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Archive for the ‘accessories’ Category

Recently on one of my travels while I was waiting at the gate for my flight home from Stockholm, this guy sat down opposite me. There was something about him which made me look up. A nerdy coolness. Geeky perfectionism if there is such a thing in fashion. (Or maybe it was just the red socks?)

His second hand or well used red leather attache with matching red socks.
The horn rimmed glasses.
The knitwear with the suit.
The suit jacket which was longer than the winter jacket he was wearing.
The colour of the winter jacket which wasn’t perfectly matching that of the suit or the sweater.
When he pulled out a 13,3″ MBP, I was in love.

I still cannot make up my mind if this is something he put together effortlessly, having done it like that his whole life, or if he actually spends time putting together a look. Wish I had gone over and talked to him, instead of just secretly shooting a picture with my iPhone.

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Microsoft and fashion

Occasional DFOF contributor Steve Clayton alerted us to the Microsoft foray into apparel, and it has been covered by the broader fashion blogosphere. and tech types too.

DFOF supposes that if Camel and Caterpillar can be used to sell clothing, then why not other brands? There are enough geeks out there would would like to own t-shirts with DOS on them. DFOF can think of several of his friends who would love one. 

image

 

Microsoft is having some fun with this.

 

DFOF reckons that Microsoft would be best keeping this to tee-shirts. The brand would be a flop in the undergarment department.

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If you travel a lot and like technology a lot, chances are you have put some serious thought into how to house all the gadgets you end up carrying around to ensure both your productivity and entertainment.

What’s your laptop wearing?
Item of importance #1 is a quality bag for your laptop. There’s been some talk in the past about the merits of Crumpler carry-alls, but for the girls among us, carrying a bag that big just isn’t practical. I never check my luggage, which means the most I can have is a purse and a roller case. My secret trick is to go with laptop cases that are flat and can fit inside the roller, keeping me (technically) well within the 2-item limit for carry ons.

Earlier this year, I was working with this Crumpler 13″ School Hymn for the Macbook:

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I liked it because it was bright green, padded, and with enough use one side was squeezed small enough for me to be able to wield the case one-handed. Downside? No storage for the necessary Macbook accoutrements. Stuff like, uh, the powercord. It also got smudged easily, which bugged me.

A short time later, I was minding my own business in New York, when I passed by a store called Highway in Nolita. Through the plate glass, I locked eyes with this bag:

laptop-case-east-west.jpg

It was love at first sight. Note the pockets on the front – one for business cards, the other a little deeper and perfect for the powercord for my Crackberry and/or an iPod. What you don’t see in this shot is perhaps the best feature of all; on the other side is a 2″ deep padded rectangular pocket that offers a glove-like fit for my Mac powercord. Inside the bag itself are pockets and dividers for magazines and other stuff. The ultimate cool thing? The over-the-shoulder strap looks like a seatbelt. Basically, this bag is perfect. Needless to say, my mono-functional Crumpler and I broke up a short time later.

Is your iPod as well dressed as it could be?
Okay, so we’ve covered meta carrying devices – what about the stuff you use to carry the technology inside the bag you use to carry your technology? My iPod is starting to look like a nesting doll. I fixate on this particular gadget because it is such a good friend.

A while back I recognized the ass-ness of the standard issue iPod earbuds, especially when deployed against the deafening white noise of the average airplane in flight. So I invested in a pair of Harmon-Kardon EP 710 earphones.

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I opted against the various noise-canceling versions available, figuring it was not beyond the realm of possibility that someone, someday, would issue a press release saying, “Whoops! They do make you deaf. Our bad!” (aspartame, anyone?) So I got this kind, which basically act like earplugs. However, I did discover a downside: on the street, where there are usually no jet engines, these “natural noise isolating earphones” work a little too well. Basically, I almost stepped in front of a car. So now I have two sets of earbuds – the regular ass kind and the really good kind. Which means that I am actually using the rather lame black nylon case that came with the Harmon-Kardons to hold it all.

Inside that case, my iPod is further enrobed in something called a Gelaskin:

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I discovered the existence of these magical, paper-thin protective coatings in an email from a gallery/store in Toronto called Magic Pony, which is filled with a plethora of wonderful and bizarre items, not least of which is Fancy Action Now: The Art of Team Macho. But I digress. Gelaskins are an absolutely perfect blend of form and function. Incredibly amazing designs on a material that protects your iPod from scratches and all manner of trouble – without adding a bit of bulk.

More awesome news? They’re now available for your laptop.

So I leave you with this question: what’s your technology wearing?

