Archive for August 12th, 2007

I fought the Law…

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

Dundee is dominated by a massive hill (the photo above doesn’t tell the whole story – I took it when I was nearly at the top) called the Law (it means ‘hill’), formed by the plug of an ancient volcano. A smaller one forms Balgay Hill which is just up the road from me and is home to Britain’s only public observatory.

(Balgay Hill, above)

After a year of promising myself I’d do it, I finally got round to walking up the Law the other week and it was well worth the effort. The views from the top are stunning.

The photo above is the view across the Tay (known as the Silvery Tay for obvious reasons) to the Kingdom of Fife.

This photo shows the Tay Rail Bridge. The first one collapsed famously one New Year’s Eve just over 100 years ago, killing everyone on the train. Spookily, you can still see the original piles next to the current bridge. At the time it was the longest rail bridge in the world and is still the longest in Europe, apparently.
The white building in the bottom left corner is the life sciences building at the university. My office is just behind it.

To the north you can see all the way to the Sidlaw Hills, but between here and there are relics of Dundee’s industrial heritage. Several of the old textile mills, some of them massive, remain and even where they’ve been knocked down some of the chimneys remain. Its shipping heritage (Dundee was home to ship builders and Britain’s whaling fleet until relatively recently) can be seen in the east of the city.

At the top of the Law is a large war memorial that towers over you, and over the city. The lamp is lit on a few occasions each year, in particular Remembrance Sunday, and can be seen for quite some distance. This photo doesn’t do justice to the scale of the thing.

When youreach the summit you can see over towards the east and the mouth of the Tay where it meets the sea. In the distance you can see Broughty Ferry and its castle on the left, and Tayport and its large sandy beach on the right. Just past Broughty Ferry is Carnoustie where this year’s Open golf tournament was held.

At the moment a large pod of bottlenosed dolphins is making this part of the Tay its home, as it does each summer.
The bridge in the distance is the Tay Road Bridge that replaced the ancient ferry service connecting Angus to Fife.

You can see all the photos I took here, or as a slideshow.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

There is a bit of a tradition for barbers and hair salons to have silly names like “Beyond The Fringe” or (if up a flight of stairs) “A Cut Above”.

Last year I found one in St Andrews, pictured above, called “Sun Tan Drews” (ho ho). I put it up on Flickr and was recently invited to add it to a group of other punny salon photos. There are 138 at the moment and they’re well worth a look if only for a bit of a groan.

Click here for a slideshow, or click here to visit the gallery.

It’s funny ‘cos it’s true: how to kill a graphic designer

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

From – Rants, Comics & other Sillyness:

As everyone knows, graphic designers are the reason there are so many wars in this world. They get inside our heads with their subliminal advertising, force us against our will to spend money on the worst pieces of shit, and eventually, drive us to depression and random acts of violence. And of course, most of them are communists.

So to do my part to save the world from them, i made a list of things you can do when working with a graphic designer, to assure that they have a burn-out and leave this business FOREVER.

1-Microsoft Office

When you have to send a graphic designer a document, make sure it’s made with a program from Microsoft Office. PC version if possible. If you have to send pictures, you’ll have more success in driving them mad if, instead of just sending a jpeg or a raw camera file, you embed the pictures inside a Microsoft Office document like Word or Powerpoint. Don’t forget to lower the resolution to 72 dpi so that they’ll have to contact you again for a higher quality version. When you send them the ‘higher’ version, make sure the size is at least 50% smaller. And if you’re using email to send the pictures, forget the attatchment once in a while.


If the graphic designer chooses Helvetica for a font, ask for Arial. If he chooses Arial, ask for Comic Sans. If he chooses Comic Sans, he’s already half-insane, so your job’s half done.

3-More is better

Let’s say you want a newsletter designed. Graphic designers will always try to leave white space everywhere. Large margins, the leading and kerning of text, etc. They will tell you that they do this because it’s easier to read, and leads to a more clean, professional look. But do not believe those lies. The reason they do this is to make the document bigger, with more pages, so that it costs you more at the print shop. Why do they do it? Because graphic designers hate you. They also eat babies. Uncooked, raw baby meat.

So make sure you ask them to put smaller margins and really, really small text. Many different fonts are also suggested (bonus if you ask for Comic Sans, Arial or Sand). Ask for clipart. Ask for many pictures (if you don’t know how to send them, refer to #1). They will try to argument, and defend their choices but don’t worry, in the end the client is always right and they will bow to your many requests.


If you have to send a graphic designer a logo for a particular project, let’s say of a sponsor or partner, be sure to have it really really small and in a low-res gif or jpeg format. Again, bonus points if you insert it in a Word document before sending it. Now you might think that would be enough but if you really want to be successful in lowering the mental stability of a graphic designer, do your best to send a version of the logo over a hard to cut-out background. Black or white backgrounds should be avoided, as they are easy to cut-out with the darken or lighten layer style in photoshop. Once the graphic designer is done working on that bitmap logo, tell him you need it to be bigger.

If you need a custom made logo, make your own sketches on a napkin. Or better yet, make your 9 year old kid draw it. Your sketch shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to make. You don’t want to make something that’s detailed and easy to understand, because the less the designer understands what you want, the more you can make him change things afterwards. Never accept the first logo. Never accept the 9th, make him do many changes, colors, fonts & clip art. Ask him to add a picture in the logo. Bevels. Gradients. Comic Sans. And when he’s at his 10th attempt, tell him that you like the 2nd one the most. I know, it’s mean but remember: graphic designers are the cause of breast cancer among middle aged women.

5-Choosing your words

When describing what you want in a design, make sure to use terms that don’t really mean anything. Terms like ‘jazz it up a bit’ or ‘can you make it more webbish?’. ‘I would like the design to be beautiful’ or ‘I prefer nice graphics, graphics that, you know, when you look at them you go: Those are nice graphics.’ are other options. Don’t feel bad about it, you’ve got the right. In fact, it’s your duty because we all know that on fullmoons, graphic designers shapeshift into werewolves.


The best way for you to pick colors (because you don’t want to let the graphic designer choose) is to write random colors on pieces of paper, put them in a hat and choose. The graphic designer will suggest to stay with 2-3 main colors at the most, but no. Choose as many as you like, and make sure to do the hat thing in front of him. While doing it, sing a very annoying song.


When it’s your turn to approve the design, take your time. There is no rush. Take two days. Take six. Just as long as when the deadline of the project approaches, you get back to the designer with more corrections and changes that he has time to make. After all, graphic designers are responsible for the 911 attacks.

8-Finish him

After you’ve applied this list on your victim, it is part of human nature (although some would argue weather they’re human or not) to get a bit insecure. As he realises that he just can’t satisfy your needs, the graphic designer will most likely abandon all hopes of winning an argument and will just do whatever you tell him to do, without question. You want that in purple? Purple it is. Six different fonts? Sure!

You would think that at this point you have won, but don’t forget the goal of this: he has to quit this business. So be ready for the final blow: When making final decisions on colors, shapes, fonts, etc, tell him that you are disappointed by his lack of initiative. Tell him that after all, he is the designer and that he should be the one to put his expertise and talent at work, not you. That you were expecting more output and advices about design from him.

Tell him you’ve had enough with his lack of creativity and that you would rather do your own layouts on Publisher instead of paying for his services. And there you go. You should have graphic designer all tucked into a straight jacket in no time!