1. First chapter of HTML5 For Web Designers

    jake on 2010.05.06 at 05:50 pm

    After reading the first chapter of A List Apart’s foray into books I can’t wait for it to arrive.

    After HTML 4.01, the next revision to the language was called XHTML 1.0. The X stood for “eXtreme” and web developers were required to cross their arms in an X shape when speaking the letter.

    No, not really. The X stood for “eXtensible” and arm crossing was entirely optional.

    Posted in: Design · Web

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  2. Chrome 3 Has Issue With @font-face and letter-spacing.

    jake on 2009.12.01 at 03:20 pm

    While working on a friend’s wedding web site an oddity in Chrome’s handling of @font-face came to light. Paul Irish’s code works wonders for enabling the inclusion of alternative typefaces across browsers. Using Goudy Bookletter 1911 on a production site is exciting. But the navigation breaks when I load up my site in Chrome 3 at work.

    Navigation with @font-face being used.As you can see here, the letter spacing of .2em is not applied to the typeface.

    Navigation without @font-face being used.But as soon as I remove the “Goudy Bookletter” declaration from the CSS it magically starts working.

    A search through Google produces nothing relevant so I thought I’d document the problem here. Considering this does not affect the latest version of Safari I have no problem waiting for the fix to work its way into Chrome.

    Update: Just to clarify, Chrome 4 fixes this issue.

    Posted in: Design · Web

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  3. OpenOffice.Org Mouse - Has to be a Joke, right?

    brian on 2009.11.07 at 01:08 am

    If this isn’t a joke about open-source design, I don’t know what it is.

    OpenOffice Mouse

    Is this like Apple’s Magic Mouse?

    It’s almost the complete opposite of Apple’s approach with their new mouse. The Magic Mouse has one giant button that can do 10 things, we have 18 small buttons that can each do two or more things. And a scroll wheel. And a joystick. And 512k of memory.

    There’s a reason Apple is the most successful consumer goods company in the world, and why your company has the tasteful name “WarMouse”.

    How do I hold the mouse?

    We have found the most effective way is to rest your first three fingers on the mouse with your thumb on the joystick. Your index finger controls the first two vertical rows, your middle finger utilizes the two middle ones and the scroll wheel, and your ring finger the last two rows.

    If you need a FAQ about how to hold a mouse with 18 small buttons, and a scroll wheel and a joystick… then perhaps it’s not the most ideal device for an appendage with only five digits.

    Seriously, someone tell me this is a joke.

    Posted in: Design · Hardware

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  4. Innovation Sometimes Moves Backwards

    brian on 2009.06.13 at 01:36 pm

    There’s a certain irony about CamelBak. Perhaps one of the most interesting innovations in sporting goods in the last 20 years was their invention of the “hydration system.” Essentially, it’s a rugged plastic bag with a hose and a bite valve that you drink water out of on the go. You keep it in a backpack. Since getting water from it is so much easier than stopping to access a bottle, you can suck down little bits much more often and stay hydrated more efficiently. And it holds a lot of water, and keeps it insulated for hours. It’s so effective that the U.S. military puts them on the back of every solider in the field. It’s a great product, and I’ve used one (I’m on my third) since their invention. The newest ones are really useful, sport-tailored bags, which increase their utility.

    So where’s the irony in that? There’s no irony in their outstanding product, which now has been copied by a hundred competitors. It’s in their web site. While their products have evolved to become more and more useful and innovative, their web site has gone in the opposite direction. I didn’t realize this until recently.

    Read on to see how their products and web presence diverge…

    Read More

    Posted in: Design · Technology · Web

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  5. The Vintage Web

    jake on 2009.03.13 at 05:10 pm

    Web sites in ads usually have a few extra pieces as filler, things like fake domain names and browser chrome. After viewing one such ad I went out and bought such a domain name. Just haven’t figured out what to do with yet.

    Perhaps it should morph into a satire blog like The Vintage Web. Vintage Web highlights sites’ current designs that look a decade old. Once you move beyond the dread these sites exist you’ll find hilarity ensues.

    via Mr. Kottke.

    Posted in: Design · Humor · Web

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  6. Big News: SMC is Live!

    brian on 2008.10.19 at 09:22 pm

    Big news! The other day my good friend Howard Rheingold flipped the switch and the public web site for our project, the Social Media Classroom went live to the world!

    Logo of the Social Media Classroom

    The free (open source, no cost) software is combination of social media tools for use in education. It is designed to install right on top of Drupal, a popular open-source content management system.

    I did a good deal of research and wireframing of many of the interfaces and interactions that happen in the software. It was a valuable educational experience for me design wise.

    We got wrote up on Read Write Web.

    I did not have as much time as I would have liked to donate to the project. My day job, grad school and my new baby boy all made my time scarce. I feel there’s a lot more I could do for the project, design wise, if I can find a little time… oh, time.

    Special thanks to Sam Rose for all his hard work!

    Posted in: Design · Software · Web

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  7. Benjamin Button Has A Curious Graphic Novel

    jake on 2008.08.27 at 03:34 pm

    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Hardcover You’re probably aware that The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is being made into a movie (with Brad Pitt no less). But you might not be aware of its original form as a short story. And that, as usual, Hollywood has veered off in their execution.

    Surprisingly Kevin Cornell, illustrator of A List Apart articles, is the visual side behind a graphic novel treatment of the tale. The images he shares on his blog are gorgeous. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book in October.

