· · Presentation
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 ... [3 comments]
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 ... [3 comments]
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 ... [14 comments]
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? ... [19 comments]
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.]
· 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 ...
· “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) ...
· 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 ...
· 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 ...
By Tim Bray.
I am an employee
of Amazon.com, but
the opinions expressed here
are my own, and no other party
necessarily agrees with them.
A full disclosure of my
professional interests is
on the author page.