Making the most of the sun to take some product photos for my new portfolio.

You know you have a good friend when they ring for a catch up and when the call ends you realise you’ve been on the phone for two hours.

I don’t know why it never occurred to me before, but mind map apps are excellent ways of visually presenting a site map. I’ve found them really helpful in the last couple of weeks while reviewing site structures and navigation design.

Spent some of this afternoon going through my old design projects and picking which I’m going to include in my new portfolio site. Found a number of old projects which are going to go in there and ordered a cheap – but well reviewed – light box thing to photograph them in.

Pondering on Google I/O

I’ve been thinking a lot about the things that Google announced at I/O this week. I feel like I’m stuck in a weird camp of being both fascinated and terrified all at once.

The rate at which Google Assistant is developing is astounding and the idea that they are working towards the computer from Star Trek is really quite cool. They are clearly getting there quite quickly. The video demos of Duplex making a call on your behalf to make a hair appointment or book a restaurant is frankly amazing. If those video’s are true (why didn’t they do a live demo?) then they’ve created a computer that can pass the Turing Test and fool a human into thinking they are talking to another human. This is one of the things that terrifies me.

I’ve long been uncomfortable with the amount of information Google can gather on people. Now they are showing how a lot of that data has been used to understand how humans communicate in the way they are building Duplex and demonstrating it’s ability to mimic that. Likewise with the new autocomplete in Gmail that they demonstrated, these things are impressive, as is the potential utility of them.

My struggle is that I hate the idea of all this data being collected on people, mostly without them realising, but at the same time I find that I want to use the new products that Google are creating with it all. I hate having to make phone calls to people I don’t know and the idea that I could just ask a computer to do it for me is great, but, it scares me. Just because we can do that begs the question should we be doing it? When humans are speaking in this manner, there’s an inherent level of trust that is built. It’s a verbal contract between two people, with a commitment from both to fulfil it. If a computer takes over this element on behalf of one of the parties, do we erode that trust? How far do we let these communications go? If we are not responsible for making appointments and bookings, do they start to become disposable? Will we become less inclined to keep them, and how will this impact small businesses?

9:50pm on a Friday and finally calling it a day. The curse of double jobbing, a 14.5 hour work day. I really wish I was doing design work full time.

Any web development people know why a htaccess rule to change to php 7 is causing the file to download and not execute?

A real pet hate of mine is when someone from a different profession tries to treat me like a tool to execute their design, rather than letting me use my years of experience and the expertise/knowledge I’ve developed in that time. In no other profession would you approach an expert and tell them how to do their job. Instead you would give them all the information they need and let them do the work of providing the best possible solution to your problem.

Design is not just how something looks. It’s about how something functions. How a key message is communicated visually. It’s the way that something is used to guide someone from a position of not knowing much to knowing just a little bit more. And it’s many things beyond that, but one thing it is not, is just how something looks.

When you’re working with a designer, don’t try and do their job for them by giving them a layout of how you want something to look. Give them the information they need, talk to them about your aims, and let them use their skills to provide a solution to your problem.

Chopped some chillis up to put them in my bolognese which is currently in the oven. Apparently I didn’t wash my hands thoroughly and itched my nose. IT STINGS!

One of my favourite chairs

The weather in Cheltenham the last few days has been glorious, it has a big effect on my mental health when the sun shines and I can have the big doors of my living room open to let the summer air in to my flat. It can also have a negative effect though, with the sun shining so brightly see stuff that I’ve not cleaned for a while and it makes me want to fix that.

This afternoon the sun caught one of my chairs in such a way that it showed up so much dirt I was horrified. I undid the cover to check if it had washing instructions, it did, and promptly put it in the washing machine. While that was in the wash I gave the frame a bit of a scrub as well, it’s getting a little worse for wear and could do with some more attention but it’s not in bad condition.

It got me thinking about how old the chair is. I’ve had it for somewhere in the region of 15 to 20 years, so it’s no surprise the frame is a bit rough in places. The chair is an IKEA Poäng and if I’ve had it that long it got me wondering how long IKEA have been selling it for. Turns out, according to this article, the design of the chair is over 40 years old. I guess you could call it a bit of a design classic. The frame of the version I have is a little different to the ones you buy today, but the design is essentially the same, and it’s kind of comforting to know that timeless design pieces are still being produced and loved by millions around the world. It’s also nice to know, that in a world of throwaway products, some relatively inexpensive things can last a long time. The age of my chair is nothing compared to the one that the founder of IKEA has.

Went for a nice long walk around Cheltenham this morning, needed to make sure I got out the flat and enjoyed some of the beautiful sunny weather we have had this bank holiday weekend.

I spotted this copy of The Hobbit in a charity shop window so popped inside to have a look. It’s got some lovely illustrations inside and well I just loved the cover. Decided that for a fiver it was too good to pass up as a beautiful addition to my bookshelves.

I’ve been an Apple Music user since the beginning, but decided to give Spotify a go for the month. Using my Echo Dot more and more lately and feel like the music elements give it greater utility. Already found a couple of new tracks thanks to Discover Weekly. 🎵

It’s been a long week with a busy final shift today. Looking forward to enjoying the sun over the next couple of days and relaxing a bit. Probably still end up doing some work though…

Since I’m posting to this site with a bit more freedom and making use of post formats such as status and image to do so, I’ve decided to enable comments again. I’m still ironing out some issues with the new theme, but it’s getting there.

Noticed a weird thing with my posts that any likes etc, aren’t showing up. This one would be a good example. Not sure why or how to solve the problem, I have the relevant plugins installed and facepiles enabled but they don’t show.

The Giro d’Italia started today, the first of cycling’s grand tours to start outside of Europe, and it’s in Israel’s capital. Watching the highlights now trying to see if the course goes through any bits of Jerusalem that I’ve been to. Love it. 🇮🇱 🚴🏻‍♂️

Apologies to my Mum (and anyone else who gets notified by email about new posts) for the couple of hundred emails now clogging your inbox after my Instagram photo import. Didn’t think about that before I started.


Connected my Echo Dot to my amp and speakers while I give Amazon Music Unlimited a free trial. Probably wouldn’t switch to that service but I do like just being able to start listening to music by speaking and not having to pick up my iPhone or iPad and AirPlaying.

The Bulletin Board ›

I’ve been reading Austin Kleon’s blog since January, I find the way that he speaks about his notebooks and how he uses them very inspiring. Today’s post is about his bulletin board and how he pins images, clippings, index cards, and various other bits to it for inspiration while he is writing a book.

The analog nature of lots of things that Austin does has really caught my attention. I love technology, but as a designer I also love objects and paper. When I was a student I covered the wall of my room in halls with bits of graphics that I liked. The whole thing turned into one giant collage of inspiration. That’s something I would like to get back into my creative life, something tactile and away from a glowing rectangle.