Friday, February 25, 2005

Designing Oscar

About a month ago, Airbag Industries was promoting a logo contest for a local business. This spurned an incredible debate that argued the merits and ethics of design contests for commercial business. Even for events that aren’t necessarily considered commercial by nature. There was a bunch of talk on devaluing the design industry and what have you. I feel that such contests, while not wholly evil, do place a strain on our community and the industry as a whole.

And now I read about how the Oscars have an open design competition for every year’s poster design (and subsequently the look and feel of the event). Brett Davidson, a designer gone IT guy for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (which runs the Oscars), was this year’s “winner”. He beat out some “big guns” to do it, too. Congratulations! However… the Oscar’s has an open design competition for its look and feel? This brings me back to the prior topic. Are these design competitions devaluing the industry? What was the reward for having your design selected? Aren’t companies, in effect, getting to choose from a veritable buffet of design without the charge, for the process and effort that went into its creation, when having a competition of this sort? What confuses me is that this year’s competition was under a “blind submission” judging process. Yet… Davidson (being the IT guy) was “the one who had to set up [the large agencys’] fancy presentations in the conference room.” And Davidson, himself, presented his submission to the committee. So, how is that a blind submission? Perhaps I simply don’t know the AMPAS’ definition of blind submission.

Personally, I am not in favor of contests — specifically, those that are for commercial enterprises. I will not harp on those designers that participate in said contests, but I will not be participating in them. Those “big guns”, that Davidson’s design beat out, put a lot of effort and time into their submissions and were not compensated for any of it. Don’t mistake me, I am excited for Mr. Davidson winning with his submission. I actually like the look of the poster. He did a really great job. It’s the principles of a contest for design work that I find fault in.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Yep, it’s confirmed. Sometime in early June, I will have to declare bankruptcy. An armageddon of cuteness will be dropped on my household like a London air raid. That’s right folks, it’s gonna be a GIRL! Sweet Jesus…

If that wasn’t bad enough, the sono showed us some striking model-esque features. Long legs. Man… a girl that is going to be inconceivably cute… with long legs. I don’t see how I am going to survive. I will be wrapped around that girl’s finger tighter than aged leather — when I am not beating the lads off with a steal girder. All other signs point to healthy, healthy, healthy. She is gonna be a strong one.

Good news is, we are now going to be able to register more appropriately as well as do up the baby’s room now. Not that we are going gender specific, but I think I would have pushed for the planes theme more if it was a boy. Dragonflies and lady bugs are the order of the day. With little froggies.

I love her so much… both of them.

Friday, February 18, 2005


There are so many blogs out there, it can get awfully confusing as to who’s is who’s. Perhaps, like me, you have a collection of blogs bookmarked or on a feed so you can access them each day and not try to remember the addresses of each one. Regardless, what makes a particular blog stand out? And how does it stand out? Is it the content, the way it looks, or a combination of both? I would like to think that my content is enough to have the design overlooked. I am not saying my blog (or portfolio site for that matter) looks horrible, just that it isn’t as hoopty-goo as some out there (and yet, Takashi Kamada’s actual blog-style blog is as similar as all the rest).

Then my friend, Budi, comes along and brings up a possible limitation of CSS. He looked at three blogs (mine included) and made an observation that they looked very similar in design. Here’s a peek at the three sites side-by-side. Budi then tells me, “If you had told me those 3 pages are sub-pages to the same parent page, I'd say, ‘Rock on’.” Is the similarity a result of trends, or is it a result of what CSS is possibly limiting designers to create? Initially, I want to say they share a common layout based on trends.

The CSS Zen Garden showcases fresh designs using the same HTML document but with different CSS driving the layout. However… I feel that many of the designs are pretty much the same with the exception to the graphics used. So perhaps CSS is limiting how designers layout their sites. Or perhaps, the content of the design is more important than the layout?

This is why I lean towards the “trends” argument. Each one of the three sites in the picture are blogs. Or at least, I term them as blogs. Blogs can be seen as mini-newspapers with very specific themes for daily (or semi-daily) content. The content is the most important thing on these sites. Lately, content is king and without it, who cares what your site looks like. So if a newspaper makes with a new design that is dramatically different than the other papers, are you more likely to buy it to keep up with your news? I believe the answer is “no”. I know I wouldn’t want to try to sift through a new layout to find something that interests me regarding entertainment. I know the Section, the page and the area for news on weekend box office results. You change that up on me and I am not happy. So, I feel, the trends for blog design are going to be similar across the board for the majority of sites.

