Ye Olde Weblog

September 1, 2006

Presenting Daneomatic

Phew, it’s been awhile, eh? I figured I’d let ya’ll know that is now up and running. Yessiree, this is the fabled resurrection of the Brainside Out weblog.

Go forth and enjoy yourselves.

April 30, 2006

Introducing Rosco D. Disco

Brainside Out: Rosco D. Disco Edition

Howdy, Dane here. I’d like to introduce ya’ll to Brainside Out, Rosco D. Disco Edition. If you are under the impression that nothing looks different ‘round these parts, I would encourage you to take a quick jaunt over to the home page and jab at some things over there. Okay, feeling better after that? Cool.

Rosco D. Disco is my entry for the May 1st CSS Reboot. Not too long ago I mentioned to my friend Jake Ingman that I was considering a redesign of Brainside Out and he suggested that I sign up for the Reboot, in the interest of committing myself to a deadline and forcing me to “light a fire under it,” so to speak. Well, I suppose it worked. Rosco went from idea to launch in about a month, my preferred turnaround time for projects of this scope.

With Rosco, my idea was to relign the website to be less weblog and more portfolio, while still retaining the voice and attitude that Brainside Out has gained over the years. I really wanted to scale back the apparent size of the site, and before I pushed any pixels I spent a lot of time deciding what content was valuable enough to bring forward, and what I would allow to seep into the background.

The more I weighed these different aspects, and the more I pared down my list of interests and values, the more I realized that the weblog was no longer making the cut.

I’ve been keeping a weblog for more than five years. I’ve had a weblog since before we even called them weblogs, instead referring to them as online journals. In that time I went to college, worked at a summer camp, graduated from college, moved across the country to work at a windsurf shop, learned to kiteboard, worked as a snowboard instructor, worked at an internet start-up, went to Baja, guided wilderness trips, gained a nephew, and started my own web design business.

As I remark every February when the notable anniversary comes around, two/three/four/five years is a super-duper long time for someone with my short attention span to stick with anything. Brainside Out has certainly changed and evolved in that time. It began as Cromlech on the servers at the University of Minnesota Duluth, went through at least five different redesigns, enjoyed a brief stint with Greymatter when I went to work at summer camp, eventually found itself written in Movable Type on Pair under the name Dane’s Bored, underwent at least three opposing redesigns until it relocated to, where it enjoyed three redesigns including Wounded Knee and Siskiwit.

And now Brainside Out, a lowly weblog since the spring of 2003, has coaelesced into a full-fledged web design company that is dedicated to helping its clients kick everyone else’s ass. While notably crass, I can’t think of a better way to summarize my passions. I started a website not because I wanted a weblog per se, but because more than anything, I wanted to kick ass at writing. I was attracted to the self-publishing capabilities of the web, which was still kinda in its infancy back in 2001. I didn’t care about an audience or a voice or anything of that sort at the time… all I wanted to do was write and pretend I was writing for an actual audience.

To that end, the weblog of Brainside Out has served its purpose. As likely evidenced by my updating schedule as of late, these days I’m burned out on the whole weblog thing. Brainside Out certainly didn’t start as a weblog, but it became a weblog as I realized that the manner in which I was updating the site could be facilitated by some nifty software written exactly for that purpose. I wasn’t a web designer in 2001, and I didn’t have a newsreader that was subscribed to the respective weblogs of at least thirty web designers.

I guess this is a long way of saying that I will no longer be updating this weblog. The archives will remain intact, however, so our entire history (geez, five years’ worth) will still be available to all ya’ll. Feel free to browse and search to your liking. Siskiwit, this here version of Brainside Out, will continue to exist beneath the veneer of Rosco.

Also, please note that my plans are to no longer update this weblog. While five years of history begins to weigh a man down, there’s a good chance that I’ll have nothing against starting new, fresh weblogs in the near future. I don’t know when, where, or even if this will happen, nor do I know under what guise. Perhaps six months down the road I’ll have splintered off into three weblogs; one for my love of the outdoors, one for my love of design, and one for my love of that random “dude, today i almost choked to death on parmasean cheese” stuff.

I don’t know how long this hiatus will last. Honestly, I’m excited about the prospect of existing more fully in meatspace, rather than doing everything I do in the interest of transferring it to electronic written form. I want to do more snowboarding and mountain biking and rock climbing and get into silkscreening and take more photographs, and I enjoy the idea of not feeling obligated to broadcast my every action to the world.

