As you may have realized by now, we like our fonts over here at Extensis and are always on the lookout for fonty activities (that’s right, I just turned font into an adjective). Awhile ago, my manager forwarded me a link to a very unique, fonty website that I thought would be fun to share: Fontifier is a site that allows you to create a font based on your own handwriting.
So if you have a particularly cool handwriting style or enjoy things that are personalized, check out the site to get a free preview of your own handwriting font. If you like it, you can download it for only $9 and use it on your Mac – it seems that Windows is not supported.
I’ve copied my preview below and I’m pretty sure a handwriting analyst would instantly label me a sociopath based on this example. My advice to you is to be very careful when creating your sample sheet, use a dark marker and center your characters within the box. I filled out my sample sheet in 10 seconds and you can see where that got me:
Remember that old music video where Bob Dylan drops cards with words from his song Subterranean Homesick Blues? Well, check out what Rob Keller did with an OpenType font for one of the Typophile Film festivals.
Here’s a blast from the past. Back in 2004, Adobe created the Words at Play microsite that focused on their InDesign and OpenType products with this site and an associated book. The book focuses on a number of authors and historical figures utilizing Adobe OpenType fonts to get the job done.
It’s fun to look back at the site design. A number of design elements were used that have been significantly improved or abandoned since back in the day. I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit tired of anything that attaches to my cursor while surfing. Also, making it a requirement to watch an entire animation before getting to the meat of the site is now a big no-no (How I love the “Skip Intro” button.)
Nonetheless, it’s still fun to poke around and see the little type designed faces of Edgar Allen Poe, Anne Sexton, Samuel Beckett and more.
Half of my professional career was spent in the advertising/PR agency world. As such, I became a sucker for a well crafted ad. I am one of those rare individuals that do not TiVo past commercial breaks. I fully admit to viewing the Superbowl ONLY for the ad placements. I even test friends and family on ad recognition by quizzing “do you remember what brand was being advertised on the commercial with the Benihana chef?”
I don’t discriminate between the humorous ads and the heart-wrenching spots. The yearly-rotating holiday tear-jerker ads are certainly on my favorites list. If it gets my attention, conveys a strong brand, and actually makes me want to see it again; I’m sold.
And for what it’s worth – the ad with the Benihana-like chef is for Jackson Hewitt Tax Service.
February 26th, 2008 by Jim Kidwell
The first step is to cut off all of the ways in which the thief could steal my hard-earned money. This includes making a list of what was in my wallet, then frantically locating the contact information for each and every company. The bank, credit union, American Express, and a few Visa cards – I had to call them all immediately.
It’s in my benefit, as well as the banks, for me to cancel everything as quickly as possible. As I understand it, in the U.S. I’m responsible for the first $50 of any fraudulent charges on each card, and the bank/credit union/charge card company is responsible for the rest. With so many cards, I can’t really afford 50 bucks of bad charges for each of the 5 cards. And, believe it or not, this is where the majority of my frustration kicks in.
Immediately I jump on my computer and locate contact information for each card – this is the easy part. The phone calls are completely another matter though. I can tell you from calling multiple institutions, the software that is used to route callers is mostly configured to mire users in the virtual muck – to keep them from talking to a real human. If there were ever a time where I needed to talk to someone immediately, now was the time.
Yes, I was lost in the digital wilderness, all the while worrying that the beady-eyed middle-aged woman with a bad perm who stole my wallet was cackling as she racked up charge after charge.
So, here are my suggestions for making the phone software interface better.
- If you must have an electronic phone interface (yeah, I suppose you must), build in a root level method of talking to someone immediately for the purpose of canceling a card. “Push one to get your account balance. Push two speak to me in Spanish. Push three to cancel your card right about now.”
- Better yet, have an entirely separate phone number that can only be used to cancel or put a hold on a card. It would be like calling 911 instead of the police non-emergency number. A card holder would only call that number when it’s absolutely positively necessary to cancel the card immediately. Heck, you could even immediately transfer the people who are trying to get other services without offending me. “I’m sorry sir, I’m only allowed to cancel cards due to loss or theft. I’m now transferring you to our caller avoidance system, please hold.”
