Category Archives: design

Birdfeeder Design and a Good Use of Website Animation

I’m a fan of bird­feed­ers and clever prod­uct design. The Architect’s Bird­feed­er, designed by Doug Patt Pratt, is good look­ing and an intrigu­ing engi­neer­ing solu­tion.

architect’s birdfeeder

The key fea­ture — it ships like flat-pack fur­ni­ture but bet­ter because it goes togeth­er with­out that nasty cheap lit­tle hex wrench thing.

The ani­ma­tion of the assem­bly of the bird­feed­er on the home page of the site is bril­liant.

  • It takes up only part of the page — good for those on slow con­nec­tions as you can start using the page before the ani­ma­tion fin­ish­es load­ing.
  • It offers infor­ma­tion about the prod­uct that can best (per­haps only) be com­mu­ni­cat­ed using ani­ma­tion.
  • There’s very lit­tle excess infor­ma­tion in the ani­ma­tion. Just a lit­tle sparkle toward the end of the assem­bly on the hang­ing wire. Very effec­tive in sig­nal­ing the end of the process.

I first saw this in one of my RSS feeds (can’t find it again — drat) and I’m hop­ing that I can get one. Though with the pub­lic­i­ty I wouldn’t be sur­prised to find that they are sold out. I’m not sure how well it will work in the ridicu­lous amount of rain we get here in the win­ter but as a sum­mer feed­er feed­er it’s going to be aces.

Trivia I Need

ColourLovers post­ed a list of all 120 Cray­ola cray­on col­ors and their (approx­i­mate) hex and RGB codes. The list was com­plied by Aaron at Col​orSchemer​.com.
1930’s box of Crayola Crayons

I am now going to waste sev­er­al hours cre­at­ing a cus­tom Pho­to­shop palette of these col­ors.


BTW When did the Cray­ola site change so much? I remem­ber it as being a much sweet­er and less loud­ly mar­ket­ing dri­ven place. They do still pro­vide nice images of their prod­ucts.

Garden Report

We’re build­ing a lot of stone walls this year. When we first had the lawns and beds installed we didn’t have the time and mon­ey to build the bed walls that we want­ed so we used the black plas­tic edg­ing to keep the grass out of the beds (sort of) This year we’re replac­ing the plas­tic edg­ing with stone walls. We’re using cast stones (con­crete) in three col­ors. We’ve done a hand­ful of walls so far.

We did the wall around the bed behind the per­go­la last fall as a test. Then we bought 10 pal­lets of stones.

lillies and sea-pinks

The sea pinks are get­ting ready to bloom (mad­ly) and the lilies are com­ing up. I just have to remem­ber to put down slug bait on a reg­u­lar basis.

I’ve put a bunch of herbs in this bed as well. It’s con­ve­nient to the kitchen. There’s a space in the mid­dle for basil. Which I’ll put in when I get the toma­toes lat­er in June.

herb bed

We did the wall around the bird bath bed last week­end. Once up on a time there were some 40 or 50 tulips in this bed. Five years lat­er we got a poor show­ing of three blooms. Tulips just don’t last.

birdbath bed

The only thing that stayed in this bed are the peonies. Most­ly it’s peren­ni­als, cro­cisi­ma, ox-eye daisies, geums, and the like. The lit­tle tri­an­gle in the front has a few annu­als. Cal­en­du­la for col­or and stocks for fra­grance. Usu­al­ly I put nico­tiana in the front of the house but this year I’m try­ing stocks.

bird bath bed

BTW the word­press dic­tio­nary is woe­ful­ly igno­rant of plant names.

Clever Packaging

On my way back to my inter­rupt­ed vaca­tion in Oax­a­ca I had the chance to upgrade my DFW to MEX flight to busi­ness class. I *love* busi­ness class. The only thing bet­ter than the leg room is the refuge from the “cheap as we can make it” ethos of coach. Includ­ing this love­ly lit­tle bit of pack­ag­ing that arrived with my sal­ad.

Sit­ting on the side of the (place mat cov­ered, of course) tray was this lit­tle gem.

a sweet little package for salt and pepper

a sweet lit­tle pack­age for salt and pep­per

Pulling at the cutout in the top reveals:

sliding the inner package out

slid­ing the inner pack­age out

Com­plete­ly dis­as­sem­bled the actu­al con­tain­er is obvi­ous­ly noth­ing spe­cial. It’s the sleeve that makes it more.

package disassembled

pack­age dis­as­sem­bled

Note that the man­u­fac­tur­er has also made it very easy to cre­ate these for any­one. Any name or logo can be print­ed on the sleeves. Some clever things could be done with the cutouts for the words and at the top as well.

Oh, and the oth­er thing that rocks Amer­i­can Air­lines busi­ness class — hot roast­ed nuts.


so the oth­er day as i was look­ing through some of the thou­sands of fold­ers of pho­tos we have i found this one.

other than the catchy rhyme it's a lousy sign

sign on the fer­ry

oth­er than the catchy rhyme it’s a lousy sign.

i just want to know who they (the peo­ple who designed the sign) think is going to under­stand that this is where you should go if you need to get into the lifeboat?

WIP — Pierced Copper for JM1 Class.

I’m tak­ing Jew­el­ry and Met­al­smithing 1 at the Pratt Fine Arts Cen­ter.

Our first project is a ring. The top is made of a piece of pierced cop­per sol­dered to a half dome. Below are pic­tures of the two tops that I made last week. The pat­tern is gluesd on with rub­ber cement and then holes are drilled in the cop­per so that you can thread a jewelr’s saw through it and make the cuts.

The first ones didn’t quite work­out. The rays on the start just wouldn’t stay straight. More prac­tice is clear­ly the answer.

moon and stars pierced copper

moon and stars pierced cop­per

The sec­ond piece worked nice­ly.

tree design pattern

tree design pat­tern

The cir­cle on the front shows where the half dome will be sol­dered on.

From the top it will look like this.

the front

the front

More next week when I make the dome and learn how to sol­der things that aren’t car­ry­ing elec­tric­i­ty.

WIP — Pierced Copper Ring

Progress has been made on the ring.

A flat piece of cop­per was ham­mered and then cut into a cir­cle.
That cir­cle was dapped into a dome shape.
The the tree bit was sol­dered onto the domed bit, mak­ing a hol­low orna­ment
A chunk of 12 gauge half round ster­ling wire was made into a ring band.
The top was then sodlered to the ring band and… voila …

the front of the ring

the front of the ring

ring face soldered onto the ring band

ring face sol­dered onto the ring band

ring from the side

ring from the side

I hap­pen to be pret­ty dang proud of my first “real” sol­der­ing project.

Next up the fin­ish­ing. In the end the top of the ring will be black and the band will be satin fin­ished sil­ver.

It’s a Big Dam Country — Day 23

From Minot, ND to Glas­gow, MT. Cool, over­cast. It didn’t actu­al­ly rain but it was very threat­en­ing.

Hwy 2 is often an inter­est­ing road in that it varies between two-lane and new­ly divid­ed four-lane. This occa­sion­al­ly leads to con­fus­ing lane strip­ing on the por­tion that used to be two-lane.

that bit between the two yellow lines is the left hand west-bound lane.

that bit between the two yel­low lines is the left hand west-bound lane.

I stopped at the Wal-Mart in Willis­ton. Couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent from the W-Ms near home if they tried to be. Huge, wide aisles, well lit, well signed, *clean*. Replen­ished some sup­plies and head­ed back out. Head turn­er on the way out of the park­ing lot. You’ll notice that the Wal-Mart Logo is nowhere near the sign that says Liquor.

tires, groceries, lawn furniture, and tequila

tires, gro­ceries, lawn fur­ni­ture, and tequi­la

Along the road there are lots of these lit­tle oil pumps slow­ly mov­ing up and down. Hyp­not­ic.

oil for america

oil for amer­i­ca

The main attrac­tion for the day was the con­flu­ence of the Mis­souri and Yel­low­stone rivers. Unlike that oth­er con­flu­ence I tried to see this one is open and invit­ing. The North Dako­ta His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety main­tains an inter­pre­tive cen­ter that sits in the mid­dle of a wet­land wild-life refuge.

