Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Info On Info

On October 7th, next Thursday, I will be attending an Information Design seminar/course given by Edward Tufte. This fine gentleman is an artist, a designer and information architect, as it were. I believe I had the pleasure of being at a design show that featured him as a speaker, but that was back in college and am not sure if it was, in fact, him. I made a right fool of myself during his talk.

The good news about this “course” is that I get stuff. Three books and a poster. So even if I am caught up in a whirlwind of confusion during the course, I can always review the books afterwards. And I like posters.

Elsewhere: Hexstatic is a group that dishes up some nice grooves. And their website is pretty groovy too. I loved my View•Master (or Master•View, or whatever the hell it was - clicky=piccy). I personally recommend the Salvador video for your viewing pleasure as well as Chase Me (also featured in the Toons section of Weebls).

Monday, September 27, 2004

Weekend Update

This last weekend was pretty “action-packed” as it were. Friday, we went over to a friend’s house for a movie night gathering of several people. The wives (including my own) got their hair cut whilst the men watched Empire Strikes Back. I think we were more interested in poking some good fun at ESB more than actually watching it. "Daddy? Really? Boy, have you got some back child support to make up for!"

Saturday was to be a lovely trip to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, but with a bit of rain, it was thought best not to go. Mostly because the butterflies wouldn’t be out and while walking along a path of wildflowers during a light sprinkle would be nice, the intent was to see some butterflies as well - for the whole package. So that will have to wait until this next weekend, I imagine.

Yesterday, we did the usual grocery shopping and such. We got my niece some nice birthday gifts (that’s coming up) and we also bought some new sheets that reminded us of the Wilderness Lodge, our hotel during our honeymoon. After all that, it was off to the office to get a little extra work done. The best part? My wife was there with me. It really kept me on track (oddly enough) and I really appreciated her company. We were having such a full day, I didn't want it to end with me spending 4 hours at work hammering out stuff alone.

Animated .GIFs can be so damn cool sometimes. Stick figures are apparently quite versatile.

Friday, September 24, 2004


Today, I got my “new” diploma in the mail. As many of you know, I graduated from Southwest Texas State University. Well, gone the way of the dodo is SWT(SU) and it is now known, simply, as Texas State University. Now, fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with that, I actually quite dig it - except I didn’t graduate from TSU, I graduated from SWT. Sure, it is the same buildings, same city, same colors, it just doesn’t seem like the same school anymore.

Because of the name change, Texas State is offering (I imagine they still are, at least) new diplomas with the new "Look, Feel and Name" of this inevitably prestigious university. I love my old diploma. It is class. It is refinement. It is TSU. But, I won't have people giving me confused German shepherd looks when they see it, so I buckled under the pressure and got a version of the new one as well. Like the school traveled back in time with the new name and issued me the diploma like it would had I walked today.

A couple of differences:
1) Obviously, the name. Duh… So now it says Texas State University. Yeah. Interestingly enough, however, the city locale is treated differently. San Marcos is more pronounced, some 10 pts larger at least, maybe more. And they removed “Texas”. Of course, I am not sure why they really needed to identify the state Southwest Texas State was located in, but hey.

2) No color. On my old diploma (I graduated in ’98 during the centennial celebration) there is this gorgeous 4-color logo mark at the bottom. Sure, the school’s seal is absent, but my diploma celebrates 100 years of higher education. So, with the new one — seal. Foil stamped in gold. Nice. Elegant. I think foil stamping is cheaper than 4-color (it’s just one pass through the press).

3) My name. Ya, I’m pretty sure they screwed this up. On all my official documents I go ahead and accept my middle name and show it off. Old diploma = Full name, all spelled out. New diploma = middle initial. I know for a fact I put my full middle name for something such as this. Aside from that - it is a slightly different font. Same Old-English style, but just enough of a variance to be distinguishable.

Overall - I like it. It really is nice. The font is bigger across the board for all elements and the foil is a nice touch. 50 years from now, I will be just as pleased with my old diploma though. There’s something about getting your bachelor’s that makes a single piece of parchment worth more than anything else. My wife’s on the other hand is, hands down, cooler than mine. St. Edward’s has a regality that completely overshadows any state school.

PS: In the envelope containing my diploma, there was also another “new” diploma. One for Mindee L. Thweatt, BS – Computer Science, ’92. Summa Cum Laude even. Nice. Congrats Mindee! Now I just gotta figure out how to get it back to the university.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

That’s A Moire!

Today, we shall discuss the moire (pronounced more-ray) print effect. This effect is basically the result of the halftone screen process used in modern printing where patterns of small dots are overlayed to produce color and shading. It can also be the result of poor scanning. Ultimately, for my job, it is bad. I don't think there is a time I would approve of a printed piece that is suffering from a moire pattern. An example can be seen below:

A more mathematical method of showing this effect can be seen in this sample. It is catchy and neat, but when I am trying to have a very important program printed, I do not want my block colors and photo images to have this pattern. To me, it is poor craftsmanship to even show a proof with this effect all over it.

Now, my wife and her adorable missy-isms (or so we call them) might consider it very pleasing to have an eel on your print. It is sea-animal friendly! While I’d agree that sporting aquatic life in my work would give it a certain “fun factor”, this particular piece might not benefit from it as much. I will work some morays into my next project…

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Sometimes in life, things can happen that will change you forever. This weekend, I found my wife again and, thusly, my life again. I love her so much and will do anything for this woman. She is the very reason I go on. My wife is exceptional. She always has been and always will be. I can adore no other as I do her.

