April Randoms

Every month, I end up with several items I’d like to post about, but none is particularly worth dedicating an entire entry to. Rather than let these little things go unposted, I figured I’d just aggregate them into one post per month, and perhaps together, they are worth one post. Here goes:


I’ve used this site for years but I don’t think most people know about. It is a huge repository of logos from various companies, mostly in vector format. If you’ve ever found yourself doing mockups involving corporate logos you may not have easy access to, check out logotypes.ru before trying to grab badly compressed web versions from production sites. Is it legal? I don’t know. But the .ru means Russia, and I doubt our comrades overseas really care about such formalities.

Safari 1.3 is out

Dave Hyatt announced the release of Safari 1.3 today, which uses the same codebase as the version of Safari (2.0) that comes with Tiger. I just downloaded it and I’m quite impressed. Aside from the 35% speed improvement, Safari 1.3 adds support for such features as getComputedStyle and contentEditable (yay!). This version of Safari also squashes the long running bug whereby Safari would need an innerHTML “kick in the ass” in order repaint elements which had been changed via the DOM. As you can imagine, all of these under-the-hood improvements benefit sIFR greatly. In fact, we used sIFR to help Dave and Apple squash a DOM bug a couple of months ago. I personally can’t wait to begin using contentEditable on some of my projects. I’ve always loved how it works in PC IE, and now finally Mac users can use it too. Firefox, where are you?
UPDATE: There do appear to be some newly introduced bugs in Safari 1.3 from looking at all of the latest comments over on Dave’s site. Some caching issues have arisen, as well as some JS and DOM issues. Hopefully a quick update will be forthcoming.

Levis Jeans

Did you know you can’t even buy Levis at most department stores anymore? I walked into my local Macy’s last week to buy some Silvertabs and was shocked to find no Levis whatsoever. The salesman told me that barely any department stores carry them anymore because most Levis are now sold through discount warehouses like Costco and Sam’s Club. Turns out that in order for Macy’s to sell Levis at a competitive price, they’d have to take a loss on them. I know there are plenty of other jeans around these days, but I have to wonder if Levis’ decision to whore their jeans out to discounters might bite them in the long run. In the short run, I’ve been reduced to shopping at J.C. Penneys (ouch!) in order to get a pair of Levis… they still sell them for now.

Incomplete Redesigns

There seems to be a practice lately of relaunching sites before they are ready. It’s mainly blogs, but I’ve noticed a lot of relaunches lately with disclaimers like “try not to pay attention to the navigation” and “the comment system doesn’t work yet” and all sorts of other warnings. Maybe I’m just old school about design, but I would never dream of launching anything that was less than about 90-95% ready. If you have a few chunks of invalid code or a couple of enhancements which aren’t ready yet, fine…. but if the state of your site requires a disclaimer of incompleteness, it probably isn’t ready to be launched. And if it isn’t ready to be launched, then don’t launch it.

The Pontiac Solstice

I have never come close to buying a Pontiac. I’ve never seen one which had any appeal to me whatsoever. Being a European/Japanese car snob my whole life, I’ve pretty much tuned out American cars as being anything I’d ever want to own. Pontiacs, to me, have done nothing to dampen this sentiment. They are often rental cars, and they are just never fun or attractive (apologies if you own one). But wow… have you seen the new Solstice??? It was featured on The Apprentice this week and I am just completely taken aback by how beautiful it is. Take the emblem off of there and you’d think it was an exotic car. The Apprentice has really set the new standard for product placement on TV, and I must say, whatever Pontiac paid for that placement was well worth it. I’m still not big on two-seaters, but the Solstice’s appearance on The Apprentice is enough to at least get me out to the lot.

Mind Control

If you’re at all interested in the power of persuasion, check out some of Derren Brown’s tricks of the trade. Interesting, and a tad scary.

38 comments on “April Randoms”. Leave your own?
  1. Keith says:

    I disagree with you about the incomplete redesign thing. It all depends on how you define “ready” and it’s pretty hard to make sweeping generalizations of that sort when you’re talking about Web sites.

