Capn Design

Entries tagged Khoi Vinh

I Have a Son and Kidpost is Open to Everybody

Posted June 5, 2014

I figured it would be a mistake to just write about how Kidpost is now open to everybody (go sign up if you have kids, please), so I’ll start things off by introducing you to my son, Jackson.

20140605jackson.jpg

Jackson was born on March 22nd, which makes him 10½ weeks old. It’s likely you’ve already met him — I post a photo on Facebook or Instagram almost every day — which makes it seem unnecessary to tell you that I love him with the fire of a thousand charcoal grills. It’s amazing I’ve gone this long without a tiny human in my life.

I’ve been writing little journal entries about him, which I’ll occasionally post here, but this is what I posted on Facebook after he hit the two month mark.

Today, Jackson is two months old! He’s now got a few tricks up his sleeve. He’s smiling a lot and grunt-laughing, which is really cute. His back and neck are quite strong as he’s able to keep his head up with a little support. He’s also “standing” — we hold him around his chest and he pushes up with his legs. He LOVES doing it.

He’s also been a pretty good sleeper, so we’re going to try getting him to sleep through the night in month three. In fact, last night was his first night in the crib and he got more consecutive hours than I care to admit, lest I jinx it.

Here’s hoping month three is as awesome as month two. A+++++ WOULD HAVE JACKSON AGAIN

BTW, he is sleeping through the night and yes we realize how lucky we are and that I should not have mentioned this publicly because now we are jinxed forever.

Sharing Jackson’s adventures and Kidpost

As I mentioned, I’ve been sharing Jackson’s adventures over the last two months and it turns out people on Facebook like babies — who knew! It also turns out that Kidpost, the product I’ve been building with Khoi and Mike, is incredibly useful.

Whenever my wife Jori or I post something to Facebook or Instagram, we tag it with #kidpost. Then, once a day, Kidpost looks for any tagged posts, packages them up in a really awesome email, and sends them to my friends and family. It’s been a huge hit; my mother-in-law — who isn’t on Facebook — responds daily with comments.

I’ve also seen a handful of friends use the product and get great comments from their families. It keeps them from having to email a Dropbox link to 100 photos every month and helps with any family members who eschew the modern web. Getting smaller-dose updates in an easy-to-digest package seems to be easier on parents and more enjoyable for their families.

It’s great hearing this from friends, but we’re ready to hear from everybody. Kidpost is free today and through the end of the open beta, because we want to make sure it isn’t just useful to us. We’ll charge a very reasonable fee once we’re sure, because we, and our families, want this to exist for years to come.

Relatedly, I’ve loved working on Kidpost. Not only does it solve a real problem, but it solves a real problem for me. It’s also satisfying to work on a small product from end-to-end; you think of an idea that makes it better and you build it.

Give Kidpost a Whirl

We’ve worked hard to make the product fun and easy-to-use, but we want to know now if it needs work. If you’ve got kids and you’re sharing photos of them on Facebook or Instagram (more services are coming soon), it’d be great if you signed up and gave Kidpost a shot. If not, please tell your friends.

At the very least, go visit our homepage — it has some amazing illustrations by Keenan Cummings.

20140604jackson2.png

See?

Kidpost!

Posted January 21, 2014

It’s been a few months since Facebox, which means it’s time to announce a new project! Khoi and I are working together1 again to build Kidpost, a product designed to help parents get photos of their children into the metaphorical hands of their loved ones. Khoi explains the genesis of the concept quite well, but here’s the crux of why we’re building this:

In some ways, it’s easier than ever for us to get images of our kids to those who care about them most, but in other ways it’s still much harder than it should be, too. I know for a fact that the sheer number of venues for sharing has made it difficult for my parents and in-laws to keep up with the images that Laura and I post to Facebook, Flickr, Instagram and other services. And truth be told, even I frequently miss some of the photos that Laura posts, too.

In other words, it’s easier than ever for modern parents to post content, but it remains difficult to get everything in the hands of those who care. Our solution to this problem is email. There are 3 basic steps:

  1. Sign into Kidpost and link your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and whatever accounts.
  2. Kidpost watches your accounts for properly tagged posts and pulls them in.
  3. Periodically, it sends an email filled with photos to an email list you create.

It’s a simple solution to an annoying problem and I can’t wait to use it when my first child arrives.

We’ll be launching in the spring, but you can get on the mailing list now for early access. We’re looking for eager beavers to give us feedback on the product, but I’ll be sure to post updates periodically to the blog.

Footnotes
  1. I’m also really excited we’ve brought Mike in on this project to handle back-end tasks. We just met, but he seems awesome.

Introducing Facebox

Posted September 17, 2013

facebox-share-icon.pngKhoi and I made something! We’ve created a set of 50 stock user photos for UI design and presentations. These are photos of real people that we really found while walking the streets of New York City. What’s more exciting is that it’s awesome, available today, and called Facebox.

Facebox was built with a simple problem in mind — it’s hard or expensive to find good photos to use in design mockups. Personally, I often spend half an hour pulling together photos of friends (which aren’t rights-cleared) or I drop $100 on stock photography (and still spend half an hour wading through garbage). Our goal was to provide an affordable product that has the natural look of your friends’ photos with the professional polish and legal clearance of stock photography. If you look at what we’ve produced, I think you’ll agree we’ve succeeded. For just $25 at launch, it’s something I’d buy in a heartbeat.

What’s in the (Face)Box

As you might imagine, we’ve included all 50 photos as JPGs (at 640px x 640px, big enough to fill the portrait view of an iPhone 5). We’ve also included sets at the same size with rounded rectangle and circle masks as 24-bit PNGs.

