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  • Showing only topics with the tag "design". Back to normal view
    1. Is macOS truly the holy grail UX for older people?

      My mother is 65+ years old and loves everything Apple, but whenever I need to touch her computer I find myself questioning that choice. The degree to which Apple abstract things from the user...

      My mother is 65+ years old and loves everything Apple, but whenever I need to touch her computer I find myself questioning that choice.

      The degree to which Apple abstract things from the user enables the most absurd behaviors. macOS gives little indication about which programs are open, and the red x on the top left corner just closes windows, not apps. Because the session persistence is so robust, the consequence is that my mother's Macbook Air keeps 12+ programs and their states open at all times literally for months. Every time she comes over from another continent, I close a bunch of stuff and get her an instant performance boost. Plus, she's never really sure if a program is open or not.

      The concept of (work)Spaces, as well as the launchpad, spotlight, or even how Finder really works is beyond her. Because of her over-reliance on the dock, she never enabled autohiding, so her screen real state is always crowded.

      Folders are entirely immaterial for her. Everything goes to "Downloads" with no organization whatsoever, and she's always looking for stuff "manually" by reading the filenames.

      Her machine is running Mojave, and right now I can only see that finder displays two "Libraries": Documents and Downloads. Linux and Windows have Videos, Downloads, Music, etc. Those are easy to make sense of. What's the supposed Mac alternative? Buy stuff on iTunes. Well, if something is not on Amazon Video or Netflix my mother is a pirate like me (hehe), so she never made sense of it and I truly despise using iTunes for doing anything at all. She also downloads a bunch of media related to her job.

      I'm not saying macOS is bad, I'm just asking: is it really the best choice for non-technical older people?

      15 votes
    2. The Quest for Imperfection, or In Search of Wabi-Sabi

      So, my background is in software, mostly but not exclusively web development. I used to do both front and back end stuff, as well as sysadmin things. I worked with graphic designers a lot, some...

      So, my background is in software, mostly but not exclusively web development. I used to do both front and back end stuff, as well as sysadmin things. I worked with graphic designers a lot, some amazingly skilled people from whom I learned the importance of getting things exactly right, visually. Exactly right. Every pixel has to be perfect, every aspect of a design thought through carefully and then polished to perfection. I'm eternally grateful for the things I learned from those people. Programming and systems admin adds a different dimension to the art of "Doing Stuff Right", that of every case being accounted for and every exception or problem caught before it happens. Beauty takes many forms, both in terms of visual design and in software too.

      This focus on detail, on perfection, has carried over into my current work in the physical realm. Making stuff that is machine-perfect isn't so hard. Especially when using machines (although I don't have as many machines as I'd like). Near-perfect radiused curves or dead-square edges are do-able by hand, and ultra-high mirror finishes leave exactly nowhere to hide on the finishing front. A single tiny scratch will show up on a mirrored ring like a beacon, a slightly mis-soldered joint will be visible from metres away. That's fine, and I'm getting much better at it. I like that I don't consider something finished until it's as perfect as I can make it.

      What I find hard, perhaps ironically, is wonkiness. Imperfection. It's partly due to my background via commercial design, partly due to my experience in programming - and I'm sure it's partly due to me just being rather uptight about getting things "right" (I don't see this as being too terrible a character flaw, if I'm honest..) I'm not saying everything I make is perfect, not at all - but it's what I aim for a lot of the time - everything smooth and square and tidy and "right."

      Japan has the idea of wabi-sabi, the concept of beauty in imperfection. It's a very hard concept to translate into words, yet strangely it's very obvious when you see it. "wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect."

      So I'm trying to be more wonky. This is the kind of thing I mean. (more, another example)

      These were formed by hand from modelling clay, then cast in pure silver. At first glance I'm not 100% happy with some of the textures and tool marks on the surface, nor with the not-mirror-smooth interior, but making myself uncomfortable is part of the point of this. Without stepping outside where I'm comfortable, how will I ever progress?

      But then, it turns out that the more I see it, the more I touch it's soft organic curves and see how the light reflects and scatters off it's slightly orange-peel-like surface, the more I like it. It's human, relaxing: it has a gentle, quiet serenity. Being made of pure silver rather than the harder sterling silver, it will pick up it's own textures and marks with wear, making each piece as unique as the person wearing it. Sometimes that isn't desirable in a piece of jewellery, sometimes it is. There's enough metal in these rings to not risk their structural integrity in wear (a standard wire-style ring in pure silver will bend and break very easily), so why not let it do it's own thing?

      "if an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi."]

      It looks a bit lumpy and perhaps a bit sharp and pointy in bits but it's polished to feel soft and gentle. It's comfortable to wear, it's everything that machine-perfect is not - not that machine-perfect is bad, but there's more ways to beauty than perfect accuracy.

      Another aspect to wonkiness that I'm trying to explore is that of lack of control. Making things the outcome of which is determined by factors other than me. With the clay-to-silver ring it's my fingers forming the clay, me (consciously or otherwise) guiding the shape. So I tried to find a way to take some of that control away.

      Obviously just throwing a load of precious metal into a vice or a crucible or whatever isn't going to work, so I tried to set up a system where I could allow randomness to be present, but still having someone attractive come out the other side. With some heavy copper wire wrapped at intervals in fine silver wire, I let the blowtorch do the work, let the silver flow where it would. Obviously I still have some control over the output - I can choose where to apply heat or where not to, but it's a start at least.

