Hsinchu lawn mower

Pictured below is Hsinchu’s answer to both the climate crisis and the rising cost of fuel. Instead of hiring workers to whack the grass into dust with their noisy polluting weed trimmers, they have instead stationed two goats at a local park in what could be the start of a country wide program. As an added bonus I’m sure the grass gets a much needed nutrient boost.
Coincidentally, if the goats continue in their current direction, the park leads them directly to a large meat packing plant.

Unique qualities of sound

Some of the ways that sound is unique are as follows:

  • Sound can provide information about the interior of an object. Our ears perceive patterns of moving air from vibrating objects and sound can carry information about the consistency and hollowness of objects.
  • Sound also communicates information very quickly (Brewster 1998)
  • “Sound exists in time and over space, vision exists in space and over time” (Gaver 1989)
  • Sound is not bound to a specific location

A draw back is that one cannot turn away from sounds nor can one turn off our ears to unpleasant sounds.

Media’s Roles and Functions

Media mediates — Between one person and another, one community to another, one time and another.
Media play many functions — Community building. Political debate and economic exchange. Entertainment and recreation. Propaganda and surveillance. Protest and resistance. Knowledge management.
Media are tools — We’re often told media has effects on us, making us more violent, more passive, more sexual. In fact, we do things with media. People use media to archive memories (home movies, family photos), preserve social ties (the Internet, the phone), and experience the central stories of their culture (Greek epic, Hollywood cinema).
All media are participatory — Digital media are celebrated as creating a more participatory culture, where we are no longer passive consumers but active, creative producers; people can build their own website, shop on-line, or participate in chatrooms. But media participation has a long history. When radio was first introduced, it was assumed that everyday people would be able to transmit as well as receive information; instead, radio became in most Western cultures primarily a technology for one-way, broadcast communication. Aspects of its participatory tradition remain, however, in “talk radio” or even when we choose a favorite song to express our feelings for family and friends.
MIT Media Communication Group
Via Digital Story Telling

Thursday’s night out

Tonight I pick up my daughter Catriona from school, make her some dumplings, head out with her in her pink ballet tutu, pick up my son Camren, drop off Catriona at dance class and head off with Camren to enjoy the wicked sites of this crazy Hsinchu town.
It used to be that a night out with the boys meant heading to a bar to listen to some old crooner, drinking some kind of stale pale ale, and heading home realizing that you were going to feel like crap in the morning. These days I substitute the old boys with my son and hit the juice bar at the top of Sogo where we gulp down all too sweet watermelon juice.
An evening out like this used to be far easier when we lived downtown. Then we used to walk everywhere. Somehow during the planning of our move to the wilds of Siangshan we neglected to take into consideration just how long it takes to drive to the city center. I leave here at 530 and arrive at Catriona’s dance class an hour later. In Taiwan that’s a journey.
Tonight in addition to heading to the juice bar, where they actually prepare our order before we arrive – like Cheers*, we will check out the Cars toys which are reputed to be on sale, head to Eslite for a brief look at books, throw rocks in the ‘canal around’, listen to either the natives from Central America play muzak or to the out of tune garage bands playing at the circle, watch the kids practice their dance routines, feed some stray dogs, refuel with an ice cream, practice our numbers while we pick up Catriona. A far more entertaining Thursday night.
*There is an old bar called Cheers off Kuang Fu rd. near Tsing Hua University.



Elsa the newest member of our family comes to us via Animals Taiwan in Taipei. She has literally taken our house by storm (and chewed to pieces my favourite black jacket in the process).

Over the next few days I hope to bringing home a beautiful lab that is being fostered in Taipei. It’s a lively household.

Web of confusion

“Web browsers, the primary tool for accessing the World Wide Web, use the page metaphor, which is appropriate for browsing static text with hyperlinks. This is the task that browsers were designed for.
As the Web expanded into transaction systems and applications, the page metaphor has been mixed with application metaphors. This has created confusing environments for users.” (Fellenz, Parkkinen , Shubin 1998)



I have no idea what the character means but I like this icon allot. Found on a rotting old building close to my home in Siangshan.

Still in love with red

As I get older I seem to have less and less desire for anything but the simplest presentations of text and images. This economy of attention drives much of what I do though I often fail in executing on this vision – in my own projects and for clients. It’s hard to bill a client for simplicity as they often have so much to say and if it’s too simple they believe they could have done the same themselves. Which in some cases is true.

A year or so ago I had a conversation with a local client about his company logo. I’m not really into logos and tend to rely on other expressions of ‘brand’ – a word I dislike. He said he hated when expat.’s or foreign companies used cliché expressions of Chinese culture – name stamps or the use of red when creating their corporate dm. An uncomfortable silence followed for a few seconds as another person attending the meeting knew I expressed myself with these cliché expressions.

When I was playing with the design of this site, well deleting cruft mostly, this conversation was a driving factor in how I would design this weblog. Interesting how off the cuff remarks can be a driver for your work.

Despite not reading Mandarin I do love stamps and calligraphy but my cliché style was most influenced by a French artist in Vietnam who was selling all kinds of his art on paper bags, t-shirts, and prints. More pop art than anything serious but I loved the way he used stamps and black ink. Unfortunately I have long lost his name and Google has failed me.

So as hard as I tried I still can’t escape the use of red and black, and the use of a stamp as a logo. It’s fun and a nice break from stuffy corporatedom.

iPhoto magic

I’m importing 6 months of camera photos into iPhoto, the only means in which I take photos these days, and somehow iPhoto detects duplicates. That’s a neat feature I haven’t seen before.
Later: Oh and it catalogues my camera movies as well. I think I might just come back to using iPhoto again after using iView for years.