Since the tools you buy should make your life easier, we’ve bundled in several files that remove a step or two in your process. In the download you’ll find a Photoshop file with all 50 photos that makes it easy to export versions with custom masks (we include some options) and sizes; PowerPoint, Keynote, and Sketch files with the images placed on the canvas; and an OmniGraffle stencil.

If there’s something you think is missing, I’d love to hear it. We want this purchase to feel like a no-brainer.

This project made me happy. We pried ourselves out from behind our Cinema Displays and spent 7 days outside taking photos. Even better, we produced something we believe solves a simple, but real, problem in a graceful way. It’s something I’m proud of and I hope it solves a problem for you, too.

Check out Facebox, or send it to a friend. Cheap, legal, and totally awesome.

Mixel: The World's First Social Art App

Today, Khoi and Scott are launching a fantastic new iPad app and I want you to know about it! Mixel allows you to create and remix collages of images using your fingers and your iPad. It’s easy to do and a lot of fun, even if you just want to consume others’ work. I’ll let Khoi explain it in his own words.

But we chose collage for a very important reason: it makes art easy. Photos, the component pieces of every collage, are among the most social and viral content on the Web, and allowing people to combine them into new, highly specific expressions of who they are and what they’re interested in is powerful. Collage also has a wonderfully accessible quality; few people are comfortable with a brush or a drawing implement, but almost everyone is comfortable cutting up images and recombining them in new, expressive, surprising or hilarious ways. We all used to do this as kids.

I’ll end with my most popular Mixel (so far) and a recent fave. Happy mixing!

Behold! The New Design!

Posted February 15, 2010

Whew. This took way too long, but here we are with a new design! I am loath to admit that I’ve been building this off and on for 2 years, but it’s true. Let me give you the rundown.

  • I’ve lived with this last design for quite some time and it was getting stale. I wanted something a bit more flexible and brighter.
  • I wanted a view into my social graph (i.e., everything I’ve been doing outside of this site).
  • I wanted a project that would take way too long to finish and become way too complicated (not exactly true).

The Design

I’ve long pined for the beautiful structure of Khoi’s blog and the free-flowing nature of Jason’s. I’d like to think I created something original that draws from what they’ve been doing for years.

The fonts in use are FF Tisa Web Pro, FF Enzo Web and Verdana (my commitment to chunky sans-serif fonts continues in this latest iteration.). The first two are served from Typekit1, which has been a fun experiment.

As for the colors, I just wanted something bright and fun. I tried to make use of the color as an accent instead of blinding you with a yellow background or blue body text (don’t cross me or I just might). I think the color choices are the most successful aspect of the site.

The Social Graph

Like most of you, I’ve been Twittering and Flickring for quite some time, and I wanted to get that onto the site. Sure, I could have used the widgets they provide or even the action streams provided by Movable Type, but that would have been “fast” and “easy”. So, I wrote a set of scripts that grab data, parse it and write out some interesting widgets throughout the site. Some of this stuff is a little buggy, but for the most part it turned out well.

You can see good examples of this by looking at the monthly archives, which only have data from that month, instead of just the most recent. I wanted it to be a view into what I did for the month (probably more for me than you, when I think about it). The homepage has some nice views as well. You’ll notice a graph for the top Last.fm tracks. I built that using Highcharts, which is a jQuery graphing library. I’ve been playing around with these for a few months now — mostly at work — and this one is the most full-featured. I also really like Bluff.

Since this is only bringing in data about what happened and when it happened, I’m also reviving reviews. I haven’t reviewed anything here since 2005, but that will change post haste.

The Tech

The site is powered by Movable Type 4.33, several MT plugins, jQuery, Typekit and the custom social graph scripts I wrote. While everyone else is moving to hosted blogging solutions, some of which are awesome, I’m still a tinkerer. I want to be able to dive in and play with the code. It forces me to learn new tricks, even if I occasionally have to debug an errant template.

I’m using jQuery in some fun ways around the site. You’ll notice at the bottom of the home page you can load new entries. “But Matt, how is that possible if you use a CMS that publishes static files?” Well, in MT 4.3 I helped usher in the ability to paginate entries and I thought it was only appropriate I put it in action here.

Another change is the addition of authenticated commenting and tags. You can still comment anonymously, but now Facebook, TypePad, Google and Yahoo! users can log in and keep their identities. In regards to tags, I’ve been adding them to entries for a while now, but I’ve gotten around to exposing them.

Finally, I have dropped support for IE6. Only 3% of my visitors use the browser, so sorry dudes. You’re out of luck. The site does still have some issues in IE7 and 8, but I’ll fix those over the next week or two. Ya’ll can read the content just fine, so I think we can both wait a bit.

Summing Up

I’ve been blogging for over ten years (yeah the archives only go back to December 2000, but I lost some old hand-coded entries) and I feel like this is the first design I’ll be able to (intentionally) keep going for some time. I also feel like it represents who I am right now.2

If you happen to find anything that looks odd, feel free to let me know. You can find contact information on the about page or just leave a comment here.

Thanks to everyone for visiting over the years. It’s been fun so far and I’m looking forward to many more years of funning with you.

Footnotes
  1. Typekit has been fantastic, but it’s still a bit buggy. You may notice some issues here and there (especially in Internet Explorer), but I’m going to live with it. The service is run by smart people, so I’ve got confidence.
  2. How right now is it? The about page uses a random Flickr photo of me. That’s pretty right now, right?

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