choose a Hosting company check list

look for a feature you might want

  • Rackspace Cloud Sites enables both Windows and Linux technology
  • Quicktime, WMV, or Real streaming servers
  • Flash Multi user server

check the TOS

  • verify that the content you want to serve is compatible with your host
  • how can your services get suspended (SPAM, processes, content)

understand the money back rules

  • is there are hidden 12 month commitment

make SURE your domain does not need to be transfered to the host

  • this bad, very bad

how much is “overages for bandwidth”?

  • and how is it measured

check their documentation

  • do searches for things like “client FTP”
  • adding an outside IP address to the DNS
  • adding Goggle Docs and Apps

email policy

  • is sending too much mail defined
  • if you do email marketing is your blast allowed

what does UNLIMITED mean?

  • slashdotted, dugg, reddit’d, boinged, oh my!

can’t decide?

  • all of them get bad reviews!
  • mind the date of the reviews.

go into it with the old college try attitude

  • most services are month to month so you could try lots of things out for about $100.

one click installs are okay. in fact we don’t think that one-click installs are all that important. just about every single host will advertise that one-click installations are part of the package. they will let you see how a tool works without the hassle of making a database and running the script to fill it. this makes the WordPress “five minute install” totally possible without having to know anything about gzip, permissions, or making a mySQL database.  the problem with “one click” installs have a disadvantage sometimes in that they can’t be modified by you. the script always has to do it for you. this can also limit what templates and plug-ins you can use. you are also at the mercy of your provider to keep their tools up to date.

Practical Advice on Type


we often hear “designers” making fun of the classic typefaces. fonts (as they are mostly known as now) such as Comic Sans, Tekton, University Roman, Frankfurter, Souvenir, Bank Gothic and even good old Helvetica are the things we’ve grown to loath. thing is a just having your way with a font does not you a designer. it’s so much more than just a pretty face.

how you use type is what makes your presentation, report, brochure and even your website stand out. the “computer” is not a designer all by itself it has grown into a tool that is very good at type. but as good as it can be it’s normally setup to mimic a typewriter very, very well. and this the first thing you have to get over.

when I taught at the Academy of Art I had to make rules about fonts. I had to forbid use of certain typefaces. it was intended to make projects look better. to force the idea that you should think about type in your movie. fonts by name displayed in their face. Chicago and Geneva where on the list. these were System fonts and had no business being used in production art. the exception to this was if you were using the typeface in the context of how it would really be used. thus if you designed around the pixel blocks of Chicago it could look really good. but I also banned a lot of common fonts that you’d find in everyday use like Courier and Times. I even banned Helvetica. again the thought was to force somebody to make it look better and make them consider something else besides the safe.

in the podcast I told a story about how my friend Brad had paid a designer friend of his to teach him to use three fonts. and how it paid off. everything Brad did look like it was designed. not because he was a designer but because he followed the rules that his designer had set up for him. the problem was that it looked like Brad. you could tell that he made it as it always looked that way. my friend Paul does stuff that looks like Paul. which is no coincidence because Paul incidentally met Brad who told Paul the theory of three fonts and Paul adopted it from Brad. and it didn’t matter if it was print, video or motion graphics both made things distinct and identifiable to them.

the push back from the art students was they didn’t like my rules. that they wanted to be lazy and not have to manage fonts. they didn’t want to have to install fonts each time they use a different lab machine. I might have changed my rules to allow Helvetica at some point just because I couldn’t take the whining. but that came with rules like kerning, tracking, size and weight. and surprise, they didn’t like that either. why? the multi-media track didn’t have a class on typography and they we’re allowed to take the classes offered to the designers. it was a generally refusal to learn type because it wasn’t offered. it was really odd.

nothing says “I don’t care at all about typography than using normal quotation marks.” those two “marks” next to the Return key (that’s the Enter key for most of you) are a left over from the days of typewriters. the “proper” quote marks can can be made for you automatically or by typing Option-“ and Shift-Option-” on your Mac (you’ll need to look it up on the other platforms kids). any doing that every single time is just a pain. so if the quotes make you lose your mind turn on Smart Quotes in your favorite werp.

