Ben Gilman, web designer London

March 9, 2012

Missing ‘life events’ from Facebook Timeline

A few weeks back Facebook unveiled their Timeline feature – a new way to tell your friends (and possibly everyone else) every fine detail of your life. I laughed to myself as I tapped in the details of the time I broke my toe trying to kick a rolled up pair of socks. Dutifully Facebook slotted this momentous event into my Timeline for all to see. But a further exploration of the ‘life event’ options left me disappointed in the lack of opportunities for real over-sharing. What follows are my suggestions for some life events that Facebook have unwittingly omitted from their feature list – the fools.

Prison time

Facebook Timeline encourages you to record holidays, military service or studying overseas. But hey Facebook, what’s with there being no option for a stay at Her Majesty’s pleasure?

Facebook jailed

A new diagnosis

Understandably, Facebook does give you the option to record overcoming an illness. But they’ve missed a trick, reporting your recent diagnosis (with an accurate date stamp) on your Timeline would also avoid having to make any awkward phonecalls.

Facebook STDs

Toilet breaks

Facebook Timeline is all about telling your life story, but just like Star Trek a big part of all of our everyday lives is omitted. Hidden away like it doesn’t happen. This could be easily rectified to the joy of many a Facebook user.

Facebook toilet breaks

TV appearance

In many ways I think this is a pretty fair point. We’d all like to report to our friends about our five minutes of fame. Of course, you know full well all you’d see is this sort of thing.

Facebook TV appearance

Marching orders

Facebook is awash with people reporting their new jobs but surprisingly lacking reports of job exits. This could be easily rectified and include some handy details for future employers.

Facebook sacked

Alcohol-induced black outs

Another public service opportunity missed by the Facebook developers. As you awake bleary-eyed with the early onset of a biblical hangover you realise you’ve been relieved of part of your memory. Tap in a few details to Facebook timeline and your friends would happily fill you in on every detail, quite possibly with photos too. Handy!

Facebook black outs

So there we are Facebookers, you can have these ideas free of charge. Just keep an eye on your privacy settings eh?

February 17, 2012

Terrible autobiography titles and how they were created (maybe)

There’s nothing like a wander through your local WH Smith… fortunately. The shelves groan under the weight of autobiographies by the most prosaic of people. One thing about these works is perfectly consistent: their invariably bad and often downright terrible titles. I’ve collected some of my favourites and imagined the conversations at the publishers that led to their titling.

Shane Richie – Rags To Richie

Shane Richie - Rags To Richie

— The pun-generating machine is broken, what are we going to do?

— Stand back, I’ve had an idea.

Julie Walters – That’s Another Story

Julie Walters - That's Another Story

— We need a well-known phrase about stories.

— How about this one?

— Perfect. I’m a big fan of the way it implies the best stuff isn’t in the book.

Fred Dibnah – Did You Like That?

Fred Dibnah - Did You Like That?

— OK, starting point, let’s use the catchphrase.

— I’m a bit concerned it sounds quite menacing out of context.

— No no, we’re fine, pair it with this picture.

— Not sure that’s helped.

Richard Branson – Losing My Virginity

Richard Branson - Losing My Virginity

— It’ll work but it could be stronger. Ideas?

— Any way we could get ‘Dick’ in there too?

Coleen Nolan – Upfront & Personal

Coleen Nolan - Upfront & Personal

— Two words is where it’s at. Two words and an ampersand.

— Colleen is so upfront but also it’s a very personal take.

— Bingo! Let’s ignore the fact that it sounds like a soft porn movie.

Shirley Maclaine – Sage-Ing While Age-Ing

Shirley Maclaine - Sage-ing While Age-Ing

— This book about getting older is great but we really need a title that emphasises the aspect of age.

— Here we go.

— Pretty good – but I’m a bit concerned the rhyme could be missed.

— Superfluous hyphen or two?

— Let’s book in a coffee to chat about your promotion.

Sanda ‘Pepa’ Denton – Let’s Talk About Pep

Sanda 'Pepa' Denton - Let's Talk About Pep

— OK, titles… any ideas?

— A Dash Of Pepa? Pepa-Spray?

— Hang on, I’ve got it.

Tori Spelling – sTori Telling

Tori Spelling - sTori Telling

— That’s great but the pun isn’t clear enough. Make the S lowercase and let’s talk sequels.

— Uncharted TerriTORI?

— Let’s take an early lunch.

Inspired by these fine titles I’ve decided to put pen to paper on my own story. In my own words. Shocking. Heartwarming. Life-affirming. Serialised in the Mail On Sunday.

Ben Gilman - Now & Ben

February 9, 2012

How To Neglect Blogging And Disappoint People

Sand conceals steps

Hello there.

Observant regular readers of this blog will note that my last blog post was over a year ago. I wrote optimistically about books I was intending to read that cold January of 2011. Then the blog went quiet. Of course, once you allow the blogger’s block to get to you it’s tough to shake; as the gap in posts widen so too wanes your ability to conjure any worthwhile words.

I remember well how I felt about blogging in January 2011. I’d long before transferred most of my opinions to tweets – tweeting links, summarising more complex ideas into 140 characters and generally neglecting this blog. When time is tight, it’s easier to tweet a link with no context than add your thoughts – in short, you contribute little but the amplification of the importance of another destination.

In many ways I’ve never had the discipline for regular blogging – will February 2012 change that? Let’s see.

