This bit of futurism from 2008 can be seen in much of the software I use.

We are going to soon carry out sports activities with our friends even when they are not in the same physical place as we are. More generally, computers will be increasingly used to persuade us to physically exercise and to make exercise more fun. At CHI 2008, Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller and Stefan Agamanolis have organized the workshop on Exertion Interfaces which is taking place today, and I asked them four quick questions before the workshop start. Luca Chittaro: EXERTION INTERFACES. An interview with Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller and Stefan Agamanolis

Something found from my notes. How much closer are we today (this was from 2008)?

By 2020 the terms “interface” and “user” will be obsolete as computers merge ever closer with humans. It is one prediction in a Microsoft-backed report drawn from the discussions of 45 academics from the fields of computing, science, sociology and psychology.
It predicts fundamental changes in the field of so-called Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).

By 2020 humans will increasingly interrogate machines, the report said.

In turn computers will be able to anticipate what we want from them, which will require new rules about our relationship with machines.
Computers to merge with humans

iTunes remove/delete dialog

iTunes dialog

Oops iTunes UI team. There is a questionable label in your dialog. Which action are we taking here? Are we removing the song or are we deleting the song? Deleting implies deleting the song all together, which may cause some confusion amongst users, especially since many no longer read the instructions above the button area at all.

It’s more efficient and effective to give users a button that’s labeled with the specific action (vs. the exclamation OK), but that label itself must agree with the action.

Perhaps with the major redesign coming to iTunes in the fall, Apple will fix this inconsistency.

Further, why is songs plural when I only selected a single song?

Just a sec …

Quick snapshot with my iPhone

Quick snapshot with my iPhone

Other than studying material design I’m new to the Android experience. When I was setting up my sons new phone the above dialog appeared.

“Just a sec… “ seems to be an incredibly odd choice for a waiting dialog copy. Seems out of place and too informal. Doesn’t strike me as friendly, nor is it particularly clear, especially for English as a second language users. And the waits were always much more than a second.

Art is the most complex, vitalizing and civilizing of human actions. Thus it is of biological necessity. Art sensitizes man to the best that is immanent in him through an intensified expression involving many layers of experience. Out of them art forms a unified manifestation, like dreams which are composed of the most diverse source material subconsciously crystallized. It tries to produce a balance of the social, intellectual and emotional existence; a synthesis of attitudes and opinions, fears and hopes. Art has two faces, the biological and the social, the one toward the individual and the other toward the group. By expressing fundamental validities and common problems, art can produce a feeling of coherence. This is its social function which leads to a cultural synthesis as well as to a continuation of human civilization. Today, lacking the patterning and refinement of emotional impulses through the arts, uncontrolled, inarticulate and brutally destructive ways of release have become commonplace. Unused energies, subconscious frustrations, create the psychopathic borderline cases of neurosis. Art as expression of the individual can be a remedy of sublimation of aggressive impulses. Art educates the receptive faculties and it revitalises the creative abilities. In this way art is rehabilitation therapy through which confidence in one’s creative abilities can be restored.
László Moholy-Nagy, Vision in Motion, Chicago 1947, p.28.

Hsinchu Field Recordings

Almost 12 years ago I was creating a number of sound art and interactive art installations which required me to go out and do some field recordings. My equipment was relatively crude but the end result didn’t depend on high-fidelity. I’m not really sure how I feel about those pieces now, lots of discordance and general noise. I guess much like my trumpet playing from years prior.

Going through my old work archive I found a number of the source files, some of which I have shared below:

Sound file 1

Sound file 2

Sound file 3

Sound file 4

Sound file 5

Sound file 6

Sound file 7

Some of the above will sound familiar to anyone who has lived in Taiwan for any length of time. All sounds were recorded in Hsinchu City.

Spark Synchronisation Dialog

Shouldn't that be Synchronising?

Shouldn’t that be Synchronising?

This simple dialog from the iOS email app. Spark illustrates how you need to consider different possibilities when creating copy for dialogs. In this dialog, “Please wait a minute” might seem like a great choice, it’s polite and gives what could be an accurate estimation of the task completion. The graphic also gives the user a sense of progress. Unfortunately in this instance there was an error which prevented the process from being completed, turning an estimated 1 minute task into 5 or more. It’s hard to accommodate outliers but it’s how you handle these instances that make a greater impact.

In the absence of accurate data (this I am sure was supposed to be a very short process so they likely decided not to include a progress bar) it’s important to properly set user expectations, well it’s always important to do so. Copy plays a big part in this.

Apple music curation can’t compare to Spotify

A simple search for running playlists results what on the surface looks like a good selection but doesn't come close to matching Spotify's offering.

A simple search for running playlists results what on the surface looks like a good selection but doesn’t come close to matching Spotify’s offering.

