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The latest & greatest news you'll want to follow. Seriously. SRSLY.


Visualise Textual Works With Wordle

us contitution word cloud

Wordle is a free web app that allows you instantly visualize text works.

ordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like

For instance, the U.S. Constitution, or the Numa Numa song.


Formula 1: User Interface Design at 225mph

Formula 1 Control Gallery

Oobject has a killer gallery up that shows 16 Formula 1 cars’ control schemes. (Everything but the pedals, anyway.) This isn’t too difficult to show because they cram all of the controls, and often times the actual information display, on the wheel itself.

They have an interesting take on this phenomenon: That all the F-1 teams reached this very similar layout independently, and that they’ve all independently made the same mistake…

The complexity is ubiquitous, all 11 Formula 1 teams produce cars with more or less the same multi button design allowing adjustment and tweaks of traction and aerodynamics from the wheel itself. Unlike a road car, space and focus constraints mean that the entire dashboard is on the steering wheel. This is something that will no doubt be copied, unnecessarily, in consumer cars in future, but would that be a UI improvement?

Given that all 11 F1 teams have converged on a remarkably similar UI, independently, you would think that dashboard steering wheel style was a rational design, however its complexity possibly caused Lewis Hamilton the 2007 F1 championship, when he accidentally pressed the neutral button (top left of the 2007 McLaren Mercedes wheel).

We have gathered together as many of the modern style wheel designs that we could find and put a date to, to demonstrate the UI pattern. What is clear is that there is no clear accentuation of features (color, size) by how often the are used, merely by position. Even if drivers like Hamilton are experts and fully familiar with the UI, there is a tiny percentage chance of error. Our guess is that this trend in car UI would be a mistake if it filters through to everyday cars, and that F1 cars will revert to a more simple UI over time.

I think they’re off-base, here. The likely-hood of these teams all making the same progressive mistake(s) independently of each other is almost nil. It’s much more likely that the teams have either made a mistake by copying each other’s control schemes or that they’ve weighed the odds of mistaken button-presses against having to take fractionally more focus away from the road (say to look down and to the left at a warning light) and decided the former was less risky.

Either way, this is a study in user interface design that’s not to be missed. Read the full article and check out the excellent gallery over at Oobject.com.

BONUS: I’ll leave you with this Renault F1 driver putting one of these UI’s through it’s paces via cockpit camera…


Again and Again: Music Video Takes Place Entirely Within Mac OS X Leopard

This is the music video for Again and Again by The Bird and The Bee. The entire video takes place on the desktop of a Mac running OS X Leopard. It was created by Dennis Liu. That link seems to be his portfolio site, but this video is not listed amongst his work. (It should be showcased, as far as I’m concerned. And Apple should send him a fat check.)

Wait for the KILLER call to action at the end, it’s perfect.


Modernista! Builds What May Be the First REAL Web 2.0 Site

2005 Map of The Internet

The phrase, “web 2.0” has surely jumped the shark by now, but the big concept behind it (user-generated content) still has incredible power. Marketing companies love to talk about harnessing the power of web 2.0, and I think I’ve finally found one that really does just that.

Visit Modernista!’s web site and you’ll see something unlike (and just like) everything else online. They’ve built their website using a small layover menu in the upper left hand corner that takes you through their website which is literally built across web sites such as Flickr, Del.ico.us and Youtube. Brilliant! This is a web 2.0 site, for real.

[Image Source]


CommandShift3 is Hot or Not for Web Designers

Command Shift 3

I’m loving me some CommandShift3, lately. It’s like Hot or Not (Warning: link may be mildly NSFW), but it’s for web sites instead of vapid, digi-cam-wielding web personalities. Basically, you get screen shots showing two current web sites. You click on the one that you like the most. By doing so, you’ve just declared a winner between the two. Sites are rated over time and assigned a rank in the grand scheme of things.

Anyone can submit a site, and you can provide a credit url to the designer (or to yourself). It’s a fun way to find some inspiration or put your design chops to the test. The best of and worst ever galleries are not to be missed. Oh, and us Mac users will never again forget what three buttons to press when we want to snap a screen shot. (command-shift-3 is the Mac keyboard shortcut for taking a screenie.)


UMKC, If It's Not Broken, Don't Fix It

I recently received an email to vote on the new, improved athletics logo for UMKC, my alma mater. (That’s University of Missouri – Kansas City for anyone wondering.) I was confused at first. How often do logos need to be updated? The year after I graduated they came out with a new logo. I’d say somewhere around 2005. This brings us to somewhere around 3 years ago. And it’s already time for another logo?

It seems that the athletic department has decided that “to create a more comprehensive athletics program, they need to have a more consistent identity, which is something that hasn’t been visible in the past.”

I guess the logo they designed a few years ago wasn’t consistent enough. I’m pretty sure the invisibility of the past was lack of marketing, not the identity. I thought the logo they used from 1987 to 2004 was pretty consistent.

It wasn’t used very well and kind of reminded me of the KangaROOS shoe brand logo, but I thought it was consistent. Re-branding is a common method used to spike interest, so I guess I can handle it. A logo design should be timeless and if anything be able to last more than 3 years. Changing your logo constantly isn’t going to help “consistency”.

After saying all that, I’m still excited to see the options I’ve been given to choose between. I click the link that takes me to the voting page. Uhhhh… really? The two logos shown aren’t what I was hoping for to say the least. Quick critique time!


Option One (on left): I like that they show the whole kangaroo. Even though it says roos, it’s nice to know what it is with a quick glance and with just a head or upper body it’s hard to tell exactly what it is. I understand that the Roo is supposed to have an illustrated feel, but it seems incomplete. The bigger issue is the typography. “Roos” is hard to read. The “R” looks very close to an “A” and the “s” looks like a “5”. The text shouldn’t be angled. When this gets printed on a T-Shirt, it will look like a bad print job. I can hear it now. “Is this supposed to be angled?”

Option Two (on right): I really want to like this one. Overall I wish it were more symmetrical to give it a stronger and more stable look. Especially being a sports logo. The boxing gloves are a nice concept, but I’m not sure if it reads very well. The typography here is better starting with a more traditional and less trendy font choice than option one, but still needs some work. It looks like they tried to have the same arch baseline for “UMKC” and “ROOS”, but were just off from matching it and “ROOS” being italicized doesn’t help it fit either.

Maybe we should look to our new arrivals in the Summit League, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. They recently redesigned their logo as well. I think I’ll write in a vote for it.


8 New Marketing/Distribution Options in Music

Old Electronic Display - No Disc

The record companies are clueless and scared, the RIAA is abusively litigious and crass. However the musicians are listening to their fans like teenagers who just heard Dark Side of the Moon for the second time, and we’re all exploring a plethora of new options.

The traditional marketing system for music has eaten itself over the last decade. Some would even say it’s been back for seconds. All with a public looking on, trying to care about the the people behind the music we love. I say trying, because we universally fail to give a crap when nasty corporations alongside acts like Metallica and Prince, start rattling their sabers.

You see, when millionaires argue with billionaires it’s hard to care. And I don’t mean like sudoku is hard, I mean like bench pressing 600 lbs is hard. Almost no one can do it, or even wants to try. Add the fact that the struggling musicians aren’t getting hurt in the crossfire, and you end up with a public that’s kind of enjoying the implosion. It’s like watching a bully finally get his ass kicked across the playground.

This has lead to/been caused by (It’s a chicken and egg thing) a bottom-up explosion in cheap distribution and marketing ingenuity; and a fan base that’s constantly being handed new ways to discover, and consume, music. Even some of the established acts are blazing trails away from the grasp of cuff-linked suits and into the arms of screaming fans. Fans that (surprise, surprise) are actually willing to part with their hard-earned dollars for good music, when they know that it’s not funding another round of music-mogul golden parachutes and ridiculous riders for the musical aristocracy.

Here’s what some of the established or semi-established artists are are doing differently… Read More…