Monday, February 14, 2005

8 Years Stress Free

Valentine’s Day. Let’s face it gents, this is all for da ladies. This is the day that all the attached women out there get treated like goddesses on Earth (and rightfully so). Restaurants make a killing on this day — and without a reservation, dining out today is likely not an option. Chocolates are the tried and true, with truffles being that extra mile. Holland stays in business because of this holiday.

So what do you get her that makes this day memorable for her? It always has to be memorable, or top the prior ones, right? And sentimental, let’s not forget that. It must mean something! Well, about 8 years ago, I got a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card. I asked my wife to marry me on Valentine’s Day. At a dance concert. On stage. In front of an auditorium filled with people I didn't know, and that didn’t know me as anything other than one of the performers. I gave some witty prose, asked her to come up on stage, handed her some decoy flowers, got down on one knee and asked her to “be my senses for the rest of my life.” Wouldn’t you know, she fell for it! So now, as long as I show her the attention she deserves, get her a card or do something, anything at all, on this day – I win! Nothing tops a proposal.

Elsewhere, in the design community, there is a new toy available for all you illustrators (and perhaps some of you non-illustration types). WACOM has created something rather drool-worthy. At least to my artist friends. Imagine a 21-inch LCD flat-panel display. That you can draw on! The new 21" Cintiq isn’t showcased on WACOM’s site, but Gizmodo has some info on it. Raise your pen if you want one.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Kickin' Back

No design related post for today (the weekends usually will be short on this topic).

My brother-in-law was in ICU for over a week due to respiratory problems related to sleep apnea. He gets out today to be placed in a regular room. As he was in ICU, we would visit his room to give him confidence and let him know we were there for him. He is going to be a great uncle and is very excited about my wife's pregnancy so we talked about it a good deal. I have also been holding my wife’s belly in hopes to feel something, anything of the baby.

Yesterday, I felt three little kicks that happened like a 3-burst round from a semi-auto. Quick and light. My eyes must have grown to the size of grapefruits because my wife knew immediately that I felt them. She confirmed that they were kicks and I was as giddy as a school girl. I kept holding her belly in the ICU room in hopes to feel more and every nurse coming in would make comments of congratulations and the like. My brother-in-law and mother-in-law could tell I felt them too and were very happy to have it happen at the time it did.

With my luck, I got to feel the first kicks (outside of my wife, of course) but I will likely miss the first steps. I need to get a good digital camcorder.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Parasite Seeks Host

I have had my website hosted by Doteasy for a long time now. For all intents and purposes, it has served my needs well. I get a space to showcase my portfolio, and that’s all I really wanted in the first place. Recently, however, (or perhaps not so recently) I have discovered that I need more. More features for my web space. More control over my content. More, more, more. Unfortunately, I don’t want to pay more. Who does, really? For some time now, I have been considering a move to another host service. One that allows more features for my website while not costing exponentially more than what I am currently paying. With the way this internet thing is growing, I better make up my mind quick or face being buried in the other rabble that has been out there longer on better established servers.

Enter the choices:
mediatemple: at $7.95/mo and all those sweet amenities, that’s the front runner.
Upgraded Doteasy: also $7.95/mo but without all the (mt) goodness.

I am only going with these two options right now because it is a headache to look up companies I have never heard of before. I suppose I could probably strike up a deal with WaveOrigin (the good folks that host Scoab Interactive), but I think I would feel like I was mooching off them or something.

So, if anyone out there who happens to stumble on this page, drop me some advice if you got any.

Elsewhere: Remember Font Aid III, to which I contributed a fleuron to? Well, that font was supposed to go on sale at at the Font Aid III page in late January. Ya – no font. Not sure what to do about that.

They're already here.

PS: I love my wife. Hope you get better, baby.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Tag, You’re It

Remember EPIC? Well, there is a new thing that seems to be spreading along the internet rather veraciously that could make EPIC closer to a reality. It’s called tagging. Being on, you will have to view an advertisement if you don’t have an account. It’s hard for me to explain tagging, but essentially, you list keywords related to your hobbies and interests and these “tags” get digested by software that will then match you up to everybody else who shares those same “tags”. You know, like Amazon has that “People who bought this item also bought these items” thing.

I just joined — which is a site that publicly lists your goals/hopes/dreams/desires as tags and lets you see who else shares the same thinking as you. Coinencidentally, Amazon is behind 43 Things. What does that mean?

I think it means that something like EPIC could be more of an inevitable reality than we think. I agree with my colleague, Budi, when he says that Amazon could be using 43Things to bolster sales. How? If you sign up (for free) on 43Things and then post a couple “things” for yourself, Amazon could then “suggest” some products, books or whatever to you so that you might accomplish those things. Rather clever, really.

