Capn Design

Entries tagged blogs

You Should be Reading Colossal and Splatf

Posted October 3, 2011

I enjoy sporadically linking to interesting content here, but sometimes it’s better to bring you right to the source. Here are a couple sites I’ve been reading for the last few weeks that produce great content consistently.


20111003colossal.jpgIf you like interesting art and design projects, Colossal is killing it. I know things tend to get posted everywhere the second they become popular, but 3/4 of the things I see on Colossal are new to me. The site is run by Christopher Jobson out of Chicago and I’m amazed this isn’t the only thing he does.

Recently, I liked this Victorian Lego House and Brushless Paintings by Amy Shackleton.


As a nerd, I enjoy reading about tech, but I don’t need 5,000 words on the new Amazon tablet or 50 posts a day covering an unnecessarily broad scope of gizmos. Instead, I rely on Dan Frommer’s new site, SplatF. He posts about five times a day and he always has an opinion. The site is also cleanly designed (very [Sippey](]-esque and made me rethink the command key on Apple computers.

Splat refers to the key on a Mac keyboard that’s officially called the Command key.

Some old-school Mac nerds — my father included — call it the “splat” key, because the symbol sort of looks like something that went “splat.” So that’s what I’ve been calling it since the early 90s.

Recently, I’ve enjoyed his posts about Netflix spinning off Qwikster, potential iPhone 5 disappointment, and a simple/effective post concerning Meg Whitman’s appointment to CEO at HP.

(Full disclosure: My employer, Say Media, serves ads for SplatF, but that happend after I began reading the site. Also, it makes me happy my employer is partnering with awesome sites.)

Bygone Bureau's Best New Blogs

Well written and great suggestions. I subscribed to 33% of the blogs recommended. I have two blogs to suggest; one which began this year and one of which I rediscovered. It so happens they are both friends, but I think you’ll enjoying their writing as well. First, we have Angry Wayne. Wayne puts it better than I can:

I’m a cook (sometimes an angry one) who has left his stable world of an established New York eatery to travel the world for five months and get perspective and is now working furiously to start his own business.

Now that I have “free-time” I’m going to put my money (very little) where my mouth is (very big) and start writing about some ideas and thoughts related to food and life here.

Second, we have Adventures in a Pointless Forest, in which Vera makes everything sound wonderful, or interesting, or something. She always makes everything sound something. Two of my recent favorite posts are You might as well say ‘I eat what I see’ is the same as ‘I see what I eat’! and Op, pff. Op, pff. Op, pff.

Disposable Content

Posted August 6, 2010

20100806tumblr.jpgYesterday, Khoi recognized one of Tumblr’s major shortcomings — the shallow identity.

Moreso than other blogging systems like WordPress or ExpressionEngine, Tumblr blogs frequently offer only scant few details about their authors. I can’t recall how many Tumblr sites I’ve visited where it wasn’t clear who was behind the posts, what their background was, or what their intent was.

While that’s certainly an annoyance, it hints at a much larger problem; modern publishing platforms (Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter) put a huge emphasis on new content. When you’re looking at the primary view for any of these sites, it’s a stream of data without much encouragement to look back. By focusing solely on what’s current, individual posts become less important.

Most of these services don’t offer any way to browse archives other than a “more” link at the bottom of the page. Tumblr offers a way to search a user’s archived content and has archives, but most people access Tumblr content via their dashboard. Without a way to discover or curate, content get lost.1 With a focus on new content, quantity has a greater value that quality which makes it less valuable in the longterm. Adding fire to the flame is advertisers’ obsession with impressions (though that’s starting to change), which favors sites that publish fast and furious.

It’s Time to Recycle

A couple days ago, Eric Schmidt said that it now takes two days to create the same amount of data that was created from the dawn of civilization to 2003. It’s no wonder we’re just throwing away stuff from earlier in the week. This is why we need to find ways to expose the best stuff in our stream.

