October 2006

Moo Cards

My ten free sample Flickr MiniCards turned up from moo.com today. Here's what they look like, along with the little dispenser the samples came in and one of my current business cards for scale.

The material the cards are made out of is very well chosen. It's a nice heavy card stock, pretty much matt on the printed side and with a nice soft sheen on the image side. Definitely not gloss, though, which I was a little worried it might be.

The text side of the card — which I think of as equivalent to a standard business card — is just large enough for a few lines of contact details, and that looks great in the format. My flickr avatar image works quite well at this scale, although I'd drop the flickr logo when buying some of these for real.

I'm not blown away by the results I got, though. There are two problems, both at my end.

The first problem is the shape of the cards; few of the images I've uploaded to flickr look really good at this very wide (2.5:1) aspect ratio. I can see myself occasionally shooting specifically for this format in future.

The other problem is that a lot of my flickr images end up pretty dingy in this medium (the two you can see here are the best results, and they're not nearly as punchy as they are on screen). If you're going to try this product, make sure you have lots of contrast and colour or you might be disappointed: what looks good on the screen isn't necessarily going to look great on a card.

Screening People with Clearances

Another short, cogent essay from Bruce Schneier, this time on why it makes sense to be Screening People with Clearances:

Why should we waste time at airport security, screening people with U.S. government security clearances? […]

Poole argued that people with government security clearances, people who are entrusted with U.S. national security secrets, are trusted enough to be allowed through airport security with only a cursory screening. […]

To someone not steeped in security, it makes perfect sense. But it's a terrible idea, and understanding why teaches us some important security lessons.

This is worth reading just to understand how a U.S. security clearance isn't quite the concrete thing you perhaps assumed it was, but I think the comments on "subjective agenda" are important too. After all, if the people who make the rules aren't bound by them, what incentive do they have to make sensible rules? I think it would be fair to guess, for example, that the average lawmaker hasn't spent a lot of time recently standing in an airport in their stockinged feet with their permitted items in a transparent bag.

(Via Schneier on Security.)

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