    From i love typography

    Posted in: Books · Design

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  8. Where I Rant About a Poor Experience with Comcast Self-Service

    brian on 2008.08.03 at 12:22 am

    I went to Comcast’s web site tonight to attempt some web self-service. I realized that after my most recent TiVo difficulties, that once I got the software re-installed that a few video settings were still running on their defaults, which weren’t the proper settings for my HDTV. When it dawned on me why all my HD channels were letter boxed, I dug back into fix them. When I got to where I needed to change the setting, I couldn’t recall whether I was supposed to use 720i Fixed or 720i Hybrid. I remember researching this in the user manual for the box, but thanks to our office becoming a nursery, there was no way to find that manual without hours of digging.

    I thought to myself, “I remember seeing a QuickTips PDF on the TiVo portion of Comcast’s site. Maybe they have all the user manuals there too! That would make things much easier.”

    Instead, I got caught in a loop on this page I couldn’t escape. The service page said I could write an email to their head honcho of support, so I did. This is the part where I ranted.

    (more after the jump)

    Read More

    Posted in: Design · Web

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  9. Design Fail

    brian on 2008.07.01 at 12:32 am

    Penguin Books hosts yearly contests in which design students design covers for famous Penguin Books. A great contest, with some absolutely beautiful work.

    So why does the web site fail so miserably?

    While the overall layout is pleasing, the light grey text is nearly unreadable on the white background.

    Tumbleweed or Hairball?

    Click on a piece to view it. The large detail view is what most people would consider a thumbnail. These are embarrassingly small. These students work so hard, but those of us who are interested in viewing their work can, who seek it out can, at best, only get the drift.

    Most computer monitors are as tall as your average paperback book. So why can’t we view these at near-100% scale? It’s an art website! Yes, we’ll wait for the images to load at high quality. We’re there for fidelity!

    Instead we’re fed a spoonful of fail.

    Posted in: Design

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  10. Belatedly Announcing My New Blog

    brian on 2008.06.09 at 01:45 pm

    I was holding off until I had a few posts in the system to announce my latest blog project, but then I simply forgot that I hadn’t ever noted its launch here! I had to read through our archives back till August of 2007 to make sure I hadn’t posted about it (when I first installed the software for the new blog.) Alas, I’ve buried the lead!

    I’d love for you to check out my new blog, Evolve.

    At Evolve I’ll be examining where education meets technology and design. I think so many people are focused on EdTech, but so few are focused on getting the user interaction right. Many think technology will make education better, but it can’t do that by itself. Like raw steel, it must be hammered and formed and bent into submission by skilled and passionate craftsmen, so that technology serves its masters. Much of that forming is experience and interaction and visual design. If books were as poorly designed as most educational web sites, no one would read.

    Join me in fighting the good fight at Evolve.

    Posted in: Design · Technology · Web

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  11. US Paper Currency + The Blind = Discrimination

    jake on 2008.05.23 at 04:31 pm

    Many foreign countries you travel to have paper currency in a multitude of sizes and colors. While the US Treasury has been peppering our bills with color in recent years they have ignored the benefits of size. Different sizes for different denominations helps you find the right bills. Whether you have the gift of sight or not.

    Finally it looks like the courts are going to fix that. The American Council of the Blind has been fighting in court to force a redesign of paper currency. It’s about time.

    Posted in: Design · Politics

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  12. Irony, Greed, Hypocrisy, Bluster and Snow

    brian on 2007.12.29 at 03:56 am

    I followed a link today to this video, Sabotage Stupidity which resides on The Burton Snowboards website. It’s a series of marketing videos that are very clever, and very “in-brand” for Burton. Sabotage Stupidity is the name of Burton's campaignI’ve long had a lot of respect for Burton. They were a pioneer (but not inventor) of the snowboard, with a distinct style and attitude that really set the tone for the whole budding snowboard industry. Snowboarding itself really had to swim upstream. For many years, snowboarders were second-class citizens on the slopes–if they were even allowed on the slopes. It’s a classic story, they were different and thus they were not liked. Of course, as with any situation like this, there were a few punks who made trouble on the slopes and gave everyone else a bad name.

    What follows is a story of silly discrimination and silly corporations… and what else? Money.

    Read More

    Posted in: Design · Environment · Nature · Sports

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  13. Leopard Desktop Under Stress

    brian on 2007.12.03 at 12:37 am

    Instead of working on my final project for my Introduction to Instructional Design grad class, due tomorrow, I decided now would be an appropriate time to update the blog.

    This is my first post here from Leopard, and I’m happy to report things are going swimmingly. If I’m not editing podcasts with it at work, I’m writing papers and designing presentations with it from school. No issues yet, and many positives (much better network disk access, Back to My Mac, Screen Sharing, QuickLook, free upgrade to 802.11N, Safari 3, more robust

    I thought I’d take a picture for posterity of what my desktop looks like at full speed when I’m chugging away. I’d love to see what other people in my position were using on there Macs, so here’s my submission.

    My Leopard Desktop displaying various applications I'm using to write grad school papers

    Here’s a large image hosted at Flickr, along with a link to the Full Sized shot

    Here’s what’s going on: is in the foreground, I’m assembling pieces of the project that I’ve assembled previously in Pages is simply a fine application with which to layout a large project. I’m quite fond of it.

    To the right we see with a pair of PDFs… one is the instructions from the professor on what to write about in that section of the project, the other is a flow chart I’ve built which will be in an appendix at some point. It is a major piece of the project. The most time consuming, in fact. It was built in OmniGraffle, but I’m viewing the PDF I made to upload to WebCT.

    The whole project will be converted to a PDF tomorrow for uploading. The PDF of the flow chart will be added as one appendix, as will some Keynote slides, also converted to PDF. They comprise some sample learning material.

