30 Days of Thanks: Design
From the chairs with no instructions, to the sweaters that require no ironing, to the kitchens that anyone can navigate. Experiences and products are everywhere and go least noticed when designed well.
The fact that you knew to pull on that door rather than push on it without ever having to read a sign.
The fact that everyone knows how to operate a chair without instructions even though all chairs do not look exactly alike.
To the ATM machines that now take seconds to operate.
Great design can communicate years of information without having a paragraph of text.
To the business development person who spends more time being a resource and less time being a sales person.
To the floor manager who spends more time figuring out what you need and less time on what you’re asking for.
For the thousands of poorly designed experiences, there are a thousand more wonderful experiences that get unnoticed.
This thank you goes out to the thousands of wonderfully designed experiences that go unnoticed, because that’s what they do best.
Year after year, I’m thankful for the same things…
- Sweets are definitely my weakness.. I’ve been able to limit myself from too much sugar consumption.. but there are just times when you need to down a dozen of the best cupcakes in the world!..just kidding, I shared them! They were from Georgetown Cupcakes!
I was so lucky to experience Uchi in Houston,TX this year with my sister for my birthday! It was right after the Schipul Zombie Photoshoot (just imagine splotches of red ‘blood’ around my face and neck as I enjoy some uncooked fish)
- and other things that start with the letter “F”… like flip-flops
However, this year I’ve added another item to be really thankful for..and no, it doesn’t start with the letter “F”.
For the year 2012, I am also thankful for SKYPE! It’s such a great way to keep in touch with the people we care about, especially getting to ‘see’ them even if they’re miles and miles away. And ‘the best things in life are free‘..right?
And I guess no matter how you try to explain it.. a long-distance relationship is a LONG-distance relationship when you’re not in the same city as someone else.. whether it be family members, friends, co-workers, or so on. Not being a big ‘phone-person’ (check me out with my Samsung Behold).. Skype is definitely the next best thing for me when it comes to having a conversation with someone.. ‘face-to-face’.
All in all, I’m very thankful for the life I have..filled with so many people that I genuinely care for and for all the memories and experiences we’ve all shared with each other. Until next Thanksgiving!
Since I work at a web marketing / technology company the first thing you might expect me to be thankful for might be my iPhone, wireless internet EVERYWHERE, downloading 10 megs of data in less than a minute (as opposed to over an hour when I was a kid) and stuff like that. I’m taking a different approach.
I’m a blessed guy. I know this, and I’m very thankful for it. I wake up every day, my legs work, I can breathe without pain, I can see clearly, I have food to eat whenever I want (so says my scale), I’m employed, married to a gorgeous woman who is WAY out of my league and a nerd to boot, and so much more.
I realize that much of the world doesn’t enjoy the simple luxuries I take for granted. It’s a wonderful and fragile thing. That’s another thing I’m thankful for: the life I live and the things I enjoy are so accessible to me remain so. I’m thankful I was raised by and around people who instilled values in me that have helped me make the best decisions I can so that I am where I am today.
I have a Pastor friend who says “Anyone is capable of anything at anytime.” I like to keep this thought in the front of my mind because it helps me remember that I’m just a few bad decisions away from losing everything important to me. Which brings me to the one thing I’m most thankful for: Even though I don’t deserve it I’m thankful I’ve been given mercy and grace in my life so that I can try to be the best person I can and love people the best I know how.
Thanksgiving is best celebrated by pushing co-workers and family members down a steep garage incline, don’t you think? Well, we do…
This year’s annual PlasmaCar Races were thrilling adventures in gravity-land, fully of (joyful) screaming, competitiveness and camaraderie – all on the backs of small children’s toy vehicles. Take a peek at more PlasmaCar Racing photos on our Facebook fanpage here.
It’s a tradition best explained by being there, I suppose. But this video might shed some light on our love of sharing a holiday with family and co-workers on the seat of a speeding scooter. We hope your Thanksgiving was an exciting one, too!!
It’s nice to have (at the very least) one day a year that we can all slow down and give thanks for the people, things and opportunities that make our lives run, leap and rock!
Given that the Schipulites are driven by technology, we’ve got some geeky tools and tech that makes our everyday just that much better. Check out some of the technologies and online sources of inspiration that the Schipul team is thankful for this year!
The Avant Garden Houston website from design to development confirmed my love for what I do here at Schipul. It’s gorgeous, it’s incredibly functional in Tendenci and its the perfect example of how easy it is to use. And (Mariana) as the perfect client always helps!!
