Chipmunks Slowed to Actual Speed

Christmas has passed, but I guess it is still technically the holiday season. I ran across this great video of the Chipmunks “Christmas Time is Here” song slowed down. You can hear what the chipmunk voice actors in the song actually sounded like (even though Dave sounds like the devil).

2012 Holiday Gift Guides

Another year has come and gone. We are quickly approaching Black Friday and then the more recently coined Cyber Monday, so that means it is time again for my list of holiday geek gift guides. I started putting this list together quite a few years back to help me find gifts for my friends and family. Since I like general geekery, most of these lists have a technology or gadget slant to them, but there are a handful that work for more general gift giving. As usual, I will keep this list up to date as I run across more. If you know of any that I have missed, leave me a comment and I’ll make sure to get it added.

(Guides from previous years: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004)

Silk: Write With Smoke

Need a site to waste 5 minutes on? Check out Silk, a website that lets you write in smokey patterns.

Desktop Images from Desktoppr

I like to keep my desktop fresh looking and will rotate a new desktop wallpaper image in every month or so. I’m always on the lookout for good sites to find desktop images, and have been collected a few of them over the years. As I was looking for some new images, I ran across a cool site for desktops that has a really nice bonus feature. The site is called Desktoppr. Like many desktop/wallpaper sites it provides high-quality user submitted images. The thing that makes this site stand out is that is automatically syncs your desktop image choices to Dropbox, so you can go through and pick out what you like, and like magic, it is delivered to your computer where you can point your OS at it to change them automatically.

Desktoppr is a new site, and is still in beta, but I didn’t have any problems finding a beta account invite. You can sign up on their site, or just do a little digging to find a beta invite. If you like desktop images, Desktoppr has a lot of nice once to choose from, and they make it really easy to grab them and use them on your computer.

Eraser Makes New Chalk Out of Chalk Dust

I don’t know if this would be categorized as tech or not, but it’s really really cool. Designers Yonggu Do and Eunha Seo have created a concept for a chalkboard erasure that turns the dust that is erases into new pieces of chalk.

Chalkeeper is a very innovative way to contain chalk dust (which causes allergic reaction in many children) and reuse it. It is basically a duster that erases chalk from the blackboard and absorbs it into the system. When enough dust is collected, it molds it back to a piece of chalk….kinda like a never ending chalk! Clever!

With whiteboards everywhere now, maybe this doesn’t matter, but it’s still a pretty innovative concept.


Source: From Dust to No-Dust

Tower Defense in Google Maps

Do you really enjoy Tower Defense games? Have you always wished that you could play Tower Defense in your own back yard? Well, wish no more. MapsTD hooks the Tower Defense you know and love to Google Maps (with a fun 8-bit design). You can put in your zip code and protect your neighborhood from the evil invaders trying to get in.

Maps TD in Iowa City

Maps TD in Iowa City

Give it a try in your neighborhood!

Getting the Most out of Google+

Tuesday, March 13 – 3:30PM – 4:30PM
Keri Kandel Prod Mktg Mgr Google Inc

This session was a core conversation, which means the room was filled with Google+ users talking about the product. The session was facilitated by a Google representative. There was generally good back and forth. These notes may be a bit disjointed because of the quick pace of the conversation. I think I was able to capture some good points, but it was not a structured presentation like many of the sessions at SXSW.

  • G+ Hangouts will eventually provide an option for “On Air” which is meant for a one to many larger group setting vs. a video conversation between up to 10 people (currently in beta).
  • Why Google+? The main reason is create a common thread across all Google products. It is both social and search, and provides a large input to Google’s core, search.
    • Search + Your World pushes a lot of content posted on G+ into higher placement in search results.
    • Connecting your website to your G+ page using “rel=author” code will create that connection and ultimately help search results.
  • Promotion of your G+ Page
    • To get traction on your pages, they need to be marketed or pushed externally. You can only get so much internal connection to your G+ pages.
    • Engage other pages with your page.
    • Look at successful pages: Angry Birds
    • You don’t need to post 10x’s a day to get in, just smaller regular engaging content is good enough for now.
    • It isn’t all about engagement, but getting users to engage with you – post things that encourage feedback, or host a hangout.
  • There are currently 100 million users of G+ – being an early adopter and building the user base now is a good thing.

To see the latest launches for G+, follow #googleplusupdate

The Battlefield Art of Design Triage

Tuesday, March 13 – 5:00PM – 6:00PM
Angel Anderson Experience Dir Crispin Porter+Bogusky

We are constantly being asked to go faster and faster.

What is Triage?

  • "To sort" produce sorting
  • battlefield medics
  • Necessity is the mother of invention.
  • War provides many necessities.

