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re: Watch 2.0

Journal Entry: Thu Nov 26, 2015, 5:30 AM


Alright, where to begin? I guess i'll start with talking about my future plans of deviantNAV v7 – a userstyle that many of you are using. Now that a new version is in the making (read about it here), my style won't be relevant much longer. Do i plan on updating it or not?

Here's the thing: My style never was about simply reverting it to the old version; it was about fixing what was (in my opinion) wrong with it. And i have voiced my thoughts about it in great detail here, amongst other places. With the new navbar, i don't see much that is wrong with it. Okay, there are a few things wrong with it, but it's mostly functionality, rather than aesthetics – so there's not much i can do. What i will do is talk about what's wrong:


… or rather "DeviantArt". Before i can talk about the 2 elephants in the room (the new navbar and the new Watch), i feel like i need to talk a little bit about deviantART in general. And simply by the way i write it (by using the old spelling) you can probably tell that i'm not liking the new way too much. And indeed, the way dA is headed, and has been heading for a while, does not terribly excite me. I mean, sure, i like the new logo, i also like the new brand strategy they unveiled last year, but still, it's not quite that deviantART that i've known for so long.

See, dA used to be more than just a website, more than a social network. It was a real special place at a special time. A place that was years ahead of all the trends and technologies that were around elswhere on the net. But eventually, somewhere along the way, the others started to catch up, while dA stagnated. Still, with all that heritage and culture, dA continued to stay relevant and interesting, and it continued to stay the place i liked to call my "home" on the internet. The problems began when dA tried to play catch-up and expand. Many little details were sacrificed or changed – details i've come to love over the years – in order to become "simpler", in order to attract more people. To me, however, it lost little of its complexity, but lost a lot of what made it unique.

Now, before you think this is going to be nothing more than a long-winded rant or me saying good-bye to this place; nope, i have no plans on leaving, and i didn't want to drag dA through the mud. I was merely trying to convey to you that dA is not "that place" for me anymore that it once was. As such, i'm not wowed by all these changes, because they don't bring me back to this feeling i once had, instead they bring dA closer to what everyone else has. Having said all that, this place is still special to me, that's why i'm still here, that's why i'm writing this. So, sorry for this rather bleak digression!

Flat design

A part of dA's new brand seems to be a focus on flat design. If you're not quite sure what this means, here's a little primer. Wikipedia defines flat design as…
"a style of interface design without any stylistic elements that give the illusion of three dimensions, and is focused on a minimalist use of simple elements, typography, and flat colors."

These days, you see it everywhere: iOS 7+, Windows 8+, even Android, and every other website does it, too. Usually you see it used with a lot of white, while dA chose a rather dark theme – and for that i truly applaud them!

So, is flat design bad? Not necessarily; the removal of visual fluff helps putting the content right in the centre after all. However, many designers are doing it wrong (or, not well enough):
"One of the biggest usability issues introduced by flat design is the lack of signifiers on clickable elements"

say the folks over at the Nielsen Norman Group, professionals in the field of usability (i highly recommend reading that article, by the way). In short, by removing established indicators and visual clues (such as borders, drop-shadows, and gradients), it becomes hard to tell what is what. And dA has fallen right into these traps. Not all traps, mind you, but some – dA has some excellent designers after all, and some of the implementations look really good, to be fair. Usability does suffer on some occasions, however.

If you want to know more about flat design (what it is, and some of its flaws), here are some great articles:
Flat Design by Katherine Barrow
Windows 8 — Disappointing Usability

Mixing flat with traditional

Before we (finally) dive into each part individually, let's address this one (big) gripe i have with the new design: It doesn't mix well with the rest of the site. Only the Watch feed is fully "modern" (for lack of a better term), on every other page these flat elements creep into the old design, and frankly, it looks garish. I know this is going be a temporal problem only, but still, right now, it is there.

Well, with that out of the way, let's dive in!

The Navbar

Removal of message count
By far the biggest issue i have with the new navbar is the removal of the detailed message count. That little (1) indicator is much too whimsical, and more importantly, much too fleeting. Too easy it is to just overlook it or to click it and then to forget you have messages waiting for you. I like to know all the time how many messages i have. The old splintered view was a godsend compared to this. Why is this so important to me? Well, it makes me feel connected. It makes me feel more in control. It makes me feel powerful.

The new indicator not only looks like a blatent rip-off of Facebook & co., but it also conveys a different feeling than the detailed counter did: "Messages aren't as important anymore." I think this is definitely the wrong message. Was it intentional? I doubt it, yet there it is.

:bug: Bug report
One tab of my Firefox always has the Notification Centre open. However, i have yet to see this (1) indicator on that specific page. I've seen it on other pages, but never there. I can only assume this is a bug…

Tiny links
Onto a bit of usability. Look at this screenshot:
tiny-hover by rotane
This grey square is the clickable area of a link. This is much too small. What's worse is that it doesn't even expand to the full height of the bar, resulting in an unsatisfying experience when you move your mouse from left to right. Many users won't be able to pin-point this specifically, but they'll feel that something is off.

Tiny text
Continuing with usability, or rather, accessability: The text underneath each icon is pretty small. It doesn't help that it's set in uppercase and letter spacing is rather compressed. Leaning back on my desktop, even i have a hard time reading it – and i'm only 35.