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Sublime elegance from Xavier of Geneva.  DFOF has met him on a number of occasions, but alas, without a camera.  DFOF stole one on this particular evening in Stockholm, but you will agree it was in a good cause.

Here,  at the end of a very long day, Xavier  immaculate  in an  ‘old’  Corneliani Suit.   Please note the cuff length. He obeys the first rule of suitdom;  make sure it fits.  The starched but unbuttoned cuffs add a deft touch,  finished off with a neatly tied scarf.

He takes the DFOF award for the Most  Sartorially Adept  IT project manager.

And here, the perfect winter boot, in this case from Prada. A blot in the copybook as they could do with a shine, but in Xaiver’s defence, he’d walked through the worst that a late November Stockholm  could throw at him. Also the carpet wasn’t his fault. Note the sock length – no winter shins peeking out here, even though the legs are crossed.

DFOF is attempting to snare him as the French speaking correspondent. 

By the way, Xavier’s project was a great success with ROI galore, but that would be for a different blog. 

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Inside the Moleskin notebook

This time, I’d like to study another accessory of the geekinistas (or geekinistos…whatever): the notebook.

While a laptop is, no doubt, the primary accessory, it’s analog sibling, the notebook will pop-up sooner or later. There’s just times when you need some paper and pen.

Pen or Pencil?

Perhaps that’s the first thing: pen or pencil. I have no real ruling, but if you’re gonna use the old graphite, you definitely want one of the extremes: either old school yellow #2 or high-tech mechanical. I feel like going middle of the road on a pencil is just boring.

That said, I don’t use pencils myself since about 5th or 6th grade. Pens are just so much nicer. Unlike pencils, pens come in a wide gradient of quality and attractiveness. There’s your Bic rollerballs and hotel provided pens at the bottom, filled in by the middle-rung pen du jour (currently, the Pilot G-2 07, blue if you please), and then the pens you, like, spend real money on and worry about keeping track of. Call up Nick Cage and ask him about his pens: Monte Blanc likes to spread him over the inflight magazines.

Getting to the Moleskin

Pen taken care of, what are you gonna write on? First up are the note-pads companies and hotels give you at conferences. Occasionally, you’ll get a smart looking note-book branded with the conference or company. More likely than not, you’ll get a glue’ed up pack of pages from some hotel cellar box.

Oddly enough, I see tons of people use these glue-papes. I’ve used them myself before I got a proper notebook. Namely, a Moleskin.

Now, the GTD freaks out there over the past few years have brought the Moleskin back into the forefront of use. Before that, I’m not sure anyone cared for the quant little notebooks.

Thanks be to the GTD-freaks, though, as these notebooks are freakin’ awesome. Not only do they work well functionally and are sturdy, but they look good too:

The Little Notebook used by…uh…those old, dead men who married 5+ wives and cheated like they had a cold they couldn’t shake, snaggling up their snot instead of just using a damn Kleenex to – PLEASE! – blow their nose once and all

The Moleskin is a small notebook, just rightly sized to fit in your sports jacket pocket or back pocket. It’s got a nice little elastic band to hold it closed, and a cheesy little paper pocket at the back whose cheeseatude is rivaled only by the historical marketing schlock that comes in that pocket. “Old bearded Nobel laureates used this notebook. So did people who’s name you can’t pronounce and feel guilty for being bored by.”

The point of the lore, the mythos – nah, the bore-thos – is to tell you, little soulless geekinistas, here is a genuine brand-artifact of history you can graft to your image! Cast into the depths or history, art, and literate, and pimp your pocket!

Coté’s quite-night of the soul late in Barcelona, aside, it’s a damn fine notebook. Yay! The paper is high quality and it’ll withstand being sit on for months on end – I know, I’ve tested it in my back-pocket.

The Moleskin Model Matrix

Now, you have several Moleskin options. First, you have the pocket size vs. the larger versions. I saw go pocket. As a body-accessory, the Moleskin should always be on your person, not “forgotten” in that laptop bag you left in the München Sofitel to go out to 3AM drinks with those rock-star SAP programmers. No, no, you want the Moleskin on you at al times. As such, getting the larger version is lessoning your fashion impact potential.

Size settled, you have two choices for the “how’s it open” vector: reporter style – hinged on the top – and normal – hinged like a book. So far, I have gone “normal”/book style. I can’t quite get into the reporter style. That said, I feel like the reporter notebook would be the true beauty, I just can’t get myself to upgrade to that form-function.

Now, book vs. reporter style diced up, you have another choice to make: lined pages, graph-sheet pages, or blank pages. Be careful here – easy, boogalie, easy! – the blank pages are actually 4 times as thick as the other two options and, well, not really very freakin’ easy to write on. (Can you tell I’ve made the mistake?)

