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Archive: October 18, 2014

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coding with atoms

Saturday,  10/18/14  12:52 AM

3D-printed Tesla console

The awesome thing about 3D printers is that they let you code with atoms.

The other day I was talking to a colleague who started his career as a coder, switched for a while to patent law (!), and is now back coding.  And we agreed the great and wonderful thing about coding is that you can create anything.  You just sit down at your keyboard and start typing, and a few [well okay many many] hours later, poof! you have created something that never was before.  That's pretty awesome.

So one of the things I love doing is messing around with my little 3D printer (I have a Makerbot Replicator 2, they're great).  And it occurred to me, that the reason 3D printers are soo cool is that they let you be coder-creative, but with atoms instead of bits!  You sit down at your keyboard and start typing, and a few [well okay many many] hours later, poof! you have created something that never was before, but it is a tangible object you can touch and feel and play with and even (gasp!) use. 

I've created lots of cool things, but my favorite so far is a center console for my car.  It was designed from scratch using an amazing free cloud-based tool called Tinkercad.  Every time I use it - basically every time I drive anywhere - I love it; not only that it gives me a good place to put my coffee and my keys and my phone, but that I created it myself.  Excellent!



Saturday,  10/18/14  01:50 AM

the new dock ... whacked with an ugly stick
Last weekend I installed Yosemite, aka OS X 10.10, and I've been using it off and on during the week.  Blech.

I am so tired of this overdesign Bauhaus less-is-more ugly minimalism.  First Windows Phone, then Windows 8, then IOS 8, and now OS X too.  I can't escape it but boy I wish I could.  (I've actually turned on Accessibility on my phone so the buttons look like buttons again - although they are ugly buttons.)

Ironically this trend has occurred just as hardware makes incredibly detailed shadings and effects practical.  What's wrong with affordances?  Why can't buttons look like buttons, and "click" like buttons?  Why can't sliders slide, and folders open, and trash cans get full?  Those are good things in a UI, not mere complexity, and taking them away reduces usability.

the evolution of buttons (in reverse)
I like some of the functionality of Yosemite - like the integration with iCloud, and the improvements to Spotlight - but the bland crayola look-and-feel predominates my reaction to it.  For all the gory details, please read John Siracusa's impeccably detailed review in Ars Technica.  Weird that Apple chose "Yosemite" as the code name for this release; I can't imagine anything more beautiful than the National Park, more complexly beautiful, and yet this OS is the opposite of that, and they must have known it.  In fact, we know they knew it, because they did this weird "vibrancy" thing where colors from underlying windows bleed through into the front window.  There's no functional advantage to that, it was purely an attempt to make things prettier, a rather desperate attempt at that.

icons, old and new, which are prettier?
One interesting part of John's article was a detailed discussion of Swift, Apple's new programming language,and the underlying SIL (Swift Intermediate Language).  As I expected it isn't as fast or cool as we thought, and developers haven't flocked to it in droves.  The incompatibility with other platforms is definitely going to hold it back.  One of the under-appreciated reasons that Android has taken off is that there are so many Java programmers around who easily became Android programmers.  Even Objective C was a little "off" from C++ and C#, and Swift is a step in the wrong direction.  You can remind me I said this, but I expect most IOS and OS X developers to stick to Objective C for a long time.

why not just use a colored rectangle?
Well onward.  The world doesn't stand still, but I don't have to like this change.  I wish there would be a new OS version which was actually more beautiful than the one that preceded it.  Surely this pendulum will swing back?


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About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji
The Nest
Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
Toy Story
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
triple double
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?
still the first bird
electoral fail
progress ratches
2020 explained