Category Archives: Design

Pick a Card, Any Card

Much hay has been made about the removal and consolidation of the various ports of the old MacBook Pros to the USB-C-only setup of the newly announced MBPs. A ton of it presumes to know what “professionals” use and need, and some has been close, but most of it conflates photography with video professionals, and frankly, I’ve heard so many outdated assumptions that I felt I had to speak up. So here goes.

No one in video cares that the SD slot is going away. No one. NO ONE.[2]

Yes, it’s a bold statement, but here’s a very basic list of the types of storage used to record and deliver video to editors:

  • SD Cards (yay, I don’t need to use an adaptor 🙄)
  • microSD Cards (in fact, my latest two 4K cameras both use this format, so I get to use an SD adaptor)
  • SxS Cards (because Sony hates everyone)
  • RED Cards (which are a type of SSD, but they have a weird connector, because of course they do)
  • SSDs (via mSATA connections or sometimes eSATA)
  • AJA Pak Recording (yet another type using SSDs)
  • CF Cards (which most pro still cameras used at one point)
  • CF 2.0 Cards (because Blackmagic needed another type of storage for their pro cameras, maybe?)

The list goes on and on and on. There are USB 3.0 drives, or Thunderbolt Drives, and just a mind-boggling plethora of things we need to connect to our Macs to ingest footage and get to work.

While I love the idea of a wireless future, currently it’s impossible for us to do our jobs at all via any wireless solutions because even the fastest WiFi is not going to cut it for video.  For the foreseeable future, we’re going to need a way to connect these drives, and while we used to use a cable that had USB-A on one end, we will need some with USB-C on one end, and whatever madness on the other. No big deal.

Is the SD card really that useful for video editors like me? Currently I have a still camera, one video camera, and an audio recorder that use SD cards. So, yes it’s useful, but I also have two cameras that use SSDs, and two that use MicroSD cards[1], and they all need adapters of some kind, so it’s not useful enough to worry about its loss from my next machine. I’ll need to get an SD reader, and my CF reader doesn’t do CF 2.0, so I need a new one of those anyway, and the microSD cards need a reader, or I need the micro-to-standard-SD adaptor, that I have approximately 17 of littered about the office, of which I can generally find one when I need it, and that will be sorted. My SATA connector just needs a USB-B-to-USB-C cable and I’m good to go there. The readers I have for the RED, AJA and some other cameras, again, just need a B-to-C or a MicroUSB-to-USB-C or they can use the A-to-C adaptors.

As USB-C/Thunderbolt is delightfully fast, the fact that it’s an external adaptor for all my cameras instead of just most of my cameras is really a benefit. The adapters work and they aren’t that expensive.

But wait, don’t you want the HDMI port?

I honestly forgot my MacBook had one, and I bought the Thunderbolt-to-HDMI adaptor anyway. It honestly never occurs to me that it’s there.

But Apple’s making you buy new adaptors!

Yes, as soon as I get a new MacBook Pro I will need a stack of new adaptors to use with all my stuff. Yes, it’s a bit of money, but it’s not terrible overall, and guess what – I actually use my adaptors constantly and they do wear out. I need to get a new set every year or two anyway, so that’s on cycle for me. In fact, that Thunderbolt-to-HDMI wore out recently, and, again, forgetting that I have an HDMI port, I replaced the dongle immediately.

But what about the RAM?

What about it? It’s 16GB for heaven’s sake. Right now I edit 4K video, from cameras as light as the Phantom 4 drone and Osmo system from DJI, to the extreme density of the ProRes HQ files of the Blackmagic Design cameras, to RED raw and CinemaDNG using the 8GB ON. MY. FOUR. YEAR. OLD. LAPTOP.

The speeds when I’m working with the original media are abysmal, but they are on the Mac Pro (no shock there) and will be on the new MacBook Pros as well because if you’re cutting with multiple 4k streams, especially ProRes & CinemaDNG streams, the amount of data you’re trying to move can easily exceed the bandwidth inside the computer, let alone the RAM. To be quite honest, it’s just ignorant to work with uncompressed, original media like that, on almost any system available today. Create and use Proxy Media, and if you don’t know how, spend the $35 on Lynda.com and learn how. It’s good business anyway.

