My iPhone 5c experiment is over

This will be my last post on my personal hardware devices, but I feel like, for the readers of this blog, I owe an explanation.

After 882 days, or 2.4 years, I’m replacing my yellow iPhone 5c 8 GB phone. It was an interesting experiment that lasted so much longer than I’d anticipated. Background: I had a 32 GB iPhone 5 and when the 5s / 5c series came around, I decided that for me the next step won’t be the 5s, but the 5c (which was roughly the same hardware as the 5) in the most basic, 8 GB version.

I did this is because I liked the looks better (I still do), and I thought that the 8 GB version will be enough for me as I won’t be installing unnecessary apps on my device – it will be a shift in my digital lifestyle, zen-state and so forth. I was wrong with this assessment. If I had bought a 16 or 32 GB version of the same phone, I wouldn’t have had to replace it just now, the storage is my primary reason.

iCloud Photos is a wonderful service where all my digital photo and movie library is displayed on all of my devices in sync. I’m archiving my library every year, so it is at a manageable size. Since my library this year was around 30 gigs in size, I thought I would be doing a clean slate, remove everything from my phone, start a new lib (you can do this by option clicking on the Photos.app icon), turn on optimize media on my device and store all my photos and videos in the cloud against my free 5 GB cloud storage.

It was a good plan: the phone would always optimize my local copies to display a preview only, but my albums and edits would be carried over. I could move finally away from the archaic file based workflow. When my cloud storage is full, I can still update to 50 gigs for 9 SEK in Sweden, which is very affordable. Even if I do need more, I can archive my photo library and start a new one – I could work with that.

For some reason this works in theory, but in space constrained environments iCloud Photos refuse to upload the changeset to the cloud and the only way I could get around this is by removing apps to free up space and to kick in the upload process. It was a mess and a final push that I needed to move on.

It’s not a good time to pick a new phone, because the days of vibrant, colorful products are now gone. So let’s go back being dull. After some consideration I picked up a 64 GB white iPhone SE with the black leather case. Having said that I can conclude my last post on my personal hardware devices as something I was wrong about.

Video games are not art – they’re better

Jeff Vogel:

I just finished playing DOOM. Like many, I was amazed by how awesome a game it turned out to be. Penny Arcade had the perfect description for it: “Playable sugar.”

DOOM had three of the best boss fights I’ve ever seen. Punishingly tough and yet scrupulously fair. When I died, I could say, “OK. I know what I did wrong. I won’t do that again.” When I fought those bosses, I was utterly transported. The rest of the world vanished. When I won, I was sweaty, wrung out, and completely satisfied.

I love literature and theatre. I love great movies. Yet, I can’t remember any work of art, no matter how good, that consumed and drained me as much as the Cyberdemon in DOOM.

The whole piece is a must read. While I agree on many fronts, I don’t agree with the bullish, video games über alles conclusion in general. It’s a matter of personal affection, where some create video games and some create sushi, nothing beats the other.

One big question

Q: What were the biggest surprises from living in a simulated Martian habitat for a full year?

Tristan Bassingthwaighte, the mission’s architect, A:

I would say the biggest positive is that when you remove social media, TV and commuting, and even the need to have a job – because you can’t go to a job when you’re in there – you had a lot of time to do stuff for yourself. For example, I learned how to salsa dance, trained for and ran a marathon, lost 20 pounds (9 kg) and got back in shape, learned how to cook, got 150 pages of my doctorate written, and did a lot of funky t-shirt designs.

We are looking for more people

Today we updated our jobs page. We’re currently on the lookout for three positions:

1. Global Business Operations Lead
2. Front-End Developer
3. DevOps Engineer

Since we’re already a distributed team, remote work is also possible if you don’t want to relocate to Sweden. If you’re interested in one of these, just reach out in an email with your CV and references. By the way, if you know me, you might as well contact me directly to clarify things.

Mapillary is a 20-something people big, financially stable product company. I’m emphasizing this because if you’re used to agency style work, this will be night and day. 🙂 Come, join us!

On licensing fonts for your startup

John Gruber is shutting down his app. He wrote a long piece about it, but here is the interesting part:

We’ve been asked “Why now?” Why not just let Vesper and Vesper Sync keep going as they are? The biggest factor is that we have recurring costs: the sync server and the licensing fees for Ideal Sans, Vesper’s typeface. We’re losing money every month.

I’m a designer and I care about type, but what I care about more is if my startup can actually get off the ground. I’m not saying that not licensing Ideal Sans would’ve turned the story around, but what I’m saying is licensing type is much further down the road.

