First Flat Tire in San Francisco

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Closeup of my first flat tire in San Francisco.

On my ride to work today, I heard a hissing sound and thought there was something rubbing against my tire. I pulled over and examined my wheel and noticed a giant piece of glass embedded into the rubber. As soon as I removed the glass, all the air came out of my tire.

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Philz Coffee on 24rd and Folsom St.

Fortunately, I was only a block away from my favorite coffee shop. So I locked up my bike and called up a pick-up service. Last year, I paid for a ($250) premium service from my bike shop (New Wheel), which is paying off now.

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The tow truck guy tying my bike down.

It sucks to pay for maintenance, but the reality is that I’m kind of lucky that I’ve gone so long without a flat. I’ve lasted a year and a half with 2300 miles on my e-bike. The only thing I’ve had to replace were my brakes in terms of wear and tear. And truth be told, I probably needed to replace my rear tire soon.

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I was running Schwalbe Marathon tires—and now I’ve upgraded to Marathon Plus. It’s advertised to have a little extra puncture resistance over the Marathon, in exchange for higher rolling resistance and costs a couple $$. Either way, I’m hoping that I won’t get another flat for a while.

One of my buddies said that I have had “really bad luck with this bike”…

But a flat tire isn’t that bad.

I remember getting flat tires every few months in Richmond, VA… and I didn’t ride as far back then.

On the other hand, San Francisco roads are full of pot holes, debris, broken glass, drug needles, etc. The fact that I’ve gone this far without getting a flat kind of boggles my mind.

Anyway, all is back to normal. I’m kind of glad I got the comprehensive membership. I highly recommend it to anyone if you’re in the market.

The Difference of a Few Pixels at Facebook

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Comments refinements on Facebook before (L) and after (R).

Vitor shared an article with me recently about how FB did a ton of testing and research to arrive at their latest design iteration. It’s pretty amazing how dozens of small refinements working together can make a huge difference.

Small changes, like a few extra pixels of padding or the tint of a button, can have large and unexpected repercussions.

On a side note, it looks like Facebook has integrated a ton of design cues from Instagram—rounded corners, chat-like comment bubbles, outlined icons, and overall a lighter interface.

Inspired by Facebook

I’m currently working on a comments feature as well on my project and I’m going to borrow some design cues from our friends at FB.

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Revised version of comments, following a similar style as FB

I think that the icon shape, bubbles, and avatar sizes creates a better visual hierarchy. I’m pretty sure I’m going to change it again in the future, but this looks like a nice improvement. Anyway, we have some good stuff coming soon. Really looking forward to shipping this new design.

Evolving the Facebook News Feed to Serve You Better
Hat tip: Vitor

Beautiful Pills by Takecareof.com

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Takecareof.com (Hat tip: Erin)

I’m really digging this site. The photography, the typeface, product packaging and the aesthetics are 👌. The product itself seems pretty cool—personalized vitamins. It even says “Hi [your name]” to give it that personal touch.

Typeface

Let’s start with the font… I really like the combination of bold san serif for the headers, and serif for the body. The combination of short punchy headlines make it feel kind of handmade and human.

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Ginger

It kind of reminds me of a modern day Futura, but more refined.

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Gauthier

Love this font as well. I’d could imagine using this for a print project… something with debossed type on a nice thick stock. It just has such a tactile feel to it.

Photography

I have nothing but good things to say about the photography. I absolutely love the pictures of ingredients on a solid color background. The neutral pastel colors combined with the strong accent colors of the ingredients are absolutely tasty.

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Img turmeric hero

Img vitaminc hero

And when you combine type on top of these images, it just looks 🤘. I’m guessing that they did a bunch of photo composites… but it looks good.

White Space

And their use of white space is pretty boss. It’s like a breath of fresh air when you scroll through their site.

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Anyway, I thought this was a good one to bookmark. They made a bunch of pills sexy, approachable and human. 💊

Takecareof.com

Testing Slow Motion Video Between DSLR and iPhone

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A still frame of James on the D600.

I’m not sure what compelled me to do this today, but I wanted to do a quick comparison between my iPhone 7+ and my Nikon D600 to see which one did slow motion better.

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Same shot, but from a different angle on the iPhone 7+.

While my Nikon was outfitted with a 35mm f1.4, I had to shoot at 720p in order to get 60fps. While I lost a lot of resolution, it doesn’t look terrible. On the other hand, the iPhone boasts awesome slow motion performance, but the feeling isn’t as cinematic.

James showing off his Vape Nation skills in slow motion video.

