Graphic Design and Web Design


Book review: HTML5 For Web Designers, by Jeremy Keith

by Elzette. 1 Comment

I could have been one of the first people UK to receive HTML5 for Web Designers. I am a big fan of A List Apart and was keen to pre-order the first book of A Book Apart. I must admit, the first glimpse of the size of the book took me by surprise. But the first part of Dan Cederholm’s (author of Handcrafted CSS and Bulletproof Web Design) quote on the back of the book made sense and the second part put me at ease and curiosity at the same time.

Crack open this book after you fasten your seatbelt in Boston. Before you land in Chicago, you’ll stop worrying and finally, fully understand HTML5. As usual, Mr. Keith takes a complex topic and eloquently describes it for the rest of us.

It is a ‘light’ informative read (with comparisons throughout the book that has a funny twist to it), thus after a few weeks I thought to read it again. Even though reviews of this book have been popping up all over the interwebs, I want to have a mention of my own.

The beginning of the book, chapter 1, starts with ‘right from the beginning’. Some things you might know and some things I did not know and how HTML5 is moving things forward for a semantic web and web applications.

Chapter 2 explains about the basic structure of HTML5. Not necessarily the ‘birth of HTML5’, but the support for existing elements, elements that is obsolete, redefining some elements and the development there forth. This chapter also includes design principles such as “Do not reinvent the wheel” and “Pave the cowpaths”.  And once again with excellent comparisons, HTML to everyday things (from a movie, Greek mythology to train spotters) that made me smile.

Chapter 3 introduces the new exciting media elements. A thorough uncomplicated explanation of the <canvas> element with the available attributes. The limitations it has for now (lack of accessibility), but how it currently can be used in web design. The <audio> element also rolls out with a list of attributes and their values — if they have — in simple terms and the nifty things you can do with it.


Chapter 4 is dedicated to web forms. HTML5’s new and expanded form elements and how new additions replace the use of JavaScript (well, until all browsers support it). There are a lot of cow paths being paved…

Chapter 5 is all about semantics! It consists of a thorough list of new elements and their use in the HTML5 mark-up – paving more cow paths in the structure. It also consists of a handy update to the content models and their new names. It includes examples of how to use the new structure elements and how it influences the outline of a document.

Chapter 6 end the book off with how we can use HTML5 today.

In all seriousness of HTML5, the light hearted, quirky writing style made it a joy to read. The stylish, modern design and layout of the book by Jason Santa Maria complements the editorial.

8 Faces – Limited Edition #1

by Elzette. 0 Comments

A couple of weeks ago the announcement of 8 Faces took the design world by storm. It is a limited edition magazine about typography and design. For the first issue a thousand copies was sold out in 2 hours. It also caught the interest of The Independent, New Statesman, Typedia, Needs/Wants, and PSFK. I was one of the lucky ones to get my hands on a copy.


My first impression, holding the magazine in my hands — a bit smaller than I thought— 21X21cm to be exact. I think the sneak peek from the PDF, viewed from view port to view port on a relatively big monitor, put me under the wrong impression. To justify the excellent overall design and layout I had more along the lines of 25X25cm in mind.


Besides size and the excellent overall design and layout, I love the attention to detail. I received the magazine in decent packaging to avoid any damage in the post with a little 8 Faces sticker on the outside front. It is printed on a heavy uncoated stock. As a huge fan of print finishes, the silver foil blocked title is the cherry on the cake! Oh, last but not least, included is a bookmark (a MOO card) to say ‘thank you for the purchase’. Even though it is the digital age and a lot of people think print is dying, clearly there was a gap in the market for a venture like this.

The concept is an interview with eight leading designers from the fields of web design, print design, illustration and type design. Each interview end with the answer to the question; If you could use just eight typefaces for the rest of your life, which would you choose? The first issue feature interviews with designers Erik Spiekermann, Jessica Hische, Ian Coyle, Jason Santa Maria, Jos Buivenga, Jon Tan and Bruce Willen & Nolen Strals and The League of Movable Type. I guess, not strangely enough, the type designers choose mostly their own fonts.


