Blade Runner: Typeface Details & Beyond

Over at Typeset in the Future, Dave Addey has an incredibly detailed analysis of Blade Runner going way beyond the typefaces used:

The subtitle reads WORLD WIDE COMPUTER LINKUP PLANNED, in what looks like Optima Bold. While the idea of a World Wide Computer Linkup might seem passé as we approach 2019, it was still very much unusual in 1982 when Blade Runner was released. Indeed, it wasn’t until March 1982 that the US Department of Defense, creators of pre-Internet network ARPANET, declared TCP/IP as the standard for all military computer networking, pretty much kick-starting what we know as the modern-day Internet of 2016.

Of course, if you’re going to set up business on the moon, you’ll need something a bit smarter than the simple terrestrial Internet we know here on Earth. Indeed, you’ll probably want some kind of Interplanetary Internet. By a strange coincidence, this is exactly what Vint Cerf and NASA have been working on, using delay-tolerant networking to forward bundles of data from spacecraft to spacecraft as and when they come into range. If you’d like to know more, here’s Vint explaining why the speed of light is too slow at a TEDx event in 2011. (We’ll excuse the Comic Sans in his slides, because he did after all invent the thing that’s letting you read this article.)

I’m a huge advocate of watching great movies over and over and over again. You never take everything in on the first watch.

via Daring Fireball



Cause & Effect

An Essay & 10 Failed Explorations of Logical Understanding:

Donald Trump is running for president because of your meme accounts. Your uncle got cancer because 30 years ago someone in Washington spilled coffee on some documents. In the words of Peter Pomerantsev, “A butterfly flaps its wings in China and a village in Birmingham goes unemployed”.

Interesting read with an experimental HTML layout.



Apple Removes the Headphone Jack, Cue the Outrage

Here we go again.

Nilay Patel, “Taking the headphone jack off phones is user-hostile and stupid”:

Ditching a deeply established standard will disproportionately impact accessibility

The traditional headphone jack is a standard for a reason — it works. It works so well that an entire ecosystem of other kinds of devices has built up around it, and millions of people have access to compatible devices at every conceivable price point. The headphone jack might be less good on some metrics than Lightning or USB-C audio, but it is spectacularly better than anything else in the world at being accessible, enabling, open, and democratizing. A change that will cost every iPhone user at least $29 extra for a dongle (or more for new headphones) is not a change designed to benefit everyone. And you don’t need to get rid of the headphone jack to make a phone waterproof; plenty of waterproof phones have shipped with headphone jacks already.

The article is clickbait, but I’ll bite.

The whole argument against removing the headphone jack is shortsighted.

If you’re unaware, the headphone jack has been around since the 19th century, where it was used in the original telephone fucking switchboards. You got that? Telephone switchboards. We have iPhones now.

Oh, you’re cool having a vestige of the 19th century stuck inside your phone like your appendix? Well, perhaps a smartphone isn’t for you.

Apple has a long history of removing technological components they deem, “on their way out.” Of course, the best way to predict the future is to invent it, so by proactively removing features from products, Apple helped phase them out.

They were the first to remove:

  • the floppy drive from the original iMacs in 1998
  • the serial port (for VGA displays) from the original iMac ( 1998)
  • the CD-ROM drive on the MacBook Air (2008), and the MacBook Pro in 2012
  • the CD-ROM drive on iMac in in 2012
  • the 30-pin USB connector on iPhones and iPads in 2012

A lot of people will be butt hurt about this headphone jack removal, but trust me, we’re all going to be ok.

Final thought: If the Lightning port on iPhones and iPads is going to be used for headphones, I wonder if this means these devices will charge wirelessly through induction?




Your Formative Years Are Important

Dropbox founder Drew Houston on his formative years:

Initially, it was about playing games, and when I was about 11, I was pretty sure I was going to make computer games for a living. Part of my interest was also just discovering what makes these games tick. I would get the source code of a game and then modify it to work how I wanted.

That’s how I got my first job, actually. I was a beta tester for this game, and I was frustrated because the developers weren’t moving fast enough. So I started poking around under the hood, and I found all these security problems.

I emailed the developers, saying, “Hey, guys, you’ve got all these problems and here’s how you should fix them.” And they wrote back, “Great, do you want to work for us?” They said I could work remotely, too, so I said, “Is it O.K. if my dad fills out the paperwork, because I’m 14?” They said, “We couldn’t care less.”

Curiosity, drive, and not waiting for permission to do something: you’ll find these qualities in many successful people.



The 20-Inch-by-24-Inch Polaroid Camera

Chuck Close comments on the end of the 20-inch-by-24-inch Polaroid camera:

Like other artists he knows who have used the camera, he said, its attraction is not just in its size and endearingly oddball personality, like a creature from an obsessive hobbyist’s garage. The immediacy of making the picture, Mr. Close said, changes the relationship between the subject and the artist, who together witness the image come into being after the photograph is pulled from the camera and the chemicals perform their function. “You both work together to get something that you want out of it. Your subject knows what you’re trying to do.” (He described a 2012 session with President Obama in a hotel room so tiny that the camera and Mr. Close’s wheelchair — a spinal-artery collapse more than two decades ago left him partially paralyzed — crowded out the Secret Service.)

