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In the move to get as much exposure and as many fans as possible for our new web show, Vampire Zombie Werewolf*, we are designing a site with a lot of clutter. Lots of thumbnails, lots of links, lots of boxes with text fed from other parts of the site, lots of badges to like or tweet or love or post, forms for commenting… Let’s just say it’s the opposite of a clean and orderly site.

The site will not be bad. In fact, despite the mess, I think it’s turning out to be quite nice. It will certainly be better than most sites out there, especially other video and social sites. But it won’t necessarily be a visual pleasure, serene and welcoming. It will be strident, a salesman wearing a trench coat containing pockets overflowing with goodies. Watch our show! Here it is! You love it you can tell because you want to click on everything here on the page go ahead just don’t leave please no don’t leave!

The practicality of having a site with every possible trick to lure and keep an audience is, unfortunately, more important than a site with a few really wonderful experiences. Robb is right: just look at the most popular sites on the Web. YouTube? Disaster. Facebook? A mess. Google? Noisy. But people love them and flock to them and expect the rest of their world to be like this. Can we have a serene, fun, cool site without all that? Of course we can. But no one knows who we are. If we’re going to have any chance of catching the eyes of the Web-blind, we have to have something they expect. It hurts me to admit that. Hopefully we are balancing noise with style.

I’ve heard of Edward Tufte, but for the first time today, I read about his concept of 1+1=3. I saw it mentioned in a blog post about the design tweaks in a recent update to a program I use often, OmniFocus. Perhaps ironically, I’ve been searching for a replacement to OmniFocus because that application’s vast array of features and the design that has resulted have been factors in me not using the app as much as I should. I don’t think OmniFocus is badly designed at all, I just want something simpler, less busy, faster for me to use.

Alas, the major feature I truly do desire in a to-do app—invisible, automatic syncing among all instances of the app across Macs and iDevices—is only to be found in OmniFocus. And so, for now, I have decided to stay with it and purchase the iPad version of the app. When I can afford it.

Now, 1+1=3. The Omni blog post linked to this essay by Scott Jensen, which contains a design example I imagine we have all had a bad run-in with at one time or another: elevator open and close buttons.

I agree 100% that open and close buttons require too much thinking. It takes too long to decide which button is the one you need to press. I would welcome better buttons in my office building, that’s for sure. However, once Scott gets to the part about removing the close button altogether, to simplify the choice and remove the +1 (and therefore the =3), I start to balk. I do not do so because I think the close button should be there to save a few seconds. I do so because the fundamental design of elevator systems do not allow for a perfect timing of the closing of the doors.

Huh?

Well, here, it’s like this: As with most elevators, the cars in my building emit a piercing alarm when the doors are allowed to stay open too long. Sometimes, as is currently the case here at the office, an elevator’s programming goes awry, and the doors will not close until the alarm has begun to sound. The only way to avoid the alarm? Hit the close button and hold it until the doors shut.

A more selfish case also exists in my office building. In the morning, until about 10:00am, the doors of the elevators on the lobby level are programmed to stay open until just before the alarm sounds. It feels interminable. I assume this pause is to allow each car to accept a maximum allotment of rush hour bodies before climbing into the building. But what if no one is coming? Why wait there like fools? No need to. There’s a close button.

In the non-close button scenario from Scott’s essay, we’d all be stuck waiting for technology to do whatever the hell it’s doing. If the technology is failing, we all get to stand, wait for the alarm to go off, then listen to it for the 3 seconds it takes the doors to close. In the morning, we all get to stand, waiting inefficiently, until the doors’ program allows them to close.

I’d be happy to take the door close button out of elevators, but another design consideration makes the door close button a near necessity: the elevators themselves. Design keeps the doors open a long time in the mornings. Design causes the elevator doors to fail until the alarm rings. Design allows for a pointless alarm in the first place.

And so it is with the Vampire Zombie Werewolf website. If we wish to attract a wide audience of people who frequent the Web, we have to keep the close button. I wish we could be the cool ones who have a stylish, beautiful, and minimal site that wins us millions of adherents by showcasing the quality of our episodes, but we can’t afford that. The current design of society dictates that we keep what others have come to expect.