    I think it depends on the project. For some it can be really helpful to launch a bit incomplete. But you’ve got to have the right audience for it. I know with my recent launch it helped me target and fix some things that would have taken me much longer had I not launced.

    Meaning I’m much further along and have spent less time than if I’d have just sorted all the issues myself. Also, most project I’ve worked on need tweaking and revisions even if they are 95% the way there!

    I’ve got another project I’m going to launch before it’s anywhere near done. There is a reason behind that, and while I do see it is a risk, I think I can benefit from getting it out there very early.

    It comes down to goals, audience, workload, etc. I say, if you have a good reason to launch incomplete and understand the risks (if there are any), go ahead and do it.

    There is no such thing as a perfect Web site anyway and most sites are in a constant state of tweak. Oh, and most the stuff out there in “complete” state is crap. ;)

    So, yeah, I think you are a bit old school in that regard. I mean for ESPN sure,get it right, but this half-finsihed stuff works really well for some people.

  2. Mike D. says:

    Yeah, I don’t know. “Ready” definitely doesn’t mean perfect or never having to change again, but I just feel like some sites get launched even before they meet the basic definition of “ready”.

  3. Keith says:

    Haha…I getcha. But again, I think it depends. But hey, a year or so ago I’d have been right there with you. I used to be a bit of a perfectionist when it came to projects but I’ve realized it caused more headaches, and took more time, that it was usually worth.

    Hey, that mind reading shi-er-stuff, is totally freaky!

  4. Mike says:

    This is good stuff. Have you considered a link blog or del.icio.us to get these sorts of links up without having to save ’em up for one big post? Maybe I’m just being selfish — I don’t wanna wait. But del.icio.us has been great for me, replacing bookmarks and helping me keep track of all the things I stumble across every day.

  5. I don’t like launching incomplete websites, but sometimes I just want to finally have it up so bad that it happens (http://www.digxworld.com). None of the navigation links really have content but it’s either this or a blank page. I like it better than the blank page. :)

  6. Chris says:

    I understand wanting a professional site to be solid when it is launched but when it comes to the various blogs out there I’ll accept a constant state of construction and demolition.

    Sure things should at the basics be ready for a launch but that constant blogger tweak is gonna be there. A pixel here, bit of padding there. That’s the great thing about the web. You can build a house, basically furnish it then keep moving the damn walls around.

  7. Vladimir says:

    I agree on the incomplete redesigns, and unfortunately I’ve been guilty of doing it myself. Sometimes I’m just to eager and want to show off, and it doesn’t matter too much to me since my audience is generally pretty small. However, it is really bad practice to launch early. Completed works are always much better received by the public than something that is slowly finished in public view.

  8. James Archer says:

    So what did you think of the winning brochure on The Apprentice? I was pretty impressed with it; I’m guessing they probably had a fair amount of behind-the-scenes help. (Is there a PDF of that thing available anywhere?)

  9. Max says:

    Another site that is similar to logotypes.ru is my favorite: Brands of the World. I have found it to be a little more complete for the logos I look for.

  10. I personally can’t wait to begin using contentEditable on some of my projects. I’ve always loved how it works in PC IE, and now finally Mac users can use it too. Firefox, where are you?

    But Firefox has rich text support… or did you mean that you no longer need FF with the new Safari?

  11. vaska says:

    Ack, I have to comment on so many things now…

    When time is of the essence and/or the lack of it…launching something unfinished can be necessary. If you know the next month is going to be blurry and you currently don’t have anything online (which is where I’ve found myself lately).

    Contenteditable is finally here, nice!

    v1.3 Safari seems to be having issues with XMLHttpRequest in addition to Java (for some). Can anybody who has 1.3 load the same search term twice on this page? I can with everything, except 1.3…bummer.