there are a whole bunch of other practical rules for “doing type”. all of this is covered in a book called Mac is not a Typewriter written by the non-comedian Robin Williams. the book is old, but then so is type. get a copy if you don’t have this already. after you learn what there is to learn pass it on to the next type nerd to be. if you don’t want to shell for the dead tree book here’s the rules in a nutshell. don’t worry, this stuff is from memory not from the copy/paste. it’s rules we use every day:

    1. no double space after punctuation. period.
    2. use … for … use — for — use © instead of (c) meaning use the typography don’t make it.
    3. ruler for indention and paragraph formating. 
    4. space in both vertical and horizontal
    5. alignment
    6. kern
    7. italics
    8. better “quote marks”
    9. ding bats and other stuff
    10. style sheets and presets for formatting

lots of people have asked what we’ve done to learn type. one very simple thing to do is “use one font”. just one. okay you can use it’s whole family. but that’s it. use it big and small. use it every day for everything. this will help you very much know everything that it can do. but don’t stay this way forever.

usually when people do this experiment they choose HELVETICA. nothing says 19050’s Eurostyle like this typeface. and it should. it is the face of hundreds of company logos, it’s in the entrance to the New York subway, it’s every where. what is it about helvetica that gets everyone all gooey? sometimes there is no better typeface for the job. it’s bold, daring, simple and elegant. it doesn’t have any bad habits. and it’s often described as boring. somebody even made a movie about it ironically called Helvetica the Movie. it’s doubtful that Comic Sans would have made such and an engaging and interesting movie about a typeface the way that Helvetica did. if you check it out here’s the best part: when they go to the basement the old guy proudly says, “this is where Helvetica lives…” awesome.

another way to learn type is to open Notepad or your werp. next type your initials in lowercase and UPPERCASE and change the size to 72. now change the font. and keep doing it for everything installed. make notes of what you like. it’s the same thing that you have to do with learning about the 167 movie transitions. if you don’t see every one of them you won’t know what they do.

I have to some rules about type that I’d like to pass on to the class:

    don’t use fonts designed for screen display for print. these include names like Geneva, Monaco, Chicago. while they look unique they weren’t made to be used in a book. but worse is they will “date” your material. just look at the INXS album. yeah, there’s Chicago on that spine.

    don’t use type that everyone else uses. there are thousands of fonts ready to be your day to day. automatically picking Times or Courier is just being lazy.

    Kern your letter pairs. the other thing that screams I don’t care about typography is not kerned type.

    really big type looks cool but does it have to be so big?

    mind your negative and white space.

    don’t forget to speel check your work.

other Links:
Non-Designer’s Design Book, The (3rd Edition)

the 10 20 30 rule

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Mac Mini circa 2010

it’s a total work of art. really it is. but there’s lots more than the stark nothing look of it to like. or is there?

pretty much everyone is going to sing “HDMI port! about damn time!” but lack of HDMI port is only a problem if you are using a Mac Mini as the center of a Home Theater. and lots of LARGE screens can be driven using an DVI cable converted. I know it works because I set one up to do that. given the tasks that I would employ it to do this port isn’t a boon. but maybe someday I’ll want to watch content that is protected visually and I’ll actually need this feature. but I seriously doubt that will happen anytime soon.

I was curious about how small the motherboard has to be as the new case is totally short. the old mini has lots of risers and formers allowing parts to get stacked. so I printed the bottom case image as seen on and placed real objects on it. it looks like there is lots of room until you consider there is also a power supply inside that case. the PS likely takes out the space to the right of the hard drive from front to back. if the optical media wasn’t in the case the height could be lowered by 15mm.

going by the dimensions of the Mini (which are 7.7″ by 7.7″ and match the AppleTV size) the motherboard would be approximately 7.5″ x 4″. this really packs it in there. although the mobo for the MacBook Air is even smaller. the older Mac Mini is actually an 1.2″ smaller. and it had 1 more USB port.

the video card will always be an issue especially with the Windows crowd looking in. when you look at the Mini (or any of the MacBook line) you see there just isn’t room for anything else. one could argue that there would be room if you lost the Super Drive. but if that happened the case would get thiner not full of another feature. the other complaint that people will make is that 2.5″ drives are not as speedy as 3.5″ drives. but in what context is the complaint? because if you are looking at pure benchmark data those numbers are no where close to how you interactive with your computer. it’s really tough to notice the difference between your favorite app loading on various Macs. in fact I challenge you to feel the difference. you can’t so it doesn’t matter how fast an app loads.

