30 June 2009

Star Trek:TOS-in-the-Park? Why Not?

2123.They're going to have to get a chorus up for the "Dah-dah-dah-dah-dah, Dadadah Dadadahdah" fight music though. Should be sweet!

Atomic Arts will be staging the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Amok Time" in the Woodlawn Park amphitheater during six dates in July. Check the Woodlawn neighborhood blog for when.

Phasers will be checked at the entryway.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

The N Word

2122.In what is being hailed as an EPIC BRAND FAIL, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Russian petroleum combine, Gazprom have partnered to monetize Nigeria's (apparently) still-amazing petroleum reserves.

Regardless of what you think of Nigeria, Russia, corporate monoliths, or petroleum, this is a canny move from all sides. Ideally, the Russians will Get Paid™, Nigeria will get petroleum reserves further developed and also Get Paid™. Win-win.

But if you were putting together a combine such as this, what would you call it? Would you take the first syllable of "Nigeria" and the first syllable of "Gazprom" and make a new word out of it? No? That would make you a laughing stock and leave a lot of people scratching their heads, yes? Talk about a tin ear. And Twitter users worldwide laughing at you,  yes?

That is, amazingly what they actually did. The Partnership of NNPC and GAZPROM are to be called

NIGAZ, which sounds similar to a word that a lot of english-speakers consider to be derogatory and offensive, is now being spread across the web as a memorable PR blunder. Users on Twitter are reported to have first highlighted the negative connotations of the word "Nigaz".

Although the origin of the name is obvious-- from the words "Nigeria" and "gaz" -- the word when written down has different connotations to English-speakers.

People are still wondering why the Nigerian govenment would allow such an offensive word to be used and also speculate that the Russians allowed or ignored it because the offensive word is still widely used in Russia.

Oh, my.

This reminds me of that time that Google launched Gmail without finding out that a British financial firm already had the name which is something they could have found out with … well … a web search.

No, we aren't making it up: here's the BBC (as pointed to by Slate) on it.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Running Firefox 3.5 FTW

2121.This user has downloaded Firefox 3.5 and I'm running it under Mac OS X 10.4.11 on a PowerMac G4. Really smooth so far.

What really strikes me at this point is the way Firefox has taken over the center spot in my web usage. Of all the browsers available to me, only the Firefox community offers the readily available tools to get the most out of my web life. I absolutely depend on the ScribeFire plugin to do my blogging, and the Fox has fewer problems with websites than any other browser that I use (I've used Opera and Safari – and both are nifty, but they don't have it all. And even Safari 4 has problems displaying some content that Firefox doesn't trouble with at all).

About the only thing I'd like to see in Firefox that it don't have now is a PDF plugin. Having it in the browser instead of downloading and opening Acrobat is so much nicer.

I'm just a small fish but I'd sure recommend downloading this. Don't miss out!

And dig the downloads in real-time here. Now approaching 2 Millions as this is being written.

Technorati Tags: ,

22 Links To Free Seamless Vector Pattern Downloads

2120.As a follow up to the previous free goodie, let's be fair to the vector side of the equation; here is a link to twenty-two free resources for getting vector backgrounds for web design. I've not downloaded any of them myself (yet), but they seem to come from a range of reputable design sites and are at least worth a look.

Find them at 22 Free Seamless Vector Pattern Resources Perfect For Web Design on the 1stWebDesigner site: http://www.1stwebdesigner.com/resources/22-free-seamless-vector-pattern-resources-perfect-for-web-design/

A nota bene: this and the last posting were inspired by Twitter users; I have misplaced exactly whose tweets I got them from. If you stumble by here and think I got them from you, just shoot me an email and I'll give credit. Mea culpa.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Free Photoshop Patterns From Emma Alvarez

2119.Following the dictum issued back in the 80s by the philosopher Tom Peterson of SE 82nd and Foster ("Free is a Very Good Price!") I present a coolness I have found: free summer-themed repeating seamless patterns for Photoshop.

Made by designer Emma Alvarez, they are warm and friendly, using earth tones reminiscent of adobe, umbers, and cut brown summer grass. The patterns are free for non-commercial and commercial use, and it behooves to completely read the licensing terms before downloading and using.

They are .PAT files, meaning you use them as fill with tools such as the paint bucket tool. To use, unzip the file and move the .PAT file to (if you're on a MAC) /Applications/PhotoshopCS3/Presets/Patterns (for PCs reverse thes slashes and say "Program Files" where I said "Applications", and for the Photoshop version it's whatever you're running, of course). To use, select "pattern" in the fill tool you're using, open the pattern chooser, and from the flyout menu choose "Load Pattern … ", then navigate to the Pattern folder and select the file.

Download them via the Emma Alvarez site: Summer Seamless Patters V.1, http://www.emmaalvarez.com/2009/06/summer-seamless-patterns-vol1.html, which also has complete installation instructions.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Join The Campaign! Get Blellow Added To TweetDeck

2118.A few missives ago I waxed enthusiastic about Blellow, the new microblogging site for creatives and freelance professionals. I'll admit, I've rarely been as excited about something like this. It creates good community. What Twitter does for everyone, Blellow does for us designers.

I've helped inaugurate a drive to get addition of Blellow to the client app TweetDeck, and it's going rather smashingly. Blellow's good, but being able to view it in TweetDeck (which is the most popular Twitter desktop client) would be amazing. There are a lot of wired designers, there are a lot who use Twitter, and there are a lot who use TweetDeck. So far, that hypothesis is being born out; after less than a week of campaigning, the issue has garnered 101 votes and is the 64th ranked new feature request out of 3328 on the TweetDeck UserVoice forum.

If you believe in right, sunshine, spring showers, and kittehs, you need to help us vote this up! The page to vote is here; you can be anonymous if you want. Registration is possible. Please vote, and leave a friendly comment if you can.

