Thursday, July 29, 2004

Back To School?

As a web designer, I make the designs/look/feel for a website. As a web developer, I try to implement those designs to be viewed whenever you go to, or whatever. I am not as good a developer as I would like. This isn’t self-deprecating, it is just fact that I do not possess the multitudes of coding vocabulary I need to develop a site appropriately. I have designed and built some award winning sites in the past, but I designed them with the knowledge I would have to develop them. So the designs are beautiful in their simplicity. I used a ton of tables, too.

Now, however, I am designing sites that require accessibility and more compliant and flexible coding. This is the part where I am not 100% on yet. I know a couple of tricks. I know a lot of theory. I know a good deal about what is wrong and what is right with the web. What I am still shaky on, is the actual development part. This will have to change. As I work for an education based state agency, I should be able to find education in web development. [As a side note - there is a HUGE difference between development and design. It takes two, distinctly different mindsets. Those mindsets can, and often do, work very well together. But, much like the tango, it takes both to perform the deed.]

With that said, today starts my research on getting into a relevant course of study for web development and, most likely, a class on Flash (as that is something I am instructed to learn). And it looks like Monday will be the day that most of it gets hashed out.

Some inspiration for a more active pursuit of this was found at StopDesign with regard to his charitable rebuild of Microsoft’s website.

Though based in the UK, this is very important and useful information on emergency awareness.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Quick Note

I have initiated another DSNLG. This one concerning trains. My conspirator is maleachi, from Amsterdam. I about to get schooled, me thinks. I’ll try to be a bit more accepting of the critiques that come from this go. Of course, it’s not my first one anymore, so I think I am going to be naturally more relaxed about it.

Light day today. Been busy working. Happens.

PS: SPeCks

PSS: HAHAHA!!! I just noticed Suzi’s speech text is in the wrong color. Download it now folks while it lasts. It’s a color variant!!!

Monday, July 26, 2004

29 Hours

This weekend was quite the action packed adventure. I haven’t been so occupied in some time. It was very fun. Let’s go over some details, shall we?

Friday, July 23, 2004: Sarah McLachlan puts on a show at the Frank Erwin Center. I bought tickets in January as a Valentines present to my wife. She had a blast, I enjoyed the concert and we made an evening of it. This was a very awesome show. And just when you thought the 2nd encore would truly be the end of it, she comes out for yet another two songs. What a show-woman. Brilliant. After the show, we had planned to go to Reed’s Jazz Bar for some relaxing drinks and sounds. The place was a mad house of activity. Very busy. Too much for us, we decided, instead, to head to Amy’s Ice Cream. I got the Chewbacca - a combination of Gummi Bears®, Chocolate ice cream and Grape Nuts®. My wife got The Circus. Mexican vanilla, M&Ms and something else I can’t remember. Mexican Vanilla is very good. While we were there, they were redoing their chalkboard menu. As we arrived shortly after 12 (and with only an hour before closing), the Amy’s employees were very "punch-drunk" and silly. We got to having humorous exchanges and before you knew it, I was behind the counter writing one of the flavors on the chalkboard. I got to do Guiness Lime Ice. It also turns out that one of them is a student at Southwestern University at Georgetown. I told her I designed the logo for her school and she told me she liked it very much as well as being excited to be meeting the guy who designed it. We come home to a letter from the Texas State Board of Public Accountacy. My wife qualifies to sit for the CPA. This is a task that is not easy to accomplish, let alone actually taking the exam.

