The Believable Baskerville

Michael Bierut:

In a way, typefaces are the graphic equivalent of the human voice, and each voice has a specific timbre and accent. In my mind, Baskerville speaks with a calm, confidence-inspiring English accent, sort of like Colin Firth. No wonder it’s so trustworthy.

I don’t remember names well, so I had to look up Colin Firth. As soon as I saw his face I remembered: he was one of the main characters in Kingsman, a decent but less serious James Bond-like action flick.

Back to typefaces. Baskerville is like Firth’s voice? Somewhat convincing, but to me the more believable voice is The Matrix’s Morpheus.

LG G4 Stylus

According to LG the 5.7-inch G4 Stylus sports a resolution of 258 ppi, which translates to a pixel format of 1280×720. Kudos to LG for adding a stylus, but that anemic screen is a deal breaker.

LG G4, LG G4 Stylus, LG G4c…

Why do most hardware brands believe an entire lineup is necessary for success? I don’t know how many smartphones LG makes, but I do know the company makes too many. Apple has already shown one is enough, though it is on the wrong path at the moment with three. With one iPhone Apple grabbed the smartphone world by its throat, smashed it upside down, and took all of the profits.

LG, do what Apple did: bring your best industrial designers, hardware engineers, software engineers, user experience designers, photographers, deal makers, etc. and build one smartphone. Design for people, not the bank account, and do it every year.

2015 MacBook Review by Marco Arment

Marco Arment:

I hate typing on it, I hate the trackpad, it’s slower than I expected, the screen is noticeably blurry from non-native scaling to get reasonable screen space, and I don’t even find it very comfortable to use in my lap because it’s too small.

Non-native scaling will always be blurry, compared to native scaling. In my initial observation of the 2015 MacBook:

There is one thing about the MacBook that is weird: the hardware-level pixel format is 2304×1440, but you can only run it as high as 1440×900.

Just look at that ugly number: 2304. Couldn’t make it 2560? Or if hitting a 16:10 aspect ratio was so important, why not go all the way to 2560×1600? Would have been tidy, and standard.

Speaking of keyboards and trackpads: More travel, not less. I know this is over the top, but I’d like a mechanical keyboard in a laptop. Like the good old days. And the trackpad on my 2009 MacBook Pro is failing. My two cents: make the trackpad simpler, so it can last longer, and if it breaks easily fixable. This new trackpad on the 2015 MacBook looks quite complex and I bet replacing it when it breaks will be expensive.

This concerns me more than you probably think it should. Not only does it represent compromised standards in areas I believe are important, but it suggests that they don’t have many better ideas to advance the products beyond making them thinner, and they’re willing to sacrifice anything to keep that going.

Nailed it.

The Answer To A Slow Web: Radical Simplification

Peter-Paul Koch:

The solution is simple: ditch the tools. All of them. (No, I’m not being particularly subtle here.) Teach the newbies proper web development. That’s it, really.


The web’s answer to the native challenge should be radical simplification, not even more tools.

There are a lot of tools — back-end and front-end development tools — out there. I don’t know most of them, but I do know this: what you see on a webpage is a fraction of what’s going on in the background.

DISPLAYBLOG is quite simple, a result of stripping away almost everything you’d consider standard on a website: about me page, contact page, categories, dates, archive, blogroll, advertisements (I do have a support link at the bottom), etc. I’d call that radical simplification, and it loads quickly, because there is nothing but content and a bit of CSS and fonts to load. But in the background it is built on a content management system called WordPress, which requires PHP and MySQL running a web server like Apache.

I don’t think I need all of that, so I’ve been looking for an even more radically simple solution, and I think I’ve found one: Jekyll. We’ll see what happens.

2015 MacBook with Windows 10

Alex King:

Here’s the real kicker: it’s fast. It’s smooth. It renders at 60FPS unless you have a lot going on. It’s unequivocally better than performance on OS X, further leading me to believe that Apple really needs to overhaul how animations are done. Even when I turn Transparency off in OS X, Mission Control isn’t completely smooth. Here, even after some Aero Glass transparency has been added in, everything is smooth. It’s remarkable, and it makes me believe in the 12-inch MacBook more than ever before.

This is how I would rate hardware and software quality for Apple and Microsoft:

Apple hardware: 9
Apple software: 6

Microsoft hardware: 8
Microsoft software: 8

I rate Microsoft hardware slightly lower than Apple’s because Apple’s ability to refine the smallest of details is a step up from Microsoft’s. Few companies equal Apple in the hardware space when it comes to refinement.

Software is a different story. Apple’s software, including OS X and software applications like iTunes, Numbers, Keynote, etc., are at best mediocre. At worst, it is maddening. Take a look at the reviews — by both professional and regular folks — and it is obvious: Apple makes mediocre software. (To be clear, I’m focused on desktop software; iOS gives me a better user experience than Android, hands down. Windows I don’t know since I haven’t used a Windows phone, yet.)

Microsoft never quits and the company never quit on Windows. The latest version, which will also be the last, is Windows 10 and it looks like a winner. (I’m running Windows 7, plan to skip 8, and jump directly to Windows 10.) Keep in mind the Windows 10 King installed on his 2015 MacBook is an Insider Preview edition; the finished version of Windows 10 should be excellent.

Material Design: “Lift on press”

Google > Material Design > What is material? > Objects in 3D space:

Dynamic elevation offsets are the goal elevation for the component to move towards, relative to the component’s resting state. They also ensure that elevation changes are consistent across actions and component types. For example, all components that lift on press have the same elevation change relative to their resting elevation, and toolbars that lift to allow material to slide under them have consistent offsets.

I’m trying to get a good grasp of Google’s Material Design user experience language, but there’s a few quirkiness. Here’s one: “lift on press.” That sounds counter intuitive. I press a button and it lifts? Hmm. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? I press a button and it depresses. Doesn’t that make more sense? More intuitive? Press something, and it goes in.

Update: Under Animation > Responsive interaction in the Lift on touch section:

When a card or separable element is activated, the card should lift to indicate an active state.

This makes sense: I am trying to press, hold on to, and move around the card. The lifting of the card to show that I’ve got it is intuitive. Which is quite different than pressing a button: when I press a button it should not come out, but go in.

More Data

Ariana Eunjung Cha, The Washington Post:

It has been nearly three years since Smarr discovered the issue, and he’s tens of thousands of metrics down the road, but he has yet to find a way to treat it. “People overestimate what knowledge can do for you,” he said with a shrug.

Not all knowledge is created equal: knowledge can be useful, or it can be useless. Atul Gawande, The New Yorker:

All the same, she thanked me profusely for relieving her anxiety. I couldn’t help reflect on how that anxiety had been created. The medical system had done what it so often does: performed tests, unnecessarily, to reveal problems that aren’t quite problems to then be fixed, unnecessarily, at great expense and no little risk.

My body is not perfect. Your’s isn’t either. No no, I’m not talking about how we look — though that’s true too — I’m talking about our insides. The more we measure, the more detailed those measurements get, the more we will find out about our imperfections. Some imperfections need to be taken care of sooner than later, but most imperfections don’t need to be taken care of at all. Maybe Smarr — from the Post article — doesn’t need to treat it.