Blellow has all the community and connections that you could want as a designer. This is a Good Thing!

The community is at http://www.bellow.com. I am ZehnKatzen there.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Enjoy The Drinking With LockCup

2117.This cup is full of win and pretty much redefines lunchroom and office bevvy security:

I'm betting this is just what someone, somewhere, is waiting for.

You can read all about it (if you understand Korean) here. I love the awkward verbiage. I understand it's in poor taste to mock non-Americans with shaky command of the English language, but I just read things like this ad saying that the cup has a hole which prevents most people from using it (just most people?) and it's off to the races with me. I mean, should I fear the subset of people who can circumvent the hole? Which, additionally, just sounds wrong.

I admit its a weakness.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Rick Astley Is Also Not Dead

2116.The Weirdest Week Ever continues, as the celebrity death hoaxes threaten to outnumber the actual celebrity deaths.

Todays not-victim? Rick Astley. Sure, he's never gonna give us up, but was life giving him up? A handful of sites reported the demise of the RickRoller using, more or less, this verbiage, with a dateline of Berlin, Germany:

Known for his 80's pop hit "Never Gonna Give You Up," the 43-year-old Rick Astley has been pronounced dead today. Astley's body was found at the Angleterre Hotel in Berlin after an ambulance responded to an emergency call from his hotel room.

Astley was found unconscious in his hotel bedroom and was unable to be resuscitated. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

Astley was in the middle of a concert tour that would have ended in late August of 2009. He was to return to the United Kingdom at that time.

The word apparently came from this site, a CNN stringer site called iReport. The Inquisitr explains iReport to us:

Unlike previous fake celebrity deaths, the use of CNN’s iReport gives this a little more legitimacy up front, at least if you don’t know how iReport works. iReport is open to all submissions without pre-publication review: I could submit a story saying Rick Astley is dead at the hands of an advanced civilization of alien music lovers and it would be published until such time CNN pulled it it.

(update 0115 30 Jun) The original story reffed above has been pulled. It's now at http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-287981, and the illustration has been replaced with a video file of the opening of The Fresh Prince of BelAir. Seriously.

Another giveaway might be that the story (allegedly by AP writer Liz Sidoti) was filed at 0100 on Monday 30 June 2009. 30 June is actually today – a Tuesday.

At this point it's almost anti-climatic to note that the surname of the writer, SIDOTI, is an anagram of the word IDIOTS.

With Rickrolling and this to his credit, Rick Astly has finally, arguably, become more famous than he deserves to be. And so it goes.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

28 June 2009

First, Farrah, Then Michael, Now Billy Mays is Gone?!

2115.It does not appear to be a hoax: The OxiClean guy, Billy Mays, has joined the list of celebrity casualties this week.

Stop the world, I want to get off. We got this one verified three ways: TMZ, Tampa Bay Online, and MSNBC.

Someone let Vince (the ShamWow Guy) know he's king of the heap now. And who knew that Billy Mays was just as old as Michael Jackson?

Can someone shut off the Celebrity Death Ray now? It's begun to swing wild.

This is, without a doubt, the weirdest week ever.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

27 June 2009

INRE: The Michael Jackson Zeitgest

2114.If you think the social media storm over Michael Jackson's death was a Category 5, just wait until Kenny Loggins kicks off.

It'll be the perfect storm.

(PS: Kenny Loggins isn't dying as far as we know)

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Naughty, Nasty, Impolite Captcha!

Multnomah County Library, Good Samaritan Dept

2112.If we needed any more proof that the Multnomah County Library is the best damn library anywhere, check out the kind of good deed they do.

Around our house we check out a hell of a lot of books. We were working the MultCoLib for budget entertainment long before you staycationers and recession-victims figured out you could get a night of DVD entertainment for nothing there. The Libe is, without a doubt, one of the bestest places in the universe and rightfully a pride of Metro Portland.

Since we check out a metric tail-load of books from there, sometimes we use whatever's to had for bookmarks; napkins, flattened straws … even paycheck stubs in envelopes.

Recently I returned a stack, not knowing that i'd left a paystub in there (not to worry, we have direct-deposit; the funds represented by that slip of paper were, at that point, safe and sound). Time elapses. Last night, we go to the mailbox (the actual one on the street) and retrieve what looks like mail to me from … my workplace of all places. And it looks like a paystub envelope.

Puzzlemente! But when we turn the envelope over, we see this:

If it's hard to read, it says "You left this in a library book: Color Graphics. Have a Great Summer".

The way I figure it, it was most likely a library employee who caught it, in as much as it was returned with a Pitney Bowes postal meter stamp. There's a chance it could have been a private party, but the postal meter stamp argues against it. It was neatly sealed across the top with cellotape (thankfully I use a pocket knife to open my correspondence)

Not only did the Multnomah County Library return to me a potentially vital piece of personal documentation, they potentially saved this household from the scourge of ID theft. All because some Library worker, wanting to anonymously do the right thing, did so.


Multnomah County Library; you want any tax increase, any at all, you got my "yes" vote in perpetuity for restoring a little of my bruised, jaundiced faith in humanity. I also remember I need to go put a book or two on hold.

Thank you, MultCoLib!

Technorati Tags: , , ,

26 June 2009

Creatives? Designers? Get To Know Blellow

2111.For the last week or so I've been exploring the social web with Twitter. For a very long time I scoffed at it, but once I dipped my toe in I found it did something that nothing else in my life right now does: allows me to stay connected with people on my own terms – something working 3rd shift weekend and 10-hour days pretty much prevents you from doing. So for me, it's been a boon.

Twitter's "microblogging" paradigm needs no introduction here. Once on Twitter and into the swim of the social I was invited by an old ally, Pariah Burke, to a new microblogging service designed especially for creatives and independent designers called Blellow.

