April 2012 Archives


By Michael Mulvey on April 30, 2012 1:18 PM


via Open Culture

Don't Think About Elephants

By Jory Kruspe on April 29, 2012 3:56 PM


By Bryan Larrick on April 27, 2012 1:18 PM


I was always the guy on the left.

By Michael Mulvey on April 27, 2012 11:26 AM



By Michael Mulvey on April 26, 2012 5:15 PM

Technology Review on how Android device makers are 'mutinying' and forking the code to their liking:

Google's Android device makers aren't happy. They're tired of making commodity devices that are merely vehicles for Google's Android OS, each indistinguishable from the other because of Google's rules about how Android can be implemented on them in order for them to qualify as "compatible."

These makers have seen the success of devices with custom OSes built on forked versions of the still kind-of open-source Android operating system, primarily Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet, and they're itching to release their own.

Makes sense to me. Why would anyone want to be one of hundreds of different smartphones with the same OS?

The problem is, while device makers are solving the problem of differentiation in the marketplace by forking Android, they're requiring developers to make the extra effort to customize their applications to run on their custom 'flavor' of Android.

This Alan Kay quote keeps making more and more sense each day:

People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.

5th Avenue Frogger

By Michael Mulvey on April 26, 2012 4:07 PM

via vbrunetti


By Michael Mulvey on April 26, 2012 7:00 AM

From Mail Online:

Almost a million images of New York and its municipal operations have been made public for the first time on the internet.

The city's Department of Records officially announced the debut of the photo database.

Culled from the Municipal Archives collection of more than 2.2 million images going back to the mid-1800s, the 870,000 photographs feature all manner of city oversight -- from stately ports and bridges to grisly gangland killings.

I miss you, New York.


Old News

By Michael Mulvey on April 25, 2012 11:42 PM

Everyone is bugging out about the original 'Google Phone' presented in 2006 that have come to light in the current Google-Oracle trial.

Any gadget geek should recall Engadget posted pictures of the actual phone -- not the rendering -- back in 2007.


By Michael Mulvey on April 25, 2012 7:09 PM

Yesterday was Willem De Kooning's birthday. He was one of the most famous of the Abstract Expressionists of New York City and one of my favorite artists.

People like to think of artists as glamorous, jetting around Manhattan to various parties and lofts and galleries. While De Kooning had good friends and great times, his life was far from glamorous. His paintings went on to sell for tens of millions of dollars but they didn't just appear spontaneously from inspiration.

It took a lot of struggle and effort to get to where he got.

I recommend reading de Kooning: An American Master by Mark Stevens to really understand the life he led.



By Michael Mulvey on April 25, 2012 9:46 AM

When I saw this a few weeks ago, I had to pull over to snap a shot:


I just moved to LA with my wife. Apparently this is how they roll out here.

A Tribe of One

By Michael Mulvey on April 24, 2012 8:48 PM

NYTimes: The Flight From Conversation

We live in a technological universe in which we are always communicating. And yet we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection.

At home, families sit together, texting and reading e-mail. At work executives text during board meetings. We text (and shop and go on Facebook) during classes and when we're on dates. My students tell me about an important new skill: it involves maintaining eye contact with someone while you text someone else; it's hard, but it can be done.

Attention and focus are becoming scarce resources.

lowercase 'g'

By Michael Mulvey on April 24, 2012 8:38 PM

CNet's Lynn La sits down with Steve Matteson, the typeface designer for Droid and Windows Phone.

Droid Serif and Droid Sans aren't shabby and he is responsible for Curlz (Curlz?!), but I did like this bit of where he starts with a typeface:

When Matteson begins designing a new typeface, he starts with the lower case g. He likes the way it curves and its proportions. Sometimes, though, he begins with the vowels. They're in every word, and so the look of the rest of the letters heavily depends on the a, e, i, o, and u.

Many Fathers

By Michael Mulvey on April 24, 2012 3:57 PM

As I started reading this Co.Design post on the Nest thermostat, the first paragraph reminded how slippery the area of product attribution is:

When we first sat down with Tony Fadell, the CEO of Nest and the inventor of the Nest Learning Thermostat, we asked him what made Steve Jobs so great. Fadell is, perhaps, one of the best-qualified people on the planet to answer. He's the one who first pitched the idea of an iTunes/iPod ecosystem. He's the one who Steve Jobs hired to bring the iPod to life.