      With this technique, I made some bangles, seeing as I have a new bangle-mandrel (hey, I still need some machined help, right?). Here's how they came out

      Again, like the rings before - the result is soft, unique, unpredictable. No two bangles are identical and never can be even if I wanted them to be, yet they all share common features. Just like nature, like trees or waves, clouds or even people.

      I've noticed that I keep using the word soft. Metal isn't soft. Even polished metal isn't soft. It's solid, hard stuff. Why, then, do I keep going back to that word? It's because of the feeling these pieces evoke - machines are hard, people are soft. Emotionally, hard things are bad things, but soft things are nice. Nobody ever said "I can't wait to curl up in my lovely hard bed", and that's the kind of softness I think of when I look at these things. It's embracable, it's comfortable, it's like people or nature, not machines.

      Have I found wabi-sabi? Do I even understand it to be able to know if I have? I don't know. I do know I've made some beautiful things using techniques and styles I haven't used before, and I've learned some things along the way, and for now at least, I think that's enough to be going on with.

      Yeah, I guess this was a bit of a pretentious post. But I make jewellery. Some people even call it art (not me, but I am flattered and mildly confused when people say that about my work). I can be pretentious occasionally, surely?

      14 votes
    3. What do y'all think about the new Twitter design?

      It's obviously unfamiliar, but I have to say that I don't think it's that much worse than the one we had before. It does obviously follow the trend of making everything look so much more mobile-y,...

      It's obviously unfamiliar, but I have to say that I don't think it's that much worse than the one we had before. It does obviously follow the trend of making everything look so much more mobile-y, but unlike Reddit they haven't really messed with the core display of content - in fact, I'd say the tweets themselves have gotten a bit larger. I've heard that the timeline gets reset to algorithmic sorting every 24h, which is an absolute no-go for me, but I haven't experienced that aspect myself.

      Related: I've recently started using Tweetdeck and honestly have no idea why I should ever switch back to the main Twitter feed, redesign or not. Columns, lists, the customisation - it's pretty much everything I've ever wanted. Any tips or opinions on that?

      14 votes
    4. Web Design Work

      Hi everyone! Per admin recommendation I'm posting this in comp. I would like to switch Staining The Timbre from a blogspot domain to its own. I can handle the paperwork and whatnot associated with...

      Hi everyone! Per admin recommendation I'm posting this in comp.

      I would like to switch Staining The Timbre from a blogspot domain to its own. I can handle the paperwork and whatnot associated with the url change, but I would like to hire a web designer to spruce up the joint a bit. Right now I'm using a default theme provided by Blogspot and, while it serves its purpose, it makes the page look like it's run by a high schooler.

      It should be a relatively basic project. I don't need anything for commerce set up, or anything I think of as "crazy". Just a very basic blog layout that looks professional on both desktop and mobile (the latter is a little lacking in particular right now). Archive links, Tags, ability to comment on posts, Contact Info, and one that preferably preserves the large-picture format the site currently has; that's about it, aside from being able to create the posts themselves.

      If anyone is interested please send me a private message. This is very much still in the quoting phase, but I appreciate any assistance you all can provide me in getting an idea on cost.

      Thanks in advance!

      8 votes
    5. Comments, bumping, trees. Helping user discovering newer comments.

      Suppose you want to participate in an old post with hundreds of comments. You made your fresh new comment, injecting your thoughts and effort into it and hit the post button with hopes and dreams....

      Suppose you want to participate in an old post with hundreds of comments. You made your fresh new comment, injecting your thoughts and effort into it and hit the post button with hopes and dreams.

      The post is bumped to the top under Activity. Other tilders saw the old post on the top, they are intrigued, perhaps as much as you are and wonder what you can add to the discussion, but they couldn't find your comment.

      Why is that?

      You replied to a thread with a very old top-level comment.

      As Tildes is still relatively new, this isn't much of a issue now, but one that I feel needed to be addressed eventually as the site grows. It is certainly a low priority issue for the time being.

      Sort by new only sorts comments by the time when top-level comment is posted, which is an inherent characteristic of comment threads. If my last years of memeing on redditting has taught me anything, it is that a new post gathers the most views in the first few minutes when it was posted (This might be a few days on Tildes).

      Bumping helps extend the longevity of a given post if the thread gathers enough attention and discussion value to warrant a comment, but that alone would not alleviate the fact that new comments is seen by less and less people as the post gets older (as indicated by votes). If we want to make high-quality comments seen by more people, we need to make comment age a less limiting factor.

      Tildes needs to help its users to discover new comments.

      A few solutions come to my mind.

      1. By presenting comments in a linear fashion like the good old bulletin board does without any hierarchy such that sort by new would truly be sort by new.

      2. By highlighting ( or whichever other means ) comments that meet certain criteria (Comments that are among the latest 10 or comments that were posted within the last hour, this can vary depending on the activities of the comments)

      3. I would like to propose a novel solution to this problem by compacting the comment threads to a forest of trees with navigable nodes. This sounds totally outlandish, it might very well be, but its an idea that I think worth sharing.

      The editing is rudimentary but I hope the idea is communicated well.

      Cheers!

      15 votes