Newspapers A La Carte

Benjamin W.

December 23, 2010

There is a dream that I can’t help but dream.

Everything, everywhere, anytime, a la carte.

And though it seems slow going I get a taste of it when I realize that episode I missed is on Hulu or I remember an old song from my high school years. Of course it’s on iTunes.

This got me thinking about newspapers. The problem I have with them is that I only want to read 10% of each one. It’s not like MacWorld which is full of stuff I’m into. Macworld can survive as a print mag because the people who subscribe to it probably read most, if not all of each issue. But a newspaper has to appeal to everyone. Its job is to give me the most important information, on any topic, anywhere in the world. And it has to appeal to me, my mom, my mean neighbor and everyone else, all at the same time. That’s tough.

Let’s say you download the Wall Street Journal app on your iPad. You can share links and see what your colleagues are reading/sharing. You can post the links to your blog or email them to your dad. The only difference is, everything is free with excerpts but it cost’s 10¢ for each full article.

I know, I know. Pay Wall!!! Ahhhhh! Run!!! Murdoch is a dinosaur!

But I don’t look at it like that. This way you really get what you pay for and you don’t pay for anything you don’t want. You can still get a sense of what’s happening in the financial/tech/battle world but the things you’re really interested in, you pay for.

In an “all free or nothing free” newspaper world, I’d prefer nothing. But in a mostly free news world, I’d be handing over a lot more cash than I am now. Or at least a few dimes.

37signals Illustrations

Benjamin W.

November 11, 2010

This is another great post from 37signals.

Jamie describes the product illustration process for Basecamp. You should go read it. It’s not long and it gives some great insights.

It’s not an easy task to give a sense of an app from a small drawing of some icons. What I love about this post is that it shows iteration. It shows that the first idea really wasn’t the best idea. Still the first idea had to be executed so that we could see what was or wasn’t working. And get feedback. If he just thought and thought and thought until it hit him like a bolt of lightning, he wouldn’t have come up with that final illustration which is by far my favorite. It says what it needs to say in a clean way.

This is something I need to work on. There are too many ideas in my head that stay there because they’re not good enough yet. They only way for them or me to get good enough is to do those ideas as best I can. Put them out there. And do it again and again.

Windows Phone 7

Benjamin W.

October 11, 2010

So, I really want Windows Phone 7 to be awesome. I feel bad even saying that out loud but it’s the best looking, non-iPhone OS I’ve seen. And it may be awesome but…

How can I trust a company to make an amazing, polished, fresh approach to a mobile OS when they put this video in their presskit.

I don’t even know where to begin. This is their big unveiling? There is just nothing sexy or clear about the points Ballmer makes. I have no idea after watching this why I should care about Windows Phone 7. Here are some choice samples:

So the range of things that people will do with these devices… And they are beautiful. Each in it’s own way, exceptionally beautiful. The hardware and the way the software is always delightful across each and everyone of these experiences.

Give me a break. You really think the integration of hardware and software is a battle you should bother fighting at all? And beautiful? I can barely tell the difference between any of these and the only reason I can at all, is that they have the manufacturers logo on the face of every single one. And here’s another classic:

We wanted the Windows Phone to be always delightful for you. Whether you were looking for a place to eat, reading mail, catching up with friends or making a phone call for example.

I think that last one was a jab at the iPhone 4 but I couldn’t tell in the way Ballmer was reading the teleprompter. I just want to feel like Windows Phone 7 stands for something. And right now, I’m feeling really let down.

I wasn’t going to make the switch from my iPhone 4 but then I saw this video and realized, Microsoft does get me. 326 pixels per inch, who fucking cares? Emoticons baby!

via Daring Fireball and Engadget

OS X Automator – Combine Multiple Text Files into One

Benjamin W.

October 9, 2010

Here is an Automator workflow, service and application to combine several text files into one text file. I searched for hours trying to find something really simple and just decided to build it myself. Note: this only works with .txt files.

To use the it as a droplet, download this file:

  1. Combine Text Files Zip
  2. Unzip it.
  3. Grab “TextComboDroplet”, you can put it anywhere on your system you like.
  4. All you have to do is drag a folder containing text files you’d like to combine onto the TextComboDroplet.
  5. It will output a file called “Combined Text Files.txt” to your Desktop.

To use it as a service, download this file:

  1. Combine Text Files Zip
  2. Unzip it.
  3. Open Automator.
  4. It will ask you if you which type of file you’d like to create. Select “Open Existing Workflow” in the bottom left-hand corner.
  5. Select “Combine Text Files.workflow” from your downloads folder.
  6. Click File > Save As… and hit enter.
  7. Now, all you have to do is select two or more files from the finder and right click. At the bottom should be a “Combine Text Files” option.
  8. Clicking this will output a file called “Combined Text Files.txt” to your Desktop.

To use it as a workflow, download this file:

  1. Combine Text Files Zip
  2. Unzip it.
  3. Open “TextCombo.workflow”. It will launch Automator.
  4. Click “Run” to run it or use it with Hazel or combine it with your own Automator actions.

These files have only been tested on Snow Leopard. These are your to use for free. You can email me if you have any questions or issues: ben@thelettercase.com

The Glif: First Kickstarter Project Contribution.

Benjamin W.

October 4, 2010

I just backed my first Kickstarter project. And I’m really excited about it. Iv’e been following Kickstarter for a while. I love what they’re doing and am so glad to finally back something.

If this is something you’re really excited about, I hope you’ll back them $20.

(via Daring Fireball)

Design inspiration in new places.

Benjamin W.

September 29, 2010

As a graphic/web designer, every once in a while you may find a need to explore the web for lovely looking things and find some inspiration. I don’t think there’s a better place to look than BIKEEXIF.

I look upon these motorcycles with envy.

I locked myself in.

Benjamin W.

September 28, 2010

I’m locked in to all kinds of crap. My mac, iPhone, FreshBooks, Backpack, etc. But I’m locked in by choice. I wouldn’t even want to leave if I could. I love these tools. They’re a joy to use and have become indispensable to what I do. This is the best kind of customer loyalty there is.

I can’t believe that in the age of twitter, blogging and yelp, we can’t find some way to overcome the incredibly terrible service we get from Telcos and ISPs.

AT&T should have bought GrandCentral and turned it into a free product like Google Voice. Verizon should have such good customer service that a 2 year contract isn’t even required because you wouldn’t leave if you had the chance.

That’s something people can learn from Apple. They’re a product based company. There’s more competition in the product area. They know they have to respond and so they’re constantly innovating to stay ahead of that competition.

But with Telcos, they know they have you by the balls for two years. Oh, what a beautiful day it will be when I stay with my ISP out of loyalty.

Letter Case

Graphic Design & Web Design

Letter Case was my one-man design shop based in Los Angeles, CA.
I ran it for 2 years until I joined Typekit in January 2011.

In my spare time I've been learning to program by building my first web application.
A simple tool called Talkative to help people publish their talks on the web.

My current project is The Briefcase. A blog and podcast.
It's a place for me to create and publish stuff.

If you have any comments, thoughts or questions,
feel free to contact me at: benthomaswelch [at] gmail.com.

Thanks for checking out my blog. Cheers!

Simplicity is harder than it looks.