Now I’m really curious to see what it’ll look like show with my 58mm. In addition, I think it would be cool to try doing a portrait photo with a light pattern casted from some window blinds… or maybe even play with a prism to get a cool rainbow effect running through the smoke.

More importantly, I’m thinking about using this kind of stuff for b-roll when I make a real video in the future. Anyway, enjoy!

Why I’m Not Getting the DJI Mavic Air

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The new DJI Mavic Air drone.

This is probably one of the coolest products DJI has released to date. It is the most compact and refined package they offer, and it’s perfect for non-professionals like me. It’s also $800, which is within reach… and it could serve as an awesome tool for photography and video. I was compelled to buy it because I imagined myself taking breathtaking clips when I travel, exploring the coastline of California, and taking some insane landscapes.

I was close to pulling the trigger and ordering one this past week, but I’ve decided to hold off. It was in my cart, literally one click away from being mine. But I stopped and asked myself if a drone was going to make me a better photographer?

And the answer is… probably not. 😢

To make my work better, I need to focus on telling a story. I think it could be a powerful tool in the right hands, but I’m honestly not there yet. For now, I’m going to stick with the basics. And if I need a drone shot, I’ll call up my friends with the gear to help me out.

Look at the photos below and tell me if you care if they were shot on a drone or not.

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IG photo by: mittfriluftsliv

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IG photo by: maxrivephotography

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IG photo by: earth focus

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IG photo by: simona_br_photography

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IG photo by: maxrivephotography

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IG photo by: reneerroaming

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IG photo by: travioor

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IG photo by: rizkiw_

Can you tell which ones were shot with a drone? And if you think about it, does it even matter? I bet these photographers could take amazing photos, regardless of whether they had a drone or not.

I’ll eventually get one, but I probably just need to start carrying around my DSLR more often.

#domorewithless

Hanging Out With SF Designers

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James Donovan and #squad doing a design review during lunch.

I spent the majority of this afternoon hanging out with some other designers in SF. The caliber of talent here is amazing. I had a great time doing a design review and talking about trends, philosophy, and our current challenges as designers.

It was refreshing and these guys lifted my spirit. They were passionate about design… and they really cared about the details. They’re also specialized at what they do–like a surgeons knife–illustrators, systems design, visual design, interaction, etc. It’s fascinating to see how deep their expertise goes in each discipline.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to do a design review with other creatives. A lot of times I’ll get feedback from people, but you really have to un-package what they’re trying to say. I enjoy the challenge, but working with folks in the creative field gives you a chance to talk in the same language. Sometimes it’s nice to talk about pixels. It was a breath of fresh air and it makes me want to step up my game when I hang around these guys.

So let’s recap some of the trends we talked about in our design review…

Trend #1: Circular Font

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Circular is the new Helvetica.

As far a design trends go, we felt like certain fonts like Circular have been pretty much adopted by everyone. AirBnb was one of the first to really make this font mainstream, but it’s pretty much everywhere now. Even Atlassian is using it–check out their graphic standards manual. Eeeeeeveryone is on the circular train. But my god, it looks so good.

Trend #2: Flat Illustrations

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A flat illustration from Slack’s website.

Again, it seems that this trend has been going strong for a while, and we’re starting to see everyone adopt it. Not to pick on Atlassian again, but they are also using this exact style in their illustrations. Even Uber uses a variation of it if you scroll down parts of their site. Same goes with Evernote, and our friends at Shift.org. It’s hot right now.

Google Hotels, by German Kopytov for Google.

One of the more popular styles that’s starting to catch on is isometric illustrations and renderings. And the folks that can add subtle animation to it are the champions.

Trend #3: Studio photography with solid backgrounds.

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Photograph from Squarespace.

I’m really digging this style of photography, and I love how the background color matches the color of the model’s sweater. I think the other important thing to notice is that the model has a tattoo and a little swagger. He feels human–a person that you could approach and talk to. The last thing to note is the lighting seems like it’s coming from a single source, most likely a large lightbox/strobe. The entire photo is sharp, so they’re probably shooting with an 85mm at f8. The edges are crispy, and the exposure is perfect. I’m going to see if I can replicate this on my own… heh.

Aaaaaaaand, the people that add some subtle movement to it are going to be the champions.

Ps. if you want a little more inspiration, you should check out these other two sites:

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Makemepulse.com, Hat tip: James

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Zinus.com

Pss. After hanging out with these guys, I’m wondering if I should do a video series of designers talking about their tools, process, and potentially doing design reviews of new products. I wonder if other designers would geek out watching them pixel push their sketch files. Selfishly, I want to pick their brains and learn all their trade secrets! Hah!