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.

Content Managers

I’m still not happy with my website. I feel half-assed with my Nucleus/MT setup, and continue to feel that there’s got to be a better (for me) solution, one that actually makes me happy.

Apple is adding a slightly tweaked version of Blojsom to Mac OS X 10.4 Server, so I took a look at that. It’s very pretty, and feature rich. It also requires programs my current web hosting provider doesn’t carry (namely, Tomcat). Additionally, some of the syntax is counter-intuitive, and I’m unhappy with the documentation.

Then, while looking into ecto, I noticed their current poll listed a slew of blogging solutions and communities that I’d never heard of. At last, hope for a system I like! I clicked through several, and came across Drupal, a content manager that I REALLY like the look of. The built in featureset is robust, it is under active development, it has an extensive and feature rich plugin library, and (important), it will run handily on my current web host. Worth noting in particular is the plugin that allows LiveJournal users to participate/comment without having to re-register. There is also basic migration support for importing MT entries into their system.
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The New Arrangement

My G5 has arrived and is set up. So far, I’ve upgraded to iLife ’05 (came in the box, just not installed), and installed iWork ’05, MySQL 4.1.9, CocoaMySQL (GUI frontend for MySQL), MenuMeters 1.2, and iChatStatus 1.2.1. I also did all the software updates, and installed and updated the developer tools.

It feels really good to have a “clean” machine, and before I do TOO much more than, say, my schoolwork, I’m going to sit down and figure out a really good file organization system, to make sure it STAYS organized and clean.
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Quick Geek Post, Real Post Later

After mucho deliberation, I’ve decided on a new computer and will be purchasing it tomorrow. Tentative final specs: 2.0GHz dual processor Power Mac G5, 1gb of PC3200 DDR RAM, 250gb hard drive, Radeon 9600 XT, wireless card and bluetooth module.

I also plan to get iWork, and it’ll be coming with iLife ’05 built in. I also picked up a 250gb external FireWire and FireWire800 drive for backup and archiving (you lose all your data ONCE and you’re a die-hard archivist for life), and a LaCie ElectronBlue IV 22″ monitor (factory reconditioned… $300 off retail that way, which is why I decided to splurge on the larger monitor).

Total cost: more than we have, and let’s leave it at that. That said, my trust pitched in just under $1.7k, which helps a lot, and the hope is that I’ll have a job soon (two separate prospects have shown up on my doorstep around the same time… an internship locally, writing content for a MMORPG which could potentially turn into a full time job, and the other is a full time job writing content for a MMORPG… in Australia. Strangely, the Australia one is more concrete, since I’ve actually already made it onto their shortlist. I know I was talking about moving out of the country, but I honestly wasn’t expecting so soon, and am now kind of squeamish now that there’s even a potential real prospect.)

Anyway, as the title says, this is just a geekpost. I’ll post more real stuff later. Thanks so much to all of you who’ve commented recently, and I hope to get back to all of you in one way or another soon.

Laptop Amusement

Sitting around at the Tiger Tech Talk at the Seattle Marriot Waterfront, in a room filled with other Mac Geeks. I’ve NEVER seen this many laptops. It’s really pretty impressive. Entire 12 person tables were filled with people’s various Powerbooks at every seat. I don’t know why, but this amuses me greatly… that and the fact that I can turn on iChat and see half a dozen people on Rendezvous. Slick slick slick.

Umm, I can’t really talk about what I’ve been learning, quite yet… they made it clear at the beginning of the conference that this information is Confidential, and pointed out that we signed a general NDA when we signed up for the seminar.
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Need a New Computer

[NOTE: This is going to be an image-heavy post, so 56k-ers, be forewarned (the images total about 470k together, so it shouldn’t be too bad). All the images are in the extended entry. – Nabil]

A little background: I am a computer user by hobby and (so to speak) by trade. I do graphics work (3d and 2d), I write, I program, I design, I research, all on my computer. This is in addition to blogging, MUDding, chatting (IRC and otherwise), and web browsing in general. When all said and done, I AVERAGE 12 hours a day on my computer, daily, with the range going from 4 hour to 20 hours at a time. I make myself available 24 hours a day for the systems I help administer (the MUD, for instance), as well, so my computer is running (albeit idle) pretty much all the time.