    Most of my classmates upload Word docs, which are a pain to review on the web. A handful of thoughtful classmates upload PDFs. Including the guy who works for Microsoft. He gets the web. No offense to them, but most of my classmates are not technical nor understand the difference. Otherwise they’re good people.

    My advice is if you have an online course, upload PDFs unless someone needs to edit your work within Microsoft Word. Otherwise, Word docs effectively break the web. PDFs cling to web legitimacy by a thread, thanks to the near ubiquitous PDF browser plugins. If you don’t have the software to convert to PDF (if you have a Mac, there’s the option to save as PDF in every print dialog), check out Google Docs, which can save any document save therein as a PDF. Free.
    PDF viewers are available on every platform, for free. Viewing a Word doc requires paying an unnecessary Microsoft tax, plus you can’t view them in most browsers.

    Happy learning.

    Posted in: Apple · Design · Software

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  14. Leopard's Input Buttons Can Have Color?

    jake on 2007.10.30 at 02:09 am

    Back in college Brian used to randomly proclaim things he was reading online if he thought I’d be interested. He reenacted this over the weekend while I was visiting Boston. He stumbled upon some information involving Leopard’s rendering of submit buttons. Setting a background color removes Safari’s default aqua buttons and produces flat buttons with the declared background color.

    Mr Dominey’s solution of setting a class or removing the styles all together works for restoring the default visuals. But it makes more sense to simply change them from input type="button|submit" to button type="submit". Using button instead of input reaps similar benefits when it comes to inheritance in non Safari browsers too.

    Screenshot of the form test in Safari Beta for Windows Update: I spoke a little hastily last night. Brian thought it best that I test out my theory before mentioning it. Since I don’t have Leopard installed I had to use the Safari beta on Windows. It actually confirmed my hypothesis. Though in the beta Dominey’s solution actually failed. Can anyone take a look in Leopard?

    I also rediscovered that Safari 2 does not handle buttons the same when using the button element. Not too mention IE6’s issues with buttons. They’re still usable but can require a little hacking… but then again what in IE6 doesn’t require a little hacking? ;)

    Posted in: Design · Programming · Standards · Web

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  15. Unstoppable Robot Ninja

    jake on 2007.08.15 at 02:13 pm

    I just wanted to say a quick congratulations to Mr Marcotte for his new site. I love the blinking eyes.

    Patting Ethan on the back is becoming the meme of the day.

    Posted in: Design · Web

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  16. News: I'm Apparently Going to Grad School

    brian on 2007.07.24 at 02:56 pm

    On a lark I signed in to the University of Massachusetts’ website this morning to check the status of my grad school application. There had been some trouble with them finding various things sent to them, not to mention my belated MAT test scores.

    There at the bottom of the status page, it stated

    It is my pleasure to inform you that you have been accepted to the University of Massachusetts Boston. Your official letter has been mailed.

    So, barring any unforeseen issues, this fall I will be enrolled as a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts in Boston persuing a Masters in Education for Instructional Design and Technology.

    I will continue to work full time, and if I pull A’s, my company will be paying my tuition. That’s a wonderful perk. And of course, I will be blogging the revolution er, my education.

    Posted in: Design · Recent Events · Technology

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  17. The art of the goalie mask

    jake on 2007.07.14 at 05:54 pm

    Over the years the goaltender position in hockey has arguably had the largest change in equipment. Especially when considering the protection of the head region. From the days of Terry Sawchuk, when they didn’t even wear helmets, to the modern gear, that resembles ancient armor, the goalie’s quest for retaining teeth has constantly evolved.

    Once your face is almost entirely hidden it only makes sense that you’d want to distinguish yourself in some other way. Like the ancient warriors who ornamented their helms most modern goalie’s have custom paint jobs on their masks.

    Sports Illustrated recently ran a series of photos highlighting thirty-six various tenders and their masks. Along with many interesting paint jobs, like Giguere’s half robot duck, and Jason Bacashihua’s homage to Jason, you get Hasek’s continual use of a classic design, now with paint.

    Via Digg

    Posted in: Art · Design · Sports

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  18. Myspace allows pound sign (#) for bands.

    jake on 2007.06.21 at 11:33 am

    Yesterday I was helping Kate out by tweaking the Myspace page for her radio program in Tassie. I discovered that, unlike on personal pages1, on a band’s page you can actually use the pound sign (#) in the edit boxes. This opens up a handful more hooks into the tag soup that is Myspace. My hatred level just went down .01 points.

    It’s no secret that Myspace makes me want to turn off my Internet. Facebook is better even though their new 3rd party applications are allowing morons, with a day of programming experience, to port over terrible Myspace features (I also like Virb)…

    But this means that when they were writing up the code for bands section they might have learned something from all the mistakes they made on personal pages. This isn’t exactly a revelation akin to them hiring some actual professionals to redesign and rewrite their code. But if you’re fighting with their code on a band (and possibly a film?) page at least you know about this one extra hook.

    1 For some help with personal pages go to Mike or Henrik.

    Posted in: Design · Web

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  19. The Cube is No Design Dud

    brian on 2007.05.30 at 11:37 am

    Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox has gotten a few links today in his call to avoiding hiring a “genius designer” instead of following a sound development strategy that involves usability methods. It’s a no brainer – besides even if you could find a genius, they are few, far between and expensive. None of that bugs me.

    This is what I want to nitpick:

    The most common example given is Steve Jobs. Granted, Jobs has been in charge of some great products. He’s also produced many duds as well, the most famous being the NeXT machine and the Mac Cube1.

    JN goes on to say SJ didn’t actually design the Cube, he had a team of brilliant designers, and he manages him. All of that is true, except in the realm we’re talking about here – design and usability – the Cube is hardly a dud.

    This “design dud” is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

    I have had the pleasure of working daily on a Cube, while at my first job at the University of Connecticut. I can attest that the Cube was a wonderful experience to use. Silent, small, beautiful. It is one of the most joyful computers I have ever used.

    Because the Cube was poorly priced and marketed does not make it a design failure. It achieved all of its design and usability goals, from a user standpoint. People still today search for them on eBay, and still upgrade and use them.

    One problem with Apple being so successful at design and usability is that they’re a constant example… except few people actually understand what’s going on at Apple, so they just cherry pick whatever’s convenient to back up whatever idea they’re trying to push. I’m not saying that’s what’s happening here… JN is responding to “what he hears,” (and I think his choice of the Cube is misguided) but it’s something that happens all over the design field.

    1 “Mac Cube” translates to the PowerMac G4 Cube.

    Posted in: Apple · Design

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  20. FontExplorer X released for PC.

    jake on 2007.03.30 at 09:57 pm

    FontExplorer XFor a long while I’ve been relying on FontExplorer X for free font handling on my Powerbook. There was always a promise that a Windows version would be released because not everyone can be blessed with a Mac. That day is finally here and I can now use the same wonderful software on my desktops at home and at work. Just remember that currently it’s in beta.

    Download FontExplorer X for PC (from Typophile)

    Posted in: Design · Software

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  21. What to do at An Event Apart Boston

    brian on 2007.03.25 at 11:50 pm

    major UPDATE!

    Yeah, clearly, I cannot read simple tables. I thought there was two tracts, but clearly I am an idiot. So the below list of courses are one’s I’m looking forward to, not just the ones I’m attending, because I’m attending all of them. The upside is I get to see everything! (So I’ve re-written the post so that it makes sense.)

    Twelve hours out from An Event Apart Boston, and I’m trying to plan out what sessions I’m going to attend. It’s not easy.

    As of right now, this is my tentative schedule.

    • Good vs. Great DesignCameron Moll Looking forward to seeing Cameron in person!

    *Secrets of CSS JediEric Meyer This will be an in-depth exploration of how CSS really works, and how this knowledge can make your work easier.

    • Writing the User InterfaceJeffrey Zeldman :: I’ve never seen the “Z-man” in person (He probably couldn’t pick me out of a line up, though. But why would he need to?) so this should be great. That and the topic is really interesting, the idea of writing as design, which I think receives much less attention than it deserves.
    • Redesigning Your Way Out of a Paper BagJason Santa Maria :: We’re in the midsts of redesigning one of our sites at work (due out soon) and am interested.
    • The Web Usability DietSteve Krug :: Let’s see what Steve has to say. I really enjoyed reading his book when I first got seriously interested in usability.
    • Selling DesignJeffrey Zeldman :: The most successful designers can sell their ideas, not just make them beautiful. Z is certainly one of the best sellers of design out there, and I’m interested in hearing how.
    • Interface Design JugglingDan Cederholm :: I’m always reading about how hard Dan works on his presentations, so I feel I should see how they turn out. Forget that his work is some of the finest examples of understated elegance, executed in fine CSS, available.

    Wow, what a murderer’s row. I’m excited. I’m likely not to attend the post-conference party Monday night, since I live locally, won’t have anything to do during the hour gap between the end of the last session and the party, and thus I’ll be pretty wiped with the hour T commute both ways. So if you want to talk to me (I’m very popular) you’ll want to find me during the day. If the WiFi is good, I should also be twittering, so hopefully you can follow me on my Twitter feed.

    Looking forward to tomorrow.

    Posted in: Design · Standards · Web

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  22. B&A Magazine :: Great idea creator

    brian on 2007.03.11 at 12:12 pm

    UIE has a subscription to a magazine I’d never heard of before, but I think more people should know about. Before & After is a magazine intended to spark design ideas, and supply technical tips on how to execute them.

    B and A Magazine

    The magazine, which is available via PDF download or paper, has a unique format, lacking most of the cruft of other magazines. It’s essentially all tips. I couldn’t even find a mast head. It’s just cover to cover tips. Even the physical format of the mag is unique, have three-holes pre-punched for archiving your issues for future use. The magazine is bound more like a newsletter, and is only a handful of pages (ten or twenty?) but they make great use of the space.

    Check it out.

    Posted in: Design

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  23. Review of the UIE WebApp Summit at UX Matters

    brian on 2007.03.11 at 12:05 pm

    If you’re into web design and you didn’t have the opportunity to attend my company’s UIE WebApp Summit, then you’ll be delighted to see this incredibly thorough review of the conference (which occurred Jan ’07) by Pabini Gabriel-Petit. Three parts, so be sure to catch the links at the end of part one. Great photos, too, including some from our good friend Ron Yoder.

    We hope to see you at the next one, or our UI12 conference this November in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The launch is near, check out for details coming soon.

    Posted in: Design

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  24. Art Is or Versus Design?

    brian on 2007.03.05 at 10:41 am

    My amigo and co-worker Josh Porter has made an interesting post about “Five Principals to Design By” which he’s added to the about page at his website.

    These are for the most part great. But my interpretations of art and design differ significantly.

    It matters very little what observers think or do: the practice of Art doesn’t require them. It is a necessary activity for the artist, and the artist alone.

    The viewer of art is a critical role. I don’t know one artist who has ever made anything (that was going to be seen by any other human) that didn’t consider how someone is going to react to it. In fact, I’d say that the definition of art is creating something that people have a reaction to, thus predicating the viewer, or else art can’t exist. Oxford’s American English Dictionaries defines art in part:

    …producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power

    “To be appreciated” means there needs to be someone to appreciate.

