This is Cristian Kit Paul, graphic designer, photographer and traveller.
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25 Mar 2010, 12:15 PM

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Brandient Brandient 101 — The Book

I find it hard to express how thrilled I am to announce today Brandient's first book: Brandient 101. Here it is:

Brandient 101 — Romanian graphic identities, 224 pages, hardcover, ISBN 978-973-0-07554-0, Bucharest, 2010.

Brandient 101, limited edition of 101, numbered and signed. Click here or on the image to enlarge.

Brandient 101

Award winning corporate identities, category leading packaging capable of catching both the eye and the heart of the hurried shopper, brand strategy problems solved by design.

  • 101 graphic identities created by Brandient between 2002 and 2010;
  • Limited edition of 101, numbered and signed by Aneta Bogdan;
  • Bilingual edition in English and Romanian;
  • 224 pages, hardcover, full color;
  • ISBN 978-973-0-07554-0.

Available today, only at Cărturești Verona bookstore, Bucharest.

25 Mar 2010, 11:15 AM

Comments: 0

Brandient Brandient 101 -- The Book

I find it hard to express how thrilled I am to announce today Brandient's first book: Brandient 101. Here it is:

Brandient 101 -- Romanian graphic identities, 224 pages, hardcover, ISBN 978-973-0-07554-0, Bucharest, 2010.

Brandient 101, limited edition of 101, numbered and signed. Click here or on the image to enlarge.

Brandient 101

Award winning corporate identities, category leading packaging capable of catching both the eye and the heart of the hurried shopper, brand strategy problems solved by design.

  • 101 graphic identities created by Brandient between 2002 and 2010;
  • Limited edition of 101, numbered and signed by Aneta Bogdan;
  • Bilingual edition in English and Romanian;
  • 224 pages, hardcover, full color;
  • ISBN 978-973-0-07554-0.

Available today, only at Cărturești Verona bookstore, Bucharest.

15 Sep 2009, 9:30 AM

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Prizzi What?


End test.

4 Jun 2009, 12:04 PM

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Apple Monitoring AirPort access script

As Macintosh computers proliferate and AirPort Wi-Fi base stations are no longer the esoteric boxes they used to be 7 years ago, I hear more and more often the question "How can I monitor my AirPort for intruder access?". Luckily, Mac OS X is built upon UNIX, so all the tools are there, waiting to be used.

Here is a little one-liner shell script I wrote a number of years ago and used ever since to monitor the access on different generations of Apple AirPort base stations:

snmpwalk -v 2c -c [SNMP Community String] -Oq [Airport IP] RFC1213-MIB::atPhysAddress | grep -Eo "([0-9a-fA-F]{2} ){5}([0-9a-fA-F]{2})" | tr "[:lower:]" "[:upper:]" | sed -e 's/[\. ]/:/g' -e 's/[MAC address 1]/[Station name 1]/' -e 's/[MAC address n]/[Station name n]/' | sort | awk '{print FNR "\t" $0}'

I'll explain how it works later on, first you need to prepare your AirPort base station to respond to this script.

In order for the AirPort to allow such inquiry, the SNMP access has to be enabled (to find more about SNMP, you can start with Simple Network Management Protocol's Wikipedia entry).

For this, open AirPort, go Advanced → Statistics, check Allow SNMP, also check Allow SNMP over WAN if you need to check the access list remotely; fill in the SNMP Community String — which acts like a password for SNMP inquiries, so try and make it strong, in order to be able to withstand dictionary attacks. Update the configuration, and after the AirPort restarts type in the terminal:

snmpwalk -v 2c -c [SNMP Community String] -Oq [Airport IP] RFC1213-MIB::atPhysAddress

Where you substitute [SNMP Community String] with the SNMP password (without square brackets) and [Airport IP] with AirPort's IP (without square brackets).

The AirPort should reply with a list of MIB values containing the MAC address to IP allocation tables.

You can isolate the MAC addresses with UNIX grep

grep -Eo "([0-9a-fA-F]{2} ){5}([0-9a-fA-F]{2})"

and then make'em look good with UNIX tr and sed

tr "[:lower:]" "[:upper:]" | sed -e 's/[\. ]/:/g'

And, if you don't want to remember the MAC addresses you can write your own MAC address' to station name conversion table with sed again

sed 's/[MAC address n]/[Station name n]/'

Where [MAC address 1] is the MAC address of the wireless card of the first computer you want on the table in canonical form and upper case (without square brackets) and [Station name n] is the name you want that MAC address to be substituted with (without square brackets).

If you need to permanently keep an eye on this, you can put the output traight on your desktop with the wonderful GeekTool utility. Just make a new Shell entry, paste the script in there and you're all set.

Please note that the script above should not replace the serious security measures, like Wi-Fi protected access via WPA or WPA2, MAC address access control etc.

17 Feb 2009, 9:34 AM

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Brandient Reputation leader

AdMarket report

According to the 2008 edition of AdMarket report (by UAPR and D&D Research), the answers provided by 247 respondents coming from a pool of 180 largest advertisers to the question “Please name the first three companies you would think of using for branding services” are as follows:

Admarket 08 Report Branding-1

Answers to the question “Please name the first three companies you would think of using for branding services” in 2008 AdMarket report.

I will outline the Top 3:

1. Brandient39.7%
2. Grapefruit — 16.2%
3. Leo Burnett — 8.1%

What does this mean?

This means three things:

1. With the an index of 39.7%—that’s more than the rest of the top 5 combined (36.1%)—Brandient scores decisively in the following two dimensions: “brand preference” and “perceived quality”. Six and a half years later, after the consultancy establishment in 2002, Brandient has consolidated its first place in professional branding services as the market favorite provider of this type of services.

Bradient is the branding services’ market leader of reputation.

2. Bradient is the indisputable reputation leader in the branding services market.

3. Three years ago, we decided to restrict our time and energy dedicated to media appearences in favor of our branding projects and advices offered to our clients. The 2008 media monitoring analysis reveals that we are just in the 3th position according to the overall number of mentionning Brandient or Brandient representatives thoughout printed press & media. In other words, in professional services, the media noise is not enough to build a reputation.

