Michael Bierut of Pentagram in Tulsa

This past week I was lucky enough to go and hear one of America’s top graphic designers speak in my home town of Tulsa. Art Directors Club of Tulsa and the Philbrook Museum of Art were responsible for bringing such an established person to come and speak.

Of course once I heard he was coming to town, I was on the bandwagon and very anxious to hear his lecture. I have always liked his snarky character and down-to-earth responses in numerous interviews, magazine articles, and videos such as Helvetica.

He started off by mentioning how nice our venue and surrounding areas are, stating ‘If I was giving this speech in New York, we would be in a dark and dingy old warehouse or building. You have it so nice out here, great lighting, high-res projector…’ Micheal was more humble than most people would imagine. In fact, he mentioned his first kiss, which was his wife and high school sweetheart, and he quickly spout out the exact date and time of the event.

One of the portions of his speech I valued most was his sharing an experience with a difficult client. It was one of those ‘I got this!’ moments when they landed the identity process for New World Symphony. In his mind, he had the solution already planned out. Everyone in the office agreed that it was a great identity solution and was sure that the client would love it. Michael, of course, displayed these proposal identity graphics to us, and they were indeed, very elegant, precise, and perfect logo solutions. But, as we all know, it does not matter how awesome, balanced, or aesthetically perfect a design is UNLESS the clients loves it themselves. This was the case for MANY revisions until some many moons later when he received an email from the client. This photo email was a picture of the client’s desk with six post-it notes attached. Each post-it note had a very simplistic line drawing of his vision of the identity. Like most designers, this was a little difficult to accept on a Friday afternoon after trying for weeks to gain an inch on this project. It greatly discouraged Michael Bierut. He mentioned going home and talking with his wife, and he said his left-brained wife just couldn’t understand why it was affecting his overall mood throughout the weekend. We all, of course, could relate and shared a laugh. He went on saying that, ‘Isn’t it funny how people can look at other people’s professions and say, I can do that, there is nothing to that.’ He backed up this statement by relating his late Friday post-it note email to the job of being a Symphony Conductor. ‘That looks easy; anyone can wave a stick around!’ Michael went on to show us the art and precision of a conductor, and how the manuals and form of a conductor are not to be discounted. ‘There is a lot of process, practice, and study that goes into being a conductor.’

Coming back to work on Monday, Micheal expressed that maybe he was looking at it too selfishly and should consider another point of view. That client is super busy yet had taken the time to sketch, to the best of his ability, a concept of the logo. The client wants it just as bad as Pentagram wants to finalize its identity. So Micheal started considering his conductor research and the six post-it notes to make connections and similarities. Carefully inspecting the six line drawings, Micheal derived a perfect connection from the client drawings, music, design, and Symphony Conductor and finally delivered a winner to the client. It can be seen here: The client really wanted a connecting acronym with the three letters NWS. Micheal mentioned that the conductor manual gave some insight on the shape and formality of the design. It was like the end of a conductor wand leaving traces in the air.

I guess the moral of this particular section of his talk was that research is key, as well as keeping your pride aside, and be willing to step back and consider several points of view.

Hearing someone as established as Micheal Bierut and Pentagram having clients send them example ideas on post-it notes make me, as well as every designer at the lecture, sigh with relief. Everyone is human, no one is perfect, and patience is perseverance.

I was lucky enough to sit very close to the front in the main lecture hall; there were so many people that they used another lecture hall with live video/audio feed to accommodate the extra people. I was also lucky enough to get a signed poster that he designed for the event. Can you tell what it says?

(Source: Skynet Solutions)

By Clint Smith


“getS” Code Snippet

Formatting dates is something everybody likes to do, and everybody has their favorite way of formatting it. ASP has a few built in functions to enable us to output it in almost any format we like. However, something I’ve always wanted from Classic ASP was the ability to get the day suffix. Such as turning ‘January 1, 2012’ to ‘January 1st, 2012’. It’s easier to read and looks a lot nicer. Classic ASP has no support for this so here is a small snippet giving an example of how this can be accomplished and a few examples.

