Archive for December, 2013


2014: Counting Life In Seasons Instead Of Years

Standing on the edge of a new year doesn’t feel as magnificent as it used to be. Each year feels less like a new year and more like an extension of the year before. I set less elaborate goals and rely more on the previous year’s learning to guide me through the New Year.

Today, standing on this side of a new year feels different. It feels as if I’m riding 2013’s wave into 2014. I haven’t set any major new goals and probably wont either.

2013 has been tough in so many ways. I’ve learned that sometimes life isn’t just black or white. Sometimes there are grey areas. I’ve learned that the most Spiritual moments in life doesn’t necessarily come from reading my Bible, praying or going to church, but rather to face life when it presses. I’ve learned more about the value of sonship and fathership than what I can write down here.

But beyond that, I’ve learned that life works better when it is counted in seasons instead of years. Since each season requires a different strategy, vision, and direction, entering 2014 isn’t daunting. I know the season I’m in right now. It hasn’t changed yet and it wont change before tomorrow.

I will continue to build and establish, but with a better strategy from what I’ve learned over the past year.

I will make 2014 count in seasons instead of months.

Here’s to everyone going into a new season or extending their seasons!

In the words of the wisest man who ever lived:

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

King Solomon |  Ecc 3: 1 – 8


Lessons From Designing A Radio

A while ago I did a quick summary of Mike Monteiro’s video, “How Designers Destroyed the World”. As if this truth wasn’t sobering enough, Victor Papanek in his book, Design For The Real World,  shared this advice from the company owner who asked him to design a radio:

Just think what making your radio entails in terms of our workers. In order to get it produced, we’re building a plant in Long Island City. We’re hiring about 600 new men. Workers from many states, Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, Indiana, are going to be uprooted. They’ll sell their homes and buy new ones here. They’ll form a whole new community of their own. Their kids will be jerked out of school and go to different schools. In their new subdivision supermarkets, drugstores, and services stations will open up, just to fill their needs.

And now, just suppose the radio doesn’t sell. In a year we’ll have to lay them all off. They’ll be stuck for their monthly payments on homes and cars. Stores and service stations will go bankrupt when the money stops rolling in; homes will go into sacrifice sales. Their kids, unless daddy finds a new job, will have to change schools. There will be a lot of heartaches all around and that’s not even thinking of my stockholders.

And all this because you made a design mistake. That’s where your responsibility really lies, and I bet that they never taught you this at school!

I dont have much more to add to this. Sometimes the impact of a designer’s work stretches beyond what is directly visible with the eye.


Touchstones In Our Relationship To Computing

One of Frank Chimero’s in What Screens Want:

Like them or not, Metro and iOS7 are major touchstones in our relationship to computing, because they signify that we’re beginning to accept a flexible medium on its own terms.

But it’s not the first time we’ve done something like this. Let’s go back 35 years…

 


The Kleenex Culture

I’m making my way through Victor Papanek’s book, Design For The Real World; a book that is slowly changing the way I understand design. It’s quite academic at times, but apart from that, it’s becoming one of the most insightful books I have read on design to date.

The book was first published in 1970; initially not received very well in the design community due to Victor’s very different design philosophy. But today, 35 years later, it has become one of the most read books on design.

One of the many statements he made that stood out to me was about how the motor industry is instilling a throw-away mentality in us:

From the end of World War II to 1978 car manufacturers sold the American public on the concept that it’s stylish to change cars every three years…

But the risk is the expansion of this attitude; from changing automobiles every few years, we may move to considering everything a throw-away item, and considering all consumer goods, and indeed, most human values, to be disposable.

Throwing away furniture, transportation vehicles, clothing, and appliances may soon lead us to feel that marriages (and other personal relationships) are throw-away items as well, and that on a global scale, countries and, indeed, entire subcontinents are disposable like Kleenex. That which we throw away, we fail to value.

I don’t need to look at stats on divorce rates to convince myself that people, today, value relationships less than 30 years ago. We certainly do have a Kleenex mentality, specifically about relationships.

Now, I’m sure it’s not only the motor industry’s fault. People are changed by a whole ecosystem of things connected and influenced by each other over time. But I think we can learn a lot from the motor industry and how consumer goods are created. One such thing is that some relationships, just like some consumer goods, wont last forever. Friends come and friends go…

But a more important thing we should learn is that some consumer goods last a lifetime, not because they withstand the trends and fashions of life, but because we place enough value on them to last beyond these changing times.

Some relationships should be the same. They last because we add enough value on them that even though time and life happens, we choose to keep them.

The Kleenex culture can’t be changed by just making products that last forever. They don’t and won’t. The solution is so much deeper.

Im reminded of Albert Einsteins quotes:

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.


Me & My Beautiful Fiancé.)

In less than 4 months, me and my beautiful fiancé will get married. One of my friends is a brilliant photographer and spoiled us with an engagement shoot. Below are some of his photos. They were taken on our farm just outside Durbanville, Cape Town. You can view more of his other photos at www.nelisengelbrecht.co.za.

A quick tech tip: By using JpegMini, I was able to compress these photos by more than 50% without any quality loss. Try it out. It’s a really nifty tool to compress photos that would otherwise be 10MB big…

Steyn-&-Lindl-11Steyn-&-Lindl-10 Steyn-&-Lindl-9 Steyn-&-Lindl-8 Steyn-&-Lindl-7 Steyn-&-Lindl-6 Steyn-&-Lindl-5 Steyn-&-Lindl-4 Steyn-&-Lindl-3 Steyn-&-Lindl-2
Wow! She’s beautiful!)


Floating Labels: Making Inform Fields Work Better

Most of the time, when I design form fields, I would put the labels inside the field. Purely because the design is a bit more compact and it feels a bit cleaner. But I’ve always felt a bit uneasy when I use this pattern. Apart from a few technical issues, it also forces the user to make use of his short-term memory to remember what he needs to enter into the field.

Jackson Fox lists a few solutions to this problem in his article, Making Infield Form Labels Suck Less”. I don’t really like any of these because they either feel out of place or they kind of go against the reason why I wanted to put the label inside the field in the first place and that is to keep it compact and clean.

But I found this really neat implementation by Marcus Pohorely of a concept done by Matt Smith. It’s called floatlabels.js and is available for free over here. What I love about this solution is the subtle animation of the labels to appear just above the input copy and by doing so still keep the form compact and clean.

Here’s Matt’s concept design:

Infield Form Animation