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My 2007 in Blogs, Music, Events and Apps!
As has been my wont since the early 90’s, I like to write up the things that have tickled my fancy for the past year…
This is should actually be in the singular, as there has been one particular blog that has lit my fire like no others.
Ace Jet 170 seems to have the ability to find objects that trigger the same emotional reactions, like these Routemaster and Underground Signs. A new AceJet post is often followed by a trawl on ebay…
As usual, not everything in this list was released in 2007, but I couldn’t leave out Midlake’s Trials of Van Occupanther – 2006 be damned! Along with Midlake, the other big discovery for me was Band of Horses, and in particular ‘Cease to Begin’.
So limiting myself to only one song from each of my favourite albums, here is the top 20, in playlist style order:
|Is There a Ghost||Band of Horses||Cease to Begin|
|Blackout||Amusement Parks on Fire||Out of the Angeles|
|Time Bomb||Goldspot||Tally of The Yes Men|
|It Covers the Hillsides||Midlake||The Trials of Van Occupanther|
|Intervention||Arcade Fire||Neon Bible|
|Isn’t Life Strange||The Clientele||God Save the Clientele|
|The Pills Won’t Help You Now||The Chemical Brothers (feat. Midlake)||We are the night|
|Rest My Chemistry||Interpol||Our Love to Admire|
|Girl Sailor||The Shins|
|Black Magic||Jarvis Cocker||Jarvis|
|You Can Make Him Like You||The Hold Steady||Girls and Boys in America|
|The Strangest Secret in the World||London Elektricity||Power Ballads|
|Mistaken for Strangers||The National||Boxer|
|Mutiny I Promise You||The New Pornographers||Challengers|
|Clever girls like clever boys…||Pelle Carlberg||In a Nutshell|
|Up Against a Wall||Peter Bjorn and John||Writer’s Block|
|Jigsaw falling into place||Radiohead||In Rainbows|
|Don’t bother they’re here||Stars of the Lid||and their Refinement of the Decline|
There are few that didn’t quite make the final list, such as Of Montreal and Hammock.
Apps that have changed the way I work
Two apps have changed the way I work in 2007 like no others.
Since I first raved about Coda, I’ve met people who have either hated it, or see it as manna from heaven. As I suspected, it doesn’t really suit the hardcore TextMate users, but for me Coda has caused some big shifts in the way I work, and everything I do bar graphics is made in Coda these days.
The biggest change for me is that web development tools in browsers have become less of a necessity. The browser is regaining its position of being ‘pleasure’ while Coda is for everything that’s ‘work’ – like the distinction between home and office. I don’t even use Firefox & Firebug anymore, the revised Web Inspector in Leopard has been incorporated in Coda and that does everything I need and more.
My design process has also been changed by Coda. I’m working on visuals less and less in Fireworks and Illustrator, and starting on the HTML/CSS much much earlier. There are so many things that are hard to convey in a static mockup, and writing the CSS and HTML in Coda is so fast, there seems little point making one. I feel that I can iterate quickly and try out ideas. I still sketch and plan on paper, but a middle man has been cut out.
There’s more to love. The ‘Sites’ view has become more like a project folder or workspace. The saved tabs in a site can include not only the site files, but the remote and local previews, the Textpattern admin panels, phpMyAdmin and the project on Basecamp. I can’t do that in Textmate. The split views in Coda are another favourite feature. Apps like CSS Edit have useful tools, like the ability to override site styles, but the multiple windows for editing and previewing drive me mad.
I could go on, but in short, if I ever see someone from Panic, they’re in danger of getting a big kiss.
I mentioned Billings fairly recently, but beyond being a very well thought out time tracking and invoicing application, it’s meant that I have for the first time been aware of just how long I spend doing various different tasks, and how much I spend in terms of expenses and meetings. Having a timer in the menubar wins over a dashboard widget or floating window anyday.
Its also been a great motivator, making me more aware of time I haven’t spent working, without being annoying about it. If I had one request of Marketcircle though, it would be a quicker way of seeing which invoices are unpaid (such as an link in the sidebar), something I need to refer to a lot!
- Moving into the Rissington offices with John, Jon and Simon, and recording The Rissington Podcast. Its the design studio I always wanted.
- The iPhone. Crappy camera aside, its the convergent device of my dreams. I can’t wait to see what happens when proper 3rd party apps are written for it. In particular I’d like a cut down version of Coda and a way of playing music wirelessly through airtunes.
- 2007 has been a good year for visitors – Luke Dorny, Scott Boms, Derek Featherstone and Ms Jen (thrice!) popping by to see family Hicks.
- Oxford Geek Nights are really something special
- First year of partnership with Leigh! Many people ask me how well we’re working together, but not only does she run her own projects, she’s also busy making stuff.
- The National, Imogen Heap and The Hold Steady were gig highlights.
Thanks for letting me get that out of my system – I’m done till next year!
New Design Blogs
With the exception of NetDiver, I don’t go to CSS/‘cool website’ showcases for ideas – I’ve discovered a raft of great design blogs that are providing me with a fresh source of inspiration.
Here are my current favourites:
- Happy Mundane -celebrating good design in the ordinary and everyday. Hits the spot everytime.
- Waterhalo – A sketchbook based journal. I wish I could find time to do something like this!
- design*sponge & MocoLoco – biased towards furnishings. Great for colour and shape ideas especially.
- notcot.org – this probably doesn’t count as a blog, more of showcase (hah!) of well designed products. Don’t bother with the bizarre RSS feed, I have this saved as my homepage to check it regularly.
Plus, from the comments, there’s another gem! A big thanks to Rachel for Prints & Pattern, and awesome supply of colour, shape/pattern ideas. Also, Dan Malls link for Daily Type. Yum!, my iPhoto scrapbook is bulging!!
Live from Dorset
Last weekend I came across a rather nice blog, Dunstans Blog (who also runs 1976Design), via a link at the CSS Vault. Apart from an appealing clean layout, the site has an addictive feature – a ‘live weather image’ from his house in Dorset. This takes the form of a beautiful atmospheric illustration that gets updated, depending on type of the weather and time of day.
It adds real warmth to the site – its one of those ‘good ideas, well executed’ that I wish I’d thought of first (Then again, the view from my window ain’t quite as pretty). I can’t help looking every few hours to see if the weather is any better in Dorset than Oxfordshire.
(Sorry about the weather obsession – its an British thing).