Monthly Archives: August 2009

(More (or Less)) of What You May Want to Know About Ivan W. Lam

About section screenshot

The About section is finally live! The reason it took longer than you would expect it to is that I didn’t want to make a boring about page like every other website out there. I wanted to make it more fun and interactive for the viewer at different interest levels. At the same time, I still wanted to strike a balance and still maintain the “about section” quality of a website.

The most basic information that you would expect in an about section is still there, but if visitors want to play, they can uncover extra information. I feel that this aspect of the game reflects my personality and also poses an interesting contrasting relationship with the theme of using transparencies to lay out this site.

The page is still in beta, as is the rest of the site. But at least now all sections are available!


What Am I Doing? (August 2009)


I mentioned this many times in passing in previous posts, but I got an iPhone in mid-July and have been playing with it ever since. Before I even thought about getting an iPhone, I thought that people with their iPhones are just rubbing it in my face and it’s sort of obnoxious to talk about it so much. I still feel that way a little bit now, so I make an attempt to not mention it unless it’s necessary and appropriate. So if you don’t want to hear it, you can skip to the next heading. If you choose to continue reading, I’m going to try to talk about this from a product/branding design perspective as much as I can.

One of my first acts as an iPhone owner was to get a screen film and case for the phone. I had been researching different films and cases online before I even ordered the phone, and I couldn’t believe how many review videos there are of different models in the market. I settled on the Power Support Anti-Glare Film primarily for its matte quality and therefore smoother finger sliding, and the Agent 18 Slim Eco-Shield mainly for its semi-eco-friendly material and simple design.

I’m not going to do a full review on these products, but I just want to say that these are fine products and technically, I am satisfied with them. But one thing I noticed as I “installed” them onto the iPhone is how much of the sexy is stripped from the phone when I, ironically, put on its clothes. I miss the chrome around the edges of the phone, and the matte film actually distorts the pixels ever so slightly. (I also turn the brightness down to preserve battery power, so the screen not looking as radiant as before is partly my preference.)

Soon after I got the phone and set up the basic phone settings, I went on an app binge and have since maintained a decent nine-page home screen, though I’m beginning to realize how I don’t use about three-quarters of the apps on a regular basis, if ever.

At first, I was on a game app craze that I never realize existed. I was getting worried for a while that getting an iPhone might have been a bad idea because I had ended up using the iPhone more for games than for productive work. But I think it was only a novelty feeling where I was just easily amused with the simple powers of the iPhone. Since then, that novelty has worn off for the most part. I’ve deleted many apps, and have continued to do so in order to make my home screen lean and useful.

Now, about four weeks in, I’ve moved on to more of the productive side of the apps. Last week, I tried out many apps that allowed me to not only control the mouse and keyboard on my family’s computers with my phone, but also get remote desktop, boot up, and shut down capabilities with the computers.

I’ve also looked into apps that let users transfer files from iPhone to iPhone and iPhone to computer wirelessly, since I don’t think the Bluetooth in the phones can do that.

These apps, I realize, are powerful, but they might a bit too powerful, as they allow so much access to other people’s computers and lives. Just be careful, I suppose.


I mentioned in the last monthly review that I was going to “mobilize” my website and make it mobile-device-friendly and also look good on the small screen. Well, I haven’t gotten to that, yet. I have, however, continued to work on the undeveloped parts of my website in between doing my freelance work. I’m talking mainly about the About section, but I’m also starting to move back toward the home page, where a redesign to incorporate the rest of the site is in the works. I’m very excited about the content that I will be releasing, hopefully in the near future.


While working on the site, I’ve gotten to dig deeper into power of jQuery. In the past few days, I started exploring the jQuery UI, which seems twice as powerful as jQuery basic functions. So far, I’ve only done the drag and drop functions, but I’m already pretty impressed with the simple intuitive functions that the jQuery UI has built in.

Last night, I played with the jQuery ajax function for a personal project. My goodness, that was simple to use; way more simple than the traditional JavaScript setup. I guess it also helps to know the traditional JS setup to use the jQuery ajax with ease.

“Wide Calendar”

I know the Experiments section has been lacking regular posts lately, but I have a mini-project for the website home page that will involve many little scripting experiments, and I’m going to try to show post those in the Experiments section. I’m building a special calendar that I had been thinking about for years, and now I finally have a chance and a place to build it in. Let’s see how it turns out.


Of course, as I have talked about in a recent post, I took a Letterpress class and had a great time making my own prints with my own design. As I had said in the post, I really recommend design students (and professional designers) who haven’t touched a letterpress to learn to use one to get a better understanding of the history and the practice and the principles of graphic design. Do it for the good of the industry.


Learning the Letterpress

Type set on press

Two weeks ago, I took a one-day letterpress class with a few designer friends at the San Francisco Center for the Book. I had learned about this place for a while, and had wanted to take the letterpress or bookbinding class but never found the right time.

At Letterpress I, we pretty much learned the basics of a letterpress shop and how to set type and print it. We had two exercises: the first one was to have the entire class of ten create a type specimen with whatever typeface we want, and the second was to make our own page of type that would assemble into a book.

Read more. (Video enclosed!)

TED: Janine Benyus: Biomimicry in Action

Janine Benyus at TED

Saw this TED presentation by Janine Benyus, who enthusiastically listed so many wonderful ways we can learn from nature for design solutions that would improve our way of living while improving the world. Almost every function she mentioned is filled with both ingenuity and inspiration, and the way she talked about them just make you feel everything is possible.

I’m not particularly a nature person, but this is worth a watch: