Category: General

The iMac 27″ for graphic designers: part 1

After six years of using the original Mac Pro as my main workhorse, I finally took the plunge this past Christmas and upgraded to Apple’s latest 27” iMac. It’s the first Mac I’ve owned since the Quadra 650 back in the mid 90s that wasn’t a tower model. It was a scary decision for me, but one I’ve been delighted with so far.

iMac for designers

The first thing I had to come to grips with is the revelation that I don’t NEED all the expansion that the Mac Pro has to offer. In the distant past, the days when a 16GB stick of RAM took you a year or so to save-up for, the Mac tower models were the only way to go for pro designers. The desktop models simply weren’t made for people like us.

But times have changed. With NO exception, every Mac model available today can easily be used by the most demanding print and web designers—this includes the MacBook Air and the MacMini. If you think you NEED more, you’re most likely overestimating your needs. Today’s Macs are powerful enough for working with Gigabyte sized files with as little as 8GB of RAM.

Now I didn’t say that every Mac model is a perfect fit, far from it. And that’s where my decision got difficult. (more…)

Jony Ive isn’t killing the Mac, and Apple’s core isn’t rotten

I came across an article at ZDNet this past week that just drove me absolutely crazy. It serves me right for reading anything from ZDNet—because with little exception, they have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to Apple and the Mac. But when I saw the headline: “Is Jony Ive killing the Mac?” I just couldn’t resist clicking through.

Jony IveThe first thing that got my hair up about the article is that other than the headline and the summary at the top, the article makes no mention of Ive, or why the author seems to think the Mac is being systematically killed off by him. I’ve spoken to Jony Ive personally, and he assures me that he isn’t a killer.

Disclaimer: I haven’t spoken to Jony Ive, but I’m willing to bet the only thing he’s killed at his time at Apple is a mountain of bad ideas.

Even if you don’t bother to read the rest of the article, or actually believe that Mac OS X has gone to hell, most Mac users know that Jony Ive has had absolutely nothing to do with OS X up to this point. Obviously the headline is click-bait in an effort to gather more page views.

Now the reason the article is so short is because it simply points out another blog post titled Core Rot at Apple. It is here that I found myself throwing my hands in the air in surrender at the feet of nitpicking at the least, or in many cases, outright stupidity. My thoughts on a few of his points below.

“iTunes — a nightmarish kitchen sink design cluttered with dozens of tabs and modes and animations and clutter, all mixing highly variant purposes Fortunately, Walter Mossberg likes it (but it’s time for him to hang up his jockstrap).”

This is perhaps the only thing in the entire article that I could somewhat sympathize with. iTunes DOES do much more than it should. But “dozens of tabs?” Where are there dozens of tabs? Modes, animations and clutter? If anything, I think Apple has done a decent job of hiding what a mess iTunes is. The dig at Walter Mossberg just goes to show he had nothing of substance to say about it.

Still, at this point in the article, I thought perhaps it had some merit because I know iTunes is a sore spot for many, many people. I’m not in love with it either, so I read on with anticipation. Unfortunately, it got worse. Here are further thoughts… (more…)

Dealing with retina display images in responsive Web design

Retina comparison

standard display on left, retina on the right.

Designer and developers now have to accommodate different types of displays. This means two things: users with Retina Displays will either have badly displayed images on designs that did not include Retina support or the designs that do support Retina, the users will enjoy a high quality, crisp imagery that we all crave and love. If you’re a web designer, responsive web design is already a hot topic. Retina displays are surely on your radar, but if not this article will be a big help. (more…)

Pixa: The best, most useful, design-related app I’ve installed in over a year


It’s rare that I come across an app for my Mac that I lean back and say “WOW!” Pixa, from Shiny Frog software, is one of those apps that not only did just that, but it made me wonder why nobody made this app sooner?

Pixa is an image organizer for OS X that appears to have been made specifically for freelance graphic designers who find other asset management apps like Apple’s iPhoto, Adobe Bridge, and Extensis’ Portfolio to be too cumbersome and time consuming to maintain. People like you and me.

While I’m a huge fan of Extensis software, I’ve never been able to force myself to use Portfolio full time. It’s a nice app, and handles almost every sort of file a designer might throw at it, but I found it slow, buggy, and overly-complicated to use—especially for a designer who works primarily with photos and vector art, and not audio and video files. And it required a lot of my time to maintain the files I added to its library. Bridge is ok, but also offers too much, and it’s sluggish. Don’t even get me started with iPhoto. And that’s been the problem with every asset management app I’ve ever come across. They claim to make your job easier, but expect you to do all the heavy lifting.

Pixa strips-away all the frivolous features, the need to manually add images to a library, even some of the chores such as tagging images and sharing, and puts your library of images front and center in a clean and easy to use interface. Read on for more about Pixa. (more…)

‘Almost Everything That Apple Does That Involves The Internet Is A Mess’

Former Apple engineer Patrick B. Gibson has a provocative post on Tumblr arguing that the power balance between Apple and Google is shifting in Google’s favor.

Specifically, Gibson suggests, Google is getting better at gadget design faster than Apple is getting better at Internet services.

I’m not sure I don’t agree. While Apple has certainly been improving in the area of cloud computing, it still seems like they’re only providing half-efforts. On the other hand, Google has made a living off of offering half-baked services for free.