A website without comments, three ways to get to everything, summaries of stuff from elsewhere, flashy thumbnail directories, and social linky badges?

An elevator without a close button?

Ridiculous!

*At this writing, the VZW website linked is not the one I’m referring to. Our new site will be up soon.

Thanks to some satellite pictures of housing developments—many of them unfinished—in Florida and a coincidental link at Daring Fireball, I have re-visited a post from 2006 about Walt’s film pitch for EPCOT.

I have to say, the mixed-use phenomenon has grown out of control in the last 4½ years. Since The Grove, an incredible number of mixed-use projects have been finished. The Americana in Glendale, by the same folks who did The Grove, is truly mixed-use, with living space above the actual mall, overlooking it.

Then there’s City Center in Vegas, which I just visited last week. It’s a sprawling mix of hotels, condos, office buildings, shops, galleries, and, of course, casinos.

The problem with every single one of these developments is their lack of integration into the surrounding environment. I don’t mean visually, but practically. In L.A., these large developments have not properly taken into account the impact of their presence on the rest of the city around them. Traffic is worse, parking is impossible (unless you want to shell out cash, which is like being robbed), crowds get unbearable. Part of EPCOT’s purpose was an attempt to harmonize the mess of traffic and congestion that is a city. Some people love the cacophony of a messy, crowded, traffic-jammed city. I’m thinking New York, Chicago… I don’t know a single person who likes the congestion and traffic of Los Angeles. Maybe because the city’s soul seems to spring from this source. L.A. is defined by it’s clogged arteries. How tragic.

Again, a 100% planned city is a bit creepy and strange, but maybe that’s because no one’s yet done it correctly. I’m not a fan of any of these mixed-use monstrosities that have sprouted lately, and I’d rather sleep under my office desk every night than go home to a condo over a Lululemon. Such places are built solely for commercial reasons, with no thought to, as Walt said, “the public need.” No one needs The Americana or City Center. They solve no problems. But EPCOT, had it grown into something like Walt pitched in that movie, might have drawn my interest. Maybe it would have succeeded, and been an inspiring mix of technology, progress, and design.

Maybe. Who knows? But the thought of it is still exciting to ponder.

Thanks to an Ars Technica article, I got a bit sidetracked today.

Two bills have been introduced, one in the Senate and one in the House, that prevent the FCC from “regulating the Internet.” The fake front argument is that “no one wants the government regulating the Internet!” Because, you see, it’s so much better to leave that regulation in the hands of the people who provide the service in the first place. I hope you’re not missing the subtle sarcasm there.

These bills are really meant to allow your Internet provider to filter, restrict, or censor Internet content as they see fit if they feel it is in the best interest of… themselves. The argument that the companies need to do these things to protect their systems, their businesses, and the economy of the universe at large are so retardedly illogical and false that it gets me fuming. You could smoke gouda on my head.

The Senate bill S. 1836 by our friend John McCain and the House bill H. R. 3924 by some hack legislator named Marsha Blackburn (I base her hack status solely on this bill) are eye-rollingly named: “Internet Freedom Act of 2009″ and “Real Stimulus Act of 2009,” respectively.

Internet Freedom Act, Mr. McCain? If you must believe that a handful of greedy douche bags with profits as a sole motivator are in need of freedom, fine go ahead. It must mean you’re ignorant or a complete douche yourself.

If the providers get their way, within the next decade, I guarantee you (really, it’s a guarantee), we’ll see limitations on our Internet access. “We have to limit the speed because speed is expensive and you don’t want to pay $400 a month for speed, now, do you?” “We have to limit P2P access because it’s stealing the Internet from others who need it!” “We have to make sure you don’t download .m4v files over 200Kb because, hey, we’re not here for your convenience!” Whatever the arguments end up being, I’m absolutely certain Time Warner will make sure I am not able to get fast download speeds from sites they deem “hostile to Time Warner’s interests.”

I am so pissed at this, I wrote to my congressfolk! You can do it, too. You can find your Senator here, at the top right of the page, and you can find your Representative here, at the top left. Write them if net neutrality is important to you. It should be, unless you’re a greedy douche bag.

