Keep it Simple (Stupid) and more Principles

Monday, November 3, 2008

When it comes to all forms of design and art, the general rule is to keep it simple. Writers are told to "Kill your Darlings" and self-conscious girls are told that "Simplicity is Beauty" Web designers and logo designers on the other hand are given the saying "Keep it Simple, Stupid"

However contrary to popular belief, it's actually much more difficult to make things simpler than to complicate things. Let's take for example a blank blue box. It is a lot easier to fill that blue little box with text, images, brushes and patterns than to think of a single pattern or a single text or a single image that would translate everything you want to say in one fell swoop.

Simple designs can sometimes be alternated with minimalistic and there's nothing wrong with that. However simplicity is not about cutting everything off, it's about balance. Excluding a lot of functionality in a website can prove to be appealing to the eye but users would curse while trying to decipher where the damn "sign up" link is. As with fashion and with any fashion trend, there is also what we call a Fashion Victim.

Smash Magazine has a list of simple web designs that can be a good model for web designers aiming for that balanced, simple look. My favorite is this:

Springloops Website

What I like about this design aside from its colors is its usability. The eyes move downward and the information flows.

The New Ipod Nano - just so so?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Perhaps it seems that Apple is running out of creative juice? The newly released Nano-Chromatic boasts of having practically all the colors of the rainbow. It's slim and curved which Jobs claim that would make the display look sleeker. The new iPod Nano promises to be fun and gear towards the younger generation what with all those colors to choose from. From what I've seen, I was actually tempted to buy the green one or the blue one.

The new iPod Nano may look nifty and I do admit that the shake feature of the new Nano that shuffles the playlist but I don't think I'd be purchasing one just yet. Sure the prices are cut down from the usual but I don't think it's worth it. You get practically the same performance and the same features. Apple just pretty-fied it. I probably would buy it once I totally get tired of my Nano or just for the sheer sake of vanity and matching my Nano with my clothes but aside from that I wouldn't give it a second glance.

What is up with Apple and their baby steps to improvement? iPhone 3G leaves much to be desired and now Nano Chromatic lacks a little in the performance department. Maybe we all should wait a little more for some real groundbreaking changes in their products.

Large Hadron Collider: What the?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The project has actually been ongoing for quite some time now and it's only these past few days that it's given the spotlight.

Though the Large Hadron Collider is far from what you'd call a gadget, for purposes of discussion (and because I want to join in on the bandwagon) I'm going to post a little something about the LHC. Oh and because HowStuffWorks already posted "Will the LHC Destroy the World" which I greatly enjoyed reading, I'll be looking at another topic.

Remember the Y2K bug? The threat of the Y2K bug was plausible. The threat was so real, people can taste it and then what did the people to do? Well, the skeptics made money out of it of course! Customized Y2k shirts came flying around the market as well as mugs and other merchandise.

The thing with the Large Hadron Collider is that even the scientists aren't sure of what might happen. And the description of the possible offset of the LHC proves something to be alarmed about. We won't be seeing just a small smoke here. We're talking about a black hole disrupting the balance of the Universe and possibly ending existential life. That is of course, blowing things completely out of proportion since the chances of that happening is close to nil. Strangelets, those little things they say would eat up the Earth is still largely hypothetical.

The doomsayers are funny though. They're wasting no time in spreading the scare in an effort to get something out of this. Meh. But it's amusing to see what the hype is doing to everyone's humor. It wasn't just once that I read "Large Hardon Collider" the motivational posters are all over the net.

But ultimately, what does the success of LHC mean to us? It means knowledge advancement. It's uncovering something we don't know and it's overthrowing the things we do know to make way for the truth. That's really all there is to think about it.

Web Design Disaster

Sunday, September 7, 2008

If there are award-winning web design endeavors, there is also a list of miserable failures. Actually, there's probably more information on the world's worst web design than the world's best ones. We can't exactly blame these web designers though. Creating designs in an extremely volatile channel like the internet is no easy feat. The genius you came up with today may be outdated tomorrow. If you think you did something cool today, there's a chance that someone will be introducing a new concept everyone would be jumping on and you'd be left with a design that nobody would buy.

So right now, as we speak, what makes a Web Design Disaster?