  12. Mike D. says:

    James: Yeah, the winning brochure did indeed look pretty slick. I am always both simultaneously irked and impressed with how The Apprentice manages to trivialize the design process down to like one day on all of these projects. The same thing happened when they had to design that Pepsi bottle. While they clearly always have a professional designer or design team doing the layout and production, it’s still impressive that some of these yokels are able to push something decent out the door. Big ups to Kendra for staying up all night too… she’s my pick to win it all.

    David: Are you talking about the Midas stuff in Firefox? I’ve just never thought that much of the implementation. It’s not as elegant as contentEditable, but from marke’s link above, it looks like the FF team is working hard to get contentEditable into a future version of Firefox. That’s good news.

  13. Tom says:

    Derren is great, I dont know if you get the shows or the DVD’s over there but they are really interesting.

    The last one I saw involved making people thinkg he was a UFO expert and had a “magic” box that could record dreams. Genius.

  14. jason3d says:

    The Pontiac Solstice:
    I love the look of the Solstice. I had first seen it last year when it showed up in CARGO magazine. It’s really hot looking and the 20-22k price point makes it even more attractive. However I think they only reached that price by going with the 4 cylinder power plant that it will initially be offered with. That said, it still looks like a fun car to drive for the price.

    FYI: I’ve owned a Pontiac Vibe for the last 3 years and it’s been great. It is also the only Pontiac (till the Solstice) that I’ve had any interest in. When I heard they were bringing back the GTO I was looking forward to something that would look like a muscle car. Boy was I disappointed. How long are they going to keep churning out that Grand Am/Prix/Bonneville body style?? They all look alike! GTOGrand PrixBonnevilleGrand Am

    I do like the look of the new Mustang

  15. Jay says:

    Like the Solstice? You should check out the Saturn Sky coming in ’06. http://www.saturn.com/saturn/index.jsp?nav=1&flashOK=yes
    Both the Solstice and the Sky are based on the Vauxhall VX Lightning. http://vauxhall.co.uk/futureModels/VXLightning.jhtml
    So your comment of being a European car snob is not too far off target.

  16. Olly says:

    Hmm, not so sure about the Solstice. It reminds me of the Nissan 350Z (or is that Fairlady – who came up with that name!?), but its not as nice, if you see what I mean.

    You’re right though, its certainly a hell of a lot prettier than most other American cars :)

  17. Jeremy says:

    Jay — the Pontiac Vibe is a re-badged Toyota Matrix, and the Vauxhall is based off the same platform as the Solstice, not the other way around.
    From a friend who is an analyst in the auto industry:
    both the Matrix/Vibe are made at NUMMI [GM -Toyota joint venture plant in Fremont, CA] and the Chevy badged Corolla was the Prizm, which is no longer produced…the upcoming Vauxhall VX Lightning will be based off the Kappa platform, which is shared by the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky. The VX Lightning will replace the Vauxhall VX220, currently made by Lotus out of the UK. The VX Lightning was developed concurrent with the Saturn Sky. The vehicles look almost identical, with the exception of the badges.

    What’s impressive about the Solstice is how many of the styling cues from the prototype actually made it into the production model, and the fact that they were able to keep it at that $20k-$22k price point. GM’s still in a world of hurt right now, though, despite some impressive designs…

  18. Mike, just remember that the Solstice is still a Pontiac. Like you, I’m a euro/japan car snob, and am convinced than 95 percent of American made cars are crap.

    And yes, I saw the Apprentice too. The car does look really slick. It’s still a GM. Somehow I have the feeling that you’re going to sit down in it, and the steering wheel will fall off.

  19. James Archer says:

    As the unfortunate owner of two Chevys, I can vouch for the fact that American cars are pretty much junk. Design is returning to the American auto industry, but I’m still being Japanese for at least the next decade. Then maybe I’ll check back to see if GM has cleaned up their act.

  20. Andrew says:

    Pontiac has been building crappy, unsellable cars for so long that it’s hard for me to believe that it isn’t some of front for the mob. They have clearly cornered the market on poor design and even worse quality. So while the Solstice might look like a sweet machine on their website, I’d still be very skeptical.

