Following Adam Procter

Followed Adam Procter (


I'm the Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Games Design & Art and Senior Teaching Fellow at Winchester School of Art (WSA). I sometimes get the chance to make Apps, Web stuff and work as UX and UI designer, developer and consultant.

I run the research-led teaching programme BA (Hons) Games Design & Art and am responsable for the programme structure, ethos, recruitment and attainment of all students. I teach across a wide range of games subject areas in all years as well but my main teaching revolves around year 3 and the development of final projects which can be viewed here I keenly teach both the academic theory and the practical application.

"Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting." — Ivan Illich

The area I  mainly research is connected technology and edutech. I am investigating how to design tools for design education and the digtial medium via connected devices. My focus is on ethical, delightful design practice that embraces the studio culture. I am keen on open education, open practice and co-ops. This research is currently within the structure of a Webscience PhD, you can keep up to date at

Reply to The Indieweb privacy challenge (Webmentions, silo backfeeds, and the GDPR) by Sebastian Greger

Replied to The Indieweb privacy challenge (Webmentions, silo backfeeds, and the GDPR) by Sebastian GregerSebastian Greger (
Originally intended to showcase a privacy-centred implementation of emerging social web technologies – with the aim to present a solution not initially motivated by legal requirements, but as an example of privacy-aware interaction design – my “social backfeed” design process unveiled intricate challenges for Indieweb sites, both for privacy in general and legal compliance in particular.

Again Sebastian Greger has written up a well-thought-out and nuanced approach to design. Here he discusses privacy and GDPR with a wealth of research and direct personal experience in these areas. He’s definitely written something interesting which I hope sparks the beginning of a broader conversation and evaluation of our ethics.

There’s so much to think about and process here, that I’ll have to re-read and think more specifically about all the details. I hope to come back to this later to mark it up and annotate it further.

I’ve read relatively deeply about a variety of privacy issues as well as the weaponization of data and its improper use by governments and businesses to unduly influence people. For those who are unaware of this movement over the recent past, I would highly recommend Cathy O’Neil’s text Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, which provides an excellent overview with a variety of examples about how the misuse of data can be devastating not just to individuals who are broadly unaware of it, but entire segments of society.

There is a lot of publicly available data we reveal via social media and much of it one might flippantly consider “data exhaust” which has little, if any inherent value by itself. Unfortunately when used in aggregate, it can reveal striking things about us which we may either not be aware of ourselves or which  we wouldn’t want to be openly known.

My brief thought here is that much like the transition from the use of smaller arms and handguns, which can kill people in relatively small numbers, to weapons like machine guns on up to nuclear weapons, which have the ability to quickly murder hundreds to millions at a time, we will have to modify some of our social norms the way we’ve modified our “war” norms over the past century. We’ll need to modify our personal social contracts so that people can still interact with each other on a direct basis without fear of larger corporations, governments, or institutions aggregating our data, processing it, and then using it against us in ways which unduly benefit them and tremendously disadvantage us as individuals, groups, or even at the level of entire societies.

In my mind, we need to protect the social glue that holds society together and improves our lives while not allowing the mass destruction of the fabric of society by large groups based on their ability to aggregate, process, and use our own data against us.

Thank you Sebastian for kicking off a broader conversation!

Disclaimer: I’m aware that in posting this to my own site that it will trigger a tacit webmention which will ping Sebastian Greger’s website. I give him permission to display any and all data he chooses from the originating web page in perpetuity, or until such time as I send a webmention either modifying or deleting the content of the originating page. I say this all with some jest, while I am really relying on the past twenty years of general social norms built up on the internet and in general society as well as the current practices of the IndieWeb movement to govern what he does with this content.

👓 Gmail’s biggest redesign is now live | The Verge

Read Gmail’s biggest redesign is now live by Vlad Savov (The Verge)
Snoozing, nudging, hover actions, and a new sidebar — it’s a mobile app on the web!

I’ve been using gmail for about 2 years now and am curious to see what this delivers though I do have to admit I’m itching to going back to my old methods of owning may own email and data.

Master View template

Filed an Issue IndieWeb Post Kinds (GitHub)
Adds support for responding to and interacting with other sites using the standards developed by the Indieweb Community

For ease-of-use as well as to help designers, theme builders, and maybe even Gen2 it might be useful to have a “master template” for views which includes all of the output of the data fields within Post Kinds in a single view.