Let's take for example havenworks. Who hasn't mentioned havenworks when talking about web design disasters? Anyway what makes havenworks a disaster? At first glance you'd understand why it is such. I also find it funny that because of all the bad rep havenworks is getting, it has now risen to Google PR 5.

Havenworks website

The basics of the basics: Readability.

Visitors should be able to read what you have put up in there. If they click your link and could not understand half of what you're saying, they won't waste their time trying to decode you. Apart from the incredibly small column with squeezed in text, the blue links surrounding the content hurts the eyes and stunts the comprehension.

If you fail in Readability, you must be extremely lucky to get visitors to come back. Or you must have something really important and relevant to their interests.

I came across some basic guidelines on web design that may prove useful to some of you.

1. Thou shalt not abuse Flash.

Adobe's (ADBE) popular Web animation technology powers everything from the much-vaunted Nike (NKE) Plus Web site for running diehards to many humdrum banner advertisements. But the technology can easily be abused—excessive, extemporaneous animations confuse usability and bog down users' Web browsers.

2. Thou shalt not hide content.

Advertisements may be necessary for a site's continued existence, but usability researchers say pop-ups and full-page ads that obscure content hurt functionality—and test a reader's willingness to revisit. Elective banners—that expand or play audio when a user clicks on them—are much less intrusive.

3. Thou shalt not clutter.

The Web may be the greatest archive of all time, but sites that lack a coherent structure make it impossible to wade through information. (AMZN) and others put their sites' information hierarchy at the top of their list of design priorities.

... Read the rest here: Business Week

Strange Bicycle Models

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

This is awesome. I stumbled upon something on the net (yes... I'm starting to become addicted to that Stumble! button) and my preference settings in SU are set to humor/odd/bizarre so you can just imagine the kind of things I get to stumble upon. Just now I was going through it and found some interesting bicycle models.

Well it IS rubber after all

The picture above is just one of my favorites. If you look at it, it makes perfect sense really. The bicycle itself sends a funny but logical message. Being a bicycle, it can take you to places faster than walking so the shoes kind of symbolize the fact that if you use a bicycle, you'd practically be using several pairs of feet. See how I can put art into everything? Awesome right? LOL.

There are more examples of strange bicycle models in the website I stumbled.

More at this website:

iPhone 3G: battery life

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Much has been said even before the iPhone 3G came out and now that it's ready for consumption, people have been doing a lot of test-drives that pushes the phone's limit. Just to make sure it's worth your money. Apple said that the iPhone 3G can last five hours for talk time and people have been groaning about it. Is it really that bad? Now since I'm not exactly a big Apple fan (not a Microsoft baby either) I would still want to know how long I can use it. If it's going to be an all-purpose phone and with 3G, I would want something that can last me especially with the price it's asking me to pay.

So I came across this post on comparing iPhone 3G's battery life.


3G talk time (in hours) of GSM phones
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

when you look at it like that... it doesn't seem so bad now, does it?

Gadget for the Ladies: Pink Laptops

Sunday, June 22, 2008

When laptops started to come out, they looked like big bulks of heavy gray books. Hence the term notebooks. Most of the early releases were unbelievably heavy and had a functional (but not stylish) design. As the years progressed, laptops started becoming smaller and their designs got more intricate. People flocked to buy laptops for various purposes and the age group of laptop users started getting younger and younger.

So it's only natural for laptop manufacturers to start making their designs and their functionality more suited to a wider market.

Here's two companies that took this to heart and started making pretty pink laptops:

Sony Vaio CR

The Sony Vaio CR series has most of its appeal resting on its delicious colors. It also comes in white, red and dark blue. When I first saw these babies I immediately thought that they'd be prone to defects and early death. Something that pretty can't be that durable right? And besides it's Sony. I've had my fair share of sad stories from Sony laptops.

Rundown of its features: It has WXGA screen, a built-in webcam, built-in wifi-adapter and an integrated graphics card. Definitely not the laptop for you if you're a hardcore gamer as this will probably die on you during the loading screen. However, if you're going to use it for light work then it's okay. Oh and of course ladies would love the color.

Dell XPS M1330

This particular design of Dell is the thinnest in its class. So you don't just get something pretty and pink, you also get something thin too. Now isn't that what every woman is aiming to be at the very end? Okay, I was just kidding. No need to kill me now.

