Monday, June 27, 2005

Nike rips off trademarked work

So, it seems that Nike, owner of the world famous a vigorously defended 'swoosh' logo, has taken to ripping off an old punk rawk album cover to promote their skateboarding tour.

As the article on says:

You don't need a degree in graphic design to notice the similarities here. They're the fucking same. Oh, wait-- one is blue, not red, one says Major, not Minor, and, uh, okay, there are some Nike logos tossed in there. It sort of brings to mind that old interview in which Vanilla Ice attempted to defend the difference between "Ice Ice Baby" and "Under Pressure" ("dun dun dun duh-duh-duh dun" vs. "DUN dun dun dun duh-duh-duh dun").

Hmm, it's kind of cool when punks rip off corporate logos, but not so much the other way around.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Hole in my Roof

There is a huge hole in the roof of my house. And most every house in my neighborhood. You can see them from space. But that's OK, these holes are meant to be there.

These are the famous Eichler Atriums.

Walk through our front door, and you're still outside, in a 200 square foot enclosed courtyard alomst completely surrounded by walls of glass. Three sets of sliding doors connect the atrium to various rooms of the house. It's fun seeing the confused delight when someone sees it for the first time -there's nothing quite like walking into a house with no roof.

Last year around this time, when we were just newbies in our Eichler, I had this to say about them on the Eichler chat board:

This is our first Spring in our 'new' eichler atrium.... When the kids are awake, the atrium is a great play spot for water games, riding trikes around in circles, and just general running around barefoot. When the kids are asleep, the atrium is a nice bit of solitude. I especially like sitting out there in the early morning, or late at night, and just enjoying the quiet.

I love how the atrium brings the sunlight in during the day. At night, we turn on the hallway lights on the far side of the atrium for really mellow mood lighting in the living room.


I cant imagine putting a roof over the atrium, but I know that the previous and original owner was featured in Sunset magazine decades ago for a clever atrium cover he designed and built. That cover's long gone though, so maybe he decided he liked the atrium open after all.

A year later, we still enjoy it just as much.

Here are some other things people have been doing with their atriums:


The atrium pictured here looks like ours, but bigger.
This atrium is completely unlike ours, but the same floorplan

Friday, June 17, 2005

counting the ways

File under: ooey gooey parenting stuff.

Just came across a sweet list of a mom's adoration for their child. I'm guessing 2 years old? Sure applies to my 2 year old, and memories of my 5 year old.

Counting The Ways from She Sells Sanctuary [excerpt, full list here]:
The way he runs around with his purple Wiggles guitar announcing he has a “tuggar”.
The way he claps for himself when he has done something he is impressed with.
The way he runs headlong into the surf, no matter what the weather.
The way he runs everywhere instead of walking, as though afraid he’s going to miss out on something if he doesn’t.
The way he offers me bites of his food, particularly if it’s something he finds really yummy.
The way his hair looks after he’s been sleeping.
The way he insists on brushing his teeth with my toothbrush and not his.
The way he thinks my friends have come around specifically to play with him.
The way he can only ride his firetruck backwards at the moment.
The way these days, when things have gone quiet and I start to suspect he’s up to something, I find him sitting by his bookcase, quietly leafing through a book.
The way he looks at me sometimes.
The way he won’t sit in his high-chair but will sit in a regular chair at the dinner table.
The way he loves to make me chase him all around the house, especially nude.
The way he gives me a deliciously naughty grin when he does something he knows he shouldn’t.

Stay Hungy, Stay Foolish

Inspiring words from Steve Jobs, recent cancer survivor, at Stanford's commencement. Some good excerpts:

"[You] can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever."

- - -

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart"

- - -

"Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Irony, Keywords, Google Ads, and Self-Censorship

I tried an interesting experiment with a blog entry. I was wondering why a certain post generated no google ads. There was nothing really objectionable about the content, most of it being a quote from a GM press release. So, was it the negative tone? So, as an experiment, I changed two words in the title of the post. So, look at the difference in the google ad coverage between

- the modified original post


- the post with the original title

Interesting! Becasue of two words, I dont get different ads, I get NO ads.