Too flat
Remember what i said above about flat design? Here's a great example: That dropdown blends in way too much with the background. The link in particular seems to be part of the page below:
dropdown-vanilla by rotane

How do we fix it? Easy, by adding a soft drop-shadow around it:
dropdown-shadow by rotane

While the navbar itself employs a rather tiny font, the dropdown has rather huge ones. Compared to its surroundings, it's like none of the fonts match. (Look at the screenshot above again.) The fact that it's different fonts (Calibre vs Verdana) doesn't help.

Continuing… Do you notice something here?
dropdown-inconsistencies by rotane
All 3 of these dropdowns look slightly different. 2 have a headline, 1 does not. The 2 headlines are also styled differently. Font styles and sizes inside the menus differ to various degrees. The corner radius differs (you can easily see this between the 2nd and 3rd). The final link on each dropdown differs in size, background colour, and font… For one who likes some sort of unity, this is a nightmare!

:bug: Bug report
Watch your z-index! While scrolling through the page that advertises the Mobile App, this banner is actually above the navbar:
navbar obscured by banner by rotane

The Watch

The biggest issue i'm having with the Watch: I don't see the need for it. It is very reminiscent of all the other major social networks (Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter), where you simply lean back and consume. Scrolling through tons of big thumbs is a joy indeed, and this is where the Watch works best. The dark theme puts the content in the foreground, which is excellent. But the content is also the problem here. I am one who likes to see what my friends are posting, but i only need to see it once. I will check in several times a day (i'm that invested in dA, yup), but i don't need to see it several times, and i certainly don't need to sit back and consume.

On the desktop, the Notification Centre fulfils my needs perfectly. Everthing that is in any way directed at me is in this one place. (Well, everything but Status updates.) Using the Watch only slows me down: I need to browse through the Deviations part, then i need to head over to the Posts part, and yet i still need to check in my Notification Centre for all the comments and replies. This is just too much work. (The new dropdown to the right also isn't helpful, as it forces me to process one comment/reply at a time, including one full page load for each, which is beyond combersome. On the plus side: It's unobtrusive and i don't have touse it, so i can easily ignore it. And i will.)

As an alternative "sit-back" place to see everything again, okay, sure, let's keep the Watch. But it is not for me. Unfortunately, by removing the message count and by moving the icon all the way to the right, you've essentially degraded the Notification Centre to a second class citizen.

High interaction cost
As i said, leaning back and consuming content works fine when you have lots of big thumbs. (So, i cannot wait until you roll out the new dark style to the other Browse pages!) But exploring all the other content (Journals, Status Updates, etc) doesn't work that well: You're forced to click on every post you want to read, but the thumbnail grid isn't actually all that inviting: The scanning from left-to-right and up-and-down is very tiring when you're just having text. (This is something the 1st iteration of the Watch Feed with its list-like view did better! That's also why Facebook gave up on the 2-column timeline, and that's why browsing Google+ is so uncomfortable.)

Too strong contrast
When i click on a thumb, it opens a modal, which is nice. What is not so nice is the effect when i click to view all comments. The dark theme suddenly switches to bright white, which stings – it looks really out of place.

Dear dA, if you wanna go dark, go dark, but please commit to it! This white bit only waters down the vision. (This also applies to the rather bright drop-downs of the navbar, btw.)

Too flat
I already mentioned earlier how the dropdowns blend in too much with the background. The same is true for this modal. Here is what it looks like now:
Modal-vanilla by rotane

And once we apply a soft shadow and dim the background a bit more, it sticks out way better:
Modal-shadow by rotane
(Click on the images to see bigger versions.)

:bug: Bug report
As proof of why a drop shadow not only looks better and helps distinguish foreground from background but is actually helpful, look at this screenshot. You'd have noticed this at once. (I've outlined it in red.) The content sticks out of the modal. This happens with every Status update and Journal that i tested:
Modal-text-bug by rotane

:bug: Weird commenting prompt
If a deviation has no comments, you give us a line at the bottom of this modal that asks for a comment. While i think they are rather forced, a prompt such as this one should not appear under a Status update:
"What three things do you like most about this deviation? What's one thing that could be improved?"

:bug: Bug report
I have set the "Posts" section of my Watch to display only Status updates, yet there are a handful of Journals to be seen. All of them are hq Journals. And no, they are not Status updates sharing said journals…

:bug: Bug report
This is a bug that i have reported back in september when the new thumbs grid launched into beta, but it is still there. On retina screens, the Journal badge's right border is 1 pixel too thick, compared to the other 3 sides:
Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 13.38.21 by rotane
(Click for a bigger version.)

The avatar
On top of the Watch page sits your avatar in glorious 60x60 pixels. I have to wonder, why scale it up from 50x50? This only results in a washed out image. (Sidenote: on a retina screen like the one on my MacBook Pro this looks actually pretty good, since it somehow doesn't interpolate the image and blurs it, but uses some sort of nearest neighbour technique, i think. But on non-retina screens it simply doesn't look good.)

Action buttons that are too context-sensitive
Depending on the size of your browser window and the size of thumbs that are next to them, in extreme cases you end up with one of the following two scenarios:
Watch-action-buttons by rotane
On the left one, the action buttons appear rather large and far away from each other; while on the right one, they are very compressed, their content overlaps, and even the buttons themselves bump into each other. There needs to be some sort of limits that this does not happen.