As for actual editing on a 15″ screen? Meh, it’s not bad.[4] I do it daily. It doesn’t feel cramped to me, but it probably took me a little bit to get used to it, honestly I don’t recall. The reason that I edit on a laptop is that I do a lot of field editing, it isn’t an option I can avoid – I have to do it, so I get it done. Even at my desk, tho, where I can easily attach a huge monitor, I don’t. I just edit away on my 15″ retina screen, no second display at all, with my trackpad of all things, and I’m probably faster than 90% of the pros out there. I scream through my edits, and I’ve had other editors watch me work and they are dumbfounded at what I do. I’m not the only one who works this way.

I do wish I could see my 4K projects in pixel-for-pixel perfection, but I’ve had exactly 2 projects be finalized in 4K. I can and do connect and play those back from 4K sources, usually a Roku[3], but sometimes from YouTube[5]

Having three 5K monitors floating in front of me, one with pixel perfect views of my canvas, another with my timeline, and the last with my coloring tools, will be awesome, but do I need them to get through my job? Nope. That I’ll have that option is awesome, but it’s not make or break for me. For those who can’t work with one small screen, these new MacBook Pros are beyond compelling, because almost every video editor these days does some road editing. Additionally, the touchbar, with its ability to let me go hands-on with my timeline is incredibly compelling to me.[6]

I know that I’m just one guy, in Montana of all places, but this is my livelihood. I do just fine with what I have, and I’m looking forward to getting a new MacBook Pro with the touchbar because I want the overall increase in speed and processing it offers, and because the ports are all cleaned up to just USB-C. In fact, that’s a huge win for me.

A Line in the Sand

Vesper, by Q Branch
Vesper. Collect your thoughts.

I’ve been a fan of John Gruber’s Daring Fireball since it launched, and if you were to rummage through my t-shirt collection, you’d find a rather odd stack of DF t-shirts that basically chronicle the life of the site. When he and the team at Q Branch decided to launch Vesper, a note taking app, it was a foregone conclusion that I would purchase it. It’s a great app, and I use it often, and love the care and detail that these fanatics have put into this simple, delightful tool.

I was disappointed that it was $2.99.

Why would a trio of fanatics make an awesome tool that works exactly as it says it does, looks beautiful, launches quickly and never crashes price their app as if it were a throw-away? What the actual fuck?

Thank the gods we’re moving past this madness. The pricing on the app store has devalued the work of engineers and programmers and designers and it’s about time that it  absolutely comes to a halt. Panic has been pricing their apps higher for a while, and needs to continue, but when I brought that up to people, they pointed out that the functionality of their apps makes it more likely that they would be bought by people who do programming or design, and they know the gig. While Vesper is for everyone, while Transmit is not.

The OmniGroup also prices their apps at a sustainable level, and seem to be doing ok, but again, their apps are a bit more focused, and while the argument that Omni apps are also for a niche-ish market can be made, I own several and have used them for years. OmniOutliner was my go-to for notes before Vesper, even tho it really wasn’t designed for that.

The latest update of Vesper includes a line in the sand against the desperation pricing that is destroying great app development on mobile devices. Vesper will now cost a very reasonable $9.99, and I’m hoping there’s a way I can re-buy the app.

I spend $5 on a coffee, and $12 on a martini, which are even more ephemeral than the 1s and 0s of an app, and last quite a bit less. I spend at least $10 on a meal, and sometimes a shameful amount above that, and it’s not like I’m starving myself to redirect some of that money towards paying for good things. I am not alone in this, and if you don’t think the stuff that you shove into your $800 hand-held computer should work well and afford a life for those who make them, you are an asshole.

It’s 2015, people. Pay for the art you like. Pay for the work put in to make the great tools that improve your life. Pay for music. Pay for entertainment. And pay well, because your life is short, money isn’t the goal, and if you continue to focus on keeping it, you’ll find that old Montanan saying is true; Money is just like manure. If you don’t spread it around it’s just a pile of shit.