    There are people who only make art for themselves, but in that case, it is themselves who fill the roll as viewer. Without someone to experience art, it’s my belief that art ceases to exist.

    Josh states,

    We marvel at Michelangelo’s David even though we could recreate a million of them because it was the toil and expression of a single man.

    “We marvel” means there’s an audience (the appreciators!). For the a great deal of art from David‘s era, artists made creations for benefactors. If the benefactor didn’t like it, the artist might not again get such a payday and thus couldn’t feed his family.

    Tangentally, I disagree that we could make a million David‘s because art is not merely the physical craft of creating the form of David but its the act of determining the pose, the expression on the face, the materials, how far the work will be progressed (say a bust versus a whole figure). If we recreated the form of David, we’d only be reproducing a portion of the art that Michaelangelo created.

    Again, how art interacts with humans other than the artist is often a critical factor to the work. A part of the work is the reaction that it generates within the viewer. H.G. Wells’ War Of The Worlds was good art. Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds was great art, extending upon the original work. The reaction is what made it great. Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds was neither.

    Thus, based on my incredibly broad definition of art, design is certainly art. In fact, since the design is art that has an additional purpose beyond beauty or emotional power, I think it is thus a high form of art. Returning to Oxford’s, from the verb definition of “design” we extract that designing is done,

    with a specific purpose or intention in mind

    So, imo, design is art with a specific purpose, utility, or intention in mind…

    A design would be then evaluated upon three factors, it’s utility (it’s ability to fulfill its purpose in being) it’s beauty, and the viewer’s reaction to it (be it emotional or other, for example, if the design is persuasive, does the viewer act upon the message?)

    Take art, add more importance to information transfer and you get to design as a subset of art. That’s my take. After all, there’s a reason design is taught in art schools.

    Posted in: Art · Design

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  25. Reaction from Tufte's Boston class

    brian on 2007.02.24 at 12:47 pm

    I had the good fortune to attend Edward Tufte‘s roadshow in Boston this past Thursday.

    Edward Tufte Presents

    I enjoyed the class immensely. I didn’t even get drowsy. Now, why would I ever endorse anything by saying I didn’t get drowsy? Well, first thing to know is that I have a predilection for sleep. Even if I’m doing something that interests me, if I’m sitting still long enough, especially if the room is darkened, I start to yawn and my eyelids start to droop. It’s not a reflection of the content, just the way I’m wired.

    This might seem somewhat off topic, but I contend it’s not. An understanding of Edward Tufte’s topic is necessary. One of ET’s favorite topics is how PowerPoint is not a good way of expressing content (or Evidence, as he usually calls information). So this means from 10am to 4:30pm he pretty much just talked. Nothing projected behind him, except five images, and one 10 second (slow-motion) video. And those took up maybe (generously) 1% of the time. So for the most part I sat at a table behind about 500 other people about 50 yards from ET, in a grand ballroom at the Park Plaza. Sounds awful. I even had my nose in a book much of the time.

    However, that’s where ET asked us to place our noses. He gave us his four books and that’s where most of his content was. It’s was just like high school, “Please turn to page to 102-103 in Beautiful Evidence“ and we’d look at something Gallieo made, hundreds of years ago. Of course, his coup de grace was that he would then send someone around with Gallieo’s actual first edition of the book — that was pretty incredible.

    There’s much more to this post, so please read on!

    Read More

    Posted in: Books · Design · Web

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  26. Humane Workplace

    brian on 2006.09.05 at 01:49 pm

    The Human Workplace – silverorange

    This is the type of shop we model to run at Rain Hypertext.

    Posted in: Design

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  27. Brian Blogs Again!

    brian on 2005.06.08 at 01:12 pm

    Hello. Sorry to be so MIA. Lately, I’ve been busy. Mainly buying a condo near Tufts in Medford. It’ll be nice. Just yesterday I set up a page on my free Backpack account to help us track stuff. Very useful.

    Jake and I also soft-launched a new blog on behalf of our friend Jess. I named it fish_epiphany which was sorta an inside joke, but it probably only makes sense to me. I told her she could change it, but right now, Jess seems so enamored by the site, that she’s yet to figure that it’s really her site and she can object to anything on it! Jake thought it’d be cool to purchase Jess’s somewhat rare last name as her URL. Not too many people in 2005 can buy their lastname(dot)com. Check out her site, it should be much more interesting than our own.

    I’ve also been working on another blog for myself and Amanda. The idea is that I could post stuff there of a personal nature that I wouldn’t want to muck this place up with. There’d be a combo blog (Amanda and I) that would be the front page, based on us putting the same category on the common interest post and then separate sections (defined by author) where we could put anything.

    What would I put there, that I wouldn’t put here? Well this blog is somewhat intended to be general (progressive geek) interest. We don’t do much personal posting about how our day went, or someone’s boss is a jerk, or the gory details about my surgery. For things that are borderline I would sway towards posting them on the other blog, then referencing them here. I’d love to set that to be automatic. If I could have a check box that said “cross-post excerpt to Recently” that would be way cool. I think that function’s going to be a full-manual mode unless Jake is so intrigued that he writes it up. That kid is amazing, not only did he write this place from scratch, but then just for kicks, he added reverse-engineered XML-RPC so we could post from blog writing software like MarsEdit or Ecto Incredible.

