Pixelmator – Low budget, big heart

Mar 27 2013

I’m going for sort of a minimalist software set up on my home laptop at the moment. Trying to get by with the bare minimum to see how the tools I use effect how I work and what comes out of it.

This means getting by without Quicksilver, without IA Writer, Chrome, Nocturne & Isolator etc. But the real difference is no Adobe CS. There’s no other piece of software I’ve used, relied on, loved & hated as much as Photoshop. This is probably the first time in 15 years that it’s not been one of the first pieces of software to get installed on a computer of mine. Needless to say – it’s a big adjustment.

Surprisingly though, there’s a far cheaper piece of software that does almost everything I need from Photoshop for my own use. Meet Pixelmator.

No. It doesn’t do everything Photoshop does. It doesn’t have video editing or even a 3D hat tool. It won’t be able to replace Photoshop at my day-job. But I’d say it does enough for almost anyone.

It feels really fast and stable. It looks nice and feels intuitive. It even has some nice looking & useful filters. But what really gets me about it is all the little touches where the TLC from the developers show through. How the rulers light up slightly around your mouse coordinates. How the little connecting line between a filter setting window and the underlying image acts like small piece of string. It never goes over the top, but it does show that there’s a human touch – someone who cares about the what they’ve created – behind this app. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt like that about Photoshop.

Filter pattern annoyances

Mar 23 2013

So – here’s a pattern I’ve seen a few times too often. A definite case of the devil’s in the details.

Web-fonts-filter-pattern

The example is from the filter functionality on Google’s Web Fonts page, but it seems to be a common one. So the functionality for the pattern goes like this – it’s possible to filter the content of the page based on a number of tags / categories.

In this annoying implementation the choice has been made for the default selection to match the programatic logic behind it – since all the content is shown, all the categories are active. To show only a single category the visitor has to uncheck all the categories except the one he/she wants to see. Logical, yes. Intuitive, no.

I’ve ran into this problem myself a few times, discussed it with colleagues several times and always came to the conclusion that a simplified pattern is better: the default state is that all content is shown, but none of the categories are shown as selected. As a category is checked for filtering, content from that category alone is shown.

DDB-se-filter-pattern

A similar pattern from DDB.se – when a client is clicked, work for that client is shown

A simple change, but now the most common use case, showing content from only one category, only takes one click. The difference in intuitiveness is very apparent.

Regarding Flickr

Oct 11 2012

Flickr used to be my number one favorite site. The yardstick for advanced but easy to use web services. Then something happened, or rather – nothing happened.

flickr-logo

Looking at pictures and finding them – that’s the core parts of a photo community, and it’s also where Flickr’s stagnation is the most obvious. Every part of the experience feels inelegant from a dated approach to site navigation, or cluttered from feature creep.

Some months ago I started a Tumblr blog for showing my photos instead. I’ve rarely looked back since then, but whenever I did visit my old favorite, it made me a bit sad. It seemed even worse. We’ve got nothing on common anymore. I hope they’ll pick themselves up again, maybe I’ll be back. But for now, Flickr. I’m saying goodbye.

NEX-7 – A Redefinition of the camera

Oct 10 2012

This is a rolling article. The latest update was October 10.

Since getting my Panasonic GF1 I’ve been convinced that mirrorless cameras are the future for most photography. Advantages such as smaller size, better focus accuracy and compatibility with almost any lens spell big trouble for traditional camera form factors such as the SLR or rangefinder.

NEX-7

The Sony NEX-7

The mirrorless systems have matured quickly. Initial problems such as slow auto focus speed and wonky handling were mostly corrected already by the second generation. But still, some problems remained.

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On Responsive Web Design

Jun 10 2012

For the longest time we’ve been lying to ourselves, imagining the canvas of the web as fixed. Thinking of 1024 by 768 px to be the one true default.

We knew of course that it wasn’t quite true. That visitors was browsing the web using differently sized displays, with different resolutions. But designing for the lowest common denominator has served us fairly well. Until recently.

First hearing about it, Responsive Web Design seemed like another solution in search for a problem. Like it offered little new beyond what was already possible. Looking deeper however, it quickly became apparent that it’s actually one of few viable solutions to a growing problem.

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Facebook buys Instagram

Apr 10 2012

Yesterday social media giant Facebook bought the up and coming social photography app Instagram for a staggering $1 billion. I find this both awesome and scary at the same time.

Facebook (heart) Instagram

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Gräsö Summer House

Jan 28 2012

It still feels slightly surreal, but me and my girlfriend have bought a summer house. We’ve been wanting an out of town retreat for quite some time, but everything we’ve found has been far to expensive, poorly situated or in real bad shape.

Summer House

But a few weeks ago we found this brilliant little place. We went and had a look over the weekend, decided it was perfect and then bought it on Monday. It’s a tiny, simple house without frills. It has nothing beyond the basics – electricity and a hand pumped well. The house has a conservatory as well as a huge porch. There’s a small guest house as well, which means that friends and family can come visit easily. It doesn’t have any major problems some TLC won’t fix.

Walk to the Beach

A short walk from the ocean

Gräsö

What made us really taken with this little place was its location. It’s situated close to the ocean on one of the larger islands of the northern Stockholm archipelago – Gräsö. Accessible by ferry, the island is populated year round by enough people to sustain a small convenience store, but is also big enough not to feel crowded. It takes us around two and a half to three hours to get door to door from home, close enough for it to still feel reasonable to go there after work on Friday and spend the weekend. It’s also possible to get there by train and bus, a huge plus from both cost and environmental perspectives.

I can’t wait to fix it up and spend time there!

5 Weeks, 35 Photos & the Zeiss ZE35/2

Dec 9 2011

After spending the summer shooting the GF1 almost exclusively, I felt I should probably use my 5D Mk II for a bit. It’s a very nice camera after all, and using it only while traveling seemed like a bit of a waste.

Pink Moped

I decided to set myself a challenge. To use the Canon 5D Mk II, with the ZE 35/2, every day for 5 weeks. Then select and upload one picture every day, resulting in a collection of 35 photos.

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Sneak Peak

Dec 6 2011

A small sneak peak at what I’m currently designing at work. Goes live in January. Will post more when I can.

Extra Instruments

New Watch

Nov 16 2011

I haven’t really worn a watch in the last few years, but have been missing it lately. Have been on a lookout for a Dieter Rams Braun watch, but it has proven quite difficult to find one of the nicer models in good condition for a decent price. So I was very happy to find out that part of the collection was getting a reissue of sorts.

Braun BN0032BKBKG

The collection is based on the original designs by Dieter Rams and Dieter Lubs from the 1960′s and 70′s with more or less slight modifications. I decided on the model with the telling name – BN0032BKBKG, one of the closest reissues in the collection. It’s a three hand watch with date. Pretty much as simple as it gets – fitting for a Rams design.