Not Martha

HP Designer Matchup Challenge, the reveal

HP Designer Matchup Challenge

Earlier today all the bloggers and designers that teamed up for the HP Designer Matchup Challenge got to reveal the results of what our readers (that’s you!) helped guide us. graypants studio created this amazing neon light made by using neon gas inside of bottles. It combines reuse and looking at a familiar thing in a new way. I didn’t get the change to photograph the lamp in the dark due to some floor to ceiling windows with an incredible view, more on that later. The neon glides down the sides of the bottle and pools at the bottom, it is something to behold:

neon in bottles, created by graypants studios

I’ll be back to talk more about the trip and unexpectedly finding myself about three feet away from Tim Gunn with lots of cameras pointed our direction.

· comments [3] · 09-7-2012 · categories:events · technology ·

HP Designer Matchup Challenge, week 3 and a peek

HP Designer Matchup Challenge

I’m so excited, next week I’ll be in New York for Fashion Week and graypants and I will get to show you the result of what you’ve helped shape by voting in the first two posts (thanks!). Here are a few peeks:

Quick note, I’m typing this on the Ultrabook that HP sent me. Why a laptop? I still use the TouchSmart that they sent me as part of last year’s challenge as my everyday desktop machine so I asked really nicely and they sent me this laptop instead. Thanks HP! I mean, the TouchSmart is a great computer but my house is small and I didn’t have room for two of them. I wish I did though, a giant touch screen would come in extremely handy in the kitchen. That is, if you could protect the screen from olive oil smears. You could do that, right?

These pictures were all taken by Jon over at graypants. Thanks Jon!

And next week, the big reveal.

· comments [1] · 08-31-2012 · categories:events · technology ·

links: technology

A List Apart: Summer Reading List. I need to dive into the responsive web design stuff included here. Via Swissmiss.

Any good recommendations for an online learning program that covers all of web development? HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, MySQL. | Ask MetaFilter.

Cool Tools – Planet Waves Tune Up. An accurate guitar tuner app.

Seeking free windows software programs (any programs!) that are as good or better than their for-cost counterparts. | Ask MetaFilter. The Lifehacker Pack recommended in that thread looks particularly great.

Alt Design Summit – Blog – Weekend Links, Photoshop. Lots of great tutorials for bloggers listed here.

Women and Video Games: Robin Hunicke | The Hairpin.

Inward Facing Girl – Clip Art Resources (For Blogs!).

Help me buy a nice 32-42in TV by answering a few questions about my price range, TV options, etc. | Ask MetaFilter.

· comments [3] · 08-23-2012 · categories:links · technology ·

HP Designer Matchup Challenge, narrowing it down

HP Designer Matchup Challenge

Huge thanks to all the people who voted in our first round of deciding factors in the HP Designer Matchup Challenge. The winner, by such a narrow margin, was the Amber Ale. (I highly approve of drinking good beer.)

The fine people at graypants, my partners in crime design for this challenge, took the result and created these sketches that may hint at what we have in mind, depending of course on the outcome of the second round of voting (below).

These were created on the HP TouchSmart PC and Photoshop CS6 that was provided. The TouchSmart is shown below among the stacks of carboard in the graypants studio, which is amazing. I didn’t really capture how big it is. The structure was originally made for shipbuilding so the ceilings with many skylights are a gillion feet high.

the HP TouchSmart on a red desk in front of a blue laser cutter and surrounded by stacks of cardboard

The blue machine in the background is one of their laser cutters and I got to watch it in action. That was pretty darn cool.

detail of the laser cutter slicing rings for a lampshade into cardboard and including an itty bitty graypants logo

Also the chair you see below (and on the screen which is showing the graypants website because I’m sneaky like that) is made by graypants and it’s really comfortable (as in, I wondered if I could talk them into selling me two of them before I left that day). It’s one of their slice cafe + dining chairs and they can made three of them out of one sheet of plywood. It also has a low-VOC finish (I am a fan of low-VOC). Cheers for the intersection of design and sustainability.

the HP TouchSmart on a red desk in front of a blue laser cutter and surrounded by stacks of cardboard

I have more photographs of the graypants studio (including my attempts to capture just how big the really big globe lamp that hangs over their workspace is) right over here.

And now it’s time for another round of voting to get us on our way to a final product. Posting will be open until Friday at 5pm my time (Seattle):

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Thanks everybody, we’ll be back with a little sneak peek of the final product before HP sends us off to New York to unveil it at Fashion Week.

While we’re waiting go vote for the week two options for the other teams that are taking part in the challenge: AphroChic, Fashionable Florals, Design Milk, down to five looks, Curbly, Outdoor/Garden from Reclaimed/Repurposed/Upcycled materials and Design Crush, necklace designs. I cannot wait to see all the final designs!