Apple has finally learned that RAM upgrades shouldn’t require a trip to the hardware store for putty knives to crack open the case. after removing the round rubber cover the RAM is right there. interesting is that it looks like a same dual SO-DIMM connector that plagued the aluminum PowerBooks. hopefully this fatal flaw of the G4 won’t be an issue with this version of the Mini.

it’s really easy to be critical of the price but even more so when you start poking around the BTO options. this little computer can even more very expensive very quickly. but there are places where this Mac is the perfect thing. where what why? so my aging MacBook Pro)totype is long out of AppleCare. I’ve thought about the next Mac that will replace it. it’s possible that Mini could fill the bill. especially considering that one could by 3 of them for the price of on MacBook Pro.

  MacBook Pro)totype (2006) Mac Mini 2010
2.16 GHz
2.4 GHz
2G (or 3G if mix max’d)
2G (8G max)
640 G (self upgrade)
512 G
ATI X1600
GeForce 320

having two more USB ports would be awesome. it would mean not having to unmount to swap. and getting back FireWire 800 would certainly seem like an upgrade even though I’ve lived without it for so long. I guess I never really noticed. odd huh? the GPU isn’t something that is going to affect my day to day. I do so little with Motion and I’m not doing any 3D work at all.

90% of my job is typing centric. and I’m pretty much very happy with my current setup. which is the MBP connected to a large display that has a aluminum keyboard in front of it. which makes it exactly like running the Mini. there are three tasks that I do where I would like much, much more power: working with video from Final Cut, exporting audio from Sound Track and compressing final content. these are the places were a Octo would rock my work. but I have to question if spending 4X more is worth it in the long run?

and maybe there is for one single reason: perception. clients don’t need to know that the jobs they are asking me to do can be done with the smallest Mac ever made. they might question the rate or my talent because of the tiny Mac. it’s always a good idea to prop up that the things we do are hard and need powerful equipment. it makes everyone feel better. after all, they are the ones paying for it so bring on the Octo!

oh yeah, one more thing. it’s probably a good idea to check out similarly shaped systems just for comparison purposes. Like the Dell Zino HD which makes everything above seem like a pretty good deal.

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WWDC reaction: Back to Work

I didn’t watch the TXT feeds as it came down. it’s largely a waste of time because it’s so eff’n slow. better I think to do real work and then see it all in 30 seconds in the end. so that’s what I did. good thing to because there’s not much here. iPhone 4. that’s nice.

maybe now we can get back to Macs and some real work. where is FCS next? where are the bumped Mac Pro’s? where is the updated Time Capsule? or how about the missing Mac? where is iWork and iLife updates? how come half of the stuff that Apple sells is now 6 to 18 months behind the times? when the most innovative update for Mac in the last 4 years has been the Aluminum keyboard there’s a problem. looking back not much has changed since March.

I’m comparing Apple to the rest of the computing world which has release been releasing some pretty amazing things that don’t cost an arm to purchase. there’s that HP laptop called the Envy for example. the lenovo X series. even Dell has some smashing products. but what I’m in awe over is the desktop class computers for how cheap they are and how they out spec a Mac so handily. of course it’s running Windows but so what. it’s the Apps that you are running that make the difference in the end and for some of us it’s the same zact applications like Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects and a sound editor.

I’m not saying that I’m switching today but I my eyes are noticing that the grass really is greener over there.

Adam Savage on Problem Solving from Maker Faire 2010

Adam Savage’s talk on problem solving offers a list to end all lists of the things to consider when solving a problem. he goes to great lengths to cover every single aspect of what could go wrong stopping a successful solve. the thing is, and his talk actually covers this, is that I’m pretty sure he’s over thinking things. here’s a better way to think about it:

    you really won’t know very much about your problem until you start solving it.
    solving a problem requires three things tools, parts and time to do iterations.
    the first time you solve a problem it might not stay solved.
    you can always ask for help at any time.
    the best solutions are not complex.
    you can get mad and fix it or you can just fix it.
    some problems are best left unsolved.
    money will solve any problem.

the video link is posted here because we mentioned it on the Maker Faire 2010 show. enjoy it!

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GarageBand Revisited


when was the last time you played with GarageBand? I was inspired to revisit the tool. I found it be as fun as it was the first time I played. what was the inspiration?

