This concept app could lead to better conversations in meetings.

Faceless encounters

youtube
Watch a demo of this concept app.

If you are like me, you have attended a lot of phone only and or virtual meetings. As a new Salesforce employee I have attended my share of  “Go to Meeting” and WebEx meetings. These faceless encounters make getting to know a virtual team difficult. The meetings tend to start right on time or even a minute or two late and leave little room for pre-meeting small talk. Additionally, in these virtual meetings, the facilitator skips or forgets introductions. However, even with a lack of personal connection it is important that we do connect and communicate too get off to a fast start.

Continue reading This concept app could lead to better conversations in meetings.

Sketching with Paper and Pencil by 53

Screenshot from Paper 53
Sketch of an idea for an interactive presentation I am working on. Watch a video to see how I added a reflection in Photoshop to the above screenshot.

Have you tried Paper by 53? With the Pencil stylus? You should… its great for fast, fluid capture of ideas or longer experiments in creativity.

Over the last six months I have used the app (Paper) and stylus (Pencil) to doodle ideas, takes notes (awful for this in my opinion) and to do serious work at Salesforce.

Download the Paper.

The latest win with Paper and Pencil was for a major media company. I was working with a team and the director was struggling with how to tell a important, yet seemingly complex part of the story. I was out of the office and just had my iPad and Pencil with me, so I fired up Paper and about 30 minutes had a couple solid ideas. I sent them out to the team for review and then, after a settling on the strongest idea on to one of our incredible digital designers to convert into a highly polished representation for the presentation.

51jxBzU40uL._SL1000_Paper makes it easy to share your ideas and thoughts, and now with Mix, they have added the ability to download starts to ideas that have really translated into stronger work. Much of the story telling we do at Marketing Cloud is set against the backdrop of a phone (iPhone incase you are curious). When I am sketching, I will often lop a rectangle shape onto the screen, add a circle near the bottom and call it a phone. Many times I have had to explain “this is an iPhone”. Now with Mix, I have an iPhone as a starter screen… in fact I have two options, one with a single device and another with two phones. This is incredibly helpful for me as I am often explaining customer interactions and the second screen is key to the concept.

I plan to keep sketching, storyboarding and sharing via Paper and Pencil and I am looking forward to their next updates.

One last thought… if you are looking for an amazing site and artist that really push what you can do with Paper and Pencil check out Made Mistakes‘s review of Paper and Pencil and check out Michael Rose’s work. The Paper Faces series is stunning.

Monument Valley

IMG_0820.PNGI’ve been enthralled with Monument Valley for the last day or so, staying up late to finish it. This game is so much fun. Download it now for Android or iOS.

A quick comment on the sound design, its wonderful. The thought in the soundscapes is such a highlight. If sound interests you, check out my post on podcasts or go directly to 99% Invisible Episode 148.

 

Update:

The Huffington Post article “Huh” is an interesting back-story on development cost and revenue.

Update 2:

Just downloaded the additional levels… so far they are great too.

iBooks Author – An amazing storytelling platform.

iPad-Air-SilverAbout a year ago I started experimenting with iBooks Author. It seemed like a simple way to create interactive experience. It was surprising to see how easy it was to create a compelling iBook with NO CODE. Its not to say you can’t or shouldn’t dive into some HTML and drop a custom widget into your iBook, you should, I just haven’t had time to get into that yet. I have been able to tell my story (portfolio) and a create growing number of Customer Stories or Customer Journeys via iBooks. I’ve learned a lot and wanted to write a series of articles layout it all out. Continue reading iBooks Author – An amazing storytelling platform.

Responsive video in 2015

I would love to see “responsive video” become a thing. I am amazed at how much great content is available these days as video. Its wonderful. Video can be sound and pictures, enhanced with emotion. Its so easy to consume, and now, share.

But, sometimes video is so wasteful. Explore with me a couple ideas now.

OPTIONS Continue reading Responsive video in 2015

One space. That is it.

Over the last few years I have had a repeating conversation with people about how many spaces to put after a period. It surprising to me how many times I have had to argue this correction, but I know I am right I’m willing to point this out.

So that I might go on record on this one, I am pointing to two examples to prove that I am not the only person in the world that has considered this… Continue reading One space. That is it.