If I start writing online again, even somewhere else completely, ye shalt know. Watch this space. Watch Rosco. Just. Watch.

There has also been idle talk of transforming the last five years of Cromlech/Dane’s Bored/Brainside Out into a book. Like, a real book, with paper and ink and glue and everything. If something like this is to be done, however, it will take some time. If something like this is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

Anywho, I would like to sincerely thank all of you for reading. Whether this is your first time here or if you’ve been following the site since day one, this whole deal has certainly been a great journey and a wonderful pleasure. I’m curious to see what the next five years have in store.

April 25, 2006

A Universal Lapse In Quality

The Dr Pepper at our local Wendy’s tastes like watered-down Band-Aids.

April 20, 2006

We be podcasting!

Dane’s Presentation for COMP 5230 (53 minutes, 24.5mb mp3)
- Presented at COMP 5230 Web Design and Digital Culture (section two), University of Minnesota Duluth, April 18 2006

On Tuesday I had the opportunity and privilege to speak at the University of Minnesota Duluth regarding web design. Back in 2003 when I was a student at UMD, I took an upper-division course called Web Design and Digital Culture, taught by Craig Stroupe. Over the past few years Craig and I have kept in contact, and a few months ago he invited me to come and give a presentation for his COMP 5230 class, the very same web design course I took three years ago. I heartily accepted!

At its core, Web Design and Digital Culture is more a composition and writing course than it is a design course. Students use the web as a jumping-off point for pursuing some pretty advanced writing topics, and discussing the use of digital technology to solve problems, both creative and cultural. Many of the students are pursuing degrees in engineering, and for most of them this is the first time they have ever fired up Dreamweaver or tinkered in Photoshop. As a class final they are required to find a client and build a website for them, a uniquely difficult project that turns out to be quite an educational and diplomatic undertaking.

I actually gave two presentations, as Craig has two sections of COMP 5230 this semester. I recorded both of them, but I plan to only release the audio for the second presentation. The mp3 is just over 53 minutes long, and it weighs in at 24.5 MB. Download the mp3, have a listen, and enjoy!

In case you want to skip around a bit, here’s what we got goin’ on in particular sections:

  • 0’0” - intro, history, “the long road home”
  • 9’30” - and an intro to web standards
  • 13’00 - and the importance of letting content choose the direction of your design
  • 17’25” - and the use of paypal to handle online commerce
  • 20’05” - more talk about paypal, getting a merchant account, and setting up a shopping cart
  • 22’00” - development site for happy tails boarding kennel
  • 25’35” - development site for lost mountain clayworks, the importance of taking great care of your clients, and the modular standards-based approach to web design
  • 30’10” - development site for the may 1st reboot of brainside out
  • 34’15” - “what’s the best way to start building a website?”
  • 36’20” - the importance of sketching, and starting with pen and paper
  • 38’15” - “how do you design a website for a client who doesn’t know what they want?”
  • 41’00” - the importance of having thick skin, and taking criticism in stride
  • 41’20” - the importance of tinkering with things to teach yourself new stuff
  • 43’40” - how to get started as a merchant with paypal, blood plasma donation
  • 46’15” - “where should I put my navigation?” introducing and the wounded knee edition of brainside out
  • 48’50” - introducing, the best damn webhost ever
  • 51’40” - registering and working with domain names… dreamhost does that, too!
  • 53’05” - it’s over!

April 14, 2006

version 3.awesome

Tuesdays Robot

A couple of my friends here in Minneapolis play in Tuesdays Robot, a small country rock band with that perfect blend of Dylan, liquor and twang. Over the last couple months I’ve had the honor and privilege of redesigning their website, in anticipation of their new album which will be available within the next few weeks. Today we threw the switch on Version 3.awesome and we’re as excited as a sack full of kittens!

The new site turned out great, and we’re all really stoked as a result. From the Movable Type backend for managing news, press and upcoming shows, to the moo.fx coolness on the Lyrics page, to the killer implementation of Jeroen Wijering’s Flash mp3 player, there’s some neat stuff going on. Not only that, fonts are scalable, the HTML and CSS code validates, and the DOM-based JavaScript is completely unobtrusive.