The site, http://www.blellow.com, is, if I had to sketch you a thumbnail, a sort of Twitter especially for creatives and freelancers (I prefer the word "independents"). Instead of asking you "What Are You Doing?", though, the question is "What Are You Working On?". Creatives are always working on something, trying to accomplish a goal, doing something for a client, or simply trying to find something out. Blellow hinges on a behavior that all creatives have in spades: the need to collaborate. With Blellow at your back, you always have a helping hand, because the other thing creatives can't stop doing is helping each other.

The biggest improvement that I value in Blellow so far is that the messages can be up to 300 characters, a little more than twice as long as the Twitter limit; 140 characters is just too little room for creatives to communicate in. The interface is intuitive; if you've used Twitter you already know the basics to get by on Blellow. Moreover, if someone has helped you out, you can give each other public pats on the back via Kudos; the number of Kudos you've collected are featured in a little badge on your thumbnail.

I'm enjoying Blellow quite a bit and wholeheartedly recommend it to others. The connections you make there are to quality people who enjoy collaboration, and what more could a creative need?

One of my self-appointed missions is to spread the word about Bellow.

Check it out!

(Updated 0954 Sat; Title fixed. It's too easy to type "bellow" when you mean "blellow!" Still! Go there!)

Technorati Tags: , , ,

25 June 2009

Become A Photoshop Bevel and Emboss Ninja

2110.Everyone I knew thinks they know how to get the most out of a very well-loved Photoshop tool, Bevel and Emboss. I thought I knew everything I needed to know really. Wrong!

Did you know you can use Bevel and Emboss to create Web 2.0-licious graphics like this?

I didn't, either.

Check it out here at Minervity. Guest Writer Twinster is your dojo master, Grasshopper.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Grim Day In The Land Of Dreams

2109.No sooner do we hear that Her Hotness Farrah Fawcett passed away in a rather insipiring and brave way that we also hear that The Gloved One, Michael Jackson, has passed away – rather appropriately, under mysterious and rather Elvis-like circumstances.

I didn't like everything either of them did, but I almost always found them entertaining. Two icons of many of our shared youths are now gone, and there is a feeling of time moving on, as there always is.

(Disclaimer: Me, as many, are getting our MJ information from TMZ, which is the dark tabloid heart of the intarwebs. As of this writing, no major media is confirming)

Update, 1534: The Los Angeles Times has confirmed the death of Michael Jackson. He actually arrived at the hospital in a coma. TMZ gets the break tho.

Update, 1616: The death of Micheal Jackson has apparently caused several sites to get hammered flat for at least a while, including TMZ, Perez Hilton, and the LA Times. Several Fail Whales surfaced at Twitter.

Update, 1618: In a bizarre footnote to the whole thing, news appeared to break that Jeff Goldblum had died of a fall from a mountain in New Zealand. With no other organization picking up the confirmation, it quickly proved to be a hoax. Rumor has it that the NZ newspaper that reported the rumor's site also got hammered to death. Funny world.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Two And A Half Hot Dogs

2108.Despite what the title implies, this is not a discourse regarding the interesting food at the 12th and Hawthorne cart pod, nor is it about a new series starring Charlie Sheen and Jon Fryer about running a streetside food cart. It is, in fact, about logos.

Many logos have nicknames or even official names. General Electric's classic logo is known, somewhat inaccurately, as "The Monogram" officially, and Bank of America's design which appears to resemble a cross between and American flag and an aerial view of farmland is officially called "The Flagscape".

NASA insiders and fans alike know that the minimalist logo used from 1975 to 1992 is known as "The Worm" whereas the classic logo used before and after that time (and which graces my coffee cup) is known as "The Meatball", though those are both colloquial. There are other meatballs as well: The GE logo, officially called The Monogram in-house, is colloqually called by some The Meatball, and the old Continental Airlines logo, used from the late 60s to sometime in the 90s, was also called The Meatball.

A meatball by any other name. Via.

Other amusing ones are The Venetian Blinds for the classic blue-striped version of the IBM logo designed by Paul Rand; The Bocce Ball for the new Xerox logo; and The Coffee Stain for the Zen-insipred logo of Lucent (lampooned in Dilbert as "The Brown Ring of Quality").

Oh, and the "two-and-a-half-hotdogs?" It's this:

Meatballs and hotdogs – I'm feeling hungry. Via.

Read more at the post that inspired me to comment, here on Identity Works.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

24 June 2009

This Bike Lane Goes Anywhere You Do

2107.Here's something that will delight bike riders and probably make motorists angry; it's called the "Light Lane", and it's a bike accessory that uses low-power laser light to project a virtual bike lane on the street as you ride:

(image copyright LightLane)

What's amazing about it is that it's these two green lasers mounted into a typical-looking bike tail light.

Whatever you think of it, you've got to admit it's pretty innovative. I think I'd like to have one.

(This is via this article at toxel.com)

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Designers: Draw! Don't Be A "Tooler"

2106.A great article on the value of actually drawing in graphic design rather than only using your digital tools to create was referred to on the Vonster's Art Backwash blog.

It's opinionated, but if it comes off as arrogant then you've not been sampling Von Glishka's design work. It's typically killer and when you read the article, you'll get an idea of why. He knows whereof he speaks.

Don't draw well? Improve your skills! There's a metric buttload of books out there if you can't afford a class.

Or, as Yul Brynner's Gunslinger in the great movie Westworld directed to the last human alive: Draw.

You want to be alive as a designer?


Technorati Tags: , , , ,

23 June 2009

Iran Sucks At Photoshop 2.0

2105.Some time ago (as this post at BoingBoing documents) Iran, not quite thrilled with the results of a missle test, had someone in the Ministry in Whoever's In Charge Of This Sort Of Thing whip out their copy of Photoshop and work some clone stamp wizardry that was so grade-school that oh, pretty much everyone figured it out in about two seconds flat.