14 Oct 2008, 7:03 AM

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Design Romanian diacritic marks

How did we ended up looking half-illiterate?

Lack of standards, wrong standards and then slow adoption of good standards—no wonder the diacritics turned into an endangered species. Magazine headlines, television supers and advertisements cheerfully disseminate incorrect letters.

The situation is so bad that even on national banknotes the spelling is bastardized (if you know who designed this, please encourage the person(s) to quit design):

Ron A Caron Crime Detail-1

Shameless incompetence: A-caron incorrectly used instead of A-breve on Romanian banknotes, as pointed by Bogdan Dumitrache.

What happened? How did we ended up looking like idiots?

An introduction

Romanian glyphs

In the sense of diacritics as being signs added to letters to alter their pronunciation or to make distinction between words, the Romanian alphabet does not have diacritics. There are, however, five special letters in the Romanian alphabet (two of them are associated with the same sound), formed by modifying other latin letters. Strictly speaking they are not diacritics, but are generally referred to as such.1


Romanian language has 5 special letters—they are not diacritics per se, but are generally referred to as such.

Although we only have 5 diacritics (Czech language has 15) we, sometimes, manage to get 3 out of 5 wrong. Most of the time we get 2 out of those 3 wrong: Ș and Ț.

Common mistakes

The most common mistakes are:


Letter A with Tilde or Letter A with Caron instead of Letter A with Breve.


Letter S With Cedilla instead of Letter S with Comma below. Letter S With cedilla is only used in Turkish language.


Letter T With Cedilla instead of Letter T with Comma below. Turns out that Letter T With Cedilla is not used in any living language, only for semitic transliterations.

While the first mistake is caused mainly by indolence, the second one and the third have an epic story behind and deserve a closer look.

The story of Ș and Ț: an epic clusterfuck

For those English-language graphic designers affected by diacritics nostalgia, here's the cure: imagine everything going atrociously wrong—for 20 years!

The timeline

  • 1987. Romanian language is associated with ISO 8859‑2 (Latin 2)—the international standard stipulates S-cedilla and T-cedilla glyphs. Romanian officials are oblivious to the matter. Very, very bad.
  • 1995. Unicode consortium specifies in version 1.1.5 codepoints U+015E (Latin Capital Letter S With cedilla), U+015F (Latin Small Letter S With cedilla), U+0162 (Latin Capital Letter T With cedilla), U+0163 (Latin Small Letter T With cedilla) as suitable for both Turkish and Romanian, and defined them as containing the cedilla accent. Turkish language indeed uses cedilla in U+015E, U+015F but does not make any use of U+0162, U+0163. Romanian language doesn't use any of them. Very bad.
  • 1995. Windows 95 launches with no support for Romanian language by default. Support is available on CD-ROM Extras for Microsoft Windows 95 Upgrade. The typeface ILP Rumanian B100 substitutes Q/q with Ă/ă. Dark ages. Bad.
  • 1997. Apple’s MAC OS 7.6.1 honors Romanian S/s with comma below and T/t with comma below diacritics with MacRomanian (ten years before Microsoft). Interesting enough, its tables do not resolve U+015E, U+015F, U+0162 nor U+0163 (no S/s with cedilla nor T/t with cedilla)—at all! Good.
  • 1997. Adobe Glyph List (AGL 1.0 and 1.1) specifies "Tcommaacent" and "tcommaaccent" instead of Tcedilla/tcedilla (no resolve for Scedilla and scedilla). The consequence of this decision is that Romanian documents using the (unofficial) Unicode points U+015E/F and U+0162/3 (for Ș/ș and Ț/ț) are rendered in Adobe fonts in a visually inconsistent way using S/s with cedilla and T/t with comma below. Good going bad...
  • 1997. It takes ten years for ASRO to react. In 1997 the association complains to ISO about the S-cedilla and T-cedilla standardization requesting an amendment. Good.
  • 1998. The revised version of ISO/IEC 8859‑2 (Latin 2) is ratified without the requested amendment. A note mentions that "the letters S and T with cedilla below may be used to substitute for the letters S and T with comma below". Very bad.
  • 1998. Adobe switches 015E/F back to T/tcedilla. Defines 0218/9 as S/scommaaccent, 021A/B as T/tcommaaccent before Unicode's 3.0 revision but after Apple's MAC OS 7.6.1. Good.
  • 1999. In its release 3.0 the Unicode consortium adds the mappings U+0218 (Latin Capital Letter S With comma below), U+0219 (Latin Small Letter S With comma below), U+021A (Latin Capital Letter T With comma below), U+021B (Latin Small Letter T With comma below), and defined them as containing a “commaaccent”. Great.
  • 1999. The Romanian Standards Association adopts SR 13411 standard that stipulates S/s-comma and T/t-comma as official Romanian letters. Good.
  • 2001. ISO publishes ISO/IEC 8859-16 also known as Latin-10 or "South-Eastern European" incorporating Romanian SR 13411 standard, in spite of strong opposition from USA's representatives and from Mr. J. W. van Wingen, Netherlands' representative. Finally Romanian language's standard form is also the correct one. Good.
  • 2001. Microsoft Office v. X for Mac OS X is released crippled, without support Unicode font display or input. Office documents with diacritics created on Windows won't display properly on the Macintosh. Bad.
  • 2001. Apple immediately aligns their OS X to ISO/IEC 8859-16. Good, but...
  • 2001. Unfortunately, Mac OS X does not recognize the "*commaaccent" glyphnames that are defined by Adobe for Romanian and Baltic languages (such as Tcommaaccent, Rcommaaccent, Kcommaaccent, Ncommaaccent) but instead only recognizes the "*cedilla" names (T/tcedilla, R/rcedilla, K/kcedilla, N/ncedilla) or the "uni****" names (uni0162, uni0156, uni0136, uni0145). This means that Mac OS X will fail to recognize the glyphs T/tcommaaccent, R/rcommaaccent, K/kcommaaccent, N/ncommaaccent and map them to their respective Unicodes. [Adam Twardoch2] Bad.
  • 2001. Microsoft along with other software vendors disregards ISO/IEC 8859-16. Ugly.
  • 2001. Microsoft Windows XP is launched. In order to correctly encode and render both S-comma and T-comma, one has to install the European Union Expansion Font Update. Unfortunately, there is no official way to add keyboard support for these characters. In order to type them, one has to either install 3rd party keyboards, or use the Character Map. Bad.
  • 2003. Macromedia Freehand MX (11) is released without OpenType support. Bad.
  • 2003. Adobe releases Creative Suite 1 applications with Unicode support. Designers are able to produce inter-platform Romanian typography without hacking fonts. Good.
  • 2003. People protest against Microsoft practices—most notable is Mr. Cristian Secărică with his 2003 open letter to Microsoft Romania (link in Romanian). Good.
  • 2003. The dormant Linguistic Institute of the Romanian Academy finally honors the request concerning the exact form of the glyphs under letters S and T—says it must be a comma. Very late, still good.
  • 2004. Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac is released with Unicode support. Good.
  • 2007. Six years late and five months after Romania (and Bulgaria) joined the EU, Microsoft releases updated fonts that include all official glyphs of Romanian alphabet. This font update targeted Windows XP SP2, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista. Good, at last.
  • 2007. Mac OS X ignores the glyph-to-Unicode mapping provided in the “cmap” table of OpenType PS (CFF/.otf) fonts, while it uses it for OpenType TT (.ttf) fonts. For OpenType PS fonts, Mac OS X uses the glyph-to-glyphname mapping provided in the font and then maps the glyphnames to Unicodes itself.3. Bad.
  • 2007. The subset of Unicode most widely supported on Microsoft Windows systems, Windows Glyph List 4, still does not include the comma-below variants of S/s and T/t. Bad, as usual.
  • 2008. Some OpenType fonts from Adobe and all C-series Vista fonts implement the optional OpenType feature GSUB/latn/ROM/locl. This feature forces S-cedilla to be rendered using the same glyph as S with comma below. When this second (but optional) remapping takes place, Romanian Unicode text is rendered with comma-below glyphs regardless of code point variants. Good.
  • 2008. Very few Windows applications support the locl feature tag. From the Adobe CS3 suite, only InDesign has support for it. Bad.
  • 2008. Apple updates iPhone OS X to version 2.1, adds Romanian keyboard and correct glyphs for Romanian diacritics. Good.
  • 2008. Nokia phones still use incorrect S-cedilla and T-cedilla glyphs. Bad.

