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Reviews – DesignNotes by Michael Surtees http://designnotes.info Testing & Sprinting Wed, 29 Jun 2016 01:11:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.6 Stuff that I liked in 2010 (the Music Edition–Top Albums) http://designnotes.info/?p=4080 http://designnotes.info/?p=4080#respond Mon, 29 Nov 2010 13:40:06 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=4080 This year I thought I change up my reviews a bit. In the past I’ve diagramed the top ten in terms of release dates and the type of music it […]]]>

This year I thought I change up my reviews a bit. In the past I’ve diagramed the top ten in terms of release dates and the type of music it was. This year I found that things were more consistent in the type of music I was drawn to. So instead I thought I give a brief overview of my top albums from 2010. I can’t really pinpoint any one influence in terms of discovery. At times I found new stuff from Hype Machine, NPR on occasion and random tweets. If you’re curious to see how I’ve reviewed them in the past, here’s 2009, 2008 and 2007.

1. U.N.K.L.E.: Where Did the Night Fall
I’ve been listening to this album since it came out in May. It was the first thing I pressed play to a lot. There’s a nice balance of ambient and non ambient stuff to work to in the background.

2. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross: The Social Network
I really didn’t want to like this album but found myself listening to it a lot walking outside. I did end up seeing the movie and like a lot of others was curious to hear where each song would be scored in a scene. For the most part the tracks made sense except for one. One of my favourite tracks was In the Hall of the Mountain King. In the film they play for the backdrop of a race that felt a bit animated in a not so great way.

3. Sleigh Bells: Treats
This album will help keep the energy going past the first few cups of coffee in the morning. The speed stays pretty consistent throughout without taking any breaks. Lots of discoveries within each song.

4. Wait What: the Notorious Xx
For a while this way my top album of the year. It has a great combo of mashups between Xx and the Notorious B.I.G. Again I listened to this album a ton but when I came back to it a couple weeks ago some of the novelty had rubbed off. When including albums in my list I try to think how often I might listen to the album a year from know. This one will probably be occasional while the other top three quite a bit more.

5. The Rocketboys: Wellwisher
This EP only came out a couple weeks ago. It’s very tight and I suspect there will be a lot of attention for these guys as people discover them.

6. Massive Attack: Heligoland
I have to be honest that I’m still warming up to this album. This was the one this year that within a few listens loved it, than hated it, forgot about it and am starting to enjoy again. There’s something really good yet off with the whole thing—I just can’t put my finger on it.

7. Daft Punk: Tron Legacy
I had high hopes for this one after seeing the first movie trailer. Now that I’ve heard most of it I’m a bit disappointed. It’s a nice film score but doesn’t really compare listenabley to the Social Network soundtrack

8. The National: High Violet
This was my mainstream pick of the year. Even now as I listen to it I think it’s pretty good in that I never got tired of it and could listen to it for most of a day.

9. Beach House: Teen Dream
I got this at the beginning of the year, listened to it a ton and stopped. I didn’t find them gimmicky at all but could only handle the album in short doses after the first month.

10. There wasn’t one real other standout for me. Sure there was Girl Talk, Kid Cudi, Sufjan Stevens and even Kanye West, but I never really got into any of them the way I did with the other nine albums. I’m sure there’s a ton of great albums (not tracks) that I missed. So let me know what else I should be exploring.

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Stuff that I liked in 2010 (the Product Edition) http://designnotes.info/?p=4006 http://designnotes.info/?p=4006#comments Tue, 23 Nov 2010 14:06:48 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=4006 The years is almost up so I figured I’d take a look at some of the things that I actually bought and list them. I decided to list it alphabetically […]]]>

The years is almost up so I figured I’d take a look at some of the things that I actually bought and list them. I decided to list it alphabetically because trying to make it a top ten would be hard to do. For example I don’t think anything can really compete with an iPad on my list. Most of the stuff isn’t that out of reach for the average person—typically when I started thinking about it most of the things I bought were somewhat affordable. What I decided to leave off the list were clothes, food and travel. Those should be saved under the category of experiences. I also didn’t include review books just for the simple fact that I didn’t buy them. I just felt if I was coming up with a Design Notes approved buying guide I didn’t want to include JPGS of things that I never saw in person or wasn’t willing to buy myself. The interesting pattern that I noticed after writing most of the reasons why something made my list was that I could carry it around with me easily, I could make something with it, it inspired me and it was affordable.

Beyond the Street: The 100 Leading Figures in Urban Art
by Patrick Nguyen & Stuart Mackenzie

Beyond the street

Beyond the Street

For anyone that is a fan of street art, there’s two books that should be added to their library. This one one of the two. Aside from hearing first person accounts of some artists a lot of the info that I’ve come across has been from the interwebs. What’s great about this book (aside from the beautiful production) are all the interviews that make up the bulk of the work. The time and effort was well appreciated by me.

iA Writer

iA Writer for the iPad

I’m a huge fan of the keyboard from this app. It’s a smart way of making writing easier on the iPad. Plus the fact that I have a guesstimate of how long it will take someone to read what I’ve written is nice.

Apple iPad MC496LL/A Tablet (32GB, Wifi + 3G)

iPad

This is an obvious choice for me. I pretty much use it everyday and find new ways to do tasks every couple weeks that make life easier for me.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 12.1MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 Aspherical Lens

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 12.1MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 Aspherical Lens

I had been using the Leica D Lux 3 for a couple years, it did a great job but was really slow in terms of being able to take more than one image at a time. I also wanted something more versatile in terms of lens. The GF1 was the perfect camera to graduate to. It’s small enough to carry with me all the time, the image quality is much better and I love using it. I haven’t bought any other lenses yet, but the fact that I can is a great option. Another great feature is the auto bracketing. I could go on and on about that camera…

MUJI Recycled Paper Note – Double Ring – Dark Gray B5 – Plain 80

MUJI Notebook

I would be lost without this thing. I carry it with me as much if not more than my iPad. The book is inexpensive enough that I don’t feel guilty for writing notes in it. It’s also not over designed which is the biggest issue that I find with a lot of branded notebooks out there. The inside of this black MUJI notebook is plain white paper.

MUJI Gel-Ink Ballpoint Pen 0.5mm

MUJI Pen

I buy these five at time, there’s always one in my pocket and the stream of ink makes it easy to write on almost any surface. If someone’s lost a pen I always give them one of my MUJI gel ink pens if there’s any extras in my bag.

River of News

River of News iPad App

I use a number of iPad apps to stay updated (Pulse, Flipboard, Reeder etc), however when I weant to read from my RSS feeds stored in Google Reader I start with River of News. The UI is pretty straight forward, it has the share functionality that I want and there’s some small visual design details that no one else has been able to match. I just wish they’d change their app icon—it’s brutal.

