Saturday, December 30, 2006

Just Added : Fourth Of July Beat Kitchen Poster

Friday, December 29, 2006

Happy New Year 2007

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Just Added : Grinner at The Empty Bottle Poster

Featuring photography by London photographer Andrew Powell.

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WalMart’s MySpace Clone Dead on Arrival

I had originally posted a skeptical article regarding Walmart's social networking project back in July here.

October 3, 2006 by Pete Cashmore
Original posted at Mashable

TheHub, WalMart’s ill-fated attempt at building a social network for kool kidz who just happen to like shopping at Walmart, has gone offline. The site, which was up for 10 weeks, tried to keep content wholesome, and featured profiles and videos from “real” kids (aka actors) about how much they adore WalMart. It’s possible that WalMart intended to end the promotion after 10 weeks - it was a back-to-school site, after all - but it’s equally probable that the lack of interest from kids led to an early shutdown.

It’s pretty much universally agreed that TheHub was a complete failure. Aside from the fake profiles and unabashed attempts to make users buy WalMart gear, WalMart screened the content and emailed a user’s parents to check whether it was ok for them to sign up. There’s nothing wrong with trying to build a safer social network (both Piczo and Mashable sponsor Multiply are having a go), but this was a little too much. In another example of marketing executives trying to get down with the kidz, users were referred to as “Hubsters” and the tagline was “school my way”.

The other reason WalMart missed the mark is that they totally misunderstood what’s cool these days. What’s odd is that Dotster’s new PimpedEmail product is another example of marketers trying to be cool, but somehow they almost get away with it. On second thought, maybe “PimpedMart” would be just as bad as “School Your Way”.

Of course, that doesn’t mean WalMart was wrong to pursue social networking as a marketing strategy - they could just step up their MySpace marketing (there’s already a Walmart profile), and start offering widgets, banners and buttons. Or copy Dasani and start distributing custom MySpace layouts. The WalMart brand isn’t very cool, but some of the products they sell (CDs, DVDs, MP3 players) are - something like the MySpace product slideshows from FavoriteThingz could work. Making WalMart cool is a big challenge and one that probably shouldn’t be tackled by out of touch marketers riding skateboards and listening to Avril Lavigne.

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Still So Painfully Uncool...

Worth Checking Out: Scott Derby Illustration

An old friend from the Philadelphia days, and trusted companion of the annual Wizard World geekfest nerd pilgrimage, Scott has some new work up at his illustration site.

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Found Imagery: Lenticular Clouds

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lenticular clouds, technically known as altocumulus standing lenticularis, are stationary lens-shaped clouds that form at high altitudes, normally aligned at right-angles to the wind direction. Where stable moist air flows over a mountain or a range of mountains, a series of large-scale standing waves may form on the downwind side. Lenticular clouds sometimes form at the crests of these waves. Under certain conditions, long strings of lenticular clouds can form, creating a formation known as a wave cloud.

Power pilots tend to avoid flying near lenticular clouds because of the turbulence of the rotor systems that accompany them, but sailplane pilots actively seek them out. Although the clouds can produce heavy turbulence they also show a sign of precipitation. This is because the systems of atmospheric standing waves that cause "lennies" (as they are sometimes familiarly called) also involve large vertical air movements, and the precise location of the rising air mass is fairly easy to predict from the orientation of the clouds. "Wave lift" of this kind is often very smooth and strong, and enables gliders to soar to remarkable altitudes and great distances. The current gliding world records for both distance (over 3,000km) and altitude (14,938m) were set using such lift.

They have been mistaken for UFOs (or "visual cover" for UFOs) because these clouds have a characteristic lens appearance and smooth saucer-like shape.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Found Article: Lost In Translation

Christmas shoppers face a baffling list of acronyms
By Sean Coughlan (BBC News Magazine)

The Christmas rush to buy gadgets and techno-toy televisions is in full swing. But is there any chance of a translation from all those annoying acronyms?

Oh yes. It's compatible with "BD-Video, DVD-Audio, DVD-Video, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD+RW, CD, CD-R/RW, MP3, JPEG".

