Design Design Viewpoints

Clocks from the design center help keep things synchronized

Clocks from the design center help keep things synchronized

As many of my followers can tell, of late I’ve been conspicuously absent from the blogosphere. It’s nearly been a year since my last post about the ThinkPad Anniversary and an event we hosted at the MoMA. Some people have even speculated that I had died, gone into exile on a deserted island somewhere in the South Pacific, or mysteriously left Lenovo under cover of darkness. Perhaps Mark Twain said it best with his famous quote, “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” The simple reality is that blogging takes significant time, especially if you want to do it right. Lately, I just haven’t had the time required. I’ve been working nearly around the clock on strategic design projects for Lenovo. Over the last year I’ve been to Italy, Germany, Japan, and of course China so many times I’ve lost count. Keeping the design trains running takes a lot of horsepower. Unfortunately, blogging had to take a back seat. I pioneered blogging at Lenovo with its inaugural blog Design Matters. It launched shortly after the landmark acquisition of IBM’s PC business. At first, I was a bit apprehensive about blogging but I quickly discovered that it was a wonderful way to have an interactive dialogue with people and get real-time feedback. It’s also a superb creative outlet for me personally. I like it. Now the time is right...

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I recently blogged about celebrating the 19th anniversary of ThinkPad. Every time we pass one of these milestones it makes me realize just how much black paint I have beneath my fingernails, and how significant ThinkPad has become. This week I started thinking about the forthcoming 20th anniversary, October 5th isn’t so far away. How could we celebrate the 20th anniversary in a dramatic and appropriate way. If you research wedding anniversary milestones you will find many fascinating traditional suggestions for ways to honor the event with gifts. Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia on this topic: The names of some anniversaries provide guidance for appropriate or traditional gifts for the spouses to give each other; if there is a party these can be brought by the guests or influence the theme or decoration. These gifts vary in different countries, but some years have well-established connections now common to most nations: 5th Wooden, 10th Tin, 15th Crystal, 20th China, 25th Silver, 30th Pearl, 40th Ruby, 50th Golden, 60th Diamond. The tradition may have originated in medieval Germany where, if a married couple lived to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their wedding, the wife was presented by her friends and neighbors with a silver wreath to congratulate them for the good fortune that had prolonged the lives of the couple for so many years. On celebration of the 50th, the wife received a wreath of gold. Over time the number of symbols expanded and the...

Continue reading “ThinkPad 20th Anniversary Edition?”

Pointing choices were pretty few in the beginning

Pointing choices were pretty few in the beginning

Life used to be simpler in the early days of portable computing. When it came to cursor movement and selecting targets, there really weren’t many choices for getting things done. Either you used a clumsy trackball contraption that clipped to the side of the computer, an external mouse, or you owned a ThinkPad. The TrackPoint really blazed new territory when it came to integrated pointing. IBM ran an entertaining television commercial in the early 1990′s showcasing the TrackPoint advantage while flying on a business trip. You can watch it here. It really brings back some memories of how it used to be. Eventually some companies started placing marble size Trackballs on palm-rests, and eventually touch pads came into the picture. The first versions were rather skimpy by today’s standards. Those clip on trackball things always reminded me of drive-in table trays. A lot has changed since the early 1990′s. Portable computers are faster, lighter, and stronger for sure. From a human interaction perspective, It’s also  not just about controlling a cursor and selecting a target. Touch interfaces are everywhere we look: ATM machines, gas pumps, smart phones, tablets, even my home thermostat uses a touch interface. For a design team, it’s very important that we understand trends in technology, but also changes in human behavior, expectations, and interaction models. To further understand the current landscape, I thought it...

Continue reading “What’s the Point?”

Who is that "DO" devil in the mirror?

Who is that "DO" devil in the mirror?

I really like this image from our new advertising campaign. I like it for how it positions the ThinkPad X1 as a machine for those who do, but I also like it for the motorcycle reference.  The off road motorcycle shown is exactly like one of the bikes I personally own. You may recall I blogged about a dirt oriented cross country trip I made with some of my friends in 2009, and of course my trusty ThinkPad. You can read about the trip here. I guess we were way ahead of the curve on this "DO" concept. My 2008 DRZ400s modified for the "DO" I kept my X300 in the black hard shell Pelican case mounted to the luggage rack for safe keeping.  The one thing I didn't try was mounting my ThinkPad to the handlebars with bungee cords. I wish I had tried it. It would have been useful for those quick checks on route progress and as an emergency windshield. Typically I don't like a windshield on a dirt bike, they make me feel like I should be wearing a fez while tossing candy to the crowd at a local parade. For those who do... not have a windshield Maybe this weekend I'll try strapping my ThinkPad X1 to the bars and give it a spin. I'm sure I have some nice red bungee cords somewhere....

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A tool that everyone understands and desires

A tool that everyone understands and desires

Designers are a unique lot, always interested in what's new and what is old. I'm forever researching design classics for a historical perspective and studying new technologies, user behaviors, and demands as a source of design inspiration. Imagining the future is a complex and ongoing task. There are several design tools that I seem to have with me pretty much everywhere I go. They help me to create what will be new. My ThinkPad, at least one sheet of blank paper and my pen are indispensable. Maybe the pen and paper seem old-school to many, but not to me. The pen I choose to carry is a very particular one, and has been for well over 25 years. My wife gave it to me for a birthday present back when we still lived in Kansas. It was a good one. My pen of choice is a Lamy Safari; charcoal in color, and  filled with black ink. I can't even imagine drawing with blue ink, ugh. I love the Safari's robust design and no-nonsense appearance, sound familiar?  I retired my original several years ago due to some wear issues, but still have it tucked safely away. The cap on the original pen is so worn it barely stays attached and the barrel texture is for the most part worn totally away. I guess you could say it has character. Over the years the Lamy Safari has become a sort of personal trademark for me, some jokingly referred to it as my scepter. Funny. The design of...

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