Random snippets of articles, books, magazines, and websites that were striking at the time I read them.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

The Complete Color Directory

A couple of days ago, I stumbled across The Complete Color Directory in my favorite bookstore. The book itself is intended for people who want to redesign the rooms in their home, but I bought it because I wanted new color ideas for designing websites.

Although it's not entirely a complete color directory, there's still enough meat in it to be interesting and worth the P1,097 (approx US$19) I plunked down for it. I particular liked the "good combinations" section of each major color. The experienced designer, though, will probably just breeze through it in a few minutes and toss it into the "To sell" pile.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Weblog + Webcam = Creative Idea

I found Mike Davidson's blog recently by way of Didier Hilhorst's Nundroo blog.

If you haven't seen it yet, you really should check it out. Look for the "Live" theme option on the sidebar, and make sure you have Flash 6 installed.

It's the first time I've seen a weblog make use of a frequently updated webcam (every 2 minutes, complete with a little clock image to give you an idea of the local time). Of course, not everyone's got a great view from their condo window, but you've got to love the creative thinking that went into the concept.

Dire Straits

I recently received a .pdf file entitled "Where to the Philippines (or Does the Philippines Have a Chance?)" from a friend. The report was dated June 2004.

You can download your own copy of the PDF from the Wallace Business Forum's Special Reports Section. Choose "Where to the Philippines" in the list of reports.

Even though the file was 40 pages long, I took the time to read it. It so sharply highlights the dire straits that the Philippines is now in.

One of Wallace's Key Points:
In the past 30 years the Philippines has averaged 3.1% annual GDP growth and a population growth of 2.5%. Which means almost no improvement for the Filipino over that 30 years. This is about half the rate achieved by other nations in Asia. The reason:
  1. Politics - vested interest vs national good
  2. Uncontrolled population growth
  3. Weak educational system
  4. Corruption
  5. Inadequate infrastructure
  6. An agriculture system that hasn’t improved in 30 years
  7. An inadequate focus on job creation
  8. A judiciary in need of major improvement
  9. Security
  10. Good governance.

If these 10, and it must be all 10 of them, aren’t fixed the Philippines will average 3.1% for the next 30 years too. The logic of this can’t be denied.

The funny thing is, despite his portents of doom, Wallace seems to believe that it's possible to turn things around, and even outlines immediate action steps for newly re-elected President Arroyo.

I seriously doubt she'll follow any of his free advice, though. She seems to respond better to threats.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Web Design Blogs

I love reading blogs that focus on Web Design. I'm always amazed at what people are able to produce when their right brains are working in hypergear.

And you know how it is when you follow a couple of blogs that you really like. Before long, they'll have a post about another blog, and you'll find yourself following the link almost mindlessly. If it's an interesting post, the blog gets added to your subscription.

So it's really no wonder that after just a couple of months of using Bloglines as my RSS feed reader, I've now got quite a long list of subscriptions to blogs that focus on web design.

Here they are, in no particular order:
  • SimpleBits. The hypertext home of web design consultant and author, Dan Cederholm

  • Mezzoblue. Dave Shea

  • Asterisk. D. Keith Robinson

  • Authentic Boredom. Cameron Moll.

  • Design By Fire. By Andrei Herasimchuk. From the school of hard knocks, where we always burn the midnight oil with a passion for design.

  • Molly. The personal and professional web site of Molly E. Holzschlag, author, instructor, web standards evangelist. Sometimes interesting, often mundane, with topics ranging from pop-culture to Internet policies.

  • Jeffrey Zeldman's Daily Report. Web design news, info, and insights since 1995. CSS layout, XHTML, usability, accessibility. Designing with web standards. ISSN #1534-0309

  • Airbag Industries. Greg Storey's site. "The World's Safest Website"

  • Superfluous Banter. Personal blog of Dan Rubin.

  • Nundroo. The newly launched blog of Didier Hilhorst

  • Veerle. Thoughts on Music, Ibiza, Apple, Nature, Graphic/Web design.

  • Whitespace. Learning design through teaching design.

  • Ordered List. Articles and opinions on Web Standards, PHP, MySQL, and generally all things web related.

  • Angie McKaig. Design. Geekery. Business. Culture. And a great pair of legs!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Word of Mouth at Work

Stumbled across a site today called Change This.

I'm not sure where it's headed, but it will be interesting to see how successful this site is with its manifesto (PDF).

In general, anything where Seth Godin is involved is automatically interesting for me. Permission Marketing, after all, was such an eye-opener when it first came out. I've lost track of the times that I wished more people would read it, understand it, and apply the principles behind it. I also wish I could cram a copy of the book down every spammer's throat, but that's a topic for another post.

Given how active a blogger Seth is, it should therefore be no surprise to see that there's also a blog for Change This, entitled Read and Pass... which, of course, explains the rationale behind this post.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Blogger's new WYSIWYG Feature

Blogger has launched a new WYSIWYG feature that allows people to "compose" blog posts with HTML formatting built-in (ala Gmail). Unfortunately, there seems to be a few bugs in the new feature.

