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Stop SOPA & PIPA: A Day of Action

“Content Blocked By SOPA/PIPA” By Harrison Painter

As an individual who makes my bread and butter in the digital spectrum, today is a very important, very noteworthy day. Wikipedia, Reddit and several other large online media outlets have volunteered to go black to oppose the proposed SOPA and PIPA laws, which in a nutshell would leverage heavy penalties on resources that link (beknowst or unbeknowst) to copyrighted content online (you can find out more about the proposed law here.

If implemented, these laws could permanently change the way the internet is used, by both ourselves and our clients.

I would encourage all of you to take a couple of minutes today to call your state representatives and senators, tell them that you are a constituent and ask them to please oppose these laws. And then maybe even ask your friends, family, and work associates to do the same.

Wikipedia has made this incredibly easy to do today. Just enter your zip code on their website, and they will provide you with all the numbers you need.

Let’s tell our government that we do not wish our freedom to create, learn and share on the world wide web to be taken away from us.



“Paper Vs. Rock” by Anonymous

1. Paper Vs. Rock: I love this sign. I want to know who made it, so I can buy one and hang it in the foyer of my house. Then I’ll make all guests need to defeat me in a Rock, Paper, Scissors Throw-down before allowing them to enter. It will be just like Thunderdome, but much, much nerdier.

2. The Cicada Principle: If you are at all involved in web design, you cannot miss reading this article by Alex Walker on background tiling, and the usage of primes. Excellent, interesting stuff. (Coutesy of John Hutchinson)

3. 5 Essential Document Templates for Freelance Designers: Ok, so this is a little old-hat knowledge for those in the business, but this is a great article in terms of breaking down the basic documents you need to maintain an accurate, organized relationship with clients.

4. Gateways To Geekery: Kate Bush: I am a little obsessed with Kate Bush. It’s really not healthy. This article does a great job explaining some of the reasons why she is so wonderful, and why you should be listening to her often and frequently. Please wake me when its 1985.

5. Brand Name Pencils: This is a site built after my own, Type A sensibilities. Bob Truby is REALLY into pencils — so much so he has made a well-designed database, listing all the models he can get his hands on. I bet you didn’t even know there were pencil models, noob.

6. Mundane Dream: Just read it. You won’t be disappointed.

7. Space Invaders: EVERYONE NOT ON TYPEWRITERS: Cut it out. The act of putting two spaces after a period is one of the most frustrating, infuriating edits that designers have to endure — I can’t even tell you how many years of my life have been sucked away backspacing copy. This comprehensive article by Farhad Manjoo explains exactly why this act is so wrong on so many levels.

Finally, it’s time you learned about THE BEST DINOSAUR:;

Have a nice weekend, folks!


Adobe Muse: Code-free web design?

Muse Yesterday I received a very intriguing email in my inbox. It was a request for me to participate in creative software study on behalf of Adobe for a new offering in production, codename “Muse.”

According to the study, Muse is Adobe’s new potential creative software solution that will allow designers and creative professionals to design and develop websites simultaneously, without the need to write or manipulate any actual code. A pretty bold claim, to say the least.

This is not Adobe’s first foray into web-output technology. Their present iteration, Dreamweaver, has been touted as their WYSIWYG alternative to full-on code manipulation for quite some time. But even this software relies heavily on programming to bolster what can only be described as a clunky visual interface. What Muse is suggesting it will be able to do blows this right out of the water.

Muse start-up screen

According to Evans Research Associates, the company managing the study, the software will allow the user to:

• Quickly create a sitemap for your web design, easily adding, removing and rearranging pages.
• Create and apply master pages to share design elements such as logos, headers and footers that are common across multiple web pages.
• Lay out your website using tools similar to those found in InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator including common shortcuts and features like multi-file place, smart guides, paste in place, eyedropper tool, hand and zoom tool, page columns, gutters and more.
• Place and style images and graphics including .PNG, .PSD, .GIF and .SWF with precise control over color, fill, opacity, stroke, rounded corners, gradients and effects.
• Quickly edit placed artwork and images in Photoshop using Edit Original.
• Embed HTML code snippets from sources like Google Maps, YouTube and social media buttons from the likes of Facebook and Twitter.
• Add completely customizable smart site navigation with menus that automatically reflect your site map layout.
• Add pre-coded, fully customizable interactive elements like slideshows, tabbed and accordion panels, lightboxes and more.
• Preview your design in Muse or in your browser.
• Publish your completed design from within Muse to a trial site for testing a review purposes. Take your trial site live by hosting with Adobe, or exporting your site for ftp to other hosting providers.

The survey also included a brief video showcasing the technology.

Web design in action on the Muse interface

In terms of functionality, Muse asserts that the experience will be similar to the suite that so many of us have come to know and love. The screens visible in the video are quite promising: guides and rules are visible (an Adobe mainstay), and objects on the stage seem to react fluidly and easily to drag-and-drop controls – a welcome change from the cursing and futile dragging so common previously in Dreamweaver. The user experience on first blush seems like something closer to Photoshop or InDesign, rather than Flash. As someone who has never felt at home in the sterile, finicky Flash environment, this is a very exciting possibility.

So far, the software seems to have one very-glaring downside: Adobe is positioning this to be a subscription-based acquisiton model, as opposed to the one-time purchase common for most Adobe products; purchasers will have the option of paying annual or monthly contract. Considering the exorbitant price-tag on the present Adobe Suite has been a sticky issue for creative professionals for quite some time now (being forced to shell out upwards of $2000 each time a new version is released is painful, to say the least), this may be an attempt to placate all those pirating designers out there while simultaneously building a model that continually funds itself. No word yet on what kind of fee will be attached to such a scenario, and many professionals may find themselves hard-pressed to try to acquire budget for a monthly expenditure as opposed to a one-time cost.

Auto-sitemap functionality

Surprisingly, my explorations on the web yielded very little about this new technology. It appears AIGA San Francisco has already been given a live demo of the software, and a San Francisco-based design agency has an article outlining an entire new suite of products that will be available via Adobe in the future centered around web content and output, among which Muse is listed.

Overall, I am hesitantly optimistic. Whereas I would be delighted to be able to develop my own websites while I am simultaneously designing them, I have serious reservations about what would be possible within the software. It seems to me the only way for this to feasibly work is for it to have a strict set limit of actions available in it’s toolbox of scripts and widgets, and this deeply concerns me. I foresee a future where the functionality and creativity of what can be accomplished online is limited to Muse’s software options. And that is precisely what differentiates a good designer from a great designer – the ability to think outside the box, and not suffer from the limitations of what is developmentally feasible to produce cutting-edge, unique solutions. Will Muse be able to accommodate these needs?

However, in terms of a down-and-dirty website creation kit, I am totally on board. Ditch the subscription model, give it a single price-point, Adobe, and I will be the first one in line. I am sure many other designers will agree.


Who? What? Where?

“Lost In A Trance” by Amandeep Singh

Hi. I know, it’s been a while. What can I say? What happened? Many, many things.

First, there’s been work. I’ve been extremely busy, working on lots of new projects: some very exciting, some less so. And I bought a house! I am now a homeowner. It is a strange, surreal and expensive experience, to say the least.

Mostly I have been thinking. About my life, about this blog: my hopes and aspirations for this little project I have put so much time and effort into. More importantly, I have thought about what it has been, and who I am now, and the great disparity that has arisen between the two.

Recently, Trisha Royal went on a similar hiatus (though with much more warning, granted). When she returned, she encapsulated a great deal of what I was feeling about myself and the relationship I had with my blog perfectly…

i’m not sure if i like where it’s gone the past couple years while i idled along, just trying to make it through each day. i feel like i’ve gotten away from what means something to me (making things, thinking deep thoughts/asking deep questions), and i want to get back to those things in earnest here, if i can find a way to do so.

See, that’s the thing with this new medium. You begin it as an extension of yourself. But it has a mind of its own. It grows and shapes itself in ways you could never imagine. It is absorbed and interpreted, and you have very little control over the process once it leaves your fingertips. The next thing you know, everyone is telling you that you have a “fashion” blog, or a “mommy” blog, or a blog about the different varieties of navel orange. You develop a habit of uncontrollably wincing in public whenever a word starting with “b” is uttered in your presence.

