Random News

Ken Elston Wins

Despite the sweeping control of the Republican, Democratic newcomer Ken Elston took the city council spot in Manassas. I am proud to have contributed to his campaign web site with my buddy Jim Van Meer.

On Teaching Advanced Web Design

In researching and thinking about Advanced Web Design, a course I might be teaching in the spring 0f 2015, I am changing my mind on the type of projects I want to implement for the class. Rather than focusing on technologies, which students could learn on themselves, I would like to turn my attention to digital design such as online editorial experiences, online marketing campaigns and web typography. Now I just need three more enrollments to make it happen.

Poplar Spring Relaunched

The new owners of Poplar Spring Inn had hired a development firm to replace the old site I had designed and developed. They turned a simple, usable, fast-performance web site into a busy, eye-candy, slow-performance site. Unlike the old site, which I carefully crafted to boost performance using MODX, the new site is jammed with all types of plugins, CSS and JavaScripts using WordPress. Take a look at the code and you’ll see what I mean. As for the new design, all the contents are hidden below the giant image on every page. The typography is also a big mess. The good thing is I am now off the hook.

Obsessive Reading

My wife complaint that I hold a book on my hand every chance I get. I am not trying to be a snob or anything, but I am juggling with three books at the moment. I am reading Robin Kelley’s Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original. It’s 500-page long, but it is also so engaging. I am also reading John Pollock’s jQuery: A Beginner’s Guide. It’s roughly 350 pages, but he makes the concepts so easy to understand. I am also reading Sue Apfelbaum and Juliette Cezzar’s Designing the Editorial Experience: A Primer for Print, Web, and Mobile to see if I could use it for Advanced Web Design’s textbook.

Reading List

  • 20th-Century Type by Lewis Blackwell
  • Designing for User Engagement on the Web: 10 Basic Principles edited by Cheryl Geisler
  • Developing Mobile Websites with HTML5 by David Karlins
  • Fine Print On Type: The Best of Fine Print Magazine on Type and Typography edited by Charles Bigelow, Paul Hayden Duensing, Linnea Gentry
  • Learning Responsive Web Design: A Beginner’s Guide by Clarissa Peterson
  • Lettering: A Reference Manual of Techniques by Andrew Haslam
  • Typography, Referenced: A Comprehensive Visual Guide to the Language, History, and Practice of Typography by Allan Haley … [et al.]
  • UI is Communication: How to Design Intuitive, User Centered Interfaces by Focusing on Effective Communication by Everett N McKay
  • Visual Communication on the Web by xtine burrough and Paul Martin Lester

Web Typographic Demos

Added a new section to demo typographic techniques using CSS. This is my own way of learning the latest features of CSS. The demos so far include first-line indent, drop cap, ligatures, multi-columns and flexbox. Bookmark the page for more demos in the near future.

The Squarespace Brand

I met up with a potential client yesterday and she excited showed me a site for her friend’s business that she really liked. As soon as she pulled up the site, I immediately recognized the Squarespace’s template. What did she like about the site? She loved the big photos, the sliding images and the photo parallax effect.

Even though I am getting tired of hearing Squarespace ads on every podcast as well as the hosts raving about it, I have to give Squarespace the credits for capturing its target audience: small mom and pops shops. My only worry is that all of these small business owners are wanting something like the Squarespace template without realizing that they are losing their own uniqueness. Don’t they want to standout rather than stand-in?

For just $8 a month, they could have a decent site even though it might look like 10 thousand other sites or they can paid designer a much higher price to create a unique experience for thier products and services. The choice is thiers.

Vacation/Summer Reading List

In The Club Playlist

Cuối tuần này gia đình bé nhỏ của tôi sẽ qua Cali hội ngộ cùng đại gia đình bên vợ nên tôi chuẩn bị mốt số nhạc đem theo nghe. Cái playlist gồm có Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Jay Z và một số đĩa Việt Nam gần đây. Tiện tay, tôi làm luôn một playlist nhạc nhanh gồm những bài dưới đây:

  1. “In The Club” by Tuấn Hưng
  2. “Độc Thoại” by Tuấn Hưng
  3. “Cầu Vòng Khuyết” by Tuấn Hưng
  4. “Vì Sao Anh Ơi” by Đan Kim
  5. “Tình Xa Khuất” by Đan Kim
  6. “Chia Tay Trong Mưa” by Đan Kim
  7. “Tôi Đi Tìm Tôi” by Ưng Hoàng Phúc
  8. “Cô Đơn Một Vì Sao” by Ưng Hoàng Phúc
  9. Bạc Trắng Tình Đời Non-stop by Thanh Thảo

My Library

Even though e-books are on the rise, I still enjoy having a paper book on my hands, especially when I want to be completely disconnected from the digital world. Since I have become obsessed with reading and collecting books, I wanted to put together a library section of all the books I currently own. These books, ranging from typography to design & development to music to grammar and fiction, are my favorite. Most books I have read first from the library before buying them; therefore, these are the ones that I will be revisiting in the future. There are a few books that I still have yet to buy (the ones with the word “acquiring”). These books are still on my Amazon’s Wish List. So if you would like to buy me a book or two (for whatever reason I don’t know), I definitely appreciate it.

From Bạch Yến

Dear Donny,
I am Bạch Yến. Today, I stumbled onto your blog at visualgui.com and read with great interest your comments on my new CD “Bạch Yến hát Tình Ca Lam Phương.” Your writings show that you have very profound appreciation for the music of Việt Nam, and in particular, great affinity for the music of Lam Phương. I am touched by your very flattering remarks about my new CD, and would like to express my sincere thanks.
With best regards,
Bạch Yến

Thank you, Cô.

Typographic Reading List

Life These Days

Chasing after the kids in the morning. Watching some World Cup matches in the afternoon. Reading some typographic books at night. Listening to Bob Dylan in the wee hours. Eating shit load of food and drinking massive caffeine in between to stay awake. Sleeping is not even an option. Life is too short to sleep and sleep is the sibbling of death.