This isn't made up - it's the list of formats that function with one of the big-selling DVD recorders of the moment. And in case you're worried, it's got DVI, HDMI and Scart sockets as well. (Scart, for the uninitiated, is a French-originated standard for an audio visual connector, standing for Syndicat des Constructeurs d'Appareils Radiorecepteurs et Televiseur. Except, having named it, the French call it something entirely different - Peritel, to be precise.)

What in the name of Alphabetti Spaghetti is all that about? How did we get into this acronym fever? You want to buy something to watch a film on the telly, not learn a programming language.

Step into the world of televisions, recorders and music players and you're entering a forest of jargon. Not only are there rival formats, there are rival formats that sound almost identical.

You've got a camcorder for Christmas morning, ready to catch that look of disappointment on your child's face. But what happens when you stick in the disc for recording? Did you say DVD-R? How wrong could you be? Duh! It's DVD+R. Of course they won't work.

Perhaps no one has told us that there's some competition to replace ordinary speech with a long string of disconnected letters and numbers.

Socket to 'em

What was the name of that DVD recorder from Sony? The one with the catchy name? Yes, the RDR-HXD860 DVD/HDD Recorder. Or that telly from Panasonic, the PDP-427XD-TS10 Plasma HD Ready Digital Television. And how about TiVo and PVR, or DVR as PVRs are called in the US. That's US as in United States by the way.

This kind of language is catching. If you buy the Humax PVR9200T it has a USB connection, boasts an EPG and works with an MP3. If you buy a KD55A20S11XTNS television you can enjoy its SXRD panel, BBE digital sound and it's got an HDMI socket, obviously. What does any of that mean?

And there's no sign of this snowstorm of acronyms lifting - with battles between formats set to intensify.

There's HD DVD versus Blu-ray. And there are DVD+R and DVD+RW backed by one bunch of manufacturers and DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM backed by another crowd. And DVD+R DL and DVD-R DL for anyone wanting a little extra stuffing in their turkey.

But hold on. Let's get some translation. What do these acronyms stand for? Let's start with the basics. What do the letters DVD represent? It's digital versatile disc. Or else it's digital video disc. There's not even agreement over that - with another school of thought suggesting that DVD isn't even an acronym. It's just DVD. End of.

Switched on

Michael Gabriel, spokesperson for manufacturers Sharp, says that the options on offer "can be confusing for consumers".

But he says that it's a reflection of the huge amount of transition taking place in home electronics.

There's the switch from analogue to digital television, cathode-ray tube sets are being replaced by LCD and plasma, high-definition television is arriving and there's the convergence of computer technology with DVDs and televisions.

We now almost take it for granted that we can take a disc out of a laptop and stick it straight it into a DVD player and watch it on television.

"When there's so much innovation and manufacturers are looking for the next step forward, there will always be competing technologies," he says.

And he says that manufacturers are aware of the difficulties - and have been encouraging retailers to help demystify what's on offer.

Consumers have also been carrying out their own research before hitting the High Street, he says, particularly using buyers' guides and manufacturers' advice on the internet.

Ordinary folk, says Mr Gabriel, are much more switched on. But maybe we're just on stand-by.

Terms such as "Freeview" have worked, he says, becoming widely recognised by shoppers. And industry-standard logos have, apparently, become a way of raising awareness.

But yes, he concedes, "the electronics industry has always loved its acronyms."

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays 2006

Found Imagery : Denver Airport

Photograph of Denver Airport's Snowstorm, taken by ashleyniblock and posted under the creative commons license.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Now Online: 3:15 Trailer

Just updated at the Algorthm designed site Three Fifteen, is the trailer for the forthcoming independent feature film, 3:15. Algorithm has been working on this project since its inception, and has provided the creative direction and styling for all the promotional collatoral and graphics treatments. It's the story of a runner's training period and attempted qualification for a marathon. My sincere congratulations to Mike on a wonderful achievement in getting this far, can't wait for the full movie to be edited, assembled and to see it on the big screen.

From the movie synopsis:
"This is a journey through a year of training for that goal and a personal look into Michael’s life as husband, father, son and friend.

