Vincent Gable’s Blog

June 24, 2010

Retina Ready

Filed under: Announcement,Design,iPhone,Programming,Tips | , , , , , ,
― Vincent Gable on June 24, 2010

The iPhone 4’s ultra-sharp “Retina Display” really is a game changer. Until now, popular computer screens have been so low resolution, they could only display crude, low density, designs. It will take a few years for such high resolution screens to filter up into the personal computer space. But if you start writing an application that takes advantage of the iPhone 4’s display now, there will be millions of people who can use it by the time you’re done.

The best source I can recommend for understanding the kinds of designs that take full advantage of high PPI displays are Edward Tufte‘s classic design books:

If you just get one, make it The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.

PS: Tufte’s books are themselves examples of beautiful, complex, high density design, and as such really only make sense printed. At least for the next few years. Even if you can find an electronic version, I wouldn’t recommend reading it, because it won’t convey the power of a 1600 PPI display (printer).

July 14, 2009

Dozen Page Impression: Design your Life

Filed under: Accessibility,Announcement,Design,Usability | , , , ,
― Vincent Gable on July 14, 2009

I had some time to kill today, waiting for a catalytic converter replacement, and the book Design Your Life: The Pleasures and Perils of Everyday Things caught my eye. It’s loosely about about the value of design and how to apply UX to everyday life. I’ve only read1 a dozen or so pages of it in a bookstore, but so far I definitely recommend the book.

Visually it’s is appealing (but of course it has to be!), and accessibly written.

But what really impressed me the most, is that it gives you a critical eye and a reason to ask ‘why?’. And I think that’s the most important thing you can get out of a book on UX/design/accessibility.

The authors also have have a website which looks to be every bit as good as the book.

1You’re probably wondering why I didn’t buy the book if I like it enough to recommend it. Well, I had my iPhone with me in the store, and I looked up the price on amazon. It was half what the brick-and-mortar store was asking. So I didn’t buy it. Speaking of which, if you order the book through any of the links on this page, I get a small commission from Amazon. So please do doubt my recommendation — that’s what critical thinking is all about!

April 27, 2009

A Childish Thing

Filed under: Accessibility | , , ,
― Vincent Gable on April 27, 2009

I couldn’t resist doing this after reading this snooty fashion editorial in the New York Times,

But to other writers and editors, the Kindle is the ultimate bad idea whose time has come. Anne Fadiman, the author, was relieved to learn that her essay collection, “Ex Libris
,” was not available on Kindle. “It would really be ironic if it were,” she said of the book, which evokes her abiding passion for books as objects.

“There’s a little box on Amazon that reads ‘Tell the publisher I’d like to read this book on Kindle,’ ” she said. “I hope no one tells the publisher.”

Go on, make the world a more ironic and accessible place — tell them, I’d like to read this book on Kindle

Oh, and as to the rest of the article, it turns out kindle owners are not more literarily self-important; and the Kindle will give us more data to judge people with, as it becomes more integrated with our online presence. Imagine, for example, being able to tell what books someone actually read, and how many times, on their facebook profile.

March 6, 2009

A Good Basic Computer Science Book

Filed under: Announcement,Programming,Tips | , , , ,
― Vincent Gable on March 6, 2009

In high school, I literally wore out my copy of The New Turing Omnibus: Sixty-Six Excursions in Computer Science. The graphics topics are dated, and there is no discussion about newfangled topics in computing, like the internet. But the meat of the book are timeless computer science fundamentals. It still has the best explanation of what “NP-Complete” means (page 276) that I’ve run across.

The book covers some dense territory, but is still fairly accessible. When my mother asked me, “how can a computer make a random number, if it only does what it’s told?” I pointed her to the chapter 8, “RANDOM NUMBERS: The Chaitin-Kolmogoroff Theory” (page 49). The math was a bit over her head, but she could still read the chapter, and it answered her question. I recommend it to The New Turing Omnibus, without reservation, to anyone who’s considering Computer Science.

What are your favorite introductory Computer Science books?

Patrick Thomson suggests Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. It’s an excellent and fun introduction to the essential theory behind computer science.

Here is an excellent overview of the current state of the P=NP question.

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