Linked: Dear Design Student

Dear Design Student is a blog over on Medium that offers helpful, honest and occasionally harsh advice to students. I struggle with many of these issues with my students and this is a great resource for student designers and young professionals.

A couple of my favorite recent posts:

Linked: National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month.* I've always been fascinated by the concept of NaNoWriMo and am thinking about participating this year, despite the fact that I don't think I've written something fictional since elementary school. The point of NaNoWriMo isn't necessarily to write something great – it's to give yourself the motivation to write to a goal. 

Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.

Sounds fun. And I've got a couple of ideas rattling around in my brain. We'll see how it goes. I'm going to use my favorite writing app, Ulysses, to manage the writing process and daily goals. And of course, I'll post updates here about how it's going.

Also, I need a new a mug.

* November is also Movember.

Linked: Sharing your creations

This nice little post from Seth Godin today really made me think. I often fall into the trap of refining and refining until something is "perfect" before I put it out in the world. The problem is that nothing is ever perfect, and so nothing ever gets released. I need to remember to be proud of my projects and not ashamed of their flaws.

It's a nice thought to take into the week and I figured I'd share...

Writing with Ulysses

I recently started using a new application for most my writing. Ulysses is a distraction free text editor with a wide range of additional features and an outstanding interface. It's available for Mac and iOS. I was planning on writing a long article about Ulysses, but the folks over at the Sweet Setup beat me to it. They've got a great review of the app.

Ulysses is a Markdown app. (If you aren't familiar with Markdown, it's a way of formatting documents quickly and efficiently.) I'm still uncovering all of the features in Ulysses, but I'm impressed. It's not cheap, but it's worth every penny.

Ulysses features an intuitive interface that works well on the Mac And iOS devices.

Ulysses features an intuitive interface that works well on the Mac And iOS devices.

I did have one problem with Ulysses and syncing. When I first bought the iPad app, some text it had written on my MacBook Pro wouldn't sync. I struggled with the issue for a little while, but then figured out that if I made any change to the text, it would then upload and sync. So I added a space to the beginning of each problem file and everything synced perfectly from that point on.

They also mention a few other writing apps as honorable mentions at the bottom of the article. And they are some of my favorites, too. Specifically:

Scrivner: I really love Scrivner. It's exceptional powerful, but really complicated. Lack of sync is challenging and I prefer the Ulysses interface, but for really long form work, it might be the best option in the App Store. 

Byword: Still one of my favorite distraction free writing apps. Byword works on iPhone, iPad and the Mac. Great app and I highly recommend it if you want a Markdown editor that isn't as expensive. My go-to note taking app.

Rebranding with stencils

I've been playing around with stencil designs a lot lately and I recently came across this rebrand of Army West Point athletics by Nike. I love how they've used the stencil throughout everything. Check out the rebranding microsite to see the entire identity.

"Stenciled" on the back of a lacrosse jersey.

"Stenciled" on the back of a lacrosse jersey.

Also, while I'm not a big fan of overly constructed design rationales, this explanation for why Nike chose a stencil was perfect:

During World War II, the U.S. Army deployed approximately three million trucks, tanks and other vehicles, each of which was marked. Items were tagged using stencils because they were fast, easy to use and produced clean markings. The distinctive look of stencil type is created from the gaps between horizontal and vertical portions of the letters designed to serve a routine function durability.

This typographic style is authentic to military culture and the use of stencil letterforms by the U.S. Army dates back to the Civil War. New and innovative stencil fonts have been common throughout the twentieth century and never fall out of style. Strong primary typography is a critical component of the Army West Point Athletics identity.

After hours

John Gruber writes mostly about Apple, James Bond and Stanley Kubrick*, but he also has a side project with a couple of partners called Q Branch that makes an iOS notes app, Vesper. Brent Simmons, one of the partners has decided to leave the group to work on other projects. Gruber wrote a short snippet supporting Brent's decision and dropped this great line at the end of the post.

He’s still full-time at The Omni Group, which means Q Branch work had been relegated to nights-and-weekends time. Nights-and-weekends time is for your passions, not for obligations.

I work on lots of projects in my spare time. From typeface designs to AIGA South Carolina, I do these things because I love them. When people ask me where I find the time and the energy to tackle these projects, my normal answer is that I don't sleep a lot. While that is somewhat true, it's only part of the story. I'm passionate about the projects I work on and I'm really lucky to have time to do the things I love.

* Sometimes, he writes about the NY Yankees, too. But only when they are winning.

Linked: The MacBook doesn't need you to love it, but someone will

Nice article by Jason Snell on the new MacBook. It's beautiful and I love the Space Gray finish. But I personally need more power than the MacBook will provide, so my next laptop with be another MacBook Pro. Can't wait to try out the Force Click Trackpad, though.

Linked: Wired In

I work in an open office environment. And while I love being connected to my team, there are times I need to let everyone know I'm working. Wired In is a company that is trying to make a USB-connected busy sign. It looks pretty cool and I'd love to get one. It would definitely look cooler than the sign I taped to the back of my chair this week. Coming this summer.

Linked: I didn't think I could love Wunderlist more...

I'm a big fan of Wunderlist. It's an amazingly simple and powerful to-do app that syncs effortlessly between all my devices. And now they are making it better. Adding folders is a big improvement. I currently start all my lists with a prefix (for example, SBB Blog Post Ideas) so I can keep all my similar lists together. But that gets clumsy. So having folders is a big improvement.

Some of the other additions are great, too. Quick Add looks great. And an API to integrate with other apps has the potential to integrate Wunderlist throughout my workflows.

Linked: Futuristically fake

I love futuristic sci-fi movie interfaces. Noteloop has a collection of awesome links to movie interfaces. Lots of great detail. In addition to the movie links, they also have a handful of links for television shows and video games.

Linked: Good at math

Seth Godin has a great post on being "good at math." I'm a designer that doesn't mind doing math. But when I was younger, I was convinced that I wasn't good at math and avoided it. It took a really great 12th grade calculus teacher to convince me that I could succeed at math.

Now I have a daughter that is convinced she isn't "good at math." My goal is to build her confidence in math before she gets to 12th grade.