* * * * * *

My e-mail to Henry Waxman:

I am flabbergasted at Representative Marsha Blackburn’s irrelevantly- and deceptively-titled Real Stimulus Act of 2009 (H. R. 3924).

It is ignorant to believe that cable companies and telcos have the true interests of their customers at heart when it comes to making sure we are all allowed to access what we want when we want on the Internet. These companies have to be TOLD that it will never be okay to limit our access. Money will always be the excuse for why speed has to be throttled, or why the amount of data we can download every month has to be limited, or why certain kinds of files have to be discriminated against.

We should all appreciate the money it’s taken to install the infrastructure capable of bringing such a phenomenon as the Internet into our lives (though it lags behind much of the rest of the technologically-blessed world), but claiming “too much” Internet will hurt profits and the economy is an insulting and specious position.

Real stimulus is letting the Internet continue to be an open, unburdened frontier, passing all data through at maximum possible speeds at all times. Business is not capable of monitoring itself, only the FCC can do so.

Please vote against H. R. 3924 and work to convince others of your colleagues to do the same.

Thank you!

There are these half-inch-long flat bits of something that I have been finding in my apartment for years. I thought they were just some kind of odd “leftover”… bug shells or carcasses, or maybe a flattened droppings. I don’t have vermin in my apartment, no mice or rats, so it couldn’t really be droppings. No roaches, thank God. But I do have silverfish. Lots and lots of silverfish.

One day, some time ago, I saw one of these flat things moving. It surprised and mystified me. I could not tell how the thing was moving. It was so slow and ponderous, and I didn’t see any legs. Grabbing it in a Kleenex didn’t show me anything; it just sat there, like a piece of nothing, and I threw it away. Just last week, I found one crawling slowly up my bedroom wall, and saw a tiny something at the front, though I could not really discern what it was. Grabbing it again didn’t show me anything.

Finally, today, I saw one in the kitchen sink and got to examine it. It had a head poking out one end. Then the head went away and poked out the other end. Odd! I picked the thing out of the sink and put it on my counter. After a minute, it poked its head out again, then started crawling, slowly and ponderously. I took pictures and a movie.


What the hell? What was this thing?

As I was pondering the mystery with Derrick tonight, I decided to randomly search something: “silverfish larvae.” What if these were, somehow, the larval stage of the silverfish? It didn’t make much sense because I’ve seen very tiny silverfish, much smaller than this hermit worm.

The answer was easier to find than I thought. Someone else out there had thought the same thing, but we were both wrong about the silverfish connection. Here it is, the larva of the household casebearer moth. Now I also know what to call those tiny little moths I sometimes see around.

It turns out that the little larva fella can turn around in that silk-lined house of his! That explains the “double heads.”

Well, now that I know these are just moth larvae, I’m not nearly as creeped out by them as I am by the silverfish. Silverfish are always spooking me by writhing out from under things… Gads!

Household Casebearer Moth Larva

Red Flowers

I took my day-old iPhone 3G S out for a hike today, and had lots of fun testing out the camera. It’s pretty impressive for something on a “phone.” I use the quotes because, really, the iPhone is maybe only 10% phone.

I posted stuff live to Twitter during the hike. I’d send you to Twitpic to see how they posted, but it’s really not worth the effort. There are no forward or back buttons on Twitpic (or Yfrog), so I’d have to post the individual link for each picture. No thanky.

But wonder awaits! I have a collection of full-res pictures and movies lovingly posted to Steve’s Snapshots for you to examine. Here’s a sample:


Being able to take that movie was pretty exciting. Not only did the butterfly behave, but I shot it with a phone! Well, okay, a 10% phone. Really, I shot it with a pocket Mac. (The movie in my gallery is larger.)

Go see the rest of the hike stuff now! Hurry! Before it’s too late!

Read this amazing piece by John Siracusa at Ars Technica. This is the latest in a recent series of articles that has given me hope that the standards I put on myself and on others are not unreasonable or impossible, but useful. Am I equating myself with either Jobs or Siracusa? God, no! But in my own brand of criticism, I have some faith.