Trespass: A History Of Uncommissioned Urban Art
by Carlo McCormick, Marc Schiller & Sara Schiller

Trespass: A History Of Uncommissioned Urban Art

Trespass: A History Of Uncommissioned Urban Art

For anyone that is a fan of street art, there’s two books that should be added to their library. This one one of the two. What I like about this book is that it puts a lot of what I’ve seen into a context that I hadn’t really considered before. When ever I go through this book it inspires me—not so much to make my own art, but come up with really cool design ideas. It’s hard to explain except that I find that it’s a lot easier for me to think about designing something after I’ve seen some great art on paper.

U.N.K.L.E.: Where Did the Night Fall

U.N.K.L.E.: Where Did the Night Fall

This is probably my top album of the year. I’ve listened to it a million times and never tire of it. I’m actually listening to it as I write this post.

Zero History
by William Gibson

Zero History

While this isn’t my favourite book of the year (not sure if I have one), I’ve really enjoyed the fact that I can read this book anywhere with both my iPhone and iPad while not worrying about what page I’ve left on.

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REVIEW COPY: One Million by Hendrik Hertzberg http://designnotes.info/?p=3523 http://designnotes.info/?p=3523#respond Sun, 24 Oct 2010 17:19:35 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=3523 I was recently contacted by John Clifford of Think Studio in NYC who designed the cover of the book Graphic that I reviewed a couple weeks ago. He and Herb […]]]>

One Million Cover

One Million 01

One Million 02

I was recently contacted by John Clifford of Think Studio in NYC who designed the cover of the book Graphic that I reviewed a couple weeks ago. He and Herb Thornby had designed the book One Million by Hendrik Hertzberg and was curious to know if I would be interested in checking it out. I was so within a couple days I had a copy in my hands.

The idea behind the book is to display a million dots while pulling out numbers that seem like data though very quickly becomes a story through information. As I was reading the pages it struck me that I was looking at the full circle of life. Common data was placed in the context of births, deaths, geography, military, space, time, travel, jail, money among many other categories. For instance we learn that 150,300 people crossed the Brooklyn bridge on foot on opening day, May 24,1883 while 150,835 US deaths in a day happened in 2008. It’s information like that to compare that makes the book fascinating.

In the design each dot that has a number associated with it is pulled out on the page. Along with the number is the context of what it means. While the book is 200 pages flipping through each with essentially the same number of dots it never got boring. I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of cool website or app this book would make. Each dot could easily have an association that when clicked/pressed could provide more information. Those dots would also be live so some of them over time would move.

The biggest issue i had with the book is that the sources are not listed. I didn’t doubt that the actual numbers were real but it seems like a strange omission. Calling the book a toy doesn’t really omit the need. I think fans of typography and order will enjoy this book though I think there’s broad appeal to those that are interested in the social sciences or people that just like the story of humanity.

BOOK INFO
Title: One Million
Author: Hendrik Hertzberg
Publisher: Abrams Image

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12 months of condensed DesignNotes in 2008 http://designnotes.info/?p=1626 http://designnotes.info/?p=1626#respond Wed, 31 Dec 2008 17:37:34 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1626 designnotes_keyboard

Wanting to take a look back so I can figure out how to proceed with 2009, I grabbed a bunch of notable posts that I thought were worth spending a bit more time with. Below each image I’ve made a note now that I’ve had some time away from each of the original posts. Here’s to the new year and thanks for visiting, and linking and commenting and…

Do you have an iPod shuffle… and live in New York?
01.16.08

Do you have an iPod shuffle… and live in New York?
This seemed like a great idea at the time, trade my shuffle with someone else and hear some new music. I ended up trading but due to my own business it took way too long to trade back with her. I learned my lesson – anyone else want to try trading?

Copywronged Google Map
01.18.08

Copywronged Google Map
I wanted to combine some of my photography with a listing of location. Another idea with good intentions, problem was it took a lot of time to map it out and I had no way of exporting the data offline if I wanted to. So after a while I stopped posting to that map.

Living Patterns
01.29.08

Image from Urban fabric/form comparison: Spacing Toronto
This post gave me the first really big pop traffic wise for the year. There were a ton of people that thought the map was pretty cool.

Architecture wrapped up as a shoe
01.31.08

Gucci Newton
I didn’t see as many women wearing these shoes as I hoped (probably b/c they were stupidly expensive). But it’s still true that NYC has the most beautiful people anywhere in the world…

Actually seeing those Obama posters outside
02.02.08

HOPE
This was before things really took off with Obama, I had seen the Hope graphic floating around the web but this was the first image I saw of it actually on the streets. A while after that post someone mailed me a couple of the posters. That was a very good day.

Orange Bicycles in New York
02.03.08

Orange Bicycle at 42 and 6 ave
There was an interesting discussion after I posted this – unfortunately when I installed Disqus after the fact that comment stayed in the old database of comments. In effect the person was objecting to the commercialization of the idea of the Ghost Bike. At the time I was pretty much on the opposite side thinking that a company shouldn’t have to worry about worry such things. As I’ve walked a lot through the city and seen those white bikes out there, that person may have been correct with their objections.

Making something understandable as opposed to just simplifying
02.04.08


I still luv this design, I wish everything I design could be as smart as that tag.

Talking Sticker
02.08.08

motobus diagram 2
I was fascinated with how this post happened. Took a photo of a cool sticker, the person that designed it contacted me and this was the diagram that tracked it.

36 days of New York Sky: January 16th 2008 – February 20th 2008
2.20.08

36 days of New York Sky: January 16th 2008 - February 20th 2008
This project is still going on for a couple weeks, but the number of people that saw it and contacted me after this post was quite amazing. Not sure where this project will end up but up until now it’s been interesting to watch it grow.

Looking at MoMA’s Design and Elastic Mind Exhibition
02.25.08

Design and the Elastic Mind: Dressing the Meat of Tomorrow by James King
There was three events that were sort of art, sort of design that I really enjoyed seeing. One was MoMA’s Design and Elastic Mind Exhibition, Murakami at the Brooklyn Museum and Buckminster Fuller at the Whitney. I would have luved to have blogged more about the last two exhibitions but since they don’t allow photography inside I’ll just mention that it’s a stupid policy that will hurt them more than what it will help. Banksy’s installations would be up there too in really good things to have seen now that I think about it.

Can you exist without a permalink?
02.26.08

permalink
Until people realize this concept they’re toast.

Unmarked Shoe
02.28.08


Just like the Frietag instruction booklet I mentioned above, Camper’s shoes are a product that other designers should want to strive for. They are perfect for the weather of NYC and never wear out. There’s only two brands of shoes that I buy, Camper and Giraudon.

A Tagger in your midst?
03.03.08

Tagger
I feel bad for whoever had to make this and deal with the text.

Love Me, next come the t-shirts – maybe on Etsy?
03.07.08

loveme 2
Here’s to wishful thinking.

Taking a quick look at Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior
03.26.08

MM001: Front Cover
Of any of the books I blogged about, this by far had the most hits coming from people wanting more info on it.