This is how the puzzle looks to me, so far (if you have new pieces of this, please let me know).

But there's room for some more bad news.

More bad news: the keyboards

Romanian keyboard layouts

The current Romanian National Standard SR 13392:2004 establishes two layouts for Romanian keyboards: a "primary" one and a "secondary" one.


Romanian SR 13392:2004 primary layout. Source: Wikipedia.

The "primary" layout is intended for more traditional users that learned long ago how to type with older, Microsoft-style implementations of the Romanian keyboard. The "secondary" layout is mainly used by programmers and it doesn't contradict the physical arrangement of keys on a US-style keyboard. The "secondary" arrangement is used as the default one by the majority of GNU/Linux distributions.5

Sorin Paliga, author of Romanian Keylayouts for MAC OS:

Apple is indeed the only company which sells localized physical keyboards on the Romanian market, but must now re-locate the specific Romanian letters on the physical keyboard according to the Romanian standard. Sooner or later Apple must do that, but the sooner the better.

It turns out that the localized keyboards Apple ships to Romania—although functioning perfectly—are not standard compliant. And that's not all.

Physical keyboard engraving

Even if Apple's OS X was ahead of the diacritics adoption curve and it was the first hardware manufacturer (is it the only one, still?) to ship localized keyboards, they have a glaring bug—for years now: the Romanian keyboard is marked with the wrong glyphs!

Even though it works correctly, the S-comma key is engraved with S-cedilla and T-comma key is engraved with T-cedilla.

Totally surreal, I know!



Apple's Mac OS gets the Romanian glyphs correctly for 11 years now, but their keyboards are still erroneously inscribed.

I filed this with Apple's bug tracker: bug ID 6287188.

Romanian keyboard on iPhone

The new iPhone firmware 2.1 ads a Romanian keyboard with diacritics.


Romanian keyboard setting. iPhone diacritic marks are dead on correct.

In order to use them, switch the Romanian Keyboard on (Settings → General → International → Keyboards → Romanian → On), then press the globe-key and you’ll notice the space bar reading “Spațiu” instead of “Space”. Then tap and hold one of the keys (A, I, S or T) and a row of additional letters will unfold, containing the diacritic marks.



Tap and hold one of the keys (A, I, S or T) and a row of additional letters will unfold, containing the diacritic marks.

Bottom line

Current status: embarrassment

Computers are supposed to be able to process text with ease, consistency and predictable output. In Romania—year 2008—they’re still unable to accomplish this basic task.

Academic intelligentia, when not sleeping, gets busy thinking of maddening spelling reforms. Local computer manufacturers happily crank out garage-quality boxes, completely oblivious to how are those boxes supposed to work. Foreign manufacturers enlist Romania at “others”. Microsoft does only what’s best at: adds in entropy via maligned standards only to be wrestling its own mess later on. Big publishing, advertising and print shops have built closed ecosystems that often work with hacked keyboard layouts and fonts (if they care). The web goes with the flow.

And so we’re stuck with this embarrassing mess—what’s really exasperating, though, is that in 20 years indolence has become a de facto standard: we know we stink but we’re comfortable with that.

Take a stand

How can we improve the situation? Well, by using the correct diacritics, obviously. But if/when that proves difficult, we should better drop diacritics altogether than use some sloppy substitutions (ã or ǎ instead of ă, ş instead of ș, ţ instead of ţ).


