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.


Where Art Thou?

weblogs.jpg
I haven’t written much here in the past few months as I struggle to maintain a difficult schedule of client work, projects, family life, and writing for other weblogs.
Since I am writing elsewhere I am trying a little experiment with an extra column to the right, on the homepage only, to track all my entries on those weblogs that I publish on my own. So far I don’t dig it much but I will give it some time to see if it’s worthwhile or not.
I have another project in the works which will likely influence greatly what I write here. For years I have wanted to publish a magazine in Chinese on topics related to the many facets of developing good user experiences online. Time has past and others have jumped into the fray with some excellent efforts but certainly there is room for another. Hopefully I will be able to announce that here soon and can get back to sharing all the great things I find online related to the topics here on this weblog.
In addition to this weblog I also publish the following:

  • Minzoo – Modern gear for babies and their dads
  • Pop Wuping – Modern stuff for a mobile lifestyle
  • Shao Kelake – Off-the-cuff commentary and destinations of interest
  • 35togo – snapshots of life in Taiwan and other parts of Asia

You can find some of my work here:

  • Quiet Please – I make interactive products, installations, and weird sound art
  • My Portfolio – design, research, photography, writing, and yes weblogs

Pop Wuping Launch

I haven’t been that busy around this site of late as I have been devoting a significant amount of time over the past couple of months developing a new site which is linked in the footer and on my contact page. It’s called Pop Wuping.
I think we all have our minor product obsessions or idiosyncrasies (some call it an object fetish); some people collect sneakers, others buy too many shoes, some have to have all the latest gadgets, while others may have the luxury of buying a new car every year. For me it’s always been bags and t-shirts (to a much lesser extent sneakers as well). So I created Pop Wuping as an online buying guide for people who might share my interest or who might benefit from having someone find the best bags and t-shirts available on the web. It also serves as a research tool for me as I have had a dream of having my own line of bags and apparel – as farfetched an that idea may be. It still being developed but have a visit and let me know what you think.
Now that I am getting into a groove I hope to learn to enjoy managing all the blogs I have created (and am creating).
Pop Wuping


My Stream of Consciousness

While I am certainly my own worst critic it sometimes takes the criticism of others to spur me into action. My last podcast met some fairly accurate and blunt comments which have resulted in me pulling the original file and rerecording the topic.
I’m not sure that it will address the criticism that I lack enthusiasm as I tend to be fairly laid back with a rather lazy sounding voice. My slowness in speaking is a practiced trait as I often need to talk to people who speak English as a second language. They hate when I get excited and start speaking quickly. They also make up a portion of my audience here. If that offends then it’s perhaps best to not listen.
Also, I am quite aware of the display problems that occur when viewing this site in IE on a PC. My last minor changes to this site seem to wreak havoc. I should have tested it again to save myself the embarrassment when I view the site with someone late last week. It’s not the point but I don’t know how anyone can view text online for any great length of time with a PC. The text on this site, I am using Georgia as my serif, looks like absolute garbage even with the lame aliasing option turned on (which is buried deep in the Windows OS). No wonder I still see so many offices continuing to print out “readables” even though they have high resolution displays. I’m working on cleaning up this and a number of other issues on the site.


Shao Kelake launch

I recently launched Shao Kelake (小克拉克), a sort of mini-version of this blog which is also used in my sidebar on the right (Shao (小) is small in Chinese).
When I started a weblog, or whatever the term was then, I primarily posted short off the cuff remarks and links to the things I found interesting. Sort of a pre-Kottke or post suck. No titles and everything was organized by date. I posted regularly and it was for a time a fun and popular project. Later I thought I was getting serious or was simply getting caught up in a trend or was simply conforming to the tool of choice at that time. The trend was for longer entries organised by title. But sometimes I don’t like such serious codification nor do I always have time nor the inclination to write. So many weblogs have become article generators and unlike some not many have much to say.
This entry for example. I seem to be just babbling on about something to fill up the required space when the first sentence would with a little thinking on the visitors part have been enough.
Shao Kelake


Back at it

As I started to write this for some reason the Creek Nickel song (not to be confused with the band Nickel Creek) “Back in the Saddle Again” (.wmv) keeps repeating itself over and over again in my head. On top of that I have a bad headache today – which came first the song or the headache?
I’ve redesigned my weblog, yet again, for about the .. well I’d give it a number, but at this point, I’ve lost track of how many times I redesigned this site. No actually about 5 times. Every year, which is still too much. Primarily this redesign has meant I have time to write my thoughts here again and fine tuning what gets displayed and how.
Much has happened this past summer, including a trip to Charlottetown, diverting my attention away from the pleasures of babbling about the things that interest me. The time I did have I tended to devote to changing 35togo, my photo weblog, and a couple “money” projects.
In most of design for the screen I try to “keep it simple with personality” . Doing so in this redesign seemed far more difficult than I had hoped primarily because my cms tool of choice has become excessively difficult to use. I have this tendency to want to upgrade software and software publishers have a tendency to release features that make you think you need to upgrade. In the case of Moveabletype – never again. One thing positive came out of this, I want to be a programmer. The time I spent upgrading mt, troubleshooting, and developing templates could have been far better spent rolling my own simple system. That is if I had the skill. Perhaps I am naive in thinking it possible but I would rather devote my “mindshare” to my own product than someone else’s.
This time, in addition to spending an inordinate amount of time on the system, I focused on simplifying the site structure and updating the archives. I’ve neglected my archives in the past but after collecting 4 years worth of entries it’s worth spending some effort. My inspiration is certainly Peter Rukavina’s weblog – he has the best weblog archive I have seen. Many of us tend to forget that there are a whole sea of visitors who never see your front page or that some people might actually be interested enough in what you say to actually navigate through your site. Peter raises the bar.
I still have allot to finish and will write more about some of the difficulties I faced later.
Edit:
The comment system is broken – nothing gets through. Moveabletype won’t let me install a new system comment template to fix part of the problem. Lovely.


Long Hiatus

Due to a multitude of events competing for my freetime I am taking a long hiatus (and have taken) from maintaining this site. Work, grad. school, travel, and life are all competing for my available time. My hope is to have this site refurbished and a part of my daily schedule in a month or so.

In the interum please browse the archives or visit some of the fine sites linked to on the right.


Long break

Long absence. Thailand was wonderful. So wonderful in fact that I am off to Chiang Rai for a week in November. Should be an ideal time for trekking as things will still be green but the rain will be minimal. Judging by my logs I am largely talking to myself here so enough of the banter.


Taking a break

It’s summer, it’s hot and I need a break. For the next couple of weeks I am going to spend my free time running, learning to play basketball, and preparing for my August trip to Thailand. Feeling a little burn out and tired I need time to regroup and hopefully gain new focus.


Refurbishment

Please excuse any display irregularities or outright disasters my Netscape and Mozilla using friends, I am finishing a “refurbishment” and have yet to flush out all the bugs.

Having taken far longer than could seem humanly possible, Kaliber10000 has come back online touting a “refurbishment”. After a year offline will anyone really care? I’m happy to see them back in all their tiny type pixel pushing glory.