Up to no good.

It has been a long time since I have posted anything about design stuff I have been working on so I’ve decided to put together a short little post about what I have been working on recently. Your comments and critiques are welcome, how else could I get better if no one is picking my work apart in a constructive manner? As a side note the title has nothing to do with the quality of my work, I just thought it was funny.

This first project is a landing page for one of my companies hospital clients. Stuck with their branding and with the style the other designer and I had set up for their landing pages. A video will go in the main portion of the header, this is a comp so nothing is final yet, although I think the client will like it. The title should give you an idea of what the landing page will be about.

Final version I submitted.

This next project I’m working on is another landing page and for another hospital. I really enjoyed this project because we were given much more freedom since we were to redesign their landing page templates…the old ones were a little over done. I came up with one comp and the other designer did a two. I hope they decide to run with mine, would be a big boost to my non-existent ego.

Final version I submitted.

The last project I will share is one that is already completed and being printed as I type. Every year we do the annual report for a client and this year I alone was given the freedom to redesign this years while still keeping some elements from the previous year’s theme. I was kinda proud of it, and can’t wait to get my own physical copy of the annual report. Here is the full PDF (ACES_AR_2011) and below are some sample pages.

Posted in Design | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Socialization of eBooks

Today I had an interesting and deep discussion about eBooks, the Kindle, and the like with one of my bosses at the liquor store. Who knew a wine salesman could carry a conversation like this? Well, there is that one guy who did…but we don’t talk to him. ANYWAYS…I digress. So tonight we talked about how eBooks can become more social and how borrowing/sharing can possibly work. Please excuse my writing, I pretty much just poured out my mind onto the keyboard with little proof reading.

Now I am not sure how much of this is already being done by the kindle, the nook, or that other crappy one, so bear with me if these features exist. The fun thing about physical books for many people is the ability to share thoughts, questions, and theories with other readers, mostly done by word of mouth or email. But with eBooks there is an ENORMOUS potential to integrate social networking into this and make it even more social than it is now. For instance, say you are reading a book and every time you bookmark your place that is shared on your Facebook feed, twitter feed, or even your google+ account *if you or anyone still uses it*. Not only book marking, but say on some pages you highlight a paragraph or page that you want to make a comment or note on and you can choose to share that as well. This feature would allow for a book club like experience with other people reading the book.

Now say you go to your eBook library on your device and you can see who else in your town, state, region or wherever has also bought the book and set up a kind of readers dialogue with this person or even create a group where all those involved and see where each other are in the book and share thoughts on the book the group is reading. Now not only within this group page/dashboard would you see some of these things, you could now see other people’s bookmarks in the book while you are reading, as well as see any notes or comments if you wanted to read them. The comments or notes could be made public to the group or private, and you could have groups comments that you could add to, these could be audio clips as well. I just found that there was a HUGE potential for this idea and that maybe I should sell this to Amazon and not be blogging about this, but I figured, what the hell.

Now the other big thing we talked about was how eBooks could be shared with others either same device only or cross platform…not sure how or if that could work for a number of different reasons. Now I’m sure book borrowing or sharing has been halted by the publishers…but why? Normal books have this problem, so not sure what the big deal is.

This is how I see eBook sharing going down…say you buy a book, you’re halfway through and a friend wants to check it out to see if they might like it. You go to your eBook library and select the book and select share from a menu of some kind, you then select who you wish to share it with, could be an Amazon account name/email and the book is then locked on your Kindle or device and you cannot read or open the book until the person you shared it with returns it. Now obviously I think the purchaser should have a kill switch to be able to take back the book at anytime. So the person borrowing the book now can also see where you have your bookmark and comments, and they can add comments to the book and place their bookmark as well. Now the power to delete any comments or bookmarks should reside with the owner of the book, incase the person who borrowed it decides to not finish it or you’ve lent it out to a ton of people and just want to clean it up. Say the borrower really likes the book, but the lender wants it back, they can then go to their library or even within the open borrowed eBook, chose to buy it for themselves. Once purchased they retain all the bookmarks and comments they have made in your copy and can choose to keep seeing updates to your comments and bookmark placement or to just prefer to not see what you are up to. Once they purchase the eBook, your copy becomes unlocked and you can now lend it to another. I think this is a GREAT idea, and once again I am not sure the specifics of how this would all work, but I think it’s a concept someone can run with. So get on that Amazon.