Long explanation: Because using the wrong substitution bastardizes the language—those letters do not exist in Romanian. Because it’s misleading for those who don’t know any better—they’ll think it’s perfectly acceptable to align to the bad practice. Because substitutions turn into a baggage of backwards-compatibility issues. Because it means you’re a shitty designer. And because, well, in the end, it’s just bad taste.

Short explanation: Because wearing no underwear is preferable to wearing it on the outside, over the pants.

1 Wikipedia, Romanian alphabet entry.

2 forum post by Adam Twardoch—Fontlab Ltd. Product and Marketing Manager, MyFonts typographic consultant.

3 Idem.

4 Wikipedia, Romanian alphabet article.

5 Wikipedia, Keyboard layout article.

29 Sep 2008, 5:27 PM

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Personal Sixth


Kit·blog, this bazar of a personal web site, entered yesterday its 6th year of (virtual? virtual?—does anybody still use that word?) existence. I have no clue how come it didn't die since September 2003, although I'm lucid enough to question its purpose and value once in a while.

In time, I found there's no ultimate purpose nor absolute value. I feed things that I like in (be that notes, photos or links), and those things may prove valuable to some of you and rubbish to the others.

And I think I kinda figured my job here: just keep bringing those things in.

Five years. And now the sixth. That's a fucking long journey actually, isn't it? Thank you for coming along.

20 Sep 2008, 4:06 PM

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Apple iPhone: the first month

Back in July 2007 I reviewed here one of the first iPhone units (of its first incarnation) coming to Romania.

In July 2008, the iPhone 3G successfully launched in 21 countries around the world. On the 22nd of August 2008, at zero o'clock, it was launched in 20 additional countries1, including mine.


iPhone 3G launch in Romania: 22nd of August, 0 AM (picture: Monica Popescu, Orange).

I bought it the first day. Here is a subjective account of its pros and cons noticed during the month I've been using it.

The good

· Buying Experience. Painless2. I bought it right on the 22nd at noon, after one hour of waiting on queue (spent in a restaurant across the street). The Orange sales guy even found me a phone number containing six digits of my Vodafone number. Nice.

· 3G coverage. I didn't travel this month, so I have no clue about national coverage, but in Bucharest 3G is present in most places I go.

· App Store. I didn't envision this happening! I actually placed bet against iPhone availability in Romania because I knew that iTunes integration is part of the business model and implementing iTunes Music Store in Romania just doesn't make business sense, mainly because messy copyright laws and a small, piracy-ridden market.

But Apple knew better than that. So they split iTunes Music Store and iTunes App Store apart: while the first is not available, the former is. And it works perfectly.


iTunes Music Store not available, while iTunes App Store is.

I downloaded almost 40 free and commercial applications, adding up to about €50—and that's only in the first month.

· Push mail. Push mail work so great it can be used instead SMS.

First I synced my old .Mac account with the iPhone and the push mail speed was not so great—an e-mail would take up to 5 minutes to reach me. Then I deleted the .Mac e-mail account and rebuilt a MobileMe account from the scratch. Another league.

With a median time of about 15 seconds3, it's good. A local SMS takes about 3 seconds, but international SMS and MMS are slower than Apple push mail.

· Autocorrection. The iPhone keyboard input relies heavily on auto-correction because of its inherent lack of tactile feed-back. And, for English, it works like magic. Typing in an unsupported language is a different story altogether though.

During the 2.0 firmware days, typing in an unsupported language was really, really awful: the aggressive auto-correction engine was continuously taking control over the spelling and it had to be dismissed while typing almost every word.


New Romanian keyboard in iPhone OS 2.1, no language nor auto-correction dictionary though.

The new iPhone firmware 2.1 ads a Romanian keyboard with diacritics and, although auto-correction cannot be disabled4, there is a visible improvement: the iPhone stopped suggesting English spelling when typing Romanian words. Instead, it started suggesting stuff—and that's freakin' weird—in Romanian! And not all of it comes from the address book—don't tell me this thing data-mines previous messages and learns!


Switching to Romanian keyboard (by tapping the globe key) disables English auto-correction.


Some auto-correction suggestions come from the address book (CFR) but where the hell did the second one come from?!?

I am puzzled. Happy, but puzzled—I moved this bullet from "the ugly" to "the bad" and now to "the good" in a couple of days.

A switch for disabling auto-correction altogether would be a plus, though.

The bad

· Keyboard. Yes, it takes about a month to get used to it enough to forget it's not real.

· Camera. God, I don't even know what to begin with!

I need to be able to take close-up pictures of price tags, labels, receipts and so forth. And I can't, because iPhone camera is focused at infinity, making close-ups out-of-focus. I need to be able to snap pictures in passing. And I can't, because iPhone camera is slow. Very slow. I'd like to engage the camera without looking at the phone. I can't, because the camera doesn't have a hardware button so I have to look at the screen and tap the following sequence: switch on, unlock, Camera app, shutter release—it feels like taking a picture with my laptop!

iPhone deserves a better camera.

· Background processes and push notification. We came to a point where there are no longer significant difference between feeds and e-mail. For instance, I want my feeds to be up-to-the-minute, just like push e-mail. For other people the same would apply to instant messaging or other types of content.

In OS 2.2, maybe?

· Notifications during sleep. While the mobile phones employing TFT-LCD screens are able to display informations during sleep, on "switched off" screens, iPhone's LCD screen is not capable to display anything. At a glance: black. In order to see whether there are active notifications for missed calls, new e-mail or SMS, iPhone needs to be switched on.

Takes a bit of getting used to.

The ugly

This is about missing features.

· Google Maps for Romania. Well, the lack of 'em, actually. The weird thing is, there are plenty of maps flying around, for every off-the-shelf GPS thingie out there—hey, even Yahoo has good maps (for Bucharest, at least)—but Google, nada!


Google Maps app vs. Yahoo Maps in browser. Googol, yur doin it rong!


