Fly on the Wall, Esq. Matt 05 May 2006

38 comments Latest by Rugby Fan Steve

Some of the activity this week at our internal 37signals Campfire chat room:

Ryan really wanted this Samsung t809 slider phone but tried it in the store and said, “the UI is attrocious…i couldn’t do it…sucks. i think that sliders are such a good idea.”

Jamis tip: “Set your laptop to speak the time on the hour. You’ll never lose track of the time. Keeps me a lot more focused, too.”

Ryan posted a link to The Bad In Email (or Why We Need Collaboration Software). Jason’s response: “Email will always ‘win’ because it’s so simple…Everyone can use it. It’s ceased to be ‘software.’

Jamis’ touch of sickness earned him photo treatment from Ryan in the form of a cup of tea and a bowl of chicken soup. Backpack’s 1st birthday resulted in this cake:

Food Photos

Marcel: I defy any flu type thinger to take on the combined power that is apple sauce, saltines and ginger ale
Jamis: miracle cure?
Marcel: indeed

There was a lengthy discussion about a specific area of Sunrise, the new app we’re working on. Eventually, Ryan reverted to more walk, less talk mode: “alright. no more discussing until there are screens to discuss!”

Tongue twister courtesy of Jamis: “A noise annoys an oyster, but a noisy noise annoys an oyster more” (to be spoken aloud)

Marcel: Cingular is such an established name (of course not nearly as much as AT&T). Seems weird to just get rid of it.
Sam: telecommunications is all about confusion

Jamis asked for recommendations for an inexpensive image manipulation program for the mac. Currently he uses gimp, but says it’s “kind of awkward on the mac.” Ryan mused on the bizarre landscape of image manip software. “nobody needs the power of photoshop but it’s the best tool for the simple things they do need…it’s like, you know you’re not paying for 80% of the features.”

Marcel is starting to take Japanese classes for kicks. Did you know Jamis speaks Korean? He lived there from ‘93 - ‘95.

Sam pasted this email…

As you know, your beta key for Parallels Workstation 2.1 for Mac OS X is scheduled to expire in a few days. Since we are still in beta testing, we are pleased to provide you with a new, extended beta key that will allow you to use Parallels Workstation through the end of the beta program!

…and commented, “that’s a nice gesture…I didn’t have to ask for a new key…makes me want to buy it.” Marcel agreed: “considerations like that are great…little stuff like that makes you ‘trust’ that they have your best interest in mind…which is way more effective then most any amount of traditional marketing.”

Marcel: caring about validity in the past made me not care whatesoever about it in the present
Ryan: validity is a club more than anything else
Ryan: [uploads “xhtml valid” button gif]
Marcel: yeah…like no one cares except the person who put that button on the site

Jamis: ha, the dictionary says that, among other things, “esquire” is the title you give someone when they don’t have any other title
Ryan: lol
Jamis: “you’re a loser, so we’ll call you esquire to be polite”
Marcel: that’s awesome
Ryan: “Ladies and gentleman, Mr. Charles Bumbry”
Ryan: elbow
Ryan: “Ahem, Mr. Charles Bumbry Esquire

38 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Damien 05 May 06

Any suggestions on the graphics editor question?

Jon 05 May 06

You’ve got Seashore, it’s based on the GIMP, but it’s built for OS X!
(I’m really not sure how well it works, as I haven’t tested it […yet])

Doug 05 May 06

My day-to-day graphics needs are pretty simple, but one feature I need is the ability to click and drag across an image to crop to an arbitrary size. Only Photoshop seems to have it.

You can approximate it in GIMP, but only in Photoshop can you take a photo and crop it to, say, 150x200 starting at an arbitrary point in the photo and have it scale automatically. This is useful for fitting an image into a predetermined spot on the website where the image size matters.

If anyone knows of another editor that can do that, I’d like to hear about it.

Alberto 05 May 06

And what about that utility to let the computer speak the time on the hour? Suggestions?

JonF 05 May 06

Doug, I’m not sure about Windows, but I know you can do that on the Mac using the Preview app. Just open the image in Preview, File > Grab… > Selection and go.

Much faster than Photoshop (for me and my G4, at least).

Jon S 05 May 06

What about Photoshop Elements 4.0? It’s $80 and has 80% of the features of its bigger brother.

Jon Maddox 05 May 06

re: speaking the time

Unix computers used to beep every hour on the hour by default. I know when I used linux years ago it did and it was a great way to keep track of time. Just a simple beep.

When I was younger I used to set an alarm on my watch for 1:00am just so when I was out drinking or partying, I’d have some sort of clue what time it was. Just to keep me sane.

Of course now, I dont even wear a watch.

Sanjeev Sisodiya 05 May 06


Ana 05 May 06

I like OmniGraffle for basic image manipulation. You can crop and scale an image using any of its built in shapes, and export a region of canvas, or just a selection of objects. Really handy for overlaying text etc. Good selection of export formats.

Dan Boland 05 May 06

The only crappy part about speaking the time is when you’re listening to music with your headphones on and the robotic voice scares the bejeezus out of you. At least you’ll know what time it is when you die of a heart attack. ;D

Ran Barton 05 May 06

If you value an involved software developer, the program you want to buy is GraphicConverter. The UI is not as clean as you might wish, but the capability/$ value is immense.

Kjell 05 May 06

OSX has ‘speaking the time’ built in, System Prefs - Date & Time - Clock - “Announce the time.”

Vishi 05 May 06

Ryan, this is for you:

The best slider ever.