Devil in the details. Label placements matter.

Forty seven Wasted Days

In 2011 and part of 2012 I was working on a massive enterprise payroll application. One focus of the experience was efficient data entry. We knew that because of the number of fields required in the application we needed to optimize interactions with inputs through out the app. Continue reading Devil in the details. Label placements matter.

Taste my cheese dammit!

Why doesn’t your cheese sample require an email?

Social rules in the real world are often ignored in the virtual world. Try downloading a trial of software. This often requires you share an email address, and, often, more info is required. Want to use that sweet new app… I am afraid you have to log-in, likely through Facebook. Continue reading Taste my cheese dammit!

An even better Nest Experience

Double Ring Virtual Fence for Nest Thermostat

2013-01-28_1311I have this very simple idea. Use an iPhone’s location abilities to automatically control your Nest thermostat to increase your comfort and save on heating and cooling. It would work like this. Tell your Nest your address and let the iPhone app create a double ring virtual fence. As you drove through this fence (twice) in either direction, the app would signal your thermostat with an update. Continue reading An even better Nest Experience

iPad Mini review, thoughts and why I returned it… (update) and bought it again.

Update July 2012:

I missed my iPad. When I bought the iPad Mini I had given my iPad 3 to my wife… and sold off her iPad 2. So when I returned the iPad Mini I had no iPad (I know… first world problems here). I was holding out hope that Apple would release a Retina iPad Mini soon and I would just grab that version. Its been months and mo Retina iPad Mini yet… and I realized that all the things that made me love the iPad and iPad Mini were missing from my workflow and life. I decided to go back and give it another try. The screen is still pretty underwhelming but the rest of the device (size, weight, feel in your hand) is amazing. For now, I am enjoying what I can and hoping that the Retina version is around the corner.

Original Post:

Last night I zipped over to my local Target to pick up an iPad Mini. I was excited. I have been doing some design work that is targeted toward a smaller screen and have had using a Kindle Fire to emulate the screen size. I love the overall size of the Fire. It is light, fits in my pocket and hand(s) but does not feel cramped. I expected the iPad would be even better. And I was right. Continue reading iPad Mini review, thoughts and why I returned it… (update) and bought it again.

Hot Soup!

The microwave has been my tormentor for years now.

I hate it.

I always seem to use it wrong. I get unintended outcomes. Cold food. Overcooked cheese. Coffee that burns my face.

This means that  my wife has to help this “user” more often than not, and good-naturedly resets the 35 minutes that I have entered to warm something up back to the 35 seconds it really needed. Its not that I can not operate a microwave… it’s that I despise the UI.  Out of frustration and apathy I mash the keys and hope it turns  on. Lazy? Perhaps. Wrong? NO! A microwave is supposed to be a simple, easy to use device. It gives you a simple and quick way to get… hot soup. Except over the years, microwaves have added more and more useless features … too many in my opinion. Continue reading Hot Soup!

Some thoughts on Coda 2

Today I needed to make a couple updates to a couple different websites that I help with. I had originally written the code for these in Expresso (from Mac Rabbit). I have tried to use Coda 2 a couple times since it came out and was always left underwhelmed. For whatever reason, I could not seem to get the FTP to work, so I would have to use CyberDuck to pull the file and then manually push the updated files. Also, when I was looking at the code, everything seemed weirdly small.

Today, I realized I was feeding Coda 2 the wrong username and when I finally got that right, the FTP was fast and flawless. I need to find the setting that changes the default size, I am sure that this exist, but I have been lazy and not gone after it yet. The thing that really struck me was the validator. Today I had an unclosed DIV hiding somewhere in my code and it was causing a display problem. To solve this, I was pushing the code and grabbing the rendered HTML and pasting that into the W3C HTML Validator service. The problem with this is that my code uses PHP to include a boatload of snippets and bits of global functionality. The lines for the rendered code and the lines I have to work with are NEVER the same, so this is a painstakingly slow process. Coda 2 has a validator, and a damn good one. I turned it on, figured out which DIV was causing me the headache and added the closing DIV tag.
Done. Save. Publish. Check and Mate!

