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     Icon Machine gets top billing
    Filed under: — David @ 9:33 am

    MacWorld today posted a Mac OS X Hints article about using custom icons, in which Icon Machine gets a little recognition. It’s always fun to see my name - or my app’s name - in lights now and then.

    Work on Icon Machine 4 continues. Another cool things I’m realizing about Cocoa bindings is that not only do they make it easy to quickly throw an interface together, but you can also keep them around under-the-hood as you transition from your prototype UI to the final version. This way you can mess around with the UI without disturbing your data-management stuff. I assume this is how Delicious Library was developed. There are still some things that confuse me about creating my own bindings; when I figure those details out I’ll post what I’ve learned.

     Random act of kindness
    Filed under: — David @ 2:04 pm

    The laundry machines in my apartment complex use these electronic pay cards, and the machine for putting more money on them is in the leasing office because it kept getting vandalized when it was in the laundry room.

    Last night I was doing my laundry, but it was after office hours and it turned out I didn’t have enough on my card for the second load in the dryer. I was hoping someone else would show up and I could pay them back for the use of their card - I did the same for someone else last time, which is why I was so low. But no such luck.

    So I was forced to leave my wet clothes there overnight. I moved them to a dryer, since there are more dryers and I figured they’d be less likely to get in the way.

    This morning, then, I went to the office first thing to get to the card machine. They weren’t officially open yet, but they let me in anyway. I went to the laundry room, checked on my clothes… and they were dry. I dug around to make sure they weren’t just dry on the outside of the pile. They were totally dry. There was also lint in the lint trap, and I was pretty sure I had cleaned that out as I usually do when I load a dryer.

    So someone spontaneously spent 75ยข and did my laundry for me. That was nice of them.

     Mighty Mouse
    Filed under: — David @ 10:46 am

    Last night I stopped by the Apple store in Century City to check out the new Mighty Mouse. I don’t think I’ll get one. They got pretty fancy, but they neglected a major component of interaction: feedback.

    What they did was take the old unibutton mouse and add touch sensors to the front half to detect which side you’re trying to click. The thing is the left side overrides the right side, and it’s touch-sensitive, not pressure-sensitive. So if you’re touching the left side at all, it counts as a left click. The actual clicking is exactly the same as with the old mouse, so you can’t tell by feel whether you’ve achieved a left-click or a right-click.

    The ball is an interesting idea, though it was a little flaky, especially with horizontal scrolling. Although I couldn’t hear the noise it made with its little speaker, it also has a sort of buzzing feeling as you scroll. I think this is the one exception to the mouse’s overall problem with tacticle feedback.

    I had gotten the impression that the ball is also clickable, but when I tried it I found myself clicking the whole mouse. Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to work, but since neither of the two machines with Mighty Mice actually had the software installed I couldn’t tell for sure. But even if it is supposed to work that way, I don’t think I like the way it feels just like a regular button click.

    The “force-sensing buttons” (what other kind is there?) on the side seemed to take a lot of force to activate, which is presumably because they still also function as the part you grab so you can move the mouse without releasing the button. I think this dual function is a bad idea. Plus, again, there’s no tactile feedback at all, and I couldn’t hear the speaker unless I held it up to my ear. If I had one of these mice, I’d probably never use the side buttons.

    This seems to be a mouse that was designed for use in very quiet environments. Quieter than your average Apple store, anyway. I’ll wait and see what Apple comes up with in their next mouse… though that doesn’t happen very often.

    Currently I’m using a Logitech MX500 on my desktop Mac at home, and I’m happy with it. It has plenty of buttons that are well-placed, and it has a good feel to it. The only problem is every time I restart the machine, I have to re-set the mouse tracking.

    My first third-party mouse was the Kensington Thinking Mouse, which was great for its time. I was hoping they’d make a scroll wheel version, but the fact was that fitting four buttons and a scroll wheel in the tip of a mouse just wasn’t going to happen. Instead they made the Mouseworks Mouse, whose slanted button design was kind of awkward, and the fact that the leftmost button was “button 1″ was a real pain in situations where you couldn’t reassign it. I have some not-so-fond memories of playing Diablo 2 with that mouse.

    On my PC, I currently have the Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer. It’s pretty good, but I’m not fond of the “smooth” scroll wheel. It’s that tactile feedback thing again. The smoothness may feel nice, but it doesn’t tell me anything about what I’m actually doing. I prefer the “notched” feel of regular scroll wheels, because I know how far I’m going. This is especially useful when you’re doing something besides scrolling a document, like click-scrolling to switch applications, or switching weapons in UT2004. It’s another case of getting fancy while actually removing important functionality.

     Sprightly Hardware
    Filed under: — David @ 9:48 pm

    Sprightly Hardware is my first set in over a year. Some people may have noticed that I’ve had the preview up for a while; I finally decided 20 icons is enough for now.

    It’s kind of a tough choice between trying to develop a new style, and seeing what else you can do with an old one. After Sprightly, Squiver, Smack, and Paper Folder, I felt like it was time to go back to the beginning.


    This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

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