Multiplatform Complaining
03.26.08

Multiplatform Complaining: Visualized by me
This post was the start of me sketching more fluently for blog posts.

Air Bear
03.31.08


Pure genius via Wooster Collective

Faux Eiffel Tower Extension
04.02.08

EiffelTowerExtension4
haha, sigh.

Clay Shirky on Stephen Colbert
04.05.08

Review Copy
There’s a lot of really smart stuff in this book. In my top 3 of things to read, and more interestingly I don’t think this book will date itself as much as some of the others along the same genre that came out this year.

Thinking about Mind 08 after the Symposium
04.07.08

MIND 08 Notes Cloud
I’ll really liked the design I did for this tag cloud, nothing more nothing less to this post.

reDesign Haiku
04.12.08

find, define, design
then refine the redesign
do it one more time

A friend wrote this for me over im as I talked about work…

Over at Paul Smith in SoHo – MAY 68: STREET POSTERS FROM THE PARIS REBELLION, and other poster finds around New York
05.02.08

MAY 68: STREET POSTERS FROM THE PARIS REBELLION
I hope the start of next May has some great posters like this year.

I Hate Perfume, Ideas I Love
05.10.08

CB I Hate Perfume: Perfumes A-Z
How cool would it be to commision someone to make a scent for you?

Today’s Sky Mention
05.14.08

+KN | Kitsune Noir » Today Is the Day
This unexpected use of my sky pics made me smile.

Looking at yourself as a Graphic Designer
05.15.08

changes
Very smart diagram…

If you care about your stuff, make sure people can duplicate it
06.01.08

Duplicates of the films and videos that were destroyed were stored in a different location, according to the president of NBC Universal, Ron Meyer. "Nothing is lost forever," he said.
This concept was an addendum to Permalink post.

My M.O.
06.11.08

see think live
This was another post where I got back some unexpected responses. I like going back every once in awhile to read the dialogue.

What are you doing today?
06.22.08

You Should Do It Now .com
While this ad could be just about for anything, there’s some subtle and smart things going on past the surface. Too bad I couldn’t embed it and had to take a screen shot.

The Flo in Florent
06.30.08


This is why people need to hire designers.

NPR Cancels The ‘BPP’ (Bryant Park Project)?!?
07.14.08

NPR Is Canceling The 'BPP'
I’m still not happy about this. More surprising (or maybe not), no one has picked up the ball on voice news since. The Daily Beast is starting to pick up the pace but it’s just txt for now.

Scrolling Through Photos
07.21.08

PicLens
I can’t say enough positive things about this startup. There’s a ton of smart things going on with them.

People interpreting news events and information
07.30.08

Search terms after Earthquake Rattles Southern California Jul 29, 2008
I don’t understand why this hasn’t been fixed or updated. There’s so much potential for Google Hot Trends to be a go to source.

Everyone is not just a designer, but also a photoshop expert too
08.14.08

mybestfriendsgirl-poster-full
It’s not bad enough that everyone wants to be a designer, now they think they can art direct photos too.

Hypothetically Say You Lost your Mac Book Pro
08.18.08

what was in my bag last night - there's a happy ending to one of the worst/best nights i've had in some time...
Possibly my best blog post of the year imho.

Clean iPhone psd template
08.20.08

iPhone_GUI psd layers from teehan+lax
I’m surprised that Apple never made a psd themselves so people could sketch out apps.

Say what you mean w/ a click
08.25.08

dear adobe
For all the chatter of sites that tagged brands, I think Dear Adobe changed the game more so than any other UGC site. If I was wanting to study site concepts for company’s, this is where I would start. And no, Adobe didn’t design the site.

Flow sex
08.27.08

flow_sex [not sure who designed this]
What can I say? A lot of people are interested in sex.

Walking around NYC finding the David Byrne Bike Racks
09.02.08

David Byrne Bike Rack on 39th street
I like to walk and this gave me an excuse to go to some areas that my normal routes wouldn’t take me.

Banksy at work in NYC: Broadway & Howard St.
10.01.08

banksy in nyc
There’s a saying about being lucky to be good, but you have to be good to be lucky. Sometimes it just helps being in the right place at the right time.

How I Find Good Stuff on the Web
10.15.08

How I Find Good Stuff on the Web
This post kind of blew up things for me. The number of smart people that checked out my blog after this was pretty amazing. Hopefully I can build on that in the new year.

What’s your internet?
10.21.08

13 points at ten15am
The amount of traffic I received after this post kind of made me eat my words about tumblr and ffffound. I just wished tumblr would archive things better…

The old and new MetLife Signs above New York
11.02.08

The old and new MetLife Signs above New York
It’s amazing to watch the stats on how many people from MetLife check out this post everyday.

Looking at the Nooka Zon
12.08.08

Nooka Zon
I’m guesstimating that I got an extra 9,000 unique hits b/c of this post. A couple blogs and twitter really sent a lot of extra traffic my way b/c of that watch.

What Graphic Designers need to understand
12.09.08

the_it
I’ve probably had more face to face conversations about this post than anything else I blogged about this year.

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This post took 12 months to do; looking back at my two-thousand-and-ate Monthly Posters for 2008 http://designnotes.info/?p=1622 http://designnotes.info/?p=1622#comments Wed, 24 Dec 2008 02:41:03 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1622 Live Jan. Poster

February

feel the luv at 10:15 am

april at 10:15 am

my wall at ten15am

my area at ten15am

My July Wall at Ten15am

12 days late at ten15am

Setting my Septembre Board Up at ten15am

October at ten15am

my board for november at ten15am

last of the calendar series at ten15am

Many months ago, twelve I think, I received a really interesting package of posters from Jennifer Daniel. The twelve posters each represented a month and were illustrated by a diverse set of people. Before I had even opened the tube I knew I was getting something good when the url for the calendar set was http://httpcolonforwardslashforwardslashwwwdotjenniferdanieldotcom.com/calendar Soon after I took pictures of each poster and blogged about it b/c that’s what I do. But I also wanted to take pictures of them in context – I hate seeing design that’s not in their context when photographed… So each month when I changed one of my pin boards I photographed what was around the monthly poster.

Now that I can look back at the last year in calendar posters I can appreciate the genius in the idea a bit more. The concept of changing a poster space each month is kind of cool. In practical terms I don’t think I ever turned my head to see what the date was on paper, but for adding some great visuals it really made my area a bit more fun to work in. It’s such a good idea I might have to steal it next year…

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REVIEW COPY: All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem: An Inappropriate Book for Young Ladies* by Laurie Rosenwald http://designnotes.info/?p=1620 http://designnotes.info/?p=1620#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2008 22:00:58 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1620 All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem: An Inappropriate Book for Young Ladies* by Laurie Rosenwald

All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem: An Inappropriate Book for Young Ladies* by Laurie Rosenwald

All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem: An Inappropriate Book for Young Ladies* by Laurie Rosenwald

All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem: An Inappropriate Book for Young Ladies* by Laurie Rosenwald

All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem: An Inappropriate Book for Young Ladies* by Laurie Rosenwald

All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem: An Inappropriate Book for Young Ladies* by Laurie Rosenwald

When I started going through Laurie Rosenwald’s book “All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem: An Inappropriate Book for Young Ladies*” I almost immediately thought that it would be a good companion to “It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be” by Paul Arden. The only difference being that Rosenwald’s book is not just for creatives.

