The New G5 iMac | August 31, 2004

The G4 iMac was destined to become a design classic the moment it was launched. With it’s sleek lines, adjustable screen and tiny footprint, it was a design with character. No wonder people likened it to one of Steve Jobs other creations, Luxo Jn.

G4 iMac

As soon as the G4 iMac became available in the UK I rushed out and bought one. As a home computer it was perfect. It didn’t take up much space, looked great and was initially quite a talking point.

My iMac has served me well, but for the last 9 months I’ve been wanting an upgrade. I needed a machine with more storage and enough power for occasional game of Halo at a reasonable speed. The G4 iMacs have been through several speed bumps but have been stuck at 1.25GHz for a while now. With the new G5 chips being launched it was only a matter of time before they bought out a G5 iMac. Rather than invest in a top of the range G4 iMac only to find it become obsolete in a few months time, I though I’d wait and see what the G5 iMacs would be like.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Apple have just launched the G5 iMac. It’s a product I’ve been anxiously waiting for, so I was pleased when it was finally announced, only a few months later than expected.

G5 iMac

I have to admit that my first impressions weren’t great. While a 1.8GHz G5 processor would definitely provide me with the casual gaming power I was after, I felt that the form factor was a bit of a step backwards. Compared to the beautifully proportioned G4 iMac, the G5 looked top heavy and awkward. While the innovative “angle poise lamp” design of the G4 allowed you to move the screen into pretty much any position you required, the G5’s height is fixed and all you can alter is the angle.

I’m going to reserve judgement till I actually get to see one in person. I know images on the web can be deceptive. For instance, I though the iPod mini pics looked awful, but the actual devices look pretty cool in real life. However I think I’m going to be faced by a bit of a dilemma. While I really want the extra power of the new G5 iMacs, the G4 iMacs are just such a design classic. Should I buy the technically superior, but in my opinion visually inferior G5 iMac or a great looking, but technically redundant refurbished 1.25GHz, 17” G4 iMac?

I’d be interest to hear you’re first impressions of the new iMac, especially from people who have actually seen it in the flesh, and how you think it compares to the G4 iMac design.

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Links RSS Feed | August 28, 2004

There has been a feed for my daily links floating around for a while. However I never made it public so those of you using it probably did a little sleuthing in the source code or put two and two together with your knowledge of Movable Type. I’ve finally got round to making this feed public, so you can grab it using the typical bloggers steal these buttons buttons at the bottom of my side bar. You can also grab them from the new feeds page that I’ve added.

Enjoy.

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New Sony Ericsson K700i Phone | August 25, 2004

Being a blogger, a web designer and a technophile, you’d probably imagine I’d have all the latest gadgets and gizmos. However unlike some people I know who always seem to have the latest phone, iPod or laptop, most of my kit is 2 years past it’s prime and in need of replacing. Whereas some people are early adopters, I’d consider myself a late adopter.

Take mobile phones for instance. When they first came out I resisted the urge to get one for years. I just didn’t want to be a Dom Jolly like figure shouting down a brick of a phone at the top of my voice in public. In fact I only bought my first mobile a couple of years ago and it’s lasted me till this day. Yet hanging out with my cool web buddies made me realise what a technological backwater I’ve been living in all this time. While everybody showed off their polyphonic ring tones, colour screens, bluetooth devices, java games and sailing clicker software I was left with a rubbish screen, a game of snake and a battery life of a nanosecond.

So a while ago I decided to start looking around for a new phone. After a lot of window shopping and a good deal of frustration in phone shops, I settled on a Sony Ericsson K700i from Orange.

Sony Ericsson k700i

The k700i basically has all the things I wanted, like a camera, bluetooth and the ability to sync with my Mac, in a small, attractive package. I went with Orange because I know quite a few people who use them and they all have very positive things to say. Also, they were the only shop who didn’t try to sell me a tariff when I went in to ask about phones, actually choosing to tell me about the phone instead.

If you have a Sony Ericsson and haven’t seen this yet, Pete pointed me to a set of OS X Theme for my k700i

OS X theme for the Sonny Ericsson K700i

How cool is that. It’s not quite an iPhone but it’s a step in the right direction.

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Specialized Rockhopper | August 22, 2004

I went out and bought myself a new mountain bike today. I was thinking about getting getting a Claud Butler Cape Wrath as it’s had some great reviews. However I’ve heard less than complimentary things about the Judy TT forks, so decided to buy a Specialized Rockhopper from Evans Cycles instead.

rockhopper.jpg

I tried both of these bikes out yesterday and the Rockhopper just felt more responsive. Also, being shallow, Specialized have more cred in the mountain biking community.

Getting the bike this afternoon, I though I’d put it though it’s paces and take it for a spin. I went and rode the trail I talked about a few weeks back, and I have to say that my first impressions are good. Climbing was easier, acceleration was faster, and the shocks make a huge difference on the downhills. If getting a half decent entry level mountain bike can make this much difference, I can almost see why people get so equipment obsessed and spend huge amounts of money on their bikes.

Almost.

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Risky Business | August 19, 2004

For those of you who may have missed my side bar posting earlier today, I just wanted to let folks know that my first article for Digital Web has just been published.