I'm glad I was reading other people's blog posts prior to updating my own blogs today; at least I had an idea of what was in store for me, since I use Firefox as my default browser.

Just to be on the safe side, I first updated one of my blogs using Internet Explorer. There were a few stray div tags around my blockquote entry, which strangely enough, only screwed up my previous posts, not my new post. The old posts ended up being flushed completely to the left of the margin, and my sidebar disappeared to the bottom of the page.

To work-around the problem, I simply switched to "Edit HTML" mode, edited the post directly in HTML by removing the misbehaving div tags, and voila! When I republished the post, it was working just fine. :)

So here I am attempting to update another blog, this time using Firefox. When I first entered the Create Post page, I found an incomplete page -- no little tabs on the upper right corner, no ability to preview, and no buttons along the upper left of the edit area. Thank goodness for this post in Massless.org, which gave me the tip to just refresh Firefox on the Create Post page. So far, it appears to be working fine. The true test, of course, will be the blog post. If you're reading this, then I guess it worked.

A last thought -- I really admire the folks at Blogger who are gamely taking the punches from folks who are peeved by the bugs in the WYSIWYG feature. To have worked hard on this capability and to have this type of negative fallout -- well, lesser mortals would have been crushed and become dysfunctional. You've got to admire their attitude and dedication to this service.

Update: Just found the Blogger Help page that describes the WYSIWYG feature.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Wikis and Weblogs

The original post entitled Status Reports 2.0 at the Rands in Repose blog is more than half a year old, but I only encountered it today.

The post essentially asks whether or not we need status reports, and recommends the use of Wikis and Weblogs to take the place of status reports.

I have to admit that the article made me stop and think. After all, my firm has used Wikis for over 4 years for a variety of purposes. We've used them internally for keeping company policies and various administrivia available online, and we've used them on projects as project repositories.

Despite the fact that our Wikis allow us to track changes to pages, our team members still turn in individual status reports via email. Granted, they're fairly short reports since they consist mostly of URLs to the relevant Wiki pages that had been updated during the reporting period. I guess our firm is still small enough that the status reports are not really that critical to progress monitoring and therefore can be terse and bulleted. [In fact, I personally find the status reports more critical as inputs to the regular performance reviews of team members!]

We've been talking a lot in the past couple of months about using blogging software. However, they've only been envisioned as communication tools targeted at our clients and suppliers. I'd never really thought of them as status reporting software. That's certainly worth thinking about.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Great Presentations

Okay, I admit it. I'm one of those horrible people who make word-heavy powerpoint slides.

So it's cool when you come across a couple of sites that take things to the next level:

How do people come up with this stuff?! Is this something that can be learned, or are you just born with this type of talent?

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

The Buzz in the Blogosphere

It's amazing how new ways are being found to mine the "World Live Web", a.k.a. the Blogosphere. Here are a few of the utilities / sites that I've encountered, which bear a closer look.

  • Bloglines. Of course Bloglines ranks at the top of my list, the free, web-based RSS-Aggregator service. They've recently unveiled their new look to celebrate their first birthday. I love the fact that the number of subscribers for each feed is now indicated. And the Clippings feature is great.

  • DayPop. Encountered this site for the first time today. They "Search 59000 News Sites, Weblogs and RSS feeds for Current Events and Breaking News". The Wordburst and Wishlist features are new to me, and certainly worth watching.

  • Technorati. "Search the World Live Web. Want to know what's being said, right now, about every Weblog or Web page that has something worth talking about? Type in a url, keyword or phrase above and search the World Live Web."

  • Blogdex. The Weblog Diffusion Index. "Blogdex uses the links made by webloggers as a proxy to the things they are talking about. Webloggers typically contextualize their writing with hypertext links which act as markers for the subjects they are discussing. These markers are like tags placed on wild animals, allowing Blogdex to track a piece of conversation as it moves from weblog to weblog."

I'm sure there are other sites like these, but so far, these are the ones that I've encountered.

Also worth a close read is The Wisdom of Blogs, published in Blogger's Knowledgebase.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Can Gmail's Invite-Only approach be considered Viral Marketing?

Yes, I have a Gmail account.

A lot of people have apparently been wondering what the fuss is all about, with many remarking that Gmail is just webmail after all. In addition, some very valid accessibility issues have also been raised regarding the interface.
Despite all the negative comments, I can't help but like Gmail. It's an emotional, irrational thing. The fact that it's from Google makes it immediately worth watching. The fact that it's currently by invitation only also makes it a hot item (supply and demand, and all that).

Oh, as an aside -- there's now a Philippine Gmail User's Yahoogroup... and you guessed it, you can only subscribe to it if you use a Gmail account.

I'm waiting for all the marketing gurus to jump in and examine the "viral marketing" aspects of the Google beta test approach. It will be interesting to find out if Google had designed (by intention) the "Invitation Only" approach to generate a lot of marketing hype and unmet demand.