Here We Go, Giants!

Published on Oct 21st, 2014 by Jeff Yerkey

Tuesday, October 21, 2014: The San Francisco Giants are about to kick the KC Royals’ butts. Go Giants!

Remembering Hillman Curtis

Published on Apr 21st, 2012 by Jeff Yerkey

It’s been a tragic week for indomitable creative forces. First, Levon Helm, a founding member of The Band passed. And today I learned that Hillman Curtis died at an all-too-youthful 51.

Most of you will not know who David Hillman Curtis was. Musician, check. Filmmaker, check. Interactive genius, check check check! Back in 1999, when websites were grumbling to break out of the “brochureware” box, Hillman was creating dazzling motion-filled, interactive sites with a relatively new product called Flash. He designed sites for Yahoo and Adobe to name a few.

His landmark book, “Flash Web Design: The Art of Motion Graphics,” (New Riders, 2000) empowered thousands of website designers and artists to break free the web and create sites that were meant to be fully explored and appreciated on screen, not printed out and stapled.  My copy was dogeared and spine-broken within a year.

In the early 2000s, every time a client panicked, “How many web visitors have this plugin thing called Flash?,” they were unknowingly challenging Curtis’s genius of elevating the web to a whole new level.

Not content to stand still, Hillman Curtis moved on to direct films for the likes of David Byrne and Brian Eno. (In it’s narrowest interpretation, his legacy of Flash design sadly became relegated to countless 3 and 4 star restaurants where you still need Flash to view the menu.)

His belief that ‘good enough is not good enough’ is infused in the HTML5, mobile, app and cloud design cultures of 2012. He will be missed.

Links: HillmanCurtis.com | New York Times | Wikipedia

The Legal Website “Do List”

Published on Sep 24th, 2011 by Jeff Yerkey

Recently I responded to a question on LinkedIn about things to remember when rebuilding your law firm’s website. Not wishing to lose those keystrokes, Right Hat’s brand strategist Jeorjina Maltbie, suggested I repost it on the blog:
When launching or relaunching your law firm’s web presence, we believe the design and development of a great site must for starters include:

  • Background, interviews and research. Developing unique positioning in the legal web space is critical. What do you do best that you competitors either don’t do — or don’t do well? To that end, we’ll interview partners, associates, prospects and clients. This helps distill where your firm sits on the competitive landscape.
  • Positioning. What has the above told you that can be crafted into your website’s “elevator pitch”?
  • Careful sitemap. Review your site traffic logs in order to add insight into crafting an effective sitemap that allows visitors to find the pages they want quickly.
  • Effective wireframes. Is everything you need on the page? Do not forget Social networking tools.
  • Unique graphic design with attention to your brand, including the right imagery, fonts, colors grids and technologies. Try to steer clear of Flash™ except for that rare timeline or special section. The future is HTML5.
  • Social networking plan. Think it through. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others.
  • Forward facing technologies. Will your site view well on mobile devices, tablets of varying sizes, netbooks and overseas? Do you want a dedicated mobile or tablet site?
  • Back-end tech integration. Carefully think through what you want to integrate with your web back end such as case and matter databases, HR systems, proposal generators and extranet services.
  • Content “voice”. Make sure your site has a voice that is consistent and clear. Establish writing and editing guidelines.
  • Clear communication across Marketing partners, stakeholders, developers, PMs and designers.
  • Establish real-world deadlines to avoid mission creep.
  • Test, test, test. Don’t skimp on the time to review the site carefully before you publish it to the world.

Screen Quality of Acer Iconia and T-Mobile G-Slate Tablets

Published on May 1st, 2011 by Jeff Yerkey

Acer Iconia and T-Mobile G-Slate Android Tablets

Acer Iconia (foreground) and T-Mobile G-Slate Android Tablets


You know the drill: Another day, another few Android Honeycomb tablets. I’ve been scouring the Interweb reading all I can about the new batch of, er, iPad killers. While the tech news site reviewers have all the ’speeds and feeds’ of this first significant crop of Honeycomb tablets, I like to actually see, feel and evaluate them IRL.

As a graphic and web designer, I actually care about the clarity, contrast and color fidelity of these little guys. My year-old first generation iPod has a very, very nice display. And while its color cast is a tiny bit cool, it still turns heads. It’s clarity is good, its colors are bright with true saturation. The tints within colors are pretty damn good.

Acer Iconia A500

I was the first person to actually inquire about the $450 Acer Iconia at the Fairfield, CA Best Buy last week. Not a good sign. Tracking down the computer supervisor, she revealed they had a whole cart of them in the back but none out on the floor. So we broke one open and peeled off the clear film and fired the Iconia up.

After going through the few Honeycomb setup screens that I was familiar with from my seven days with the Motorola Xoom, we were on the Net and I started browsing websites I had designed. (I should mention I also had my iPad 1 with me next to the Iconia.)