Certainly, 43Things (or tagging in general) means more than simply being a ridiculously robust and integrated advertisement. I think it does. More and more, the internet is making this world phenomenally smaller. With tagging, I believe it is going to get even smaller. The world is becoming more social. More of a community because of things like this. I don’t personally know “sonofgroucho”, but I do know he shares my goal of getting more people to read my blog.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Super Bowel

firstly - you meant to search ‘super bowl’ didn’t you? admit it. it’s ok. you’re in good company. and by ‘good’, i mean plentiful. many people misspell a simple four-letter word like ‘bowl’. the word i used to title this post, however, refers to the intestine (commonly seen as bowels). as in, the transporter of crap. this post has nothing to do with the actual game, but rather the commercials that are aired during it. the ‘05 super bowl had some real stinkers.

secondly – go to youtube to see the 2007 super bowl xli commercials that aired.


It is (was) that time of year again. Many people anticipate today with much fervor. Folks around the nation, chomping at the bit to see something spectacular. An impressive moment that will be talked about during their morning coffee to the guy from accounting. That’s right — Super Bowl commercials.

A couple of years ago (several actually), the commercials that aired during the Super Bowl could have challenged the game itself for air time. If you bought your tickets and went to the game, you actually care about the game. But for the rest of us folks, we get commercials whether we care to see the next touchdown or not. And advertisers know it. At its height, Super Bowl ads were something to see. Watching commercials didn’t seem so bad. Today… what a bunch of crap.

The FCC, or perhaps advertisers in general, have become so scared of the minority out there that the rest of us are subjected to donut ads for Dodge trucks. Sure, there is the occasional “good” ad that is either funny, witty or essentially clever, but I want commercials like Apple’s “1984”. Where are those ads? Being censored because of “Somebody Else” syndrome. PS: Read the comic there too. It’s ridiculously worth it. Unfortunately, this type of mentality has ruined it for the rest of us. The best we can hope for this year was barely a handful of ads about cars and mortgages.

However, despite the bumper crop of “ho-hums” out there, there is always the one that shines above the rest. The one that tried so hard to be different. To actually say something. The one many will likely talk about during their morning coffee to the guy from accounting. I’d like to think that one, this year, was the ad promoting Napster. Why? Because it was -the- worst ad I have ever seen. Ever. And I have seen a lot of ads. A lot. If you are going to compare your product and/or service to another’s, at least have the intelligence to compare the same type of product and/or service.

If you didn’t see the ad, good for you. Otherwise, suck it, because I am not linking to it — wherever it is. Basically, all the ad does is paste an equation type deal up on the screen to compare the cost of Apple’s iPod’s capacity to Napster’s new music service. That’s right, they compared a portable “hard drive” to a music service. Saying it would cost you $10,000 to fill up an iPod (they didn’t even bother to specify which iPod) as opposed to $15 a month to fill up any other MP3 player (Apple doesn’t like crap touching their products, I guess) using their service. How does that even compare? First, the assumption was made that every song for your iPod (the 40GB model) is the result of iTunes purchases (at 99¢). Second, they claim a service is the same as a physical product. Third, they are comparing Apples to oranges. Sorry, had to do it.

In the ad, they say you have access to a million songs at any time during your subscription and you can download as many as you want for only $15 a month, thereby never having to pay 99¢ each time you want to download a song. Oddly enough, I have over 600 songs in my digital library and I have only shelled out $13.17 to Apple for music downloads. And, yes, you can download songs and then import them into your iPod without having them originate from the iTunes Music Store. According to Napster, I must have paid over $600 for having all those songs on my iPod. It’s probably due to the fact that I actually bought CDs legitimately and transferred them to my computer and then to my iPod. Crazy!

The ad fails because it will not cost me $10k to fill up my iPod. iTunes is not my only option to acquire 10,000 songs. It also fails because the ad tries to attack the iTunes Music Store but its strongest argument is based on the iPod’s storage capacity being the reason you will pay so much. Obviously, I am not the target audience for this spot… but can one really say this was a good ad at all?

Lamest commercial ever.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Hit The Pigeon

I’ve mentioned before how I liked making web banners and it is still true. I like playing with animated .GIFs. They’re just so darn nifty. Well, back in the day, I made them with an actual purpose to sell a product and/or service. When making an advertising banner for a company, it is important to know said company’s target audience. Recently, McDonald’s has been tapping into the “hip-hop” market (to what effectiveness, I don’t know). So they are trying to be more “hip”. I guess they thought using the slang used by their audience would do that for them. Might have helped to actually research the slang first:

Holy cow! I mean... er... pigeon! Magical Trevor is back!!!