Photoshop CS4’s Interface

So, John Nack has previewed the new Photoshop interface, which has been drawing a fair amount of criticism around the ‘net for being “un-Mac-like”. I think the criticism is frankly a lot of gnashing of teeth because it’s different, and very little else. As Nack points out, if you bother looking at some of the best “Mac-like” apps, including applications made by Apple itself, much of the new design draws very similar parallels. It’s a very clean, modern interface, and keeps pace with the trend towards encapsulated applications (the document driven, single window experience). Frankly, I like it, and look forward to it.

Let’s face it: any user who multitasks ends up with a boatload of windows open at any given time, and there have yet to be really any effective ways to manage all the windows. This is becoming increasingly problematic as we find ways to have more and more windows up at any given time (I’m looking at you, Spaces), and so user interfaces have been forced to rethink how they display their data, to better encapsulate that data, so that everything related to a particular document STAYS with that document. Tabbed browsing was the start, but it’s totally logical that this design philosophy would (and should) enter other applications. Some of my favorite applications are ones that integrate data into the session window — a prime example is Scrivener. In Scrivener, the inspector is attached to the document window, rather than sitting in a separate “inspector pane/window”. From a design perspective, this makes it absolutely clear as to which document you are inspecting, which is particularly important if and when you have multiple documents open at once. The application is designed so that everything you need to do to the document can be done from one document window, with multiple files within it. You can even split the window to display attached research files or another page of writing at the same time, or if you decide you really NEED it to be in a separate window, that option is only a right-click away. That is GOOD DESIGN: it avoids juggling through multiple windows just to get your work done.

Detractors who might say it’s not “Mac-like” haven’t been paying attention. While there is, of course, the opportunity to get it wrong, and not make an effective interface, this is true regardless of whether you’re talking about a unified interface or a multi-window one. However, it’s pretty clear all the way down to the interface of the Finder, that we’re shifting towards a single-window-per-need design philosophy (if you don’t believe me, use the “Find…” option in OS X 10.5, or “Create Burn Folder”, or try out iChat with “Collect Chats into Single Window” turned on and tell me it’s not a better way to juggle a dozen conversations).

The key to note in what I’m saying is that it is PER DOCUMENT, or PER NEED. The places that I’ve seen single-window interfaces be successful is where elements that belong together are placed together. A window, in essence, becomes a method to encapsulate the data related to the task or project it was created for. As such, there are going to be times it DOESN’T make sense. Frankly, I’m just glad designers are realizing that there are times that it DOES.

Adding Forums

It’s not ready for primetime yet, but I’m making progress towards my goals for the site. I’ve installed and hacked Vanilla (the hack is a minor one — there is a tutorial on the Vanilla website on integrating Vanilla with WordPress, so it has a shared user database. This means you register ONCE, and you get the ability to post in the forums AND leave comments in the blog. I consider this a Good Thing™, given how much of a pain it can be to get folks to register in the first place.

Speaking of registering, yes, I’m sorry, you’ll need to re-register. I’d managed to accrue a ton of spambot members, so I ended up doing a purge of member accounts when I shifted everything else around, rather than try and sift through who is a bot, and who is simply someone who made an account but never comments.

The forum can be found here. As you can see, I’m not done tweaking the theme for it. I thought about waiting to install the forum until the theme was complete, but meh, I wanted to continue to make forward motion. The move to ZenPhoto is the next big technical mucking I need to do, and that I AM putting off, until I finish chatting with Mickey regarding her gallery, which I still host, though she’s mostly moved on to her Flickr account. One of ZenPhoto’s few drawbacks currently is its support for multiple users, so while I don’t want to kick her out or anything, if she decides she’d rather just host everything on Flickr, it’s one less hoop I need to worry about (for the record, if she does move, I’ll be setting up an automatic redirect, so links to her gallery will point you to her Flickr account instead).

