Random Thought for 11/4/15– this post is “high priority”

We live in a world where, today, you can reach someone faster than you might even think (literally!). There are tweets, DMs, IMs, and all sort of social media messaging. There are even more “old school” means of communication– like the phone. And email.

Speaking of email– why is is that people still use “High Priority” when sending email (I know of one person that sends all emails as high priority. We’ll get to that in a moment). If something is of such importance, maybe following up with a call (or preceding the email with a call) might not be a bad idea. It might even give the recipient some context as to why it’s important to the sender.

Of course, there’s also the question of why it’s still put in the email software code. If we’ve “outgrown” the need for labeling things as “high priority” when there are more efficient ways to relay info in really short time windows, then why is this feature still put in, like some vestigial do0dad?

Just a thought.

And while I’m thinking, let’s go back to “all high priority, all the time”. If everything is that important, then everything becomes unimportant, so when there is something that is that important, it’s ignored as just another email. It’s sort of like the story of Peter and the Wolf.

So, as long as software manufacturers feel that this is some useful feature, we’ll be stuck with it. Let’s use it judiciously in the meantime.

Friday Facepalm– Feb 21, 2014

You know, I kinda like that title. I might have to make it a thing. Lord knows there’s enough material out there for that.

So, at work, someone ordered pizza and, after placing the order, had a question on whether they charged for delivery. Their menu was unclear, so we went to their website. Here’s what I found:

  1. It was built entirely in Flash (last “copyright date” is 2008).
  2. With an animated intro.
  3. And music that plays automatically.
  4. It also had a menu in the shape of a pizza, using a picture of a pie, complete with hovers and rollovers.
  5. But there was no search function.
  6. It did have an “order online” option, but that redirected us to a separate site that looked like one of those “thisdomain.com is available” pages, and that had a list of sub-menus with no way to do an intelligent search.

*Facepalm*

It was at this point I gave up, and we called the place. They have a $2 delivery charge.

Design tip for Tuesday, February 18, 2014

If you work in the most current version if your software of choice…
When creating files that you know will be handled by others outside your organization, presume that they will not have the latest version, and “downsave” the file (It also helps to outline fonts, but that’s a discussion for another time). This should help prevent conversion issues like unnecessary clipping paths, and type-filled text boxes breaking up in odd places.

Short roundup of packaging that’s caught my eye

Note: I’m using the mobile app for the first time so my apologies if anything looks wonky…

A few wine labels that caught my eye recently…

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This olive oil bottle is a nice change of pace from the traditional earth tones typically found on olive oil labels and bottles.

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I noticed the other day that Ginseng Up had redesigned their labels. I remember buying Ginseng Up a lot in high school
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Boiling things down

I know this is awfully simplistic, but, having been immersed in Photoshop most of the day for the last few days, making digital renders and retouches, the following occurred to me:

If I had to boil down Photoshop to 3 things, it would be:

  • Layers
  • Masks
  • Blending modes

Everything else (and that’s a lot of everything else) builds on, is an offshoot, or refines these elements.

What do you think? Would you dissect it differently?

Adobe apps– which one’s your fave?

I’ve been seeing on-and-off for a few days now various blog posts and tweets asking and discussing if such-and-such app is better/more useful than this other one. And, because the last couple of days I’ve spent a fair amount working in InDesign (probably the Adobe print app that, over the last few months I’ve spent the least amount of time in doing work), I figured I’d ask out loud:

Which of the Adobe Creative Suite apps  is your favorite?

It could be it’s the one you spend the most time in, or it could be the one you know the best, but don’t really spend that much time in anymore. Or, it just happens to be the one that crashes the least. Whatever.

My short answer is Illustrator. I started out as a Photoshop phreak, but once work-related circumstances pushed me into the deep end of the Illustrator pool, I found that it wasn’t the big scary, foreign-looking interface and app I had made it out in my head to be. In fact, I found I liked it and, to stretch the metaphor out, the water was fine.

I still use Photoshop (and InDesign, Dreamweaver, et al) whenever appropriate, but if I just want to noodle around with ideas and concepts, Illustrator’s where I go. A digital moleskine of sorts.

So, which one’s your favorite?

Create Something Every Day (#daily365)– Feb 05

The best laid plans…

So, I had everything done and ready. Figured I could afford myself plunking down to watch the Smallville “JSA” 2-parter (I’m not a Smallville fan, but I’ve been a comics fan for a while and wanted to see how they would handle some of these Golden Age characters). The episode was really good, by the way. So good I may actually start watching the show.

But I digress.

After it was over, I switched over to Spike to watch some Pride mma fights. Next thing I know it’s after midnight and Tonight Show is on. So much for my plan.

