Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ikea’s BookBook: Pure Genius

The stylish, low-cost furniture folks just one-upped Apple. Along with having some fun, they also make some excellent points about the innate advantages of ink on paper.

It reminds me a lot of a conversation I once had with a designer on the Newton project who was seriously jazzed about the ability to (usually) be able to record a written note, as well as look up old notes later. What advantage this had over a 99 cent notepad was not at all clear.

iOS 7 – Side by Side with iOS 6

Yesterday was the day most of us were informed that our iPhones and iPads are ready to download the latest software release from Apple. Before jumping in and pressing that “Upgrade” button, have a look at Business Insider’s side-by-side comparison of what’s in store:


My take: I guess I go back to John Dvorak’s old advice that whenever confronted with a “next big thing” proposition, weigh its validity by imagining that the roles of old and new were reversed. I.e., if we were all living in an iOS 7 world you see on the right, how would we greet the “next big thing” announcement of the interface you see on the left?


The Magic of User-Created Ratings

Apparently, a little hard to match with food, but perfect for the hot tub.

Source: Ratings


A Timely Post from Five Years Ago re: Font Smoothing and the new iPad

With the new iPad (formerly known informally as the iPad 3) in my hot little hands, I can testify personally that the screen is gorgeous. What’s more, the near print-quality resolution has a real possibility of reshaping an old debate between Mac and PC users–namely, which platform made the right decision when it comes to font smoothing.

As Joel Spolsky nicely summed up here, the two platforms made some stark choices when it came to the algorithms they employed to render type on LCD screens. Microsoft, with their ClearType technology emphasized harder “snapping” to the physical pixel boundaries, resulting in a generally chunkier, but crisper look. Apple, however, hewed closely to the original type designs, resulting in a stylish appearance with type styles clearly differentiated from one another–but at the cost of a certain blurriness to the rendered text.

On a typical 100-ish pixel-per-inch (PPI) desktop screen, it’s easy to make either argument in light of the trade-offs involved. After all, style matters, but so does the raw human mechanics of line and edge sensing which make up so much of readability. If one switches back and forth between a Mac and a PC on the same monitor, it’s common to be left with the feeling that the Mac looks better, but that the PC involved less effort to read.

With the new iPad’s stunning 264 PPI screen, however, the legibility compromises that Apple forces in the name of faithful typography largely vanish. Ars Technica has a nice set of blown-up images which demonstrate the effect.

In the example above, pay particular attention to the edges of straight verticals such as the “t” in “these”: although a subtle anti-aliasing shadow appears on the right of the stroke on the retina display, the pronounced smudging of the left side of the stroke that so degraded the letterform on the original iPad is replaced by a faithful, dark rendering on the new iPad, changing the legibility dramatically.

After a weekend spent playing with the new iPad, I honestly haven’t been able to detect an earthshaking difference in network speed, overall performance, battery life, or virtually any other technical aspect vs. my trusty first-generation model. But to my eyes, at least, the screen alone has been well worth the upgrade price.