I’m no longer on the cutting edge of gadgets or software these days. I prefer the tried and true, and have less time to fool around with the inevitable issues that result from being an early adoptor. When Apple released Leopard (OS 10.5) I looked with interest but had no desire to upgrade nor did I need to buy a new Mac with it installed. But as luck would have it, when I started working for my current client a number of months ago I was given a license for both Textmate and MacOS 10.5. Textmate is great but I have found the operating system less so. Though it has provided a few key features that I find invaluable, the upgrade has overall been very painful. I don’t believe it’s wise to upgrade for those with non-intel Macs and I am probably alone in this assertion.
Here are some of the problems I have:
Speed. I have wanted to replace the safari icon with a spinning beach ball for a long time. It used to happen so frequently under 10.4 that at times safari was unusable for me. Since upgrading to 10.5 it happens everywhere. Forget about getting anything done why time machine is performing it’s hourly back-up. Take the day off if spotlight starts indexing. Overall I’ve noticed a significant drop in performance.
Network. My wireless base station in my office hasn’t been changed in over a year and yet since upgrading I have to enter and reenter the password over and over again. What used to be seaqmless is now a pain.
ICal. I use iCal notifications extensively. They have stopped working.
Spotlight. When I first started using my Powerbook after the upgrade, I was amazed at the improvement in speed I was experiencing when using spotlight. It was so fast I stopped using Quicksilver as my application launcher. But as it’s index has increased it’s speed has disappeared. Spotlight doesn’t seem to adhere to the preferences I set – I tell it to ignore a volume – it indexes it anyway. Spotlight is now pretty much useless for but for the occasional search across my external drives.
Safari. Since when has a browser needed to take more processor cycles and more memory than photoshop. There are times when Safari has over 50% of cpu and a huge chunk of memory. The UI is suspect as well, why all the dialog boxes confirming every choice I make.
UI. The new icons are completely indistinguishable in list view. I’m constantly getting confused between finder windows and application windows because they all look the same. My click error rate has skyrocketed, it’s not improving, and it drives me crazy.
Mail. These problems aren’t new but they still persist. The spam label doesn’t accurately state the the current number of spam message until you click on the label. While the speed of search has increased within mail.app it still lags far behind Gmail – a web app. on a remote server. Lastly, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Junk button is largely for show as it never seems to make a difference.
That’s most of my laundry list of gripes. I should add that I am not entirely surprised that it doesn’t perform as I had hoped. I am using hardware that is almost 3 years old and though as an ideal it would be great if each OS update increased in efficiency, this is seldom the case.
Furthermore, people who bring about an acceptable novelty in a domain seem able to use well two opposite ways of thinking: the convergent and the divergent. Convergent thinking is measured by IQ tests, and it involves solving well-defined, rational problems that have one correct answer. Divergent thinking leads to no agreed-upon solution. It involves fluency, or the ability to generate a great quantity of ideas; flexibility, or the ability to switch from one perspective to another; and originality in picking unusual associations of ideas. These are the dimensions of thinking that most creativity tests measure and that most workshops try to enhance.
Alexander Hiam has identified nine barriers to thinking creatively that can be surmounted if people are willing to form new habits. I’ve included my favourites of the nine here, the rest can be found by following the link below:
Failure to record ideas. You never know which ideas will help you tomorrow, so keep them all: in a notebook, on scraps of paper in a folder, on voice mail messages to yourself –- whatever method works. Doubling the number of ideas you save enriches the raw materials needed for thinking.
Failure to express ideas. Articulate your thoughts to others (or to yourself when you’re alone). Expressing stray thoughts is a good way to consider them carefully.
Failure to keep trying. “Breakthrough” concepts usually come only after you generate hundreds of ideas. It is a big mistake to become discouraged and abandon productive lines of thought prematurely because they appear fruitless.
The myth goes that creatives either lie back and let the muse come to them, or force it out through hard work and lengthy trial and error. The reality is somewhere between the two – a combination of inspiration and evaluation, of being able to let an idea come to you and then crafting it into shape.
A concept from: andrea ruggiero design.
