Some things I’d like to share with you from a couple of weeks’ travel on the high seas, where it’s better to have linked and lost than never to have linked at all.
Steve, Why So Glossy?
And We All Shine On. John Siracusa brings relief by pointing out the glossy elephant in the room — why are the new MacBook screens so damn shiny and when did it become so old school to think that matte finishes are better at reducing glare, or that achieving same was a Good Thing? I remember first noticing this trend in the PC market about 12 months ago, although it has probably been going on much longer. Now that newer Mac users (MacBook users anyway) are not being given a choice it would be nice to hear a rationale on this that makes sense, but I’m not holding my breath. (I have no reason to disbelieve the claim that the contrast is higher on these displays, but it seems more about getting bling for your buck than better industrial design to me. Extra contrast is pointless if all you can see is yourself. But: I haven’t stood in front of one yet, so I’m prepared to recant if I’m proven wrong.)
Those Mad Aviation Skills
I don’t know a thing about the whats, whys and wherefores of this event (5MB .wmv file), but it showcases some damn fine aerial manoeuvres in a really tight space. Gamers and RC model enthusiasts of all kinds, eat your hearts out. When it comes to the mad thumb control skills this guy beats you. (Via Rands.)
Reverse Parallel Parking in 15 Seconds?
Try it out with Peugeot’s Parking Perfection game. After cutting my teeth on Ze Frank’s Mini Racer games — never been that good at computer games but damn those are difficult — it was fun to spend a few minutes on someone else’s notion of clever marketing. Note the artist’s impression of what everyone else’s car looks like. (Via Linda by e-mail.)
Trendy is Out
Design Observer has redesigned. Until I read this I had no idea that the original Design Observer site was a barely-modified stock Movable Type template (called “Trendy”). I always liked the dark grey but the overall site design, not so much. The new one is awesome. It’s less distracting and allows you to see directly to the content. The Observed column is a nice improvement; in the task of drawing your attention to recent additions to the blog, it just works.
The Two Middle Classes
Upward Mortality by Kai Wright is an argument to explain the differences in mortality rates between black and white Americans. It was reprinted a couple of weeks ago in the New Haven Advocate with the subtitle, “Why can’t the black middle class shed the burden of bad health?” Wright sets aside the typical either/or arguments about genetics and lifestyle and instead takes on the difficult topic of institutionalised racism and the expression of social relations in health outcomes. The explanation posits that the side effects of racism on African-Americans over the life course prevent a great majority of them from living to see old age. Wright is more messenger than proponent here, but he exposes some interesting academic work on this subject that doesn’t often see the light of day, and leaves us with some troubling conclusions. (Via Shoham.)
That Elusive Quantum Leap
The BumbTop User Interface Prototype may or may not be the New New Thing in user interface design. But it is truly amazing to watch this rather substantial (110MB) movie about a prototype user interface that looks like a 3D version of OS X’s “Aqua” desktop. Luke warm reactions from experts (Kottke has some examples, below) suggest that the attempt to go beyond the current WIMP paradigm has succeeded mostly in making incremental improvements on the existing graphical user interface rather than bringing about the next surge forward. I don’t know which comes first, the visual interface or the input devices (probably they develop together?) but if a major operating system began using this “physicalised” interface, and came with a simple, pen-like pointing device that didn’t need tablets (e.g. they work on your table surface), then I could see this taking off. Perhaps what it needs is a way to quickly select the level of generality to which the metaphor applies — like a zoom slider that adjusts the scope of the objects you control: one moment files, then folders, then anything tagged with “unix”. (Via Jason Kottke.)
If you haven’t yet seen Inquisitor check it out. I find it useful for quickly running the same search on Google and Technorati. Not that this comes up a lot, but its a neat attempt to cut down the steps involved.