Slow links
The Watch page appears slow. I don't mean it loads or scrolls slowly, not at all. However, across the Watch page you'll find numerous CSS3 transitions: When you hover your mouse over a thumb or link, its appearance fades slowly to the hover-state. While this is a nifty effect, it's too slow. Let me explain with 2 examples:

For the first example, these items mimick the speed of the links on the Watch page. Go and move your mouse across them for a bit. The faster you move, the less of an effect you'll see, which makes the page appear laggy and unresponsive; and you don't want that at all:
item item item item

For the second example, the initial hover is sped up. When you move over an element it changes appearance almost instantly, and only when you move away will you get a slow fade-out. This results in a page that appears much more snappy and responsive, yet retains that desired transition effect:
item item item item

In closing

There you go, my in-depth "review" of the new features after having used them for about a week. Some of these issues make the overal experience more frustrating to me than need be, unfortunately. Not all of them are bugs per se, but just sloppy mistakes – but also a brand strategy that needs some refinement. I will repeat though what i said in the beginning: I do like the new design, and i think it has a lot of potential. It just need to be ironed out a bit more.


Journal Entry: Tue Jan 20, 2015, 12:47 PM

It's time for a new project. Actually, i've already started on January 1st, but kept it under wraps until now. I wanted to get a feel for it first myself, because it is a rather daunting project, and i didn't want to blabber about it before it got off the ground.

But now, after about 3 weeks, i feel confident enough to tell you about it.

So here's the deal: I'm trying to shoot one photo a day throughout 2015 and upload them here. Well, not here here, but on a new account that i've created specifically for this purpose: rotane365.

Other than this simple idea of "one photo a day", there are no plans. No themes, no restrictions, no limits. Anything goes. And i'm quit curious myself where things are going – even if they end up not going anywhere. Right now, i'm feeling more challenged by the daily push to find a subject and to think about a way to frame it. But who knows what's going to happen a few weeks or months down the road.

Anyway, here's a little teaser:

January 2 by rotane365 January 12 by rotane365
January 4 by rotane365 January 13 by rotane365


About deviantNAV

Journal Entry: Thu Oct 16, 2014, 4:42 AM
deviantNAV v7 by rotane

Well, this thing caused quite a stir! So let me talk a little bit about it – on a more personal note – and give a bit of rationale behind this style and the new features in general, since i have your attention right now.

First of all, a huge thank you to everyone who liked this, +fav’d it, mentioned it, and thanked me personally; you seriously made my day! And to those of you who don’t like it and prefer deviantART’s new design, that’s totally fine too!

Now. I don’t “hate” the new features that got released just now, the navbar included. I don’t think they will “ruin” deviantART. None of that nonsense. In fact, i see a vision of dA that looks more modern, and i see a lot of potential. (The new Today page in particular is a godsend compared to the old one.) But i also think that there is room for improvement, and that’s the reason i made this.

I could have easily just made a visual suggestion, but instead i wrote this style – mainly because it was the easiest route for me, especially to iterate. Initially i made it only for myself, because this is how i would have it. But then i released it to the public, because people have asked me to, and to give people a choice. A choice that dA cannot offer, not in this case. There simply is no way to support 2 different pieces of UI. Not from a technical standpoint, but more importantly, deviantART has to have one identity, and stick to it.

Furthermore, i’m not asking dA to copy this exactly the way i made it (i’m sure there’s plenty of reasoning behind their decisions that i can’t see), but i nonetheless do think my points are valid – at the very least from an end-user’s perspective; from a user who has been an active member on this site for over a decade; from someone who knows a thing or two when it comes to interface design (yes, this was part of my studies at uni). Let’s break them down, shall we?

Message count and user menu back to the left
I read about spyed’s intention behind this: “let’s group things together that belong together”. [source] Makes sense, right? I agree. The problem is, however, that in doing so, you inadvertently made the message count a second class citizen, simply by “moving it out of the way” over to the far right. Larger screens are quite common today, and the larger the screen the larger the issue. But even on a small 13” laptop it’s still not optimal. And despite the obvious problem (“the message count is so far away that i actively have to go looking for it”), it creates an interesting second one: With the addition of the Watch Feed, it appears that the Message Centre itself has become a second class citizen, and no-one knows if or when it will be removed altogether. (It has since been clarified that the Message Centre is going to stay, but still, that queasy feeling was/is there.)

Slightly darker background and brighter text
That’s an easy one, it’s called accessibility. The navbar simply doesn’t have enough contrast to be comfortably legible on all kinds of monitors (no monitor displays colours the exact same way). It can easily be fixed by slightly toning down the background and brightening up the text and giving it a faint text-shadow. Which is exactly what i did. It’s very subtle, but the effect goes a long way.
Update: Read this article for more info on low contrast:…

Mouseover effect for deviantART logo, Friends, and Favourites links
If you know me, i’m a sucker for mouseover effects (also called hovers). It’s simple usability: If a site employs hovers on their links, it should do so consistently across the board. Why? Because when you come across one link that has no hover, the link seems broken. And if not broken, at least it appears laggy, because you were expecting a hover effect. In short: The site doesn’t feel snappy enough when hovers are missing here and there.

“Submit” button blends in with the rest of the menu
I do get the intention behind that one, it’s as clear as day. The button practically screams: “Come on, click me! I need your submissions!” And of course, dA without art would be no dA. The flipside lies again with the UI: The button is, simply put, obnoxious. It’s too much in your face. Even when you’re not directly looking at the menu bar and instead focussing on the content, you can still notice it in the corner of your eye. That’s why i blended it down. But there is a downside to this, too: With my style active you now have 3 links in succession (Shop, More, Submit) that all look very samey, nearly indistinguishable from each other at a quick glance. This slows you down when you want to navigate this site. Unfortunately, i couldn’t fix this without putting a lot more thought and time into this.

