Archive for the 'General' Category

Catching Light

Last weekend, Jen and I bolted to the mountains on a virtually kid-less, early Sunday morning on a wild hair to fulfill a long-time desire to capture an idea on “film.” Cali was with us but she’s a little angel and aside from toting her across a river, she let her crazy parents get lost in their musings. We took approximately 438 pictures of Jen in a perfectly-old-fashioned lace gown in the forest with not-so-old-fashioned eye make-up.

Catching Light

She's chasing the light and I'm chasing the light in her eyes

The image [above] is the result of a sleepless night hyped up on creative energy with a sense of adventure and fantasy coursing through my fingertips. Now, all week long I’ve been staring at this image (set as the desktop on all my digital things with screens) compiling a song in the back of my head in between writing code, pushing pixels, and trying desperately to immerse myself in my tasks at work and everything else that requires my attention. Under heavy influence of Neverending White Lights as well, but wait… you can’t hear the music in my head.

It’s been ten years of marriage so far. I’ve been dead for the past couple of years; felt hollow and dense as granite. Work was killing me and I was letting it. But recently the flickerings and sparks of a flame eternal have been igniting, and, literally burning me up inside. I see her and pictures of her and I feel like a goofy, clumsy, overheated infatuated boy. I feel alive again. Below is the first draft, attempting to collect the murmurings of my heart about what my wife (and this image) invokes deep inside me in places that have not seen the light of day in eons.

Soft rain, salted painting everything gray and the colors of
Everything else
Life racing anxiously, aimless in my veins
Crimson run, run as fast as you can…
Sky, pour out life from above
Bathe my face, my heart in drops of light and

She smiles and…
She smiles.

She’s chasing the light and
I’m chasing the light in her eyes

She watches the world and
Life passes by and
We get pushed aside and
Forgotten fears lurk in the dark, in the corners of the light and
Where the hell did all this time go?

From beginnings to ends
She’s chasing light
Time stops, flickering in her eyes
And I’m chasing that light in her eyes
Maybe just once I’ll catch that light
Chasing the light in…

Forever she holds
Time stopped in her eyes and
I’m chasing the light in her eyes and
Together we’ll be chased by gravity across the sky and
I’m always chasing the light in her eyes

Maybe just once I’ll catch the light…

Now… I just need to learn a few things about making music. Oh, and check out some other pics and perspectives from Jen’s side of the story.

RIP: You Old Beastly Electricity Vampire

Last night my son’s computer monitor died. It was an eight-year-old Sony Trinitron CRT beast that only left enough room on his desk for his keyboard. That monitor has moved across the country with us, twice, and can be seen in random pictures of our home life as far back as Y2K.

“Daddy, my computer won’t turn on… see? It just makes this noise and shuts off.”

Now, when it comes to bed time at our house, everything needs to stop and get postponed until the next day… except computer problems. Especially fizzing, crackling, burnt-smelling, fire-breathing computer problems. That monitor was actually flaring from underneath, leaving smoke burns on his desk. Yikes. It now lives in the garage upside-down next to a pile of random junk.

Now that I don’t work primarily at home anymore, I brought my LCD display up from my office for Malakai to use. I knew his monitor was going to die soon… it lasted longer than I ever could have guessed. So I set the display down on his desk in the huge void the old dead beast left behind and he says in that all too excited and so not ready for going to sleep tone, “Am I getting a new computer?! That’s cool! Wow!” Then in a sort of unsure-if-he-likes-what’s-about-to-happen voice, “Am I going to have to download everything again?”

“It’s just a new monitor, kiddo. Your computer is the little white box right there,” I explain pointing to his Mac Mini, “a monitor is not a computer. You won’t need to change anything.” I realize now he thinks this from growing up on one of those old Blueberry iMacs.

“Whew.” Relieved, he says, “Cause’ I didn’t want to have to go through all that downloading iTunes 8 again.”

Found, Sort Of.

In a previous post I wrote about starting another quest for a place to call “work.” Since then I’ve sent out a bunch of resumes with only one bite. I had a phone interview with some company somewhere in Michigan that I thought went fairly well. Jen and I are not open to relocating (again) so I asked them about telecommuting…

Paraphrase: “Let me talk to my people and get back to you. We’d really like to have you on board. I’m discovering how difficult it is to find someone with your split skill set.”

That was the last I heard from them. That was over a month ago.

Then one afternoon I decided to just apply to this place I kept seeing with an opening that seems to fit me pretty well. Their online application process was thorough; I finished the application at about 9:30pm and got a phone call-turned-interview the next morning.

The gist: I start work tomorrow morning at 8:30 on a contract basis for a couple of weeks with the intent for employment. We’re test-driving each other. I’m a bit nervous, and excited. I’m excited for the possibility of stable income. Relying on my freelance income has been really tough and sporadic the past 6 months and it only seems to be getting worse with the state of the economy and the holidays approaching too fast. I’m nervous for my freedom. I absolutely love being home. If I could, I’d be a stay at home dad and be thrilled to do it. But that’s not the case for us right now. I’m sure I’ll be fine integrating back into office life and having to be somewhere at a certain time. And having to take a shower now on a daily basis and wear different clothes from one day to the next… Jen will love that.

And I’ll need to remember that I’ll be in smellable proximity to other people.

