Andy Laub

Andy Laub is a designer & developer in the Twin Cities.

Published Dec 05

Xmas »

And that’s the recipe for a week’s worth of slacking.

Building Blocks »

I was working on a small freelance project today and came to the realization that when it comes to web junk, I tend to enjoy the coding more than the Photoshopping. This site is a prime example; it uses perhaps six images, 4 of which originated from the same .psd (the dots), which leaves the site’s design to form more out of content organization than just making a pretty picture and putting content inside of it.

That I work and feel this way really doesn’t surprise me much. I like to assemble things, but I don’t so much enjoy creating the components out of which those things are assembled. Maybe it’s because coding is really kind of is a menial task, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. I just mean that unlike with creating graphics, there’s a definite right and wrong way (for the most part) to code a site and you know when you are done. The only creativity really comes when deciding what kind of language to script things in, or how to eliminate one or two more classes from the CSS, which is nice. It’s easier making structural, necessary decisions than aesthetic and subjectively arbitrary ones.

Time-out »

Another year gone. Today marks the beginning of my 26th year, when I officially enter my late mid-twenties. What better way to celebrate than with macro shots of watches that I never wear?

Diesel. I bought this for Abe’s Christmas present a couple years ago.

Diesel. The detailing is really nice, and the leather super soft.

Diesel 10BAR. I think this one’s my favorite. The metal bars in the band are laid into green rubber.

Diesel 10BAR. Geometry!

Fossil Blue(s). The quintessential Fossil watch series.

Fossil Blue Light-up. It pretends to be a chronograph, but it’s just the day of the week.

Fossil Blue Titanium. Super light, but this one really does have a chronograph.

Fossil Digital. The screen is a light-on-dark LCD instead of the other way around.

This one’s rather old-timey.

This is it. »

First things first. Here’s version 11, and it’s in beta. Which means that if you see anything you think is awry, let me know. If possible, a screenshot and the url of the afflicted page(s) will help immensely.

Anyways…

Alista has a thought-provoking article on using CSS to apparently *ahem* think outside the grid, something I obviously did with this site. Whatever. From what I read of the article, it seems to be a little misguided and confused. But the comments are gold. At least I can take consolation in the fact that other designers agree that Alista is not 100% infallible.

The grid discussion comes on the heels of not only the redesign of my own site but PDF’s recent article about structure. He observed about his own site:

I tend to carry the structure of the HTML that makes up a web page into its presentation. What I mean by that is most of the block elements tend to stack on top of or next to each other rather than flowing in, around or through each other. Even if the layout isn’t built on a fixed grid, there is often that clear separation of elements defined by right angles and gutters.

This is one of the biggest design commonalities Paul and I share. I don’t think this is a bad thing – it’s always good to start with a grid, which is why Alista’s article seemed so ludicrous to me. I could continue to elaborate, but I’m not saying anything the aforementioned comments already said.

Viva la Grid!

Teuton: FIWA Returns »

I remember back in my high school days and all through college when, in my delirium of car enthusia I was convinced the Germans could do no wrong. I loved Audis, Benzes, BMW’s, and aspired to own a VW when it was time for a new car. I think some of this came from my dad, who’s quite the BMW enthusiast, but it was also partially German heritage and partially just the unbelievably beautiful designs (so crisp and clean!) they were cranking out at the time (the B5 Passat, Audi A6, Golf IV, TT, E46 3-series, etc) as well as their perceived superiority over the rest of the world.

Seems like things have kind of gone downhill in the looks department. VW and Audi have introduced the monogrille to absolutely no enthusiasm from me, likewise with every single new BMW. All of these cars just rub me the wrong way, maybe because they were looking so, so good and then suddenly turned into crap. Maybe one of the reasons I’m losing my affection for these masters of the autobahn is a feeling of betrayal. VW’s questionable intent to move upmarket ($30,000 Jettas?) is another decision that just irks me.

Above all, I think the Germans are notorious for FIWA. The cars that I once admired now seem overweight and overstyled, especially compared to cheaper and less complicated alternatives like the new Civic Si or the gorgeous TSX and S2000. Plus, as my dad likes to say, “the more things it has, the more things can go wrong,” and from my experience, Honda’s been more than capable of eliminating frivolous electronics (Hill-holding assist? Volkswagen, it’s called the damn brake pedal!).

There are, as always, exceptions to this.

Worth »

The fact has not escaped me that I tend to buy a lot of things, especially those on the more technological side of the spectrum. For the most part, I think I get my money’s worth, but admittedly there’s the occasional item that, while cool, just wasn’t worth it. On the other hand, there are some that I would buy again in a heartbeat if there was even a point. That said, here they are.