That made me realize, sometimes I get new software and its different than the stuff I normally use so when I try it, it seems hard and I try to go back to my other tools. Espresso is a great tool, I might have upgraded but the deal on Coda 2 at the time seemed like a sure shot. I was doubting that when I used it a handful of times, but today, I saw its damn good. I mean once you give it correct FTP info and all.

ODOC – A great looking iPhone dock on Kickstarter

I have made a note on my Facebook page about backing ODOC and wanted to take a minute to talk about it here.I have my iPhone sitting on my desk during the day, and on my nightstand at night. I have been looking for a dock that does exactly what ODOC does… I need it to angle depending on the viewing angle I am at and not to “stick” to the phone when I pick it up. I also want it to look great.

Continue reading ODOC – A great looking iPhone dock on Kickstarter

Cleaning up Safari Bookmarks across Mac and iPhone with iCloud

If you are like me, you have lots of bookmarks that are old, unused and no longer needed. I may have had a couple thousand bookmarks in Safari up until a couple days ago. The problem was that I did not need most of them and wanted to start over. My first thought was to just delete them. Select all and delete. Nope. In the bookmarks manager you can not select all easily.

Here is the video I shared to Apple that basically shows what I did –  http://screencast.com/t/FIBJZkC7g5

Here is what my bookmarks look like. Everything under the Bookmarks area has to be selected one at a time and deleted. And if you have iCloud on, that means a sync, and that was taking 10 seconds and up per deletion. I was not in the mood to delete several thousand bookmarks (and I think that iCloud somehow duplicated everything). Continue reading Cleaning up Safari Bookmarks across Mac and iPhone with iCloud

And then it hit me. This is Awesome.

Years ago I began exploring the world of design, the internet, code and consulting. I quickly realized that it was the perfect combination for me. Enough challenges in the right and left brain to keep me engaged. Enough interaction with people to stave off the dreaded hermit status. And enough change to always keep me on my toes… after graduating, reality set in and I had to get another job to support my consulting habit. I became an in-house designer and spent about ten years balancing in-house against consulting/freelance/contract work. When people asked, I told them, I like the stability of in-house, and the excitement of consulting. And I did.

In April, 2011 I took on a new role with Cynergy Systems. Writing this now, seven months into this new adventure, I am happy to report that I have found a place with the benefits of both worlds. And more. Thanks to the people, from the other designers, to the developers, to the leadership I have noticed ,in myself, new excitement for my work. A resurrection of skills that I had left safely alone since college. And abilities I did not know I had. In other words GROWTH! Glorious growth.

I have talked about growth with my boss and my mentor here. My take is this. Growth is sometimes scary. It can be painful. And it can seem slow. But the truth is, if you are not scared, struggling or feeling some pain you are comfortable. And comfortable is ok… if you are chilling on a sofa relaxing. But its a pretty bad place to live if you are being challenged on both hemispheres of your brain, because you are rehashing old thoughts. Is a rotten way to feel when the world you are trying to contribute to is changing faster and faster every quarter. And comfortable is, to me, the most dangerous place a designer can ever live. That is when it hit me. This is Awesome. I am uncomfortable, a little scared, and the feeling pain. And instead of growth on my own, like I did a decade ago, I’m now growing, but with all of my past experience to judge it against, and at a place that will support me, push me and believe in me to make things I did not know could happen possible.

Best Buy we can no longer be friends.

How a $20 return has scared me away from the electronic’s behemoth

If I buy something at your store and need to return it, I do not feel that gives you the right to collect my personal information. Because you as a business insist that I do have to tell you my Name, Phone Number and Address as well as let you swipe my Drivers license I can no longer be your customer. Period.

This evening I was heading over to grab some sushi for dinner. Along the way I noticed that the radio options were pretty terrible and flipped on Pandora through my iPhone. The sound wasn’t great, but I figured I would be fine for the couple minutes it would take me to zip over to pick up dinner and get home. As I pulled off the highway I noticed that I was making great time and would be early to get our meals. I figured I would kill a couple minutes and duck into Best Buy and see what they had that might improve the listening quality. I have tried a number of the FM transmitters and so far, none have worked. I have also tried the tape deck adaptor that my wife used before I started driving our Camry and had given up, I assumed that maybe it was worn out, because when I listed to it, there seemed to be but a single channel… anyway. After looking around, I decided to try a brand new tape deck adaptor thing. I paid with my AMEX and headed back to the parking lot. The box was not the usual plastic that I always seem to find on electronics, rather it was a simply designed pop open case. A quick tug and I had it open and in the tape deck. I attached the iPhone and fired up Pandora and… it was rotten. I think that maybe this is as good as it can sound or Best Buy is selling worn out tape deck adaptor thing. Anyway, realizing that if I didn’t return this product right then, I would forget and eventually be stuck with it, I decided to take it back in right then. Thats about the point where things at Best Buy went from OK (I might recommend Best Buy to friends and family) to severely disturbing.

