Andy Laub

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

Published Feb 06

Shoes, the Reversal. »

PDF likes his shoes black and his socks blacker. My personal taste is not quite the same, nor are my buying habits. I would estimate at least 20 pairs accumulated in the last couple years alone. The best ones:

  1. Ben Sherman Cheetah, white/red/navy
  2. Converse Jack Purcell Slip-on, moss/dark chocolate tweed
  3. Nike Free 5.0, yellow/black/green
  4. Puma Mostro Classic L, white/black
  5. Vans Classic Slip-on, black/red/denim

And some to acquire in the future:

  1. Le Coq Sportif Race Metallic, white/navy/red
  2. Nike Considered Tiempo, black/glacier blue/black
  3. Nike Free Trainer 5.0, grey/black/white/green
  4. Nike Shox Cog, silver/yellow/black/white
  5. Puma Lab II, online lime/gold fusion/ white

The Merit of MySpace »

Last year sometime, in what I consider to be one of my frequent lapses in judgement, I signed up for a MySpace account. Someone else that I know was on there and it looked interesting at the time so I went ahead and registered. The idea was (and still is) that it was a way for people who might have been looking for me to be redirected here where I actually update stuff. On that note, after I became a member I didn’t look at the site again for a year.

Recently, though, curiosity has brought me back and I looked up a couple of people that I was friends with a long time ago and sent them my IM in hopes of sparking conversation and rekindling friendships. Here’s hoping.

Thanks to Japanoid I can pick up that Honda Beat I’ve been wanting…

Some amazing aerial imagery from GTA:SA. Very Google Maps.

Compulsive Updates (or, DOCADD) »

It’s probably not gone unnoticed that this site was overhauled just two months after its previous incarnation, and I feel an explanation is in order.

The Problem

I’m going to coin another phrase, and I call it Designer’s Obsessive-Compulsive Attention Deficit Disorder; DOCADD for short. But I’m not just the discoverer of DOCADD, I’m also a victim.

Since its launch in December of 2000, this site has gone through 16 significant structural and/or aesthetic revisions, which averages out to about 3 per year. Which, in the designer world, isn’t totally unheard of until you consider that nearly half of them occurred in 2005 alone. I could make excuses by claiming that 8.0 (01/05) was when the CSS conversion happened, and then 8.5 (05/05) was for the Reboot, and then 9.0 (06/05) was the short-lived WordPress test site. Then we’ve got the three different versions of 10 (the white one, the brown one, and the black one) and the recently deceased (good riddance) version 11. That’s a total of seven.

I relaunched my site seven times last year.

That is obsession verging on the edge of insanity. Then let’s consider all the tiny updates that happened in between the major relaunches, like the color and sizing adjustments and just general code modifications and you’re up to probably close to a hundred different versions of the site over a year which works out, amazingly, to a new release almost every three days.

So the question is, why? Why do I put so much time into this website? I don’t know. I know when I’m updating why I’m doing it but I think part of it goes back to DOCADD. I can almost guarantee that I have ADD when it comes to things like this, and I start thinking about ways to make it better because after seeing it day after day it starts to bore me, something that indicates bad design. And that spurs me to start thinking about the next version. The OCD kicks in when I notice little niggling details, like incorrect spacing or inconsistent date formats, or when I think of things that could just be displayed better.

The Resolution

Because I think I have (finally, though I say that all every time) arrived at a design that I think has some staying power, I’m making the resolution to keep this site in its current iteration for six months. 180 days. That means that yellow header will be my best friend until August 22, at least. It probably won’t happen, but we’ll see. I can’t shouldn’t keep this up.

I am…a fancy parker.

V.12 »

The site finally comes together in its current iteration.

After a slew of mockups and sketches varying from wicked worn to ultra-clean and from 3 columns to 5 columns, the new site has launched and remains true to its four-column, no-real-look-or-concept roots. But I like it. I like it alot — way more than the last site and arguably the most of pretty much all of my sites ever. I just wanted a back-to-basics, minimal, information-first type of deal and I think that’s what I got. In honor of this launch I wanted to provide a rundown of sorts.

Posts

As you may have noticed, beginning with Chicago, pt 2 posts will no longer have an image associated with them by default. I made this decision for a number of reasons. First of all, having an image to go with the post was keeping me from posting as frequently as I’d like; there are certain days, as evidenced in the archives, that the image and the words have nothing to do with one another anyway so why associate the two? Secondly, flickr has way more power and capacity than I could ever hope to match, and so they are my new choice for hosting images. They will make organization and sharing easier, and they have a number of nifty features that I wanted to try out.

Images

Like I said, I’m now using flickr for these. I use the flickrRSS plugin to wrap the images in the appropriate elements and display them onsite; it’s minimalist in its options but it does what I need and does it well. Over the weekend I also experimented with a variety of image uploading techniques. Flickr’s web uploader is quite nice and I prefer it over Flidget, a Dashboard widget that, while convenient, only lets you tag and upload one image at a time. The cream of the crop is flickr’s own Flickr Uploadr which gives you about 95% of the capabilities of the web admin panel without ever having to open your browser.

