Sunday, March 14, 2010

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Peat-free or not, it's a simple question

Buying some potting compost, I wanted to see if Levington compost has peat in it or not.  So I looked at the pack.

"At Scotts we are justly proud of our environmental record and our concern for the environment, both at our production facilities and in your garden. With this in mind we continue to develop outstanding, consistent growing media using a range of peat based, reduced peat and peat-free ingredients many of which make use of otherwise waste material. Over the last decade we have significantly reduced the proportion of peat we use in our composts and will continue to do so. We do not harvest from SSSI or SAC sites and are actively involved in helping the management and restoration of the peat land areas that we harvest from. As we continue to work towards reduced peat formulations we are continually introducing new materials into our products (continued on p 94)."

Thank you, minister, that's all we have time for.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Accused by Amazon

You can tell someone in the family is doing a PhD - just got one of those messages from Amazon saying:

"We've noticed that customers who have purchased or rated Education for Critical Consciousness (Continuum Impacts) by Paulo Freire have also purchased Art Education in the Postmodern World: Collected Essays (Readings in Art and Design Education Series) by T Hardy."

But we're rescued from Pseud's Corner by this other one:

"We've noticed that customers who have purchased music by Dolly Parton have also ordered Me & Bobby Maghee by Kenny Rogers."

It was ironic, honest.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sam Sampson

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Sam Sampson last week. A co-founder of Sampson Tyrrell, later to become Enterprise IG, Sam was the person who brought Information Design Unit into the group.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

More slippery characters

Thanks to Asbjørn Clemmensen for the guy on the left who appears to have had an accident while ice-fishing. In the middle, he seems to be posing by the beach, while on a recent visit to Ljubljana I learned what 'disco dancing' is in Slovenian.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Mash

I've been just been looking at the 1859 Post Office Directory which lists all the commercial companies and traders in London.

My eye fell on the surname Mash. I note that of the eleven people listed with that name, no fewer than six were potato dealers (well, one of these was a greengrocer, so sold potatoes). Perhaps with that name they were drawn to the profession, like Thomas Crapper to toilet manufacture, or a former colleague of mine John Sparkes to electrical engineering.

I now plan to ask the curators to turn the directory open at the Bs, so I can check whether the theory holds good for people called Banger.

The directory is an exhibit in a very interesting exhibition of nineteenth century information design, Designing information before designers, organised by colleagues working on the AHRC funded project 'Designing information for everyday life, 1815-1914'.  It has now moved from St Brides to Reading University where it will remain until 15 April.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hmm nice truck


Beautifully observed and pitch perfect, I think this ad is ironic, but I'm not entirely sure.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Microsoft Mot

Just a short irritated post from one who is suffering the hell that is Microsoft Word. I'm pouring a conference paper into a template provided by the organisers, who are in France. The template seems to have brought with it a French spell checker. So just after I have typed a word, it changes it to the nearest equivalent in its French dictionary, or in the case of the word 'bélong', its Franglais dictionary.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Not an urban myth

A colour-related factoid from Steven Fry's QI programme this weekend, which apparently is not an urban myth: during the cultural revolution in China it was thought that red, as the colour of progress, should mean 'go' in traffic lights, and green should mean stop. But they didn't all get changed over, so...

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Colour blindness simulator

As a graphic designer I've often wondered whether to confess that I usually fail the classic Ishihara test for colour blindness. Perhaps that's why I prefer to call myself a typographer or information designer (we mostly work in black and white).

People tend to assume that colour blindness, or colour vision deficiency, is an on-off thing - that you just see grey, or that all colour blind people have the condition to the same degree. Mine is fairly mild, I maintain – it reveals itself in poorly lit shops where I pick out grey clothes and see they are labelled green (no, not lime green, but perhaps a dark olive or almost grey kind of green). And I am slower at picking raspberries than other people – I see the red against the green leaves but they just don't sing out to me as they obviously do to others.

Around 8% of men and 0.5% of women have some degree of colour blindness, mostly red-green. It is apparently genetic and carried by women, not men (somewhat ironic then to hear mothers criticising their sons' choice of clothes).

I found these christmas cracker facts on a useful website called colorblindor, run by Daniel Flück. It has a lot of resources and links – I was especially gratified to find his online RGB Anomaloscope test which reports on your degree of colour blindness (Ishihara just says you are or are not). Although all online tests are accompanied by a health warning about monitor settings, it seemed to work for me.

One useful feature is this colour vision deficiency simulator. You can upload an image and see what it looks like to someone with various colour deficiencies.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Spam tone of voice breakthrough

I get quite a few spam comments on this blog which I have to delete. But I really like the tone of voice in this one. I think I'd like to get letters like this from my over-serious bank.
"Good day, sun shines!
There have been times of hardship when I felt unhappy missing knowledge about opportunities of getting high yields on investments. I was a dump and downright stupid person.
I have never thought that there weren't any need in large starting capital.
Now, I'm happy and lucky, I begin take up real money.
It's all about how to select a proper companion who uses your money in a right way - that is incorporate it in real deals, parts and divides the profit with me."
Mind you, they wouldn't get my money.

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Another clock


Thinking of Gene Z's chess set, this clock bought a few years ago from Habitat has a nice diagramming reference too. It's clever in a recursive kind of way, but not instructional in the way his chess set is.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Broccoli or pants: what's going on?



Paypal just asked me to fill in a questionnaire. This was the first screen - is this some kind of filter to check what browser I'm using, or to check if I'm not in an immature mood? Anyone know?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Gene Zelazny's diagrammatic chess set


Each piece on this chess set, designed by Gene Zelazny, is a diagram of how it moves.

Gene Zelazny is Director of Visual Communications for McKinsey & Company, and I corresponded with him for a while when they were a client a few years back in the mid-90s. He's been there for many years (he started in 1961 and I think he's still there), and has trained generations of management consultants to do those diagrams they all love - I saw a great collection he compiled of visual metaphors used in management communications, but I don't think he's published it anywhere (he has several books out on the design of charts and presentations).

As a sideline he designs wonderful chess sets - I mentioned to him Ken Garland's interest in board game design, and he sent me one of his diagrammatic sets to pass on to Ken (which I reluctantly did). Here's a link to his chess set gallery.

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Figure-ground

Sorry about the quality of this image taken quickly on the move. It's a rare example of figure-ground problem in action. Perhaps you got it straight away but it took a little while for me to see the image here. I can't think why in retrospect - but, of course, once you've recognised something it's almost impossible to erase your understanding. That's why we need to test icons - the designer knows what they mean, and can never see them fresh.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Buildings and contents

If you've ever wondered what is covered by your buildings insurance rather than your contents insurance, here's a nice definition from Aviva's website:

"If you were to turn your home upside down, everything that fell out would be your contents, and what is left would be your buildings."

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2.8% or 40%: how many people need large print?

A quote from the Arts Council's Get a Plan accessibility website:
"Did you know…40% of the population cannot easily read print if the type size is below 12 pt?"

That would mean 40% of the population couldn't read a newspaper, let alone the instructions on a packet of pills, or the small print on their car insurance.

Or the tests they use to measure literacy... wait a minute - could this explain the apparently low levels of literacy in the UK?

Well, only if the figure was true. The website owner is trying to trace the origin for me, but in the meantime here is a quote from an RNIB report:
 'The prevalence in those aged 16+ of at least S9 (difficulty reading ordinary newsprint) was 2.8%'  1998/99 Survey of the Needs and Lifestyles of Visually Impaired Adults. (RNIB/ONS 2000) quoted in Tate et al, The prevalence of visual impairment in the UK (RNIB 2005).

Newsprint is usually about 9pt. All figures for visual impairment get significantly worse for people aged 75+. In this survey only 14% of them, not 40%, reported problems reading newsprint.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Alphabet updated




A few years ago I was at a talk on transport design organised by the Design Business Association - one questioner asked why it was that the icons were the same in every station or airport you went to. It's so boring and uncreative, he said, and just a cop out by lazy designers.

The same goes for the alphabet too, and the practice of writing from left to right. It's lazy blogging, I know, but I thought you'd be interested in this item from The Onion I found on the Information Design Watch blog from Dynamic Diagrams (always very good).

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More memorable security questions

I had an account with First Direct for a short while about ten years ago (I used to open all sorts of accounts just to collect documents that might be relevant to clients we were working for). Now I'm opening another account with them, it turns out they haven't forgotten - they asked me the answers to security questions I set up in around 1998. I couldn't remember my memorable date, my memorable address or my memorable name.