People are going to pigeonhole – it’s an inherent part of our psyches. And that’s well and good, but I think for many of us, there comes a moment when we step back, look at what we have created, and ask ourselves, “was this my intent?” And many times, the answer is, “no.”

I don’t want this to sound like I am complaining. People enjoy this site, and I derive a great deal of pleasure from that. The main issue is that a point was reached that I was no longer enjoying the site. I needed to take a little time to step back, and reconsider my position.

And I have. I feel I have a pretty good idea of where I want this site to go, and what I want it to be about. The main goal is still the same as it ever was: INSPIRATION. I want this site to function as a haven, a brief respite from all the ugliness and banality that we are forced to endure on a daily basis. I am just planning to approach it in a different way. I may even open the site up to multiple contributors. The important thing is – it’s not about me. It never has been. It’s about what I can contribute to those who read this site.

This is not to discount the material that I have posted in the past. At the time, it encapsulated my interests and desires at that specific moment in time. For that reason, all former material is staying up, and not going anywhere.

However, I look forward to the future of this experiment, even if it strays from the norms set in the past. And most of all, I hope you, gentle readers, will share that future with me.


links a la mode

Edited by: Marie Denee of The Curvy Fashionista

As bloggers, we often find ourselves looking to other blogs for inspiration. Sometimes we look to our closets, magazines, or in the mirror. This week’s roundup fashions some of the most introspective and insightful posts from bloggers who reach across the blogosphere as they look for ways to build upon, contribute to, and pull inspiration for and from the fashion world.

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IFB Presents Links à la Mode: “Coats on!”

links a la mode

Edited by: Florrie Clarke of Intrinsically Florrie
Change is literally in the air, bringing with it the cold and rain that requires a wardrobe transition. I must confess to being ill prepared myself and as a consequence have been drenched in the freezing cold. Time to get out your boots and coat because fall is well and truly here. I may stick stubbornly to my floral dresses all year round, but the difference is in the layers. So I’m on the look out for fabulous tights and there are a couple of lovely posts to help me choose or even DIY my own style.

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IFB Presents Links à la Mode: “Hats Off!”

links a la mode

Edited by: Thom of The Sunday Best

With fashion weeks in full swing it would have been easy for the IFB fold to post multiple photos and call it a day. Hats off to these dedicated writers for continuing to pump out original content on often thorny issues (negative blogging anyone?). In particular it was nice to finally see more than one male blogger throwing his hat into the ring. Dressed for Dinner – we salute you and your lovely beard.

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LOCKERZ Contest Winners Announced!

“fashion victim” by BESTO (Giuseppe Stella)

Thanks to everyone who participated! It gives me great pleasure to announce the winners of the LOCKERZ Contest!

1st Prize, 500 LOCKERZ points: Limespark

2nd Prize, 100 LOCKERZ points: sue

Congratulations to the winners! You will be contacted shortly with how to redeem your points!


links a la mode

Edited by Jennine Jacob of Independent Fashion Bloggers

Whether you are contemplating starting a blog or if you’ve been bloggging for a while, getting to know the ropes is a never-ending journey. This week we have a nice round up of bloggers sharing how they do it, what they find important about blogging. From taking your own photos, whether or not to have comments, and how to cover the fashion shows with your own twist, this is the week to buckle down and learn.

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Link Kaboom 77

“Abandoned Six Flags – New Orleans” by *brynne

1. Abandoned Six Flags – New Orleans: An incredible and rare set of photos of the abandoned Six Flags Great Adventure in New Orleans, Louisiana. Haunting, sad and lovely.

2. Dean Enslaves Students: The former dean of St. John’s University is currently in serious trouble for making terrified work-study students do things like drive her to the hair salon, empty her garbage and shovel her snow. I know I should feel enraged, but I can’t help being incredibly amused.

3. Australian Model FAIL: Australia’s Next Top Model just took home the AKWARD AWARD when host Sarah Murdoch announced the wrong winner during the live television finale. I gotta be honest: when I first heard about this, I was convinced it was a publicity stunt. But you can’t fake the look of utter horror on Sarah’s face when she realized what happened. Excruciatingly cringe-worthy.

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