I could spend my time talking about my “standards” as they relate to the sitcom, but I’m very comfortable with my talents and abilities in that realm, so I’m going to talk about a different project, something that’s a bit of a departure for me.

I have been steeped in the design of a website for work, a vast and daring undertaking of a site that will hopefully make most people’s lives at the company better. This is the third site I’ve been charged with overseeing in some way, and I have come to learn that the standards to which I hold the things I create is much higher than the standards of others.

The first site was an employee portal, a place for the exchange of ideas and documents. I simply had to design the look of the site. To me, that meant pondering a bit of the UI as well. I came up with an idea that people were sold on, and I did my best to get my design vendors and the site programmers to work toward creating that idea. The site was doomed, however, for a few reasons. First, it was being built in SharePoint, a Microsoft solution. “Uh-oh.” Yup. Microsoft. The site tools were limited, and any cool or interesting look or behavior I wanted was going to require re-programming modules and pages and other such nonsense. This is the second reason for its doomage: No one wanted or had the time to complete the extra programming it took to get the site looking really great.

I gave up on the site, since it was out of my control—I was only the designer. The site does not have the traffic it should today because, I believe, it’s ugly and difficult to use.

The second site was to be a subset of the first, a place to discuss and share anti-piracy policies and projects. Knowing what our limitations were, I did not expend any sweat on this one. I spent some time discussing UI ideas and how the site would be used, but I was not passionate about the outcome. I had a vendor design it, made sure the client was happy, and let it go. It’s a bit better than the portal, but not as good as it could have been.

The third site is the big one, a huge chance to get something up and running that people all over the world will not only find helpful, but great. This one I was allowed to design from the ground up, including the UI. The UI is much more important to me on one level than the design because without a great UI, the design would just be lipstick on a Sarah Palin.

We have had long meetings discussing esoterica such as button looks, fonts, drop-down tab bar functionality, and destination indications (huh?). Our SVP even threw a wrench into the works a while back requesting a “simple” interface option which, of course, is much more complicated to design and execute than anything else on the site.

I’m sticking to my guns on this one. I have argued my vision over and over, even to the smallest detail, and have changed my position only if someone has been able to show me that another way is better. (I’m usually that someone. Oh, the arguments I’ve had with myself in my head, and oh, the number of times I’ve talked myself out of one method or style and into another. And oh, the times I’ve talked myself back!)

We are still a very, very long way from any kind of functioning site, but I’m finding its creation to be a new and fun bit o’ business. I also am getting more comfortable with my critical ideas and putting those into a tangible design. I have been adamant that we find new or alternate ways to do the same things other sites do inelegantly. I have been forcing myself and others to make sure nothing on our site is overly complicated or difficult to use. The brainpower and long meetings seemingly wasted on the tiniest of details are, to me, necessity.

Of course, if it ever gets to the point where we’re not making any progress on the site because I’m too stubborn in my demands, I have to hope I recognize such, and move on or fix the problem later. But there can be very little of this. Fixing problems later usually means never fixing them at all, so getting them as right as possible from the get-go is one of my big goals.

If you don’t believe in the idea that how something looks is an important aspect of how it functions, I leave you with this link. We design OCDers are very good at selling our passion, aren’t we?

The inspiration for this…

Awesomeness Test

…came from this…

Print Shop Splash Screen 1984

Read all about it in my Life from the Inside blog post!

LFTI episode 8 is just a week away! I think it’s about time. Really, it took too long. I’ll have to have a word with the producers about that.

I have posted a few interesting (read: not really) facts about the new episode over at the LFTI blog. Time to go read it!

Tiny Story Icon

I came up with an idea about two weeks ago that sounded pretty interesting: use Twitter to post little stories that fit within the 140-character Twitter limit. It was both gimmicky and challenging, so I decided to give it a go. Besides, my mind felt uncreative, I’m almost 40, and I needed my version of a mental sports car.

I created a new Twitter feed called Tiny Stories (@tinystories), and I posted my 7th story there today. (Actually, thanks to a Twitter outage yesterday, I just discovered that #6 did not get posted, so I have to post that one again.) Click the link to read and follow the Tiny Stories tweets.

