Designing Photography

How I got selected to be part of a commemorative publication by Yahoo! Mexico in 2008 by using design as a tool.

On a previous post I talked about my understanding of what design was:

Design is not a thing or a deliverable. Design is what happens before the thing, it is hours of assigning purpose and intention to an idea yet to be conceived, to then plan and finally execute.

Would you have ever thought about a photograph being designed rather than made/taken? My guess is that you’ve never heard of a title called “Photo Designer” or something of the like.

In 2008, Flickr launched a photography contest called Muestra tu México con Flickr (in english: Show your Mexico with Flickr). The purpose of the contest was to make some buzz about Flickr starting local operations in Mexico, and to celebrate it’s first year they were going to have an exhibition with the most relevant photos of international photographers that would better represent Mexico. The prize was going to be the photograph printed in a book and an exhibition of the winning photos followed by nibbles in a fancy venue in Mexico City.

At that point I was an active flickr user, and I happened to stumble upon the contest while browsing the site. I decided to submit some photos from my existing collection, but that left me feeling unsatisfied but still determined to be part of the printed commemorative Flickr book.

One day, thinking about what to do to make the cut into the book (or designing the photo), I had an epiphany (which in my terms would be: a realization of design): -Nothing shows Mexico better than a taco stall. I thought. It sounded like a joke, since Mexican epitome  of street food tend to be found everywhere but in photo worthy places, but I gave it a shot (several actually).

The so-called Taco Stall photo.

Continue reading

The Abstract World Word of Design

Introduction

I’ve always been amazed by how relatively simple things manage to remain hidden before our very eyes. Once, I was doing some research for a training course I delivered at work; one of the topics, intended that the audience became aware of the difference between abstract and tangible, and I used several different concepts to express that difference (the actual goal was to reduce the level of assumptions we make while trying gathering software requirements).

Is the word truth: abstract or not?

Is the word truth: abstract or not?

In my presentation (for the purpose of telling my story) I mentioned that a concept leans towards the abstract side when everybody knows what something is, but at the time of describing or defining that something, many of the answers differ among the people being asked.

Let me give you an example: Think about the word truth.

Get in a room with 10 people, and ask them to write in a piece of paper the definition of truth. Two things are likely to happen.

  1. People would smile or even roll their eyes at you whilst making the assumption that the task at hand is relatively simple.
  2. When facing the problem, people would not only make, most likely a mediocre effort at describing the concept in a few words (as me and my group did), but also, the answers would largely deviate from the dictionary definition (this point may not apply if you include philosophers in your group).

Now, keep thinking about it for a second, and before you read the definition below, write your definition down, take your time, and compare it with the one below.

Continue reading

Deberías Saber (You Should Know)

When I was 21, I happened to write my first song (or second one; I’ve always had trouble date-timing my songs due to their start/completion dates). The song, narrates the cumbersome tale of a young man (me) who fell in love with allegedly the wrong woman (today a really nice person, but back in the day, it didn’t seem that way… and that the story is a picturesque and ironic rather than an accurate portrayal of reality).

This song was a milestone in my life, since it might have been the one song that manage to make it to some of my friend’s iPods/iPhones, played in the radio and made somebody once recognize me on the streets. It was because of this song that I actually kept writing as it made me think that it was possible to make music and lyrics that people could eventually like.

I wrote it initially in spanish, and today… I know that at least you can sing along the chorus in english and german.

In this post you will find the music by tracks, so that in case you’d like it you translate it to another language, or maybe play the bass, drums or guitar better than I did (far from being challenging) you can do it. But first the lyrics and files.

Continue reading

Balsamiq Excel 2 Calendar Table Generator

I spend most of my time at the office dealing with Balsamiq. As good as Balsamiq is to portray quick-n-dirty sketches of user interfaces, oftentimes you end up trying to redo one of their components because the quick-n-dirty solution just wouldn’t help you tell the story to your customers. This is the case of the calendar, which happens to be stuck on February 2008 since… err… February 2008?