· Bluetooth. iPhone's Bluetooth is simply neutered. Utterly useless except for pairing some headsets (ok, pun intended). The level of Bluetooth support Apple gives to other phones is vastly superior to the support they give to their own phone5.

If you do not own a headsets, iPhone's Bluetooth doesn't exist.

· MMS. Cumbersome and capricious as it is, MMS is present in most handsets, while push mail, although vastly superior, it's far from being ubiquitous. It's a weird option6 for Apple not to implement it.

Desktop iChat—that Text app closely mimics—is able to send/receive attachments (graciously), so why not allow attachment sending/receiving for Text app, too?

Bottom line

Don't let my criticism fool you. I only enlisted above "the good", "the bad" and "the ugly" — meaning all that I left out could deservingly be filed under a new section: "the miraculous". And that's the reason why its faults are tolerable.

The iPhone is a game changer. Not because what it does—as you can see above, it actually does less compared with the rest of the smart-phones—but because how it does.

Each time I switch on my old SonyEricsson I shudder with revulsion, despite its superior technical spec list: How the f#%& could I have used this? I could not go back to using this again!

The way Apple changes the game is so radical yet subtle that technical-minded analysts cannot get it: it renders the whole spec-for-spec comparison completely useless. How? By placing the experience on the first place on the feature list. The protocols and the megahertz and the megapixel come afterwards, the top feature being the miraculous design-driven experience.

Despite the fact that people buy clothes, cars, homes and just about everything in between mainly considering design—did you ever seen design (real design i.e. the way it works, not surface cosmetics) on a phone feature list before, let alone at its very top? Me neither.

It was about time!

1 Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Latvia, Lithuania, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Uruguay.

2 On a side note I have to mention that in Romania the police state practices are still in place somehow—in order to get a new mobile phone subscription the ID and signature are not enough: you are considered as an infractor until proven otherwise and you must provide a copy after your house buying/renting contract, so they know where to find you. Just in case, you know.

3 Here are the 5 tests, in various usage conditions of the handset (minutes:seconds): 0:08, 0:24, 0:29, 0:11, 0:06. Median time: 0:15.

4 It can be disabled via Cyndia, i.e. by hacking into the phone ("jailbreaking" the phone involves replacing the iPhone's firmware with a slightly modified version that does not enforce the signature check) and installing an unsupported application.

5 Can't use the iPhone to dial numbers from desktop Address Book, can't use it to send SMS from desktop Address Book, can't use it to browse the device (to access the pictures folder, for instance), can't use it to access or backup the SMS conversations, call log etc.

6 On the other hand, it might be also a bit of a cultural mismatch—in North America MMS is not being used all that much, as seamless interoperability is challenged by the presence of multiple network technologies and varied business interests among major mobile network operators. Europe seems very different in this regard.

19 Aug 2008, 12:38 AM

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Photography God I love film!

It takes a while to get used to a film camera again after 6 years of shooting digital and digital only. Forget for a second how delicate film is—a blink of clumsiness—and it turns into a wreck in your hands. But then again. Even heavily damaged film has lots of character and style.


Cluj-Napoca, Transylvania, 2008. See it large on black.


Cluj-Napoca, Transylvania, 2008. See it large on black.

See? Light leaks on film. Love'em. Love'em!

27 Jul 2008, 2:28 PM

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Travel Helmut Newton Foundation

At The Helmut Newton Foundation on Jebensstrasse the current exhibition on display is Pigozzi and the paparazzi.

From the exhibition's program:

Jean Pigozzi, the photographer included in the exhibition title, has been able to cultivate the kind of intensive and intimate relationship with the rich and the famous that is so desperately sought after by the paparazzi at large. Being befriended with many famous people in the international social and cultural scene, he has been making candid portraits of prominent individuals at private locations since the 1970’s. An unusual aspect of his work is his double portrait series Pigozzi & Co. In this ongoing project he appears together with a musician or an actor friend, the two posed with their heads, often touching, in a close-cropped composition. These are images from daily life, in which Pigozzi poses as friend and fan.

There were also some awesome pictures by Newton that I haven't seen before.

In his autobiography Newton wrote that after he saw Federico Fellini’s film La Dolce Vita starring Anita Ekberg, he became interested in the phenomenon of the paparazzi. In 1970 he travelled to Rome to work with “real” paparazzi. As part of a commission for the fashion magazine Linea Italiana, Newton hired a few of them to pose with his models. In Newton’s unconventional approach the photographers were asked to treat the model as if she were a famous person. An interesting aspect of Newton’s work is the combination of multiple real elements, such as the model, the fashion and the paparazzi, on the one hand, with the staging of the photograph on the other.

Img 0018

Clandestine shot of the famous Big Nudes series exhibited in the staircase. Richard Reens, Berlin, 2008.

Img 0016

Img 0015

Richard almost made the universe cancel itself out by taking paparazzo pictures of me looking at pictures of paparazzi taken by other paparazzi. Richard Reens, Berlin, 2008.

If you are in Berlin and have a couple of hours to spend, pay a visit to the HNF. It's handily placed in Ku'Damm area and beside Newton's works, cameras and props, there are other photo exhibitions, a wonderful bookstore and a Café Einstein ready to provide for that raging caffeine addiction of yours.

But, um, you're not allowed to take pictures.

19 Jul 2008, 5:36 PM

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Internet The long fat tail of global uselessness


Attaining relevance takes great effort, but blogging is seldom regarded as hard work. Hence the washout.

I recently realized—while writing an article for a magazine—that Kit·blog during its almost 6 years of existence was relevant in only a couple of instances.

Two times

June 2006: calling designers against the "design law"

June 2006—the post A communist design law in the making calls designers to stand up and fight against SDPR's "design law". The post triggers a massive chain reaction both local and international. Milton Glaser sends in his message agains bureaucracy. Stefan Sagmeister and James Victore (both contacted by Ovidiu Hrin) rally with the protest, the signatures on the petition tops the 1,000 mark and Metropolis Magazine publishes David Womack’s article against SDPR’s initiative for regularization of design practice: Design and the State. The barrage of disapproval makes the subject sensitive.