So now I have to choose two new questions to remember at various random points in the future where it will really matter (such as when I have lost my card, or can't log on). Who thinks these things up?

Apostrophes in road signs, and other petitions to the Prime Minister

The e-petitions section on the Number 10 website continues to flourish - one current petition is 'We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to introduce a nationwide policy enforcing apostrophe use in road signs, applying to all local councils.'

There is still time to sign it, if this is something that keeps you awake at night. Or if you have ever got lost trying to find King's Road when all you can find is Kings Road, which is obviously somewhere else entirely.




The Conservative party recently announced plans to offer a £1m prize to the best use of social networking to harness the collective wisdom of the population in policy-making.

Judging by a good proportion of the e-petitions on the Number 10 website this is a slightly scary idea. Here's a small selection that caught my eye (mind you, I've included one that I would definitely sign):
  • Stop the post office delivering mail to residents of the east riding of yorkshire improperly addressed.
  • Ban the words 'Unlimited' in publications and/or advertisements by all companies where the service they offer is limited.
  • Label lilies and bouquets containing lilies as deadly to cats.
  • Bring Tony Blair to account over the war in Iraq.
  • Stop The Council Destroying The Graves And Let Our Beloved Rest In Peace!.
  • Force all foreigners to learn english when coming to the UK to migrate.
  • Get us out of the EU and the sooner the better.
  • Re-instate British dignity by banning political correctness against all things British!
  • Ban Goverment TV information that use fear tactics.
  • Stop the way tv licencing sends rude threatening and down right obnoxious letter to everybody based on the rather crass assumption we are all licence dodgers.

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Friday, January 01, 2010

The strange websites of thought leaders

My mention of Robert de Beaugrande's website reminds me of some others I've encountered from prominent thinkers where there's a strange disconnect between the quality of the thinking and the visual design.

Here's a page from the website of Christopher Alexander, something of a hero of mine for his work on pattern languages. Perhaps I'm reacting like a modernist architect might to some of the vernacular structures he celebrates... I'll have to ponder that one.

Robert de Beaugrande

I picked up Robert de Beaugrande's Text production the other day, and thought I'd look a little more at the author. I've found his account of how writers deal with the problem of linearity (that is, the problem that language is linear, but what we want to talk about is not) really helpful in explaining the contribution of typography and layout. He doesn't make the connection himself, although he does apply his ideas to punctuation.

As readers we imagine what writers are like from their work. So visiting Robert's website I was surprised to find a highly individual, committed and even eccentric scholar - a pioneer of discourse linguistics but not an establishment academic. It's full of pictures of him on his travels around the world (and in company with distinguished linguists), and full of digs at Cambridge University Press, Microsoft, the Tories and other elitist groups he's taken against. Quite strange in many ways - but sincere and committed. He was obviously very deeply engaged in thinking about language, how it works in everyday life, how it should be studied.

He spent a lot of time in recent years scanning in his major publications, including the books, to make them freely available (and free) on his website.

I use the past tense because he died last year - I can't find a biography, just this short obituary, so I don't know how old he was. Not old enough, I suspect.

If I may be so bold


This is a nice demonstration of encroaching-boldness syndrome from Barclay's banking website. Everything is very important, except for 'This is the', 'of', 'for the' and 'They are presented in'.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The large print giveth, the small print taketh away

In my recent post about Tom Fishburne's cartoon I meant to say that he attributes the quote to the Tom Waits song 'Step right up'. Here it is:

Schiphol clock

Paul Mijksenaar has a new blog which as you'd expect is worth following (I've added it to the list on the right).

He's also launched some nice tee shirts and other things decorated with his Schiphol airport pictograms, and I'm very pleased with my new clock.


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I spy with my little eye... branded language!

'I spy with my little eye... something's missing!'

So starts a letter I've just had from First Direct about our application to open an account. We're changing our bank account, in reaction to poor service at our previous award-winning customer-oriented bank. What was missing was information they hadn't previously asked for, so to my ear the headline is not only infantilising but blaming. Perhaps I hadn't said 'please' when I asked for a bank account.

In the same post we also got two identical welcome packs, confirming the account is open... so perhaps they don't need the other information after all. Those letters are headed 'Welcome to first direct (you'll notice the difference in minutes)'. I don't think they are ironically intended.

