Posted: October 29, 2012, filed under: Miscellaneous

I’m not one to be hooked on shows necessarily, but this is a great one so thought I’d share. Starring Elijah Wood. It’s got one of those heady/mind-fuck themes, but is also ridiculous – I’d describe it as a lighter, more comedic Donnie Darko or A Beautiful Mind meets Ted (even though I’ve never seen Ted.) The first season is on Netflix.

Pittsburgh Web Design Day 2012

Posted: October 27, 2012, filed under: Design, Pittsburgh

Just got back from Web Design Day, hosted by Refresh Pittsburgh, Pgh's web design meetup group. After a day of excellent presentations by some excellent speakers, excellent drinks and snacks were had at Commonwealth Press for the after party. #WDD2012 win, I'm definitely looking forward to next year. Thanks to Val and Jason Head for all their hard work. Anyways, here are some disjointed notes from a few of the presentations (there were other very good ones I didn't have notes on, so sorry):

Kevin Hoffman: Designing Meetings to Work For

How much information does a person retain when:

  • Listening - 20%
  • Seeing - 30%
  • Discussing - 70%
  • Making & Managing - 90%

In large meetings, designate people for these four roles:

  1. Facilitator: a neutral person, listens to group member ideas and does not add their own.
  2. Recorder: Someone to capture ideas publicly, a graphic facilitator. White board it up.
  3. Group Member: Everyone else, those contributing the ideas.
  4. Leader: A person to decide why you are having the meeting, its goals, and the outcome. Assumes the role of a Group Member during said meeting.

Collaborative Deliverables: Why not wireframe as a group? Print out a large version of what is being redesigned and mark it up together. Have a group sketching session.

Meagan Fisher: Becoming a Web Design Champion: How to Better Collaborate, Develop Your Style, and Get Designs Launched

Vary your sources of inspiration - if you are making a website, don't just look at websites. Go to a museum or read a graphic design book.

Read More →

website starter kit

Posted: October 24, 2012, filed under: Design, Tutorials+Tips

I’m sure many web designers have created their own compilation of preferred tools and site structure. Well, this is mine! A website starter kit. I figured I’d put it on Github because, why not? Maybe someone else will find it useful, and it will be a worthwhile project to maintain just for myself.

In sum, it’s a hybrid of Intializr and the style conventions used in the WP starter theme Bones. SASS only.

What’s included:

See a demo.

Artists, read Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

Posted: October 16, 2012, filed under: Inspiration, Research

Yes, it’s a comic about comics. But not about comics as you might initially think of them – it’s about visual and representational language in general. If you are anything like me and have let your art theory knowledge go to seed (somewhat) after college, this is an excellent way to begin reawakening your critical self. A favorite quote followed by a panel:

By stripping down an image to its essential “meaning”, an artist can amplify that meaning in a way realistic art can’t.

A well explained, fundamental concept in any visual language (click to enlarge and read).

Get it on Amazon.

Analysis of Temple Run for iPad

Posted: October 14, 2012, filed under: Games

I want to start playing as many games as possible and doing brief-ish analyses of them, so here's a start:

Name: Temple Run
Platform: iPad
Time played: 25 mins

Temple run is a free (and ad free) 3D platform game. You are a man running from a herd of what appear to be gorillas and have to collect coins for bonuses along the way, all the while turning, leaping over, ducking under obstacles, and collecting coins. You can then spend your coins on powerups and new characters at a store and can, of course, buy more coins with real money if you don't have enough. There is also a comprehensive list of objectives to work through as you play.

Read More →

The Online Class Club [Idea]

Posted: October 10, 2012, filed under: Ideas

Every semester since I’ve graduated (which I guess is only 3), I’ve said I was going to unofficially take a course at CMU or Pitt. Which basically means sitting in on a class and hoping no one would care that I’m not actually a student. I never did this, but I still want to.

Along the same lines, I get really excited when I look at online courses. There are a ton of free courses available at places like Coursera, the Khan Academy, MIT’s Open Courseware, and I believe many other schools have an equivalent. Have I done any of those? Not really, but I want to.

In sum, I’m realizing it’s really hard to do school when you aren’t in school because:

  1. it’s voluntarily, and
  2. it’s by yourself.

I can get past #1 but to maintain any kind of momentum or to retain any information, I’ve found I have to do it with or around other people. Reading and watching videos is great, but I don’t think you can solidify information without discussing and/or applying it.

Solution: The Online Class Club

Not sure why this didn’t occur to me before or why I haven’t seen it happening anywhere yet. Basically, ~5 people get together and decide on a class. Or you decide on a class and get ~5 people together. Then you go through the material together and discuss it over beers. Like a book club, but The Online Class Club. I’m thinking this is a more viable option than the “Unofficial CMU Students Club”.