I obviously don’t fit who the book was written for as I’m not a teenage girl, but as each page reads like a poster with something to ponder it’s pretty hard not to be interested in it. Having no experience with editing what so ever I kind of felt for the editor of this book. How would you even start? The text, ideas and images are so intrinsically put together that any edit of those elements would change the entire page. Right beside the ISBN and Library of Congress info is a mention that “art created with scissors, paper, crayons, a digital camera, Illustrator and Photoshop”. If there’s anything missing in the book, it’s that I would have luved to have seen some scotch tape and glue drips on that pages. It would have added some texture that would have made me forget that I’m looking at a book that’s combined digital and tactile materials.

Another initial reaction was that there should be an audio version of this book. Why? There’s so many bursts of energy that I think it would be fascinating to hear her blurt out everything that’s she’s put on each page. Thinking back about another similarity to Arden’s book, her book is something that you can pull off the shelf, find a page that speaks to you and get something from it. It’s like a reference book that’s not boring.

BOOK DETAILS
Title: All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem: An Inappropriate Book for Young Ladies*
Authors: Laurie Rosenwald
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books

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Creative Mornings: Zach Klein and Casey Pugh Notes & Video http://designnotes.info/?p=1617 http://designnotes.info/?p=1617#respond Wed, 17 Dec 2008 13:44:23 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1617 photo.jpg


12/12/08 Zach Klein and Casey Pugh on Physical Computing from CreativeMornings on Vimeo.

“I was seeking the thrill of learning something new” and so the ten minute talk (it was actually 23 minutes, but who’s counting) started with Zach Klein and Casey Pugh presenting at Creative Mornings which was held in MEET. In the short time that they had, they talked about the basics of physical computing to a bunch of people that probably hadn’t made a circuit before. Within the context of expanding what web 2.0 is/was, there was an explanation of how physical computing will make that information useful while taking it offline

Probably my fav. quote was in reference to a simple resistor – “for a LED, you don’t want to send too much electricity to it because it will explode. hehehe”. All the info that Klein and Pugh mentioned can be found at www.10minchat.com. Among other things that the audience learned was that the Arduino is either named after a bar or an Italian word for masculinity by some geeks with an insecurity complex.

What I appreciated about the talk was that they laid out a couple simple principals and then showed examples that got progressively more complex. While doing that they included a couple of reference books that anyone could pick up and replicate on their own time. If there had been more time I would have been interested in hearing about their thought process on actually creating something. Did they already know what they wanted to build before they started or was it like playing with lego – did they come up with an idea as they were working on connecting the LED’s? Aside from that I was just happy to meet up with some familiar faces and meet a couple new ones.

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REVIEW: Urban Iran http://designnotes.info/?p=1614 http://designnotes.info/?p=1614#respond Mon, 15 Dec 2008 13:14:25 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1614 Urban Iran

peace for all

Urban Iran

Urban Iran

Urban Iran

Urban Iran

Before opening up and reading Urban Iran I thought I could guess what type of book I was going to get. It would be mostly outside shots with a couple artist bio’s talking about what they did and how they were avoiding the police in Iran. What the book ended up being was a collection of personal stories of how people are coping and in turn how that is influencing their art and culture around them. There were stories talking about particular industries like automobiles, publishing, music and stories about rebellion through facial hair, remembering childhood through books, and social commentary through art among other topics.

The book’s broken up into a couple broader themes from the other topics I mentioned above. There’s the Portraits of the Everyday and the Art of Publishing. In a lot of respects the essay titled Publishing in Iran by Charlotte Noruzi summed up the entire book quite succinctly. Below is an excerpt from the first paragraph.

“In a way, I’ve created a small window for myself through which I can “see” my country, a place that has been a mystery, kept secret and seperate in my mind. My collection of children’s books triggered my sense of curiosity, a desire to know what things are like in Iran now and the need to reconnect with where I am from. I wanted to lift the veil a little and see what’s underneath. I wonder what books were like. What was the publishing climate like now? What was it like to be an illustrator, publisher or artist now as opposed to pre-revolution times? How have things changed? Was their more expression, less? How had the ever-present living and working in Iran, among other places. Roots to my country that were severed so long ago seemed to come alive again with every person I talked to.”

In respect to music – both in terms of downloading and finding lyrics most people take that for granted. Yet imagine if you had to use a phone line to download tracks that would take days to finally complete. Another issue that bands and specifically to this book metal bands, that every band has had more cancellations than concerts. In Hair is for Head-Banging, Coco Ferguson and Sohrab Mohebbi talk about what it’s like to make music and the options out there for bands trying to do their art. In a different essay art was being used as a vehicle to suggest that graphic design is becoming complacent and mediocre b/c people are focusing too much attention on awards and clients outside of the boarders. (A common theme everywhere in the world it would seem). By taking the well known ideas about childhood monsters from their culture, they’ve turned that focus on to bringing attention to what others are doing in their creative field.

I couldn’t help but think while reading Urban Iran that as good as the internet is for finding things, almost all the imagery of the book is new to my eyes. There’s still a lot out there to discover and the stories behind those images contextualize things perfectly. If there was one thing missing with the book, it’s that there was no conclusion. It kind of just stopped, I would have been curious to read what was going to happen next. Will things get worse, better or stay the same?

BOOK DETAILS
Title: Urban Iran
Authors: Salar Abdoh and Charlotte Noruzi
Publisher: Mark Batty Publisher

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A couple points from seeing Big Spaceship at AIGANY Design Remixed http://designnotes.info/?p=1611 http://designnotes.info/?p=1611#respond Thu, 11 Dec 2008 11:26:51 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1611 Big Spaceship at AIGANY Design Remixed

After work last night I walked down the block to the Apple SoHo store to hear Michael Lebowitz and Joshua Hirsch of Big Spaceship. Before the talk I wasn’t planning to post anything but they had a lot of interesting points to consider. While I’m still in the camp that feels that online experiences serve more of a task based function (because who wants to sit in front of a computer all day?), Big Spaceship showed a number of examples of work that made me forget that I was in front of a screen. I was also struck when Michael mentioned a story about how a judge for an awards competition wrote a lengthy letter stating that what they had done “was not how a website should be”. Very good fodder to think about and ask have really gotten to that point where there is only one way to do things? I hope not.

