Feels Like Summer

It’s interesting how a few blog posts and a change in the weather can spark a thought and approach to something. I’m specifically talking about work here, and focusing further, inspiration.

Everything started on Saturday evening when I came across a post on Hivelogic entitled “Offices and The Creativity Zone”. As I read the post I identified with many of the points about finding the “Zone” and it got me reflecting on the last few weeks of design work I’ve done. Now that I feel settled into my first job a little more, I’ve had this slight feeling that I’ve lost that “Zone” in recent weeks. That relaxed feeling I somehow managed to keep with me from Uni as I started my working life seemed to have ebbed away a little.

Me being me, that realisation started to make me think. I obviously wanted that creativity, that spark to come back. I enjoy designing and without that ability to focus and find the “Zone” I’d find it hard to enjoy.

Fortunately waking up on Sunday morning to a bright and sunny day coupled with the longer days sparked the beginning of something. It felt nice and fresh and like the first day of summer. More importantly I felt a little bit of a spark returning. I wanted to begin with something here on Electric Weekend. I wanted to blog, but after starting a few posts recently and not getting any kind of flow in my writing I was unable to create something I liked to read, let alone what anyone else would like to read.

But that wasn’t the end of it. Monday morning arrived and with it a new week at work. Hoping to help my little feeling of creativity grow I began work. A small and quick project seemed to provide that extra bit of spark I was looking for, but it still didn’t feel quite right. In my quest to find a little more creativity I went on a search of the internets. I’m not sure how, but I came across Elliot Jay Stocks’ blog. Straight away I was intrigued. I liked the look of the blog and some of the posts were attracting my attention, more specifically for my particular hour of need a set of posts focused Elliot’s design inspiration. I began to read through the post and looked at the images he had taken, and gradually my mind started to turn. Ideas began to grow and I was off. My creative juices were flowing, and for a good hour and a half I immersed myself in creating something a little more interesting than the things I had been generating.

I guess what I really wanted to remind myself of with this post, is that it doesn’t always have to be design or art that is the cause of inspiration. It can literally be anything. I don’t need to just focus on one area to find inspiration, it’s everywhere in God’s world . From His creation itself to the writings of a guy on his blog, inspiration is everywhere we just need to open our eyes to see it.

Evaluating the WordPress 2.5 Interface ›

Kyle Meyer takes a look at the new WordPress interface for the new 2.5 version.

Some interesting points made. I haven’t looked at the new version but I’m intrigued by some of the points Kyle makes in his review. I don’t use the WP admin interface much now I use MarsEdit, but I’ve always thought the categories choice should go below the Title input and above the main writing field. It makes more of a natural workflow and gets rid of the excessive scrolling that would occur with the new design.

iPhone Developement ›

Craig Hockenberry on exactly why Apple don’t let developers run background apps.

He makes some very interesting points about the reasons why he believes Apple didn’t include such a feature. He also makes another excellent point about iPhone development:

It takes several months of actual iPhone development before you eventually realize that the iPhone requires a completely different mindset. Until that happens, you’ll make assumptions based on desktop experience, and that in turn will lead to a lot of bad designs

this is one thing that worries me slightly. Apple clearly spent a lot of money on researching the iPhone and its interface as a platform, third party developers, at least to my knowledge, are not able to make use of this which could result in some “interesting” interfaces and concepts.

Airport Express Goes ‘N’ ›

Apple have finally updated their Airport Express to the 802.11n spec that the Time Capsule and Airport Extreme use.

This makes the excellent little device an even better accessory to your Macs and stereo. It was the weak link but now looks a lot more appealing. I’ve had my ‘G’ spec Airport Express for a couple of years now and think it’s a fantastic device. I recommend it to anyone who has a large iTunes library and a Mac that’s not in their living space.

From Moleskine to Market: Type Creation ›

Kris Sowersby from I Love Typography documents his design process for a new typeface.