Tweaked Searchbar
The changes i made there are again very subtle. Basically, all i added was yet another hover effect, as well as making the input text smaller. On Windows machines in particular the text is ridiculously large. And bold. It’s not as glaring on OS X (fonts in OS X usually appear a bit bolder than their Windows counterpart), yet even there it was a bit too big for my taste compared to the rest of the navbar.

So there you have it, my analysis of the new navbar on the basis of my style. Thank you for your time. Discussions welcome :)

My deviantART Story

Journal Entry: Thu Aug 7, 2014, 11:20 AM
14 years ago, deviantART was born. 12 years ago (more or less), i signed up. I have told you about my first steps before, so i'm not going to bore you with it all again. Instead i'll add a few thumbs to some very special deviations and talk about those…

Let's begin with Winamp skins. It was because of wallpapers and skins that i discovered dA all these years ago. Nucleo (the one on the left) was a skin i've used for a couple of years, and ASCII-Amp (right) is just too cool not to share. 
NucleoAlienMind by nucleoASCII Amp by pabo

But Winamp skins wasn't the only fascinating thing about dA back then; icons was another. The Dent icons (left) was one of the first sets i've used for quite a while – and even made my own ones. And i've been using Buuf (right) pretty much non-stop and on every computer i owned since i stumbled upon it – i just love it so much that i still can't seem to get rid of it. 
OS X Dent Icons by dazzlaBuuf by mattahan

I've been drawing my whole life, but never anything quite as elaborate as this. dA opened my eyes and showed me what was possible, and i finally had to try stuff like this myself.
Claire Danes in repose by controlControls Denise Richards by control

Over the years, people have dedicated stuff to me, and even drawn things specifically for me. Drawings like these: 
Padme :: Amidala by majahKeira :: by majah
-Tron- by serendipity04

And finally, there are a few pieces that i've collected over the years that continue to blow my mind whenever i look at them. Here's a small selection:
STAR WARS LEIA FIN by RobDuenasriding aways from you by tonysandoval
SWGTCG: Hose Down by ukitakumuki
PR test 8 by qdaCG HTK Girl 37 by iDNAR
New York Ruins by JonasDeRo
Railway novel X by photoportskywalker by thinkingupwards
Empower by niteangelVertigo 2. by almillerfar away by ssilence
Lego bricks by zoggles

Happy Birthday, deviantART!

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Journal Entry: Wed Jul 2, 2014, 2:36 AM

You should all know by now that i quite like music. I've previously posted my favourite tracks from film and game soundtracks; but soundtracks aren't the only passion of mine. Electronic music would be a close second.

This time around, i want to do things a little differently, and actually talk about the music a bit, rather than just post a collection of album art. And today i want to talk about remixes. Why remixes? Simple enough, there are some real gems out there that nobody knows about. Here are some of my personal favourites. Be mindful though, many of them are quite abrasive and don't qualify as easy-listening. But maybe you'll enjoy some of them regardless – or because of that.

Also, i decided against ranking them. Instead you'll find an arrangement that has a certain flow to it. This is supposed to be a mixtape after all. I tried to keep its runtime shorter than last time, as to not overload you. (This could mean, of course, that i might post a b-side or something in another journal…)

And finally, you'll again find direct links to a YouTube video for each remix – and the original – but if you want to listen to the whole thing, here's a playlist. Enjoy!

Good speakers or headphones can't hurt, by the way.

Six Days (Remix) (feat. Mos Def)

DJ Shadow

from "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift", 2006

This is the title track from the second "Fast and Furious" movie, but don't let that scare you away! It's a remix full of action and power (which is quite appropriate for a racing movie), and it should do the job of starting off this mixtape with a punch. It's the only track that has hip-hop elements in it, so let's get it out of the way before moving on to more electronic stuff.

Listen to the Remix

Listen to the Original

Round Round (Soulwax Remix)


from "Most of the Remixes…", 2007

When an album has an insanely long title like this, you can expect all kinds of weird things from it. And this one delivers. It features artists that come from all over the musical spectrum – from pop over progressive rock to post-industrial. The result is an intense album that smashes and trashes the originals, many with very little respect. But it makes for a few very intersting remixes; this one from the Sugababes in particular. The fact that it was a pop song to begin with helps a lot in making this song quite catchy – even catchier than the original – albeit quite heavy.

Listen to the Remix

Listen to the Original

Tricks (The Rogue Element Remix)

Culprit 1

from "Rogue Rock: Special Delivery", 2007

Ben Medcalf, a.k.a. The Rogue Element, is a largely unknown and woefully underrated breakbeat producer from the UK, and Culprit 1 is even lesser known than him. But this resulting remix right here could pass for one of The Prodigy's or The Crystal Method's finest songs at the best of times: it's loud, peppy, and has an incredible drive. If you like breaks, the whole album might be something for you.

Listen to the Remix

Listen to the Original

Omen (Noisia Remix)

The Prodigy

from "Invaders Must Die (Remixes & Bonus Tracks)", 2009

Speaking of The Prodigy, for the longest time there really was no need to remix these guys. Nothing good could ever come from remixing their 1997 hallmark album "The Fat of the Land", because it is that good. (If you listen to the 15th anniversary edition of that album, you know what i mean.) "Luckily", their later records weren't quite as stellar, so Noisia (a drum'n'base trio from the Netherlands) took it upon themselves to make a mediocre track quite cool.