“Without fear and uncertainty, life would be a shallow existence. It’s one year of hard training for me and Chicago is the end, “After Chicago, Boston will just be fun… my goal will have already been met. Chicago is my true challenge. Chicago is what scares me.”

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The History Of An Image

I love this image. I first used a picture almost identical to this (I couldnt find the original online but this is really close), 14 years ago when I was at art school in Somerset, England. Now, here it is again being used, this time for a blog as found imagery in New York. The photograph ws always one I really liked, being of Katie Jane Garside of indie band Daisy Chainsaw (later Queen Adreena). I think it was originally published in Select magazine. In 1992 I used this imagery in a painting for my final exam (remember this was before the time of computers being widely available in art schools... that makes me feel old), and combined it with a couple of other images which I silkscreened and then worked on top of, before silkscreening on top as the final step.

It's one of the great things about Google Image Search as a designer in being able to harvest your old found imagery.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Can't Wait : Control By Anton Corbijn

Monday, December 18, 2006

Just Added : BDMP Holiday Card

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Design Sketch: Algorithm & (RED)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

In Progress: Fourth Of July EP

Algorithm is currently working on the cover artwork for the forthcoming Fourth of July EP 'Curtain Of Stars'.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

The Science Of Sleep

"But why Augusten... why?"

A few posts ago I posted the trailer for 'Running With Scissors', a movie based on the novel of the same name, the autobiography of Augusten Burroughs. Ever since I saw this wonderful film I have been hooked on his writings, first starting with 'Dry', the tale of his alcoholism and subsequent trip to rehab. I then tore through 'Sellevision', which I was stunned by how accurate this was, having been able to empathize with all of the home shopping references because of my five years at QVC. I was so into this I spent a recent weekend reading the entire thing, a rarity even for a bookworm like myself. I'm currently working my way through 'Magical Thinking', a collection of (true) short stories.

If you haven't tried any of his books, I can highly recommend them. Very accessible, and written brilliantly. Living in Manhattan and working in advertising, there's lots of references I recognize, especially when he spends time describing locations in Hell's Kitchen (where I used to live), and his tales of dealing with difficult clients and bosses are so perfectly accurate.

I hope they make movies out of all the books, it's been a while since I've been so disappointed to finish reading something.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Whole Blog Thing

I read a report this morning saying that blogging was going to peak next year, with the majority of online users having tried it but less than half continue to use it after they've signed up. There's also mention of the infamous Technorati statistic stating that over 100,000 new blogs are created every day.

My blog is now approaching its 300th post, and I am certainly one of the converted. I have found it to be a wonderful design outlet, and a great way to keep my site fresh and frequently updated. I was hesitant in the beginning though, only really posting things of interest to me (which still continues as you can see below). I think it's a very underrated tool for designers, perhaps because its not really seen as having the same flexibility as just building the site yourself (which I also do of course). But in thinking about this I realized that it would make much more sense from a flexibility standpoint to even build my own portfolio as a blog (which is done but in dire need of updating for 2007 after my change in jobs earlier this year).

I've noticed that as I've become more of a blog user I've also become much more of a blog reader.,, (for work not for pleasure),, (who I applaud for finally becoming more blog based), even my friends' myspace blogs, are now all visited on a daily, if not hourly basis. I still wonder what makes a good blog though. For me, I think I started off just over 2 years ago thinking it would be a good way to showcase my inspiration. Now, as I write this from my wireless device on the train to New York, who knows. The technology has changed, and as a result so has what is deemed successful. I guess at the end of the day it's all about quality, personalized content, but I think to most bloggers, it's simply an indulgent way to air their opinions.

