In anticipation of Ev giving

In anticipation of Ev giving up the Pyra office, I fetched the last of my things from the space. Part of what I grabbed was a box of various things that I’ve saved over the past few years, and I never got around to opening it even when I was at Pyra. So today, while going through it, I found a CD backup of my 1996 desktop computer, complete with early (terrible) web design works. Back then, I was a busy grad student, playing around with the web at night.

I had to do a bit of tweaking to get them to work, and I couldn’t find all the images but here is the earliest copy of my 1996 home page that was hosted on a college server in my lab. A few months later I discovered 3-D apps, and since two dimensions are pretty good, one more dimension must be better, right? right? It was still 1996, and I even discovered java (though i couldn’t find the original ticker tape applet class). The only page that works off that second one is the links page (called The Lounge, because, y’know I wanted to be different and all).

I hope everyone that looks at these pages gets a good laugh, because they are pretty funny. Some people might be embarrassed of their earlier work, but I was ecstatic to find these pages this morning. Not only is it a snapshot of my early development, back when I was playing with new technologies and testing new techniques, but it’s a good example of learning in action. These are rife with mistakes, bad choices, and bad judgements, but I’m glad I made them five years ago (as opposed to still making them today). It also helps ground me as a designer to see that once, not so long ago, I was creating garbage much like you see in classic geocities-style homepages of new designers today.

(My 1995 stuff was last saved on floppies, which are probably in a landfill now after having moved in and out of several apartments between now and then. Believe me when I say the 1995 stuff was even worse. I can’t believe I used to get so many emails about the 3-D graphics, people seemed to absolutely love them. Oh, the “@ web design” was what I called my own fictitious consulting company. Most of the links on the old pages are dead because the server they were hosted on was an old IBM AS400 workstation that completely died several years back. The older homepage links to the Soil Science Department at UCR, which is still using the site I designed for them in early 1999.)

I was saddened last week

I was saddened last week to hear one of my favorite musicians had passed on. Today when my favorite track (2.9 Mb mp3) came on my random playlist, I remembered why this is such a tragic loss.

With the current glut of pop stars, few have any pretense of making music for the sake of music. John Lee Hooker never wrote a song so he could score a movie deal, get a date with a supermodel, or sell more fast food.

The best threads on MetaFilter

The best threads on MetaFilter are the ones that demonstrate why a lot of people trying to solve a problem are better than one. If you walked up to me and asked “Where can I find good streaming music on the web?” I wouldn’t have answer for you. But if you asked a few hundred people, you might get responses as good as these.

I can’t stop listening to Rare Music from Grand Royal. I’ve never heard any of the bands or songs being played, and it’s jumping genres like crazy, but it’s all great stuff. It’s close to perfection.

I went to the SF

I went to the SF Zoo yesterday for the first time, and after Bryan‘s head got in the first couple shots, I ran with it. Then I came home and made the intro graphic. When it came time to write captions, I took a word or phrase that described something in the picture, put that into google, and copy and pasted the text that matched on the search.

With that in mind, I present Bryan’s Head at The Zoo.

Trillian rocks the IM house.

Trillian rocks the IM house. The most complete 3rd party IM client I’ve ever used, it allows simultaneous connections to AIM, ICQ, Yahoo, and MSN IM accounts, and also includes an IRC client. It auto imports your buddies from your local machine and AOL and Yahoo’s servers, so you can install it and go.

While it lacks a few features I seldom use (file transfer and chats with more than 2 people), it adds features I’ve always wanted in AIM. There is logging and you can rename users in your buddy list. Those two features alone make it more useful than AOL’s own client. Also, having a consistent interface among all services makes the UI predictable and easier to use.

I hope AOL, Yahoo, or MSN don’t try and block connections from Trillian clients, because after using it for just a couple hours, I’m hooked.

The city still has a

The city still has a bit of magic left in it, and it occurs each day during what I like to call “The Golden Hours of San Francisco.”

From approximately 10am to 3pm, the city cannot possibly be any better. The sun is bright and the weather is warm. There’s no cold ocean breeze, and you can wear shorts and sandals as you stroll through empty parks. There’s parking galore in most neighborhoods while everyone is away at work. You can get from any one point in the city to another in record time, and there’s no crowds when you get to wherever it is you are going. I can drive to the store, get a parking spot steps from the entrance, fill my cart in empty aisles, and checkout in just a few minutes, returning to my apartment with a parking spot right smack dab in front of the building. Ah, the Golden Hours…

There are, of course, several drawbacks in my otherwise blissful midday existence in San Francisco. One is that often, construction may be taking place on my beloved streets, so although there aren’t many drivers on the road, there’s enough that can’t merge around some cones to slow down your trip. The other is that most people are friendly, helpful, and good natured at heart, but also most people happen to be at work. The people that are hanging out during the Golden Hours aren’t most people, so occasionally adventure awaits your next visit to the post office or laundromat.

But the Golden Hours remind me of how the city used to be. When I was a small kid in the 70s in Southern California, San Francisco always seemed cool and laid-back, with lots to do and see. Everyday you can go back in time, and enjoy what everyone was writing and singing about lo those many years ago.

The question I’m asked most

The question I’m asked most often these days is this:

“Is the job market really as bad as some people are saying it is?”

and the answer is a definite yes, especially in the Bay Area.

There was an old saying during the boom, if you wanted a new job in San Francisco, it was simple: grab a dead fish, and stand on any street corner in SOMA. Spin around as fast as you can in one place and let the fish go. Whoever it hit would no doubt hire you to work on a web team for a cash-saturated startup.

These days aren’t the same at all.

I’ve gotten the last two jobs from word-of-mouth and casual friendships, but among all my friends currently, there’s nary a one that is working for a company still hiring. So I’ve hit the standard paths of checking out Dice.com, Monster.com, Headhunter.net, and camping on Craigslist. In the old days, making a sound on any of those sites would result in your phone ringing off the hook with recruiters and employers, but I’ve probably applied to a total of 50-60 positions, and in the first three weeks all I had to show for it was two auto-responders saying that too many people applied for the job and that I shouldn’t hold my breath.

It’s tough out there, I’m hooked on the web, this is what I want to do for the next few decades. I was here before the money came raining down from the sky and I know the passion will stay long after it’s gone, but it’s hard to stand out against the other recently laid-off applicants. I’m finding that it’s tough being a generalist. The web’s advanced to the point at which roles are fairly well defined on a team of engineers, and although knowing about all the technologies may be an asset in a project meeting, employers have a role they need filled, and prefer if you are an expert at X, without mentioning Y or Z. I’ve also learned that a million magazine articles and newspaper mentions don’t mean a hill of beans when you’re number 238 in a stack of 300+ resumes. I’m confident that a casual friendship or reader (hint, hint :) will connect me with my next gig, since the cattle call for openings still seems like a long shot.

I’m enjoying the perfect weather and time outdoors a great deal, so I can’t complain.