- Never, ever require the caller to enter an account number before talking to a person to cancel a card. Obviously in these situations, the caller won’t have the card in front of them – it was stolen. I didn’t have time to sift through my files (aka the pile of paper in the corner) to find the appropriate digits. I can tell you all of the necessary info faster than I can locate any of the other numbers. For one bank I even punched in random numbers just to get through to a live human being (you know who you are, ___ington __tual). This should never, ever be necessary.
- Don’t make me call multiple numbers to ask for a new card. Obviously, I’ve had a bad day. Please try to make it easier and just put in an order for a new card, m’k?
So, what does all of this mean for software design. Well, here at Extensis we do our homework to find out how you interface with our products. We don’t want to have you mired in the digital muck like I was this past weekend. For example, with our font management product line, we include auto-activation plug-ins that activate the right font when you open a document. If we’ve done our job right, we hope that you’ll never really need to manually activate fonts when opening a document. And, if you do have problems, we have real live humans to talk to in our Technical Support department – free of charge, no less. We want you to succeed and we design our products to help you do so.
Do you have a story about your credit cards being stolen? Perhaps a better experience with the typical phone maze than mine? Share it with me in the comments and if I like your story I’ll send you some fun Extensis swag. Heck, I do have a 1Gb sushi flash disk (it’s a futomaki one) that I’m just itchin’ to give away. Let me hear your story!
As you may have seen- or subliminally noticed in the last few weeks- Xerox has changed its image. Or so they say.
After interviewing 5,000 people about their impressions of the Xerox brand, they came around to this logo redesign.
I will admit, I do think the logotype is less stodgy, more approachable. Before I read about their approach for the redesign, I thought the typeface was progressive, somewhat entertaining. The ‘X’- which is the key to the whole operation- is a really entertaining character- fun and maybe even a bit irreverent (the ‘r’ is not nearly as groovy). So, yeah. I think I like it.
But a brand is more than a typeface. I know they are more than copiers- and they want us to know that- but what ARE they, then? I really have no idea. A few years back they transitioned to a tagline “The document company”. OK. Isn’t that just another way to say ‘copies’?
So if you already know your brand associations are not positive, maybe you should focus on what you want your brand to say- not what you DON’T want it to say. I don’t think you can simply change your logo, randomly sponsor the Ducati Superbike team, and expect me to feel differently about your brand. A face lift does not take away the wear and tear of your image- it only masks it.
And don’t even get me started on the ‘orb’… (they are unoriginal, they say ‘telecom’ (or AT&T), and I swear that X on the orb says Tiffany&Co. to me. I could go on, but why bother…)
As a Canadian living in the USA, I’ve found the primaries this year to be pretty interesting. I’ve been following along online, mainly actually via the NPR News Blog Twitter feed. (Don’t ask me to explain Twitter.. I’ve tried, you have you create an account, and follow some friends to understand it).
Just yesterday John Gruber of Daring Fireball posted a few links to some stories of fonts the candidates are using. First off is Barack Obama’s use of Gotham. Gotham is a strong, commanding looking font – a pretty cool choice for Barack and his campaign.
On the other side of the fence is Hillary Clinton and John McCain. I’ll leave you to read the blog post for the outcome.
Ok, back to fixing bugs.. rumour has it that Universal Type Server is going to ship soon.
I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me, there are blogs about all kinds of things. But recently a call went out from someone on Twitter for the hotel blogs people read and enjoyed. I did a bit of searching and found a list of my own (and asked around myself) and it’s an interesting view of hotels: people who are there all the time have a totally different perspective. I worked at a shop in the Portland Airport for awhile not long after I moved to Portland, and let me tell you how it looks from BEHIND a counter is totally different from how it looks when I’m there now as a regular travel person. So here’s a few I enjoy:
You can start with a hotel that isn’t even open yet! In Dallas, Texas, the Stoneleigh Hotel Blog is documenting their grand re-opening and it’s interesting to see how they are making something old new again. At the opposite end of the scale is The Ambassador’s Last Stand, a hotel in Los Angeles that is now almost completely gone, but you can go through the archives and watch the demise of this historic building. You can also check out the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel (where you can currently meet Oscar-yes, THAT Oscar) and other LA-related goings-on. If that isn’t quite enough fame for you, check out the blog of the Chelsea in New York City where you can keep up with the current hotel events and dig a bit into the past. If you can’t place it, it’s the hotel where loads of famous artsy types have lived and a few have died too.