Depending on what you're reading and where, you will hear different named given to an inventor, designer, creator or "father" of a product. With the iPod, sometimes it's Steve Jobs, other times it's Jony Ive and in this case it's Tony Fadell.

It's important to understand all these answers are correct and all these answers are wrong. Jobs, Ive and Fadell (among others) are all responsible for bringing the iPod to market. The iPod would not be the classic, easy-to-use, iconic, digital music it is if any one of those men were removed from the equation.

Pushing Daisies: Well, Allow Me to Retort

By Bryan Larrick on April 23, 2012 1:30 PM

Back on the twelfth of this month, I published a post commenting on a list of the top ten dying industries in the United States. #2 on the list was newspaper publishing. I lamented the idea of newspapers struggling to survive and called it a tragedy. That post was linked up by Jim Dalrymple over at The Loop, and it's generated a couple responses. Christopher Gizzi at So It's Come To This wrote:

The world doesn't go dark because dead trees no longer deliver the news. Governments and businesses won't get away with corruption because news isn't printed...It's almost as if Bryan confuses the newspaper industry with the news industry. News will never go away and there will always be someone writing about some event - big or small...Facts and events still happen.

Marcelo Somers at Behind Companies wrote:

I don't think that the industry itself of "The News" will die... newspapers are merely a form of The News... What we will see over the coming years is a consolidation of newspapers, which is fine. A single organization like the Associated Press is able to objectively report what happened in a much more scalable, re-usable manner.

The two of them bring up a valid point. The news would not disappear if every newspaper on the planet stopped publishing. But that was not the point I was making. I was lamenting the deep trouble that newspapers are in not because they publish actual, physical editions, but because they are content generators. As I wrote in the original piece:

Newspapers are content generators, that put a lot of time and resources into getting the stories they publish right...But with the coming of the internet, their profit model has been severely damaged, reducing the amount of resources they can commit to reporting.

Over the last twenty years, newspapers have been shedding staff and closing bureaus. The news is still there, but there are less people reporting on it. The less people report on it, the less information those of us who consume the news get. More and more papers are relying on the Associated Press or Bloomberg to do their reporting for them, making the news more homogeneous. Editors at papers that rely on wire services have no input with the reporters filing the stories. If an editor has a question they want answered or an angle they want pursued, they can do nothing about it. If, however, they still had their own staff chasing down a story, new discoveries could be made, and more depth added to what's being reported.

Many news stories are very complicated, and cannot be serviced effectively by a single organization that is spread thin. Unlike other industries where consumers benefit from consolidation, the news is something where consolidation negatively impacts readership. Newspapers are the driving force behind the generation of news because they have a tradition of spending big bucks to go and gather news, and report it in-depth. Network television news consists of little more than snapshots of world and national events. Cable news fills its schedule with the political echo chamber. And many websites are largely news aggregators. (My jab at The Huffington Post as pseudo-journalistic was unfair. They have more original content than many formerly great newspapers that fill their front pages with wire service reports. But they have a long way to go before they can be considered the equal to, or successor to, the very best newspapers. A huge step was David Wood snagging a Pulitzer for his reporting. Another would be a clear line of demarcation between its reportorial and editorial staffs.)

Websites, even the best of them, do not and never have had the resources to get in-depth with their reportage. They cannot take the hit of spending a quarter of a million dollars a year to keep a single reporter overseas who may only file a story a week or less. It is expensive to report on complicated issues. Newspapers began that tradition of serious long-term reporting and as they pull back from that effort, no one is replacing it. That is what I believe is the tragedy of the downfall of newspaper publishing. I have no misguided affinity for the physical format of delivery. I lament the loss of the content itself.

For further reading about the newspaper industry giving up on generating content, here is an excellent article by Jodi Enda from the American Journalism Review.

Microsoft Aims

By Michael Mulvey on April 19, 2012 2:09 PM

I love headlines like these.

Makes me laugh.

Moving Beyond Tech Specs

By Michael Mulvey on April 13, 2012 5:16 PM

It's time we move beyond technical specifications when deciding on a tablet to buy.

While geeks will nit pick over memory slots, removable batteries, customizable configurations and "openess", Joe and Jane average could give a rat's ass. MG Siegler did a great piece on The Death of the Tech Spec back in November of 2011.