After suffering through cars with a vendetta against my savings accounts (guess how many mechanic’s children I’ve helped put through college!?), I bought an awesome Kia Forte with Bluetooth wireless phone connection. While having a safe and non-breaking down car is beyond dreamy, that wireless cell phone feature is the best thing since sliced marzipan (I’ve always hated those wireless ear pieces). Love, love, love. Never realized how much I needed it until I had it!
The site that I’m really obsessing over right now that I discovered in 2011 is Pinterest! Before Pinterest, I was scouring the internet for images I loved and then just dumping them into a folder on my desktop, never to be seen again. With Pinterest I can still have those amazing images then categorize them into whatever I want for easy viewing. My images and ideas are then shared visually with my friends & family and I can discover even more great ideas from the plethora of photos that Pinterest has stored. Just by searching “nail polish” I found nails painted like hamburgers, sneakers, apples, etc. For anyone who loves DIY crafts, cooking, or even wedding planning – this is an amazing site to find ideas and store them easily to share and inspire others!
I would have to say my favorite tool would have to be hands down the right click to inspect and element you get with the developer tools you get in Google Chrome 🙂 So simple yet infinitely awesome. It maintains my sanity i tell ya. 🙂
I think that the new guy I use the most this year is “InstaPaper.” I’ve used Evernote for awhile to archive articles I know I’ll have to reference again, but I like to reserve Evernote for things I’m really going to need in the future. I run into an issue when I get a chance to glance over my social media accounts and the like and see links to what might be really cool articles, but I don’t know, and I don’t really have the time to read them on the spot. With Instapaper’s “Read Later” button that I can add to my browser bar, I can just archive the article, read it later, and if it’s worth it, archive it to Evernote at that time. Now, I don’t have to add whatever site I’m linked to to my Google Reader, I don’t have to give an article I haven’t even read yet Evernote status, and I don’t have to keep that tab open on my browser for three days till I find time to read the article.
I am most thankful for these three amazingly helpful sites:
- http://pinterest.com/ – gives me ideas for EVERYTHING!
- http://www.thebestdesigns.com/ – gives me ideas for web design
- http://w3schools.com/ – gives me the answers I need when my brain doesn’t want to work.
We’re using GitHub to managing our code repository. GitHub, launched in February 2008, is an online source code hosting service using Git as a version control system. It is a great collaboration tool for developers in terms of good user experience. Some of the features I really like including network graph, activity feeds, online edits and being able to comment on commits, etc.
I’m thankful for my Garmin Nuvi 3790 that I bought when I moved to California. Years ago my father had bought me my first GPS, a thoughtful gift based off a late night frantic phone call he received from me, begging for step by step guidance through downtown Houston. Direction has never been my strong suit. That GPS was super handy, but often frustrating because it took so long to boot up. When I was about to move, I knew I’d need something a little more responsive for learning my way around Silicon Valley. Enter the 3790. It’s super slim and light, you can talk to it, it can function as your phone (helpful for California’s hands-free laws) and the best part – is always ready for a new navigation, no boot time needed. I’ve learned my way around fairly quickly and don’t use the Nuvi much anymore, but it’s great to have it ready for those times when you swear you know where you’re going and then get totally turned around. Not that that happens to me. (Yesterday.)
Just released this month, I think I’ve finally found my music library solution in iTunes Match. Being able to organize your library at home, download other songs at work, organize them independently and have them all sync up in the cloud? Throw in the fact that it can sync with your iPhone as well, and it’s virtually the perfect solution for those of us who obsessively categorize and clean meta data. Twenty-five dollars a year is easily worth not having the hassle of transporting mp3s or keeping two libraries in sync.”
Some things I’m thankful for:
- Square – I LOVE having my square anywhere I go. Recently I used it so a lady who was buying something from us on Craiglist could use her credit card. I’m also stoked that Square has released Card Case which allows you to check in to vendors, open a tab, and pay there or at your leisure. Really cool technology :).
- Reddit – I visit this website multiple times a day. In fact there are only few sites I visit on the web. Reddit is my #1 site because it’s a great community, has great content, and contains a huge sub-reddit culture so I can find whatever I’m interested in. Example: http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming, http://www.reddit.com/r/
- MailChimp – MailChimp is SO amazing. I run a bunch of mailing lists for churches, non-profits, various ministires, and my Flashmob group, all with the FREE service level that MailChimp provides. The interface is excellent, it’s easy to use, provides excellent analytics and has a killer free plan. Not to mention the hilarious culture and light-hearted approach to their brand, MailChimp is one of the best things to come along the web in a long time.