If done in a relatively modular fashion with good commenting, perhaps even Gen2 folks could more easily delete or move pieces within such a master template to mash up various pieces to get what they’d like to display. Including alternate versions for displaying things could be useful as well (eg: raw display of things like start time and end time as well as a separate calculated duration time based on these two.)

👓 Why Are Newspaper Websites So Horrible? | City Lab

Read Why Are Newspaper Websites So Horrible? by Andrew Zaleski (CityLab)
Blame Google, for a start.

Nothing great or new here. Also no real solutions, though knowing some of the history and the problems, does help suggest possible solutions.

h/t to @ajzaleski, bookmarked on April 19, 2018 at 01:17PM

📕 Read pages 220-356 of Just My Type: A Book about Fonts by Simon Garfield

📖 Read pages 220-356 of Just My Type: A Book about Fonts by Simon Garfield (Gotham Books, , ISBN: 978-1592406524)

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

Chapter 16: Pirates and Clones

But type designers were more like apple growers cultivating unique fruit without protective fences; whenever someone stole them, they could argue that apples were the result of the sun and rain and God’s own fair intervention.

Highlight (yellow) – 16. Pirates and Clones > Page 227

Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 morning

… and font-editing software such as Fontographer.

Highlight (yellow) – 16. Pirates and Clones > Page 228

Might be worth playing around with this program?
Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 morning

A recent example concerned Segoe, created by Monotype and licensed to Microsoft, which bears a close relationship to Frutiger. Their common usage is different (Segoe for screen display at small sizes, Frutiger for signage), …

Highlight (yellow) – 16. Pirates and Clones > Page 229

Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 morning

Chapter 17: The Clamour from the Past

There are hundreds of small presses in the Uk, Europe and the United States. One of the newest is White’s Books, which in the spring of 2010 had just eight titles in its list, …

Highlight (yellow) – 17. The Clamour from the Past > Page 246

I’m curious to look at some of these.
Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 morning

Your choice may often come down to “Has it got a small caps italic?” So few of them do.

Highlight (yellow) – 17. The Clamour from the Past > Page 250

Ha! I have in fact actually made this very decision before.
Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 morning

There is another rare feature that places his [White’s] books among the remnants of a type museum–the setting of a catchword at the bottom of the right-hand page.

Highlight (yellow) – 17. The Clamour from the Past > Page 250

I did always appreciate this vestige of publishing.
Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 morning


Sabon was developed in the early 1960s for a group of German printers who were grumbling about the lack of a ‘harmonized’ or uniform font that would look the same whether set by hand or on a Monotype or Linotype machine. They were quite specific about the sort of font that might fit the bill, rejecting the modern and fashionable in favour of solid sixteenth-century tradition–something modeled on Garamond and Granjon. They also wanted the new font to be five percent narrower than their existing Monotype Garamond, in order to save space and money.

Highlight (yellow) – Sabon > Page 251

Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 morning

Chapter 18: Breaking the Rules

Here are the rules as [Paul] Felton considers God intended them:

  1. Thou shalt not apply more than three typefaces in a document.
  2. Thou shalt lay headlines large and at the top of the page.
  3. Thou shalt employ no other type size than 8pt to 10pt for body copy.
  4. Remember that a typeface that is not legible is not truly a typeface.
  5. Honour thy kerning, so that white space becomes visually equalized between characters.
  6. Thou shalt lay stress discreetly upon elements within text.
  7. Thou shalt not use only capitals when setting vast body copy.
  8. Thou shalt always align letters and words on a baseline.
  9. Thou shalt use flush-left, ragged-right type alignment.
  10. Thou shalt not make lines too short or too long.
Highlight (yellow) – 18. Breaking the Rules > Page 255-256

Quick synopsis of Felton’s book The Ten Commandments of Typography / Type Heresy
Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 morning

Or this observation on digital type from the design critic Paul Hayden Duensing: ‘Digitizing [the seventeenth-century typeface] Janson is like playing Bach on synthesizer.’

Highlight (yellow) – 18. Breaking the Rules > Page 258

Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 morning

… type was like painting and architecture: an elitism prevailed, and what you produced was only half the story, and what you said about it counted just as much.

Highlight (yellow) – 18. Breaking the Rules > Page 259

Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 morning

But he [Sebastian Carter] also championed the not-such-a-great-job, the pieces of design and printing that didn’t turn out to be beautiful or clear, merely interesting. He illustrated his talk with some items that were ‘pretty cruddy’, and suggested that these too had a place in our world. ‘I would not want to live in a world of exclusively good design at the bus-ticket level,’ he said.