A few of the stories so far have been difficult to write, but certainly a lot of fun. Today’s was one of the difficult ones. Here it is, all 140 characters of it:

Amid the dead they are forcing me to bury is the old tutor who made my young life hell. Now, by the pit, his still, gray face echoes heaven.

This one was a huge struggle. There was a lot to convey. Though the final story has a slight grammatical awkwardness, I think it is a good compromise.

The inspiration for this story was a feature at The Big Picture regarding the trial in Cambodia of former Khmer Rouge officials.

I have always been fascinated, in a terrified way, of how so many “revolutions” target intellectuals. I understand, theoretically, why this is done, but the logic of it beyond ideology is insane. The Killing Fields was my first significant exposure to the Cambodian tragedy. Seeing the new pictures last week reminded me of this failing of humanity. The pictures of the skulls, the man piling up the bones, and the mass graves that are now pits filled with stagnant water are deeply shocking. Aside from the usual question of motivation is one of result. What would it feel like to be one of the “intellectuals” swept up and slain for a governmental cause? What was it like in the camps, with so many people from so many different backgrounds becoming nothing more than animals waiting for slaughter? How does one live through such a time? When those with whom you’ve had differences are placed in the same horrifying circumstance as yourself, how do you see them then?

I wanted to see what I could do with those ideas in 140 characters. Yeah, I know.

I started with a sentence that I would have ended up changing very little if I hadn’t needed space, since I think it set the scene, the characters, and the situation just the way I wanted it to.

Among the dead they were forcing him to bury was his old teacher, who’d made his life hell so long ago.

My first try at the second half made the story about the true hell of the present erasing the mild hell of the past.

He had no idea what hell was back then.

I decided I liked another idea better, though, where people are all the same in these camps, whatever their pasts. Whatever strife there was once between people is erased by the horrible present. How better to do that than to counter “hell” with “heaven.” I had very little space left, so what was the most efficient yet effective way to end the story?

The gray face now reminded him of heaven.

Now the gray face reminded him of heaven.

Now the gray face was that of heaven.

Now the still face was that of heaven.

What I really needed was more space so I could try to create a stronger image of the dead man. I had to shave letters out of the first sentence.

…who’d made his life hell as a kid.

…who’d made his young life hell.

…was his old tutor…

I liked the reference to the main character’s youth, especially if I used “old” to describe his teacher, meaning both age-wise and time-wise. “Tutor” was shorter than “teacher,” and it also suggested that the main character was once upper class, and that the dead man was a step above a teacher… more “intellectual.”

…forcing him to burn…

“Burn” was no shorter than “bury,” but it sounded more brutal and violent. However, in my head, I had the image of the mass graves filled with water, and what digging up those graves must have been like when the Khmer Rouge was out of power. Graves ended up seeming more brutal to me, so I kept “bury.”

“Among” was long, but it was exactly correct. The dead man was, physically, among the dead. “Forcing” had to be used, since it, too, was exactly what I meant. I wanted to add something about soldiers or gunpoint, but I did not have space. Saying the main character was forced to do this hopefully implies soldiers and guns, or at least someone or something cruel and heartless. I did not have room to replace “dead” with “slain,” which would have  clinched the murder image.

Back to the ending, I wanted to make the realization of “heaven” more personal for the main character.

…became his heaven.

…is his heaven.

I could not get that to sound right without expounding a little bit more. I had no room, though. Instead of making it obviously personal to the main character, perhaps I just had to find the right word to give a sense of such. I found “echoed” in the thesaurus, which was a good word to describe the heaven the character sees in the dead man’s face.

Today, the still, gray face echoed heaven.

Now, the still, gray face echoed heaven

Now, by the pit, the still face echoed heaven.

Now, in the pit, the still face echoed heaven.

I had come up with the pit as a dramatic counterpoint to “heaven,” to see if I could create a more tragic image at the end. I liked “by” instead of “in,” since I pictured the main character musing this before pushing the body into the grave. I also played with putting “old” at the end to describe the face, instead of at the beginning to describe “tutor” or “teacher.”

Today, the old, still face was…

But “old” fit better where it was, helping to give a sense of past and age to the dead man.

I was always 4 or 5 characters over the limit. One way to shave off extra letters was to change the voice of the story, making “him” “me” and such. I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but I gave it a try.

Among the dead they were forcing me to bury was my old tutor, who’d made my young life hell. Now, by the pit, his still, gray face echoed heaven.

Four characters over. Maybe the present tense would work better?

Among the dead they are forcing me to bury is my old tutor, who’d made my young life hell. Now, by the pit, his still face echoes heaven.

I wasn’t completely sold on the change of voice, but I liked it enough. And I now had 3 spare characters! Could I get one more word into the end? I wanted to use “still” and “gray.”

Among the dead they are forcing me to bury is my old tutor, who made my young life hell. Now, by the pit, his still, gray face echoes heaven.

One character too many.

Among the dead they force me to bury is my old tutor, who made my young life hell. Now, by the pit, his still, gray face echoes heaven.

Among the dead they forced me to bury was my old tutor, who made my young life hell. Next to the pit, his still, gray face echoed heaven.

Five and 3 spare characters, respectively. But present was better than past in this case, and “force” didn’t work as well as “are forcing.”

Among the dead they force me to bury is the old tutor who made my young life hell. Now, by the pit, his still, gray face echoes heaven.

Five spare characters, but “force” still is no good. Changing “my” to “the” saves a comma but gains a letter, so it’s a wash, yet I liked it better in the end.

With the change in voice, the grammar of the opening was sounding muddy. Many people might insert a comma with their mind, reading it as, “Among the dead, they force me to bury is….” I did not have room for it, but I tried:

Among the dead, which they are forcing me to bury, is the old tutor…

Too long, and too parenthetical. By the way, they were forcing me to do this…

Could I fix the problem by re-organizing the first part of the story? What if I got rid of a few commas, too?

My old tutor, who made my young life hell, is among the dead they are forcing me to bury. Beside the pit, his still, gray face echoes heaven.

The old tutor who made my young life hell is among the dead they are forcing me to bury. Beside the pit, his still, gray face echoes heaven.

While being forced to bury the slain, I find the old tutor who made my young life hell. Beside the pit, his still, gray face becomes my heaven.

Sure, I got “slain” in there, but the flow of these stories did not have the correct impact. Even though the original arrangement was a bit sloppy, it was best. Maybe the first person POV would allow people to forgive the sloppiness.

Now, I was only 1 character over the limit. I could not get rid of any commas. “…His still gray face…” has completely different meaning! I had to lose my beloved “among” and go with “amid.” “Amid” is not the better word in this case, because “among” sounds more physical and tangible than “amid.” But “amid” would have to suffice.

There was no more tweaking or experimenting to be done. Time to post!

Amid the dead they are forcing me to bury is the old tutor who made my young life hell. Now, by the pit, his still, gray face echoes heaven.

And that, dear friends, is the long-winded story about a very short-winded story. I’m sure the chances are slim of a person reading the story and going, “My god! The Khmer Rouge!” Or even, “My god! The Holocaust!” It might be too vague for any of that. But I hope that whatever images the story creates, the basic meaning and emotion is there. Who knows?

Please read Tiny Stories, and let me know what you think. I hope to keep this going for a while.

It’s been a month since we’ve posted anything over at the LFTI blog. We’ve been busy. Oh, and we’re incredibly boring.

But land ho! Ahoy! Buckle me britches! It’s a new post!

The post itself seems to be rather useless, but something good has come of it: Videos of old Burger King ads! Horrible, horrible ads, these, and ripe for the mocking, even by children. Here they are directly:

I hated these ads so much as a kid, I made fun of them on audio tape. I have those old audio tapes in my possession now, and I plan to digitize them sometime in the next fifteen years. When I do, I shall post my Burger King parodies here.

Mark you calendars!

I’m trying to get back to my blogging duties over at the LFTI blog. In my most recent posting, I expose truths about our recent holiday video, including this:

Go take a look!

Today: A gripping tale of T-shirt design! Be sure to make a point not to miss today’s LFTI post!

What a Bunch of Turkey!

