Where bullets flew, he jotted notes. Where despots abused, he documented crimes. Where war raged, he skulked in its midst, shouting the stories of common people with torn lives. Armed only with his wits and Microsoft Word, he flung himself repeatedly into peril so we would know, without doubt, that war is hell. And then cruelly, he perished from a snootful of horsehair, which is all the more cruel because half his family are doctors and likely could have saved him had they been there when it happened. Anthony, you were amazing, fearless, and a hero.
I can still picture the high-school-aged Anthony running laps around the gym, getting in shape and perhaps trying to drop weight for his next wrestling match. He’d grown his hair long his junior year, and I remember it streaming behind him as he ran. By his senior year, he’d cut his hair and was embarrassed by yesteryear’s mullet. When he asked me to draw him as Uncle Sam for the school newspaper, he begged me to leave the long hair out. That was easy, as it saved me some pencil strokes. I still have that picture somewhere.
He always spoke his mind. I remember him once declaring to our entire Calculus class, “I have a pimple on my butt and it HURTS.” I was mortified for him. He also freely confessed, after I’d paid off a $20 bet we had on our Calculus grade for a term, that he’d have never paid me had I won. I lost by 0.2%–it would have made a great story if I’d won. I would have said, anytime his name was mentioned, “Hey! That guy owes me $20!”
I once bailed him out of a jam when he needed a bag of ice for some school event. I sneaked off campus during school to a gas station down the road, shivering at my daring, and brought back a 5lb bag. He crowed and thanked me and nearly hugged me, and I felt like Sir Lancelot. Later, he sneaked into Iraq and Libya and Syria without quailing. I shake my head at the contrast.
When Anthony was held hostage in Libya, we all held our breath and marveled that this guy we knew made worldwide headline news and hoped and prayed for his humane treatment and safe return. For him to escape that and not this can’t really be rationalized.
I haven’t seen Anthony since high school, so the pictures I see of him now with gray hair speak to mortality–both his and mine. I was hoping one day to run into him again, to sit and reminisce about high school a little, but mostly demand that he recount his adventures until he can think of nothing more to tell. I mourn his death and hurt for his family. Farewell, Anthony–you were indeed a hero.
It’s like mistakenly asking for an extra fork with your ice cream and having the waiter just go ahead and bring an extra spoon, rather than needlessly correct you.
(Via venomous porridge)
Nicely phrased indictment of the misuse of alerts, and also a great example of the opposite: providing a user with helpful information without making them click to acknowledge. And I love the ice cream example.
Just like you shouldn’t let sunk cost determine future decisions, don’t let sunk design trick you into keeping something in your product because you already put the work in. If it’s non-essential, take it out, think it over, and invest the time post launch to make it right.
(Via Signal vs. Noise)
I find it awfully hard to can something I’ve already done! I’ve gotten better at it, though, and will continue to do so.
Yesterday, my son’s iPhone 4 was stolen, which raises a cluster of inconveniences. Replacement cost, of course, is non-trivial. The pains don’t end there, though. He was planning to hold out for the iPhone 5, assuming it would be released in the fall, and now must decide whether to squander his upgrade price on a 4S (and put the future 5 out of reach), or limp along with a Hanging-With-Friends-less flip phone for 10 months or so.
This morning required extra planning as well. My son uses his phone as his alarm clock. In a striking example of “knowing thyself,” he has about 10 alarms set to go off every morning, starting at 6 AM and firing every five minutes. That’s what it takes for him to shrug off slumber and senioritis sufficiently to shuffle off to school (and, judging from attendance rolls, even that is only 70% effective). Without his phone, he had to rely on us, as his parents, to summon Hercules to roust him this morning. As I write this, I have no idea if he made it to school for his two exams today.
On his phone, as most of us do, my son has applications that are logged in to their respective services, so he had some work to do last night to change all his passwords. In a bit of frustrating bad luck, our Internet connection at the house is currently down (note: if you move your AT&T home phone to a cell phone, and they tell you your DSL service won’t be affected, don’t believe them. And who knows why it takes a week to restore it). Consequently, he had to use my iPhone to change his passwords.
Guess what: it’s not possible to change all your passwords from your mobile phone.
He started with Facebook. After poking around the native app to find anywhere to change his password, he finally gave up and logged in to the mobile site. Some more poking revealed a place to change his password. Paydirt after 10 minutes.
Then he went to Twitter. He tried Tweetbot, Twittelator Neue, and the Twitter app. None of them offered anywhere to change his password. He tried the Twitter site, but evidently they were beached by a fail whale because only a blank screen would show. His Twitter account, as of right now, is still exposed.
Then he went to change his Yahoo! mail password. For the iPhone, Yahoo! mail offers two interfaces: the new mobile-optimized one and the old mobile-optimized one. Apparently, whatever the generation, “mobile-optimized” means “if you want to change your password, go find a desktop.” That password still hasn’t been changed.
Surprisingly, I think that’s the extent of his exposure. Most of us on Pinterest, Path, Quora, Github, or others would still be trying to find where to change passwords in their respective native apps or mobile sites. Designers and developers: give us a way to change our passwords from our phones! And distrust any emails you get from my son for the next little while–I mean, more than you normally do.
My advice is to train yourself to recognize and note the small (but important) reactions that you have when you’re working with your own apps. Dismiss your professional knowledge about the effort it will take and consider the experience alone. Only when you’re willing and able to do what’s necessary to perfect a feature will you be accomplishing your best work. Your exit criteria should be when you’re delighted to use your own app or feature and surprised that you were able to pull it off.
(Via Mike Swanson’s Blog)
Apple named Halftone one of the best Photo apps of 2011. If you’re a developer, paying attention to Swanson’s speculations on why Halftone has been so successful is probably worth your time.
As I design and develop software, I try to understand prevalent user interface patterns. I’m pretty good at that. What I have to learn is to challenge and rethink user interaction to provide the best experience possible. And not worry how hard something will be to implement.
Integration of Audience’s EarSmart on the iPhone 4S’ A5 could explain why Apple decided to not offer Siri on older devices, and why it will likely only feature the voice-based assistant on newer devices going forward.
Here, at least, is an explanation for why Apple doesn’t offer Siri on older iPhones. If it’s really that simple, though, why wouldn’t Apple just come out and say it? That’s taking secrecy too far.
I am in awe of the free tools available to software developers today. It is amazing how fast, and cheaply, you can turn an idea into productive code. I was so pumped by a recent experience, I decided to share.
(Via Los Techies)
Interesting view into how geeks solve problems. Many people would just drive the route one morning beforehand. Most people would just guess and rely on “new guy” forgiveness for any tardiness. And most people have no ability to solve the problem the way Joshua Flanagan did–in hours, weeks, months, or a lifetime.
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