Our fearless fashion leader, The Other Thomas Otter has a graph-paper Moleskin which lends a certain engineering precision to the mystic of “let me write that down.” As it stands, I prefer the simple lined – nah, “ruled” – paper.

Put That Dirt on Your Moleskin…?

So, you’ve got your Moleskin now, slipped nicely in your jacket’s pocket or you slack-jeans’ back pocket. Somehow you’ve sorted out a pen – did you lay-down money for a heavy weight, or do you signal your harried status by just using whatever hotel pen you skanked last (“yeah, I didn’t know where I was last week until I looked down at my Hilton Singapore pen, and I was like, ‘holy shit! I’ve gotta give a keynote in 2 hours, and I’ve got no black socks – let’s hit that Johnny Red again!'”). The next question is: do you go eccentric and sticker up that black hide, or keep it midnight matte?

I will have a frank moment of honesty with you here. I don’t know the answer, dear readers. It’s a tough one.

Ultimately, like a pair of cracked and dusty Converse – at least in my neck of the woods – signs of use, wear and tear, are the height of expressing your over-all Prêt-à-Porter: I’m not just wearing this ’cause it looks good, I’m wearing this ’cause it’d my God-damn life-uniform. Maybe adding Moleskin stickers helps advance that along like stomping in the dust or safety pinning a Misfits patch on your Pierre Cardin blazer. Who knows?

Moleskin after use, cover

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As a geek, the ultimate fashion accessory – perhaps item – is the laptop. If you don’t even have a laptop, whao-boy, it’s time to figure out how the door-man let you in.

Hardware

Let’s start from the beginning: laptop selection.

Sorry, Old Faithful Don’t Fly with the geekinistas

The first trap here is to use whatever PoS your place of employment has assigned you. More than likely, something along the lines of a Dell Crapititude 3000:

Ubuntu on the Laptop

Showing up to a group of geekinistas with a Dell is like wearing Levi Signature, Kirkland, Cherokee jeans. We all know where you got those, you cheap bastard.

While there’s a certain utilitarian, Sam Walton business efficiency (why get your own room when you could share one with Harry from accounting?!) feel to Dells for the purpose at hand, brining a Dell is like declaring to the world: “I don’t give a crap about my primary tool, I shop off the rack. Quit lookin’ at me, I gotta go write some Excel macros.”

Lessons from My Sister

Now, we all know your company is going to be too cheap to buy you a better machine. You’re gonna have to lay out your own cash. I know, it just doesn’t make sense. But, it’s like my older sister told me once when I watched her wincing at cutting away her cuticles and asked why she did it if it hurt, “well, Mikey, being beautiful is painful.”

Indeed, get ready to pull out your credit card. Let’s hope the mag-strip still works.

Above the Crapititude 3000, there’s a fork in the road: you go Thinkpad or your go Apple.

The Thinkpad


If you’re lucky, your work will supply you with Thinkpads. The question here will be if you get the standard issue, 15″ Thinkpad, or you can customize it down to a tiny one. The tinier your Thinkpad, the better. Again, the point of the laptop as accessory is to say, “I put a lot of thought and effort into this.” A tiny Thinkpad will always draw lots of ooo’s and ahh’s from the geekinistas. The best result however, is that insider winking nod from a fellow tiny Thinkpad-ite.

Also, be sure to talk about the trackpoint all the time:

Say things like, “oh, Nadia and Larry, you know I’d use an Mac if only they’d have a trackpoint! I needs my trackpoint. I just can’t figure out that nasty trackpad.”

Apple

Which brings us to option two: Apple.


First let me say that there is only one option if you’re going to go Apple: get the full-blown silver ones, the MacBook Pro. I mean, sure, you can get the plastic, black case. But that just says, “Waaa! I didn’t want to needlessly spend more money for something that looks better! Waaa! (Where’s my FileMaker 2003 Developer Conference shirt?!)”

Now, there’s the chance to go retro here with 12″ PowerBooks. They don’t make tiny MacBook Pro‘s, so you if you’re the kind of person who likes to talk about Joust and how awesome Atari was – ugh – you can complete your whole “pop-culture stopped for me in 1987” thing with a 12-incher. This is respectable until Apple comes out with a similar offering in the Pro line. Milk it while you can if you need something edit your Gobots en Legos reenactments with.

One final note: soon, I’m sure we’ll se the OLPC showing up:

My advice: save the pioneering to the Tommy Bahama, mid-life crisis geek-set. See how they manage to work it in instead of taking the early risk yourself. This DFoF advisor rates it as a neutral for now.

