Archive for 2007

IconShoppe Grand Opening

Without fail, I get more done when the work is _piled_ on. When stress is at a max and there are a million to-do items. But this was long overdue, and something I’ve been meaning to set up for a while for reasons I’ll go into in a minute. So, before I pack for Austin, I’m happy to have finished this off enough to flip the switch.

IconShoppeToday, IconShoppe opens it’s doors. I’ve finally spun off the stock web icons I’ve been selling here at SimpleBits into their own, proper digs. It’ll motivate me (hopefully) to put more time into *more icon sets* and some *other ideas* I’ve had brewing for a while. This “setting up shoppe” was the first necessary step.

That said, they’re the same simple little web icons I’ve been selling here for the last few years. But they now have a better framework in which to grow and a more easily maintainable system behind them (WordPress, customized).

Stay tuned for more, and grab the RSS feed to be alerted of new stuff happening over at the ‘Shoppe. I can’t say it’ll be updated _often_, but this is just a start, my friends.

AIGA Redesign

This morning, AIGA (the professional association for design) relaunched with a shiny new design by Happy Cog. I had the pleasure of taking Jason Santa Maria‘s brilliant designs and turning them into semantic XHTML and CSS templates that could be plugged into a custom CMS built by Thirdwave (AIGA’s technical partner). Magic and fun ensued.

Every project is a learning experience. But working with Jeffrey and Jason for a client like AIGA, well that’s a whole new level of awesomeness. One could (and should) study Jason’s molecule-level of detail in typography (using just two web fonts and a splash of Interstate via the venerable sIFR). It was a fun challenge getting things _right_ using CSS. I hope I’ve come close.
Congrats to AIGA for renewing their digs with a smart, readable, beautiful design — and a big thank you to Jeffrey, Jason and Happy Cog for allowing me to pitch in and help with this.

Read more about the redesign:
* Jeffrey Zeldman: Happy Cog redesigns AIGA
* Jason Santa Maria: AIGA Redesign
* Happy Cog: AIGA Website Redesign

And a special geek note: events listed on AIGA’s homepage are marked up with hCalendar.

Web Directions North

I’ve returned from several days in Vancouver, and the first-ever “Web Directions North”:http://north.webdirections.org/. It was a great trip, a great conference, and my second attempt at snowboarding in the last 20 years.

VancouverI’ll first say congrats to Maxine, John, Dave and Derek for putting on what was an outstanding show. The four keynotes were especially entertaining, while often hilarious and inspiring. I presented _Microformats for Designers_ as part of a three-pack of talks on microformats, following Tantek Çelik and John Allsopp (intimidating!). The initial feedback seemed positive, and I hoped that I could offer a different perspective on microformats, focusing on the visual side of things. I’m just glad I could sneak a mention of Guided by Voices somehow into a presentation (while referencing the “independent spirit” of microformats that has always interested me, as well as comparing their prolific 4-track recordings with the “use what works today” microformats principle).

On Friday I took advantage of one of two days of snowboarding at Whistler mountain, about a 2 hour bus ride from downtown Vancouver. The bus ride though giant peaks was worth the trip alone, but I also managed to travel down part of the mountain along with a few other bunny slope beginners during a two-hour snowboard lesson. This is a serious ski resort, and future home of the 2010 Winter Olympics. I still have some training to do.

Anytime I blog about a conference, it always ends with “it’s all about hanging with old friends, making new ones, meeting with fellow geeks, etc.”. WDN was no exception, and the crack organization team did a fantastic job at putting together two days of social/conference balance. I hope I can get back to Vancouver at some point to see more of the city, next time bringing the whole family out (it’s getting harder and harder to travel without them).

I also had good fun meeting folks from Adobe and Microsoft (both sponsors of the conference). I come back feeling more positive regarding the future of Internet Explorer as a result of some off-the-record conversations. It’s clear that there are smart people there that understand the way things could/should be and actually care. And no, that’s not the free après ski party talking.
Next stop: Austin. And then back home for An Event Apart Boston, which appears to be selling like hotcakes. I’m putting together a brand new talk for this event and I’m excited to start whipping it into shape.

New Icons: Chameleon Chunky and SuperPack

chameleon sampleWhile I was putting together an hCard example for next week’s Web Directions North presentation a while back, I whipped up a few icons that were Chameleon in spirit — but doubly thick. And so, *Chameleon Chunky* was born: the newest addition to the color-changing family of stock icon sets.

The extra-thickness of this style was a bit more challenging for some shapes, but the ability to add single pixel details makes for good contrast when using just one color. Like all the Chameleon sets, these are royalty-free stock icons that are customizable to fit your site’s color palette. Just punch in a hex color, hit a button and we’ll magically generate a custom-colored set for you immediately. Ah, the wonders of technology, and all for $25 USD.
If you’re feeling lazy or indecisive, a Ready-Made Pack is also available that includes 6 pre-selected colors for $35 USD.

Chameleon SuperPack

In addition to the new Chunky style, I’ve also put together a *SuperPack* of all four Ready-Made Packs in one convenient (and low-priced) bundle. For just $85 USD, you’ll get _all four styles_ in 6 different colors — _1,680_ icons in all. That’s a lot of pixels folks.

Hope you dig ‘em!

Do the Collapse

“Pretty soon you’ll be using your iPhone”, said the attorney in the elevator just five minutes ago. He’d glanced at me checking things on my (now terribly outdated) Blackberry Pearl. Everyone’s talking about the iPhone. No, _everyone_ is talking about it. Just goes to show how big an announcement it really was.

There are so many thoughts about this thing, but rather than add to the noise, here’s one I hadn’t yet seen mentioned: with a _reliable_ browser on the iPhone (Safari) and all that it brings in terms of standards support, JS, DOM, etc., will we start looking closer at resolution dependent layouts (Clagnut: Variable fixed width layout) (or other methods) for sites that _would or could_ function as well as their larger screen counterparts?

We’re essentially talking about a fully-browsable web and everything that comes along with that in Safari. Just on a smaller screen. I realize that already exists to a certain extent with Webkit on the Nokia, Opera, and probably others, but the typical screen dimensions on a mobile phone are tiny. Seeing Steve Jobs turn the device and browse “widescreen” was eye-opening. That extra horizontal space could really increase the readability of non-mobile-specific sites as is.

The vulcan-death-pinch-squeezy thing for zooming looks great, mind you. Fluid layout for screens this small isn’t optimal, while multiple columns could just get too narrow (in the absence of min-width) — but I could see where leveraging the browser to adjust layout based on screen resolution could make things interesting in certain situations. And it’ll of course be fun to find out what this all means.

Free vintage SimpleBits sticker to the first person who names (without Googling) the band for which the title of this post is named after.

Pressed

business card close-upWith a new logo, comes new business cards. I’d used Dependable Letterpress for a previous run of cards and was really pleased with the quality, service, etc. Today, the new cards arrived, and I’m just as happy with the results. Highly recommend them, but be warned that it’s not a quick and cheap option.

Nothing beats seeing the art and type stamped into thick card stock, with visible embossing from the weight of the plates (more evidence of letterpressing awesomeness here). It’s also reassuring to see the flexibility of the new vector-based logo in action. Smooooove.