“When men lose a sense of wonder, there will be disaster.”
—Laozi, 6th Century BC

Space and its vastness, its denizens of rock and ice and gas, its rings and spheres and smudges and wisps, have forever inhabited my mind, creating wonder, taunting, daring me to comprehend the impossible distances, sizes, existences of the universe.

I have not been awed by space much lately, meaning in the last decade or so. I have taken a moment or two here and there to marvel at the Hubble Ultra Deep Field snapshot, or look at the surface of Mars, but the luxury of time to spend imagining space has slipped away from me.

Thanks simultaneously to Sven and VSL, I have discovered The Big Picture, a part of The Boston Globe‘s website. Today, VSL sent a link to these pictures of the Sun. In the midst of a mind-numbing, boring work day, the pictures were a great surprise, and I pored over them for some time.

After subscribing to The Big Picture RSS feed, I saw another space-themed photo set, Enceladus Up Close.

Saturn's moon Enceladus in a false color image by NASA

This is a false color image of one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, as captured by Cassini. (Click the pictures to see it in a larger size.)

When I was a kid and making up scenarios in my head about space, traveling there, and the adventures to be had, there were no pictures of this clarity. Well, okay, the moon was pretty well photographed, and we had some great shots from the Voyagers and Vikings, sure, but the most detail to be found of anything beyond this limited scope was in movies or paintings or our imaginations. The picture above? Reality! This is a real place. You can imagine actually setting foot onto that surface, exploring those ridges and craters.

In the last 8 years, people’s minds have gotten smaller, and their influence has stunted the imaginations of the world. To me, Enceladus as a creation of a God is such a let-down, a cop-out compared to the magnificent thought that this small world is a product of the universe itself. I think it’s time for me, and for everyone else, to turn out from themselves, shake off the selfishness of recent history, and wake up the boundless, infinite wonders of everything around us, from a micron off our own skins to billions of light years away.

The quote at the top of this post is something I wrote down from a bulletin board at Imagineering one lunch hour maybe 13 years ago, and have carried it in my wallet since. I never guessed it would resonate with me more now than it did then.

Ah, I love shooting! Specifically, I love how creative you have to be when you have no budget when you’re shooting.

Also, I have problems typing “would,” “could,” and “should.”

Read all about it at the LFTI blog!

Ha ha ha ha! Ha HA ha ha ha! HA ha HA HA HA!

I don’t want to post the illustration at which I’m laughing because it’s copyrighted, but you can go see it here.

This is an intelligent, non-partisan, thoughtful, brief explanation of why conservatism has strayed, and why Obama can be seen as this election’s only attractive candidate.

D Magazine: “A Conservative for Obama”

Below is a link to a series of photos of Barack Obama, from October 2006 to the end of the Democratic convention in Denver. They were taken by Callie Shell, who traveled with him during his campaign.

Looking at the pictures and reading Callie’s words, you can believe, for once, that this politician is a real human being. The picture of Obama cleaning up after himself at the ice cream parlor, as well as the picture of his worn-out shoe soles that he had already had replaced once, make me very, very excited that tomorrow may bring someone to the White House that I can truly support and like.

Callie Shell’s Obama Photos

(Keep clicking on Show More Images to see them all.)

Since LFTI takes up so much of my time, I decided to post a more informative write-up about some of what we go through during pre-production. We put a lot of care and therefore a lot of work into the show. Go read all about it at the LFTI blog!

There is so much to write about, yet here I am again writing about fluff. And this time almost literally.

I am loving this blog discovered through Very Short List. It’s…

Cake Wrecks.

Watch as Jen deconstructs poorly-realized “professional” cake creations! Did it look like this in the catalog…

…but end up looking like this in real life?

Then this is the blog for you!

And I thought good presentation designers were hard to find. I can’t imagine trying to staff the bazillion bakeries in America with talented, capable cake decorators. Impossible!

I enjoy this bit at Daring Fireball regarding the iPhone 3G.

“Let’s just say it up front: the iPhone is the greatest piece of consumer electronics that has ever been made.”

I really do not know if I can disagree with that, even playing devil’s advocate. I can find no angle to take. My iPhone is the most useful device I’ve ever had, and it’s brilliantly fun to use.