Saturday was the start of a new day. A new opportunity. We went to the Pottery Barn and purchased a little night light that looked like a mini-lamp. Very nice color. I won't be lost at night anymore, stubbing my toes, running my face into the hall divider. We had Chick-Fil-A for lunch. My wife is on a diet that has a core-foods list. She was spot on the entire day which was just awesome. Her lunch was better than mine, but I could not eat mine. I did have some of her fruit bowl, however. We tried to get Virtual PC for her laptop, but had no luck at the Apple Store. We -will- get it though as she needs it for her CPA courses.

Sometimes, printing companies are a bit messed up…

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Gmail Is Good-Mail

Gmail. What's it all aboot? Well, the big bonus to Gmail is the searchability of all your emails, and with 1Gig of storage, deleting them isn't necessary. Can't remember the birthday of your 3rd cousin, twice removed, but got an email of his birth notice 9 months ago? Search the little bugger's name and Gmail will pull up the email for you. There are a bunch of other features that I have obviously yet to examine, but, who knows, this may be my new means of online email checking!

So, ya, I got that going for me now. Thanks to my good friend for hooking me up with a little Gmail action! To get a hold of my new Gmail addy, leave a comment or something. Or email me at my other email with Subject: n3w! (so it doesn't get deleted if you are not in my Address Book).

Our friends over at Orisinal have a new game. More fun than a barrel of monkeys, it’s Sliding Monkeys!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

No News Is Good News…

Sometimes… what I mean to say is… well… crap…

…here, watch this instead — Salad Fingers, EP4.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Dark Gorgeous

Quite a long time ago, I found myself at a rather hauntingly beautiful website. This was some four years ago. Recently, I stumbled onto this little game concerning scarecrows and the crows they must scare to continue living. Well, I immediately recognized the art in the game. I traced the site back to MyPetSkeleton — a portfolio site, of sorts, for Vincent Marcone. I was soon reminded of the beauty that is this man’s disturbingly delicate designs. Of course, he is also a part of Johnny Hollow, a group of artists that make exceptional music together.

In support of the “band”, I am posting a banner-link to their site amongst the menu items to the right. I recommend the purchase of their CD. I await my copy’s arrival in the mail.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Catch Up

Sit back, grab a cup of whatever, let's discuss shall we…

So I haven't posted in a while. Ya, I have been really busy. There is a lot going on at the office. And I mean a -lot-. I have felt that I have had more of a design mindset lately, however, so that is good. I have paid more attention to font combinations (Bembo and TheSans work well together). Finding good type is always a challenge. What font best fits the feel you are trying to convey? Which combinations balance or challenge each other? Do you want contrast or consistency? I went to a couple typographic related forums, read articles, did a bit of study to figure out some “best practices” on type selection. I feel a little more like the designer I want to be.

One of the design elements that give me the most grief is color. Trying to figure out good color combinations is a bit daunting at times. But I came up with ten combinations for one project and though only one will be picked, I think all of them actually work and look forward to using them on future projects. Again, I did some research before I chose the ten sets to be “judged”. A great resource in this was Jim Krause’s Color Index. I personally recommend any and all of the Index books by Krause. They are excellent resources, if nothing more than to activate those juices.

Questions are important. Unfortunately, for me, I sometimes forget to ask myself any. I will be staring at my sketch book, just sitting there, like I am expecting the page to magically expose a solution to me. “Here, Terry, wouldn’t this be neat looking?” That’s never going to happen — on blank paper, that is. I have seen a lot of design inside of other things, but never on a blank page in my sketch book. Maybe it’s broken, I don’t know. Anyway, I find that if I ask questions I will often come up with a solution much faster. Ask yourself simple questions and when you provide the answer, you feel accomplished and challenge yourself to a harder question and so on and so forth. Sometimes, however, I will just be staring onto that blank page asking question after question with no solution at all.

One of the things that I have discovered about myself is that I am useless without my pencil. It isn’t a special pencil. I didn’t get it as an heirloom from my 18th Century Great-Uncle on my mother’s side, or anything. I got it in college. A Sanford Pro Touch II - 0.5mm. The ink on the side is rubbed completely off leaving only the slight deboss of the printing. I can not find a replacement for the eraser. The silver chrome has worn off most of the metal parts, leaving behind a dingy bronze color. Despite all its imperfections, it has a certain something that “helps” me work. Without it, I feel insecure and confused. Even if I don’t use it, knowing where it is and having it close is comforting. I don't even remember when I bought it.

SPeCks has, once again, taken a back seat to the “real” world. Oh… so you’ve noticed. No you haven’t. Liar. But at any rate, I miss those little guys and feel bad that I can’t bring them out to play right now. I suppose, eventually, I will have a better schedule for dealing with the little buggers, but for now, it’s too much for me to handle. I think the fact that it is so story-driven makes it also difficult to maintain. I have thousands of short stories in my head. And when I mean short, I mean really really short. 700 words short. For perspective, this post is up to 668 words. 669 if you count ‘words’. Turns out a short story is no longer than 7000 words (according to Zoetrope All-Story). That’s a lot of words for a short story. Granted, All-Story has contests with submission rules for stories no longer than 5,000 words, but still, that’s long to me. Hell, last year’s winner, “A Year Above Christmas Tree Lane,” was 6,449 words long. Cheater.

If you are interested, you might have noticed that my flag collection to the right has grown, steadily, over the last couple of months. There are now 17 countries represented in the graphic. For those that have forgotten, I have a stat-counter that has a nice feature telling me where someone is, in the world, when they view this blog. The internet is an awesome thing.

How have I never heard of Ken Jennings?!?