September 29, 2005

TV Show: My Name Is Earl

Thank goodness it's getting decent ratings. It's funny, clever, inventive, and appropriately crass. It's probably the second-best comedy after Arrested Development (which continues to languish, ratings-wise.) Anyway, if you like to laugh, set your Tivo to Earl.

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Movie Review: Crimen Ferpecto

In an effort to use discount cards before they expire, we headed to see Crimen Ferpecto(unfortunately retitled "El Crimen Perfecto" in the US), an intense, madcap Spanish farce about a lothario whose life goes... awry. I'm wary of saying more about the plot because this is definitely a movie where the less you know, the better. I will say this:

It's a good movie. Not great. Not very good. But good.

It's inventive and stylish.

It exploits the fact that it's a movie -- leave your desire for realism at the door.

I love that it has a strong directorial voice. So many American movies have stunted points of view. This is a film with vision (however flawed).

When the plot sags (and it does... capers are difficult to maintain), the film is saved by some great, simple, humor. Malevolent children, a bathroom-door bit that will make you wonder why you hadn't seen that before, and other silly gags keep things moving.

This flick seems to be at the end of its run here in the states (there were 5 people in our theater last night), but its definitely worth a view on DVD.

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September 26, 2005

There's a boat dat's leavin' soon for New York...*

On October 31 and November 1, Jeff Veen and I will be teaching Adaptive Path's "Beyond Usability" Workshop in New York City.

We've extended the early registration deadline to October 1. And, as you're smart and good-looking enough to be a reader, you can get an extra 15% off when using the promotional code FOPM.

You get two days, packed with discussions of methods for creating great user experiences, hands-on activities, lively discussions, our latest thinking of the business value of design, and, most importantly, cocktails!

Read more about it!

Image from here.

*Lyric from Porgy and Bess

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My latest mashup


That's horchata spiked with bourbon. Yum!

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September 19, 2005

Final Thoughts - AIGA Boston

Yesterday I flew back from the AIGA 2005 Design Conference. A bunch of thoughts rattling around. I'll try to get some out.

Bill Strickland is an inspiration. He's doing great work, and he presents it in great style.

It was fun to see the development of "America: The Book," presented by Ben Karlin and Paula Scher. Design played such an essential role in communicating the humor appropriately. I can't say I learned anything, or took away anything, but I did laugh.

I'd never before seen Ze Frank do his shtick, and it was quite good. A finny riff on issues of safety within airplanes. I mean, the guy is, I would think, HBO-standup-level-quality.

I had no idea what Nicholas Negroponte was doing on stage. He talked about his $100 laptop, which was all well and good, but seemed totally irrelevant.

The conference presented both too little and too much. The bulk of time was spent in the main hall, which means that 2500 people (or so) are all watching the same thing. And if you're not really interested in that thing (say, Paola Antonelli's content-less slide show of an upcoming exhibit at MoMA), well, I guess it's a good thing the place was blanketed in free wi-fi. On the flipside, during the breakout sessions, there were around 24 simultaneous presentations. How on earth are you expected to choose? How on earth are you expected to not feel like you're "missing something"?

I guess my advice would be -- less time spent all in the main hall, more time spent in breakout sessions -- but with fewer sessions options.

Watching GK VanPatter's presentation on "Who Will Lead Design in the 21st Century?" really made something clear, and something that resonated with the talk that JJG and I gave on the (arguable) death of user experience. The vast majority of designers in the AIGA audience have essentially become marginalized. Form-makers, while valuable, are being passed by those who are attempting to use design to serve more strategic ends. And these form-makers, it is clear, have no idea. A fair portion of the blame rests on traditional design "journalism" (Print, ID, Communication Arts, etc.) which does everything to laud style and form, and nothing to increase awareness in its audience that such endeavors are becoming increasingly marginalized and commodified. And so when someone would suggest that form-makers are, well, being left behind (as happened in both GK's and JJG's and my talk), inevitably an audience member would lash out.

Sadly, the bulk of the AIGA conference, particularly what happened on the main stage, simply bolstered the primacy of form. I guess it's an open question around to what degree is the AIGA responsible for *leading* designers (which often means taking them where they don't want to go), versus giving designers what they want (which often means designers getting left behind.)