I walk back in, show the guy in the big yellow shirt that I am returning this item and get the little sticker, I walk over to the empty return line and meet the service representative. He ask was wrong with it, which is fair. I tell him it sounds awful, like, maybe its worn out. He nods a knowingly and then asks for my ID. Curious, the check out lady never asked, though I am pretty sure that they should have… but I am not fully thinking at that point and hand over my drivers license. Somewhere in the back of my head, there is a voice shouting WTF is this? I am about to ask and then I am asked my name (which is clearly on both my AMEX and Drivers License), my phone and address. The little voice in my head is now a all out roar. I ask why and I am told that Best Buy requires it to complete my return. That seems a stretch. But I do want my money back… so I ask what its for. Fraudulent returns. Umm, Ok. so we go through the little hellish game. The guy behind the counter seems to want to get this done as fast as possible and is clearly uncomfortable when I am asking what the company needs all this info for (Best Buy this should be a clue you are doing something wrong). I remark that this seems like an over reach and that I am really uncomfortable with the requirements. I pursue the conversation long enough to learn that if I did not have a government ID I would not be allowed to return things at Best Buy, even if I paid cash.

Wanting to get my dinner and get home I agree to the info on the screen and leave. On the ride home, I called the manager. While initially I would describe him as somewhere between smug and surely he eventually became more willing to talk about their policy and when I pointed out that it would stop me from shopping at Best Buy he apologized that I felt that way (odd he is sorry for how I feel) and directed me to Bust Buy Cares – which seems like some sort of survey.

Clip Speed hack for Camtasia Mac

Record screencast with Camtasia Mac, delete audio, export to iMovie, increase speed, export movie (I add a number that represents the percent increase in speed to the file name), open in Garage Band, record audio. I realize this is pretty weak, but its the best hack I have. Waiting for a feature update. http://feedback.techsmith.com/techsmith/topics/can_clip_speed_be_modified_in_camtasia_for_mac?from_gsfn=true

The UnApple experience.

Let me start by saying that I am a “fanboy” of Apple and its products. I like their stuff, the way it works and especially  how they treat customers.

However, I am not a fan of the new XCode 4. That app is a super ninja virus from Apple sent to destroy my iMac and my “spare” time. I installed it a week ago. It froze. I rebooted. My Mac froze again. I called for help. We tried to kill XCode 4 via Terminal. No luck, cause you know, we could not find it. After some other fiddling around, we decided to try a Time Machine back up. That failed too – a kernel panic to be exact. Ugg. What a mess. So, several installs of Lion plus Time Machine back up tries only to get back to kernel panics we decided to take another approach. Install Lion and drag and drop my User folder over the clean User folder of the same name via the System Admin. Ohh, that should do it. Sorta. I was able to see apps. And my stuff (music, movies, docs, etc.) but not edit and save.

You see, my permissions we/are a mess. So, back on the phone with Apple reps. We try a litany of ideas and nothing. I am to the point of Ouija boards or an old priest and a young priest. Something needs to kill the demon in my machine. And soon. You see, as a fanboy/loyal customer, I have grown accustom to NOT messing with stuff like this. I don’t care to. Its not interesting, its not productive, its not expected. My Apple lifestyle should allow me to focus on what I want to do with my Mac/iPhone/Pad/Pod and not spend a week helplessly stabbing at a problem, albiet with a helpful and reassuring voice of an expert whispering in my ear how to fixt it.