He tells us how he begins, what he does and I found it a thoroughly fascinating read which answered a few question I’ve recently thought about (maybe I’m a budding type designer!?!).

I found this quote particularly pertinent and really think what it speaks of should be considered and remembered by all graphic designers, not just those who create tyepfaces.

In terms of letterforms, you can’t have the black without the white. It is the tension and contrast of the ‘foreground’ and ‘background’ that gives us the letter, the word, the sentence, the paragraph and ultimately the understanding of what the author has written.

Faceless

Yesterday I encountered something at the bank which made me really think about the way some services are provided. More specifically it’s made me think about how technology is being introduced and taking the place of humans.

As I’m sure many of you know, I like technology. It fascinates me and I believe used correctly it can help us do many tasks. In fact I’d say pretty much everyone is helped by technology at some point in their day. It can save time for many tasks and add convenience of access.

In many cases technology and machines are being used to replace people, making the experience faceless. In fact there are many things which can now be done facelessly. I can pay for my shopping at the supermarket on the self-service aisles, I can pay for my petrol at the pump and not the kiosk and I can withdraw money from my bank at a “hole in the wall”. All great implementations which make the experience painless and quick. These implementations are popping up all over the place all aiming to speed up the process and provide greater efficiency.

But is it always necessary?

These implementations often speed processes up. Withdrawing money from the bank is great, I don’t have to go into the building and I can do it when I need it. Similar with the petrol. I can buy it from the pump, I don’t have to walk to the kiosk and leave my car. Yet why is it I prefer to pay at the kiosk?

In all honesty that’s just a personal preference. A lot of the time I want something other than petrol like a newspaper, which means I don’t have a lot of choice. I’m also limited to paying on my card and not by cash. But some times I want to be served by a person. Deal with something face to face. Somethings just don’t feel right unless you deal with a person, somethings don’t need to be faceless.

Really I’m talking about the event that I was faced with yesterday. I’m talking about banking. Hold on. Didn’t I just say I like the convenience of using a cash machine? Well yes I did. But I’m talking about banking in the terms of going to the bank to pay money into my account. Yesterday I was met with queues of people all waiting to do some form of banking. Now on a saturday this is probably pretty expected. Except the queues weren’t for the counter, they were for machines, the counters were all closed. I promptly turned round and walked out. I’ll go to the bank in my lunch hour when I can pay my money into my account with a person at the counter.

I guess my point is this. There are somethings which shouldn’t be faceless, paying in money to the bank being one of them. Why? Because this kind of thing revolves around trust. I like to see the person I hand over my paying in book to type in the digits and stamp my book, I then know my money has been paid in. A machine means I have to do it blind. I don’t get to watch my money being paid in to my account. If anything goes wrong there’s no physical feedback, no proof. There’s no smile and opportunity to ask a question on a whim, and I’m pretty sure it would take longer or the same amount of time to use the machine as it would to see a person. Sometimes it feels like companies are saying lets do this by machine because we can, let’s ignore the interaction that occurs between our customers and employees, it’s all the same end product. Ultimately this can put customers off. I know I won’t be going back to that bank on saturday unless I have too. I’d rather go at a slightly more awkward time to do it face to face, gaining the reassurance of seeing something happen in front of me and not when the machine is emptied and it’s content processed.

NewsFire goes free ›

My previous favourite RSS reader, NewsFire, has gone free.

Today’s a big day for NewsFire. After much internal debate, I’ve made the decision that as of today, NewsFire is totally free. No feature restrictions, no ads, no cut-down ‘lite’ version… this is the real deal.

NewsFire used to be my weapon of choice, but when NNW went free and meant I could sync my feeds between iBook and iMac it was retired. It’s a great application and in all honesty I prefer it to NNW, it’s just not able to sync feeds between multiple machines. If I was a one Mac person, it would be my feed reader of choice, maybe I can find a place for it somewhere.

(Via iBAM.)