January 2008: the story on Woody Allen's use of Windsor

January 2008—the post on Woody Allen's titles gets linked or syndicated long and wide, from Boing Boing to Waxy and Metafilter. From John Gruber's Daring Fireball to Kottke. Design Observer of course, SpeakUp's Quipsologies to Khoi Vihn's Subtraction and John Nack on Adobe. Also some press, like The Morning News, La Repubblica and LeMonde's Design et Typo. Some days register well over 10k uniques.

Tired of blogging

That's two rights in six years of wrongs. Far from brilliant, but—as probably most blogs won't achieve even that—not catastrophic either. Thing is, I'm losing interest.

What's left is typical blogging: personal entertainment turning into public noise, like a hillbilly's whistling in the street or that meaningless conversation you're confined into listening on a flight. Countless doors opening to nothingness.

There are millions of blogs murmuring out there and along with them I keep doing it, too—but I start wondering—why?

22 Jun 2008, 12:14 PM

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Photography Ten Flickr no-nos

I enjoy Flickr. Well, there are things that could be added, changed and improved, but all in all I like more things than I hate.

While using this service—and because of my love for photography I tend to use it a lot—I compiled a list of ten annoying habits some people have on Flickr.

Here it is.

10 Flickr no-nos

1. Heavy prettification

Adobe Photoshop has a glaring bug disguised in a feature: it comes bundled with a shitload of filters. "To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail," but to an eager man armed with a copy of Adobe Photoshop every JPEG looks like it needs some effects: heavy vignettes, fake DOFs and funny gaussian blur bokehs, lovely purple skies painted via color selection tools, flares, cross-hatchings to give a “sketch” effect, Warhol-style posterization and tons of other “improvements”.

Hell, I found even a couple of terminal cases of page-curl.

You only need 3 Photoshop filters: Gaussian Blur (for masking), Unsharp Mask and Add Noise. Use them responsibly.

2. Embellishments

If a picture is not beautiful enough, maybe a good frame will save it. If it’s beautiful, a nice double black frame or a good drop-shadow will make it twice as much. Maybe three times. Or—heck!—even more. And yes, fake Polaroid transfer borders make a distinct chapter here.

Note the word “fake”—it should answer all your questions.

Print your pictures and put them in a real frame—if you like frames so much—you’ll be a lot happier. Drop the fakes.

3. Color poopping, erm, popping

A color detail—in an otherwise black & white image. And the horror even has a name: color popping. You know what I’m talking about: eyes staring bright green irises in a B&W portrait, a red-red rose held by a gray-gray lady.

Don’t feed me those photo magazine examples—they often write what digital vulgarians want/deserve to read.

Run. Don’t look back.

4. Dead weight

Gone are the days when contact sheets were private and the photographer was ready to die rather than make 'em public. Nowadays they publish their contact sheets on Flickr for everyone to admire all the mistakes, the failures and the unimportant.

Select your shots. Post the best one. Okay, two—because you can’t decide.

5. Frame by frame

Some people regret the tragedy that Flickr only takes stills and not video; but the most intrepid photographer can compensate this misfortune by shooting torrents of stills—and posting them all. You have seen this: pages and pages of pictures from a concert or a sports event.

Buy a video camera and switch to YouTube, folks.

This is related to #4, so that advice works here as well: select your shots. Post the best one.

6. Graphomania

Photographers write on pictures for ages, you know that from your grand-grandparent’s postcard memorabilia. The thing is—at 1920 they did not use Comic Sans, though. Today they do.

Buy a comic strip if you like type on images.

There are other ways for transmitting information: captions, bylines, tagging, EXIF, metadata etc.

7. Hot mamma

No, your mother is okay and her polka-dot dress is kinda cute, but shouldn’t personal life be more—you know—personal?

Brides, mothers, brothers—maybe you forgot to set the privacy flag and mark the pictures “friends and family only”?

It’s easy: where it reads “This photo is public (edit)” click “edit” and select “Only You” and then “Your Friends” and/or “Your Family”.

8. Second goddamn Life

So you like playing with dolls but you lack the needed imagination and will, but Second Life can provide this for you. That is okay. But—please!—don't take screenshots of your avatar and post ’em in Flickr pools, tagged with keywords like “photo” and “portrait”.

I have two keywords for you: “seek” and “help”.

Or flag your screenshots accordingly. Here is how: find that "Flag your photo" link under Additional Information and select “Screenshot”.

9. Tag illiteracy

Car pictures tagged as “portraits”, dog pictures tagged as “nudes”: this calls for a PhD thesis titled “Bad creativity—when and how imagination lowers IQ.” This should be called tag-spamming because it pollutes tag-based searches.

It’s not that hard: a picture of a happy dog can be tagged with “dog” and “happy” but not “cat”, “carrot” or “car”.

Please use tags appropriately.

10. Rip-offs

Digital burglary is as easy as snatching the purse from a very, very old lady. And because it’s easy, people do it a lot, posting images they don’t own.

Don’t disgrace yourself.

If you notice stolen content you can “submit”: a Notice of Infringement to the Yahoo! Copyright Team.

This is where you step in

If you’re annoyed by things that are not listed above, please jot them down and continue the list in the comments.

14 May 2008, 12:24 PM

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Brandient Findings

What have I learnt from CEC Bank rebranding?

There are many differences between a rebranding that costs a five–six digit figure and one that costs an exceptional 150,000,000 € (over a three years time span)—like CEC Bank rebranding does.

Here are the findings I've learned from this job.

You’re alone (I)

Fore once, there’s not a person in the country that has ever worked on such a massive change (nod to Bruce Mau), so there is nobody acknowledged enough to give an educated advice. When it gets this big, you’re alone.