Saturday, July 24, 2004: Based on the fullness of the prior evening, my wife generously lets me sleep in. I am the luckiest married man out there. My wife has many papers due for her school studies, thus she will be indisposed for the majority, if not all, of the weekend. I use this time to play a -little- FFXI (eventually the largest understatement of my life thus far). There is an event going on in the game (SummerFest) and with that, comes prizes. I log on to play at approximately 11AM. My character is in a hell hole on the opposite side of the world from where I want to be. I catch a ship back "home" and begin participating in the global event. I get my prizes. I do some quests. I make some items. I do this for the majority of the day. I decide to go back to the very place I am beginning to loathe as it is one of the few that holds opportunity to actually level my character. My character is currently halfway through level 27. I get there at God knows what late hour on the 24th. I sit for what seems like forever for a party invitation. Eventually, 3 of us decide to form a minor party of our own to take on lesser monsters in a nearby area. We do this for an hour or so when we tire of the low rate of experience points gained. I have been playing for over 12 hours, but, oddly do not feel tired. Once again, I am in search of a complete party invite. My companions get parties soon enough and I am left to my own devices. Perhaps it was the lateness of the hour, the countless hours already on the game, or whatever, but I was in a very humorous mood. I was making everyone "LOL" with my creative /shouts for a party invite. Eventually, a group had an opening. The night was now beginning — at approximately 4 in the morning.

Sunday, July 25, 2004: I have been in the same party for many hours now. This group is very good and we are getting experience points at a phenomenal rate. Faster than I have ever before. For one reason or another, I forget how, leadership of the party gets changed to me. I take the reigns and also take it upon myself to maintain the dynamic that the party started with. I am successful in my campaign for experience points and good party dynamics. My party becomes the most sought after group in the area. People are literally lining up waiting for an opening in my party so they may join. My party sees the "Level-Up" of over 15 different players. I am ashamed I do not remember all their names. I will however mention Zenia and Illdin — the Mages that were integral in making my party -THE- best in the area. I, alone, leveled not once, but 3 times, becoming level 30 by the end of my run. At this level in the game, I should have been leveling faster, but I was pleased with the progress. I maintained the party (hiring members as needed) for over 12 hours. When it came time for me to relinquish leadership and step out of the party, I had to contend with 6 private messages (/tells) of people requesting inclusion in the party for which had made quite the name for itself. I ended my playing a little after 5PM. 29 straight hours. Not one complaint from the missus. You should be so lucky to have a wife as mine.

In celebration of getting level 30 and because the Taru Dance is the #1 (and ever evolving) /em on FFXI — Tötley Crüe’s Primal Scream!

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Freshly Sliced

So I am due for a salad review.

Florida’s is a seafood joint with a pretty thick theme. “Oh, so it feels like you are in Florida, then?” Not necessarily. I felt like I was in Panama more than in Florida. Which is odd, cuz I have never been to Panama. But I have been to Florida. I never saw places in Florida that looked like this restaurant. Sure, some of the wicker shtuff seems reminiscent of Florida, but overall, I felt like I was on some beach resort in the lower carribean (Roatan came to mind). Maybe that is a part of Florida I haven’t seen yet. Maybe not. Not really the point.

So onto that salad. Real nice. This one had it all. All the good stuff, that is. Cheese, bacon bits, onions, hardy leaves, croutons, etc. The leaves were crisp and cool. The cheese was firm with a mild flavor which is best for salads. I find sharp cheddars to be too much for salads. The bacon bits were plentiful, but not overdone. I believe they were also real bacon, just finely chopped. It was of a good size overall. I wasn’t full afterward, but I wasn’t wondering if I had a salad. We had also started with an appetizer of coconut popcorn shrimp. The app came out first and we polished it off a bit before the salads came out. Timing couldn’t have been better. A little time for the tummy to realize it had only taken in an appetizer, then a fine “Howdy-do!” from the salad placed in front of you. The rest of the meal came out in a timely fashion (as was inevitably dictated by the salad service) and was very tasty. I ordered the Seafood Linguine — a combo of Shrimp, crawfish (of course) and calamari mixed in a bed of pasta with marinara. Lots of meaty pieces in that pasta. I was more than satisfied. My mother ordered the Pecan Trout. Fantastic! You could taste the pecans baked in and it was just wonderful. I recommend trying that dish, should you go. The prices were average with a couple of their pricier dishes hitting the $30 mark. Of course, those dishes include a large hunk of crustacean and a bit of the cow on the side. As a side note: the waitress was all over my glass of water. I love that.

With all that said, Florida’s is a great place to go for a family/group dinner. The layout is very open, so if you are looking for an intimate meal, you may not get it. But, it isn’t noisy inside and while we were in a uninhabited area of the restaurant, we didn’t feel secluded or, in another sense, at a private function.

