Showing all posts tagged: design

Craigslist keeping it simple and the same for twenty-five years

21 September 2022

When I started designing websites back in the day, you were lucky to get a couple of months out of a look. With new web technologies, and design ideas and trends, constantly emerging, it was necessary to redesign almost monthly*. We’re talking personal sites here, but in the late nineties, they were the closest thing an aspiring web designer had to a social media presence, or something like LinkedIn.

I’m certain though there are any number of still active websites that have not changed in the last twenty-five years or so, and American classified adverts site Craigslist is among them. Speaking recently to PCMag writer Emily Dreibelbis, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, says staying the same is the best way to serve their users:

Because that serves people better. I’ve learned that people want stuff that is simple and fast and gets the job done. People don’t need fancy stuff. Sometimes you just want to get through the day.

* or what felt like every month.

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Five levels of encryption on the Australian Signals Directorate coin

7 September 2022

Sen, an all-round IT professional, writes about decoding messages embedded in the recently issued Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) fifty cent coin. While a fourteen year old boy in Tasmania is credited with making the discovery of four messages “hidden” on the coin, it turns out there is a fifth level of encryption.

The outer ring came close to looking like Morse Code and was giving some output that almost looked like real words, but just a bit too gibberish. After much banging-of-heads-on-keyboards we realised I’d transcoded the outer strings wrong, which meant of course we were trying to break codes that didn’t exist.

Note that Sen’s article contains spoilers, the messages are revealed in their entirety, so read it later if you still want to decode the coin’s messages yourself.

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Australian Signals Directorate 50 cent coin with coded message

3 September 2022
Australian Signals Directorate coded commemorative fifty-cent coin

Image courtesy of Royal Australian Mint.

I’d never heard of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) until now, but in short they’re a government intelligence agency.

To mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of their establishment, the Directorate, in association with the Royal Australian Mint, have issued a commemorative fifty-cent coin. But not any fifty-cent coin… this one comes with a hidden, coded, message:

Designed in collaboration with staff from ASD and the Royal Australian Mint, the commemorative coin pays tribute to the evolution of signals intelligence with multiple layers of cryptographic code included in the design. A hidden message will be revealed as each layer of code is cracked; all that is needed is a pen, paper, Wikipedia and brainpower.

Anyone who thinks they’ve cracked the code is invited to submit their answer to the ASD, who will reveal the correct message at the end of September 2022.

Update: well that was quick… ABC News reports a fourteen year old Tasmanian boy cracked the code in about an hour, on the day of the coin’s release.

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Reddit Cutawayporn, cutaway illustrations and videos

20 July 2022

I think I lost at least an hour to Reddit community Cutawayporn when I stopped to take a quick look the other day. As the name suggests, it’s full of cutaway illustrations, including Spanish Bronze Age houses, bomb shelters, Roman aqueducts, and vehicles. Fascinatingly addictive. There’s also this video of an electric arc furnace plant. Who doesn’t want to indulge in a little (harmless) prying?

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A guide to designing and building websites in 1997

11 July 2022

It’s 1997 and you want to build a website, a history of the early days of website development, by Jay Hoffmann. The first version of disassociated went online in 1997. I even held a small launch party. We went to an internet cafe so I could see disassociated on a third-party device that was not mine, nor anyone I knew.

They were the good old days of web design. Designers would stay up all night working on a new website, only to pull it apart, and start all over again when some new trend came along, which seemed to be all the time. Javascript image rollovers, anyone? TV lines? Some of the best experimental web design was to be found in the late nineties. Partly because there was a new-frontier exuberance, and the rules were few.

Despite this, I worked to the HTML 3.2 standard — a non-proprietary specification for building websites to — published by the W3C. My desire to use standards was two-fold: they promised to make the web a little more accessible, and hardly anyone else was working with them. It made me feel like some sort of counter-culture rebel.

When the HMTL 4 spec came along in April 1998 though I quickly adopted it, because, you know, it was shiny and new. I only talk about standards because they were the only paper resource I referred to when coding — sorry, marking up — a website. I didn’t rely on text books to teach myself web design, but rather the online tutorials of the time. Plus a little, actually considerable, trial and error.

I worked at some big-end-of-town company for a short time in 1998, where I furtively printed out the HTML 4 spec, twenty pages at a time, here and there, throughout the day, for several weeks.

Why I needed to waste all that paper — once printed the spec was almost the size of a telephone directory — when I could’ve referred to the document online (via dialup), eludes me now. I think having the spec, bound in a ring-binder, sitting on my desk at home, validated my then fledgling web design aspirations.

For somebody surfing the web in 1997, a book might feel a bit… 20th century. If you already knew the basics of getting online, why not poke around some sites that might help, right there in your browser.

Hoffmann’s article also mentions a bunch of early-on-the-scene web design agencies, including Razorfish, who were behind the production of This Girl, the monthly serialisation of the life of a fictitious twenty-something living in New York, called Phoebe. The work of Razorfish, and the exploits of Phoebe, were one of thousands of web influences I absorbed.

I wonder what became of Phoebe. And that print out of that HMTL 4 spec.

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3D maps of all London Underground tube stations

29 June 2022

Ian Mansfield has posted axonometric diagrams of every station on the London tube, or underground rail network, which were released by Transport for London.

Axonometric diagrams?

