Archive for 2006

One Percent for the Planet

It’s been just about three years now that I’ve been out on my own, building SimpleBits into a fledgling little business. I feel really fortunate to be able to wake up everyday and work on things that I’m excited about. It’s been a lot of work, of course (as many of you know) — but the flexibility has been especially important lately.

1% for the PlanetFor a while now, I’ve been thinking of ways I could give back, finally stumbling on an organization called 1% for the Planet. From their mission statement:

1% For The Planet is an alliance of businesses committed to leveraging their resources to create a healthier planet. Members recognize their responsibility to and dependence on a healthy environment and donate at least 1% of their annual sales to environmental organizations worldwide.”

It struck a chord with me immediately. Here’s a structured way I could give back to the environment as a business each year. I filed the paperwork, and from now going forward, SimpleBits, LLC will be a proud member.

One of the aspects I really dig about 1%FTP, is the fact that as a business, it’s up to you in choosing what environmental groups you’d like to donate to from a list of approved organizations. That takes much of the guesswork out of “where to donate?”, and is a real benefit in joining the group. I’ll be choosing 2006′s groups over the next month or so. There are already a few local orgs that look interesting (Ipswich River Watershed Association for example, where I’ve often gone hiking).

I do realize 1% of our revenue isn’t going to change the world — a drop in the bucket really. But I thought it was worth mentioning publicly in case others have also been searching for an easy way to help the environment. And the more businesses on board, the better for all of us.

Upcoming Speaking Events

A few years ago I would’ve told you that two of my biggest fears are: flying and public speaking. Thankfully, that’s no longer entirely true, and like anything, the more you tackle things that frighten the hell out of you, the easier (and even enojoyable) they become.

That said, I’ve lined up a few speaking events that I’m quite excited about, and conveniently they’ve all been just announced within the past few days:

  • Carson Workshop: Bulletproof Design with XHTML and CSS

    November 2, 2006 9:30am-5:30pm ·

    Having a whole day will be excellent for diving deeper into the concepts and techniques described in the book. I’ll be using the design of Cork’d as a model for much of the day, discussing the bulletproof methods for designing with lean markup and flexible style. It’s also a bit daunting having an entire day — but the 40 seat limit will (I hope) create a two-way conversation, and I’m looking forward to talking about things that would otherwise get tossed out of a short presentation. I also like the commute to this.

  • Web Directions North

    February 6-10, 2007 ·

    The best conference of the southerrn hemisphere comes north to Canada. Brought to you by John Allsopp and Maxine Sherrin of Westciv, Dave Shea and Derek Featherstone. A great lineup, and skiing at Whistler. I’ll be talking about microformats (with more details to follow).

  • @media 2007 (America)

    May 24-25, 2007 ·
    San Francisco

    The best conference in Europe comes stateside!

  • @media 2007 (Europe)

    June 7-8, 2007 ·

    Vivabit knows how to put a really great conference together. Last year’s event was fantastically organized and a real blast. Wish the World Cup happend every year though.

Admittedly, I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be speaking about this year at @media yet (a conference that’s gone tri-continental this year, with a stop in Hong Kong as well). Actually, feel free to suggest something in the comments (topics could include “ukuleles” or “designing with baby toys”).

SmudgeBook Tip

All those smudges covering your black MacBook (you know, the ones that make you question your color choice) can be quickly and easily erased with a few swipes of the cleaning cloth that comes wth your Apple Cinema Display. Convenient. No water/cleaning liquid/turtle wax required. If you don’t currently own an Apple Cinema Display, I don’t recommend buying one solely for the cloth (although I’m sure it’s tempting).

There is now hope for SmudgeBook+Cinema Display owners worldwide.

New Chameleon Icon Sets

It’s been almost exactly one year since releasing Chameleon, a customizable stock icon set for the web. It’s been really successful, and later spawned additional ideas for color changing goods. Then life happened, and most of those ideas fell by the wayside.

iconsI’m happy to announce today, at least a small portion of those grand ideas in the form of two new Chameleon icon pack styles:

Chameleon Graphite
A reversed version of the original, the graphite style has a shiny silver container for the tiny shapes that change color inside.
Chameleon Mini
Just the tiny shapes without the container. I’d been meaning to get this set finished since releasing the original and just never got around to it. These miniature icons are especially great for embellishing links inline.

Just like the original style, each of these new sets is available in a “Ready-Made” pack of six pre-selected colors ($35 USD), or as a single set using the hex color of your choosing ($25 USD). Hope you dig ‘em.


CDIA Boston UniversityThere’s a myth that colleges and universities are teaching antiquated web design skills: table-and -spacer-gif-ness, FrontPage 98, etc. Actually, I don’t think it’s a myth — it’s actually happening out there. So after touring Boston University’s Center for Digital Imaging Arts yesterday, I was completely surprised. CDIA offers an interactive design program with an emphasis on CSS, web standards and hand-coding — and it’s right in my own backyard.