So, this morning, after taking a survey of the snow that never was (what a gyp! The folks that cleaned out the local supermarkets last night must be regretting their decisions right about now), I’m taking a moment to upload yesterday’s concept. It’s a shot of the wireframing I’m working on as part of the visual realignment of my site.

©2010 rafael armstrong

As with all CSED projects, because of the self-imposed time limit of around 30 minutes, it’s far from a final draft (in some instances, it’s been barely a first draft). Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.

Create Something Every Day (#daily365)– for Feb 03

I had originally thought of doing both a month’s-end roundup, and a new piece for Feb 02’s #daily365. However, I felt that prepping for a job interview the following day had to take priority over that, so I decided to (at least for January) to let the roundup be the Feb 02 piece. That meant that I had an idea for Feb 03. Except I had my interview, and by the time everything else for the day was done, I was completely gassed and ended up falling asleep on the sofa watching the live “Man vs. Food” on the Travel Channel. So that meant I had to “postpone” putting it together– which means that I’ve got my work cut out for me today.

Feb 03’s CSED

The idea for this was pretty straightforward. With all the brouhaha over Groundhog Day and– at least in the New York area– the differing opinions between Punxutawney Phil and Staten Island Chuck, the idea for an old-style boxing poster was a no-brainer to me.

Enjoy.

Rocky v. Apollo got nothin' on Phil v. Chuck ©2010 rafael armstrong

Create Something Every Day (#daily365)– for Jan 30

I’m a bit behind with these weekend entries of my #daily365. Saturday’s I decided to put off  until Sunday because my wife and I spent some time together catching up on a couple of episodes of Ghost Adventures that we had on the dvr. I had all the best intentions in the world to catch up early tonight (Sunday), but instead got sucked into the Grammys.  Save for a couple of moments, it’ll be around 3 hours I’m not getting back.

So, here I am catching up with what should have been Saturday’s piece. This one is completely different in that it tackles 2 different things. First, it’s the first piece I’m doing in InDesign. With over 300 pieces to go, odds are I would have done something in ID eventually. Secondly, it’s a piece that specifically addresses a need.

While in church today, an announcement was made regarding the members’ directory. It got me to thinking that the layout could use some gussying up. I decided to implement the use of columns, and selected type that was clean, and that could hold up at slightly larger point sizes (we have a good deal of members– myself probably included– who would benefit from the use of heavier weights on the type).

study in layout for directory page ©2010 rafael armstrong

As always, your thoughts and opinions are welcome.

Gibbs’ Rules For Freelancers– rule #9

If, like me, you are a fan of NCIS, then no doubt you are aware that there is a set of rules (50, to be precise, although as of January 2010, we have only been given less than half, and not in any particular order) that Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs lives by. Periodically they’re mentioned or referenced, and, thanks to the wonders of the internet, folks far more obsessive and anal-retentive about these things than I have collected them. Well, it occurred to me one night that some of these “rules” can be adapted and applied to the lives and work of designers, and freelancers in particular. In the spirit of the show, I will also discuss these from time to time in a random manner.

Without further ado, the first installment of what I’d like to call “Gibbs’ Rules For Freelancers.”

Gibbs' rules for design

Rule #9. Never go anywhere without a knife (from episode 1.13, “One Shot, One Kill”)

A knife, in this case, may not be necessary (although a lot of folks, myself included, occasionally carry a Swiss Army knife or Leatherman-type tool). However, designers– and freelancers in particular– would do well to carry a USB flash drive.
It’s simple, really. There may be times when you’re working on-site and have to take files with you. Maybe you go to an initial meeting with a potential new client and end up picking up some business before leaving their office. They want you to take their logo, maybe some documents you’ll need as part of the brief. Having a flash drive with you would certainly make things easier. There wouldn’t be the need to have anything emailed (which, considering the recent rash of issues some designers and bloggers have experienced, could be a hazard). There would be less of a need to commit another password to memory because files need to be FTP’d. The client wouldn’t have to burn a disk for you to take.

You could also look at it as “being green”. You wouldn’t necessarily need to burn disks to take files to a local printer or copy center. Just dupe them to your thumb drive and have them copy it off to their machines.

My flash drives


Personally, I have 3 that I’ve picked up over the last 5 years– a 256MB that I rarely use, and my two workhorses: A 1GB and a 2GB drive– and I rarely leave the house to go anywhere without at least one of these. On them I carry PDFs of my resumé and a one-sheet of work samples.

These days flash drives have become so inexpensive that it’s almost silly for designers or other creative professionals to not have one. If you have one and haven’t really put them to use, maybe it’s time to reconsider. If you don’t have one, you’d do well to invest in one.