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September 17, 2005

"Design Thinking" as ipecac

I had the opportunity to chat with Michael Bierut, partner at Pentagram and former president of the AIGA, at the Design Observer/Speak Up party last night. I asked him what he thinks of the "design thinking" meme. He remarked that, if he started talking "design thinking" within Pentagram, Paula Scher, another partner, would throw up. He actually stated it twice, for effect. Paula Scher throws up at the notion of "design thinking."

Which makes me respect Paula Scher all the more.

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September 16, 2005

Quick Thoughts - AIGA Boston

After a poor night's sleep (forget to bring the melatonin), I rolled into the main (massive) auditorium for the AIGA Boston conference.

John Hockenberry is MCing the event, and doing so with an engagingly loose vibe. It doesn't always work (an attempt to have "funny phone calls" live on stage fails because we can't hear the other conversant), but he never flags.

Rep. Barney Frank is clearly a smart, thoughtful guy, but I had no idea what he was doing at a design conference. All he talked about was Katrina and the role of government.

The last-minute Design For Disaster panel (that's not what it was called) didn't spur me to pay attention. Designers can be a remarkably self-congratulatory bunch -- I vaguely remember the discussion involved how signage can help evacuees.

Ellen Lupton was singularly disappointing. She spent a remarkable amount of time making fun of signs that use "dumb quotes," which is akin to shooting fish in a barrel. And she didn't really have a point to it. "Rated R" was a fun little flash film with typefaces battling it out.

Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid gave a coherent talk on hip-hop, remixing, type, and graphic design. It was easily the best public speaking I (or the folks I'm here with) have seen him do. We had two theories. 1) He showed a lot of movies, so he spoke less, and his points were illustrated by others. 2) He just wrote a book, and, in doing so, figured out how to communicate his formerly esoteric theories more accessibly.

Jason dug up a video that Spooky showed and which is worth viewing. "Distorted Minds" by Hexstatic.

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September 11, 2005

Rebecca Solnit on Disaster

Making its way across the blogosphere is Rebecca Solnit's essay for Harpers on "The Uses of Disaster," which I'm guessing was written well before Katrina, and so is disturbingly prescient. She added a postscript specific to the recent tragedy.

It's very much worth reading. Solnit's an excellent, and highly passionate and opinionated, writer. She's something of a libertarian Socialist, but somehow makes it work for her.

Posted by peterme at 09:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Battlestar Canadia

So, we've definitely gotten hooked on Battlestar Galactica (the kidz call it BSG), and one thing that we've found... well... just funny is how it is essentially a Canadian production. I mean, beyond being shot in Vancouver, the bulk of the actors are Canadian, and don't try to hide it. I mean, Col. Tigh, played by Michael Hogan, might as well be wearing a toque, and eating ketchup chips, his accent is so strong.

Canadians are definitely proud to have the production in their land.

Anyway, the show's Canadian cast:

Tricia Helfer (pretty evil blond cylon)
Grace Park (pretty clueless Boomer)
Tahmok Penikett (pretty boring Caprica-left-behind Helo)
Kandyse McClure (pretty boring Uhura stand-in)
Paul Campbell (upstanding boy servant to the president)
Aaron Douglas ("chief")
Nicki Clyne (cute chubby-cheeked mechanic)
Donnelly Rhodes (smoking doctor)
Callum Keith Rennie (prophetic Cylon captee)
Kate Vernon (two words: Lady Macbeth)
Jennifer Halley (Seelix)

And on, and on. I've never seen an ostensibly American show so upfront about casting Canadians. I mean, the X-Files, which was also shot in Vancouver, frequently had Canadians in single-episode parts, but for a show's cast to be so Canuck-y. And Canucks who in no way are trying to hide their accents, well, that's new for me.

Special to the Canadians reading peterme: IMDB reveals that Michael Hogan got his TV start as an actor on.... "The Littlest Hobo"! (To Americans: "The Littlest Hobo" is one of those cultural things that makes very clear the distinction between Canadians and Americans. All Canadians know the story of this dog's adventures, whereas you'd be hard-pressed to find an American who'd ever even heard of it.)

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September 10, 2005

The last you'll hear about it.

Bloglines *is* picking up my Sandbox RSS Feed. Thank you and good night.