  21. B. Adam says:

    James: I feel the need to jump in right quick and defend American ingenuity and my 2004 Ford Focus. I love it — it’s simple, no frills, straight-forward design fits me perfectly and (as far as I know) most of it was at least made right here in the good old USofA.

  22. Jeremy says:

    Adam wrote: I feel the need to jump in right quick and defend American ingenuity and my 2004 Ford Focus.

    The current design of the Ford Focus was originally launched in Europe, then brought to the US based on that success. So that American ingenuity came in the form of a German design team…
    (It’s a pity Ford isn’t doing the same with the current European Focus, as it’s been a hugely successful redesign. The official line is that “Americans don’t go for the European engineering.”)

    As far as being built here in the US, so are the vast majority of Toyotas and Hondas. (However, Toyota’s Scion line is currently all import, as is most of the Lexus brand, though I believe there’s RX400 production in Canada for a couple of years now).

  23. Nick says:

    jason3d says: When I heard they were bringing back the GTO I was looking forward to something that would look like a muscle car. Boy was I disappointed. How long are they going to keep churning out that Grand Am/Prix/Bonneville body style?? They all look alike!

    I know I’m straying from the topic at hand but I have to defend the GTO here. The GTO is a Pontiac-badged Holden Monaro, made in Australia. It was not developed alongside the Grand Am/Prix/Bonneville. It was, in fact, based on elements of the Holden Commodore. Much better looking, in my humble opinion, than anything else Pontiac has attempted in the last… forever. Although they still somehow made the Monaro look worse.

  24. Jason3d says:

    B. Adam: My first new car was a 2001 Ford Focus. I loved it… until the warranty was up. Up to that point it was perfect and I had babied it, hell it was my first new car. Within 60 days of the end of the warranty I had 3 power window units break, the front breaks went and had to be replaced (not just pads), the breaks went bad so fast (on the way to the shop), it messed up other things, map sensor, and about 5 other things that I can’t even remember.

    After rounds and rounds of phone calls with the dealer about how all this could happen right when the warranty ends the best I could get from him was a $450 ‘Warranty Adjustment’ I still ended up paying almost $2,300 for repairs that would have mostly been covered 60days prior. I dumped the Focus for the Vibe and never looked back. I doubt I’ll ever buy a Ford again.

    FYI you may want to keep an eye on the breaks. You know how breaks used to squeak when they need new pads? According to the break shop Ford has designed their breaks not to do that. I guess it’s a bit of aluminum that makes it squeak. So with Fords you don’t get any indication your breaks need attention, they just go. Breaks were fine one day next day as we drove it started to sound like our tires were wobbling, drove it to the shop and by the time we got there it sounded like we were driving on a flat.

    Sorry for the rant, I’d just hate to see you get burned like I did. Maybe the 04 is fine.

  25. jeremy says:

    The GTO is a Pontiac-badged Holden Monaro, made in Australia.
    Ironic isn’t it, that a car considered an icon of American cars is imported. Though the 2008 redesign of the GTO is slated for US productio in addition to Holden.

    Jason – the Focus set records for the number of recalls on the 2000 and 2001 models. It got better, but as of the 2003 model, there were still issues, particularly with water leaks in the passenger cabin (a fact I learned the hard way with a rental…).

  26. B. Adam says:

    Jeremy: Hehe, that’s why I hedged my bet with “as far as I know” — I knew somebody knew more about it than I did!

    Jason3d: Thanks for the heads up — I will have to pay attention to that. I made sure my warranty lasted as long as my payments, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best in a few years :)

  27. Su says:

    Aaaand, more logos:

    La Logotheque also has flags. The logos are mysteriously accessibly only through the “alphabetic search” near top. There doesn’t seem to be anyway to get at them through the actual navbar.

    Hockey Logos. No vector downloads, but decent-size images that are generally clear enough you can get a good trace off them if you need to.

