitism. How can anybody pursue life liberty and happiness if they are saddled with a mortgage they only chose because there was no better choice?

What is a normal person to do in the gray market housing reality of 2008?

Meanwhile, land out in the countryside is cheap. Affordable. Sure there aren't modern art museums in the country but... who needs modern art? Who really needs it? Just another bubble for some body else to decide to over-inflate. What people need is to be able to live their lives and to fulfill their happiness. Not to line the pockets of a bunch of landlords and wannabe landlords who are now desperate speculators. I wish this whole country would go on a housing boycott for the summer. Sisters move in together. Grown children moving back in with mom and dad. Brothers and cousins sharing a mc-mansion, splitting expenses. Friends helping friends. How scary is that idea? to the elitists, the bankers, the apartment building owners and slumlords? That a tenant would rather just go back home than buy your crap. Let the crash come. Lets have a full reset.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Good Bad Feeling

It's June 1st and I'm sitting outside working on my tan blissfully removed from all human contact. I cannot hear anything, no conversations or cars. No beeps or rings from anything. No motorized gardening tools. Just the bugs and the breeze. My friend's West Virginia farm (where I happen to be) is like the Garden of Eden, not for years have I had this much solitude and peace. But if I'm in heaven, then why do I feel so bad?

My only link to the outside, the Sunday Washington Post, sits at my feet reminding me of The Rest of The World. This, I think, is the biggest social network in these parts. What do all the people around here actually do for fun? Hunt? Barbecue? Drink beer on their front porches? Drive trucks? Is that culture? I resumed tanning.

Earlier, grocery shopping at the nearest market 20 minutes away, I have never in my life seen so many pork products. I had no idea you could buy bacon in 20 lb cases. There are foam containers holding little cakes of made of port fat and god only knows what. I think it's called scrapple? There were more varieties of Kool-Aide than there were vegetables. The most nutritious thing they sold was the Post. I am only two hours outside of the Capital of the Free World, I thought. Why can't people eat real food here? You don't see Italians 2 hours outside of Rome eating complete crap!

Back to tanning with Washington Post in hand. My mind keeps jumping from reality to the now and back. I start making a to-do list in my mind, then I remind myself that I'm trying to relax. It's the beginning of Summer, I have everything and nothing to do. I think about living out here in the relaxing peacefulness all summer long. I could get really tan! I think, and paint a lot! A hermit artist living in the country (eating pork). It feels really good to be so removed from the world, but I miss people. I wonder how many West Virginians Twitter? What would their status messages be? "Lee Roi is loving a cold one on the stoop." Then I think back to my to-dos, more like wants, ambitions and I start to feel bad... bad about my lack of accomplishment. Whats the point in drawing pictures if I have nobody to share it with? Who around here would I even want to appreciate my tan? There's no social inspiration in West Virginia and I guess that's the point. All or nothing. If there were, then this would be like Napa Valley and I'd be paying for peace. I'd only be able to afford a couple of nights of it. It would be a bad good feeling, instead of a good bad one. I could stay here, I thought, but I'm not ready for it. I'd need a broadband internet connection first.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Takashi Murakami at the Brooklyn Museum

Blog confessional #1 I don't like anime, I don't like manga. This is very uncool, I know, but there's something about these genres which is just annoying. Perhaps it's the bad writing, the usually offensive depiction of female characters, or maybe I've never seen any good ani-manga.



Photo by Collin David, originally posted on Collectorsquest.com

Confession #2, it was the Louis Vuitton that got me into the Brooklyn Museum to see the Murakami show. Takashi Murakami had collaborated with the LV to create some fabulous limited edition bags and accessories which I needed to see! So off I went. Once I was there I found the actual show to be exceptional and full of surprises. Sure I liked all the stylistically cute characters, of course I loved all the candy like colors... you can never go wrong with pink and purple on platinum. I was surprised at how sophisticated and grown up a lot of the work is. I'm not so sure you want to bring your kids to this one unless you want to answer a few embarrassing questions. The show is very provocative, x rated in parts. It's grown-up manga exploding, transformed.

If you're in New York city I highly recommended seeing Takashi Murakami at the Brooklyn Museum before the show ends on July 13th.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Book Review: The 4-Hour Workweek

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

A few weeks back I was feeling inspired by The 4-Hour Workweek. Even as I was meeting with clients and traveling to interviews, it didn't seem right to enjoy this book. As prospective clients spoke of agile process, deadlines, and working 60 hour weeks, I was dreaming of 4.