A lot of us mocked that. It was a graphic geek imperative.

Iran, sadly (or, hilariously, depending on your POV) has not learned its lesson. Observe:

Here's the BoingBoing article; here's the site of the photographer who apparently broke the thing (the page is all in Farsi written in Arabic script, so good luck with that).

Iran's Photoshop policy is just so full of win.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Windows 7 Package Design Is A Winner

2104.We love Microsoft, we hate Microsoft, we're ambivalent about Vista … whatever you think about the Lords of Redmond, they've got some sharp ideas about packaging Windows 7:

We’ve reduced the number of elements in the package down to three: the plastic case, the paper sleeve, and a simple Getting Started Guide. The plastic case opens easily like a standard DVD case and it will have a single easy-to-remove seal at the top - And that’s it!

The plastic case protecting the Windows 7 disk is lighter and is recyclable. The packaging itself has a 37% weight reduction and a 50% improvement on it’s econometrics score over the predecessor.

Seems like a winner to me. I remember the days – they weren't so long ago – when you got a lot of printed collateral in those boxes. Indeed, I do like the feeling of a solid User's Manual in my hands … but I can't deny that the trend is away from so much consumption and use, and Microsoft has read its users and the trends very well.

Read all about it (and see a piccy!) here.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Ed McMahon, 1923-2009 – The Ultimate Wingman Has Left Us

2103.Ed McMahon has passed away in Los Angeles today, aged 86.

I'm a big fan of Conan and Leno, but Carson's crew did it better than anyone yet. There was a certain ambiance to the insomniac hours, steeped as Carson was in the TV culture and the popular entertainers of the day.

The modern late-night shows are damned good, but there was just a certain thing about the Johnny Carson era.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Need Some Graphic Design Blogs To Read?

2102.Here's a list of over 160 of them, by the ProofHQ blog.

Tutorials, design commentary – you've got to be able to find something here.

(h/t Calvin Lee at Mayhem Studios)

Technorati Tags: , ,

Even Roadside Traffic Cone Monsters Need A Lift Sometimes

2101.(via ArtBistro) You don't see this sort of fellow thumbing a ride every day:

Original photo by Joseph Carnevale

North Carolina State University student Joseph Carnevale just kind of had the idea in class one morning. He's a history major who also works construction, so when the idea of nicking a few construction cones and making this awesome Cone Monster out of it just kind of sprung on him, it wouldn't go away.

So he kyped the cones, did some major reconstructive surgery, and executed the hack.

The police may or may not know art, but they know what they don't like: he was charged with misdemeanors over it. But the peoples like it; not only does he have an outpouring of public support hoping to get the charges dropped, but the construction company wants him to create a replica of the figure (which the police, being utter dilettantes, dismantled).

Ah, well, de gustibus non disputandum est, as they say.

Technorati Tags: , ,

If PacMan Were On Twitter

2100.Further documenting my suddent Twitter fling:

(Credit: TheNextWeb)

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Chrome Might Be Pretty, But It Always Costs You Extra

2099.Google Chrome, the newest kid on the block, has impressed many (except those of us who use Macs) but the Chrome comes at an extra cost: It finds your memory most tasty.

Check out the figures in this benchmark test at dotnetperls.com.

Technorati Tags: ,

Want To Be A Gmail Ninja?

2098.It's probably a hell of a lot easier than being an actual ninja, and since we're all using Gmail anyway (remember when you had to wangle an invitation? Sigh … good times, good times), some of these tips will be useful if you address Gmail in a browser window.

Find out by going to the Gmail blog.

Technorati Tags: ,

That Paul Simon Song About Kodachrome Isn't Going To Make Sense Anymore

2097.Because, after 74 years, Kodak is going to retire Kodachrome film:

Hellyar estimates the retail supply of Kodachrome will run out in autumn, though it could be sooner if devotees stockpile. In the U.S., Kodachrome film is available only through photo specialty dealers. In Europe, some retailers, including the Boots chain, carry it.

Photojournalist Steve McCurry's widely recognized portrait of an Afghan refugee girl, shot on Kodachrome, appeared on the cover of National Geographic in 1985. At Kodak's request, McCurry will shoot one of the last rolls of Kodachrome film and donate the images to the George Eastman House museum, which honors the company's founder, in Rochester.

Selling less than one percent of Kodak's film stock – and esesentially supplanted by digital technology – only one lab still processes Kodachrome, and that's Dwayne's Photo, in Parsons, KS. In case you were curious.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

21 June 2009

This Is A Great, Sexy, Inspiring Cartoon Character

2096.Makes me want to open my sketchbook right now:

Here is her and 99 others (which run the gamut from abstract to cute to edgy) at designblurb.

Found via Design Float.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Looking For A Quick DIY HTML Resume?

2095.(also via Calvin at Mayhem Studios) Sometimes you just want to get your information up and out there. As someone who's trained in design I have certain disdain for the default, but even I know that there are some times when using a packaged solution is called for (lack of time, lack of funds, the desire to get-of-the-ground-and-get going).

So, for that eventuality, the Things That Are Brown design agency gives, free for the download, the SRT–The Sample Resume Template. The package is simplicity itself. One quick download will give you an HTML template file complete with and external CSS file. If you just replace the facts, you come up with a quick, tastefully-done, hit-the-high-points top-down resumé that can be uploaded to any host you can upload to.

Of course, being HTML means that you don't have to leave it that way. Its relatively basic HTML and CSS are, naturally, hackable, so if you enjoy the idea of this you can go back and edit it in a hot minute. Being basic HTML you can edit it with Dreamweaver … or with NotePad, TextEdit, TextWrangler, whatever.

