Colbert's Cojones.

Last night Stephen Colbert had the gall, cojones, and vision to joke at the President Bush’s expense. For me, it was incredibly uncomfortable watching the video of Colbert, line by line, taking the presidency down a few notches – almost six feet under.
Oh, and I couldn’t help but appreciate his line: “This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring If anything, they are re-arranging the Deckchairs on the Hindenberg.”

Password Managers.

Like a lot of other Web designers and developers, I have a need for storing, managing and maintaining a lot of passwords. These belong to websites, accounts, applications, file transfer protocol (FTP), and email accounts. Keeping all of these passwords in a secure, organized, encrypted and sound place is a chore. It takes up a constant and consistent bit of work, a careful eye for record-keeping and accuracy, and a whole lot of worry that the information will not get into some schmuck’s hands.
Here’s an analogy: You’re a lawyer responsible for keeping hundreds of individual wills for hundreds of families. They are relying upon you to make sure that their information is kept secure, just in case they need it. And someday, they will. You have to keep these wills organized and up-to-date but you also have to ensure that the wills will not burn up if your office goes down. Sure, it’s possible that the familiies have copies of those wills in their homes but it’s more than likely that their wills are sitting in an envelope beneath another envelope and they just expect their lawyer to have their stuff, always. Always.
For security reasons, I won’t go into which password manager (or managers) I use but I thought I’d just compile a quick list of the better ones offered for OS X. Waterfall Software’s Wallet is an improved and serious entry in this busy but tiny market. Koingo Software’s Password Retriever and Web Confidential are the old granddads of the field with versions in the 5 and 3 order, respectively. Yojimbo is a multi-purpose information manager that has a dedicated password keeper. There are also a number of contenders, like RadicalSafe and Information Graphic’s Secret Book.
None of these are very expensive.
[Disclaimer: I’m not a lawywer. I don’t advocate for any of these applications and I don’t vouche for their quality, security, encryption, or their customer support. The above is my opinion only and I take no responsibility for anyone trying any of these applications at any time.]

Does G-d Have Rainbow Hair?

During yoga this morning, I became entranced by the sound of the group singing in monotones, each of us individually breaking down whatever blocks we were holding. I’ve experienced a lot of atonal music, but the connectivity of 10 people holding a tone or series of tones in one room over a period of a few minutes was overwhelming.
I later talked with a tax lawyer here who changed my current way of thinking about my business, its approach and its location. I appreciate speaking with lawyers and other high rationalists (like shrinks and accountants) because of their ability to clear through my own miasma, superstitions, and closely held (and often erroneous) beliefs.
Then I went to purchase a bike for my daughter at Canadian Tire, the Canadian version of K-Mart on good steroids. The staff there, all young and good-looking, were wildly helpful, for reasons that I cannot fathom. One associate came over to measure my daughter and look up all of the bike models and their availability. He then had training wheels installed on the bike for us while we shopped for such things as cat litter and a new overhead light for the car. When we picked up the bike and my daughter started riding it around, a female associate came over and showed my daughter how to negotiate the aisles. At the top of the stroke, my four-year-old faltered. The associate said something which later proved to be true: “None of the little kids learn how to ride here for some reason. They just can’t do it. But I’m sure that when they get home, they’re fine.”
Then, we took our daughter out for an evening ride and, sidewalk-crack by sidewalk-crack, she rode. It took time and confidence and praise and small pushes and a few falls but she did it. She rode. She rode.
A few days ago, we were doing some drawing on the living room table using color markers and copy paper. My daughter wanted to draw a rainbow – she used red, yellow, purple and green. Then she drew a picture of a person beneath the rainbow. She asked “Does G-d Have Rainbow Hair?”

10.4.6 Update Problems, Solution.

What with global warming and all, I shouldn’t be posting stuff about my computer. But I am in the hope that I can possibly help a few others out there with Apple’s latest (ultimately poor) OS update.
I have two computers – a G4 laptop and and G4 desktop (mirrored doors version). I updated my G4 laptop from 10.4.5 via Software Update to 10.4.6 and it’s working great. I always test out my laptop before I do anything on my way-more-important workhorse-of-a-computer G4.
Whelp, I upgraded 10.4.6 and, as I’ve found on many forums, my computer, when restarting would not restart. Upon initial restart, I got the beautiful gray Apple logo with the unbeautiful spinning gray wheel turning and turning and turning while my stomach did the same. Let be clear: I need that desktop to work in order to work. When my desktop computer is not working, I’m not working and I’m not happy if I’m not working because my clients are not happy if I’m not working and so on.
I’m right now doing a last-resort measure of Archive and Install, based on the instructions at MacFixit. In case someone wants to see how I got to this sorry state of affairs (and, as of writing, I don’t know if this will work), here is the order of things (this list is a compilation of all suggestions and recommendations I could find on the subject):