Some other quick notes:

· It seems like they do as much w/ their hands as they do with being in front of the computer

· First example was an intro, they just played it. They then talked about how it was created, made the story interesting enough that you couldn’t help but want to see it played again.

· A lot of their projects have a sound component that played really nicely in the apple theatre. They didn’t talk about sound at, thinking about it now I should have asked them about it.

· The talk was very fluid with crowd interaction. They made it relaxed enough that people felt comfortable asking questions. Bonous from the audience that there wasn’t any stupid questions. Typically they would show a project reel and then crowd questions.

· If i was going to bring them in for a talk (you should invite them), I would be interested in seeing them do one less reel piece and show one project from the beginning to end. Start after the contract is signed for the project, and show everything from the beginning, middle to end. It would be fascinating to see.

· I noticed on their website home page that the links to their blog sites don’t work (what’s up with that?), but the interaction with signing up for their newsletter is kind of interesting. Actually opting out is what’s interesting…

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Turning Six Shows from Showetime into a House in Gramercy http://designnotes.info/?p=1526 http://designnotes.info/?p=1526#respond Tue, 23 Sep 2008 11:16:02 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1526 L1050305

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As the ICFF was getting underway last year I was so burned out before it even started that I didn’t want to write anything about it. I think part of the unappeal was that after a while everything starts looking the same, feels like everything else and are shown in the same showrooms. Contrast that to a week ago when I received an email mentioning the Showtime House with Metropolitan Home which took six Showetime shows and created a room inspired by the show. I thought it was a cool idea to combine a number of shows into a living environment and wanted to see it for myself. On Friday I visited the house in Gramercy got the tour from Samantha Nestor who’s the Special Projects Editor for Metropolitan Home. Above are the photos I took from the tour.

Inside the house, the chosen shows were The Tudors, Dexter, Californication, Weeds, United States of Tara and The L Word. My favourite room and probably a lot of other people’s was Dexter’s Dining Room by Amy Lau. The attention to detail was meticulous. Details like etched thumbprints on the blood infused wine glass caught my attention. And then there was just the idea of turning a white room into a bloodbath which was fitting to the show.

The Tudors by Laura Kirar room felt up to date if we were still back in the day. Californication from Jamie Drake had a number of fascinating elements. There was a floor to ceiling book column all laid out by hand – to the jar of condoms beside the couch. The Weeds room had a very zen like feel from White Webb. Tori Golub managed to pull off a room for a person w/ six differing personalities. Vicente Wolf created a complementary feel to the L Word Boudoir. On the top floor there were two completely different rooms that had the same shape and space – a bright pink Lounge by Kirsten Brant and the angular Media Room by Luca Andrisani.

As far as product placement tie-in’s go – I really liked the concept. They took a bunch of shows that had strong characters and played w/ the living environment. Combine that w/ a number of designer’s giving tips to those looking for ideas on how to make their living environment better – it seemed like a good fit for me.

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Checking out Buckminster Fuller at the Whitney http://designnotes.info/?p=1525 http://designnotes.info/?p=1525#respond Mon, 22 Sep 2008 13:01:39 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1525 Buckminster Fuller: Starting with the Universe

Over the weekend I finally went to the Whitney to check out Buckminster Fuller: Starting with the Universe. Sure I knew about him but I really didn’t have a full grasp nor experience seeing any of his work or ideas in person. My first reaction as I started walking through everything was that I wish I could have taken some images for my own personal use. There were so many cool things that I would have liked to have been able to refer to in this post that I can’t. I wish more institutions would take MoMA’s smart photo policy. The other thing that I thought about almost instantly was that this exhibition was going to be as interesting for me as Brooklyn Museum of Art’s © MURAKAMI and MoMA’s Design and the Elastic Mind.

One of the more amusing images was the idea of putting a Dome over Manhattan where in ten years the savings of resources and energy would pay for itself. For a floating community, there was a number of tennis and basketball courts which I found interesting. Probably b/c they’re essentially on a ship and not land locked but taking some of the amenities with them. I luved all the drafting plans that he had. For anyone looking how to document interface work, you couldn’t do a lot better to see how he created his plans. He turned functional plans into pieces of art which isn’t ironic since I was looking at them on the walls of the Whitney. I did find it slightly disconcerting that the “real posters” that were also on exhibition didn’t nearly stand up to the visual impact that the hand draftings did.

Video projections seem like all the rage now though rarely deliver any kind of impact for me. There tends to be a level of separation between the work and myself that hasn’t really been emotionally resolved yet. However for this show there was an animation of geometric explorations that I found quite mesmerizing. I didn’t spend a lot of time with it, but seeing some of Fuller’s patterns in movement really opened things up to a new level. That shouldn’t be surprising as he did consider time in his work but that is pretty had to convey in print or a static wall.

How this show will compare w/ others that look at his work his hard for me to know as I’ve never seen anything put into that context before. But as a starting point to consider as I do my own design it’s hard not to put on a smile. Whether you’re an architect, industrial designer, graphic designer or some digital combination, it would be hard not to push your own ideas a bit further after seeing the show. While there’s a lot of books out there on Fuller, it’s too bad that the catalogue was sold out.

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Hearing Dan Saffer talk about “Tap is the New Click” for IxDA NY at R/GA http://designnotes.info/?p=1523 http://designnotes.info/?p=1523#respond Thu, 18 Sep 2008 11:10:07 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1523 “Tap is the New Click” by Dan Saffer

“Tap is the New Click” by Dan Saffer

“Tap is the New Click” by Dan Saffer

“Tap is the New Click” by Dan Saffer

“Tap is the New Click” by Dan Saffer

“Tap is the New Click” by Dan Saffer

“Tap is the New Click” by Dan Saffer

“Tap is the New Click” by Dan Saffer

Last night to a standing room only IxDA NY audience at R/GA for Dan Saffer presented what I’m going to guess is an outline of his new book Interactive Gestures: Designing Gestural Interfaces (you can download the first chapter at the site) that is coming out soon. At the end of his talk he mentioned that he would be putting up his slides which I’ll link to once I see them on the Kick It site. You can download the Tap is the New Click Presentation HERE. He likened the next couple of years of gestural interface experimentation to the early years of the web – both the good and bad. As a primer on this emerging field I though the talk was pretty good. I’m hesitant to do a play by play of points b/c that’s what his book and slides can do clearly. But what I want to do is point out a couple things that I found interesting from the pov of someone using an iphone, kiosks and the clapper.

There’s two types of touch screens – iceberg tips which have a small target yet there’s a larger surface surrounding that target that is live. The other is adaptive targets which is kind of like the keyboard on an iphone. As you type in letters the sensors guess what is more likely to be the next letter and create a bigger target b/c of it. On communicating interactive gestures there’s three points to consider: 1. attraction, 2. observation and 3. interaction. If you have an iPhone you know about the unlock slide to turn it on. That type of interaction is known as attraction affordance. It introduces the person to a type of gesture that the interface uses. As for a philosophy to consider, the simpler the task should equate to the simpler the gesture. The best designs dissolve into behaviour.

