Aleksandar • Vacić

iOS bits and pieces


I got tired of the old design and changed it a bit. A bit. :)

Apart from really small font (Calibri, if you have it), graphic-pen tones and narcissistic bit on the right, I changed how the ads are presented. Now, all of you visiting this site more than 5 times, will not see any ads, at all. This is of course due to Howie’s post on how ads really work.

Adsense, TextLinkAds and AuctionAds is the trio I’m using at the moment. Will see how it goes.

I have a feeling that design will be tweaked in the following weeks…

The Lord of the Rings - on stage

I’ve been to London quite a bit, on various business trips. I visited almost all of the museums, palaces and similar places to see, but never went to a theatre. I passed endless ads for musicals and shows getting on and off the Tube, but never really made up my mind to go. I’m not a theatre fan. What made me finally go was probably the fact that I’m huge Lord of the Rings fan. I have seen the movies probably 30 times each, so you can imagine. :)

Don’t worry, there wan’t be any spoilers in this post

The theathre building. It's larger inside then outside

LotR is put on stage at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, a theatre with a very colorful and rich history spanning 4 centuries. It’s located just off the Covent Garden, on Catherine St. A lovely building and a huge auditorium inside. I purchased my ticket over a phone just 3h prior to 19:30 show. It was a ticket for the balcony. Having been only to Serbian theathres, I would describe this “balcony” more like one story over the roof. The stage is clearly visible and sound and speech are perfectly carried up, but it’s impossible to see the faces. Even with looking glass which cost 50p to pickup and use.

If you go, buy your self a lower seat (30+ pounds).

Dear Apple: please eat your own dog food

Dear Apple,

I really like the stuff you make. Really. I have an iPod, I’m waiting for you to release Leopard so I can buy it with MacBookPro (would be my first Mac…it would be nice if it was a 12-13" size). My next phone will probably an iPhone (I expect that in Europe it will have 3G support). My friends are calling me an Apple defender, Apple fan, part of the cult. You know, the usual.

I also like Mac OS X design. It’s nice, intuitive, beautiful to look at. That is why for instance I use a Thunderbird theme that resembles Tiger Mail. Mail client is an application I use daily and as such it must look good.

Mozilla Thunderbird on Windows running tweaked Tiger Mail theme

I want you to note two distinct stuff on the previous screenshot.

First, If you haven’t recognized it, I’m using Windows XP. You are probably puzzled because you don’t see those ugly, beveled interface that Microsoft ships with it (I even forgot how it’s called). I’m using wonderful System5 visual style.

Second, you can see that my T-bird theme is not identical to what its author created. The scrollbars are not Mac OS X scrollbars, but rather the same scrollbars I see all around my Windows installation.

You see, I spent some time - quite a lot of time actually - to make my OS the way it works for me and provides me with an engaging environment. My OS is now visually great and I hate apps created by people who think that their interface taste is better than mine. That’s a subjective thing, it’s for me to decide what I like.

Which brings me to the point of this letter: please keep Mac OS X interface elements on Mac OS X. Do not bring them to Windows. They look like sh*t there, completely out of place.

Font rendering on Windows and Mac

Introduction of Safari to Windows has rehashed old discussions about which font rendering is better, Windows ClearType way or Mac OS X way. My experience so far tells me that it is largely a matter of habit: each and every Windows user I talked to thinks that Mac font smoothing is “shit”, “unreadable”, “hurts” etc. Mac users use the same adjectives, just vice-versa.

Here’s what some long-time Windows users say…

The always-opinionated Joel Spolsky says this:

Safari even managed to bring the inferior font rendering of the OS X platform to Windows, no easy trick.

On another hand, this post is perfect example of “I fucked up writing on impulse, realized my main argument is mute and then dug my self even deeper trying to cover my mistake with half-ass attempts to irony”. On my office computer (Pentium 4 3GHz, 2GB RAM) 1st time Safari startup took 5s. Joel later wrote a quality post on font rendering, which is usually his norm.

Jeff Atwood obviously agrees with Joel:

I’m curious why Apple’s default font rendering strategies, to my eye – and to the eyes of at least two other people – are visibly inferior to Microsoft’s on typical LCD displays

Jeff also wrote a great article on font smoothing.

Mac users are another story

Jeffrey Zeldman uses examples to drive his point:

It’s worth pointing out that these tests were done on Macintosh computers, which are known for their superior handling of text…

Jon Hicks clearly agrees:

Its wonderful looking at a website on XP, and seeing gorgeous text smoothing.

Truth is somewhere in the middle

Me, as a long time Windows user who have long time ago fallen in love with ClearType but am increasingly using Mac, agree in parts with both.

Non-italic font smoothing is better with ClearType, but is ugly with most sans-serif italics, like Verdana or Tahoma. Mac handles this much better. Here are few examples, made using Firefox 2 and Safari 3 beta, on Windows:

Tahoma rendering in Firefox and Safari

Mac rendering to me looks better. Which is the reason why on this site I use different fonts for italic and non-italic styles.

But, like I said, it’s a matter of habit. I even know few people who disable all font smoothing and use blocky fonts. They are usually non-front-end programmers. ;)