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Because a mind is a terrible thing to waste?

Link Drop (Week 36, 39)

Have been busy getting settled on the West coast, so starting back up again and a very short list of links.

Dear Brooklyn, It's not you. It's me.

I’m spending my final full week as a Brooklynite and feeling the bitter sweet pain of saying goodbye, while looking hopefully towards the next chapter of my life. After 19 years as a New Yorker, I’m heading with my family to live in Marin County, CA.

New York is a city that I’ve loved from childhood, and the only place I could see myself living as a young adult. With my head full of every cliché dream, I believed it was the place I needed to live to find myself. When I moved here I thought I would work in the art world, where I spent the first few years hustling, but I discovered my path was to lead elsewhere. I’ve thrived in this inspiring city for a long time, and drew energy from this place. It’s helped make me who I am today.

I spent a short time in the first few years living in Manhattan at Times Square and the East Village. The rest of my days were spent primarily in Brooklyn at Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Sunset Park, and in the last 9 years, Park Slope. If you know me, you know I’ve considered myself a Brooklynite more than a New Yorker. There’s an energy, creativity, diversity, and much more relaxed sense of being I’ve found in Brooklyn that is wonderful. But nothing lasts, and although I thought I’d live the rest of my days residing in Brooklyn, the pull to the outdoors became too strong. With 2 sons that need to bust out, break free from living in boxes, and restraining their boyish need to bounce and scream to be quiet for neighbors, the timing just feels right.

Many of the designers I’ve come to know, respect and admire have been my neighbors here. This town introduced me to some incredibly smart people who have influenced me, from the original group of IAs that met in Victor Lombardi’s IA Salon over 10 years ago, to the more recent impromptu gatherings Lou Rosenfeld, Yoni Knoll, and I have put together with our BK/UX peeps. I’ve had a good run, and I’ve met so many incredible people here who I hope to never lose as friends. I hope none of you hold it against me for leaving to the left coast, and I thank you for your friendship.

So it’s with a little sadness that I say goodbye to New York, and with hopeful anticipation that I’m welcomed to the Bay Area. If you’re in San Francisco, know that I plan to spend a lot of time exploring in your beautiful city, and that I’m always looking for like-minded UXers to have coffee with. I’ve owed a few people a coffee date for years now.

See you on the other side.

Link Drop (week 35 of 2012)

Upcoming 2012-2013 UX Conferences

The 2012-2013 conference calendar is lining up and I've been starting to track the upcoming events as tickets start to go on sale. I've omitted those that are already sold out. Here's what's looking interesting on my radar, listed in date order. Am sure I'm missing quite a few. This is a good start.

The tragedy of the design commons

Designers prune.

Left to its own devices, the mob will augment, accessorize, spam, degrade and noisify whatever they have access to, until it loses beauty and function and becomes something else.

It seems democratic and non-elitist to set it and forget it and let the users take over. But the tools we use (Wikipedia) and the brands we covet (Nike or Ducati) resolutely refuse to become democracies.

-Seth Godin

Note: @brennen takes issue with the Wikipedia example when it comes to feature selection, and convinced me that it’s not the best example to make. Although I think maybe the point is that Mediawiki implementation on Wikipedia is controlled, but whether or not the decisions about what is used in Wikipedia is democratic or not, I don’t know.

Link Drop (week 34 of 2012)

Light drop this week because I was out camping for most of it. Little tidbit about the Link Drop name. I like it because it reminds me of a record needle drop.

  • Keeping the goal in sight while designing component flows - (Ryan Singer) Ryan Singer looks at a product component that fails to deliver on satisfying a user’s core need, and reminds not to design and reviewing components in isolation. Every build and iteration requires review and circling back to evaluate the component in terms of the need identified in the use case scenario. Put into action, he says:
    How do we integrate the components back into a context for review? Ask the question: “What is the user trying to do here?” The job the user has in mind is the best integration point because the user’s mind doesn’t tidily follow the boundaries of implementation.
  • Why Does Interaction Design Matter? Let’s Look At The Evolving Subway Experience | Co.Design: business + innovation + design Robert Fabricant looks at the ways interaction design has had an impact on the MTA/NYC subway system from the Metrocard kiosks and turnstiles, to the signage and app ecosystem that enable better wayfinding and information use in what can be an overwhelmingly complex system to navigate. Also touches on the IXDA awards.
  • Everything in its Right Pace This is a terrific essay on considering the pace of delivery of information in web products, and how in a world of constant delivery, sometimes a slower pace, selective or scant data delivery, and better signal to noise is more appropriate and valuable in a given context.
  • Visually Reinforce Your Credit Card Fields (89% Get it Wrong) - Articles - Baymard Institute “It’s fortunately a relatively simple procedure to lift the perceived security of sensitive fields in your form – simply encapsulate the fields with a border or background and place your security badge nearby.”
  • Apple Literally Designs Its Products Around a Kitchen Table “Longtime Apple industrial designer Chris Stringer testified that the company has a small team of 15 or 16 people that fashion all of the company’s products. The group meets frequently, literally sitting around a kitchen table, to debate all products under development. “We’ll sit there with our sketch books and trade ideas,” Stringer said, appearing as the first witness in the Apple vs. Samsung trial. “That’s where the really hard, brutal honest criticism comes in.”
    From there, the group puts the sketches into a computer-aided design program and, if warranted, creates a physical model. “Our role is to imagine products that don’t exist and guide them to life,” Stringer said. There could be 50 designs for a single button, he added. “We’re a pretty maniacal group of people,” he said.”