The everyday consumer wants to know if it's enjoyable and easy to use. That's it. Technical specifications are important, but they shouldn't lead the conversation. Regular people don't know the difference between capacitive or resistive touch screens. What's important is how the screen responses to their touch.

So while product reviews at The Verge are extremely thorough and well presented, they miss the point. Especially their product comparison charts -- like the one they did comparing the iPad (3) with the competition.

Now, as I mentioned, there's valuable information in their comparisons, but it's no way for the majority of non-geeks to make a buying decision.

It's about as helpful as having a comparison chart for some of my favorite bands (click to enlarge):


Can you tell from the chart above which band is 'the best'?

Does how loud a band is in concert help you decide whether to get their newest album?

Does how many chords they use per song tell you anything about great they are at composing music?

Docking points from tablet not having a removable battery is like docking points from a band for only having a drummer and a guitarist (like The White Stripes). Or giving more points to a band because their guitarist uses a bow to play their guitar (actually Page does get extra points for that).

The 1980's and 1990's were part of the Windows Era and during the Windows Era consumers did not choose their operating systems for two reasons. First, Microsoft had a monopoly on personal computers. Second, even even when there were options outside of using Windows, IT departments made the buying decisions, and usually choosing Windows made their lives easier even if the other options they had to choose from were designed better (although it's likely there weren't any other options to choose from).

Since the iPhone launched in 2007, the flow of influence continues to reverse more and more, putting consumers in control of what gets adopted in the workplace. Tell me many how many high profile executives you can now spot, dicking around on iPads during meetings? I've worked with some Fortune 500 companies and I've seen a lot. I've also seeing a lot of iPads in business class on planes (and just as many in couch, for that matter). It's awesome because IT can't tell the CEO of your company his iPad isn't supported on their network. Fuck you, guy. It is now.

For the first time in their lives, regular people are realizing you can have fun using a personal computer. No Windows Explorer, no force-quits, no CRTL-ALT-DEL, no viruses, no security prompts. Using a computer can be fluid, seamless, fun. An experience.

Like listening to one of your favorite bands.

This is how design works.

By Michael Mulvey on April 13, 2012 4:39 PM

Startups, this is how design works.

A guide for non-designers by Wells Riley.

via Shane Guiter

Nothing Is Wrong

By Michael Mulvey on April 13, 2012 3:52 PM


John Cleese - a lecture on Creativity

via Brain Pickings

Adobe Shadow

By Michael Mulvey on April 13, 2012 12:01 PM

Adobe just released a new tool called Shadow, allowing you to have multiple mobile devices in-sync and 'shadowing' whatever you're viewing in your desktop/laptop browser to ensure the integrity of your design across platforms.

If it's as good as it looks in their video it could be a huge time saver for anyone involved in the quality assurance (QA) phase of projects.


By Michael Mulvey on April 12, 2012 6:32 PM

From the NYTimes:

Already surrounded by machines that allow him, painstakingly, to communicate, the physicist Stephen Hawking last summer donned what looked like a rakish black headband that held a feather-light device the size of a small matchbox.

Called the iBrain, this simple-looking contraption is part of an experiment that aims to allow Dr. Hawking -- long paralyzed by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease -- to communicate by merely thinking.


The future is now.

Pushing Daisies

By Bryan Larrick on April 12, 2012 4:19 PM

A new report is out on the top ten dying industries in the United States. There's little that's a surprise, but it is dismaying to see the list anyways. These are good industries that provided (and still do, in a couple cases) valuable services to the American people.

Among the lowlights on the list are #4, DVD, game, and video rental; and #6, recordable media manufacturing. This is one of those industries that has little real value left to it. Because information is now mostly weightless, there just is no space for an industry that relies on physical media as the lynchpin of their success. When these industries disappear, it won't be necessary to shed a tear for them because the real product they dealt in, information, will still exist. The delivery method will have changed, that is all.

A couple of the industries that made the list do so purely from the effects of outsourcing. Shoe manufacturing, apparel manufacturing, hardware, all of these industries are hurting in the United States not because we can't do them or because there is no longer a buck to be made. Rather, American businesses are taking advantage of the fact that the developing world has yet to have its workers' rights movement, so wages are low. That's it. No unions plus lax labor laws means that foreign workers are ripe for low pay and, in many cases, outright exploitation. There's not much that can be done here in the states to reduce the outflow of manual labor to countries where it is cheaper. The burden, unfortunately, is mostly on the workers of those countries to fight for the rights that American workers did over a century ago.

