Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Archive for July, 2012

More iPhone and iPad Prototypes From the Trial

It’s interesting to see how many shapes they experiment with, but it’s also amazing to see how many iterations look like the iPhone 4(S). I think it’s the iPhone that Apple always wanted to do, but they needed those first few steps to figure out how.

Why “Just Do It” is Bullshit

Buster Benson:

The reason this statement rubs me the wrong way (and yeah, maybe I’m beating a dead horse at this point) is because it gives you the world and then puts the responsibility on you to pay for it. It is spoken from a position of very high advantage without giving credit to that advantage for your success.

Absolutely correct.

Welcome to Digg

On July 20, we announced that we were turning Digg back into a startup and rebuilding it from scratch in six weeks. After an intense month and a half, we managed to get the new Digg up and running on a fresh code base and infrastructure. We now have a solid foundation on which to build, and we expect to build fast. Yesterday, we previewed the new Digg applications for web, iPhone, and mobile web and today we’re happy to share Digg v1.

It’s interesting that they’re referring to this as the first version of Digg. It, of course, isn’t, but I suspect it’s their way of distancing themselves from the pain and hurt of Digg version four. Welcome to 2004, again.

According to their FAQ, there won’t be any ads nor sponsorships:

We have little time and fewer resources to focus on anything but the user, who is our first, second and third priority. We believe we can accomplish with ten great engineers and designers what other companies do with a hundred and, by keeping our costs low, take our time to find a business model that does not disrupt or detract from the user experience.

Translation: we have no idea what our business model is yet.

Outlook.com

Outlook.com is a Metro-skinned Hotmail with Skype and Skydrive integration, without any IMAP support. Microsoft introduced it thusly:

“We think that email can do a lot better than webmail,” says Microsoft. “We decided it was time for a change.”

I don’t see how this is significantly different to any webmail client. It lacks any serious attempt at improving the effectiveness of an email client, and it’s harder to use. But it’s got Skype built in, and it uses Segoe. Woo hoo.

Please Stop Stacking Arial in Front of Helvetica in Your Stylesheets

Front end web developers: we need to have a little chat, you and I.

Yes, I know Helvetica looks like crap on Windows. Yes, I know Arial looks “close enough”1. But your designer picked Helvetica for a reason.

Using the stack of font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; offers preference to Arial, because the first font family takes precedence. See, only a tiny percentage of Windows users actually have Helvetica, but Arial is preinstalled on every Mac user’s system. Therefore, almost nobody will ever see Helvetica, unless they’re a Mac user and they’ve disabled Arial in Font Book.

We can debate the finer points of typeface selection another day, but the fact of the matter is that Helvetica has far better proportions than Arial. It simply looks better, while having nearly identical metrics. Therefore, you’re assuming that I’m going to ask you to please bend to your designer’s wishes and use the font stack font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;. Nope.

See, Helvetica was designed for print, and had to be ported over for screen. It’s not bad. But a couple of decades ago, an improved version of Helvetica designed specifically for digital displays was created. It’s the beautiful Neue Helvetica, which OS X refers to as “Helvetica Neue” because then it sits near the older version in the font menu. It looks nearly identical, but just a hair better on digital displays. Every stroke is a little bit tighter, and every hint is better-tailored. And, handily, it ships with OS X.

I implore you to please use the following stack when dealing with these typefaces:

  font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;

The vast majority of your Windows visitors will default to Arial, and Mac users will see Neue Helvetica, except those on older systems who will see Helvetica. Everyone will be happier. The web will be better designed. And I won’t have to write posts like this at 10:00 on a Monday night.


  1. No, it doesn’t. ↩︎

Unanimous Is Not an Option

Seth Godin:

Trying to please everyone will water down your efforts, frustrate your forward motion and ultimately fail.

The balancing act is to work to please precisely the right people, and just enough of them, to get your best work out the door.

In a similar vein, Ricky Gervais:

I’ll do exactly what I want, and if you didn’t like it, I don’t care. Don’t come and see me again.

Trying to please everyone is a surefire way to be mediocre in everyone’s eyes.

The New York Times Is Now Supported by Readers, Not Advertisers

Joe Coscarelli for New York Magazine:

Advertising revenue continues to sink at the New York Times Company, which reported a second-quarter net loss of $88.1 million today. But a glimmer of hope can be seen in circulation revenue, which has actually gone up through print subscription price increases and the online paywall.

Batman’s Phone

9to5 Mac has gotten their hands on some photos of what is apparently the exterior parts of the next-generation iPhone fully assembled. I love the matte black back, but the two-tone nature of it looks strange so far, especially since the camera lens isn’t vertically centred within the upper glossy strip. The dark metal buttons look badass, though. I can’t wait to see one in person.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Big Facebook Mistake

Nathan Vardi, writing for Forbes:

Waiting eight years to conduct an IPO, however, has turned out to be an impossible problem to manage. The hype associated with the hottest company in Silicon Valley had created massive expectations and lots of shareholders with tons of stock looking for an exit. […]

Zuckerberg & Co., might have not been so late to embrace mobile or might have had more urgency to develop a monetizing strategy had Facebook faced the trading hordes earlier.

That’s what I said.

Jackass of the Week

Jesus Diaz (who else?):

A Chinese case manufacturer is showing what looks to be an iPhone 5 in their product shots. It looks like the white 3D prototype we published a while back—complete with its new 19-pin dock port. But could this really be a unit smuggled out of Foxconn’s factory?

No.

Microsoft’s Lost Decade

I’ve been waiting for the full article to go live all month, and it’s finally here. There are so many good quotes that Kurt Eichenwald dug up which I could pull from this, but one of the best is right at the end of the article, from Steve Jobs:

“They were never as ambitious product-wise as they should have been. Bill likes to portray himself as a man of the product, but he’s really not. He’s a businessperson. Winning business was more important than making great products. Microsoft never had the humanities and liberal arts in its DNA.”

Sparrow Goes Open Source

In order to comply with LGPL, Sparrow has had to allow people access to their source. Despite this, one cannot redistribute any work based on these files. Kind of a bittersweet result.

Update: Looks like I got this a bit wrong. It isn’t open source, per se, but it they’re full versions of both the iPhone and Mac apps which you can compile yourself. Probably. I compiled the Mac app fine, but the iPhone version is throwing up all sorts of errors.