Posts Tagged: Project52

Hackers and Painters, Re-Read

Project 52 : Week 5
If you haven’t read Paul Graham’s essay “Hackers and Painters” yet, and you are a maker / creator / creative, go read it.
I read it about 4 or 5 years ago for the first time and reread it this morning. Today it resounded as I have been frustrated at myself for what I perceive to be my failure at software engineering, as I when I code, I think of how I would apply paint. When I get stuck with trying to code in Python or PHP, I draw in my sketch book until I can get unstuck. Many times if I can’t solve a problem, I do something else or go to bed and my brain will serve me the answer or solution while in the other activity or when I wake up.
Much like Mr. Graham describes in the essay, I build web apps and web sites much like I would build a painting or a whole dinner, I think about the whole idea, I get the ingredients or supplies ready, and then I start to make | code | create | sketch | paint. Scrub out what does not work and repaint | recode. I don’t plan it the app out extensively before hand, I code in the browser. I am not the type who writes out pseudo code beforehand, or does wire frames, or designs in photoshop.
For a couple of years now, I have jokingly called myself a ‘Professional Art Weirdo’ whenever someone asks what I do for the living. This title always confuses other web professionals who know that I am a web / mobile developer. In 2007, I found myself at a programmer’s conference full of Java folk, while in a small group setting everyone said their names and very detailed descriptions of their Java skill sets, when it was my turn, I cheekily said, “Hi, I am Jen and I am a painter.” Then I passed on to the next person.
All jokes aside, I was delighted and relieved to read this essay this morning, as Mr. Graham quite nicely makes a defense for the intersection of programming and art as creative | maker disciplines rather than programming as engineering or science. I would love to see more artists learning to program and more programmers learning to paint.
Go read it.

Nokia 3G Booklet : Day 1, The Attack of the Redmond Drones

The Nokia 3G Booklet sitting on top of my Apple MacBook Pro 15"

Photo taken by Ms. Jen with a Nokia N97.

Project52 : Week 4
Mon. 01.25.10 – Late this morning the Nokia 3G Booklet arrived from the folks at WOMWorld/Nokia for a two week trial review period. I am quite excited about this, I do love to tinker about on a new computer, especially one as lovely and beautifully designed as the Nokia 3G Booklet.
It is cute! It is tiny! It is solid! It is light in weight! It is well-made! Did I mention it was beautifully designed and cute?!?
And then….
I turned it on and I was confronted with the… evil blue background with the light waving Windows logo. Gah.
Fifteen minutes into my new love affair with #37, I had to turn her off and put her back into her wrapping and two boxes and then put her box under my bed, because Windows 7 had so elevated my blood pressure that I was ready to call DHL to take #37 back to London and then write a scathing review of how F*cking Evil Windows is and How it is the Worst Possible Decision… blah blah blah… all because I spent 15 mins trying to figure out how to change the damned Windows background into something more eye pleasing. Big, deep breath.
So, I returned to the work project that is on deadline for tomorrow and then surreptitiously searched Google for ‘Nokia 3G Booklet Hackintosh‘, ‘Nokia 3G Booklet Ubuntu 9.10 USB live boot‘, etc. Yes, I spent most of the rest of the afternoon deep in dual work mode and researching my options for a USB live boot of a real OS, an OS that keeps one’s blood pressure at normal.
Which computer or mobile operating system one likes is not just a matter of brand preference, or what your friends like, or what you have already spent the time to learn, it is also about a mental metaphor and mind map. And that mental metaphor / mind map may still be uncomfortable even after learning how to use a system. Sometimes, one just has to give up an operating system that does not fit one’s mental processes and move on to one that does. After reluctantly using Windows for years, I happily and with abandon switched over to Ubuntu Linux and Mac OS X about 4 – 5 years ago and have never looked back.
I gladly pay the Apple Tax to get lovely, well designed hardware and OS. I am also happy to pay the Nokia Tax to get kick ass mobile cameraphones, even if I continue to be bewildered by Nokia’s hard-on for all things Windows and how their Symbian mobile OS is mapped to Windows and its metaphor. One of the reasons that I am so excited about the Nokia N900 is that its OS is Maemo which is a lovely mobile version of Linux.
All of this adds up to, right now I just can’t open up #37 the lovely Nokia 3G Booklet again, until I have time to create a USB stick with a live boot of Ubuntu or Moblin for the Booklet.