Why, we also think it looks pretty darn attractive to boot!

Of course, the real news here is not that Tuesdays Robot has a new website, nor that we built it for them, but that they’re throwing a huge CD release party at the 331 Club in Minneapolis on April 28th! Not only that, the Como Avenue Jug Band is also playing that night, so you’ll be sure to drink and rock your socks off until the wee hours. The show starts at 9:00 and it’s free, free, free!

April 12, 2006

Spring is Here

And I can’t stop smiling.

April 2, 2006


Last night I filed paperwork. Tonight I did my taxes. That pretty much sums up my weekend, the dullness of which could only be surpassed by its blinding productivity. Seriously, I got stuff done this weekend.

I bought a filing cabinet and 30+ hanging file folders, and put to rest the stacks of records that I have allowed to accumulate over the last six months. I scrubbed down the interior of the Subaru, did laundry, swept and dusted my room, and put my snowboarding clothes into storage.

I think it’s safe to say that I’m ready for that season to end. Time now to fill the tires on the mountain bike and find some trouble. If it stays wet and rainy I might go out for a ride tomorrow evening, what with all the extra daylight and all, find some mud and get in a filthy mess.

Daylight Savings was squandered on a gloomy day that never made it out of twilight, a cold rain that didn’t let up even when every ounce of moisture had been wrung out of the sky. Spring in the midwest arrives not with the equinox, nor with the sighting of the first robin or tulip, but when the Red River floods western Minnesota and everyone pretends to be surprised that it happened. Again.

March 26, 2006

another one of thems lists

  1. People have occasionally called me an indie music snob, which may not be entirely unfair. I find it worth noting, however, that I have been hopelessly addicted to Fall Out Boy’s From Under The Cork Tree ever since I picked it up way back in December. It’s some pretty straight-line alternative rock stuff, but their songs are original and catchier than hell. The album makes a great soundtrack for when you’re out snowboarding, or at any other point during your day when you need to be reminded that the whole point of life is to rock out and kick ass.

    There’s a business philosophy for you.

  2. There is a dismal season that takes place between winter and spring, a sprinter of sorts, and we are currently locked in its clutches. It is cold. It is cloudy. It is raining/snowing/sleeting/wintry-remixing. And it is grey. So grey. Anyone who claims there are shades of grey in the world obviously hasn’t spent a sprinter in Minnesota. There is only one shade of grey, and it is all grey.

  3. I’ve finalized our backpacking route for Yellowstone this summer. We’re going in at the Warm Creek trailhead, and emerging from the Wapiti Lake trailhead fourteen days later. Should be a blast. Just to prove to myself that we live in a different age, I flew over our entire route in Google Earth. A surprising amount of Yellowstone has been stitched together from high-res satellite photos, and it was pretty exiting to zoom in on all the mud pots and hot springs that we’ll soon be seeing/smelling/having-mud-fights-in.

  4. Chaco redid the soles on their sandals recently, and I got to try on a pair the other day. I was really nervous for this, as their old Terrano soles were so freakin’ great that I never thought there was anything they could do to improve them. I’ve lived in my Chacos ever since I got them in ‘02, and after a summer working at Ihduhapi, a summer working in the Gorge, and a summer guiding at Menogyn, they are ready to be retired. The soles have held up great but the straps are well-shredded, which is only fair considering how many miles I’ve gotten out of ‘em.

    Anywho, Chaco has replaced their Terrano sole with the Unaweep sole, which is a hybrid between the their rock-hopping and trail-hiking styles. And my verdict? As far as comfort goes, the Unaweep totally rocks. They’re lighter, flexier, and they conform much better to your natural stride than the Terrano. I don’t know how they’ll match up in durability, but if I do manage to grab a pair I’ll let you know in four years.

March 23, 2006


  1. I finally got around to picking up Firefly, if only to see what all the fuss was about. Imagine my surprise when I suddenly realized that it is one of my favorite shows of all time. When Lileks said that it was mash-up of sci-fi and western I thought he was being metaphorical, but lo and behold he was quite literal. There are spaceships and horses. Terraformed planets and six-shooters. Plasma rifles and cattle rustlers. There are hover cars and space stations and train-heists and deserts.