So, hey, we can call this nifty. Did I mention it's free? Good on Things That Are Brown!

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

20 June 2009

Hot and Now: Layers Magazine Back Page Design Contest

2094.(via Calvin at Mayhem Studios) Layers Magazine, the how-to magazine, has  a contest going to design a sports-event-style ad for the ultimate showdown between the Desktop and the Mobile Intarweb Devices, which may or may not be on SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY!.

Prize is a Wacom Intuos 4 tablet and a copy of Corel Painter 11, so hell yah, this will be worth my time.

I knew I'd enter as soon as I realized I took one glance at the rules and started to come up with ideas.

This IS a Rebuilding Year.

Here are the details for the curious.

Technorati Tags: ,

I Know How This Feels

2093.Via @rodhillweather on Twitter: Rod Hill didn't get the KGW position.

But Rod has high praise for the man who turned him down. We always said Rod was a class act himself.

I'm sure he'll find another broadcast position very soon. He's just too good.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

19 June 2009

Taster's Choice: Love That Aroma, And Those Image Use Rights

2092.Remember a while back, when the guy who did the "Yahoo-ooo!" for the Yahoo! internet portal TV jinglette sued Yahoo! because while he consented to allow Yahoo! to use it, he didn't consent for them to use it that widely or something like that?

IP has been something of a kicking ball ever since it's become so damned easy to find, link, and repurpose content. Bloggers and the wired class can suddenly find themselves on the wrong end of a DMCA takedown notice (this has even happened to me, as meagre a blogger as I am).

Today I stumbled on an example that comes right out of the textbook and serves to prove that it doesn't matter how big or small you are, even the big boys can be less than careful. Everyone who's been anywhere near a jar of instant coffee (yes, even here in Portland we have some) has seen Nestlé's legedary Taster's Choice brand of freeze-dried instant. For a long time, a part of the brand look and feel has been the look of a beatifically-satisfied coffee-drinker's face basking in the steamy aroma of a well-made cup of coffee.

Regardless of what one thinks about instant coffee (I'm from Portland – you can guess) the emotional chains the look is pulling are unmistakable to anyone steeped in the idea of brand-fu. The palette of rich warm colors connotes comfort and the whole approach connotes style and luxury (once again, with instant coffee, your mileage will vary). The satisfied look of the coffee drinker only serves to seal the satisfaction deal. The popularity of Nescafé and Tasters Choice only serve to prove the point.

But, as pointed out by Sarah Gilbert here, Nestlé's marketing team hit a bit of a snag:

Russell Christoff has the strong features and gorgeous dark eyebrows of a model. His hair is grey now, but he's still just as handsome as he was when his hair was still dark brown, back in 1986 and living in Canada, when he posed looking lovingly into a cup of Taster's Choice coffee "as if he enjoyed the aroma."

But, after the photo shoot, he heard nothing more from Nestle. He gave the company permission to use the photo in Canada, but not elsewhere. The photo was stuffed into the archives. Until 1998, when a Nestle employee was searching the archives for just the right "Taster" to portray the brand and chose Christoff's almost romantic photo. It's too bad Christoff doesn't actually enjoy the aroma of Taster's Choice, at least not enough to drink the stuff, because it wasn't until 2002 that he saw his own, younger face staring back at him from the shelves of instant coffee crystals -- in California, where he was working as a teacher.
Mr Christoff did the American thing. He sued.

It's been working through the courts for a while now; originally the courts awarded Mr. Christoff over USD$15 Million, but that got overturned, and now it's on appeal. The image was used from 1998-2003. Mr Christoff could die a rather wealthy (and apparently still good-looking) old man (what a catch he'd be for the MOTAS, yes? Alas, we have no word on his marital status). The Tasters Choice brand itself has moved on as well, sporting a new, more sophisticated look that depends on a human face not at all.

It just goes to show you, though, and illustrates the point, that no matter how big you are, you can still get into copyright trouble over images. It's so easy to do these days.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

18 June 2009

Kudos: LostOregon In The Oregonian Today!

2091.LostOregon has long been a favorite of mine: John Chilson pursues Oregon history of the 20th Century via old ads, postcards, and other ephemera with a single-minded passion that puts even this Oregon native to shame.

We should all care more about our shared histories and the memories that make modern Oregon, Oregon.

Well, today, one of my favorite Oregonian writers (Peter Ames Carlin, whose command of the english language has made me smile in admiration more than once), takes on the proprietor of LostO and shows us what makes him tick.

Proper payoff for someone who obviously cares about where we all have been, and does it in such an entertaining way.

Time wasted at LostO is actually time well spent, and I recommend it highly, and not just because I was one of the first people he linked to when he set it up, way back when as Stumptown Confidential. Good times.

Congratulations, John!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

17 June 2009

Rod HIll: You Can't Keep A Good Weatherman Down

2090.Because I love media and follow both pretenders to the niche Oregon Media Insiders used to occupy (for the record those are Oregon Media Central and Oregon Media Insiders 2.0 (which is what I call it because it's not the offical successor to OMI) I feel obliged to report that Rod Hill, recently shown the door at The Deuce, has come back with a Twitter accound (@rodhillweather) and it's buzzed that he's coming back soon on another tellyvision station – but since this blog's mission is not necessarily to chronicle the Portland market, I'm content to let that one develop in its time.

I do find it cosmically amusing in an otherwise-ineffable way … Rod Hill's first follower? @KATUSteve, a/k/a Steve Dunn.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

A New Magazine For Oregon: 1859:Oregon's Magazine

2089.Because I love print and I love Oregon I note that there's a new magazine coming up very soon (if it hasn't already), produced by Deschutes Media, called 1859: Oregon's Magazine.

It promises a quarterly look at the real Oregon. If the Flash intro to the magazine's website is any indication, the photography is going to be nifty.