Example (pastebin):

<% currDate = NOW() Response.write("Today is the " & DAY(currDate) & getS(DAY(currDate)) & "<br />") ' Today is the 11th  '  currDate = DateAdd("d", 1, currDate)  Response.write("Tomorrow is the " & DAY(currDate) & getS(DAY(currDate)) & "<br />")  ' Tomorrow is the 12th %>

Source (pastebin):

<% '' ' A basic copy of PHP's version of date('S') ' "English ordinal suffix for the day of the month, 2 characters" ' @param int day The day suffix you are looking for. ' @return st ring This is the suffix you were looking for. '' Function getS(fn_day)  If fn_day = "" Then fn_day = CStr(DAY(NOW()))  Else fn_day = CStr(CInt(fn_day)) End If  fnll = Mid(fn_day, len(fn_day), 1) If len(fn_day) = 1 Then fndl = -1  Else fndl = Mid(fn_day, len(fn_day)-1, 2)  End If  If fndl >= 11 AND fndl <= 13 Then  getS = "th"  Exit Function  ElseIf fnll = 1 Then  getS = "st"  Exit Function  ElseIf fnll = 2 Then  getS = "nd"  Exit Function  ElseIf fnll = 3 Then  getS = "rd"  Exit Function  Else  getS = "th"  Exit Function  End If End Function %>

(Source: Skynet Solutions)

By Blaine Schmeisser


Estimating I/S Projects

Giving time estimates for programming projects can be a very tricky process. Many times when a project comes in late, it can be traced back to a bad time estimate given up front. For small projects where a task is quickly explained to you, and you are then asked to give a ball-park figure, you might not have time to take into consideration all of the aspects that have to be handled. Although you do know the bigger details involved and can make a reasonable guess. The problem comes in when there are three or four other small items you didn’t think about, and these end up having to be handled in the same time frame.

Another problem can be in the testing. A lot of developers do not realize the amount of time they have to spend testing their programs. Depending upon the project, a developer may need to spend as much time testing a program as they spent writing it. Testing as many scenarios as possible can be very time consuming, but it makes a big difference in your end product.

Generally, on a small task or project I’m doing, I will determine how long I believe it will take me and then multiply that by 2 or 2-½. The 2 or 2-½ depends upon how much testing will be required and how familiar I am with the system. Over the years, experience has convinced me that I’m only about half as quick as I think I am. In order to determine a good ratio for yourself, estimate jobs with how long you think they will take, and then note actual times. You can compare estimates to actual time. Then you will have a good number to adjust your future estimates by.

On larger projects consisting of multiple tasks or developers, it is important to break the project down into individual tasks and attack them separately. You should try and define every possible task, describe it fully, and then determine how long it will take. It can take hours or days to create good estimates on some projects. However, the process of creating an accurate estimate can also produce detailed task lists and program specifications that can be used when the project begins. A good time estimate allows for creating deadlines that are reachable. It also makes for a project that doesn’t have you working nights and weekends under intense pressure to get the job completed on time.

(Source: Skynet Solutions)

By DJ Burrup


Samsung Galaxy Tab versus iPad 2

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 WiFi versus Apple iPad 2 WiFi

This comparison is not a death match between the two devices. This is simply a list of differences I noticed between them. I hope to help someone decide which device to get.

We already have iPhones and iPads, so I felt it was necessary to have an Android-based device to further round out our website testing.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab has a few things it does better, and a few things it does worse. Overall, as a computer geek, I love it and choose it over the iPad.

I did, however, recently purchase a tablet for a relative, and I simply could not justify getting them anything but an Apple iPad 2. I know without a doubt they will be able to use it and will not be calling me for help with something they can’t figure out.

Until Android devices achieve this type of simplicity, I’ll have to give the Apple product a leg up for novice users.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 Wifi Pros versus iPad Wifi 2:


Battery lasts extremely long with the smaller screen

Much easier to read books with and hold for long duration.

Skyping is better with the smaller device because of how light it is.

Amazon App Store You get 1 free app each day that usually is a paid app. Also shows only apps that WILL work on my tablet.

Widgets on the home screen are useful by making it really easy to glance at important things like weather, news, and stocks.

All apps I use on iPad or iPhone are on the Android Market. Even most games I have are available. There are things that are not, but for me, the transition was seamless in this department.

Integration with Google is very convenient.

The on-screen buttons On the screen at all times, there is a back, home, list of recent apps, screen shot, and settings button. The back button seemed weird at first, but after using it for a month, and then going to an iPad and having to hit the master button to close the app, really highlighted having a back button OR a home button right there on the screen.

The screen shot button makes it WAY easier to take screen shots over using the two external buttons on an iPad. I found myself accidentally hitting it all the time though, so it does have its downfall.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 WiFi Cons versus iPad 2 Wifi

Crashes randomly. I’ve had it two months, and it’s crashed and rebooted itself 4 times.

Android Market does not tell me if apps are tablet or not, or even if they work with the app on the tablet. If you open the Android market via the web, it tells you if apps will work on your device, but it still does not do a good job.

Interface is not as simple as iPad. It took me a little bit to get my mind around the different sections to find things, instead of it all just being in one place at the same time.

No way to create folders for apps. This is ridiculous!

However, for me, the Samsung is the way to go. For novice users, I’d stick with the Apple product.

(Source: Skynet Solutions)

By Jed Parmenter