In the Details: Preview
Illustrator has a lot of dialogs through which styles of objects can be specified. To make this process easier, Adobe has included a preview option in the form of a checkbox. So let’s say you are applying a drop shadow to an object. You need to adjust the distance, the angle, the spread, the opacity, and several other attributes. Without checking the checkbox, you would likely have to revisit the...
I’ve been spending a fair amount of time lately making revisions to some pixel-perfect screen mockups done in Photoshop by another designer. Here are some tips I wish I had shared with him earlier. When representing tabular lists, enter all of the text within a given column into a single text layer. Control the vertical layout with leading. This ensures alignment and even row spacing and makes it...
In Comparison: On-screen Keyboards
I’ve been testing an application I designed for use on a ruggedized Windows Mobile device running version 6—one version behind the most recent. I’ve never liked Windows Mobile, and now that I’ve been using an iPhone for almost three years, Windows Mobile seems positively antique. It has changed very little in the past five or six years since I last had to work with it (WinCE, at that time). One...
Gas pumps ask an awful lot of questions. Do you want to use your card as debit or credit? What type of fuel do you want? Do you want a car wash? Do you want a receipt? I’ve written previously of the GetGo stations that are extensions of Giant Eagle grocery stores. Purchasing fuel gives me points towards discounted groceries, and purchasing groceries gives me points towards discounted gas. So I...
IA Summit Keynotes
Boxes and Arrows has begun posting presentations from IA Summit 10 as podcasts. They’ve started by releasing three keynotes. Dan Roam, author of Back of the Napkin, gives an outstanding hour and a half presentation on solving complex problems through visual thinking. Given the topic, I appreciate that they have created an enhanced podcast including the visuals from his slides. I’ve never read...
My wife was wanting a note-taking app for her iPad, so I suggested that she try out Evernote. I’ve never used it myself, but I know it’s popular, and a lot of bloggers and podcasters that I follow speak highly of it. As with many applications for the iPad and iPhone, Evernote comes in two flavors: free and premium. She downloaded the free version and upon launch, the first thing it wanted her to...
There’s an interesting article up on BusinessWeek about a new product from Bayer. Didget is a blood glucose meter—you know, one of those things that people with diabetes prick their fingers with to monitor their blood sugar. It’s not one of those things that people enjoy doing, so you wouldn’t expect them to particularly like their meters. And while adults can suck it up and deal, you can imagine...
The iPad keyboard dock very much resembles the Apple Bluetooth keyboard, which itself mimics the MacBook keyboard. Across the top of the keyboard is a row of 14 half-height buttons that perform special functions: Home: This key has the same square with rounded corners found on the iPad’s home button. It returns you to the home screen, or if already there, moves between the home screens. Search:...
Mushrooms in Moss
As a designer, I’ve had some small amount of training in photography, and I consider it to be one of my more serious hobbies. In this the fourth year of DesignAday, I’ve decided to shake things up a bit and post a photo every Friday. Most of my artistic photography (as opposed to family photographs) is of nature, and you will find that I have a thing for mushrooms. This photo was taken at the...
When I ordered my wife’s iPad, we decided to get several accessories. Seeing as how she will be toting it around with her everywhere, we figured it would be prudent to get a cover for it, and why not get the one that Apple designed for it? Knowing that she will occasionally want to give presentations with it, we purchased the VGA dock connector. Considering that it will be her laptop replacement,...
Three years ago today, I challenged myself to write about design on a daily basis. I’m rather proud to say that I have met that challenge, minus a handful of days due to sickness, vacation, and business trips. It does take time and effort, and there are nights that I don’t feel like writing at all. By and large, however, the exercise has been intellectually stimulating, and very rewarding. As...
Possibly inspired by Min-Kyu Choi’s brilliant multi-plug design, two students were presented with 2010 iF concept awards for stacking USB plugs. These are only concepts, so I don’t know how plausible they are, but I think they’re well-conceived and nicely executed. Gonglue Jiang and Ke Zhao of Tongji University in Beijing, China designed a plug that is very believable in its dimensions. The...
In the Details: Scroll Shadow
The most recent version of Espresso separated the “workspace” portion of the side panel such that it doesn’t scroll with the rest of the list. This makes sense, as its purpose is to separate out the files that you are currently working on for quick access. Having them scroll off the screen as you browse the rest of your site sort of defeats the purpose. I noticed a very subtle visual treatment...
A Product of Design
USA Today just published a piece titled Tax code grows like kudzu as another April 15 approaches, which states the following: The instruction booklet that comes with Apple’s new iPad is one page. The instruction booklet that comes with this year’s IRS 1040 long form is 172 pages. This raises an obvious question as next week’s dreaded filing deadline closes in on taxpayers. How can a...
The Most Expensive Board Game Ever
I don’t own it, nor have I played it, but I am compelled to mention Scrabble for the iPad from Electronic Arts. This is an extremely creative use of networked, mobile devices. While the game runs on the iPad, supporting multiple players, there is an optional iPhone client. Players can user their iPhones as tile racks, allowing them to view their tiles privately and rearrange them while other...
Now that I’ve gushed over the iPad a bit, it’s only fair that I point out what’s missing. I’m not referring to things in the software, such as multitasking and printing, or even hardware items like the camera everyone seems to want in it. I’m thinking about what came in the box. At $500, the iPad is quite a deal. It’s an amazing price, really, but at the same time, it’s not pocket-change either....
The iBooks application comes with a free book when you first download it. Winnie-the-Pooh was a brilliant choice for inclusion with the application as it dramatically shows off one of the primary distinctions between the iPad and Amazon’s Kindle. It struck me immediately upon opening the book. It is full of Ernest H. Shepard’s wonderful illustrations in full color. The Kindle can’t do that. I...
They Got it Backwards
So many people have claimed that the iPad is “just a big iPod Touch.” They got it backwards. The iPod Touch is actually just a shrunken iPad. My wife’s iPad arrived on Saturday. As an object, it is a thing of minimalist beauty. Some have complained about the wide bezel around the screen, but it was obvious to me that you would need that as a place to hold it without covering up or accidentally...
Interaction 10 Redux
Last night, IxDA Pittsburgh gathered in the new Gates-Hillman building on CMU’s campus to watch videos of a few presentations from Interaction 10, the conference held in Savannah, Georgia this past February. The Human-Computer Interaction Institute was kind enough to provide the space, some light appetizers, and beverages. IxDA was nice enough to provide videos of every presentation from the...
I encountered this dialog box today while using Adobe Acrobat. Very fitting.