I love how excited Finn gets for Halloween every year, and I hope she continues to enjoy it for as long as possible. We’ve got a nice tradition of joining some friends in Arbutus, who feed us and take us with them through their quiet little neighborhood, and we look forward to sharing it with them every year. This year Arbutus wasn’t as into the spirit as they have been in years past, but we still enjoyed ourselves, and the girls had a great time together. Finn was on her best behavior, and her careful “Thank-Yous” and “Happy Halloweens” were rewarded by several people, which made her dad super proud.
After a couple of weeks and several Craigslist repostings, the Xerox Phaser we had sitting in the home office has left the building. Ever since I got the new job, and sold the huge HP to my last employers, this one wasn’t getting any usage at all, so I cleaned it up, took some photos, and put it on the market. A nice man came on Sunday with a friend and a truck, looked at some test prints, and carted it away. This is good, because our trusty B/W printer died a few weeks ago without warning. The Wirecutter says Samsung makes a good B/W printer that will do duplex for about $100 with a per print cost of around $.02. So I’ll wait to get paid tomorrow and order that sucker right up.
Now that the sewer line has been fixed, we have no more gray water in the basement, which is a nice change. The gray water left a lot of yuck behind, though, so I picked up some bleach cleaner, a pole-mount scrub brush, and some mop heads, and got to work disinfecting the basement floor. When I was done with that, I started re-organizing stuff to go back on the shelves and off the floor, cleaned off the workbench, and made the space usable again. At some point this winter I’m going to upgrade the lighting to overhead fluorescents that come on with the switch, because there are whole sections that have no lighting at all.
What didn’t get done: Any work on the walkway, as Sunday started rainy and only cleared up after noon. There was no brewing, because I ran out of time. And the yard is still a mess; I’ll have to call my bro to come and rake some leaves.
This week I had the opportunity to attend An Event Apart, a top-level design conference for people who work on the web. The founders are two people I still look up to after almost 20 years in the business, Jeffrey Zeldman and Eric Meyer. The speakers talked on a wide range of topics. Zeldman did the keynote, which was an overview of and advice about working in the business. There were speakers on accessibility, site testing, new tools and techniques, and design philosophies. (It’s somewhat heartening to see that nobody has yet been able to figure out how to move away from the 3-designs-5-sizes-and-a-million-comps model two years after I left the biz).
Monday night we were treated to craft beer at Caboose, a new microbrewery featuring the former brewmaster from Heavy Seas, courtesy of Facebook. Somewhat apprehensive about mingling, I drove to the venue and found my way inside, and after dropping my name in a hat and grabbing a beer (a delicious IPA), I found some folks to talk to and wound up having a very good time. Here’s to getting out of the comfort zone. And it just so happened that I won my very first door prize after 20 years: a set of very nice brush pens, a calligraphy set, and a book.
I told Jen it was the kind of focused experience I really could have used in 2011 or so to re-energize; One speaker alone shared knowledge about current features of HTML5 to alter the way I approach design and building, and another shared 5 new tools for building and testing I might never have known about. Overall, there was enough knowledge to make the conference more than worthwhile even though I’m not directly involved in the business anymore; my job demands that I stay current, and this was a good way to check back in.
I’m about 4 days behind at work (a combination of the conference and one of my designers being on vacation) so it’s hard not to feel some guilt for going, but I’m very grateful for the experience, and conferences like this are something I’ll be pushing for in future years for my staff and I.
Mike Montiero posted the first chapter of his new book, What Is A Designer? on Medium:
I’ve also seen my share of studios where the designer wasn’t given the opportunity to sell their own work, which is amazingly shortsighted. Selling your work directly to clients is extremely important. Not only should you be able to explain why you made the decisions you did, but you’ll get first-hand feedback on where the work needs to go next.
This right here. I’ve worked at several shops where I did all the hard work and then had some brainless AE–no, wait, let’s call them what they were, project managers–go in and fuck everything up trying to sell it to the client, and then come back and fuck up explaining what the client actually asked for. This was a theme in Baltimore; most of the shops I was at were terrified of the designers poaching clients. It did nothing for my career and contributed to a sense of powerlessness. All designers should be present in the pitch meetings, period. This was why I moonlighted tirelessly for 20 years, sometimes to the irritation of my salaried bosses, because it was the only way I was going to get that experience myself, and they didn’t trust me with “their” clients. Fuck that shit. If you work in a shop that won’t take you to the presentation, get the hell out.
Annoyance is digging through the bones of a website I built in 2009 and trying to remember how I put it all together when GoDaddy wouldn’t let me update my FTP access, I realized my CSS wasn’t written as well as I thought it was, and I suddenly remembered I built the gallery on the homepage in a Flash application.