Metaphors, Idioms and Why the Save Icon is Broken

Metaphors are great, until they lose their meaning. Then they become confusing, seemingly arbitrary phrases to those not in the know. The save icon is an idiom in visual form and there’s nothing good about that.

In a recent post I promised to write a follow-up article on why the save icon was “objectively” broken. I know this topic has run its course, so I will keep this brief. I’ve started to think more broadly about this save icon subject—specifically around using metaphors in design. The metaphors for computing concepts established decades ago are starting to show their age and time has exposed the weaknesses of relying too heavily on them.

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Frank 0.9.2 Released

It’s been a long time coming, but the next version of Frank has been released. This is a significant update and is intended to set the stage for the foreseeable future releases. Perhaps the biggest change is the Frank project repo now only contains the main parent theme. Frank for Some Random Dude, its child theme, now exists at github.com/somerandomdude/frank-somerandomdude. This may cause some initial confusion, but it will make everyone’s lives better in the long-term. Continue reading “Frank 0.9.2 Released”

Prototyping the Future American City

Our cities and towns have long since fell behind the technologies citizens use daily. At some point, this gap will hold back advancement. How can we envision the future public space while actually making it a reality?

San Francisco is the center of the center of American innovation. The future of software, medicine and transportation is being created within a 60 mile square radius of the city. Based on that, it’s striking to notice at how old the city feels. Everything from its mass transit systems to its architecture seems dichotomous to the “everything-new” energy of the city.

San Francisco is an example of where society is outpacing its habitat. While San Francisco and other urban dwellings are experiencing this phenomenon now, it’s only a matter of time until every town and suburb goes through the same phenomenon. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how we got here. Making any significant infrastructural modification takes considerable time, money and will. The amount of disruption of daily life for its residents would be considerable. On the occasions where projects like these fail, it becomes harder for future projects. Continue reading “Prototyping the Future American City”

Creating the Profound

I have been thinking a lot about my article, In Defense of Hard, which I wrote almost two years ago. I never have completely moved on from it—to this day, I try to find better ways to communicate the thoughts behind the article.Through all my thinking, I keep going back to the word profound and how few things being made today can be described as such. There is a exhaustive emphasis on simple or easy, but not profound. Continue reading “Creating the Profound”

Why Redesigning the Save Icon is Important

The floppy disk has served as the representation of the save icon for decades. It’s widely accepted as a standard and well recognized. It is also a bad icon that we shouldn’t shy away from changing.

About a week ago, I started a Branch discussion on redesigning the Save icon. I never saw the Branch as the actual place where the icon would literally be designed, but I thought it would be a good hub for conversation. To my amazement, the thread took off and grew far beyond the bounds of that single discussion. As the days went by I found the meta-discussion more interesting than the discussion itself. A significant amount of people considered the exercise a waste of time for one pervasive reason. The icon, albeit antiquated, had become the de-facto for save and had transitioned into an abstract symbol. People know what it is, so why waste our time making something new? Continue reading “Why Redesigning the Save Icon is Important”

My Week With the Leica M9

I finally had the chance to shoot with a camera I had wanted to use for the last four years. It was well worth the wait. I took the time to write about my experiences.

My first camera was the Nikkormat FT2. As far as features go, it was slim. The only luxury it had was a built-it light meter. There was no aperture priority, a maximum shutter speed of 1/1000 sec and, obviously, no auto-focus. This camera which I received 11 years ago set the tone for the way that I take photography to this very day. Even though I primarily shoot in digital, I only use prime lenses, most of which are manual focus. I bought the Nikon D700 entirely on the basis that it had a full-frame sensor and would accept all my old manual Nikkor lenses. I prefer the manual/prime lens combination for a few important reasons. The manual experience puts the shooter in much more control over composition. When I nail a shot with a manual lens, I feel a much greater sense of accomplishment than I get with an auto-focus lens. I prefer prime lenses due to their smaller/lighter profile, and general superior image quality (at least without breaking the bank). Continue reading “My Week With the Leica M9”

Frank Under Fire—How a WordPress Theme Designed for Speed Performed Under High Traffic Conditions

I wrote an article for Smashing Magazine a few weeks ago showcasing Frank. As was expected, my site got bombed. Since Frank was designed from the ground up to be fast, I wanted to share the results of how Frank performed on a high volume traffic day. It’s important to know that my site is hosted on a medium-tier VPS with no CDN. Continue reading “Frank Under Fire—How a WordPress Theme Designed for Speed Performed Under High Traffic Conditions”

The Status Update Needs an Open Standard

Twitter’s recent API shenanigans have been exhaustively documented. Like it or not, Twitter is making a business decision and there is little that anyone can do about it. App.net has made a play to provide a clear alternative. Full disclosure, I am a paying member of App.net. I think they are providing a valuable service and I am pulling for them to succeed. With that said, I do not think App.net (or any closed service) is the solution to the problem. Continue reading “The Status Update Needs an Open Standard”

SVG CSS Injection—A Different Approach Towards SVG Rendering

SVGs will be playing a major role in our new retina-display world. If we are going to be using SVGs, why not take advantage of their markup structure?

Retina displays are going to drastically change how we design for the web. Vector imagery, most notably SVG, will become a significant tool to display resolution-independent imagery at a reasonable bandwidth footprint. I made the switch to SVG on my site using data URIs a few weeks back and will not be looking back. One thing has gnawed at me when I added the SVGs to my CSS file. It felt wrong to treat those SVGs like a plain images. One considerable strength to SVG is that it’s markup-based. That nagging feeling led me to experiment with a different approach to rendering vector imagery on a website, which I am calling SVG CSS injection. Continue reading “SVG CSS Injection—A Different Approach Towards SVG Rendering”

Our Ideas Are Cheap Because We Treat Them Cheaply

I have 30 minutes to write this post. I normally do not write posts in 30 minutes. It usually takes me a long time to write on my blog because I want to make it as polished as possible out of the chute. I feel this way because I know once the content is posted, it will get a decent amount of readership the day I publish with an exponential drop-off from that point forward. No one (figuratively) will read an update on my post, so the incentive to improve or build upon past blog posts is non-existent.
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