The Camels Are Coming

by peter clark

product designer

Read this first

Socks

I hate pairing socks. No other article of clothing requires this level of attention whilst doing laundry, and they’re just socks. It takes more time to pair socks than to fold your shirts!

A few years ago I threw all my socks out, and bought three dozen pairs of Uniqlo socks. I opted for the grey since black socks often look harsh (and black and brown usually looks bad) and there are no other colours that are acceptable for socks.

Since then, I haven’t needed to worry about pairing socks since they’re all the same. But apparently – apparently – Silicon Valley loves “fashionable” socks:

In a land where the uniform — jeans, hoodies and flip-flops — is purposefully nonchalant, and where no one would be caught dead in a tie, wearing flashy socks is more than an expression of your personality. It signals that you are part of the in crowd. It’s like a secret...

Continue reading →


The lack of design of essentials.io

I wanted to design a surprisingly simple experience. To push the user towards action in the least exhausting way possible.

I ended up removing the concept of registration and signing in. Facebook Connect is a jarring experience, and one that I only like when it saves me considerable time. The sign up flows thusly: upload a photograph, enter your email address.

In previous iterations I had referred to the photograph as an “image” – calling it a photograph, whilst habitually annoying, made the entire thing feel more tight.

After this, you’re live. You’re redirected to the private (annotating) url, where you can explain your photograph through annotations. This url is also emailed to you, but the delightful thing is that if in the future you wish to amend your essentials, your web browser will autocomplete the url.

One thing you probably won’t notice is...

Continue reading →


More like 2 Fact Authentication

I was shocked to recently discover that even iCloud/MobileMe has 2 factor authentication support. I think that almost every major internet service I use now supports it, which is great.

I do however hate the tokens that I have to copy from my iPhone onto my computer. 6696520. I had two ideas – I should note that I know very little about cryptography and have only in the past month switched to 1Password – on how the user experience might be improved:

Firstly, what if instead of having to type a number it was a dictionary word followed by a short integer:

  • bicycle45
  • shed37
  • portugal91
  • cat19

These feel vastly easier to type than the lengthy integer that Authy provides me with. Having to glance twice at my phone because I am not truely paying attention to what the number says can really slow the login process down, especially if I am using my phone and I only get the iOS banner...

Continue reading →


Wanted: lamp beta testers

I am looking for people that have the same lighting situation as me: you have a room, with no primary light, but a socket, which is connected to a light switch on the wall.

The idea, obviously, is that you connect a lamp to that socket and then you can switch the lamp on from the light switch. This falls down though depending on how you lay out your room – often you’d have to have a light cord traverse a skirting board wall until the lamp is located in a satisfactory position.

My relevant light socket for example, is approx 8 feet from the corner of the room. I have to have an ugly cord from the centre of the room to the corner.

Anyway, I have a draft solution lamp design and I am looking for people that want to beta test it with me. Essentially, it is a lamp that is connected to the wall through the socket. It doesn’t touch the floor nor does it require attachments into...

Continue reading →


All is Lost

All is Lost is a nautical survival movie whose script is a scant 31 pages, starring – only – Robert Redford and directed by J. C. Chandor.

Have you ever been at sea, and looked in all directions you simply see the horizon and nothing else? It is an awesome sensation, and, I imagine, a terrifying sensation if you happen to be in the midst of the crisis whilst you look around.

Our Man is sailing around the Indian Ocean and wakes up one morning to the unfamiliar site of a container protruding into the hull of his 39 foot boat.

Broadly speaking, Our Man doesn’t make any stupid mistakes, there are relatively few movie style decisions that make you roll your eyes, and you truly believe Our Man wishes to live.

1369665468_lost2.jpg

Robert Redford is 77, the only actor, barely says anything, and is utterly gripping in All is Lost. This acting performance combined with gorgeous camera shots and a soundtrack...

Continue reading →


iwantmyname, a domain registrar

Registering domains and subsequently managing them has always been a terrible experience. It’s made even worse by the fact that most services are so bad that you often end up having domains spread across registrars as you try and find the best solution.

I recently discovered iwantmyname and have been really impressed.

They have a good to great selection of TLDs. all the expected, such as .io, .co, .co.uk all the way to the more nuanced international offerings – and their pricing doesn’t suck.

iwantmyname is certainly not the cheapest – GoDaddy and such are – but it goes without saying that the cheapest is not the best, you’ll be hit with upsells and steeper renewal costs usually.

They have a very good DNS manager. How can it be very good? It is quick to use. I used to host my domains with Gandi and they have a ludicrously over engineered DNS manager. (Want to add a...

Continue reading →


Out of Ten

Everyone is familiar with the concept of “out of ten” as in, “what would you give Black Hawk Down out of ten?” but I think a lot of people misuse the rating system, I am going to try and explain it.

It’s basically impossible to give something 10. These ratings should be as persistent as possible. Giving something 10 means it is literally the most perfect thing of that type in the world, where nothing can ever be improved upon. If you don’t know how something could be improved, then you’re probably not the right person to declare it perfect – and if you do know how it could be improved, then the aforementioned item is not 10.

If you wish to give something 10, you should give it 9. That gives you the wiggle room for the inevitable when the something is improved upon.

If you’re giving something 9 when you (think you) mean 10, you might...

Continue reading →


These Things Don’t Suck #2

Since writing this article about what does not suck, I found some better alternatives, both serendipitously and also from people emailing me. (Surprise, people like The Best)

I’ve updated the list with some more recommendations, changelog below – or just read the canonical list.

Water Bottle

Having used my Sigg water bottle for a while, the opening is too narrow and it is too heavy. Countless people recommended the Nalgene Water Bottle – and it is very good with the note that the 16oz bottle has a lid that is too light and the lid flips into your face when you’re drinking it, the 32oz bottle doesn’t have this issue.

I was also recommended the Square bottle which is a forgettable water bottle except for the fact that it has two lids, one on the top and one on the bottom (for better cleaning) a great idea except the bottom one is alarmingly easy to undo requiring a...

Continue reading →


Erik Buell

Erik Buell quit his job in Harley Davidson R&D and founded Buell Motorcycle Company in 1983. The first four years of the company were focussed on releasing the RW750. Shortly after launch, the American Motorcycling Association decides to eliminate the class of race, and all of Buells work.

Buell continually focused on creating the highest performing race and street bikes, utilising Harley engines and tweaking and designing everything else. These were great sports bikes and 11 years after the company formed, Harley Davidson invested in the company and own a minority stake.

In subsequent years Buell released – to critical acclaim – the Thunderbolt and the Lightning. By 1998 Buell was the second – to Ducati – highest non Japanese sports motorcycle manufacturer in America.

buell-lightning.jpg

In 1998 Harley Davidson acquired a majority share of Buell Motorcycles, with the additional resources Buell...

Continue reading →


Nigel Cabourn

Nigel Cabourn is part fashion designer and part historian. His speciality is making outerwear clothing based on historical moments of British history.

In 2003 Cabourn celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Sir Edmund Hilary Mount Everest ascent by basing an entire collection of clothing on what they wore. Edmund Hilary’s iconic orange parka was reproduced and was an international hit.

There is a (somewhat) famous photo of the British explorer Tom Bourdillon wearing his sweater inside out:

sweater

… Cabourn released a sweater that looks like you are wearing it inside out.

Cabourn ensures that all of his garment materials are sourced in England (whenever possible) and goes out of his way to track down the original materials, buttons and fasteners that were used in garments from the past.

In 2009 Cabourn opened his first ever retail store, in Tokyo. Japan appears to be the perfect...

Continue reading →