I may not have been the only one observing this, because I’m realizing the day after (since this post was sitting in the drafts), that said paragraph was rewritten after publication, so now it reads:

We’ve been asked “Why now?” Why not just let Vesper and Vesper Sync keep going as they are? The biggest factor is that we have recurring costs: primarily, the sync server. We’re losing money every month.

An interesting choice of words, because the following information could have been just added to the paragraph above:

Product vs. marketing illustrations

Meg Robichaud (illustrator at Shopify) wrote a nice piece on the different types of illustrations both for product and marketing (~brand). Icons, spot, scene and editorial illustrations get introduced and looked at both from product and brand perspective. Here is the gist of it:

Icons in product: power and available features
Icons in brand: navigation, to inject some branding
Spot in product: to be read, “hey look at this thing” and just straight up show you the thing
Spot in brand: marketing illustrations say “holy butts did you know about this tho??”, feature call outs
Scene in product: explain complicated ideas, mainly in onboarding
Scene in brand: explain, but also why is it relevant, “how it works”
Editorial: complement the content, capture the mood

I also liked her checklist on icon design consistency:

– Corner radius
– Line treatment (stroke weight; cap treatment; ect)
– Overall weight (ie. if each pixel was a drop of paint, would they all make more or less the same tone when you mix them together?)
– Use of colour
– Are they all tilted (or not tilted) at the same angle?
– Do they handle connecting pieces similarly (either by leaving spaces or by finding ways to connect multiple objects)?
– Do they have either relatively similar silhouettes (eg. all contained in circles) or relatively unique silhouettes?

If you’re this far in reading, read the whole thing.

Visual design comparison between Chrome 51 and 52

New window chrome visuals land in Google Chrome 52 by the fantastic Sebastien Gabriel. Here is Chrome 51 versus 52 animated (click to see the 1:1 version, sorry no retina):

There is a new incognito design, which is now dark, like a sith lord. I dig this, very tight and fresh. You could argue about the tab shapes (I’m expecting an outcry from users), but it doesn’t hurt to go bold at times.

Since I’ll be working on Android apps too, I’m going to read his excellent article with lots of detail on how he redesigned Chrome for Material Design (part 1, part 2).

This is actually how the future will start with flying cars everywhere

Elon Musk:

You will also be able to add your car to the Tesla shared fleet just by tapping a button on the Tesla phone app and have it generate income for you while you’re at work or on vacation, significantly offsetting and at times potentially exceeding the monthly loan or lease cost. This dramatically lowers the true cost of ownership to the point where almost anyone could own a Tesla. Since most cars are only in use by their owner for 5% to 10% of the day, the fundamental economic utility of a true self-driving car is likely to be several times that of a car which is not.

Just imagine where this will go.

Nintendo is releasing a miniature NES with 30 built-in games

The Verge:

[Nintendo] announced what it’s calling the Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition. It looks just like a NES, only a lot tinier, and it comes with 30 games built in. You can connect it to your TV via a HDMI cable, and it also includes a controller designed to work just like the iconic rectangular NES gamepad.

It’s coming in November for 60 dollars. I wish Nintendo would add some kind of achievement system into the games so I can max every single one of them. (Ironically this week my father in law found my wifes old NES and SNES in the basement with a couple of games.) I also need to get a JVC TM-H1750C. And, of course, a basement where I install everything. 🙂

7 Problems Growing Design Teams Face

Aarron Walter on growing design teams:

Designers are finding themselves embedded in cross-functional teams with engineers and product owners. It’s a great opportunity to learn from others with different perspectives, but it often leaves designers craving the feedback and camaraderie of other designers that’s needed to improve their craft.

Having worked in a larger design team this really hit home. I don’t think we were able to figure out how to work in cross-functional teams yet be together as a design unit with our own set of culture and rules. I really enjoyed being among designers, but siloing designers does not work either.

There is a new type of team emerging around design systems: Design System Ops.

I think I have my own understanding what this could be in a smaller organization. The 20% rule to help you grow is also something worth considering, but it’s not exclusive to designers. Good article.

Fabular: A Medieval Space Folktale with Action-RPG and Roguelike influences

Fabular is going to be a fine indie space game with axes! The mechanics reminded me of Star Control, but the art is much more interesting and there are other gameplay elements to make it even better. Here is the trailer:

This game is special, because it’s being developed by one of my friends and the team is crazy small: they’re only three people. I’m in a constant awe how they were even able to pull off what they have. I remember last April, when Milan B. showed me the game at a birthday party, it was merely a concept. I wished him good luck and that was about it. Then a year passed and about month ago they launched the Kickstarter campaign. I was impressed!

There are only 3 days left to fund Fabular and they’re a mere £4359 short of their initial 25k ask. I have only once supported a project in Kickstarter but this will be my second one.

update: Successfully raised £26,093 with 1,102 backers