It's been just about a month since I finished my second Rails Rumble. For our entry KidVi.de, we put together a child-friendly interface for YouTube that let parents curate the videos they can watch by connecting and syncing with a YouTube playlist.
What was supposed to be a 30-minute chore turned into a frustrating reminder that maddening design constraints aren't limited to my day job.
Simplicity is hard. It requires diligence and a lot of intentional effort, but clutter and complication has a funny way of sneaking up on you.
So, this is my first post since I converted my site from WordPress to Jekyll. It was a really good experience and I learned a lot from it.
Not 18 hours after posting about a weird code smell, we found a better solution to using NotificationCenter: exclusiveTouch. Actually, by "we" I mean "John", the principal software developer I'm working with for our lane application.
I recently posted about how my brain leaks out all the Objective-C I know if I go too long without using it, which is barely an exaggeration, so I made some time in my day this past Friday to clear out a last-minute bug. In that same post, I mentioned how I fell in love with NSNotificationCenter, which I used to try to handle a bug where the UI gets all wonky if the the user taps the VIN Search button while the user had focus on the SearchBar. (I'm simply disabling the VIN Search button until the SearchBar resigns first responder.)
We've been designing up new dashboards in the app for Subaru and some of the frustrations of client work have been flooding back. I feel like I put up a good fight when it comes to reigning... ambitious... ideas back down to earth, but some times they sneak something in during a review that I just can't deal well with.
I've found myself working in iOS again for the past few days for the first time in over a month. Every time I go back to it after a long hiatus I discover just how much Objective-C I've forgotten since the last time.
In a previous post I mentioned that I ran into an aliasing issue with Chrome on Windows while using a custom font I generated using IcoMoon. A search lead me to a stackoverflow answer that included:
My wife sent me a message today that read, "Mia just pooped on the potty." Being that I'm 1) stupid, and 2) a proud parent, I told my friends at the office to the expected amount of ambivalence. Samantha and I have joked about how odd it is that we casually talk about another human being's bodily functions, but now we're practically high-fiving each other because our daughter took a shit in a designated container. Parenthood turns otherwise reasonable people in real weirdos.
I went to the first-ever Front-End Design Conference Workshop to get some insight on how @nickawalsh and @drewbarontini do things over at Envy Labs. They were great! They kept things going at a good pace and were super-patient with my constant badgering. They laid out a lot of their processes and the thinking behind their methodologies; I don't agree with a couple of their approaches -- I'm sure our opinions are colored by the stacks we work in (.NET vs. Rails) and team composition -- but seeing how they do things was invaluable.
I finished reading Cinderella Ate My Daughter a couple of days ago. It covers the difficulties in raising a level-headed, freethinking daughter in a Disney Princess world. Gender typing is nothing new, and I don't think it's ever been easy to grow up, whether for boys, girls and others in between, but reading this really opened my eyes to just how hard girls have it.
I'm a (passive) member of the Tampa IxDA Facebook group and a great question was posed yesterday, " Whats the visual equivalent of cowbell?"
I love video games. I'm pretty sure I've said it before, but I'm saying it again to get it out there. But, as a homeowner, husband and father working in an field where I have to constantly expand my skillset to keep up, I don't get to play video games very often.
It was my extreme pleasure to take part in this year's Rails Rumble. Despite my lack of Rails experience, my friends Jason, Tyler and James invited me to help them develop All These Images!, an application that helps you collect images and position them in a moodboard.
My daughter has been such a gift for me and my wife -- a really loud and sleepless and scary gift. I don't think I'm capable of doing anything better for the world than helping bring her into it; the thought is both humbling and depressing.
I recently got a message on Facebook from a family member. She wasn't sure why we weren't friends already, but I really needed to accept her friend request right away.
In response to Mobile Phones Suck, I'm in love with my cell phone and all it took was a fried motherboard.
One day we were strolling through Target and I just about lost my mind. There was this stand, barely even noticeable, filled with little card stock packages. The display had a handful of different types, distinguishable by its own ring of high-saturated color. I grabbed one; it had a fantastic papery texture and exceptional minimalist design with bold, clear lettering, "I have a blister."