Balsamiq OTS Calendar Control

Balsamiq OTS Calendar Control

The problem that I face often while dealing with time-based views is the ability to change the date from one day to another during a walkthrough with the client, and for that purpose Balsamiq’s calendar is not quite useful. For a while, I was trying different ways to make the calendars, using Labels and Panels to link between the .bmml files and all of them ended up in a nasty nested groups that would be very difficult to update, until I stumbled upon the wonderful Table component.

The Table component in Balsamiq is feature rich, it allows you to do a lot of stuff if you know Balsamiq’s markup, the problem now is to type the markup easily every time you are dealing with a view, for example, in order to get this:

Table Calendar View using Balsamiq's Markup

Table Calendar View using Balsamiq’s Markup

I would need to write something like this:

*Mo*	*Tu*	*We*	*Th*	*Fr*	*Sa*	*Su*
-26-	-27-	-28-	-29-	-30-	-31-	[1](uno)
2	3	{color:blue}4{color}	5	6	7	*8*
9	10	11	12	13	14	15
16	17	18	19	20	[21](dos)	22
23	24	25	[26](tres)	27	28	29
30	-1-	[-2-](asd)	-3-	-4-	-5-	-6-

And as you can probably imagine, changing the parameters consistently among different wireframes could become a nightmare easily.

Continue reading

10 Reasons to Record Your Life (1 Second Everyday)

I was writing a post with a similar title, and soon after I started writing I realised that each of the 10 reasons deserved a post on its own. So, before this whole idea becomes too old, I’m going to briefly describe the 10 reasons, and hopefully every now and then I’ll develop each of the ideas into a post of their own.

  1. Increases Self and Social Awareness. What do you do, who do you do it with. How often do you see people in your network? This is a good way to bring those stats to life. Who knows, you could probably get inspired by your video, and pursue other crazy ideas like meeting with all people from your network.
  2. Journal for Positive Events. Our society is programmed to look at the downside of things. You’re never good enough, you don’t have enough. Perhaps you’ll think otherwise after doing this. Continue reading

Create and Track your QR Codes

The following tutorial shows how to create traceable QR Codes that could be scanned by mobile phones to generate traffic from printed sources.

Note: This tutorial assumes that you have the required computer skills to browse the Internet and copy and paste text comfortably and that you understand some basic terminology like URL, SMS, Smartphone, etc.

Background

QR Code stands for Quick Response Code, which is an evolved type of barcode capable of storing more information in its matrix-like structure. They are usually found on printed format but they could be found in emails or other electronic means. Due to their storage capacity QR Codes can contain URLs, phone numbers, text information and SMS data and smartphones with a built-in camera can use the code to read this information, interpret it and perform a default task, such as opening the text editor, the web browser or the address book. The following section contains a step-by-step guide on how to create a traceable QR code for URLs.

Steps

  1. Since we want the QR code to open the web-browser with our URL, what we want to do is find a landing page URL that is likely to appeal our target audience, e.g. a contact page on our website. Continue reading

My URL is Shorter (and Prettier) Than Yours

URL shorteners are unsung heroes, they’ve been there since 2002, bit.ly made them almost famous in 2005. Today blogs like Read Write Web (rww.to) and Tech Crunch (tcrn.ch) or large-scale social platforms such as Flickr (flic.kr), YouTube (youtu.be), Instagram (instagr.am) and twitter (t.co) provide automatic URL shortening, being the latter perhaps the main culprit generating advocacy. Why? Text-real-state. The famous micro-blogging platform allows only 140 characters per post, making it very difficult for people to share regular links in it and things get only worse if they want to add a brief description.

Today we can say, that URL Shorteners and Twitter go hand by hand making it easier to share relevant and reliable information across the world, but it wasn’t getting any better.

With something else in mind I decided to register the domain eam.mx. I wanted to have a meaningful URL for personal and professional proposes (which will be eventually unveiled as the site develops), so I decided to use my initials and the ccTLD of my beloved country, Mexico. Continue reading