Trust the salads.

Sweet Jesus! Samurai swords own all!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Typographic Dreams

Some of you might have noticed the set of flags that are at the bottom of the right column now. Those represent the countries this blog has received visitors from. So, I guess that means it is internationally known.

Type, type, type. Fonts are running heavy through my mind lately. I have a ton. If you consider 134MB a lot, that is. I do. I won't use 75% of them, I’m sure. Display, woodcut, gotik, dingbats, etc. What I really want, however, are some nice looking serifs. Like Montrachet and Monteverdi. For a long time, Minion was my font of choice. Still is mostly. Heck, the Smithsonian Institution’s logo is set in Minion. But I would use it for everything. Almost every design that had body copy was set in Minion. Maybe I have a thing for M’s. S’s aren’t bad either. Scala (from FontFont) is next on my “ridiculous purchases in the future” list.

Tonight, I have dinner to celebrate my mother’s birthday. Which is today. Not to be confused with the weekend birthday party celebrating her birthday, which is actually today. We are going to Florida Seafood Grill. Salad review to follow.

12,000¥! No matter what it looks like, it is still a watermelon. That’s $109 USD, folks.

Monday, July 19, 2004

50s Gig

This weekend was especially busy for me. Cranking out some updates for work related projects, cleaning the house, entertaining guests. The last two with regard to my mother’s 50th birthday. Needless to say, it was an all-day affair, Saturday. Sunday was more-or-less a day of recuperation as well as watching my niece for the remainder of the weekend. Generally, 50th birthday parties are festooned with black balloons and woeful scripting. Well, that’s not really a celebration, now is it. In my mom’s case, a 50s theme felt only natural. Records, classic cars, rolled up sleeves to secure your cigs, slicked back hair, long skirts and bright plastic set the atmosphere for a true birthday celebration.

I am fortunate to share many events in my life with my mother. I don’t lament on the loss of my father, that benefits no one. Rather, I rejoice the moments I had with him. However, I did find myself wishing my dad could have made it to 50. To see his brothers and sisters rib their younger sibling at reaching that milestone. To be a part of that celebration. I’ll never share another moment with him. But I will with my mom. I thank God for that. Bless those who are not as fortunate as me. Pray for those who can no longer find comfort in a parent.

hehe… so, SPeCks… did I mention I had a huge party at my house, with full guest rooms this weekend?

This just made me laugh. A lot. Strongbad thingy-majiggy.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Commercial Comics

Ok, so Analog Voyager plays good music. I like it. Very nice mix of artists too. But here’s something that doesn’t make sense to me, at all: there are commercials and you have to pay for it to be guaranteed a connection.

First of all, AV, you are an online radio station. There are, literally, thousands of you out there. And thousands that are 100% free. And many of those thousands do -not- have commercials. The bottom line is, there are 100s of other stations for me to easily click on. And clicky I will. Now, in the middle of the day, I might see if I can access AV again, but if I can’t, no biggie, I will simply go back to radioioAMBIENT or GrooveRadio or any number of other stations. Either way, there is no way in -HELL- I am paying for an online radio station. Especially one that has commercials as often (and as lame) as AV does. By the way, there are 41 stations to choose from under Electronica alone, and I don’t recall hearing commercials on any of the other stations, ever. Station call outs don’t count. I am talking about commercials for freakin’ RadioShack and University Alliance (online degree program).

So last night I am playing FFXI and all (doing Mission 2-3), when one of my old LinkShell buddies runs into me. Out of the blue, he asks, "So when are you gonna do more of that spider comic?" Well, damn, looks like I need to get off my ass and start actually making more SPeCks… I might do more illustrative one-offs to scan in and upload or something. Maybe in a different section. I don’t know.

I really like both the style and the humor of the comics created by Tom Gauld and Simone Lia. I want the books.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

In The Bol

Many times, I contemplate my place in the design community, and sometimes the world in general. Am I where I am supposed to be? Stuff like that. Currently, I think I am where I am supposed to be. I am still a designer, so that is a good start. I am happy with the people I work with. I don’t dread coming to work. When I wake up on the weekdays, I consider what I need to do around the house before I leave for work, but I never really think to myself, “Gee… I feel a cough coming on.”