  1. After using Software Update (apparently, one should not actually do this but download the requisite update, I got a message saying that the update was being “moved to the Trash” and that it could not load the new software and that I should “try again.”
  2. I restarted. Nada.
  3. restarted while holding down Shift in order to disable many items. Nada.
  4. Because I could not get my CD-DVD-ROM drive open, I tried to restart from an external CD-ROM drive with DiskWarrior. The drive was not recognized. Nada.
  5. I restarted while holding down the Option key. This allowed me to boot into my backup harddrive (which thankfully contains a nightly backup of my desktop harddrive). The Mac started but I could do nothing except open the internal CD-DVD-ROM drive to load my DiskWarrior 3.0.3 disk.
  6. I then restarted holding down the Option, Command, “P” and “R” keys (not an easy job, admittedly) so that the built in PRAM would get zapped. Nada.
  7. I then restarted while holding down the “C” key so that DiskWarrior would boot. I rebuilt the directory and replaced it and then restarted while holding down the Shift key. Nada.
  8. I then came up with (what I thought) was a fantastic idea: start my desktop while holding down “T” to put it in Target mode. This essentially makes the whole computer one big, fat harddrive. I could then connect the desktop harddrive to my laptop while also connecting my backup harddrive to my laptop. A three-way! I would copy my (good) System folder from my SuperDuper!-enabled backup harddrive to my (bad) desktop harddrive and replace the good with the bad. I got an error not allowing me to do this. Perhaps that was a good thing? Note: during each step of the way, I went out of my way to protect my backup harddirve because without that, I’m shtupped. Anyway, nada.
  9. Next is Archive and Install, the last resort (save for erasing the damn disk and trying again or calling Apple India). I restarted the computer while holding down the Option key so that I could exchange the DiskWarrior CD for my Tiger Installation DVD by booting from my external backup harddrive (in all cases, the backup is connected via FireWire).
  10. I put the original Tiger disk in and then restarted again, having first removed all connected harddrives and checking that once more, again and then again.. The Tiger install disk came to attention and I told it to do exactly what I had read (about ten times) on MacFixIt.
  11. The DVD installed Tiger’s initial version (10.4.0) and it looks like everything (applications, files, directories, etc.) is there.
  12. I’m now going to download the complete combo update software up to 10.4.5 (the last, very happy, state my desktop computer resided within) and run it on my machine. It’s a massive 125 MB.
  13. Once the combo update is downloaded via Safari, I want to wait for Spotlight to index my whole computer. It might be okay to interrupt Spotlight from doing its thing but the 35 minutes it takes to index my harddrive is a small price to pay, I guess.
  14. Next, according to this article at The X Lab, I’m going to restart the machine using Tiger’s DVD and run disk utility and Repair Disk Permissions.
  15. I’ll then install the OS X Combo update and cross a coupla fingers so that I don’t gnaw them off.
  16. Finally, I’ll Repair Disk Permission from the harddrive after restarting the machine for the hundredth time
  17. Then I’ll restart just to make sure. And then I’ll test all the applications out. I’m assuming, unfortunately, that a few will not work.

More in a few hours.
Two hours later. Everything seems to be running fine. A few weird things like Word icons not showing up correctly on my desktop. Oh and this: everything seems to running more perkily. I’m exhausted.


As a thought experiment along the lines of Merlin Mann’s interesting site, I thought I’d take a stab at listing five things that, as a designer, I don’t know anything about.
(Admissions are all the rage these days—Tom Cruise eating placenta, Donald Trump getting paid for baby photos, former White House administrators calling out their boss, etc.—so why not.)

  1. How color settings work best in Photoshop.
  2. How browsers technically render HTML markup.
  3. Whether it’s actually easier to read sans serif type online.
  4. Why the color purple is rarely used as a link color even though, early on, it was determined that purple links are the default “visited” state.
  5. Why the American flag, in its design perfection, actually looks like the United States.

The Retaliation.

It goes without say (in the mainstream media) but Israel’s retaliation for today’s suicide bombing and the subsequent political support by the reigning Ph.D.s in Hamas is going to be immense. It’s a truly bloody perfect storm coming in the next few days or week: A new and untested Israeli government and prime minister, a vocal and posturing (and elected) Hamas leadership, a taunting (but inept) Iranian government, a soon renewed (but inept) White House administration, and the decision on the part of multiple (inept) Arab governments to fund the Hamas government will, assuredly and sadly, lead to major bloodshed. I cringe.