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September 09, 2005

Bloglines still not picking up Sandbox RSS feed

Even though the feed for Sandbox is current:

When you subscribe to it via Bloglines, it doesn't update. I have no idea why.

A different feed does seem to be working in Bloglines:

Which is fine, I guess, but I was hoping to route everything through feedburner.

Ah, fucking modern technology.

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Stupid Technology - RSS Wonkiness on "Sandbox"

So, now I'm seeing that Bloglines is not properly updating my Designing for the Sandbox feed. I don't know how it is being treated in other feed clients. If you're viewing Sandbox in RSS and haven't seen my "Economics of the sandbox" or "RSS feed fixed" posts, then you're not getting the updated feeds either. If this is the case, please let me know (peterme @ peterme dot com).

Posted by peterme at 07:04 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 08, 2005

"Designing for the Sandbox" RSS Feed fixed.

I received complaints from a number of folks that the RSS feed for my new site, "Designing for the Sandbox," was broken. I believe it is now fixed. Here's the feed URL.

Posted by peterme at 05:55 PM | TrackBack

Mobile made headscratching.

Winksite's tag line is "mobile made simple," but when I got to it's homepage, all I see is complexity.


This reminds me of Professor Maeda's post, comparing the evolution of the Yahoo and Google home pages.

True simplicity is remarkably difficult to achieve. And you don't get there through taglines.

Posted by peterme at 07:29 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 07, 2005

JJG and Peter and the UX Throwdown at AIGA Boston, September 16, 2005

JJG and I will be appearing Live! on stage! at AIGA's national conference in Boston, in our two-man show, "Is User Experience Dead?" (4:30-5:30pm, Room 312). (My answer: "yes." His answer: "no.") We're imagining something out of Punch and Judy, or American Gladiators. Whatever it is, walloping will occur!

This also means, by association, that I will be in Boston for the conference. And the AIGA ain't my normal crowd. So if you'll be in attendance, and interested in meeting up, lemme know. (Email care of peterme AT peterme DOT com).

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September 06, 2005

Web 2.0 as utopia, and a new weblog

danah's recent post inspired me to respond. And that response ("Web 2.0 as Utopia") is not here on, but on a new weblog, Designing for the Sandbox.

I realized I wanted to track and comment on Web 2.0 (and related) discussions, and didn't want to do so in the context of this, my personal site. This is something of an experiment for me, and we'll see how it goes. If you're interested in that stuff, I suggest visiting there, as I won't be posting such stuff here any more.

Posted by peterme at 05:31 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 03, 2005

Laptops - They SO are mobile

A couple months ago, I wrote a post, "Laptops are mobile devices, too," where I wondered why product designers haven't taken advantage of laptops mobility, and treat them essentially as desktops. Most folks agreed, except for Thomas Vanderwal, whose comment made absolutely no sense to me.

Anyway, in a feature story in today's Chronicle, C.W. Nevius discusses how people are increasingly taking their laptops with them on vacation. Not in order to work while on holiday, but because the laptop can serve so many vacation-oriented uses, particularly personal email and watching videos. (Which is exactly what I did with my laptop when I was in L.A. the last few days.) Googling shows that this article is based on a survey that has been reported for a while now.

Photo by Stacy.

Posted by peterme at 09:10 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 02, 2005

Movie Review: Me And You And Everyone We Know

We just saw the film Me and You and Everyone We Know, and it's the best movie I've seen in the last week (which means, better than The 40-Year Old Virgin, which was good, and better than Broken Flowers, which was only okay). MAYAEWK is probably hard to locate right now -- it's been in theaters a few weeks, and is a highly... idiosyncratic indie flick (I'm purposefully avoiding "quirky," because I don't think that overused phrase does the film justice). But it's worth locating, worth seeing if you're interested in a strong personal voice telling a set of stories in a truly cinematic way.

The movie also goes to show that while Anthony Lane is a good writer, he's a pretty shabby critic.

Posted by peterme at 03:40 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


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Recent Entries
TV Show: My Name Is Earl
Movie Review: Crimen Ferpecto
There's a boat dat's leavin' soon for New York...*
My latest mashup
Final Thoughts - AIGA Boston
"Design Thinking" as ipecac
Quick Thoughts - AIGA Boston
Rebecca Solnit on Disaster
Battlestar Canadia
The last you'll hear about it.
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