Pace

Hannah Donovan’s essay in A List Apart considers the issue of pace of delivery of information in web products. In a world where information is streamed constantly to us if we allow it, sometimes a slower pace, selective or scant data delivery, and better signal to noise is more appropriate and valuable. Context, medium, and place of use are important factors for determining delivery and pace.

I've been interested in the slow movement in recent years, as it relates to sustainable living, slow design, slow food, and the 1K Movement. In the summer of 2011, I was fortunate enough to experience a very special meal on a very small farm/restaurant in Italy's Le Marche region. All the food and drink prepared is grown on the farm or sourced hyper-locally, from meat and vegetables, to wine—everything within 1 kilometer. It was the most profound eating experience of my life. Little bits and pieces of that day have made me think about how my approach to work and life have become more and more connected to each other, and how much of an impact one's production and consumption decisions have on the world.

From a design and lifestyle perspective, I like to reference this summary of the philosophy of the Slow Movement by Professor Guttorm Fløistad, found on Wikipedia:

The only thing for certain is that everything changes. The rate of change increases. If you want to hang on you better speed up. That is the message of today. It could however be useful to remind everyone that our basic needs never change. The need to be seen and appreciated! It is the need to belong. The need for nearness and care, and for a little love! This is given only through slowness in human relations. In order to master changes, we have to recover slowness, reflection and togetherness. There we will find real renewal.

It's a bit touchy-feely, and lives entirely in the center of Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs. But the idea of taking a holistic approach to fulfilling needs in all things, provides the basis for actually satisfying them in other ways up the triangle. Specifically, I'm thinking of the idea of fulfilling the needs for esteem and self-actualization as one example. In a scenario where speed and volume has become the norm, how has that situation impacted our lives?

I like how Donovan tells the story of learning from the experience at Last.fm to imagine This is My Jam, a product that goes the other way, and focuses on the quality and value of the experience, using pace as the point of pivot. I like this approach. I have mostly stopped consuming from the firehose, and seek out the products that deliver a signal that I get more value from, more satisfaction, or that fulfill my basic needs with less fluff and noise. The decision to work with a product and team that follows those ideals is important to me as well.

Beth Meredith and Eric Storm summarize the concept of Slow Design.

Slow Design is a democratic and holistic design approach for creating appropriately tailored solutions for the long-term well being of people and the planet. To this end, Slow Design seeks out positive synergies between the elements in a system, celebrates diversity and regionalism, and cultivates meaningful relationships that add richness to life.

The Slow Movement is not just a lifestyle choice, but as designers, we can choose to have an impact on the world based on these ideals.

http://www.alistapart.com/articles/everything-in-its-right-pace/

Link Drop (week 33 of 2012)