Posted in Anything | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Geary’s Summer Ale

Last year I had a Geary’s summer ale and wasn’t really impressed with it or the packaging. This year they have turned it all around with a good summer beer and some awesome packaging. Geary’s is a typical summer beer; light, refreshing, citrus notes, etc… but it also has a nice hoppiness to it. The packaging before was pretty bland and didn’t really stand out at all on the shelf. This year they went the typographic route and decked out their six-pack.

Literally spelling out everything summer is to us, it stands out from the rest of the summer pictures and cartoons. It goes to show that simple color and text can hold its own against beautiful photos and illustrations. The use of just sans-serifs and slab-serifs in a circus or a Victorian style layout really works to make this product fun. Pick it up just for the packaging (like me) or to taste (also like me).

Posted in Design, Liquor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Apps Fo Life

As I promised in an earlier post, I bring to you my first app reviews. I thought it would be good to start by reviewing my favorite apps. A favorite app for me is one that I use on a daily basis and require it to be functional and look bad ass. The first three apps I use to fill my social networking needs…Twitter for the iPad, MyPad+, and Instagram.

I don’t really need to say anything about the Twitter app since everyone uses it and there is hardly a competitor out their as far as I’m concerned. I am/was a diehard Tweetie fan so I love the interface, however I do miss the customization or personalization that the website gives you. What I mean is, maybe having some kind of customizing options available e.i. background picture…maybe. Also I did discuss with some friends about how it isn’t easy to find old tweets. We thought about maybe a calendar option that allows you to see your followers and your tweets from a selected day. I think it would be a nice feature.

The next app I use quite a bit is the Facebook app, MyPad, which looks literally like the Twitter app. Before I found this app I used to use the website and other various apps like Friendly…and all were horrible experiences. The website works fine, but is kind of annoying at times with notification and uploading pictures. Friendly was decent for a time, and had the chat integrated into it too, which was very nice. However it broke way too often and one update completely changed the whole look and feel and was filled with bugs. They finally went back to the old layout, but it was too late, they lost me. There are bugs with MyPad+, but they are less annoying and less frequent, and I LOVE the chat they just added.

Now Instagram isn’t a iPad app…but it still works great on the iPad and still fun to use. However taking pictures can be a pain with the iPad, it’s still fun to be a part of the exclusive iPhone community and enjoy sharing creative photographs.

The next couple apps are hard to categorize, a weather app and a radio app. I check the weather everyday to see what the week will look like for mini golf, frisbee golf, and if I will be skipping work for the beach. AccuWeather is a free weather app that has a beautiful UI and has so many great options. You can see the weekly forecast, the hourly forecast (24 hour), video reports, maps, etc. I highly recommend this app purely because of the UI and how it utilizes the touch interface to the fullest.

The next app I use is another iPhone app that serves it’s purpose on the iPad with no problems. The Rock102 app is an online streaming app for my favorite radio station in the MA/CT area, and it plays only the best classic rock. The radio station has great DJs and has Alice Cooper on at nights (syndicated), which is awesome. The app itself is pretty basic, volume controls, shows the song title and artist, but it also gives you a form to make requests on. If you like classic rock, you need to get this app.

My last batch of favorite apps are games. I found a lot of sweet games on the iPad, but only a few kept me playing weeks after I downloaded it. Those games are Carcassonne, Words With Friends, Tiny Wings, and Ticket to Ride (new)!

Carcassonne is board game adapted to the iPad and is just as fun. I won’t go into how it is played (far too complicated), but it is a game I can sit down and play on the fly and enjoy myself without too much of a commitment. You can play games with the AI or online with other players.

Another great game is Words With Friends, basically Scrabble, but a very colorful and playful UI. You can play with friends and it has a basic chat so you can smack talk. However their word library is pretty liberal as far as I’m concerned…allowing words like “CaCa” and “Prez”.

Another sweet game is Tiny Wings, I was just recently introduced too…and I was hooked from day 1. Not only is this game fun and addicting, but it changes everyday. The levels changes slightly in layout and color/patterns. It is, however, for the iPhone, but it still looks pretty good blown up on the iPad. Worth the $1 to download.