The Yel­low­stone Riv­er is the longest un-dammed riv­er in the con­tigu­ous Untied States.

missouri on the far left, yellowstone on the mid left, wetlands on the right

mis­souri on the far left, yel­low­stone on the mid left, wet­lands on the right

The coolest part of the vis­it was eat­ing lunch in the com­pa­ny of 20 or so Goldfinch­es. The cen­ter puts out feed­ers and keeps them well stocked.

two fellows and a lady dining

two fel­lows and a lady din­ing

waiting his turn

wait­ing his turn

This lit­tle guy is not a goldfinch but he was very inter­est­ed in what I was hav­ing for lunch…

what have you got there?

what have you got there?

One more goldfinch.

thistle feeder

this­tle feed­er

Next door (sort of) is a recre­ation of the Fort Union trad­ing post. Built by the Amer­i­can Fur Com­pa­ny in 1828 it was not a mil­i­tary instal­la­tion. Trade con­tin­ued until 1866 when Fort Union was torn down and the tim­ber etc. was used to build Fort Buford. (Which was a mil­i­tary instal­la­tion.)

a place to trade furs

a place to trade furs

It looks way too much like a Dis­ney­land recre­ation to me but the orig­i­nal was white washed at the insis­tence of the man­age­ment who though it made the place more ‘impres­sive’.

There were these love­ly blue flow­ers in the park­ing lot. I have no idea what they are — except pret­ty.

blue but not bachelor buttons.

blue but not bach­e­lor but­tons.

From Fort Union I tried to get back up to Hwy 2 using 58 North. Didn’t get far before the “pave­ment ends” sign sent me back the longer way around. It wasn’t the first time I’ve ques­tioned my choice of vehi­cle. There have been a lot of local dams up 5 -10 miles of grav­el road that I have passed on. On the oth­er hand absolute com­fort at 70(nominal) with the top down is just too good to pass up.

Got a whiff of nos­tali­gia when I stopped for gas in Cul­bert­son, MT. Do you remem­ber this guy?

an old friend

an old friend

Two more quick images from the road between Cul­bert­son and Glas­gow.

This is rail­road coun­try — here’s anoth­er piece of main­te­nance equip­ment. I’m stay­ing in the largest hotel for 100+ miles around. There are two full size bus­es and 5 of the large trucks that can also run on rails used for main­te­nance-of-way
trucks. (BTW the Wikipedia link is a stub — any­one have a good links for iden­ti­fy­ing the types of vehi­cles?)

no doubt this does something very cool

no doubt this does some­thing very cool

All over the west you find hous­es that have been aban­doned. Some­times with new hous­es built right next them. This one doesn’t have any­thing near it except the range fence.

what happens when you son't fix the leaks in the roof

what hap­pens when you don’t fix the leaks in the roof

Ran­dom Stuff:

70 mph on a divid­ed four-lane is not con­ducive to stop­ping for the odd pho­to-op. 70 on a two-lane is bet­ter. 60 on a two-lane is even bet­ter and not at all hard to get away with out here. Locals are usu­al­ly dri­ving that slow­ly any­way and the rest know how to pass polite­ly.

Towns along Hwy 2 in Min­neso­ta, N. Dako­ta, and much of Mon­tana exist to house/service grain ele­va­tors and the rail­roads that trans­port the grain.

I need one of those lit­tle wifi detec­tor things. There is no cell phone data ser­vice out here — but I know that most towns have a town hall, library, school, or com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter with open wifi that my Crack­ber­ry could talk to. I just don’t have quick way of detect­ing them.

Song and Lyric of the Day:

The moments of plea­sures nev­er do last
Are gone like a suit­case full of your past

Ash­es by Now — Emmy Lou Har­ris

More sign­ers should cov­er Spring­steen songs.

The changes in the col­or of the worn asphalt make road pic­tures iden­ti­fi­able to the expe­ri­enced trav­el­er. (Ooo, rose beige — that would east­ern Mon­tana)

I have fin­ished read­ing Gruber’s Forgery of Venus (good) and begun Giaman’s Nev­er­where.

Today’s Route:

View It’s a Big Dam Coun­try — Day 23 in a larg­er map