Two thoughts…

Depressing music:
What is it about depressing music that is SO appealing to me?

Here’s my off-the-cuff explanation: When I get depressed, I seem to get more introspective. It seems that the times when I’m feeling the most introspective are also the times that I’m feeling the most creative – artistically. So, in some way, creativity must be tied to depression. (How’s that leap for ya?) I like feeling creative, so I guess the depressing music is appealing because it enhances my creativity…or is it that I just like feeling depressed?

I wonder what happens, physiologically, during the kind of mild depression experienced from, say, a depressing song? Perhaps the old adage of having to suffer for your art is true?

Music=Presentation, Computers=Implementation
I struck me, while listening to some tunes last night, that you never hear musicians talking about how they implemented a song. I’ve never heard a song writer say anything like, “This song is based on how the fourth beat in the 5/4 time signature is emphasized more than the other four.”

On the other hand, programmers (maybe Alan Cooper’s term, apologists is more appropriate here) talk about how things are implemented all the time.

Why is that? The only good reason I could come up with was that the tools musicians use to create music are way more refined than the tools programmers use to create programs. This makes sense because musical instruments have been around way longer than, say, Java 1.whatever or Microsoft’s Visual Studio IDE.

…but more on that later.

Early presents rule!

Can I just tell you how cool my parents are?

They got me a Fuji FinePix 40i.

What a great gift! I’m so excited! This totally makes up for the Xmas I got a calligraphy kit. (Heh heh…my Mom will get a kick out of that.)

…oh yeah, bradlauster.com is goin’ multimedia baby!

Mmmmm, cheese food!

…a bunch of randomness today:

You guys would be so grossed out if you could see what I was doing right now (6:51 PM ). I melted a big block of Velveeta and mixed in some salsa to make this cheesy chip dip. It’s chunky and orange-red in color and all congealed along the edge of the bowl. Blech! …I can’t stop shoving it in my face though. I’d suggest you try it yourself, but I don’t want to be held responsible for any cheese food induced manias.

My parents got TiVo today. Woo Hoo! Everyone who plays with ours wants one.

It dawned on me today, during a fit of HTML writing (for the help file of our conference room scheduling application) that The Sundays are the only band I can think of that hasn’t done one single song that I don’t like. I mean, three albums and not one tune that I don’t care for…what are the odds? (I just know that now that I’ve posted this, I’m going to come up with a bunch of other examples…c’est la vie!)

I made an icon for bradlauster.com today. If you bookmark my site with Internet Explorer, you’ll get a little icon of my head by the bookmark and by the URL in the address bar. I made one for tpodd too! It was fun…

The new issue of Wired (Jan. 2001) has a big section on design. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that (making a HUGE generalization here) most designers are pompous gas-bags, more concerned with looking cool to their designer friends than creating something that (non-designer) people can really feel good about using. This is disconcerting because I’m really striving to gain enough knowledge and skills to be able to, comfortably, call myself a designer. A pompous gas-bag is really not something I’m shooting for, ya know?

It seems that there are companies out there that do strive to create products that people will value and feel good about owning and using. I get that impression that IDEO is one of those companies. Cooper Interaction Design is another. In fact, when I interviewed at Cooper, I specifically remember one of their buzz phrases being about design without the ego. I like that.

…which brings me to the topic of starting my own design firm. I’ve been thinking of launching my own company for a while now. Without giving away too many of the details before I’ve really thought things over, I think I might follow the model that Joel, of Joel on Software, followed to created his fledgling company Fog Creek Software: gather your thoughts together in a ‘blog, write a book colligating those thoughts into a unified vision for your company, launch the company. Simply genius, I think. …now to start a more concentrated ‘blog and begin writing my book. This is going to be a long process, but keep your eyes peeled for it on OpenLeaf.

…one last thing: what the hell is the point of Driving Over Jakob Nielsen?

Punch Card Debacle

I can’t BELIEVE people are tired of hearing about the Presidential Election coverage, saying, “Oh, I think Gore should just concede. I’m tired of hearing about it.”

Tired of hearing about it!?! What the hell? If you don’t care that the will of the people is reflected by the results of the Presidential Election, then why did you vote in the first place?

Bush’s attorneys are saying, “The ballots have been counted three times and Bush was the winner each time.” The fact is, all the ballots have NOT been counted. There are at least 14,000 ballots that were not counted – for whatever reason (source: NPR News). CNN is reporting that, based on Florida’s certified results, Bush’s lead is 537 votes.

It doesn’t take a high school education to figure out that 14,000 is far greater than 537!

Frankly, I’m not particularly enamored by either candidate (I voted for Bradley in the primary), but the idea that one candidate should give up, when we KNOW that there are ballots that haven’t been counted, is insane! My concern is that the results of this election reflect the will of the American people.

Oh…and if you’re one of those people who think that the voters in Florida, who screwed up their ballots, were just idiots, read this usability study done on mechanical lever and punch card voting systems, done in 1998. Their recommendation: the punch card ballot should be “redesigned…or replaced entirely with a less problematic system.”