Jeremy Osborn, the program’s Director, mentioned that, while BU offers the resources and infastructure of a large university, CDIA is largely independent and run much like a startup — adapting and changing the curriculum as the techniques and methods out in the real world do. I found this approach pretty fascinating, and it’ll be interesting to see how their program evolves along with the web itself.

I’m hopeful there are other programs out there in other states and countries that are offering modern skills for budding designers of the web. Leave a comment if you know of any.

Also, if you’re in (or planning to be in) the Boston area, have an interest in teaching web design, and have the skills to guide the next generation of standardistas, contact _jeremy [at] cdiabu dot com_. They’re expanding fast.

New SimpleBits Tees

t-shirtA fresh batch of t-shirts has just arrived from the printer. This time around, the design has been tweaked and screen-printed on “Asphalt” American Apparel shirts (the most comfortable, fitted shirt available) by the fine folks at Acme Prints. We’ve been using Acme for the Cork’d t-shirts, and they do such a fine job that I decided to make the switch here at SimpleBits. Acme has low prices, free shipping and no set-up charges — and their customer service is excellent.

The Official SimpleBits T-Shirt is just $16 USD plus shipping. We believe you will enjoy it immensely.

One Hundred

Maybe it was the antique car show we drove by this past weekend, but something got me thinking: what would I be working on _100 years ago_? In other words, today I design web sites and other related web things for a living. In 1906, I doubt I’d be doing the same (and if I was I’d be insane).

One hundred years ago, radio was in it’s infancy, so there’s an obvious parallel there: a new, exciting technology that increases communication. But really what we’re doing is _creating_ stuff, and I’m not sure I’d be building radios or telegraph equipment. I’m not smart enough for that.

Typesetting? That could be closer than radio, but typesetting was far from being something _new_ in 1906. So maybe it’d be something less obvious, like a “Wheelwright” or a “Confectioner” or even a “Newsagent” — actual professional titles for the early 20th century. And don’t they sound cool?

Regardless, it’s interesting to look back and draw similarities, especially if you do the same looking _forward_. Will anyone be designing web sites in another 100 years? Will I be doing this in 10 or 20? Who knows.


I’m looking to the collective knowledge of my esteemed readers for some advice. Where might one go for high-quality, reasonably-priced, screen-printed stickers? You know, if say, one wanted to promote a web site or two out in the non-virtual world. Any tips would be much appreciated.

Webvisions 2006

I’ve returned from Portland, successfully capping off the little Summer Tour. It feels really good to be back, save for the immediate dive into a pile of work. I had a great time at Webvisions — my first time attending the conference (and the state of Oregon).

It was a fun event, and one that feels more intimate despite the full schedule over several tracks. I left feeling like I missed a lot in terms of the panels and presentations, but am looking forward to the podcasts.

My own presentation went well, I think. It was early on Day 2 (8:30am), but the turnout was excellent, and I felt _slightly_ more relaxed this time around. For those that attended, the Bulletproof Web Design slides are available (18MB PDF). They are slightly cryptic without the commentary, but possibly interesting if you’re feeling adventurous. Thanks to those that came out and listened.

The Design Panel (the actual title, which I love) went well, too, in lieu of myself being a bit drained after the morning’s session. There was a great turnout, many of whom brought interesting questions. For instance, after talking about the importance of good copy (a rareity) as interface design, one attendee pimped her own copywriting business (multiple times). Now normally this would be bad practice — but she managed to pull it off humorously. Bryan Veloso did a bang-up job as moderator (excellent meeting him for the first time) and Mike and Keith were spot on.

As with any post-conference rambling, you’ll often hear that the social aspect is just as (or more) important than the program. Very true for Webvisions as well, where it was fun to meet many folks that I hadn’t met before. And it being a smaller conference, that gave way for more time to chat in-depth on things.

Non-Webvisions highlights of visiting Portland included:

* The amazing Japanese Garden (with a free bonus view of the city and Mt. Hood). I was really blown away by it, and the location way up in a rolling hill above the city gave more of a hint at Oregon’s landscape.
* Stumptown Coffee. I had the best mocha I’ve ever tasted here, complete with marked foam.
* The Doug Fir Lounge. Like a pancake house that was turned ultra-hip and cool by the use of giant fir logs, fur-lined walls and crystal moose heads.
* Greek Cuisina. This is where the wrap-up party was, and I’ll let the photographic (and probably videographic) evidence speak for itself. Crazy place.
More photos of Portland (and mostly the Japanese Garden) are over at my Flickr stream. Thanks to Brad Smith and Nick Finck for the invite — they and the rest of the team put on a great show.

Last Stop on the Summer Tour

My month of ridiculous traveling is about to come to a close this week, where I’ll be heading over to Portland, Oregon for Webvisions. There I’ll be giving a presentation as well as sharing a panel on design with Mike, Keith and Bryan.

This past month has been both stressful and fun (but mostly stressful). London and back. San Francisco and back. Knoxville, Tennessee and back. Now Portland and back. I’m ready to never travel again, and wonder how people do this on a regular basis. I’m also ready to get back to doing, rather than just talking. But we’ll have to wait until after Oregon (which I’m looking forward to: a great lineup in a city I’ve never been to).