I bring this up, because, a couple of people I have worked with in the past constantly mention how they want to start their own business to squeeze into the advertising industry. That is fine and all and I wish them the best of luck. It’s when they want me to hop on that cliff-bound vehicle with them, that I get a little itchy. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to be my own boss, making the design decisions and such for a client. I think I might even be rather decent at managing the creative side of a small firm. -However-, I don’t want to. I am timid. That’s right, scared of dipping my toe into that particular pond. Right now, I am comfortable and secure. I am good at what I do and I am relaxed knowing that I could be here for quite some time. And, it is that timidness that I fear prohibits me from taking on full responsibility for a client’s business image. I kinda, sorta did it before (by myself) and I felt a lot of “coughs” coming on. I suppose that once I break through that shell, I would weigh the notion of my own business more heavily, but right now, I just don’t wanna. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I had lunch with the missus today. At Chipotle. She turned me on to their Burrito Bols a while back and because she was coming downtown today, we decided to get our lunch on. Last time I got the Bol, they failed to include the rice (I get the Fajita Chicken one). This time, rice all over the bottom of that bowl. Damn that's good eatin’.

I have seen the Blue Man Group twice now. Caught the first one in Vegas and the other right here in Austin. One of the things I like about this inventive percussive group is their instruments. With that said, I would love to see this Blue Man Dream Machine get actually produced.

PS: Having fans in NY rulez!

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Groove To It

Found a new radio station in the iTunes line-up. Analog Voyager under Ambient. Very nice downtempo stuff featuring stuff from Supreme Beings of Leisure, Thievery Coporation, and I think I heard a little Tosca mixed in there somewhere. I would like to see iTunes do a better job of listing -all- the stations’ playlists (and, while we’re at it, AudioScrobbler to pick them up). Some of these songs are really nice, but I’ll never know what they are unless I log onto the station’s site (Analog Voyager requires IE to see their playlist — Good music, moronic site). sold my email addy! I now completely hate those donkey lovers. In the next month, I will be undertaking a hard-core email purging process. If you don’t want your emails (sent to -ANY- of my addresses) to be deleted on sight, make your plea now.

Clearly, Germany has a different approach to teaching safety amongst its blue collar community.

Monday, July 12, 2004

99¢ PowerBook

It’s a brand new day and the start of a fresh week. I’m sleepy.

100,000,000. That’s a lot of zeroes, my friends, and Kevin Britten bought the 100th million song from the iTunes Music Store. Congratulations, Kevin! You lucky son-of-a-… I’m not bitter, I attempted only once for one of the 20GB iPods awarded to purchasers of each 100,000th song downloaded between 95 million and 100 million songs. And last night, after coming from a friend’s house, I got online and checked to see where the total was resting at. 99,983,476. Of course, I had to at least try for the 100th million. I waited 5 minutes, as the Apple homepage was refreshing automatically every 5 minutes with an updated song count. 99,992,529. Great googley-moogley. Almost ten thousand songs sold in 5 minutes. Obviously, they were now going fast and the next refresh of the page would show that the 100th million song would be sold. I cruised through the store, found a nice little ditty by Bond and waited until around 2.5 minutes went by. Unfortunately, I either waited too long or click 'Buy Song' too early. Either way, my name isn’t Kevin Britten, I don’t live in Hays, Kansas and I am certainly -not- getting a 17-inch PowerBook (among other prizes) for 99¢.

In one short week, Apple managed to sell 5 million songs. That has to be some kind of record, some where. As a rough estimate, that is (before tax) $4,950,000. And that is saying all purchases were of single songs at 99¢ each. Close to 5 mil. Now, the grand prize also included a gift certificate for 10,000 iTunes songs. Again, at 99¢ each, that comes to $9,900. So take that from the 5 million sales and you still have close to 5 million dollars. There are some very happy marketing people right now.