Sombrero is a patented cable manager that can be used in an office or a residential setting. Designed to be mounted to the underside of any work surface, this sombrero-shaped spool reins in excess cable by winding it around its core and firmly anchoring the exiting cable into any of the three V-shaped notches. This unique design feature prevents the cables from accidentally dislodging or unwinding. Sombrero is molded in semi-flexible rubber and accommodates most cord diameters. Sombrero is easily installed using only a screwdriver and can also be mounted vertically onto a wall or the back of an A/V cabinet.
When are we going to be cable free?
I keep receiving complaints for not having a security system in my house that actually allows people to ring up – it’s been broken since we moved in. This seems like a concept I might just be able to hack together myself. Then I won’t have friends standing outside in the hot sun all day wondering why I won’t let them in our house. From: LABEXP: Again! Enterbell
During todays morning coffee, after reading a number of articles discussing the new Genius feature in iTunes 8 I thought I might give it a try. I was hoping that this might prove to be another interesting way to sort through my growing collection of music and eliminate the need for last.fm. Unfortunately, as I discovered, this feature’s primary purpose is to drive more sales to the iTunes store and not act as some kind of intelligent sorting tool. When trying out Genius, iTunes plainly told me that this feature wasn’t available in my location. If you don’t live where the iTunes store can sell you music then you can’t use it.
This after an inordinately long process, which I had to repeat twice, to reregister my iTunes store account. An account I have only because I subscribed to .Mac years ago. Accessing the store seemed incredibly slow as well.
I did see that the apps. store is available in my area but otherwise boo on you Apple. I guess I’ll have to stick to Last.fm.
Here is thorough look at the Genius service from the Listening Post:
For now, the Genius sidebar is essentially a slicker version of what we’ve had for years within iTunes and other programs. But we have to hand it to Apple for at least having made the recommendations more powerful and easier to access.
Once you opt in to the service, which sends your music library and usage data to Apple anonymously according to the company, iTunes can generate a list of music in your library that sounds similar to any song in it, from which you can make a playlist. The Genius sidebar (screenshots below) performs essentially the same function, except that it draws recommendations from the iTunes music store. Those recommendations include similar songs, top albums by the artist, songs by the artist missing from your collection and iTunes Essentials collections that include the song.
Useful case for those who like to keep their gadgets tidy and in one place. Might be useful when going through airport security.
When you are going on a short trip or weekend getaway and don’t need to bring along all those gadgets, the Personal Media Travel Pouch is just right for keeping up to 3 essential items like a cell phone, mp3 player and digital camera, and all of their chargers. Each item is nestled in its own separate compartment with its charger stored neatly below it.
Here’s the BBC’s write-up on the not so surprising iPod Nano announcement. I’m enthused with how Apple is putting the accelerometer in more of here products thereby giving us another dimension in which to interact with our devices. Very useful.
You can expect a slew of new cases for this iPod to be released in the near future.BBC NEWS – Apple unveils ‘thinnest iPod yet’
In (the) future, most new internet users will be in developing countries and will use mobile phones. Expect a wave of innovation.
THE World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the body that leads the development of technical standards for the web, usually concerns itself with nerdy matters such as extensible mark-up languages and cascading style sheets. So the new interest group it launched in May is rather unusual. It will focus on the use of the mobile web for social development—the sort of vague concept that techie types tend to avoid, because it is more than simply a technical matter of codes and protocols. Why is the W3C interested in it?
The simple answer is that the number of mobile phones that can access the internet is growing at a phenomenal rate, especially in the developing world. In China, for example, over 73m people, or 29% of all internet users in the country, use mobile phones to get online. And the number of people doing so grew by 45% in the six months to June—far higher than the rate of access growth using laptops, according to the China Internet Network Information Centre.
Record numbers of Americans are getting out of their cars and hopping onto scooters, spurred by high gas prices and concerns for the environment. But with many options and styles to choose from, picking the right ride can be tricky.
I ride a Kymco but want a Vespa. It took some getting used to, I look goofy on a small bike, but a scooter has been an indispensable part of our life in Asia. Convenient and fuel efficient, there is no faster way to get about on short trips around town.