Post Gender Presentations

There has been a lot written lately about gender as it pertains to professional conferences on web technologies. First off was Jason Kottke presenting the question. Then I caught Eric Meyer, the Patron Saint of CSS, who responded with a resounding “meh” followed by John Gruber’s gender-fireball post, and a comment of clarification by Zeldman in the linked list. Truly Eric received the torment he knew he was setting himself up for. Ouchie. And so totally not deserved. I suggest reading those articles and comments, and then coming back here. I’ll wait.

Back? Good. I love discussing gender, because as a gay man in 2007, it’s certainly a topic that provides countless hours of amusement. And frustration. And a couple of attempts to rewrite the U.S. Constitution. It’s also a subject that, when taken out of context, is beyond frustrating, it’s insulting. And that’s where I think this discussion has gone.

If you look at what Kottke presented, yes, there is a dearth of women speakers at web conferences, and most especially those that focus on HTML and CSS. Kottke is particularly off when he says:

…it seems to me that either the above concerns are not getting through to conference organizers or that gender diversity doesn’t matter as much to conference organizers as they publicly say it does.

Gruber goes off into the realm of Title IX, which has, truthfully, done a world or three of good for women in all things. However, he misses the point of Kottke’s piece, which is that things are inequal in a professional setting. Title IX doesn’t really apply there, so going off into the studies of who got educated where and for what is off-topic. Interesting, and well worth reading, but off-topic none-the-less. And don’t think I’m against Title IX, nothing could be further from the truth. We are all improved when everyone receives an equal chance, which is what Title IX was designed to do. And amazingly, considering it’s legislation, it seems to do relatively well.

Notice that I said “everyone receives an equal chance” and not “everyone receives everything equally.” and for good reason. Title IX doesn’t mean that there will be a women’s football team at your local high school, but it does say that for every men’s sport there shall be an equally funded women’s sport. Don’t care what they play, but they get the game. That’s equality at it’s finest. Which is what Gruber was leading up to.

However, it’s not what Kottke was on about at all. Kottke is about specific equality for professional roles. Can’t, and won’t, happen. Not because it’s a bad idea, but because after giving everyone equal chances, what those people do with those chances will be quite unique to each individual, and therefore, we are unable to predict their results in such a way that we could ever guarantee that there is a 50/50 split along the sex lines.

Meyer doesn’t mind this situation, not because he doesn’t want women around or thinks they are inferior, but because he, quite rightly, sees that while there are fewer women there, overall the web is very well represented by both sexes. And, in this case, gender means less than nothing.

While I, having been discriminated against because of an external trait (e.g. who I have sex with) and have had professional roles given to others because of it, I still agree with Meyer. Kottke thinks that having a vagina attached to some of the speakers would improve the quality of the presentation. That’s thinking that a woman who happens to be a mom can only socialize with other moms if all are either a) not drinking, or b) if they want to drink, they must be chaperoned by someone with a penis.

I don’t see how being male, female, white, black, brown, purple, queer, asexual, cancerous, capricorn or a carrot would matter if you happen to also be a professional in the web-standards-meets-development world. I would, honestly, attend a speech given by a carrot if that carrot was recognized as a leader in the field. That’s what professional speeches are all about.

I have a huge problem with people getting so bent sideways in the effort to be politically correct that they lower the quality of the product. I know it’s rough, and I can’t say that I understand why people are racist, sexist, homophobic or just flat out fucked-up, but I do know that for a conference where people are going to learn about a specific topic, finding the best people, regardless of gender is more important than counting the number of XX’s versus the number of XYs sharing their knowledge.

I want more brilliant people, I don’t care who you are or how you fuck. I don’t even care if you do. I want you for your mind, and guess what, Kottke is wrong to reduce the talent and knowledge of the people involved with these events to their gender. Alas, I’m a bit chubby and have a decent set of tits if he truly thinks that physical traits make a shits difference.

[UPDATE] I see that Zeldman has joined the fray with more on his blog, but I disagree that it’s a fundamental part of the conference planner’s concerns. He thinks it’s important to include women, I think it’s more important to not exclude women, and those, truly, are completely different tasks. Oh, and I still think I’m right.

