Remove newbie UI from AI/PS

September 8, 2018

You can remove the (slow) newbie-friendly UI in both PS and AI by unchecking “Show The Start Workspace When No Documents Are Open” and chcking the “Use legacy ”File new” interface”. Good stuff 👍.

Figma tutorials

August 22, 2018

I wrote a few Figma tutorials last night. The original plan was to write a small tutorial but I ended up writing this huge thing in different parts. Here’s an organised list of links to the articles:

  • Tutorial 1: Basic organisation
  • Tutorial 2: Style overrides
  • Tutorial 3: Component matching 
  • Tutorial 4: Working with multiple pages and global components (coming soon)
  • Tutorial 5 Drawing tools and organizing components (coming soon)
  • Tutorial 6: Constraints (coming soon)
  • Tutorial 7: Component composition (coming soon)

I published these on Medium because Medium handles image uploads and captions very well. I don’t particularly like their monetisation model but I do find that there is a bigger chance that maybe this content will reach more people by posting there.

Variable fonts are here, and they are awesome

August 19, 2018

Yesterday I bought Flexible typesetting by Tim Brown. This inspired me to do some experiments with variable fonts, which you can find here.

The code behind that website is on Github, so if you are curious, you can check it out here.

I quite like the concept. Having access to so many font variations from a single WOFF2 file under 100kb is extremely powerful. I hope to use this in a real project at some point!

My go-to utilities for macOS

August 15, 2018

Part of what makes the Mac so great is the slew of utility apps to improve your productivity. Here’s a list of my favorites, most of which I have used for many years.

SizeUp is a window manager. I use it to put windows on the left or right half of my screen, or easily maximize them. This is usually the first thing I install on a new Mac.

Alfred is a tool that acts like Apple’s Spotlight: you invoke a hotkey and start typing. However, it does much more than Spotlight. I mainly use it to navigate between folders and quickly find files.

I was sceptical about CleanMyMac at first, but it really does find a lot of unused files on your system and offers to clean them for you in a reliable way. When you find yourself running out of hard drive space, you can also look at the free Disk Inventory X.

CloudApp instantly sends my screenshots to a web server for easy sharing. I also use it to share larger video files, like screencasts, via e-mail. I also find it handy to have an archive of screenshots online. I look at it sometimes and it really is a trip down (design) memory lane.

Talking about screencasts, Screenflow is my favorite screen recording software for the Mac. It’s not exactly a utility but I thought I’d mention it anyway.

Lastly, I use aText to save snippets of text, like my e-mail signature or my preferred way to handle CSS comments. For example, by typing ,sig1 my e-mail signature appears; and if I type ,lorem I get a bunch of lorem ipsum.

Cashless at #boomtown #gf18

July 21, 2018

At work we’ve been doing a bit of research regarding point of sale systems.

Every time I pay in a situation that is a bit different than the usual cash or debit card situation, I try to document it in order to improve the research.

Last night I was at Boomtown at the Gentse Feesten, this is a series of concerts that go on for about a week during the 10 day Ghent city festival that goes on every year.

They have this system where you can go cashless.

It’s supposed to be an improvement over the normal way of doing things (which would be food/drink vouchers) but it’s not.

With these kind of systems things tend to first have to get worse before they get better.

What I mean by this is that the new way of doing things has to mature in order to replace the old way of doing things.

However, I am not sure if this system will ever be better than physical tickets for short-term events.

The old way, in this case, would be to sell food and ticket vouchers which you can then use to pay for your things.

The reason we want vouchers is because when somebody comes up to pay, we want to minimize the payment interaction between the customer and the cashier.

3 beers means 3 drink tickets: easy.

The new cashless system, the interaction is swiping a card, which is easier, especially for large interactions. No need to count 16 vouchers, it’s just a card swipe.

I believe a cashless system can be better, but not for short term events like Boomtown where you go in for a few hours. Instead of going to enjoy the concerts you are now first presented with the task of figuring out how to get a drink.

Because of the way the prices are set up (2.8 euros for a beer, 1 euro for an exchange beaker, 5 euros admin cost to get your remaining money back via a website (!)) you are constantly doing some minor calculus to try and figure out if you can get another beers, whether you need to top up your card etc.