The editor also hits it on the nail with the articles and interviewees. It ties in well with a few lines out of Jason Santa Maria‘s interview:

What matters is the story that we’re telling: the content. And the design of that content is there to reinforce it – it’s there to help tell that story.

All in all 8 Faces #1, with Loreena McKennitt in the background, completed my Saturday afternoon. It is a great read on great designers touching topics such as lettering, typography and typography on the web today.



On the printing side of things

I read Elliot Jay Stock’s blog post On publishing. He talks about the production process of the magazine, different printing processes and how he decided to go with the digital print option.

For a print run of a thousand copies or higher, I am definitely a fan of lithographic printing. Some of the known issues with digital printing are the dot size, especially when it comes to printing a shade of a colour. Even more so, with gray shapes that is made up of a percentage of black ink only. Even though the quality of digital printers has improved a lot over the last years, lithographic printers are still ahead of the game when it comes to quality. The dot pattern of lithographic printing are a lot finer. This is noticeable in the gray text and lines in the magazine.

The advantage though with this issue printed digitally, was to dynamically number each copy. Even though I am more of a litho printed gray dot fan, for a digital printed magazine it is made really well. Another issue with printing digital is getting the registration spot on. The design of the magazine has a thick stroke that runs horizontal across the page through out the magazine. And through out the magazine it matches up perfectly, including from one spread to another.

From a print point of view it would be interesting the compare the first digital printed issue with the second lithographic printed issue. From an overall magazine point of view, I am looking forward to read the next issue!

Adobe Creative Suite 5

by Elzette. 0 Comments

The new Adobe Creative Suite 5 was launched 12 April 2010! I am still working in CS3 everyday. I have done a few things in CS4, but not enough to have a real opinion. From what I have come across on the internet, people are not sure if it is worth the upgrade. Looking at new features in a few applications of CS5 and the new additions, Adobes’ Business Catalyst and Flash Catalyst, it is pretty exciting stuff to me. Adobe has also introduced CS Live. It is a collection of online services that work within the CS5 applications. This is a feature I have been after for while. It makes it easy to collaborate with colleagues and clients on projects.

From a design point of view


Adobe kept the dominating colours that was implemented with CS3. With CS5 the Desktop Brand team at Adobe decided to concentrate more on the splash screen. It is based on the isometric grid similar to Otl Aicher’s work for the 1972 Munich Olympics. The five pieces give the shapes exactly the right amount of complexity and it ties in nicely with the fifth CS release. Read the in depth discussion about the design process at idsgn.

Adobe Creative Suite 5 Design Premium

Adobe Creative Suite 5 Design PremiumIn a nutshell I will point out a few new features in Adobe Creative Suite 5 Design Premium that consist of the following:
(Including Bridge CS5, Device Central CS5 and integrates with CS Live online services)

  • Photoshop CS5 Extended
  • Illustrator CS5
  • InDesign CS5
  • Flash Catalyst CS5
  • Flash Professional CS5
  • Dreamweaver CS5
  • Fireworks CS5
  • Acrobat 9 Pro

ps-iconPhotoshop CS5 Extended

Adobe has created a new painting engine in Photoshop. By clicking on the paintbrush and selecting the mixer brush, it will show a preview of an actual brush on the screen. ‘Pick’ up the new art brush from the walk-on tablet and a 3D preview appear by rotating the barrel of the brush. With previous versions, pushing colours was the only options. Now colours can be blended too. Paint directly over an photograph or just create original art.

Puppet Warp
This feature accurately warp images with exact precision. Say, you have an object with a transparent background, by selecting >Edit>Puppet Warp a mash will appear over the object. The mash can be turned on and off. By adding control points/pins to specific points on the object to lock areas down, you can achieve more control with accuracy. Different modes are available for this feature, for example normal and distort.

