It's Bullet Sunday, and I'm not even supposed to be here!
&bull Pear Mint. Whenever I travel to foreign lands, I stock up on awesome chips and candies that I can't get back home. Most of the time it's stuff I know... other times, it's bizarre crap I dare myself to try... and still other times it's stuff that sounds too good to pass up. Like these pear mint drops I got while I was visiting Göran in Sweden that I just now found in a secret pocket of my backpack. I like pear. I like mint. So they must be super awesome together, right?
WRONG! OMG! It's like the great tastes cancel out each other out and make death! The taste is horrible... HORRIBLE!! It's been an entire day since I sucked on one of those craptastic bastards, but the nasty taste still lingers! Pears have been ruined for me. RUINED I SAY!!
• Wanted Much? This week I went to see the movie Wanted. Based on the Mark Millar comic of the same name, I didn't know quite what to expect. I was not a huge fan of the comic (a nicely illustrated book by J.G. Jones that consisted of a mediocre plot overwhelmed by juvenile shock-value), but was curious to know how they were going to adapt it. Turns out they didn't adapt the comic. The entire premise has changed (no more super-vilains!) and most all the characters have been radically altered. The result? I actually enjoyed the movie more than the book. Much more. The story of a secret society of assassins with super-human skills was almost too good to be true... kind of like a kick-ass, high-octane blending of Fight Club and The Matrix. In addition to some awesome special effects, it also features Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman...
Angelina kills people with hotness!
A pretty badass role for Mr. Freeman!
Rumor has it that they are already working on a Wanted sequel, which is sweet. But please, please, please don't flush such excellent potential down the toilet like they did with the shitty Matrix sequels.
• Guest Poster. In the past month I've received eight requests to do guest-posts on other people's blog. This is kind of cool, because it's always a lot of fun to break away and do something "same-but-different" somewhere else. Unfortunately, I am already worried about finding time to post in my own blog over the next several months, so guest-posting for somebody else is impossible. I wonder if anybody would notice if I came up with ONE guest post that I could use over and over again? Usually I work hard to come up with something unique that fits the blog I'm writing for... that's what makes it fun... but re-posting is looking to be more and more appealing as more and more bloggers decide they want to take a break from their blog.
• Gee Eight. Tomorrow begins this year's G8 summit, which is being held in Japan. Just like every other time our Beloved Leader leaves the country, Americans will be holding their breath in anticipation over what he might say to embarrass us this time. Will he invent a new word? Will he say something utterly insane? Will he accidentally declare war on Canada? Or will he just ramble on incomprehensibly? I'm not speculating... I'm just going to sit back and be surprised. I suppose it's too late to sneak a copy of my latest Dumbasses book into his bedside table...
• Interface. Many moons ago, I took some contract jobs for application interface design. It's a very challenging field to work in because, in addition to being a designer, you have to have a very good understanding as to how people use their computers. Most graphic designers make horrible interface designers because they're more interested in making things pretty than functional. I ended up doing some nice work and enjoyed the jobs, but found interface design to be too time consuming to make a career out of it... I spent way too much time agonizing over the details. But I'm always fascinated with the work and still take jobs from time to time, so I try to keep up with what's happening. A couple months ago I noticed that the C4 Indie Mac Developer Conference had videos of the event online, and made a note to watch them when I had a chance. This morning I finally finished the last one, which was a great talk given by Cabel Sasser of Panic. This company makes two of the best applications for the Mac, Transmit (an FTP tool) and Coda (a website development tool), both of which I love and use often. Sasser spoke mostly about designing Coda's interface, and it was a fascinating insight as to the thought process that goes into software development. It was also very frustrating, because at least one of the decisions they ended up making is downright tragic.
Here is how Apple's web browser, Safari, handles multiple pages in the same document window by using tabs. It's not a perfect implementation (the tabs point DOWN and aren't connected to the page?!?) but it is very obvious which tab has been activated. Here, there is simply no mistaking that the "Blogography" page is what you're looking at, because that's the tab in the foreground...
And here's how Coda handles tabs...
Pretty much the same thing, right? The "Opener.html" page is obviously what you're looking at, because it's the tab in the foreground.
EXCEPT IT'S NOT!!! In this case, it's the "Closer.html" tab that's activated. Coda goes entirely opposite from how people are used to seeing tabs, and makes the activated tab RECESSED! I have been using Coda regularly for almost a year and still get confused as to which document I'm in because of this hideous choice of interface design. It's inexplicably bad. It's SO bad that I actually wrote to Panic and begged them to fix it. They wrote back a nice note, but haven't done anything about it yet.
So when I'm watching Sasser's C4 video, and listening to him pour his heart out about how much he agonizes over the details to make the best user interface possible... I can relate, but my mind boggles. At one point, a programmer in the audience brings up the tabbed windows and my heart skipped a beat, but it was only to discuss how Apple hasn't standardized tabs, so everybody's tabs are going to look different. And that's the root of the problem... Apple needs to standardize things so we don't end up with confusing interfaces in the software we use. In the meanwhile, I continue to hope that Panic will revisit their solution soon so I can stop making costly mistakes when using their product. Nothing sucks worse than editing code for 20 minutes and then realizing you've been editing the wrong document.
And thus ends another edition of Bullet Sunday. Time for lunch!