How to Spot Arial (in comparison to Helvetica). See also The Scourge of Arial: "Arial owes its very existence to that success but is little more than a parasite--and it looks like it's the kind that eventually destroys the host. I can almost hear young designers now saying, 'Helvetica? That's that font that looks kinda like Arial, right?'"
A Photographica member compiled a collage of his favorite photographs from the site. There as some really nice photos in there...I only wish each of them were linked to a bigger version of the photo.
Moving sucks. All the lifting and the shifting and the organizing and the disorganization and the disruption and the scheduling and the packing and the unpacking and the connecting and the disconnection and the disorientation and the next-day soreness. For some reason though, I really enjoy helping other people move. There's something about lifting heavy things down difficult stairs with good friends, out into the sunshine of a beautiful day, and then onto the truck that is entirely satisfying. Even more satisfying is stopping at the end of the day for a sunny backyard picnic of pizza and soda, surrounded by about 300 varieties of flower, each competing to see which smells most wonderful.
Mapping Websites: Digital Media Design looks like an interesting book, although I really can't be sure because I only saw it for 2 minutes in the bookstore the other day. Perhaps not the most useful book for working Web folk, but it's filled with different schemes and techniques for mapping out information on the Web...and lots of maps. Mmmm...maps. (see also: Web Cartography)
BTW, I've added a bunch of books and movies and such to my Amazon wishlist, stuff that looks interesting to me but hasn't been mentioned here for various reasons. I tell you this not because I want you to purchase these things for me, but because you may find them interesting as well.
Blog.craze is the most fun article I've read on weblogs, my appearance in it notwithstanding. The weblog-style article thing has been done before, but this one did a good job in not only telling people about weblogs, but showing them the style in which they are often written (the article even has a hint of the informality (smartassed brevity?) typical of weblogs).
I loved Moulin Rouge...I only wish I'd had a chance to see it on the big screen. Most people either love or hate this movie. You can read some reviews of it to decide if you'd like it or not, but it's one of those films that you either take to in the first 10 minutes, or you don't get it and it flies right over your head, upsetting you for the rest of the evening (like most musicals do to me).
>From the keyboard (or is it pen?) of Malcolm Gladwell comes The Social Life of Paper, a review of The Myth of the Paperless Office (which seems like a expansion of some of the ideas about paper and the paperless office from The Social Life of Information). Someone (Gladwell? Gleick? Standage? Me?) should write a book called Technologies That Were Supposed to Completely Supplant Older Technologies But Didn't and Why. Chapters could include "Computers vs. Paper", "The Internet vs. Television", and "Amazon.com vs. Bookstores". What chapters would you recommend (and why)?
Ad Age has bought AdCritic.com. AdCritic has been down since late last year because of financial problems, and it's nice to see it finding a home. Not that anyone who previously enjoyed the site will get to benefit from it...Ad Age is planning to make AdCritic a for-pay site, providing "premium-level content for business subscribers".
B087 was my number at the DMV this morning, and it took about 45 minutes for them to call it. I was number 83 at In-N-Out around noon; that only took about 8 minutes. I plan to not leave the house for the rest of the day...I'm tired of all the counting and the waiting.
Hello, and welcome to the first stop of the virtual book tour for "Rainy Day Fun and Games for Toddler and Total Bastard," the surging juggernaught of virtual book tours. My name's Greg Knauss, and I've commandeered kottke.org today to pester you into dropping six bucks for a big wad of dead tree. Jason will be back tomorrow, ma'am, please put your shirt back on.
"Rainy Day Fun and Games for Toddler and Total Bastard" is a collection of stories about kids -- birthing them, caring for them, confusing them for your own petty amusement -- that originally appeared on An Entirely Other Day. There are plenty of good reasons to buy a book composed of Web pages -- several of which revolve around bathroom accessibility -- but I'd like to start with a reading, to give you a flavor of what you'll find inside:
[Cough. Clear throat. Sip water. Read aloud. Lament my ineptitude at producing MP3s, and rue this lame substitute.]
Imagine how much better that would have been on paper, away from your computer, outside in the sunshine without all that pesky money weighing you down! Yes, "Rainy Day Fun and Games for Toddler and Total Bastard" makes the perfect gift! Unless the person you're giving it to has children, in which case it will make them cry.
We're scheduled to begin the question and answer portion of the event here, but I'd like to say a few words to those of you who haven't been convinced to buy a copy by the reading:
C'mon, you weenie! It's only six bucks! If you don't want a book about kids, look at the rest of the So New catalog! Buy something else! Buy "Help Wanted" or Words! Words! Words! or "The Brick." Or Little Engines, which isn't even from So New Media. Or buy Macros, or back issues of Beer Frame, or, God, something other than another freakin' Grisham novel. How many of his books have you read? Six? Eight? Can you even tell them apart anymore? Here's a hint, sparky, the youngish white male lawyer is the good guy! You dropped six bucks on that, why not spend it on something that isn't extruded from the ass of the publishing industry like crap from a horse overdosed on Metamucil? Instead of your next Big Burger Value Pak, how about you grab an apple and some independent media? Huh?
