Tag Archives: web

11 (Day 111)


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<p>I first learned about web design and programming in sixth grade. It was rea</p><p>lly basic HTML along with some sort of image editing s<br />oftware that created “J-P-E-G”s and gifs. Marrying my logical and <br />visual sides, this was the perfect medium for me to g<br />et into. Turning pure text into stylized text and shapes of differen</p><p>t colors is a beautiful type of magic that filled my brain with j<br />oy and wonder. My teacher Ms. Trask saw that I clear</p><p>ly excelled in it so for Christmas, she gave me a “T<br />each Yourself HTML 3.2 in 24 Hours” book (with CD-ROM!). There w<br />as a lot of material to cover, and some went ove<br />r my head, like the section about creating forms that i<br />nvolves back-end processes and services, which as a soo</p><p>n-teen, I clearly lacked access to. Regardless, I would sp<br />end most of my free time at the computer making <br />web pages, one better and more complex than the one before, and usually on one of </p><p>the many GeoCities accounts I’d created. Since then, I <br />had always assumed I would learn to really code someday and become an expert at both des<br />ign and programming. But visual design had <br />naturally became a greater focus, and programming had only become a <br />good-to-know. After college, I had the opportunity to work with the <br />startup Portal A as a contract designer of sorts<br />, and I designed the company’s first logo and we</p><p>bsite. It was the first time I had worked with PHP and jQ<br />uery, and while it was exciting to realize the powers of these two languages, I also started <br />to feel overwhelmed by the pressure of having to learn very quickly on the job </p><p>in my first professional project. When the opportunity to extend my role beyond the initia</p><p>l contracted project (logo and website), I had to decline for the benefit of the c<br />ompany and for the stability of my young career. When the iPhone de<br />velopment platform came out, I had high hop<br />es for things I could cr</p><p>eate. For two or three times in the past fi<br />ve years or so, I had tried to learn Objectiv<br />e-C and iOS development, but the la<br />nguage and structure was too different fro</p><p>m what I was used to, and without an actual and small pr<br />oject to work on, there was little motivation or di<br />rection to learn anything that I could practically us<br />e. So in the past year or so, I finally realized tha</p><p>t despite my seemingly unlimited ambit<br />on and excitement over every new s</p><p>kill I come across, there is only a limited amount of time I have and there are certain<br />n areas that I truly excel at. It is up to me to decide if I should continue and take the time t<br />o learn and master, or move on to another activity and discover ne<br />w things about myself. </p><p>Wit<br />h web and visual des<br />ign, I feel the level of <br />challenge is right where I need it to be, and wit<br />h programming, it is something that </p><p>I am glad to have a s<br />mall foundation in, and it is somethin</p><p>g I would pull out of my back pocket when necessa<br />ry, but for now, I will keep it as a side skill and def<br />er to the pros when it matters most. I pl<br />an to continue to keep up wi<br />th it once in a while and m</p><p>aybe learn a lit<br />tle more whenever I can<br />.





15 11 15 21 8 13 23 12 1 8 18 19 4 13 3 14 23 26 26 11 8 19

  1. I’ve always loved num_ers.
  2. They _onsistently make the most sense to me and bring order to my life.
  3. I love how such a simple concept creates so many _ifferent properties (Primes, Pythagorean, Pascal, just to name a basic few).
  4. Numbers equ_lizes _nd democr_tizes society.
  5. The more one understands powers, the more power and opportunities they get in li_e.
  6. Numbers connect with nature and science, like chemistry and physics, a_ain, to name the very basic few.
  7. It’s practically a universal language, as in a language of t_e universe!
  8. So is g_om_try, which is pack_d with numb_rs and probably how I got int_r_st_d in graphic d_sign.
  9. I’m a _unkie of numbers, and I’ve got time, quantities, rankings, lists, etc. on my mind.
  10. I group life’s moments in bus arrival estimates, the lunch hour, tabatas, wee_ends, seasons, birthdays, Olympics, anniversaries, etc.
  11. I design with screen reso_utions, tab_e ce__s, pixe_s, dynamic spacing, etc.
  12. I _onitor weights, sets, reps, percentages, and averages, etc.
  13. I ask i_ my head, “How old will I be/was I whe_ they’re my age?” a_d “How old do I _eed to be to be twice, or thrice, or half, or a third of their age?
  14. I com_are gains and losses against inflation and tax rates.
  15. _t’s an As_an stereotype that _ fully l_ve up to.
  16. Similarly, I l_ve puzzles.
  17. They work my brain and make me feel _uite smart.
  18. I enjoy the jou_ney f_om total myste_y to “It all makes sense!”
  19. Puzzle_ are ju_t a form of problem-_olving.
  20. Being a UI/UX designer is an excellen_ example of _ha_.
  21. And life is all about problem-sol_ing.
  22. I naturally try to solve life’s problems _ith numbers as much as I can.
  23. I often s_spect that I might be a robot.
  24. At the same time, I know that some things e_ceeds what math and formulas are capable of.
  25. And _et I still tr_.
  26. I just have to find the balance between numbers and pu__les.