Highlight (yellow) – 18. Breaking the Rules > Page 261

delivered mid-October 2004 Beatrice Warde Memorial Lecture at the St. Bride Institute
Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 morning

Thus armed, ‘the designers of tomorrow will not look back; we give them the chance to fail abjectly and completely; they’re all in the typographic gutter and some of them are looking at their scars.’ The result, of course, would bring forth more failure, but also types of originality and brilliance.

Highlight (yellow) – 18. Breaking the Rules > Page 262

This sounds to me like statistical mechanics at work in design. Many will be in the median, some will be three signma out and either be truly great or out of the game altogether. The question is how to encourage more at the higher end, knowing that evolution is a very strong selector. In fact what does the distribution over a few generations look like with evolution in play? How strong is it?
Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 morning


Highlight (gray) – 18. Breaking the Rules > Page 265

Why wasn’t this used in it’s actual face like the other examples? Was it not available? Or too expensive for one word?
Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 morning

‘Where is the language of protest now?’ he asks. ‘We have been led to believe that culture was only there as a financial opportunity.’

Highlight (yellow) – 18. Breaking the Rules > Page 265

Quote from Neville Brody
Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 morning

The key, Brody said, in a strange echo of Morison, was ‘to change a newspaper entirely, but to make sure no one noticed. […] When we first showed it to focus groups they didn’t notice it had changed, but when we told them it had changed, they hated it.’

Highlight (yellow) – 18. Breaking the Rules > Page 266

Sounds like America’s racial culture in the last 60 years. The question is did they hate it because they’d been lied to and it was a psychological effect after-the-fact when they obviously otherwise didn’t know?
Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 morning

Buffalo and Popaganda

Highlight (gray) – 18. Breaking the Rules > Page 267

again, no exemplars of these faces
Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 morning

The Interrobang

the @ […] may be almost as old as the ampersand. It had been associated with trade for many centuries, known as amphora or jar, a unit of measurement. Most countries have their own term for it, often linked to food (in Hebrew it is shtrudl, meaning strudel, in Czech it is zavinac or rollmop herring) or to cute animals (Affenschwanz or monkey’s tail in German, snabel-a, meaning “the letter a, with a trunk,” in Danish, sobaka or dog in Russian), or to both (escargot in French).

Highlight (yellow) – Interrobang > Page 269

Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 evening

Chapter 19: The Serif of Liverpool

… and we were sucha funny family, a little bit Alan Bennett.

Highlight (yellow) – 19. The Serif of Liverpool > Page 271

Who is Bennett? Curious cultural reference that doesn’t play in the US…
Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 evening

Chapter 20: Fox, Gloves

Rather than ten letters of each new typeface showing in Handgloves and the rest of the alphabet shown beneath it, each font now comes with words unique to its character, style and possible use.

Highlight (yellow) – 20. Fox, Gloves > Page 291

Kind of similar to the quirkiness of paint chip color names, somewhat useful, but meant to help sales too…
Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 evening

Coles introduced me to Chris Hamamoto, who had a long list of Handgloves alternatives on his computer. Anyone in the office could add to it,
butthere were certain guidelines:

The key letters, in order of importance, are: g, a, s, e. Then there is: l, o, I. And of lesser importance but still helpful: d (or b), h, m (or n), u, v.

Verbs or generic nouns are preferable because they don’t describe the font (like adjectives) or confuse the sample word with a font name (like proper nouns).

Avoid tandem repeating letters unless showing off alternatives.

Use one word, as spaces can get too large and distracting at display sizes.

Highlight (yellow) – 19. The Serif of Liverpool > Page 293

This could actually be a rather interesting information theory problem.
Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 evening

Chapter 21: The Worst Fonts in the World

‘Real men don’t set Souvenir,’ wrote the type scholar Frank Romano in the early 1990’s, […] ‘Souvenir is a font fatale … We could send Souvenir to Mars, but there are international treaties on pollution in outer space … remember, friends don’t let friends set Souvenir,’

Highlight (yellow) – 21. The Worst Fonts in the World > Page 301-302

Souvenir bold evokes 1970’s porn and Souvenir Light evokes the Love Story movie poster, romance novels, and maybe the poster for Flowers in the Attic for me.
Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 evening

Chapter 22: Just My Type

… you can fire up one of a number of software programs — TypeTool, FontLab Studio and Fontographer are the most popular — and begin your quest.

Highlight (yellow) – 22. Just My Type > Page 320

I want to look at how these work.
Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 evening

He [Mathew Carter] replied, ‘Some aspects get easier. But if you’re doing a good job you should feel that it gets harder. If you think it’s getting easier, you ought to look out. I think it means you’re getting lazy.’

Highlight (yellow) – 22. Just My Type > Page 321

Carter on whether computers have made the life of a type designer any easier.
Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 evening

In 1968 the influential graphic design review The Penrose Annual asked exactly the same things: ‘Aren’t we done yet? Why do we need all these new fonts such as … Helvetica?’
The answer, than and now, is the same. Because the world and its contents are continually changing. We need to express ourselves in new ways.

Highlight (yellow) – 22. Just My Type > Page 322

Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 evening

‘There are only thirty-two notes on a tenor saxophone, and surely to god they’ve all been played by now.’

Highlight (yellow) – 22. Just My Type > Page 322-323

Matthew Carter on Why New Typefaces?
Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 evening

… there is a lavish app called TypeDrawing, which takes even the plainest fonts to exciting new heights; it may be the tool that teaches children about type–the modern version of the John Bull printing kit.

Highlight (yellow) – 22. Just My Type > Page 323-324

Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 evening

…a set of Type Trumps–the designer’s version of the kids’ card game, with each font card rated for legibility, weight and special power.

Highlight (yellow) – 22. Just My Type > Page 324

an interesting set of “trading cards”
Added on Sunday, December 31, 2017 evening

Guide to highlight colors

Yellow–general highlights and highlights which don’t fit under another category below
Orange–Vocabulary word; interesting and/or rare word
Green–Reference to read
Blue–Interesting Quote
Gray–Typography Problem
Red–Example to work through

👓 A Simple Design Flaw Makes It Astoundingly Easy To Hack Siri And Alexa | FastCo Design

Read A Simple Design Flaw Makes It Astoundingly Easy To Hack Siri And Alexa (Fast Company)
Hackers can take control of the world’s most popular voice assistants by whispering to them in frequencies humans can’t hear.



👓 How the design firm behind the Xbox built the bike of the future | The Verge

Read How the design firm behind the Xbox built the bike of the future by David Pierce (The Verge)
"We wanted you to be able to take the bike and go with how the city moves." Teague was enlisted to design a new kind of bike by Oregon Manifest, a non-profit dedicated to making the world think differently about bikes. Its Bike Design Project gave firms in five cities the opportunity to build a bike made with their city in mind; the public then voted on the winner, which will enter a limited production run from Fuji Bikes. The New York City bike had a USB phone charger built in; The Evo, from San Francisco, was all about modular storage. Chicago's Blackline bike was a rugged pothole-conquerer of a bike, and Portland's PDX came with an app to personalize the ride just for you. For every different city, a different bike. But the voters picked Seattle. They picked Denny, the bike Jackson and the team at Teague designed with Sizemore Bicycles, a custom-bike maker in the city.

❤️ Nick Jones – Interface Prototyper / Designer |

Liked Nick Jones - Interface Prototyper / Designer by Jeremy Keith (
A really interesting and well-executed portfolio site, utterly let down by the tone of this demeaning and insulting piece of copy: WARNING: Do not proceed if you suffer from vertigo or if you find experimental interfaces offensive. (Pssst: copy is also interface.)

Chris Aldrich is reading “Aggressive design caused Samsung Galaxy Note 7 battery explosions”

Read Aggressive design caused Samsung Galaxy Note 7 battery explosions (Instrumental)
In September, the first reports of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 batteries exploding hit social media.  At first, Samsung identified the issue as one relating to the lithium polymer battery manufacturing process by Samsung SDI, where too much tension was used in manufacturing, and offered to repair affected phones.  But several weeks later, some of the batteries in those replacement units also exploded once they were in the hands of customers -- causing Samsung to make the bold decision to not only recall everything, but to cancel the entire product line. This is every battery engineer’s nightmare. As hardware engineers ourselves, Sam and I followed the story closely.  If it was only a battery part issue and could have been salvaged by a re-spin of the battery, why cancel the product line and cede several quarters of revenue to competitors?  We believe that there was more in play: that there was a fundamental problem with the design of the phone itself.

Machinery embedded in the masonry

Machinery embedded in the masonry

Instagram filter used: Amaro

Photo taken at: Dunsmore Park

Ceiling with great lighting hardware #design #architecture

#design " srcset=" 1080w, 150w, 300w, 768w, 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 709px) 85vw, (max-width: 909px) 67vw, (max-width: 1362px) 62vw, 840px" />

Instagram filter used: Rise

Photo taken at: Macy’s

A Modest Proposal for Engineering Better and Faster Fast Food Consumption

"Yipee-ki-yay Mother French Fry!" How a simple fast food staple can help save the American economy.

Fast Food in America

America is well known for its fast food culture. So well known, in fact, that it may only be second to its best-in-class health care, phenomenal education system, and overall can-do attitude. Rarely does a day go by without one seeing or hearing a few disparaging words from the mainstream media about what we choose to put into our mouths and whether those items become lodged permanently in some cases. A Google search begun with the first letters “ob…” immediately has Google guessing what we want and prompts a potential search not just for “obesity” but for the very specific phrase “obesity in America”§ and the resultant search displays just under 73 million results in about half a second.

Our obsession with fast food is legendary. Books are written about the subject, movies are made, and we support a multi-billion dollar fast food industry. But how much time do we individually spend really thinking about what we’re doing? The answer hinges on one of our favorite pastimes and is one in which the root of our obesity problem sprouts: “laziness.” (For those incapable of doing the work of thinking for themselves and who just want the quick answer to the previous question given to them, it’s: “none”.)

“Americanizing” your Fast Food Experience with Some Simple Engineering

Given that we love our fast food so much that we can’t even be bothered with thinking about it for a few minutes (otherwise how does a book entitled Wheat Belly become a best seller and major fad?), I’m always surprised that the simple engineering concept which follows isn’t more widely known. If it were, it would be right at home in our gourmand, “have-it-your-way, right-away” culture.

The simple idea follows:

In some fast food restaurants (think Burger King and In-n-Out), instead of (or in addition to) the ubiquitous ketchup packet, they allow you to fill your own container with the condiment of your choice.  But what container do they provide you with? Obviously, in keeping with the assembly line beauty and grace of our ultra-modern food manufacturing empire and our disposable home furnishings industry, it’s something simple, something very cheap, and something immediately disposable: the small paper cup! (Even legal departments could get behind this one – as long as the industry wasn’t putting any hot beverages into it, and, in part, because the patent protection had expired.)

Standard empty ketchup condiment container on left juxtaposed with same container full of ketchup on the right hand side.

But it’s no ordinary paper cup! It’s an honest-to-goodness feat of American ingenuity and engineering design! (At least from a time when America had those things – you remember… way back before we gave them up for the improved qualities like laziness and obesity. And everyone knows the American engineering motto: “Quality is Job #1!”)

Standard ketchup condiment container "spread out" on left juxtaposed with modified container full of ketchup on the right hand side.
A feat of American ingenuity! (Who cares if these are called souffle cups?)

This high quality paper cup has pleats! And with a small bit of pulling around the edges of the cup, it opens right up – or “blooms” if you will.

In this process, the top edge of the cup comes down just a tad, but in exchange, the sides expand out toward the horizon in glorious near-infinite beauty. This simple effect allows one to put a significantly larger quantity of ketchup into it–particularly because the ketchup has such a high viscosity! (While I’m thinking about it has anyone considered liquefying ketchup so we could just drink it out of our big gulp cups? Maybe a French fry shake with ketchup blended in to make things easier all around?)

The Benefits of our Engineering Trick

“But it takes so much time and energy to expand out the sides of my cheap paper cup! Why should I bother?”

I know many of you are asking yourself this question because in a rapidly evolving and improving society it’s often the dichotomy of American life to maintain the status quo.  This simple expansion procedure allows you the following clear benefits:

  • You can put a lot more ketchup onto your plate and therefore ultimately into your gullet. Besides, everyone in America knows “Bigger is Better!” right? Why fill up two or three of these small cups, when one big expanded one will do? Or better yet, three big ones! (Let’s not forget our gourmand cultural heritage.)
  • It makes it easier to carry a  lot more ketchup in fewer trips from the condiment bar to your table. American pride in concepts like capitalism and increased efficiency at all costs dictates that we take fewer trips. The reduced amount of exercise is also a positive side-benefit here.
  • It makes ketchup easier to share. (I know this sharing concept is antithetical to the current American ethos, but maybe someone from one of those poor countries outside of America might be reading this? Maybe it’s a strong enough idea to quell the strife in Ukraine right now?)  No more approaching the cup at excessively steep angles to get your fries into it.  Now you can approach from a lower angle with your fat fist-full-of-fries and still hit your target.
  • Not only can you now dunk your fries, but you can actually dunk your majestic hamburger! Why waste time trying to open up that ketchup packet and squeeze some on while you’re making the effort to balance your heavy burger in your other hand? Just smash it into the ketchup and then smash it into your face! “Yipee-ki-yay Mother French Fry!”
  • Those suffering from diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts no longer have to worry about being able to get their French fry into such a tiny paper cup anymore, the size of the target is now bigger by almost an order of magnitude.
  • Use of these paper cups helps to support the American paper goods industry which churns out highly recyclable products which also have the benefit of being Green and therefore unquestioningly good for the environment. No one knows what those alternate ketchup packets are manufactured from or if they’re recyclable or not. Some fabricated laboratory studies indicate some of those packets may have heavy metals in them, which we all know are mined/sourced primarily in China.
  • And perhaps best of all, in the true spirit of America largess – there’s huge return for a very little effort! Everyone is looking for a get-rich-quick-scheme which doesn’t involve actual work, right? This is the closest you’re likely to come to it, and my friends who know a thing or two about the second law of thermodynamics agree. In fact, it might even qualify for the ethereal and long-fabled “free lunch” because, hey, most restaurants aren’t going to charge you for condiments are they?

Ketchup and the Economy

I have a deep, abiding suspicion that far too many Americans haven’t been taking advantage of these pleats in their condiment cups, and that, in fact, the marginal utility lost in manufacturing the extra unused paper when this isn’t done is very likely the root cause of the world economic crisis which began in 2008. The plummeting American efficiency numbers just weighed too heavily on our economy, but that’s a longer and more analytical story than I have space or phony facts to back up with here. (If you’re a talking head political pundit on a major cable news network, call my publicist and let’s talk.) Needless to say, if we can work this simple trick into the second grade core curriculum, I think our long term efficiency numbers will perk up and the savings realized could mean saving the beleaguered Social Security program until at least 2079.

Standard ketchup condiment container on left juxtaposed with modified container full of ketchup on the right hand side.
Super Size Me!


§ Obamacare was a close second.

† I was too busy lounging on my couch watching Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on TV and eating a bag of Doritos and Twizzlers to come up with other examples like Supersize Me.

♦ Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan admits almost as much in his book The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature, and the Future of Forecasting (Penguin Press, 2013) where he indicates real estate as a leading cause of the downturn. Each of these condiment cups has a square inch of space hiding in its pleats and when multiplied over tens of thousands of cups per fast food location multiplied by thousands of fast food locations in any given year it becomes a lot of real estate rapidly, and the effect can become crippling.

‡ This also reminds me of a treatise I was reading last week called a Modest Proposal written by a political hack/wannabe writer named Swift. It wasn’t the sharpest thing I’ve heard recently, but with a few tweaks, I think his idea could make a huge dent in third world hunger and poverty and speed us along towards the goal of realizing Soylent Green in the marketplace.

Tool Review: Timbuk2 Command Messenger Bag

Overview: Simply the best messenger bag out there

5out of 5

Pros: Delightful To Use, Roomy , Excellent Design and Engineering,  Napoleon Pocket, Lightweight , Great Strap Length, High Quality, Attractive, Great Craftsmanship, Comfortable , Durable

Best Uses: Commuting, School, Office, Day Trips, Computer Laptop, Airplane travel

Timbuk2 Command Messenger Bag

I spent quite a while (months/years) looking at almost every messenger bag in existence (and even contemplated designing my own) for my mobile office and for weekly trips to study abstract mathematics at UCLA. I’ve been through dozens of bags (including one that could only charitably have been called a “murse”) and had problems with all of them – particularly shoulder and neck problems from carrying around so much weight. The Timbuk2 Command messenger bag ($139, medium, black) seems to have remedied all of that. My neck and shoulder pains have gone away because this bag is simply so comfortable it feels like I’m carrying half the load that I used to.

The two length adjustment mechanisms on the shoulder strap of this bag should be a requirement for every bag on the planet. I simply don’t know how I managed without them for all this time and now I can never go back. One makes it dead simple to take the bag on and off and the other allows for additional easy length change – the combination makes the bag wear incredibly comfortably.