And, now, Q&A:
You're a complete hypocrite, aren't you?
Yes. Total. Today at lunch, for instance, I'll be finishing "A Painted House" over a Western Bacon Cheeseburger.
But you still want me to buy your book?
Oh, yes. I did -- I bought six copies. You should, too.
Six is an awful lot, don't you think?
Yes, you're right. So I'll cut you a deal: order in the next ten minutes, and I'll only make you buy three.
These aren't real audience questions, are they?
No. It turns out that the Web is about as interactive as a box of cereal. But if you've got a question, please mail it to email@example.com, so I can answer it when the "Rain Day Fun and Games for Toddler and Total Bastard" book tour pulls into Stating the Obvious tomorrow morning. See you there!
Except for you, ma'am. No, you can't camp here until Jason comes back. Yes, I'm sure he'll like the embroidered pillow. And, please, put your shirt back on.
The domains example.com, example.net, and example.org are set aside by the IANA for use in documentation (e.g. as example domains in books). (via rc3)
The Contender was surprisingly good as well...I guess I was expecting something like Guarding Tess or some crap like that. Not the best movie in the world, but not a waste of time either.
Grey Gardens is a wonderful documentary about the once grand but now impoverished aunt and cousin of Jackie O. The movie is simultaneously poignant, funny, and disturbing...one particular scene had me laughing harder than I have in a long time.
David Weinberger, author of Small Pieces Loosely Joined (which title is the best four word description of the Web, ever), has written a kids version of it called What the Web Is For. More kids versions of "grown-up books" should be written...I imagine such an exercise could help the author focus their arguments and improve the end product.
This week's Friday Five as answered by ELLEgirl magazine's ELLEgirlBuddy AIMbot:
jkottke: 1. What is your favorite time of year?
ELLEgirlBuddy: what is your favorite time of year, u say?
jkottke: oh, what?
ELLEgirlBuddy: oh what?
jkottke: stop that!
ELLEgirlBuddy: i can not be stopped. ;-)
jkottke: 2. What is it about your favorite season that, well, makes it your favorite season?
ELLEgirlBuddy: golly... i really dunno!
jkottke: do kids still say golly?
ELLEgirlBuddy: kids still say golly? i don't think i can do that.
jkottke: are you high right now? lemme smell your breath.
ELLEgirlBuddy: i dunno. maybe!
jkottke: 3. What is your least favorite time of year?
ELLEgirlBuddy: what is your least favorite time of year, u say?
jkottke: i want to strangle you.
ELLEgirlBuddy: strangle me? are u serious?
jkottke: somewhat, yes.
ELLEgirlBuddy: i see.
jkottke: 4. Do you do anything to celebrate or recognize the changing of seasons?
ELLEgirlBuddy: do you do anything to celebrate or recognize the changing of seasons? that's a tough choice.
jkottke: yes, to celebrate or merely recognize. that is a toughie.
ELLEgirlBuddy: yes to celebrate or merely recognize that is a toughie? i dunno.
jkottke: you seem like an actual 13 year old girl.
ELLEgirlBuddy: i haven't really made a decision 'bout that.
jkottke: growing up is tough, isn't it?
ELLEgirlBuddy: i dunno.
jkottke: 5. What's your favorite thing to do outside?
ELLEgirlBuddy: what do u think my favorite thing to do outside is?
jkottke: peppering your sentences with "like" while talking about clothes?
jkottke: thanks for the interview.
ELLEgirlBuddy: you're quite welcome!
Most polite AIMbot ever.
In keeping with the photo analogy theme of the past few days, Nick offers his view of the Web circa 2002, complete with historical comparison.
And Mike expresses his feelings about dealing with ISPs right now.
I wonder if it would be possible to study the output of Google's search results and Amazon's recommendations and determine the algorithms & methods they use in producing that output. The key components in both systems are the relationships between the items (Web pages in the case of Google and merchandise in the case of Amazon) in the databases, but the details of all the different factors that make up those relationships are closely-held corporate secrets. Precisely how Amazon makes their recommendations might be very valuable information for other online shopping sites to have, especially large offline retailers that are looking to establish themselves online and have R&D money to burn.