    A question I’m batting around is how public to make that other blog. I’ve wanted a place for information for my friends, for example should they be coming to visit they could have specialized directions to my pad. But that’s not information I’d want available to the general public. So I’d have to password protect it. I know Textpattern (generally the software we use to build sites when we don’t make them fully-custom) has the ability, but I’m going to have to figure out how to get it just right, so I can just have a post be categorized as private and it only appears in the protected site. It would not appear in public archives, etc. I’d love to have it be over SSL, too, but that’s a pain. I wish I could do that without having to pay for a certificate. I can create a cert, but then your browser will likely say “this proves nothing to me, since Brian isn’t a trusted source that I recognize.”

    Thanks for letting me think out loud. I’ll keep this site posted with updates on those developments. Maybe Jake will post with info on his bloggish side projects, for his friend and his band… and once we’re done with everyone else, maybe we’ll actually finish our professional services site.

    Posted in: Design · Web

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  28. Tag Clouds

    jake on 2005.05.16 at 05:49 pm

    Everybody loves tag clouds. Well for the most part. I don’t write enough about design. Maybe it’s because we haven’t modified this site since it’s inception in 2001. Well at least not cosmetically.

    In any event Zeldman has a little writeup about the subject. Tag clouds are supplemental data that users submit for “categorizing” the content. Naturally in a community where numerous people can all pick words that are relevant to their content you get a lot of unpopular data.

    Tag clouds are starting to be very popular as ways to navigate where simple category listings would suffice. Which is the main conundrum. Tag clouds work well for grouping popular information but they are flawed in that they can not give you all the information unless you only have a handful of tags.

    Zeldman’s right some instances need more structure and hierarchy. Hopefully after they are overused for a while developers will come up with some acceptable uses and swing the pendulum back. Tag clouds could be the next Flash.

    Posted in: Design · Web

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  29. Design Links

    jake on 2005.04.14 at 03:31 pm

    • //// COLOURlovers — A place to peruse and evaluate colo(u)rs.
    • More Nifty Corners — Use some Javascript along with your CSS to generate rounded corners on specified page elements.
    • Drag and Drop Lists — Gotta love all the fancy Javascript stuff coming out these days.
    • Browser stickies — Some more Javscript dragging wizardry. Since they’re obviously tied to a particular web site, I don’t know if they’re much bigger than a proof of concept.
    • Fixing Intermittent Fusebox 4 “Circuit Not Defined” Errors — I’ve started using Fusebox 4 at work for a couple of internal projects. I came across this problem when trying to put the apps on our server. Took me a while to figure this out. Hopefully this’ll boost their Google ranking.
    • Recover Post — If you use Blogger this is a good thing. I wonder if I could implement some form of it here? I don’t know if it’s totally necessary, but it might be nice for version 1.1, if we ever get there…

    Posted in: Design · Technology · Web

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  30. Google X

    brian on 2005.03.16 at 03:12 am

    Rumor has it that GMail runs on XServes. Could this be further evidence?

    I preset thee Google X

    (actual story here: GoogleBlog hat tip: TUAW)

    Posted in: Apple · Design · Web

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  31. Hi-Fidelity Graphics and Music

    brian on 2005.03.10 at 02:44 am

    This evening, I decided to investigate this group that Mike Gordon has been playing with of late, Benevento-Russo Duo.

    Beautiful website. Has tables, but this isn’t a CSS-P rant. So I followed the “design by” link to Also attractive. No tables in sight. But what made me write this whole entry was the bio section.

    That was worth the price of admission right there. He says he still wants to write a screenplay. I think he’s over looking some great material.

    Posted in: Art · Design · Media · Web

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  32. All Things (Nike) Considered

    brian on 2005.03.09 at 01:05 pm

    I’m dubious of Nike when they say stuff. They are after all a megalith of a company, with a notorious past in regards to labor. They swear they’re better now. But now, they’ve introduced the Nike Considered line, which they say is industry leading in its environmental consciousness.

    The site looks to walk the talk. Hell, it’s even XHTML compliant. So that would make the line a) good for the eye, b) good for the earth (er, better than their other products) c) good for the web.

    Posted in: Design

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  33. Good Fonts are Hard to Find

    brian on 2005.01.09 at 04:15 pm

    I don’t know who is responsible for but thank you for putting up 300 excellent freeware fonts, I took several.

    Posted in: Design

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  34. Screen Grab Confab II

    jake on 2004.11.24 at 02:22 am

    Screen shot of rain web siteCameron's hosting a "screengrab confab." Thought we could participate. This is a screen grab of one of the projects we're working on.

    Posted in: Design

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  35. Multiple CSS Classes

    jake on 2004.09.23 at 07:02 pm

    I'm sort of surprised that I stumbled upon this on Richard@Home. I'm pretty certain in all my travels looking at stylesheets from around the enormous web I've never seen someone use multiple classes in an element. Have many people out there used this before? It's well documented.

    To do it you simply provide a space between the items.


    I have set up an html file for now which demonstrates this. I'll look into something that is a bit more permanent in the grand scheme of things.

    This allows for even more reusable code. I have encountered in the past a situation where I needed to style certain elements while not others, like when you style alternating rows. I used a wrapper where the outer object could have two different classes. The objects were nested in a way that applying it to the unclassed object would have changed many other elements on the page. By using this technique I could have selectively inserted the extra class code and removed the wrapper.

    So far I have tested this on IE 5,5.5,6, Firefox 1.0rc1, and Opera 7.5, all for windows. I will test Apple browsers tonight. It seems to be something that's just not widely used but implemented in modern browsers. I also will hopefully write a second draft which is less hasty.