It may sound cheesy coming from a website design company employee, but I am so thankful for WordPress. It’s user friendly and so adaptable to themes, plug ins and content. I use WordPress outside of work for my blogs and love it. Having something readily available for my thoughts and also showing me other blogs to gather inspiration and knowledge from reminds me why WordPress is one of a kind and so AWESOME.
All The Pretty Birds is a blog by fashion photographer Tamu McPherson. Tamu’s content is inspiring, but I’m most fascinated by her ‘approachability.â€ Her blog is lovely and friendly’ so much so that I’m likely to click on any link she shares. Visiting her site feels like reading letters and postcards from an old friend.
I am grateful for: The democratization of information, the capacity of facts to empower the weak and customizable keyboard shortcuts in MS excel.
Github – Github manages all of our code. It makes using git a bit easier and it provides an interface for awesome features like blame and tracking our commits. Through their APIs we are able to deploy our code from a central place quickly and easily. We are able to all stay on the same page, so code conflicts occur rarely. We get more done faster because of Github.
- Monster Rehab – Whether you are rehabilitating from a serious Red Bull habit, or you just got nauseous brushing your teeth, this is the drink for you. It will give you the caffeine you need to start a day or just remember last night. It has 10 calories, tastes like an Arnold Palmer Gatorade, and best of all, it’s not carbonated. Cause the last thing you should do right now is burp.
- Android portable Wi-Fi hotspot – The best thing about the smart phone was the ability to have internet in your pocket. Turn on an Android hotspot, and your phone acts like a portable wireless router. Speeds on my carrier are fast, and it supports up to five connected devices. Use it to connect any wireless device to the web virtually anywhere. Or let your friends connect with their smartphones. Then brag about how awesome you are.
- BuckyBalls: Thanks to my roommate for snagging these on a gift while on layover in an airport. Now, nearly the entire office is addicted to creating engaging Buckminster Fuller designs with the rare earth magnets. Productivity, zero. Mind rest in Quadrant 4, awesome.
- Kindle Fire: Color ebooks from Amazon on an affordable device that fits in my handbag. More readable than my phone, and easy, easy consumption of digital ‘stuffâ€ when I want it.
- Evernote: I totally underutilize this, but the quick synching and sharing of a note or list across multiple devices or people is just insanely helpful, especially during the holidays! Did you really think I would remember to pick up 3 different types of cinnamon, apricot filling, and sour cream from that recipe I saved back in July? Thank goodness for portable files.
I am thankful for the Up Experience and one of their amazing speakers in particular, Benjamin Zander. He shows through ‘The Art of Possibilityâ€ how to make the most out of a situation. At the Up Experience not only did he share his views on creativity and how to bring out excellence in others, but he also showed us passion and understanding for classical music. A truly motivating day. Thanks to Ernie and Sheryl Rapp for putting it together.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for Tendenci and our Programming Team who created it. I am on a lot of association committees and am usually the geeky one on the committee so I always get the job of managing internet, website, and communications. I see at least 1 new software tool every single day if not multiple. To me, Tendenci is to websites what WordPress is for blogs.
The YouTube beauty community has been an inspiration to me for years now, but especially in 2011. I started my own beauty blog in January 2011 after watching YouTube ‘beauty gurusâ€ on a daily basis. I am pretty much addicted to watching makeup, hair and nail tutorials as well as clothing hauls from all of my subscriptions. The best part is connecting with people who have similar interests as you, but may live in other states or countries.
I’ve even had the opportunity to live chat with some beauty gurus through BlogTV (not as addictive as YouTube, but neat none the less). If you are into makeup and fashion you really need to check out the YouTube beauty community.
Here are some of my favorite beauty gurus:
I’m thankful for Siri, she’s officially my new bestfriend and tells me where the hottest places are. I asked her if she could find me a girlfriend and she searched for escort services around the city of Houston, now that’s what I call a ‘wingman’.
- Instapaper for keeping my mind from being idle at anytime
- Twitter for broadcasting the revolutions better and faster than traditional media
- The AV Club for exploring not only the best and worse but also the hows and whys of pop culture
- FFFFOUND! for encouraging creativity
- 5by5 podcasts for making my commute bearable.
I am thankful for online inspiration in 2011 from the blog Zen Habits. A blog about productivity, creativity, and embracing what’s really important. The gadget that has changed my life in 2011 is my Logitech Harmony all in one remote – we have all of the devices in the house programmed, including the fan! I am obsessed.