Add in the factor of multiple people buying multiple cards which all look the same and things just get utterly confusing.

I understand the advantage of a cashless system for multiple-day festivals (e.g. Melt in Germany or Tomorrowland in Belgium) but it just doesn’t work for short-term events.

You could argue that Boomtown is a multiple day festival but I think the majority of people go there just once or twice during the Gentse feesten and that means they are confronted with the same problem.

I did enjoy looking at the technology. Here are some vague pictures.

People trying to figure out the system.

My opinion after a few beers

The card itself

The cashier’s point of view

The swipe thingie – notice the Bitcoin balance :)

Apple voor bedrijven korting

July 18, 2018

Deze blog post ter info voor andere bedrijven, zodat jullie geen 1 uur en 20 minuten aan de telefoon moeten hangen om computers te bestellen zoals ik vandaag.

Je krijgt ongeveer 6% korting op een laptop bestelling als je geregistreerd bent als bedrijf bij Apple en aan een minimum bedrag voldoet.

Welk bedrag dit is was niet zo duidelijk aan de telefoon, maar het ging over ca. 4000-5000 euro. Dit geldt voor alle bestellingen (ook iPhones enz.) en er wordt gekeken naar het bestelvolume vanaf een bepaald e-mailadres (of bedrijf vermoed ik…) voor de laatste 12 maanden.

Je kan je registreren als bedrijf via de telefoon, dan wordt je in het systeem gezet en krijg je proper facturen op je bedrijfsnaam/BTW nummer.

Aangezien je eigenlijk met Apple Nederland belt is het intracommunautaire levering en hoef je geen BTW te betalen.

Op het moment dat je een bestelling wil plaatsen is dit altijd telefonisch en krijg je een mail met een offerte. Je kan dan bevestigen, ik heb mijn recente bestelling betaald met mijn kredietkaart. Door de cijfers door te geven via de telefoon. Modern hoor Apple ;).

Kijk de limieten op uw kredietkaart na bij grote bestellingen! En als je geïnteresseerd bent in de nieuwe Apple laptops, check zeker de laatste video van Dave2d.

Rollende hellingen

June 12, 2018

Er is een nieuwe feature in Basecamp: de rolling hill chart.

Ik moet toch efkes lachen hiermee.

Ik volg Basecamp als bedrijf al jaren en ik ben mee met veel van hun ideeën.

Maar tegenwoordig gaan ze toch vaak in de mist.

Zoals die keer dat ze hun staigair een breadcrumb navigatie hadden laten maken, en die dan trots een Medium post erover schreef.

Ik zie dat meisje nog blinken op de Product Design meetup in Gent: hey, ik heb een stage bij Basecamp. En ik heb net deze feature ontworpen.

2 maand later hebben ze het veranderd, want zo goed werkte het precies niet om een dropdown te openen bij iets dat er duidelijk als een link uitziet (alé zeg, wie had dat nu gedacht?)

Kijk, iedereen moet leren, en iedereen maakt fouten, maar het is voor mij dan de fout van het management om zulke zaken goed te keuren.

Wij gebruiken Basecamp al lange tijd op het werk en tellen hier een aardige som voor neer per jaar.

Maar we gebruiken het eigenlijk redelijk inactief. Het is er, en soms is het eens nodig, en dan zijn er weer projecten waar we het totaal niét gebruiken.

Ondertussen blijven we $75 per maand betalen, een mooie $900 per jaar. Goed verdiend voor die mannen.

Ik heb mijn twijfels bij de product richting in de huidige Basecamp, maar ik blijf het een heel tof bedrijf vinden.

Het is alleszins gestoeld op interessante ideeën die ik doorheen de jaren gretig heb opgenomen.

Zo hebben ze een boek geschreven dat Remote heet, waar het over remote work gaat.

En ze hebben ook lekker veel geschreven over de bullshit waar je soms door moet in klassieke bedrijven.

Over het algemeen proberen ze hun software zo eenvoudig mogelijk te houden, en maken ze goede beslissingen.

