Month: December 2010

Steven’s most-used iPhone apps

Steven is currently 2 and a half years old and has been using the iPhone since before he was two. Here are the ones that have amused him the most over the past almost-year or so.

  • Peekaboo Barn – Tap the barn to open the door and see what animal is making the noise. A voice-over tells you the animal and a word is also displayed, although you can change the settings for no voice (or to hear it in Spanish!). Steven learned to say “moo” from this app and still enjoys it now. There is a free version with a few animals, but after just a few days of hearing “moo,” “baa,” and “cockledoodledoo” over and over and over again, we sprang for the paid version.
  • FirstWords: Deluxe – Drag mixed-up letter tiles into the right spots. When the word is completed, the picture animates, a fun sound effect is played, and a voice reads the word. The Deluxe version combines FirstWords: Animals, Vehicles, At Home, etc., etc. for about the cost of a venti Starbucks drink. Even before Steven started recognizing letters, he knew to drag the tiles around until they “hit” the right spot; now he’s starting to pay more attention to the letters that “match,” even if he still can’t recognize them on his own. This is probably one of his favorites. There is a free version of FirstWords: Animals, I think, but I would just get the Deluxe version right away.
  • Shape Builder – Drag puzzle pieces into a silhouette of a shape. When the puzzle is complete, the object fades in, a voice reads the name of the object, and a sound effect is played. It took about two days of us holding Steven’s hand to guide the puzzle pieces into place for him to figure out how to play it on his own. This is also one of his favorites. There is a lite version but the paid one is well worth it.
  • Preschool Connect-the-Dots – Tap the dots labeled with uppercase letters, lowercase letters, or numbers, in order to form an outline of a shape that fills in with a spoken word and sound effect. You can change the settings so that it’s easier (the next dot is immediately highlighted), so that the letter/numbers are spoken as you tap them, etc., etc. Steven needs it on the “easy” setting for now, but we noticed him starting to say the names of the letters as he played it more and more.
  • Old MacDonald – an interactive sing-out-loud “book” with lots of animations and Easter egg-type things that happen when you touch the pictures.
  • Balloonimals – Blow into the mic to inflate a balloon, then shake the phone a few times to “twist” the balloon into a cool balloon animal. There is a free version with two animals, but we got the paid version, too. Steven ends up spitting all over the phone when he tries to blow it, and sometimes he gets frustrated when he can’t blow it up all the way and it deflates.
  • weeGiggle – Steven liked this “exploratory app” more when he was younger. Drag around the scene and touch the animals to hear funny sounds, laughs, and watch them change shape. He’s a little bored with it now, but initially it was a sure-fire way to keep his attention for a long time.
  • Stunt Wagon – I think we got this game for free during a promotion (it’s now $0.99). It’s more for older kids/adults as it’s a video-game-type app, where you have to steer your character down a hill, avoiding obstacles. Even though Steven can’t play it for real, he likes the music and the funny sounds that the characters make when they crash into obstacles, so we often hear it coming from the back seat. I probably wouldn’t have bought it, though.
  • Built-in iPhone Photos – Steven loves to browse through the photos and videos on my iPhone.

Nothing But SharePoint Logo Design

Nothing But SharePoint is a joint venture between Jeremy Thake’s SharePoint Dev Wiki, Mark Miller’s End User SharePoint, and Joel Oleson’s SharePoint Land, combining the resources from these three popular SharePoint resource sites into one location. Originally, Marcy Keller was handling their design and SharePoint branding needs, but when she had to step out for personal reasons, they approached Heather Waterman of Synteractive, who I like to refer to as “SharePoint Queen,” for some help with getting the sites finished. Heather decided it would be a good training opportunity for me to get familiar with SharePoint branding, so we took on the task of creating additional design comps and building out the SharePoint sites. (You can read more about the full development process at Jeremy’s intro article – talk about a team effort!)

And along the way, I got to design the logo for Nothing But SharePoint, which is what this post is really about.

I was given full creative license. So I pulled out my sketchbook and started sketching.

This was one of the rare occasions where I barely did anything before an idea that was intriguing popped out to me. I could have spent more time sketching, but I had limited time for producing this logo so I decided to run with it. I liked the repeated shapes between the curvy “N” and “S” and “b” and “p,” so I moved into Illustrator to try to create those shapes. I drew paths with the pen tool and circle/rounded rectangle tool, then stroked them with a thick stroke, playing with the size and widths of the letter shapes:

I wasn’t really loving the curvy “N” shape, though. I gave up my attachment to having mirrored shapes and went with a curvy lowercase “n” shape instead. Much better! I liked the stacked arrangement of the letters – it would be nicer as a compact icon for the site, and I liked the reflection between the “b” and “p.”

Now to find fonts. I tried several approaches with mixing different types of fonts, but I kept coming back to Quicksand (used in all the “NOTHING BUT” text and also in #3, #5 and #6) because of its inherent curvy shapes. To match it, I changed the stroke on the logo paths to have a rounded cap instead of a straight cap.

The others agreed that they liked the Quicksand font, too, so my next step was to tweak the letter shapes slightly to match the logo. I replaced the “s,” “p,” and “n” with my logo shapes (I had to play with the stroke weight to match the font weight), then made a custom “a” shape by flipping and modifying the “p.”

Mark thought the new “a” looked kind of weird, though, so I tried another version that everyone liked better. For the final logo, I also widened the “h” just slightly so that the “s” didn’t look so wide. (In the overlapping version in the screenshot below, #9 is cyan and #10 is magenta.)

The next step was to pick colors. I presented a few options:

The general consensus was c6, and with that, our logo design was complete!

This was a fun logo to work on – not just because it seemed to come together with hardly any work, but because I enjoy the detail work of tweaking letter shapes. There were several people providing input which usually can lead to a “design by committee” situation, but in this case everyone came together to agree on the final version. I’m pleased with the final result and glad I was able to contribute!