Slothnought

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August 30, 2012 at 10:59am
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Defiant Sloth

My new site/blog/digital backbone is live at Defiant Sloth. Resubscribe to the blog or bookmark it if you are the least bit interested in coffee, booze, motion pictures, or the Oxford comma. I am switching the Feedburner feed to the new one at Defiant Sloth, so hopefully you won’t actually have to do anything if you’ve subscribe that way in the past.

I have a plan this time for essays, projects, and stop-motion video work. As always, I appreciate the readership.

August 26, 2012 at 10:36pm
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Site Revamp Coming Soon

Migrating off Tumblr to something more stable. RSS feed link likely to change.

ETA: Sept 1.

August 25, 2012 at 12:27am
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Kickstart a Kickstarter

Figured it’d be worth extrapolating on my Kickstarter investments over (nearly) the last two years. But before we get started, a few statistics:

Type Data
Projects 14
Funded 91%
Not Funded 09%
Ongoing 3
Avg. Price of My Investment $20.07
Most Expensive $50.00
Cheapest $05.00

The Glif

Described as “a simple iPhone 4 accessory with two primary functions: mounting your iPhone to a standard tripod, and acting as a kickstand to prop it up.” It was the first of this kind of accessory, and I’d argue it kindled the insane rise of iOS device-related accessories that followed. Not only was the Glif funded, but it was manufactured and shipped in a timely fashion as well. The creators at Studio Neat sent backers documentary-style videos capturing the process from design to finish, and even went on to design a few other items (like the Cosmonaut and iPhone app, Frameographer).

Quatro Typeface

Mark Caneso wanted to raise funds to expand his typeface, Quatro, to a 16 font family. I dug the blocky sans serif typeface, and my price tier would have yielded a highly discounted version of a few families, but it unfortunately did not get funded.

Wear You Live

The brand billed itself as “a civic-minded design and apparel line focused on creating unique ways for anyone to talk about their city.” While I don’t need to talk about the fine city of Chicago, I liked the graphic design work (mono-color satellite wireframes of cities down-scaled and pressed upon apparel and prints.

Pen Type-A

The Hi-Tec-C ink-powered, stainless steel replacement housing for the Japanese pen. Half ruler, half heavy-weight pen shaft, this thing defined Kickstarter in 2011. They funded around 108x their original goal. Too bad manufacturing took nearly nine months.

Venus Patrol

How could I not fund “a new videogame website in search of beautiful things from former Offworld.com editor and IGF Chairman Brandon Boyer”? Well, I did.

Distance

My search for long-form journalism in the age of 140-character bullshit is never-ending. Nick Disabato’s motto for Distance Magazine: “Three essays, five thousand words each, every three months. We want to build a better conversation with you.” A designer’s set of essays in a nicely formatted package.

Double Fine Adventure Game

Wonder how and why all these games keep getting Kickstarter campaigns? Double Fine started it all, with a massive funding exceeding $3.3 million. I’ve been receiving fantastic, quality documentary videos of the production of the game, and am quite excited to see the result.

Matter

Another long-form essay endeavor. This time, the focus is on anything with journalistic integrity. With the promise of one epic, well-researched story a week, this could easily displace the New Yorker for time well spent.

Wasteland 2

"Wasteland 2 is a sequel to the amazingly popular 1988 RPG Wasteland and the post-apocalyptic predecessor to the Fallout Series." Enough said.

Flint & Tinder

Men’s clothing never gets the right kind of attention or love. Jake Bronstein must have felt the pain. He decided to start with the basics: underwear. Quality underwear. With a box of fucking matches. That’s all it took.

The Olympic City

Timely, yes. Creative, yes. I love the idea behind “a photography project that looks at former host cities of the Olympic Games, and what happens to a city after the Olympics are gone.” My city never hosted the Olympics (just a world fair), but who wouldn’t be fascinated by the economic ramifications of hosting a massive worldwide event like the Olympics? About to find out.

S-Filter

I use an AeoPress at work because it’s convenient as hell and makes a fine cup of Americano. This thing may not save me money (only wishful thinking in the long-run, depending on how gross my habit is), but it’s a genius idea. No hesitation in funding it. And they have a track record of beautiful designs and curation.

Slim

Yes, I’m a sucker for a project pitching “a super-thin, card-carrying over-achiever.” Thick wallets should burn.

Planetary Annihilation

I was weened in the art of RTS with Total Annihilation back in the 1990s. My favorite RTS game still holds a candle to the modern crop. But a true successor? And one with planetary bodies used for collisions? This shit must be funded. Not only is it a spiritual successor to a brilliant strategy game, but it uses multiple planetary bodies to wage warfare. You can even build rockets on asteroids and use them as bombs. Don’t question its impracticalities — this is a game for the ages.

July 4, 2012 at 4:40pm
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Taking Notice: The Next Microsoft

Andrew Kim’s speculative redesign of Microsoft permeates all of the company’s current efforts, including Windows, Metro, and Surface. It’s finally picked up steam across the internet much in the same way that Dustin Curtis’s American Airlines redesign did a few years ago — albeit without as much scorn. Andrew decided that “Microsoft needs to be a brand that represents the future.” His design reaches this lofty goal on a cosmetic level (dig the space theme), and exceeds it philosophically.