Design’s Function

Andrei is back, which is a great thing. I don’t always agree with him, but his passion for design can not be overstated, and he generousity with knowledge via tutorials on his blog is one of the reasons I have any skill at all on the web. His latest rant about The Culture brings back a discussion argument between my first-year architecture professors and me. just about every day of my aborted attempt at being an architect. I’ve never been one to create art for art’s sake, always having tied design and function together.

Design and Function tend to hand-in-hand in all things that fall short of Fine Art. At least, that’s how it seems to me. This is true of all arts, from music to painting to sculpture. When you add in the function, whatever it may be, the art seemingly slips below the highest calibre of fine artyistry, yet becomes something more at the same time.

Let me give you a quick example: music. When created as art and art alone, it can be amazing. There are many times that music moves people in astounding ways and yet, it’s not a story, it’s not a message, it’s not a function, and people are moved because of their own internalized moments leading up to that art. Since it’s music, and only music, the fine art, it’s the pinnacle of human existence. However, it’s not functional; it doesn’t need to be.

When you add in a story, then the music changes. It delivers specific feelings and emotions, creates characters and scenes, and moves along with a plot, and does this for entire courses of people. And that’s a function. In adding the function the music isn’t truly less artistic, the artistry just isn’t left alone.

Architecture is a realm where form and function balance each other out just about equally. An architect has to understand the artistic beauty and the pedestrian function of the final product in order to succeed. I understand this thinking very well, while I have had nothing but issues when forced to separate the two. When given the task of creating something that is just beautiful without being functional at all, I might as well just turn in a blank page. I’m better off avoiding the attempt.

Design and Function define the web. It’s finding the balance between the two that makes it a challenge. Yes, having all links underlined makes it easier to determine and locate text functioning as a hyperlink and that which isn’t. However, that doesn’t mean that having a link in a different color or font-weight is less easy to see – in some cases, it’s much easier.

Sites like Craigslist and the really-cool-yet-never-really-designed-web-tool team at 37Signals are making piles of money, which is the name of the game, but they still lack design. That lack is core to this surge of people who verbalize that design is unnecessary.

Quel suprise: the design community is just as loud, shouting that not only is design necessary, but that the art is superior to the function in any application. Nothing like standing up for yourself only to find out you really did leave the house without your pants, but that’s about where things are. I also find it quite humorous that many people on both sides are trying to win by volume, not by treatment and test-case, but by expounding on their own, quite admittedly self-serving ideas, which gets us nowhere.

Let’s set the Way-Back MachineTM and head back to…

Imagemaps, those lovely tools of yester-cyberyear, have a great amount of design, allowing for literally any image to be a navigation system – no matter the artistic convolutions. However, the lack of functional interaction and self-perpetuating education inherent in these tools is a big part of why the technique failed. Some were beautiful, no question. But artistry, which is design without function, cannot succeed in a functional world. Imagemaps are the digital equivalent of the Spruce Goose.

In this corner: we have the modern antithesis in 37Signals’ Backpack, which lacks design in a way that isn’t completely crippling to it’s usefulness, and I have hopes for it. I’m not holding my breath, however, because what it does for functional ability it lacks horribly in ‘pleasure to use’ and for those of you who don’t think that’s important, remember why you don’t have an outhouse. Indoor plumbing is 50% sewer you invited into your home, because frankly, the alternative is much worse, and that’s a function of it’s design.

That’s not to say that the functions encapsulated in Backpack weren’t designed well, they mostly were. But there is a lot they can do to make it better, too, and just like outhouses are better than camping waste-management facilities (think: leaf-as-toilet-paper), there is something better than Backpack out there.

