Apple design and a broken record

I’m a Apple fan. 1530 is run entirely on macs and we couldn’t be happier. Even after all of the Apple successes over last few years, I still find is amazing that people haven’t zeroed in on why they so successful. Take this quote from Aaron Swartz:

The UI demo Steve Jobs did — calling two people and then merging the calls — is the exact same demo I’d given to all my friends to show off the incredible UI polish and attention to detail by the Sidekick developers. Sure, there were some differences — most notably that Apple’s artists had prettied up the iPhone UI as compared to the 8-bit basement wackos who drew up the Sidekick’s — but it was clear that this was an evolutionary change, not the revolutionary leap everyone made it out to be. ( emphasis added )

Aaron is lamenting the fact that amid all of the iPhone and Android  ( and Storm I guess ) hoopla, people have forgotten about the T-Mobile sidekick. Of course he thinks the sidekick is a superior to the iPhone, just with a uglier UI. After all, the sidekick can do everything the iPhone can and it did it first, so it must be better right? Features are what sell devices, right?

Wrong.

People wanting to actually use it without smashing it to pieces is what sells devices. Joachim Bondo recently released his chess program for the iPhone called Deep Green. Daring Fireball has a great quote from Bondo regarding why it took so long to release his app:

When I compare the various iPhone chess apps (I bought them all), Deep Green offers pretty much the same functionality as the rest, and sometimes more, but with a fraction of the UI. Achieving this is why I’m 4 months later than the rest.

Polishing a UI to make it usable takes more work than people think or like to admit. Engineers, developers, etc… like to believe that the heavy lifting in product development is the functionality. They’ll build something then hand it off the graphics to “pretty it up” when they should be taking usability into account from the very beginning.

People can continue to mock Apple as simply being better than others at visual design and Apple will keep on doing what they do, all the way to the bank.

Hosting GoDaddy domains on DreamHost

I’ve used GoDaddy for my domain registration needs for years. The interface is a bit cluttered, but they’re solid and I can usually get domains there for very, very cheap. Recently, we’ve had the need to start hosting non-basic, non-mission critical websites, so we went looking for a cheap VPS hosting provider. A great place to perform comparisons is WebHostingNinja.

After searching for a bit, we’ve settled on DreamHost. I HIGHLY reccomend hunting around for coupons and discounts when researching hosting providers. We found a lot of coupons for DreamHost here. WebHostingNinja also keeps a running list of the latest deals here. We ended up getting a year of their basic plan for around $69 with no setup. Plus, because of some anniversary, the account was given unlimited bandwidth and unlimited storage for life. Quite the deal.

So now that we have a DreamHost account, we didn’t want to move all of our domains over from GoDaddy. DreamHost has a lot of documentation about transferring and hosting your domain with them, but not using another provider as your domain registrar. Turns out there’s a simple, yet not obvious way to do it with GoDaddy:

  1. Log into your GoDaddy account.
  2. Go to Domains-> My Domains and select the domain you’d like to change over.
  3. Click on the Name Servers section
  4. Change the 3 name servers to the DreamHost name servers: NS1.DREAMHOST.COM, NS2.DREAMHOST.COM and NS3.DREAMHOST.COM

It may take a while for the DNS changes to propagate, but once they do, you can finish setting up your domain on DreamHost.

RSI

Working on a computer for several hours a day is fast becoming the norm for many workers around the world. As people use computers more and more, they open themselves up to several new ailments. One such ailment is Repetitive Strain Injury, or RSI. RSI is especially dangerous if you make your living from working on computers, as many engineers and developers do. Ideally, you’re supposed to take frequent breaks and move away from the computer to relax yourself and relieve stress.

I’m sure if you’re reading this, you know how difficult that can be once you get into the grove of something.

I’m a big fan of anything that let’s me fall into the pit of success, so to speak. One way to do that with RSI is to use one of the many Anti-RSI programs available for your computer. My favorite app for OS X is AntiRSI. it’s a old program, but it works great. It’s very simple to install and take up very few resources while running in the background.

The gist is this: AntiRSI keeps track of how long you’ve been using your computer. This means keystrokes and mouse movements. At certain short intervals, it will suggest a “Micro-Pause.” This micro-pause is short, usually 10 seconds, and forces you to stop using your computer for the length of the pause. If you type or move your mouse, the counter starts over. After 4-5 micro-pauses, AntiRSI will suggest a short break. This is an 8 minute break every 60 minutes of usage. Against, the counter only counts down while you’re not using your computer. So stand up, walk around and come back refeshed. Of course, if you’re cranking on something, unlike the micro-pauses, you can postpone the short breaks a few minutes. Also, the time intervals and break lengths are completely configurable.

Whatever you do, take RSI seriously, otherwise, you could lose your ability to work on a computer. If you’re like me, that’s certainly a scary thought,