    Posted in: Design · Web

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  36. More standards coming soon.

    jake on 2004.09.16 at 07:43 pm

    I'd say I just thought of it, and feel stupid. But I pretty much have had this in the back of my mind for too long, and feel stupid. Althought this place validates and uses CSS it needs a little something more. It's not structurely sound. So I'll start playing with front end things as opposed to meddling with the underlying stuff as soon as I finish a few things. It is almost this place's 3rd Birthday and we haven't had any major cosmetic changes. Thoughts Bri? Anyone?

    Posted in: Design · Service Announcement

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  37. Tab cleanup isle 4

    jake on 2004.06.04 at 03:03 am

    I really gotta post things when I find them.

    Posted in: Art · Design · Movies · Rant

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  38. Friday Tab Scrubbing

    jake on 2004.05.29 at 01:51 am

    Good night.

    Posted in: Design · Science · Software · Technology

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  39. Friday tabs, including Optima, Naked Rollercoaster riding, SBC strike

    jake on 2004.05.21 at 06:51 pm

    Posted in: Design · Recent Events

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  40. Zeldman with a warning

    jake on 2004.01.30 at 01:07 pm

    Don’t design on spec points out the problems with doing work for someone before you get the contract.

    Posted in: Design · Web

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  41. Haunted Mansion Replica House

    jake on 2003.12.02 at 07:12 pm

    Boing Boing pointed me to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article about Mark Hurt, a guy whole built his house to look exactly like The Haunted Mansion ride in Disney Theme Parks.

    Something frightful happens every time Mark Hurt turns on the cold water in his downstairs bathroom.

    The lights begin to flicker. A mysterious voice cackles, "Watch out for hitchhiking ghoooosts." And then, right on cue, a cadaverous ghost hovers for a few heart-stopping seconds in the gold-rimmed mirror above the sink.

    Don't forget the movie...

    Posted in: Design · Humor · Technology

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  42. New Color Chooser

    jake on 2003.11.17 at 04:24 pm


    ColorMatch Remix, best I've seen so far, good job Twyst.

    Posted in: Design · Technology · Web

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  43. className saves the day

    jake on 2003.10.10 at 04:18 pm

    the className pictureA couple things brought me to research this technique. One was that I wanted to be able to style things in the manner of Jeff Croft. You can notice that on his blog when you mouseover an entry the links highlight. Their color goes from a dark grey (the rest of the text is a lighter shade) to orange.

    The second was that a few web sites use the style display: block to create some fancy looking links. A couple of them are; Adaptive Path, and twothirty. Adaptive Path uses the technique to highlight two boxes towards the bottom left which contain pictures and some extra text besides just a generic link. On the twothirty page it is used to bring out their two primary services, website design, and web application interface design.

    I wanted to combine these two techniques because to add any block elements, like a form, inside the link tag would function, but not validate. And Jeff's nice little highlight feature uses the :hover declaration on something other than a link. This validates, but does not function on many browsers.

    I've seen something similar done using inline code and setting things like, but that destroys the whole notion of CSS. Also this would get even more unruly trying to style other elements within the text block.

    So... I tried using javascript but naturally all I need is someone turning it off, and the whole thing breaks down...

    Update: now I feel silly, just goes to show how testing throughly is a good idea. What I did is actually javascript, however, it cleans up the code a little. And the reason I didn't notice it at first was because I only turned off the javascript in Firebird. Firebird could still see the hover declaration and worked as intended. IE just stops all together. Oh well, maybe it'll still help someone out there.

    To view what the heck I'm talking about, I have set up a local page. I tried to give the code some structure, but if anyone has problems with figuring it out, I can try and clean it some more.

    Posted in: Design · Standards · Web

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  44. New $20's debut today

    jake on 2003.10.09 at 07:05 pm

    US 20 Dollar BillThe new 20's are out today and are getting plenty of press. While I find the use of color a great addition I don't think they did enough with it. Two muted background colors along with a variation of the good 'ol green is not very exciting. I think we should go the way of the Euro and have a separate color for every bill. That, along with possibly different sizes can make grabbing money form your wallet an easier task. Did anyone see what Matt Murdock had to do in Daredevil?

    EU 20 Euro Bill

    Posted in: Design · Rant

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  45. New Modded Mini-Tabs

    jake on 2003.08.19 at 03:28 pm

    Dan has pushed mini-tabs to a new level by incorporating images. These also work in vertical.


    Posted in: Design · Standards · Web

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  46. Icon Masking

    jake on 2003.07.30 at 01:33 pm

    Simplebits has a post about setting the negative space of an image to the same color as your background. Then you can set the positive space to transparent and change the color of the icon at will. I have done something like this before, but I'll let Dan do the talking.

    Posted in: Design · Standards

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  47. A couple of pretty, standards sites.

    jake on 2003.07.24 at 01:12 pm

    Zeldman has been posting XHTML/CSS standards sites recently. A couple of them caught my eye as very well done. I'm a big fan of standards compliance, but making the site look good too is always a bonus.

    The first is a weather site for Lawrence, Kansas. I really love the image swapping at the top. It has an illustration along the top that depending on the weather changes for each day. The colors are nice and the fact that it's XHTML is great.

    The second site is a design group from England. It's fairly simple, minimalist, black text on a white background, but it looks good doing it. It also has fairly good semantics.

    Posted in: Design · Standards

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  48. adaptive path redesign

    jake on 2003.07.10 at 07:24 pm

    I saw this mentioned at a couple places. The design is clean XHTML and CSS, it's awefully pretty too. The design is by Doug Bowman.

    adaptive path [from asterisk*, simple bits]

    Posted in: Design

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  49. Ive on Design

    brian on 2003.06.25 at 11:26 pm

    Jonathan Ive is a designer to look up to. The 36-year old Brit has his head on straight, and his ego is on permanent vacation. In a recent, impromptu interview with Wired, he leaves us with wonderful insight on the new PowerMac G5. Here's one of the many gems:

    "From a designer's point of view, it's not an appearance game we're playing. It is very utilitarian. It's the use of material in a very minimalist way."

