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LANGHAM STATION

graphic design and web programming

Favorite iPad app for the moment

Liking the Delicious Bookmark Discovery (DBD) app a lot. I actually feel I'm getting real work done.

10/31/2010 at 7:31 AM | 0 comments

Found in the wild

Found while waiting in the BART station, October 2010
Found while waiting in the BART station, October 2010

Is it just me or is there something really wrong with this layout. Design by compromise. There must have been a fight over whose name is listed first and the loser got to have his (in this case) photo first.

Either way, Diane in third place comes out the winner because at least she gets to be under her own name.

Who signed off on this?

10/31/2010 at 6:27 AM | 0 comments

The Onion's Look at the new MacBook Wheel

The production values are superb. Pay close attention to the list of sentences for the auto-suggestion feature.


Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard

01/9/2009 at 1:24 AM | 0 comments

Comment Lists and User Experience

When I read a blog, especially a technical one, I like reading the comments because of the real dialogue that can spring up around a particular issue/problem and the various forms a solution can take. However, since this dialogue occurs in a linear, chronological fashion, I wonder why the current convention is to sort comments in descending order by post date (with the most recent entry on top). Certainly there are help desks and blogs that swap that order, but it seems that the majority of sites I visit list the most recent first.

Why should I want to read the most recent response first, especially when it may also be responding to other previous comments in the thread? List blog posts in descending order, of course. But, wouldn't it make more sense to list comments in ascending order?

I wonder if the trend has more to do with default settings on blog sites and that users aren't aware of the readability issues enough to change them.

10/17/2008 at 12:23 PM | 0 comments

Happy Accidents Revisited

I've found a practical application for the technique I described in the Happy Accidents post. Use it to center objects to the center of the canvas.

  1. Hit cmd (ctrl on a PC) + A to select the entire canvas
  2. Select the layers you want to align to the canvas
  3. With the move tool (v) selected, click on the vertical and horizontal center buttons to center the layers to the canvas
  4. Hit cmd (ctrl on a PC)+D to deselect the canvas

10/15/2008 at 12:10 PM | 0 comments

Happy accidents in Photoshop

Sometimes the most useful Photoshop tricks are the ones you pick up from mistakes.

Today I learned how to align layers using the marquee tool. I won't retrace the long and windy path that eventually got me there. Here's the short and skinny:

  1. Draw out a rectangular area using the marquee tool (m) or cmd (ctrl on a PC)+click on a layer's thumbnail to create a selection.
  2. Click on one or a few layers (for multiple selections hold down the cmd (ctrl on a PC) and click on the layer name).
  3. Select the move tool (v) and from the align menu (either in the menu bar or from the align palette), click on the alignment option of your choice.
  4. The layers will snap to the confines of the selection shape and align to each other.

Try it for yourself to get a better idea how this works. I haven't found a practical use for it yet, but when it comes, I'll be ready.

10/13/2008 at 10:59 AM | 0 comments

X-Ray extension for Firefox

Just installed the X-Ray 0.9 extension for Firefox. Great Web development tool. It allows you to see the HTML tags directly on the page without opening another window. Great for seeing how other sites handle their markup.

08/31/2008 at 9:54 AM | 0 comments

My Favorite iPhone App...so far

After spending more time on iTunes than I ever have pre-iPhone 2.0, I've downloaded a few apps and played around with them. The phone saber was funny for a day, then I deleted it. My favorite app, so far, and the most useful, has to be the Ultralingua foreign language dictionary. I got it in German, but it comes in other languages. Not only does it have a dictionary but it also comes with a verb conjugator and a number translator (type in a number and it will spell it out for you in German). My only complaint? They need to expand the dictionary in their next release. Every so often, I stump it and have to turn to LEO Online (which, by the way, is the best online German dictionary).

Second place goes to OneTap Movies. It determines your location and gives you a list of theaters in your vicinity. Click on a theater and it displays a list of movies playing, along with playing times, duration, movie rating, and links to a preview and the GoogleMap app for directions. Best of all, it's free. If I saw more movies, this app would be killer.

07/30/2008 at 12:45 PM | 0 comments

Album art makes beautiful music

Okay, sometimes I get my music tips from NPR, and so is the case with Fleet Foxes, a Seattle-based band with a great vocal sound. And what a pleasant surprise when I ran to Amoeba on Sunset to find that the cover art is from "The Blue Cloak" by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. I saw it in Berlin and the painting contains visual references to over 90 dutch proverbs. How could I resist?

I've got this theory that there's a correlation between the album artwork and the likelihood that I am going to like the music. So far, it has paid off. That's how I "discovered" Super Furry Animals. Great album covers. The same with Duo 505 and The Cardigans' first album. Bought them song unheard and immediately became a fan. Risky, I know, but so far my track record is holding out. I admit, though, when money is an issue, I will on occasion try out the tracks on iTunes before I buy, but so far it's only confirmed my theory. I wonder, to what extent do bands have a role in deciding the artwork for their albums?

06/27/2008 at 11:35 AM | 0 comments

Windows on a Mac

Until recently, I've always had access to a PC to test sites on Internet Explorer. After toying with the idea of buying a real cheapo PC laptop, I had a eureka moment: why not turn your Mac Book Pro into a PC like the Mac ads say you can. I can be slow like that sometimes.

So, I bought Windows XP Home Edition and Parallels 3.0 and tried to install them on the laptop. I installed Parallels successfully, but every time I tried to install Windows inside of Parallels, the process would fail at Windows startup: "Fatal Error in Virtual Machine's Monitor." After much googling to no avail, I decided to read about boot camp in the Parallels booklet and followed that route, which turned out to work beautifully.

Installing Windows on your Intel Mac

  1. Launch Boot Camp Assistant (located in the Utilities folder in Applications) and follow the instructions. It will ask you to partition your hard drive. Don't worry. Your Mac stuff will not be affected by this.
  2. Partition your hard drive, allowing at least 10GB if you are installing XP Home Edition and formatting for NTSF. You'll need more if you're formatting for FAT.
  3. Have your OS X Leopard disk handy because it has files that will need to be installed within Windows that will allow Windows to access certain services (such as Internet access) through your Mac.
  4. Follow the Windows installation as instructed in Boot Camp Assistant.
  5. After Windows is successfully installed and the Boot Camp tools have been installed inside of Windows, restart your computer  in OS X.
  6. Download the latest build of Parallels (currently 5600), which resolves some bug issues with Leopard.
  7. Install Parallels. At a point during the installation process, Parallels will recognize that you have a Boot Camp partition. Select that as your Windows source and follow the rest of the steps.

Everything should be fine after that. Of course, it seemed like it took forever to install Windows, but that might have been my impatience.

Now I can test Web sites in Internet Explorer and play Mine Sweeper with all the other benefits of owning a Mac. Was it worth $300? Cheaper than buying an extra laptop, and now I have everything on one machine. Time will tell.

06/4/2008 at 11:20 AM | 1 comment

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