A simple search for running playlists results in a large variety. A seemingly endless scroll of options.

A simple search for running playlists results in a large variety. A seemingly endless scroll of options. Of note is that Spotify offers playlists to match your pace and you can find selections created for an event itself. I found some great music created for the Toronto Marathon.

My music listening habits have changed greatly over the years, no doubt influenced by the change from LP’s, to CD’s, later mp3’s, and now sadly music subscriptions. What was once a slow and deliberate activity has been replaced with decisions made by others. Gone are the days of creating mix tapes, and playlists in iTunes, managing music in iTunes is a unwieldy mess, and cassette tapes have all but vanished.

My music curation or play lists are largely now framed around an activity. Running is the most common, with work and background noise following. With this kind of listening its’ great to have someone recommend some tracks, something that used to be pretty common with cassettes, as it helps me discover music I might never have found otherwise. And it saves a great deal of time. While I could suggest a list of tracks that would make a great background ambience for a coffee shop, or dinner music, I would be hard pressed to suggest a playlist to help you focus.

Spotify absolutely excels at this, and despite a pretty decent display above, Apple Music fails to produce anywhere near the quantity, variety, and arguably quality. I’ve found Apple Music pretty difficult to understand from the very beginning, not just because the iOS and desktop apps UI are rife with issues, but because the curation was so strongly for someone other than myself. I’ve entered my preferences and they know my listening habits, so why are they still giving recommendations for music so far from my interests? Where are the extensive curated playlists? Their radio offering I’m sure appeals to a large crowd but they aren’t people who I have met.

Which is fine. A strong voice alienates some but appeals to many. Somehow Spotify has managed to bridge this gap by their extensive and superior curation, some by Spotify but much by others. Though they have failed every time they have tried to create a social aspect to their products (outside of iMessage which is a great success), perhaps Apple could try the same.

You can’t bullshit a bullshitter

Harry Frankfurt an American philosopher and author of On Bullshit, talks about what bullshit is and how dangerous it is to society.

The reason why there’s so much bullshit I think is that people just talk. If they don’t talk, they don’t get paid. The advertiser wants to gain sales. The politician wants to gain votes. Now, that’s ok but they have to talk about things that they don’t really know much about. So, since they don’t have anything really valid to say, they just say whatever they think will interest the audience, make it appear they know what they’re talking about. And what comes out is bullshit.

The bullshitter is more creative. He’s not submissive. It’s not important to him what the world really is like. What’s important to him is how he’d like to represent himself. He takes a more adventurous and inventive attitude towards reality, which may be sometimes very colorful, sometimes amusing, sometimes it might produce results that are enjoyable. But it’s also very dangerous.


Liars attempt to conceal the truth by substituting something for the truth that isn’t true. Bullshit is not a matter of trying to conceal the truth, it is a matter of trying to manipulate the listener, and if the truth will do, then that’s fine and if the truth won’t do, that’s also fine. The bullshitter is indifferent to the truth in a way in which the liar is not. He’s playing a different game.

New Dell Ultrasharp


I bought a new Dell monitor recently and despite what must be the worst out of box experience I have ever seen, you basically have to destroy the box to take the monitor out, it feels like a pretty descent purchase all around.

Except for one thing …

The bottom of the stand and the monitors bezel are unaligned and it drives me crazy. Dell really needs to work on their attention to detail and QA.

I’d return it but other than the fact that the box was nearly destroyed, it’s a real hassle to return products bought online.

Taiwan Flora

A photo posted by Clark MacLeod (@kelake) on

A photo posted by Clark MacLeod (@kelake) on

A photo posted by Clark MacLeod (@kelake) on

A photo posted by Clark MacLeod (@kelake) on

A photo posted by Clark MacLeod (@kelake) on

As time passes, one aspect of living here in Taiwan that I have come to appreciate more, is that no matter the time of year, there is always something in bloom. It’s a great escape from the dull office environments that we often find ourselves in by taking a short walk and seeing brilliant splashes of color. They stand in contrast to the often polluted gray skies that they must exist in.

Dieter Rams’ 10 Principles for Good Design


I’ve always been drawn to maxim’s such as these, maxim’s that remind us of the ideal.

  1. Good design is innovative: The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.

  2. Good design makes a product useful: A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasises the usefulness of a product while disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.

  3. Good design is aesthetic: The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.

  4. Good design makes a product understandable: It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.

  5. Good design is unobtrusive: Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.

  6. Good design is honest: It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.

  7. Good design is long-lasting: It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.

  8. Good design is thorough down to the last detail: Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.

  9. Good design is environmentally friendly: Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.

  10. Good design is as little design as possible: Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

via Design Legacy of Dieter Rams