· comments [5] · 08-22-2012 · categories:events · technology ·

links: technology

Cool Tools: LaCie iamaKey USB Drive. A key shaped USB drive that will fit nicely on your keychain, easy to keep track of. JavaScript with Thomas Fuchs » Flowchart: how to retinafy your website. Make your site retina display friendly. Via Swiss Miss.

I’m currently building a WordPress theme for a project and I’m feeling a little out of my depth. What is a good starting point for doing theme work? | Ask MetaFilter.

Technology – Howard Rheingold – What the WELL’s Rise and Fall Tell Us About Online Community – The Atlantic. It was a thriving online community in the ’80s, I didn’t know it went back that far. Via Waxy links.

· comments [1] · 07-10-2012 · categories:links · technology ·

links: technology

Cool Tools: Codecademy. Short lessons for CSS, Javascript and HTML.

Cool Tools: How to Find Free and Cheap Ebooks.

A Whole Lotta Nothing: Great iOS software: Pillboxie. Gentle, effective reminders to take your pills.

Cool Tools: Grip Tape iPhone Backing.

My Photography Setup | Say Yes to Hoboken.

Don’t Fear the Internet, video introductions and instruction on building for the web. Via Swiss Miss.

· comments [1] · 06-12-2012 · categories:links · technology ·

links: technology

40 Secret iPhone Features and Shortcuts | iPhone.AppStorm. Via Misty on Pinterest.

Looking for exploration/immersive puzzle games | Ask MetaFilter.

Assessing the “Where Should I Eat?” Apps – Voracious.

swissmiss | Subtle Patterns Free tilable textured patterns for web designers.

New words for internet friends | My favorite is “misinterpridgnation”.

Old-timer web designer looking to get back up to speed with HTML5 | Ask MetaFilter.

Game/tech blogs | Ask MetaFilter. A good list of sites that will advise you.

· comments [0] · 05-18-2012 · categories:links · technology ·

links: technology

Jesse Thorn: Tumbler – What podcasts do you subscribe to, Jesse? Great list from the guy behind Bullseye and Maximum Fun.

Enough of TAL, I want something else | Ask MetaFilter.

Method & Craft, Illustrator and Photoshop tutorials. Via Door Sixteen on Twitter.

· comments [3] · 02-2-2012 · categories:links · technology ·

thing I like: Where’s My Water? (mobile game)

Wheres My Water logo

In the last week this game has saved my sanity. First as a late night distraction from stressing out over giving a presentation. Then as a distraction from being stuck in a plane for two hours before takeoff while the airport bumbled every step of de-icing and refueling while I was was seated a row in front of three strangers who had a particularly loud getting to know you conversation they never intended to last for hours but nobody seemed able to break. And last while I shivered through the cold I came home with. I could chart how bad my cold was based on my ability or inability to solve the puzzles. During day three I was apparently a zombie because when I was unable to solve level 2-2, a level I had done twice previously, I actually moaned “Uuuuhhhhnnng” out loud. While I was alone in the house.

Where’s My Water is a physics puzzler that involves coaxing a stream of water through pipes so that a frustrated alligator name Swampy can take a shower. The levels get more difficult, but never frustratingly so, and each section introduces a new aspect (steam! poison!). To make it more complicated each level has three rubber duckies that you can collect. Each section has a set of hidden items you can unearth, which in turn unlock a set of bonus levels containing more ducks. The game clearly displays the duck levels, it’s a completist’s dream come true. The game is Disney made and family friendly to the point that I almost skipped over trying it. I downloaded a few games that were reviewed as being similar but they barely held my interest or were quickly raised to not-worth-it levels of frustration. It has been a while since I found a game I like this much.

$.99 in the iTunes appstore or the Android Market, both offer free lite versions to test out. There are recently released additional levels for Cranky’s Story, at least for the appstore version, you can purchase in-app. (The update also finally takes down the Christmas theme my game had.)

· comments [21] · 01-27-2012 · categories:technology ·

links: technology

SEO for Non-dicks – Matt Legend Gemmell.

How to Save Your iPhone 4S’ Crappy Battery. I swear my brand new iPhone 4S has worse battery power than my three year old iPhone 3G. Sorta wish I’d gone for the iPhone 4 instead.

Tiny Tiger app : All & Sundry. Recommendation for an app for kids that is made right here in Seattle!

swissmiss | From Swissmiss: “an email unsubscribe engine that crawls through your inbox and pulls up a list of your subscriptions allowing you to choose which one to keep and which ones to unsubscribe from.” But, it doesn’t work for Google App hosted email accounts.

Great camera buying guide, at Kottke.

The internet’s Go Daddy issues at Kottke.

· comments [0] · 01-9-2012 · categories:links · technology ·

I heart podcasts!

