December 2006

Another classic success where a physical product is created by the customers of the product. Slim devices  products are built by customers as well as employees and each of the customer has access to the complete firmware of the product. Its a fascinating tale of a company which pulled off a linux story on a physical product. Here are the numbers :

Slim Devices will bring in around $10 million in revenue this year. Its
fans include music stars Herbie Hancock and Alanis Morissette. And its
latest product, released last September, the higher-end $2,000
Transporter, has reaped three times the expected orders.

Link : Slim Devices – Open Source – Technology

Mb_1Monkey Business is a lively and funny account of the investment banking world from 2 insiders John Rolfe and Peter Troop who have managed to survive a few years in the industry . The book is written in first person where each of the authors give a detailed account of their ibanking experience. The experiences revolve around author’s summer internship, full time work, pitch book preparation , compensation , work environment  etc.The best thing about the book is the honest and witty style employed through out the book. We usually get to read about the long working hours, high pay packets but not the nature of work, the work environment, fringe benefits reality against the hype that is generally associated with ibank jobs.

I got to read all about the media ignored part of this glamorous profession from this book. One definitely gets a feel from the book that sell-side of the business is a hyped profession from all of the investment professions.

NondesignerToday was design day . I had made up my mind to spend the entire day on understanding the elements of Design. Picked up a book titled " The Non – Designer’s Design Book"  by Robin Williams. Had heard a lot about this book from various sources and hence plunged in to it, considering that it is the best book available or visual novice.

The book starts with a basic premise that once you name something, you are conscious of it, you can control it and you have power over it. Though the author tends to relate the above premise to the understanding of typography and design, the premise holds good for any aspect of our lives..Anyway that makes for another post someday.

Coming back to the book,

The first part of the book made me realize that there are 4 basic principles of any good design:

Proximity : Items relating to each other should be grouped close to each other. When several items are in a close proximity, they become one visual unit rather than several separate units.

Repetition: Repeat visual elements of design through out the piece. You can repeat colors, shapes, textures, spatial relationships, line thicknesses, fonts, sizes, graphic contents etc

Alignment: Nothing should be placed on the page arbitrarily. Every element should have some visual connection with another element on the page. This creates a clean , sophisticated fresh look

Contrast :  The idea behind contrast is to avoid elements on the page that are merely similar. If the elements are not the same, them make them different. Contrast is often the most important visual attraction on a page.

The second part of the book deals with typeface / font

There are six types of font :Old Style, Modern ,Slab Serif ,Sans Serif ,Script , Decorative

The book gives a nice insight in to what differentiates one font from another and also goes to a great length to emphasize on the relative usages of the fonts in various situations. Using Size, Weight, Structure, Form, Direction and Color of the fonts, the author gives a wide range of interesting examples to present content.

The book can be quickly read and digested with in a couple of hours. However, the difficult part is in the application of the concepts in our daily lives, like presentations in our work , sending formal communication to others, creating letterheads, envelopes, developing websites etc.

The book definitely serves as a quick reference for a lot of nuances one must take in to consideration while designing stuff.

One thing is for sure, I will never look at a newspaper articles/ ads / magazine / flyers in the same way as I used to do earlier. The basic principles of design will always make me look at the various elements in the content and the ways in which the design principles were applied / misapplied.