      <ul class="ld">
         <li><a href="http://www.bigbuttonsapp.com/" class="ttl">Big Buttons - control your Mac with your iPhone</a> Control anything that you can script on your Mac with your iPhone.</li> <li><a href="http://www.stephenkenn.com/projects/" class="ttl">Stephen Kenn: Inheritance collection</a> LA designer learns of a military surplus facility and upcycles tons of fabric into furniture with a mid-century nod in form. The video tells the story of the vison and spirit of Kenn. I love videos like this, and the Made by Hand series, that show how a maker starts with a pure idea that is imbued with the creator's beliefs and turns it into a usable product. /via Core77</li> <li><a href="http://ianstormtaylor.com/design-tip-never-use-black/" class="ttl">Design Tip: Never Use Black by Ian Storm Taylor</a> "Problem is, we see dark things and assume they are black things. When, in reality, it’s very hard to find something that is pure black. Roads aren’t black. Your office chair isn’t black. The sidebar in Sparrow isn’t black. Words on web pages aren’t black."</li> <li><a href="http://10k.aneventapart.com/" class="ttl">10K Apart - An Event Apart + Mix Online</a> Loved the 5K project. The 10K is just as cool.</li> <li><a href="http://www.campaignmonitor.com/guides/mobile/design/" class="ttl">Responsive Email Design | Campaign Monitor</a> </li> <li><a href="http://speckyboy.com/2012/02/29/40-examples-of-brilliant-responsive-website-layouts/" class="ttl">40 Examples of Brilliant Responsive Website Layouts - Speckyboy Design Magazine</a> </li> <li><a href="http://shop.kneadle.com/product/httpster-tee-bird-edition-tri-black" class="ttl">Kneadle — HTTPSTER Tee, Bird Edition (Tri-Black)</a> Am I only slightly less conformist if I only link to this rather than buy it? Like.</li> <li><a href="http://parislemon.com/post/29382684552/soxiam-ibm-port-a-punch-someone-call-the" class="ttl">IBM Port-A-Punch | parislemon</a> The IBM punch card programmer's paper tablet.</li> <li><a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/sir-jonathan-ive-we-nearly-axed-the-iphone-it-wasnt-enough-to-be-good-we-knew-it-had-to-be-great-7988045.html" class="ttl">Sir Jonathan Ive: We nearly axed the iPhone, it wasn't enough to be good ...we knew it had to be great - The Independent</a> Sir Jony, who has worked at Apple since 1992, said it was not uncommon to feel during the planning stage of a device that "we were pursuing something that we think 'that's really incredibly compelling', but we're really struggling to solve the problem that it represents". "We have been, on a number of occasions, preparing for mass production and in a room and realised we are talking a little too loud about the virtues of something. That to me is always the danger, if I'm trying to talk a little too loud about something and realising I'm trying to convince myself that something's good.</li> <li><a href="http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/10-habits-of-remarkably-charismatic-people.html?nav=pop" class="ttl">10 Habits of Remarkably Charismatic People | Inc.com</a> </li> <li><a href="http://www.bestvendor.com/best/wireframing" class="ttl">The 10+ Best Wireframing Tools - BestVendor.com</a> There is no best tool, there's only what works for your situation and storyline. The best thing is your brain.</li> <li><a href="http://macperformanceguide.com/MountainLion-SaveAs-data-destruction.html" class="ttl">MPG - OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion - OS X Mountain Lion: Data Loss via 'Save As'</a> Apple is crazy bold. I wonder how many would go with hiding options like Save As, using a key combination. There are some serious side effects to their hidden save as, by the way, as this post notes, resulting in the need to use the Revert To... feature, a technique also referred to as "unfucking." All of this only makes me think of people who use the term "unfuckingbelievable" in moments of crisis and disbelief.  It's never easy to remove from an interface, but at this level of use, it is is bold and not at all unbelievable.</li>
    </ul>    

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

I got around to watching David Gelb’s documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi after seeing it making the rounds on the web repeatedly. I’ve been on a documentary kick lately, and this has made it into the category of films I’d re-watch.

The film looks at the life of celebrated sushi chef, Jiro Ono, whose small restaurant serves only sushi and requires a reservation 3 months in advance, and who is regarded as the most masterful sushi chef in Japan. After watching, I took a week to see what resonated with me, and there are a few topic that stick, related to the nurturing of one’s craft.

The themes I latched onto focussed on the conversations about Jiro’s craft. He holds steadfast to a strong work ethic, and the notion that perfection can only be achieved through years of rigor, experience, and apprenticeship.

The chef has focussed his life on serving sushi only. Apparently master chefs around the world agree that his minimalist approach and focus have lead to a remarkable depth of flavor that is hard to match. Food writer, Yamamoto, interviewed extensively for the film, sums his work up saying, “Ultimate simplicity leads to purity.”

What’s valuable to notice in this story is the excruciating attention to detail and rigor, especially as told by Jiro’s son and apprentice, Yoshikazu, who is to inherit his fathers restaurant. He talks about having talent (taste in this case), and says making a mark depends on how hard you work.

“We’re not trying to be exclusive or elite. The techniques we use are no big secret. It’s just about making an effort and repeating the same thing every day.”

I think in a way, he is selling himself short when he talks about talent, because I get the feeling he is talking about his father, not himself. But there is something in the depth of knowledge that Yoshikazu has acquired that interests me. It’s shown in a much simpler manner, as if he is the worker/doer behind the master, but to me this story steals the spotlight. In doing the work, he is completely subservient to and obedient to the discipline and to his teacher. Everything is taken seriously, and rules are stubbornly adhered to.

I like this idea of the acquisition of skill in the pursuit of being perfect, but there’s a sense of sadness, doubt, and feeling of inadequacy in Yoshikazu, until the punchline at the end. There are interesting and at times sad stories of parenting or lack of it, cultural and familial responsibility, and the struggle and drive that comes out of necessity and need to survive. Throughout the telling of this story, it felt like the hyper focus and obsession cost dearly in other ways.

I think if anything, I feel humbled by the obsession with craft told in the story. I don’t feel compelled to be as extreme in my own pursuit of craft, at the cost of balance and life, but there is something positive in the message about showing up and doing the work that is told so much more completely here than in any clever and terse poster. Definitely worth the watch.

Via Harry Brignull

http://www.magpictures.com/jirodreamsofsushi/

Link Drop (week 32 of 2012)

  • An Unexpected Ass Kicking Great post by Joel Runyon, who talks about getting schooled by Russel Kirsch. 2 takeaways: 1) Nothing is withheld from us which we have conceived to do. 2) Do things that have never been done. The first meaning: if you’ve conceived something in your mind, decide to do it, and are willing to put in the work – nothing can stop you. The second is fairly self-explanatory but carries the extra weight of it coming from the guy who invented the very thing that’s letting me type these words out on the internet.
  • NASA: First full resolution Mars images from Curiosity Rover If this doesn’t inspire you, you need to watch some Star Trek.
  • Disney Researchers Augment Touch Sensation with REVEL “Presenting at SIGGRAPH earlier this week, Disney researchers showed off REVEL, experimental technology for adding virtual textures to everyday objects using electrical charge. You can touch two-dimensional objects, projections or objects in the distance and receive sensation of touching a texture or even a whole, complete three-dimensional object.”
    /via @paperequator
  • XOXCO - Is it time for password-less login?
  • FreeUIKits.com | Free UI Kit PSD FilesFreeUIKits.com
  • Forcing scroll bars to appear on an element in WebKit Stack Overflow comes to the rescue on CSS overflow issues where the scrollbars are now hidden on Mac OS webkit browsers. Nice.
  • The Bricks - Photoshop User Interface Framework
  • Wikipedia Redefined New! agency Wikipedia redesign project. Looks for the ways how to make it better, reader or editor friendlier, clearer and aesthetically satisfying.
  • Context-Rich Scenarios Make UX Projects Manageable
  • Sketchcamp San Diego | A Design Day for UX folks Sketchcamp SD is a one-day unconference in San Diego where UX professionals share and learn sketching techniques that can be applied to user experience design.
  • Inge Druckrey: Teaching to See on Vimeo “This [film] is about patient and dedicated teaching, about learning to look and visualize in order to design, about the importance of drawing. It is one designer’s personal experience of issues that face all designers, expressed with sympathy and encouragement, and illustrated with examples of Inge [Druckrey]’s own work and that of grateful generations of her students. There are simple phrases that give insights into complex matters, for example that letterforms are ‘memories of motion.’ Above all, it is characteristic of Inge that in this examination of basic principles the word “beautiful” is used several times.”

Link Drop (week 31 of 2012)

I’m trying some new things. The link drop will be an unfiltered list of things I bookmarked during the week, with some minimal notes. Some of these things may make it to parts of the wiki or blog. Here we go with the first one.

Asbury Agile 2012 Conference

Asbury Agile has launched the site for their second conference, which takes place in Asbury Park, the The Boss’ stomping grounds, on October 3, 2012. I’m honored to be one of the guest speakers, to give a talk on interface sketching. There’ll be an awesome cast of speakers including Chris Ackermann, Matt Bango, Brad Frost, Sasha Laundy, Kenneth Reitz, Tomer Sharon, Rob Spectre, Srjdjan Strbanovic. Early bird tickets are now available (save $50).

Asbury Agile is a friendly, single track conference for web professionals and students to gather, share ideas, learn, and connect with their peeps. The event lakes place at Watermark, in Asbury Park, NJ. You can follow @asburyagile for event updates.