My newest favorite game is a classic board game by Days of Wonder that just recently made its way to the iPad. The illustrations are just like the box and board art giving it a very nostalgic feeling for those who played the board game. I won’t go into the details of the game, but trust me when I say you will enjoy it. Ticket to Ride isn’t hard to learn and the online multiplayer is great, with an already established online community from the desktop online play.

You can also buy the expansions of the game with an in-app purchase for 99 cents each, which is pretty reasonable. I have one little problem with the app however…at each post game screen where all the scores are added up, chat is disabled and you can’t go back to the board and examine it further. I would also like to be able to have the option of re-matching 1 or all of the same people, because right now you just exit and have to start another game. Overall, it’s worth the $7 to download.

I hope you check out all of these apps and I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. More app reviews to come, so stay tuned. Let me know if you find better Twitter, Facebook, or photo-sharing apps!

Posted in iPad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sam Adams Summer Ale 2011

In the past Sam Adams Summer has been a pretty good choice for summer beer, however this year the game has changed. Last night my boss and I cracked open a very fresh bottle (fresh as in brewed recently), and boy were we surprised. At first we were taken aback by how much it didn’t taste like previous years, and even more surprised by the lack of lemon flavoring. However, the lemon is present, you just need a good mouthful to get it. Disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe this years batch…it tasted off and the finish was awful, left a very unpleasant after taste in your mouth. We tried a couple more bottles and got the same results, thinking maybe it was a fluke…we thought wrong. I think you should still pick up a six-pack just incase we were just highly unlucky, but if this is just the brewmaster messing around with stuff…shame on him.

**Beware though, because I am finding a lot of beer reviewers are having the same gripes as me.**

Posted in Liquor | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rum of the Titans

I first heard of this Rum from an issue of Communication Arts magazine, where it was featured in with the 51st packaging design winners. It was chosen for a very good reason too, it’s bad ass. At this point I had only seen the bottle and label, little did I know that their was much more under the surface (pun intended). I searched online for the Kraken and found its Flash website, which is hours of fun to explore. On the site they sell a the perfume, the book, lamp shades, shower curtains, shirts, and so much cool/random stuff it will be hard not to buy it all. Once I get myself back on my feet financially I will be buying the book and a shirt for sure. Whoever did the marketing for this product knew what they were doing and did an amazing job. But none of that would have been possible if it wasn’t for the designer.

First the packaging/bottle, which stands out from most of the Rum I have seen in the liquor store. The bottle looks like it’s right out of the old world. The handles on the neck and the word “Kraken” raised out of the glass are probably my favorite aspects. The label design is what will really sell you on this bottle of Rum, with its victorian style drawing and design elements, it is very appealing. The victorian style typography is well executed and reinforces the brand throughout the campaign. The drawing of the mythical beast is charming and calls back to the age where it was not seen as just a legend. The wit involved on the reverse side and all over the marketing makes this product talked about. I bought this bottle merely because I loved it as a piece of art and one day it will break my heart to krak it open and have a taste.

Some designers I know aren’t completely sold on the large black and decorative name plate on the front. One person told me it was too busy and detracted from the drawing. I personally have no problem with the name plate and really like the metallic treatments and textures that have been incorporated as well. It is all in the details and I can tell the designer really enjoyed this job and put his heart into it.

If you ever have $15.99 to spare I would suggest you buy this…I hope it tastes good. Oh and enjoy the commercials I found, they’re awesome.

Posted in Design, Liquor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My website is done…kinda

At long last my website is finished, but like the title implies…it’s still being refined. I started out with many different pure CSS based designs, but after many failures I tried looking into jquery and javascript for some simple yet powerful solutions. I came across a couple different chunks of code that I eventually played around with and made my own with some help of course.

But with jquery come the problem of loading times…which I have noticed take a little while for my site. This decreased user experience and I am currently searching and testing solutions to this problem (any suggestions are welcome). I thought about just caving in and using cargo collective to house my portfolio, but I was and still am determined to make my solution work. Most of my work outside of the coding and optimization will be re-mocking up my portfolio work so that I can have a cohesive look throughout my portfolio, clean some things up, and to add more work.

Oh and if you try using IE6 or below to view my site…you need to die.

Posted in Design | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment