Here's An Idea: The Icons For Developers Program

Android and iOS devices have exploded in app usage over the last few years. Both of these operating systems bring app icons front and center. Large finger-friendly icons invite us to start a phone call, play a game or jot down a note. It’s all very polished and pretty.

Android_icons

Well it’s not all polished and pretty. Some apps, while they may be superbly built and infinitely useful, their icons aren’t very pretty. Perhaps the developers simply didn’t find the icon important, perhaps they lacked the resources to give an icon the attention it deserves. The result may be an app that doesn’t look as pretty as it is useful.

Here’s an idea: those of you who possess the time and skills to build a proper icon for your aesthetically orphaned but still favourite app — why not actually make that icon and offer it to the developer for free? In fact, why not have a central website, called “The Icons For Developers Program”, where designers can submit icon replacements to developers? Hell, why not let developers put out their own requests for icons? It should all be free in the name of pretty.

Has this already been done? Could it be useful, or would it simply fullfill a niche desire? Your thoughts are welcome.

Is There An "OSX Preview"-Like App For Windows?

Working on the girlfriends Mac, one of the features about OSX I’ve come to like the most, is the Preview app. It works quite simply: you drag a bunch of files on to the Preview icon, located in the dock. The result, your selected files are added to a “drawer” in a preview window, where you can quickly look through them. This is opposed to, say, Picasa, where you doubleclick an image, and can now scroll through all the pictures in the same folder (which is also cool, I’d just like a way to delimit my images). Additionally, Preview handles many filetypes.

So, is there a similar app for Windows? Or is there a “dropbox” for Picasa, which allows me to preview only a few files in a folder?

Running Windows On The Mac: Did It Ever Work? [Update 3: Returning It]

Just last week, I bought myself a brand new unibody Macbook Pro 15, a rather expensive piece of hardware. I bought it, expecting it to run Windows natively via multi-boot; Apple advertises that their Boot Camp feature will do just this:

[Mac OSX] Leopard is the world’s most advanced operating system. So advanced, it even lets you run Windows if there’s a PC application you need to use. […] Setup is simple and straightforward – just as you’d expect with a Mac.

As it turns out, sure, setup is easy, but that’s pretty much where the trademark simple and straightforward ends. Windows, running on my late 2008 Macbook crashes, freezes and Blue Screen Of Deaths me constantly, as in at every 10 minutes of plain use. To preempt your question, “Why run Windows at all?”: gaming.

There are a number of problems:

  • Windows doesn’t seem to control the cooling fans at all, and so it overheats
  • Windows can’t switch between the two (fast or power friendly) graphics adapters
  • Windows freezes when simply browsing websites

So overall, Windows on the Mac is a consistently unpleasant experience, which brings me to the purpose of this post. I need to decide whether I should return the Mac for a full refund and buy a different laptop for half the price, or alternatively, establish whether it’s likely that Apple will address all of these issues given reasonable time. It would really be a pity to return the unit, as I have already grown quite fond of the hardware. Furthermore, despite prior gripes, I can actually now see myself switching to OSX for day to day work, only to boot Windows for the occasional game of Fallout, whereas I bought this Mac with the expectation to do both while in Windows.

Because I genuinely want to make this thing work, I have a number of questions I would love to hear your opinions on, and preferrably before thursday this week where my 14-day right of return expires:

  • Do you have a late 2008 Unibody 15 Macbook running Windows, and are you having similar troubles?
  • Do you have any other Mac running Windows, and if so, is that unit running perfectly?
  • Have you had problems like these on older Mac hardware, which Apple fixed with firmware and software updates?
  • If you are running Windows on a Mac, is it Vista or XP, and did switching from one to the other fix your troubles?

Please note again that I’m referring to Windows running in Boot Camp, not in emulation or virtualization like Parallels or VirtualBox.

While I have done some a lot of research on the topic and found that quite a few others are having the same troubles, and even articles on Apple supposedly working on a fix for these issues, I would love to hear updated feedback on this. As a point of note: OSX runs just fine, doesn’t crash and cools the machine aptly, which leads me to believe this is mainly a Boot Camp software / driver issue, rather than solely a hardware issue.

So there it is, the current state of my fling with The Mac. Please help me turn this into a love-affair. I’ll end this with a Steve Jobs quote:

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

If you’re reading, Steve, right now it doesn’t work.

Update: I’m putting a signed print of your choice on the line for the author of the comment that fixes the problems I’ve been having—not that I think that’s possible without Apple actually getting involved, but it’s worth a shot.

Update 2: After reading an article on The Inquirer, I’m now finding it likely that this Macbook and many others are suffering from bad Nvidia hardware. Please help me decide whether I should return the unit, or request a repair.

Update 3: Returning it. More to follow.

The Quest For A Sturdy Laptop

A coworker and myself are looking for laptops in the “desktop replacement” class. That means fairly fast computers sporting plenty of RAM and dedicated graphics cards. That means prices in the 1500 ranges. These are all Fisherprice plastic concoctions, however, and therein lies the problem. Can it really be true, that only Apple makes truly sturdy laptops? No, I will not just buy a 2500 dollar laptop, even if it is prettier, sturdier and smells better; for that amount I’d rather get a slightly used Toyota.

Is it the metal build quality that jacks up prices? I’ve used the XO (the 100 dollar laptop) and it is plenty sturdy even, so I know it’s possible to build a computer whose keyboard doesn’t break when you type antipathy. Even so, it seems only Sony, Lenovo and Apple has gotten this and at their prices I might as well get the Mac the Toyota. I find it both frustrating and mindboggling that only three laptop makers in a fierce market have discovered that “durable” is a boon, so help me out here: is there a sub 1500 dollar laptop with the above specs and sturdy build quality?

Converting SVG To PNG On The Fly: How? [Update]

Remember SVG? Pioneered by Adobe back in the day, Scalable Vector Graphics were to compete with Macromedias Flash. They never could (and so they bought them), but the result—the SVG standard, is interesting for HTML / CSS uses. While inserting an SVG image requires the use of a special svg tag plus browser support or plugins, the future might include support from the img tag and background-image property. The possibilities are rather delicious; logos and icons can retain their scalability, gradients can stay smooth no matter the resolution. All the while, filesizes are kept small, perfect for cellphones and useful for modern browsers and their spanking new full-page zoom features.

Alas, we’re not quite there yet. Even Wikipedias use of SVG involves PNG for cross-platform-compatability. PNGs are a pretty good start, though. So how do they do it? I’ve found only a few ways to convert SVG files to PNGs on the fly, but none that I can install on my webserver; the closest being an ImageMagick powered one.

Dear tech savvy reader, please feel free to chime in with your vast knowledge. Is there a system—preferrably PHP / GD powered—that’ll let me generate a PNG image from an SVG image? Is it possible at all?

[Update]: No, no it’s not possible. GD apparently doesn’t support it. Here’s a list of supported rasterizers of SVG.

Noscope Prints: Questionnaire

cow_print

Six years ago I started doing illustration-work for the heck of it. Five pieces a month kept the mind-doctor away. Come May this year, I stopped that and instead started brewing and concocting devious evil schemes: I would love nothing more than to sell you prints. Deliciously crafted and printed representations of hard work, blood and sweat, joy and misery, all rolled up into pixels ready for your interpretations. What do cows in a meadow represent to you? Well, I want to give you the chance to put up a poster in your childrens playroom and find out.

Therefore, I have questions for you, the potential buyer:

  • What size(s) would you like, and would you want those in European standards (A2, A3) or American (or both)?
  • How would you like transactions to be made: PayPal, Google Checkout, something else?
  • Circa what price range would you expect? Prefer?
    Because I know you, esteemed reader, is statistically speaking: really intelligent, I have other technical questions as well:

  • Do you know of a hosted print service?

Preferrably one which handles both transactions, prints and shipping and to which I merely need to point users via a link.

Thanks for your time, it is most appreciated.