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Dan Rubin's SuperfluousBanter

Suffering from chronic idiocy since 1977

Archive for February, 2004

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Time Management

Sunday, February 29th, 2004

I have a prob­lem. What­ever I do I always seem to be late. Whether it’s an appoint­ment, dead­line, assign­ment, arti­cle, col­umn or the­sis. Sta­tus: late, delayed or can­celled. A few years ago I couldn’t care less about this issue, but life tends to become slightly more seri­ous and I have to pay bills (yes, those are late too, but I’m not about to change that!).

First of all, RSS feeds and aggre­ga­tors are evil. They con­sume so much time. Maybe I should learn speed-reading or some­thing. Today I decided to remove some feeds that either post too much ran­dom bull­shit or are of lim­ited inter­est. Aside from these rather small mea­sures I need to really orga­nize my life.

Being a stu­dent doesn’t really help mat­ters. Stu­dents are so lazy. If an assign­ment is due by Mon­day morn­ing 9:00 AM I’ll be work­ing all night to hand it in at 9:01 AM. Though if I’m late I’ll always blame tech­nol­ogy (“Uhmm, sorry pro­fes­sor, but the upload func­tion was f*cked.”). I don’t think I’ve ever handed in an assign­ment or arti­cle two days or even one day in advance. Nope that’s just not me, got to rush the job.

Work­ing under pres­sure is fine, even stim­u­lat­ing. How­ever with clients time man­age­ment becomes cru­cial. I can’t tell them to bug­ger off and wait for 2 more weeks. That’s just not pro­fes­sional. So my ques­tion is: How do you effec­tively man­age your time?

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Why Scoble Is Wrong

Saturday, February 28th, 2004

So, I’m a bit late to join the party. But heck, it was a busy week and
I only got a chance to dig through my RSS feeds this week­end. It seems Scoble
thinks design is use­less
, eh? Big deal. While I don’t care much for
Scoble’s views on the mat­ter, I do how­ever care about design as a fun­da­men­tal
part of daily life.

Read­ing his rant against design I pic­tured Scoble at the movies: “Uhmm,
no thanks, dia­logue tran­scripts will do, pic­tures are just embell­ish­ment of
data, don’t need that”. Sur­real. Yet, he’s say­ing exactly
that in his post.

Jump­ing into the field of infor­ma­tion man­age­ment, the­ory holds that there’s
an unam­bigu­ous dis­tinc­tion between data and infor­ma­tion. How­ever, my pur­pose
is not to debate the­o­ret­i­cal details, but present an anal­o­gous con­cept applic­a­ble
to design. More­over the dif­fer­ence between data and con­tent should be noted.
In essence con­tent is (re-)packaged data.

Scoble is clearly data ori­ented. For Scoble the pack­age (or wrap­ping) in which
data is deliv­ered plays an infe­rior or even detri­men­tal role. I’d like
to remind peo­ple that data as such is use­less. To become both con­ve­nient and
effec­tive data requires to be inter­preted to fit human pro­cess­ing. Whether,
in the end, design is good or bad is a sub­jec­tive mat­ter, prone to hefty (unpro­duc­tive?)
debates. But argu­ing design or aes­thet­ics are not required is bogus.

Next time Scoble boots up Win­dows, he should be reminded of the fact that some
folks at Microsoft spent a con­sid­er­able amount of time design­ing its inter­face.
Oh wait, maybe we should get rid of that too, it’s just a nui­sance, right?
Design mat­ters! More than
ever.

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7 Comments

Copy & Paste Mentality

Monday, February 23rd, 2004

We all know that a dig­i­tal envi­ron­ment is prone to illicit repro­duc­tions: songs, movies, stylesheets, markup, code, graph­ics, soft­ware etc. You name it. All your bits are belong to us! As such this is noth­ing new, I remem­ber the days when tapes were hot, hot, hot! But some­how there was at least some level of effort put into get­ting that wicked new album on tape – after which you shared it with your friends get­ting drunk while play­ing NHL or Road Rash on a Sega Gen­e­sis (yup, those were the days).

Presently shar­ing requires as much effort as switch­ing on your com­puter. Aside from the fact that shar­ing is inher­ent to a net­work, a wor­ri­some trend is tak­ing shape: copy and paste men­tal­ity is infect­ing all lay­ers of soci­ety, not only the com­puter lit­er­ate and hard­core geeks. In the great tra­di­tion of client sto­ries from hell, here’s my version.

While work­ing on a cor­po­rate web site I get a phone call from the client: “Umm, yes, we just had a meet­ing with our 3 CEO’s and would like to expand the site with a few extra sec­tions, is that pos­si­ble?” Ok, first of, what the f***? 3 CEO’s? Ugh, wel­come to feed­back and approval cycle from hell. Any­way, more busi­ness is always good, so I told them I’d send a revised offer and con­tract. No big­gie. Right?

Two days later I get another phone call: “Yeah, errmÂ… we had a look at your offer but found its price rather dis­turb­ing.” I get these types of answers most of the time, clients always think any price is ridicu­lous, what­ever the amount (tip: odds are a client will try to bar­gain, make sure you cal­cu­late some safety mar­gin; any­where between 15% and 20% will do). After get­ting the “this price is ridicu­lous” preach, I explain how I cal­cu­late my fees, the amount of work it will take and of course offer them a 15% rebate since they’re request­ing more busi­ness (safety mar­gin, remem­ber). But at that exact moment light­en­ing strikes: “Yes, yes, yes, that’s all fine, but isn’t a few extra pages just a mat­ter of copy and paste.”