    That being said, the storyline totally revolves around the people in it, unique for sci-fi, which are usually so self-indulgent in special effects and cool-factors that they neglect to give any flesh and bone to their crew. Why develop a character when you can just blow him up? Anywho, Firefly? I love it. Love it, love it, love it. It reminds me of Cowboy Bebop, with that whole freelance ass-kicking mentality. Makes me want to go out and buy a handgun.

  2. Sufjan Stevens’ Come On Feel The Illinoise! is one of the most beautiful albums I’ve ever heard. The guy is a master of lyrics and composition. His songs are straight-up orchestral, regularly featuring strings and horns and flutes and english horns. I feel like I’ve known these songs my entire life, and only now am I finally hearing them. This album plucks a string within my soul, and it seriously resonates that deep.

  3. Jake Ingman is my new bestest buddy, and Shaun Inman’s most arch-nemesis. His hobbies include battling cockroaches, taking photographs of things, and four-wheeling through my neighborhood. We actually had a panel at this year’s SXSW, much to everyone’s surprise and dismay. He has a new website called Ready to Fail. Go wish him luck, and steal from him all hopes of obscurity that he currently harbors. Watch out, though, cuz the guy is brilliant. He could probably flay you with his mind.

  4. It’s official. I have my own tag on Flickr. Go witness the tragedy that is my own obscurity.

  5. Do you love fonts? Do you have fonts you love to hate? You might get a kick out of Copperplated, my latest attempt at cluttering up the internet with garbage. Don’t let me have all the fun; feel free to submit your own stuff, too.

  6. Hate JavaScript but love the Document Object Model? Me too! Pick up Jeremy Keith’s book DOM Scripting. Written for designers and other non-code affectionados, this book (and his panel at SXSW) was just the kick out the door I needed to begin tinkering with good JavaScript. Start writing scripts that are unobtrusive, degrade gracefully, and work in all modern browsers without the ugly hacks of yesterday. This book has already saved me a butt-load of time and frustration.

  7. I really need to start emptying out my gym bag immediately after I get back from the Y. Geez, that stuff is starting to fester.

March 23, 2006

in regards to sxsw, here we have a word or two

Okay, I’ve mostly recovered from SXSW. After a week straight of staying up until 2am (well, two weeks if you count SXSW) and putting in 14-hour workdays (which certainly wasn’t the case during SXSW), I’m finally on top of my large and neglected workload. By no stretch of the imagination I am currently involved in at least ten separate projects. My Basecamp account alone lists eight. I don’t know if the incredible self-discipline I shall learn from managing all these projects is the secret to success, but I do know that it is the secret to my current state of reality. Effective? I’ll let you know in June.

Also, my liver doesn’t ache so much, anymore.

Everything that could be said about SXSW has already been said by numerous people far more eloquent than I. Dave Seah’s account is dashingly philosophical, Greg Storey’s is patently cranky, Cameron Moll’s is bulleted, Jason Santa Maria’s is thoroughly-linked, Mark Bixby’s is beautifully terse, and Shaun Inman’s account is completely obsessive-compulsive.

I really don’t know what to say. SXSW was everything I had hoped it would be, and so much more. The panels were inspirational, the parties were epic, and the people were the kindest, funniest and smartest crowd you’ll find this side of the galaxy. I made a ton of new friends, like honest-to-gosh I-really-miss-hanging-around-with-these-people friends, who taught me so much about, well, everything. I mean, at one point I learned all about catfish noodling from one fellow.

Catfish noodling.

Such is the nature of SXSW.

March 18, 2006

The Guest

The SXSW Cockroach

As suggested previously, we had an unscheduled guest in our hotel room for our last night in Austin. It was 3:00am and he was hangin’ out on the counter in our bathroom. Jake and I had just returned from the hugely epic SXSWi after-party (thrown down by Media Temple with an open bar and all that jazz) and we were thoroughly out of our minds, so needless to say chaos ensued.

We taped it for you, which is a weird thing to say because at no point was actual tape involved. Rather, we recorded it in a manner that rapidly captures still frames and stiches them together to create the illusion of movement. To this there is also sound, which may be unfortunate for those of you who are sensitive to words whose dictionary meanings are ill-defined at best.

With that, we must stress that this video is rated R, for strong language and overbearing stupidity.