Use it to merge together multiple images. It can merge together different exposures from the Merge to HDR Pro dialogue. In a drop down menu there are different toning presets. A new unique feature added on to it, is Remove ghosts feature. It isolates a preferred single master frame within the HDR image.

Refine Mask
The ability to make a very accurate mask a lot easier. It first makes a quick mask selection. It don’t necessarily has to select for example hair’s fine detail. In the masking panel under Refine Mask panel are the new controls to paint in the areas of transition. Radius and edge detection is the key to get the better selection for the mask. With a brush, go over the edges and defined details will emerge. By exporting the new mask it will create a new layer leaving the original untouched.

Content Aware Fill
This new feature works nicely with the Refine Mask feature for photo manipulation. If you have removed an object to a new layer and want to rid of it in the background of the original layer/image, this feature comes in handy. In the Fill dialogue, under the drop-down menu is the Content Aware option. With one click it removes the object from the background. It basically examines the area around a selection and replaces it based on what it decides is a good match.


Perspective Drawing
The new perspective drawing tools create a perspective grid that can be changed and manipulated to hearts end. By using any of the drawing tools and by selecting a pane, the artwork will go on the grid in perspective. With short cuts it is easy to change panels. Objects from other files can be applied.

Variable Stroke Width Tool
By using the Width tool, you can place plots anywhere on a stroke and change the width of the stroke. If there is a stroke that you are particular proud of and want to use again, just save it as a profile.

Shape Builder Tool
This tool detects various pieces/objects that is grouped together. By dragging the cursor from the one object to the other it creates one single shape. Hold down shift key to combine multiple objects.

Drawing Mode: Draw Inside
This feature constrain drawing within an object. Even if you draw outside of the lines, it will constrain (and mask for that matter) the drawing to the outline of the object. With this mode you can even paste grouped objects in live text.


The new additions to Indesign that I mention here are all specifically ones that I have been waiting for. And talking to a few other Indesign everyday users, they agree.

Multiple Page Sizes
It is basically what the heading says. Now the pages can also change the orientation. This will work especially well with setting up a page foldout.

Spanning and Splitting for Columns
Normally I would have to create a separate text box for a heading to span over columns, which result in to many text boxes all over the page. Now by just selecting the header and choosing the ‘span’ command with different options to the amount of columns.

Splitting works well with a list of bullet points that can easily fit in two columns within a column. With the Split command (opposite from the above mentioned), the selected text only can easily be split into 2 columns.

Borrow content from another Indesign Document
With Mini Bridge within the Workspace, you can select links from another Indesign project and drag it into the open Indesign document you are working on.

Gap Tool

interactive frame resizing

This tool detects the gaps between frames and automatically drag and resize the frames whilst keeping the gaps between the frames equal. Interactive gap and frame placement takes place. By holding down the shift key, the two top and bottom frames can be change independently.

Interactive Live Corner Effect
Rounded corners is possible for frames of previous versions, but not with a live stroke. Dragging the corners changes the radius and by keeping in shift, each corner can be changed individually to get different corner effects for each corner.

Interactive Indesign Documents
Flip through the document, get sound, animations, roll overs, slide shows, flash video to play directly inside of the document. All happening in Indesign with out writing a single line of code.


Inspect Mode
Inspect Mode needs to be turned on by having Live View open. By hovering over areas on the page it uses colour codes to show how CSS is effecting the page. By hovering over a section, it freezes that state in the CSS rules panel. It makes it quick and easy to make changes to the CSS file.
This works well if you want to play around with different options for an element. A CSS rule can be ‘switched off’ with one click. The result can be viewed immediately in real time.

Live View Navigation
I must have feature when working with a dynamic website. Make changes to a .php include and in Live View it will render the whole web page as it would in a browser. With this you can actually click around and navigate through the test website.

Dynamically Related
By turning on Live Code, it renders the code the browser see. Then there is also a way to get to all the related files and assets. Click on the new feature Discover, which will turn on another new feature, Dynamically Related files. There is an option to exclude some of the files in the list (that could be way to long). For example, by selecting CSS from a drop down menu it will only show .css files. A custom filter is also available to search more specifically.

