Personal and Professional Blog of Rich Hauck

Where’s Hillman?

by: Rich Hauck

I e-mailed Hillman Curtis at least a month ago after watching one of his video designer documentaries (I really liked the one on Paula Scher). I just wanted to know what the deal was with those wacky videos on his home page. I guess I’ll never know…I’m sure the dude’s a busy man, but I hope I never get so busy that I don’t respond to the little guy…


Seven Cents a Song!

by: Rich Hauck

A friend of mine (who will probably comment on this post) mentioned the music site, a well-designed site where you can purchase songs for as little as 7 cents per song (or roughly $1.00 to $3.00 per album). The price alone should have cried counterfeit, but I researched it out of curiosity anyway, and was shocked to discover the lack of media coverage on this “trend”.

The site is Russian-owned and the RIAA has been having a huge problem with music piracy there. Apparently, jurisdiction regarding illegal music falls on a deaf ear with Russian litigation. The site contains a legal info page that states “Users are responsible for any usage and distribution of all materials received from This responsibility depends on the local legislation of each user’s country of residence.” The RIAA has attempted to sue U.S. consumers purchasing music from Russian sites like this, but unfortunately, many of those music lovers fail to realize that their purchases are illegal.

It just goes to show how copyright is a game that only works when everyone agrees on the rules, and it seems to be an evolving concept in the Internet frontier.


Hot Sauce Sundae

by: Rich Hauck

Torchbearer Sauces

Well, my design for the TorchBearer Sauces site won second place in the 2006 Scovie Awards. Considering that the first place winner was done by a large ad agency (WestWayne) and that they probably had more than two weeks to design and build the site (not to mention have more than a one-man staff), I’m pretty happy.

Hot sauce is definitely an acquired taste; I still can’t get my mother OR my mother-in-law to touch the stuff. Me, on the other hand, well, I’m usually up for trying new foods, so I was eager to try the Sugar Fire sauce on ice cream. (yes, hot sauce on ice cream). It’s actually pretty good. What probably makes this work is that TorchBearer sauces aren’t vinegar-based, so they don’t have that sour hot sauce taste. Okay, I’m going to stop now before this post becomes a sales pitch…

I guess hot sauce + dairy products makes sense in a weird way, though, since milk was always on hand for Vid’s hot sauce night…

Categories:General webdesign

Flash Detection Kit Break on IE6 + Older Flash Player–A Support Question to Macromedia

by: Rich Hauck

I’m beginning to subscribe to the idea that no Flash detection is the best detection. It seems like every catch-all detection script fails, including Macromedia’s latest Flash Detection Kit built into Flash 8. With every detection script I’ve used, Internet Explorer on the PC with an older Flash Player breaks. It seems like the Flash Player tries to interpret next generation swf files without success. This problem never occurs on Safari, Opera, Netscape, or Mozilla, but, unfortunately, most clients don’t use one of those browsers.

Just putting an swf into the page doesn’t seem to satisfy most clients, as they all seem to have that amazing skill of sniffing out backward-compatibility issues. I used to use this as an opportunity to make my pages Web Standards compliant (JavaScript to document.write() the object and embed tags into the HTML–if JS is placing deprecated tags in the page it’ll pass the test). In the long run, though, it’s a lost cause, because Flash just isn’t a part of one of the W3C’s specs.

Frankly, I’m surprised with all of the chit-chat on Flash development online that I couldn’t find another case of my problem. So, I sent Macromedia an e-mail. I guess we’ll see if anything gets uncovered…

“I have been unable to get the player detection kit/Flash 8 publish detection to work properly on PC Internet Explorer 6.0 (my version is 2900.2180.xpsp_sp2_gdr.050301) with an older Flash player. It appears that the older player attempts to interpret the new swf content and ends up showing a blank background. My Firefox 1.5 Javascript console doesn’t catch any errors, and besides which, I am using the code published by Flash 8. I’ve tested this detection with a number of other configurations with no problem, and am surprised to not find any online documentation regarding this issue.

I also know that this issue isn’t exclusive to me; my clients were (unfortunately) the ones to first discover the issue using IE6/Flash Player 6 on a number of different pcs.

Is there any documentation I am overlooking? If not, is it possible that this issue can be noted on the Flash Detection Kit page of the Macromedia Site? Thanks.”

Categories:Flash webdesign

The Dismal State of 2nd Street Harrisburg

by: Rich Hauck

Second Street has seen some improvement, but it’s got a long way to go.

I suppose I want to stay optimistic of 2nd Street in downtown Harrisburg provided my wife might banish us back due to her distaste of the big city. Don’t get me wrong, I like Harrisburg, but these days 2nd Street makes me feel like George Bailey walking through Potterville in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

I’m not a monk by any means, but Second Street lacks variety. Sorry, but more bars does not equal more retail, and I don’t care if there’s a Coyote Ugly spinoff by the corner; it doesn’t make the ‘burg into the East Village, (which isn’t teeming with grunts eager to show off their new Lexuses).

If you haven’t caught on yet, I’m complaining about the overall vibe that has been carefully formulated to create what is now downtown Harrisburg.

I was sitting with a friend at McGrath’s the other night over some Moscow mules (one bar I will step into and have always liked–maybe it’s the Chimay 🙂 ) and we got on the topic of what the bar scene in Harrisburg is missing. Harrisburg has no bar with dollar bills decorating the ceilings (my friend lived in Virginia Beach…okay, unfair comparison). Harrisburg has no bars with vintage arcade machines, no bars based on Kubrick films, and no bars with free drinks. In short, Harrisburg needs more ideas. It maybe unpopular to say now, but I thought the late Design Museum @ Fathom was a great concept that encouraged some fresh thinking of downtown.