Kevin Max of Deschutes Media says this about it:

I describe 1859 as a National Geographic merged with a Condé Nast Traveler, but all done for our own Oregon

Sounds like it's going to be pretty charming.

Go here: 1859: Oregon's Magazine home page

And read a press release about it here.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

This Cabbie's Tip Is Your Impromptu Artwork

2088.The function of a cabbie in culture is kind of a stereotype; he'll listen to your problems, keep your secrets, and get you from point A to B boldly, if the tip is right.

According to the New York Post, however, New York cabbie Fabio Peralta may happily accept your tip, but wants something else from you – a bit of your art:

Fabio Peralta has turned the back seat of his yellow cab into an art studio for his passengers, and has commissioned thousands of works.

As soon as a passenger hops into his Crown Vic, Peralta, a 40- year veteran hack, hands the rider a pen and a stack of computer paper.

“I tell them to create art, any kind of art,” he said.

He then collects the artwork, binds them into little glossy books, and gives them away for free to any rider who lets him vid them for 30 seconds doing whatever. Peralta's cab is just like a little Factory on wheels, it seems.

I've had many dealings with cab drivers, and found the reality to be significantly less romantic than you'd think. But the cabbie with creativity can use his (or her) flying perch to create unique works, almost as though they filter society and let us all look at in through the lens of someone who meets thousands of people a year but might not ever get to know them.

Thinking outside the box is a overused cliche. Some people can do it just right, still, however.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

16 June 2009

More Ways To Connect Than You Can Shake A Bit At

2087.So, after catching the Twitter virus, I got in a couple of more socials, and was stunned suddenly by the number of connections I had.

So, in an effort to corral the beast, I went looking for all my important connections, and I've listed my social network access points at the top of the sidebar over there. I have found, amazingly, that I'm connected to no less than six points of access to the noosphere that I consider of some importance. Here they are:

  1. Twitter: I tweet as SJKPDX. My Twitter URL is http://www.twitter.com/SJKPDX.
  2. Blellow: Blellow is like an evolved Twitter for creatives. http://www.bellow.com/zehnkatzen
  3. LinkedIn: Needs no introduction. http://www.linkedin.com/in/zehnkatzen
  4. Facebook: After getting my own fashionable Facebook username, I'm http://www.facebook.com/samueljohnklein
  5. Ning: I maintain a presence there after a bout of NaBloPoMo: http://www.ning.com/samueljohnklein
  6. Plaxo: Almost forgot this one! http://zehnkatzen.myplaxo.com/
  7. And my preferred email address, which seems more charming by the day.
So there they all are.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

15 June 2009

Doin' It Out In Public, Where Everyone Can See. Now, With Armbands

2086.I'm talking, of course, of World Wide Knit In Public Day, where the world becomes your auntie's craft room for the afternoon, and you just get to like it, mister.

A notable member of the PDX "Knitterati", Melissa Barton, has very charming pictures of the Pioneer Square insurgency. She even made armbands for 'em.

I have no interest in knitting, (my creative urge does not run to the fibre arts) but I enjoy what knitters do and the passion they bring. Past interactions with knitters have been fun and inspiring. But if these people ever get nuclear weapons … well, just watch out, I'm just sayin'.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

(Photo by Melissa Barton; hotlinked from her blog Days of Tea and Knitting)

Portland: You Can Ride Your Unicycle Here

2084.NB: Nifty thanks to Sarah Mirk of The Merc for teh linkage! Nifty!

Just one more reason Portland is 100% full of win: the unicycle lane:

According to this flickr user here, it's on NW Cornell Road, outbound, in the inner NW Portland nabe. Photo is by Shannon Henry and is Creative Commons Attrib/NC/Share-Alike 2.0 licensed. Good on Shannon.

All we need FTW? Unicorn lanes.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Excellent Vintage Rotating Sign Still Spins at 42nd And Harrison In Milwaukie

2083.Down in Milwaukie for an errand today, the ridgetop area about SE 42nd Avenue/SE Harrison Street/SE King Road, by the gorgeous new Safeway store there, and at the gas pump, I found myself looking at a vintage bit of corner sign design.

The building on the SE corner of SE 42nd and Harrison has a Papa Murphy's Pizza store and Nisbett's Jeweler's. The main display area is what the call a "trilon" these days (portmanteau of "triangle" and "pylon", of which Papa Murphy's has two of the three sides and the jewelery shop, the third. Get a look at this little vintage specimen:

The thing has little lights all over it: all round the disc that is impaled upon the spike at the top, and three big ones at each corner of the advertising trilon, giving the whole thing this 60s/pop-sci-fi/UFO/Jetson's feel. It could use a coat of paint on the spike, but it's in otherwise good repair and is twirling away (unlike many which, through neglect or necessity, are left to swivel in the breeze as the electricity becomes too expensive or the drive breaks down and is left unrepaired).

Just this sweet little thing.

As I was recording this, an employee of the Papa Murphy's came out and asked me what's up, and I told her why I was pointing the camera. She smiled at that, and explained how the manager apparently saw to it that the sign was kept in repair.

So, hey, manager of Papa Murphy's at 42nd and Harrison in Milwaukie Oregon; good on you. You made me smile today.

, , , , , ,

14 June 2009

And Meanwhile, In Japan … Samurai Armor Underwear.

2082.Yes, seriously.

Samurai armor underwear.

With special guests, the History Girls:

In these troubled times of economic stagnation, both men and women are looking back to the Warring Era, a time when blood ran hot and men were men. It may be a backlash the current trend of so-called "herbivore men", those who are mild in manner and focus more on friendship and fashion than sex and money-making. In fact, a new trend known as Reki-jo, or "History Girls" is bringing a flood of young women to historical bookstores and tourist attractions dedicated to those manly figures from the Sengoku Period.
I'm feeling more manly already.