I am really sorry about SPeCks. There is no way I can forget about them, but I am just not able to find the time to make new comics. There is a ridiculous amount on my plate right now and as the comic was just a hobby, at best, anyway, I simply can’t find the time to do it. Also, I am not satisfied with the direction the comic is currently taking. Not story wise, well, maybe a little, but mostly with regard to how I am presenting the comic pages. I think I can make it a bit more manageable, because right now, it is an absolute bear. And that is another reason why I don’t have time to do it right now.

I -LOVE- Orisinal’s website and their games are very, very fun in their simplicity. Except for Hungry Spiders. Spiders are always horrible little death bags. Even if you are killing them. *shudder*

PS: If you post a comment as anonymous I obviously can’t see who you are. With that said, posting “Dude, where you been?” doesn't help me and you are unlikely to get a more thorough answer. Also, knowing that you posted from a machine in Flushing, NY does not help me either. And for the love of bandwidth, stop refreshing on the same page. Gimmie more than 5 minutes to see that there is a comment to respond to. 18 page refreshes in 3 minutes from the same IP is just insane!

Wednesday, July 07, 2004


Last night, after work, my wife and I went to the mall to look into getting a birthday present for her mother. No luck on that front. However, we found ourselves, once again, in the Apple Store. We were looking at some educational kids software on the eMacs when I happened to look up and notice “Dr. Mac”, Bob LeVitus, walk into the store. Right up to the Genius Bar. He had his guitar and some other equipment with him and he didn't look like he was there to scope out the latest accessories for iPods.

What he -was- there for was to give a brief tutorial on Apple’s GarageBand. I didn’t know this piece of software, resting in the virtual dusty section of my Dock, was as powerful as it really is. We just happened to be there at the right time to catch this little seminar. With little to no musical talent, one can create a production-level score worthy of the next raise of John Williams’ baton. So we stayed to watch him whip out Rockaway Beach by the Ramones.

Speaking of music, I haven’t heard anything back from Apple regarding my corrupted download of Mysterious. I’m not sure how to handle this situation now. How do I get my money back for a bad MP3?

Lately, I have felt mentally drained. I have noticed that I tend to come home, maybe view one or two websites, then just want to go to bed after dinner. I barely play FFXI as much as I used to and don’t really feel compelled to either. I still love the game and playing it for 5 hours last night was great because Evan was on, but I don’t think I will get on tonight. It was really good to play a video game with my bud. Brought back thoughts of the old days when I had nothing to do but log on and hack indiscriminately at wondering monsters.

XiaoXiao started it (and started it well), but it looks like Ringfinger gonna finish it.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Game On!!!

I meant to make a post yesterday concerning the spectacle that was the 4th. Unfortnuately, I was just really busy. The 4th was neat. There were lights and stuff in the sky. Loud noises. I spent $80+ on big bang-bangs. I like mortars. However, my little party was over just as fast as it started, while everyone else in my neighborhood apparently had half of Libya's arsenal staged in their front yard. People were firing off stuff past 3AM. My display started at about 9 and lasted maybe 45 minutes. The rest of my community started at 8:30 and was blowing shtuff up until 3:30 in the morning. And not just BlackCats or 3 inch fountains. No. The 21 Shot Grand Blaster with the Double Packed Rose Performance. At 3AM.

Oh, and I was workin’ the BBQ pit. Ribs, sausage and shrimp all getting their roast on. I hadn’t used the pit in a while, but it all came back to me and we had some mighty fine grub.

Yesterday was a bit spooky. Most people, here in Austin, got the day off. City, private, etc. Except State. State employees, apparently, were subjugated to business as usual. No big whoop. But there was this weird air about the day. Like it was supposed to be a holiday. I mean, everyone was here like normal, but the atmosphere was real quiet and very non-business day… ish. Was just mildly haunting.

DSNLG is going a bit better. I have people commenting on their ratings. Like I said before, I don’t have a problem with a low rating. I have a problem with someone trashing it and not saying why. I guess I just need that form of justification.

Got some great news today in gameland. Evan snagged a copy of FFXI! The old gamers are together again! He picked a Tarutaru as he is all about the magics and shtuff. I so happy.