I still toy with the idea of Algorithm being entirely blog-based, and whilst converting the archives of all my projects here would be a big job, perhaps ultimately it would be a worthwhile project. Hmmmm... We'll see. Perhaps it will happen, perhaps not. I do like the idea of having a pre-fabricated search built into the site though, as such functionality is beyond my coding ability, and I love the new tagging / labelling thing in Blogger, although it seems to be taking forever to update all my posts to work with this. I guess it's worth it in the end, it feels like a great way to pass the time on this dull, wet and deary North Eastern morning.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Douglas Adams: Hyperland

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Martin Nodell, Creator of Green Lantern, Dies

Martin Nodell, original creator of the Golden Age Green Lantern, has died. Those of you who know me know that I am a huge Green Lantern fan, and I was fortunate enough to meet Martin a couple of years ago and have him sign my Golden Age Archives book. Truly one of the greats, he will be missed dearly in the comic book community.

From Wikipedia:
Martin Nodell (November 15, 1915 – December 9, 2006) was a cartoonist and commercial artist, best known as the creator of the Golden Age superhero Green Lantern. Some of his work appeared under the pen name "Mart Dellon."

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Nodell attended the Art Institute of Chicago. He moved to New York City in the 1930s, where he attended the Pratt Institute.
Pratt's began his illustrating career in 1938, working as a freelancer. He joined DC Comics, where he created the original design for the Green Lantern. Nodel left DC in 1947 and joined Timely Comics (now Marvel Comics), where he drew Captain America, the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner. Nodel left comics in the 1950 to work in advertising, where he was part of the team that developed the Pillsbury Doughboy. He retired in 1976.

In 1987, Nodell submitted some new work to DC, which led to him being rediscoverd by comic fans. His final work for DC appeared in Green Lantern #19 (Dec. 1991), in which he provided an illustration of the Alan Scott Green Lantern for the last time. Nodell resided in West Palm Beach, Florida until his death.

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Getting Used To The Tiny Buttons

So I'm slowly getting used to the world of wireless and the new Blackberry. These tiny little buttons are kind of tough to use when typing and they make my fingers and thumbs feel enormous, but thankfully I've not quite turned into one of those dreaded folks who turn into social retards and magically lose their hearing as a result of their handhelds. I am excited about the idea of making my commuting time more effective though. I hope it doesn't come at the expense of my readingg though, as I've really been enjoying working through a few great Augusten Burroughs novels over the past couple of weeks. I really love the accessibility of his work and particularly find his sarcastic sense of humor incredible. I only recently became aware of him after seeing the movie 'Running With Scissors' at one of my favorite places in the world, the Ritz Bourse Theater in Philadelphia. It seems like every single movie I've ever seen there has been incredible. They have the great concession stand and of course the Cosi across the street. Now that we don't live in the area anymore I keep meaning to try and find somwhere similar around here (of course I had the Angelika when I was in Manhattan) and I think there's a place but I can't remember where on earth it is. You really can't beat going to see an indie movie on a Sunday evening. Somehow it makes Monday morning seem further away. I think I'm also going to enjoy the stream of consciousness the Blackberry is going to facilitate... I've been wanting to provide a more personalized commentary for a while here, perhaps this might just do it.

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Found Imagery : Space Shuttle Launch

Friday, December 08, 2006

First Ever Mobile Post

So after years of resistance, this morning I got my first blackberry... The beginning of the end! This post is being sent directly from my Blackberry on the train home from New York.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Pizzaman Video Cameo

A classic from 1995... can you spot the britpop matt in here?!

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Just Added : Algorithm Holiday Card 2006

How cool is coldness?

First Published: February 12, 1989, New York Times

How cool is coldness? For the British band New Order, nearly a decade of cold standoffishness, musically and otherwise, has paid off with one of rock's most dedicated cult followings. New Order songs have become standards for college radio stations and rock dance clubs and moved on to more commercial outlets; despite a stage presence best described as efficient, New Order concerts are dependable sellouts. With a poker-faced public image and deadpan music, New Order proves that playing hard to get still works in the 1980's - especially when the message behind the enigma assures fans of their own superior individuality.

As Bernard Albrecht sings in ''All the Way'' on the band's new album ''Technique'' (Qwest/Warner Bros. 25845), ''It takes years to find the nerve to be apart from what you've done/ To find the truth inside yourself and not depend on anyone.''

