Standup desk 2.0

January 21st, 2013

Last year I experimented with the idea of the standup desk, and I gave up on the idea. I stuck with me ever since, and recently, I started investigating the standup desk again. I found several great options. One of them is UpDesk. A great solution. Slick looks, smooth up and down and the lowest price I could find. However, $650 for the crank-up version + $300 shipping made it still a fairly expensive option.

I also realized my laziness. I know I will get lazy after a while and just leave the desk in “sitting position” 90% of the time, which defeats the purpose. So, I started thinking backwards.

Why not have a permanent standing desk with a height adjustable stool. The stool doesn’t really have to be comfortable, because it’s just for the relief of the feet and back for a few minutes a day. That way, I wouldn’t sit all day, forces me to stand up and improve my overall health.

So, based on this article, I built my own, permanent standup desk for CA$61.10. I need to make a few tweaks after the first day of standing, but I can see this working!

Why is my desk triple the price of the one in the article? Well, I used a coffee table instead of a square side table, We don’t have an IKEA in the area, so I had to go with a slightly more expensive RONA version, and I bought screws ;)

Here’s the result!

standupdesk

I’m also going to invest in a stool like this and an anti fatigue mat. I tried my running shoes, but the sole is so thick that I’d have to raise the whole desk.

Also; Here’s the receipt of the stuff I bought:

Rona-Receipt

Burning bridges

May 24th, 2012

One of the worst things you can do in your design (or any) business is burn bridges. Let me tell you about 2 short stories when I didn’t burn bridges that helped my business.

This first project was for a company that just started their business. They needed a website, and we provided this project for them. They were happy with the process and the end result. A few months later, they wanted to make changes to the site, and someone in the family said could do these updates. They were graphic updates to the site. Normally, the client would need to buy the copyrights to the files, but this person could do without the Photoshop file, so they got hacking away at the design of the site.
I felt kinda weird about this, because I thought I did something wrong. They assured me, I didn’t. They enjoyed working with me, but said they would like to keep work in the family if possible.
Today (actually, last week), over 2 years later, I get a phone call from someone that took over the business of the previous owner, asking if I could help them update their website, since we were the ones that had designed the original site. The original owner was serious when he said he enjoyed working with us and referred us to the new owner.

The second project was about a year and a half ago, where I was asked to design a logo for someone who was just starting a new business. There was no budget for a website yet, they just needed a logo. I over-reached and under estimated the project. I couldn’t make it work on time, and I couldn’t quite get them the logo that they wanted.
Instead of burning the bridge by sending them an invoice for the work I’ve done (and an unfinished logo), I took my loss, and we agreed that we would part ways, to maybe meet again in the future.
Right now, I’m in the process of planning their new website…

Moral of the story: Sometimes you have to just suck it up (either pride or money) for Karma to be nice on you. Don’t burn bridges. Your client might want to cross them in the future.

Project standup desk

May 7th, 2012

Lately, I’ve been staring at my monitor being non-productive at all. As a business owner, that’s abad thing. Also, I know for a fact that my posture is not the greatest when I’m sitting.

At first I was looking into a new desk chair (like a nice Aaron chair), but I got the feeling that would make me just more lazy. I started researching alternative ways of working, and I saw a few tweets about people standing up while working. This seemed compelling to me. I’ve had experience with work standing up. I used to work in a telecommunications store, where we had work stations at standing level, but with my height (close to 6’5”), the workstations were always too low.
I came across Geekdesk.com, but I wasn’t willing to spend $1000+ on a desk that I might not even like, so, I came up with a solution: Search the house for items that are the right height to make a standup desk.

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Playlist week 16 2011

April 21st, 2011

I’m a music-nut, and I thought it was time for me to start sharing my playlists. If you like them, please comment. Maybe you’d like me to create a new playlist on a weekly basis?

IE6 Upgrade notification

March 4th, 2011

I’ve quit designing around IE6 a long time ago. I have a contract that states that if my client needs me to design the site to work in IE6, they pay extra. For the other sites, when I suspect the target audience might use IE6, I wrote a little piece of code. It’s validated in 4.01 Strict HTML and stays out of the way of Google search results (because it’s at the bottom of the page).

Let me know if you’re using it or if you made improvements to it.

Here it is. Put the html right before the </body> tag, and the css at the bottom of your .css file.

<!–[if lt IE 7]>
<div id=”upgrade”>You are using an outdated browser. For a faster, safer surfing experience, please <a href=”http://www.microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer/default.aspx”>upgrade for free</a>.</div>
<![endif]–>

/*-- IE6 --*/
#upgrade {
	position: absolute;
	top: 0;
	left: 0;
	width: 100%;
	background-color: #ff0;
	}

Shopify and me

February 17th, 2011

At the end of last year, I discovered Shopify, after and intensive search for a decent e-commerce solution. I tried several self-hosted solutions, like WP-Commerce, OpenCart, Magento and Interspire, and they boil down to 1 thing: they’re a pain. One is not flexible enough, one’s theming is horrific, another one is too expensive (for clients), or the support sucks and to top all of it: some stores got hacked. In short: I was fed up. I was done updating a site because there was a security hole, or because a theme broke. I’m a designer. I want to design stuff, not fix broken software.