Then yesterday Timothy Ferris was interviewed on the BBC, and I wanted to laugh my ass off. He gave an analogy about a web designer in San Francisco who "only makes $40,000/year", and how this web designer could just up and go to Buenos Aires for three months and live like a king. Because BA is cheap, and this person does their work online, Mr. Ferris claims this would be an easy lifestyle adjustment. Somebody please introduce me to this mythic web designer who A. does not have (at least) a $12,000/year San Francisco rental responsibility, and B. who has a boss/client who is so cool they don't even want to know what you're designing every second of every day?

The 4-hour Workweek is not the greatest business book ever. It's not for everybody, you need to be ready to take the advice given here. Most of the advice is centered around selling something. This seems to be the easiest path to owning your own business. Mr. Ferris doesn't tell us things we don't already know, but like a coach he does inspire.

One of the funniest aspects of this book are some of the time saving tips which, if I were to enact them, would make me seem like a total bitch and nobody would want to talk to me. The author recommends limiting reading and writing email for ONLY an hour each day. He even tells you to spam all your contacts informing them of your new email regimen. He argues that people will understand that this is for efficient communication. I suppose if you are in sales this might work, but what about design reviews? Do women ever communicate efficiently? What if your client just likes to dictate their stream of conscious ideas while they're playing with their kids? What if you actually ARE a therapist?


One of the best parts of The 4-hour Workweek is the chapter on outsourcing to an overseas virtual assistant. At last I feel like I learned a secret that a lot of people in Silicon Valley don't share. The book provides you with useful anecdotes and links to outsourcing firms. Brickworks India here I come!

Another time saving tip is DON'T MULTITASK.
I completely agree with this tip, and now it's my new pet peeve. I never, ever, am good at anything when I do anything half-assed. I can never design anything without actually focusing some brainpower on it. This book just confirms this. Now I look around and I see how obsessed with multi-tasking the whole world is! Again the clients dictating while driving, at a game, waiting for a plane, and on and on.

Overall this book is best for people who are comfortable with the internet because a lot of his start-up ideas involve using the net to communicate efficiently, or to sell and market something to somebody in the simplest, cheapest way possible. I give this book 4 stars (out of 5) because it is inspiring in a to the point informative kinda way. But it is a little short sighted and unrealistic for a lot of people.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

How Do I Design? What is My Design Process

Recently, I read this article about the Future of Web Design. It made me laugh (read final comment below). The most common question I always get, in one form or another is "How do you design something?". Since I usually design dynamic, interactive websites, my answer is to describe the web product design process.

Design IS a Process
Web product design is a process of refinement involving traditional design skills, merged with web development techniques. Web design is the balance of information and technology tailored to the right audience. And of course all websites should be adaptable, all web design teams should be very comfortable with the idea of evolutionary change, and build it into their business. You need to design it - try it - evaluate it - change it - and test it again and again. Always.
When Problems Happen
In my experience problems happen not in design but in the management of the design & development process. I can't tell you how many times I've worked on teams that have completely cut out producers/project managers because of somebody's false impression a that they have more control over their project. We all know that these people are just being tightwads.

I Cannot say it better than Alan Cooper
So I'll just link to his process. Alan Cooper is a design visionary who has been practicing for over 30 years. He's published numerous books including About Face: The Essentials of User Interface Design and The Inmates Are Running the Asylum.

So... How do I design something?
I follow the process and communicate it with clients or other people involved in the project.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Studioroom.Com Update is Still Taking Way Too Long

OK. We simply have been blessed with way too much work to possibly deal with updating our portfolio. Sigh. It probably won't be until May before we get around to updating it. Promise (crossing fingers behind my back). I need a vacation.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Freelancing Part 1 - How Much to Charge?

Lately I've been freelancing a lot which has been great. I love the flexibility and control I have over my own time. I'm so busy, however it's hard to just manage that time. But my biggest worry is negotiating the right rate.