Design is funny.
For a reason that is unbeknownst to me, the only typeface I see these days in storefronts, on menus and in advertisments is Papyrus. It’s a pretty ugly [PDF] font. By that I mean that it’s both pretty and ugly. Mostly kind of ugly.
Designed in 1983, this font has been around a long time and it’s been part of the Linotype collection for a while. For the past few years (perhaps as many as 4), Apple purchased the rights to include the font in every installation of OS X and, thus, every hippy, gardener, menu designer, aesthete, movie goer, spa owner, granola maker, yogurt eater, book binder and peace activist who has purchased a Macintosh of late has had access to Papyrus.
The font looks like a hand-written, or slightly scrawled, message that was seriously bitten around the edges by termites and other semi-natural phenomenon. It has nice, large and easy-to-read capitals and a set of equally legible numbers, making it great for prices of beet juice. And the lower case text is round and real and slightly old with a slightly sweet face, looking much like a wide, wizened raisin in the sun of funky valley. The totality of the experience of seeing this font used over and over and over again is, for me, one of regret, desperation and remorse. Must anything remotely peaceable, naturalistic or organic have this font floating around it like a buzzard on a bison? Isn’t it possible that cold, aloof, and downright mechanical fonts (like ol’ Helvetica, new Gotham, or fine Locator) also could signify the possibility of social progress, the aspirations of non-GMO farming or the health of the soul?


I listen to every day. It’s a relic of my experience there, though I live very far from the city. I heard that there are a number of families protesting the production of the new Oliver Stone exploit World Trade Center.
I had a dream about a week ago. It was very vivid. I was inside an apartment on one of the top floor of the WTC. The apartment was huge and took up pretty much the whole floor of the building. I think this, in itself, is a remnant of the studio program on the 93rd floor that I visited in early 2001. The whole floor was pretty open and you could walk from one small artists’ studio to the next and then look out the windows to see Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, New Jersey, and Staten Island. The views were spectacular and harrowingly high. Anyway, the dream: I was in this huge apartment on a top floor and all the well heeled were there – lots of people with a lot of money. And the building was turning slowly, rotating. It was moving clockwise and, by standing next to the large window, you could see the landscape around you. At one point, it picked up a good deal of speed and it was kind of fun and almost unsafe. Then, it was time for dinner and a huge buffet was served on lots of tablecloth covered tables. The food was odd, like a fusion of fusion foods. There was an eggroll that had asparagus stalks sticking out of it. Other finger foods looked unfingerable. The building slowed down around 5:30 p.m. I realized that the building stops spinning around dinnertime so that people could digest their foods more easily.
At a certain point, I didn’t want to be at the party anymore and I left to go down the stairs and I promptly got lost. The stairways were huge and complicated and then I saw concrete tunnels that led to large public areas that were carpeted and pretty, just like they really used to be. Red carpets, a few security guard stations, a couple of fine stores and lots of people bustling around hither and thither. The concrete tunnels were really hard to navigate, though, and every time I got to a concourse, I could not find an exit. When I did find an exit finally, it was blocked by a ladder or some obstruction and I could not get out. I just wanted to go home but there was no way to leave. At some point, I asked someone directions for how to exit the World Trade Center and they pointed me in the right direction, down the red carpeted stairs and then through a small hole and then I was outside. I saw some friends or colleagues outside and we looked at the two buildings, which were now spinning, clockwise, together, quickly. The towers were actually in the water, close to the edge of the island, and they looked very, very large, looming.


It’s the end of a small era. A few days ago, Barneys New York launched its new site, leaving behind the designs I created for them over the past three years. I’m trying to gauge how I feel about the recent departure of my work.
I had a tremendous amount of psychological energy vested in the old design, which was Barneys first e-commerce site and was built by a team of us – myself, a Flash designer, an information architect, a project manager, and an e-commerce group. But, as my wife reminded me recently, I’m “in advertising.” People who create print advertising campaigns that last one day or one week move on to the next subject, project, and client. They may have spent months, like I did, working to make sure that the “campaign” was perfect, compelling, and managable and met all of the branding, strategic, and commercial requirements of its client. At the end, when the magazines are put into translucent, blue bags, they have their work to show for it and their passions moved onward.
Web design is no different; in fact, in some ways it’s better. After my “engagements” with clients, I have a digitally extant object to show again, while a print advertising designer has only a set of pressed pages to exhibit.
Having said all that, I wish the organization, its new site and its new audiences well.