This Buick commercial shows that if you lock your keys in your car, you can unlock your doors with their iPhone app. While it might be a nice feature, the commercial infers that the Lexus owner locked his keys in his car. But it's actually impossible to lock your keys in a Lexus. Details below...
Because I took this (not even looking) out the window of my car on the 101 freeway...
...and Instagram made it look like this.
See more of my Instagram shots at instacory.watilo.com.
Men socialize by insulting each other, but they don't really mean it.
Women socialize by complimenting each other, and they don't really mean it either.
A couple months ago, I finished building my home office in the shell of a barn. It started as a old horse barn with a dirt floor and no ceiling and over the course of a few months, turned into my new creative space (with a small recording studio) where I now spend most of my time. Here are some shots of the final product. (Scroll down if you want to see some progress shots of how it all came together.)
A Few Things to Note...
- Wall artwork is by the talented photographer Cole Rise (still need to hang the last piece on the bare wall).
- You might notice that around the double-doors is writing on the walls. I turned to IdeaPaint, a special type of paint that dries into a slick white board surface. Pretty awesome stuff. Cleans better than an actual white board!
- My track lighting is all LED lighting, greatly reducing power consumption and heat produced.
- To keep the tunes going all day long, I went with SpeakerCraft in-ceiling speakers and a BIC subwoofer. The sound is insanely awesome.
"The Barn" as it has been so originally named used to be a horse barn in the 70's, but has been nothing more than a storage unit for yard tools and a place for junk since then. (First pic is now the office, second pic is now the recording room.)
And then my dad helped loosen the tightly packed soil so we could level for the floor.
Here's all I came up with in terms of plans. I'm thankful that our handyman was willing to run with just this.
Got a large delivery of "real life lego pieces" from Lowe's and proceeded to carry it 100 yards from the street and down 60 steps:
Once the junk and rat poison were out, we were ready to frame the floor (handyman Brian on the left).
Now that we had a floor, it was time to frame in the ceiling.
Once the ceiling was framed, I noticed that my favorite local coffee shop (Kean Coffee) had an awesome recessed ceiling for their chandelier.
So of course, I decided I wanted a recessed ceiling too, to make the room feel bigger. (This would eliminate the exposed wooden beams I had drawn into my plans.) So we chopped a hole in the framing we just built and made a recessed section.
Among the things being wired up were:
- Wiring for 5 speakers
- Independently controlled track lighting
- HDMI ports
- Between the office and recording room, a DVI plug, USB connections, XLR inputs and 1/4" returns
- Way to many ethernet ports and power receptacles
Oh, and we had to install a subpanel for power, so we got to run lots more wire underground to get to the barn. In the pic below, you'll notice my ingenious solution of getting all the wires we needed to automatically feed to us as we pulled them underground. (That's our handyman you see in the later pics.)
The Finishing Touches
Naturally, the most fun of the whole project was wiring it up.
Here's where the interior started going Tuscan. Yes, the walls have a faux finish (texture). That was a lot of fun to apply (note: texturing is hard work).
Eventually it all came together. I did go a bit over the top, pre-wiring for a wall-mounted projector (HDMI and power) and a motorized projector screen, just in case I ever want to add them later. Oh, and don't forget the keypad door locks. Just like with cars, physical keys are a thing of the past!
The Barn has even been turned into a full-on video production studio!
The Barn has really become my home away from home (by about 30 yards) and I've been able to focus in this creation like nowhere before. It was well worth the high price and the hard work that went into it.
Having been back in the freelance world for a while now, I once again have to deal with quoting my clients an hourly rate for long-term contract work on an ongoing basis. I've been able to raise my rate several times in recent years, and now it's to the point where most people balk when I give them the figure.
But in reality, the amount of work I can do in an hour is the equivelant to what might take a less experienced person twice as long (or longer). In addition, more experienced people can cut down on potential revision time and avoid costly problems in the future by utilizing the knowledge they've built up of their work. And in general, if you've performed the same skill for a while, you're going to have all the tools you need and be much more comfortable doing it. So one hour of my time can easily be equivelant to four hours of a less experienced person's time.
Unfortunately the average client doesn't see it like this. They just see a high number and look to the next person. That's why hourly rates are hard to use, especially on long-term, open-ended contracts.
A designer named Clay Butler wrote about this problem. He also points out that hourly rates actually punish good designers:
Another problem with charging by the hour is that it punishes for getting get better and faster. To keep up with your increasing speed and skills your hourly fee must keep rising. With an hourly rate you can paint yourself into a corner because at a certain point an hourly rate will just sound ridiculous, where the same total fee, when presented as a flat fee, sounds reasonable because it focuses on value received and not the commodity (hours).
Clay Butler's opinion is that a flat fee works for both the contractor and the client. But rather than calling it a flat fee, he calls it a "value-based fee."
His suggestions are good, but I'm not so sure they work for me, given the fact I mostly do long-term contract work rather than one-off, short-term projects.
The challenge I face is to try to avoid the sticker shock that potential new clients might feel. The best clients understand the high rate and everything factored into it, but many others don't. So I don't know if I've found the solution for this problem yet. If you have a solution to this, I'd love to hear it.
Normally when I mention Major League Baseball umpires on my blog, it's to rant about a bad call (like here and here). This time, however, the ump got one right. And this call was big, because it was the 19th inning (for those not familiar with baseball, games usally go for 9 innings unless there's a tie, and games can't end on a tie) and this play ended the game.
It's funny how, even when things are black and white, people still see all sorts of colors. It's pretty clear (based on the replay in the clip above starting at 2:08) that the tag was never applied (simple contact between players doesn't matter - the catcher has to touch the player with his glove or the ball directly). It's just about as close as a play can get, but umpire Jerry Meals made the right call because that contact wasn't made, yet he's getting tons of flak for it. I just don't understand how people don't see that the runner wasn't tagged.
Here's the clip from the Braves' broadcast, if you want to see it from some slightly different angles.
I'm seriously thinking I need to start a blog that only highlights bad design. There's certainly enough content for it.
Today's episode features the instructions provided at McDonalds to connect to their free wifi. (But I'm kind of thinking if you can't connect to the wifi on your on, I'm not so sure this pamphlet will help...)
From the comments on the original TwitPic post:
Connecting to a WiFi network with a PC is the equivalent of a hostage negotiation.
This is a screenshot from an official promotion video of Outlook 2010. Seriously, what a trainwreck. I still remain a Microsoft fan, but this screenshot just shows the lack of any intelligent design direction anywhere in the company.
I previously wrote about the design disconnect at Microsoft here.
Google has been known to continually improve upon the look and feel of their search site, but I just came across some changes that are a bit more substantial than a traditional Google refresh or improvement. This "redesign" includes a blue search button, eliminating the Google Search and I'm Feeling Lucky buttons and more changes on the results page.
The homepage now includes a voice search feature that will automatically use a built-in microphone or one attached to a webcam (thanks to HTML5).
They also seem to be trying a completely new color scheme in the left rail of the search results page, as well as a gray bar across the top.
Another example of a results page with different types of content.
And the line height on some pages just looks plain silly.
There's a good chance many of these changes will never go live. A couple years ago, Facebook redesigned and tested their signup process but it didn't last long.