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All posts for the month April, 2012

After I was hired to be a DTP monkey, I applied and refined my wild layouts, but had to tone them down quite a bit for business documents. (Wired back then was tame compared to my unrefined layout.) Being a bit of a perfectionist that cares about anything I do—whether paid or not—I started studying proper typography: I learned the difference between the hyphen, N-dash and M-dash, what x-height was and how to match serif and non-serif fonts. I studied the art of graphic design, the concepts and research behind the guidelines so I knew when I could break the rules and get away with it. I found traditional reports stuffy and boring. So, when I got the chance, I started refreshing the look of the company documents.

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The unofficial-turned-official club newsletter was directly responsible for me landing my first real job as a DTP monkey. I walked into the interview with my portfolio of club newsletter and stickers I made on my old Mac SE and the Mac IIci my best friend had that were printed on my trusty, 70+ pound LaserWriter II SC with the Canon engine that lasted well over a decade. The guy who interviewed me was a bit skeptical that I made those. I was honest and told him that I didn’t do all the work, and that I had a friend that started the newsletter. I showed him what *** did and what I did — explaining how you could tell our layout and writing styles apart.

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When I was a sophomore in college, I got a chance to get a new computer. I wanted the Mac SE/30 for the Motorola 68030 32-bit clean CPU and the expansion slot. (secretly known as the “SEx”—the “x” was for eXpandable, along the lines of “IIx,” and “IIcx”, but Apple Marketing decided to sheepishly steer away from that moniker. At least that’s what I was told by a rep. and I had no reason to doubt him.)

Instead my father, who was financing this upgrade decided an SE and a Laserwriter II SC was a better choice. The bill was around $4.5K. I didn’t like that I was overruled since I knew that means I would eventually be unable to run the latest Mac OS, but it was his money. I appreciated it even though I didn’t get exactly what I wanted. Being an Assembly programmer that made some of the first image rasterizing firmware and software, he knew the value of raster laser accurate printing. He told me about Optical drive platters in the late 70s or early 80s before there were any consumer optical disks (y’all know them as “CDs”), so I didn’t doubt him. Around 1983 he also predicted that in the future we would have storage technology thousands of times larger and computers in our pockets within his lifetime. At the time, I hadn’t heard of Moore’s law, but it is a good guide to the speed and storage of future generations.

In the long run, the SE and LaserWriter were a much better choice because it added a new capability, pretty much no other people in my demographic had. It came in very handy, and I used it for reports that put other student’s reports to shame the same way my 128K Mac and ImageWriter printed reports in high school put other students’ typed and handwritten reports to shame. I started playing around with graphics and printing because 300dpi (even in black and white) was very cool. I learned how to manipulate angle and density of the line screens for getting different visual effects, etc. This “playing” with what I had access to led to printing up things for fun: stickers and other things, and eventually a newsletter or two.

I just looked at my almost 1800 word opinion piece I submitted to draft status on Dice this morning, and I feel guilty that my editor will have to read it all and whittle it down to a more usable format. I am pretty sure my wanton dreaming of a new set of UI conventions: “STIG” will hit the cutting room floor. If that happens, look for it here next week.

Stay “tuned” for my thoughts on Touch User Interfaces. (link forthcoming…) My tentative title for it is “TouchUI & The Misunderstood Paradigm.” I think it’s catchy, but SEO might not. :) If you read my blog posts you already know where I stand, this is just more elaboration on how I would make a Touch User Interface, the “SOOMY Tao” Rule and how far we still have to go. In my humble opinion user interfaces have barely scratched the surface of what they could be.

Speaking on Phase 2.5: At some point I will probably write about a new yet old interface that recalls a toy of decades past, that just needs a bit of an update: some styling love and sophisticated circuitry running XLP hardware. It could probably by developed and sold for less than $100. It could also be discreetly embedded in discrete common products to whittle manufacturing costs down to just the chips, circuitry and sensors needed. If you actually included kinetic energy generation you could conceivably power the device primarily through movement. Yup more wanton dreaming… Inspired by SciFi Books and Childhood dreams of Asimov’s “Significantly Advanced Technology.”

UPDATE20120507: The Article has been split in two, and will be run soon.

My Timbuk2 Bag? I Wish! {Eventually}

Timbuk2 is having a sale the next few days. I am not a shill for Timbuk2: I have received no compensation in any form for this unsolicited positive story about the company and its employees. The following story is why you might want to head on over to their site if you are looking for a durable bag or case for anything including laptops and tablets made by a company that stands behind their products with employees that treat people like people and not sales targets.

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free space after cleaning today

As threatened, I wrote my picks for the most useful iOS apps. This time I focus on the two biggies: time and money.

Sadly, my It’s-It reference about saving enough gas money to buy a few of these chocolate coated goodness and my aside about trying to fool my nephew using my Jedi powers {or is it Sith powers?}  to enter text with a wave of my hand using PasteBot fell by the wayside. However, sneaking in links to my “he has no idea that he is my virtual”-pal Conan’s archaic word campaign succeeded! I feel like Zim!

Okay, enough teasing, on with the DiceNews Article: The Best iOS Apps for Deals, Integration, Security, Productivity