In order to figure out the right rate I asked several friends & colleagues for their insight. It's interesting to compare what they said:

Susan pointed me to this article which offers a calculation of freelance rates based on what you would be making if you were getting a salary. According to this I should be making between $90-120/hour. Calculating Your Freelance Rates - Part 1

A friend spoke more about Stock options. Since I work with a lot of start-up companies this is relevant. They are always trying to figure out creative ways to pay employees which I find does NOT work especially if you have overhead. He says, "...They should be indifferent between paying you in cash versus stock- perhaps they are trying to "get a deal" from you. You should ask them what the shares were priced at when they raised money- that's effectively what they are paying you: (number of shares * value of shares at the previous funding round). Just like Mad Money- shares and share price."

Also said to go check out Salary.com to see what you should be making.

Tam directed me to the salary survey on Coroflot.com which came up with numbers way below what Salary.com shows. This is weird, maybe Coroflot doesn't have a large enough set of data to be accurate?

Pedro Sostre, a design director I admire said it's better to politely decline work than take a cut on price. Many people who go the budget route may return in the future because they're not happy with the cheaper work.

Keara, another design director I admire has always told me to stick to my guns in regard to rate. Citing that there are not than many design directors who are set up to design high traffic, interactive media. Taking into account these overhead costs is a huge deal:
- Cost of software
- Cost of hardware
- Utilities, and recurring expenses like the phone, internet & ISP
- Payroll for employees & sub contractors
- Rent (or mortgage)

All these factors add onto your rate. I would love to see comments from other internet designers about their rates and their success stories.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Top Keywords Drivng Traffic IG - February 20 - March 20 2008

It's interesting to look at my analytics and see what brings people to this blog, and which posts are the most popular. Here are my top keywords from February 20 - March 20 2008.

#1 "Getting Out of Jury Duty"
Or some variant of this theme. It's extremely popular. I wish you people would leave some comments!

#2 Massify
Or some variant on Massify. Again for crist's sake leave some freakin' comments!

# 3 "Geometry"
Or some variant on the word. Hmphf!

#4 Three of my friends there in the side bar...
Let's just say, Angelique is my #1 search term friend, followed by Tam. Can you guess #3?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Stranger In Canada Can Read My Mind

OK. This teenage girl in Canada has some how described my torment about digital communication. Sigh. Well, I suppose I have more baggage and history than she does. Enjoy.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Believe it! Busy in Baltimore

This week, whilst crashing at Fran's in Baltimore I'm super busy. Would you believe I have a ton of freelance? It feels GREAT to finally be free from an office, truly independent, and best of all not paying rent. Hooray!

I'm sooooo busy I probably wont be posting any more this week. OK maybe some Radar posts see the nifty picture window on the side. Next week it's my first foray back up to New York City where I'll be talking to some peeps and scouting out new work.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Finding Art Part 1 - Museum Tour 2008

The New York Times published an excellent special section yesterday dedicated to museums exhibits. If you missed it, this article The Choice Shows Around the Country, highlights some of the most interesting exhibits.

Now if only there was a list like this for international art shows and events, festivals, workshops, and more. Hmmmm

Monday, March 10, 2008

Total Food Porn Moment #1

TFPM # 1 - June Taylor

The New UI - Part 1 - Inside The Art

I always felt like so much more could be done in interaction design than what we're doing now. I always feel like corporations are really too cheap to invest in the design research to get to place of real innovation in software product design. There was a fantastic article in this weekend's NYT about new interaction models...

Coming Soon: Nothing Between You and Your Machine

...“The old paradigm is breaking down,” said Paul Mercer, senior director of software at Palm Inc. “It used to be that you needed to be a visionary and technologist like Michelangelo, but we’re turning that corner.”

INDEED, the more powerful graphics-oriented software has spilled over into the creation of palettes for a new generation of software-oriented artists. One new programming language, Processing, is an extension of Sun’s Java designed specifically for students, artists, designers, researchers and hobbyists who are interested in programming images, animations and interactions. It has been used extensively at “Design and the Elastic Mind,” a digital art exhibition now at the Museum of Modern Art in New York...

Links from this article:

- Cooliris

- Design and the Elastic Mind now at the Museum of Modern Art in New York

- Apple iPhone

- Nintendo Wii

I would LOVE to find more info on this Sun Microsystem "processing" software mentioned in this article. But it seems to be elusive.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

An Informational Spring Cleaning with Bookmark Surprises

So I just moved back to the east coast after living in San Francisco for 13 years. (SF is great but I got sick of the cold fog, the greed, and the overpriced rents) For the first time in years my email inbox is quiet. You'd think I'd be happy about that, but I miss the attention. I think I'm now receiving more spam mail than friend mail. Sigh. While I'm waiting for my stuff to complete it's trip east, I'm left with my trusty old powerbook, and nothing much to do but get organized.