This weekend I backed up all my stuff to a spare external drive – it is promised that by moving my files to an external drive, I would remove all permissions (this is not true). Then I install Snow Leopard, and update it and patch it and wave goodbye as I update to Lion then roll in my apps and then my files and it seems to be working. Except. It. Did. Not! Oh holy messed up violent thoughts, this is not right. I am supposed to be able to turn on this big beautiful machine and roar (Lion pun, sorta). But instead, I am not able to save my files. From my Document folder. Ahhhh! Another call to Apple. Another couple ideas. More failure. So annoyed that the reps are not even getting my usual polite, tolerant of bumps self. They are getting “The Dave” the one I send to do bad things. Things that I do not want to do. This is not working!  After talking to all these very polite, eager and seemingly helpful Apple Experts/Senior Advisors I had to resort to some heavy Googling to solve my problems caused by XCode – which as you might recall is a super virus from Apple. Several minutes later I have a permission problem solver, its free, its easy and it nearly works. If you are having permission problems on your Mac, try Permission Reset by http://www.ohanaware.com/. Its cleaning up the mess. Its making me happy. Sorta. I am not supposed to have these issues. Anyhow, that is all.

A sweet mobile office

Today I worked at Second Gear, a co-working office in Lansing, MI. I took my “office in a bag” with me and realized, I have a sweet setup and thought I would share what is in the bag and why I chose this combination.

Starting with the bag itself, (which is a two part system), I carry a Super Ego from Tom Bihn. This is hands down the best bag I’ve owned for traveling with your gear. I have it full of everything I need, and its not even close to full.

The things I like are

  • its sturdy
  • easy to pack
  • easy to unpack
  • doesn’t spill your stuff if you pick it up when its open
  • the zippers open/close with ease and seal the bag shut
  • the way it looks
  • that it has hooks for my keys, pockets for my stuff and latches for my Brain Cell with the Absolute Shoulder Strap

Within the cavernous space that is the main pocket of the Super Ego, I snap into place my Brain Cell with the Absolute Shoulder Strap. This ingenious smaller, hard sided bag is fit to my 15 inch MacBook Pro. It is designed to cradle your laptop, saving it from the bumps and dumps of laptop life. And it does its job really well. If you are traveling light, the Brain Cell with the Absolute Shoulder Strap is the way to go. I suggest you fork over the extra bucks for the Absolute Shoulder Strap too. Its how shoulder straps should be designed. Its padded, stays right on your shoulder, super comfortable and sorta flexes when you step so the weight just disappears when you walk,

The things I like are

  • its hard shell – armor for laptops is good
  • the thick velcro top, it opens quick, closes without effort and if you decide to flip the bag over and shake the living hell out of your bag with the laptop in it, it won’t let you down
  • that its really light

This is my third Brain Cell – the first is still with my mother-in-law protecting an old Gateway (may it rot), the second is with the owner of my old MacBook Pro (farewell old friend) and now I have my third. If repeatedly buying a product is not an endorsement, I don’t know what is.

Next up is something that I just started carrying. Its my giant X Trac Pads Ripper XL mouse pad which is 14 x 17.5 inches. This massive mouse pad needs some space layout, but once you do, oh baby, its smooth sailing for my Magic Mouse. I made the mistake of leaving the X Trac at home the other day when I worked from a coffee shop and I regretted not having it. If you find yourself with less room than is need you can fold the mouse pad up or hang it off the edge of a table and it still is better than not having it.

The things I like are

  • its HUGE
  • its very smooth
  • also, its HUGE

Next up are my MacBook Pro and the Magic Mouse. I love that these two work so smoothly together. Its like someone sat down and designed the two to work smoothly or something. I walked in today and fired up the laptop, the mouse was already discovered and away I went into designer land.

The things I like (MacBook Pro)

  • the power, speed, accurate screen color
  • the keyboard is silky
  • the fact that its the most complex (I think) thing I have in the bag and yet I never worry about it working
  • this is the short list, this is the most important tool I have in the bag, the tool that I use to do my job and earn a living, I am stopping with just a few here

The things I like (Magic Mouse)

  • simple to use
  • scrolling any direction (software vendors need to start updating their software to handle that feature!)
  • its light – which strangely was a put off the first time I used it, being so used to my old Logitech with 84,000 buttons and weighing in just less than King Kong.

I just got the Circa Notebook with Action Method from Behance and its good. Crazy good. Jeff, I am gonna have to get you one of these, and you will have to write in it. The dot grid is the way to go, I am forcing myself to get into the habit of making action lists, when I follow the rules, I get way more done. If I slack off, I pay for it.