Speaking of books, one of my favorite series of books when I was a youngster was the Bruno and Boots/MacDonald Hall series (including This Can't Be Happening at MacDonald Hall, Something Fishy at MacDonald Hall, and Go Jump in the Pool!). Bruno and Boots are students at a Canadian boarding school who get into lots of adventures and misadventures. My favorite story revolved around them harnessing a nerd's brain power to help them play the stock market to raise money for a new swimming pool. Classic. What were your favorite books as a kid?
Jason Fried has released Singlefile, an online service to help organize and share your book collection. The attention to detail with regard to the interface design is amazing. Check out 10 reasons why Singlefile is the best way to keep track of your book collection if you're interested.
Inspired by the photo I posted the other day about the state of the Web, a reader sent me this photo summing up how he currently feels about software development as an industry.
David Gallagher is looking for some input on a story he's writing: "Why hasn't the Internet made more people famous? The number of people who have entered the pop-culture mainstream purely as a result of their Internet activities is very small. There's Mahir, Drudge and... anyone else? Why does Internet "stardom" so rarely cross over into mass-market popularity?"
Instead of attending to my work and errands this morning, I spent about an hour looking through the winning photographs in the 59th Annual Pictures of the Year International Competition. I could write up descriptions of my favorite entries with words like "arresting" and "poignant", but my weak prose can't do justice to the photos themselves. Just go have a look.
Kurt Andersen talks with Steven Johnson about emergence (and Emergence) on a radio show that also includes pieces about Jane Jacobs and Brian Eno. (via bbj)
This photo sums up how I feel about the Web right now.
On the plus side, this type of culture provides us with products like The Osbournes. If the swirl of culture occasionally coalesces to form nuggets of goodness like this documentary sitcom about an aged hard rock star and his family, we're going to be fine.
Rebecca Mead strikes again with Shopping Rebellion in this week's New Yorker. Her description & analysis of Japan's fashion culture reminds me generally of several other threads floating about in the popular ether: mp3 ripping/trading, the weblog circle jerk, Web-enabled hypercollection, DVRs, the idea of a creative commons, the death of scarcity. The mantra of the moment seems to be "rip, mix, burn, consume, repeat, faster!" It's always been like this, but technology and our cultural evolution has shortened the lifecycle of the process so that the time from "rip" to "repeat" is a few minutes or hours instead of a few weeks or months, meaning that sometimes we can't tell why we're laughing at something anymore.
I haven't really liked Jim Carrey in a movie since Ace Ventura, but he was great in Man on the Moon.
Andy summarizes Walter Tracy on how to space typefaces: "...Tracy outlines a method for approaching one of the more difficult, crucial, and poorly-understood areas of type design: determining how letters in a typeface should be properly fitted. This page is an attempt to summarize Tracy's fitting procedure as described in the book. There are many ways to go about spacing typefaces and this isn't meant to be definitive. But gaining an understanding of the concepts in Tracy's method is certainly a good way to begin understanding what spacing involves."
Team picks white mascot to make a point: "The players, made up of a mixture of American Indian, Hispanic and caucasian students, wear white jerseys with the picture of a white man in a suit on the front and the slogan 'Every thang's gonna be all white!' printed beneath." "The Fighting Whities" are my new favorite sports team. (via msr)
I hadn't seen it before the fact, but this 10 frame presentation of De Bono's Simplicity Principles is a pretty fair summation of the Simplicity in Web Design panel Stewart, Jason, and I gave at SXSW (some notes from the panel). The principles are taken from De Bono's book, Simplicity, which looks fairly interesting.
As open 802.11b access points increase in number (and the canonical list of them is created), this map will get crowded and not very useful. More useful would be a map where approximate 802.11b signal strengths are denoted by color**. With the wide view (as shown), you get just the strengths with the nodes showing up as you zoom down to the street-level view. You could also toggle a setting between open networks and fee-based networks (like Surf and Sip or Boingo). (Update: Christopher writes in with a pointer to the Wireless Network Visualization Project)
The April 2002 issue of Wired contains an infographic of wireless access points across the United States. An annotated list of the wireless access points included in their statistics is available in PDF format on their site.
** Note: the signals strengths denoted on this map have no basis in reality. The map is just for demonstration purposes. Map graphic borrowed from Yahoo! Maps.
Now you've seen everything: a tugboat doing the limbo. (via mb)
Update: Found this while rooting around in my archives and updated the broken link. A classic internet meme.
Searching and top stories on Google News. Ouch for Moreover.
A birthday of sorts. I've been keeping this weblog for four years. Looking back at my first post, my reasons for posting here haven't changed much, which is kind of amazing.
