Monthly Archives: May 2009

TED: Natasha’s Story

TED: Natashas Story

Just watched a photo essay presentation by Rick Smolan at TED about the photographer’s experience with a young girl in Korea in the 70’s (or 60’s, I’m not sure. The whole time I thought it was recent because the clothes didn’t really date the times).

Really interesting and moving story to listen to and find out what happened to the girl. Sort of gives you hope about journalists’ (and reflectively, designers’) roles with the work that they do.

Also gives you about 20 minutes of wondering why this girl looks so much like Shawn Johnson and doesn’t look like her face ever changes as she grows up.


Type Experiments: Now with Funky Conceptual Typefaces!

Just put up in the Type Experiment section two typefaces that I worked on last year using FontStruct. And because I created them on FontStruct, you can download them. You probably shouldn’t write papers with them, but you can definitely use them as an abstract pattern or whatever for your next creative project. (Or collab with me!)


Elizabeth Gilbert, Olé, and Weird Optical Shrinkage

Elizabeth Gilbert

I just watched Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on reverting the concept of the genius back to being a separate magical entity that occasionally helps out creative people. Just like my last TED post about Mae Jemison, this talk wasn’t over-the-top impressive, but it made up for it in thought provocation (rw?).

Elizabeth Gilberts Tiny Head at TED

Elizabeth Gilbert's Tiny Head at TED

Author of Eat, Pray, Love (which I have not read but have seen the cover in bookstores and online), Ms. Gilbert argues that creative people suffer from the pressure of constantly having to do something great, and if they don’t, they would have serious mental implications. From the writers and musicians she interviewed, She vividly describes examples of the alternative approach to such dangerous creative process.

She then prescribes that the only thing that creative people have to do is their job, and if that wiff of brilliance arrives in their work, Olé. If not, it’s okay, because the writers or the musicians or artists have done their job and shouldn’t be pressured or ridiculed for not producing great work.

Gilbert, being a writer, describes it a lot better than I do, so I think it’s worth listening to her talk.

Visually Losing Perspective

On a separate topic, I was watching this TED talk full screen on my monitor, with all my lights off. Then after a while, I started to see my large widescreen as a tiny rectangle in the distance. And because of the clothes that Ms. Gilbert was wearing, her head became even tinier, and I felt like everything was floating in space and I didn’t have a ground.

This has happened to me many times before, and it’s cool but terrifying at the same time, like I was losing my mind. Has this phenomenon happened to anyone before (without being on drugs)?


Puzzles Anyone?

Opened up a Puzzle area in the Experiments section.

I don’t remember how exactly I thought of doing this last night, but I got very excited about this idea and couldn’t wait to get it set up.

I love solving puzzles, especially ones that relate to math/numbers. So for now, I’m putting out number-based puzzles. I’ll eventually get some letter-based puzzles out, or have I already?

And I guess this goes with the art + science perspective that I mentioned a couple of posts ago.


There’s a New Serif on Site… or Something

(I think the whole serif/sheriff pun is done, which is why I butchered it in the title.

Type Experiments section screenshot

For the Type Experiments Section, there’s no crazy box rearrangement or disappearing stuff. I just changed the typefaces to serifs. For type geeks out there, the typeface in the images (in the navigation and such) is designed by the same person who created the typeface in the regular navigation. Anyone know who the designer is or what the typefaces are?

I figured that this section should emphasize on letterforms and less on images, which is why I tried to class up the joint with serif typefaces.

However, I’m not sure how effective that is as the type is juxtaposed against the background image. The image is part of an experiment I did two years ago in school. At least the type on the image is a serif!


Flash Forward – What Did You See? –

Flash Forward – What Did You See? –

What Did You See? Question screenshot

As a huge fan of Lost and time travel, I sort of look forward to this new series. Saw the promo on the site (link above), and there’s also this little semi-interactive aspect to the promo, where you submit in 120 characters (sort of like Twitter) what you think will happen, or “what you see,” six months from now.

But that’s not it. In six months, they’re going to send you your “vision” submission to see if it’s true. I suppose that is perfectly planned to remind you to watch their show when it premieres in the Fall.

I didn’t submit one, or I did, but it requires me to be registered to and I just don’t really want to register for another thing online. And that might be a flaw in the campaign. No submission=no reminder to watch their show.

But I’m sure I’ll check it out anyway. Not sure if I would watch it religiously, though, because learning from Lost, I don’t like being dragged out week after week not getting answers. I’ll probably wait for the series to be over and see if it’s worth watching in a marathon style.


Mae Jemison on teaching arts and sciences together | Video on

Mae Jemison on teaching arts and sciences together | Video on

(Testing WordPress’s “Press This” bookmarklet app.)

Today I watched a TED presentation (link above) of Ms. Jemison speaking about art and science as two seemingly opposite fields that stem from one human characteristic: creativity. Basically both involve thinking and using our minds to arrive at certain outcomes.

That’s a really interesting way of looking at these two fields, as it makes me feel more comfortable about my interests and passions in design and science. The video is worth the watch if you’re interested in both.

Incomparable Comparison of Life Accomplishments

During the presentation, she mentions her academic experience in college, where she was studying all these physics courses with complicated sounding names while putting together a dance show that she was also passionate about. After that she mentioned that she went to space, which made her super impressive in my book.

Continue reading

Experiments: Form Section Redesigned

Just finished coding the Form page of the Experiments section. The concept with this one is to move the transparencies around to create new forms. And you can reload the page and generate a new configuration. I don’t make a point to decrease accessibility, but it just happened that way. And when the section fills up, it’ll look more coherent, relatively speaking.


Experiments Layout: Background and Photo Section

As mentioned in the previous post, the Experiments Section now has a background. It’s meant to accommodate the widest available screen (according to Wikipedia), which is 2560 x 2048. I don’t have that large of a monitor, but it’s one of those things where you have to expect as many possible user experience scenarios as you can.

Here’s a screen shot of a part of the background image, but zoom out on the actual page or select the View Background Image function of your browser to see the entire image.

The background image is a composition of the raw photographs I took two years ago at Putah Creek at UC Davis. They were meant to be photomerged into a seamless image, but I thought it would be appropriate to show them this way for the Experiments section to represent the emphasis on the process rather than the result in creative experiments.

I also started working on the Photo page of the Experiments Section. Here’s a cropped screenshot.

The idea with this section’s design is that the only thing you see on the page is images and no text. The text only appears when your cursor hovers over the transparency that has that text in it.

Not sure about the level of accessibility here, but the Experiments section is the only section on my site that is not limited by accessibility concerns, even though I try to accommodate accessibility needs when convenient. The text-less states are controlled by CSS anyway, so if someone visits the site without CSS, it will read it perfectly fine.

The page is also meant to be wider than your browser window. Unless you turn off JavaScript, you’re always going to have a wider page along a horizontal scrollbar. With this being a page about images, the idea is to fit more images on each row with the space that was taken up by the navigation on the left.


Experiments Layout Update 4

Gonna skip the screenshot today since it looks relatively the same as before.

  • The secondary pages are laid out so they don’t look randomly crammed. Also coded the templates so things appear where they’re supposed to appear and don’t when not. They include:
  • The width of the page is now determined through JavaScript by the number of “posts”. (If JS is disabled, the widest possible width defaults from the CSS)

The basic redesign is more or less done. Just gonna get the background image in, and start designing the individual pages specific to the medium and fill with real content.


Experiments Layout Update 3

  • The link to the Experiments page is now moved to the permanent link: instead of including a /wordpress directory.
  • The RSS Feeds now work, but you probably shouldn’t subscribe to them yet as I will probably make a couple more dummy posts to test the blog. (But you can surely subscribe to the feeds for this blog!)
  • The “category strips” that move along the posts now link to the correct “Pages.”
  • The width of the page is now adjusted by JavaScript based on the size of your window. It currently assumes that there are ten posts, so there’s extra space, but I’ll fix that.
  • The footer is now at the end of the page (the far right).

This screenshot looks like the previous one, so it might be a bit redundant. But it’s actually of the Photo category page. With the category pages, I plan on having each category page be different from the main Experiments page and specific to the medium, but I’m developing a default one for new categories that I would not have custom-designed yet.


Experiments Page Layout Update 1

Started laying out the Experiments page. The following’s a screenshot of what I have so far, and here’s the temporary address:

The yellow and green blocks are only there for positioning. The transparency images will replace them when they’re ready. I pulled the template from the Flush theme, which is why you see some similar elements. But I’m going to customize all the elements to this page, of course.

By the way, if anyone knows how to disable vertical scrolling in Opera, Chrome, and Safari (basically any browser that’s not IE or Firefox), I’d like to know!


Image Test

Now testing posting images from Word and hoping that it uploads to the right folder.

Yay it works! Not sure how to get rid of that white border.

[add] Image quality not that great, though. And it uploads a new image every time it is republished. [/add]


MS Word Test

Testing the Blog Publishing feature on MS Word like I did with Blogger. Hopefully this will work better than Blogger, allowing me to post entries easier and “offline.”

Testing symbols. Is this — an en dash or em dash? We’ll see. ‘Single smart quotes.’ “Double smart quotes.” What about <code>? That’s it for now.

[add] The add-in allows categories, but doesn’t seem to support tags. That might be a shame, since I love tagging. Subscribe to my feed! [/add]