Listen to the Remix

Listen to the Original

Well 'Ard

Caspa & The Others

from "FabricLive.37", 2007

I don't even know if this is a remix of an existing song or just something fresh thrown together for that issue of "FabricLive" (a series of mix albums released by London nightclub Fabric), but this track is so neat that it doesn't matter anyway. It's an abomination of a song, but soooo badass. All i'll say is: dubstep, grime, and vocal samples like "Geezer was so hard even his fucking nightmares were scared of him".

Listen to the Remix

It Was Written (Chasing Shadows Remix)

Damian Marley

from "It Was Written / Flashing Lights", 2009

Speaking of dubstep, this is one of the better tracks of this genre i've heard. It's not the dark/minimal kind à la Burial, but neither is it the "brostep" kind à la Skrillex. It's also not as crazy as the previous song. I don't want to open up a discussion when i say "this is the good kind of dubstep", but… This is the good kind of dubstep. And yes, the original is from one of Bob Marley's many sons, which isn't half bad to begin with.

Listen to the Remix

Listen to the Original

Dirty Snow (Trentemøller Remix)

Giana Factory

from "Reworked/Remixed", 2011

If you like synthpop, the original by Giana Factory is decent. It has a nice dark vibe to it that Trentemøller brings out to the fullest. I'd say this version could be classified as a darkwave/minimal techno hybrid.

Listen to the Remix

I couldn't find the original on YouTube, sorry!

Flamingo (Trentemøller Remix)


from "The Trentemøller Chronicles", 2007

2 Trentemøller remixes in a row? Boy, this dude has to be special – and he bloody hell is. The original song by Tomboy is a synthpoppy track that isn't the worst in the world, but Trentemøller brings it to another level. Several levels, in fact. This resulting remix is a 9 minute epic that fuses so many genres so effortlessly that it's hard to keep up – but it's so much fun to try!

Listen to the Remix

Listen to the Original

It's in Our Hands (Soft Pink Truth Mix)


from "It's in Our Hands", 2002

Time to get a bit "old school" with this one. While the original isn't a bad song (if you happen to like Björk), this is one of her best remixes.

Listen to the Remix

Listen to the Original

To Be Free (múm Remix)

Emilíana Torrini

from "E2 (e:rmx)", 2000

When Icelandic singer/songwriter Emilíana Torrini started making music in the late 90s, her dream was that one day one of her albums would get the "remix treatment". That was a time before the internet of today, when things like that didn't really happen all that often. A year after her breakthrough album "Love in a Time of Science", she had her wish granted – and we got an incredible series of remix EPs, dubbed e:rmx. Fellow music act from Iceland múm contributed this little gem. Very subdued, very chill.

Listen to the Remix

Listen to the Original

Scoop (ISAN Remix)

The Notwist

from "Putting the Morr Back in Morrissey", 2000

A remix that isn't all that different from the original at first glance – both have a similar laid back feel to it. But i think this remix improves upon it in almost every area. It makes the song feel a lot more mature – like a good Scotch Whisky compared to Moonshine Schnapps.

Listen to the Remix

Listen to the Original

Fairy Acid


from "Zelda: A Link to the Past", 2002

Ah, OverClocked ReMix, the go-to place for video game remixes. Quality and diversity have declined somewhat in recent years, however, or i'm just becoming sick of the same music being submitted there every day. Regardless, this remix is one of the edgiest stuff i've ever heard. It's not a melodious song any longer, not by any stretch, but it highlights the remixers talent in deconstructing the original and piecing it back together in a really tight fashion. I love the incredibly controlled distortion and beat/fx work of this piece. It's a real shame that it has been removed from OCRemix, because it's my favourite track from that site.

Listen to the Remix

Listen to the Original

Headphones (Ø Remix)


from "Telegram", 1996

Time to end this mixtape; time to end it with the classic "calm and peaceful ending song". The original track concludes Björk's album "Post" on an experimental and hypnotic note, but this remix (made by Mika Vainio from Finland) works even better as a closing track.

Listen to the Remix

Listen to the Original

Wikipedia is aweful!

Journal Entry: Sun Mar 23, 2014, 6:44 AM

Let me correct that: Reading Wikipedia is aweful.

The guys over at 1910 seem to agree with me. Instead of repeating everything they have said, let me highlight one or two things:

"While big parts of the internet have gone through an amazing journey in terms of typography these last years, Wikipedia’s reading experience is still stuck in the 90’s."

"The text is too small, the lines are too long and the leading is too tight. Pictures are tiny and the general layout includes a lot of visual noise that distracts you from the actual reading."

Here's the full article, which i highly recommend reading:…

Anyway, it inspired me. And if you know me, you know what i'm getting at: I wrote a userstyle. And of course i'm going to share it with you.

The goal was to bring Wikipedia from this:

Wikipedia Full 01 by rotane

… to something like this:

Wikipedia Full 02 by rotane
(Mockup by 1910.)

I used this design as a starting point, but had to (and wanted to) make a few modifications. For example, i could not get their grid to work properly; Wikipedia's articles are too dissimilar (and messy in general) for a grid like that to work. Instead, i decided to follow Wikipedia's current layout, but apply a set of more general/sensible rules: have a maximum width, make the text bigger, and reduce the clutter.

In fact, i ended up going so minimal, that other than the article itself, there's only the searchbar left; everything else of the UI is hidden or removed completely. (But unless you are a hardcore Wikipedia editor, you'll hardly miss them.)