I while ago I was given a real copy of the movie “It Might Get Loud” that features Jack White, Edge and Jimmy Page telling stories and playing guitar. it’s a movie that I didn’t get distracted by outside forces and watched it from beginning to end without doing anything but watch. except I had to pause it about 13 minutes in because there was a mind blow. Edge is showing off his old demo tapes made with a 4 track cassette based tape recorder. the very basis for the band was created on the most basic of recording equipment. and later in the movie Jack White records a one-take on a reel-to-reel deck using a microphone and a guitar. it’s the best modern examples of musicians making with whatever they had. that early Four Track wasn’t the best but it ran on batteries and you could make real songs on it. the reel-to-reel recording shows off that you can make song using any recording technology.

the modern equivalent of those recorders is GarageBand (and other apps that are similar to it). GarageBand was released in January of 2004 at Macworld Expo. the demo was captivating. sure, there were other recording sequencers but they cost more, were way more complex and they didn’t come with a new Mac. sure you would eventually hit the wall or the ceiling with GarageBand making you seek a different tool. but this was the same exact thing that happened with MacPaint back in 1984.

simply, that GarageBand comes with every Macintosh is amazing.

there are four main functions of GarageBand: recording, virtual instruments, MIDI editing and Music Lessons. you can record your own songs, podcast or practically everything you’d need to record. music is not a requirement of recording. meaning if you need to dictate something GarageBand can do that job.

the hardest part about GarageBand is that it’s an instrument. it’s to you to practice using it because it’s not instantly intuitive. so far the best way to get started with it is to watch somebody showing you around. or watch the how-to-videos on Apple. you don’t want to wait until it’s time to record the band for your first time to use it. why? because you’ll want to turn off that annoying metronome. you’ll want to know how to set levels. you’ll need to know how to switch inputs. and anything else that will stop you from recording. you want it to be part of you not something against you.

that’s what I did when GB first came out. it took days of my time. I made songs for people. I learned about different effects it had. I found out how powerful it was as an editor and later I recorded podcasts with it.

for learning about how to mix multiple tracks there are some very good example files that will help you. multimixing isn’t obvious until GarageBand you may have never been exposed to the task. that’s why you should see how other people do it. Nine Inch Nails and Ben Folds have released real tracks of songs. also Jonathan Coulton released the parts and pieces of Code Monkey. you don’t have to be a fan of the music to play with the tracks as there is lots to learn from having “real” to rearrange.

if you want to really get “good” at GarageBand you have to treat it like an instrument and practice. that means making beats, laying down tracks, and arranging things. and you don’t have to download anything extra to do that. there are thousands of loops and beats installed on your Mac already. play everything to get an idea of what it can do. spend an hour every other day. play every loop, play every keyboard, and try out all the amps. use Search to find specific sounds. mess with the effects to see what they do. and change the keyboards to all the different styles.

speaking of Keyboard: you don’t need a music keyboard to play the keyboards as you can use your keyboard to do that. Shift-Command-K will bring up a “virtual” one octave keyboard. find the sound set called Radio and press G.

okay so you don’t “need” an instrument to “play it” because it is an instrument. but let’s say you want to. if you don’t already have a electric piano or a guitar please don’t run down to your music store and thrown down money. why? because there have been enough instruments purchased on the road to good intention. instead spend a little time looking for a used axe. these are the instrument that get used for a while, then then get put aside and they sit until the day they need to go. you can always find something unloved for less money which will totally do the job. the bottom line is don’t get big eyes about something that might not like.

Garage Band can be a better tool if you do some things to help it. if you have an older Mac dedicate it to your studio. that way it can be set up and ready to go when it’s time to jam. an old iMac G5 with any size screen will do. or an old MacBook. remember the first ones are coming up on 4 years old now. get some control surface(s) like the mini Korg that has knobs, sliders and drum pads. if you want a keyboard watch craigslist or your local want ads. there are always deals to be had. and for recording your voice any of the $100 USB mics are nice. or get an interface like the Fast Track which will allow you to plug in a Mic and a Guitar.

Windows? what about Windows! there are Windows equivalents to Garage Band.

eventually you may grow up and out of GarageBand. the two versions of Logic will import your GB projects. and any of them can read the raw MIDI files and AIFF files the program creates allowing you recreate your creation.