Software

Showing up with a naked laptop is like showing up, well, naked. What am I talking about here? Stickers. That’s right. It’s not just for people who carve their own glasses frames anymore.

As a practitioner, I’m a rank amateur here. The field is wide open, and, except from people like Andy Rooney in training Zed Shaw — kisses! — stickered laptops will get you geek-fashion points no matter how crappy you are at it.

That is, there’s a fabulous fashion arbitrage window open at the moment: you need no skill to look good with laptop stickers! That window is probably fast closing, so get in while you can.

With that said, let’s consider the thinking-process for selecting stickers. In general, you can divide it up into 3 methods of stickering:

The Jackson Pollack, aka, The Cubical Punk, aka, The Sticker Harlot

This is the style where-in you just keep layering anything with adhesive on one side and something (preferable) outrageous on the other side (a sticker). There’s no need to worry about alignment, or even covering up stickers – you’ll be getting so many stickers that there’ll always be something new on the top layer.

So called “creatives” should look into this style. Also, consultants who are supposed to bring “a fresh look” or know what “The Kids” are up to are strongly advised to Harlot it up.

The connoisseur’s question here is: do you cover up the laptop’s logo? The Apple has the glowing, well, Apple in the center. The Thinkpad throws its brand-sign on the corner. In general, my advice is don’t cover it. With few exceptions, your fashion-foo cannot defeat the those two brand titans. If you have a Crapititude 3000, cover that junk up like you’d cover a distended liver.

Pro-tip for Apple-ites: get one of these.

The Christo, aka, Full-Body Mod, aka, Old Laser Hide

When plastering your laptop with stickers just won’t do, there are other options: full encasements and laster etching.

More popular and available in Apple stores world-wide are the plastic encasements. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the plastic-wrapped-couch look when it comes to hardware. That crap is gonna get scratched, live with it.

Others love the “skins” for iPods, iPhones, and laptops. I begrudge them nothing.

First, you have the plastic exoskeletons, e.g., the Speck SeeThur. These comes in various colors – red, blue, purple – and give you laptop a sort of weird, but (I guess) cool look:


Then, you have the full-out stickers that cover the whole laptop:


These have a certain charm if done right, e.g., definitely, yesnot so much.

Finally, there’s the “I subscribe to Make and laser etched my laptop look”:


This look has varying degrees of success, but mostly good because it’s so novel.

The Bukowski, aka, The Genius-Bum, aka, Leanin’ on a Lamppost

If you sort of don’t give a crap – you know, the whole “if you think I looked bad during the keynote, you should see me when I’m at home” set (big hugs!)- this is the Peacock Tail for you. I first encountered this when checking into my room for a consult up in Redmond when Danny Ayers came up to me and started enacting that old Oscar Wilde quote.

Once we sat down – Danny having pulled a bottle of wine off the wall and attempted to carve out its cork with some keys, finally just corking it so we could get a damn drink (the lobby wasn’t open in mid-afternoon on a Sunday for some crazy reason!) – I checked out his splendid Bukowski: it was splattered with an ubuntu sticker, a handful of airline bag check stickers (!), and what could best be described as “some other random crap.” It was style-genius!

While a good picture isn’t available, and I didn’t think to take one at the time, you can see a sort of tidier incarnation here.

However, we do have a great picture of Bruce Sterling‘s Bukowski:

As Sterling might say, “oh yeah…baby.”

The Mondrian, aka, The Anal, aka, The Middle-Ground

If you’re not for the “oops! I just spilled all these stickers on my laptop, golly!” look, you can go for the more well arranged look. It’s sort a mix of all of the above for the geekinistas wannabes – you know, like me:

Current Peacock's Tail

Overlapping is allowed as needed, but definitely not encouraged. More importantly, there is only one layer of stickers. You must think before you stick a sticker, namely, “what does each sticker say about me? What story will I tell for each one?”

More than likely, the stickers will be tech related. Deviation into non-tech subjects is allowed, but you open yourself to being discovered as a poseur in that topic. If you find yourself trapped there, you can whip out, “oh! yeah! I just liked the way it looks. Gosh! Look at the time! I need to change my pants!”

The Most Important Accessory

While keeping your trousers cut right, or your jacket well seasoned with retro-hipster-Kiwi-itous is of great importance, the actual basis of your geekdome is, without question, one of the most important aspects of your look.

So be wise: get yourself a Thinkpad or an Apple, and stick something on it.

Whatever you do, though, avoid the death-stroke of the Peacock Tail: the solo business card. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. You’ve seen them at the airport security line. They tape their business card, and only their business card to their laptops.

Ugh.

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