  • The things I like
  • its proportions
  • the quality of the paper
  • the dot grid
  • the Circa system where I can easily move pages around with no irritating three/six ring binder system

Next up are my Bose in-ear headphones (mine are older than what shows up in this link). These are the only headphones that I can wear for hours on end, that are comfortable enough that I was willing to spend a hundred bucks on them for me, and then again for my Dad and then another $50 when I busted the first pair and needed a replacement from Bose. Way to much, I know, but next to the glasses and the laptop itself, nothing else gets as much use. The poorly designed Apple earbuds make my ears scream in pain when I used them, the Sonys, Phillips and SkullCandy versions all sounded like garbage or hurt, or both. I finally tried these after trying a dozen other options.

Things I like

  • the are comfortable after 6 hours of wear (I bet they would be fine at 12 too, I just tend to need them in lesser chunks of time)
  • the sound awesome for such little things earbuds

Finally, my iPhone 4 (Verizon). I waited, and waited and waited for this one to show up and thankfully it did. I had hoped to be underwhelmed, to hate it, to return it in the 14 day window that Verizon said I could return it for something else. That did not happen, its has become “my precious” making me Gullum. For social reasons, I have changed “precious” to shiny so when I freak out and say “my shiny” I can slip in phone and seem normal(er).

The things I like

  • size, weight shape
  • screen brightness, touch reponse
  • having the internet in my pocket (that is addicting)
  • sound, both calls and the built in speaker
  • all the apps (well that there really is an app for just about anything)
  • its not a flip phone
  • its not a Droid – I wanted to love ‘em but the Droids I have seen made me keep my flip phone

 

 

 

Portfolio Updates

Where are the updates?

Friends and family and even a couple site visitors have asked that a lot lately . My last entry for the portfolio section was in March 2011. In internet terms that is a lifetime ago. I had a hand in helping Blohm Creative Partners design the Online Geography Site for Michigan State. My friend Derick note The Advisor Board – Crimsoncoded it up.

Almost of the work I am doing now, I  can’t talk about. I am doing incredible work for amazing companies, maybe some will end up featured on the Cynergy site. But, NDA’s confidentiality, and yet to be released products make it impossible to share on a personal site.

Apple inspired texture and shadows

Lately I’ve noticed that the use of texture is showing up more in web design. The latest to use this idea is Apple.com on their “The Environment” in the Macbook Pro section. The page with the corners turning up is also showing up in a ton of designs. Apple again is using this idea.

Today, I thought I would make a quick tutorial on how to make each of these in Photoshop.


Other sites using texture.

Hey! Look, an idea. Tiered Screening At Airports

I read this last night and again this morning, it makes me happy that there are some options being considered for air travel.  “If people have ideas, he wants to hear them because he’s looking at ways to make changes,” a T.S.A. spokesman, Nicholas Kimball, said.

How about about skipping the over zealous pat down and the “I can see through your clothes” scanner.

In other news… The Patriot Act extension failed.

Not often I would quote Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio) but his summery is better than what I came up with.

The Patriot Act represents the undermining of civil liberties” Well put.

Playing with word(le)s

I love the web site http://www.wordle.net/. Its cool to look at, its fun to play with, its a really interesting way of visualizing what someone is talking about. Go ahead, paste in a paper, article or speech, like magic you have a visual representation of what was talked about. Tonight I was trying something a little different. I tried the copy generated at Lorem 2, the all-around better Lorem experience, a trace route for a site I was looking to see if I hosted, the copy from the first dozen or so spam messages I had in my spam folder and finally a copy and paste of my Mint data (HaveAMint.com)

Overall, very interesting visualizations.

Lorem 2

Its kinda cool that Lorem content has such an even representation in this view, nothing is sticking out.

Trace Route

Odd that “MS” is huge. Means milliseconds and yet here in the trace route, its enormous.

Spam

Ahh, the spam copy… the only one I care about is Unsubscribe!

Mint Snapshot

Finally a snapshot of my Mint account. The words ago, found, and hours are attached to every single entry, not surprising they are huge. But this is interesting, according to this view of my site the words App, David, Web, Moulton’s Planning, Site, Concept, iPad, designer, and meal.