Now I'm not against branded language (for that is what this is) and when in professional practice used to sell it and do it. But you can't do it in an unthinking way, and every brand doesn't have to sound as chirpy as Innocent smoothies. And you have to be realistic - First Direct's tone of voice would be fine if modulated to match my likely mood (for example, with my gender, age and expressed unhappiness with previous bank, I clearly fall into the grumpy old man demographic). But their systems don't match the aspirations of their brand.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

My spell checker is trying to hold a seminar

My spell checker just queried the word 'semiological'. It suggested it should be semi-logical. Very profound, I thought.

It reminds me of a paper Henri Henrion wrote many years ago, entitled 'Semiotics or semi-idiotics'.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

The grocers/grocer's/grocers' apostrophe

At my public lecture the other day, a questioner raised the matter of the grocer's apostrophe - that's the apostrophe's in potato's, apple's and carrot's.

I said I wasn't particularly bothered as long as I get my potato's.

I was pleased to see support for my position on the BBC programme QI last week, where Stephen Fry said: "People have been ridiculing what has become known as the grocer's apostrophe since the eighteenth century. The Oxford Companion to the English Language notes that there was never a golden age in which the rules for the use of the possessive apostrophe in English were clear cut, and known, understood and followed by most educated people - never."

Have a look at this nice 'apostrophes for Africa' sketch with Omid Djalili playing the part of Lynne Truss, and Marcus Brigstocke on the grammar bullies on Room 101.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Another Tom Fishburne cartoon


I've mentioned Tom Fishburne's wonderful Brand Camp cartoons before - here's one I used in a public lecture I was asked to deliver in Reading last week. The point I wanted to make was that it's actually OK for there to be some small print - that is, for information to be layered so some of it is more prominent than the rest, or structured so you read different bits of it at different points in your journey to a decision, to new knowledge or whatever your goal is. It's actually considerate to the reader to reflect their priorities, or to guide them through the big picture. But the bad stuff shouldn't only live in the small print.

Instead, the large print structureth, and the small print filleth in the detail.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ryme Intrinsica eat your heart out

I'm sitting in Glasgow station. I had no idea there were such great place names here, so far from Dorset.

Whifflet, Shotts, Nitshill, Troon, Crossmyloof, Giffnock, Hairmyres, Bogston and Fort Matilda.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Signaletics

I'm speaking at the Sign09 conference in Vienna next week, jointly organised by the International Institute for Information Design and the Sign Design Society. They've put together a terrific programme - unfortunately it is over 9 days, so I imagine few visitors will be able to go for the whole thing. I'm speaking about how wayfinding is taught on our MA course at Reading, and showing student work.

On just before me is Timothy Nissen, from Switzerland, who is speaking about 'Advanced Studies in Signaletics'. I'm intrigued by the term, which I haven't met before. Googling it gets you to a company doing intelligent signing, and also to this nice video.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Simples


Aleksandr from the car insurance ad is campaigning to have the word 'simples' added to the 'Dictionary of English Oxford'.

With irony-sensors switched off, I could point out that it is already there, since 'simple' is a noun as well as an adjective, with the plural form 'simples'. It is used in herbal medicine to describe a remedy with just one ingredient (thanks to Judy Delin's encyclopedic mind for that).

Apparently Aleksandr's usage is catching on - someone used it in an email to me the other day, hence this geekish hunt for origins.

It turns out that as with so much, Shakespeare was there first. This is Jacques in As You Like It:
'I have neither the scholar's melancholy, which is emulation; nor the musician's, which is fantastical; nor the courtier's, which is proud; nor the soldier's, which is ambitious; nor the lawyer's, which is politic; nor the lady's, which is nice; nor the lover's, which is all these; but it is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many objects, and, indeed, the sundry contemplation of my travels; in which my often rumination wraps me in a most humorous sadness.'Act 4, Scene 1.
I'm quoting it to get in the wonderful 'scholar's melancholy, which is emulation'. They had the Research Excellence Framework in the old days too it seems.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Two notices

Two people gave me nice signs today for this blog.


James Mosley kindly sent me this photo he took sometime in the 70s – self-explanatory, I think, at least in more literate times. In case you can't read it, the top line says 'Artillery danger area'. I've been reading it aloud, trying out different accents.