Links

I continue to use del.icio.us for links because it’s just so damn easy, but upon discovering that they provide a JavaScript alternative to Magpie (my old PHP method of fetching the links) I decided to try that out. Implementation is fairly basic, though I was challenged by the code because I wanted the link to include not just the headline but the description as well (and all function as a link). This is what I came up with:

function showImage(img){ return (function(){ img.style.display='inline' }) }
var span =document.createElement('span')
for (var i=0, post; post = Delicious.posts[i]; i++) {
    var a = document.createElement('a')
    a.setAttribute('href', post.u)
    a.setAttribute('class', "entry")
    var h3 = document.createElement('h3')
    var p = document.createElement('p')
    h3.appendChild(document.createTextNode(post.d))
    p.appendChild(document.createTextNode(post.n))
    a.appendChild(h3)
    a.appendChild(p)
    span.appendChild(a)
}
document.getElementById('delish').appendChild(span)

The result is exactly what I was aiming for. The del.icio.us method seems more capable than the Magpie route with its ability to show favicons and tags in addition to just the title and description.

Feeds

If you wander down to the footer, which you should be able to see by the time you’re reading this, you’ll notice that I’ve finally added a feed link to more easily obtain the RSS for this site. If you’re interested, here’s the master list of feeds in case you want to follow my photos or links as well as the words:

Thanks to Flickr, everyone can admire how skinny the new MacBook Pro boxes are.

Chicago, part 2 »

So you may have noticed some delays in between the first and second parts of the series, and hopefully now you see why (if you’re RSSing, give it a break and visit the actual site). One of my main goals was to begin posting images and text independently, so if you’re wondering where all the images are, you’re going to need to look at Flickr. If you’re interested in more text-oriented exploits, then look no further.

America

I have to admit, the US put on a good show this year. Dodge probably had the most awe-inducing displays; not only were they showing the Challenger and the entire SRT gang; they also had test tracks (an off-road setup for Jeep and a series of on-road obstacles for the SRT vehicles) which really showed off the potential of some of their rides. The singular most impressive and beautiful American vehicle, however, belongs to Chevrolet in the form of the new Camaro. I thought the Challenger was quite nice when I saw it but the Camaro’s design makes it look like an old Volvo 240 — not ugly, but not exciting either. The Challenger, like the Musting, also seems to be a rather chunky version of the original while the Camaro looks leaner and more defined, something that I think will help it in the long run assuming it sees production.

The Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice were there as well, of course, and I had the opportunity to try a Solstice on for size. It’s not uncomfortable physically, but with the top up you’re left with what seems like a gun-slit of a windshield. What they lacked in practicality and ergonomics they more than made up for in attractiveness. I can’t help thinking that there should be a happy medium between the overly smooth and simple Solstice and the overly angular and decorated Sky, though. Knowing GM’s history with platform sharing, there probably will be, too.

Europe

I was disappointed in the overall European showing for a couple of reasons, the main being a couple of brands that apparently didn’t feel that the largest auto show in America in terms of floor space was a necessary event to show up to. Lamborghini and Lotus, I’m looking at you. Rolls Royce wasn’t around either, which would have really irritated me had I not had the good fortune to see a Phantom the previous night (they are wonderful!). Ferrari had a respectable showing (no Enzo, but it’s not in production any more so that’s not a shock) with a matching F430 Spyder and 612 Scaglietti. Porsche, understandably, didn’t have a Carrera GT on display which was disappointing but not surprising. Mercedes saved the day by bringing both the new Maybach 57S and an SLR McLaren, both of which were quite impressive.

One of the things Europe seems to be fond of is their retractable hard top convertibles, evidenced by M-B’s SL and SLK, Volvo’s new C70 and VW’s new Eos. I played around with the burst mode on my camera and after some iMovie massaging ended up with a neat little video of the Volvo’s top in action.

Also of note was the new Saab 9-3 SportCombi, not because of spectacular design or performance, but because the spare tire cover has a handle shaped like an airplane! I liked this so much I made a desktop out of it: 1600, 1280, 1024.

Asia

Asia’s brands didn’t have anywhere near the metal that some of the Europeans had on display but they made an effort nonetheless. Infiniti’s entire model line continues to cause salivation at its beauty, and Lexus certainly seems to be getting there as well. Acura is off in their own little world where V6′s are competitive with V8′s and everybody wants a performance car with front wheel drive, but I’m sure they’ll get it soon enough.

Mazda had the wonderful new Miata MX-5 which I found to be much nicer than the Solstice and easily where my $20,000 roadster fund would be put to use. Subaru didn’t really have anything new or special aside from the reskinned WRX and STI, both of which I like very much. If you like them as much as I do, perhaps another desktop? Here: 1600, 1280, 1024.

Then we get to Honda, who did not disappoint. The Civic Si sedan has me looking for my wallet. I was equally impressed with the new Fit, which I can see blowing everything else in its price range out of the water with its quality and versatility.

Chicago, part 1 »

Back from Chicago! Architecture today, cars…soon.

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I believe this was IBM Plaza.

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Cranes, working on The Donald’s new building. They had just started this last summer.

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Watching the cranes.

