Posts Tagged ‘design’

Widgets for Design

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

I’m always looking for ways to improve my work flow as a designer, and I’ve found a few Dashboard Widgets for my Mac that have proven themselves time and again.

Lorem Ipsum Widget

The Lorem Ipsum Widget from has been invaluable for my work in print and web. Often for client mock ups I’m in need of some quick placement text, and within a few keystrokes I’ve got just what I need. Try it for yourself >>
If your not a Mac user try:

Entities Lookup Widget

LeftLogic’s HTML Entity Character Lookup is a fantastic way to avoid scanning through the list of entity codes. With over 250 character entities this time saver is quite useful for those moments when you can’t remember the valid way to present quotations or bullet points. Try it for yourself >>
If your not a Mac user, don’t worry LeftLogic has other plugins on their site:

I do wish I could have a third widget on here to round out my collection, but I am still searching for the cure-all to my color woes. Adobe’s Kuler has a nice interface but I don’t enjoy the reliance on an Internet connection without a color picker. I have also attempted to use Color Theory by Jumis Inc., but it needs better integration with the OS. For now I will continue to use ColorZilla for my web needs, and the built in color picker in Adobe’s programs when working on print design.

“Easier than Pie” now on Amazon

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Now you can purchase my cookbook, Easier than Pie, on Amazon. Formerly only available on Lulu, Easier than Pie features fairly simple recipes perfect for college students and recent grads with kitchens.

For more information, head on over to the cookbook’s page.

Slow Loading

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

I’ve been helping a friend of mine in the redesign of his web presence, well, less on the design end and more with development.  Today he came to me with a grave issue, his site was slower than molasses.  In the vast world of the Internet, nothing is worse than a slow loading website.

Both my site and his new site are powered by WordPress, so I instantly checked mine to see if it was an overall WordPress issue. When it wasn’t, I immediately blamed his hosting provider, but thought better of it once I checked a static page on his site.  I then recalled that we were using some javascript to make his portfolio section nicer, but that shouldn’t have slowed the admin section as well.  Just to be safe, I removed it.  Nothing happened, so I set it up just so it would be served up on the portfolio page, not all sections of the site.

So to resolve this issue, I set off to my trusty Google search.  The majority of talk on the web about slow WordPress mentioned version 2.6 and/or faulty plugins.  Since both our sites are above 2.6, I deactivated all plugins, but nothing happened.  Now, I was just puzzled.

Then I remembered that I had added some code to my site’s htaccess file to optimize loading using GZIP compression.  Following the instructions on BetterExplained, I brought the load time down from 19.74 seconds to 2.9 seconds. This little trick should work for speeding up your site’s load time in all modern browsers.

Other resources for checking and increasing site speed:’s speed test

Yahoo’s Best Practices for Speeding Up Your Web Site

Yahoo’s YSlow add-on for Firebug in Firefox

Vladimir Prelovac’s WordPress Optimization Bible

Important Consideration: When ever troubleshooting any issues with a site’s speed check out the host’s official status, for example DreamHost’s status page or HostGator’s Twitter. Make sure to keep your own service’s status handy, it can be invaluable!

Time to Hit the Polls

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Recently I posted how I was entering the Best WordPress Design Award for the Retro/Vintage look, and it seems I have been shortlisted.

So, if you like the look of my site please go vote for me, the Best Retro & Vintage category is the last one posted:

Best WordPress Design Awards Time to-Vote

Thanks for the vote, and also just thanks for reading!

How Film Can Hurt Design

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Over the weekend, I went out and enjoyed the rare treat of a night at the cinema. “I Love You, Man” with Paul Rudd and Jason Segal provided a decent level of amusement with a bevy of awkward moments now common to American comedies.

Unfortunately, the film also contained on of my greatest pet peeves: misrepresentation of the graphic design profession. The entertainment media loves to perpetrate myths and falsehoods about a variety of professions, as I am sure any student of science will point out the host of fallacies within the latest disaster pic. However, I find that creative media professionals pop up in more than our fair share of television shows and films.

Often the creative career of the character just acts as background and affects the plot in a limited manner. “I Love You, Man” does not fall into this category, and as such the following does contain spoilers for those of you who have not seen the movie. This particular graphics related transgression impacts the design profession at the very crux of frequent problems, client provided files.

In one scene, Segal’s character photographed the groom-to-be Rudd using an iPhone. How is that for product placement? Now here is where things get tricky, the phone’s 2 megapixel images are then used to produce crisp and clean billboards. This may seem like a small issue, but frequently I receive similar quality images from clients who believe this acceptable for print use. Perhaps next time I object to using such small shots I’ll hear that they saw it can be done in a movie.

But as professionals how to we resolve this issue? Clearly the answer is open communication with clients to educate them about the needs involved with the production of their work. Sometimes, all I need to provide is a gentle reminder that 300 dpi is best, and that, no, it does not work if you simply change the resolution setting in your image editing software.

Any thoughts on other creatives in film that portray a false image of the profession?

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