How a writing system went from being a dream (literally) to a reality, codified in unicode.
Wednesday, June 1st, 2022
Saturday, December 26th, 2020
This explains rubber ducking.
Speaking out loud is not only a medium of communication, but a technology of thinking: it encourages the formation and processing of thoughts.
Friday, August 28th, 2020
The removal of all friction should’t be a goal. Making things easy and making things hard should be a design tool, employed to aid the end user towards their loftiest goals.
Sunday, February 17th, 2019
When in doubt, label your icons.
When not in doubt, you probably should be.
Tuesday, November 13th, 2018
Optimise without a face
I’ve been playing around with the newly-released Squoosh, the spiritual successor to Jake’s SVGOMG. You can drag images into the browser window, and eyeball the changes that any optimisations might make.
On a project that Cassie is working on, it worked really well for optimising some JPEGs. But there were a few images that would require a bit more fine-grained control of the optimisations. Specifically, pictures with human faces in them.
I’ve written about this before. If there’s a human face in image, I open that image in a graphics editing tool like Photoshop, select everything but the face, and add a bit of blur. Because humans are hard-wired to focus on faces, we’ll notice any jaggy artifacts on a face, but we’re far less likely to notice jagginess in background imagery: walls, materials, clothing, etc.
On the face of it (hah!), a browser-based tool like Squoosh wouldn’t be able to optimise for faces, but then Cassie pointed out something really interesting…
- Drag or upload an image into the browser window,
- A facial recognition algorithm finds any faces in the image,
- Those portions of the image remain crisp,
- The rest of the image gets a slight blur,
- Download the optimised image.
Maybe the selecting/blurring part would need canvas? I don’t know.
Anyway, I thought this was a brilliant bit of synthesis from Cassie, and now I’ve got two questions:
- Does this exist yet? And, if not,
- Does anyone want to try building it?
Monday, December 18th, 2017
Spot-on take by Ted Chiang:
I used to find it odd that these hypothetical AIs were supposed to be smart enough to solve problems that no human could, yet they were incapable of doing something most every adult has done: taking a step back and asking whether their current course of action is really a good idea. Then I realized that we are already surrounded by machines that demonstrate a complete lack of insight, we just call them corporations.
Related: if you want to see the paperclip maximiser in action, just look at the humans destroying the planet by mining bitcoin.
Thursday, January 19th, 2017
Some interesting insights from usability and accessibility testing at the Co-op.
We used ‘nesting’ to reduce the amount of information on the page when the user first reaches it. When the user chooses an option, we ask for any other details at that point rather than having all the questions on the page at once.
Wednesday, July 20th, 2016
Shamefully, I haven’t been doing one-to-ones with my front-end dev colleagues at Clearleft, but I’m planning to change that. This short list of starter questions from Lara will prove very useful indeed.
Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
An excellent rebuttal by Steven Pinker to Nicholas Carr's usual trolling.
Tuesday, November 24th, 2009
Matt gets an opportunity to use the Chernoff effect for visualising school data.
Tuesday, May 19th, 2009
"Nikon, the racist camera" (sing it to the tune of Flight of the Concords' "Albi, the racist dragon").
Wednesday, February 11th, 2009
Like Shazam, but for fonts. Snap a picture of some text on your iPhone and this app will phone home to the WhatTheFont mothership in order to identify it for you.
Tuesday, November 25th, 2008
An interesting look at the way our brains responds to changes in our environment ...with video.
Sunday, August 10th, 2008
A detailed look at the troubled history of George Lakoff, the father of conceptual metaphor.
Monday, October 29th, 2007
I saw Steven Pinker give a talk recently and he spent a fair amount of time talking about swearing. He has written up that part of the talk into an article for the New Republic.
Monday, October 1st, 2007
Your brain is hardwired to respond to the shape of a face.
Friday, March 23rd, 2007
Apparently I look like Lee Harvey Oswald and Keanu Reeves. Whoa! Cameron Adams, on the other hand, looks like a bunch of girls (a bunch of hot girls, admittedly).