Capn Design

May 2010

This month I posted 24 entries, crafted 83 tweets, listened to 148 songs, watched 6 videos, bookmarked 3 sites, took 4 photos and favorited 41 things.

Little Dog Robot

This is the little brother of Big Dog, which was designed by USC to carry gear and not fall over. Little Dog is more about crossing difficult terrain and, looking at an older video, it’s clear how much it’s improved.

This Page is Under Construction!

An unbelievable collection of “Under Construction” gifs.

BREAKING: Trader Joe's Opening on 6th Ave

Posted May 28, 2010


It’s official. Many have rumored it, but now Capn Design brings you this exclusive. Trader Joe’s is definitely opening at 21st and 6th in the old Barnes and Noble space. The powerhouse of Grimaldi’s and TJ’s cannot be stopped.

siren.gifMore information will be provided as we get it. DEVELOPING…


20100528fries.jpg How to Make Perfect Thin and Crisp French Fries

Kenji is an evil genius. He reverse-engineered the McDonalds french fry, then made it tastier and easier to cook. I can’t wait to try this.

The Order of Things

Posted May 27, 2010


Such a breathtaking image. Can you imagine being back there?

Photo by Endless Forms Most Beautiful (via youngna)

iPad + Velcro

Posted May 27, 2010

While I don’t know if I could bring myself to put Velcro on the back of my iPad, this is tempting. If nothing else, it shows how much the computer fades out of the way and lets you see the content.

Two of mankind’s greatest inventions, together at last. Note: this is an exploration of what is possible, not necessarily what is practical. Tweet from the street at your own risk!

Sony Showcases New Rollable, Flexible Screen

The future is getting closer. I’m sure this costs a bajillion dollars to make right now, but I’m hoping we’re 5 years away from having a phone you can unroll to show a bigger screen.

Canabalt: Typing Tutor Edition

It is most definitely harder, but you learn! (Thanks for reminding me to post this, Dan)

Update (5/28/10): Game Set Watch talks about the origin of this edition.

It turns out that the educational game came at the request of Charles Watson, who runs a computer project dedicated to providing computers with low power consumption parts to schools in developing counties. Dealing with students, he noticed that many of them enjoyed Flash games, but most of those games were violent and generally devoid of any educational content.

Get Pumped

Posted May 23, 2010


The Lost finale is tonight. I’m going to watch it. (Illustration by Jared Stumpenhorst)

Don't design for early adopters

This is good advice and I’m going to liberally quote Mr. Hockenberry.

Even folks that have access to the latest and greatest technology are preferring the iPad over more complex devices. Initial statistics also show that the iPad has an older demographic.

Of course, 300,000 geeks like you and me don’t fall into that category. We’re the first ones standing in line at the Apple store, and the first ones to use all this cool new software. And we know all the things that apps “used to do”. And we want all sorts of other bells and whistles. And we’re wrong.

Craig goes on to explain a good example of simplicity.

In the case of Instapaper, the feature doesn’t even show up in the UI until you go into the Settings app and add your account information. My mom will never see it.

20100520tourists.jpg The Tourist Lane

This should be required in Midtown and Soho. [via the awl]

Update (6/8/10): Turns out this was for a Improve Everywhere sketch, but this brings the gag into explaining-the-joke-territory.

Where the Women At?

Posted May 19, 2010


This week, yet another conference was rightfully called out for ignoring their duty to curate a diversified speaker list. Then Erika wrote a fantastic blog post about it that you should really read.

Conference organizers and publishers, I do not think you are racist. And I do not think you are woman-haters. I think you are probably very nice people. I think you are good to your friends, your girlfriends, your wives, your children. I think you hire and treat your employees fairly and well.

I think you are lazy and irresponsible.

Then I saw this cartoon that seemed apt.

Sal Khan at Gel 2010

Sal is the founder of Khan Academy, a YouTube channel that teaches hundreds of thousands of people almost anything (although he specializes in math). In the twenty minute video, Sal explains how the site came to be and what has made it so successful.

20100519pizza.jpg The Slow Route to Homemade Pizza

For people who make pizza at home, these are some hot tips. For people who don’t (i.e. me), you will want to start.

20100514newscan.jpg rayogram NEWScan

While cleaning out my bookmarks, I found this. What a great way to scan the news in the morning. Thank you past-Matt!

LittleBigPlanet 2 Announcement Trailer

I never got the first one, but it was one of the main draws of the PS3. This looks so awesome. I wonder if they’ll let users charge for the games they create. You might also want to read more about it.

What to do When a Server Goes Down

Posted May 13, 2010

Since you are all dedicated Capn Design readers, you noticed that my site was down for a few days at the beginning of last week. If you look at the blog post, you’ll see my site was down for nearly 3 days and the process to get it back up wasn’t pretty. The worst part was that my email was out for a good part of the time.

As a service to those who use shared hosting and the shared hosting providers out there, here’s how I’d suggest handling this kind of outage.

For Site Owners

  • Make sure your email is hosted somewhere rock-solid. I moved to Google Apps and I’ll never look back.
  • Just having your host make daily or weekly backups isn’t enough. Set up a cron job (or use an desktop app maybe?) to transfer your backup file on a regular basis so you can get your site up ASAP. I was hamstrung since I didn’t have a current backup to move to the other shared host I use.

For Shared Hosts

  • By far the most important: Keep your customers informed. No one told me when my site went down and I had to go to a status blog to find out. If you have me in a database and you know what server I’m on, just email me periodically. Sure, it’s a pain, but I would have been much less frustrated.
  • Give your support people real information. I would ask questions about what’s happening and they would know nothing more than what the status blog said. I know your engineers are busy, but communication is just as important as fixing it, especially when it takes three days.
  • Don’t make me ask for a refund, just offer it. When I go to a restaurant and they don’t bring me my meal for three hours because the gas is out, they don’t make me pay. Sometimes, they even offer me a free meal the next time I come in.
  • When something goes horribly wrong, do a post-mortem and post the results online. Show me that this won’t happen again because you’re putting in measures to stop it.

I’m still with my host, for now, but I’d like to see them do any of the things I mentioned here. If I don’t hear from them in the next few weeks, I’ll abandon ship without hesitation.

The Hulu Player Heat Map

Posted May 13, 2010


Hulu is unveiling a brand new player (yes, it’s still in Flash) that has lots of awesome features, which you can read about at your leisure (here’s a cached blog post too). My favorite, by far, is the heat map.

On any full episode on the site with a sufficient volume of views, a heat map shows the relative popularity of every moment in that episode. Find hot and popular moments within long videos in no time at all.

Now I just want to see a longer version of this that covers a whole season or series.

[via Zach Klein]

Rapid Wireframe Sketching in Google Docs

Morten Just of Vodaphone provides mobile and desktop wireframe stencils for Google Docs. I’m gonna play with these tomorrow. I shall report back (or not). [via]

If Tori Amos Were a 12 Year-Old Boy and Covered "Paparazzi"

That kid’s got chops. [via buzzfeed]

The Village Voice's Review of Babies

I love babies, but was unsure how I’d feel about this movie. This review pushed me over the edge. He really brings it together near the end.

Google Chrome Speed Tests

Dear Google, if you promise to make a video like this once a month, I will switch to Chrome. Cross my heart.

A Salami Sorting Machine

I can’t believe machines can move that fast. Now I want a salami. [via kottke]

Fun With Secret Questions & Answers

Ally Bank lets you configure your own security questions. Here are some hilarious possibilities.

Q: Need any weed? Grass? Kind bud? Shrooms?
A: No thanks hippie, I’d just like to do some banking.

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