Sunday, July 5th, 2020
The animated line-drawing illustrations at Ralph Ammer blog definitely make me want to read every post!
Poolside.FM, the lovely Mac throwback to 1997.
Sunday, May 17th, 2020
The Making of Prince of Persia
Video game maker Jordan Mechner wrote a rich diary of his life in the mid-1980s. This book covers the creation his second hit game, Prince of Persia, so we gain access of unique immediacy to the heroic tale of producing a universe-dent-making hit.
I wanted this book, which I discovered via Tyler Cowen’s most recent What I’ve been reading, as inspiration during a small lull in morale as I work on a digital product of my own.
Thirty years on there is some poignancy in that this early period of Mencher’s life was the peak: after graduating Yale, already dreamily successful, he shuttles between San Francisco and Hollywood creating video games and pushing screenplays, a digital Orson Welles (in his later game The Last Express, Mechner combines these passions, relying on cinema to produce an impressive commercial failure).
That said, perhaps it is no failure at all that one can point to the creative peak of a life — Mechner’s arguably was working within the memory constraints of the Apple II to create a foe, Shadow Man, based on the hero character. Here I’m reminded of Ken Kocienda’s not dissimilar Eureka moment when up against a constraint, that of using a dictionary to help create the iPhone keyboard.
Perhaps it would have been a better book if he had fleshed out the journal with an italicized retrospective written now, but count me a late-arrival Jordan Mechner fan. And don’t get the Kindle edition lacking the illustrations; I think I’m gonna need to buy the actual book.
Thursday, May 14th, 2020
In the morning I put in the stair-climbing, and in the evening, the sword-sheathing.
Jordan Mechner, The Making of Prince of Persia
Friday, March 6th, 2020
Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs
by Ken Kocienda
In one of those books where we see it’s perhaps more useful to be a doer who latterly writes than a professional writer, the author scaffolds a theory of success around his own respective failures and two giant successes: creating Apple’s Safari web browser for OS X and creating the iOS keyboard, no less.
We get to share the Eureka moments when these two significant dents in the universe came together. And the story of their creations serve as perfect illustrations of his theory, derived from Darwin’s.
Must-reading for many, surely.
Sunday, March 1st, 2020
DesignBoom’s sauna page. This is just great work about great work about great living.
Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of an Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader
Brent Schlener and Rick Tetzell
Although the simple thesis gets repeated interminably, nonetheless it’s a nice one: that Steve Jobs’s greatness stems muchly from his constant becoming, constant learning, constant trying to overcome himself (hence the title, which can be read as descriptive).
It’s great to be in his company, which you feel you are, as one of the authors was himself repeatedly so for decades.
One thing new to me was Pixar’s role in maturing Jobs; we don’t often read about who and what shaped the shaper.
Friday, February 28th, 2020
In CSS-only fluid modular type scales, Trys Mudford lays out the code for letting type grow appropriately (and uses the Golden Ratio for the steps). Very nice!
And I love the applied musical modular scale, which I’d not seen before, one of those great things that in retrospect seem obvious.
I’ve been fumbling towards all this without stopping to actually systematize it as they’ve done. And they did it here in Brighton, at Clearleft. Kudos.
Wednesday, February 26th, 2020
My go-to type foundry Hoefler&Co have really stepped up their website game at typography.com, with a thrilling new typeface combination throughout of Idlewild for eyebrows and Ideal Sans for titles, and their rich How We Use Type feature for each font family.
Friday, October 25th, 2019
Gadget: 1. Survey [PDF] is a cool history of software milestones “from Smalltalk to Minecraft” Chaim Gingold (2017). When you see these things collected you realize how much progress they collectively represent. I wonder what we’d have been doing otherwise…
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
Volvo unveils its first full battery electric model, the XC40 Recharge SUV with 402bhp a 248-mile range. Featuring no front grille!
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
A deep dive into the Grand Seiko Snowflake on Hodinkee. “The entire thing seems to have been calculated to create an effect of serenity without boredom; of minimalism without sterility.”
A lovely poster of Frank Lloyd Wright homes “in (nearly) every state” by HomeAdvisor.