First the email. Fortunately I switched to web based email a couple years ago, which makes things simpler. Like a tyranical queen of the digital domain I deleted EVERYTHING out of the Yahoo! mail account. Who needs Yahoo? Apparently Microsoft! Next, I tackled my gmail problem, slashing archived mail like a Bazilian Rainforest. For christ sake why am I so open??!!

Next comes the pandoras box of bookmarks. Over the years I've saved sets of bookmarks, from many different work computers and personal computers, the sets have collected, for the most part, here on my laptop. Going through them is like a stroll down memory lane. (no pun intended) My biggest shame is that most of my bookmarks are related to work for various projects, or competitive research which I have done throughout the years. Probably only 5% of my bookmarks have any personal relevance. It's just sad that I've managed to save more techy geeky info than information I actually care about, like art, travel, and food... I feel like a looser.

Last November I was working on a new "social bookmarking" website sortof like a Yoono meets Clipmarks but way more user centered. Unfortunately that project died over Christmas when the market tanked and my partner got scared. I still have the prototype and I own the domain, and I might resurrect the project... But today a recruiter contacted me about a position at Yoono! I had to tell him I only consult for start-up companies. No full timey for Stephy at start-ups! Anyway, I pretty much concluded that all bookmarking sites suck when I did all that research. Except for Stumbleupon, Google Notebook, and Digg. Is Digg a bookmarking site?

Back to the bookmark graveyard. Look old friends! It was nice to look up the Other Stephanie again, but her website's expired. Then retracing my friends band Sydewynder which turned in to a band called The Mayhematic which is apparently a rant about Peak Oil. After purging most of my old bookmarks I decided to let Digg and Google do the remembering for me. Dwayne, please get more cultural categories like Art and Travel into Digg! :o)

Monday, March 3, 2008

How to Slash Your Operating Expenses MOVE AWAY From Silicon Valley

Studioroom has relocated to the East Coast. We are temporarily set up in the Washington DC area while we update the website and explore opportunities. Since we slashed our expenses to a tenth of what we were paying in San Francisco, we can afford to travel to you! Please don't hesitate to contact us for any of your interaction design and user experience design needs. design@studioroom.com

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Future of Interaction Design - What if MySpace was a 3D Space?

I have just seen the future of interaction design and here it is: Head Tracking for Desktop VR Displays using the WiiRemote



This presentation shows quite simply how a flat 2D screen can be transformed into a window into a 3D world. Although this demo is based on the Wii and it's unique controllers, you can see how this technology can be adapted for broader use. Watch this video, then imagine all the ways that this interface can be used. E commerce? Someday I will be able to shop for shoes in 3D! Social Networks? What if Hot or Not was in 3D? or Match.com. Oh the possibilities!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I Love The New Like.com

I am pleased to announce the all new for 2008 Like.com. This was a cool little redesign project I got to work on around Christmas. Like is a shopping search engine, which previously did not have a design targeted to it's intended audience, all us women! Now it does. It was a pleasure to work with Pedro Sostre, Like's Creative Director. We managed to come up with a new design that is fresh while still on target, and not a total web 2.0 cliche. The new brand developed easily translates into a great, functional, web UI with no rounded corners, reflections, or gradient over-use.

Check out the purple star!




Monday, February 18, 2008

NOT Coming Full Circle

My dear friend Helen let the cat out of the bag on Friday. I am moving back to the east coast, giving up on the city of sub culture in search of oh-so-much-more.

A week prior I ran into an old co-worker in the elevator of 111 Sutter Street. Jackass-John W. couldn't help but make some snide remark about "coming full circle" when I had the unfortunate moment trapped in the elevator with him. No, jackass, I'm not coming full circle. I suspect however that YOU are coming full circle. How is your start-up doing anyway?

Meanwhile, at Ogilvy One, my work is going smoother than ever. Nobody's freaking out about money, nobody freaks out about anything. They are well managed. They know what they're doing, and you can feel it. It's so nice! I never remember Xcom or UsWeb or RedGorilla being well managed. Ever.