Final Thought

I personally think there are enough useful new features to make the upgrade worth while (especially from CS3). CS Live will make my life a lot easier by streamlining work flow and save time and the client’s time. For those sharing the same excitement, the English language version is expected to be available for shipping by mid-May 2010.

Wine Tasting Like a Connoisseur

by Elzette. 0 Comments

Growing up close to the Cape Winelands in South Africa, I have developed a love for wine. I decided to attend a wine tasting evening hosted by Margaret Silbermann from Connoisseur. Connoisseur host different classes, from shorter weekday classes with topics from Matching Food and Wine Tasting, Wines From Chile Tasting, Wine with Cheese, to longer Saturday Basic and Advance Wine Courses.

I attended the Wine and Spicy Foods course. In this experience I had the opportunity to taste 8 different wines with a variety of 7 different spicy foods.

The first discussion was about the four recognised stages of wine tasting:

  • appearance
  • “in glass” the aroma of the wine
  • “in mouth” sensations
  • “finish” aftertaste

Secondly, we moved on to the 8 different wines up for tasting, with the different spicy foods. These were good quality wines and a good example of the chosen grape varieties:

  • PINOT GRIGIO 2008 Fibiano Veneto Italy
  • TORRONTES 2007 Santa Ana Mendoza Argentina
  • RIESLING 2007 Siegel Mosel France
  • SAUVIGNON BLANC 2008 Nobilo Marlborough New Zealand
  • SYRAH Rose 2007 Montiac Vin de Pays d’Oc France
  • PINOTAGE 2007 Klippenkop Coastal Region South Africa
  • CARMENERE 2006 Ravanal Colchagua Valley Chile
  • ZINFANDEL 2006 Ravenswood Lodi CA USA


The first round of wine tasting was all the wines by it self (without any food). Following the four step wine tasting process, there is a clear difference between the wines. Such as, the appearance is not just red and white. The white wine vary from almost as light as water to more light green/yellow. Holding a glass of red wine against a white background, the differences in red is clearly visible and the age of the wine can also be judged. By smelling and tasting the wine, exciting and surprising flavours were discovered. From the Pinot Grigio with a taste of summer fruits, Riesling that smells dry but taste sweeter, Sauvignon Blanc‘s exotic fruits with slight bitterness on the palate to the more spicy Syrah, Pinotage with dark fruit aromas and a pepper taste on the palate, Carmenere‘s smokeyness on the nose but cinnamon and vanilla on the palate and Zinfandel‘s explosion of fruit.

After the first round, the rest was up to a journey of discovery. A round of tasting took place of each of the 8 wines with the following 7 spicy foods:

  • Garlic & Coriander Nun
  • Spring Roll
  • Samosa
  • Spicy Chicken
  • German Pepper Sausage
  • Mexican Salsa

The Conclusion

Everyone has different personal tastes. In general there were the favourite specific wines that everyone agreed on to go well with spicy foods. The Pinot Grigio was fresh and fruity on its own, but could not keep up with any of the spicy flavours. Even the garlic and coriander was to overwhelming. The Riesling was the overall favourite to keep its flavour, by not getting to overwhelmed by the spicy taste of the food. I personally find the Riesling to sweet and prefer red wine in general. The natural vanilla and cinnamon flavours of the CARMENERE 2006 Ravanal Colchagua Valley Chile, without being sweet (for me) made it the best combination with all the spicy food.

For someone that have not discovered their favourite grape variety or never know which wine to choose in a restaurant or just for a nice night out, wine tasting evenings like this is highly recommended.

Visit to The Icecreamist

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Icecreamist: (adjective if using to describe) 1. A person or persons addicted to or obsessed with ice cream. ‘An extreme ice cream fanatic.’
2. A person or persons subscribing to ‘Icecreamism’ as an ideology.

Icecreamism: (Noun) 1. A term used to define people suffering from an addiction to or obsession with ice cream. 2. A philosophical or political ideology arising from the 21st century meltdown.