Welcome to the new Critical Games

Apologies for the lack of posting the past month or so. As you can see, I’ve merged Wandering Ways and Critical Games into one blog, and will be moving forward from there. There’s still a great deal to do before all the kinks are worked out, but I felt that with WordPress 2.5 now out, it was time to finally put the new design up and through its paces.

Things that are still on my TODO:

  • remove the Gallery2 installation, swap it out with a ZenPhoto install
  • install Vanilla
  • finish theme tweaks, update links and blogrolls
  • finish cleaning up the site backend
  • start posting some more (for realz)

Anyway, more later!

This is a Test

This is a body of text meant to act as a body of text for testing out a web template. It is going to contain a number of notable elements, not the least of which is blockquotes, ordered lists, unordered lists, links, code snippets, abbreviations, and citations. This is so I can see how they all look in an actual page.

This is a body of text meant to act as a body of text for testing out a web template. It is going to contain a number of notable elements, not the least of which is blockquotes, ordered lists, unordered lists, links, code snippets, abbreviations, and citations. This is so I can see how they all look in an actual page. Block of text, Nabil Maynard



  1. Get Milk
  2. Get Bread
  3. Get million dollars
    Second Test

  • Ninjas
  • Pirates
  • Robots

Hello, World!
More code.
Who ever heard of a 3 line program?

Okay, and now back to real text. This was only a test. If it were a real post, it might actually be useful, and we can’t have THAT, now can we?

On Being Lovelorn

I never thought girls had cooties. I always had crushes, always the starry-eyed hopeless romantic, and unfortunately, almost always lovelorn. This is the way of things when you feel that love should be shared and celebrated, whether it’s platonic or romantic, whether you love someone or are in love with someone: you “love not wisely but too well”, and it goes unrequited. The bright side is that because you allow yourself that freedom of love, you learn to accept it. You’re able to pick up the pieces, and move on — perhaps not forgetting, but accepting, and forging forward.

But sometimes, it doesn’t work like that. There are some that for whatever reason, you don’t forget them, and you can’t accept that they’re gone, and forging forward seems an insurmountable task. The ones that, when you’ve got yourself back together, and you think you’re ready, they pop back up in one fashion or another. A phone call, an email, a picture, running into them on the street, just the glance, the hint, and you’re right back where you were: picking up the pieces, and trying to forget how they felt in your arms, their smell, their voice soft in your ear.

It doesn’t matter how strong or aloof you are, how stable a personality you have or logical you are. You can be a player, or a saint, or be able to cope with disasters both epic and personal without breaking a sweat. You can be inured to love’s foibles (or think you are) all you want, there’s still that person out there that bypasses all your defenses and coping mechanisms and destroys you, without trying or even wanting to. Pointing out their faults doesn’t help, knowing you should move on doesn’t help, knowing there are others out there doesn’t help. It’s too late: you are lost.

I’ve loved a lot of people in my past. And I’ll love many more before I’m through. I’ve been in love, and have been lucky and blessed enough to be loved in return, and will be in love again. I know this. And one day, I may well finally be over her. But not today.
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The Face of Things

Sometimes, in particular when you’re stressed and depressed, even taking control of the littlest thing in your life is a monumental accomplishment. It can be as simple as cleaning your desk and sorting all the bills and paperwork and random effluvium of day to day life into piles, even if you can’t actually do anything ABOUT said cruft. I cleaned my desk and sorted my piles and I do, in fact, feel accomplished by this. It certainly helps that in the process of this, I found a dividend check from March. In celebration of this unexpected (and direly needed) windfall, I’m spending $10 of it on a bowl of potato leek soup, an iced coffee, and a piece of cherry pie (which to borrow a phrase from Agent Cooper, is damned fine), down at Zoka. It is, as ever, the little treats we allow ourselves that make life worth living.

