BlogAid | December 31, 2004
Help support the Tsunami and Earthquake relief efforts by pledging the proceeds of any advertising or affiliate schemes you have on your site for the month of January to your country’s Tsunami Earthquake appeal.
British Government Shamed Into Pledging More Aid | December 31, 2004
This morning the UK government had pledged a measly £15 Million pounds in Aid to help the relief efforts in South East Asia. A fraction of what’s needed and a tiny percentage of what’s been spent on the war in Iraq. By Thursday evening the charity donations from the UK alone had reached £25 Million, shaming the UK government into raising it’s contribution by £35 million.
The US initially pledges $15 million, a figure U.N. humanitarian-aid chief, Jan Egeland described as “stingy”. By Tue the US had raised it’s contribution by $20 million, however this is still a tiny amount compared considering the scale of the devastation.
Asia Earthquake and Flood Appeal | December 29, 2004
People all over the world are waking up from their post Christmas stupor to face one of the largest natural disasters in recorded history. Currently the death toll stands at 60,000 and is steadily rising. The earthquake and resulting tsunami has decimated some of the most fragile and impoverished communities throughout the region. Communities that desperately need your help.
I’ve spent a number of years travelling through this part of the world and have visited many of the worst effected places. I’ve been to Banda Aceh several times and can’t believe the scale of the catastrophe afflicted on this already troubled region. I travelled to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the early 90’s and fell in love with this beautiful and exotic island chain. As well as large numbers of refugees, this archipelago is home to some of the most isolated and fragile tribal communities left in the world, and I fear greatly for these peoples survival.
I’ve personally lived and worked in Thailand, teaching diving on the Islands of Phuket and Ph-Phi. Koh Phi-Phi especially is a beautiful and magical island that occupies a special place in my heart. As such I can scarcely believe the destruction suffered by this tiny tropical paradise, and fear for the lives of the people I worked with during this time.
Due to the scale, severity and reach of this disaster, aid is greatly needed in the region. I ask that all of my readers donate what they can to one of the many disaster funds that have been set up. Here are a list of the major UK funds. If you know of any funds for other country’s, please add them to the comments.
Top 5 Favorite Christmas Presents | December 27, 2004
I hope everybody has a good Christmas. Here are my top 5 presents. What were yours?
- CamelBak cycling backpack
- Return of the King extended edition DVD
- Call of Duty computer game
- Information Architecture for the World Wide Web
- Stop Stealing Sheep and Find Out How Type Works
Top 5 OS X Applications of 2004 | December 23, 2004
Here are my favourite OS X applications from 2004. What treats did 2004 hold for your OS?
- Quicksilver - This little app has revolutionised the way I use my OS and literally shaves hours of my working week. A must have for all OS X users.
- NetNewsWire Lite - Still in my opinion the best RSS reader around. After Safari and Dreamweaver (my dirty little secret), this is probably the app I use the most.
- FireFox - While I don’t actually use Firefox, It’s steady propagation and acceptance into the main stream may at last start to topple Microsoft’s strangle hold on the browser market. Here’s wishing Firefox a very happy New Year.
- Acquisition - Being a bit of a late adopter and not having jumped on the Bit Torrent bandwagon yet, this is still my file sharing application of choice.
- Skype - This is another application that I don’t actually use much, but can see huge potential for. Also I really like the design of their site in all its CSS loveliness. Watch out BT, your time is almost up.
Top 5 Web Applications of 2004 | December 22, 2004
Here are my top five web applications of 2004. What are yours?
- Gmail - Not that I actually use my Gmail account much, but you have to admit that Gmail feaver hit the blogsphere hard with all kinds of sites giving away free accounts. I hope the person who came up with that idea gets a big fat bonus this Christmas.
- Browsercam - I don’t think this site was new for 2004, but that’s when I first discovered and started using it. I used to use Virtual PC to do my testing, but these days Browsercam just seems more convenient. Not only can you test your designs on around 30 browser/platform combinations, but using their Java VNC client you can preview the whole site on any browser you want. Cool
- Stock.xchng - Great source of free (as in Beer) stock photography.
- Gravatar - This isn’t a service I actually use, but I do think it’s quite a cool idea, and it seems to be taking off amongst the cool blogging set.
- Google Suggest - Sneaking in at the last minute, I really love Googles new Suggest feature, which puts XMLHttpRequest to good use.
Java Games For the Sony Ericsson K700i | December 19, 2004
I’ve been really pleased with my new Sony Ericsson K700i mobile phone. Unfortunately the games that come pre-installed on the phone are pretty poor. Being new to mobile phone gaming I wondered if there was much of a shareware game culture out there. I did a bit of a Google and it appears that there isn’t. However there does seem to be a good number of sites offering illegal downloads of pirated games. As we all know the downloading of pirated material is both illegal and immoral, so I urge you to avoid sites such as this, this and this which offer an amazing selection of Java games for the K700.
What Are Your Top 5 Standards Based Sites and Why? | December 16, 2004
Following the “top 5” theme, I’d like to know what your top 5 favourite standards based sites are and why? What sites do you look at and just go wow. What are the sites you visit for inspiration?