11, 14, 15.

What Am I Doing? (October 2010)

White Collar Brawler

What have I been doing? Not too much on the creative front. Just work, and trying to do my part to promote the new web series that my former freelance client Kai and Nate from Portal A Interactive are doing.

It’s called White Collar Brawler, which is about them training to become boxers. At the end of the series (in December), they’ll have to box each other.

Check it out, and Facebook Like it and follow them on Twitter and share episodes to your friends as much as you can!

Lawrence Guzman designed the website.


The iPad

I don’t have one, yet.

The day has finally come. And I had to watch people experience the joy of being one of the first ones to own the new device. I don’t mean to overhype it, but I’m pretty certain this is going to be the next big thing in media consumption.

There are of course skeptics who still think this is a useless piece of technology, because it can’t be carried around like a phone, nor can one do as many things on it like on a laptop or desktop. Those may be valid reasons, but they’re not important reasons.

Continue reading

Was Math Discovered or Invented?

I just listened to a podcast episode of the Design Matters with Debbie Millman, with guest Natalia Ilyin. This was a particularly interesting episode for me because of the amount of philosophical questions posed, like the time when Jonah Lehrer of Proust Was a Neuroscientist was the guest.


One of the topics they talked about in the beginning was whether humans discovered mathematics, or did they invent it? While there are arguments for both sides and the discussion would go on forever, they pointed out that humans point out relationships of things (such as seeing one planet next to another planet means that there are two planets, hence mathematics! But if you don’t see the relationships of those objects, no math occurs).

Symbols and Answers

Before they started talking about the mathematics topic, Debbie and Natalia discussed the theory that that are two types of people in the world, the kind that asks for meaning in everything in life through symbols and things, and the kind that are, I guess, more objective and follows a specific path and looks for the correct answer and that’s it.

This to me is sort of a left brain, right brain question, and it got me thinking, where do I fit? For a good chunk of my life, I’ve been dedicated to finding the right answer, because math, a favorite subject of mine, typically has one right answer. But at the same time, I’ve been told by some and have realized myself that I often have so many ideas in my head, and that’s where the creativity portion and the practice of graphic design come in.

So I often see myself as being in the middle: I enjoy the creative arts and graphic design, because of the enormous range of possibilities and opportunities, but I also get excited about math and programming, as I am comforted by the fact that following a particular set of direction gets me a particular answer or outcome.

So in situations where I am undecided, which happens often, I reach for the middle ground and ask, “Can’t I be both?” This is why I’m getting comfortable with where I stand right now: sort of one foot in the graphic arts, and the other in web programming. I’d love to do both at the same time, so let’s see how that works out.


Another topic that came up during the interview was the idea of perfection. Natalia believed that perfection is about completeness, and design is really good for people with OCD, because designers usually follow a grid created by modernists a hundred years ago dreaming of creating Utopian societies and no one has since figured out a better way to teach design. I just can’t help but agree and put myself within that group.

There are many other topics that they’ve covered that I do not have time to cover here, such as what “home” really means, and how semiotics affect us. So if you’re a neurotic, and/or math-loving, and/or philosophical type like me, this podcast is worth checking out. The Design Matters podcast is available on iTunes.


What Am I Doing? (Mar 2009)


Things are going well with my freelance project. We’re pretty much wrapping up with the foundation of the site, with a few more adjustments and fixes. Hopefully, in the coming weeks, I’ll be able to present it here with some process work.


I finally had some time to revamp my GTD system, and it seems to be working better than before. I basically digitized my projects list and actions so that they’re easier to look through (and therefore, less intimidating for me to review and organize). There are still parts of the system that I need to streamline, but things are definitely more efficient already.


I recently started using a public Twitter account. My username is ivanwlam, and you’re welcome to follow me if you want. So far, some of the “famous” people I’ve followed include David Allen (the GTD Guy), Ze Frank, swissmiss, Armin and Bryony at Under Consideration, and TED.