In truth - my phone is actually pretty damn awesome. It's indispensable and I feel naked without it. It's what makes commuting somewhat bearable; I've taken hundreds of photos with its camera and it provides a hedonistic amount of entertainment; it's my alarm clock, my portable internet, and it's never more than 10 feet away.
Just today I was just wondering why Steam doesn't work with my Facebook friends list. It makes sense -- I've got to know tons of people that I've never sought out in Steam...
About 6 months ago we had to add some data to an already overloaded ROI report. We were displaying the aggregated results for about 20 categories and we needed to include some sub-categories.
Did you ever play that game, "What would your porn name be?" It's easy: just take the name of your childhood pet (we had a big dog named Toby) and append the street you grew up on (I grew up on Sherwood Circle). Toby Sherwood? Perfect!
Thanks for your interest. I think we have a lot to offer each other.
My pal Dean is a smart guy.
I firmly believe that history was made today.
I've been knocking around a blog post idea for the past week or so about how much media and information I consume. I wanted to talk about how my consumption compares to people just 20 years ago -- books, music, articles, movies, television, advertisements, games, etc.
Last year my wife and I bought a new fridge. It's big, it's black and it holds a lot of food -- it was everything we needed. It's a single-door bottom-freezer unit and we're very happy with it, especially when we remember what it replaced, but there's something that's been driving me crazy about it since the day it arrived...
For years, everyone even tangentially involved in marketing has been telling companies that they need to reach out and meet their customers with social media. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, whatever. Engage, engage, engage. Let them know you're listening and get them talking, but control the message.
A few weeks ago I finished reading Designing with the Mind in Mind by Jeff Johnson, which was a great book that I'd highly recommend to anyone interested in the psychology of design. One of my favorite sections was in Chapter 8, "Limits on Attention, Shape, Thought and Action", was about primary goals and cleanup steps.
I recently had to renew the domain name for this site. Like many, I just go through GoDaddy because, well... I don't know why. I never gave it any thought before, but I doubt I'll ever do it again. The following day I just mentioned the renewal to my friend Mark at the office -- I didn't even go into details before his ranting response inspired the title for this post:
Today marks my 1-year anniversary with Loop and I feel like I've learned a lot, some of which I'll eventually write about. There have been a number of changes in my life, with more on the way, and I finally feel ready to (cautiously) jump back into my social media dabblings.
Just last week I was telling my team leader about my design process for difficult problems: I examine the task from all the angles I can, think about possible solutions and then I go do something else for a while. Luckily he didn't think me a lazy bastard and even knew what I meant by "shower epiphanies" - being struck with inspiration during moments of mental idleness (while driving, doing yardwork or in the shower).
The normal nerves that go with a new position have started to settle down now that I'm going into my 3rd week at LoopFX. I'm really happy to have joined the team; everyone is fantastic and the work is both gratifying and challenging. It's something of a change to go from client-work web development to online application development, but I don't think I could go back any time soon:
In about 12 hours I start my new position as a web developer with the engineering team at Loop Management, LLC. I'd been with Digital Eel, Inc as a jack of all trades web designer/developer for just over 7 years -- they treated me very well and I was lucky to be a part of their family -- so I feel like I'm leaving behind a long history of familiarity and comfort.
Financial stability + emotional and mental fulfillment ÷ the time to enjoy them × the wisdom to recognize it = success.
Today I learned that Amazon and Barnes & Noble will be launching apps to support the iPad as an e-book reader. I've been secretly wanting an iPad (read: I haven't been bugging my wife yet), but this news puts me over the edge – now I really want an iPad.
Earlier today, Valve announced that its Steam publishing platform will support the Mac this Spring and I'm crazy-excited. With this, a large number of games based on the Source Engine will also be available on the Mac. (Yay, Portal!) I'm no news guys, but both Joystiq and Kotaku have a lot of great info.