Scooter Rundown: Best Fits From Tall To Small and Is That Scooter Safe? The Experts Weigh In
Is Twitter the next big thing or a twempest in a tweepot? Twitter is a free “micro-blogging” service that allows users to send updates, or “tweets” — messages of up to 140 characters that answer the question “what are you doing now?” The updates are kept on the user’s profile page and distributed to friends via text messages, instant messaging, RSS feeds, and other applications.
Though on many recommended reading lists for designers of all types, the following list of books are sure to clear any bad case of insomnia you may have. If it wasn’t for the fact that I actually believed I was learning something I may never have finished them (their academic nature is part of the problem). For some reason many books written about Information Architecture tend to turn out dry and far less exciting than the discipline itself.
5 books for designers to help you sleep:
Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things – George Lakoff
“Its publication should be a major event for cognitive linguistics and should pose a major challenge for cognitive science. In addition, it should have repercussions in a variety of disciplines, ranging from anthropology and psychology to epistemology and the philosophy of science. . . . Lakoff asks: What do categories of language and thought reveal about the human mind? Offering both general theory and minute details, Lakoff shows that categories reveal a great deal.”—David E. Leary, American Scientist
Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences (Inside Technology) – Geoffrey C. Bowker, Susan Leigh Star
Is this book sociology, anthropology, or taxonomy? Sorting Things Out, by communications theorists Geoffrey C. Bowker and Susan Leigh Star, covers a lot of conceptual ground in its effort to sort out exactly how and why we classify and categorize the things and concepts we encounter day to day. But the analysis doesn’t stop there; the authors go on to explore what happens to our thinking as a result of our classifications. With great insight and precise academic language, they pick apart our information systems and language structures that lie deeper than the everyday categories we use. The authors focus first on the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), a widely used scheme used by health professionals worldwide, but also look at other health information systems, racial classifications used by South Africa during apartheid, and more.– Rob Lightner
Metaphors We Live By – George Lakoff, Mark Johnson
The now-classic Metaphors We Live By changed our understanding of metaphor and its role in language and the mind. Metaphor, the authors explain, is a fundamental mechanism of mind, one that allows us to use what we know about our physical and social experience to provide understanding of countless other subjects. Because such metaphors structure our most basic understandings of our experience, they are “metaphors we live by”—metaphors that can shape our perceptions and actions without our ever noticing them. Perhaps I’m unduly harsh on this one, I loved this book.
A Theory of Semiotics (Advances in Semiotics) – Umberto Eco
‘Eco’s very erudite and provocative book draws on philosophy, linguistics, sociology, anthropology, and aesthetics and refers to a wide range of scholarship, both European and American. It raises many fascinating questions which merit considerable probing.’-Language in Society
Like Roland Barthes, Eco starts from the foundations of semiotics in Saussure (Course in General Linguistics: who developed the idea of sign-systems and the sign/signified distinction, as well as the distinction between langue/parole – language and speech) and Claude Levi-Strauss (Structural Anthropology). Yet Eco surpasses this tradition to move into new territory, recognizing the limits to structuralism and Saussure’s ideas. He recognizes, for example, that meaning is not merely governed by structure, but also interactively constructed by the reader/interpreter, who often inserts or fills-in missing meaning to construct a coherent picture. – Nessander
User and Task Analysis for Interface Design – JoAnn T. Hackos, Janice C. Redis
User and Task Analysis for Interface Design helps you design a great user interface by focusing on the most important step in the process -the first one. You learn to go out and observe your users at work, whether they are employees of your company or people in customer organizations. You learn to find out what your users really need, not by asking them what they want, but by going through a process of understanding what they are trying to accomplish.
Repost from kelake.
As Apple’s iTunes App Store continues to grow with hundreds of titles, the iPhone is proving to be a useful travel tool — and not just for when you’re bored on that 18-hour flight to Singapore. The best programs take advantage of the iPhone’s location-aware feature, tailoring the information to your whereabouts. Say you land in Baltimore and you have a sudden craving for crab cakes. With a few taps, iPhone apps with names like Yelp, Urbanspoon and iWant can quickly guide you to Faidley Seafood or Obrycki’s Crab House. Other apps can point you to the cheapest gas station, book a hotel and even call a cab
A collection of some of the handiest apps. for travel.
Link – NYTimes.com