Me. Me. Me. The fact that I forgot to mention that I went to watch my friend Sam Sellers talentedly compete at the SF stop of the Cut&Paste; Competition Tour is unacceptable. Long story short, Sam did a great job and was robbed of his first prize. I love the piece he did for the first round, which was (and will be again) my Facebook profile photo.


Something happened in the past week that retriggered and intensified my motivation to advance my career and my life as soon as possible. I can’t go into the details, but I now have a stronger desire to be independent and self-sufficient and to take control of my own life. So hopefully, in the coming months, I will have more exciting things to report.

Really Simple Designer Web Comic

Within the past month, I ended one blog and started another. Really Simple Designer Web Comic was an experiment to create a daily web comic starring Point, Line, and Plane. Every start of the day, I take about half an hour coming up with a concept and quickly draw a comic for the next day on my Wacom tablet. The idea of this project was to become more comfortable with my tablet, and I definitely am now. I ended it after two months because it was taking too much time of my day and the creative juices just weren’t flowing as fluidly as I’d like.

One Per Day

One Per Day is a much simpler project. Every day, I post about the day before, using only one word or phrase as the title of the post, and only one sentence describing the day. This keeps my post lengths short and to the point. It’s sort of a practice for me to pack as much content and meaning into one word and one sentence as I could, instead of dragging on and on about an incident (which I tend to do quite often… like right now).

The idea for One Per Day originated from a revisit to Ze Frank’s The Show, which indirectly kept a record of Ze’s personal life and experiences behind the scenes during its running. I have tried to keep a record of my life ever since I could write and had self-awareness. I used to write by hand with special notebooks and special pencils, and then switched to LiveJournals for a while, then to design blogs with monthly reviews (like this one).

But all these posts were taking too much time of my life to sustain, as I write really long posts, usually about now-apparently trivial things, and I wouldn’t want to return to them if I wanted to recall events of my life at the time.

One Per Day reaches a compromise between wanting to document every experience of my life and cutting down the number of words that I would have to read later on. One year from now, the individual events that happen every day will mean very little to me. In the end, a day is just a day, even on special occasions. What’s more important is the overall mood.

I just started blogging on One Per Day on WordPress (my new friend, perhaps my fortune cookie best friend?), and I haven’t gotten to redesigning it. But the presentation is going to be more streamlined and intuitive. Subscribe to the feed, and stay tuned.

Quotes I Go By Lately

“A day is a day. Every event, however trivial, will, by definition, influence and change the rest of my life.”

“Keep it simple (and easy), stupid.”


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.


Portfolio Page Linked

Index aite with Portfolio link sctive

It’s sort of a milestone. For more than two months, I’ve been working on my portfolio page whenever I could find the time. Design, code, and test. There’s still a lot of testing to do… and coding… and designing. It’s not 100% done and not 100% good yet, but I have enough good stuff to show you what I have so far.

The first screen the visitor sees on page load.

This page may not look that complicated or that impressive (even to designers), but there’s more than enough happening in the backend that I am proud to have come so far in the past two months. In the process, I’ve learned a new programming language that is very powerful and opened a lot of doors for my creative outlet. I look forward to learning more PHP as well as the next step up, whatever that is.

Next entry will be very special. Another milestone. I haven’t decided what to do yet.


What Have I Done? (Anniversary Review 2008)

Today marks the first anniversary of Flush. A year ago, I “soft opened” this blog, and believe it or not, I still haven’t “grand opened” it, although I’m not sure if I really need to anyway.

Flash Review

The past year has been a bumpy ride. I finished my last undergrad class, got sucked into the world of Sim City 3000 and Sims 2 as I prepped for my job search, started my beta site, got a job at Peet’s, went to see Sagmeister speak, skipped out on Alumni Day (I’m sorry!), worked on a freelance project for my aunt’s business, bought a new printer, watched the impressive production of the Beijing Olympics, resumed working on my portfolio and site, and rekindled my passion for web developing.

My attitude on design has changed, and that has helped me narrow down the types of careers that I would like to pursue. And every day, I’m getting closer to that job and that career. Working on my site almost every day excites me and motivates me because 1) I’ve grown to enjoy coding and designing, and 2) I can’t wait to share with the world what I’ve done.

Prediction for the Next Twelve Months

I don’t know.

Nobody does, and I’ve been wrong enough times about where I would be right now to not make any more general predictions. But I will always have hope, I will always have my expectations, and I will always believe in the future.