The SXSW Cockroach (1.4MB, low resolution)
The SXSW Cockroach (6.0MB, high resolution)

P.S. It is worth mentioning that our hotel was extremely kind in respect to our cockroach extravaganza, and as a result knocked a whole night off our final bill. That little bugger saved us $100. I would stay at this hotel again in a heartbeat, and can only hope that we will have such great fortune next year.

March 15, 2006

The X is for Xtreme!

The people of Austin seem to have a problem with pants management. Anywhere you go you see pairs of pants that have been abandoned, all up and down the sidewalks. I don’t know how these people live and what they do for fun, but I am sadly aware that my life does not include such spontaneous bouts of pants-loss.

One could go as far as proposing a Pants Management System for Austin, some sort of Web 2.0 AJAXian Rails API mash-up. In the interest of keeping Austin weird, however, a source of pride that has spawned entire t-shirt enterprises (and we know about t-shirt enterprises), I would have to discourage the Pants Management System. In current form it would also lack an appealing abbreviation, which would make branding rather difficult.

Anywho, we have been safely delivered back to Minneapolis after a rolicking time at SXSW, an event that for five days will grab your brain from both sides and shake vigorously. This it does until the matter inside liquifies, and all you can do is move through the scenes with a dumb grin upon your face, the kind of dumb grin that only comes from the most intense social and intellectual stimulation you have ever known. My relationships with the interweb, and with those who hold the bottles of glue and glitter and nail polish remover and take it upon themselves to build the interweb, have never been stronger.

We fought to the death in a bowling tournament and made every effort to be the loudest team possible. We were wildly successful, and though there was no award for volume, we made sure to set a precedent that next year, oh next year, there would be such a thing.

The panels. Did I mention the panels? Lord, they were informative and frequently sexy. I have a hundred pages of notes, all taken down on graph paper in true Web 0.1 style. My notes are indecipherable to any eyes but my own. While chatting with a guy at the final SXSW party, he recalled sitting next to me in a panel and identifying me as the chicken-scratch guy. The lesson here is that encoding and obfuscation have histories from long before the digital age, and it would do us well to remember this.

Last night, or rather this morning, we engaged in an epic battle. It took place at approximately 3am, and of this we have videographic evidence. The rest of the morning was frought with chaos. I managed to sleep from 6am to 9am, until it was time to board a jet and fly an hour across a state only to land in the same state. Texas is huge my friend. It is fitting that this is the only state left alive that can host the likes of SXSW.

You can see our lovely photos over at Flickr. Watch, as this may become the reality of all things.

March 13, 2006


The natural state of everything in Texas is meat. That is, unlike the rest of the universe, which is hurtling toward entropy at an incredible rate, in Texas everything eventually turns into meat. Of this there are only facts.

At breakfast Jake and I have been debating the nature of these eclairs that they offer at our hotel. They are wrapped in clear plastic with red lettering, not unlike Twinkies. I have been convinced all along that these are chocolate eclairs, while Jake remains suspicious. To end the mystery once and for all I grabbed one and dove in.

Meat. And bread. It was meat wrapped in fucking bread. The meat was a cruel mockery of sausage, more Slim Jim than anything else, a tubular array of spiced carnage. The bread was bread, the debate was over, the axiom proven.

Everything in Texas is in a constant state of becoming meat. Hence our sense of urgency.

March 11, 2006

Big Enough for Texas

We are in Austin, glorious Austin, where the air is hot and the wind is thick and heavy, like huge slabs of meat. SXSW has barely even started, and yet we have already been treated to free beer and free food and free schmoozing in a bar owned by Lance Armstrong, this guy who likes to ride his bike and stuff.

The geek banter is overwhelming and self-referential. Jokes typically involve such things as AJAX and tagging. We have met some amazing people, including a brilliant information architect who used to work as a bike messenger in New York, and who is addicted to the word awesome, which itself is awesome, as this sort of positivism one could never label as a character flaw.

We have also met a fellow that we know as The Butt Plug Guy, and his friend who we refer to as Not The Butt Plug Guy. Given the line of work in question (one that involves software, hardware and robotics) and the panels that these guys are speaking on, these names are justified, if not actually deserved. Accurate, but certainly not fair.

