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This is The 38th Signal, a weblog about design, coding, design, experience, design, constraints, cookware, and so much more. Established 2007 in Angola.

[eavesdrop] iPhones, UPS, and Salad posted by RJ Jun 28, 2007


Some recent activity at our internal 38thSignal FuneralPyre chat room:

TonyAT&T & Apple announce iPhone service plans: http://www.prnewswire.com/mnr/apple/28807/
RJMy wife gets mad about $3 lattes.

UPS alert

RJUPS is pretty cool. I just got an automated call from them telling me that my package was destroyed by their handlers in a game of rugby, and I'll need to order a new laptop.
Such a great idea to give me a heads up like that.
BradIsn't it?

Salad Price Plans
TonyWhere do you want to go for lunch today?
BradHow about Bennys?
TonyThey have an awesome salad. It has three different price plans.
BradI love that there are just 3 plans.
I love that there's unlimited croutons.
TonyMost places charge through the nose for croutons.
Bradof course most people will just look at the leaf type.
And when you do that, it looks expensive.
But with unlimited croutons...it's a fair deal.
TonyAnd you can take home a doggy bag too, which is great.


Ok, That's it, The Web, You're Officially On Notice. posted by Tony Jun 26, 2007


Alright, The Web, sit down and get cozy, because it's time we had a good chat. We've noticed how you've been experimenting lately with some new languages, trying some new things, expanding your palette, as it were. Well don't think for a second that we're going to let you get away with it. Nuh-uh.

We've notice how you've been acting like you can do better than "web pages". Putting on airs as if you can act like your older brother, The Desktop. We'll, you're not The Desktop, and you never will be.

We've worked hard to give you tables and ordered lists and various document object models and this is how you repay us? Why just the other day, we found you using plugins! Plugins!! In our Internet!

Is our Javascript not good enough for you? Why, if you can't build things with Javascript how do you expect to build things with simpler, easier to use, more integrated languages? In my day we built web pages the hard way! It builds character! When we ran across a browser that didn't understand what we meant, why we added another "if" statement! And here you are, prancing around the Internet with your hifalutin "Works-the-same-on-all-platforms-with-no-extra-work" friends.

Well, not anymore. Until further notice, no more plugins for you, young The Web. From here on out, you're on strictly animated gifs and css. You're going to build web pages the way they were meant to be built, and you'll like it! That canvas of yours is going to be restricted! Mark my words, You'd better believe it! Restricted!

And another thing! Turn that Twitter down! An Internet can't think with all that blabber!


Four hours upfront and then hit the bars posted by RJ Jun 22, 2007


We recently decided to stop diving in too deep on tasks, ever. Instead, we're going to work in four hour chunks, and by chunks, we mean days. We start the work day around noon and then, after the first four hours or so, it's miller time.

Why? When you've done too much, you get stressed. And stress is bad for everyone. It makes you a bad programmer and a bad project manager and somehow it seems to make your clients worse too. No one likes stress. A famous poet once said, "Stress is the thing I hate in a leisurely fashion." Bold words.

Four hours is just enough time to start to see how the project will go from here, which is the perfect time to re-evaluate. It's the perfect time to stop and wonder, are we on track? Are we meshing as a team? Are we mitigating synergy? And nothing helps answer these sorts of questions like a few cold ones, 12 perfect strangers, and a karaoke machine. If you bring a co-worker, spend some time between rounds of darts discussing the different approaches you could have taken to the problem thus far and whether the one you've chosen is the best. In agile development, we call this a "scrum". Scrums are always billable.

You'll also notice that only working for four hours provides your team with a sense of mission and hope they didn't have otherwise. Ever notice how people are most productive when they know that something good, like a company potluck, is just around the corner? This is like that, only better, since it's beer instead of a potluck, and it's all the time.


Designing for Lynx is Liberating posted by Tony Jun 20, 2007


Really, how can you go wrong when designing for Lynx?

It's text! That's what HTML is all about. That's where it's come from, that's where it's going. Keep it simple, get to the point, and offer the user a fixed width link to your favorite gopher server.

Worried about platform compatibility? worry no more. Lynx supports text on any platform you choose. Just look at these beautiful, elegant designs on Windows:

And then Mac

Now that's the Web with the certainty of good design for all!

We don't need flashy graphics to make our point. If you really need an image, try some ASCII art. Simple and effective. Liberating.

88' _`88'_ `88888
88 88 88 88 88888
.88 `::::' 8:88.
8888 `8:888.
.8888' `888888.
.8888:.. .::. ...:'8888888:.
.8888.' :' `'::`88:88888
.8888 ' `.888:8888.
888:8 . 888:88888
.888:88 .: 888:88888:
8888888. :: 88:888888
`.::.888. :: .88888888
.::::::.888. :: :::`8888'.:.
::::::::::.888 ' .::::::::::::
::::::::::::.8 ' .:8::::::::::::.
.::::::::::::::. .:888:::::::::::::
`':::_:' -- '' -'-' `':_::::'`


Wireframing with the blood of your enemies posted by RJ Jun 15, 2007


I’ve always preferred sketching UIs with the blood of my enemies over a thin ballpoint pen or finely sharpened pencil.

Ballpoints and fine tips just don’t convey the same sense of malice and dominance as blood. Fine tips invite you to draw while blood invites you to visualize your concept obliterating the competition. When you sketch with a thin tip you tend to spend too much time worrying about making it look good. Using blood encourages you to ignore extraneous details and focus on what matters: the annihilation of your rivals and the subjugation of their people. You can almost hear the women weeping.

If you're a designer, try this out next time you're sketching. You'll find your focus improves, and that's a good thing.

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