Todd 05 May 06

Ryan, just curious what you find so attrocious about the UI. I actually have the t809 slider and find the UI to be one of the nicest ones I’ve used. Visually, it’s well polished. It has a joystick style navigation like the Nokia’s. The phonebook is instantly activated by scrolling down.

It’s not w/o it’s drawbacks. I’ve accidentally hung up on one occassion by accidentally sliding the phone closed when talking on it. Oops! Also, the bluetooth won’t sync w/OS X’s Address Book (something to do with the firmware or something. It’s been I while since I goggled that).

All in all, I’m pretty pleased w/it. And I’ll keep it. That is until Apple makes a phone.

Beau Hartshorne 05 May 06

Jamis, what would Pixoh need to do to be that image editor you’re looking for?

RS 05 May 06

Thanks Vishi. I like the N80, but it’s too much phone for me. I don’t need all the smartphone stuff.

Todd 05 May 06

Yeah, that N80 looks like a brick.

Adam Featherstone 05 May 06

Doug: I do what I think you’re describing in gimp. Use the rectangle select tool, set it to a given ratio, select what you want, crop to selection. Then, resize the image to the exact number of pixels desired. It sounds like a mouthful, but it goes pretty fast when you know the shortcuts. I used to create photo directories with 8x10 ratio-cropped photos.

nursegirl 05 May 06

I’m probably too late, but I highly recommend Seashore for quick and dirty visual editing. It’s purty like a Mac but based on the GIMP.

I also do Jamis’ habit of getting my Powerbook to tell me the time every hour. It’s often been the only thing that gets me to go to sleep when I get in “the zone” with webdesign or writing.

matt 06 May 06

re: Photoshop

The app has gained serious bloat and ‘featuritis’ over the past few versions; there is little in CS2 that’s not in PS7 that I feel I could live without.

Some of the new features, like “Smart Objects” seem like solutions in search of problems.

Since it will be a while until Photoshop/Mac becomes Intel-native (Q2 07, from what I hear) this sounds like a really good time for an ambitious development team to swoop in with a graphics editing app that does 80% of what Photoshop does.

Actually, ditto the entirety of the above and substitute InDesign, as well. It went from a nice and simple Quark-alternative to a tank in a very short period.

re: Pixoh

One thing that amuses me about some of the web-apps out there is that slow data transfer rates can make them useless. Remember people, and especially if you’re targetting the Yank market, most people have crappy upload speeds.

Don Wilson 06 May 06

Regarding the parallels comment, why not just give people a key to use during the duration of the beta entirely?

FredS 06 May 06

Do they still make Photoshop Elements?

Robert 06 May 06

If we’re talking about web design, I stopped using photoshop when I found Fireworks (about 6 years ago). It has been far and away the best app i’ve used for vizD and static screens. Where PS has so many features that you’ll never use, Fireworks has all the right ones with a much more efficient UI. May not be the cheapest, but its certainly worth the price.

Andy 06 May 06

What dictionary are you reading?

I usually see “Esq.” as a title for attorneys… all various lawyer jokes aside, some are actually honorable and deserve a title.

I guess you could call them Doctors

Jon Jensen 06 May 06

re: speaking the time

On Unix there are two programs called “saydate” and “saytime”. I have this in my crontab to do what Jamis suggested:

0 * * * * saytime -f ‘%P%k’

It does help to keep too many hours from slipping away.

Ed 07 May 06

Actually, “esquire” is used in place of any other title, so “Mr. Bob Jones, esquire” would incorrect. It’s either “Mr. Bob Jones” or “Bob Jones, esquire”.

Anonymous Coward 07 May 06

Dude, if you think the t809 sucks silicon ass, you should check out half the OS crap the carriers have had to beg Motorolla to leave out of their recent prototypes. As far as Nokia is concerned, their executive team has a firm (all-encompasing, as in M$ circa 1984) vision of where they want the mobile computing market to head, and I don’t see them backing down from it even if it meant their own customers taking contracts on on their very lives.

If you can hold out long enough, you’re going to see some strong partnerships develop between certain carriers and some of the more design concious manufacturers. My advice is to sit tight and keep you well earned cash in your wallet for the moment.

Anonymous Coward (II) 07 May 06

PS: I’ve heard reports from the fronts lines that the first-gen sliders are breaking under heavy use. Samsung has top of the line engineers, so I’m sure they’ll have it fixed by the time round two hits production, but early-adopter beware.

Edmundo 07 May 06

Since it will be a while until Photoshop/Mac becomes Intel-native (Q2 07, from what I hear) this sounds like a really good time for an ambitious development team to swoop in with a graphics editing app that does 80% of what Photoshop does.

Ah yes, kind of what they did to QuarkXPress with InDesign because they didn’t release a OS X native version on time. :)

The thing I like about CS2 is the layer control. It is much more intuitive now than ever. It’s still a pain in the ass to work between Illustrator and Photoshop as they handle layers completely different…

I like the Nokia phone UI. Sure, they’re the cheapest (or free) phones you can get, but I just feel like the interface is pretty simple and straightforward. I’ve tried using a motorola several times, but I pretty lost in the menus.

Edmundo 07 May 06

Fun, I broke movable type! :D

Jamis 08 May 06

> Jamis, what would Pixoh need to do to be that image editor you�re looking for?

It looks like Pixoh is currently intended only for simply image manipulations, like cropping or rotating a photo. What I was needing (specifically) when I asked that question was something that would let me make images of rounded corners for divs, so I’d like something with support for drawing basic primitives, filling shapes, transparency, etc.

I’m checking out Seashore and ChocoFlop right now.

Andrew 08 May 06

A decent Image editor and Photoshop replacement tool I have worked with minimally is Pixel.

It can be found here.