What Are Your Top 5 Fonts and Why? | December 14, 2004
I have to say that I’ve never been very adventurous when it comes to my choice of fonts. I guess if you come from a print background you’re used to dealing with different fonts on a daily basis. As a web designer into his accessibility, I tend to avoid “text as images” wherever possible. As such most of the time I end up using commonly installed fonts like Verdana, Georgia or—if I’m feeling a little wacky—Lucida Grande.
When choosing fonts for headlines and logos I tend to go for safe choices like Gill Sans, Helvetica, Frutiger, Futura etc or fonts like Dax or the extended versions of Akzidenz or Metrostyle. I’ve got stacks more fonts available to me, but I always tend to choose the ones I’m familiar with. I really like distressed fonts but never manage to work them into the stuff I do. I also like script fonts and am apparently not alone, but again they don’t often fit with my commercial work. I’ve got a bit of a fetish for pixel fonts and have far more than seems feasible. I mean how many ways are they of writing the alphabet in 8 point type? However because of their small size and relative inaccessibility, I tend not to use them much these days.
So in a quest to diversify my font usage I’d like to know what your 5 favourite or most used fonts are, and why you like them.
The One Where my G5 iMac Finally Arrives | December 7, 2004
So after what seemed like an eternity, I finally took delivery of my G5 iMac. Sliding it out of the box my first thoughts were very positive. It looked really nice sitting there all shiny and new. Still a bit ungainly but I could see myself warming to it. My second thoughts were “bloody hell, this thing weighs a tonne”. I don’t have a kg to kg comparison but it felt about twice as heavy as my G4 iMac. I guess a lot of the weight comes from the metal stand, which I imagine needs to be heavy to counterbalance the weight of the machine and stop it from toppling over.
Getting the machine home the very first thing I did was take the back off. No, this wasn’t some geek desire to see the guts of my new G5 before I’d even booted it up, although I have to admit it was pretty interesting. Like most new Mac owners my first job, nay duty, was to add more RAM. Rather than pay through the nose for Apple branded RAM, at the suggestions of a few of my visitors I bought a 1GB DIMM from Crucial for about half the price. Apparently there is an issue with the RAM configuration in the G5 iMacs which mean you only get a 128-bit memory bus if you use two DIMMs of the same composition. I did consider buying 2×512MB DIMMs but that would have stopped me from upgrading my RAM as easily, as well as leaving me with an unused 256MB DIMM. This ways I’ve now got a machine with 1.25GB RAM, albeit with a 64-bit memory bus.
Making a space for the new G5 on my desktop, I plugged the machine in, turned it on and started the set-up process. The first task was to pair my bluetooth mouse and keyboard with the machine which went pretty smoothly. One of the great things with the current set-up assistant is it’s ability to use your old mac as a firewire drive and copy over all your users, files, applications and preferences. I’ve never done this before, but the whole process was a doodle. Just link the two Macs via a firewire cable, restart the old Mac in “Target Disk” by holding down the T key while it’s booting, and then use a simple dialogue to decide what users and files to copy over. About an hour and a half later My G5 was basically a mirror of my G4, but with a shed load more power.
My first impressions of the machine was pretty good. The boot-up process was about 10 times faster than my old machine, helped in no small part I’m sure by all that extra RAM. The extra screen real-estate was great and I’m now able to properly work on an 800×600 Photoshop comp without all the pallets getting in the way. To really test out the speed though my first port of call was Halo. On my old Mac I played Halo on the lowest settings possible and the performance was still pretty ropey. On my G5 I was able to turn all the settings up to their max, allowing me to play Halo for the first time in all it’s graphic glory. I’d convinced myself that one of the reasons I was rubbish at playing Halo online was due to the performance of my machine. Sadly 2 hours of game playing later I can attest that I’m actually just shockingly bad at the game and my gamesplay has absolutely nothing to do with my hardware.
I quite like the bluetooth mouse and keyboard, however there is a noticeable lag between the computer waking up from sleep and the mouse working. Also on a couple of occasions the mouse has just not been recognised at all and I’ve had to re-boot manually, which isn’t a great advert. As I’ve never had a wireless mouse and keyboard before, how much do they chew through batteries. Should I be turning them off over night and when I’m out of the house, or do they use very little power when not in use?
My other main gripe is that the speakers really do suck. When I got my old iMac I thought the Apple pro speakers were amazing. I’d honestly never heard computer speakers sound that good and they are one of the reasons why most of my music listening is now done on my Mac. The speakers on the new G5 iMac are fine for everyday computer use but absolutely no good for listening to music. As such I think one of the first thing I’m going to have to do is buy new speakers.
So despite the new iMac not looking half as good as the old one, it wins hands down in terms of performance, and I’m looking forward to getting a lot more use out of it in the weeks to come. Now all I need to do it think of a way to convince my boss to buy me one for work.
Designer Christmas Cards 2004 | December 1, 2004
Last years Christmas card proved quite popular with my friends and relatives, so I thought I’d make another one this year. I decided to keep it simple so went with a classic script font and snowflake design. To make it a little more contemporary however, I chose a pink and brown colour scheme, my current favourite.
If you or your company have made a Christmas card, why not show it off here. Simply create a version of your card that’s no more than 380px wide, place a copy on your server and then display it here as a comment using textiles !imageurl! image format.