Tag Archives: site

Adding Something More Opaque

I’m thinking of adding an element to the ivanwlam.com theme. For months I’ve tried to work transparencies and transparencies alone into the layout, but it always felt that something’s missing, practically literally.

I needed a contrast against the transparencies to bring attention both the transparency and this new more opaque substance. I’m thinking of using a paper texture, but I’m afraid it’s too much contrast. Maybe something in between, like tracing paper or vellum? Exploration and experimentation ensue.

For the few of you who read this blog (you know, both of you), feel free to give comments and feedback on the idea.


What Am I Doing? (September 2009)


Near the end of August, one of my good designer friends from college contacted me about a contract job in the Visual/Signage Team at her workplace at a Pottery Barn corporate office. Not only was it great to see her again, but it was also refreshing to be in a working environment that is different from the one that I have been in.

Without getting too much into the details, I’ll just say that the job is to put together a seasonal guide book for internal use, and it allows the opportunity for me to be asked back and work for future seasons. They also had a bunch of little tasks that need an extra hand with, so I helped the team out with those, too.

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(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? (June 2009)

Site and Experiments Section

If you couldn’t tell from my posts for the past month, I’ve been crazy working on my website, especially the Experiments section. I’m just about finished with that section before I move on to the remaining areas of this site.

Programming Experiments screenshot

My latest addition is the Programming Experiments section. This is really important for me as I want to share and document my mini-coding experiments as I work on this site and future sites. These experiments won’t have the tutorial type of posts, but they will show as much of the related code that I use as possible. It’s not perfect right now, but it can be.

I have to admit, it takes a lot of work and time to build this “complete” website that I had dreamed of for many years, a site that is supposed to be representative of the public side of my life, including my career as well as my passions. Even though it’s taking longer than I expected, I have enjoyed the journey. I wake up every day excited and wondering if I would be coding and designing that day. I even considered making a shirt that just says something like, “I would code all day if I could.” Programming for me evokes so many ideas and possibilities, it’s mind-blowing!

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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!)


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!


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 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: http://ivanwlam.com/experiments/wordpress

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!


Learning from TED

I sort of left out something from the monthly review that I forgot to mention. For the past month, I started watching through a bunch of TED videos at a time on the Adobe Media Player. I wanted to see what some of the smartest and and most successful people have done and can inspire me with. Some were hits, while others misses.

I am often amazed at how some of these presenters think so differently and creatively to solve their particular problems. I’m sure some of it was BS in their presentations, but the rest is quite impressive.

This evening, I watched IDEO CEO Tim Brown’s presentation on creativity and play. He explained how as children grow up, they learn to self-edit and develop judgment of their actions, thus the ability to create freely and to brainstorm diminishes.

I certainly feel that way. Based on the environment in which I grew up, it’s practically inevitable that I’d learned to be all about perfection and accuracy. But I’ve also since learned to pull myself away from that and am now finding a balance between entropy and order (this explains my equal love for visual design and programming).

At the same time, my head is constantly filling with so many ideas about everything, it’s ridiculous. For the past few years, I’ve used many tools to download those ideas, with different levels of success. Currently, I have this blog Flush, though you can tell how much success I’ve had with it as my ideas-unloading medium (but hopefully that will all change now that I’ve switched to WordPress), I have my GTD “Someday/Maybe” system that safely stores my ideas for a later time, and I have Twitter, to my followers on which I apologize, for the thoughts there are less design and more… unusual.

And now, I am working on another medium that is the most related to design, the Experiments. It’s one of the main sections of my website that I am redesigning, similar to what I’ve done to Flush, and hopefully, this will be an easy medium for me to work with and that the convenience will encourage me to finally do experiments on a regular basis. Here is a screenshot of the design I’ve worked on today:

Yes, it’s going to be blog-based, but the individual categories will be in a slightly different format. This is going to cut down on the programming but still have room for me to be creative and explore with code and design.