Avoiding Flash in web development

Flash is great. Until it’s not. In the cases where it’s not great, it’s really awful. Here, ironically, the Photoshop site on Adobe.com, is completely useless because the plugin is broken. This week alone I have heard or experienced the following complaints about Flash.

Overheard:

“Pandora is killing my machine, its pegged at 100% CPU/RAM usage. Turn it off, and everything works.”

“I hate it when videos are in Flash – I can’t see them on my iPad.”

To be fair, Apple could just allow Flash on iOS, but if my i7 Quad Core with 12 GB of RAM is getting hammered from Flash on sites, I am pretty sure the iPad is toast.

Experienced:

I tried using the Adobe CS Live review tool that is baked into Photoshop (and I suspect other CS products). The experience was rubbish (not sure I am using that in the proper English manner – I mean that it was awful, rotten, slow and I never plan on using it again). The whole thing is (or seems) Flash based.

On the other side of the coin are sites like Mint.com and Google Analytics that are using Flash to improve the experience. Graphs and charts animate to life, unless you have the brilliant plan of I should check on these things with my iPad, then the experience is weird as big chunks are missing. As I have looked into it, it seems to me that these sites would be better served providing the content and the animations through HTML5, CSS3 and javascript. Without knowing the cost, both in terms of time and money, to switch over, perhaps there are arguments to sticking with Flash. When it works, and you have the hardware that supports it, the experience is solid.

Somewhere in the middle (as in not great, but not awful) are Flash/Flex apps. TweetDeck and Balsamiq Mockups live in this category. Some are pretty great and do their job splendidly. Others, I am looking at you Mockups, leave a lot to be desired. There is an inherently odd feel to how both react, or maybe more accurately, do not react. Neither feels 100% “native” to the desktop, and at times feel more like specialized views of web sites than actual programs.

Finally, it seems that even if you are able to make the experience perfect (or nearly perfect) and know that the users you have will have Flash and you do not care if the content is indexed by search engines, that the accessibility issues inherent in Flash would make it a no brainer to skip.

Are you avoiding Flash in your development? Have you found alternatives that work?

I like… a top 10 list of sites or software

A strange mix of things that I really find useful. It would be impossible for me to qualify everything on this list and a massive number of things will be left off (not missed, I just decided to limit this to 10 items. I would be extremely curious to see your list.

  1. Mint.com
    Generally, I am not fantastic at budgeting or saving or tracking every single purchase. Mint’s a great, free tool to help you do all that. But wait, there is more. It also makes it easy to set goals, get warnings that something is not right (like if a credit card is changing rates or I’m being charged beyond limits you set) and it makes tracking things for tax season so much simpler.
  2. HaveAMint.com
    Shaun Inman’s HaveAMint is a great alternative to Google Analytics. Its simple, clean and quick. I feel like I can get the pulse of my site in real time and be gone.
  3. BrandNew
    Great site to see new branding, logos and the best part is the writing. I love that there is thoughtful commentary  and input from readers.
  4. TweetDeck
    Now that TweetDeck has found its way onto my iPod, home and work Macs, and into Chrome as an app, I rarely go  a day without it on or being checked. (Note, when I use the iPad, I really like the Twitter app better)
  5. Chrome
    Fast. Super fast. Did I mention fast? Oh yeah, its fast. And I likes me some fast.
  6. CSSEdit
    I’ve mentioned my love of CSSEdit before. I hope that there is a new version coming soon, or at least an update
  7. Photoshop
    I would miss it. A lot. But, lately the periods of time that it runs smoothly (as in not crashing or doing something weird where I have to kill it) has not been stellar.
  8. Jing
    Its small, fast, always ready to work. Plus I have customized my mouse buttons to increase speed.
  9. Netflix (the streaming part)
    This is just a super service. Oh, and I love that it works on everything. And, if you’ve not watched the new season of The IT Crowd, you should. Its a treat so far.
  10. Gmail
    I actually pay for hosting, which includes email. I still like Gmail much better.

If and when these top ten list makers break or I am working on a computer that I can’t use them, I really notice.

A new Responsive Web Design Grid system… free to download.

This morning I awoke to see that my friend and fellow designer Nick (of Pulp and Pixels and  TechSmith) had released his Columnal CSS grid system. This impressive bit of code allows you to  go all the way from a healthy 1140px wide page with multi-columns all the way to something that looks and works great on your iPhone.

Nick says…

The Columnal CSS grid system is a “remix” of a couple others with some custom code thrown in. The elastic grid system is borrowed from cssgrid.net, while some code inspiration (and the idea for subcolumns) are taken from 960.gs.

I know that I will be borrowing this from Nick for my next project where I need a responsive web design.

Smoked salmon, egg, onion. On a cracker…

Its better than you can even imagine. Its crazy good. The recipe is below. I take no responsibility if you become addicted!

Perhaps like me you love a little salmon, but don’t eat it often enough. Perhaps you need a holiday appetizer that is a little different. You should try these amazing smoked salmon appetizers.

Recipe and Prep.

  • Nathan’s smoked salmon
  • an onion
  • an egg or two, depends on how much you want to make
  • Salt (I really prefer sea salt for this)
  • Black pepper (I also prefer fresh cracked pepper for this)*
  • Crackers – I like Keebler Town House Toppers Crackers

*In this picture, we were out of pepper, so you are seeing the pre-ground stuff, it works but its not what I suggest.

Making the topping

Boil the egg

Incase you’ve not boiled an egg. Place egg into a pan of cold water, make sure the egg is covered and put on the stove. Turn on the heat and bring water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, continue to boil the egg for 13 minutes. When the time is up, put the egg under cold water and peel. Perfection is not required here, but don’t be wasteful. Set the peeled egg aside.

  • Chop up some onion
  • Chop up some salmon
  • Chop up some egg

Mix egg, onion and salmon into about equal parts. Season with some salt and pepper. Taste. It should be really wonderful. Grab crackers and layout on a plate. Spoon topping onto crackers OR putting topping into a bowl and let people heap on to their crackers as they wish.


How to name your iPad App

The last couple weeks I have been working on an idea for an iPad meal planner app. So far, interest has been great. I have some developers who have started to think about how to code the idea, search traffic indicating that there is a market beyond just our household and even some comments from visitors supporting the idea. However, I have not decided what to call the app. I like the idea of something clever, something that makes you smile. So far, I have not come up with anything that works. I thought maybe I would ask the internet for help. Any ideas?

Concept: Meal Planning iPad App

I have been thinking about an app for meal planning for a couple weeks. I was watching/helping my wife plan a trip to the store and it dawned on me that planning meals should be easier. We generally know what we want, but at the end of a day filled with work, chasing kids and everything else, we tend to go for whatever we can think of. Often its the same rotation of tacos, pizza and ummmmm… We struggle to keep the menu interesting AND affordable.This weekend I figured I would start designing the idea. I am looking for a developer(s) that wants to program this idea! If you are interested in the idea. Let me know. Continue reading Concept: Meal Planning iPad App

Representative Mike Rogers, is this balanced security?

Earlier this week I received a letter back from Representative Mike Rogers, who wrote back to me with a disappointing and startling letter. In it Mr. Rogers states”Please rest assured that I will be closely monitoring these developments and working in Congress to ensure America continues a reasonable balance between security and privacy.” The way he words his letter seems to indicate he is in support of our current choices of the “enhanced pat down” and ogling body scanners.

WGVU reports Airport Pat-Downs Often Ineffective Security Stop

As you may have gathered, I am not. The fact that, to travel, I have to submit to my government touching me or using a device to peer through my clothes is disturbing and frankly, if were not the U.S. government doing it (so you or I did this to someone) it would be sexual assault. It seems odd that Mr Rogers, who states in his bio “led the fight to protect children from sexual predators” would endorse these methods.

Though I doubt I will be graced with more prose from Mr. Rogers – though I welcome it here, I am asking you if you feel this video from the The Daily Patdown represents the reasonable balance between security and privacy.

From the site http://thedailypatdown.com/

In other news “Boehner Names Mike Rogers Intelligence Committee Chair“. Seems to me that this puts Mr. Rogers in a prime position to suggest changes to the TSA policy.

Image credit:

http://makethelogobigger.blogspot.com/2010/11/tsa-pat-down-mess-safety-concern-or.html