Jenny came back from India with this one – we're thinking of putting it on our fence and pointing it at the students across the road from us.

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Credit where it's due

After posting about the renaming of buildings at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital, I remembered they were a client of our wayfinding team at Enterprise IG. Checking up I find it was indeed our trusty wayfinders, Colette Jeffrey and Alison Richings who were responsible. Uncommon sense, in fact.
Colette (under her former surname Miller) with David Lewis researched and wrote the standard work on wayfinding for healthcare sites for the NHS. She led wayfinding projects for around 25 hospitals, and is now to be found teaching at Birmingham City University.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Making names work for users

Wayfinding projects are not just about showing people the way – they are often about making the way easier to show. Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital last year renamed many of their buildings to provide a set of names that makes more sense for patients. For example, people used to have trouble finding New Guy's House, because it was not particularly new. This means that they've had to change not only signs and maps, but appointment letters too. They've also worked with the Royal Mail to ensure that their postal address is the street people enter from (it wasn't before).

Department names are also changing:
  • 'Paediatrics' = 'Children's services'
  • 'Ophthalmology' = 'Eye department'.
  • 'Renal unit' = 'Kidney unit'
  • 'Surgical appliances' = 'Patient appliances'.
 Hurray for common sense.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

RIP Robert Barnett

I was saddened to hear of the death of Rob Barnett at the weekend. His books on forms design are exceptionally thorough and authoritative, full of the insight that comes from long experience. I didn't know him except through correspondence – when I found his books weren't available in the UK, he just sent me one as a gift.

He was seriously ill for a while but maintained his blog until quite recently. Here's a recent posting from it – note the reference to 'work simplification':
'Take a look at the following book cover. It's typical of the technology when I first started to design forms.

'I've recently been archiving a lot of old books in my business library and it's been interesting to see how far we've come in my lifetime.

'What I found surprising is that while the technological emphasis was on the use of the typewriter, some of the design philosophy was sound and are still ignored by many systems and IT people. Take this quote for example;
"It will be observed that the forms designer must apply a wide knowledge of the many requirements which go into the functional design of a form. Furthermore, form design is usually one part of the total result of skillful application of the principles of work simplification to clerical operations. Only in the simplest applications may one safely disregard the services of the experienced designer."
'Elsewhere the book says:
"The techniques of designing efficient business records are of such breadth and complexity as to require several years of specialized training before they are mastered."
'Something which still applies today if the forms analyst is to be fully equipped for the task.'

Rob Barnett, April 2009
 Rob's key books are Managing Business Forms and Forms for People. They are both available digitally.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Builders in my life



I don't mean to complain, but one of these photos is the view from my office, and one is the view from my house.

A bit off-topic and personal for this blog, I know, but my excuse is to point out the continuous set of labels that are being buried on top of 11,000 volt cables outside my office. They tell a future digger operator he is about to fry.

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Saying what it is on the tin





Which one of these is a pink grapefruit? It's the one that doesn't say it is.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The poetry of Donald Rumsfeld

Slate some years back collected together the poetry of Donald Rumsfeld. There is no point in reproducing the famous 'Known unknowns' – it is too well known. But I thought this ode to clarity would suit this blog very well.

Clarity
I think what you'll find,
I think what you'll find is,
Whatever it is we do substantively,
There will be near-perfect clarity
As to what it is.

And it will be known,
And it will be known to the Congress,
And it will be known to you,
Probably before we decide it,
But it will be known.

Feb. 28, 2003, Department of Defense briefing

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Tube map latest


The London tube map has long been an information design icon, so it's not surprising that the latest version has attracted controversy - the river is missing. It's just one of a set of changes that are intended to declutter the map... which is a good thing. Except the river is a critical landmark in London, and now London mayor Boris Johnson has ordered it reinstated.



I'm less worried about the river, and more concerned about the welfare of the famous animals on the underground. For example, the raven no longer works now the angle of the Kings Cross link has been changed. However, Euston Square now gets a big dot, and results in a decent canary to take the raven's place.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Little people run to the left


I think this sign (seen at the Eden Centre in Cornwall) means the nearest fire exit is to your right, but there is another one to your left. Unless the left hand exit is for the piskies.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Ladies THIS WAY


Usability in action. Not one but two extra signs have been required here to persuade the ladies that this really is the way in. What's gone wrong? At a guess, the height of the signs, the collision of too many signs (the baby, the shower... or is it a jellyfish), but perhaps the icons for men and women are just too similar. The two word sign 'Ladies toilet' forces the type to a smaller size, too.