You’re alone (II)

Rebranding state-owned entities is not a common task. Brandient had before CEC Bank a solid experience in this class of business ownership (TVR, Radiocom) but not at such magnitude (1400 locations, 6700 people) nor in such a competitive category.

Seen from abroad things can be clearer than seen from Bucharest. Tony Spaeth of Identityworks puts it like this:

This is a uniquely 21st Century branding story—the reinvention of a government-owned bureaucracy, to compete in the marketplace with some of the world's sharpest marketers.

When it gets this specialized, you’re alone.

Not design, but design strategy

As the big league guys are very well aware—but I wasn't until now—at this magnitude the designer's job shifts from designing items, to designing examples for those who will design the final items.

This means that a designer has to focus on devising a working design strategy that can deliver down the road consistent brand mechanics.

Decoupling direction from final execution means hard control on the direction but only soft control on the execution of individual items—that’s in the hands of third party designers, architects, advertising agency, web agency, producers, constructors etc. Very frustrating sometimes.

Old words

Patriotism is not a fashionable word these days, I know, but rebranding the oldest Romanian bank implies that, too. And other old words: dignity, honor, pride. There are jobs and then there are jobs that build your character.

Malevolent judgment

High profile rebrandings trigger copious reactions—like full moon does to lunatics on the loose—here and elsewhere. That's normal. But I've read a couple of ill-intended articles in the papers. Not criticism—I’m talking about full-blown mala fide here. There are people out there that might need doing a little soul-searching before going to sleep at night, God bless their mean little hearts.

Legitimate assessment

How do you know that you’re on the right path? Or the wrong one, for that matter. Luckily, there are prominent international figures like Tony Spaeth, who can fully comprehend the intricacies of such a job legitimately assess its resolve.

Quoting from his CEC Bank case review:

It's hard to imagine a "before" brand as trivial, as cartoonish, as the old CEC coin-in-roof symbol. This redesign takes it leap years forward in sophistication, yet at the same time back to its 1864 foundation. Virtually overnight, CEC Bank is credibly a global competitor (at least in image), yet retains the home-field advantage.

This is how I know we’ve done our job right.

19 Feb 2008, 4:43 PM

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Photography Cool texture

How to create a cool background texture in 3 easy steps

1. Find a river

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A river or a lake on a windy day—water with small waves.

2. Find a building

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A building reflecting in the river/lake, that is. More lines in the architecture, more intricate the texture. A sunny day helps.

3. Shoot the water


Shoot that building's reflection in the water. Play with the picture, change the colors, get crazy if you feel the urge.

14 Feb 2008, 3:44 PM

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Photography Orange

Orange Window, Cristian -Kit- Paul, Cluj-Napoca, 2005.

12 Feb 2008, 9:23 PM

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Design Design spec work

And why the term “design whore” might be too elegant


Pixish opening, a couple of days ago, ignited the strongest anti-spec work opinions. And for a good reason. Here's how Adam Howell put it in his The Pixish logo belongs next to “spec work” on

Unfortunately, Pixish is not cool. At all. It’s the defintion of spec work.

“Spec work” is when a buyer/client gets several designers’ unpaid work upfront and only pays for the work they deem best. One winner, a bunch of losers. Almost all designers are unabashedly against it. There’s No!Spec, Zeldman’s Don’t Design on Spec and the AIGA’s stance that “doing speculative work seriously compromises the quality of work that clients are entitled to and also violates a tacit, long-standing ethical standard in the communication design profession worldwide”.


Following the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games identity scandal, Canadians banned spec work. And they banned it good:

As a result of the situation and others that preceded it, the GDC (Society of Graphic Designers of Canada) changed its Code of Ethics at its annual meeting on May 6-7, 2005, so as to leave no doubt as to its stand on design contests. The GDC no longer allows any member participation in open design contests for commercial purposes on speculation, either as an entrant or a judge.

GDC is — as far as I know — the first graphic designers' national organization to not only instill the idea that free pitches are wrong, but to actively enforce it across its body of members.

From now on, GDC members cannot undertake any speculative project for which compensation will only be received if a design is accepted or used. Members may take part in limited design competitions where each participant is provided equal and adequate compensation. The Society has separate guidelines for pro bono work for charitable purposes.

The Graphic Artists Guild and the GDC both recommend that if a competition is held, the hosts should first put out a request for portfolios, then after reviewing the work, select a group of finalists who are best suited for the job. The finalists may be asked for rough sketches for the project at hand if they are paid adequately and equally for their work. Finally, when a single designer or firm is finally selected, that winner should be paid fees that are commensurate to current market value. The designer will retain rights to the work.

In order to change the tone for a second here to something more tongue-in-cheek, I'll quote Andy Rutledge from his Redesign Competitions: looking for a commitment or just a roll in the hay? post on DesignView:

I’m hosting a competition. I need a partner with whom to have a serious relationship but I don’t want to invest any time or effort in finding the right woman; I shouldn’t have to. I’m a great man and any woman should be proud to be with me, so I’m holding auditions. I’d like for all interested women to visit me and show me your “wares.” I’m definitely looking for someone with a hot bod, and not afraid to show it off. Extra points for staying the night and letting me sample your attentions and enthusiasm.

One lucky winner gets a $400 wedding ring and the prestige of having me for a partner (‘cause I look good). The rest of you just get screwed. Awright, who’s with me?

This is the basic translation of every redesign competition invitation for any company who has ever held one. Is it apparent now just how disrespectful such competitions are toward those they solicit? Given this clear context, how many of you are still willing to defend this sort of behavior? Aw c’mon, I know you’re out there. I read your apologist responses and defenses of these competitions all the time.

But after his colorful opening comes a bitter closure:

Yes, it’s very definitely a joke on all involved. The problem is that the joke is also on the design profession as a whole. Every time one of these competitions is held, it tears a little more at the fabric of our profession. Every designer who participates in one of these competitions steals a bit more credibility from the true professionals in this industry.

The term “design whore” is not even applicable to the image that is thus created. Whores are professional and whores get paid. What do you call someone who doesn’t even have the self respect to expect or demand payment?