He also makes excellent advancements on the Windows branding (and current 2012 redesign from Microsoft itself). I’ve long fled the Microsoft boat (since 2003), and nothing has impressed me on a software level from them except the design philosophies of Metro. Metro should have been the phoenix in the Windows ashes, but Microsoft refused to surrender the old metaphor in its branding and logo. Metro (aka Windows Phone OS, Windows 8) could have been that chance. And the recent unveiling of Surface (along with more mainstream coverage of Windows 8) could have been its Mac OS X moment. But they’ve long stuck to their old ways. To name a few:

So it’s no surprise that Andrew Kim rebooted the idea of Windows for the future. And then he went and demonstrated to Microsoft how you carry a consistent design and branding through all your key product lines.

His portfolio is excellent, and there are several other speculative design projects he’s worked on in the past, including EcoCoke and HTC 1.

May 29, 2012 at 3:31pm
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Sweep the Sleaze (via iA) →

If readers are too lazy to copy and paste the URL, and write a few words about your content, then it is not because you lack these magical buttons.

The truth is out there about social media buttons.


Update: Marco weighs in on why he doesn’t include social media buttons on his site:

I don’t embed any sharing buttons for one big reason: they look cheap and desperate. They would devalue my voice and reduce my credibility.

April 23, 2012 at 8:24pm
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To Hell with SMS Plans

Carriers’ text (SMS) messaging plans should be one of the most contested issues with technology consumers have today, but aside from a few loud shouts from the corners of the Internet, they don’t receive as much attention as is deserved. What’s even more disconcerting than charging for text messages is the tiered pricing levels at which you must choose your service. But as horrible as SMS plans and pricing are, there is a greater problem lurking behind the veil of revolution: fragmentation. 

Context for Complaining

Back in 2007, AT&T allowed its network users to select from three tiered pricing structures for text message plans: 200/mo., 1500/mo., or unlimited. While the bottom tier has morphed over the years, there has always been a cheaper, more affordable option. The original pricing structure for the above tiers, circa five years ago, was:

  • $5/200
  • $15/1500
  • $20/unlimited

Since Apple released its latest iOS version in 2011 (which included iMessage, a service that uses data bandwidth instead of cellular bandwidth to facilitate rich text messages to other iPhones/iOS/Mac users), AT&T eliminated the cheapest version. They also instituted a raise in price of the per-text message option to $0.20/message. While this it entirely unreasonable for a telecommunications/utility company to brace itself for a disruptive technology like iMessage, it’s also monstrously demonstrative of unwarranted price gouging. There is no doubt that SMS is a valuable, globalized technological standard that allows any mobile device with phone calablities to communicate cross-telco. But when you break down the data bandwidths and technology required to operate this, the pricing structure doesn’t match up. And in the face of easier, better messaging technologies that leverage speedy data pipes (let’s not forget BlackBerry Messenger, Google Voice, etc.), it becomes less forgivable to rely on older tech — and charge more for it. It’s not as if cellular bandwidth is a scarce resource; I’d wager more people are using fewer minutes on their monthly plans. And let’s be realistic: text messages are not inelastic. Or are they? 

The Numbers

Now, to put some context around this. Below is a snapshot of my text message usage since iMessage was released. 

Text Message Usage Pre- and Post-iMessage

My messaging habits didn’t change after October, so the gradual decline of message usage directly correlates to the migration of messaging people with SMS to iMessage. Obviously this migration requires the majority of your closest contacts to have iOS devices (in my case: true), but it’s still a remarkable juxtaposition. 

The Bigger Problem

Alas, SMS messaging (and its pricing model) isn’t going anywhere fast — except perhaps up in price. If anything, the introduction of iMessage, as seamless as its integration has been, will only fuel fragmentation among text message users. Those users also must continue to rely on SMS plans for iOS users to affordably message non-iOS users. 

Unless there is a grand messaging unification among mobile OS providers, or SMS technology gets an upgrade to data pipes instead of cellular ones, SMS will never go away. Instead, users will operate in silos whereby it benefits them to share the same mobile OS among families and friends to save money. For example, you could save quite a bit of money if you had an iPod Touch with a monthly data plan. You could leverage iMessage for text messages and a Skype number for voice calls (or undoubtably a soon-to-be-released Apple solution to voice over data), and eschew the constraints of cellular plan pricing from the carriers. As I’ve mentioned before, I could make a pretty penny if there was a black market for AT&T rollover minutes. 

Where My Complaint Is Valid

Regardless of the fragmentation, I still want to complain that the current SMS plans are gouging users. Half the point of iMessage was likely to reduce the monthly cost of SMS plans for iOS users (the other half being an improved experience with message synching across iOS devices, read receipts, etc.). That pricing benefit was rendered irrelevant when AT&T decided to amputate the affordable plan. Make no mistake, this was directly aimed to fuck over its own customers from saving $5-10 a month. I was planning on switching to the cheaper plan until they decided to play this damaging game. 

You’d think competition in this space would address the market’s need. I’m still waiting.  

April 14, 2012 at 1:22pm
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Gave Studio Neat’s new Frameographer app a whirl while in Florida earlier this month. Set to ten second intervals.

February 25, 2012 at 9:38pm
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Matter →

Backed. This is the kind of project Kickstarter was meant to deliver.

It should also go without saying that you ought to back Tim Schafer’s new Double Fine game, too.