My apologies for any weirdness as this site is reworked and expanded.
With the goal of forcing myself to write more, I am working on consolidating my old blog posts from Blogger (and a couple other random places) to this site as a first step. Over the course of a little while, in between other projects and client work, this site should begin to look a little more put together. (If you are wondering, yes, the next version will probably be built using Columnal, but one thing at a time.)
For years, House Industries has been one of my favorite type foundries. They still do a lot of their work “old school”, they still draw, they still do real stuff with their hands. They are still craftsmen, and that is becoming more rare.
I recently came across a video, I was not sure how long it has been out but it is pretty great…
Attending SXSW for the first time is just as overwhelming as everyone says it will be. The number of sessions, people, and taking in Austin is really a lot to do. It’s also great. Experiencing the community that is defining some of the most successful areas of the web is a wonderful thing. It’s sheer size is quite overwhelming, though. Most conferences I’ve attended have been easy to meet people and see them again just by happenstance. At SXSW, if you meet someone interesting, you need to plan to meet them again or chances are, you might not see them again.
The sessions were really great, for the most part. There were sessions of higher and lower quality, but that’s to be expected. It’s of course much different attending the event than only listening to the podcasts. (Side note: the podcasts for SXSW 2008 will be posted here.)
Apart from the session notes and stack of business cards from the show, I now want to order a stack of Bloxes and I’m not even sure what they’d be for. Seeing the “sketchnotes” from Mike Rohde makes me wish I would have taken my notes in a similar fashion
I’ve been meaning to get my notes up from South by Southwest, but wanted to do it all at once and it has taken me a while to get them out of my notebook and into a better form! So, here’s the first set, also had several sessions on 3/7, but I’ve only posted the most interesting sessions.
Just the name “Frank Lloyd Wright” makes certain things come to mind. It might be words like “innovative” or “out of reach”. “Farming” is most likely not one of them, even though Wright himself worked on a farm himself during some parts of his boyhood.
My wife and I had the opportunity for a two-night stay at a wonderful bed and breakfast that was one of the only farmhouses that had been designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Through a unique (which is an understatement, it’s one of the only in existence) twist of history, the Muirhead House was built in the rural setting of Hampshire, Illinois and had fallen into a state of disrepair.
It has been lovingly restored to a stunning setting by Sarah Muirhead Petersdorf and her husband, Mike Petersdorf. (Sarah is the granddaughter of the original owners of the home, although I have to give a lot of the credit to the hard work of Mike, who also tends to the daily work of the B&B).
Among the goals over Frank Lloyd Wright’s career was to complete structures that were accessible, usable and affordable (not all of these goals were always realized, of course.) The farmhouse was designed for a working farm and was designed as such. In fact, much of the correspondence between the family and the architect (or his assistant) is saved for guest reading – which makes for quite an interesting read.
Considering only about 500 of around 1,000 designs of Wright’s were ever built, the Muirhead Farmhouse is a unique gem in a very small pool of potential providers. In my understanding, it’s the only house that was designed as a working farmhouse. It’s one of the only Wright Bed and Breakfasts in the world, and certainly the only Bed and Breakfast Wright farmhouse
If you are within driving distance of Hampshire (a short distance north of Schaumburg, IL), and it happens to be a reasonable hour, call them right now and get yourself a night or two. You’ll thank me later.
Driving up to the house (don’t adjust your monitor, we did go there in the winter).
View of the main bedroom and front hallway from the dining room.
View of dining room down the hallway showing the dining room glass windows.
The house is designed on a 4′x 4′ grid system. The dark terra cotta colored concrete squares that make up the floor are lit from above by pin lights that are centered over each square, except near the walls. The floor also supplies radiant heat produced from a system of heated pipes built into the floor.
At 176′ (if I remember correctly), the house is a very long and features two elongated hallways. The front, which was uncovered in the original house plans and altered over back and forth conversation, welcomes into the house with long, full windows into the main living area.
The front hallway is mirrored in design by the front porch, the concrete grid carries out onto the patio and breaks into a brick border.
The hallway at the far end of the structure allows much less light in, which makes sense, since the majority of bedrooms are down this hallway. These rooms were originally designed for the children, of which there originally five, now three because of size limitations of the original design. (When I say size limitations in the original design, think of rooms for monks – very small rooms.) Mike and Sarah made the wise decision of slightly altering these walls to make room for three bedrooms down this hallway, which makes even more since they are now running the house as a bed and breakfast.
One of the smaller bedrooms.
Wright, using the same materials throughout the entire house, and in his Usonian (quite minimalistic) style, brings the materials in to form a unique shower. The brick used here is the (now rare) Chiago common brick, which is very porous and had to be sealed to ensure protection from the water.
Main living room with view to front lawn.
Fireplace (one of three throughout the home) in the main living room, complete with the signature Wright angled wide open face and angled back. (You can find some similar designs repeated in Taliesin and other properties.)
http://www.jonathancoulton.com/ I first heard this guy in one of Ze Frank’s last episodes of “The Show”. I’ve been a fan ever since. Jonathan is a very talented guy that has gone from programmer to (full time) independent musician. Of course, why not? This is one of those stories that couldn’t have happened without the medium of the internet. At least, it would have been much more difficult.
My most recent project was called Thing a Week, in which I produced a new song every week and released it for free as a podcast for an entire year. All of these songs will be released on CDs in their original order (and state of completion) very soon, but you can also buy them from my online store, or from iTunes.”
Last episode of “The Show with Ze Frank” was today. The bizarre, funny, and often thought-provoking podcast will be missed. My best to Ze.
To those who didn’t see “The Show”, it was essentially a year-long community experiment and podcast (read more at wikipedia) with the personality of a John Stewart. It involved a lot of community projects such as the Earth Sandwich, Comunity Haikus, and many more. The projects are almost more interesting if you know that Ze Frank has a background in neuroscience. If you’re just finding this guy, he’s worth a look.
Prado PHP Framework “PRADOTM is a component-based and event-driven programming framework for developing Web applications in PHP 5.”
Symfony PHP framework Based on the best practices of web development, thoroughly tried on several active websites, symfony aims to speed up the creation and maintenance of web applications, and to replace the repetitive coding tasks by power, control and pleasure.
Merlin Mann has posted a nice recent post “Getting Things Done: Recap for ‘07” that details some of his more successful posts over the last year. Interesting read if you’re into this stuff. Even if you’re not and just interested in the general topic of life organization or GTD in general, I’d recommend it.
Personally, I’m fascinated by the topic of people dealing with and relating to technology and how it impacts our daily lives. It impacts us in so many ways that it’s worth thinking about.
I recently came across the work of David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done” and I have to say that it’s been a good experience. David’s work has built a following online (read more about it at Wikipedia) and off, and revolves around a set of techniques and principles. If you are an enlightened person, and thus an iTunes user, there is a very recent series that David Allen completed with Merlin Mann, the host of 43 Folders. (If you do look for it, search for the “43 Folders” podcast and the series of discussions is called “Productive Talk”.)
So, the podcast has gotten me into reading the actual book (all right, listening to it, it’s an audiobook–it’s a more efficient use of time, see its working already). I have to say, not a fan of audiobooks because of the cheesy “marketing jingle” music and robotic breaks between chapters. Aside from that, the book is based on some very practical thinking on things like dealing with email, your inbox, etc. One of my favorite (albeit basic) thoughts so far is the practice of the the “next action”. The basic idea is simply that there is a list of stuff that you have to do and chances are that you are procrastinating on more than one thing. The next step would just be whatever 10 to 15 seconds of thought dedicated to each task to come up with whatever the next action would be. For “get a car tuneup”, the next action could be “check if the shop can take the car”. The idea is that it takes the list of “stuff” and makes it into a more meaningful thing. If the tasks turn into actions, it makes them easier to deal with and get through.
A lot of this is about basic patterns and behaviors, just the doing of the basics over and over. Makes sense, even if someone is a master of something, the basics are still the foundation of whatever it is.
183 million people are regularly exposed to noise levels labeled as excessive by the EPA.
Do you have a cell phone? Do you have a pager? Do you have voicemail? How many email accounts do you have? Do you have a cell phone with voice-mail and e-mail? Is there anywhere you go that doesn’t have noise? Do you ever do one thing during an entire day? Sleep doesn’t count.
Is there such a thing as visual noise? When was the last time someone asked how you were and your response didn’t include the word “busy”? Talking is easier than listening.
Why is noise so enjoyable? If it’s not enjoyable, why do we voluntarily subject ourselves to so much of it? Convenience?
How often do you end up responding to email? How often does your Outlook pop up with a brand new email message?
Just for a while, think about how often in the day you are truly focused on something. How would your life change if you weren’t dealing with perpetual partial attention deficit? Do you need to answer every email right away? Do you need to check whatever electronic device that you’re thinking about checking right at this moment?
Are the tools that are supposed to be helping you stealing something from you? The quality of your work? The quality of your relationships? The quality of your attention to something?
There are and will always be emergencies that need to be attended to. But not always. Just something to think about.
Microsoft has some betas they released not too long ago if you like free software and fixing computer after you break them by trying beta software. Actually, from what I’ve tried, they’re not too buggy…