“my challenge as a parent with the Internet isn't keeping my son away from porn or violence, it's keeping him away from capitalism”
A quick tip for those designing web interfaces with an “X” icon for a “Close” element. Rather than the letter “x” (or capital “X”), use the multiplication (U+2715) or heavy multiplication (U+2715) symbols.
There’s no semantic advantage as neither the letter X nor the ✕ symbol have the appropriate meaning, but we’re just using the character to define a shape (often rendered as an image).
In most fonts the multiplication symbol is vertically and horizontal symetrical and has angled end strokes. It really just looks better. The heavy variation looks even prettier.
|✕||✖||Multiplication (U+2715) / Heavy Multiplication (U+2715)|
|X||X||Latin Capital Letter X (U+0058), normal / bold|
|x||x||Latin small Letter X (U+0078), normal / bold|
Another great comic from XKCD:
This photo of the daughter of a dead US soldier reaching for him in his casket is one of the saddest I’ve ever seen.
In what sounds like the worst meeting ever, the US State Department’s Town Hall Meeting to Announce the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) (that’s really what it’s called), a State Department staff member asked this question:
Can you please let the staff use an alternative web browser called Firefox? I just – (applause) – I just moved to the State Department from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and was surprised that State doesn’t use this browser. It was approved for the entire intelligence community, so I don’t understand why State can’t use it. It’s a much safer program. Thank you. (Applause.)
Senator Clinton responded “Well, apparently, there’s a lot of support for this suggestion. (Laughter.) I don’t know the answer.” and passed the question on to under secretary Patrick F. Kennedy.
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: The answer is at the moment, it’s an expense question. We can --
QUESTION: It’s free. (Laughter.)
The discussion went on to cover how it’s not actually free to switch a major application in a large organization, which is fair enough.
As an occasional nerd, I’ve learned a fashion tip over the years that would have served me well had I learned it earlier in life.
Wear clothes that fit.
It may seem obvious, but it wasn’t to me. When something is too small, it's obvious - it's tight, uncomfortable, or you can’t even fit into it. Too big, though, is something else all together. Technology conference t-shirts tend to come in two sizes, Extra-Large and Whatever-Is-Left.
In high school, my pants were too big and my t-shirts hung over my frail frame like bed sheets (as was the custom at the time).
It turns out that if you take a few minutes to find the size that fits you comfortably, you will feel better and look better. Try this: find the smallest size that you can fit into and then get one size larger.
While this advice is primarily for nerds, it also applies to most geeks and some dorks.
John Gruber suggests that the common Linux desktop interfaces of Gnome and KDE fall into the uncanny valley - similar enough to Windows for you to expect similar behaviour, but different enough to be problematic:
By establishing a conceptual framework that mimicks Windows, they can never really be that much different than Windows, and if they’re not that much different, they can never be that much better.
A fair criticism. In my house, we refer to the uncanny valley as the “creepy canyon”, because we’re all about alliteration.
United Airlines broke Dave Carroll’s guitar, so he wrote a song and filmed a video about it called United Breaks Guitars.
- If Twitter were a phone company, you could only call people who used the same phone company as you.
- If the iPhone were a desktop computer, you could only install applications approved by Microsoft (or Apple).
- If DVDs were books, you couldn’t read a book from Europe while in North America (oh, and you also need secret decoder glasses).
See identi.ca for an open alternative to Twitter.
A rule of thumb I try to use when looking for visual metaphors for actions or elements in an interface:
If an element does not have an obvious visual metaphor, then it should not have an icon.
I'm also working on a law that governs how to name laws after oneself, but I don't have a good name for it yet.