Tuesday, October 8th, 2019
I’m excited by the Richard Mille Bonbon watch collection. Just fabulous. Crazy expensive but apparently all have been bought, most popularly in Malaysia.
Tuesday, October 1st, 2019
The sweaters of Succession. By Vulture.
Sunday, September 8th, 2019
Monday, August 5th, 2019
Friday, July 12th, 2019
Some unconventional wisdom from David C Baker that I’d like to revisit every once in a while: “Why Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) Arrangements May Not Be Ideal”. He concludes: “If I’ve confused you with all this, just concentrate on this one point: retainers and MRR relationships scream hourly work, and you shouldn’t be doing hourly work.” But at least for me at Engaging, the opposite is true: I’ve always billed hourly anyway, and some MRR arrangements I’ve made more recently have freed us from thinking in terms of hours (even though I’m still habitually keeping a log of hours worked).
Tuesday, May 14th, 2019
Monday, May 13th, 2019
We must be facing this: David Gelertner on giving up Darwin. Like Smith’s invisible hand and even Newton’s laws of physics, these glorious, newly-algorithmic cosmologies — the precursors to our wonder-world of bitty digitalism — aren’t the full explanation.
Thursday, March 21st, 2019
James Bond: 50 Years of Main Title Design at Art of the Title. It’s by Ben Radatz, a partner at MK12 and co-director of Quantum of Solace‘s.
Sunday, March 17th, 2019
Mathieu Triay on his Marvin Visions, a reinterpretation of the 1969 font Marvin by Michael Chave.
Friday, March 15th, 2019
Thursday, January 17th, 2019
Jonathan Hoefler explores something that typeface designers have long known but that researchers have only now corroborated: horizontal lines appear thicker than vertical ones.
Thursday, November 1st, 2018
Important to consider: despite choice fatigue, users do benefit from some symbolic choices, this piece argues.
Wednesday, September 26th, 2018
More incredibleness: sefaria.org, a beautiful bountiful platform of the Jewish texts. What an accomplishment.
Sunday, September 23rd, 2018
John Gruber’s Daringfireball reviews — no, essays — on The iPhones XS and Apple Watch Series 4 are a pleasure worthy of their subject matter. They feel informed, informal, thoughtful. “Series 4 is to Apple Watch what iPhone 4 was to iPhone,” Gruber writes. “The model that takes the original design to a new level.”
Saturday, September 22nd, 2018
How did I not know about ribbonfarm all these years; truly I’ve been living under a rock for ages. Thoughtful, concise, erudite, relevant: Tendrils of Mess in our Brains by Sarah Perry.
Wednesday, September 12th, 2018
Premieres for the Rams doc by Gary Hustwit (of Helvetica) are being held all around America. The only cities where it’s sold out are: NY, LA and SF.
Saturday, September 8th, 2018
Never mind it being yet another acronym, this method humanizes selecting colors for the web: On Switching from HEX & RGB to HSL by CoDrops explainer extraordinaire Sara Soueidan.
Tuesday, August 21st, 2018
Impressive mobile usability thought leader Josh Clark shares the tools he uses, from pen to Piwik (now Matomo).
Monday, August 20th, 2018
Thursday, July 12th, 2018
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018
Great fun illustrated article on the aesthetics of Trumpism by Nick Hilton.
This next product, emblazoned with the number 45, looks more like a golfer’s baseball cap than a trucker’s … that styling — №45 in fancy serif font — would be perfectly at home on the label of a $100 bottle of scotch. Someone wearing this cap would not be immediately outing themselves as a ‘deplorable’ (as was, to a large extent, the appeal of the MAGA hat). It’s a flashback to a moment when the Trump brand was all about luxury hotels and links courses. No wonder it’s on sale.
Hilton also wrote a piece on Trump-based magazine covers.
Saturday, May 5th, 2018
I keep referring back to this article by Kyle Chayka — beautifully and ironically illustrated by Daniel Hertzberg — and in a nice homologue I keep forgetting the term it coins, airspace:
It’s the realm of coffee shops, bars, startup offices, and co-live / work spaces that share the same hallmarks everywhere you go: a profusion of symbols of comfort and quality, at least to a certain connoisseurial mindset. Minimalist furniture. Craft beer and avocado toast. Reclaimed wood. Industrial lighting. Cortados. Fast internet. The homogeneity of these spaces means that traveling between them is frictionless, a value that Silicon Valley prizes.
The title says it’s sterile but is it? The word never appears within the article. Isn’t airspace more a vocabulary? Here in Brighton there are nasty pastiches of it (Tortilla: Real Californian Burritos and Tacos), lovely expressions (Gails Bakery) and sophisticated extensions (Smallbatch Coffee).
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018
“Jon [Favreau] said, ‘Look into his eyes. If you look into his eyes you will know. Is he being asked a question or is he asking the question?’” On the making of Iron Man’s HUD.
Wednesday, April 4th, 2018
Since I’m returning to it for some refreshment, time to add the link: “How to Use Clashing Fonts” by Jonathan Hoefler. “It’s often the dialogue between typefaces that most effectively communicates how information is meant to be understood.”
Sunday, March 25th, 2018
Craig Mod’s interview with Offscreen Magazine. “In my life, America is three locations: New York City, the Bay Area, and Asheville in North Carolina.” This writer/designer, who first impressed me with his review of the Apple Watch, lives in a small coastal town in Japan — some sort of digital-hipster James Bond. Things are very considered.
Tuesday, March 20th, 2018
Ward Nicholson summarizes the current state of play regarding web typography. He mentions my two go-to Adobe plugins, BalanceText and Dropcap, both of which will eventually be part of CSS.
Sunday, March 4th, 2018
Monday, February 26th, 2018
Monday, February 12th, 2018
Good gumption. Frank Chimero expresses many thoughts I’ve had on the depressing explosion of complexity in web development. I particularly agree about being able to View Source, which is one important reason I don’t use CSS pre-processors: I want people to be able to read the CSS as I coded it, whether to know what to copy or what not to copy.
Friday, January 26th, 2018
A deep dive into iPhone X’s notches by interaction designer Brad Ellis. [via Daringfireball]
Wednesday, January 10th, 2018
Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products
In what seems a common pattern, Jony Ive started early, eschewing the liberal education of say Oxbridge, instead selecting the most renowned college in the field in which he was already winning prizes: industrial design. And this great achiever of our times grew up under the happy and mighty influence of his father, an educator who rose to prominence due to character and a drive to bring design literacy to British education.
The bulk of this book about Ive constitutes one of the stronger, more detailed histories we have of Apple itself, told mainly from the perspective of the IDg, the internal design group he leads. We learn for instance that in order to meet Steve Jobs’ deadline for creating the iMac — the first product upon Jobs’ return and which revived the company — they needed to streamline the product process by making the files of the design software interoperable with those of the manufacturing software.
Someone says Ive is even less replaceable at Apple than Jobs. This isn’t quite fair because Jobs worked to make himself replaceable. Let’s hope Ive does as well.
Saturday, December 30th, 2017
Engagingly written albeit disappointingly somewhat thin, the useful angle here is how Apple differs from conventional wisdom.
Secrecy, even internally, is paramount; it helps alleviate internal politics and keep people focused. There is little internal promotion, taking seriously the Peter Principle. Unlike the rest of Silicon Valley, perks are minimal; working at Apple is the perk.
A product of its time (2012) and of the author’s lack of access, the book is marred at the end by pessimistic obsession with Apple’s viability post-Jobs, but is nonetheless ultimately worth reading because it does convey an impression of what Apple is like.
Thursday, December 7th, 2017
Friday, October 13th, 2017
This is a video of a talk by Pamela Jerome on restoring the metalwork on both Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and Guggenheim Museum together with a transcript. What an honor, to have worked on both masterpieces.
Monday, July 17th, 2017
I appreciate this nicely laid out summary of wisdom reminders for the working life by Studio Lovelock, This Much We Know.
Wednesday, June 28th, 2017
What an internet treasure. Standard Ebooks is — according to their web site — “a volunteer driven, not-for-profit project that produces lovingly formatted, open source, and free public domain ebooks.” These are some beautiful, consistently-designed ebooks. The epub version works a charm in iBooks.