I found Shopify, a hassle-free solution, based on Ruby, a solid platform for apps like these. All I had to do for this was understanding the themes, and Shopify would take care of the rest for me. Sure, it might not be the cheapest to run and it’s not for every business, but I’m convinced it’s so user friendly, pretty much anyone can use it and it’s fairly complete.
Another thing that won me over was the fact that the head office is in Canada. Although Ottawa is about 3000km from here, I still like supporting “local” :)

I finished my first design for a client’s Shopify store* a few days ago. The structure is based on the ripen theme, and I’d like to create my own theme framework eventually. My client is still filling in the blanks, but you get the idea.

My first "live" Shopify theme

* = Just because I made the theme doesn’t mean I endorse the product. Before you start calling me names: I’m a vegetarian.. :)

Redesigning this blog and Dribbble

December 1st, 2010

Yes, I’m redesigning this blog. It’s like I’ve had a jolt of inspiration over the weekend, and the past few days I’ve done nothing but designing stuff. I love it!

What does that have to do with Dribbble? Well, not that much, but let me explain how I felt and now feel about Dribbble.
At first, I was skeptical. To me, Dribbble was just another website where you can dump your stuff, and you’ll move on in a few months, like every other website. The invite only system didn’t help me like it either. If I can’t get in, I’ll use something else.
Let me say, since @meredithmarsh hooked me up with an invite and started exploring the site, it all made sense to me.
Because you’re only allowed 24 “shots” per month, you’ll have to be selective with what you post, so you’ll make sure you post only your best shots. Because it’s invite only, there are no spammers. Only “worthy” designers get in, although, I think “worthy” is a big word, and I don’t think I can compare my work with someone like Jason Santamaria or Veerle Pieters, but I did manage to get in.

Keep track of the redesign on Dribbble here: http://dribbble.com/shots/84615-The-redesign-of-my-personal-blog

DFF: Birth announcement card

November 22nd, 2010

To clarify, DFF stands for “Design for fun”. That said, I also have to confess I cheated a little on this. I designed this card before my post about designing for fun, but whatever. I liked doing it, and it wasn’t a business thing.

My cousin Kim and her hubby Gerr had a design for a card in mind, and found a very small image of a card that they liked online. They asked me if I could make something like it and make it so that the printer could print a good quality card out of it. I based this design on the image they sent me, and sent them the .PSD, to forward to the printer, so they could edit the final text on the card (like name, weight, length and of course, date).

They were kind enough to send the finished card over the big pond to announce the birth of their second girl: Isis. Congratulations!

Here’s the result of my design.

image of a birth announcement card

Designing for fun

November 15th, 2010

So, the past few months I have been busy with mostly client work and stuff I don’t really like doing (finance, administration etc.) for my little company. Today, I finally realized why my inspiration has reached a new low.

Although I love working for my clients, and they’re all awesome to work with, I’m not designing “for fun” anymore. You know, having a baby project, or a poster for an event that will never happen, or even designing a button-set nobody is going to ever use. Silly? Perhaps, but I’d like to get back to that. So, from now on, I’ll try to dedicate more time to “design for fun”. Hopefully it wil trigger my creative juices into a new stage of awesomeness.

This probably sounds easier than it is, but I’ll prioritize, and hopefully, I’ll be posting at least 1 new item per week. This means, I have 1 week to complete a design, that I’m designing just for “shits and giggles”. I would really appreciate your support and feedback on the items I’ll be designing.

Subscribe to the RSS feed, or follow me on Twitter, and I’ll keep you updated on my situation.

</mark> <!– That was really cheesy –>

Who are you designing for anyway?

July 7th, 2010

Lately I’ve been re-evaluating why I’m designing. Is it just to make money, is it to impress someone, like a client or fellow designer, or is it for myself?

To make money?

If I did that, I’d create illusions for myself. Only the really great designers make good money off designing (I’m not talking blogging, just designing). Sure, I think I’m creating nice designs, but I’m not fooling myself by saying I’m great.

My boss?

Good thing I don’t have one. The reason why, is because I don’t want to be a pixel pusher, working for someone who tells me what to do, even though I know it’s wrong. I rather sell electronics during the day, and design websites for MY clients in my spare time (I used to do this).

Impressing someone?

Sure, I love hearing clients go: “Oh, that’s perfect”, but I know they don’t have a clue how much effort I put into that tiny little detail on the left they never noticed. Creating a web site for a client is filling their need for a good looking website, but even if you skip insane details only other designers would recognize, you’ll still impress them.
Speaking of other designers; I’m not convinced that I’m the designer other people look up to, and sure, I probably created something other designers can pull inspiration from, but impressing them? Nah, there are tonnes of designers out there that are truly inspiring to others. I’m just another web designer looking forward to create another new design, which brings me to my final statement.

For myself?

Yes, I’m designing for me and only myself. This might sound egocentric, but it’s true. I got into this business well over 10 years ago because I was intrigued by designing stuff on my computer. I started off designing ASCii-art. The stuff you see on Twitter now is not even getting close to the awesomeness we created at the end of the 90′s. We formed groups that would “release” ASCii-packs to show to the world through BBS.
Then came the internet available at my parent’s place. A whole new world opened up and I started fiddling around with web design. You know, with tables in Frontpage. I got degrees, recognitions and pads on the shoulder for finding something I really liked doing, and I kept pushing forward into making my career out of it.
Now, about 10 years later, I’m still planning big things for my company, but I will always be designing. Either for web or for the next generation of the web (whatever that may be). I just enjoy doing what I do.

What about you? Who are you designing for?