It’s too bad these cameras are going away.

Many artists crave analogue tools to create their work. Clicking a button on a digital device removes creative resistance from the act of creation.



The dirty little secret us designers don’t like to admit…

Eli Schiff is a design critic that popped up on my radar around a year ago.

His latest target (back on May 18th) is Instagram’s new logo and he dismantles it in a three-part series.

This is from Part 1:

The team considered 300 icons in all–that’s one hundred more than Uber did in their meandering logo design process. According to Ian Spalter, Instagram’s Head of Design, the rejected icon drafts shown in Instagram’s launch materials were only a “small sample.” One wonders, why were hundreds of options even necessary?

I like Schiff. I don’t always agree with him, but I respect the time he takes to construct his analyses and critiques (trust me, they take time). If you’re lazy and you just don’t give a shit, you just post a flippant comment on another person’s website or you tweet about how bad a logo sucks. On the other hand, if you’re a curious, thorough professional, you sit with your thoughts and write a meaningful piece on your subject matter.

Here’s bit more:

Ellison continued discussing the critical response,

reminder: a lot of people don’t care about making things better. They care about showing how clever they are. Approaching things meaningfully and critically is about genuinely wanting things to be better.

Here, Ellison is unintentionally on to something. Instagram’s appeal to cleverness in over the top video introduction was indeed used as misdirection with regard to the icon. Instead of the nine-month process being seen as evidence of the designers’ disorganization and lack of agency, it was transmuted into a virtuous example of prolific creativity.

The dirty little secret us designers don’t like to admit to non-designers is what ends up getting printed or posted online is many times based on the whims of someone much higher up than us in our company or our client’s. It’s not based on design thinking or logic or design process. Some VP or CEO said the wordmark has to be ALL CAPS and bright red, so the designers make ALL CAPS and bright red.

This is why I always tell junior designers to always keep the good stuff for their portfolio—whether or not it made the cut. It’s important for designers to showcase the work they’re proud, the stuff that was integrated and not only looked great, but had great ideas behind it, before some asshole derailed the project.

When you read a company blog post about their new logo and it sounds like bullshit, this usually means the logo was designed by a committee and the solution they arrived at was arbitrary so the team had to actually work backwards to construct a phony story on the “process” behind the logo.

I’m not saying this to shame any designers, this is just reality. It’s a hard pill I’ve had to swallow on occasion in my own career.




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Last week news broke that Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26.1 billion:

For Microsoft, a big part of the deal is about being at the center of the business worker’s world.

While it has ceded the personal social graph to Facebook and others, it sees being at the center of the worker’s world as too important to miss. Microsoft had hoped its SharePoint would be the social hub for business, but has seen a lot of momentum in that area shift to Slack. Microsoft also bought Yammer, an enterprise social collaboration company, for $1.2 billion in 2012, but that acquisition has essentially gone nowhere.

LinkedIn’s know-how is also important for Cortana and its broader artificial intelligence aspirations. With this purchase, Microsoft is basically buying the company org chart for the whole world, which on its face seems a pretty good layer of data to build into any business-focused cloud product, from email to enhancing a customer relationship software to recruiting new employees.

“Microsoft wanted to get into human resources without having to get into payrolls,” said Ray Wang, an analyst with Constellation Research.

As I’ve mentioned many times on this site, Microsoft does not understand—nor do I think they will ever understand—consumers, so it’s good to see them refocusing on the business side of software and computing.

L2 Founder Scott Galloway keenly points out in this YouTube video “there’s only one B2B game in town and that’s LinkedIn.” Great point. So why don’t we have any other competitors in B2B social media space? Seems a great area to disrupt.

A software giant buying a B2B social network is like a cable company buying content producers. It just doesn’t sit right with me.

It’s be interesting to see how long I keep my LinkedIn account open before Microsoft does something to make me want to close it.



Any Platform (Just Not Ours)

I came across a new Microsoft ad campaign aimed at developers. The main copy is “Any Developer. Any App. Any Platform.”

Here’s their campaign homepage:

What I don’t like about this campaign is it’s misleading. When you tell a developer they can build an app for “any platform”, the assumption is they can build for iOS, Android, or Windows Phone. If you scroll down the page you’ll see they’re referring to the various Microsoft platforms ‘any’ developer can build for.

The problem is, there’s no point developing an app for Windows. In 2015, Windows Phone had a minuscule marketshare of 2.5%. This year they dropped to 0.7%. Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android have left no room for Windows Phone as a third option.

Some might look at this campaign as Microsoft changing with the times, adapting to the world of mobile computing. I don’t see this. I see a company trying anything, any app, any platform, anything at all as they struggle to stay relevant.

Side note: I find Microsoft’s page interesting is in light of Apple’s new version of macOS ‘Sierra‘, they announced this past week at WWDC 2016: