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PMs Gone Bad · “PM” stands for Prod­uct Man­ag­er or some­times Pro­gram Man­ager; these are the peo­ple in soft­ware de­vel­op­ment who don’t write code and don’t man­age coders and make all the dif­fer­ence. A good one is be­yond price, and a bad one has a unique pow­er to in­flict bleed­ing neck wounds on what you’re build­ing. Let’s il­lus­trate this with ex­am­ples from Adobe, Google, and Ap­ple. This piece is pro­voked by Lightroom’s ab­ject sur­ren­der to an­gry users af­ter they tried to re-work their im­port di­a­logue ...
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MacBook Pro + Samsung U28D590D · When I got 10.9.3, dis­play on the an­cient Dell 30" I’d had plugged in­to var­i­ous Macs went south; It would on­ly do 1080x1920, which looked like a bad car­toon. So I end­ed up with a Sam­my U28D590D which is ad­ver­tised as “UHD” which I think is the of­fi­cial term for 4K. It works re­al­ly well, al­beit at 30Hz, but that doesn’t seem to be a prob­lem ...
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How To Dash · I was read­ing What If Is­rael Ceas­es to Be a Democ­ra­cy? by Jef­frey Gold­berg over at The At­lantic site. It’s force­ful, wor­ry­ing, and short; I en­cour­age you to read it too. But this isn’t about that; it’s about an ap­palling ty­po­graph­i­cal botch and how you can avoid mak­ing it ...
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Dots Per Inch · I thought maybe the most in­ter­est­ing sin­gle thing about the new iPhone 4 was its dis­play, not so much the 960 ver­ti­cal dots but the 326DPI, in the cleverly-named Reti­na Dis­play. Which leads me to won­der, how much does this mat­ter? ...
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Hyatt on the High-Res Web · Check out Dave Hyatt’s ex­cel­lent write-up on de­sign­ing and ren­der­ing Web pages so they take ad­van­tage of the higher-resolution screens that may be com­ing our way. I em­pha­size “may” be­cause I’ve seen how slow­ly we’ve picked up pix­els over the years. The first re­al­ly sub­stan­tial screen I ev­er worked on was a 1988-vintage Sun work­sta­tion with about a mil­lion pix­el­s. The Mac on my lap right now, which has 125 times as much mem­o­ry as that work­sta­tion, has on­ly 1.38 mil­lion pix­el­s. Any­how, Hy­att has some smart things to say on the is­sues, which are trick­i­er than you might think. I sus­pect that some­time in a cou­ple of years, if I still care about on­go­ing, I’m go­ing to have to go back and re­pro­cess all the im­ages so that higher-res ver­sions are avail­able for those who have the screens and don’t mind down­load­ing big­ger files. Any­how, Dave’s piece may be slight­ly mis­lead­ing in that he talks about SVG as though it’s some­thing com­ing in the fu­ture. Not so, check out this nifty SVG Atom lo­go, which works fine in all the Mozil­la browsers I have here. Load it up, re­size the win­dow, and watch what hap­pen­s. Then do a “view source”. [Up­date: Jeff Schiller writes to tell me that Opera 9 does SVG (and Opera 8 “SVG Tiny”) too.] [Dave Walk­er writes: Though the ship­ping ver­sion of Sa­fari doesn’t sup­port SVG, the nightlies do.] [Dave Le­men points to JPEG 2000 as pos­si­bly use­ful in a high-res con­tex­t.]
 
Picture Frames · On this va­ca­tion, giv­en that Lau­ren is sev­en months preg­nan­t, we picked some­thing that was low-stress and low-adventure (s­tart­ing with the lo­ca­tion; there’s a di­rect Vancouver-to-Kona flight). I like loung­ing by the pool and sam­pling the lo­cal bev­er­ages as much as any­one, but with a deadline-free week, I al­so found time for some recre­ation­al pro­gram­ming. The re­sult is some­thing I call “Framer”, which gen­er­ates bor­ders and/or drop shad­ows for im­ages in most pop­u­lar for­mat­s. It writes PNGs with vari­able al­pha chan­nel so the drop shad­ows will look OK on any col­or back­ground. It has some op­tions and you’re free to use it, but it’s not problem-free and un­less there’s a lot of in­ter­est I’m not go­ing to open-source it. Il­lus­trat­ed with groovy Big Is­land sun­set pho­to­s ...
 
More Dots · “Please con­sid­er us­ing a sep­a­ra­tor such as · or ¶ be­tween your ti­tle and main post bodies.” wrote Si­mon Grif­fee (nice-looking page!) (he’s look­ing for work), whom I’ve nev­er met, out of the blue, apro­pos of noth­ing. I tried it and liked it. Thanks, Si­mon.
 
How To Use Your Ultra · So, I’ve got this meat-grinder that runs NetBeans just in­sane­ly faster than my Pow­erBook, and I’d like to use it. The trou­ble is, I’ve al­ready got 3,397,120 pixels’ worth of screen real-estate and if I add more I won’t be able to see out my win­dow; and one key­board & mouse are enough. So­lu­tion: run the Ul­tra head­less and talk to it via the Mac, us­ing X11. It’s not problem-free but it work­s. Il­lus­trat­ed with pic­tures of de­li­cious­ly smooth, stream­lined ac­tu­al work­ing code. [Up­date: There is hope.] ...
 
The Summer ’04 Look · Here­with a new look for on­go­ing. Smaller, sleek­er, chic-er, suit­able for those who run their browsers less than 800 pix­els wide (but why would you want to do that?), the con­tent col­umn may get un­com­fort­ably bul­gy in In­ter­net Ex­plor­er, but that’s on­ly about half the vis­i­tors here and af­ter all there is a so­lu­tion. I feel some angst be­cause of my un­re­con­struct­ed white back­ground, all my coo­lio ace-pro de­sign­er heroes have ad­vanced bold­ly in­to exquisitely-pale pas­tels in one del­i­cate fla­vor or an­oth­er. Bah, less is more. A re­quest; take a look at the Serif style, it’s how I look at this thing and it’s now the de­fault for first-time vis­i­tors.
 
Who Ya Gonna Call? · What hap­pened was, I saw this this cool ar­ti­cle in A List Apart about how you can do drop-shadows on pic­tures and text us­ing pure CSS tech­niques. I thought the lit­tle pic­ture to your right would be im­proved there­by, so I cut-n-pasted the code and made some changes to fit on­go­ing bet­ter. It worked per­fect­ly in Sa­fari first time. It blew up in Mac IE but who cares. It worked fine in Win­dows IE. It broke in a very ir­ri­tat­ing way in Mozil­la on all plat­form­s. I blew about three hours one af­ter­noon fid­dling with mar­gins and padding and this and that, get­ting more and more fu­ri­ous, snarling at my loved ones, and achiev­ing ex­act­ly noth­ing. What ya gonna do? Who ya gonna cal­l? (The sto­ry has a hap­py end­ing) ...
 
Quantitative Typography · Rick Jel­lif­fe, whose main hang­out is I think here al­though Google finds a dif­fer­ent “home page”, writes to point out this ex­cel­lent com­par­a­tive study of a bunch of dif­fer­ent on­line type­faces, both serif and sans-serif. The study is too nu­anced and deep to sound­bite (cough Times bad cough) and if you care about this stuff at al­l, you should check it out. Now we need to fig­ure out how to in­cent the re­searchers to cov­er a few more fonts.
 
Typography, Pictures, Zeldman · Some­time in the next few hours I’m up­dat­ing the on­go­ing soft­ware (oh yes, please do let me know if it break­s). New fron­tiers in reck­less ty­po­graph­ic aban­don! Plus, push­ing the bound­aries of stat­ic web serv­ing tech­nol­o­gy till they bleed! Plus, we’re work­ing with Zeld­man! ...
 
On Web Typography · For rea­sons of per­son­al taste and com­mon ty­po­graph­i­cal wis­dom I’d like to dis­play the bod­ies of the ar­ti­cles here in a serif type­face. In fac­t, I went so far as to try it out yes­ter­day. This was far from a run­away hit, but I’ve learned some things about Web ty­pog­ra­phy which, it turns out, is a mov­ing tar­get ...
 
Browsers and CSS, Again · Re­cent­ly I flamed In­ter­net Ex­plor­er, per­haps step­ping a lit­tle over the edge. Thus touch­ing a nerve and reap­ing a flur­ry of in­com­ing links. Here­with more on browser­s, CSS voodoo (in­clud­ing prac­ti­cal hints on or­ga­niz­ing your stylesheet­s), WinForm­s, the death of IE, and the ques­tion of whether the brows­er still mat­ter­s. And an apol­o­gy. And a small re­quest for QA help. Up­date: I was talk­ing this over with Lau­ren, and she said: “I guess that means no more re­leas­es of IE for Mac.” Hadn’t thought of that. ...
 
Not Rocket Science · Si­mon Wil­li­son is col­lect­ing his ex­cel­lent se­ries of write­ups on prac­ti­cal CSS mag­ic un­der the rubric CSS ain’t Rock­et Science. He should be wrong, it should be like rock­et sci­ence: pre­dictable, de­ter­min­is­tic, with an en­gi­neer­ing rule­set say­ing How To Do It. Ex­cept for the tools are bro­ken. To be speci­fic, Microsoft’s tool is bro­ken. And in re­cent news, ap­par­ent­ly they don’t care. Which is maybe just fine ...
 
Emoji · We An­glo­phones en­joy a liv­ing lan­guage but are stuck with a long-dead char­ac­ter set; are 26 let­ters re­al­ly enough to last from now to the end of English? Others are more for­tu­nate; Asians not on­ly have more char­ac­ters but get new ones. The brand-new Re­lease 4.0 of Uni­code de­fines 96,513 char­ac­ter­s, of which the vast ma­jor­i­ty are Asian. This note is pro­voked by the Emo­ji phe­nomenon, worth a look in its own right, but the is­sues of lan­guages and char­ac­ters and their growth are big ones ...
 
D.I. Ratio and the Ratio Family · There has been a flur­ry of ver­biage re­cent­ly on the re­design of the Macro­me­dia Home Page. Among oth­er things, I ob­served that some­one had crit­i­cized it on the grounds of hav­ing a lousy "data-ink ratio". I think the crit­i­cism is in­ter­est­ing, and the no­tion of the data-ink ra­tio is worth a deep­er look. (Warn­ing: lengthy and quite graphics-heavy) ...
 
Mapping the Penalties of Failure · Below is a pic­ture of of a map that hangs in my of­fice; it shows an area in the Balka­ns and was cre­at­ed around 1790. I bought it in a dusty lit­tle book­store in Juneau Alaska, but that's an­oth­er sto­ry. It's in­scribed in French, Pol­ish, and Turk­ish (writ­ten pre-reform in Ara­bic scrip­t). Like many maps it's very beau­ti­ful, but it's more than a lit­tle weird, and car­ries an im­por­tant lesson ...
 
Narrow Columns, Please! · I am in the mid­dle of read­ing what feels like an out­stand­ing­ly deep, wise, and well-written es­say by David Stutz, late of Mi­crosoft, and the text was giv­ing me a headache be­cause the columns are too wide. Magazines and news­pa­pers have long squeezed their relatively-dense con­tent in­to nar­row columns in the in­ter­est of read­abil­i­ty, and the long-defunct Suck hu­mor web­site re­dis­cov­ered this prin­ci­ple for the Web - vir­tu­al­ly ev­ery con­tent site has now adopt­ed it ...
 
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