There were a few places on the internet that I noticed a mention about the not so avarage ice cream installation, The Icecreamist. They created their lounge at Selfriges, Bond Street London and is open 10 September – 1 November 2009. I had to see what it is all about.

Who are The Icreamists?

(This is a bit from the menu)

The Icecreamists are a troupe of provocateurs and iconoclasts with a background in staging dramatic high-profile events. Whilst engaged on these clandestine and legally dubious pursuits, they would on occasion be discovered by law enforcement officers, enjoying illicit chills with a tub of freshly-made artisans gelato. One day they read that ice cream could be subversive and was being used to undermine the government of Belarus, a state in the former Soviet Union.

Organised ice cream eating as political protest had begun and The Icecreamists were born; sub-zero missionaries destined to convert a cold, cruel unforgiving world to the life-enhancing gospel of freshly-made artisans gelato. Today, the founders are still hopelessly foul-mouthed, anti-establishment and politically incorrect, but they have purged themselves of their old law-breaking ways and dedicated their lives to pioneering a new ideology, what they describe as ‘Icecreamism.’

The Icecreamists says it’s a bit like socialism, only funnier, more addictive and tastes better. Now aficionados can enjoy Icecreamism anywhere they fancy. Against the bar, against the wall or against the law.


The Experience

The Icecreamist set up a restuarant/ ice cream boutique in Selfriges, Bond Street London with the theme “God Save the Cream”. Live performances take place during the day on a little stage with The Icecreamist “God Save the Cream” version of the Union Jack. I had good timing with 3 Italian opera songs while indulging in the naughty ice cream delight.

What to order!?

Disregarding an ice cream only menu, it consists of sweet and savoury ice creams which include Selfridges Ice Cream Sandwich with cream of Cucumber, Gordon’s Glory, a 21st century reimagining of the Knickerbocker Glory and ‘The Sex Pistol’, a Natural Stimulant Ice Cream served as a shot in a pink water pistol! Also Sundae Lunch Sorbet: World’s first frozen three course Sundae Lunch Sorbet. A 3 course menu consisting Green Pea Sorbet, Beef Bouillon Sorbet with a hint of Horseradish and Yorkshire Pudding Crisp, Blackberry & Apple Ice cream with a crumble topping. Finished with a frozen shot of coffee. I am not so sure about this one, but it is going for £16.99.

The average size is 180ml at £3.99 for the sorbet and £4.99 for ice cream. That can be topped up with a selection of hot sauces: Hot Chocolate, Hot Fudge & Hot Espresso at an extra £1.99. For the over 18′s there are the more daring Alcoholic Ice Cream Cocktails.

It is pretty much up to choices choices… and between me and my friend we came up with the following selection:

  • Chocland Yard Dark: Chocolate Ice Cream blended using Willy Harcourt Couze’s famous 72% Dark chocolate ‘Rio Caribe Superior’. Strong, earthy chocolate flavours with fruity notes. Dark, decadent and naughty. The ultimate chocolate hit. “Really gorgeous, less sweet smooth dark chocolate taste – just the way I like it!”
  • The Custardy Suite: Traditional Italian Crema Ice Cream. Rich, eggy and delicious. A unique Italian alternative to vanilla. “A bit to much on the sweet side, but with a smooth creamy texture. Perhaps there was more interesting options on the menu…”
  • Absinthe Ice Cream: I do not have a description for this one, but it had a nice wilder taste to it… or was that my imagination. This flavour is also used in ‘The Infamous Sex Pistol Ice Cream’. “Interesting almost spicy but pleasant taste… I do not know otherwise how to describe it.”

Icecreamist's advertising image

If you find yourself in the neighborhood and in the mood for an experience with a twist, make sure to pop in before 1 November 2009. You can also visit their blog.

