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February 29, 2012

Apple: Tabbed Inspectors Suck; Adobe and Omni get it right.

Could you PLEASE redesign your OS conventions for big screens? Or at least afford some expert accelerators for people with big monitors? 

This drives me nuts whenever I use Keynote. Most common tasks: Bullet points, type style changes, and borders on images. I just want all these fussy little panels to always be available to me. Look, I have plenty of space!

Screen shot 2012-02-29 at 2.42.48 PM.png

  1. I have to visually parse all of the inspector icons and either remember which one allows me to set a stroke or click into a few to see. The icons are tiny and they lack text labels.
    Screen shot 2012-02-29 at 2.57.58 PM.png

  2. Once I find the proper inspector, I usually have to operate multi-tiered controls, with multiple dropdowns and those horrid little twiddly up/down controls. 
    Screen shot 2012-02-29 at 3.03.13 PM.png

I get that you need an interface for discovering and navigating through these different options on a small screen. You know, like the small screens we had 15 years ago. But what would be way less shitty are some big-screen versions where I don't have three clicks of navigation to get to what is, for me, a common feature. 

Omnigraffle, for example, overrides the OS default behavior and affords locking-open different tabs within their inspector palettes. Adobe allows you to group, ungroup, or tab different panels depending on how you work. In both of these cases, the features I need, use, and want are available with zero clicks. They're visible onscreen and I can track my mouse directly to the control I want without having to fuss around. 

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February 21, 2012

Miss Manners on Interaction Design*

"People who are deluged with information on a subject in which they have limited interest (apologies to the couple, but such is life) do not become increasingly informed. Quite the opposite. They tune out."

-- Miss Manners' Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding, Jacobina Martin and Judith Martin. Kindle Ed., Loc. 3,305-16.

* Obviously she's discussing etiquette as it relates to weddings, but the point is exactly the same. Human psychology still responds to sites and devices with the same emotional wiring that we use to respond to other people's actions. Poorly behaved people and poorly behaved sites receive roughly the same treatment: people stop wanting to hang out with them or do nice things for them. 

A while back on Quora, I wrote:

Interaction designers are like Miss Manners. We teach websites how to behave; we teach them to say "please" and write thank-you notes and to tidy up when visiting at a friend's country house for the weekend. 

Visual designers are makeover stylists. They ensure that the hair is perfect, the clothes send the right message, the makeup is tasteful, and the accessories match.

Both aspects are important to nail if you want to be a well-socialized and respectful person or website.

By the way, I'm reading the above-mentioned book because as of last Friday, I'm engaged to @gadishamia. Thrilled about it, naturally!

February 10, 2012

Inbox Surprise via @iansilber

via @iansilber:

"This reminds me of an app I made called Inbox Surprise that would basically allow you to spam someone's inbox with something like this: http://cl.ly/3C08030R3M1v1P3M3s0l. Basically take ascii art and deliver each line as a new email.

"Yes, I'm very proud of it."

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February 7, 2012

EPIC SQUEE: Eames Elephants


According to dwr.com, "Demetrios [Eames, grandson of Charles] recently took the Elephant on Safari, creating this film for the Eames Office. For a fun twist, mute the soundtrack and replace it with "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by The Tokens."

Cow Bezoars


So I'm doing this project for one of the design classes I'm taking right now, and one thing led to another, and before I knew it I was reading all about cow bezoars on Wikipedia.

Remember that scene from Harry Potter 6 where Ron eats the love-potioned candies intended for Harry and they go to Slughorn's office for an antidote and then drink from a bottle of mead given to Slughorn as a gift which he intended to re-gift to Dumbledore, but which was actually poisoned by Draco Malfoy, and then Harry saves the day by remembering that a bezoar soaks up just about any poison? Well, apparently J.K. Rowling knew her stuf, because bezoars were traditionally used in alchemy to cure poisons.

Psuedobezoars are induced in commercial cattle: ranchers will give their cows small magnets to eat. As the cows graze they typically nom on nails, bits of barbed wire, and other metallic detritus. As you might imagine bits of sharp metal passing through the intestine is a Bad Thing. So the magnets get the bits of metal to stick together, where they apparently get bezoar'd up in the cow's gut, which is less bad than pokey bits of metal in the intestine.

Stripper shoes: Still not okay.


I look at all the stripper shoes on the market and think "Ugh. Who wants to look like a hooker?" And then I think "Uh-oh, I must be getting old." And then I think, "But no. They're stripper shoes."