Freelance project: Cast Partner

Posted: July 5, 2012, filed under: Projects

Recently launched a portfolio site for Castpartner, a Hollywood casting company. The site design is by Nate Harrison and hand coded by yours truly. I have to say it was a relief to not be responsible for the design – it’s nice to just be told what to do every now and then.

Also, custom coded sites are awesome. Obviously its silly to write everything yourself for something like a blog, but if you have the funds and/or knowledge to code a static, simpler site yourself, I think it shows.  Props to the LazyLoad jQuery plugin – a necessity for such an image heavy site. I’m currently developing a client login area for private content.

Digital Placemaking logo

Posted: June 19, 2012, filed under: Projects

Here is a logo draft for Digital Placemaking, a spin-off philosophy/blog about using digital tools in (guess what) placemaking for local communities. Read more about Digital Placemaking here.

What I’ve been doing the past 6 months

Posted: May 4, 2012, filed under: Projects

It’s been a crazy few months. Working 60hrs a week at times, but I guess that comes with the territory when you’re talking about startups. The startup in question here is Scenable, the app for local communities. There is an active startup and co-working scene here in Pittsburgh, definitely loving this city.

Read about Scenable’s mission and other stuff here. I’ve taken on the jobs of graphic designer, UI/UX designer and developer. I’m working with two other awesome folks, read about us on the Scenable Team page. It’s been an amazing experience – I’m very fortunate to have stumbled on something like this right out of undergrad.

We just launched the private beta of the website and business administration panel. Over the next couple months we will work on creating the app version with PhoneGap. You probably aren’t signed up for the beta, so here are some screenshots.

Other than that, I’ve been doing a few freelance projects on the side. First was a WordPress site for the Ligonier Country Market and I’m currently working on a site redesign for the Hollywood casting company, Castpartner. Finally, checkout these awesome HTTP status pages for Scenable (especially proud of these):

That’s all for now!

Book recommendation: Designing for Emotion

Posted: February 3, 2012, filed under: Design

Image from A Book Apart

I’ve been reading Designing for Emotion by Aarron Walter, the lead designer for MailChimp. It’s a quick read, very engaging, and infinitely useful. I’d been in a bit of a creative slump, focusing on navigation patterns, getting inspiration from great work other people are doing, and generally avoiding the being creative part. This book has definitely gotten me back on track.

I found the most helpful part of the book to be an exercise in Creating a Design Persona for you Site. An excerpt of this section is available on the author’s site, as well as a template and example available for download.

if localhost/phpmyadmin is 404

Posted: January 12, 2012, filed under: Miscellaneous

Then most likely you’ve been sloppyily setting up configurations – this was my case at least :/.

First make sure phpmyadmin is installed, then include its configuration file (httpd-phpmyadmin.conf) in your apache’s httpd.conf. On a Mac, httpd-conf will probably be in /opt/local/apache2/conf, and httpd-phpmyadmin.conf in conf/extra. If that’s the case for you, add this to httpd.conf:

    # Local access to phpmyadmin installation
    Include conf/extra/httpd-phpmyadmin.conf

This probably won’t be an issue if you use something ready-to-go like MAMP or Zend for your LAMP stack, but if you use MacPorts or Homebrew, something like this might come up.

Move a ball on the screen with Arduino & Processing

Posted: January 8, 2012, filed under: Tutorials+Tips

Here’s what it looks like on the Arduino (with a potentiometer and two buttons):

Here’s the code:

And here’s what it looks like on the screen:

There’s a few things to know about getting the Arduino working with Processing – here’s a link. And, with luck, later I’ll post a better image and description of the wiring, but no time now!

productivity scene in pgh

Posted: October 15, 2011, filed under: Miscellaneous

I went to a great talk at Assemble (art/tech gallery on Penn) the other night by author of Connor Sites-Bowen. The event is was called Manifestto:DO: getting Sh*t done in Pittsburgh. Not your standard/redundant life hacks information, great, real info from real people. During the talk, everyone named good work/inspiration environments in the city. I tried to get them all down, here’s a list and links:

Coffee shops

  • Voluto Coffee – also on Penn, but in Friendship. French brewed coffee by the cup and delicious blueberry muffins. Tried and true. They don’t care at all if you squat on their WiFi for 3hrs+.
  • Catapult – pop up coffee shop/co-working space on Penn. Tried and true, the guys there are awesome and they brew syphon coffee. Conference room and whiteboard in the back. BYOB at all times.
  • 720 Records – record store and coffee shop on Butler.
  • Cats and Dogs Coffeehouse – on Penn and Main.
  • Lilli Cafe in Lawrenceville.
  • Espresso a mano – another coffee shop in Lawrenceville. The front of the store is a garage door, so get a pleasant breeze on nice days.
  • Starbucks – the one below the Courtyard Mariott on Baum Blvd. It’s mostly people grabbing to go coffees, so the seating area stays pretty empty/quiet.

Co-working spaces

  • Beauty Shoppe – coworking space in East Liberty.
  • Catapult – mentioned above, but also falls in this category.

Libraries/parks/public places

  • University Libraries – Apparently the Pitt and CMU libraries are government funded, so technically public. Especially the SCI Library at Pitt – I heard you need a passport to get in!? i.e. no one’s there so it’s very quiet spot.
  • Cathedral of Learning – crowded during the day, but good spot at night and open till 3am. If the doors don’t open, try the handicap button.
  • Visitor Center at Schenley park
  • Cafe at Phipps

Misc, inspirational

wordpress maintenance mode

Posted: October 2, 2011, filed under: WordPress

Why haven’t I encountered/thought of this before?! If you noticed earlier, this site and the WPF2 demo site where giving off some 404s…embarrassing but oh well. Planning to write a post about all of that later. Anyways, maintenance mode is a setting you can turn on to let viewers know things are being changed/updated. There’s a way to do it without a plugin, but I went the plugin route and chose Maintenance Mode Notify. Instead of a splash page, it gives you a nice little bar at the top like this:

The default one is yellow with small green text that is hard to read, so I added this to style.css to make the bar stick out a little more:
If you aren’t making really intense changes, this is a nice way to keep your content up but to let people know not to judge you for mistakes :)

Thumbnails in WPFolio Two

Posted: September 25, 2011, filed under: Tutorials+Tips, WordPress

I recently added 270x270px gallery and post thumbnails to WPFolio Two. They look damn nice in columns of three in the portfolio categories. While working on this, I found that WP's thumbnail/image attachment functions are not so well documented, so I wanted to be sure to share what I figured out. Here I'll go over the code to change the thumbnail size with add_image_size, then grab a post's first attachment and turn that into the thumbnail, and finally filter the gallery shortcode to change gallery thumbnail sizes.

NOTE : this is a relatively verbose tutorial, so you can just download the code here if you like.

First download the Regenerate Thumbnails plugin. Run it whenever you want to see your changes, mainly when you are wondering why the thumbnails are not being cropped.

Everything goes in functions.php. First, you'll need to add theme support for thumbnails, set the thumbnail size, and add a custom image size for the generated thumbnails. That happens like this:

WP generates a special URL for resized post thumbnail images, for example, the URL of a 150 x 150 thumbnail of myimage.jpg would be ../wp-content/uploads/2011/09/myimage-150x150.jpg. This can be changes in Settings/Media. The function add_image_size('wpf-thumb', 270, 270, true), essentially does the same thing, but is adding a new image size called 'wpf-thumb' rather than changing the 'Thumbnail' size. The 'true' sets cropping mode to true. If false, your images will retain their original proportions i.e. will not be even squares. Later, we will apply 'wpf-thumb' to an image url for the post thumbnails created from attachments.

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pgh art/tech/hacker community

Posted: September 1, 2011, filed under: Findings

I’ve officially relocated from Boston to Pittsburgh and have researched the active artist/tech/hacker community here. OMG!PGH and Pittsburgh Art + Technology are excellent resources for local art & tech happenings, and below are a few great IRL things I hope to be involved in/investigate further:

  1. assemble
    “…a community space for art & technology” in the Penn Ave Arts District. They hold monthly artist meetups and cool/random events at the venue. Very active/informative Twitter feed @assemblepgh
  2. Hack Pittsburgh
    The Pittsburgh Hacker space, in Oakland. Monthly member meetings, workshops here and there, and various monthly user group meetings. Membership dues are $30 + a few hrs volunteering per month.
  3. dorkbotpgh
    “dorkbot is an international movement centered around people who like to do strange things with electricity … Most dorkbots have a couple of primary speakers with 20-40 minute presentations and an ‘open dorkbot’ session where anyone can show off for 3-5 minutes.” dorkbotpgh meets regularly at the Brillobox.
  4. STUDIO for Creative Inquiry
    “The STUDIO supports atypical, interdisciplinary, and inter-institutional research and outreach projects at the intersections of arts, technology and culture.” – via the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University. Really interesting projects and artist profiles on the site. Check out the events section for relevant lectures and other events at CMU, like Art && Code:3D – a Kinect Hacking conference at the end of October.
  5. Pittsburgh Art + Technology Initiative
    A project by the Pittsburgh Technology Council – “an effort to unite and cultivate the creative and technology communities in the Pittsburgh region.” The site’s not too up to date event-wise, but the 15 Minutes Gallery looks interesting and I’ll look forward to the DATA Awards next April.
  6. Birdbrain Labs Tech-to-Go
    BirdBrain Labs is “a Pittsburgh, PA-based pop-up retailer”. Supplying equipment for all your hacking needs, BirdBrain Labs currently has ‘pop-up’ hours at Hack Pittsburgh: Fridays 7pm-9pm, and Assemble: Saturdays 10am-2pm.

Anything I’m missing?


Responsive web design – SMFA freelance project

Posted: August 14, 2011, filed under: Projects

Working on a freelance project for an exhibition of SMFA students’ artists’ books in Turkey entitled Textual Image/Visual Text. The site includes a splash page with some basic jQuery fades and effects and pages for each artist/work. Here are the mockups:

I’m using this project as an opportunity to learn responsive web design using the 1140 CSS grid. The trick to designing for different devices and screen resolutions is to structure CSS with %s instead of pixels and to take advantage of CSS3’s @media queries. The queries allow you to create differing styles according to how your site is viewed.

A few weeks ago at WordCamp Boston, Sara Cannon gave an excellent and inspiring presentation “Theming & Mobile – Optimizing your Site for Various Devices”. Check out her slides here.

mozilla firefox ‘Mark Up’

Posted: August 11, 2011, filed under: Findings

So, the other day Firefox reinstalled itself for reasons unknown. But that's okay! Because I found out about this cool thing called 'Mark Up' and 'Mozilla's Web O'(pen) Wonder' (a gallery of awesome HTML5 and WebGL creations). There's a link to all of this on the default Mozilla search home page (in Firefox, go to about:home in the URL bar). For the sake of including pictures in this post, here's what it looks like:

Mark Up is "a collection of all our individual marks on the web" and a collaborative project by Mozilla and graffiti/free culture artist Evan Roth (cool dude, check him out). When you make your mark, you are using Graffiti Markup Language (yes this is real! .gml):

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