People have already started remixing new content, with Flipboard being a recent success2. There are also sites like fflick, which tell you what your friends on Twitter think about movies, and Favstar, which collects your most favorited tweets. There is also software that archives your tweets, like ThinkUp and Doug Bowman’s Tweet Archive. Still, only Favstar helps expose interesting content from your archives and it’s pretty lightweight.

While I’d much prefer that any of these services add features to expose interesting content — something Flickr does well — they all have APIs and I imagine there are enterprising engineers working on this right now. Flipboard has proven there’s a pent-up demand for services that automate curation. Let’s see some more exciting examples.

  1. To be fair, most sites don’t do a great job of curating archived content, but old-school blogging platforms like Movable Type and WordPress have long offered plugins to view popular or active entries.
  2. See Michael Sippey’s take for a relevant argument.
Catalog Living

There is ridiculousness in catalogs. Molly Erdman does a hilarious job of point it out. Here’s an example.

Hats under a bed

Hi Nancy, it’s Elaine. I’m going to be a little late for lunch. I can’t find my hat or my back-up hat.

[via @LittlePriest]

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.

Don't let Twitter, Facebook, Google be the only game in town

In an op-ed, Anil argues that we shouldn't depend on any one service for communication. Aside from being a tinkerer, that's one of the main reasons I host my own blog. No matter how the publishing system may change, my site stays consistent. It's also why I communicate I communicate in a variety of places.

Stock and Flow

These are known business terms, but Robin Sloan puts them in the context of social media. "Flow is the feed...Stock is the durable stuff." Hell yes. [via @bobulate]

Roger Ebert on Blogging and Dining

Posted January 7, 2010

After several surgeries following a bout with cancer, Roger Ebert cannot talk or eat. He posted about the experience on his blog. The end is the best.

So that's what's sad about not eating. The loss of dining, not the loss of food. It may be personal, but for me, unless I'm alone, it doesn't involve dinner if it doesn't involve talking...Maybe that's why I enjoy this blog. You don't realize it, but we're at dinner right now.

For whatever reason, I had never put two and two together. I couldn't believe how long his blog posts were, but now it makes a lot of sense. These stories make me happy to work for a blogging company.

I'm Starting a Blog

[via modcult]

Things Our Friends Have Written on the Internet

Two guys, Ben and Russell, printed their favorite blog posts from 2008 on broadsheet newsprint. You can request a copy here.

New Year, New MT

Posted January 2, 2009

After an embarrassingly long period of time, I updated Capn Design to MT 4.23 tonight. It was tempting to jump straight to the latest Motion beta, but I decided one major change was enough for now. Of course, I did get Action Streams set up so I can start collecting data. This is step one and two in my plan for world domination.

Writing this notice reminds me that I never told you, dear readers, that I've been an employee of Six Apart since last April. I was with Apperceptive from November 2006 until 6A acquired us a year and a half later and we became Six Apart Services. I could wax poetic about how awesome it's been and how the 2002 version of me would be incredibly giddy, but this is a news post; I wouldn't want to sully it with any kind of emotion.

So what am I going to be up to this year? Last year was predefined by my wedding, but this year's completely open and I'm excited by that. I'm looking forward to tackling lots of small projects, with this site being one of them.

The Beginning of a Blog

Posted May 7, 2008

For anyone who has fallen in love with blogging, you remember those early days when writing 5,000 words a week was like breathing. Of course, back when I started, I wasn't nearly as poignant as Roger Ebert.

Ebertt is following a trend I see of established writers who finally get blogging. Their first few months of posts are filled with topics that have been sitting in a large pile — similar to my pile of New Yorkers — of information waiting to be shared. Yesterday's post from Ebert is a good example of something he's probably thought about a lot but hadn't found the right outlet to share.

Frank Bruni's Diner's Journal started the same way. Now that he has gotten all of the long held tidbits off his chest, he's invited other writers to keep up the output.

This is certainly not a revelation, but it is fun seeing well respected writers following the same trends we've seen from bloggers since the beginning. Unfortunately for all of us, Ebert and Bruni have never written blog posts like this.

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