New “Dragon Tattoo” Trailer with dialogue

September 23, 2011

Mikael Blomkvist: “What are you doing?”
Lisbeth Salandar: “Reading your notes.”
Blomkvist: “They’re encrypted.”
Salandar: “Please.” 



Email is Dead? So say the Pundits, but the Numbers Tell a Different Story

September 14, 2011

I’ve been a big fan of Leo Laporte and his This Week in Technology (TWIT) podcast for years. He’s been so successful that he now has a network of video and audio podcasts covering a wide range of digital topics; This Week in Google, TWIT Photo, Security Now, iPad Today, MacBreak Weekly, Windows Weekly, Tech News Today, All About Android and more. If you don’t already listen to one of these shows, start. It’s simple as that.

However, as a prognosticator he’s come up short a number of times. He predicted failure for things like the iPhone (“that’s not a business Apple should be in”) and Apple retail stores (“Remember Gateway?”). My personal opinion is that predictions are an area of chronic weakness in human intelligence; even the best informed experts have the same success ratio over the long run as a coin-flip. So I don’t really blame him for missing the boat with his guesses; I take them with the customary grain of salt.

But recently he’s been on a tear claiming that Email is Dead, replaced by social media like Twitter and The FaceBook (can you tell I’m not a fan of either?). I put social media in the same category as reality television: the most productive people I know consume very little of either. In the spirit of money talks and BS walks, let’s take look at the numbers in the infographic below.

  • There are 3 times as many email accounts as there are Facebook and Twitter accounts combined.
  • The total posts on Facebook and Twitter combined add up to 0.2% of all email traffic.
  • The total number of searches on Google, Yahoo! and Bing combined equal just 1.1% of all email traffic.
  • The total number of all page views on the Internet equal only 25% of the total numbers of email sent.
  • Nearly 4 times as many emails are sent each day as the total number of Facebook/Twitter updates, Google/Yahoo!/Bing searches and Internet page views combined.

So, with no disrespect to Leo, the answer to the question Is Email Dead? has to be, not hardly.

This is leading.
Click image for larger size. 




“Just My Type” by Simon Garfield: My Favorite Book So Far This Year in Any Category

September 10, 2011

Just My Type by Simon Garfield is a unique book about a subject that is all around us and, except for professional graphic designers, mostly ignored by the general public.

However below the radar the subject of typefaces may be, it is also abundantly clear that they exert an enormous influence on how we perceive the written word. In everything from brand logos, the headlines and body copy of newspapers and magazines and, of increasing importance, in all digital user interfaces from the Web, smart phones to eReaders and tablet computers.

This book is sure to be on this Christmas’ wish lift for every graphic designer you know, but I would argue his real achievement is to take a niche subject and make it thoroughly engaging for the lay reader. Everyone is confronted with a variety of fonts every day, they are literally unavoidable. So I’d make the case that this book can be rewarding to every reader, not just those with a professional stake in the game. Because the story of typefaces is, at its root, also the story of people and communication.

26 letters plus a variety of numbers and symbols (ligatures, accents, fractions and dingbats) yield an almost infinite variety of styles, past, present and future – new typefaces are being designed and released every day. And all more accessible than ever before to the average computer user – even if all you ever type is a business letter – from the drop down menu in your word processor of choice. We can thank Steve Jobs and his college course in calligraphy for the early emphasis on good fonts in the personal computer market.

Garfield uses short chapters and abundant illustrations of his subject matter that include both biographic and historic detail that I found fascinating. I learned perhaps more than I ever wanted to know about the personal life of the creator of one of my all time favorite typefaces: who would’ve thought that a book on fonts could include topics like incest and bestiality? (It’s ranked number 8 on the chart below).

The take-away? Just My Type is my favorite book so far this year in any category and carries my highest recommendation. Buy it, read it, give a copy to every graphic designer you know.

Here’s a wonderful chart that’s used as the end papers of Garfield’s book, the Periodic Table of Typefaces – Popular, Influential & Notorious.

Click on image for larger size. Note: Full image is 3150 wide by 2100 pixels high.







CameraSim: Free Web App Demystifys SLR Photography

September 10, 2011

Jonathan Arnold, founder of Tuitive, a user interface design company has created a free browser-based teaching tool called CameraSim that is both simple and brilliant. The goal is to “demystify SLR photography” by showing you what happens when you change various settings on your camera, specifically lighting, distance, focal length, ISO, aperture and shutter speed. A sample image of a young blonde child at a playground with a plastic spinning toy is your photographic target. You change the settings and click the Snap Photo! button to see the result of your modifications.

This is practical teaching enabled through the web that makes it simple and free to experiment to your heart’s content and learn what works best visually. This is, as I wrote earlier, simple and brilliant. It makes me wonder what other sort of educational experiences could be taught this way?

Thank you, Jonathan Arnold for creating this and making it available to everyone with a desire to better their photography.

Click on image for larger size.

Can Dogs Grieve for Lost Owners?

September 3, 2011

Leao, a dog in Brazil, sits vigil at her owner’s gravesite
after the fatal landslides in January 2011.

There’s some controversy among those who seriously study dogs over the phenomenon of grieving dogs. Certainly there are stories from the past like the famous Greyfriars Bobbythat recent research shows to be almost certainly a Victorian-era publicity stunt crafted to increase the tourist trade in Edinburgh.

But this article in The WeekThe Phenomenon of Grieving Dogs – the Ultimate Loyalty gives moving examples of dogs displaying “courageous acts of loyalty.” One commentator on the YouTube video of the two dogs in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake in March 2011 said what most dog owners earnestly believe: “That dog is a better person than most humans.”

My own view is similar to Mark Twain’s (although I don’t think there’s any reason to believe in an afterlife): “Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”