''Technique'' continues New Order's long-established marketing mystique. It's packaged with a minimum of information - a cover photograph (some sort of colorized, scientific scan of a statue) without a word on the front; titles and recording credits in small print on the back with the Universal Price Code; another photograph of a statue and the same credits are repeated on the liner. With its 1985 album ''Low-life,'' New Order began allowing its name and album title to appear on the cover's spine, plus a sticker on the shrink wrap to identify the album for potential buyers. But band members' names, faces and instrument credits are still absent, as are lyrics; song titles are related to the songs obliquely, if at all. The lack of data makes every fan an initiate, sharing a mass-produced secret.

New Order got started in the wake of Joy Division, a band formed in the industrial city of Manchester during the late-1970's punk explosion and named after the prostitution barracks in Nazi concentration camps. Joy Division evolved from playing typical loud, fast punk rock to slower, even darker songs that presaged the moody post-punk rock of Depeche Mode, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Teardrop Explodes and others. In 1980, Joy Division's lead singer, Ian Curtis, killed himself, making many of his lyrics seem prophetic. The surviving band members continued as New Order, adding not a lead singer but a keyboardist-guitarist, Gillian Gilbert. Where Mr. Curtis had been a wild, tormented performer like his idols Iggy Pop and Jim Morrison, New Order was impassive behind Mr. Albrecht's insinuating, Milquetoast voice.

New Order's music continued the trajectory begun by Joy Division. As drum machines and synthesizers grew easier to use, guitar-powered rock shared albums with mechanical, synthesizer-driven pop, still incorporating the band's signature sound, sustained melody lines played on bass by Peter Hook - lines that seemed to lift the music from within. Soon, New Order was assembling abundantly catchy songs with melodic hooks bubbling in every register. Although they tended to be marches rather than syncopated funk, dance clubs began to pick them up.

Meanwhile, New Order was honing its message. The music might be catchy and cheering, despite its martial undertones, but it camouflaged words that told another story - of distrust, betrayal, anger and resolute isolation, a universe in which the singer could only rely on himself. In his gentle tenor croon, Mr. Albrecht was likely to be hurling accusations or vowing vengeance or licking his wounds; even lines that would fit into other bands' love songs (''I've never met anyone quite like you before'') took on paranoid connotations. New Order fans willing to pry lyrics loose from the music and piece them together found a sullen, self-righteous narcissism.

New Order was praised for its well-tuned ironies and for defying typical pop optimism, as well as for its adeptly infectious music. Part of rock's mandate is to reveal the cultural unconscious, warts and all, and New Order's mushrooming popularity showed they were on to something nasty and true. As with 1980's politicians, an affable exterior could mask a ruthless core. But the band's adoring cult didn't mind that New Order had settled into a formula of its own, from the tight-lipped packaging to the catchy/cutting songs. ''Technique'' shows just how threadbare that formula has become.

The album attempts to move New Order even closer to current dance-pop. Its first single, ''Finetime,'' tries to make a stock sentiment ring ominously amid a cornucopia of synthesizer hooks, as Mr. Albrecht growls, ''You're much too young to mess around with me'' and later intones, in an artificial voice, ''You got love technique''; the song may intend to hint at dark incestuous urges, but it just sounds forced.

Most of the album's other songs are also about thwarted love affairs, with the singer at the mercy of his beloveds - even where, as the songs continue, they're uncomprehending, money-grubbing or just plain gone. Song after song dips into pop cliches - ''You'll come back to me,'' ''How can I ever forget you,'' ''I can't live without your love'' - only to resume with veiled threats and hints of madness: ''I can't find my peace of mind without you.'' Some lyrics, such as in ''Guilty Partner,'' are sung furiously, through gritted teeth; others, like those in ''Mr. Disco,'' simply chug and chime along like half of the songs on the Top 40. The obvious point is that obsession and madness lurk behind every love song - a point that grows less subversive every time around, especially when the cliches start to overrun the insights.

New Order still carries its own point of view, in which the world's one honest soul - the singer, or the fan who identifies with him - is betrayed again and again, until the only possible response to universal perfidy is psychotic rage. It's still not the usual pop romance. But on ''Technique,'' for the first time, New Order's trademarked approach seems nearly as adolescent.

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