As an engineer I can readily appreciate some of the very subtle design and manufacturing elements that truly make this bag a wonder. It’s not only functional and sturdy, but it’s both beautiful inside and out. Timbuk2 has certainly put some serious thought into how to make a bag. In particular the velcro strips at the top of the the flap to keep water out, the Napoleon pocket (so one doesn’t have to completely open the bag to retrieve frequently used items), the plastic strips sewn into the lining to provide additional internal structural support, and an ingenious custom pocket at the bottom of the bag for my cables and computer power brick are simply genius.

My only minor caveats about the bag are:

Although there are quite a number of great and useful pockets, I could do with maybe half a dozen more for daily use to keep either small items (I carry my desk in my bag) or organizing additional papers from floating around inside the bag. One can’t really fault Timbuk2 for this as it’s personal preference on my part and I haven’t seen any other bags on the market with a better designed grouping of pocket spaces for such things.

Having a slightly larger water bottle carrier on the outside of the bag would also be excellent, but it’s nearly perfect for my Zojirushi stainless steel thermos and most small (<16 ounce) plastic water bottles. I’ll mention that one of Timbuk2’s line of Classic messenger bags includes internal water bottle pockets for those that desire something like this — or who need full waterproof interiors. The Command bag is roomy enough that I’ve also contemplated using a Camelback-type of fluid reservoir and drinking tube inside for longer day-trips.

As a comparison, the next closest high quality bag I’ve seen in my research is Tumi’s Alpha Bravo Benning Deluxe Messenger Bag ($275). It rates incredibly high for design and beauty, but slightly lower on the functionality scale (which still makes it one of the top 0.1% of bags on the market in my mind, so if you’ve got the money, it’s definitely worth it).  It’s almost twice the price and though it’s got equivalent design touches and is made from some equivalently excellent materials with fantastic craftsmanship, it is missing some of the more interesting engineering touches including the engineering work on the shoulder strap.

Timbuk2 Command Messenger Bag Open

Tool Review: Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug

Designer/Artist William Morris once said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” My Zojirushi stainless steel mug is one of the few things I’ve ever owned that I feel truly meets both of these criteria.

The design, materials, manufacturing and workmanship of the mug are nothing short of outstanding; the aesthetics and heft in the hand are truly fantastic. I really could not want for more out of such a product. I love looking at it, I love holding it, and I love using it.

I hope one day to come back and write a review worthy of how truly great this travel mug is, but for now, suffice it to say that I’m in love. I spent a LOT of time reading reviews on Amazon and elsewhere, and searching stores and vendors to find the best thermos/mug on the planet and settled on this one. Not only is it easy and intuitive to take completely apart and wash thoroughly (too many I’ve come across are impossible to take apart and clean properly, if at all), but it seals completely and doesn’t spill.

Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug

Even better it keeps my beverages piping hot or cold for far longer than I wish it would. There have been days that I’ve filled it with hot coffee or tea and come back several times to drink it hoping that it had cooled a bit only to find it still too hot to consume. After several rounds with this over an eight hour span, I finally opened it up and put in some ice so I could finally drink my coffee. Now I often just leave the cap open (or off) to let it cool a bit more quickly, although even this is a fairly slow process. Now I try to put my beverages in at the temperature I want to drink them knowing that that’s generally the temperature they’ll be when I get around to drinking them.

I love the fact that the cap is designed with a two stage opening mechanism (which probably won’t be noticed by most users because it’s so subtle). One pushes the button and the top opens just a few millimeters. Then letting go of the button allows the top to spring back and click neatly into place so that it doesn’t fall forward and bonk one on the nose when attempting to take a drink.

When I first came across it, I will admit I was a bit reticent at it’s relatively high price (particularly in comparison with cheaper mugs on the market, many of which I’ve tried and been highly disappointed with), but the Zojirushi is certainly worth ever penny; I would not hesitate for a moment to buy more of these.

As a small aside, I will mention that due to physics and the design of the mug that it can occasionally leak a bit when filled with carbonated beverages and then shaken. Doing this creates additional interior pressure that pushes up the internal seal mechanism on the cap that allows a small amount of liquid to escape. Beyond this small category of fluids, which I infrequently use with the mug (and I’m sure others probably won’t either), it has been absolutely airtight and worry-free.

Rating 5 out of 5 stars.

Review by Chris Aldrich