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I’m not sure hocking bags was what they meant by Design Within Reach.

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Obligatory cockeyed skyscraper shot.

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I can’t think the name of this company without hearing the music to go with it.

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This company doesn’t have music, but they make up for it with great burritos.

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The amphitheater at Millenium Park on Michigan Ave.

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The beams that criss-cross the seating and greenspace in front of the stage.

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One of a pair of lions in front of the Chicago Art Institute.

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The Sears Tower and friends, as seen from our hotel window.

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A building across from our hotel.

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Another building rising above the building across from our hotel.

Good thing Paul’s dreamboat wasn’t there at the time.

DuSty »

One of the first things I tried with Mario Kart DS was connecting to our router and playing wirelessly. Unsurprisingly, because we don’t broadcast our SSID, the DS was unable to find our network. I pulled up our router settings and turned on the SSID broadcast — still a no-go. Then I realized that our router was only set to send 802.11g (for our Airport Extreme cards) and changed that to the mixed g/b signal. With that, the DS found the network and I was able to save the settings, meaning I could turn the broadcasting back off while still enjoying the wireless gaming experience.


The last time I had a case for my Game Boy was back in grade school when my sister got me a gigantic plastic grey one for my birthday. It was soooo cool, but I digress. I decided that with the DS, if I’m going to take it somewhere I want it to have its own bag, but unlike that case of yesteryear, I didn’t want any kind of video game-branded geek box or anything of that sort. Instead, I headed straight to Best Buy with the intent of picking up a case similar to the one I bought for my camera (the LowePro Z10, which will easily hold the camera, the iPod, and my phone) and was not disappointed. The LowePro Ridge 60 is exactly what I was looking for, and will easily hold the DS (and maybe a second one, eventually), a couple Game Boy games, a couple DS games, an AC adapter, and a Game Boy Advance SP. And it’s cheap!


Unfortunately, not all is peaches and strawberries with the DS; my anal retentive obsessive compulsive designer’s eye keeps complaining to me about its aesthetics. My biggest gripe is the silver bottom on a red console. The standard DS gets a black bottom, which is what I would’ve preferred. So I did what any normal person would do; I started looking for shells on eBay. I settled on one of these, which may or may not be what I’m ultimately happy with. At the very least the black bottom should be useful, but I ordered the black one so I may end up with an entirely black console. We’ll see.


As of tomorrow Friday, I’m off to Chicago. Need anything?

Demo »

Although we didn’t plan it that way, we seemed to end up trying a lot of things yesterday. It started off with checking out a couple of open houses, something we like to do as we always seem to be passively looking. While Abe and his parents checked one out that didn’t particularly interest me, I made a phone call and 45 minutes later I was test-driving a 1986 Toyota Supra (for reference). While I don’t think I’ll be pursuing it any further, it was an interesting drive (I didn’t stall it!) and another make and model I can cross off my list.


Additionally, we stopped at Best Buy and I got to play around with a PSP for the first time ever. It’s… not very good. It might have been because I had just tried a DS and so I was coming off of a system with no load times. Overall though, I spend more time waiting around for the PSP to make up it’s fragile little mind and just gave up on it after awhile. The DS on the other hand… well, I’ve still been thinking about it. We took another jaunt over to ShopKo yesterday to see if they still had any of the red ones in stock, but nope, they were done.

But what’s sitting on the ottoman, you ask? Well, we stopped at the other ShopKo today, and jackpot. I know I’ve been fawning over the DS Lite and I still am; I think I may pick one up after they’re out for a bit and Abe will inherit this one. In the meantime I’ll continue to get my ass handed to me at Mario Kart while trying to find a copies of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and Trauma Center: Under the Knife that don’t cost $50.


So what’s the significance of this photo, then? Well, our final demo of the day was at Younkers, looking at impulse furniture (“gee, it’d be nice to have a couch upstairs”). As of today, we have a couch upstairs and some nice ottomans from Target. Impulse furniture. Yeah…

End of the Line »

At some point it was bound to happen.

I’d mentioned before that Bender was not exactly the healthiest of cats; not a month went by that he didn’t visit the vet, or as we called it, his home away from home. Some of his ill health we attributed to his having been a stray before we adopted him, while some of his issues stemmed (we think) from his breeding.

I honestly can’t say it was a surprise when he was afflicted yet again. A few days ago we noticed that he was no longer his normal, active self. He had stopped eating and drinking, and spent most of his time hiding. When we were able to coax him out of his hiding place, he refused to purr and only meowed when we picked him up. We took him to the vet on Wednesday and learned that these symptoms were a result of a liver issue that would require hospitalization and possibly a feeding tube along with antibiotics.

We couldn’t do it. Abe and I decided that there was no way we could continue to spend this kind of money on Bender, for a number of reasons. While he would have theoretically recovered fully, neither of us believed that this was the last problem he’d have even in the near future, and once we’d spent this amount of money to take care of him we’d be obligated to continue doing so. With that in mind we committed to the hardest decision either of us has ever had to make in our entire lives.

Bender was euthanized yesterday at 5:30 PM. It was the most painful, gut-wrenching experience I’ve ever had.