I make films. I'm also a nerd.

Flatter (Design) Isn’t Necessarily Better

Steven Bradley decided that a lot of “flat” interface designs were leaving him cold, despite his natural predilections for “minimalism with an emphasis on design fundamentals”:

When flat designs started appearing I had mixed reactions. Sometimes I liked what I saw, but many times I didn’t care for the flat designs I encountered. Other than the handful of cases of truly poor design, I didn’t understand why some of this flatter aesthetic didn’t resonate with me when it seems to agree with much of my own philosophy about design. I’m finally beginning to understand.

For one it’s an awful name based on a surface detail of what’s going on. And because it’s been given a name it’s ripe to become a fad. The name implies the new aesthetic is based solely on it being flat and I don’t think this literal interpretation is the reason for this new aesthetic.

Design is about more than mere aesthetics—usability is the far more important consideration. What good does it do if an app or a site is pretty, but no thought is given to whether people will actually want to use it?

SETI Discovers New Satellite of Neptune

CBC News:

A tiny, previously unknown moon circling Neptune has been spotted by astronomers using the Hubble telescope.

The moon, which is currently known as S/2004 N1, was found on July 1 by Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., NASA announced Monday.

Imagine spotting a grain of salt on the top of your neighbor’s picnic table, with your naked eye.

Pythonista Developer Ole Zorn Announces Forthcoming iOS Automation App

Ole’s announcement:

I tweeted earlier today that I’ve registered the name for a new app in iTunes Connect. It’s called Editorial, and I’ve actually been working on this for over a year now.

At its core, it’s a Markdown editor for iPad, but you can also think of it as a Pythonista spinoff, or a workflow automation tool, not unlike Automator.

I will buy this the day it is released. The screenshots seem to promise an incredible number of possibilities.

Hackers Selling Code Exploits to Governments

Nicole Perlroth and David E. Sanger for The New York Times:

On the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta, two Italian hackers have been searching for bugs — not the island’s many beetle varieties, but secret flaws in computer code that governments pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn about and exploit.

During the Cold War, we had James Bond. Today’s spies do their work between sessions of Call of Duty, while eating Kraft Dinners bought by their mothers.

Blue Exoplanet Is Not Like Earth At All

USA Today :

Data from the Hubble Space Telescope has helped determine that a planet orbiting a nearby star likely shares Earth’s deep-blue tones, but the similarities stop there, astronomers report.

It’s a Jupiter-sized planet 372 trillion miles away, and it’s likely colored blue because of an atmosphere full of melting glass particles.

The fact that we’re able to observe this sort of thing is pretty amazing. It’s too bad we seem to have no time or money for the good things we have learned to do.

Chromebook Sales Strong on Low End of Market

Computerworld :

Computerworld – Low-cost Chromebook computers are doing very well with retailers, in stores and online, and now make up a significant share of the low end market, said market research firm NPD Group.

Chromebooks that cost $300 or less account for anywhere from 20% to 25% of monthly sales of computers in this category, reports NPD.

I have my problems with Google, and with the way they do a lot of things. I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Chromebooks, though—maybe solely because I was one the beta testers of the Cr-48, but a real soft spot nonetheless. I always thought they’d sell like crazy at the right price, and thought it was a little insane when the first models were priced in the $500 range.

Android Co-Founder Says Fragmentation Is No Big Deal

Chris Smith for Techradar :

Google’s Rich Miner, the man who co-founded Android with Andy Rubin, has weighed in on the debate as to whether the mobile OS has become too fragmented.

And, somewhat unsurprisingly, he thinks it isn’t a major issue.

Alternate headline: “Prolific Defecator Claims His Feces Is Odorless”

Is the Retina iPad Mini Delayed Due to Issues With iOS 7?

Sam Oliver for Apple Insider :

China’s Economic Daily News […] said that though Apple originally planned to launch a Retina iPad mini this fall, it may be delayed until the first quarter of 2014. As such, the rumor suggests that a second-generation iPad mini will not launch this year.

I don’t normally like to bother with discussing Apple rumors, but this bit about the next-gen iPad Mini seems suggestive of a couple of things:

  • There’s really no hardware problem I can think of that might cause a delay like this; Apple has already shipped multiple retina displays at sizes / resolutions both smaller and larger than that needed for an iPad mini–so maybe there’s some kind of software problem at issue.
  • The whole reason the first iPad mini shipped without retina was the fact that iOS apps would need to be re-written for a new resolution—so they gave the screens the same resolution as the first two full-size iPads. However, now, the coming resolution independence in iOS 7 will mean that apps can be built without targeting a specific resolution, therefore paving the way for a retina iPad mini.

The above taken as givens (which may or may not be a stretch), maybe we can conclude that iOS 7, itself, will not be ready until early in 2014. What other reason would Apple have to delay the iPad mini and miss the holiday sales spike? It all just sort of adds up.

A Small Hack to Improve My Drafts/Hazel/DayOne Workflow For MacBook Users

Lorenzo of 24 Empty Bits has adapted my means of writing DayOne entries from directly within Drafts to his own needs, in a way which I thought my readers might find interesting. Rather than requiring an always-on Mac1, as my original solution does, Lorenzo’s version uses an AppleScript to send new entries into DayOne when a Mac wakes or is booted–thus preserving the proper timestamps for entries written while the Mac wasn’t running.

I’m sure this is a welcome hack for those who only have laptops. Thanks, Lorenzo.

  1. Well, not really, but it is true that the timestamps on entries written while your Mac is asleep will be wrong with my version. 

Microsoft Lies Baldly In Response to New Snowden Allegations

Pierluigi Paganini, via Security Affairs :

Edward Snowden has issued new top secret documents demonstrating the intense collaboration between Microsoft and US government, in particular the whistleblower revealed the support received by the NSA that obtained by the company the access to encrypted messages into its products. Microsoft designed specifically backdoor into Outlook.com, Skype, and SkyDrive to allow government agency to spy on online communications.

They’ve flatly denied every single allegation asserted in these new documents. I suppose we can trust them with our data now. And certainly none of the other big tech companies will be caught in a lie, immediately.