So with the opening of the Experiments section in the coming days, I am optimistic that I can more easily take Tim Brown’s advice to explore and to play, and to keep creativity regular.


Archived and Redesigned

If you are reading this on May 6, 2009, you are looking at the redesigned Flush blog to conform to the design for the rest of the site. I have moved the site to easy-to-manage WordPress (one of my new best friends) and said goodbye to complicated-and-slow Blogger. The redesign, however, is still in progress; I still have some links to fix and I will change the background image. Right now, the background is a grid that I use to align everything (you know me and aligning things), but I will replace it with a photo that I have yet to take.

Blogger Archive

If you want to compare this design to the old version, you can visit http://ivanwlam.com/archives/blogs/flush07/. The links still work, except for the ones that refer to the old address, which should redirect you to the new blog post, if possible.


I’m sorry to say that the old RSS feed might not work anymore, so I invite you to resubscribe to the new feed, which will hopefully stay the same even if I move the blog somewhere else (which I don’t see happening any time soon, if at all). Here are the Post Feed and Comments Feed. These links are also located in the header.


With this blog redesign, I invite everyone to comment and give me suggestions for changes, including topics of navigation and user experience. I will also write a more in-depth post about it in a few days.


What Am I Doing? (Feb 2009)

What am I doing? Not blogging here, obviously. Not a single blog since my last update. As I’m writing this, I am in the middle of a semi-deadline to get my client’s site up and ready to go because they’re going to a convention in a few days and passing out business cards that I designed, and leading them to the site that I also designed. (I just realized how I don’t like saying that I designed these things because it really was more of a collaboration, and I just happened to be the one who knows how to use the tools the most.)

It’s been almost three months since I’ve learned about this project and met these awesome people that are my client. And mostly it’s been an exciting and a great learning experience for me. I sort of wish I will always have clients like these in the future. And every day, I become more comfortable and have a better idea with what I want to do, at least for the next few years. I enjoy waking up every day, looking forward to do something that I love.


Since my last monthly update, I had left my job at Peet’s. It was probably a good time to have done so, both in the short term and long term. Because soon after my last shift, I put this freelance project into full gear and started working on it almost every day, putting in more hours than at Peet’s. As I had said before, some things took longer than I expected. Had I kept working both “jobs,” I’d still be sketching the layout for the site or, perhaps more likely, I would have been fired by my client!

I probably went through a week or two of old job withdrawal. I liked my job at Peet’s; I really enjoyed working with the people and seeing the regulars. It was a real bittersweet moment to have left that job. Only a few days ago did I notice how I don’t really remember how it feels to steam milk or pull shots. Ever since I left Peet’s, I had devoted my life into this freelance project; I literally couldn’t imagine working at the bar. I still love the people, no doubt, and I wish I could see them more often (if I could get over the awkwardness of going back to my old workplace).

The Future (Always Thinking About the Future)

As I’ve learned to enjoy my new “job,” my mind became more free to think about the possibilities of where I could go. It’s probably okay to say it here since my family doesn’t read this, but I’ve been thinking about moving south. And by “south,” the range spans from the South Bay, near the San Jose area, to SoCal, around L.A. and San Diego. I want to do it mainly for independence, and also for the weather. But what’s as important, if not more, is my career. If there’s a job that’s fit for me all the way in the East Coast, I wouldn’t mind giving that a try. My family’s probably not so keen of that idea, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world for them.

A “Historic Moment”

I’ve been so engulfed by this project that I haven’t really had the time to digest the fact that we’ve just witnessed what so many people apparently without a thesaurus have described as a “historic moment” in the country. It still hasn’t fully hit me yet, just as it hadn’t hit me eight years ago with the previous administration change. There are moments, though, where I realize that this man is our president.
Right now though, it seems that none of that matters. It must be a sobering feeling for him and everyone that the world and its problems don’t stop for this “historic moment.” (Maybe for a day, but that day has passed.) It’s time to get to work, employed or unemployed.