Being Portland of course we have a blogging hotel! Hotel deLuxe has an awesome blog that isn’t just limited to the hotel proper. If you want a peek into Portland, their blog is a nice place for it. I also have found myself enjoying the blog from Hotel Murano in Tacoma Washington.
You can aggregate information about hotels themselves by checking out Hotel Chatter (which just informed me about the Elvis Hotel coming to Vegas, yay!) and at Hotels By City, home of the Bed Jump Blog (which is a place to see some GREAT photos-I’m a sucker for a cool action shot and these are ALL action shots!). And of course the Livejournal Community Crazy Hotel Workers which is a great place to read about customers and employees who are, shall we say, less than optimal.
It’s not like I needed even more blogs to read, but I know I will be adding a few of these to my permanent rotation and some were there already. I hope you enjoy them too. And if you have a favorite hotel blog leave it in the comments for me won’t you?
I love reading David Friedman’s blog Ironic Sans. He always shares fun and interesting ideas. I particularly like this new typography term that he came up with. It’s one of those things where you say to yourself, “Now why didn’t I think of that?”
I’m sure you’re dying to know, how does the manager of Technical Support get to work every day? It’s a subject that is filled with amazement and wonder. So, I’ll tell you…
No, my day does not start with a warm chauffeur driven Mercedes E class waiting in the driveway with a copy of MacWorld and a cup of coffee. My commute isn’t long enough for that, plus I don’t know any chauffeurs or anybody with an E class Mercedes, not from this century at least.
If it’s not pouring down rain I’ll probably fire up my scooter or my motorcycle for my ride in. For the last 3 years I’ve been scootering to work. I have always wanted to have a motorcycle, but not until I was an adult and had my life insurance paid up. Actually it was after I sold my race car and got out of racing that I felt a need to have some more thrill in my life.
I currently own a 2002 Bajaj Legend scooter, which is essentially a Vespa made in India. It is 150cc, has a whopping 9 horsepower and 4 gears and will haul me up to 100 miles on a gallon of gas. Even though it is a 2002, it’s very much old school technology. It has manual gears, drum brakes and a kick starter. I consider it to be about the best $1800 I have ever spent. My scooter will easily haul two people and I’ve put racks on it so I can load it up with additional supplies (cases of Rockstar Energy Drink, pizzas, take out Mexican food, etc). I’ve hauled many a department lunch on my scooter.
Learning to ride the scooter wasn’t too hard, but as any commuter on 2 wheels (motorized or not) will tell you, the biggest challenge has been the other commuters on 4 or more wheels. To help keep me safe I’ve got a nice full face helmet (I’m partial to eating solid foods), leather gloves, a jacket with elbow, shoulder and back plates, rain paints with pads and sturdy Doc Martin boots. Even though I’m on something with less power than many riding lawnmowers, I still armor up because, pavement hurts.
I love riding in on two wheels because it gives me time to just feel the wind, smell the smells of Portland and get a little thrill doing what, to many people, is the basic mundane task of driving to work. I don’t listen to music, I don’t wear a Bluetooth headset, I don’t eat and drive, I don’t fix my hair, nothing. I don’t do anything but grip the handlebars, watch for people in other vehicles, and swerve around potholes.
On days where I want a bit more rugged feel, I’ll fire up my vintage 1975 Yamaha Enduro DT250B (basically a street legal dirt bike) and ride that in. That has been my latest project. I bought it from the original owner who had it stored in a barn for 20+ years. It has about 2000 miles, it’s orange, it’s loud and it’s stinky. It also doesn’t like to go much faster than 50mph. Eventually I will probably ship this bike to a friend of mine that lives in Pahrump, Nevada where it can spend the rest of its life riding around the California / Nevada border area.
Here at Extensis we have a number of people that commute on 2 wheels. We have 2 engineers with motorcycles, Jim with his cruiser bike and a host of others that ride on pedal power. Jim and the engineers keep saying that when I get a motorcycle that can actually go freeway speeds, I’m welcome to go for a ride with them on the weekends.
We’ll see, maybe later this summer I’ll get something bigger, but for now, I’m happy as a clam enjoying the world at a top speed of 60 miles per hour.