Maar, terug naar de rolling hill chart. Een nieuwe feature in Basecamp.

Zo’n nieuwe chart uitvinden, waar niemand van snapt wat die eigenlijk betekent, dat is toch het tegenovergestelde van eenvoudig?

Van op de zijlijnen (van op Twitter dus) kan ik afleiden dat dit het pet project is van één van de designers die er al jaren werkt, Ryan Singer.

Het gaat over hoe ver een project staat te kunnen inschatten.

Er hangt een hele theorie rond, over onzekerheid en over een punt dat je voorbij je “berg” bent, en dat het “dan maar uitvoering is”. Een theorie die je zou kunnen gaan uitzoeken.

Ik vind dat relevant en interessant voor een design project.

Maar wat ik zie in de context van een pakket als Basecamp is gewoon weer een beetje feature creep.

Ik ga echt niet ver in de archieven van Basecamp (37Signals) moeten zoeken om een blog post te vinden met statements over zaken eenvoudig houden, simpliciteit, en het niet nuttig zijn van allerhande project management technieken (zoals progress charts).

En nu smijten ze er zoiets in. Akkoord, het is iets nieuws. Maar ergens ook exact hetgene waar Basecamp jaren hard tegen aan het vechten was.

Want nu komt er een moment dat ik iemand ga moeten uitleggen wat die chart betekent. Of ik kan ‘m gewoon negeren, en dan maakt het de software weer een beetje zwaarder dan het allemaal moet zijn.

Grappig toch dat je uiteindelijk hetgene wordt waar je tegen aan het vechten was…

WWDC wishes

June 3, 2018

WWDC is around the corner.

Time to dream up what would be awesome, and then have a reality check tomorrow.

Hardware

  • An expandable Mac Pro with a competitive price vs. a Windows-based machine (Below €3-4k depending on options) . I want a machine where I can slot in 32Gb of RAM and a super great GPU (like a GTX1080 or something newer). But I won’t need it if the new Macbook Pro turns out to be perfect (see below)
  • A new Macbook Pro that is really just a faster version of the 2015 Macbook Pro aka the perfect laptop
    • Brings back the good stuff
      • Actually has ports again: HDMI (full), SD, headphone jack, USB A (x1 or x2)*
      • Has magsafe <3
    • Removes the “innovations” that turned out to be actually worse than what we had
      • Removal of newer trackpad that is way too huge*
      • Removal of Touch Bar*
      • Removal of the Butterfly key switch mechanism*
    • Upgrades what is decidedly 2015 about the 2015 Macbook Pro
      • 720p webcam becomes 1080p
      • The 2 thunderbolt ports on 2015 Macbook Pro should become USB-C (Thunderbolt 3)
      • Newest Intel processor line (8th gen I believe)
      • A laptop graphics card option that can hold up in 2018, even when it comes to gaming (this would be a GTX1060 equivalent)
    • In terms of looks, I think the 2015 Macbook Pro is pretty much perfect and I don’t desire another look. But less bezels might be nicer, maybe?
  • A Mac Mini with a Blu Ray slot to put next to my TV. I regularly stream from Universcine or other web sources, play Blu Ray discs or DVDs, and I just want to show my computer screen on my TV with the last amount of hassle. It needs to have at least 1Tb internal storage that I can access over the network (i.e. from my Macbook Pro). It should also have a big picture mode (like Steam).

Software (Mac)

For the Mac, I feel it is time for another “Snow Leopard” style release where Apple just works on the stability of the system, and doesn’t add any new features.

It happens too often that your machine might just lag for a bit when you log in to your account – or that randomly Spotlight reindexing messes up your entire workflow.

I have to dig deep to find things that I would want on the Mac that aren’t already there.

I would opt to remove some features that I deem crappy or replace them by newer implementations. For example the way fullscreen apps work in MacOS is pretty much terrible.

The Mac can take a hint from Windows or from apps like SizeUp. This would be one less thing to have to install on a new Mac.

Software (iWork)

For iWork I would love better documentation surrounding Numbers on how to do spreadsheets that talk to each other and that have pivot table-like functionality.