(via numerous tips)

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

13 June 2009

Two Free Fonts: Days And Pico (The One Twitter Uses In Its Logotype)

2081.Twitter is really paying off in terms of win. Found two new highly fun fonts, one of which answered a question that I didn't know I had.

First is the font called "Days". It's a nifty design that rather reminds me of what a production designer doing one of those bubble-gummy dystopian flicks back in the 80s might have a Cyrillic font ca. 2007 might have looked like. Here's the specimen card from Behance:

I haven't read the license yet but, as you can see in the graphic above, it's billed as "free for use". Richard Darell, who Tweets as user "Minervity", linked to it, reviewing it thus:

Days is another neat and free typeface, again found on Behance, a real treasure trove of delights. This is so clean, modern and stylish. Love the curves, the rounded edges, the compact ’squared’ feel. I can see this being perfect for certain styles of logo designs.

Minervity's post about it is here at I'mJustCreative; Download it from Behance here.

The other one answers the question "was the Twitter logotype (the distinctive style of the letters you usually see the word "Twitter" in at the top of the page) designed or fonted?" Turns out it was fonted, and that font is called "Pico", a design that calls to mind Japanese child's cartoons and a Nintendo-ized Mario world:

Those responible for the design are the charmingly-named foundry Maniackers Design (a name which sounds like it leapt from the pages of Shonen Jump), and can be downloaded here. Minervity also broke this one, and espouses upon it here.

Two gifts for y'alls! Don't let me hear you say I never got you nuthin!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

I'm Fashionable On Facebook

2080.I haz naow one of the new Facebook vanity username URLs that are all the rage. Mine is:

Please make a note of it!

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Fairley's Pharmacy: Classic Drugstore Style, Classic Typography

2079.After the events of the last posting I continued westward down Sandy Boulevard ... because Sandy's awesome, yo.

Just west of 74th and Sandy is the center of the Roseway District ... a big sprawling thing were NE Sandy Blvd, NE 72nd Avenue, and NE Fremont Street come together. As locals know, the diagonal travel of NE Sandy Blvd makes for some cooler-than-cool block shapes which give us little wedges and flatiron-shaped buildings (note: you can view the photos bigly by going to my Posterous account and clicking on the pixs!).

NE 72nd/Fremont/Sandy, Looking East. Downtown
Roseway District. Fairley's Rx on the point.

That little two-story flatiron in the center of the pic is Fairley's Pharmacy. It's a little classic, it's been around Portland for decades, and still has a soda fountain and prescription deliveries (as well as espresso and a place to hang out and read books ... and Free WiFi. Because this is PDX, yo).

The place caught my eye because they are working overtime to keep the old-fashioned feel, and what really caught my eye was the apparently-recently-refurbished building signage, which has the classic look and feel.

The signage wraps round the building to the Fremont Street side (on the right of the above picture) which makes you think of the 1940s when buildings on corners all seemed to do that.

And there's Coca-Cola style FTW! Classic street typography, well-executed, not too much or too little, there's a real eye to the totality of art here. It looks classic – not dated.

It's not hard to find. NE 72nd and Sandy at Fremont. Stop in sometime. They got good sodas.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

12 June 2009

New Street Blades at SE 37th & Stark, New Font, Not Just Capitals!

2078.To a font geek, this find is quite exciting. And if you use signs at all, you need to keep an eye out, Tex, because what you're about to see is the future of highway sign fonts.

About a week ago we flashed past SE 37th Avenue and Stark Street in the middle of the night, and I caught it out the corner of my eye. It didn't register at first ... but were the letter forms on that sign actually in mixed case, rather than all uppers?

I didn't believe my memory at first, but I couldn't get that out of my mind. And then we went by the assembly again, and sure enough, it was. But it looked more designed than the typical, evenly-stroked, mechanical fonts that usually get used.

Here, see what I mean:

Let's get a closer look at the Stark Street blade:

Do you see what I mean here? The letters have some art to them. The stroke has thick-and-thin. It doesn't look like any sign font you've seen before.

Here's the 37th Avenue blade:

Notice the variation on the curves on the 3, the sweep of the downstroke of the 7 (and the mixed case of the ordinal superscript (Th)), which seems kind of awkward). This is not your father's sign font.

What it is a new font called Clearview. Here's the pith of what Wikipedia has to say about it (follow the link to see an illustration of it):

Clearview is the name of a humanist sans-serif typeface family for guide signs on roads in the United States. It was developed by independent researchers with the help of the Texas Transportation Institute and the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute, under the supervision of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

The standard FHWA typefaces, developed in the 1940s, were designed to work with a system of highway signs in which almost all words are capitalized. The designers of Clearview sought to create a typeface adapted for mixed-case signage, initially expecting it would be based on an existing European sans serif typeface.[1] Instead, using a similar weight to the FHWA fonts, a new font was created from scratch. Two key differences are much larger counter spaces, the enclosed spaces in letters like the lower case "e" or "a," and a higher x-height, the relative height of the lower case "x" to the upper case "X." Smaller counter spaces in the FHWA fonts reduced legibility, particularly when the letters glowed from headlight illumination at night.
So, that's the story there. Clearview is going to be seen more and more along America's highways as the 'aughties close and the teens begin, and I believe I may have turned up the first example of its use in Portland.

SCORE! 10 of 10!, , , , ,

Street Blade Safari: New Design Up at 74th And NE Sandy Blvd

2077.For many reasons, I haven't been on streetblade safari for a while. Did it this morning on a whim. Found two great new ones, and because they have different thrusts, we'll do them one at a time.

First, I stumbled on the new design at NE 74th Avenue and Sandy Boulevard, north side of the street, in the Rose City neighborhood (isn't it a peach we have a Rose City neighborhood in the Rose City? Anyway!).