Also, there are practically no embellishments present: no drop shadows, no round corners, no gradients; nothing of that sort. By doing away with all this, you can focus completely on the content without distraction.

And this is my result – i decided to call it "Wikipedia 1911" ;)

Wikipedia Full 03 by rotane

As you can see, it's quite a bit darker than 1910's mockup (almost deviantART colours!), but this shouldn't surprise you if you know me at all: I just can't stand white designs. Not only do i find them ugly, but they also hurt my rather sensitive eyes, once i stare at the monitor for more than a few minutes.

So, without further ado, i give you the download link:

(As always, you'll need something like Stylish for Firefox or Chrome.)

PS: As i said, most of the UI is hidden. There's only 2 things you need to know: In order to access the left menu, simply move your mouse over to the left edge of the screen and the menu will appear. (Although, i've hidden a lot of unneccessary stuff from it as well, so it's shorter than you'd expect.) And secondly, to get to the controls on top of the page (that holds the edit links and user menu), move your mouse over the darker area around the logo and searchbar.

Enjoy! And of course, feel free to tell me what you think (or if you found any bugs).

Update: I took your comments to heart and have been playing around with more colour-schemes. The one by AndyGassner served as a starting point, becasue i really liked his sepia-ish version. Only it was a tad too bright for my taste.

Furthermore, i removed even more stuff, like the darker-coloured margins around the article, as well as the 1px-borders around most of the lighter-coloured boxes, which brings it closer to 1910's mockup as well. (This last bit is still a work-in-progress, but it should cover most of the boxes already.)

Here's another screenshot:

Wikipedia Full 04 by rotane

The download link is the same as above (click), but your Stylish should auto-update it anyway. Hope you dig it!


Journal Entry: Mon Jan 13, 2014, 4:03 AM
Yes, yes, i have done this questionnaire before. But apparently, 8 years is such a long time that some people (you know who you are :paranoid:) felt it was time for me to re-do it. So, fine, i gave in and re-did it. Happy?

  1. 1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, and find line 4.
    "The function of typography, as i understand it, is neither to further the power of witches nor to bolster the defences of those, like this unfortunate parliamentarian, who live in terror of being tempted and deceived."
  2. 2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can.
    … and it hit thin air!
  3. 3. What is the last thing you watched on TV?
    Since i don't have an actual TV, that's a tricky question. When you consider my USB-dongle to be a TV, then probably some alpine ski downhill sports event a few days ago. When you consider "content made for TV", then Game of Thrones last night.
  4. 4. Without looking, guess what time it is:
  5. 5. Now look at the clock. What is the actual time?
  6. 6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?
    Music from my speakers. (The soundtrack to Unreal Tournament 3, right now.)
  7. 7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
    Yesterday, when i went out for a hike.
  8. 8. Before you started this survey, what did you look at?
    A blank page.
  9. 9. What are you wearing?
    T-shirt, sweatpants, socks.
  10. 10. Did you dream last night?
    Yes. If i recall correctly, i went bungee jumping with Keira Knightley…
  11. 11. When did you last laugh?
    Just before doing this quiz, when i saw some funny pic on facebook.
  12. 12. What is on the walls of the room you are in?
    An Australian flag/towel, a Ukulele, movie posters of The Empre Strikes Back and Bridge to Terabithia, and this drawing.
  13. 13. Seen anything weird lately?
  14. 14. What do you think of this quiz?
    It's haunting me! Let's just hope it won't come back in another 8 years time.
  15. 15. What is the last film you saw?
    Beautiful Girls.
  16. 16. If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy?
    That cabin up a mountain that i dreamed of last time still sounds very tempting.
  17. 17. Tell me something about you that I don't know.
    I just tried to call my eye specialist for an appointment, but he didn't pick up his phone.
  18. 18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?
    Again, make things easier.
  19. 19. Do you like to dance?
    Still nope.
  20. 20. George Bush:
    Yeah, he's not the president anymore.
  21. 21. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?
    22. Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him?
    I have a few ideas, but i'm still not sure i ever want kids.
  22. 23. Would you ever consider living abroad?
    Do 6 months in Australia count? In fact, i'm actually considering something like this again.
  23. 24. What do you want God to say to you when you reach the pearly gates?
    "Let me show you…"
  24. 25. 4 people who must also do this in THEIR journal:
    Ok, i pressed the random deviant button 4 times and came up with these 4 people. Consider yourself "lucky", if it hit you:
    :iconinstigator55: :iconrevanche7th: :iconxxrapekxx: :iconsnoogaloo:

My Top 50 Film/Game Music Tracks, pt. 2

Journal Entry: Fri Jan 10, 2014, 10:32 AM
Since i had a lot more tracks shortlisted for my Top 25 (as you can imagine), i decided to expand this list and make it a "Top 50". Because why not. So here are the runner-ups. As before, they're (all but one) linked to YouTube; and here's the playlist.

My Top 50 Film/Game Music Tracks

Journal Entry: Fri Jan 10, 2014, 3:59 AM
As you are well aware, music is a passion of mine. In recent years, i've grown to enjoy soundtracks the most. Soundtracks to either Film, TV, or video games. Anyway, i've created these little graphics of my personal top tracks for my profile, but i figured i could also share them with you. Plus, i've linked all of them to a YouTube video (except for 2 which i couldn't find). And if you don't feel like clicking 23 times, here's a playlist that contains all tracks. Enjoy!