A year from now, I may or may not be a designer, and I may or may not enjoy coding still/anymore, and I may completely change my mind about this site and start a brand new one, or career. And that’s perfectly okay, as long as I am okay with it and it’s for the better. I may not reach my current desired destination, but that may or may not be as important as the journey to get there. I mean, I totally wish I were rich already and not have to work but become a philanthropist and help starving children in Africa or save the rain forest in South America, but it would probably mean more to me if I actually pay my dues, work my way up, meet interesting people, and learn about the issues to get there.


What Am I Doing? (Oct 2008)

Web Languages

As I had posted in the past few entries, I’m teaching myself the relatively basic web programming languages by working on my site, mostly the portfolio section. I’ve conducted a couple experiments to get a better understanding and grip of these languages. Learning Cookies, Ajax, and PHP has been very exciting and has stirred up project ideas.

Every day I wish I would have enough energy after work to work a little bit on my site or an experiment. I could see myself doing this as a career, although I haven’t been with the big kids yet, so troubleshooting one line in the haystack of hundreds that others have written might make me think otherwise. Still, it’s exciting when things work the way you want it to, and that might make it all worth it.

Economy and Job

So the economy’s not doing so well. Just when you think you’re at the bottom, you’re wrong. This isn’t really affecting me as directly as other Americans, since I don’t intend to buy a house or borrow large sums of money in the near future.

But when others suffer, we might, too. I’m talking specifically about companies’ ability (or inability) to keep their finances in the black, which may require them to lay off some employees, employees who might now compete with me in the job market, or employees whose positions that I desire but seize to exist because they’re laid off.

So that makes me reconsider the length of my employment at Peet’s. But then again, if I worry too much, which I probably already have, I won’t get anywhere.


Career Routes: Web Developing and “Green” Companies

In the past few weeks, as I have been working on my portfolio site and learning PHP and Ajax, I re-found my excitement and fascination in coding, and I could imagine myself working on it as a full-time gig, despite the hairsplitting troubleshooting (but when it works, it works beautifully!) At the same time, my interest in environmentalism and sustainability still exists. Not so much, though, is visual design, at least as a career. Therefore, I now have narrowed my choices down to two: web developing and “green” jobs.

I don’t know which is more correct, web “developing” or web “programming,” but I know what I want to do. The problem is that a quick job search online shows that most of those jobs require multiple years of experience, which I don’t have professionally.

And with green jobs, I still don’t know where to start, because I don’t know what my education in (mostly visual) design can contribute to the organizations. But I’m sure there is a future and potential for growth for the entire industry, so I’m not too worried; there’s something to do for everyone.

Therefore, the perfect job right now would be to combine both: to code the website or whatever for a “green” company, letting me contribute to my passion of changing/saving the world by doing what I enjoy doing.

This is not too far-fetched of a dream, compared to my other ones. If I have to pay more dues by working for a year or two somewhere to get there, I just might do it.


Cookies Basics

Portfolio section, Show/Hide Panels button

I can now write cookies. I had been avoiding it for a while because I knew it would be a little more complex than basic JavaScript, and that I don’t like how cookies are used for “evil” sometimes. Cookies have a bad rap of taking personal information and whatnot, and I want to avoid that for my sites as much and as long as possible. And now I’m using it only to enhance visitor experience and it does not collect personal information.

I created an experiment with cookies in my Experiments section. It involves taking a name and storing it into the browser cookies, and then also created a switch button that just makes a setting go on and off. I did it for my portfolio section, where I want the visitor to have the option to show the “panels” of navigation within the portfolio section or to hide them, and not have to keep setting it every time the visitor returns to the site.

It’s a basic function, and it’s non-intrusive, and it still works without the function or JavaScript. In fact, if the browser disables JavaScript, the button disappears! You can test it yourself with your browser. And like I said before, the portfolio page exists; follow my site’s navigation format and you’ll get there.


Portfolio Section: The Basics

Portfolio section in progress.

So for the past week, between work and the Olympics, I started working on the portfolio section of my beta site. I figured that I could draw inspiration from the Olympics and get a boost in pursuing my goals and all the good stuff.

I purposely have not yet made the link available from the home page because I don’t want new visitors to stumble upon my site thinking that the active link to my portfolio leads to a complete collection of my work. You may, however, manually type in the URI and see what’s been done so far. If you don’t know what the URI is, there is a hint on the home page’s navigation.