Here's the NE 74th Avenue blade:

And here's an full-on view of the Sandy Blvd blade:

Remember now, the block index is the block that the crossing street cuts the avenue at. In this case, it's not the 3600 block of Sandy Blvd, but the 3600 block of NE 74th Avenue that Sandy cuts into it at.

This corner is notable for two interesting bits of roadside architecture. One is on the north side of Sandy, on the triangular block defined by NE Sandy Blvd, 74th Avenue, and Beech Street. Taking up most of the block is a telling bit of tavern construction that goes back rather a long time, has gone under many names – latterly known as "The Pirate's Cove". Most of the east end of the building is shaped like a giant jug:

The other one is considerably newer, on the opposite (SW) corner of the intersection. It's a office and retail strip that has the most interesting roof ornament on the turretlike corner, and sits atop it like a cocked cap:

It's a funny thing. In the good way.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

11 June 2009

Give Me Back The Images I Stole From You, Or I'll Sue

2076.Net.Clown, defined: Someone who hotlinks images without asking ... then demands you put them back when you move them without telling him, or ... he'll take you to court:

What a guy. Honesty means a different thing today than it did when I was a kid. In British English, I think they call this guy a tosser. Or maybe a wanker.

(Image screenclipped from the origingal blog posting. Visit the link above to view the whole train wreck)

Technorati Tags: , , ,

More Capitolism: The US Capitols Photo Map, Take 2

2075.Got out the Cap Map and bashed it out a bit. As said before, I broke out the small states in the northeast so you can see the pictures a bit better, and added a list of states and capital cities:

Click to embiggen. I'm hosting this one on my Posterous account; Posterous is a nifty zero-config blog host, about which more later.

The shapes of some of the states weren't standing out so well against the light blue background, so I darkened that up. I rather enjoy the effect, myself.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Kid Sex Change! Inappropriate Stick Figures! Naughty Logos!

2074.Found via Twitter, here's a collection of awkardly designed logos which will make you think whatever the 7734 were these people thinking? Such as this one:

... which of course, is supposed to be KIDS EXCHANGE, but that doesn't quite scan either, because I don't know about you all, but where I come from, you're supposed to keep your kids – not exchange them for something else.

Though some new parents might think that a MacBook Air (for instance) would be a pretty good trade. Depending on the context and the kid, of course.

Read the article and be warned: some of the logos come up with images that border on the NSFW.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

10 June 2009

It Was All For Nought, Apparently

2073.Looks like I joined Twitter just in time to see it collapse like a house make of Scottissue in an Oregon rainstorm.

The upcoming ginunnga-gap is known as the Twitpocalypse (which, sadly, has nothing whatsoever with actual human twits meeting deserved doom) and is apparently going to happen because the number of Tweets (that is to say, unique Tweet identifiers) is zooming headlong toward the number 2,147,483,647, the limit of unsigned integers supported by computers. After this, they go negative and the center does not hold, things fall apart, the Beast slouches toward Jerusalem, your neighbor becomes an Amway distributor, the dog gets rabies, Victoria Taft gets a clue, all sorts of madness. Oh, and any application that depends on Twitter might digitally pancake, unless it doesn't, but who can tell?

Y2K? Whynot2K? I donno.

The time is estimatied sometime on the morning of the 13th, and we are closing in on that on an estimated rate of 170 tweets/second.

Actually it's kind of a bogglement that so many people are using Twitter so much, so fast.

The site to keep track of is: http://www.twitpocalypse.com/

Check in later, when we find out whether or not to care about it.

Technorati Tags: , ,

What Microsoft's New "Bing" SHOULD Have Looked Like

2072.If you're going to call something "Bing", I think there should be some "Bing" in there, I think:

What I say is, you need to either go "Bing" or go home.

The image is PD, gotten from here. Ribbing MSFT is, of course, a cultural imperative.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Oregon Lottery Keno Screen Grammar FAIL

2071.This is either the result of outsourcing something or the shabby state of education here in Oregon, I'm not sure which:

It says Remember to have won more than your ticket to ensure you can claim any prize you may win!. Oh, at first you think you understand what it's saying, but then you realize that this deliciously awkward grammar is at cross-purposes with itself. However can you win less than your ticket? What does that even mean ... you don't win a ticket, you win a prize, and how can you qualify to win a prize that's worth less than the prize you've won ... aaargh!

And why do I have to remember it? Isn't that the Lottery's job to remember how much my Keno ticket has won? This is kind of like all those pharma ads that tell me to ask my doctor. My doctor should be asking me! And to have remember what was won kind of intimates that I could have won it anywhere. And I have to win more than I've won to win what I've won ...

Circular reasoning (n.): See reasoning, circular.

Can you actually win a prize that's more than the prize you plumped for?

I'm all at sixes and sevens here.

Sadly, I only have fours and fives, which means I can't claim my sixes and sevens, provided I remember how I got them at all. Or where. Or what.

Where's the help desk gone to?

Technorati Tags: , ,

09 June 2009

What Would Wikipedia Look Like If You Printed It Out?

2070.Like this:

Yes, it really apparently exists. See Rob Matthews' blog for the other picture, which will give you a better idea of scale.

(H/T This Twitterer)

Technorati Tags: ,

ZehnKatzen Gmail Email FAIL ...

2069.A public service message for anyone who tried to reach me during the last few weeks using the email address zehnkatzen(at)gmail.com; somehow, that link broke the hell down, and I got nothing over the last ... oh, about six ... weeks.

My apologies for the interruption in service. I have cleared the blockage from that intartube and it is working again. But I'm beginning to see that maybe having multiple email accounts isn't the best thing, yes it is, no it isnt!

Technorati Tags: , , , ,