The current debate is that it’s taking on a very scary coloring – Religion, which we’ve got pleanty of, thanks. Or, perhaps I’m wrong, but Mac-vs.-Win. It’s no longer about ‘what’s best for this application’. Instead it’s becoming to antigonistic camps lead by their purists and zealots, who intiate debate only to enrage the other side, and create havoc instead of solutions. Frankly, Andrei is one of those people, but I suspect that it’s one of the driving forces of his success, too. Andrei was designed to be a functional designer, with an amazing talent for art. Andrei also designed the UI of Photoshop, which then seeped into the rest of the apps in what is Adobe’s Creative Suite. He didn’t do it completely alone, and it’s been modified since he created the UI, but please, it’s his work. Some love it, some hate it, and some just wonder what the hell it’s supposed to be. Personally, I feel he owes me several hours of my life back. Some of those hours are covered by what he’s given freely on DxF, but Andrei, I hate to tell you, you’ve got a long way to go.

What I can’t argue with is that Photoshop’s UI is impressive, expressive, expansive and, once you’ve gotten a bit of a tour and some time using it, very well thought out. There are choices that were made that I don’t like or understand, but considering all the complex thinking about tool inter-functions and that, when the modern UI base was adopted photographs were still be processed in labs for almost all true arwork, it’s clear that the UI is actually beautiful, too.

Photoshop is, thanks to Andrei and to due to many other talented people, a true digital tool-set complete with every single tool having an analogue to every tool a photographer who spent years honing and learning their art. There is always something telling when you realize that Adobe is the world’s second-largest sofware firm, behind only Microsoft. However, Adobe comes by the lion-share of the market by creating outstanding products, and for a while it seemed they might do it again. I hope they do.

This debate isn’t going away soon, it’s just going to get worse and more angst-ridden. Why? Because when someone screams and someone else screams back, it’s back to the toilet metaphor, and it’s all going down the drain. This argument is a lot like that, now. Heck, I even managed to unintentionally snark at Jeff Croft, the source of my current infatuation with All Things Django. So the debate is raging, and many have a good, strong, righteous rage-on going with them as they attack.

Instead of making a better mousetrap, we’re making a lesser house. Ah, well, at least we won’t have more mice, right?

Parts of OS X are gay?

Ok, so that’s a bit inflammatory and out there, but I had to. Over on John Gruber’s excellent Daring Fireball you’ll find a discussion of voodoo and the various merits of “repair permissions” and the like. I enjoy just about everything that John writes, having learned a ton about the computers I use and about web standards and the frustration joy of doing web sites the right way.

Anyway, here’s the part that made me laugh:

Even if you “verify” permissions and it shows some that don’t match, it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. They might be wrong, but they might just be different but still OK.

Yeah, so some of the permissions have changed since install, and while they are kinda punky lookin’ buggers, what with their mohawks and tattoos and the fact that the boys all kiss each other, and not in that ‘christian-greeting-another-christian’ way, aside from all that, they are still OK.

And they say diversity is hard to find.

Gruber, thanks for the giggle, although I’m sure you never intended it, it was most welcome.

Finally, a new look

It’s been a while, and the site needed a new look. It’s needed a new look for many moons, but as my time was fleeting and there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the old look, it’s not something I bothered to change.

The Department of Homeland Security notwithstanding, it’s better safe than sorry. So, a newer, more advanced and less crackable version of WordPress was released and I decided to update my site.

And it broke the look of it! Curses!

So I finally got around to making the artwork and color changes to the documents that control such things, and now it’s all better. And it’s a refreshment of the old look, rather than something completely new.

the fuzzed lookAnd no, you are NOT losing your mind, there was another look that manifested over the weekend, and while it was fun, it was not the sort of look that, after spending any time actually looking at it, that I could stand. However, it was pretty and was fun to make. And it’s good practice for what I’ve got to do next for work.

You’re unique… just like everyone else!

Ok, so politics being what it is, let’s forget for a moment that every single politician has to work the same tired lines, the same tired conferences, speeches, dinners, fund-raisers, blue-haired broads and every other possible cliché of the season, and what do you have?

Good question!

You see, when elections happen, they aren’t discreet. Parties are called “Political Machines” for a reason. The smaller elected offices have the time, and more importantly, the need, to actually meet their constituents face-to-face. Those elected help those above them by throwing support uphill, and that’s Capitol Hill. (An aside: I grew up in Helena, MT and went to Capital High School and always wondered about the apparently bi-ness of ‘capital-as-money’ and ‘capital-as-center-of-political-power’ versus the extremely stodgy ‘capitol: it’s good to be the king!’ which is only, apparently for seats of political power. When asking teachers, they just wondered if it was a pun that we had “Capital Hill Mall”, but I digress.)