Yuck, It’s Cold! (And Obama’s Website is Better than McCain’s)

My coffee—I get focused on the task at hand and forget it’s sitting right there and it gets cold. I wonder how much energy goes untapped, wasted from all the coffee cups in the world that get cold in a given day from heat transference loss? Could probably power a small country. Who cares about the global energy crisis… what’s McPalin Obamiden gonna do with my tax dollars about the “my coffee’s always cold” crisis?

Side note: From purely a design, UI, IA perspective and not at all indicative of my own views on the race, Obama’s website kicks McCain’s website right in the ass.

Okay, this is turning into more than a side note. Candidates: feel free to pass this along to your web designers.

Rating criterion and definitions:

  • Look-n-Feel—user interface; the visual impression and quality of the site driving my emotional and intellectual response and ability to gauge the mood and/or tone; the resistance (or lack thereof) of my ability to traverse the site; does the site’s presentation get in the way of its information; does it have continuity with itself.
  • Nuts & Bolts—information architecture; what’s behind what you see in the browser; the source code structure; organization of content; technology being used to serve the site.
  • Destination Hints—user interaction; the site’s link cues and triggers which allude to where you will go, or what you can expect to see behind a link (either text or graphic); the URL scheme of the site.

Dear John,

johnmccain.com | screen grab, September 27, 2008

johnmccain.com | screen grab, September 27, 2008

  1. Look-n-Feel: Your head shots are not using the same scale (it looks creepy). The disproportionate scaling makes you look feeble and makes her look disturbingly not right. Quality counts, sir. Don’t you have other pictures that don’t make you look like you’re on staff at my kids’ school?
  2. Nuts & Bolts: Your home page has 1 HTML error and 213 warnings, which means you have severely poorly-formed code driving your site’s template. Please fix what’s wrong with the details and that kind of craftsmanship will trickle up the line to the impression you leave with people. Your site sits on an ASP based platform. Forget it man. Your site was built for Internet Explorer with no regard to the rest of the browser world. Thanks for perpetuating broken systems.
  3. Destination Hints: The links in your site to your own pages are not made for people. I’m glad machines are happy with your URL Scheme. What the crap is this: http://www.johnmccain.com/mccainnation/EventDetails.aspx?guid=64cdf0bf-6932-4116-8b34-3dbad974ea15&party=64cdf0bf-6932-4116-8b34-3dbad974ea15&zip=63368&dist=10&ptype=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000 I have no idea where this link will drop me off. I can see it is related to an event (or the details for an event?) and, yeah, that’s not going to break when Mrs. Robinson tries to email it to the bridge club.

Summary: Frankly, in my initial visit to your site I was confused. I wasn’t sure what was real and what was an ad, or what was behind my browser’s finger. Please make me think with your pledges, promises, and your ideas for leading our country, not with how to get around your site, which is reminiscent of the late nineties. Don’t worry, I will not stoop so low as to make comments in context of your age which include terms like: the Cenozoic Era, or Arpanet. This is strictly an evaluation of your digital presence. Rating: 3.57

Dear Barack,

barackobama.com | screen grab, September 27, 2008

barackobama.com | screen grab, September 27, 2008

  1. Look-n-Feel: Your design is strong, well laid-out, and not cumbersome to navigate. Good choice on your head shot angle and the fact that it breaks the lines a bit. That tells me you are not bound to the box you are in, yet you are comfortable with it. Your content grid could use a little TLC, but for the most part, things are legible and visually accessible.
  2. Nuts & Bolts: Your home page has 0 HTML errors and 92 warnings, which means you have poorly-formed code driving your site’s template. Please fix what’s wrong with the details and that kind of craftsmanship will trickle up the line to the impression you leave with people. If you are not using Open Source technologies to power your site, then good job making it look like you do. How fitting would that be?
  3. Destination Hints: Not terrible, in fact. But you do have a little bit of crypticity going on: http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/jennprosser/gGgd3M …but it is not overwhelming. From this link I can tell I’ll land on a page with a post by someone, BUT I have no idea what post it will be. This tells me you are aware that real people visit your site and may in fact try to pass on links to others.

Summary: Your designer needs a raise. The attention to quality is evident. It’s so nice to see good design getting the attention your site gets. Thanks for not being afraid of technology and congratulations on being one of the first (if not thee first) presidential candidate to have a Twitter outlet. Rating: 8.91

Disclaimer: at the time of this writing, I really am undecided on who to vote for or even to vote at all. If it were as simple as basing my vote on something as trivial as “design” then I guess it would be that simple. But it’s not, so I stand undecided and possibly uninvolved. Let’s hope the forthcoming debates clean the crap out of the circus ring.

Proxima Centauri

My son asked me on his way upstairs to bed the other night, “Daddy, what’s the closest star to Earth besides the sun… not the closest galaxy, but the closest star?” (very important distinction :)

“I’ll google find out and let you know in the morning, but right now it’s time for sleeping.”

Proxima Centauri seems to be the one—at only 4.2 light years away. Then I started thinking about what exactly is a light year? Continue reading…

Hello

In two days I start telecommuting again. But until then there’s a ton to do to get the home office set up in the basement and convert it from a storage facility to a productive working environment. Ready… set… go!