Dick on November 24th, 2011
The People's Key

Bright Eyes' latest supernatural offering.

Sometimes in art, there are predictors of change or statements on the here and now. If you get lucky (viewer or artist), you might be able to encase such statements in a user reflective wrapper that holds them all. For me, this citing of the Zeitgeist often occurs in record albums. In recent years, my favorite albums come from the band Bright Eyes, and their singer/songwriter frontman, Conor Oberst.

Sure, Mr. Oberst is often associated with the emo genre, and it’s no secret that I’m a Bright Eyes super fan, but the meaning of this post goes beyond the subjective. The artist and band are no strangers to political and social activism. What’s more is that they’re part of a self-created collective shown in Saddle Creek’s roster of other influential artists. Folks often compare Oberst to Dylan, which I don’t think is far off. Looking past trendy criticisms, I think Bright Eyes and other bands like them are what is the new Americana, whether it is styled in the digital or traditional. I hear something strong and cosmic in their releases and the latest is no exception.

This is a side project that tells the story of a mother and son affected by a recent immigration law in Nebraska.

Recent albums by BE are very thematic, which makes the story and the sub-plots within them much bigger. The metaphysical is a thread that is woven into the latter part of the band’s catalog. You don’t have to believe in psychics or subscribe to every New Age belief to enjoy the tunes. The only thing I really believe in is mathematics, but I’ve been a bit swayed by some of this inspiration. I do admit to being fascinated by things such as “Ancient Aliens”. Believing that there’s something bigger, within or outside of others is not that hard. Oddly enough, when meeting Mr. Oberst, he gave his autograph, and said “God Bless”.

The cover of this new story is decorated in flames. They seem to be everywhere these days. This could represent that the People’s Key could either be the destruction of established wrongs, (seen daily on the news), or as heard in many of the tracks, love. I know many are not ready to gather ’round and start singing Cumbaya, (myself included), but anger can only get us but so far.

“Come fire, come water, come Karma, we’re all in transition”.

Certainly in this time of political unrest, protest, and economic struggle, many don’t feel confident in much. It might take something like looking into ourselves and then one another to come up with solutions. But then I guess I’d have to believe in something like Singularity to be that hopeful.

To be one of my faves, the meaning has to transcend the sound in a piece, while being just as good. This is one of those. Best album of 2011, hands down.

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Dick on August 1st, 2011

I am attending AdobeMAX

Adobe, please consider me as one of the winners for VIP seating during Keynotes at this year’s MAX! I’ve used your products for 20+ years in both the public and private sector. Besides, who wants to miss all the macho tech bravado Kevin Lynch and Ben Forta provide up close and personal? Not me, so make me a winner!

If you’re an enthusiastic Web Designer/Developer like myself, this is how you ride with the high rollers during Adobe MAX 2011.

Friends, promote this blog entry using the socMed buttons at the top, to let Adobe know I’m the real deal on the internets.

Dick on July 14th, 2011

This is a YouTube playlist. You can watch the videos autoplay on their own, or select the ones you want to watch. iOS users may need to see my YouTube channel for this content.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been quite obsessed with 60s sounds and studio production. I’ve found that this interest often gets intertwined with my love of Los Angeles. A lot of the famous records by folks like Phil Spector and Brian Wilson were produced there. And in the milestones set by the Beach Boys, a lot of the songs are about fun in the sun.

Brian Wilson is one of my favorite musicians. In my opinion, he is also one of the best arrangers and producers ever. I created this post and its accompanying playlist on my YouTube channel because I love his music. Besides this, I also got some deep inspiration that really hit home from watching the interviews. Mr. Wilson had a troubled life. In a lot of the interviews, he speaks of how you could always dwell on bad things that have happened, but you can still be strong enough to believe in pressing on with the good things you still have. To survive being deaf in one ear, going through the entanglements of addiction, and mind control by a shrink, and still be on top when it comes to living for yourself and your family is pretty impressive. Go Brian. Go Beach Boys.

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Dick on May 26th, 2011

This is a really simple idea, so I’ll be brief. If you happen to have existing Flash applications on the web that need to be used with touch or a similar touch screen technology, ex. a kiosk, you can do so using some of the new touch screen desktops that are coming onto the scene. This presentation of the apps solves the issue of small or non-profit/government agencies being able to get into the touch venue with a low entry cost. Sure, there are several tools to wrap Flash (and HTML/CSS/Javascript workflows) up into Objective C for this use. However, if your client is not interested in incurring additional expense to perform an app conversion or slight redesign, they can go from zero to fully functional kiosk in no time. There still needs to be some sort of lock down layer to prevent other functionality of the Windows OS from being accessed, but I’m sure someone’s already built something for this. Note, this example shown in IE9 to display the scenario that the machine is truly ready for this out of the box. I’m still an open source web standards evangelist at heart. Now go get those low funded 501-3c’s online!

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Dick on May 9th, 2011
CS5 product

All these 5s got me dizzy.

No one’s got time for their designers and developers to be “non-billable” when using Adobe software. Keep reading to save yourself some frustration when upgrading to CS5.5.

The problem(s)

I recently tried to upgrade to Adobe CS5.5 (Web Premium and Production Premium Creative Suites).

I’ve used Adobe’s creative software for around 20 years cross-platform, and I must say this was the worst experience with it that I’ve ever had. Judging from the massive collection of newly authored support docs on Adobe’s site (like this one), it doesn’t seem as if I’m alone.

I still believe in the software, and Adobe’s great new focus to allow designers and developers to pursue authoring of web content on a myriad of mobile devices and platforms, with increased support for HTML 5 and web standards. Instead of going on about how bad the install experience is, I’d like to offer some suggestions for those having similar issues. Who knows, maybe it will save someone the 3 hours I had to spend getting what is essentially Master Collection up and running.

Possible Solutions

Do you get failed install errors through the Adobe installer? Do these reference conflicting payloads or proprietary codes that can only be found within Adobe’s support documentation?

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Dick on February 4th, 2011
House Daily update masthead illustration

I got to work on some illustrations this week to use with a blogsite we’re building with Google’s blogger platform.


The site delivers a collection of articles specific to politics in Virginia from a wide array of news sources. (Mostly local and regional newspapers) via RSS and subscription services.

Blogger isn’t as robust as WordPress, but it was a fun project. XML based styling for logic and CSS suprised me. It’s kind of like a huge theme, but all on one page of code. There is a fine line between doing some interface driven design and altering the code. Sometimes the processes null each other out. It’s always a win in using Google products though. I applied some text to the newspaper, as a small poll got mixed results as to what folks thought it was. I think the Turbo Tax illustrations have really been inspiring me.

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Dick on January 24th, 2011

Making Virginia's government more transparent

I never thought a full-time government gig would be as fulfilling as this one has been. Sometimes, I get the chance to do work that I feel really makes a difference for others.

At-large info:

This year at the Virginia General Assembly, @vahouse and @vasenate have upgraded the user experiences for video provided for daily floor sessions.

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Dick on November 4th, 2010

Sometimes, I have to be shown something in writing (or stone) to believe or understand it.

My dad did this sign a while back and it’s displayed in front of one of my favorite music venues.

I often walk by it when going to Starbucks. Today, while staring at it, I realized that my love of typography probably started before I could talk or write. And by the way, in the Kirkland family, we love rockin’ super-geometric, all cap, sharp swissies.

Introspective, “hit on the head” type of event, kind of like when Doc Brown remembered how to build the flux capacitor.

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Dick on October 30th, 2010
Phil Meggs

One of the greats

Phil Meggs, and many mentors over time, were always saying how important it is to keep an archive of inspiration, or a visual journal. I remember some discussion of the fact that when you’re always on and “capturing”, it’s easy to forget moments that you could build on creatively.

While most of my drawings currently revolve around websites, I still keep other archives. I’m often impressed with the quality of design, fabrication and “punch” in small things, like retail tags, for clothing, fragrances, etc. and I’ve collected many of them. While it may seem a bit odd, these serve as a small chronology of what was trending in fashion and other areas from 2000-2010. Whether it’s the prevalence of orange, the use of big swissy types, or just ’00s trends in general, it’s all there.

With all of the recent hoopla regarding Gap being forced to revoke it’s new and inadvertently crowdsource-critiqued brand, I thought these might be relevant and fun.

It’s funny to see everyone so upset about the new identity, as Gap has constantly been evolving their brand over the decade (as you’ll see in the pics). See the captions in photos for other design notes.

2010-10-29 001 2010-10-29 002 2010-10-29 004 2010-10-29 005 2010-10-29 007 2010-10-29 008 2010-10-29 009 2010-10-29 010 2010-10-29 011 2010-10-29 012 2010-10-29 013 2010-10-29 014 2010-10-29 015 2010-10-29 016 2010-10-29 017 2010-10-29 018 2010-10-29 019 2010-10-29 020 2010-10-29 021 2010-10-29 022 2010-10-29 023 2010-10-29 024 2010-10-29 025 2010-10-29 026 2010-10-29 027 2010-10-29 028 2010-10-29 029 2010-10-29 031 2010-10-29 032 2010-10-29 033 2010-10-29 034 2010-10-29 035 2010-10-29 036 2010-10-29 037 2010-10-29 038 2010-10-29 039

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Dick on October 20th, 2010
M83 - Saturdays = Youth

If you grew up in the 80s, this imagery probably makes sense.

While this album came out a while ago, I’ve been looping on it a lot lately. For some reason, it really feels like Fall to me. Then again, so does a lot of dark electronica.

On this release, M83, (Anthony Gonzalez and co.) create tunes that make all 30+ers’ hearts flutter. The album’s imagery, storylines and characters are largely based on John Hughes like films, which Mr. Gonzalez testifies to. (2nd vid)

I just think this piece of art is way underrated. It might not be one you can pop into and start singing along with, but it’s atmosphere is very special, especially if you have some connection to the 80s.

I posted some good highlights below from Pitchfork TV’s “Juan’s Basement”, which unfortunately seems to be out of production. You can always see the full blown show here though.


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