Apr 1, 2015


It’s been a few weeks now, but the inspiration and buzz is still lingering. A highlight of my career was introducing Susan Kare at a Dribbble + Photoshop meetup at Adobe’s headquarters in San Francisco. Last year, Rich, Charles Pearson and some of the Photoshop team had a brainstorm meeting about doing another event together. I thew out something that, at the time, seemed like a pipe dream and/or a long shot. “Hey, let’s ask Susan Kare to give a short talk.” I had just watched a video of a presentation she gave and it was incredibly compelling.

Miracuously, she said yes, even creating custom icons for the event. She went on to speak for 45 minutes about her journey as an artist and her pioneering work as the original icon and typeface designer for the original Macintosh. Her early work solidified many concepts that we all still see today: The watch, paint bucket, trash can, save etc. as well as font and interface systems that inspired everything else that followed them.

But the biggest takeway from meeting Susan and hearing her speak about her work, is that she’s one of the most kind and humble people I’ve ever met. Which considering the impact of her work, is rather astounding.

Remember, long after the pixels are gone, that’s what people will remember about you. So treat each other with respect, and curiosity, and kindness, as you never know who and when you’ll cross paths with.

Mar 23, 2015

Made By

Just last week, Naysan Naraqi and Josh Janssen from Envato visited me here in Salem, Mass. to make a short video for their Made by series. Miracuosly, they edited down my babbling into a coherent narrative. There’s even some banjo playing and a quick Salem walking tour thrown in.

It was especially great to meet Naysan and Josh, two of the nicest guys you’ll find. They’re traveling around the world, from their Melbourne, Australia homebase, filming videos of creative people.

And as a bonus, they’ve also posted two additional short snippets from the shoot:

Thanks very much to Envato for featuring me.

Feb 25, 2015

Second Edition

Five years ago, Mandy, Jeffrey, and Jason launched a little publishing imprint called A Book Apart. It focused on very specific topics for folks that build websites for fun and profit. The books were short and to the point. They paid their authors unheard of royalties compared to other publishers. There was much rejoicing.

It was a damn honor to write the second book they released, CSS3 For Web Designers. At the time, I’d been doing a fair amount of speaking on CSS3, really embracing it for enhancing the experience layer of the interfaces we’d been building. Browsers didn’t have to support it all. It was (and is) progressive enhancement at its very best.

People bought the book and some of them even enjoyed it or at least said and wrote that they did. But after 5 years, it was time to give it a bit of a polish. So we did just that, and with the help of Rachel Andrew (tech editing) and Katel LeDû (managing editor) and the rest of the wonderful team at A Book Apart, a Second Edition has been written, edited, printed, and shipped. It’s in stock and available today.

Like other editions I’ve written for previous books, this wasn’t a complete rewrite, but rather a refresh to bring things up to date, as well as adding a brand new chapter. Here’s what’s new, from the intro inside the book itself …

About the Second Edition

A lot has progressed since the initial pressing of this little green book. All good things! Many of the CSS3 properties discussed now have wider browser support, which means you can feel even more confident putting them to use. Several new properties have emerged! The economy is looking—wait.

In this second edition, I’ve tightened up the existing text and brought things up to present day. I’ve also removed some old hacks that are no longer necessary. There’s never been a better time to dive in and start using CSS3.

Additionally, a new chapter was added at the end of the book that covers micro layouts. While we wait patiently for a truly cross-browser layout system, work carries on. Fortunately, new specifications such as flexbox and multi-column layout are usable today, when applied to smaller components of the overall design. We’ll introduce utilizing those options that will then become extra tools in your CSS3 toolbox.

I hope you enjoy this updated version of what was a very fun book to write, and I look forward to the myriad of ways you’ll use CSS3 creatively. Onward!

Jan 21, 2015

The Lift

My favorite part of snowboarding is the lift. That time spent on the chair, heading up a mountain. It can start off chaotically: Skiers and riders shuffling through a long line, the chair whipping around the corner and scooping you up. And then off you go.

It gets really quiet. Eventually, just the sound of the cable running over each tower, boards and skis scraping snow down below. I don’t meditate (and really should) but this works just as well.

Aboard the Flyer chair toward another world at Jay Peak, Vermont.

It can also be transformative. Clear, calm and warm at the base can slowly turn into a white-out, high-wind, freezing maelstrom at the summit. Maelstrom. There’s a word I need to utilize more [Ed: Maelstrom actually means a large, swirling body of water. So, poor choice here.] Anyway, that near-instant change in environment is downright magical. It can shift drastically between runs. And that’s okay—exciting, even.

I grew up in Vermont and never skied. Which is a bit like growing up in Hawaii and never surfing. Or growing up in Antarctica and never ice fishing. Has anyone ever grown up in Antartica? I picture it more of a place one can only visit. Anyway, hockey took up most of my time during the long winters of my childhood, so all of this is new to me. Having just started snowboarding a little over a year ago, I’m proof that it’s never too late to get out there.

Even if for the chair ride up alone.

Jan 3, 2015

Hyper Static Text

I am not big on resolutions, but like many of you, I’d sure like to write more this year. Writing was the single biggest factor in helping my career, and it’s led me to start new projects, find new interests, helped solved problems, etc. I’m a horrible note-taker, and far too many thoughts and ideas permenantly live in my mind. Which doesn’t scale—especially for someone at my age.

So I’m writing this now. I’m writing it in a plain ol’ text editor using Markdown. I’ll save this file and with a quick command line, it’ll sync with my code on GitHub and be published to my webserver as a static HTML file. I’m going back to basics. Hypertext.

“Getting back to basics feels good … Just me and as many blank text files as I can fill up.”

And getting back to basics feels good. Less to get in the way. I no longer care if I’m doing things the best possible way, I just care about writing and publishing. Over the last few years I’ve been busy building a business and rebuilding a life. I’d love to share more of that here.

Basic publishing tools at EM Letterpress in New Bedford, Mass.

Thanks for reading, whomever you are. There are no comments here. No accounts, no stats. Just me and as many blank text files as I can fill up. We’ll see how it goes this time around. If you’re looking for old stuff (1999–2014), links to that archived content should still work. They’ll just forward to vault.simplebits.com.