To accompany this resumption and by way of an ice-breaker, here’s three web things that have caught my eye recently:

  • Goodreads: I joined this book cataloguing and community site months ago in order to satisfy my need for organising and tagging things. They’ve just launched a slick Facebook Timeline app which quietly adds your reading activity straight into your Timeline page – sweet, sweet data.
  • Pinterest: For designers and fans of the aesthetic, Pinterest certainly hosts some inspiring curated boards of visuals. There’s also some comment inanity that challenges even Youtube for it’s pointlessness. You’ll rapidly identify the two. Want an invitation? I have a few.
  • FontFabric: An independent type foundry from Sofia in Bulgaria, FontFabric craft striking typefaces and think nothing of distributing many of them free of charge. Have a look.

Well, the blogger’s block has been overcome – now, you could contribute to a further reduction in the regularity of blog posts here by joining the roster of clients of my design company, Rarebright Design? Get in touch if you’re interested.

(I know you’ve all been waiting to here how I got on with my January reading list. Well, I scored a solid 5 out of 6. I never made it through How To Make Friends & Influence People – read into that what you will. Oryx & Crake meanwhile is now one of my favourite works of the post-apocalyptic, speculative fiction sub genre. So there.)

January 10, 2011

Six books for a long January

Perhaps it’s because we’re all beginning another trip around the Sun that I’ve found a renewed appetite to tackle the growing pile of books awaiting my attention. Here’s what’s on my January reading list.

My January reading list

Hardboiled Web Design by Andy Clarke (@malarkey)

I’ll start with the one I’ve actually already read! There’s not many superlatives that haven’t been thrown at this book over the past couple of months since the eBook version was released. As you’d expect from a Five Simple Steps book, Hardboiled Web Design is skillfully-written, beautifully-produced and illustrated, and an inspiring read to boot. If you’re an HTML and CSS purist needing solace in a long, dark January, I suggest you pick yourself up a copy.

Threadless by Jake Nickell (@skaw)

Given that every designer the world over has at some point thought that their fortune lay in designing t-shirts there’s really no way this book could fail to sell. Covering entrepreneurship, design and t-shirts, it’s a perfect fit for me – one to flick through with a cup of tea and the heating on.

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

This book occupies that weird state where it was on my Amazon wishlist but I have no memory of how I found out about it. Still, I love these sorts of books and as a generous family member bought this for me as a Christmas gift I shall be tackling it in due course. Thoughts later maybe.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (@malcgladwell)

When I get round to reading Outliers it’ll be the first of Gladwell’s books I’ve read. I’m not entirely sure what to expect. I remember reading about Barack Obama’s campaign team being firm believers in the logic of The Tipping Point (another Gladwell book) but beyond that I know very little. It’s these sorts of holes in my knowledge that I’m hoping to rectify with the ambitious six books on the January reading list.

How to Make Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

No list would be complete without at least one book for the ages. How to Make Friends… made it onto my wishlist whilst I was reading the excellent 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman. A self-help book that remains relevant a year later is an achievement, to still be recommended reading nearly 80 years later is more than enough reason to read it I’d say.

Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood (@margaretatwood)

Jason Fried of 37 Signals famously said “I don’t read fiction. I find it a waste of time.” – I couldn’t disagree more, but then, Fried’s the one with the highly-sucessful, multi-million dollar company. Still, carry on regardless – I have an endless appetite for apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic literature so Atwood’s book fits in perfectly.

Let reading commence

So there it is – an ambitious six books to tackle before February rolls around. Any you’d recommend I bring to the top of the pile, one you’d advise I ditch completely? Let me know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter. I’ve been @bengilman – have a productive January.

October 23, 2010

Rarebright Design is go!

Yesterday marked the end of my first month of running my own design business. Rarebright Design has been nice and busy so far with work that I’d mostly arranged before I left my job plus some new things too.

The problem with being busy is it doesn’t leave much time for designing a brand or building a website for your own business. I once worked with a design company who believed that having their own website would only give clients the unwanted impression that they were not good enough to have any other work to do. I’m don’t subscribe to that idea. On the contrary – the new Rarebright Design website is now ready for your perusal at rarebright.com.

September 17, 2010

Tomorrow… the world!

Today will be my last day at lovemoney.com.

Timeline

It’s nearly five years since a far younger version of myself joined The Motley Fool as web designer #3. Over a most enjoyable tenure I’ve seen the transition to a new company and brand, countless feature releases and five editions of FIFA on three different games consoles. My proudest achievements throughout that time have been the extensive Fool realignment in 2008, designing the logo and developing the brand for lovemoney.com (and in the process giving life – but not the animation – to a weird little creature called Odo) and working in the three-person team that conceived and launched the innovative Online Banking service. Not too shabby.

As of Monday I begin a new era as company director but most importantly designer-for-hire of my own company, Rarebright Design. What’s in a name? Nothing too deep – but it sounds nice. So with that, I’m now available for web design and branding projects/contracts. The first job on my to-do list is to build the Rarebright website and get my portfolio up-to-date, not to mention covering off all the other details that a new venture requires. But do please drop me an email if you think I could help with your web project.

So, an economic downturn, good time to start a new business? If you believe Paul Graham’s take on new ventures…

…the time to act is always now.

Even with some license around the context, I’m happy with that logic. Here’s to the next five years.