Category: General

Free font utopia

Free font license
There are plenty of sites to find free fonts. The problem with most of them is that the so-called “free” fonts aren’t actually free to use for anything beyond the little flyer you made for your kid’s little-league team.

If you look at the license for many of these free fonts you’ll find that they’re only free for personal use, not commercial use—which is what most designers are looking to use them for. I’m not saying that paying for fonts when you need to use them for commercial work is bad, but sometimes you just don’t have the time or budget for them.

If you’re willing to spend a lot of time scrolling through long lists of fonts to find the very few that you can actually use, have at it. But if you value your time, try checking Font Squirrel.
Font Squirrel
Font Squirrel has a ton of fonts. All of them free. All of them free for commercial-use. There are tons of fonts available at Font Squirrel, so they’ve categorized them to make it easier to browse. Because the laws of the universe dictate that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, you can use the fonts for free in your print projects and web graphics, but you’ll have to read the license for each font to see if you can use the font for things like embedding in a website.

It’s a designer’s job to ask good questions

This is some fantastic advice for designers of all disciplines, but particularly web designers. Ask good questions. The right questions. This is the foundation of a good creative brief.

My personal favorite is to simply ask “what is the goal?” The article even illustrates it almost exactly how I typically phrase it.

What's the goal

Janice Gervais at A List Apart covers that question and more, and ends the article with a bit of design truth: “Your work reflects your level of understanding.”

The best way to add the ports you need to the new MacBook Pro

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock

OWC is accepting pre-orders for their Thunderbolt 3 Dock, due to ship in February, starting at $280 (depends on the length of the Thunderbolt cable you want included). The Dock is obviously in response to Apple’s latest MacBook Pro announcement I wrote about yesterday.

In yesterday’s rant, I mentioned some would have to spend upwards of $200 for dongles to gain the ports they found necessary. The OWC Dock is a bit more than that, but also gives you significantly more options than straight dongles from Apple.
OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock
As you can see in the image above, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock includes plenty of ports. 5 USB 3 ports, Firewire 800, Ethernet, Display Port, audio-in and SD Card slot are included, along with two Thunderbolt ports capable of driving 4K displays. And the device is powered, so it can charge your iPhone.

OWC’s Thunderbolt 3 Dock comes in Space Gray or Silver, and cable length varies between .5 meter 40Gb/s transfer speed and 2 meter 20Gb/s.

When it comes to the Mac, Apple is making it reeeeeaaally hard to be a fanboy

MacBook Pro 2016

Apple recently released new MacBook Pro models with great hype. As someone who is in the market for a new Mac in the next year, I watched the keynote with a pretty good amount of excitement and anticipation.

At the conclusion of Apple’s keynote presentation, I found myself staring at the screen with a dazed and confused look on my face.

For years I’ve had a MacBook Pro for taking work on the road. I do light design and image retouching on it, as well as email, web browsing and writing. At the home office I use a top of the line iMac with 32GB of RAM, Core i7 processor and upgraded video card for the heavy lifting in Photoshop, InDesign, etc.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my impending upgrade the last year or so, and decided that I could probably live with just one fully upgraded MBPro and buy an Apple Thunderbolt Display to use when I’m at home. This would save a lot of hassle with file syncing and twice the time spent upgrading and maintaining two computers.

But then Apple Event happened last week and I feel like I’m stuck in a place I don’t want to be. I absolutely love the macOS, but I’m left wondering how Apple and the rest of the world ended up so far apart on their definition of a Pro user.

The new MacBook Pro with its Touch Bar looks cool at first glance, and I can totally see how the average consumer might find it too cool to pass up. The problem for me (and by me, I mean most pros) is that anything found in the Touch Bar can be found in the menus—and probably has a keyboard shortcut associated with it. If it does, I probably know it and use it regularly. So I look at that fancy colorful Touch Bar, shrug my shoulder and… pfffft!

But that’s just one feature, right? Then I look under the hood and find more pfffft! than I think I can chew. A limit of 16GB of RAM. How do they call a Mac a “Pro” computer when you limit it to 16GB of RAM? The reason, according to Apple’s Phil Shiller, is that they wanted to keep the power-consumption down to preserve batterly life.

It’s a PRO computer. Most pro users sit at a desk most of the day, with the MBPro plugged in. Don’t even get me started on the comparatively low-end video card Apple chose to include. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that it’s not a pro-level video card. Period.

MacBook Pro 2016 ports
The ports… that’s a big issue. Look, I get that technology moves forward. I never complained when Apple chose to switch to Lightning ports on the iPhone. But that’s mostly because I don’t have to plug anything into my iPhone other than the charger. My Mac is another thing completely. Not only do I plug my USB-A iPhone into it, but my USB-A microphone, USB-A DSLR camera cable, USB-A Bluetooth headphones (for charging) and multiple USB-A storage drives. With the new MBPro, some users will spend up to $200 on dongles to connect existing devices to the new MBPro. That’s just crazy.

LG Ultrafine DisplayApple no longer makes stand-alone displays, opting instead to work with LG to produce a fully compatible 5K display that has an iSight camera, plenty of ports and gorgeous image quality. The price is better than Apple’s former offering, too. So there’s really no problem there, other than the problem of perception.

But the big white elephant in the room is that rumor sites claim that Apple will be updating the MacBook Pro next year with faster processors, RAM upgradeable to 32GB, better video cards, battery-efficient OLED screens and more. Of course, some of those rumors don’t match up with reality. So who knows what to believe.

I’m not sure what to make of the current MacBook Pro, or the rumors that Apple is already working on the device pro users wanted. I get that Intel is to blame for the low-power processors and the effect it has on Apple to provide more RAM and video cards, but then why even release the laptop upgrade? Why not just wait a few more months and release the better device when it’s ready?

It makes me wonder what the next iMac or Mac Pro will be, or even IF they will be. What I know for sure is that my plan to go with a single Mac, the MacBook Pro, are on hold until next year… and even then I may have to alter those plans depending on what Apple does.

I used to be a pure Apple fanboy, but that description is no longer valid—at least not in the year 2016.