Name generators

Journal Entry: Mon Nov 4, 2013, 3:30 AM
So i got really bored today. Watched a bunch of videos on YouTube and stumbled upon one that was quite funny (i'll add it below). And i thought to myself, "Yeah alright, i haven't done one of these name generator thingies in ages, so i'll do this too!"

And there you have it. Feel free to do them yourselves. No, wait, i tag you! All of you who read this! :evillaugh:
Alternatively, just link me to your favourite name generator!

Anyway, here's the original video:

… Oh Dodger ^^

rotane's timeline

Journal Entry: Wed May 1, 2013, 12:49 AM

  • I’ve been on deviantART for 11 years – today! (That’s about a third of my life. If you can believe that.) Which means a couple of things. First and foremost, i wanted to make something nice for my dAnniversary. (Something like this deviation for my 3rd, or this journal for my 5th.) But it also means, 11 years is a hell of a long time, so it’s hard to keep track of things. But all this played right into the following:

    I have always wanted my own timeline. Similar to facebook, but not limited to facebook. Filled with things that really matter. Milestones, if you will. With the introduction of Folders within Folders, i got there one step closer. But since this Folder in my Gallery isn’t easy to find, nor visually appealing, i figured, why not go the whole way and make an actual timeline?

    And here it is: My timeline – my artistic endeavours, spanning the last 11 years. Feel free to click around – each thumbnail strip will open the corresponding Folder in my Gallery, while clicking on a thumbnail will open the deviation itself. I’ve also added a few links here and there, most of which will take you to other parts of my Gallery or older Journals. Plus, i threw in some of the avatars that i've used over the years. And finally, as a loose guideline, my artistic stuff (read: deviations) is located on the left, while more personal things are located on the right. Enjoy!

    PS: If you want to know more about "the rotane", check out this old journal.

  • 2001

  • Autumn

    New camera: Olympus C1-Zoom.

  • February

    Probably my first panorama. It took me a while to stitch and submit, though.

  • May 1

    ~Joined deviantART! And this here was my very first avatar.

  • May

    One of my many "pre photo-ref" drawings. This was one of the last before it got realistic.

  • June

    New OS: Windows XP. Upgraded from Windows 98.

  • July

    Moved out of my parents'.

  • August

    New tool: Adobe Photoshop 7. Upgraded from Corel Photopaint.

  • March

    New toy: Creative Jukebox ZEN.


  • June

    My first steps into 3D modelling and rendering.

  • September

  • August

    Started using 2 CRT monitors.

  • October

    Moved to a new place.

  • January

    My very first "photo-ref" drawing, inspired by fellow deviants. 2004 was also the year where i made most of these drawings.

  • February

    The beginning of a series of wallpapers and skins, inspired by the original TRON movie and TRON 2.0 video game.

  • March

    Updated version of my original avatar.

  • August

    New avatar, dubbed LifeLine.

  • August


    New camera: Minolta Z1.

  • October — December

    Internship in Italy.

  • November

    One of the biggest and widest panorama photos i ever made.

  • March

    On deviantART: *Subscribed for the first time, thanks to majah.

  • April

    On deviantART: became a =Beta Tester.

  • May

    Trying new things – macro photography.

  • July

    To this day, this is still my most popular deviation.

  • August

    New tool: Adobe Photoshop CS2.

  • October

    Graduated from college.

  • November

    New avatar. Thanks to ebonred for letting me use her LCD design!

  • December

    New computer: Nexoc 12" laptop.

  • March

    Another one of my qubiq room wallpapers. I made this for a contest on dA, and it got included in the official multimonitor pack (Top 10).

  • March

    New toy: iPad nano 1G.

  • May

    I was in Sydney, Australia!

  • April — October

    6-month-trip to Australia.

  • April

    Updated my LifeLine avatar to match my Bullseye devID that i used at the time.

  • June

    My very first DD.

  • July

    New avatar to match my ClearDisk iconset.

  • October

    New toy: iPhone.

  • January

    Building a new PC. Yes, the case is still missing.

  • March

    New camera: Canon EOS 400D.

  • February

    The red firewall series continues with this wallpaper.

  • April

    So many PCs. And no, i didn't use them all at the same time.

  • July

    Probably my most unique deviation: A map of my taste in music as well as listening habits, that looks like a subway/train map.

  • July

  • August

    New avatar, dubbed Enso.

  • August

    A suggestion i made that eventually became part of dA.


  • December

    New lens: Sigma 18–200mm 3.5–6.3 DC OS.

  • January

    Finally, i built a case for my PC. Yep, that's a beercase.

  • January

  • March

    Broke my collarbone. :skull:

  • April

    Moved to a new place.


  • August

    New avatar, dubbed RCUBE. The one i'm using right now in its basic form.

  • October

    On deviantART: joined the ¢Creative Staff.

  • November

    New OS: Windows 7.

  • February

    A userstyle that changes the appearance of comment boxes and a couple other things.

  • August

  • August

    New tool: Adobe Photoshop CS4.

  • November

    New tool: Wacom Intuos4.

  • June

    New camera and toy: iPhone 4.

  • July

    A userstyle that adds mouseover effects to many pages around deviantART.

  • January

    On deviantART: left Creative and became a `Senior Member.

  • August

    Latest variant of my RCUBE avatar.

  • August

    Moved to a new place.

  • November

    New camera: Sony RX100.

  • December

  • 2013

  • January

    New toy: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite.


  • April

    On deviantART: Became an Alpha Tester.