Anyway, I'm away to develop my own creative ideas hopefully into something cool. Time is linear. Only the future will reveal my path.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I Lied - Studioroom Update Delayed

OK, so stuff has got in the way of updating my portfolio. The Studioroom portfolio wont get updated until March. Sorry.

Monday, February 11, 2008

IT'S ALIVE! - massify.com - A new Social Network for Movie Makers

Do you like making movies? Are you always playing with your video camera? Are you an actor, writer, or director? Are you an artist, musician, or fan of one? Heck, do you just want to do the HAIR for people in films? Well then, I have a new social network for you!

I'm very pleased to announce the launch of Massify.com, a new social network for people in movie and film production. I was just a small part of a larger team working on this new website project. I was wonderful to be able to contribute some Information Architecture and UX design work for this exciting start-up in New York City.



Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Undecided About The 2008 California Primary Election

I must admit that I am undecided about tomorrows Primary election. I spent the whole weekend trying to stay warm and absorb as much political propaganda as I could stand, without loosing all sanity. One moment, I find myself leaning towards Hillary. Then, I think perhaps Barack is better.

All I care about is that whatever Democrat is nominated, they must be able to beat the Republican candidate. Will Hillary be able to win over John McCain? Can Obama? Anyway, I'm blogging about this because I want YOU to help me make up my mind.

Barack vs. Hillary Pros and Cons

Hillary Clinton
Pro: She's a Clinton.
Con: She's a Clinton.
Pro: She can get stuff done "from day one".
Con: Yeah but is she really looking out for the interests of the people? Or is she already in the pockets of the corporations?
Pro: She's a woman.
Con: She might not beat John McCain because she's a woman.

Barack Obama
Pro: Fresh meat.
Con: Too fresh? Is Barack just too young and inexperienced?
Pro: The Kennedys like him.
Con: I think the Kennedy's are elitists who do a lot of stupid things and get themselves killed a lot.
Pro: Change is good. I want change.
Con: I really don't want to vote for the "cool candidate" I really want the best person for the job.

I would relish a comment from you.

Monday, January 28, 2008

SFMOMA Shows: Jeff Wall, Olafur Eliasson, Gabriele Basilico

Tired of being stuck inside by the weather, I went to go check out some art, and was pleasantly surprised. I actually like some of the shows at the San Francisco MOMA right now.

Not to be missed!
Take your time: Olafur Eliasson
One room makes you sleepy,
and one room makes you small,
and the room next to the elevators
has absolutely no color at all...

Read the SFMOMA write up, or just go see it yourself.

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Gabriele Basilico
Wonderful photography of San Francisco & Silicon valley. It's interesting how Basilico captured such 'classical' looking photos out of such a modern place.

SFMOMA says: This exhibition presents a series of nearly 50 black-and-white and color photographs taken by Basilico at the invitation of SFMOMA during a monthlong residency in the Bay Area last summer. Chronicling the impact of the technology boom on the region, this exhibition will be the first of an ongoing project focused on Silicon Valley, in which artists will document the area on film. Basilico’s objective style and affinity for observing marginalized urban settings in a classical mode promises a compelling counterpoint to future installments in the project.
more

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Jeff Wall
I loved this exhibit, but it's over now. Amazing photographic compositions depicting the abstractions in seemingly everyday life. Those light boxes are genius, I want a dozen of 'em! You can still check out this cool interactive feature to see what I mean.

SFMOMA says: Canadian artist Jeff Wall is widely recognized as an innovative picture-maker whose dynamic photographs, both color and black-and-white, have affinities with painting and cinema. Their sense of scale comes from Wall's interest in the tradition of painting, and their methods of production from his fascination with cinematography. A number of the pictures are photomontages — combinations of different negatives digitally interwoven to create engaging narratives — often illuminated on light boxes. more

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An-my Lê: Small Wars
I'm a lover not a fighter, so I had less love for this exhibit. But technically the photography is very good. I'm sure some people might like the subject matter. more

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Updating Studioroom.com

Hello! This post is to let everybody know that I am in the process of updating my website, Studioroom.com. I will be posting a new and improved up to date portfolio within the next two weeks. I hope to get this done before February 3rd.

In the mean time, I'm going to continue to blog right here in Informational Geometry. Look for more humorous observations about life, and Steph's take on the California Primaries. Thanks.