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Basic Design Principles

28 Nov

The Non-Designer's Design BookThe four basic design principles:


I two items are not exactly the same, then make them different. Really different.

Our eyes like contrast.

Creating contrast is just fun.

Add contrast through your typeface choices, line thicknesses, colors, shapes, sizes, space, etc.

Don’t be a wimp.


Repeat some aspect of the design throughout the entire page.

Being consistent.

Create repetition to enhance the design and the clarity of the information.

Be conscious  of the value of contrast.


Nothing should be placed on the page arbitrarily. Every item should have a visual connection with something else on the page.

Avoid using more than one text alignment on the page.

Center is weak.



Group related items together.

Avoid too many separate elements on a page.



Make contrast with type, size, weight, form, structure, direction, and color.

Contrast heavy weights with light weights, not medium weights.

Warm colors come forward; cool colors recede. Experiment with the colors of black text.

Think more in terms of horizontal type versus tall, narrow columns of type, rather than type on a slant.

Caps versus lowercase is a contrast of form, as well as roman versus italic or script. Scripts and italics have similar forms-don’t combine them.

Don’t use all caps.

Never put two typefaces from the same category on the same page.

Never put two sans serif typefaces on the same page.

Combining sans serif with serif is a time-tested combination.

Name the problem, then you can create the solution. Find similarities-not the differences.




Using Tai Chi to Improve Focus, Control and Balance

29 Jun

Tai chi chuan is an internal Chinese martial art practiced for both its defense training and health benefits. It is also typically practiced for a variety of other personal reasons: its hard and soft martial art technique, demonstration competitions, and longevity. Consequently, a multitude of training forms exist, both traditional and modern, which correspond to those aims. Some of Tai Chi Chuan’s training forms are especially known for being practiced at what most people categorize as slow movement.

Tai Chi, Yoga and martial arts surprisingly improve our focus, control, balance, breathing, fitness, energy as well as our quality of life.

In “Pragmatic Thinking and Learning” book, June Kim tells the following story:

“After beginning martial arts, I recognized that my focus span (the period of time I can keep focusing on something) and control (such as getting focused in a poor environment) has improved. I have been continuously recommending my practice to software developers and other knowledge workers. It’s called Ki-Chun; it has a martial arts aspect as well as tai chi, meditation, and breathing aspects.

“I have seen a recognizable difference in a friend of mine who started the practice. In less than a month you could see the difference clearly. He told me that he could more easily concentrate and the quality of his concentration improved.”

Yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, and martial arts all affect how your brain processes information. Even something as simple as breathing in a particular manner can profoundly affect how you think.

Power of Tai Chi is unbelievable, believe it.

Database tips

28 Jun

by: Derek Sivers

Pick a program.  If you travel a lot, and have a laptop, get a program that runs on your laptop.  If you don’t have a laptop, and often use other people’s computers, use one of the many websites that let you track your contacts online.  If you need to do business away from a computer, completely, use a smart phone.

Make sure it has keywords, notes, and hopefully a conversation history.  This is the difference between an address book and a contact-manager.  A good contact manager will let you keep track of past phone calls, emails, conversations, including a date.  You may hear from someone after two years of not speaking, and be able to pull up your notes and remind yourself what happened last time you spoke.

Try to find one with reminders.  It is SO nice to punch a future date into your computer, and tell it to remind you to do something on that date.

Whichever one you choose, know it well.  Spend a few hours really getting to know it.  Then it will be effortless for years to come.

Keywords: Multiple keywords are the most important thing in your database. Every person in your address book should have a few words attached to their record like “drums, webdesign, percussion” or “agent, clubowner, songwriter”.  Some people will only have one word there, some will have a list of the 25 instruments they can play.  This comes in the most handy when you need to find “drums” in Texas, or you’re trying to remember the full name of that webdesigner named “Dave”.

Notes:  You need a big text area next to their contact info, where you can type anything you want. Type notes from your conversations. Cut-and-paste emails they’ve sent you.

Mail-merge:   Mail-merge is what they call it when you write a form letter, and it puts the person’s name in each letter, sending it separately, instead of sending everyone something that says “Dear Music Industry Professional” or “Hey everyone!”.  You can even use these on a small level.  Sometimes you need to email ten guitarists to see who wants a gig.  Mail-merge would let you easily personalize those ten emails.

What program? I don’t know.  I used to recommend some, but times change so fast, new things coming out every month, old things disappearing, so instead you’re just going to have to find one yourself

mnmlist: minimalism isn’t just for the affluent

27 Jun


There’s a criticism of voluntary simplicity or minimalism (two flavors of the same thing) that seems to be widely accepted: that it’s a luxury of relatively affluent people, that it’s not something the poor can afford to do.

I disagree: anyone can do it.

Minimalism is simply eliminating the unnecessary. And while the poor (anyone who’s not in the middle class or above) might not have the ridiculously unnecessary things that the affluent have, there are usually things that can be eliminated.

The photos of minimalist houses, desks, and Macs that you see on many minimalist sites are obviously for the affluent — they have expensive furniture, computers, gadgets, homes that aren’t affordable for many people. But that’s not a requirement of minimalism.

In fact, there isn’t a requirement for minimalism. You can invent your own version, and if you’re more worried about how to survive until the next paycheck (I’ve been there), then cutting back on the unnecessary will help you get there. Look for unnecessary expenses (like eating out, going to the movies, buying junk food snacks, or renting DVDs) and eliminate them, finding ways to have fun that are free.

Eliminating unnecessary possessions also means you’ll need a smaller home, which will save on rent and heating/cooling. Buying fewer things means less debt. Spending time with loved ones or doing things you love means you spend less. All of these things are good whether you’re wealthy or not.

It’s true that the poor are often thought of as not having the luxury of even thinking about simplifying, or minimalism. They’re too worried about putting food on the table, or where the rent is coming from, or how to avoid creditors until the next paycheck. And there’s a lot of truth in that. But it doesn’t have to be true: anyone can pause, breathe, and decide to live differently.

Anyone can make the decision to do without the unnecessary, to cut off cable TV, to consider doing without a car, to only buy what’s absolutely necessary and to rethink what’s necessary. I’ve been deep in debt, and I know the feeling of drowning with no way to get out. I got out, mostly because I cut expenses to the bone while looking for ways to increase income. Minimalism helped me to get out of debt, and to get out of poverty. It’s not just for the affluent anymore.