    Posted in: Design · Apple

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  50. Bookmarklet For Encoding HTML Entities

    jake on 2003.05.27 at 12:50 am

    A bookmarklet has been released that changes characters above 127 into their HTML Entity. Works in certain text input types.

    Steve Minutillo [from Antipixel]

    Posted in: Design

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  51. CSS Generator

    jake on 2003.05.26 at 10:57 pm

    Strange Banana has a script that automatically lays out a page and sets up styles. Needs some refining but is an interesting idea. [from Scriptygoddess]

    Posted in: Design

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  52. Disney Electronics

    jake on 2003.05.09 at 01:40 pm

    Boing Boing mentioned this yesterday. I noticed the phones a while ago, and saw the DVD (or) player and TV (or) last week in the Circuit City flyer. What I had no idea about, was that the premier design group Frog Design helped in designing these products.

    Posted in: Design · Technology

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  53. Unusable.

    brian on 2003.04.28 at 02:36 am

    Please, just try to read this article (linked via /.)

    Wireless Electricity (Sunday Times of London)

    Just try. Please comment if you get in. I tried for 10 minutes without success.

    Posted in: Design

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  54. Design at the Mayo Clinic

    brian on 2003.03.31 at 06:07 pm

    Found this interesting story of how the Mayo clinic is using environmental design and other visual strategies to ease the stress and tension surrounding medical interactions. But why don't you see people in lab coats?

    Posted in: Design

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  55. 404 Antics

    jake on 2003.03.10 at 06:56 pm

    The 404 Research Lab was mentioned in the March 25th issue of PC Magazine. It has information about 404 Pages. It also has a repository of categorized pages including the 404 of the week. I found the site to be very ammusing, and I look forward to sifting through more 404's from around the net.

    Posted in: Design

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  56. I've heard of a TV in the bathroom, but this is ridiculous.

    jake on 2003.03.06 at 06:46 pm

    I noticed over at Gizmodo a nice little jacuzzi. Called La Scala it sports a media center. Personally I've been avoiding technology to an extent at home. But if I can get one of these in my apt I might actually use it.

    Posted in: Technology · Design · Hardware

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  57. Cuban Council

    brian on 2003.02.09 at 10:05 pm

    The Cuban Council have launched their business website. For a long time these same guys have had a website known to many designers simply as "K10k."

    3 of 4 Cuban Councilors are Danish. Does that make them better designers? Well, don't ask me, I'm a bit biased ;-) Of course, they're much more Danish than I. I guess that's why they're making a living from design and I'm not (yet)!

    Posted in: Design

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  58. February 17

    brian on 2002.12.19 at 04:12 am

    is the day we've been waiting for

    W3Remix. I was following the discussion of this, and it seems the design contest has as much to do with the IA a the visuals, which makes this the first of its kind contest! One that's not just visual, but has to follow and comply with standards and have decent IA, to boot!

    Now, for you humans let me explain in brief: The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) sets the standards for the languages the web is built on. Their newest version of their website follows their preaching, but it sure ain't pretty. Now this contest aims to inspire the W3C to consider quality design to accompany their quality code.

    Posted in: Design

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  59. Job!

    jake on 2002.02.01 at 11:19 am

    Boo Yah!

    Woah, too many exclamation points.

    In any event, I finally got a job. Amphenol liked my work I guess. :)

    Now I just gotta keep it, after I'm settled in and I clean up my messy room, the blog will be in full production. Basically I have nothing to do when I get home from work at night, once I'm settled and my body adjusts to waking up at 6am I should be ready to continue production. I've already got half a class that displays forms from queries to a database. Hopefully this blog will go live soon and you can actually read what I'm writing right now.

    Posted in: Design · Cool Info

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  60. Moving on...

    jake on 2001.12.17 at 09:06 pm

    So now that I've gotten a job offer I'm going to work on this blog a bit... I've got a couple other things to do too, but hopefully I won't need to stress over sending my resume all over the state, so I'll get a bit more time.

    I've worked out some more development things that have to be done. Thus this will go live as version .04

    The next incarnation will be written a bit better from the back-end and in turn add a bit to the template system on the front-end. Hopefully I won't hit any crazy snags.

    Posted in: Design

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    jake on 2001.11.28 at 02:09 am

    I've been busy with my interview and now I'm working on a CD for my old a cappella group.

    My next task for this blog is to create a comments section. Hopefully I'll feel motivated enough to accomplish this once the CD is out the door.

    Posted in: Design

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  62. Make this place spiffy

    brian on 2001.11.21 at 06:45 pm

    The dairy industry is simply out of control.

    So today I’m half working selling nuts and bolts, half handcoding, so that this website can get a pretty face to show the world. Oh the possibilities! Thanks, BBEdit for OS X…

    Posted in: Design · Cool Info

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  63. Finished!

    jake on 2001.11.20 at 11:26 pm

    Now what next?

    Well, after 6 CD's and a few weeks of squeezing in "training" time I have finished my ASP junk. I have now learned the basics of ASP 3.0 and using VB/Interdev/whatever.

    Now I can code in two scripting languages! :)

    Hopefully this will help me land the job I'm interviewing for next week. Otherwise I'll be out gettin' a part time job to stay off the hand of debt.

    Posted in: Cool Info · Design

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