Click, click, boom! Copy and paste mentalityÂ…

It’s dur­ing moments such as these that I hate clients more than I need them. As if mat­ters couldn’t get any worse, my sen­si­ble explaina­tions failed mis­er­ably to con­vince the client oth­er­wise: “Yeah, well, if you’re going to charge for these few extra sec­tions we’re afraid that we’ll be forced to take our busi­ness else­where.” Talk about extreme mea­sures. Worst of all, I already fin­ished all the com­po­si­tions and just got approval, from all 3 CEO’s, which is close to a miracle.

So I ask you? What would you have done? Give in, and fin­ish the project with­out billing for the other sec­tions and keep a client happy (and get the full ini­tial amount)? Or, refuse to do work for free and tell them to f*** them­selves, accom­pa­nied by the tra­di­tional mid­dle fin­ger. Yet bill for the hours already worked and risk los­ing a refer­ral and money?

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Copy & Paste Mentality

Monday, February 23rd, 2004

We all know that a dig­i­tal envi­ron­ment is prone to illicit repro­duc­tions: songs, movies, stylesheets, markup, code, graph­ics, soft­ware etc. You name it. All your bits are belong to us! As such this is noth­ing new, I remem­ber the days when tapes were hot, hot, hot! But some­how there was at least some level of effort put into get­ting that wicked new album on tape – after which you shared it with your friends get­ting drunk while play­ing NHL or Road Rash on a Sega Gen­e­sis (yup, those were the days).

Presently shar­ing requires as much effort as switch­ing on your com­puter. Aside from the fact that shar­ing is inher­ent to a net­work, a wor­ri­some trend is tak­ing shape: copy and paste men­tal­ity is infect­ing all lay­ers of soci­ety, not only the com­puter lit­er­ate and hard­core geeks. In the great tra­di­tion of client sto­ries from hell, here’s my version.

While work­ing on a cor­po­rate web site I get a phone call from the client: “Umm, yes, we just had a meet­ing with our 3 CEO’s and would like to expand the site with a few extra sec­tions, is that pos­si­ble?” Ok, first of, what the f***? 3 CEO’s? Ugh, wel­come to feed­back and approval cycle from hell. Any­way, more busi­ness is always good, so I told them I’d send a revised offer and con­tract. No big­gie. Right?

Two days later I get another phone call: “Yeah, errmÂ… we had a look at your offer but found its price rather dis­turb­ing.” I get these types of answers most of the time, clients always think any price is ridicu­lous, what­ever the amount (tip: odds are a client will try to bar­gain, make sure you cal­cu­late some safety mar­gin; any­where between 15% and 20% will do). After get­ting the “this price is ridicu­lous” preach, I explain how I cal­cu­late my fees, the amount of work it will take and of course offer them a 15% rebate since they’re request­ing more busi­ness (safety mar­gin, remem­ber). But at that exact moment light­en­ing strikes: “Yes, yes, yes, that’s all fine, but isn’t a few extra pages just a mat­ter of copy and paste.”

Click, click, boom! Copy and paste mentalityÂ…

It’s dur­ing moments such as these that I hate clients more than I need them. As if mat­ters couldn’t get any worse, my sen­si­ble explaina­tions failed mis­er­ably to con­vince the client oth­er­wise: “Yeah, well, if you’re going to charge for these few extra sec­tions we’re afraid that we’ll be forced to take our busi­ness else­where.” Talk about extreme mea­sures. Worst of all, I already fin­ished all the com­po­si­tions and just got approval, from all 3 CEO’s, which is close to a miracle.

So I ask you? What would you have done? Give in, and fin­ish the project with­out billing for the other sec­tions and keep a client happy (and get the full ini­tial amount)? Or, refuse to do work for free and tell them to f*** them­selves, accom­pa­nied by the tra­di­tional mid­dle fin­ger. Yet bill for the hours already worked and risk los­ing a refer­ral and money?

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15 Comments

When Good Design Falls Into The Wrong Hands

Friday, February 20th, 2004

Let me tell you a lit­tle story. It’s about a client who decided to end a project early, before all the work was com­pleted, so they could take con­trol of the fin­ished prod­uct. All work was paid for, as-per the con­tract, so no com­plaints, right?

Wrong.

Almost four months after hand­ing over the project files to their IT depart­ment, along with clear instruc­tions (not that many were needed, since the lay­out and markup were fairly straight­for­ward, as was the CSS), we receive an email let­ting us know the site was finally live. “Ter­rific!” we thought, “Now we can link to it and show off some more recent work!” Then we clicked the link.

Hor­ror. Dis­be­lief. Shock. Page after page, bastardized–results Dr. Franken­stein would be proud of. A mon­stros­ity wrought not on the oper­at­ing table, but within Adobe GoLive, and at the hands of what can only be assumed is a mad­man (or even worse: an entire team of madmen).

Gaze in hor­ri­fied won­der at the acces­si­bil­ity state­ment, ren­dered false by the man­gling of markup and nav­i­ga­tion. Stare with mor­bid fas­ci­na­tion at the once text-based nav­i­ga­tion now ren­dered as images. Run cry­ing from the room when you see the body text, once styled and pure, now stark naked and barren.

Is this a work of fic­tion? Sadly, no: you can view the ghastly real­ity right here.

But wait!” you scream! “What did the orig­i­nal, unfin­ished site look like before it was ren­dered help­less by these mon­sters?” Well chil­dren, I’ll show you…just peek behind this vel­vet curtain…

As we grieve for our loss, it would make us feel bet­ter if some­one, any­one would share with us their sto­ries of sim­i­lar atroc­i­ties and client-committed crimes against design, so we might find some comfort.

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33 Comments

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