Everyday items made better

So many things today we take for granted, as a result I don’t think we look at ways to make them better.  Take the example below of the see through highlighter.  One of the problems I always had in school with highlighting was I did not always get the correct area.  Highlighting multiple lines when I wanted one was a common occurrence especially if I was tired

japanese markers

Core77

“Check out Mitsubishi subsidiary Uni’s Promark View highlighter, which pushes the tip out to the end of a clear piece of plastic, so you can see precisely where you’re highlighting.”

— Core77 article: Japanese Over-Design

While the pen looks exceptionally large.  I love the idea and I love how something as common as a highlighter still has the ability to be re-imagined.

Font Men

I saw this on Apartment Therapy last week and have been meaning to post it for others to see..  It is a brief 6 minute file about  Hoefler & Frere-Jones type foundry.  This company has created some of the best known and successful fonts.

This is a little behind the scenes about why they create fonts and some of the process on how it starts.  Unfortunately there is a legal battle between the two now so what will happen with the foundry remains to be seen.

If you are a type nerd though it is worth your time.

Mike Parker, Godfather Of Helvetica, Dies

 Image from Helvetica documentary
Image from Helvetica documentary

Mike Parker was a monster in typeface design creating more than 1,000 typefaces including one of my favorites Helvetica.  

A consultant, type historian, and designer at Font Bureau, Parker has been described as “the font god,” with the development of more than 1,100 typefaces to his credit. His colleagues called him a shepherd of typography, who over the course of 50 years, helped guide the type landscape from hot metal, to photocomposition, and finally to digital printing.

See the full article here that Fast Company just wrote.

If you have any interest in fonts – there is a great documentary called Helvetica that I recommend you see.  You can find it here for streaming:

Float Wall Desk — Shoebox Dwelling

I can not tell you why, but in addition to my small well designed space fondness I also love furniture that floats or is on wheels.  Shoebox Dwelling has a nice post about a new desk called the Float Wall Desk by Dario Antonioni.  It appears to be a bent laminate desk that comes in either oak or walnut with a full length drawer/shelf.  Beautifully designed and well executed.  Currently priced at $699.

   
 Float Wall Desk
Float Wall Desk

Crafstman Software Development

The other day I was listing to Build and Analyze episode #95 This Unicorn Doesn’t Support NFC. Toward the end of the episode Marco Arment demonstrates how his application, Instapaper, uses voice assist to help others may have some visual impairment. He also went on to showed how a few other applications in the category deployed or attempted to deploy a similar. I was very impressed by the demo but did not think about it to much initially.

Since then Marco has released two updates to the popular Instapaper. The first update was for iOS 6 compatitbilty but it included some other features as well.

I consider Marco to be a craftsman developer. His product is great, he is meticulous about the features he adds and why and he is always moving the product forward. In the last 2 releases (4.2.5 and 4.2.6) Marco has taken time to add features for what I can only imagine is a very small percentage of his user base. Marco has added fonts to aid the accessibility of customers with little or low vision.

The first version 4.2.5 added the Open-Dyslexic font to assist reading for people with Dyslecia. 4.2.6 added FS Me which has been used in the past to assist people with learning disabilities. I actually love this font and it seems to make things very sharp and easier to read for a long time.

So why did he add these new fonts? Did he have a plea from the community of visually impaired to add these? Does 70% of install user base need these? Is he getting pressure from his competitors to be feature competitive?

I speculate that none of these are true. I imagine he decided it was the right thing to do and it would assist some small portion of his user base. He took a craftsman approach to taking something really really good and making it even a little better. Instantly I think of the back of the cabinet approach Steve Jobs father spoke of –

“the back of the cabinet should look as good as the rest of it”.

Nice work

How will the iPhone5 wear?

This week there was a lot of news about the iPhone 5. It was probably one of the most anticipated new “gadgets”. This years version of it comes in both the black and white variants but they are different then previous versions. The white is a combination of white and bare aluminum while the black is fully anodized (looks like the Darth Vader version).

A few people have wondered if the black is a top coating or all the way through. The anodization process is just a top coat. Today I have seen a few people on the internet complain about nicks and scratches. There is even a picture where someone took a paperclip to the back of the phone in the Apple store (douchebag).

iPhone 5 Easily Scratched

I have no doubt that it will chip and scratch if left without a case on it. But my question is more of how will it age? Some electronics obtain a well worn patina after being used. Michael at MacFilos wrote a post about a three year old Leica M9 that has worn beautifully.

Leica Camera

Leica cameras are expensive and many people do not take them out of the house which is a shame. But they also possess an inherent durability as well. Geoffrey James whose camer Michael wrote about is a perfect example. The original iPhone also wore very well.

Well worn original iPhone

I did order the black iPhone and I am sure the first scratch will kill me – but after that I hope it ages well. John Siracusa tweeted this and I hope he is right !

The subtlty of Search

If you are interested in little UI/UX details I recommend you head over to Little Big Details to check out some of their postings. One that I really liked was regarding the search utility found on Designspiration.

 Designspiration Designspiration

When you go to the search page you are presented with a white screen. There really is only one visual que and that is a large blinking cursor. Once you start typing the search begins and gets more accurate the more you type.

 Search Search

Its very minimal and subtle. I was pleasantly surprised after I migrated my site to SquareSpace version 6 and there is something very similar.

 Search from ThoughtfulDesign Search from ThoughtfulDesign

Nice touch !