Archives For Work

Best. Progress. Bar. Ever.

February 15, 2013 — 1 Comment

One of the nice things to come out of the “boutique” app ecosystem is that apps as a whole feel less…corporate. Nothing crushes creativity more than a corporation’s tendency to try and appease everyone not offend anyone (evidence: office art). If a one-person software company wants to make someone smile, they don’t have to go through Legal. Not a lot of smiles in Legal. Lots of hand-wringing and Xanex. There are, however, lots of smiles in HR. But HR smiles are mandated by the people in Legal. It’s a vicious circle.

This screenshot of a progress bar from Acorn (an image editor I use often) is a great example of the kind of thing you can pull off if your approach to products is driven first and foremost by a desire to delight humans:

bit crush

For what it’s worth, I now probably only spend about 25% of my image editing time (both professionally and personally) in Photoshop. That 25% is largely dedicated to print pre-production and advanced image compositing. Photographically, I try to get everything right in the camera, so Aperture’s relatively modest image editing toolset suits me just fine. For everything else, and especially non-photographic imagemaking work, it’s small(ish) Mac apps like Acorn. PixelMator‘s another good one (though for me a little over-designed). Hell, lots of what needs to be done can actually be done in OS X’s Preview these days.

It’s not that Photoshop is a bad tool. It’s the only game in town for that 25%. The other 75%, though, can easily be done in other smaller, cheaper, faster, and more delightful tools. Tools that make me smile. Tools that don’t take an hour to install and six hours to remove. Tools that still have a single-minded sense of purpose, that still work as if doing one thing really, really well is orders of magnitude better than taking a mediocre approach to everything. Tools whose creators or product managers have enough conviction in their product’s longer-term vision (as well as the requisite backbone) to know how to say “no” to feature requests, even if it costs them a sale. Tools whose creators take PayPal and trust you even before that. It’s just like the shareware days but with a real checkout counter.

Don’t even ask me what I use for wireframing. It’s sacrilege.

To catch you up on all-things-etherfarm, not much has happened since my last post, which was made on the day of my daughter’s birth a few years ago. In that time:

Sweet Home Chicago

The family has escaped moved back to the Chicago area from California. It’s probably no secret to anyone who knows me well (or, actually, anyone who had a passing conversation with me) that through my fifteen years away from Chicago, I had been longing to come back for roughly 13 of those. We landed softly, and with the exception of my work travel, our life here couldn’t be better. We’re in walking distance of everything we need, live on a great street with fantastic neighbors who pepper our social calendar with block parties and progressive dinners and the like, and there are numerous options for good deep-dish pizza and Italian beef.

I had high expectations moving back to Chicago, and—incredibly—reality has exceeded all of them.

Sitting on the wall

Birthday Girl


Easter Song

You Shall Not Pass

The Street

House & Kid

Job. Job. Job.

I’ve changed jobs. Twice. I don’t usually blog about work on etherfarm. Work stuff goes here.

Dense as Wood

My woodworking activities have largely been put on hold due to the time demands of my new job and two small kids. The need to dismantle, move and reassemble my woodshop didn’t help either. I’ve made some small things (shelves, racks, etc.) but nothing I’d point out to anyone. Some downtime and an extended period at home over these holidays, however, have allowed me to start to getting things in the woodshop back on track (more on that soon).

To compensate, I try to make as much time as I can for projects with Lost Art Press, a small publisher dedicated to texts about woodworking run by a good friend of mine. Among those projects:

Lost Art Press is good people.

Fork Bending

I have eaten. A lot. Being back in Chicago is both good and bad in this regard.

Good: there is so much good food to eat.

Bad: I eat it.

Since my last post on food, I’ve got at least three food benders under my belt (literally). Don’t worry, I’ve got a post for one of those already lined up.

The Not-Swiss Family Nayar

The kids have obviously grown two-and-something years older. Ray is no longer a toddler (a large part of me thinks he skipped that phase altogether); he’s fully mobile and articulate and reads books without pictures and on good days, helps me cook, clean, and do stuff around the house. He’s interested in anything that involves lasers, robots, and photosynthesis. He still says some of the funniest things I’ve ever heard, which I’ve been documenting on Twitter for a while (#rayquote). Among my favorites:

  • “Right now, medicine is racing through my body on a piece of lasagna, slicing pain in two.”
  • “I don’t wanna learn how to ride a bike without training wheels. I mean, what good is a bike going to be after I learn how to fly?”
  • “I tried and tried until I successed.”

Anya is very much a toddler and Nara and I are being schooled hard on parenting a two year old. I can tell that Anya quotes are right around the corner. Until then, you will all have to be amazed with the following short videos:

Like I said—not much has changed. Just a reboot of practically every facet of my life except my marriage—a partnership which in just a few weeks will have started almost twelve years ago.