Suffice it to say, my computers see a LOT of use. I travel with it regularly to a variety of locations (whether across the country or down the street to the local coffee shop). As such, despite keeping it in padded protected carrying cases, it sees some physical abuse in addition to just processor cycles. All of which… well it takes its toll. I’m documenting the abuse my current computer has received in the past two years as an example of exactly why I’m needing a new computer now: basically, I honestly don’t believe it will last even until I graduate next year.
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Programming (1)

So, some of you may be wondering where I’ve been for the past few days… the short answer (ie, ignoring everything else that was going on) is that I’ve been wading through the last few chapters of Stephen Kochan‘s Programming in Objective-C. Useful, well written book that does more for actually teaching the language than most of the other books on my shelf combined.

I finally got through it, and feel moderately comfortable with it, ready to take the next step, and actually try my hand at actual development. Never one for small bites, I decided to dive right into building a MUD server. From scratch. In Objective-C, which none of my friends know and thus can’t help with. Woo!
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Why, MT, WHY?

So, Movable Type 3.0 was released yesterday. I of course found this out by them sending out an email saying “Yeah, we kind of dropped a bomb with this one…” to which I promptly said “HUH?!?” and dashed off to read about what is going on.

MT 3 is out, and has all the features they’ve been talking about having. That’s good. The bad? A SIX HUNDRED DOLLAR PRICE TAG. In the time between 2.6 and 3.0, they decided to “improve” their licensing structure by taking a page from UserLand and dropping a unmerited price tag onto software that is competing (and it’s honest to god competition) with FREE SOFTWARE.

They do offer a crippled free version, with the caveats that it can only have ONE weblog in the installation, and only ONE author. Further, there is a CPU restriction on that installation, so you can’t even install the free version on a dual processor for testing purposes (and you’re SOL if the server you’re hosted on happens to be multi-processor).

Suffice it to say, my “upgrade” will be taking a while longer. Like, however long it takes for me to go learn Flash and MySQL, which I’ll use to homebrew my own setup. I am VERY disappointed with their decision and apparent complete lack of market research in developing an effective pricing model.

Orkut and Star Wars Day

Before I continue: yesterday was Star Wars Day, so in honor of that — May the 4th be with you.

I just also wanted to give a quick shout out that I’m finally in Orkut, so feel free to add me as a friend if you are a member or end up joining. It is yet another community service — a mechanism to keep in touch with friends, network with people, and find dates if so inclined. It’s actually pretty nifty, and allows you to join or create community user groups so people can join communities about their interests. I very quickly joined about 20, because they sounded interesting — we’ll see what comes of it.

I even found an old classmate of mine from High School, whom I haven’t heard from or about since graduation. He was a hell of a nice guy, though, and I’m glad to be getting back on each others’ radar a bit.

That’s all. Short post, huh?
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New Post! What?

Okay, a little background: I’ve had an account with GamaSutra (THE major website for game development professionals) for about… hmm, three years now. Each week, they send out a newsletter that basically lists any game related announcements from news sources, any new articles on the site, information about the Game Developer’s Conference, projects for contractors, and… new job listings. Very handy little email, really, and I’m always glad to read through it when I get it.

So, I was reading through this week’s email, and noticed a new job posting for a game designer at a place called Cranky Pants Games. I looked at the job qualifications (which almost invariably say in large, unfriendly letters “INDUSTRY-RELATED DEGREE REQUIRED, 4+ YEARS REQUIRED”), and — lo and behold! — I actually fit the qualifications, with flying colors no less.

I sent off my resume about 5 minutes ago (took me some time to write the cover letter, as I don’t do the “form letter” thing), and I’m really, really nervous, hoping to God that I get it. So that’s what this little post is about: please pray for me if you believe in prayer, or just send me well wishes if you don’t, and hopefully this’ll work out. Considering how stressful and downright depressing the job hunt has been so far, I could really use all the help I can get.

Wish me luck!