Project52 : Week 3
I hereby coin a new word, Snobmob, of which the definition is:
“Any person is the type of person who feels so superior about themselves and their knowledge and/or use of mobile technology that they call lesser mortals ‘Normobs’.”
I have previously written about my distaste for the word ‘Normob‘, and tonight I was set off by Ewan’s post, Nokia N900 is now a consumer phone, at the Mobile Industry Review who in his post claims that Nokia’s choice of advertising the Nokia N900 in the London Tube is a mistake as the device is for super geeks, not for normobs (aka the average 24 year old female).

“It’s always good to take a walk through the tube even if you can’t stand the delays, grime and the folks playing music. It’s good to get a view on what the mobile market is pitching to end consumers. The Nokia N900 Maemo device was arguably never intended for the average 24 year old female on a 35/month contract. Indeed when I originally talked to Nokia back at the start of Q4 2009, they were — broadly speaking — unsure if any operators would ‘range’ the device. And that issue didn’t really bother them either. The N900 is almost a reference device for Maemo, for the future of the company’s super-high-tech gadget series of devices.”

Now I know some kick ass 20-something women/girls/females/humanswithinnybitsmidbody and most all of them have branded smartphones from a carrier, my local area within a 25 meter radius has at least 7 of them, and they have not had troubles with learning how to use their phones. I have heard two of them explain to the their boyfriends how to use the boy’s phone. Maybe the females in California are made of sterner technological stuff than the ones that Ewan encounters.
When I get a new phone to trial from WOM World/Nokia, most of the local females see them, hold them and try them out. Of all the phones, that I have trialed in the two years I have lived here, it was the Google Ion/HTC Magic and the Nokia N900 that I had to do little to no explaining before the local female 20-something supposed ‘normobs’ were off and running and enjoying the devices. Most all of them have LG and Samsung phones that have been branded, nee raped, by the carrier and they are very used to a phone that one has to explore.
The only thing that stops them from getting any of the high-end phones that I have is price point, as they are unsubsidized by the carrier. It is not the intimidation of a technologically superior phone. One of them is currently waiting to see if T-Mobile, her carrier, is going to pick up the N900 before she upgrades to a new phone.
Culture is learned. Tech culture is learned. We should not be building biases into our blog posts/punditry and assuming that folks who aren’t like us won’t be able to use the device that we think is most high tech or most worthy of high techologica wizardery. That does a disservice to the potential user and to the folks who designed it.
The Nokia N900 is a beautifully designed device, both in hardware & software, if one has used an iPhone or Android or any of the Samsung touchscreen phones, then one can learn via exploration or via transmission through in person or online tutorials.
Thus, for as long as the derisory ‘normob’ is bandied about, I will use ‘snobmob’, and even possibly add it to the Urban Dictionary.
But I would rather that all of us mobile tech bloggers drop our assumptions about users that are based in bias and instead get excited about technology that could be revolutionary in the long run for the largest amount of people we would never expect to use it & love it.
Gentlemen, drop the snob, it is unbecoming of you, your intelligence, and humanity.
Update, Sat 01.23.10 :
I want to be clear that the above is a commentary on word usage by mobile bloggers, pundits, and others, not a serious attempt to coin a word so that people can further divide and belittle each other.
Please read Ben Smith’s comment below, as he is apart of the London mobile bloggers that came up with the original term, normob, of which he defines and defends its usage. Also, please read my response comment.
As for the 3rd comment, where the writer is asking if we can call a specific mobile designer a ‘snobmob’; no, let’s not.
Instead, I would like to reiterate that as a blogger or writer or online pundit, our word usage does matter, particularly as we have a potential worldwide audience who may not know our (sub-)cultural assumptions nor maybe be native speakers to the language we are writing in or the reader who drops into a page of our blogs from a search engine may not catch humor or earnest intentions on our parts unless we try to pay attention to word usage and clarity. I say this to myself as well.

HTML5 : Some Serious Sausage is Getting Made

Project52 : Week 2
File Under: I didn’t need to see the shit squeezed out of the intestines before they are turned into sausage casings…
Fire Under: How did the drafting of the specs for the new HTML5 and web standards turn into a serious detour in to the spider webs of Mirkwood?
Wow! The Twitter-verse erupted this last week on WTF is going on in HTML5 world:

“is there a good concise blog post anywhere explaining just what happened to HTML5 / WHAT WG last week? Seeing the trees, not the forest.” – @mezzoblue

‘Thinking of getting this framed:” – @adactio

“Pleased that is back to being a spec called HTML5 (and more) rather than HTML (including HTML5). Thank you @hixie.” – @adactio

” ‘#HTML5 is a beautiful mess’: Sitepoint podcast with moi, @lloydi, @cssquirrel. Transcribed as well, thanks @sentience” – @brucel

“#html5 punch-up featuring @marcosc, @hixie, @shelleypowers, @johnfoliot” – @brucel

And there are many more Tweets from Jan 8th to 15th on the subject of HTML5, the WC3, WHATWG, and the spec deliberations.
I am unabashedly a fan of strict XHTML 1.0, as I love the element tag minimalism and the strict code typing. If I code a site in XHTML 1.0, be it transitional or strict, I have few worries on what device will the site work on and I have fewer cross-broswer debugging issues than if I write in HTML 4.01 or the like. I realize that others want more features and the early specs of HTML5 appear to make better semantic sense, but the web standard spec and full browser adoption is supposedly years away.
I don’t like to watch the tech sausage being made, I much prefer to let folks duke it out behind some closet doors and then when the browsers adopt the spec, then I will learn it. My passion is in mobile and the web that works for all, not to be the first to use or develop a tecnology. On top of all of that, I am a minimalist. I prefer lean, mean, and elegant over busy, full-featured, and many-optioned.
I first noticed this week’s brouhaha when Dave (@mezzoblue) tweeted his call for someone to interpret and explain the forest for the trees (first tweet quote/link above). Tonight was the first time I had the opportunity to go through my feed reader and read some of the blog posts on the HTML5 rupture of the last 9 days.
I started by reading Dori Smith’s post, My (current) opinions on HTML5, on Backup Brain which was a good summary of the situation and how it effects the various parts of the web design and development ecosystems. Dori is clear sighted in the matter and I noticed quite a few comments, upon clicking on the comments, I was treated to John Foliot’s stident interpretation of Dori’s take on HTML5 and Web Standards.
I clicked over to Mr. Foliot’s web site to find that he was in full defense / offense mode all at once. ((O.o))
Mr. Foliot referred to Andy Clarke’s “Keep calm and carry on (with HTML5)
Faruk AteĊŸ attempts to find the forest for the close examination of the trees in “The Battlefield of HTML5
Bruce Lawson, Ian Lloyd, and Kyle Weems weigh in with a SitePoint podcast on “HTML5 is a (Beautiful) Mess
Mark Pilgrim asserts that nothing has happened other than the HTML5 spec is in the Last Call phase. Mr. Foliot continues his offense/defense bit.
Wow! See what I miss when I am working rather than reading… Wake me up when the spec is ready and the browsers are using it. Then we can slather the HTML5 up in some garlic oil, cook it up on the grill and make some beautiful, accessible web sites and apps.
No Mirkwood spiders, please.

Digital Archiving : Project52 : Week 1

Ashe to ashes, dust to dust. Pixels to electrons, electrons to delete().
As a person who studied art, art history, and graphic design in the first round of my college education, I spent a lot of time reading about and studying artists and designers of the past. We know and study those artists and designers by the physical objects, paintings | journal entries | letters | etc, that were left after their deaths. We know them by their objects.
How will future generations know about our generation when we have spent so much of our time and efforts tossing the physical object to the wind and embracing digital ephemera? For the first 10 plus years of the internet revolution, the giddy joy was in the ephemera, the shifting sands of the bytes blown by the winds of chance and a forgotten domain registration. But the winds have shifted, a few of the early generation of internet pioneers have passed away and now we wonder what will happen to their writings, photos, and their primary sources when the domain expires or the hosting goes past due?
How will future scholars know who were the true pioneers, the giddy bon vi-bloggers from the corporate marketing shills that followed fast on their heels? Do we give the college freshman of 2567 CE/AD an introductory digital studies of Steve Ballmer meets Proctor & Gamble, or do we protect the writings of internet and blog pioneers such as Brad Graham and Lesile Harpold who died too early to write a will or a set up a trust that considered their seminal writings and blogs to be passed on to a university collection?
Now some would say, it is just the internet – here today, gone tomorrow. I would counter that we don’t know what others in future eras will want to know and what will be just assumed about our era, and that more the more well preserved primary sources we leave the better for future scholars and pundits to be able to analyze and learn from our time in a way we are too close to see with any clarity.
A discussion started on the “Remembering our friend Brad” Metatalk post between Matthowie, barbelith (Tom Coates), Maximolly (Molly Steenson), myself, holgate, and a few others how to preserve blogs to an archive that can be accessed past the time the domains have expired and the files deleted off the web hosting server.
Tom suggests that:

“We should consider talking to George Oates at the Internet Archive to see if they have any options for this kind of situation. They might be the perfect place to put sites after someone dies like that.”

I agree with Tom that the Internet Archive is a great place to start, as I use it to find all of my own 1996-2001 website archives given that I can’t find the files on any old disks anymore. But the problem with the Internet archive is that it does not bring any photos or other image files, only the text from the sites that it archives.
After watching in the past few years the work that George Oates did with the Library of Congress while she was still at Flickr, I wondered if we should be considering a long term strategies that would go beyond registering a blog’s copyright or even a periodical ISBN with the Library of Congress or other Copyright Libraries (such as Oxford or Trinity) but should we not also be archiving our text, images, and presentation (css) files to the copyright libraries for future study and access?
In the Metatalk thread, I asked:

“Previously if one was a writer or artist or scholar or otherwise historically/culturally significant, one would give one’s writings & ‘collection’ to a university library. What do we do with our websites & blogs past the time we can pay for them?
How can we know now what might be significant for study 100, 200, 500, 1200 years from now? How do we archive bytes?
Some folks are printing out their blogs to custom ordered books, but this is not necessarily the best solution, as what will the children or grandchildren of our friends and families do with those books? Will they end up at flea markets along with 78rpm acetate records? But maybe that is good, the randomness of the find.
By choosing to engage in the frontier online space, we have chosen to some degree to toss the long term to the wind. The suggestion of the Library of Congress, or other institutions that function as a cultural respository, may be a good bet for the long run in terms of keeping an archive of text|image|ephemera, as after 2 recessions, I don’t trust the market to keep a reliable archive.
If we can now register our copyright with the Library of Congress or the Copyright Libraries (such as Trinity, Oxford, etc), and we can get an ISBN or periodical number for our blogs, how do we start to archive the actual posts and images to a repository.
Do we lobby our congress|political critters to set aside resources for blogs that are periodicals to be archived OR as Matthowie suggest do we donate to an institution such as the foundation and make sure that it can function as a cultural archival NGO?”

Is the Library of Congress or the various other copyright libraries up to the task of the pioneer digital generation donating their archives to the libraries in question or do we donate to the Internet Archive so that they can provide a more robust non-governmental/academic solution to archiving blogs and pioneering digital media?
Ashe to ashes, dust to dust. Pixels to electrons, electrons to save().

This Morning, The Sky

Nokia N97 - This Morning, The Sky

Photo taken by Ms. Jen with a Nokia N97.

Wed 01.06.09 – Merry Christmas to the folks who celebrate it today as a apart of the Orthodox tradition. Happy Epiphany to others. Happy I am Overwhelmed with Work Day to me.
The Week 1 of the Project52 post coming tomorrow, still doing a bit of research to make sure my info is correct.

Project52 : Blog Weekly Through 2010

Project52 : Blog Weekly Through 2010

Wed 12.09.09 – The esteemed illustrator/designer Anton Peck has proposed that folks get back to writing on our blogs and to encourage folks to that end has started Project52. I found about about Project52 through a few of Dan Rubin’s tweets this evening, followed the link, and decided to take up the challenge.
While I already (mo)blog here daily and have for a couple of years, I have realized in the last year that folks out in the big wide world tend to be confused by what I do professionally.
“Uh, you are a mobile user experience designer, right?”
“No, I thought she was a web developer.”
“You’re both wrong, she is a photographer and mobile blogger.”
Actually, all three plus some. Sorry folks, I am terminally curious and am driven make | create things online be it mobile|web.
I endeavor to take up the Project52 for all 52 weeks of 2010 to blog an article weekly on some aspect of my varied professional interests: be it mobile, web dev, a tutorial of some sort, or my opinion on some aspect of technology.
And yes, I will continue to inflict photos plus other textual bits on you daily through 2010.