Another thought - where do dads go to change their babies?

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Monkey vs umbrella


What's going on here? Monkey (long arms + tail)?, umbrella?

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

More titles to choose from



While I'm twitting the Coventry Building Society (nice old-fashioned phrase, that - not the same as tweeting, although you could do both: you could tweet a twit on twitter) here's their choice of titles. They obviously do well with the RAF and the Royal Artillery, and not just the officers. But not as posh as Harrods etc, obviously.

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Back to the next page


Filling in this form online, I wondered why I kept being sent to the previous page. Well, where would you click to move on?

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Monday, September 07, 2009

A typographic pedantry test

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Careful, dancers












See my other post on this...

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Doing without signs


I mentioned before that architects don't seem to like signs. I was in a brand new office block last week, looking for the loos. There were labels on the doors themselves to distinguish the ladies from the gents, but nothing you could see side on or from more than a couple of metres. But I had no trouble finding them by instinct, or perhaps through deduction (they are often near the lifts as they both need the central service shaft). Of course the clincher was the cleaning trolley.

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Beanfeast


Not only do signs fade – so do words. If you pass this sign in Highgate, and wonder why all the beans, let me save you the trouble. I looked it up, and a beanfeast is "an annual dinner or party given by an employer for employees". The bean bit may not be connected with beans, apparently, coming instead from the Latin bene.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Visual Voltage

Visual Voltage is an inspiring exhibition by a group of Swedish designers and engineers, of technology that helps people visualise their energy use in the home. We've just installed a meter that tells us how much energy we're using - you can switch the washing machine on and see the hourly cost shoot up. But it's not very compelling, and you forget about it quite quickly. These devices are more visceral - some of them actually work on an emotional level (such as the energy flower than blooms when you use less electricity). The powercord (below) looks like it's wasting energy, and you can't wait to switch it off. The energy clock maps your households usage, and shows you the times when you might need to change your habits.

The exhibition is touring at the moment, but there don't seem to be any UK dates.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Making Policy Public

Have a look at http://www.makingpolicypublic.net/, where the Centre for Urban Pedagogy publishes a regular series of foldout posters that explain public policy. They act as go-between to introduce campaigners to designers and the results are impressive. Here's one on predatory equity (businesses who buy up rent controlled buildings, then harrass tenants until they leave).


Top: folded out as a poster
Below: information spread

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Friday, August 28, 2009

The hotel I didn't choose

Just back from a few days trying out my new boat on Ullswater. We stayed at a nice hotel, but not at the one in the picture. In reality, it is perfectly fine, and right next door to a place I could keep the boat. But I couldn't bring myself to book it. Great art, poor ad.


Top: The hotel

Below: The Munsters' house

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Grumpy old man's thoughts on channel strategy

Companies who deal with the public have something called a channel strategy. One effect is that you can go online very easily to add stuff to your Sky TV package but not to cut it back. To do that you have to join a phone queue, press buttons, listen to the Four Seasons and finally talk to a specially trained crack salesperson who knows all your weaknesses and trains their finely honed neurolinguistic programming weapons on you until you relent.

I 'joined' Experian to get a copy of the file they had on me, but it seems I have to call them to cancel. They have a machine that read my email and spotted the word 'cancel'. So now I have written again, mis-spelling it - the automatic reply now says a human being will deal with it in a day or two. We'll see.

When we moved house recently I wrote to BT, but they ignored my letter and carried on charging me. I thought writing things down was the safest way, but apparently not. I called BT and was told 'der, we are a phone company you know'.

By the way, 'der' isn't a mis-spelling of 'dear' but my attempt at spelling that word teenagers say: derrh? de-ergh? Any suggestions?

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Ghost signs



Hats off to the History of Advertising Trust (HAT) who are calling for contributions to a ghost signs archive. Ghost signs are those fading ads painted on old buildings. If you see any, they'd like them for their collection.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Two ideas for typefaces


Cooper Black Peeling: I'm sure the food is fine, but this sign isn't very fresh.




Stickynote Sans: Beth Shepherd sent me this - from a conversation by post-it notes with the office across the road.