Entitled Risky Business, it outlines how good risk management can benefit designers and clients alike.

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Geekend at the Beach | August 17, 2004

Over the last few months I’ve been planning a little Bloggers get-together in Brighton, and last weekend it came to fruition. John and Dunstan came down on Friday evening, and I met up with them, Richard, Jeremy and Jessica at the Sidewinder: pub in Kemptown.

After a few drinks, and despite me and Jeremy being stuffed from our Office BBQ only hours before, we headed into town to get some sushi at Moshi-Moshi. The food was typically excellent and we spent ages chatting about this and that, to the extent that we were the last table to leave.

Being England, most pubs and bars close at 11pm. However a few bars have recently opened up in Brighton with late licences (late here means 2am). We decided to head for one of these, a place overlooking the pier, called Above Audio. We carried on drinking and chatting, eventually stumbling home around half two.

The next morning (well afternoon actually) we all met up for coffee at Frank-in-Steine’s and were joined by Patrick, Drew, Rachel and the loverly Bethany. We hung out here for a while, chatting and then went in search of food. Being 10 people - including a 7 year old - it proved a little tricky to find somewhere to eat. We eventually found some space at a cafe called Inside-out and settled in for some grub.

After lunch everybody headed off to do their own thing for a while. I went off with Patrick to grab a pint on the beach, passing inches by Keira Knightley without even realising. Although in my defence, with the likes of Cate Blanchett and Fatboy Slim living in Brighton, I’d be forgiven for missing the odd celeb. I chatted to Patrick for a while about various projects we each had on the go, and then we all met again at Bar de la Mer, one of Brighton’s many WiFi enabled Bars. We stopped there for a bit, chatting and enjoying the sun, before heading off to grab an early dinner at Krakatoa’s.

Krakatoa’s was a good laugh, with typically excellent food. We sat around on the floor, eating and chatting. Dunstan teaching us to fashion chopstick holders from their paper sleeves, and Bethany generally bouncing around and entertaining the table. Unfortunately Drew, Rachel and Bethany had to head back early, so I didn’t really get much of a chance to chat. We said out good-buys and then headed off for a drink. Patrick needed to catch the last train back at 10:30 so we went to Riki Tiks, a WiFi enabled bar close to the station. For pretty much the first time of the weekend, all the laptops came out, all varying shapes and sizes of iBook and powerbook. Not a PC in sight. Patrick headed off and we decided to head for a cocktail bar round the corner. A few cocktails latter, I was seriously struggling to stay awake, so called it an early night at about 1am.

Next morning John had to head off early, so Richard, Dunstan, Jeremy and Jessica all met up for brunch at Tallula’s tea rooms. We then headed off into town to wander round the shops. I’ve been meaning to get a mobile phone for ages, and finally got a Sony Ericsson K700i from Orange. I’ve also been meaning to get a new mountain bike so we went to the local bike shop to check out what they had. With Richard’s advice I think I’ve found the bike I want to buy, now I just have to wait till I get paid!

From here we split up and went our own ways for a while, meeting up again at 7:30 to catch the Sunday show at Komedia. As usual, it was a pretty good night at Komedia. The first two acts were of variable quality but the last act � Carey Marx � was absolutely superb. Very funny, very slick, and better than a lot of the comedy acts I saw at the Edinburgh Festival the week before.

And that was basically the end of our bloggers weekend. It was great fun meeting up with people like Drew, Rachel and Patrick for the first time, and it’s always good fun hanging out with John and Dunstan. There were a few others who had planned to come down but, for one reason or another, couldn’t make it, which was a shame. However I think there are plans afoot for a mass visit to SXSW next year, so hopefully we can all meet up there, not to mention meeting up with rest of you.

I can’t wait!

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BBQ on the Beach | August 17, 2004

Message share an office with a couple of other design agencies, and once a year we all get together for a summer BBQ. Last Friday we shut up shop early, and with enough food and beer to supply a small army, headed down to the beach. In true British fashion it was blowing a gale, so the first task was to set up camp. This involved setting up windbreaks, unfolding deck chairs, laying out the food and starting the BBQ’s.

In typical British BBQ fashion, I hunched over the BBQ slowly burning the outside of my food, while the inside gently warmed, creating the food equivalent of a petri dish. British culture at it’s best. Once cooked we all sat round stuffing our faces, chatting, teasing other staff members and generally having a laugh.

The weather started off well, but in true British BBQ fashion, by the end it was chucking it down. Sheltering in a tiny beach hut with 10 people, 2 wet dogs and a toddler, it really was the epitome of British summertime. If you ever do have a BBQ in this country, even if it starts off with blazing sunshine, my advice would be to bring your waterproofs.

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What's Been Going on at Message Lately | August 16, 2004

So it’s been a fun couple of months here at Message. The Rapha site went down well, getting mentions on sites such as CSS Beauty and winning a WSA Gold Star. The site has also featured in a number of industry magazines, most notably in two concurrent editions of Design Week.