Anyway the Dell XPS M1330 besides being pink, performs pretty well considering its size. It's processor: Intel Core 2 Duo (2 GHz); RAM installed: 2 GB DDR2 SDRAM; Weight: 4 lbs

Not bad, not bad at all. Though still not for gaming. As most laptops usually aren't. No surprise there. But it does perform good for a (pink) laptop.

Ladies take design and style into consideration sometimes taking up a bigger priority so I guess these companies are now catering to much more specific needs by putting design first. They are probably recognizing the fact that they aren't just making these gadgets for the tech geeks but for normal people too who want to tug a long a laptop when they have coffee in Starbucks.

Gadget that turns Past to Present

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Being part in a world ruled by the latest gizmos and gadgets, most of the things we enjoy right now would be outdated tomorrow and next week. What if we really, really like something from long ago? Something so old that the only available media for it is through an LP? Vinyl discs are considered ancient now and most people who have them are just keeping them for collection. Few people have laser disc players at home now and why would you keep one anyways? This world is now driven by DVDs and MP3s.

This is where this particular gadget comes in: the USB Turntable.

With the looks of it alone, you'd know that it works just like any turntable but the cool thing about this is you can plug a USB cable at the back of it and into your computer. It records the music and converts it to wav! Cool huh? You can easily have them converted to MP3 once you have them on your PC.

This is the specific things you have to find out about this gadget:


  • A super sleek adjustable pitch belt drive turntable.

The turntable includes:

  • A slipmat.
  • A counterweight.
  • A platter (no, not for your dinner).
  • A USB cable.
  • A pre-mounted cartridge with Stylus.
  • Includes Audacity software for Mac/PC recording as well as a trial of Bias Soundsoap 2 for cleaning and restoring vinyl.
  • Line level RCA outputs to connect up to your stereo.
  • 33 and 45 RPM Buttons (78's are played at 33 and then converted by the software).
  • Adjustable Anti-Skating control for increased stereo balancing.
  • High speed vinyl recording
  • A CD with Mac/PC Recording Software.
  • Full instruction manual.
  • Suitable for ages 12 years+.
  • Requires a PC running Windows 98, 2000, XP, Vista, a MAC running OS9 or higher and a USB port 1.1 or higher.
  • The USB Turntable is compatible with any software that supports USB audio input sound cards - simply plug it into a spare USB port - it requires no special drivers for Windows (98,2000,XP,Vista) or Mac (OS9 and above).
  • If you are running Windows XP Media Center Addition, you will need to upgrade to XP Home or XP Pro in order to use any USB Class Compliant device like the USB Turntable.
  • Please note that the turntable is not compatible with Macs with Pentium chips.
  • Requires a USB port and mains power to run the turntable.
  • Size: - Product weight: 12lbs
  • Turntable: 42 x 37 x 14.
With developments like these, soon technology will make time an irrelevant factor.

Cellphone and Gaming Gadget

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sony Ericsson has new gadgets for shutterbugs and gamers. Due to be officially announced tomorrow, the Sony Ericsson S302 and F305 has been leaking in markets already. While most of us are gawking over the 3G iPhone, let's look at how competition is doing shall we? In a nutshell, S302 is part of the claimed "snapshot series" so that means its forte lies in fast image capture features and image editing support.

However, you can't really expect much from the S302, it doesn't really have groundbreaking features. It has 2 MP without autofocus. Yes, there's not much really to look forward to. You also get 20MB of onboard memory, Memory Stick Micro card slot, Bluetooth (A2DP), USB and FM radio. (but what is Sony Ericsson without an FM radio?) The S302 stands at only 11mm thickness and weighs the mere 79g. It's got a TFT display with a resolution of 176 x 220 pixels.

Sony Ericsson F305 seems to be a little more interesting. Being a gaming-oriented device it features a built-in accelerometer and three pre-installed games: Bowling, Bass fishing and Jockey. I find this particularly fascinating because in one of the games, you actually have to use the handset like... (dare I say it?) like a Wii-mote! You have to swing the handset around in Bowling to actually play the game. The Sony Ericsson F305 sports stereo speakers, stereo Bluetooth and (what else?) stereo FM radio. Besides the 2 megapixel camera, the feature list also includes M2 memory card slot and a 2-inch TFT display with a resolution of 176 x 220 pixels. A little too small for a game device but future releases might improve it.