It’s long past due for a listing of the podcasts that fill my dish washing/laundry folding/email answering middle spaces. Here is my current list:

  • Bullseye with Jesse Thorn This was up until this week called The Sound of Young America and it’s expanded to a include more segments and I love it. And I hope my Sound of Young America membership card is not completely worthless. Also, hugs to Ask Metafilter for being a sponsor.
  • APM’s The Dinner Party (nee The Dinner Party Download, which I cannot stop calling it) It’s snappy, it’s witty, it’s done by Marketplace alums, and it always includes a cocktail recipe linked to a history lesson. Awesome.
  • Slate’s Culture Gabfest A group of culture journalists discuss what went on in the past week. I deeply appreciate the Endorsements segment that they end the show with. It reminds me of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour.
  • NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour A group of culture journalists discuss what went on in the past week. I deeply appreciate the What’s Making Me Happy segment that they end the show with. It reminds me of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, I mean, Slate’s Culture Gabfest.
  • The Moth Podcast True stories told both by people who are performers and those that aren’t. Always compelling.
  • TED Talks These are short and very informative and though it’s really difficult to make it sound not terribly dry if you haven’t already listened (and I know you have, dear reader), it’s not.
  • WTF with Marc Maron Interviews with comedians who are willing to open up and talk about the business and life and it’s fascinating.
  • The Tobolowsky Files That character actor that you know from that thing has quite the way with storytelling.
  • This American Life True story, the first time I hear This American Life on my car’s radio I sat in a parking lot for a very long time listening until the end just so I could find out what I was listening to. That was in 1998. I was crushed when Ira Glass got married.
  • Nerdist I am smooth-baby-skin-new to this and the first one I chose to listen to (David Tenant, obviously) completely charmed me with Chris’ utter delight to be where he was talking to who he was talking to.

What podcasts do you love?

· comments [71] · 01-4-2012 · categories:technology ·

links: technology

The Wirecutter | A List of the Best Gadgets. I love recommendations for things I need but don’t have time to obsessively research. This site is all about that.

A Whole Lotta Nothing: SendTab: a great simple app for managing screens.

Google Kills Its Other Plus, and How to Bring It Back –

Arcade Improv: Humans Pretending to Be Videogames –

· comments [0] · 11-17-2011 · categories:links · technology ·

links: technology

swissmiss | Sugru Hacking Putty. Used to reinforce iPhone cables where they most often split. This is exactly what I thought of when I first learned about Sugru!

swissmiss | Codecademy. Coding for beginners.

Go ahead, make a circle. « Door Sixteen. A Photoshop Tutorial on how to put an image inside a circle.

SEO for Non-dicks – Matt Legend Gemmell. Via Matt.

What lens for low-light food photography? | Ask MetaFilter.

oh meaghan: a new outfit. Some great sources for a blog facelift.

This Is Not How You Should Handle E-Book Corrections | Slog. “Whispersync™ giveth, and Whispersync™ taketh away.” I bought Reamde on my Kindle for iPhone so I’ve been following this story, turns out the missing content is likely just small corrections.

· comments [4] · 10-3-2011 · categories:links · technology ·

links: technology

swissmiss | Make Photoshop Faster.

Does this LED sound funny to you? – Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. All about the candle flicker LED.

Nordstrom Mobile POS at GirlHacker’s Random Log. Oh dear, this could lead to a dangerous amount of spontaneous purchasing.

TIGSource » Recent Good Knytt Stories #3. I’m so very glad levels are still being made, Knytt Stories remains one of my all time favorite games.

I buy macs, despite the premium, but my macbook pro just died and fcpx may signal the end of needing a mac to edit video. Should I not buy a mac? | Ask MetaFilter. Our house has been primarily PC but recently Scott bought a Macbook for the video editing that came with it. I’ll be interested to see if that changes. Right now we’re happy being a mixed house.

swissmiss | Don’t Fear The Internet. Basics for non-web designers.

‘Machinarium’ Heading To iPad Next Month | Touch Arcade. It’s from the makers of Samarost. Few things make me wish I had an iPad, this is one.

· comments [3] · 08-5-2011 · categories:links · technology ·

Project Runway, HP computers and me and Scott.

Project Runway screencapture

To celebrate their collaboration with Project Runway for season 9 HP invited me to take on a few of the episode challenges, at least in digital sketch form. I’m a huge fan of the show and have watched every single season so I was super happy to be part of this partnership. The lovely people at HP sent me a TouchSmart computer to use for the virtual creations. Project Runway very well might be my version of watching professional sports so this whole thing is sort of overwhelming.