The Millennium Bridge, which I posted about last summer, is open again. You may remember it has some problems with swaying due to people walking across it (not the best thing in the world for a footbridge). Those problems have been solved, and the architectural firm that solved them tells us how they did it, complete with architectural drawings of the improvements. (via jeremy)
My first thought this morning: I don't think my stomach is used to BBQ anymore. Second thought this morning: I wonder if Matt caught his flight OK because I need to go pick him up in two hours or so. I popped over to his site and he's yammering away from the DFW airport...no need for the Flight Tracker on this one.
As I was doing a bit of research for my SXSW panel the other day, I typed "wwwblogger.com" into my browser (accidentally omitting the first period) and, hey, look at that, there's some weird anti-abortion site lurking there. I wondered what other strange sites there were camped near the Blogger URL, but the rest of them are mostly harmless and unused.
Iron Chef Japanese Morimoto has a new restaurant in Philadelphia. The Web site is a nifty bit of Flash, but a little over the top, as is Morimoto himself.
If you're heading to SXSW and taking in some panels, why not share your notes in the Notes Exchange. All conferences should have something like this.
Due to what I am assuming to be a glitch in the system, I am now a celebrity judge for the Iron Webmaster Showdown at SXSW (Sun @ 3:30pm). Ben and Dana will be heckling everyone in sight, including the contestants, so it should be a good time. I will have my full Iron Chef Judging Panel shtick going, so don't spare the foie gras and truffles.
An interesting volley in the cloning/stem cells war: Dozens of human embryos cloned in China. It will be interesting to see if the US government comes to view this as a war and frees scientists in this country to pursue the matter more vigorously to avoid a "stem cell gap", like they did with nuclear energy during WWII & the Cold War.
Hey, you put 802.11b in my TiVo! Hey, you put TiVo in my 802.11b! Now this is convergence. Throw in P2P and a cell phone somehow, and you've got the geek zeitgeist rendered in metal, plastic, and electromagnetic radiation.
What do you get when you cross America's Funniest Home Videos, the soundtrack from an episode of an 80s TV drama (A-Team? Knight Rider? Pick your favorite!), budget script writing, and a bunch of stunt people working for scale? Life is for Living. I haven't seen any other films in the safety training video genre, but this one has to be among the finest out there. (via the pill)
Jason Fried, Stewart Butterfield, and I will be leading a peer meeting at SXSW on Simplicity in Web Design (3:30-5:00 on Mon, March 11). If you're attending SXSW, you should swing by and join the conversation. Here's the panel description:
"As the Web continues to increase in complexity, many designers are looking to simplicity as a tool in designing Web sites that are at once powerful and easy for people to use. Join your peers and colleagues in a discussion facilitated by three working designers who are committed to producing work which is simple: obvious, elegant, economical, efficient, powerful and attractive. We'll be discussing what simplicity in Web design really means, the difference between Minimalism as an aesthetic and simplicity as a design goal, who is and who isn't simple, how you can use simplicity to your advantage, and plenty more."
The peer meeting is something new at SXSW this year...it was described to me as "a real life chat room". It emphasizes the interactivity and level of participation one finds in online spaces, and tries to move it into a physical discussion forum. To make that online/offline connection a little more concrete, we're looking for examples of Web sites and applications that are designed with simplicity in mind. Bonus points for ecommerce sites, Web tools, or sites that are not obviously simple (a site might be visually complex, but still easy to use). Share your examples of simplicity.
(Oh, and if you're planning on attending the peer meeting (please do!), let us know if you have particular aspects of simplicity in Web design that you'd like to see discussed.)
This photo from SXSW 2000 makes me feel old somehow. Maybe it's because so much has happened since then. You can almost see the enthusiasm and hope of an entire industry and generation in the faces of these 10 people. Things went as planned for some while others found their lives following unexpected paths. Employment, lost love, marriage, depression, exuberance, shaken confidence, love, lost jobs, severed friendships, changing the world, uncertainty, new places, old hardships. Worth a thousand words indeed.
Two inventive weblog/journal interfaces: a photographic calendar by Kara and a DHTML post-it note affair at malevole.
SXSW scavenger hunt! The first person to bring me something from Anil's new suitcase wins a prize. The relevant bit of information here is 975.
I don't know what song these boys are listening to, but this should be the music video for it. via hpl.
I need recommendations. I use Eudora for my email on my PC, because I generally dislike Outlook. One of the things I do like about Outlook is the calendaring part, but I can't justify running the whole bloated application just for that one thing. So, I'm looking for a calendaring application for the PC that is small and works like the calendaring system in Outlook (with emphasis on the alert features of Outlook...I need it to alert me to appointments and deadlines). Does such a thing exist?
Identity Theory looks like an interesting Web site with a lot of different sorts of information. Robert Birnbaum has conducted more than 20 interviews for the site, including a conversation with Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States. Also worth a look is their online version of Sun Tzu's The Art of War.
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