What I saw was pretty awful. The Acer Iconia’s LCD 10.1 inch display was gray, washed out and, as the sales associate said, looked “milky.” Colors were a good one-third less saturated than the iPad, with greens faring by far the worst. This was certainly not the Android tablet that would defeat Apple, even at $50 less.

T-Mobile G-Slate with Google

With the dismal memory of the Acer tablet and its “got milky” display behind me, I hightailed it over to the nearest flagship T-Mobile store with high hopes for T-Mobile’s expensive new 8.9-inch G-Slate tablet “with Google.” (Reminds me of an old tagline from the 1960s, like “Crest — with Flouristan!” What the hell was Flouristan anyway?)

T-Mobile’s in-store marketing culture is the polar opposite of the Apple Store and its confident display of typically 8-10 iPads on its front tables. The T-Mobile salesman had one G-slate tucked under the cash register for me to try out. I felt like I was asking to see a porn magazine.

Positioning my iPad next to the G-Slate, I fired up both displays to about 80% brightness. The store was bright with its full glass facade. My iPad was on AT&T 3G and the T-Mobile was on in-store wi-fi. I loaded NYTimes.com to do a white balance comparison. The G-Slate, while just as bright as the iPad, had a noticeable yellow cast. Not “beige” or “putty” “soft white” — but yellow.

Over at CNN.com, images on the G-Slate exhibited visible JPEG compression blocking on its images. I’m not sure if this was from the hardware or from Android’s browser, but it was quite apparent to the eye. When I visited some of the sites I had designed or art directed, the colors, while chromatic and “somewhat” accurate, all suffered from the same yellow wash over the whole screen. At $749.00 (without a two-year contract), the G-Slate with Google feels like a sucker bet. I might get used to the yellow tint after a while. But why bother when the iPad exists.

If you are a photographer, graphic designer, art director, I am pretty sure you’re going to be on the iPad. But the thing that drives me crazy is the tech bloggers and journalists all seem to look past these Android tablet display distractions as if they don’t exist.

Hopefully I will get to do a followup on the BlackBerry Playbook soon.

Darth Vader’s Desk

Published on Apr 22nd, 2011 by Jeff Yerkey

Darth Vader's Office Desk

Darth Vader's Office Desk

While listening to this week’s “The Talk Show” (Episode #39) with Dan Benjamin, John Gruber and guest Adam Lisagor, they went off on a tangent while discussing Apple’s new Final Cut X. Adam and John mentioned the mid 1980s LucasFilm nonlinear editing system, “EditDroid.” This indeed could be Darth Vader’s office desk where he has his morning coffee. Love it.

Chrome OS for Graphic Designers?

Published on Nov 20th, 2009 by Jeff Yerkey

google-chrome-1The big news this week about Google unveiling its new Chrome OS has all the tech pundits trying to read the tea leaves of personal computing’s future. If you haven’t heard, Chrome OS is a very lightweight operating system from the search giant that will divinely drop all of its OS, programs and your documents down from “the Cloud.” My hero John Gruber at Daring Fireball today wrote:

“The idea of a computer that does a lot less — leaving out even things you consider essential, because you can still do those things on your other, primary computer — is liberating. That’s the opportunity, and that’s the idea behind Chrome OS and Litl and even Android and iPhone OS.”

He goes on to make the analogy that instead of having two cars, maybe you need a car and a bicycle. That is, a big day-to-day real computer and a small, lightweight Chrome OS netbook that you can take anywhere without fear of losing your data or hassling with constant program upgrades.

Sounds neat. Especially if you don’t need to get any real work done.

But I am a graphic designer. I spend my days on a Mac Pro tower with two 1-terabyte drives, 8 gigs of RAM and Adobe Creative Suite 4. Will I be able to edit a 40MB corporate identity image on Chrome Photoshop? Or tweak that custom animation in Chrome Illustrator and then import it into to Chrome Flash?

And how about when I save that 40MB image file back up to the cloud 4 – 5 times an hour on a 250kBps/up data rate line from that hotel in Cincinnati? I may want to think twice before hitting that command-S!

Don’t get me wrong, there is a market for netbooks. They are cute and adorable and you can order a Vivienne Tam one. But I think we designers, photographers, sound designers and video producers will need to keep lugging our MacBooks well into 2011.

It’s not Photoshop. It’s wood.

Published on Nov 18th, 2009 by Jeff Yerkey

Ron van der Ende's amazing wood bas relief sculptures

Gizmodo has a fascinating gallery of bas relief sculptures of some of my favorite ’70s and ’80s gadgets. Clearly this guy loves retro tech.

http://jeffyerkey.com/wp-content/themes/smokeandmirrors