Sam Doran

My little corner of the Internet

Matt Gemmell on iOS 7 →

Matt Gemmell on iOS 7:

iOS 7 is a decluttering of the most exciting, profitable, desirable mobile operating system available. It’s a shift away from artefact, and back to essence. It indicates a clarity of vision, and a continued willingness to pursue simplicity ruthlessly.

Gone are embellishments like gloss and bevelled edges, shadows and borders. Visually dead areas that provoke tension rather than inspiring relaxation. Weight that suffocates, rather than open air to breathe.

The new iOS is designed for a different environment, and a different maturity of mobile user: one who recognizes simplicity for what Jony Ive believes it is. Not something as pedestrian as familiarity or consistency for its own sake, but rather focus and clarity.

I haven’t found a more astute analysis of the philosophical shift behind the iOS 7 design. He also has some great images comparing iOS 6 and iOS 7. I especially love the pixelated version. The changes are breathtaking and polarizing. I will admit that Microsoft was the first to ship an OS of this style1 with Metro in Windows Phone 7 (System Series Phone System 7). I believe iOS 7 is a better execution of this design.

I will have to wait to use it before I pass judgment, but I have a feeling I will enjoy it. The new aesthetic is striking, but I’m more interested in how it feels in daily use and how well it works. I appreciate the intelligent use of layers to give a sense of place and add depth2 to the interface. There are some glaring problems with the linen layer in iOS 6 that are blown away3 in iOS 7.

Here are some new features apart from the UI that I am quite excited to see:

  • Shared Photo Streams - Now my wife and I can have one place to put cute pictures of our kid that we can share with friends and family.
  • Video in Photo Streams - This makes it much easier to send video to many people. Much better than group iMessages or posting it online then sending a link.
  • AirDrop - Sending files between iOS devices always involved using some transport over the Internet. Easy device to device sharing is elegant and easy and a boon for education.
  • Quick access to settings - They put the most common things I do on my phone two taps away. And I can now get rid of my flashlight app.
  • Less restrictive multitasking - This will allow developers to do much more amazing things. As John Siracusa pointed out on ATP, the whole device will feel faster because apps can update in the background.

It really feels like a breath of fresh air.

  1. Though one has to wonder if iOS would have looked like this sooner if not for the design tastes of Steve Jobs and Scott Forestall. The dots for cell phone signal certainly aren’t a brand new idea.

  2. Let’s just kill the word “flat” once and for all. iOS 7 is the complete opposite of flat.

  3. I couldn’t resist a cheap stab at skeuomorphism. All the cool kids are doing it these days.

Thoughts on PRISM

I have been reading and collecting articles on PRISM since I first saw the news on Twitter last Thursday night. It’s a lot to take in and more is still coming out. I have a lot on my mind about this matter.

I believe Edward Snowden to be nothing less than a coward and a traitor. He is the same class of naive and misguided thinker as Bradley Manning. At least Bradley had the courage to face the consequences of his actions rather than flee the country.

Automatic Updates in RHEL 6 and CentOS 6

I host this site on a Linode VPS running CentOS 6 and wanted a way to be automatically notified of any updates that are available. In a previous life I was a RHEL 5 system administrator and the tool for doing this was yumupdatesd, though I never personally used it — I like to control when and what updates are installed in a production environment. That tool no longer exists in RHEL 6 and has been replaced with yum-cron.

Hypercritical T-Shirts. Finally. →

I’ve been waiting for these shirts for quite some time and I’m glad to see they are finally a reality. Many thanks to John for putting these together and agonizing over the kerning. It truly is a Hypercritical t-shirt.

Only a few days left to order so get them before they are gone forever. My money is on the dark one.

Update 2013-05-14: Sadly, these shirts will not come to fruition. John announced earlier today that the use of the icon was not authorized. You win some, you lose some, and life goes on.

Update 2013-06-21 Hypercritical T-Shirts 2.0 are up for sale with new original artwork. Get them while they last!

Adobe Shifts to Subscription Only →

I always thought Microsoft would be the first major software company to shift a majority of their sales to software subscriptions. It’s not from lack of trying. Turns out™ that Adobe is the one diving head first into the Creative Cloud, abandoning traditional software sales completely. Bold move.

Computing has become a main stream business, no longer made up of hard core nerds that will stand in line to buy an operating system in a box (they line up for iPhones and iPads instead). Computers are applianecs, and just like people don’t update the software on their toaster or refrigerator (though that may be changing), most normal people keep the software their home computer appliance came with and rarely update it (apart from incremental nag-screen updates). This creates a revenue problem for software makers that they hope to fix by switching to a subscription model.

Overall, I think this will be a win for Adobe and consumers. Adobe will shift its effors towards developing software (and hardware) that is more connected and users won’t get sticker shock every few years when a new CS product is announced.

Subscription is the new future of enterprise and professional software. If that doesn’t fit right with you, there’s an app for that.

Organizing My Digital Life

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about how I organize my photos and, more recently, videos. I developed a system when I purchased my first camera in June of 2005: a Canon 20D with the 17-85mm ƒ:4.5-5.6 IS USM lens for $1779 (it’s crazy to think about the camera I could get today with that amount of money). The system seemed good enough at the time and it worked well for a number of years — but I have since found that the joy of capturing and creating images was completely taken away by the system I created. Fraser Speirs said it best:

Since I am detailed-oriented by nature and a system administrator by trade, I naturally approached the problem of how I would shoot my images based on how those images would be stored. I didn’t want to take a picture if I didn’t already have a folder in mind for it on disk somewhere.

While it is important to keep a somewhat organized library of content, I had allowed my organizational system to have far too much influence on the fun of making pictures. As a result, I came to dread picking up the camera. I created such an unwieldy system that photography was no longer fun.

sed on Mac OS X

I was doing some file manipulation using sed on OS X the other day and this subtle difference between the BSD and GNU versions tripped me up.

This is how to edit a file in place using GNU sed:

sed -i 's/[find regex]/[replace string]/g' filename.txt

On OS X, using the above command gives the an invalid command code or undefined label error. Not very helpful. Man page to the rescue.

 -i extension
     Edit files in-place, saving backups with the specified extension.  If a zero-length extension
     is given, no backup will be saved.  It is not recommended to give a zero-length extension when
     in-place editing files, as you risk corruption or partial content in situations where disk
     space is exhausted, etc.

In OS X, the -i flag requires a file extension parameter — it’s optional in GNU.

sed -i txt 's/[find regex]/[replace string]/g' filename.txt

If the file does not have an extension, then use two single quotes.

sed -i '' 's/[find regex]/[replace string]/g' filename

I’m sure there are many other subtle differences between BSD and GNU sed but this is a pretty common one.