  • Final words

    Making this journal was quite the adventure. I started back in December 2012 and was working on it for the last 4 or 5 months – on and off. First on an offline prototype, then on One of the biggest challenges was to create a fluid layout, one that would expand nicely when viewed on a journal page but would also neatly contract when viewed on my profile (or on smaller monitors), where horizontal space is limited. The solution was actually incredibly simple: a large list with lots of float and clear properties, and one containing div with min-width and max-width information. And it worked in Firefox, Chrome, and even IE right out of the box. So after i had cracked this, i started filling it, which took the majority of work, as you can imagine: Stuff like deciding what to show, finding out when things happened, and creating all the images. But i’m quite happy with the result, and maybe you found it interesting too.

    And finally, i’d like to thank you all for your continuous support over the years. Your comments, +favs, and +watches meant a lot and were the most important part of what made me stay on dA. Thanks!


Journal Entry: Wed Apr 3, 2013, 4:41 AM
Let's squish some bugs!

I've got a new toy!

You may have noticed a definite lack of photos from me in recent months/years. That was mainly due to my latest camera – the Canon EOS 400D. It was too big and clunky, and as such it was never on me. When I look at my gallery, I count 11 photos that I took with this camera (not counting some devIDs or community projects). And I've had this camera for over 4 years now! (Compare this to the countless of photos that I took with my previous one, the Minolta Z1 that I've also had for roughly 4 years.) I took way more photos with my iPhone 4, but almost none of those ended up here on dA – picture quality never was up to my standards. In fact, I got frustrating just by looking at all the photos I took with it. Nope, something had to change – and here it is: The Sony RX100:

IMG7800_web by rotane

I got this camera a couple of days ago, and I already love it. And man, is it tiny! Here, compare it to my 400D. Yes, definitely pocketable.

IMG6391_web by rotane

Here are some shots that I took with it, minutes after I got it: I walked out of the shop and started shooting, with practically no prior knowledge of how to use the little devil. So what you see here is just a preview. You can click on any of them and view them bigger. Not full-size though, as I had no intentions of uploading over 100MB of photos. (In case you don't know, the RX100 shoots at 20 megapixels – pretty impressive for such a small camera. Also, other than resizing them down to 1600px, no further edits were made; no sharpening, no colour corrections, no noise reductions, no nothing.)

DSC00033 by rotane
DSC00047 by rotane
DSC00052 by rotane
DSC00067 by rotane
DSC00075 by rotane
DSC00092 by rotane
DSC00096 by rotane
DSC00098 by rotane
DSC00102 by rotane
DSC00107 by rotane
DSC00223 by rotane
DSC00239 by rotane
DSC00247 by rotane

As you can see, it got night-time pretty quickly, but the camera had no problems with that. And I didn't even use a tripod!

Some more examples of the greatness that is this camera. This is a shot against my window:

DSC00186 by rotane

And here a 100% crop. Looks like I've got fractals in my window! ;)

DSC00186_crop by rotane

And later at night, same window:

DSC00264 by rotane

Take a look at this shot (again, a 100% crop) that I took of my monitor:

DSC00138_crop by rotane
(This was on this page, in case you're wondering.)

The next day:

DSC00296 by rotane
DSC00291 by rotane

To sum up, oh yes, this camera is a keeper! I wasn't sure if it was worth the money when I bought it, but now I'm convinced. And most importantly, shooting pictures is fun again!


Journal Entry: Tue May 1, 2012, 2:43 PM


Great Scott! 10 years ago today I joined deviantART.
Now I feel old…

Ticked off

Journal Entry: Tue Jan 24, 2012, 3:49 AM

Yep, no more ¢reative staff for me. In fact, no more ¢reative symbol at all on deviantART. (Yes, you heard me.) But I can't say I blame them for removing this symbol altogether: There were only 4 of us left; and as creative grew bigger, with more and more people added to work full-time, there was less need to have freelancers around.

But, I'll be honest with you, I'm going to miss my little ¢ next to my username. Mainly because it was so unique. ;] Anyway, I want to thank Ryan in particular, but also the others on the creative team for giving me the chance to work with them for a couple years. I had fun and it always worked well, so I'm not leaving on bad terms.

And rest assured, I'm not going to leave dA any time soon!

Star Wars Uncut

Journal Entry: Sun Jan 22, 2012, 3:54 AM

In 2009, Casey Pugh asked thousands of Internet users to remake "Star Wars: A New Hope" into a fan film, 15 seconds at a time. Contributors were allowed to recreate scenes from Star Wars however they wanted. Finally, the crowd-sourced project has been stitched together and put online for your streaming pleasure. This is a must-watch for everyone who grew up with Star Wars.

Time Lapse

Journal Entry: Wed Dec 14, 2011, 10:01 AM

Just got back from a hike up the hills around where I live. And the weather was just right for a little time lapse video. Taken with my iPhone 4 and Time Lapse Camera HD. Enjoy!

Get this!

Journal Entry: Sat Aug 27, 2011, 1:33 AM

If you've got an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad and are looking for only one game, get EDGE Extended. NAO!

iTunes link - it's currently only $0.99, which is practically a steal.


Journal Entry: Sat Apr 30, 2011, 3:53 PM

obligatory dAnniversary journal.

Interview time

Journal Entry: Wed Jan 5, 2011, 2:23 PM
Interview timeA few days ago ^PurpelBlur interviewed me as part of his "Behind the Symbol" series.  Check it out if you haven't seen it already: Click to read and enjoy!