The video from last year's conference looks like it's a manageable, intimate event that draws a great crowd from the NJ/NYC web development community. I'm excited not only because I grew up in NJ, but I'm also looking forward to chatting with people about interface sketching, and learn from everyone I meet. I will likely be posting some of my thoughts in a new Sketch section I'm working on for the Konigi wiki. Stay tuned.

http://www.asburyagile.com/

UX A Day

UX A Day looks like a nice new blog of resources and tools for UX design folks, curated by Philippe Said. Not a lot of review or commentary, but hopefully will keep us updated with new finds.

http://www.uxaday.com/

protomoto: Prototyping and Wireframing Tool Finder

protomoto is an excellent showcase of prototyping or wireframing tools created to helps designers find a tool that’s suited to the specific devices or platforms they are designing for. The site, developed by Paper & Equator, will be adding more filters in the future as they continue to evolve the resource, so that you can browse the tools based on features. Very cool.

Check out protomoto.

http://protomoto.com/

Clever PNG Optimization Techniques

Sergey Chikuyonok’s Smashing Magazine article on PNG optimization is an oldie, but I just found myself returning to use it for maybe the 4th time since I originally read it. I don’t do web graphics so frequently anymore, so I always return here to get reminded of things like the posterization layer in Photoshop. See also Sergey’s JPEG Optimization article.

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/07/15/clever-png-optimization-techniques/

Jack White on Constraints

Telling yourself, “Oh, you have all the time in the world, you have all the money in the world, you have all the colors in the palette you want, anything you want,” I mean, that just kills creativity.
—Jack White

I was going through the parts I had highlighted in my Kindle version of Austin Kleon’s book, Steal Like An Artist, and I keep thinking of how much I like this quote from musician Jack White, talking about using constraints to stay creative. I think about how much constraints and removal of the unnecessary makes a difference in helping flow in the tools I use as well.

The quote was actually taken from an interview of White that you can watch in the documentary Under Great White Northern Lights. There’s an extended except in the Makin’ Ads blog here, or watch a video clip on YouTube here.

Your app is a collection of tiny details

“Getting the details right is the difference between something that delights, and something customers tolerate.”
—Jeff Atwood

I didn’t read Jeff Atwood’s article about cat feeders right away, because it really is 90% about a cat product. It’s also a terrific demonstration of what he’s saying above. The first version of the product, a cat feeder, served a core need well enough for him to satisfice with its shortcomings because the net return in time savings and improved quality of life, for him anyway, was absolutely worth it.

The punchline is this.

  • Be sure you’re first getting the primary function more or less right.
  • Do the work of listening to users every day.
  • Refine the details of your product based on their feedback.

Listening to the opinions expressed by customers, obsessing over the details, and getting them right in the design is necessary and hard. But over time, if the points of pain are incrementally addressed and the design improved, the collection of those well-thought-out details embody a better experience.

Get better slowly, but do get better. Suck it up and feel your users’ pain. Assure them that you’re listening by sweating the details.

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2012/05/this-is-all-your-app-is-a-collection-of-tiny-details.html

New sketch gear at JetPens: Maruman sketchbooks

People still occasionally ask me if I make the small bound Wireframe Sketchbooks, but I stopped selling them after a few years, and instead just posted instructions for how to make your own. I know that few people have the time or interest to do that, so I've been looking at alternatives for them.

A month ago, Brad from JetPens contacted me to tell me that he started supplying a sketchbook from Maruman that I might like. What I really liked is how closely it resembles the one I made. Some of my Instagram friends have been seeing pics of me using the Maruman Mnemosyne Inspiration Notebook, and a few like it as I do. The one I'm using is the A5 (5.8" X 8.3"), which has a 5 mm X 5 mm pale gray lined grid, title line, and 70 perforated sheets.

Below is a photo of the Konigi notebook on the left and the Maruman on the right. The Sharpie is there to give you a sense of scale.

You can see that the Maruman is the same width, and only 1/4 inch taller. The Maruman paper is smoother paper than the Konigi, and works well with inks. I'm using with a fine Hi-Tec-C and really love the feel of pen and marker on it. The Konigi book had a little tooth/texture because I like to work with soft pencil as well as pen/marker.

I think this is the closest of any notebook I've tried to mine. It meets the same requirements that I had for a sketchbook: small and wire-bound, white sheets with small quadrille, perforated paper, and can ideally be used in landscape orientation.

Thanks to Brad Dowdy for indulging my pen and paper addiction by letting me test and review the Maruman. If you're interested, you can check it out here.

http://www.jetpens.com/Maruman-Mnemosyne-Inspiration-Notebook-A5-5.8-X-8.3-5-mm-X-5-mm-Graph-70-Sheets/pd/4078

Bruce Springsteen on Creativity

I'd like to talk about the one thing that's been consistent over the years—the genesis and power of creativity. ... It’s all about how you’re putting what you do together. The elements you’re using don’t matter. Purity of human expression and experience is not confined to guitars, to tubes, to turntables, to microchips. There’s no right way, no pure way of doing it—there’s just doing it.

From Bruce Springsteen's inspiring 2012 SXSW Keynote Speech.

http://www.npr.org/2012/03/16/148778665/bruce-springsteens-sxsw-2012-keynote-speech

Sketchbooks: DIY Instructions

This is a guide for binding your own sketchbooks. I offer it to you designers, developers, makers, and tinkerers out there who are looking for a way to physically connect to your practice of designing interfaces, or who maybe just want a fun and practical way to get your hands dirty.


I started making my own sketchbooks and pads a few years ago. At the time there weren't many options for interface sketching and storyboarding.

I began buying different types of notebooks, researching simple bookbinding, taking classes, and prototyping. I wound up liking wirebound books best. You can see pictures of some of the notebooks I made and some of the interface design sketchbooks I later sold via this site and Amazon.

The project to sell the sketchbooks was a great learning experience—one I would highly recommend. I wanted to go through the steps of learning to design something physical, figure out how to get it produced, and learn about the logistics of selling and fulfilling.

It was a great experience, and a lot of people put up with the progressive quality improvements in each phase.

After a few years making and selling my sketchbooks, I stopped. I've had many requests to stock them again, but in the end the time and effort to devote to this business of designing and selling atoms, and improving the product costs more to me than I have to give. I've decided to just tell you how I make mine and give you the printable sheets, links to resources, and the steps to make your own.

The easiest method for binding your own sketchbooks would be to take paper (either plain white, or printable graphpaper) to your local copy shop and have them wirebind your pages together. The suggestions below might help if you want to invest in a binding machine and do it yourself like I do.

This project was fueled by coffee.
Your donation keeps me wired and makin' stuff.



Equipment

I use a wire binding machine to do all of my own personal sketchbooks, using the double-ring style binding closure, also called wire-o or twin-loop. I prefer this style of binding because it lays flat, and the cover can be folded back on itself to make it easy to keep a small book on your lap or desk.

The machine in the pictures on the top right of this page is the Akiles Wiremac Duo. It's not inexpensive, but it gave me the most flexibility when it came to binding both large and small books. It's heavy and has a 16" x 17" footprint, but it's made to work hard and last a long time. I've bound hundreds of books with this one and it still works like new.

At the lowest end is an inexpensive little craft product called the Bind it All that makes mini-wirebound books, but you can also shift the paper along the binder to bind bigger books.

Planning

Decide on the kind of sketchbook you're going to make.

Here are some things to figure out.

  • What size? Letter (8.5" x 11"), half letter (8.5" x 5.5"), A5?
  • What orientation? Portrait bound on the long side or landscape bound on the short?
  • How many pages? Number of pages determines the coil size to buy.
  • Elastic enclosure? If yes, you'll need a way to attach them.
  • Envelope or pocket in the back? If you use eyelets to attach, they'll interfere with the back pages. Envelopes or pockets prevent this from happening. Envelopes are easier because they can be bound with the back cover. Pockets need to be glued on.

Materials

Shop around. There may be more affordable sources out there than what I've used.

  • Heavy stock/chipboard for front and back cover. MyBinding sells them in letter size.
  • Paper (blank, graphpaper, whatever)
  • Wire-O coils
  • Envelope or Pocket stock (optional)
  • 1/4" elastic, eyelets, eyelet puncher, wooden mallet, anvil, eyelet closing tool (optional)

I got my binding materials from the ProBinding and My Binding sites. The Eyelets and hardware for snap closures came from Seattle Fabrics. The elastic came from Create for Less.


Binding

This tutorial shows you exactly how I bind books with the wire-binding machine. What you end up doing will depend on the machine you choose, but the steps should be about the same.

1. Measure

Measure stack of paper, front cover and back cover against the binder's coil guide. This will tell you what size coil to use. I typically create 50-60 page notebooks with a 3/4" 2:1 coil.

2. Hang your coils

Hang your coils on the coil holder on the front of the binder.

3. Punch envelope

Punch envelope first and place with front of envelope facing forward.

4. Punch paper

Punch paper in sets and place on coils, repeat until all placed.

5. Punch front cover

Punch front cover and place on coils, with front of cover facing forward.

6. Punch back cover

Punch back cover and place on coils, with inside facing forward.

