Changed my mind about the CS3 icons

Adobe CS3 Icons in the Dock

In response to my Dad’s curiousity about some people talking about the new CS3 icons (one didn’t like them and linked to Adam Betts’s replacements: Betts CS3) I wrote this:

Good question.

Icons are a passionate topic for many Mac users. Mac icons have always been better than Windows icons, with the capability of being larger and having more colors and generally appealing more to discerning users (like many of the features of the Mac OS). This general trend has continued throughout the years and grown with the technology up to Mac OS X’s current and long standing ability to display icons with resolution of up to 128×128 pixels. (Vista finally catches up and surpasses the Mac by allowing 256×256 pixel icons, but does not have as well an established history, design language, nor guidelines as the Mac, and when October comes around will again be surpassed by 10.5’s ability to show 512×512 icons).

Additionally, the ability to easily customize an Application or indeed the entire Operating System’s icons has long been a feature of the Mac OS. Just Get Info on an icon, and copy and paste another icon to customize it to your liking. Popular companies such as the Iconfactory and individual designers (including me now and then) have been making cool replacement icons for years. There is even an iPhoto like program to catalog our custom icon collections called Pixadex.

This helps explain why such an intense debate broke out earlier this year when Adobe revealed their new icon system:
Adobe Software icons

Apparently the creation of the former Macromedia design team (now part of Adobe after the merger), the current color schemes of the large stable of applications now under Adobe’s roof were laid out on a color wheel and given a common typographic style. Criticisms were the order of the day, and designers and technologists lambasted Adobe for, amongst other things, essentially not designing the icons at all, turning icon design into a stale periodic table instead of an art form, and worse.

I was inclined to agree at the time. The icons all look very similar, and it seemed like they had indeed made a lame effort that would also prove to become a barrier to usability as users spent more time reading icons than looking at them at a glance to tell them apart and find the application they were looking for. Corporate branding appeared to have won out over truly usable and useful design (again). Not to mention they had abandoned the history of art alluded to and represented by Illustrator’s Venus icon as it had progressed over the years (actually already lost in CS and CS 2) and just cool expressive illustrations in general. Letters in a box? This is what the design team of the world’s leading producer of design software comes up with? Come on!

I’ve since changed my mind though. I now think the bold colors and square icons are really strong and stand out well. It’s easy to find the CS3 apps from all the other programs you may be running, especially when using the keyboard shortcut Apple -Tab to quickly switch through apps. The brightness and shape help the CS3 apps stand out, and the color is quick to get used to if you use them frequently as most people involved in digital production will.

Why is the white guy the most radical?

God, I would love to elect a black man or a chick! Believe me man, I want nothing more than the most radical change possible from this dogshit-crap-fest we are currently calling our democracy. What a perfect time for a woman and a black man to be staging serious runs at the White House!

But something is wrong. These inherently radical candidates are watering down their message to the typical, useless, centrist Democratic drivel that has lost the Dems the last two Presidential races: races they were practically handed on a platter.

And John Edwards, the rich white man from the south, is actually the one saying the most revolutionary things.

Shit like this is why no one cares anymore. God, it’s all so obvious and lame.

Fresh Scout Widget (and test)

This little guy is not quite done yet, but I made a widget for Tonia’s Fresh Scout website. I should probably tell her exactly how to post it too, so that’s half the reason I am putting it here instead of with my other Widget in the downloads area … if that’s even still there.

Fresh Scout Feed Widget Icon

The Haefster's latest jams: Sound Strategy

Sean Haefeli has just released his latest album, a 4 track EP featuring cover art by me. Check out some samples of the tunes at his website. The album shipped in a sleeve, so the art is just a front and back image. No inserts or anything extra.

The best looking part actually turned out to be the disk itself, but I can take no credit
. The disk is printed in just three colors, which was a reduction of my original artwork done by the disk printers. It looks sweet on the silver disk. Props to Disc Makers for doing a nice job on that for me, although some type on the front cover is a little jagged for an unknown reason.

Front Cover Art

Sound Strategy Back Cover Art

Theme editing

The current theme, Gray gets Green by Fred Banuelos, started with this image up top, which is gorgeous:

Original top

I hope it’s not too plagiarist to steal the idea and colors and rebuild it with my own imagery. I decided a Chicago skyline would give it a nice local touch, and this resulted:

top rebuilt with Chicago skyline

I think it is pretty apparent that it’s a rush job, but it also captures the intent completely so it’s fine for starters. Seeing the rough edges up there gave me the idea that I could just build up better versions over time, which appeals to me completely, I’ve already added an estimated outline of the under construction Trump Tower, and I expect subtle enhancements will appear frequently.

top with Trump Tower outline

A link to the source image, a photo taken by my buddy Josh Lane and used without asking his permission (yet), clearing violating the Copyright which does not permit derivative works.

Chef Jeff

I’ve been cooking like never before during the year 2006. That’s a relative measurement, but I’ve also gone out for awesome brunch/breakfast more than any other year to date. Today I made that expense irrelevant by cooking up this masterpiece:
Breakfast October 28th, 2006
Breakfast potatoes have always been one of my favorite dishes, due to growing up eating the best ever from Santa Fe Restaurant in Glen Ellyn. I’ve never been able to reproduce theirs, but I find if I boil the potatoes for a few minutes before I fry them they are similarly soft in the center.

Learn to Program (finally!)

Most of the nerds I hang around with are obsessed with computers but can’t code at all past a webpage. Yesterday I found a free PDF at CocoaLab about programing for OS X that doesn’t assume you already know how to program.

Become and XCoder

They’ve also started up a Wiki on the topic.

At least someone is paying attention

It’s hard to beat John Gruber’s opening clause here:

I’ve been up to my ears in jackassery lately, ->

but it’s nice to see someone in the media effectively acting like a watchdog these days. It’s not just Gruber, either. Lately there seems to be a lot of independent but popular writers in the Mac media calling “bullshit” when they see it and parsing said bullshit with highly logical retorts. Even MacWorld stood up for decent journalism recently when they were linked to a sensational piece published under their own umbrella corporation: so it’s not just the bloggers.
The sad and scary thing is that this watch-dogging is of the major media, which is itself supposed to be watching over the government and all else that is powerful and potentially dangerous to normal citizens. I can’t decide if the trend of independent people checking up on the large media organizations is a sign of hope that a technology may finally be helping the common man and the cause of equality, or a portent of doom that our major media institutions are not fulfilling their social task at all.

In the meantime, I’ve found a new iChat status message.

iChat Jackassery Status
Also, go use Apple’s new .Mac Webmail. It’s gorgeous. Turn on Keyboard shortcuts in the preferences.