What we talked about in July 2012

This month’s big word: skeuomorphism. (Also cryptozoology, but that’s not design-related.)

  • Jared kicked us off with this list of cool CSS/HTML5/JS tricks. There’s a lot here, but I got distracted by the brightly-colored moving objects in the first section on animations. I have to go back to it and try to get past them to the section on “Useful and practical CSS techniques”.
  • Diego went to a family camping trip and was hoping to see the Flathead Lake Monster. No dice. (The lack of photos in the Wikipedia article is somewhat telling.)
  • Before leaving for his cryptozoology trip, Diego shared Designing Mobile Interfaces: Patterns for Interaction Design, a web version of the O’Reilly book. It’s long but useful. There is also this mobile touch template, which lets you evaluate the sizes of touch targets, fonts, buttons, etc. in your mobile interfaces. Jared found more of those (and some entertaining swag) at UI Stencils.
  • A while back Jason introduced me to the band Frightened Rabbit, so when I found they were going on tour, I had to share.
  • Jason found the blog of Susan Weinschenk, the author of 100 Things Every Designer Should Know About People, which I linked in April.
  • Sergei and Jared were discussing cross-browser testing, and Jared found this Smashing Magazine article on cross-browser testing tools. We’ve seen at least one slick but pricy version (again back in April), but this article leads with a whole bunch of free versions. Worth checking out.
  • Jason was scheduled to write a blog post in early July. His problem, unlike mine, is not procrastination or lack of time, but a too-deep involvement with the writing process; he likes it so much he doesn’t want to stop. We all gave him a good-natured hard time about this, including suggestions for writing apps like Write or Die, which looks entertaining and possibly effective for some folks.
  • I thought this iPad keyboard cover thingy looked pretty awesome. It’s a silicone keyboard cover that sits on top of the on-screen iPad keyboard, giving you some tactile feedback as you type.
  • Jason tried to get us all to go see the play “Accidental Death of an Anarchist” with him, but no one could make it.
  • Jason’s mom (via Jason, of course) found an article on accessible cars that open up in the back for you to drive your wheelchair straight into. (Caution: autoplaying video with annoying sound.)
  • I found this funny article: “Apple unveils low-cost cornea display”. Our favorite part was “‘There are so many damn pixels in a Retina display, you can barely distinguish one from the next,’ says Wall Street analyst Gene Munster. ‘With Cornea technology, you can literally savor each pixel from five feet away.'”
  • Ammy asked if anyone had heard of the Seattle Interactive Conference. This year’s speakers list looks promising.
  • I like doing the round-up because often I find things I missed when they were originally posted, like Spectacle, a Mac app for moving and resizing your windows that Jared has been using.
  • In the brightly-colored-moving-objects category again, Jared shared the Breaking Bad logo in HTML5/CSS/JS.
  • Jason’s friend has spent the last couple of years working on a project that’s now being shown at the London Science Museum: Chrome Web Lab.
  • Sergei shared book recommendations from esteemed designers, including “architects, fashion designers, graphic designers, interior designers, landscape architects, product designers, urban designers, and other design professionals.” Lots of names on the list!
  • Sergei also found “Where Microsoft has more taste than Apple”, an article about Apple’s recent trend towards skeuomorphism (here, this means making digital stuff look and act like analog stuff, when it doesn’t necessarily need to). There is some serious hate in the comments on the article, so you can skip those, but we had a good conversation about whether Apple is taking it too far, whether Apple is encouraging other less-skilled designers to attempt skeuomorphism (which does not result in success), and in which specific apps skeuomorphism fails (iCal) and succeeds (GarageBand).
  • Don’t Fear the Internet has some fun-looking videos that provide an overview on topics like web typography, developer tools, the basics of HTML and CSS, how the internet works (“not a series of tubes”), and more. Also it gets “Don’t Fear the Reaper” stuck in my head every time I look at it, thanks Sergei.
  • This Love Story in Status Codes from McSweeney’s was funny, then creepy, then sad. Actual thanks for this one, Sergei.
  • OS 10.8 is out! Apparently Ars Technica publishes some guy’s review every version, and this one is 26k words long. I started it but didn’t get very far. Jared also found this much-easier-to-read review that addresses the new file system in Mountain Lion. As a librarian at heart, I’m not sure how I feel about allowing only one level of hierarchy and generally pushing people not to categorize stuff, but I’m trying to be open-minded.
  • Jared shared what Diego called “skeuomorphism in unabashed action!” in this little app to create a folded-paper-thing on the left and right of the iOS screen to hide different views.
  • Getting Jared up to speed using Coda, Char shared this cool theme for the text editor.
  • We’ve all seen this XKCD comic before, but it is good to be reminded — every time it makes the rounds (from Jared this time), I laugh, and then cringe, and then weep a little bit.
  • University Website, from xkcd

  • Jared pointed out that Google Fiber has launched! It’s rolling out first in Kansas City, but we could see it making a big shift in the way people use the web, once it gets a broader audience.
  • Free icons at iconmonstr (which itself has a kind of cute monster icon) — another one of Jared’s that I missed the first time around.
  • In trying to find an efficient way to display three columns, Jared came across Fluid-width equal height columns, describing several methods to make multiple columns of content all take the same height as the tallest one.
  • That same research led Jared to the little app Give up and use tables, a timer for you to set as you fight with your CSS layout. You get 47 minutes. If the timer goes off before you get the layout perfected, you are thereby authorized to switch to using tables. “When your time is up, we’ll even give you the table code you need. Take three minutes to build a table. And ten minutes to get a donut. Bill the client for an hour. Done.”

What’s your worst (or best) example of skeuomorphism? Any CSS problems you’ve encountered, or cool solutions you’ve found this month? Leave a comment!

One comment

  1. Sandra · August 1, 2012

    I went to SIC (Seattle Interactive Conference) last year. It was worth the trip, though there were some talks that felt too much like sales pitches, and they could have polished their attention to schedule/amenities a bit more. They asked for extensive feedback from participants, so I’m betting the 2nd annual SIC will rock much harder. Attend if you can!