They are technically axonometric diagrams, which is 3D-like, but not to scale, which becomes obvious when you see some of the vertiginous descents offered on some stairs and escalators.

Balham station is exactly as I remember it, as is Brixton.

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How locks, including the unpickable Enclave lock, work

27 June 2022

The Enclave lock, designed by Andrew Magill, comes with the claim that it cannot be picked. This might be the news the security conscious have been waiting for.

Some locks are more difficult to pick than others. Some have more perfect tolerances, or more positions, or keyways that are more difficult to fit tools into, or parts that move in unusual ways, or parts designed to mislead pickers, and so on. But these are only incremental improvements, and don’t address the fundamental flaw. The solution is to make it so that the two steps- accepting input, and testing that input- can never happen at the same time. When those two steps cannot interact with each other, a well-designed lock will never reveal information about the correct positions of its individual parts, nor can they be made to ‘fall into’ their unlocked positions through manipulation.

Watch the video clip for the Enclave lock though. As well as demonstrating Magill’s new lock, it also shows how conventional locks work. Quite fascinating.

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2022 Australian Book Design Awards winners

7 June 2022

The winners in the 2022 Australian Book Design Awards (ABDA), which recognise outstanding book cover design, were announced on Friday 3 June 2022.

In Moonland (published by Scribe Publications, August 2021), by Melbourne based Australian author Miles Allinson won the Best Designed Literary Fiction Cover, while Catch Us the Foxes (published by Simon & Schuster, July 2021), by Sydney based Nicola West, took out the award for Best Designed Commercial Fiction Cover.

Cover designs in twenty categories were nominated, and all winners can be seen on the ABDA Instagram page.

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Keming is omnipresent, now let’s add it to the dictionary

16 May 2022

American photographer, filmmaker, and writer David Friedman has launched a campaign to have keming, a word he devised in 2008, added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

I coined the word “keming” in 2008, defining it as “the result of improper kerning.” It’s a bit of visual wordplay because kerning is the adjustment of space between letters and if you kern the word kerning improperly, the r and n can merge to form an m. “Kerning” becomes “keming.”

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2022 Australian Book Design Awards shortlist

19 April 2022

The 2022 Australian Book Design Awards shortlist, which can be viewed here (PDF), was announced last week. The awards celebrate the best of Australian book design, and the winners will be named at a ceremony taking place at The Craft & Co in Melbourne, on Friday 3 June 2022.

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To honour honey bees, a commemorative two-dollar coin

11 April 2022
Australian honey bee two dollar collectors coin

Image courtesy of Royal Australian Mint.

Australia’s honey bee industry is officially two hundred years old this year. To mark the milestone, the Royal Australian Mint will soon be making available a commemorative two-dollar coin adorned with two honey bees, and feature a distinct honey-coloured honeycomb centre.

Since its introduction in 1988, the Australian two dollar coin has featured a number of colourfully designed centres, making certain pieces particularly collectible, and in some cases, worth somewhat more than their two-dollar face value. It might be an idea to check through the loose change in your coin jar…

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Vale Stephen E. Wilhite, creator of the GIF

29 March 2022

American computer scientist Stephen E. Wilhite who invented the GIF, being Graphics Interchange Format, in 1987, has died aged seventy-four.

Although GIFs are synonymous with animated internet memes these days, that wasn’t the reason Wilhite created the format. CompuServe introduced them in the late 1980s as a way to distribute “high-quality, high-resolution graphics” in color at a time when internet speeds were glacial compared to what they are today.

GIFs weren’t just used for animations, they were also an image format, similar to the more familiar JPEG or PNG formats in use today. Hunt around on Oblong Obsession and you’ll find one or two. You can’t go passed a classic. Thank you Mr Wilhite.

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2022 Australian Book Design Awards longlist

18 March 2022

Especially for those who enjoy judging books by their covers, the 2022 Australian Book Design Awards longlist has been announced. There are over one hundred and sixty titles vying for recognition across twenty categories, plus the Deb Brash Emerging Designer of the Year award.

Fiction titles are essentially separated into four groups, children’s, young adult, commercial, and literary. The Other Side of Beautiful, by South Australian author Kim Lock, The Younger Wife, by Melbourne novelist Sally Hepworth, are among candidates in the commercial fiction category, while In Moonland, by Miles Allinson, is one of the nominations in the literary fiction segment.

Over four-hundred-and-ninety titles were considered in this year’s award, before the longlist was unveiled. The shortlist will be made public in early April, with the winners in each category being named on Friday 3 June 2022, in Melbourne.

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Illustration by Eric Slager, the muppets go minimal

6 December 2010

Since I can’t get enough of minimal design and illustration… graphic designer Eric Slager’s Minimalist Muppets illustration series.

No Cookie Monster then?

(Thanks Jessica)

Originally published Monday 6 December 2010.

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Flip from left to right when driving from Hong Kong to China

16 June 2010
Hong Kong/China traffic flip bridge

A proposal by Dutch designers, NL architects, could result in the construction of a far from ordinary bridge roadway connecting Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland, which would include artificial islands serving as car parks and bus stations.

Hong Kong/China traffic flip bridge

Under the proposal, a “flipper” would be incorporated along the connecting roadway, allowing Hong Kong motorists – who drive on the left – to switch safely and effortlessly to the right, the side Chinese drivers use, and vice versa.

Originally published Wednesday 16 June 2010.

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