Official announcement will be released tomorrow. Wait for it guys! SonyEricsson's shoot and game gadget will be ripe for the picking! I personally would want to see how F305 performs as a gadget in the future though. It looks promising.

A Web Designer's Pie Chart

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pie chart taken from The Net is Dead

I have spent a considerable amount of time doing some web designing work. Though it's not particularly evident in this blog (I got lazy editing this) I used to make lots of blog layouts for several people and of course for myself. And usually, like all web designers, I spend a considerable amount of time getting the damn layout to work in IE.

Since Firefox came into my life, I never looked back on IE. Ever again. However as a web designer, I have to take IE into consideration since a lot of people are still using IE (you poor unfortunate souls, switch now!) and some websites require IE browsers so I really have to adjust.

I honestly don't know what's wrong with IE, why the heck is it so choosy and why is it such a pain in the ass. The pie chart is kind of true though when it comes to actual designing. It's not really a difficult thing to do, making it work in all browsers is where the actual challenge lies. My swearing is probably distributed all throughout my time and has concentrated area in contemplating (well not exactly death) just torture maybe for Bill Gates.

Let me tell you it is really, extremely frustrating for a lot of web designers to spend so much time making layouts work in IE. It almost seems unfair how IE practically destroys the design you worked so hard for. If there was only some sort of gadget that magically makes IE less of a nutcase.

Spy Gadget No. 1: Camera Sunglasses

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

There are priceless moments that are never caught on cam because well, for one you don't have a camera and another thing, it happened too fast that the event just "flashed before your eyes" These kind of things happen so often that you just wish your eyes has a built-in camera. Well apparently you're not the only one who thought so. Someone thought about the same thing and made a gadget out of that concept.

Introducing the 1.3 Megapixel Spy Camera Sunglasses! These sunglasses can capture images with a resolution of 1280x1024 . Pretty big huh? Considering these images are taken from a pair of sunglasses, that resolution ain't half bad. To capture a sneaky picture, you use an RF remote control for stealth.

As for the material, do not worry these sunglasses won't cramp your style. These are designed to function as sunglasses and as a camera too, not the other way around. So its first and foremost function is to look cool and protect your eyes from the sun. High-quality lightweight frame material and UV400 polarized flip-up lens make up this spy-gadget like sunglasses.

The camera part is powered by batteries and can last until 9 hours on standby. However, you can't go all trigger-happy and shoot a montage of pictures since this camera can only take 1 photo per minute. So how do you transfer the pictures from your nifty gadget and upload it in the Internet? This gadget comes with a USB 2.0 interface via a standard Mini USB port.

In addition to all these features, this gadget also allows you to play and listen to MP3s via strategically located earbuds. If you don't want to listen to music you can always unhook it out of the way.

With the Camera Sunglasses (they really should think of another name for this) you can take photos before it flashes right past your eyes. Well what do you know, a gadget that makes you look cool AND captures fleeting moments!

Webdesign Blog Layouting: 3-column VS 2-column

Monday, May 12, 2008

When I was in high school, the blogs I made had the usual 2-column webdesign layout. Usually, navigation goes to the left and content takes the center space. All ads if there were any, are put in the left sidebar and all content goes right smack in the middle. Sometimes I change the location of the sidebar from left to right but the fact remains that I only have 2 columns. Then when I got older and was able to research on more layouts I read that 3-column blog layouts are like the Holy Grail of blog layouts.

I wanted to find out why and I came to these conclusions:

1. Widgets. Widgets. More Widgets. Bloggers want to put as much clutter in their blog as possible. Technorati tags, blog roll, random awards, blog polls... you name it, they want it. It has become some sort of status symbol to have as much "bling" in your blog as possible. And 3 columns allow you more space at first glance without scrolling down.

2. Centered content. When you have another sidebar your text doesn't overstretch. If text is overstretched, the eyes will have a hard time moving across the page and most likely the person wouldn't take time to read the whole thing. Having two columns reduces the scattered impression your blog has.

3. Extending Sidebar. Face it, nothing looks uglier than a sidebar that extends far because of a long content. Having two sidebar minimizes that.

