How Susan Kare applied embroidery skills to create the iconic Macintosh icons

In the early 1980s, Susan Kare joined Apple Computer to design fonts and user interface graphics. A legend of pixel art, Kare created the look of the original Macintosh, from the Chicago typeface to the Trash Can to the Happy Mac icon. She's currently creative director at Pinterest. David Kindy profiles Kare in Smithsonian:

Pioneering designer Susan Kare was taught by her mother how to do counted-thread embroidery, which gave her the basic knowledge she needed to create the first icons for the Apple Macintosh 35 years ago.

“It just so happened that I had small black and white grids to work with,” she says. “The process reminded me of working needlepoint, knitting patterns or mosaics. I was lucky to have had a mother who enjoyed crafts..."

Designing the icons proved to be more of a challenge (than the typefaces). Reproducing artwork on those primitive CRT surfaces, which used a bit-mapped matrix system with points of light, or pixels, to display data, was a designer’s nightmare.

However, the friend who recommended Kare for the job—-Andy Hertzfeld, then lead software architect for Macintosh-—had an idea. Since the matrix was essentially a grid, he suggested Kare get the smallest graph paper she could find. She then blocked out a 32-by-32 square and began coloring in squares to create the graphics...

After leaving Apple in 1986, Kare became creative director for Apple cofounder Steve Jobs at the short-lived NeXT, Inc., an influential computer startup that was eventually acquired by Apple. She founded her own eponymous design firm in 1989, which created graphic designs for hundreds of clients, including Autodesk, Facebook, Fossil, General Magic, IBM, Microsoft and PayPal.

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Tiktok's internal policies are both weird and terrible

Tiktok bills itself as apolitical, despite the fact that is both a de facto arm of Chinese political propaganda (and, weirdly, for Uyghur human rights activists). Read the rest

User Inyerface: collecting every "dark pattern" of web design in one place

Bagaar's User Inyerface is a frustratingly hilarious set of web dark-patterns that you have to navigate your way through, as a kind of remarkably enraging game. I got stuck on the captchas, whose windoid was too small for the relevant checkboxes to be activated. Can you get further than me? (via Four Short Links) Read the rest

The promise and peril of "sonification": giving feedback through sound

The majority of applications use "visualization" to give feedback and responses to users: think of graphs, alerts, and other visual cues about what is going on inside a computer, or what the computer has detected in the world. Read the rest

Installing a root certificate should be MUCH scarier

The news that Facebook had spent years paying teens to install a surveillance kit called "Facebook Research" had a key detail: as part of the program, Facebook had its users install a new "root certificate." Read the rest

Conducting "evil" computer research, in the name of good

The next CHI (computer-human interaction) conference is being held on May 5 in Glasgow, and will include a workshop called CHI4Evil, "Creative Speculation on the Negative Effects of HCI Research," in which scholars, researchers and practitioners are invited to "anticipate and reflect on the potential downsides of our technology design, research, and implementation" through design fiction, speculative design, and other tools. Read the rest

Thunderbird team vows faster, easier-to-use, more stable versions in the year to come

In 2015, Mozilla announced that it would turn Thunderbird -- one of the last freestanding, cross-platform email clients -- into a freestanding, independent project, and in 2017, Thunderbird became a community-overseen project with institutional backing from Moz. Read the rest

Inter UI: A free font for "high legibility of small-to-medium sized text on computer screens"

Inter UI is a family of freeware fonts with ""a tall x-height to aid in readability of mixed-case and lower-case text" designed for small screen text. (via Four Short Links) Read the rest

A science-fiction-inspired desktop UI for your Lin/Win/Mac system

Squared (AKA Gaby) is a French hacker who created edex-ui, a science-fiction inspired desktop "heavily inspired from DEX-UI and the TRON Legacy movie effects," which gives you a terminal and live telemetry from your system; it looks like it would be especially fun on a tablet (though if you really wanna go sci fi, build a homebrew cyberspace deck). Read the rest

I'm an Android loving iPhone user

Hardware reviews are a big part of how I put bread on the table. In order to do my job properly, I’ve got to be something of a platform agnostic.

