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Friday 20 June 2014

John Smeaton, on working solo

I am committed to Continuing Professional Development. I try to keep up with the current technical literature. Just now, re­minded by John Smeaton’s birthday, I have been re-reading his ac­count of the design and building of the third Eddystone Light­house. It’s a big book, full of fascinating detail. He wrote it at the end of his long career, as he looked back on his most celebrated project.

He explains why he chose to work on his own during the early stages of his work. He was stuck in London between meet­ings with various important people, as he grappled with the problem of securing the lighthouse tower to the wave-swept rock:

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Sunday 5 May 2013

Fingerspitzengefühl

I found this delightful German word in Oliver Reichen­stein’s fine piece Learning to see. He writes about design that combines functional and aesthetic value​—​You don’t get there with cos­metics, you get there by taking care of the details, by polishing and refining what you have. This is ultimately a matter of trained taste, or what German speakers call “Finger­spitzen­gefühl” (literally, “finger-tip-feeling”). He adds a photo of Jan Tschichold to illustrate.

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Sunday 9 November 2008

Diagramming Rex

The new website I have been building for Rex Addison is now live.

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Friday 17 November 2006

Headcounting at Camp Delta

I have just found Jonathan Corum’s Camp Delta web page, subtitled Nationalities of enemy combatants detained at Guantanamo Bay, the “legal equivalent of outer space”. The page is dated February 2004. Old news. But still current.

Corum has drawn graphics to represent each of the men detained at Guantanamo Bay, standing in groups according to their nationality. One hundred and sixty men stand by the flag of Saudi Arabia. Eighty-five from Yemen. Eighty-two from Pakistan. One each from Sweden, Spain, Kenya. One from Iraq. And so on, to a total of six hundred and nineteen.

Two figures stand beside the Australian flag​—​I know they are Mamdouh Habib (who was released in January 2005) and David Hicks (who is still at Camp Delta). There is one figure holding an American flag, but he is not a detainee.

I admire the graphics, but deplore the facts they represent.

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Wednesday 1 February 2006

Chinese furniture joints

I’m grateful to Curtis Evarts for the information about classical Chinese furniture on his website, including some animated images showing how joints were assembled.

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Friday 12 March 2004

Dan Price’s moonlight chronicles

The Morning News has a delightful interview with Dan Price, artist, writer and publisher of The moonlight chronicles.

After working as a photojournalist for 10 years I sold all my cameras and began documenting my own little life instead of everyone else’s. Using a pen and paper I was able to document what I was seeing without a machine between me and the subject. If you draw lots you can become very addicted to that peaceful state of being. It’s definitely my drug of choice!
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Wednesday 17 September 2003

Stopping the Kodak Carousel

I have seen this message posted to various internet mailing lists:

Eastman Kodak Company has confirmed plans to discontinue the manufacture and sales of slide projection products and accessories in June of 2004. This early disclosure is being made to key user groups in order to allow time for adoption of a replacement technology or purchase of backup slide projector products.

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Monday 31 March 2003

Another toaster museum

Here is another web collection of toasters to add to the one I pointed out last year.

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Friday 28 March 2003

Woodwork

Sally made this at pre-school. Beer bottle caps and slices of champagne bottle cork nailed to a piece of pine. She told me “It’s woodwork, Daddy”.

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Thursday 16 January 2003

Everything Bucky knew

Everything I know is a complete video, audio and text record of a Richard Buckminster Fuller talkathon:

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Monday 28 October 2002

Japanese manhole covers

Thanks to the Museum of Online Museums for pointing out this collection of Japanese manhole covers. The text is in Japanese (which I can’t read) but the colourful covers speak for themselves. I have previously mentioned manhole covers in Chandigarh and other places.

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Thursday 5 September 2002

Small multiple skyscrapers

I’m grateful to Christina for pointing out the SkyscraperPage, a site with a collection of thousands of scaled images of tall build­ings. You can select and sort them by location, height or age, and line them up for inspection. I think it’s a delightful use of small multiples, as Edward Tufte calls this form of display:

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Wednesday 31 July 2002

i-See

The Institute for Applied Autonomy has developed i-See:

a web-based application charting the locations of closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance cameras in urban environments. With i-See, users can find routes that avoid these cameras — paths of least surveillance — allowing them to walk around their cities without fear of being “caught on tape” by unregulated security monitors.
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Monday 20 May 2002

Precepts for designers

From ‘This is what I have learned’, presented by Milton Glaser at the AIGA National Design Conference some weeks ago:

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Tuesday 30 April 2002

The Holiday Inn sign

Exploding with color, optimism and razzle-dazzle, the now-extinct Holiday Inn ‘Great Sign’ was a true design landmark of the American century.

See Andrew Nelson’s salon.com feature about the social history of the American motel.

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Friday 5 April 2002

Bow tie instructions

I am past needing them, but I did admire the cleverness of these instructions: On a card designed to hang from the outside of your shirt pocket, the diagrams and directions are printed backwards, for reading in the mirror as you tie your bow tie.

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Thursday 4 April 2002

The Russian avant-garde book 1910-34

Thanks to Andy Crewdson for pointing out the website of this exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.

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Tuesday 19 March 2002

Trugs

A trug is a tough wooden basket, handy for fetching produce from the garden or carrying the firewood.

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Sunday 17 March 2002

Imagining large numbers

One thousand, eight hundred and six Americans of Japanese ancestry from Placer County, California were interned during the Second World War. To remember them ceramics teacher Anthony Gill laid out 1,806 hand made tea cups in an outdoor cage, about the size of an internment camp barracks. I thought we needed to find a way to visually show what the number of citizens from this tiny county looked like, Gill said.

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Thursday 7 March 2002

Origami

Origamist Joseph Wu writes about modelling the last white rhinoceros of Kilimanjaro with folded paper.

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Wednesday 30 January 2002

More manhole covers

German photographer Roland Mühler’s website includes a gallery of fine photographs of street manhole covers. Remember my snapshot of the one in Chandigarh? Roland’s are much nicer (and there are 45 of them).

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Sunday 6 January 2002

Piet Mondrian, who lacked green

For refreshment, see this art work by Dan Flavin entitled greens crossing greens (to Piet Mondrian who lacked green). Mondrian is said to have been probably incapable of irony and might not have got the joke.

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On this page
John Smeaton, on working solo
Fingerspitzengefühl
Diagramming Rex
Headcounting at Camp Delta
Chinese furniture joints
Dan Price's moonlight chronicles
Stopping the Kodak Carousel
Another toaster museum
Woodwork
Everything Bucky knew
Japanese manhole covers
Small multiple skyscrapers
i-See
Precepts for designers
The Holiday Inn sign
Bow tie instructions
The Russian avant-garde book 1910-34
Trugs
Imagining large numbers
Origami
More manhole covers
Piet Mondrian, who lacked green

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