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Archived posts: Web

Google Maps – now with added bikes

Google, in collaboration with the transport charity Sustrans, has today added cycling routes to its UK maps - showing ‘Trails’, ‘Dedicated lanes’, and ‘Bicycle friendly roads’.

You can now click on any map to show the available cycle routes, and also ask for turn by turn directions between two places, using what Google considers to be the safest / quietest / flattest route – and it generally offers you several different options.

I just tested this out with my morning ride to work – Google pretty much matched the route I ride, though estimated it at 37 minutes, whereas it usually takes about 25 minutes (and I don’t ride that fast).

Worryingly though, the Google route suggested that I go via the Elephant & Castle roundabout, one of the most dangerous junctions in London for cyclists. It’s certainly the most direct route, but I actively use a different route in order to avoid the roundabout. I can’t quite see how it would be considered a “Bicycle friendly road”.

Also, at the moment there’s no way of searching for the routes of the National Cycle Network individually, which would seem to be a really useful, if not essential, function.

But it’s early days for the service – it’ll be interesting to see how it adapts and flexes over time.

Sustrans and Google have also produced a short film to promote the service:

In the meantime, if you’re looking for something similar in map land, with route elevations, and options for fastest / quietest / somewhere in the middle routes, try Cyclestreets.net. Otherwise, Sustrans also has a useful, if flawed, app which shows the full National Cycle Network.

Six years and counting

On March 6 2006 we decided it might be an idea to start a blog (you can find the remnants of that over here - though we transported nearly all those posts over to this site too).

Things in the digital world were quite different back then – you weren’t on Facebook, you didn’t tweet unless you were a bird (Twitter launched in July that year), and Tumblr wasn’t even on the horizon. You would have still been using buttons on your phone to make calls (though we were looking forward to that all changing), and video calls were still something you only really saw in sci-fi movies. Microsoft was getting excited about something called Zune.

Six full years later, we’re still banging on about design and visual culture and stuff. And according to our slightly temperamental feed counter, over four thousand of you are paying attention on the blog itself, with a thousand or so of you over on Facebook, and around a thousand on Twitter. (Hello! to each and every one of you. You’re lovely.)

So we just wanted to say thanks for reading, and for commenting now and again.

If you’ve really been paying attention, you’ll have noticed that we’ve been posting a bit less recently. That’s partly because of Twitter – there’s a lot of stuff that we would previously have blogged, but now just tweet. But also, you know, we’ve just been busy. Particularly with our work over at the Ministry of Stories and Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. (Have you bought anything there yet? You should.)

This coming year, we really want to spend some more time making stuff, rather than blogging about it, so it might get a little quieter still. But we’re not planning on going silent just yet.

So stay tuned. Here’s to the next six.

Hoxton Street Monster Supplies: now online

Ever since it opened its doors a year ago, customers have been clamouring for an online store for Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. And now, thanks to the brilliant work of a team of hugely talented volunteers, the online shop is alive.

And just in time, as we’ve recently created a whole new range of products for the shop*:

These tins of fear are perfect as a top-up for any monster who’s not feeling quite as scary as they should. As well as a batch of fear, each tin also contains an exclusive short story by a top children’s author, so they make rather good presents for kids.

The Night Sweats features a tale by Andy Stanton; The Chills a story by Jeremy Strong; Alarm has a story by Meg Rosoff; the Night Terrors tale is by Eoin Colfer; and Creeping Dread features a story by Charlie Higson.

The boxes of Cubed Earwax are ‘A true delight at any monster’s table’; but we’re more partial to the bars of Impacted Earwax.

The shop is also selling these jars of Daylight – perfect for vampires suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). You simply leave them out in the light during the day, and as soon as dusk falls, they light up. They also come in a Moonlight version for werewolves who don’t want to wait around all month for a full moon:

And just in case you have a really sweet tooth (or fang) there are a couple of new jars of sweets:

You can also pick up some of the original range of products, including T-shirts, Zombie Fresh Mints, Fang Floss, and of course, some of the books written by the kids at the Ministry of Stories, including the new Awfully Bad Guide to Monster Housekeeping.

The site was designed by Gavin and Jason Fox, built by Simon Pearson, project managed by Chris Meachin, user experienced by Mike Towber; and art directed by We Made This.

*Not all the products are available from the online store; and shipping is only available for UK addresses at the time of writing.

Creative Everyone

We’ve just been having a play with Creative Everyone, which is a corker of site, put together by Daniel Howells from Kulor, and Mike Sullivan from Mister. The tagline of the site is ‘Never miss a creative event again’, which sums it up pretty neatly. The site is a collaborative diary of creative events, ranging across the full spectrum of creative disciplines; you can filter the listings according to your own tastes, and also according to your local city. You can add in events you’re planning on going to yourself, see which other site members are going, and export your calendar to Google and iCal.

