Archive: July, 2015

On The Verge

Jeremy Keith on The Verge and the recent debate over who’s to blame for heavy, ad and tracking infested web pages:

For such a young, supposedly-innovative industry, I’m often amazed at what people choose to treat as immovable, unchangeable, carved-in-stone issues. Bloated, invasive ad tracking isn’t a law of nature. It’s a choice. We can choose to change.

Every bloated advertising and tracking script on a website was added by a person. What if that person refused? I guess that person would be fired and another person would be told to add the script. What if that person refused? What if we had a web developer picket line that we collectively refused to cross?

That’s an unrealistic, drastic suggestion. But the way that the web is being destroyed by our collective culpability calls for drastic measures.

The discarded image: episode 01 – Jaws

Fifteen minutes breaking down the famous beach shark attack scene from Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Extra insight on an already classic film.

Embrace the terminal

Developer Una Kravets presents a slightly different take on the command line tutorial I posted a few weeks ago. Instead of a more comprehensive take, Una sticks to basics and essentials. Very useful for command line newcomers.

Apple Music’s segmented user experience

Apple Music shares a lot of the same DNA as other streaming platforms. There’s a huge music catalog, the ability to save a collection offline, curated playlists, and radio stations. Yet its UX feels distinct, more segmented and compartmentalized compared to its streaming peers. That’s a plus for streaming newbies and more casual users. But it comes at the the cost of comprehension and cohesion in the long run.

It’s easiest to cover Apple Music’s UX shortcomings through example. Say you browse through playlists in New on iTunes, and then jump into the For You segment to browse further. At this point, there’s no way to jump back chronologically into your previously accessed playlists. Each segment has a separate state and history. Or you want to find the source (e.g. album, playlist, radio station) of the currently playing track. It’s often awkward if not impossible to do so. Even search adds a binary toggle between My Music and Apple Music to further separate results.

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Apple saves publishing…for itself

Joel Johnson, writing for Fast Company on Apple News and other related publishing consolidation:

For publishers, Apple News and Facebook Instant Articles are simply another revenue stream that puts content where the audience has chosen to be…For readers, assaulted by bad advertising, these curated feeds could be a better—or at least universally banal—way to consume words and images. But it is unclear if most publications will be able to survive on only the revenue granted by these platform companies alone, and it feels incredibly aggressive for Apple to openly state that it—or at least some of its developers—have decided that advertising is always unwelcome, unless it happens to be advertising that Apple itself lords over.

This is exactly one of the major concerns I have with Apple News. Strong consolidation of media under a monolithic company like Apple generally doesn’t bode well for journalism and publishing in the long run.

The art of the command line

A huge compendium of smart tips and tools for using the command line effectively in Linux and Mac OS. For example, here’s one set of keyboard shortcuts everyone should know when navigating with Bash on OS X:

In Bash, use ctrl-w to delete the last word, and ctrl-u to delete all the way back to the start of the line. Use alt-b and alt-f to move by word, ctrl-a to move cursor to beginning of line, ctrl-e to move cursor to end of line, ctrl-k to kill to the end of the line, ctrl-l to clear the screen.

Building responsive teams archive

An archive from my earlier webinar hosted by InVision. I cover techniques on equipping your tech team for responsive web design and native design across mobile devices. The techniques are admittedly derived heavily from Agile methodology (daily standups, project self assignment) but I’m a true believer they can boost productivity across many team structures.

The 10 commandments of good form design on the web

Really enjoyable post by Mono designer Johan Ronsse on how to design great web forms. I especially like the simple before and after animated gifs that illustrate exactly what changes to make and where.

Digital archaeology: how Double Fine, Disney, LucasFilm and Sony resurrected Grim Fandango

Dave Tach, writing for Polygon about Tim Schafer revisiting Grim Fandango, an adventure gaming classic from the 90s:

Just because Schafer wasn’t making adventure games didn’t mean he’d left them behind, as evidenced by his determination to remake his old games. Now, thanks to Disney, LucasArts and Sony, he had an opportunity to revisit one of his best. And the first order of business was to figure out what Double Fine had.

File by file, the developers cataloged the information pulled from floppy discs and DLTs to recreate the original game as faithfully as possible. Now, what would they do with it? The answer is straightforward: Not much, because nothing much needed to be done. To Schafer, remastering should be about delivering the original game with the original intent, but tweaked to take advantage of modern technologies.

A wonderful remaster from earlier this year now accompanied by really solid, in depth reporting.

Sony E3 analysis: hype and nostalgia with less focus on 2015

Strong E3 showings generate hype and set a company’s aspirations for the future. On that count, it’s hard to fault Sony’s strategy. They focused on a few hugely anticipated game announcements: The Last Guardian, a Final Fantasy 7 remake, and Shenume 3. Just one would have made many PlayStation fans happy, but we saw all three at once. Alliances with this year’s biggest third party releases (e.g. Batman, Star Wars) underline Sony’s status as the console market leader. And an upcoming exclusive, the futuristic RPG Horizon: Zero Dawn, was an E3 highlight.

Yet all the hype and big games for the future can’t mask Sony’s lack of big exclusives for 2015. That’s a problem given Microsoft’s strong lineup this year. And beyond the mega announcements, I found stretches of Sony’s E3 presser poorly focused. We barely saw a mention of Project Morpheus. There was little stage time for indies, far less than Microsoft. And Sony relegated 2015 exclusives like The Nathan Drake Collection to a few seconds of a sizzle reel.

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