While I do most of my writing using Apple devices, I also have to consider other platforms in my coverage: software that works well on a laptop running Windows 10 may be a dog’s breakfast on a MacBook once it’s been ported.

A bluetooth speaker that sound great when paired with my iPhone 7 Plus, for example, might sound like hot garbage when linked to another audio source. So I invest in other hardware that may not be used as part of my day-to-day life, but which I still need to think about when doing my job.

About six months ago, I came to the conclusion that maybe hauling the hardware out when it came time to test something and then throwing it back in a box when I’m done with it wasn’t enough: to really understand whether, say a pair of headphones that comes with an app to control their EQ or noise cancellation, without seeing how it fits into my day-to-day life using a given platform. So, I upped the amount of time that I spend working in Windows 10, I now read books on both Kobo and Amazon e-readers and, in a real shift in how I live my lift, I’ve spent more than half a year using Android-powered smartphones as my daily drivers. In the time since I last used an Android device as my go-to, things have improved so much, I was taken aback. Read the rest

Amazon has Reasons not to let that negative review go up (Updated)

Thousands of Amazon reviews are bought and paid for, and the company has a significant, algorithm-led effort to weed out sellers and scammers who abuse the system. But Amazon itself also rigs the UI to make it hard to leave negative reviews, writes Stephen Eggers:

After spending ~5 to ~10 minutes filling it out I get this message.

This item is only eligble for Amazon Verified Purchase Reviews.

What a waste of my time! I bought the thing, Amazon knows this, so what is this about "Amazon Verified Purchase reviews"

Note that I only got this message AFTER trying to leave a 2 star review. What would have happend if I had left a more positive review? Would that be allowed?

My favorite 'dark pattern' at Amazon was how you couldn't navigate away from the checkout page: the Amazon logo was unlinked and the rest of the usual layout was absent. They changed this recently to make the logo clickable, but they still aren't letting you leave that page without a fight, and there's only one place they wan't you to go back to:

UPDATE: Amazon responds:

"An AVP badge will only appear next to a review when the product was purchased on Amazon at a price that reflects the typical shopping experience. If a customer is receiving the message that we are only accepting AVP reviews, than they did not buy the product on Amazon for a typical price. We never suppress reviews based on star rating or sentiment."

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When should web designers use modal overlays?

"This web page needs to be interrupted by a lightbox effect and a modal dialog asking me to sign up for a mailing list," said no one ever. Read the rest

Listen: how to secure software by caring about humans, not security

Scout Brody is executive director of Simply Secure, a nonprofit that works to make security and privacy technologies usable by technologically unsophisticated people by focusing on usability and human factors. Read the rest

Washington Post and Jigsaw launch a collaborative pop-up dictionary of security jargon

Information security's biggest obstacle isn't the mere insecurity of so many of our tools and services: it's the widespread lack of general knowledge about fundamental security concepts, which allows scammers to trick people into turning off or ignoring security red flags. Read the rest

Historic accord reached in bum-washing bidet toilet UI conventions

Japan's leading bidet toilet manufacturers (including Toto, Panasonic, and Toshiba) have come together through their industry association, the Japan Sanitary Equipment Industry Association, to agree upon a common set of UI conventions for the meanings of the icons on the buttons on the bidets' control panels, thus ending an era in which you might think you were getting "wash and dry" but actually ended up with "layer-cut and dye-job." Read the rest

California just launched a "Digital Service" based on the amazing UK Government Digital Service

Since 2011, the UK's Government Digital Service has radically transformed the way Britons interact with their government, streamlining bureaucratic processes, opening up data, and making APIs available for community groups and commercial players -- alas, the GDS has become a political football in Westminster and has hemorrhaged talent, becoming a sad reminder of a once-glorious dream of government delivered humanely, with the public in mind. Read the rest

Help Kickstart these cool geometric music controllers

Michael Samuels of Sonic Geometry is Kickstarting a set of polyhedral sound controllers that let users shape sound and light into a multimedia performance. Originally a Master's Thesis project at Berklee School of Music, the prototypes are scheduled for release next year. Read the rest

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