Sillyness Spelled Wrong Intentionally

Technology

Sprucing up

Another year, another design. But this time it's in concert with 3000+ other people!

Penned 11 months ago.
It was 72°F in San Diego, CA with a clear sky.
Warm Sound by Zero 7  was spinning on the ol' iTunes.

So as you may or may not know, depending on your frequency of visit, I have launched a new version of the 'ol blog. After nearly 16 years of running this site, I have lost track of which version this is, since at some points in it's lifespan the design changed multiple times a year. Let's just call this version, Optimus Primal.

Yes, I haven't moved on from using Transformer names for my site versions. Sue me.

So why the radically different design?

While the last design was colorful, it really was a failed experiment. I had hoped to bring all the components of my digital life together in one place and while that seemed like a good idea at the outset, it quickly became clear that wasn't the right path to go down at all.

The reason? I have seriously branched out when it comes to content creation. Currently I am producing music, film, apps & games and novels. Adding what I write here (2 articles in 3 categories a week) and it became too much noise, not enough signal.

I decided to split off everything except my random musings here into a media focused site, which you can find linked in the header. While this made a lot of sense and made the consumption of that content easier, it left the design of this site broken and empty.

So, new design time.

Enter #May1Reboot

I was cautiously optimistic when I saw that the Reboot had been reborn. I participated for years, and loved the core concept. Having something like this back in action would be a welcome shot in the arm of our industry.

Given my long history with the Reboot, and being around for the changing of hands and then the eventual demise, I definitely had reservations. Luckily the human beings behind this latest incarnation are top notch, stand up homosapiens.

We should all feel lucky that people who care and have a firm vision for the Reboot are now the stewards of the movement.

So, the Goals

With this design I was going for focus on the content itself, while breaking the mold somewhat with my design aesthetic. I love minimal flat design as much as the next bloke, in fact I have been designing this way for years, but the fact can't be ignored that it has gone to a place that isn't very productive.

In many ways it has begun to hurt the very users it was created to help.

So the task before me was to remain true to myself and what I love, while introducing some aspects of design back into my workflow, that have been missing.

I also wanted to use some CSS tricks I had developed/discovered over the last couple of years to do some interesting things. Although I'm not done, I do think I can say mission accomplished.

Oh, and one note. No images were used in creating the layout of this design. It's all beautiful, beautiful CSS.

Opinion

Cooking

So, the wife is a culinary school trained chef, which means two very important things.

Penned 1 year ago.
It was It was 61°F in San Diego, CA and the sky was clear.
Shook Loves by Small Black  was spinning on the ol' iTunes.

  1. We have really, really good food.
  2. I don't really cook anymore.

Now don't get me wrong, I help out with dinner whenever I am asked. Chop things, run to get things, stir things. All the things, I do them. But I long ago relinquished any control over what we eat, or how it is made. Happily I might add.

I make food for myself when the need arises, but nothing involved really. Sandwiches, oatmeal, etc. I am a simple man with simple needs in the food area.

So, it was a bit of a change up last week when I was thrust back into the kitchen due to illness putting The Chef out of commission.

Faced with the daunting task of making dinner for my two boys, wife and myself I did what any self respecting, well groomed man would do. I through some crap together.

After dinner, The Chef dubbed my concoction "Hipster Hamburger Helper". It was a fair label. Here is how it went down.

Step 1: Find Some Ingredients

So I went to the cupboard and started looking around, hoping to find something to spark a brilliant idea.

My eyes fell on our box of De Cecco Orzo, a really rad pasta that resembles rice. I was off and running. Orzo is a beautiful pasta, with great texture and size that is quick to cook to boot. So a pasta dish. What to do for a sauce?

A bit more digging and I found a tube of Cento Tomato Paste my favorite tomato paste, sourced from 100% Italian tomatoes. And man do I love the move to a resealable tube as opposed to those metal cans.

Do yourself a favor, find a brand of paste you like that comes in a tube, it will change your life. Now, to find something to add some body and flavor to the sauce. Time to move to the fridge.

Sweet, we have some chicken broth! We prefer the taste stock imparts over broth, since stock is a base for a sauce, and broth is a seasoned, ready to eat... thingy (read more on the kitchn), but you work with what you have.

So now I have a decent base for a sauce, but I still need some protein. I have growing boys after all. Ooh, look at this!

That's a pound of Marconda's all natural pure grass fed beef, an old style butchery out of Los Angeles. Thanks to Amazon Fresh, we can get regular deliveries of their meat, and my God, is it amazing.

All of their beef is from certified Piedmontese cattle, an Italian breed of cow. Even Italian cows are tastier. Crazy.