Also having an up to date documentation surrounding automation would be great. I imagine a website where Apple explains with screencasts how you can do your business administration using iWork efficiently, with example files.

For Keynote, I would appreciate a way to export your slide content as JSON, and deeper options on how to optimize image output from large presentations.

Software (iOS)

I am entirely happy with iOS, I can’t really think of anything I need or want.

But I’ve also largely given up on the idea of using iOS for actual work, so maybe there is some work that can be done in this arena. At some level it would be awesome to be able to do design work on an iPad Pro.


I am curious to see what Apple will announce tomorrow!

*I’ve never used a 2016 or 2017 Macbook Pro as my daily driver because of all the bad things I keep hearing about them. So I don’t have practical experience with the machines, but I don’t think I need that to know that dongles suck, and that keyboards breaking is just bad news.

 

 

Movie recents (May 2018)

May 27, 2018

I check the cinema offering every week and to be honest, these days the offering is a bit disappointing. Oscar season has ended and not a lot is being released anymore. Cannes just happened but usually those films only land in the cinema much later.

So, to get my movie fix, I mostly resorted to streaming this month. You can stream the first 3 listed movies below yourself by using Universcine. Streaming a movie is usually something like €4. I swear I am not being paid to put this here, I just like this service. I set up my PayPal account to not have to verify for small purchases and when I make my choice I am usually watching a film in seconds.

La Fille Inconnue (The unknown girl) (★★★)

The brothers Dardenne make movies that are usually social dramas situated in “poor” neighborhood Seraing in Liege, Belgium. This movie is no different. I found this to be a gripping story of a doctor who becomes obsessed with something shocking that happened in her life. It’s best to see this one without any spoilers really.

Daphne (★)

This film follows a woman in her thirties who has some problems in her life and resorts to one night stands and a lot of drinking. Even though it is a relatively short movie it takes too long to make any point whatsoever. I really wanted to like this film but it just falls short in the end.

La Vie d’Adéle (Blue is the warmest colour) (★★★)

This is a coming-of-age movie that follows young Adéle (played by Adéle Exarchopoulos, who you might have seen in Le Fidéle (The Racer and the Jailbird). It’s a film about love, about discovering things about yourself. Don’t watch this one with your parents or it might get awkward.

Solo: a Star Wars Story (★★1/2)

I went into this with low expectations and just found it to be a fun movie that I enjoyed watching – even though I disliked the acting of both leads. I can’t help but think of Danaerys from Game of Thrones when I see Emilia Clarke. I had the same problem with Robin Wright in Blade Runner 2049.

This film does however continue to diminish the value of a “Star Wars” movie. When TFA came in cinemas I thought they were on to something. Now after seeing all of the “new” Star Wars films (including the very disappointing Last Jedi) I don’t think these films are all that special anymore.

Sure, some of them are fun to watch, and you’ll have a good time in cinema. But the mythical aspect sort of disappeared.

Taste of Okinawa

May 2, 2018

When I was on holiday a few months ago, I took a cooking class at Taste of Okinawa. I finally got around to writing a bit about it.

The dish I made.

The cooking class took place in Naha, Okinawa. Naha is the capital of Okinawa, which is a series of islands in the south of Japan. These islands used to be their own kingdom before becoming what is now known as Okinawa.

The influence of the US — who attacked Okinawa during WWII — can really be felt when you’re there. There are several US military bases on the island and even in the food you’ll sometimes find a US influence with dishes like taco rice (my favorite!) or cans of spam in stores.

Taste of Okinawa is kind of a restaurant/bar that also offers cooking classes. The cooking classes are held in a neat cool space that has 2 big tables and a bar. It is located in a shōtengai, which is a covered arcade full of shops.

Shōtengai (商店街)

When we arrived we found out there were only 2 participants, me and a friend. For me this was great since this meant we would get all the explanation we wanted.

First we went on a tour of the nearby shops. We got explanations about specific ingredients and got to taste some as well.

I loved the fresh market with a wonderful selection of fish. My goal to eat a live shrimp was not fulfilled but the selection there was simply amazing.

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