Chuzzle ‘ This is an iphone app game that I am completely obsessed with. You do not need to be tech-smart, nor do you need to be over the age of 1 years old. All you need to know is how to connect the same colored Chuzzles (adorable, googly-eyed balls of fur) and prepare for non-stop explosions.
Sound pedestrian? Well, it is. But I am forever thankful for this little gem because it helps me fall asleep in less than 5 minutes and takes my mind off of everyday stresses. And here’s a fun fact: Scientists believe that Chuzzles discovered cinnamon.
One of my favorite things that I’ve used so far this year is the Flipboard app for the iPad. It is kind of like an RSS reader that allows you to customize feeds of content from different sources (Wired, Cool Hunter, etc.). It also connects to your flickr, Facebook, and Twitter so you can flip through your friends’ updates and see images they post or go to links so it makes the user experience much better.
- Kindle Fire: I’m thankful for my new Amazon $200 Kindle Fire which isn’t just a book-reader that happens to have web browsing capabilities and can run Netflix. It is also an important video game platform. With the usual games like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja, it runs the sci-fi horror game Dead Space with absolutely no effort.
- Xbox 360: I’m grateful for my Xbox 360 not only for the games but mostly for the Netflix and Hulu Plus apps. There isn’t a time at home when I’m not logged into Xbox Live. Nowadays, I never miss an episode of Modern Family or Parks and Recreation.
I’m thankful for in-ear thermometers. They are so easy to use and allow me to take a hot baby’s temperature in seconds compared to minutes with a non-in-ear thermometer. Speed of use is critical when you have a wriggly grumpy feverish baby. Each in-ear thermometer also allows you to share usage with other folks because they come with disposable covers that go over the part that you stick in your ear. Another favourite feature is the memory store that they have for previously taken temperatures.
The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do and the more genuine may be one’s appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship. ~Amelia Earhart
I am admittedly an odd duck with probably far too many random hobbies and a bizarre sense of adventure. And by adventure, I mean everything from trying out that weird unidentified leafy veggie at the Asian grocer to flying glider and motorized planes to climbing a mountain in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Growing up, I idolized Amelia Earhart as only a young budding aviatrix could – she was fearless, passionate, hard working and totally unique. She made waves in the male dominated aviation world all while rocking a unique fashion sense, supporting other gal fliers and being a mad publicity genius to boot. My hero.
To me, Amelia’s legacy is that of pushing boundaries in everything you do and discovering the adventure of every moment of every day. No matter the turbulence or how far away that landing strip might seem, “adventure is worthwhile in itself.”
What are we doing here? We’re reaching for the stars. ~Christa McAuliffe
The old saying goes:
I shall pass this way but once; any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
These words can be found in Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (pg. 32), but they are not originally attributed to him. Similarly, that book is not the first place I have heard this virtue. I first heard those words from my father, and have heard them repeated here in the Schipul offices.
I don’t remember the circumstances of my first exposure to this virtuous statement, though I can only imagine it was one of the many times that I failed to appreciate an opportunity for kindness. My dad sat down with me and shared “I shall pass this way but once”. He went on to explain the broader meaning of the tale. It’s not about passing through a town or place or really anything specific. It’s about every moment, every interaction, every opportunity to do good. It’s not about buying gifts or planning celebrations. It’s all about the little ways you can show kindness, much like those Liberty Mutual commercials.
It’s easy to glamorize doing good things, to fantasize about writing huge checks or volunteering every weekend somewhere or even just planning special events for your family every night. But this message is about doing much less and achieving much more than those things. It’s the tiny, seemingly insignificant things that you can do to help someone else out that can matter so much more to them. You don’t have to spend money or give all your time, you just need to act in a good and kind nature.
But this is only the first half of the message. The latter portion is a bit more intimidating. As we grow older, we begin to recognize the missed opportunities of our past. I’m only 25 and I can count stacks of occasions, of moments, when I could have been better. As my father explained to me, life comes with thousands of opportunities, but you only get one shot at each one. I can’t go back in time and hold the elevator for the woman I can hear walking down the hallway. I can’t go back and offer to clean the dishes from a meal that I did not have to cook myself. Each opportunity presents itself only once, and we must seize each as an opportunity to show kindness.
Thanks Dad, for reminding me often that I shall pass this way but once.