    AllTheLogos.com charges a fee for the manual processing of e-mailing a logo to you. Um…’kay. But if you can’t find it anywhere else, I suppose.

    Aerosite.net has airline logos, plan specs and livery designs. No downloads, unfortunately, but I don’t think I’ve ever come across this stuff anywhere else.

  28. Shawn says:

    Just thought Id drop a note that if you like the Pontiac Solstice, I would atleast consider waiting for the Saturn version: http://www.saturn.com/saturn/showroom/future_vehicles/sky.jsp?nav=710&flashOK=yes

  29. Lea says:

    Well, really, Blue Vertigo Resources is my one-stop shop as it organizes all the logo sites, photo sites, font sites, vector illustrations, etc. all in one place. He keeps it updated very regularly.

  30. Don says:

    Bad idea Mike … don’t aggregate posts. While they may be little snippets (call them something else if you wish), this unthreads comments and etc. Further, your minor thought may set off a good comment thread.

    I really did like the solstice as well. If I didn’t have 5 kids I might buy one — or I might anyway and then me and the one I love the most have a reason not to take the kids.

    I had kind of dismissed the one girl on the show until she came up with Solstice brochure. Brilliant and really self done thanks to her worthless teammates. The only thing good they did was Tana getting the words from people … but then they both crapped out on creativity and on production assistance. Now I’m rooting for that girl as I don’t think white male will prevail two years in a row.

  31. Where to start?

    During my first ever HTML course (1996) the trainer suggested that “putting up a site with an “Under Construction” banner on it is just daft”. I stick with that, although I don’t count “tweaks” to an existing site.

    Derren Brown is.. scary/astonishing and more. His current series is airing in the UK and one scene sees him walk up to a man, and after three questions (asking him for directions) and a little reassurance, the guy handed him his wallet without even realising it.

    He’s also correctly guessed the amount of money in a guys wallet and pockets, again with only a few questions. FREAKY and well worth watching!

    (His Christmas special last year was live Russian roulette with a real bullet).

  32. Brian says:

    I’ve never seen anybody older’n 20 behind the wheel of a Pontiac, and I’ve never seen a Pontiac driver show any regard for the people around them. Often, they’re “OMFG TOTAL-E PIMPD OUT LOLZXORS!” with stickers. I know I’m showing irrational prejudice, but that’s just how I see ’em.

  33. Lucian says:

    Regarding the incomplete design (mostly blogs), I am currently in the midst of doing exactly just that. If content is king (and I believe for most blogs it is such), a break in content disappoints readers. Given the non-paying nature of most blogs, redesigns are easily sidelined by paying gigs, extending the break in content (ie. more readers lost).

    While proper design processes are ideal, blogs have allowed a design-on-the-fly which is a refreshing change from paying work. Readers feel involved in the process and constant feedback sometimes yields very interesting and practical perspectives.

  34. JPrime says:

    I personally can’t wait to begin using contentEditable on some of my projects. I’ve always loved how it works in PC IE, and now finally Mac users can use it too. Firefox, where are you?

    The Mozile extension for Firefox is their answer I think. It uses methods more in-line with the direction that the W3C is heading for denoting editable areas using CSS attributes (at this point, Mozilla-only versions of ‘user-modify’, ‘user-input’ and ‘user-select’).

    It outputs valid XHTML and also seems have a more streamlined way of submitting the data directly through a POST, webDAV connection or ontp a local drive. No need to script a transfer between your editable area and a hidden form field! Yay!

    The only downside I can see is that it is Gecko-specific. But I remember another company that introduced a non-standard attribute called ‘contentEditable’ that only worked in their browser and now everyone wants to use it. :P

  35. Creford says:

    Interestingly, those are great and site. Thanks for informative and excellent posts.

  36. Spring Cleaning

    I wanted to do something like Mike Davidson did before I even read his blog this morning, but nonetheless, I wanted to combine a few topics together in one post….

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