7. Cut coils

Cut coils to end of book edge.

8. Close coils

Pull the stack off of the binder, and rest with open coil side down on the coil squeezer. Pull lever to close coils.

9. Flip over & enjoy

Flip over the back cover. You'll notice that because you hung the envelope and paper first, the inwardly-turned part of the coil should keep paper from sliding out of the rings.


Attaching elastic closure (optional)

1. Punch back cover

Create a cardboard rig to place your eyelets evenly on the back and use a clamp or bulldog clips to hold the cover and jig together. Use your punch and mallet to punch two holes at the corners about 1" in from each side. The wooden mallet works well with a small anvil.

2. Insert elastic & eyelet

Cut 1/4" elastic bands. I measure to the length of the edge of book that will be wrapped and add 2-3 inches for the books above. Thread the elastic through your holes and leave 1/2" hanging on the inside. Push the eyelets through the holes, outside facing the back.

3. Close eyelets

Use your eyelet crimping tool to snap closed the open end and fasten the elastic to the back cover. Make sure you're using the right end of the eyelet tool or else they won't close properly and cleanly. You can now cut that excess 1/2" of elastic from the inside back cover.


Rolla/Circa/Atoma Binding

Big costly binders aren't your only option. At right are pics of books I've bound with a DIY disk-binding system. They have sort of a cult following among notebook and journal obsessives because of their versatility.

Disk systems let you punch small mushroom shaped holes in your paper that you slide into disks (some people call these Smurf binders because of the shape). This lets you easily remove and replace pages in your books. Nice, right?

To the right are a few vendors that sell disk binding systems.

Rollabind
Makes personal and office-sized punches, and sells paper and covers for their system.

Levenger
Sells personal punches and paper for the Rollabind system, rebranded under the Circa name.

Atoma
A disk-binding system made and fulfilled by a company in Europe.

Staples Arc
The big box retailer now sells it's own inexpensive disk system.


Sketchpads

Sketchpads are made by gluing stacks of paper that on one end. To make sketchpads, you'll need a padding press, paper, chipboard, and padding compound. These are easily obtained from office and binding supply stores.

Tim Liston pointed me to an inexpensive wooden binder called the Pad Magic Paper Padding Press that looks decent for DIYers doing small runs. The free printable graphpaper sheets on this site are perfect for this.

Enjoy! Have fun making your sketchbooks! A donation keeps me wired and makin' stuff like this.

We are Colorblind Relaunches

Tom van Beveren re-launches We are Colorblind. The site is restarting from scratch with new articles and examples of good and bad uses of color in terms of how those design decisions affect people with colorblindness. When you mouse over the examples, the screenshots allow you to compare the example with normal vison and simulated colorblindness. He also presents excellent examples for how these interfaces can be improved to become more accessible.

http://wearecolorblind.com/examples

Give it five minutes

I'm certainly no stranger to being opinionated and argumentative. I've put my foot in my mouth a few times by pushing back on others' ideas, and am well aware that being quick to react can be detrimental. The older I get, the more I realize how little I know and how much more time I need to spend thinking after listening, before I open my mouth or start to type to respond.

I admire Jason Fried's recent blog post, "Give it five minutes." In it, he writes candidly about the issue of pushing back on ideas, starting from an exchange he had with Richard Saul Wurman, where the two had given talks at the same event. Wurman approached Fried to congratulate him, and Fried replied by telling Wurman what he disagreed with about his talk. The take away from that exchange was that Wurman taught Fried to stop and think, to give ideas a chance before challenging them with little respect or consideration.

I like this bit of advice from Fried, who turned that lesson into an opportunity to grow personally, and share what he learned from that exchange.

There are two things in this world that take no skill: 1. Spending other people’s money and 2. Dismissing an idea.

Dismissing an idea is so easy because it doesn’t involve any work. You can scoff at it. You can ignore it. You can puff some smoke at it. That’s easy. The hard thing to do is protect it, think about it, let it marinate, explore it, riff on it, and try it. The right idea could start out life as the wrong idea.

So next time you hear something, or someone, talk about an idea, pitch an idea, or suggest an idea, give it five minutes. Think about it a little bit before pushing back, before saying it’s too hard or it’s too much work. Those things may be true, but there may be another truth in there too: It may be worth it.

There's a fantastic little Jonathan Ive anecdote in there as well, where Ive explains Steve Jobs' respect for the fragility of ideas, the best of which can start out naive, but lead to beautiful things if they're allowed the time and space to be explored.