However, these doesn't mean that 3-column layouts are THE layout holy grail and that everyone should follow it. It still depends on your taste and what works for you. 2-columns also has its pros and cons. The key here is determining what works for your blog. Do you like your readers to focus on the center content rather left to right? Or would you rather have your readers view your site like they're reading a book? Once you have this question answered, you can design your blog in the way you see fit.

Blackberry 9000: Living up to the hype?

When it comes to phones, Blackberry is top of the elite gadget chain. Blackberry doesn't have that many users unlike the major players in the cellphone industry such as Nokia, Samsung, Motorola and Sony Ericsson but Blackberry does take pride in not only it's quality (completely reflecting this is its price) but it's high usability functions. Blackberry completely transcends standard phone gadget quality by combining PDA functions and phone functions. It doesn't have touch screen capabilities but Blackberry makes up for it with its reinforced screen for durability.

The highly rumored Blackberry 9000 has finally been out on the market and the challenge now begins whether it is worth all the talk everyone made over it. In a world where happiness is derived from gizmos and gadgets, where does Blackberry Bold 9000 stand?

In a quick rundown here is what Blackberry BOLD (I just love saying that) 9000 has to offer:

(from: GSM Arena)

The new Blackberry Bold features a large TFT display with the same half-VGA resolution as the Apple iPhone's - 480 x 320 pixels. The Bold messenger packs in a new full QWERTY keyboard and runs on the latest Blackberry OS 4.6.

The Blackberry Bold makes use of a 624MHz processor and 1GB of on-board storage. It also has a microSD memory card slot with full support for 8GB microSDHC cards and a promise for 16GB support, one such large capacity cards become market available.

Identical to Blackberry 8830 in terms of size, the new Blackberry Bold is the allegedly the first Blackberry smartphone to feature tri-band HSDPA support besides the quad-band GSM/EDGE one. The Blackberry Bold is definitely is packed with goodies as it also flaunts an integrated GPS receiver and Wi-Fi.

A pair of stereo speakers, a 2 megapixel camera with LED flash, Bluetooth and a USB port all fill up the feature set.

A lot of the people who waited with bated breath on the release of Blackberry 9000 (and their excitement just get fueled a lot more by rumors creeping in on each other) seem to be disheartened by the Blackberry BOLD 9000 at first glance. They'd be like "This is it? THIS IS IT?!" But there is more to the features of this phone than what one would normally see. It's the little things that make its use more enjoyable. The display, first and foremost is awesome! I never imagined it to be that clean and crisp.

As expected, Blackberry BOLD 9000 is expected to deliver huge tasks. It's prepping up the user for such tasks by it's 16GB memory promise. (via micro SD card of course) There really is nothing bad to say about Blackberry BOLD at least not yet. Few people have gotten their hands on it and as of now, all we can do is wait for this gadget to prove itself to us.

Wii Gadget Wonder: The Rifle!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Wii releases yet another gadget for their console. It's... ta-dah!! The Wii Rifle! Now, I'm a big fan of shooting games. The first shooting game I ever played was on arcade. It was Time Crisis and I remember being inexplicably annoyed whenever the gun doesn't shoot and point accurately. I mean, what's the whole point of a shooting game if you miss your target because of your gun? In shooting games, your main gadget is your gun. It's your life. So it has to do its job properly.

Wii's Rifle looks cool and sleek

Wii's Rifle isn't another controller altogether. To use it you have to place the usual Wii controller in front of the gun and the Nunchuck as a handle. This makes up the whole gun. It actually looks pretty cool and sleek. This gadget promises to make the Wii gaming experience a lot more rewarding for shooting freaks like me. However this latest addition to the Wii gizmo series, makes me think, just how many Wii shooting games are there for us to enjoy?

If Wii is willing to innovate this much then isn't it just natural that the games come pouring in too? Sure, their appeal is not just to the young'uns. Heck, even Queen Elizabeth is caught to be enjoying Wii. But to have a wider audience they have to introduce more games to their system. The latest Wii gadget certainly piqued my interest. But for me to be hooked on it, they have to give me awesome games first.

I wonder when Devil May Cry will come out on Wii. I bet when that game comes out, it will be wicked awesome! Imagine doing all the Dante moves with your wii-mote and and possibly going around breaking an ankle or two while you're at it. That'll be cool.

The Wii Rifle Gadget stands at $16.58