It's #2 on the list, newspaper publishing, that is a real downer. As I've written on this site before, newspapers are more important than their profitability. They don't just move information from point A to point B. Newspapers are content generators, that put a lot of time and resources into getting the stories they publish right. Without newspapers, the idea of accountable government or business would be laughable. At their best, newspapers shine a light into the darkness. But with the coming of the internet, their profit model has been severely damaged, reducing the amount of resources they can commit to reporting. Former venerable institutions like the Philadelphia Inquirer and Los Angeles Times are being eclipsed by pseudo-journalistic sites like HuffingtonPost.com, which does little original reporting. The downfall of newspaper publishing is not something to shrug one's shoulders at, like with Blockbuster falling apart. It is a genuine tragedy.

after all what do I really know about it except you've got to stick to it with the energy of a benny addict

By Michael Mulvey on April 12, 2012 2:53 PM

On the Road was my favorite book in college.

For those of you interested in seeing the movie, I strongly encourage you to read the book first.

*the title of this post was pulled from the book.

via parislemon

Watching the Competition

By Michael Mulvey on April 11, 2012 10:37 AM

Influencer: Apple iPod Nano (6th Generation), introduced 1 Sept 2010


Influenced: Sony SmartWatch, introduced April 2012


via TechnaBob

Analogue Arcade

By Michael Mulvey on April 10, 2012 7:28 PM

In our digital world, this is a beautiful little analogue story.

Now that I live in LA, I'm looking forward to visiting Caine's Arcade (if it's still open). The $2 Fun Pass looks like an awesome deal.

via Daring Fireball

Watch the Sky!

By Bryan Larrick on April 10, 2012 8:58 AM


Clients, the worst part of design

By Bryan Larrick on April 9, 2012 1:30 PM

via mag+

More Sugar

By Michael Mulvey on April 9, 2012 11:31 AM

NYTimes: On Release Date, Crucial Nokia Phone Is Hard to Buy in New York

AT&T said last month that when Nokia's new Lumia 900 phone went on sale April 8, it would benefit from the company's biggest product introduction ever, exceeding even the iPhone's.

The big day is here. But nearly all 39 AT&T stores within proximity of Times Square in Manhattan were either closed for Easter Sunday or did not answer phone calls. The few that were open did not have the handset in stock.

This is probably the last chance Microsoft has to prove itself relevant in mobile space as the traditional desktop PC is pulled from it's position as the computer for everyday use.

So what do they do? (I say *they* because former Microsoft executive Stephen Elop is running Nokia and made the decision to move all their smartphones to Windows Phone)

They launch their flagship phone on Easter Sunday. When everything is closed.

So smart.

When I see Microsoft/Nokia continue to make fumbles like this I wonder if it's something deeper than the fact Microsoft was run by an engineer who doesn't understand Human Experience and design until it was run by a man who knows neither engineers and developers nor design and Human Experience.

People half-jokingly have said Bill Gates has Asperger's Syndrome due to his social deficiencies. He understands how computers and software work inside and out, but it's the people who use his software he never seems to have a clue about.

So my theory is when Bill Gates stepped down as CEO of Microsoft in 2000 he transferred his inabilities to communicate with and make software for humans to the rest of the company --via some hybrid human/computer virus -- and subsequently, Stephen Elop and Nokia.

What else could explain such a fucked up product launch?

Actually, it could also be the people at Microsoft and Nokia aren't humans at all. Remember how the alien at the beginning of Men In Black wore the skin of that farmer to disguise himself?

Yeah, something like that could be happening too.

An Altair Needs A Home

By Michael Mulvey on April 4, 2012 8:05 PM

I can't pass up sharing this.

I got an email from someone who's trying to sell a rare piece of computer history on eBay (they were responding to my listing on Craigslist and saw I had a tech-related site).

He's selling an MITS Altair 8800b turnkey 300/25 vintage computer with desk, dual disk drive, many floppy disks, Beehive B-100 Serial Terminal, two Pertec binders and a MITS binder/manual.


Here she is:


How much memory did she have? Oh a whopping 4-8 Kilobytes.

For comparison, my MacBook Pro has 8,388,608 kilobytes of of memory (8 gigs).

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