Anyway, so the small fish meet with people, convince them that the larger fish are doing good, support the larger fish, and those larger fish support still larger fish and those fish still larger fish all the way until you have Moby Dick Cheney, the biggest of the supporting fish, supporting the President Ahab Bush. And it works, for those bigger fish.

But what about those smaller fish? What of the smallest? Well, now it gets interesting.

You see, the smallest don’t have the same issues as their slightly larger cousins. The truly small-town, local elected official is a neighbor in the smallest of the small. People know her, or him, and opinions aren’t really based on speeches or platforms, they can be formed on bizarre things like yard care habits or overuse of Hawaiian and/or plaid prints. Regardless, they know their neighbors, and if they like them, they tend to vote for them. Things are good.

The races that have slightly larger fish have it really rough, tho. Consider them the middle-class fish, or, because I hate typing out names like that, MCF. The MCF have an unwritten mandate to support their chosen party’s machine. They are asked to be at and meet with and speak to and debate for or against and with by whom and where this why that for what ever – yeesh! And they are given just a basic set of tools to use to win their races. Affording a complete marketing team, to handle the branding and production, while those with degrees in Poli-Sci work on how to counter the enemies messages is beyond most of these campaigns. Of course, if asked, a political-hopeful chooses having a Poli-Sci over a Marketing Pro. I’d think that someone would point out that consistently being on the defensive with someone else makes you look weak but apparently that’s not the case.

So we come to it. Small race. Small budgets. Small budgets, every dime has to go to something important, it cannot be wasted.

But let’s take a step back and define waste. If you do logos that use the same imagery as everyone else, if you print letterhead using the same font and colors as everyone else, if you produce cloned materials for your race and you end up looking like everyone else, who are you? Are you, you? Or are you everyone else?

Good design isn’t a waste. Especially if you’re lucky enough to have a name that isn’t simple or homophonic to an everyday word (although in this case, that isn’t good luck, but in most others it is). You need to create something different, you need to stand out. Not in a “she’s the lady in red when everybody else is wearing tan” Fran Drescher’s The Nanny way, but in a strong, capable, bright, charming, witty, and leading way. And that’s called BRANDING!!

I am dealing, albeit once removed, with push-back from people who think that having a sign that has just words and no style and looks like every other yard sign for every other race that affects this area will be just fine, and it’s really bizarre. It’s not like they are saying the concept I presented was bad, they are just saying the money is better spent elsewhere. If that’s the case, then please tell me why every business, including the businesses run by these slightly-dimmer-than-average-bulbs who are acting this way, have at least some branding?

There is a good reason that the corner store has a name, that the law office downtown in the hi-rise has letterhead and business cards that match, and that everyone from the Girl Scouts to G.E. have marketing people – because they are needed, not waste. Good marketing can make all the difference in the world. Especially in politics.

For politicians, every sound-bite counts. Every mention means something. Every chance to be seen as an individual instead of lesser member of a nationwide group is needed. In MCF races, getting press time is next to impossible. A seat in the House of the Legislature of Montana isn’t news for anyone outside that district unless it’s some ‘human interest‘ piece, like when a 17-year-old runs for the seat. Otherwise, it’s just another person trying to get elected. Most people who have to vote for that seat, who are being represented by that person, don’t know anything about that person. Not name, not sex, not age-range, nothing. Which is why these politicians can’t count on any vote to show and actually cast a vote, and correctly. Yet you want to look like everyone else? Huh?

Why not hire someone to create a simple yet working brand. It’s slightly different, but not whacky. It’s got a clean look that brings in some key elements, it works with your fairly popular first name as the gimmick to get people to remember you, and it’s not hokey or dated. It’s also easy to combine with a web presence that is easy for people to remember because it’s clever. It gives you a starting point that no one else has. You’re going to be heard now because your campaign is outside the herd. (HA!) If you aren’t as slick as Bill Clinton (and you aren’t, get over it) you have to find a way into your own space to show who you are, to connect with people, to have a voice, and to get elected.