The q & a afterwards was surprisingly good – my experience in the past at talks in general has not been the case. Some topics covered included tech. will be abused as necessary, sensors as a green issue in bathrooms, face recognition for ads, gesture pollution, will a room be an apple or microsoft room – the implications of that, brainwaves are not gestures, will gesture be patentable or gestures plus a response system be patentable and wearable technology.

IxDA NY and R/GA filmed the event as well. Once I find that link I’ll post it here too.

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Crowdsourcing Salon With Wired Author Jeff Howe http://designnotes.info/?p=1503 http://designnotes.info/?p=1503#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2008 12:02:30 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1503 Crowdsourcing Salon With Wired Author Jeff Howe

Crowdsourcing Salon With Wired Author Jeff Howe

After hearing the authour of Crowdsourcing Jeff Howe speak at Electric Artists last night it was easy to make comparisons with some other quasi anthro/sociology books that you might find in the business or marketing section of a bookstore this year. The first would be Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky and to a lesser extent Buying In by Rob Walker. For me personally the most basic of the comparisons is that I’ve now seen all three of them speak. Clay talked by himself at Daylife where I work, Rob was interviewed by Fast Company with PSFK and Jeff spoke at Electric Artists and was interviewed by Marc Schiller. In all three cases the Q & A afterwards was fairly flat. No one would dispute that Clay’s a passionate speaker but for the Rob and Jeff events it became interesting to see where the dialogue was going to be directed with the interviewer. By the time each of the books has been written, printed and delivered a lot of the themes aren’t exactly new. After hearing Rob talk I didn’t really feel that I had heard anything that new while last night I did end up leaving Jeff’s talk with feeling smarter then I walked in.

For the talk last night, some of the main business’s that Jeff referenced were Threadless, iStock photo and Dell. I’ve never bought a Dell nor follow anything that they do so I wasn’t really able to relate to that part of the discussion. I have used iStock photo and as a creative I’ve always hated the idea that people send in free illustration work that a shirt company is making money off of. I’ve always seen it as spec work but these days you rarely hear anyone complain about that – so maybe I’m in the minority that has an issue. In any case, the “crowd” is looking for a task to do and those companies all found a way to bring people into the fold.

Keep in mind that crowd is not some mindless mob – in the case of Doritos and their contest to give airtime for a Superbowl commercial, a majority of the entries came from other professionals. In essence a hybrid of pro-am people that were taking their work in a different direction. You may have also heard of Crowdsourcing b/c of the book contest to design the cover. You can check out the finalists from the UK at www.coversourcing.co.uk/top. What was interesting to hear is that the American version did not publish a cover from outsiders but the publisher decided what was going to work while in the UK an entry was selected. Which was right? Hard to say until the number of books that were sold can be figured out. One thing that became clear is that it’s hard to replicate a successful crowd interaction w/ a business if the conditions aren’t there. Walmart tried to fake it for a while and was called out on it. It seemed like for things to work companies weren’t following a scripted plan and had the confidence to let things open up in unique manner and have a dialogue.

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REVIEW PART TWO: Design Mind from Frog Design (Issue 08, Numbers) http://designnotes.info/?p=1486 http://designnotes.info/?p=1486#respond Tue, 12 Aug 2008 11:49:44 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1486 designmind frogdesign Numbers - Issue 08

designmind frogdesign Numbers - Issue 08

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been carrying Issue 08 of Design Mind everywhere my laptop went. I talked about the design of the magazine in part one of the review at http://designnotes.info/?p=1479 Usually that meant to work, the odd coffee place and from time to time outside. There was something comforting about having it in my hands. As I was going reading the whole issue I tried to pin point what magazines it reminded me of. If I were to create a vin diagram with three circles, the first big ring would be design, and the other two would be the Economist and Harvard Business Review. The intersection of the three circles would be where Design Minds would fall. For the most part the content was fairly high level which this reader appreciated.

Another question I had as I read through was who was this magazine intended for? Perspective clients, other designers and strategists, internally or somebody else entirely? Again I think there were articles that reached each of those groups. The Spiekerman interview was fun yet very smart at the same time. Often w/ interviews the interviewer w/ their questions can become a distracting part of the conversation – that wasn’t apparent w/ this conversation. Plus any designer that plays w/ type will appreciate the conversation about numbers. The article about one designer’s experience w/ his Hasselblad almost made me want to part w/ my Leica D-Lux 3 and go film again (almost).

There was only one page that stuck out in a weird way. It was a concept about Re-Skinning Reality. I couldn’t figure out how the mask idea fit into the concept of the issue on Numbers. I also felt that there was a lost opportunity to use information design to illustrate the article Calculated Design. That article really illustrated the value that design that can provide on a more than just a visual level that most graphic design magazines seem to miss.

People thumb through magazines, find something to glance at and move on. I paid more attention w/ this issue b/c I knew that I would be briefly reviewing it here on designNotes. If I’m feeling a bit smarter after taking the time to read something I consider it a success. While there wasn’t a revolutionary idea inside Design Minds that is going to change the future of design I did feel like I could have a more intelligent conversation w/ friends about design.

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Read REVIEW PART ONE: Design Mind from Frog Design at http://designnotes.info/?p=1479
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REVIEW: The Animation Show Volume 3 http://designnotes.info/?p=1481 http://designnotes.info/?p=1481#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2008 11:35:36 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1481 THE ANIMATION SHOW: VOLUME 3

From time to time I get emails asking if I’d be interested in reviewing things – typically they’re books but occasionally it’s other things. Recently it was an email about The Animation Show Volume 3. I’d never reviewed or even seen a full compilation of Animation shorts so I was intrigued. Who wouldn’t be interested in watching something like that if you’re into visual culture. The catch for me as I started viewing the shorts was if I should go micro and talk about every single clip or be more general and keep it at a macro level?

The idea behind the Animation Show was to collect the best independent animated films curated by Mike Judge (Office Space, “Beavis and Butt-Head,” “King of the Hill”) and Academy Award nominated animator Don Hertzfeldt (Billy’s Balloon, Rejected, The Meaning of Life). After watching the hour 90+ minutes of film, the first thing that came to mind for me was I hope that more people will have the time to watch the collection. The second thought was that animation is a lot more diverse then what most people typically think about, that is if they think about it at all. I’ve included a couple videos to give an idea of what I mean. The first one is from the popular Pes while the other is a promo of the actual collection.

I thought there would be two fundamental things to look for during each presentation. The narrative that they were trying to convey, and how they executed it visually. But it became obvious quite quickly that the entire experience included timing, sound, pace along w/ visuals and narrative. All the stories twisted those elements for their own purposes which made them all unique. That originality was something that I enjoyed seeing and experiencing with each of the clips.

