I have a special folder in my email client called “Automat.” This catch-all sub-folder, within the inbox, contains the whole gamut of digests, permission-based emails, forums, and account updates I receive.
I barely read any of them.
Instead of getting all sad about it, I thought I’d post all the good things I’m missing, thus allaying my alternating fears and feats of waste and knowledge saturation. They are:

  • Apple’s weekly in-store and online promotions
  • TidBITS’ newsletter
  • WebDesign-L’s daily email digest
  •’s and’s digest
  • Webproducers’ email posts
  •’s weekly sales promotion blowout
  •’s Forums emails
  • Email promotions for both PhotoWorks and Ofoto
  • Other promotions from, Dotster, Adobe, AMEX, L.L. Bean, iPrint, and my favorite, PayPal

Design Signs II

Subscription-based PDF magazines have now begun to hit their stride. I’m fascinated by them because they offer tremendous possibility with regard to design, content, and format and are inexpensive to produce, easy to carry, and are archivable and searchable; well, they’re all the things that companies have been promoting for years.
A new design-related title is coming out called Design In-Flight. The first issue will feature recent luminaries like Armin Vit and Damien Newman, who I like quite a bit.
Having said all that, I hate reading long PDFs and I find having and storing them on my computer means I’ll never get to them. Printing them is painful as you watch the wads of color ink dispense from you printer. And the lack of tangible goods in a subscription just seems well, odd. Yet, it’s interesting that this format for distributing ideas and images has taken on new life and I’m paying attention to new PDF publication dispersal methodologies.

Division of the Divine

I always believed that I am an essentially soulful creature, a person that lives to observe and act within a world of wonder. But lately I’ve been thinking about the untold effects of technology on the soul, the way that the divine in all of us is formally extracted, divied up, sliced apart and thrown to the dogs.
I take for an example the cell phone, which I use constantly for both personal and business use. “Use” is the proper word because I feel both “useless” without it and I increasingly feel “used” by it. The cell phone, in its portability, its persistence and its practicality intersects my every move. When I carry it I feel an urge to be on it. When I’m not carrying it, I feel an equally awful urge to have it.
Moreover, I know this is a common complaint and I don’t hold a patent on the idea of spiritual loss through technological gain. But what I’ve been feeling lately is that email, the Web, cell phones, and telephones generally are ways to cut up our interior lives into smaller, undigestible chunks — components that can never been integrated again that will die within us and refuse to be made whole. They fracture our experiences of the world and its unfolding.
I used to create attachment with a place (or build presence of mind) through staring at a spot on a floor or an object or area. For me, staring creates certainty. It focuses the mind. It pushes the objective present into the subjective future. And it seems to calm frayed nerves. It seems harder to do this lately what with the demands of life and work, the actual ringing of phones and email arrivals. But further, staring (or rather, just being) is hard because of the immense anticipation of interruption. The division of the divine within all of us is real and I need to find out more before the operation is over. Any suggestions are greatly welcomed.

Seeing Purple

There’s a whole new game in town called PurpleSlurple. Well, it’s not really whole, new or a game but it is very hard to describe exactly what Purple technology is.
Essentially what it *does* is create anchor tags around all key areas of a given website so that individual paragraphs and areas of that website are locatable (or addressable in the language of the PS authors). It’s a fascinating take on building a truly semantic Web and there are very few practitioners in the field that I know of.
Perhaps the visuals will be more interesting than the descriptors. Take a look at this site through the Purple lens: <a href="Deckchairs on the Titanic

Sudan Suddenly

Last night I watched with tremendous sadness the rerun of this week’s Now with Bill Moyers, which focused, in the latter half of the segment, on the genocide currently being perpetrated in western Sudan. The story had previously caught the corner of my eye over the past few months.
The powerful interview with Julie Flint (link above takes you there) detailed how the Darfur region of Sudan (a country about the size of Texas) has been entirely depopulated, razed, destroyed, denuded and made “uninhabitable.” The government of Sudan in coalition with local militas have systematically murdered and turned over whole Muslim villages to ensure that that part of the country can no longer rise again.
According to the interview with Ms. Flint, the Sudanese did not just uproot villages — they carefully tore out whole fields, destroyed any water and food supplies and raped women daily.
I ask myself what happened when we, after Rwanda, said (more or less) Never Again; when the UN said it will be ever more vigilent against mass murder; when the world took Bosnia at its word and brought soldiers like Wesley Clark into the maelstrom; when 320,000 dead innocents (at the minimum) would constitute the State Department’s edict of “genocide” and not some mealy-mouthed “internal strife” or somesuch; when ethnic cleansing is staged without benefit of cameras and microphones.

The White Rap

I downloaded the new Beastie Boys album, To The 5 Boroughs, off iTunes today and it’s quite good for a bunch of older, Jewish, white men. I of course mean that as a compliment.
The album is relatively heartfelt and does aim to please the folks who have it tough in New York City since 9/11, which is probably 2/3 of the population here. But the beats sound like they came off a tin can and only a few of the rhythms feel very original. Mostly, the lyrics are righteous which is how the B-Boys always have been. I need to listen to the album a few more times before making a more final verdict, but the album comes off as new-ish.
I didn’t mention that I accidentally downloaded the CLEAN version of the album. My dumb. Gee, could this possibly effect the above perspective?
Finally, I like the cover art a lot. It’s a flat-out fine drawing by the otherwise average illustrator Matteo Pericoli.

Son of God

As I noted a few days ago, I’ve become a big fan of Sufjan Stevens. When the album came to me, I put the music on and was immediately fascinated — it’s a perfected combination of many Elephant 6 bands, my favorite of which is The Music Tapes. A few minutes into listening to Sufjan, my wife realized that the album is replete with Born Again lyrics, which surprised me and astounded me because it’s so unacceptable for truly religious lyrics to be part of contemporary “alternative” music. I’m not a believer in Christ but I believe in this artist, perhaps the son of the late Elliot Smith.


Last night, I went through Stage 2 of the sleep apnea examination, which featured the use of the ultra-uncomfortable Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or CPAP apparatus (disclosure: photo is not of me but of another poor soul).
Around 9:30 p.m., a technician at Long Island Hospital strapped me up with a hundred electrodes so that he could monitor my breathing, leg movements, eye movements, heart and lung activity, and oxygen levels. It took about an hour for him to put all the gear on me and we had a nice chat about websites and web design. (After telling him that I designed websites, he informed me that his fifth grade son just built his first site, which made me feel about as powerful as a wet leaf.)
The sleep technician, a black man of small build who seemed to possible be from Ghana (he only hinted at his home country), then had me watch a video about CPAP in which heavyset people from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, talked about the instantaneous benefits received after a few nights of CPAP treatment. For the unitiated, or those who haven’t clicked the link above, under the influence of CPAP, a person’s nose is fully covered by a mask which, in turn, is fully strapped around one’s head, top to bottom. There’s a big flexible tube that pops out of the mask that goes to a whirring machine and one is essentially forced to breath out of one’s nose; in this way, air is forced one’s airway passage so that breathing (and not gasping, choking, wheezing, coughing, or asphyxiation) can happen.
Anyway, I slept like a baby, waking up about 4 times during the night, which is what most babies do. Lying in the hard hospital bed, I felt like a cross between Darth Vader and a person on life support, strapped up, strapped in, strapped. When the technician turned on the lights, I greeted him and asked how he was able to stay up all night. Was it coffee? He told me that he was an M.D. in Europe and that he used to deliver babies, so he used to have to stay up all night waiting for “deliveries.” He worked as a sleep technician four nights per week while during the day he studied for his medical license in the U.S.
On my way out to the elevator, I said goodbye to the technician and my CPAP and wondered what the hell I was doing designing websites for a freakin’ living.


You know there’s some kind of love interest between the national media and the state when the following things happen:

  • A search on Yahoo! on the word “Regan” shows up every possible website associated with former President Ronald Reagan. (Google does not do this.)
  • Every major news agency and website lists the memorialization of
    Reagan at the top of its stories for a week. Not Iraq, not democracy, not elections, not terrorism even.
  • California, seeking to replicate the 1980s, elected a popular actor to its highest office.

By the way, you can send a condolence note to the Reagan family through the auspices of the Reagan Library.

PDFs Abound

Although PDFs have been around since 1991 (the technology was originally called Interchange PostScript and we’re all thankful for the name change), PDF files continue to litter my desktop like tiny red-bannered bunny rabbits. I download at least one or two of them per day from many different technology, design, and other sites, and half the time, they go unread. The other half the time, the PDFs are read and promptly discarded. For some reason, the ones that go unread end up in a file on my desktop called “useful.”
Two recent design-focused PDFs that may be of interest are:
10 Years of Photoshop by Jeff Schewe, which can be found on Design by Fire’s site. The PDF itself is rather ugly in a designerly way but the history is rich. There’s even a photo of the off-the-shelf Adobe Photoshop 1.0 box, which looks surprisingly like the Adobe Photoshop 8.0 box.
Budget Design by Didier P. Hilhorst and Daniel S. Rubin, which can be found at Sinelogic Press free for another few days. The focus is on workflow, which is boring, but I like the design of the document.