Design Triage

  • Prioritization

    • Assess before treating – what are the products on your table?
    • Minor: walking wounded – low-impact projects that won’t be significantly affected whether you help them or not. (creating banner ads)
    • Delayed: Projects should be addressed, but don’t require immediate attention (proof of concept first).
    • Immediate: Projects that have significant impact and really matter.
    • Expectant: projects that are critically flawed and no amount of time and effort can save.
  • Selflessness

    • The product is the star – don’t think you are a genius designer. Don’t thin-slice. Don’t just jump right into wireframes.
    • Marketing is a team sport. Leads digital strategy and planning, collaborates in all phases, responsible for the vision, quality and performance of the work.
  • Mercy Killings

    • Some products just nee to be put out of their misery (this is hard to do).
    • Learn how to say no (like Steve Jobs).
    • How to say no:

      • Tell the truth.
      • Ask questions.
      • Tell stories.
      • Reflect Conflict.
      • Poison Pill (plant seeds for something to die).
      • Quit.
  • Scrappiness

    • Figure out how to turn no resources into something killer.
    • Determine Vision

      • What is it?
      • Who is it for and what’s their payoff?
      • Why are we creating it?
      • How does it work?
      • What re the risks?
    • Lean UX? Kaban?
  • Staying Human

    • Make sure you schedule rest.
    • Find flow in the chaos.
    • Use your lulls – when things quiet down, give attention to the delayed and minor projects.

When Filmmakers Meet Interactive Teams

Tuesday, March 13 – 2:00PM – 3:00PM
Amit Breuer Pres Amythos MediaGhassan Fayad Pres KngfuChris Harris Head of Online Content Shaw Media Group

Storming Juno
A Canadian file about storming Juno Beach in WWII. The interactive portion of the film started moving before filming of the video portion and provided an opportunity to collaborate before production actually began. Many things couldn’t not have been done if the interactive portion came after the fact. The interactive team put together visuals/proof of concepts and wireframe demo/discuss the project with the filmmakers. It helps the more linear people (filmmakers) understand the digital/interactive side.

My Sep 11th (
The interactive piece was put together after the film was made. It included profiles of people’s experiences on Sept 11th. There is a user-created component for uploading video/text/photos of experiences.

Cafe De Fiore (theatrical release film)
The interactive portion was built around the script of the film, since it was the first piece of the film that existed. They would release different portions as the script became ready even before the film was complete. This was all released progressively up until the film was actually released in theaters. Once this was out there, the filmmakers got interested in interacting on the social networks because of the buzz that the initial released content created.

Things to ask with a combo web/film project:

  • What is the property and how much participation is there from both sides?
  • Will the director be involved on the web portion?
  • Which one creates the other?
  • Is the web just an entry point, or is it more vertical, and just promotional?
  • Who controls the different portion after the fact? Who takes on the social aspect afterwards? Make sure everyone is involved to ask these questions.s

Lie to Me: CSS3 Demystified by Haakon Wium Lie

Tuesday, March 13 – 11:00AM -12:00PM
Håkon Wium Lie CTO Opera Software

CSS Timeline

  • 1994 – Cascading HTML style sheets
  • 1996 CSS1
  • 1998 CSS2
  • 2012 CSS3 Where is it??

HTML has a simple structure, universal semantics, media-independent. It doesn’t have any presentation until the image tag arrived. Somehow the image tag took away the true text. The answer to this was CSS.


  • border-radius
  • box-shadow

Example: The menu on is currently done with images – it could be done fully in CSS3. The problem is (and probably the reason Apple has not done it with CSS3) older browsers do not support this.

  • @font-face (this has existed since CSS2)

CSS3 Transitions

  • transition: 1s; transform: rotate(-360deg);


  • The acid 2 test was created to test browser compatibility with CSS. This put pressure on Microsoft to handle CSS correctly. In IE8, they finally did it.

Paging the Web

  • Opera Reader takes a long web page and gets rid of the scroll. It cuts it up into pages.
  • overflow: paged; is the tag that the Opera Reader recognizes.

Slides and Code Available

Al Gore and Sean Parker Conversation

I sat in on an interesting conversation between former vice president Al Gore and Napster creator Sean Parker about how technology could be used to hack democracy. They talked a lot about their current endeavors as well as things the two of them have done in the past, but the take-away message was encouraging participants to figure out a way to communicate political information via the web without any sort of red or blue slant. It needs to be neutral, and at its core help to make voters more informed on issues without all the noise that seems to make its way into politics.

Cnet put together a good (more detailed) write-up of the session.

Auto Meets Mobile: Building In-Vehicle Apps

Monday, March – 12 3:30PM – 4:30PM
Michelle Avary Natl Mgr Toyota Motor CorporationZach Brand Sr Dir Tech NPR

Telematics: When the vehicle is aware of its location and can engage in 2-way conversation.

Telematic Features/Services

  • Safety & Security (onstar)
  • Navigation Assistance
  • Diagnostics
  • Convenience/Info Service (fuel prices/traffic)
  • Entertainment

Experience in Cars will Change

  • Control + Choice + Ubiquity
  • 70% of people say apps are critical to next smartphone purchase


  • Fragmentation – 15 car manufacturers in the USA with their own systems. 4320 fragmentation to deal with.
  • HMI (human machine interface) – steering wheel controls, voice, mouse-type controls
  • All vehicle components must be built to withstand conditions similar to those experienced in a jet plane (these systems are expensive).

Customer Conundrum

  • Vehicle decisions are made by the heart, and smartphone decisions are made by the brain.

Criteria for App Selection

  • Facilitates safe driving behaviors
  • Enhances driving and ownership experience
  • Allows for enjoyable personalized experience
  • Demonstrates strong brand harmony