Sadly, we have been in Texas for nearly 24 hours and yet we have only seen one cowboy hat. As our crew was heading down to Lance Armstrong’s bar it passed us on the sidewalk. The whole thing was rather humorous as it was the first cowboy hat sighting for many of us, and in true fashion we completely blew it out of proportion. Jokes about Brokeback Mountain and tagging clouds quickly commenced.

We are out of control, but one more thing. If ever you find yourself in Austin, do not discuss credit with the bums. The mere utterance of the words “18 percent” sets them off like crazy, and they will follow you across the street arguing about interest rates and taxation, all the while sweating at an incredible rate.

Also, let’s say you see a lost pair of pants on the sidewalk, and let’s say you see that same pair of pants later in the night. Do not suggest giving the pants to the bum and laugh about it, as you will instantly be confronted by the bum again, because someone powerful has been eavesdropping on your conversation and he wishes to test you on your word.

You will not have the guts to offer these pants to the bum, so don’t even bother mentioning it.

March 6, 2006


Over the weekend (a splendid weekend spent in Duluth, getting into all sorts of trouble with all sorts of good friends) a few people suggested that they have some degree of respect for my taste in music. Apparently I have influence in this regard. In the interest of social conditioning, I shall now use this public forum to shape and mold your listening habits, by discussing my own of recent.

We’ll start with the indie stuff, cuz those guys work their asses off and don’t get nearly as much play as they deserve. As mentioned earlier, I saw matt pond PA a few weeks ago at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis. Certainly I am biased, as these guys have been one of my favorite bands for five years running, and anyone who has any history with this blog knows that I plug them at least once a month. But I’ll do it again. Their new album Several Arrows Later is wonderful and you should buy it.

I also got of Montreal’s The Sunlandic Twins album, which is pretty stellar. It’s great for music nerds and English majors, what with song lyrics that discuss twelve-tone compositions and use words like sanguinary. Also, non-music nerds may get a kick out of such lines as we made love like a pair of black wizards.

It’s easier to just hear their music than to explain it, but it’s happy, bouncy and playful. If the sad-eyed literary geek in your life has been slouching under the weight that is emo, of Montreal could certainly help in rounding out his/her music collection.

download “So Begins Our Alabee” from The Sunlandic Twins (3.9mb mp3)

I’ve been digging on Headlights lately, and their The Enemies EP is pretty rad. They’ve got a vibraphone. And songs, too. Songs with music in them.

download “Tokyo” from The Enemies EP (3.3mb mp3)

A friend introduced me to a local band called Digitata, which spins some odd electronic stuff that is unlike anything in my music collection. And for that I love it.

download “Death and the Beach” from Sexually Transmitted Emotions (3.7mb mp3)

I saw Feist open for Broken Social Scene a couple months ago, and while she wasn’t quite what I expected, recent forays into the world of Feist may indicate that I was hasty in my dismissal. I have friends who absolutely rave about Feist, so I may just be slow to board the train on this one. The Postal Service did a remix of her song Mushaboom, and I must say that it has certainly been on high-rotation lately. Seriously wow.

download “Mushaboom (Postal Service Remix)” (4.6mb mp3) (originally gleaned from Good Weather for Airstrikes)

Mates of State have a new album coming out, and if their preview track is any indication, prepare yourself for a good ass-kicking this round. Bring it Back comes out on March 21st, but if you pre-order a copy from Polyvinyl it’ll ship out to ya on March 14th. Just so ya know.

download “Fraud in the ’80s” from Bring it Back (4.0mb mp3)

As far as bigger gigs go, I’ve been totally obsessed with Check Your Head by the Beastie Boys, which keeps getting better every time I listen to it. The riffs they’re laying down in there are so freakin’ tight it blows my mind. The album has a phat 20 tracks with no duds, and every single minute is worth a listen.

Also, Throwing Copper by Live. You heard half this album on the radio when you were in high school, but you never dug into it until Erik the Great loaned you his copy. The music on Throwing Copper is thick, thick and deep, and while I originally got it for nostalgia, I’ve since realized that the other tracks on this album are great as well.

Note: Apologies on any of the album links to Polyvinyl Records. I love those guys to death but their website sucks ass and uses frames, so it’s difficult to link to anything other than the home page. When you do (which I did) link to the innards, their site doesn’t load the outer frame and thus the shopping cart doesn’t work. Navigation doesn’t load either, but we’re not so concerned about that, now, are we?