Quick background: I entered college to study costume design where I learned that I really wasn’t that good at it. After college I stumbled into building websites and discovered that being able to pay rent is awfully nice. Somewhere in there I started this site and these days pretty much only use Photoshop to resize the pictures of stuff I’ve made out of meat. Scott, on the other hand, studied actual graphic design before being hired away to work on the web. He continues to design album covers and band posters for his various awesome music projects. He knows how to use Illustrator and send things to fancy print shops.

Which is why when Scott declared he would like to also play along with the Project Runway challenges that I began to feel a bit intimidated. He is so much better at this stuff than I am.

The set up: In the first episode of this season the Project Runway contestants were woken up early, told to grab a sheet off their bed and hustled out of their apartments still in their pajamas. They headed (actually, walked through the streets of New York!) to the workroom where they discovered that their first challenge was to create an outfit from the pajamas they were wearing and the sheet they were carrying. (Is this your new worst nightmare? Because it’s way up there among mine.) Happily for everybody involved they were given scrubs to change in to. They were also given the option of using fabric dyes. Also, scrubs look really comfy.

At this point I paused Tivo and Scott and I agreed we’d have to incorporate what we were wearing at that very moment in to our designs. We were wearing very boring stuff. I had on a white jersey tank top and loose fitting black jersey workout pants from Old Navy (meaning, really, pajama pants). Scott was wearing a black t-shirt and jeans. I wish I’d been wearing something lacy or at least patterned. (Did you see what the winner did using his boxer shorts?)

I also gave myself the rule that once I got started sketching something I wouldn’t be able to back down. It only seemed fair. This might have been folly on my part.

Here is my design:

my first design

Here is how I fantasize, in the style of the Project Project Runway girls, that this would have gone down: I took apart my white tank top at the seams and dyed half fuchsia and the other half a bright green. Both turned out more neon than I intended but I forged ahead. I turned them into a tight fitting top using the black jersey from my pants to create a collar, center stripe and hem. At this point Tim Gunn came around and showed a lot of concern when I admitted I hadn’t thought about what I was going to do for the bottom piece. I freaked out. Since everybody else appeared to be making smaller garments I decided to make a long flowy skirt and dyed bits of my sheet black, pink and green. Tragically the sheet color didn’t match jersey very well so I decided to keep the sheet fabric as far away from the top as possible. I constructed a skirt with vertical black stripes and blocks of color at the bottom.

In the middle of sewing long seams I was called in to give a workroom interview where I shakily admitted to the cameras that I was worried about my idea but it was too late to start over. I was only half finished sewing the skirt just as the end of the night was called. On the way out I contemplated scrapping the skirt altogether and making a mini out of my remaining fabric instead. (Seriously, in real life I went to bed that night giving some real thought to just drawing a different skirt and wondering how much fabric I might have left over if this were, you know, reality.)

It would have looked something like this:

my look with a mini skirt

But the next morning I decided I just didn’t have time and that the mini skirt would be, how to say this? Too Pretty Woman? I had to go with what I had. I spent some precious last minutes uselessly fretting towards the cameras and nearly forgot about accessories. I dramatically grabbed a pair of strappy heels for my model as she was leaving the room.

Here is Scott’s design:

the design from Scott

Scott created a fitted shell from part of the sheet he had dyed gray and appliqued strips of the black t-shirt to create asymmetrical stripes. He dyed the rest of the sheet a melon color, it turned out a bit more muted than he intended but decided to work with it. Lastly he deconstructed his jeans to turn into a cropped jacket with short sleeves. Scott remained fairly calm in the work room and when Tim Gunn came around he had everything ready to show, the jacket wasn’t finished but it was pinned to the form so Tim could see the outfit emerging. Scott worked quietly and the cameramen were unable to even get a shot of him that could later be edited into something that could be interpreted as “looking disdainfully at other people’s work”. During his workroom interview the producers weren’t able to get him to criticize anybody else so none of the footage was used. He worked carefully and had enough time to fit the pants well and finish the seams in the denim nicely. He decided to only accessorize with shoes.

Judging was swift. (We’re still in fantasy mode here, just in case you started reading somewhere in the middle.) I was in the bottom three, Scott was in the top three. My vision and taste level were questioned, I tried to explain that I had run out of time but was reminded that being decisive is part of the competition.

Heidi didn’t absolutely hate the top, Nina had that expression she gets, Michael Kors generously pointed out that I had at least attempted something sweeping, Nina Ricci said something vaguely complementary but ultimately unswaying. I barely managed to stay on until next week and groveled to the judges. I later showed an insincere amount of concern for the loser before Tim Gunn had to come and tell them it was time to leave. Whew. Scott didn’t win but showed pleasant surprise that his first outfit for Project Runway was so well received and heartily congratulated the winner.

The end.

Scott also sent me this, his first idea that he feared might be taking the challenge a bit too literally:

Scott gave me a funny look

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· comments [18] · 08-3-2011 · categories:technology ·