Last year around this time I went out to Staples and found a set of computer speakers on sale for $19.  The set included a couple of smaller speakers, and a big bass woofer that goes on the floor.  The configuration of my office at the time was such that the best configuration for the speakers was beside me rather than in front.

The sound was so much better than the original equipment speakers that came with my IBM-PC that this all sounded fine to me.

Imagine my surprise today when I decided to rearrange my office (the refuge of the procrastinator) and placed the small speakers on either side of my monitor, about 2 feet to either side: suddenly I understood about stereo in a way I never had.

I had always sort of assumed that all those instructions you read about how to place speakers properly were either propaganda by the speaker industry, or the kind of thing that only true audiofiles would notice.

Obviously I was wrong.

Oh no, it’s started to happen…

Catherine was meeting this morning with a woman, just outside my office door, about something to do with the crafts industry. There was something about her voice that sounded familiar. After she’d left, I asked Catherine if she was from Souris. She was. I’m starting to be able to recognize Islanders based on their accents. This is frightening.

Google News

The thing I like about Google (beyond its usefulness as a web search engine, for which it now essentially has no competition), is that they can write FAQs like this one:

I just did a search, and I wasn’t happy with the results. Who should feel my wrath?
I would write an FAQ like that, but you don’t expect that sort of thing to come from Big Companies like Google. Somehow we all fall into the trap of starting to speak and write contorted marketingese once we start writing about Real Stuff. This makes it hard to be honest. In fact I think it’s designed to keep us from being honest.

Since I rewrote the About section for Reinvented Inc., I get a lot less email from people looking for jobs or trying to sell me something. In the rewrite, I tried to strip all the “world-class IT infrastructure solutions”-like bullshit and simply be honest about the company. The interesting thing is that the email I do get is almost universally from exactly the right people.

In other words, honestly is a good filter.

By the way, the Google FAQ I quote here is about their new Google News search.

Reinvented in Print

Every year the editors and art directors of Print magazine select advertising, logos, stationery, calendars, annual reports and other print pieces produced that year and publish a Regional Design Annual.

I’m happy to report that in the Regional Design Annual 2001 you’ll find the Reinvented logo. (Hint: it’s on page 284)

The logo was designed for me by Tom Hughes. Oddly enough, Tom and I have never met face to face. We’ve exchanged email over the years — he stumbled across me through a link on the website — and when I renamed the company Reinvented Inc. (we used to be Digitial Island Inc.) in 1998, Tom agreed to design a logo for the newly named enterprise.

The experience of opening Tom’s email with the logo enclosed was one of the best of my professional life: I’d sent him an email outlining what kind of logos I liked, what I like in typefaces, and what I wanted Reinvented to be about. Six months later he emailed me a logo that perfectly captured it all. I learned enough about the skills of a truly talented graphic designer in one fell swoop to last a lifetime.

Tom is the former creative director of Apple Computer (he designed the logo for the original Macintosh). The Reinvented logo is in good company: you can see a good cross-section of Tom’s recent work at the idealab! website (the logos there aren’t all Tom’s work; only the good ones).

I’ve thanked Tom for his brilliance before, but this is a good opportunity to thank him again publicly. Thanks, Tom. Maybe someday we’ll meet face to face!

The ukulele man

Joni Mitchell’s 1991 song Night Ride Home should win some sort of award for the most compelling song with the least compelling lyrics. An example:

Hula girls
And caterpillar tractors in the sand
The ukulele man
The fireworks
This 4th of July
Night ride home
Compellingly personal, I guess.

I’ve pointed to Justin Hall’s website before, but it’s something that bears repeating.

I’m slowing coming to believe that this site is one of the few that really takes advantage of the webiness (for lack of a better word) of the web. It’s a very wide and deep website — you can click and click and relate and relate forever, near as I can tell, concept to concept to concept.

The writing is sometimes raw, and sometimes too personal for comfort, but most of it’s about real life, and that’s what makes it interesting.

If you want to travel (as opposed to tourist) somewhere, I can’t imagine a better read: it’s so much more useful than Lonely Planet and Rough Guides, and anything else, at giving some flavour of modern day nomad lifestyle.

Risk of injury or death…

The CBS television program The Amazing Race is back on the air with a second season. It runs Wednesday nights. As Catherine and I often discuss how we would do if we were contestants, I was interested to read the Amazing Race Application Form.

The heart of the matter? This section, I think:

All contestants must agree to live, work, and cooperate with the other contestants and the Producers during the taping of the Program on a twenty four (24) hour a day, seven (7) day a week basis. Contestants must be able to travel for long periods of time, must be adaptable to various living and working situations and must enjoy working and living in close proximity with others of varied age, sex, race, background, and experience.

That about sums up the experience.