In the grand scheme of things, life could be worse. While I’m in debt well beyond my means, I do still have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and a job that I enjoy well enough and keeps me from being in a far worse position. I don’t know many people here, which does lead to some (alright, a lot of) lonely moments, but no one is shooting at me or really attacking me at all, physically, mentally, or spiritually. I’ve got my share of angst over my last breakup, but even that is only unmanageable in that I’ve yet to actually move on, for a variety of reasons that don’t need elaborating here. Life is perhaps not good, but it is certainly not bad, either. There are no epic tragedies, just a lot of little grievances that have added up to one hell of a funk: it puts me in mind of a quote from Ovid — “Gutta cavat lapidem (Dripping water hollows out a stone)”, which seems to also be the basis of what the Litany Against Fear from Dune is talking about: “fear is the mindkiller. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration…” It doesn’t have to be anything big, in fact it’s less likely to be since the big stuff we face head on, we address it and cope with it. But the little things, they’re insipid, they accrete like a gall stone, they eat away at our core one drop at a time.

And if we spot it? Generally, this means it is because things have already worn away to leave a cavity, so you are faced with an uphill battle, late out the gate. But you have to try. You have to pull yourself up by the bootstraps, and put one foot in front of the other, even when every inch forward feels like a mile. Not for some perceived glory, not for some light at tne end of the tunnel, but because you don’t have a choice. It is the very essence of life and death, because if you don’t get up and try, you’re dead or will be soon.

So, yeah, things could be worse. That’s not an invitation for things to become worse, mind you, but it is an acknowledgement and a declaration: I have let myself slide down under the weight of my stone, and it is high time that I start pushing it back up that goddamn hill.

On Childlike Innocence

It is remarkable how delightful it is to watch small children explore the world. Their perspective is fresh, and there’s a marvel in their eyes that is infectious. It is simple behavior, the nuances of discovery that makes an everyday action an adventure: opening a cabinet and discovering the treasures within becomes a noble quest.

When do we lose that sense of marvel and wonder? When does the world become mundane, a cage instead of a playground? To remain an inquisitive soul is a lofty aspiration, and one that most sadly fall short of. Once fallen, can that sense of wonder ever be truly regained? Is it fate to become inured and jaded?

Perhaps we’re not asking the right question. It is, perhaps, unreasonable to assume that a youthful blank slate is the desired state. Instead, can we hope to evolve into one who is perhaps acquainted with the trappings of reality, yet still able to appreciate the beauty of it? I suspect this is closer to the right path, the balance of awareness and innocence that leads towards enlightenment.

A lot of it comes down to seeing the cage of reality, and choosing which side of the bars you perceive yourself on. Are you trapped within reality, or are you an observer of it?

Little Tweaks

So, I’ve started posting song reviews as planned (just a few days later than expected), and I’m feeling pretty good about it. I’d like to hear people’s thoughts about the format, and just in general if you like it as an addition to the site. In the process of doing those, I thought a bit about the site itself, and ended up tweaking it a little bit. I changed the font to Helvetica (if you don’t have Helvetica, it’ll show up as Verdana as before), increased the font size slightly, and added some letter spacing… the spacing is a bit wider than I’d like, but it’s still readable, and will have to do until I can really look at how different browsers handle fractional pixel widths (the spacing is currently 1px, so to get it closer than that, I’d need to get into decimals, and mucking with Safari, I honestly didn’t notice a real difference between 0 and .5px… nor did I see a difference when using percentages). I’m going to sit with it for a while and see how I like the new spacing, and if I get any votes seriously in favor or against, I’ll probably let that make the final decision. If you’re reading this via RSS, you probably don’t care, and that’s fine. I just want to make it more readable for those who are coming to the actual site.

Oh, I also increased the line-height from 1.2em to 1.3em, and I think it gives a nice boost to readability. It’s amazing how that small a change can make such a difference. No other maintenance stuff for now… one of these days, I need to get around to the 2.2 update. They finally integrated widgets directly into the code, and that could potentially be nice.

So, yeah, please let me know how you feel about the changes/additional content!