    Ableton Live
    Pro Tools
    Digital Performer

other stuff mentioned on the show:

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What’s in your bag?


we carry lots of tech stuff around in our bags to make sure our tech lives are easier to manage wherever we go. it’s pretty amazing how diverse the bags were. it’s clear that there is a difference between the mobile traveler and the office bound joe. which only validates the rule of tools which is “tools tend to migrate to where they will help you.”

we didn’t talk about every single bag that we have around us. for example I used to have a foley bag. it was filled with stuff to make sounds. whistles, clickers, sand paper, metal, rocks, wood, balls, stick, twigs and sometimes fruit (although that never stayed in the bag). some people said it was a bag of junk. but I used it on a bunch of projects over the years creating everything from fire to a sinking ship. sadly, I don’t have that bag anymore as it was passed on to another artist.

bags have different jobs and are shaped to make that job work better. a camera bag is very different then a computer bag. and good thing too. bags are designed to help make your job easier. when the bag disappears from the task it’s a perfect bag.

one thing I know about bags is that sometimes I don’t want the largest most pocketed bag out there. more often I want a bag that limits what I can carry. why? there’s nothing worse then a bag that has two notebooks with the accessories to go with them. in so many ways having two bags would make both lighter. or the camera bag that has pockets for every lens that you own. while I like having everything with me sometimes remember that glass is heavy.

here’s a list of some things we talked about
Leatherman Squirt P4 Multitool

Card Readers

Leatherman New Wave Multitool

Maglite Mini Flashlight

Iomega Ruby Red USB 2.0/FireWire 400/800 Hard Drive

Beer Tasting Notebook

Piccadilly Notebooks

Zoom H4n Portable Digital Recorder

Velcro Cable Ties, 0.5″ x 8″, 100 per Pack (91140)


Belkin Mini Surge 3OUT Wall Mount 75K 918J with USB Charger

now do tell, what’s in your bag?

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the “i” stands for imaginary. and the PDA stands for whatever PDA used to stand for. funny that as I write this I simply cannot remember what the words that acronym shortens. and I don’t feel like searching for the factoid because it doesn’t matter. odd the things we don’t remember.

but I’m serious about the “i”. because iPad is a game changer exactly like the Mac 128 was in 1984. things that we thought we knew about computing are no longer true. stuff that know from our culture of computing could be considered obsolete much the same way the PC ended the dominance of the IT department in the 80’s. it’s amazing what happens when you take the priests out of the equation. so the best way to approach this future is to make it up as you go.

want to know how game changing it is? put it on the table and show some pictures. everyone around the table can easily see them. you aren’t gathered around it like a TV. it’s more like a camp fire. so instead of think about the top of the screen you have to think about how there are four sides. there isn’t a visible keyboard unless you need one so the controls are no longer arrow, ESC, RETURN or F-Anything. it’s exactly the same thing that happened with the Mac. if you want to change the rules of the game you have to take the expectations of how it used to work away.

it’s interesting looking back on what I wrote (it’s the software and tablet thoughts ) prior to the iPad making it’s entrance. one of the things that I could not know is how dependent the iPad would be on another computer in it’s 1.o release. the fact that it relies on iTunes seems to be a mistake. but it’s how iPhone works so you live with that. although moving forward it will have to work independently without help from another device. sure it will always be able to sync with something but it won’t be a requirement.

this is Craig’s drawing that he spent most of the show doodling.

links to developer tools mentioned:
Unity 3D


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Your Hard Drive is going to Fail


your hard drive (no not the big box that sits next to your desk) is going to fail. it will fail sometime between tomorrow and the future. it’s a fact of statistics that it will happen. thing is, you don’t know when it’s going to go away. that’s why you need to have copies of everything important to you. this includes pictures, writing, art, 3D, music and everything else. lots of things take multiple days to create that if you lost could not easily be recreated. you have no choice but to fight the future.

Craig has an incredibly redundant redundant back up system. SuperDuper, CronoSync, Dropbox, ExpanDrive and BackBlaze is part of his system.

Backing up is something that everyone needs to do.

How to back up your Mac with RSYNC
Jungle Disk
Carbon Copy Cloner
Backup Simplicity
Apple Backup
Data Backup
Deja Vu
Dobry Backuper
File Synchronization
Flash Comet
Keystroke Recorder
PSU Blast Image Config
Synchronize! Pro

Windows has lots of solutions.

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