A designer? Say it ain't so.

Sad. Awful true.

In Romania the situation is very different from Canada. There is no national graphic designers' organization. The design industry is still in its infancy. Many graphic designers I meet — including the greenest juniors — are incredibly fond or downright hypnotized by shiny overstatements and words like 'consultancy,' 'strategy' and 'branding,' obliviously neglecting their true main profession: graphic designer. There are no rules and ethics is perceived as a luxury fitted only for the few.

In this conditions, design steps right into advertising industry's footsteps, repeating the same mistakes and heading for the same deplorable dead-end they're swamped in: free pitch as the de facto norm.

I wrote about spec work here on in the past, but this is an important issue that needs to be revisited every once in a while. And so this post's purpose is not to freeze spec work practice as from tomorrow. This is not possible.

This post's purpose is let designers know that providing spec work and participating in free pitches is wrong and it undermines not only how design is seen, but — slowly — what design is as a profession.


  • Icograda – Pitched out by Erik Spiekermann, Form
  • AIGA – To spec or not to spec
  • AIGA – Design competitions and speculative work
  • Creative Latitude – Why We Don't Make Speculative Presentations by Creative Business
  • – Spec Work by Judy Litt
  • Boston Business Journal – Working on spec is a disturbing -- and growing -- trend by Sean Lorenz
  • Be A Design Group' – This week's 4-letter word: SPEC by Drew Davies

At the first draft this was a very abrasive article against designers who comply with 'free pitch' client tactics. Then I thought that what we really need is a bit of education, not aggression – I'm sure some of those designers don't know much about industry ethics regarding this practice. And neither do many clients, but this is not their problem – it's ours.

What is free pitch? Free pitch is a situation in which a client is asking for free speculative work from one or more design companies or freelance designers, before any contract is signed, in order to decide which company or freelance designers is going to 'win' the account or project. Free pitch is a 'competition' where designers are required to submit free speculative work in order to 'win' the project.

It's a free market, why would this 'free pitch' be wrong?

Erik Spiekermann answers in Form [Pitched Out is featured also on Icograda's website]:

Clients love to invite designers to a pitch when they think they need help with an unsolved communication problem, and the fee usually doesn't even cover the cost of the color prints. That would be like visiting several restaurants in a row, trying the food in each one, and then refusing to pay the bill because none of the dishes were really to your liking.

Taking part in a pitch where concepts are sold for a fraction of what they are worth - in other words: given away - makes you a loser three times over. First you lose any respect for our business, because if it can be given away, it can't be worth much. Then you lose money by not being paid for your most valuable asset: ideas and their visual manifestation. And finally, you lose any chance to show the client that it takes a dialog to solve design problems.

AIGA Boston's chapter president, Amy Strauch, reinforces the same opinion [see To spec or not to spec]:

In my eyes, there is nothing right about this. I don't ask my lawyer, broker, doctor to do work for me for free while I scope out who might be better at it. To me, that shows disrespect and is a waste of time for all parties involved.

And a third quote, from Lana Rigsby – AIGA Houston [see To spec or not to spec]:

Unpaid competitions are more likely to end in frustration than in good design. The "winners" are just as likely to wind up frustrated, since they're now somewhat locked into an approach devised before they had a chance to do any real homework... in addition to being grumpy about having been put through the hoops along with total strangers. For no money. The spec work approach demeans us all, and perpetuates the myth that design is all about how something looks.

We see that opinion leaders in the design community – Mr. Spiekermann is a design legend, Icograda is one of the strongest voice designers can have and AIGA needs no introduction either – define free pitch as a bad practice and the act of taking part in free pitches as a bad conduit that erodes and devalues design as a profession.

Some time ago I heard of an ad agency creative head passing the details of a logo contest to his team, thus encouraging them to participate in the spec competition. At the same time, the ad people are pretty furious about the horror stories of clients inviting 20 agencies in a pitch.

What goes around, comes around. When you encourage the concept of free pitch, don't be surprised when you'll get your share of it.

Any solutions then?

In the advertising industry the free pitch practice rules and it will take them a long time to clean their act. In the design/identity/branding industry it's not too late. There are two solutions: one would be the 'No, thanks' answer – 'No, we do not endorse the practice of free pitch, sorry.' The second is the paid pitch. Even if the pitch fee is only $1000 (but we'd better talk about something like 25% of the project costs), that client would've think twice before flexing its pitch-organizing muscles and invite anyone in the marketing section of Yellow Pages.

In the end, straighten your spine and have a good look at what Drew Davies has to say in Be A Design Group's article This week's 4-letter word: SPEC:

I know to some that it would seem that the design world has heard all it needs to about the practice of engaging in speculative work. But if the past week has taught me anything, it's that we don't talk nearly enough about it. The reality is that engaging in spec work continues to erode the value of what all of us do as designers, and if any of us want our profession to have even a modicum of respect in the world, we'll answer the call for spec work with an emphatic No.

Most importantly, it's frustrating because, at its core, this is an issue we all have to fight together. All of us in the design profession are on the same team. If the entire business community understood the value of good design, and saw the effect we can actually have on their bottom line, there wouldn't be nearly enough design firms to handle all of the business. But when any creative firm reiterates to a business client that it's okay to give away what we do on a gamble of a big payoff, it's a huge setback. So I'm raising the horn again and sounding the rallying cry: if we all band together and tell the business community that, like any other professional service, we provide something of great value that is worth paying for, only then can we win the war. Fellow designers, please join me in saying no to spec work.


  • Icograda – Pitched out by Erik Spiekermann, Form
  • AIGA – To spec or not to spec
  • AIGA – Design competitions and speculative work
  • Creative Latitude – Why We Don't Make Speculative Presentations by Creative Business
  • – Spec Work by Judy Litt
  • Boston Business Journal – Working on spec is a disturbing -- and growing -- trend by Sean Lorenz
  • Be A Design Group' – This week's 4-letter word: SPEC by Drew Davies