To have a successful Online Class Club, you’d obviously need motivated people who would stick with it more than the first couple of lessons and not ‘not have time’. We’ll see! Sounds like fun to me, maybe I’ll actually organize it. Comment if you’d be interested!

For real schools?

I think this could be a relevant model for real schools. Classes wouldn’t necessarily need a teacher per say, but more a facilitator. The facilitator would be a very organized and motivated individual who wants to learn about the subject as well, and would be responsible for getting the class together, making sure people participate, do the assignments, etc. The course material would be provided and guided by online resources. I’m not sure what the rights are regarding the online courses, but maybe it’s feasible.

From the vaults [lnfnmo][NODOI]

Posted: October 8, 2012, filed under: Games, Projects

Since the relatively recent renewal of my artistic/conceptual energy, I’ve been looking through some old projects and writing a bunch (won’t be posting that though). I am at last reintroducing NODOI and lnfnmo. It’s been about a 1.5 year break. I totally forgot how far I had gotten with both of these – the biggest find of late is definitely this Flash prototype of the points architecture (click the image to go there):

I’m definitely excited to rewrite this and integrate it with the sentences in draft1. If you are unfamiliar with these projects, this post may not make much sense, but hopefully I will discuss them in a more comprehensible/academic/statement sort of way as I start working on them again. To see more projects of this spirit, visit these Relevant Links. And if you are really feeling brave and don’t mind broken links, take a look at the falling apart NODOI info blog from way back in the day.

Finally, if you do play with the points system above and have an idea about what it’s doing, maybe leave a comment with your thoughts!

The Saxifrage School

Posted: October 7, 2012, filed under: Inspiration, Pittsburgh

From their website:

The Saxifrage School is redesigning higher education by lowering costs, re-thinking the campus, and reconciling theory and practice. We teach students to make what is valuable and to question the value of what is made.

Watch this:

One of the most inspiring projects I’ve seen in the past year (or ever). I learned about Saxifrage at this month’s Show n’ Tell at Catapult, a very cool event started by the ingenious Jonny Goldstein, where people from the Penn/Garfield community in Pittsburgh come to talk about their projects, organizations, events, or anything really!

Also, the Saxifrage site has an excellent list of resources I’ll be sorting through and hopefully writing about in future.

Some definitions of games & Game

Posted: October 4, 2012, filed under: Games, Research

There are many many definitions of a game, most of which differ only subtly. Some are dependent on the definition of play, but that's a whole other discussion. Maybe I should have written about that first, oh well. Anyways, here are a few ways to define a game, accompanied by thoughts:

Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman define a game as a "system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome".

Conflict, rules, and a goal are the driving factors in about all definitions I've read. I think the unique part of this one is "quantifiable outcome" which would mean a goal. But saying "outcome" instead of goal, seems like you could get there without necessarily meaning to. I guess technically, there are games (like the card game War) you could win by just following the rules with no ambition.

Read More →

made myself a logo

Posted: October 1, 2012, filed under: Design, Projects

The font is Geometric Slab 712 BT. Nabbed that from the school computers. There is a free alternative called Arvo that I’m using for some of the heading styles on here.

site redesign preview

Posted: September 24, 2012, filed under: Projects

Only the blog so far. The header still needs work, but I’ve got some baller post formats in there. I’d like to post about them in more detail because until this point I’ve thought post formats were a little useless, but with some work they can be great. Of course there’s a nice responsive deal going on as well.

The portfolio portion will require some custom post type work so I plan to launch the blog part first in the next few days. Updating my portfolio will be an undertaking for sure – lots of work to sort through and document. Sounds really fun, huh.

Bones has made me like WordPress again

Posted: September 21, 2012, filed under: WordPress

That’s right, I didn’t like it for a while. Had a pretty scarring experience with a WordPress/BuddyPress site running on 20+ heavy duty plugins, and I fully realized why people say it’s messy on the backend. I had been doing a lot of custom coding, and dealing with WP hooks and filters, misc filepaths, and the like drove me crazy. But the HTML5 Starter Theme called Bones has made me love it again.

Bones is frigging beautiful. The most comprehensive/lightweight/well-laid-out stylesheet I have ever seen. It ships in SASS and LESS and is based on a Mobile First approach. The markup is clean as can be – everything is just there and excellent, so easy to work with.

It’s not meant to be used with a child theme, which I’m realizing are part of what made WordPress frustrating. Especially for someone savvy. Justin Tadlock’s Hybrid Core is also an option, but it’s a little too stripped. Bones is the perfect medium.

So, why the circlejerk? I’m redesigning this site and am going to start blogging. I want to write a post with some more detail about what that entails. But in short, I was thinking about grad school the other day and realized I want to get out of the job bubble and back on top of the research and projects I was exploring in school. Meaning games. So, look forward to that.