This neighborhood is a nice little bicycle ride from where we live. I enjoyed riding past these homes during a rare weekday morning off.

My question for you: Why would the builder make the homes so uniform? And not only were they built exactly the same (oops — two variants), they were built in a very straight line. Why?

I couldn’t think of any good reasons.


Advances in package design


To get a new perspective, sometimes you have to leave these borders.

Or, in this case, have someone from elsewhere bring you something.

Ed brought this to me from England. I’ve seen Cadbury in the States many times. But I have never seen a satin-finish wrapper on any candy bar in the States. It looks (and feels) different.

Dairy Milk is of course very smooth and tasty milk chocolate. If you find a satin wrapper in the States, let me know.

Takeaway: what is a way you can make your offering stand out in the marketplace? Even if you’re not “selling” something, selling is part of just about any job these days. And you do need to stand out — in a good way.


Strange choices


Quantum Finish. It’s a new dishwashing soap.

I’m not reviewing it here. You’ll have to go to one of the mommy blogger sites for that, such as Double Bugs.

I’m just commenting on the strange little red ball in the middle of these small dishwashing bricks. What were they thinking? It makes the bricks looks like some kind of a toy. Nuclear destruction? Power button? The glowing tip of a cigarette?

To me, it makes the product look less biodegradable than otherwise.


Review: Netbooks


I don’t have a netbook. I haven’t even used one. But I do know that Apple should make one.

Netbooks are small, light, long-running-on-a-charge laptops. Perhaps the biggest advantage is the price: about $300 for an Acer. In Atlanta, if you sign up for AT&T internet, they’ll give you one for $50.

Often they run Windows XP or Linux, to keep the price down. (You can guess that Microsoft hates them, since they get about $50 less for bundled XP than for bundled Vista.) The processors and hard drives are of course weaker and smaller than those of their larger counterparts. But they are meant for doing word processing and email. (If you want to do video editing, go to a desktop.)

So if Apple would make one and keep the price below $500, I predict they would sell a ton. The Air is just too expensive for most people and big compared to netbooks. Most MacBook Pro owners would love to have a smaller, lighter computer for short business trips — when their iPhone alone won’t cut it.

You can bet that it would be much more elegant than what I mocked up here!

Finally, the luxury pick of netbooks would be one made by Sony. They have been creating netbooks longer than the rest. And their quality is normally quite good.

Update: Jeremy Tanner runs Mac on a Dell Inspiron Mini 9. The base price is around $279. The software is extra, and your warranty will probably be voided. But that sounds like a great way to go!

Update 2: TUAW has a long post on why the “hackintosh” may not be the way to go, if you were considering that.


Bad juxtapositions

university of denver

The architect meant well. He was seeking to combine classical elements with a modern twist. I would suggest that he failed. The gold-and-maroon dome does not sync well with the rest of the building. And where in classic architecture do you see a 360-degree clear glass balcony?

It is very possible to combine classic design with modern style — but that is a difficult task. All the more pity when millions of dollars have been spent in the exercise.

The beauty of graphic design is that the stakes are usually much lower. One exception would be when a corporation rolls out a new logo. If they failed, it’s hard to roll back in the red carpet.


Hot Wiring Your Creative Process


Hot Wiring Your Creative Process is a book by Curt Cloniger. I skimmed it recently. (I read parts. Non-fiction is hard to read all the way through these days, unless the content is exceptional.)

One of the useful parts suggests making little cards with concepts on them to stimulate your thinking. The ideas can be actions or thoughts. The idea is to pull out a few when you are facing a creative block.

My friend Ed made some little notes — without even reading the book. (I’m guessing on that point.) Some of his ideas: “Sort out 3 things to go to a charity shop” and “Scan in a pattern”.

I hope to make some little notes for myself, along those lines. Maybe I’ll make them digitally rather than on paper. I have too much paper in my life right now.

By the way, that book is a bit expensive. I’d recommend checking it out from your library, rather than buying it. Help your tax money go to good use!


Kindle Review


You already know about Kindle. It’s the most widely-used mobile book device out there. (Maybe I’m wrong on that, now that Amazon has released Kindle software for the iPhone.)

I’m not going to review the device here. Time magazine gave a good tech review. Josh Marshall (PhD) gave a great reflection on the future of paper books. So I don’t want to go over old ground. I just wanted to suggest a totally new approach to the whole area of mobile reading devices…

Do you remember Polaroid cameras? They were really cheap, but the film (print-film) was very expensive. That model worked fine until digital cameras sadly killed off Polaroids. (Yes, there is a new Polaroid printer, the PoGo that is really cool, but that’s another story.) And mobile phones? Cheap or free (except smart phones, of course) because money is made in connection fees or monthly rates.

I’d propose that Amazon sell the Kindle for $49 and increase the price of mobile content for it. They would sell far more content, the authors would get more royalties, and people like me could have a Kindle! ($359 is about $310 too much for me.) I am sure they would make more money in the long run.

Apologies to the image copyright holder — I couldn’t even find out who it was from the source.

Update: The Kindle DX is a bigger reader — but also bigger priced ($489).