Do It
  • Apple 20″ Cinema DisplayEasily the winner. The best thing you can do for yourself if you don’t already have one, and a steal at $1000. Now yours for just $800 brand freaking new. I think I saw a refurbed one at an Apple Store for $500 and if I had any use for another I would’ve bought it.
  • Apple 60 Gb iPod with videoThis isn’t even a surprise. It’s a direct replacement for the old iPod that I used all the time.
  • Canon PowerShot SD400The moment I laid eyes on this, I knew it was the camera for me. Best Buy was nice enough to give a discount to match J & R so it was a good buy as well. Now, thanks to its near-identical successor (the SD450), the SD400 is just $300.
  • Jabra C150On a lark I picked it up from OfficeMax since I’d been thinking about one for some time. After probably 3 or 4 half-hour phone calls it’s already proved its worth.
Undecided
  • Apple Airport ExtremeI think we bought it over the summer and Abe had issues getting it to go so it just sat neglected for months. Last weekend I finally got around to playing with it, and now it works like a charm. But still, it’s networking stuff, and that’s never overly fun or exciting.
  • Apple 1 Gb iPod shuffleEssentially an impulse buy, the shuffle doesn’t see a lot of day-to-day use but it has saved me a couple of times when I needed a quick data transfer. I like that it can be replacement for CDs in more than one way: you can listen to music and store data. I don’t necessarily find the screenlessness to be a drawback, but it’s hard to just pick 50 or so songs to throw on.
Screw It
  • Apple iSightYeah, aside from recording some quick iMovie stuff or snapping the occasional self-portrait, the iSight didn’t come in overly handy. Thanks to the double threat of me not knowing anyone who uses iChat anymore and having a real camera, the iSight drops to near obscurity.
  • Sony h.ear MDR-J20I had another, older pair of Sony headphones similar to these; however, these new ones just aren’t nearly as nice. The buds are larger so they don’t fit as well in my ears, and they have some crazy assymetrical cord thing going on which drives me crazy. But hey, they’re…white, at least.

B.S. »

They pre-empted Family Guy for this?

De-Click »

PDF drew my attention to DONTCLICK.IT, an interactive experiment in UI design. Basically it’s what the name implies: don’t click. One click will launch the site for you but after that, everything is accomplished with mouse movement and keystrokes.

My first reaction to this was that of frustration, which I expressed in the discussion Paul and I were having about it. However, he reminded me that it’s only an experiment. With that in mind, it’s an interesting idea, but kind of in the same way a sleep deprivation experiment is (click deprivation?). Of course, people continue to sleep because it’s a fact of life, and for now so is clicking unless certain key fundamentals are addressed:

  • The first is the environment in which the clicking is done. Sure, DONTCLICK.IT has demonstrated that it’s perfectly possible to create a website that can function without clicks, but in the age of browsers and (consumer-level) operating systems that rely almost solely on click-click-clicking a site that discourages clicking is more impractical
  • The second is the very point of clicking. It creates a more physical bond to the virtual environment that you’re interacting with. If I click and hold on a window to move it, it give the impression of grasping it with my hand, and if I click on an app to launch it, it’s as though I’m pressing a little button to turn it on. It’s a tactile thing, and it makes us feel as though the actions happening on screen are more directly connected to our own commands.
  • The final problem is the mouse. Currently this is the weapon of choice for probably 99% of computer users. Yes, you can do a ton of stuff with keystrokes alone (more on some OS’s than others), but not quite everything, especially if you’re planning on actually using applications. If you eliminate clicks, you’re eliminating half of the functionality of the mouse, turning it into something you simply push the cursor around with. If that’s all it’s doing, why have it at all? And if you don’t have a mouse at all, well then damn, you’re just screwed when you go to visit your source for anti-clicking propaganda.

But hey, at the very basic experimental level, it’s interesting. Any more than that and it gets a little obnoxious.

Forward »

What’s going on? Where are all the words, and the pictures?

Yeah, sorry about that. I’m just not feeling it lately, and so I finally decided to skip a day or 3. It’s not that I don’t care about the site anymore; it’s actually scheduled for a relaunch in a couple weeks. Rather, I want to break away from the daily posting because I’m running out of both words and images. I’d like to move toward a couple posts a week, each with something worth reading and looking at. I want to do more series’ of photos but I’m not big into winter photography, somehow.

In the meantime, here’s a Ferrari Enzo with some hidden meta that will make itself available on version ALeven. LOOK OUT!

del.icio.us has been acquired by Yahoo! How was I not aware of this, and why does it give me a bad feeling?

Complete »

That’s a lotta songs.

So… Abe could sell his mini to get that nano he’s been jonesing for?

Samorost 2 is a Flash-based mini-adventure. Awesome.

Dog »

My parents’ dog Honey.

Strings »

In our building today…

Return »

So today I went back to the ol’ homestead to see my parents. The sun was pretty low in the sky as I was driving back out of the driveway when I left, so I took a pretty picture.

Handle »

It’s a pocketknife. My dad gave it to me.

Slick »

Man, I miss that Lotus. Anyway, I figured it was about time to replace my wallpaper at home, so here’s a copy for all the single-monitor peasants out there: sixteen, twelve, ten).

Classic »

Finally! ABC is no longer alone in providing programming to the iTunes Music Store — as of today, NBC and USA (edit: SciFi too!) have joined the team. The offerings are nothing overly exciting but it’s nice to see that the concept may be winning people over. With half of the four major networks now in cahoots with Apple and another one rumored to be, it seems like the idea is gaining mindshare which will be necessary to see it evolve into something more universally appealing.

Heh. Knight Rider.

Vague »

It’s from some photo shoot I did for something.

Continued »

Context »

Fleur »

Uniform »

Lately, I’ve woken up and just wanted to wear the same thing every day: short-sleeve t-shirt over long-sleeve t-shirt, medium wash jeans, and some kind of sneaker or slip-on. It’s nice and comfortable, and easy.