Or you can be like everyone else, and then struggle, fight, stress out, over-work yourself and when you finally do get recognized by the press it will be either you had some tragedy or other, the old Human Interest story, or because you screwed up in some way. Most likely it’ll be the screw-up that gets you into the press the first time. And it won’t be a big one, but you still can’t afford it, because you’d be “the person who did this” instead of having a handle on how you are seen. Oh, that handle on how you’re seen is called BRANDING.

Good branding is simple – make yourself look smart without trying to make others look dumb – in fact, make them look smart, too. For elections, that’s easy. Everyone else is jumping off the bridge, so if you decide to just walk across, you look pretty damn smart, but, let’s face it, you were only doing what you knew was right, regardless of the lemmings of the political machine.

Politics is one place where you can be “An Ordinary Joe” and stand out for it because everyone else uses the same messages, wears the same tie, and has indistinct signs pitting their last name against someone else’s last name. They are extraordinarily dull, so ‘ordinary, yet standing out’ is a Great Thing™.

What the…? What’s going on?

I’ve asked myself that very question many a times as I’ve sat down and tried to get the site changed and updated and whatnot. Well, basically, while I like my design, I feel that having modern and stable software and code on my hosted account is much more important than having a look that is getting old and needing some help. So I’ve upgraded the background software a bit, and I’m using a basic theme for a while because I have to go back and re-learn all my CSS (sorta)skills so that I can make the page look like I want. But don’t worry, I’m sure there will be an olive in it at some point!

Dead to me

Ok, I’m sick. I’m laying in bed, head pulsing in time with the aftershocks of the East African Earthquake wondering why it is that I don’t get sick often, but when I do, it shuts down my world for a while in ways that are, well, painful. Hateful.

And then, because I got up to read my email to make sure that the world wasn’t falling apart and I got a glimpse of the new AT&T logo. new AT&T logo

It’s horrendous. Instead of being global it looks like a rubber ball. A cartoon of a bouncy ball. With lowercase text in a font that appears to be adapted from the writing skills of a Third Grader. It’s sad. It’s truly the worst corporate logo I’ve ever seen. Ever. Even worse than the green M&M of On Semiconductor.

At least now I know why I’m sick. Design like that could kill ya!

I love the smell of technology in the morning afternoon!

It’s not like Apple hasn’t been doing a ton of stuff recently, what with releasing a new version of iTunes just over a month ago alongside the new iPod nano. Nor can they really be considered busy as they sold over a MILLION nanos in just over 17 days. I mean, come on, they should have been up to something more spectacular. And they were.

New iMacs are out. Ahem. Moving on.

The new iPod does video. Big shocker there, since music and photos were done, the only thing left is video. For those of you watching the whole Apple system, you might notice a few ‘core’ technologies – CoreImage, CoreAudio and CoreVideo – that are part and parcel of OS X. It’s like broadcasting stepping stones for other developments.

What’s interesting, at least according to John Gruber at Daring Fireball, is that the video is 320×240, which, for those of you counting pixels on old analog TVs, is about half the resolution (or for the math geeky, one-fourth the area) of what is broadcast free over the air. He wonders who would buy them. And I kinda do as well, although I have bought 2 episodes already, the Season Premier of Lost and the series premier of Night Stalker. Neither of which I’ve found time to watch in my real life, but having a copy I can watch while I’m ostensibly doing work, and can pause, rewind, etc. without having to deal with a TiVo menu (which sucks balls) or the PVR of whatever cable company you’re stuck using. And it’s merely two bucks! How can I pass that up when I don’t have to THINK!?! And so yeah, I don’t have any desire to get an entire season right now, although that is an option for anyone who wants it as well. And while half-resolution is low for most things, I’m not watching epic movies – yet! The more interesting thing is that it’s the same cost per episode even if it’s a 23 minute or 43 minute show. Next month, when they release iTunes 7.0 and include movies in full HD at decent downloads and for reasonable rates, well, there it is. And I know what I want for Christmas. (hint hint)

Whither J.Go, I go, but no Yugo

Oh for the love of pete and all things wondering, J.Go has been reworking his blog, and because of some friends of his who could, if asked too early in the day, lead him wrong, he’s using WordPress which, as we all know, powers the Hammage-on-Wryness right here. And we simply love it, so I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t wrong in suggesting it to J.Go-Whom-We-Love.

I’ve been remiss myself because of a background update, and I’m still trying to finish off some video work for the OTO because, well, I did film them. And, as everyone in Houston is well aware, RED is launching this weekend, so it’s not like my life won’t have meaning again. And I’d really like to get over this friggin cough I have.

But it’s that time, Spring cleaning is over and the summer is about to hit us like a blast furnace, so I should redo the site. Expect many changes, my darlings!

It’s up!

Red Nightlife Is Up And while that may not seem like much, it’s been a fun ride for me. I got to play at being a web guy again, and frankly, it’s just play. There are so many things I just don’t know how to do – yet. But anyway, the site works, looks mostly ok except for some random issues with the picture pages and whatnot, and some other weird linking issues. However, it’s 90% there, and for now, that’s good enough.

I hate having to do that, tho. =(

The Aviator

It’s late as most people reckon things, but I have to post this. I just saw The Aviator. Amazing. Absolutely amazing. I’m a pretty big fan of aviation anyway, and I know a lot of it’s history, but Howard Hughes was so critical to how we see aviation today, it cannot be overstated. Yes, the airlines have problems. Hell, the two airlines that started it all, Pan Am and TWA are both history. TWA was Hughes’ airline, and frankly, he probably revolved in his grave when it died. If you want to know more about the history of aviation, it, like all things good, can be found online. Full disclosure: My father is a pilot, as is my grandfather and my grandmother, and if I’m not mistaken, a few cousins are as well. I am not, as I prefer to be served free booze from micro-bottles while relaxing in the air. I did, however, work at Garrett Aviation for about two years, which was interesting, as it spanned the events of September 11, 2001.

But I digress. History is one thing, the movie is another – usually. I know that there are parts that are made up or insinuated from half- or less-than-half-known facts. Regardless, this movie was fantastic. Amazing set work, visual design, everything, gave us, the audience, a chance to be there. It was amazing!

Alan Alda was breath-taking as the senator from Maine that was owned by Pan Am. His role should earn him many awards, the highest, of course, being right of first refusal of every male character aged 50 and over.

Leonardo DiCaprio was stunning in his portrayal of Hughes. We all know from our history that Hughes was eccentric, and if you’ve done any study of him, you’ve heard about OCD and some others. I would guess, purely non-clinical of course, that it was a combination of OCD and Aspergere’s Syndrome that afflicted Hughes. Again, regardless of what exactly it was, Leo was phenomenal. He deserves many more roles, and I’m not a huge fan of his. At least, I wasn’t. Although, thinking on it, I did enjoy The Basketball Diaries, but I’m almost positive that was because of the masturbation-on-the-roof-with-the-New York-skyline scene.

Cate Blanchette. There is only one word: BrilliantFantasticAmazingStunningWOW. Trust me, it’s a word. It’s the only one you can use to describe her as Kathryn Hepburn. Cate as Kate was brilliant casting, and Cate captured the stiff-spined and unflinching spirit of Kate and brought her full bloom to the screen. Every moment Cate was there, Kate was there, and we were taken back to the Hollywood she so loved and loathed. If ever a biopic of Kate is made and Cate isn’t cast in the role, I will personally stage a boycott. There is no way to describe this in words, you must see it. I thought Elizabeth was the role of her career, even though Cate has done some great work since. I now know that I was mistaken, and she’s just getting started.

There were a myriad of other fine actors and actresses in this movie. I will be buying this on DVD, but I suggest you don’t wait till then to see it. I’ve heard the movie dismissed by someone saying “I don’t care to see a movie about how a rich man learned to fly” and frankly, if you feel that way, you’re wrong. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover, nor a movie by it’s subject.

Which is why I’m going to go see Hotel Rwanda as soon as it shows up here.