This is what you get when Anime goes Live-action.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

About That Bad Day

Yesterday was just chock full of unfortunate events, one after another. I had some bizarre design related issues at work. I made some stupid remarks that may or may not bite me in the ***. Thankfully, a coworker was there to give us a little C.Y.A. and then we talked to my boss to inform her of my mistake should anything come of it later. All this was going on while my first DSNLG was (still is actually) being ripped to shreds anonymously. To give you an idea of why I am so disturbed at my image’s rating (as of yesterday evening), this image had a higher rating than mine up until sometime this morning. I am barely a tenth of a point higher than that image now (5:15PM 703/4). Clearly, plagiarized work is more accepted than original works. According to the ratings given.

And to cap it all off, the coil on my right front tire snapped. Some 800+ dollars and a week later, I will have a car again.

At least my home cable modem is back up and running.

No happy link for you… today.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Bad Day…

And, it has begun.

The DSNLG I initiated with scoab is titled “As Seen On TV”. I am the initiator, so I was charged with doing the first image for which scoab will respond to. I pondered over this one for a good while. I think I initiated it sometime last week. Anyway, the idea I had with this was to take a look (and maybe even poke a little fun) at all the infomercials that proliferate the airways. When I thought of the idea, at first, I couldn’t help but wonder how people got their “New Product” info back in the old days. And how everything back then was all “Better Living Through More Stuff”. Then I got to thinking, “what is the one thing that is common on every infomercial today?” FREE! Everything comes with something for free. “You get -ALL- this, -AND- this FREE toaster!” Hell, even regular commercials are toting something for free on their products. In the other sense of the word. Caffeine Free, and the like. But, infomercials, free free free — for -only- x easy installments of $xx.99! Yes, there is also a formula for price. Never, never, never use a round number. For the love of profit margins, drop that penny off. You’ll get ’em every time.

Ok, whenever I decide to make a post for a day, I start contemplating at the beginning of the day and add to a text file as I generate thoughts. By the end of the day, I post everything I wrote down. This is why titles, for me, are hard to generate. Some of my posts can be all over the place. The reason I am stating this is due to the fact that, so far, my image for that DSNLG has received some votes (two of them, I believe). Out of 4, it is rated 1.5 (that is bad - lowest is a 1). Now, design is a fickle mistress. I expect a few (perhaps even a lot) of low scores. I have joined a community that thrives, nay, was built for the purpose of communication and conversation. Constructive criticism is expected from these guys. What I don’t expect is silence. Voting low for an image on this site -demands- some form of reason why. Simply voting and keeping your mouth shut is at once cowardly and just plain bullshit. If you don’t like my image, whether for conceptual or execution reasons, tell me — with words. Don’t hide behind your anonymous mouse click and a number.

Have a happy fourth and try not to blow your face off.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Submit To The Penquin

I am real close to finishing up the first image for the DSNLG I am participating in. Basically, I could post it now as is, but it feels like something needs to happen to it. Whether that is adding something, or changing something, I don’t know, it just feels like something needs to be altered. If I can’t figure it out by the end of the day tomorrow I will post it as is. No doubt my conspirator is getting impatient to see this thing get started.

This weekend, I am going to really, really, really try to do something for SPeCks. I think I am going to have to go to a once a week schedule for the pages. Several online comics have taken that route and I think that is why they might be so darn good. MegaTokyo is the exception to that. It is good -and- makes a solid effort to be published three times a week. Go Fred! Anyway, what I really need to concentrate on is making it funny. The art is pretty good, stable even, but I think the writing could use some tweaking. I know I can be as funny as these guys, but working with miniature spawns of Satan is hard work.

Also, this weekend, I am going to really hunker down on some thumbs for the CF poster. Posters are so fun! I still have a screen print I did back in college for a fictional Swatch Watch conference. Man that was fun to work on and it turned out sweet. I’ve did a ton of posters in college, but two really stand out above all of them. Poster art is some of the nicest print work out there and I am not ashamed to snatch a couple of pieces from print shops when I go on a tour. I got stuff that no one else has and will never get. MWAHAHAHAHA… ahem…

I use a Mac. But if I used a Linux box…