Thing Explainer book review

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Amid lots of blog posts about dark forces controlling society, the seismic flaws at the heart of orthodox science, the tragic underbelly of human behaviour and the future collapse of civilisation, it's good to talk about something fun. I've recently finished reading Randall Munroe's 'Thing Explainer' hardback science book and I heartily recommend it. Munroe's filled his book with lovely diagrams of important devices (e.g. the Curiosity Rover, a skyscraper) and has followed the neat plan of only using a lexicon of one thousand popular words. This way, he never burdens and confuses the reader with technical jargon and also gives us a fresh view of familiar devices by describing them in simple terms. Munroe is known through his xkcd website which is also lots of fun, especially for those who like Dilbert and think Unix is an elegant and quite beautiful operating system (which I personally do).

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It's available from all good bookshops and is a delight. Buy it, read it from cover to cover, laugh and be fascinated. After that, give it to someone you love, while downplaying the fact that you've actually read it first, all the way through, and pretend instead that you always had them in mind when you bought the book [Note: To do this effectively, do not read it in the bath].

Off-Pitch Productions graphic design project

Earlier this year, I designed a logo for a friend. She was setting up a voice-overs company and was looking for advice on a web presence, a banner, logo and the other related bits and bobs required to let people know about her service. Along with an extended waffle about websites, I offered to put together a logo for her. Here's what I came up with:

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It was fun to do. I really enjoyed the challenge of creating a visual, iconic version of a organisation or endeavour (in this case, a voice-over company). It was also enjoyable laying out different versions and seeing how small changes can affect the impact of the design.

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Fortunately, Alison was very pleased with the result and it is now her official logo. If you need some voice-over work done, you can contact her through her Facebook page and on her website (which is currently under construction).

Although I really enjoyed this graphic design project, I'm not sure I'd want to do it as a profession. I can imagine that some fee-paying clients might get very demanding and I can get tetchy even when helping my friends. I remember talking to a former graphic designer years ago and he did admit there was one pernickety client he'd have happily throttled. Luckily, I don't have to. Hooray! :-)