London Girl Geek Dinners’ date with Norton

by Elzette. 0 Comments

Real life, for every person has so many security risks every day. If that is not enough, so does everyone’s virtual world. Con Mallon, European product developer from Norton, spoke at London Girl Geek Dinner, 30 September 2009 about their new cloud-based anitvirus. Even though the big world out there seems dangerous, according to his statistics, 1 out of 5 people gets effected every day by the ‘scary’ virtual world; the internet.

Con Mallon started off with the complexity of their business, keeping up with all the internet baddies constantly creating new applications with new attributes. Reality bites in a few ways:

AV signatures will never be good enough. Signatures presume you have a sample of the malware itself or are generic enough that you can make some assumptions about the “family” it belongs to in order to detect it properly, even if it changes a little. Since most malware today is unique and thousands of new ones everyday, it has become a daunting task keeping track of every day’s latest malware and getting it blacklisted. Signatures should rather be the last line of defense and rely on newer technologies to deflect or capture unknown threats.

Scanning is getting old. There must be a constant search on the computer for threats. The most popular threat today is the Trojan horse. If there is a scan after this infection takes place, some or most of the malware will be found. It is not comforting to know about the possibility of undetected malware. And what about the fairly typical rootkits that now burrow deep in an infected system? Normal scanning can not detect ALL the malware, because some of them might still be unknown. It is not completely useless, but also more a last-line of defense.

Intrusion prevention or exploit blocking. It works on the principle that a lot of attempted infections know which computers are unpatched. Thus some sort of “virtual patch” can prevent an attack. Malware detection techniques that monitor application behavior do the same kind of work, as they detect unknown threats.

Watching network communications on a system. This is similar to what a firewall does. It is looking for signs of an unknown threat or unwanted application.

Basically, none of the new-style protection techniques mentioned are foolproof, but are required to defend a computer properly. Plans had to made…

Scanning SAPS Performance.

Norton Insight was developed, which is based on the idea of scanning less. It determine what is trusted and consequently, do not need to be scanned. Norton AntiVirus which is full-featured AntiVirus & AntiSpyware (e.g., full real-time protection, behavior-based protection, intrusion prevention, Norton Insight, etc.) use roughly 2.17MB of RAM. If there is any trouble with performance impact, then the solution is to turn off logging. Scanning only takes place when files are executed. This model allows malware to be copied merrily from place to place without detection in an effort to lighten the load on the system.

Norton Anti-virus 2010 coverNorton AntiVirus 2010.

Cloud computing from what I can make in simple terms; a whole lot of data/information tucked in a cloud and anyone from anywhere can access it. Norton security protection use to work on the principle of creating endless blacklists and white lists and a community-driven database of trusted applications that don’t need to be scanned. The need for a cloud-based approach became necessary to improve scan speed and focus attention where it’s needed most: unknown applications. Now, the latest malware can been seen, by using techniques like behavior & network traffic analysis.

Cloud-based antivirus (AV) can be seen as a subset of cloud security. When installing the new AntiVirus, there is an option to agree that your computer can be scanned in the background for unknown files (AV definitions). This create a super database of AV definitions in the sky.

Cloud-based malware detection is a technique that provides an additional layer of protection beyond the traditional signatures that typically detect a single, known threat. It adds more sophisticated techniques (as mentioned above), such as behavior-based malware detection, network traffic analysis, and strong intrusion prevention (exploit blocking). All of these work even on unknown malware. And even these protection features, much like cloud-based AV, work a lot better when they function together inside an integrated suite with layered protection.

Features: Anti-Malicious Software (virus, rootkit, spyware, worms and Trojan boot protection included), Pulse Update and Application Optimization.

New Features: Norton Insight Network and SONAR 2 (cloud computing based protection).

Strong Points: Fast install and loading times with very low system impact and fast scanning. Automatically delays products updates and other tasks in the middle of important activities like watching movies, playing games or burning CDs/DVDs. Power Saver setting is great for a laptop/notebook.

Now I need to take it for a test drive! After a month I will write another post of how it went.

Thanks again to the people at SYMANTEC for an informative evening with wine & snacks and last but not least, for donating the lovely sweatshirts!