I am a small town girl, who grew up in small town Texas. Really. CNN said it was the smallest typical small town in America for the Millennium 2000. It was a great place to grow up safely where the rest of the world didn’t set the pace. My mom chose it so she could care for my father in his later years of aging health care and not worry about their little girl when she couldn’t keep an eye on her every minute. It worked, I have some great memories even if I grew up rather quickly. But, it didn’t do much for my world view and experiences.
One of the greatest gifts of my Mom gave me was the encouragement to learn about other cultures and travel when possible. So much so, that it required faith and living out her dream. On the eve of a summer study abroad for Architecture in Italy, she was hospitalized for a heart attack. A phone call from my sister while I was packing interrupted the hundreds of little decisions about what to pack in only a backpack and carryon for 10 weeks. A long night, and several conversations later, and I was on a plane at her pleading. Mom never traveled across an ocean, but dreamed of it for her daughter. In all that was going on, she told me “Go! Learn about the world and have a better life that I dreamed of for you! Live out my dream for me.” It’s hard to argue with a 115 pound (when soaking wet), wiry, Texas born and bred Mom. And, her cardiologist promised to take good care of her.
What I learned on that first trip abroad was to experience everything different than in my world, appreciate the differences and similarities. I came back inspired by history, art, architecture, culture and the people that make all these things so vital. Umm… good red wine and cheese as well, but that is another post. I learned with historical significance what we do in this world, in this lifetime, affects those who will come after us and builds on the body of work for our humanity. Could I have learned these things without traveling abroad, yes. Would I be the same person, no. My mom somehow knew this more than I did. She knew I needed to experience people and living differently. I know my place in this world is here in Texas, but I also know in small ways, I am connected to a larger picture and have so much more to learn from others.
Mom did get released from the hospital and we shared great stories about my travels and many more trips and escapades. She lived vicariously until her heart couldn’t keep up with her spirit anymore. Her eyes shined with each story and photo and in retrospect, yes, Mom was right. Mom, Thank You for inspiring me to experience more about the world other than what is outside my living room window. Even when I had to leave your side under extreme circumstances, you inspired me to be a better neighbor to human culture.
If there is one thing that we Schipulites all have in common, it’s a love of reading. (I would also add cupcakes, LOL cats, and “that’s what she said” jokes, but some people hate joy.) We all have books around our desks, track our reading across multiple platforms, and have standing permission to grab a hot new business title from the local book store. In addition, we’re all pretty tenacious folks who hate to give up on something we start. Some might even call it “stubborn”.
It’s those traits that can sometimes lead a person to be curled up on the couch, book in hand, slogging through a downright boring book. Oh sure, it’s not interesting and you’re not going to get much from it, but hey – you gotta finish, right? No one likes a quitter! And maybe it’ll turn around in the next chapter or so. If not, well, lesson learned. At least you get to move another one to the read pile.
That was me. Dragging my way though books that just weren’t doing it for me. That feeling of immense satisfaction gained from moving a book to the read stack was so motivating that even the worst books could hold down a spot on my nightstand. I couldn’t quit them. And often I was miserable for it. What was supposed to be a great way to relax and expand my thinking turned into a chore, a bother, and an obligation.
Fortunately I read a lot of blogs too, and one day stumbled upon a feature article over Nancy Pearl, author of Book Lust. In it, she shared her “50 page rule” – if the book doesn’t grab you in the first 50 pages, give it up and move on to the next one. It’s not defeat. It’s knowing what you like and not trying to force it. I loved it. In just a few words I got the confirmation that it wasn’t just me; and permission to put down the bad books. At the time I had just come from struggling with Infinite Jest, the highly-confusing massive tome of a novel by David Foster Wallace. I was just starting with a new novel and already at page 20 I was finding it over-written and lacking in story. I thought of Nancy’s rule and vowed to give it the 30 pages more – and was rewarded with an unexpected page-turner.
Most recently, I picked up a historical look at the game of poker – a subject I am deeply interested in – and began reading on a plane. Even with my handy Nook nearby, full of a dozen or so others, I found myself again trying to force my way through some very dense material. It’s history, and it’s poker – I have to love it right? It’s going to get more interesting, I just know it. Upon my return home, I left the book on my nightstand, ready to be picked up the next evening. When the time came though, I found myself going for the remote instead. Didn’t want to read it, yet didn’t want to give up. And then I remembered Nancy, and her sage advice. Life’s too short. Maybe the book and I weren’t getting along right now, but it didn’t mean we were doomed forever. I could set it aside, grab another, and try again some other day.
So thanks Nancy Pearl, for your wise “50 page rule”. It’s saved me yet again from literary heartache.