Had a relaxing week in North Carolina. Even though the vacation was short, I am grateful for the time spent with my love ones. We went to the beach a bit and ate a lot of food. I had a chance to read a book. Thanks to my in-laws for the wonderful moments we shared. I am now recharged for an excited project at work.
This is not a brag, but a celebration. I was surprised to learn that I have received an A+ for my graduate course on Professional Design Practices. It’s the first A+ I have ever earned in all my academic life.
Even though grade matters, I didn’t care much. In my undergrad, all I ever hoped for was a C. I had to drop two classes (U.S history and literature) and made them up over the summer at community college simply because I couldn’t even get a passing grade. Those were the embarrassing moments. Needless to say, my undergrad GPA was just a bit above average. Fortunately the type of work that I do don’t require high GPA. I focused most of time building my portfolio to land me a job. It worked out well for me.
When I started the graduate program, I didn’t expect much either even though I put tons of effort into my projects. My grades have been good so far, but A+ was the first time ever. With Professional Design Practices, I knew that I have many weaknesses even though I have a strong portfolio. I came in to learn presentation skills, how to best present my work, how to speak up and state my opinion. It opened up my door for me to be more confidence.
Last year I convinced my supervisor to send me to An Event Apart in Washington DC. The conference was approved and I was excited to learn from best minds in the industry. I attended the first day, but couldn’t make it to the second day. I had to drive back to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to pay my last respect to my aunt who lost her life to cancer.
Looking at the schedule for An Event Apart Washington DC this year, I wanted to go again, but the school doesn’t have a budget for it. So I contacted the organizers, explained to them the situation, pointed them to a tweet I posted last year, and asked if I could attend one day of the conference this year to make up for last year. If one day is not possible, could I just attend Jonathan Hoefler’s presentation?
If the organizers turn down my request, I would understand completely. Business is business, but I did’t think it would hurt for me to reach out to them. Less than 12 hours, I received a respond stating that they make an exception for me this time even though they don’t typically allow attendees to transfer part of their pass to another event.
I was in awed and grateful that they would make the exception. Again, they had no obligation to do it and I would be fine if they said no, but they have shown that An Event Apart is not just about making money. I respect them for that.
I Love Ngoc Lan received 140 copies of Ta Say, a collaboration between Ngọc Lan and Duy Quang. We then sells the CDs for $10 an album to raise money for the Ngọc Lan’s foundation, which helps poor and unfortunate children in Vietnam. Within a few days, we sold 100 copies to fans in Vietnam and someone in the forum suggested to use Viet Cargo for shipping.
My partner at iLoveNgocLan took care of the delivery. He sent 100 copies to Viet Cargo be to shipped to Vietnam. When he called Viet Cargo to confirm, they told him only 25 copies received. 75 copies were gone without any explanation. The next day, my partner called them again and they told him there was actually only 23 copies. By the time the CDs made their way to Vietnam, only 22 copies were delivered. That is the most irresponsible transaction I have ever seen.
When the client moans and sighs,
Make his logo twice the size.
If he still should prove refractory
Show a picture of his factory.
Only in gravest cases
Should you show the clients’ faces
Updated my Amazon Wish List because my birthday is coming up and just in case you want to give me some presents. All the books are on typography. I already own a handful of them. I guess I am trying to build my own little library on typography.
I have been following Eric’s blog on his daughter’s battling with brain cancer. Each update made my heart sank. Last night I was completely shattered when I read the latest post:
She had known ever since the tumors returned. She had expressed her fear in a few whispers, soothed by our reassurances that we were still looking for special medicine, and now she knew we were telling her she was going to die. She knew, and was terrified, curving her small body into a ball surrounding her pain as we tried to make a shield of our arms, futilely trying to protect her when the killer and the pain were already inside the shield. Inside her, where nobody could get it out. So our arms and bodies instead became a blanket inside which she could mourn her own life and try to cope with her terror of going away forever.
Late last year, Dinh Cuong’s son who I worked with on his dad’s web site referred me to a local Vietnamese client on a web development job. The guy would design the site in Photoshop and hand the mockups over to me to develop in HTML, CSS and content management system. This is not an ideal position because it is very hard to code someone else’s design, especially of the design has no web experience.
I knew the challenge of taking on the gig, but it’s a fairly small project and I wanted to use the opportunity to learn a new database-free CMS. As I had expected, the designer wanted me to code up exactly like he designed in Photoshop. He thought of it as a print piece and put no consideration into user experience. The navigation, which is the most important element of a web site, weren’t available until the users get through three clicks. I had to meet with him to go over why his design wouldn’t work for the web. He had some resistance at first, but willing to compromise.
The first time I met at his town house, the place was very nice. His deck is facing a small pond. You can walk into a deck and put your feet into the water. Inside his house, he has minimal decoration, very Japanese inspired. The second time I met with him again to show some of the design I modified to be more user friendly, but he insisted that he still wanted the homepage to be just a paragraph of texts and nothing else, sort of like a splash page.
When I arrived at his place for the second time, the entire place was a huge mess. He had things all over the place. One of the pipes in his basement busted. The meeting didn’t went too well. I was going to have sign up for domain name and hosting, but I thought we should wait.
A few days later, which was early February, I sent him two new mockups in HTML and I stayed as close to his design as I could. I only changed a few details to make the site responsive. He hadn’t responded back to me even though the pages looked very closed to his designs. I reminded him, but he said that he was dealing with the basement and I completely understand.
With school projects and work, I temporarily checked out of the project until he comes back to me. The momentum is definitely lost, but I’ll pick it back up again. Since I won’t be responsible for the contents, I’ll get the site into the CMS and hand it over. I am not sure when that time will come. He does have legitimate reason with the basement.
My last project with another Vietnamese didn’t go too well either. I ended up cancelled the project after many months stalling and without responses after several reminders. I felt that her heart was not into it since she didn’t paid for it and I didn’t want to waste our time and her friend’s money.
Left my project folder at the Copy Center. The lady called me to let me know. I came to pick up the folder and left my iPhone. I came back and she already handed over to the police. The combination of way too much coffee and lacking of sleep is making me lose my mind. I need to get home and crash. Next week is going to be even more hectic.
Wednesday night, I stayed up until 2 am to put together a temporary form for Poplar Springs. Creating a form in MODX was quite easy, but it took time. The great thing about MODX is that I had total control of the fields. I am still very happy that I chose MODX for the site.
Earlier this year, the owner emailed me to let me know that Poplar Spring had been auctioned, sold and closed down. I feel a bit sad because we worked on the site only a year ago. One of his employees who knew how to update the web site using MODX had moved on. The new owner is working around the clock trying to reopen the business in late May or early June and wanted me help out with the site. Even though my schedule is quite hectic, I do all that I could. Poplar Spring was one of the most rewarding projects I worked on.
Kristin Bair O’Keeffe is also busy promoting her second novel, The Art of Floating, which releases on April 1st, and needed me to do some updates for her web site. It has been busy time in the past few weeks at work and school projects too. I can’t wait for the summer.