I haven’t figured out exactly how to lay out the page yet. I’ve designed probably five or six web portfolio sites, always trying to figure out the most efficient and logical way to navigate. My criteria for the layout include:

  • how easy it is for new visitors to understand how to navigate within the portfolio section;
  • how the work is displayed against the rest of the layout;
  • how accessible it is for browsers without/that have turned off style sheets, JavaScript, and other applications;
  • how it would translate onto mobile device displays;
  • and what kind of experience most visitors would get from viewing this site.

I’m trying to avoid laying out boxes (or squares of “transparencies”) into neat little rectangles. I’ve done that before and even I’m getting a little bored. I’m trying to let the function take care of the form.

And it doesn’t look like I’ve done much so far, but I’ve actually fixed the code behind the navigation so that it works in more than one page with the same code, as well as allowing it to work (more or less) in JavaScript-disabled browsers.

Comments on the background image?


A Bit of Beta House Cleaning

I did a bit of site house cleaning today. I know, I don’t have that much on my beta site to clean yet, but I made some messes while creating those pages, like writing messy non-validatable XHTML and illegal characters, as well as inconsistent page titling.

Screen shot of Alternating Background Colors Web Experiment Page

I also began a format for the web experiment pages, which I’m bound to change so they’d go more with the rest of the site, which has yet to be created. I’m starting to see that this entire site is going to some time to build. But I don’t feel defeated at all; I am so excited to see how this site is going to turn out. Anyway, less talk, more walk.


Beta Mode

This afternoon, I was officially in the last stage of putting my interview portfolio together. I had all the prints I need, and I just need to crop them and mount them. There are gonna be a couple other things to take care of, as always, but I was pretty much ready for the next stage.

What that next stage is is not that defined, really. I could continue with creating a simple, or elaborate, leave-behind for my interviewers, but I felt that I wasn’t ready yet. I was ready to, however, build my web site. It’s taken me a long time to get to this stage, and I’m excited. After weeks of working with a print-oriented goal, I was ready to get digital (“Let’s get digital, digital.” Sorry.)

Even though real construction began today, I had spent the same print-oriented weeks to think about the website (I was that excited). What it must have, what it could have, what the concept should be, how it would look like, etc. I actually started sketching layouts during an off-print day to get that crap out of my head (the fine spirit of Flush), and I’m glad I did, because I’m (currently, at least) going with a different approach.

Usability Testing

While setting up the basics of the site today, something dawned on me. I thought about the importance of usability testing as mentioned by Steve Krug in Don’t Make Me Think! While I don’t have the money to conduct the proper research (nor do I really need a usability test for a site this small, though it’s still important), I have the resources: designers I know (including most of you guys)!

Live Construction

Long story short, I’m going to construct my site live. As I work on it, I would like everyone to give me feedback, whether via Flush or by email. I haven’t gotten the whole plan worked out, but I will probably provide mini-plans for the next few things I wanted to work on, like navigation, layout, special coding, etc., and visitors can give me suggestions, comments, notes, criticism, food, etc.

I figured that this way, I would be more motivated to work on the site, because I don’t want it to look like this for longer than I need to. Displaying incomplete work to the public makes me uncomfortable.

Beta Mode

I’m calling my current site “in beta mode.” I’m not sure if “beta” is the right word because it seems to me that every web service I’ve used that are in “beta” mode (Gmail, mind42, Blogger before) are pretty much functioning services. Am I using the word “beta” correctly?

Cropped screen shot of beta site.

Anyway, the beta site is up, and the first round of feedback is appreciated. As of right now, the site:

  1. has a gridded background that I use to layout the content. I might take that out in the final version and let the content stand on the invisible grid, including the black-border boxes.
  2. has a text-based navigation. I plan on making the navigation image-based but still accessible when all the CSS is taken out, because I know it’s better to have the navigation text-based so if I’m making it image-based, I should at least make it accessible. I want to do this because I have this “hover” idea that I want to try.
  3. has a giant orange/yellow image as a space holder for either current news images or a Flash slideshow/movie, which is a pretty common feature these days. I’m not doing this just because everyone else is doing it; but because I want to learn more ActionScript. And if that couldn’t be done in time, I will just leave it like this and rotate images periodically or with JavaScript.

Please Comment/Critique/Suggest/Wash Your Hands after Using the Bathroom

So if I could get anybody to make any constructive comments on what I have so far, that would be really great, even if you think it’s silly or unimportant. If you don’t tell me, I won’t know what you’re thinking. Eventually (soon), I’m going to add a comment box on the beta site so you can give me notes while you’re looking at the page. But for now, comment via this post.