It might be a cliche to mention that most of the shorts weren’t happy go lucky and that they expected the viewer to suspend their idea of reality to go into other visual worlds. And for me it worked. It was really cool to just watch a lot of visual displays that I hadn’t seen before, being a designer I’m always looking to see how others express ideas and animation like the shorts I watched was quite compelling. It would be hard to pick just one favourite among them all. Some held my attention b/c I didn’t know what was going to happen next while others it was more about seeing things in a new light. Carlitopolis by Nieto was notable in that he took a live presentation and bent the rules on what you would expect to see in a live presentation. Versus by Francois Caffiaux, Noel Romain and Thomas Salas summed up how wars start quite succinctly with out words.

There’s a couple additional features that I haven’t fully had time to go through but are worth mentioning as a side note. There’s a number of filmed interviews w/ some of the creators. Even better though poorly executed was the text version interviews w/ most of the people involved. It’s a great idea to include pdfs, unfortunately they can hardly be read on a computer monitor – I haven’t tried printing them out so maybe it’s a bit easier on paper – but I’m almost thinking of grabbing all the text and laying out the type in a better way for myself to read. One interview that was unexpected but cool was that they talked to the illustrator for the movie poster, nice to see him get attention too.

You can get more info about the Animation Show Volume 3 and the Animation Show at www.animationshow.com

THE ANIMATION SHOW: VOLUME 3 DVD SHORTS:
Beavis and Butt-Head Introduction by Mike Judge
(Rabbit) by Run Wrake
(City Paradise) by Gaelle Denis
(Everything Will Be OK) by Don Hertzfeldt
(Collision) by Max Hattler
(Astronauts) by Matthew Walker
(Carlitopolis) by Nieto
(No Room For Gerold) by Daniel Nocke
(Guide Dog) by Bill Plympton
(One D) by Mike Grimshaw
(Tyger) by Guilherme Marcondes
(Versus) by Francois Caffiaux, Noel Romain and Thomas Salas
(Learn Self Defense) by Chris Harding
(Abigail) by Tony Comely
(Shuteye Hotel) by Bill Plympton
(Dreams and Desires) by Joanna Quinn
(Game Over) by Pes

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Field-Testing the Field-Tested Book Live in New York http://designnotes.info/?p=1472 http://designnotes.info/?p=1472#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2008 12:53:35 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1472 Field-Tested Books Live in NYC

To be honest, the Delancey probably wasn’t the best location for Coudal’s Field-Tested Books live reading in New York. The rooftop was packed which in turn made it kind of loud for the eager audience. There was little room for improve – those that were heard kept it simple and loud so everyone could hear. The other issue was the giant column that blocked a lot of the view. To contradict myself, I’ll mention in a moment why that might not have been so bad after all. Having never been invited to be a part of a book reading I wasn’t sure what to expect. Sure I prepped, I practiced reading my piece in front of Tamara and Madison, visualized success and drank beer to calm my nerves. But until you actually get to the venue it’s hard to predict where things are going to head. With the loudness and not being able to see the readers for the first half it kind of calmed me. Some people are going to be able to hear better than others, and chances of seeing a lot of people read every word was slightly minimized. So far so good in my mind.

At intermission I managed to get to the front where I ran into my friend Debbie and was introduced to Jeffrey. I also noticed that the other side of the column that was blocking my view actually held more people than I thought and yes people would be able to see every word that I spoke. I think my mind was preoccupied talking w/ Debbie which helped in me not thinking about what I was about to do. The second half started without any problems that I could see, though I was in a great spot to hear and see everything. Five people in, it was my turn. After deciding to not have a flashlight shown under my face and only one shout of “speak louder”, things went pretty good for me. I tried not to rush what seemed like an eternity and tried to enjoy the moment.

Some of my personal highlights were finally meeting Steve Delahoyde who’s been a great supporter of what I’ve tried to do w/ my blog here, meeting up w/ Debbie Millman again, hearing Randy Cohen talk in person as opposed to just hearing him on the NYT Ethicist podcast, shaking Jon Parker‘s hand just before he was to talk (after realizing that I was Michael from Canada), hearing a lot of great stories, and most of all just getting the chance to blab and in front of a lot of smart people. I really appreciated all the effort that was put into the entire production of the book to the website to the talk – an incredible amount of time. I hope more business’s like Coudal follow their lead in the future.

Below is the final, final roster of speakers in order…

Ben Greenman
Liz Danzico
Steven Heller
Ron Hogan
Matt Linderman
Randy Cohen
Randy J. Hunt
Debbie Millman
John Gruber

(intermission)

Jon Parker
Andy Ross
Jason Santa Maria
Maud Newton
Michael Surtees
Scott Korb
Pitchaya Sudbanthad
Jeffrey Zeldman

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Iced Coffee in NYC Rankings http://designnotes.info/?p=1456 http://designnotes.info/?p=1456#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2008 14:33:29 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1456
View Larger Map

A couple weeks ago I mentioned on twitter about my disappointment w/ an iced coffee experience. Not soon after I was given a couple recommendations of places I should check out. Taking those places into consideration and a couple other places I frequent for iced coffee I offer up my ranking. The ratings is by no means an exhaustive list – if you have a favourite that you think I should check out, please let me know. From time to time I’ll update this list w/ new finds. If you’re looking for one that is close to you – check out my google map.

Café Grumpy [Rank 1]Café Grumpy [Rank 1]
http://www.cafegrumpy.com/
LOCATION: 224 West 20th Street

OVERALL RATING: Full Cup
PRICE: $$$$$

CONVENIENCE: Be prepared to be patient and not on a deadline

THE ICED COFFEE: Café Grumpy has the advantage of using the clover which is a single cup press and a variety of beans. I never know what to choose so I go on the recommendation of what’s the best bean of the week for iced coffee – I’ve never been disappointed.

The City Bakery [Rank 2]The City Bakery [Rank 2]
http://www.thecitybakery.com/
LOCATION: 3 West 18th Street

OVERALL RATING: Almost a Full Cup
PRICE: $$$

CONVENIENCE: For the amount of people that go through the two lines – very smooth

THE ICED COFFEE: Their large seems like extra large in terms of how much you get and considering the quantity it strikes a good balance that isn’t too strong nor watered down. Walking to work, this would be the place where I would stop first – great location and walking down Fifth Ave to Washington Square Park is a nice bonous.

La Colombe Cafe [Rank 3]La Colombe Cafe [Rank 3]
http://www.lacolombe.com/
LOCATION: 319 Church St

OVERALL RATING: 3/4 of a Full Cup
PRICE: $$

CONVENIENCE: Depends if you have to cross Canal St. or not, inside it’s an ok wait time depending on the line

THE ICED COFFEE: If you like it strong this cup is for you. Cool interior though I hate crossing Canal St. to get there, though I’ve never been disappointed when I needed an afternoon boost.

Joe the Art of Coffee [Rank 4]Joe the Art of Coffee [Rank 4]
http://www.joetheartofcoffee.com/
LOCATION: 405 West 23rd street

OVERALL RATING: Just Slightly Less Than 3/4 of a Cup
PRICE: $$$

CONVENIENCE: Pretty fast

THE ICED COFFEE: It was decent though in comparison to the others it wasn’t that notable. If you had the option of going to a Starbucks or Joe’s – Joe’s would be the obvious choice.

Aroma Espresso Bar [Rank 5]Aroma Espresso Bar [Rank 5]
http://www.aromaespressobarus.com/
LOCATION: 145 Greene St

OVERALL RATING: Less Than 1/4 of a Cup
PRICE: $$$

CONVENIENCE: It’s been fast, it’s been slow – not sure what to expect when I wait.

THE ICED COFFEE: There’s been times when I would give this iced coffee 1 out of 5, and the one was only given b/c it was iced coffee. The coffee has been barely cold while other times it’s been ok. It’s only redeeming feature is that it’s in a good location in SoHo for me and the design inside is pretty nice.

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My 2 days at Adaptive Path’s UX Intensive workshop in Minneapolis http://designnotes.info/?p=1448 http://designnotes.info/?p=1448#respond Thu, 26 Jun 2008 11:21:36 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1448 UX Intensive w/ Dan Saffer

Last week I spent a couple days in Minneapolis taking in Adaptive Path’s UX Intensive. I would have really enjoyed taking the full four days but couldn’t b/c of work commitments. In any case two days was better than none and had the chance to take the Information Architecture and Interactive Design days. The obvious question to answer would be “how was it?”. The simple answer would be to say it was good… But how good and was it worth attending – and I would have to say I was able to connect a lot of dots that I had been thinking/doing but was looking for a bit more structured organization, and it really helped me provide a lot more confidence in how I approach design – so yes it was worth it.

The IA day was by Chiara Fox with help from Leah Buley. The day was divided into four sessions; Metadata & Controlled Vocabularies, Content Analysis, Content Modeling, and Classification & Site Structure. Each of those sessions had an exercise – some were group activities while others were individual. The Interaction Design day was put on by Dan Saffer and Kim Lenox. Again the day was divided into a number of sessions; Introduction & Characteristics of Good Interaction Design, Making Models from Research, Ideation, Design Principles, Innovating Design Methods, Fixing Broken Products and Prototyping. The activities themselves were there own sessions as opposed to the IA were it seemed like it was more of a reinforcement of the concepts on a high level. The ID exercises were Making a Conceptual Model, Brainstorming, Design Principles, Innovating a Design Method and Device Prototyping.

Each day included a workbook that contained all the slides and exercises. The context for all the exercises was for a fictitious hotel in California. All the presenters were quite clear and smart which at times made the learning slightly deceiving. They would share a point that was to be emulated in an exercise, and when I thought I had taken everything in found it challenging to complete. They made things look a lot easier than it was – that was something that I overheard a bit from others. In a lot of ways that’s a good thing – they knew their stuff and we had to learn.

The biggest takeaway wasn’t any particular session or thought, but wanting to take what I had learned and implement it as part of my daily design process. It’s taken almost a week of going through my notes and reviewing the slides. That of course only goes so far without hands on action. I’m pretty excited to see how I can do that in the next couple of months. I’ve put up some photos of my experience on flickr, you can get more info about the Information Architecture workshop at http://tinyurl.com/4hjfpc and the Interaction Design workshop at http://tinyurl.com/4xzqby. Conferences have their place, but for me at this point in my career the hands on workshops are a lot more valuable to me. If you have the time and resources I would highly recommend trying to get in to any of there workshops, it’s a great opportunity to enhance what you already know.

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REVIEW: Photoshop Keyboard Skins at Photojojo http://designnotes.info/?p=1443 http://designnotes.info/?p=1443#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2008 10:59:22 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1443 Photoshop Keyboard Skins at Photojojo

Photoshop Keyboard Skins at Photojojo

About a month ago Amit Gupta of http://photojojo.com/ and jelly fame emailed me mentioning the new Photoshop keyboard shortcut skins, and if I was interested he would send me one. Always curious to try new things I said sure, please send me one and I’ll review it here once I’ve been able to try it. I’ve now been testing it out for a couple weeks and I’d like to share a couple observations.

Once I received the package in the mail the first thing that struck me was how thin the actual skin was. It’s quite durable but super thin. I requested the skin for the new apple keyboard that isn’t wireless as it’s the one that I have in front of me at work all day. Something that I’m pretty sure you can’t guess until you try it is how many people have never seen anything like it before. Once I had started using it almost every single person that I work with came by my desk wondering what I was using. It was quite a conversation starter.

After explaining what the skin was intended for, one co-worker that’s a developer asked if someone should already know all those short-cuts? The simple answer is yes, but over time people can forget things or just discover new features. So while I’m not going to use each of those functions everyday, it was nice to know what was there at my finger tips. While I’ve been enjoying the skin it’s not completely perfect. Since the skin is completely opaque, there’s no indicator if the caps lock button is on or off. It’s not a huge deal but every once in a while I did wish I could see the green light on the button. A slightly more irritating omission was the sound bars on the upper F10, F11 and F12 keys. While they’re not part of photoshop it would have been helpful to see the sound up, lower and mute symbols. If there was one benefit that was unexpected, I asked a couple people that I talk to online if they noticed less spelling and grammar errors? After they had thought about it for a couple moments they conceded that they actually did notice an improvement.

If you’re curious to know more about the different skins, check them out at
http://photojojo.com/store/awesomeness/photo-app-keyboards/

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I haven’t read the book yet, but… http://designnotes.info/?p=1434 http://designnotes.info/?p=1434#respond Mon, 16 Jun 2008 10:20:00 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1434 Danielle Sacks of Fast Company magazine and Rob Walker of Buying In

Who would have thought that the thing to do on a Friday night was to head over to the Art Directors club to hear a writer talking about a book. That writer was Rob Walker and he was talking about his just released book event was organized by Buying In. The event was organized by PSFK who did a nice job of keeping things organized and running on time. Before starting Rob took a picture of the audience with everyone’s hand over their face. After that he spent a couple minutes talking about why he wrote the book. Soon after that he invited Danielle Sacks of Fast Company for a collaborative talk.

I’m not sure if it was b/c I had read most of Rob’s articles for the New York Times or something else, but the actual conversation between the two of them seemed familiar and slightly old. It was like the conversation could have happened two years ago. There weren’t a lot of new pivot points to grab onto. I also heard the phrase “I haven’t read the book yet, but…” w/ both friends I talked w/ before the event started and the Q/A affterwards. But again people were very familiar w/ the ideas that Rob written about. In part that’s b/c a lot of the stories have been blogged about once they were first published from NYT. It was a good night, just not a new night of hearing about what those murketers are up to.

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