While some of the best products can grow out of one's work done in isolation, the ideas need to be shared to grow into products. Stifling others' ideas with immediate push back is not only a quick way to alienate your team, but squashing them too early can really do the most harm to you, by depriving you from seeing what it might become. This is one of those rare reminders that with maturity, hopefully we can learn to become more humble and grow. We just have to be open to the ideas.

http://37signals.com/svn/posts/3124-give-it-five-minutes

Teddy on haters

It’s the doers who do.

I’ve never read Theodore Roosevelt’s “Citizenship in a Republic/Man in the Arena” speech before hearing it in this BoS2011 recap video.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

I’m seeing him with his pince nez saying, “It’s not the critic who counts,” and thinking, even Roosevelt agrees, “haters gonna hate.” I think that’s a good reminder to every one of us showing up every day, trying, failing, and succeeding, despite the obstacles, critics, haters, etc. But don’t take it from me. Teddy told you so.

You can now post Mockups to UX.StackExchange.com

I’m pretty excited about the announcement we at Balsamiq were able to make jointly with the group at StackExchange today. The two groups have been working together to integrate Mockups into the UX StackExchange. You can now post Mockups wireframes with questions and answers to UX.StackExchange.com using the free integrated Mockups editor.

I’m really excited about this. One of the conversations Peldi and I had before I joined Balsamiq was about creating something I’ve wanted to use for a long time–a site where you could upload wireframes to vet ideas, get feedback, and test concepts with other peer professionals. I’m of the “show me, don’t tell me” school of communication. Luckily the excellent UX version of StackExchange was created, and Mockups had the plugin model to integrate with it nicely, so lazyweb wishes can happen without even asking.

Here’s a bit from our announcement at Balsamiq:

If you don’t know what StackExchange is, you’ve been missing out. It’s a collection of community-edited and moderated question and answer websites, each dedicated to becoming the single best online resource on a number of different topics. The most famous StackExchange site is StackOverflow.com, the ultimate Q&A site for programming questions. Other popular StackExchange sites are Startups.StackExchange.com or English.StackExchange.com, about the English Language and its Usage. See a full list here.

About a month ago we were excited to see that UX.StackExchange.com launched publicly, and thanks to the long beta period had already become a wonderful resource for anyone interested in creating better software.

Some users had been posting Mockups to the site, and finally user Moshe Berman posted this question asking if the site could license Mockups. Peldi got a message from Joel Spolsky, the two groups iterated on ideas in myBalsamiq, and the rest is history.

You can find out more about how to use Mockups in the UX StackExchange in our blog and in this thread on UX.SE.

http://ux.stackexchange.com/

Realizing Empathy: An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making

Seung Chan Lim, better known as Slim, spent 10 years making software, working in computer science and interaction design at MAYA Design where he was the Assistant Director of Engineering. After some soul searching he began to ask why he was doing what he was doing, and at the suggestion of a mentor, he went out to do something different, something he didn’t understand. He went to art school.

Slim’s book explores how making works (as a process), what it means (to make something), and why it matters (to our lives). Through this exploration the book also investigates the ethics of our relationship to Computer Technology, and proposes a new direction.

I love the idea of learning something new and unfamiliar as a way of expanding one’s perspective. Two of my favorite articles/talks in recent years that relate to this topic are Bill Buxton’s article on how to keep innovating and Paula Scher’s Ted Talk on finding fun in the unfamiliar.

Judging by the introduction video, the book looks to be substantial, exploratory, humble, and inspiring. I’m really looking forward to reading it.

The book is being funded now, so if you want to see it happen like I do, you can back this project on Kickstarter.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/800798301/realizing-empathy-an-inquiry-into-the-meaning-of-m

Offscreen Magazine

Offscreen is a print magazine that takes an in-depth look at the life and work of people that create websites and apps. They’re interested in telling the less obvious human stories of creativity, passion and hard work that hide behind every interface.

The first issue includes conversations with web standards wizard Dan Cederholm, all-round-talent Drew Wilson, former last.fm design lead Hannah Donovan, 37signals' designer and product manager Ryan Singer, design entrepreneur Andrew Wilkinson and pixel-perfectionist Benjamin de Cock.

http://www.offscreenmag.com/

Christmas Wireframe Cards

Need a holiday card for your nerdy design team. Then look no further, and don’t let your Christmas procrastination get you down.

These postcard-sized Christmas wireframes were lovingly crafted in OmniGraffle. You can download the .graffle file to customize it and send around some holiday cheer or whatever. Santa suit up, nerds!

Love,
Konigi

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