The design is really elegant and intuitive – at the moment it’s still in Beta phase, and just limited to some major US and UK cities (Boston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco / Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Manchester), but the boys are promising to do much more when they get the chance. We’d love to see it properly hooked up to Facebook, and to have a customisable alert system, so that you get warned when exhibitions are starting and ending. But we can already see this being a really useful site. Ace.

The Art of War

We were doing a bit of research this morning, and stumbled across a really fantastic archive of wartime poster art and illustration, courtesy of the National Archives’ Art of War online exhibition. There’s a wealth of beautiful stuff on display, featuring a lot of original artwork, including Patrick Keely’s 1940s Road Safety poster (above), a Carless Talk Costs Lives poster by Reeves (below left), and Reginald Mount’s Hawker Hurricane poster (below right).

That then reminded us to post about (and order our own copy of) Paul Rennie’s rather lovely book Modern British Posters, published recently by Black Dog Press, which features a vast range of 20th Century British posters, including the three below.

Mmmm. Posters.

Google: more is less

Google’s homepage has gone all pictorial this morning, with a full-bleed image cluttering up their normally pristine page. You can change the picture, choosing from a range of pre-selected shots (including shots of work by Dale Chihuly, Jeff Koons, Tom Otterness, Polly Apfelbaum, Kengo Kuma (隈研吾), Kwon, Ki-soo (권기수) and Tord Boontje, as well as shots from Yann Arthus-Bertrand and National Geographic.

You can stick in your own images too (that’s one of ours above), choose one from a public gallery, or set it to a single colour (as below), or even back to white (which is actually quite elegant, leaving a shadowed logo, rather than the usual mulitcoloured one).

Except if you’re using Safari, which isn’t playing along at all, just showing the classic Google homepage. Wonder if that’s a tech issue or just a low-level skirmish in the browser wars…

And frankly, as Safari users, we’re happy with the standard page: we don’t want our search window to be anything other than a search window. Less, as ever, is more.

We Made This elsewhere

Wmt_facebook

  

We Made This is pretty much an old-school affair, focusing on printed stuff rather than digital stuff. But we dip our toe into the pixelworld now and again; so we figured it might be time to let you know that you can find us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Facebook page slurps up all the content from this blog, so it's really just a different place to keep an eye on what we're doing. But if you'd like to become a fan, we'd be deeply honoured. (There's also a gallery of some of our work on there for your browsing pleasure.)  

Wmt_twitter
 

The Twitter page features Alistair's varied musings (we make no guarantee of their wisdom or even coherence), as well as showing when we've posted new content on here. (We've got a feeling that there's a way of setting it up on some sort of infinite loop, with the blog feeding the twitter feed feeding the blog feed, ad infinitum. So far we've avoided it, but it's only a matter of time.)

Do come and say howdy.

We Made This Facebook page

@alistairhall Twitter page

Recycled papers

The folks at Arjowiggins got in touch to show us this little video*, which is part of a campaign they're running, pushing their environmentally friendly stocks. 

It put us in mind of a post we ran a couple of years ago about recycled papers, which then made us check out the Lovely as a Tree site, which is perhaps the most useful place to visit, especially as it's been updated fairly recently, and has a comprehensive list of the different recycled papers available.

Interesting to note that Lovely as a Tree also shows you where the papers are manufactured, so you can make sure that you're not mistakenly shipping your stock for an A5 leaflet half way round the world first.

Paperback still seem to be leading the pack when it comes to supplying truly environmentally friendly papers.

*Flatulence is nearly always funny isn't it?

Grafik launch their website

Grafik

Grafik (the UK based graphic design magazine) has just launched its website, beautifully and elegantly designed by our studio-mates Fitzroy and Finn. The site is divided up into a blog, a talent section, a profile section, and an archive of all the old issues.

Flipping addictive

Adobe_flip

Okay, so cast your mind back to when you were, oh, say seven or eight. Remember how on the last few days of term at school you'd basically do no work, and mainly just played board games?

Nothing's changed.

It's so very nearly Christmas, and all across the land designers and project managers are desperately searching for ways to while away those last few hours before the next Christmas party. And heck, here come Adobe, riding in like some kind of well designed fairy godmother. 

They've created a disgustingly addictive online game in the form of Air Flip. It's showcasing their new Air technology, which lets people create cloud apps, but that's largely irrelevant. The fact is, this sucker will eat up all of your remaining hours till it's stocking time.

Give it a go. You won't regret it.

(Well, not immediately.)