One of the things I love about New York is the opportunity to discover new things simply by taking a walk. Sometimes, when the weight of the school week is past me, I will navigate an unfamiliar course home. This time, I went to check out Mud after seeing one of their gourmet coffee-dispensing trucks positioned at Astor Place. Called the “Joe of the East Village” by a friend, I found the coffee to be, well, liquid crack. Itâ€™s good, and only finals will tell, but in the meanwhile Iâ€™ll stick with Joe (Joe: The Art of Coffee, 141 Waverly Place).
My little adventure took me to De Robertis (Iâ€™m a sucker for the old “founded way before you were born” sign), a pastry shop nearby the original Coyote Ugly, for my ritual of cannoli taste-testing. Overall, pretty good, though the pictures on the wall made me wonder if this was really the shop that Tom Cruise stopped at during his night out in Kubrickâ€™s Eyes Wide Shut. Alas, IMDB trivia doesn’t reveal the truth.
Itâ€™s always refreshing to take a stroll through downtown Harrisburg when I come back on the weekends. While I like the occasional martini, I never cared much for the upscale atmosphere of the downtown bar NOMA (though itâ€™s not their fault that I find that most bartenders improperly overpower martinis). Seeing NOMA converted into a wannabe beach bar this past summer, though, proved to me what a poor business model the place had. Itâ€™s like those vacant spots that have been inhabited by multiple restaurants over the course of a few years; itâ€™s a red flag that somethingâ€™s wrong. Well, fortunately, the nicer-looking NOMA has returned as â€œNOMA:Remixed.â€ I guess the beach scene just didnâ€™t work out, but at least they could have named it something nicer. While I know that NOMA was really named for North-Of-MArket [Street], according to Merriam-Webster a noma is “a spreading invasive gangrene chiefly of the lining of the cheek and lips that is usually fatal and occurs most often in persons severely debilitated by disease or profound nutritional deficiency.â€ Nice.
So, I was pulled over for speeding on Colonial Road last night. Maybe I should blame it on the fact that I donâ€™t get to drive my car that often (since I leave it in Mechanicsburg), or perhaps I should just be grateful that Iâ€™m not on a NYC subway this weekend with all of the terror threats going around. Regardless, I was shocked to only get a written warningâ€”not a citation. I later found out that a friend of mine got the same treatment on the same road. The irony to all of this, though, is that Iâ€™m actually more inspired by a warning to not drive as fast, as if Iâ€™m fulfilling some karmic duty. In the end, the experience makes me wonder if this is some reverse psychology technique created by the police. I donâ€™t want to credit them for being so cunning, but with all of the persuasion Iâ€™m studying these days it would be pretty interesting to hear about the police force trying a different approach (and saving me money in the process).
I find myself using Firefox more often now with the release of version 1.5. In the past, Safari was faster (IE isn’t even a consideration) and both rendered CSS fairly effectively. While I’m not happy that Firefox has decided to endorse Apple’s <canvas> tag prior to W3C approval into the XHTML spec, extensions make Firefox leagues ahead in terms of surfing. The incredible Web developer extension by Chris Pedrick is now available for Firefox 1.5. This is worth installing even if you only dabble with XHTML. Now I’m just hoping the get the bookmark synchronizer back…
I don’t. My philosophy is to show the client a design in the browser itself that’s as close to the final design as possible. However, if I was printing up comps, I would probably use Oddlaa’s Vector Safari File. Check it out.
For writing five pages in a rush, Iâ€™m pretty happy with the context. It’s all a work in progress, but the preliminary parts of my thesis project are done and posted on my ITP site. Iâ€™m planning on creating an online community for Pro55essing and/or Flash visual programmers to see if â€œtandem programming,â€ or programming in which people swap and share code, can yield successful results.
While I probably donâ€™t have a huge audience reading this yet, Iâ€™d love to hear from anyone on what they think of the idea. Iâ€™ll be presenting it at Mondayâ€™s ITP Thesis Pub, but the project will be ongoing through the fall (and possibly spring). One of the issues I have is what domain name to purchase…e-mail me if youâ€™re interested in helping me pick.
Last week I did some product shots for one of Matty Sallin’s projects, the WAKE n’ BACON, for an upcoming magazine article (For those of you wondering, it’s the wooden alarm clock to the right, and yes, it really cooks bacon!). I’m happy to report that the bacon smelled good and was cooked to perfection…and to think, the people back home wonder what students do at my school.
Abe Burmeister has just posted some trial podcasts of Clay Shirky’s Social Facts class off of his site (boy, does my voice sound weird to me when I hear it!). Listening to it, I’ve realized that it’s a bit difficult to know what’s going on without context. I only listened to part2.mp3, where the class continued a discussion on how ITP would decide where $1 million in grant funds would go. Who knows, maybe Rushkoff’s persuasion class is next.
I was at the Strand Bookstore the other day to see Malcolm Gladwell and Steven Johnson hold a discussion. Based on recommendations, I spent a part of my summer reading both of their books. I must say that each piece is an interesting investigation into the thinking process.
I found that Johnson’s book, Everything Bad Is Good For You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter could have been a little more quantitatively supported, but I agree that video games do have positive effects on today’s youth, and that these qualities have been, for the most part, neglected by mainstream media.
Gladwell’s book Blink made quite an impact on me with the concept that knowing everything may may not be as good as just knowing the essentials. In Blink, Gladwell writes about Paul Van Riper’s victory over the U.S. Military during a trained simulation known as the Millenium Challenge. According to the book, Van Riper defeated his overwhelming opponent by not focusing on the details, not analyzing every piece of data, but rather acting only on the information at hand. I feel that this concept could easily carry over into my realm, as Web designers are continually trying to know it all when it comes to the technology. The question is, does that really make the design better?
I'm a creative technologist at Hauck Interactive, Inc. and an adjunct instructor at HACC. I live in Harrisburg, Pa. with my wife and three boys. I enjoy good coffee, Trappist beers, Orioles baseball, and good design.