I've been taking an short break from digital productivity and I've found it a bit difficult to get back into the "work 12 hours a day" mood. I absolutely love working on the web but I'm sure most would agree that it's a lot of work to keep up with the industry. There really aren't enough hours in the day, which (in my weaker moments) leaves me feeling like throwing up my hands and getting off the grid altogether by moving into a woodland cabin.
I recently held a couple of client training sessions for a website I built using ExpressionEngine. I put a lot of thought and energy into anticipating their needs while building the site, and I spent just as much again when preparing their training materials.
My pal Dean, a BFF if I've ever had one, sent me a couple of (rhetorical) questions the other day:
My wife and I had a great time during our recent Disney getaway. It's the first time we've ever really "vacationed" during our 8 years together. (We even skipped a honeymoon!) Epcot was a disappointment, being that there's nothing to do there but eat once you move past Future World, but we really loved our stay at the POP Resort and our visits to Downtown Disney.
I haven't got much of a post this week as things have been hectic, but a YouTube video recently caught my attention.
Just a small sampling of things I read this week that I thought were noteworthy:
- Research Is Communication ** - UX Matters - ***Demetrius Madrigal and Bryan McClain* A good read on the importance of understanding what your audience wants. I especially liked the example of Apple's failure with the Newton.
I work for a small company, so my daily interactions are really limited. Of the handful of people in our office, I'm the only one with interests in design concepts, user experience, improved coding, social media and... well... what I'd call a better internet.
Just a few of the things I read, watched, whatever this week.
I'm not one for making New Year's Resolutions, but I've been doing a lot of navel gazing the past few months and I may as well articulate a conclusion I came to.
Some of the noteworthy things I've read, watched and otherwise took in over the past week.
When I was in the 10th grade, I had a science teacher by the name of Robert Evans. He was quirky and eccentric, as mandated by the state of Florida for all high school science teachers, but what really stuck with me was his love for the open-book test. (What also stuck was how he would bring in his guitar and play for us songs he wrote; it all sounded like the theme to 'Renegade').
Some of the things I enjoyed over the past week:
I think one of the best ways to capture the interest of customers is to gasp be interesting. I know, it seems like a bunch of crap -- why would anyone want to enjoy reading what a company has to say? What would we do with all the dry, faceless corporate text that's out there? (Probably the same thing we're doing now; ignoring it.)
We all wish we knew then what we know now. What would you say to yourself at the start of your current career? "Dear Past Me" is a series of posts where I explore just that.
Years ago I played World of Warcraft quite a bit -- back when I had considerably more free time. I've long stopped playing, but I still look back on it fondly. It was rarely the game itself that held my attention -- it was the people and social aspects that kept me coming back so often (as most MMO players would agree).
I hate to be the bearer of bad news (not really), but the stuff you're doing sucks. You should be ashamed of yourself. Are you an embarrassment to your family or do you just lie and tell them you dig ditches for a living?
One of the very first things I learned about working in web design is that you have to find your own gratification. The boss can only pat you on the head so often and you'd better not hold your breath waiting for every client to recognize how awesome you are. I won't say that I crank out award-winning web sites left and right. (It just wouldn't be honest and awards are rarely lauded on small-budget sites.) However, I will say that I do my best to take pride in what I do. Surprisingly, this can require some effort.
It's been a week since to you/myself 7 years in the past and time hasn't folded in on itself in some weird paradoxical, so I guess it's safe for me to do it again and I'm sure you have a lot of questions about the future:
I read a brief post a few days ago, which took me back to a conversation (read: conflict) I had with a client. While redesigning the web site for a small investment firm, I proposed a conservative design with very focused calls to action and a handful of site features.
What's happening to us? Did I do something wrong? You've always been interested in others, but I used to feel so welcomed when I showed up.
Cory, if all goes well then you should be reading this post from nearly 7 years in your future. Don't go thinking I'm Doc Brown or anything - I just scheduled the post date for 2003. I don't know why I'm the first to come up with this, but it turned out to be pretty easy to do thanks to a huge oversight from the WordPress developers.