We just released our first newsletter, written using the Text Email Newsletter guidelines. The newsletter is intended to keep clients and other interested parties up to date with what we’ve been doing. It included links to:

We’ve also finished a couple of projects that we’re really pleased about and will be talking about soon. Oh, and we are working on a top secret accessibility project at the moment which you’ll all be hearing about shortly.

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Text Email Newsletter "Standard" | August 11, 2004

The people behind the E-access Bulletin Newsletter have suggested a format to increase the accessibility of email newsletters. The format, which they are calling the Text Email Newsletter Standard includes suggestions such as

Most of these suggestions make sense, although a couple of issues were raised on a WAI mailing list recently. I’d be interested to see what you folks make of these recommendations, especially if you’re involved in the accessibility community or the writing of email newsletters.

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Yellow Tulips | August 10, 2004

yellow tullip

yellow tullip

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2004 Edinburgh Festival | August 9, 2004

Just back from a weekend in Edinburgh and had a really nice time. If you’re planning to go up for the festival I can definitely recommend

If you want to save yourself some money I would suggest avoiding

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Mountain Biking on the South Downs | August 5, 2004

Over the last month or so I’ve been getting really into Mountain Biking. Before this summer the closest my bike had been to a mountain was the slight incline up the hill to where I live. However in the last month I’ve been getting out on my bike twice a week and thoroughly enjoying it. I think it’s partly that I’m getting bored of the gym, and partly that the weather’s been too nice to be stuck indoors. Luckily Brighton is right on the edge of the South Downs so it’s only a 15min bike ride to get into the countryside.

Last night I went out for a really nice ride with Richard Rutter and Pete Barr-Watson. Pete took us on a great trail starting at Stanmer Park, winding it’s way up to The South Downs Way and culminating in 20min downhill section coming out by the University. The round trip took around 2hrs, although it would have been a lot quicker had I not gotton a flat and then broken my chain!

If you’re interested in doing the trail it’s a pretty easy one to follow. Starting at the Entrance to Stanmer park, you follow the main road up to the agricultural college and then take the trail to the right hand side. You follow this trail up to the top of the hill where you reach a large electricity pylon. Here you hit a cross road and you need to carry straight over and down thought a heavily wooded track. Don’t hammer it too hard down here as the trail stops abruptly at a gate. Carry on through the gate and up another incline to a second gate at the top. Looking to your left you’ll see a trail heading along the side of the hill. That’s where you’re aiming for. Go through the gate and follow the trail along to the left. About halfway along you turn left and you’re now on the trial you saw earlier. Carry along here though some nice undulating countryside and you’ll hit a couple of more gates, the last one taking you onto the South Down Way.

Taking a right onto the South Down Way you cycle for around 10 minutes until you hit a road that goes into a farm. Cross the road and take the track on the right down the side of the farm. After a few minutes you’ll hit another gate on the other side of the farm. Go though this and you’ll be on a nice, chalky downhill section that lasts about 8-10 minutes depending how fast you’re going. This track comes out to a road by a farmhouse. Follow the road around and it starts to climb uphill. If you carry along this road it comes out by the side of the University. However just before the peak of the hill is a little single track that dips down into some dense forest skirting the University playing field. This is a lovely ‘off road’ track that makes the effort getting here worth the while. Keep following the track, making sure you don’t hit any trees or get knocked off by low hanging branches, and you’ll end up coming out in the middle of the University. From here you cut through the University grounds to the front of the building. Taking a track to the right, you skirt past the University gym building and end up back at the entrance to the Park.

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Naming Conventions | August 5, 2004

* Web Site or Website? * Site Map or Sitemap? * Log-in or Login?

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Most Common CSS Problems | August 3, 2004

I’m always surprised to see the same CSS issues coming up time and again on lists like CSS-Discuss. What, in your opinion, are the most common problems faced when moving to CSS based layout and what advice would you give? What issues left you pulling your hair out in frustration and what issues do you wish somebody had told you about right from the start?

I’m sure most people here have a GMail account by now, but I’ll be offering 3 free accounts to the best problems and answers (as judged by yours truly).

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Wallpapers and Prints | August 2, 2004

I’ve had quite a few people ask if I could release some of my pics as wallpapers. I’m really glad you like them so much that you want them on your desktop. I’ve made a few for myself, and they really do look nice.

Desktop Screenshot

Unfortunately I’m loath to make them publicly available as I want to avoid my photos being used for website branding images and the such.

At the same time I’ve had a few people email me to ask if my pictures were for sale. I’ve had some enlarged, hand printed and mounted on MDF, and they look really smart. I’ve given a number of these away as presents and have been thinking about running an exhibition at a local gallery. However this process, while producing excellent results, is time consuming and expensive.

I’ve thought that it may be an idea to sell some digital prints instead. Because I can do them myself, they would be much cheaper than professional hand prints. Then, if you liked the image you could buy your own copy, scan it in and use it as a desktop. To do it properly I’d have to set up a site, which may be more hassle than it’s worth. As such I’d probably do it on an ad hoc basis to start.

So what do people think? Would you be interested in an Andy Budd print to hang on your wall? If so, leave me a comment and If people seem interested, I’ll have a look at the idea some more.

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