Now, this is just a vanity blog, but even so, the tacit disapproval by the community of google ad buyers doesn't go unnoticed. What does this mean for bloggers who ARE trying to make something commercial from their blogs? Does this mean that the ad market is in effect censoring certain tones of discussion? (Or that someone with a contrary POV shouldn't rely on mainstream sources like google ads for reveue?).

More importantly, when you see a website with google ads (like this one), are YOU, the reader, keeping in mind that the words on the page may be carely editted so as not to disrupt a revenue source?

I dont have a fundamental problem with what I found. Nobody is forced to carry google ads,
and a free market should be about reinforcing choices with capital. But it is interesting to see that the lure of income is strong, even in a backwater like this blog.

Fortunately, the irony filters have yet to be deployed, so by careful (careless?) wordsmithing, one can get a snarky point across using only happy smiley words. But I'm too old for irony, and damn it, it's hard work.

GM to Instill brand loyalty on unwitting victims

Sometimes, it seems, a large company will spend a lot of time and money to do something really, really pointless. Here is an example of what happens when you forget that your customer really doesn't care how cool you think your company is.

"GM to add corporate badge to its vehicles - Move reflects consumer confidence in "the brand behind the brand" "

My favorite excerpt:
" Research tells us that many of our most outstanding segment-leading vehicles are not associated by the customer to be part of the GM portfolio. Seeing that GM badge on vehicles evokes our heritage of leadership and makes an easy connection between our great lineup of vehicle brands and the company behind them."
Uh, evoking heritage? Excuse me, somebody's been drinking too much of the corporate kool-aid. This new badge evokes "Lovey, that Volvo SUV isn't as previous as I thought. It's really made by General Motors. Let's scoot over to the BMWs."

And as a reminder to all of us to drop the jargon every once in a while, here is the stirring pronouncement on how said logo badge will be hitherto emblazoned:

"The GM badge will take the form of a small silver square, embossed with the GM logo, placed on both sides of the vehicle on an appropriate location between the front and rear wheels above the rocker and below the glass belt line."
O be still my loins.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Premium versus Luxury

We got a typically IDEO email query yesterday: "What's the difference between premium and luxury?"

My immediate reaction was that it was just semantics, but then the differences seemed to gel. In fact, it got me thinking the rest of the afternoon about these two classes, how often people mistake one for the other, and how much of a premium I place on Premium.

In my mind, premium is something that provides the best of what the product or service has to offer. Like premium power tools, premium beer, or a premium banking experience. These are things I would pay for, if they are important to me, because (hopefully!) I am getting the best possible core quality.

Luxury, on the other hand, is having more than you need, just because you can. Something like a diamond-studded MP3 player, where opulence is added, not because it betters the core experience (it still might be a crappy sounding MP3 player), but to promote itself. Or where more is done, purely for more's sake, like the Ford Ex(cretion)pedition and other mega-SUVs. Luxury of this sort just doesn't appeal to me.

Of course there is much overlap. Premium done right elevates & celebrates the beauty of a considered solution, and becomes luxurious. Luxury done right walks the fine line of over-the-top, staying just this side of fanatic. My favorite examples from limited personal experience are boutique hotels such as the W in San Francisco, and of course, Apple's fab MP3 player. These are two experiences I have gone out of my way (ie paid more) for.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Those designers look younger every year

Well, it seems that Matthew Baldwin at defectiveyeti has raised himself a little designer. A little weapons designer, that is:

After some experimentation The Squirrelly found the perfect projectiles: the small mice our cats play with. He took to carrying the base of the Busy Ball Popper around the house, occasionally stopping to press the oversized red button that starts the fan, dropping a mouse into the tube, and watching it get shot across the room.

That's right: fifteen months old and my son has already McGuyvered up a rocket launcher.