After writing the Soup Man post, I have to wonder why restauranteurs don’t even bring new franchises into downtown. After all, there are only so many Ruby Tuesdays or AppleBee’s that you fit into one place. I was overjoyed when someone brought the Waffle House to Central PA (I’m still waiting for it to migrate up here), even though it didn’t fill the much-needed downtown diner. Why don’t they consider bringing in Pret, an incredible and healthy deli, or Beard Papa’s, which seems to be invading Manhattan.

Of course, I can complain all I want when I know the issue comes down to money, but Harrisburg should drop its goal of becoming a speck on the map of tourists and instead concern itself with plugging the brain drain through innovative nightlife, more culture, and unique retail development. Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd, and the city should remain concerned with keeping its existing crowd rather than trying to attract the outsiders that know better.


Wallet Size

by: Rich Hauck


Despite my protests, my sister-in-law insisted that I take one of her senior pictures.

Maybe it’s just her way to justify purchasing them.

I’ve never understood the idea behind wallet photos. I guess I can understand sharing baby pictures, but I can’t imagine showing friends at school pictures of my sister-in-law.

“Look, and here’s my wife’s sister!”

“Uh, why do you have a picture of your sister-in-law in your wallet and not your wife?”

Nope. Just doesn’t work.

Since I don’t keep any pictures in my wallet anyway (they’d get destroyed in my tri-fold after a week, easily), I’ve resorted to putting Becca on my Wacom tablet. Granted, it was a little weird at first having her stare at me for so long, not to mention draw on her daily, but I’ve gotten a little used to it. Now, if I could just get portraits of my two other sister-in-laws and two future brother-in-laws, maybe I could assemble a whole crowd to stare at me while I’m working…


The Man of Steel or the Messiah?

by: Rich Hauck

Am I the only one who’s become disappointed by the Superman Returns trailer? After my wife pointed out a few key points (“I send you, my only son,” etc.), it looks more like a prequel to The Passion of the Christ than The Man of Steel’s return to the big screen.

Besides my distaste in the color shift in both the outfit and Metropolis, I kind of wish they’d have cast a more Alex Ross-looking Superman. I agree with Ross’s assessment that the original illustrations of Superman were of a big-boned guy, not some toothpick.

Oh well, I always have Aronofsky’s upcoming film to look forward to.


Google, Publishers, and Book Searching

by: Rich Hauck

Google versus Publishers

Last night I attended the Harry Potter premiere. Best one yet. But that has nothing to do with this photograph–or this post, really. 🙂

I also attended a discussion on Google’s Print Library Project (now called Google Book Search) at the New York Public Library. The people involved in the discussion included Allan Adler of the Association of American Publishers, Google VP David Drummond, Lawrence Lessig of Stanford Law School / Creative Commons (I caught photographed him while he was deep in thought, apparently), and Nick Taylor of The Authors Guild.

Besides dominating the world of information transaction, Google has approached some of the top university libraries and started a program where written public works are scanned for online searching. The problem is that Google has now decided that they will provide snippets of copyrighted works unless the copyright holder “opts out” of the program.

I use Google religiously, but am slowly coming to believe that their dominance is turning them into our modern day evil. Unlike a library, they are not purchasing books–they are making free digital copies of the books for their use, and then placing limitations on the libraries in regards to the online works. The copying itself is illegal according to copyright law! Despite Drummond’s claim that they will not be placing advertisements on the Book Search pages, Google does provide “Buy this Book” links. This is ultimately bad for the book industry because it provides more exposure to the particular companies that Google handpicks (keep in mind this is regardless of the advertisement links).

I think Google has a great idea, but the digitization of printed works should be completed by the copyright holders themselves, a non-profit organization, or The Library of Congress, not a for-profit company. By creating a proprietary card catalog, Google is creating yet another offering that attracts traffic to them. Furthermore, it should not be at the expense of a copyright holder’s time to have to “opt-out” of something.

In closing, if Amazon and MSN Book Search can license portions of public works, I think the world’s biggest search engine can, too.

Oh, and I’m looking forward to reading all of the Harry Potter books before the next film comes out. On non-digitized books that I own legally, I might add.


Where is the Digital Velvet Rope Drawn?

by: Rich Hauck

Since NYU was offering a free showing of Just Friends, I (naturally) checked out the movie via its Web site. What caught me off guard was how the marketing had seemingly spilled into reality; it really goes to show how desparate the advertising world is to infiltrate online social networking. A link from the Just Friendssite takes you to one of the character’s MySpace accounts. The profile is obviously an advertisement, but the characters all boast hundreds of friends. Were these “friends” generated by the ad agency for this particular profile, are they all employees of the studio/ad agency, or is there something genuine about their “friendships?”

Online advertising has thrown consumers curveballs before–like Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) (On an somewhat unrelated note, I loved Metacortechs, the ARG that was inspired by, but in no way directly related to, The Matrix). In the case of the Just Friends, I think the fake accounts hurt the legitimacy of the MySpace site.

Who’d have guessed that Fred Durst’s blog was really his? I recently ran across Lisa Loeb’s MySpace account, as well as The Rock’s (sorry, lost the link), however, can I really believe they belong to these celebrities? Can the number of friends attest to the profile’s true owner?

Sites like eBay require background checks for accuracy, and while there’s no money being passed around on social networking sites, there’s definitely a social currency at stake…


About Rich Hauck

Rich Hauck

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.