Add some shallot and garlic in and your list of ingredients is complete.

Step 2: Mix Em Up!

So let's get this joint going, shall we?

  1. Add the meat, 2 cloves of garlic sliced, and a large shallot chopped finely to a large frying pan and sweat the shallot down, while browning the meat and the garlic.
  2. Once the meat is brown, and the shallots have become tender, add one cup of the chicken broth along with a half cup of water and 12 ounces of the tomato paste to the pan, mixing it all together.
  3. After the paste, water and broth are well mixed, add a cup of the pasta to the skillet and mix well.
  4. Reduce the hit to low to medium low and cover to simmer.
  5. Right before serving take a half stick of your favorite unsalted butter from grass fed cows and stir.

So that's about it. Hipster Hamburger Helper. If you make this yourself, let me know on Twitter, pictures are a must!

Opinion

Space Degree

So as some of you might know, NASA has put the call out for new recruits to the Astronaut program. It's very exciting.

Penned 1 year ago.
It was It was 66°F in San Diego, CA and the sky was clear.
Sophie by Small Black  was spinning on the ol' iTunes.

What isn't exciting is the requirement of a bachelors degree for consideration in the program. Over the last 10 years the world has moved away from secondary and post secondary degrees as an indicator of skill, intelligence & viability and with good reason.

The price of a University education has sky rocketed, while the benefits for many fields has plummeted. Take me for example. I studied art, english and film at university. I have spent the last 18 years working in the tech sector as a designer and developer.

While my art training help immensely in the design world, I have no formal training as a developer. This fact hasn't stopped me from becoming a well known and respected member of the dev community, founding open source projects around programming, speaking around the world on the subject as a recognized expert, and writing books.

As NASA sees it, my knowledge, experience and talents in this field aren't as important as having an incredibly over priced piece of paper that says I paid just enough attention to pass classes for 4 years.

As a child I dreamed of being an astronaut, like so many others. To strike out in the unknown in search of adventure & knowledge that would benefit all of the world. Although I am not physically fit enough to pass the rigors of the selection process, I would argue to my last breath that I am as qualified, if not more so, than many of the individuals would will step up for the challenge.

Do the right thing NASA, let smart people from all walks of life apply to the program. Let their hard work, dedication and will to overcome sift the wheat from the chaff.

Opinion

Relaxation

I am sure this seems like a simple thing, but for someone like me, taking time to relax is a very real, very important thing.

Penned 1 year ago.
It was It was 74°F in San Diego, CA and the sky was clear.
Mexico by James Taylor  was spinning on the ol' iTunes.

I am someone who likes to be busy. I can't stand not having an iron or 10 in the fire, which is why I produce so much stuff. It is also why I typically collapse from exhaustion every so often.

As I am getting older, I am finding the need for relaxation becoming more and more important. Not so much because of exhaustion, although that is a real factor, but for peace of mind.

Moments of silence, contemplation and reflection were once a part of life. Of course it was a part of the life of those of substance, or affluence, but today that is more of us than ever.

It seems in the 20th century we have sacrificed our down time on the altar of efficiency and career.

I, for one, think it is high time we reclaim these moments that our ancestors considered an essential part of life and add them as essential to our lives.

I plan on instituting an hour or two each day that are for these quiet moments. Grab some tea, a good book and a comfortable spot. A trip to the museum to recharge on beauty. Drink some coffee at a spot that has live jazz.

Basically things that are about enjoyment without productivity. A crazy idea I know.

Technology

Round Pebbles

I am assuming you have all seen the news about the new Pebble Smart watch, the uninterestingly named Pebble Time Round Smartwatch of Doom!

Penned 1 year ago.
It was It was 86°F in San Diego, CA and the haze.
Criminals by MS MR  was spinning on the ol' iTunes.

Okay I added the last part, but seriously could they not think of something more interesting, or shorter? What seems like a winner on paper:

"7.5mm, marine-grade stainless steel body that's fashionably thin and available in black, silver, or rose gold, and an always-on color e-paper display, with up to 2 day battery life."

Is in reality a tad too little, very much too late. Not only did they release it too close to another high cost product, the Pebble Steel, it lacks any meaningful integration into your digital life, which those of us who would buy a device like this have come to demand.

Had this watch come out ahead of the Apple Watch, it would have been a welcome shakeup to the crappy watches offered at the time. Now it looks like a lackluster attempt at a "We have color watches too!" or even more damning, "Me, too!".

Regardless, it going to be another disappointment from a company that was once so promising. It's a shame really. Pebble changed the game when it needed changing. They just couldn't post up with the big guys when they came calling.