User Interface Time Travel

I just wasted spent a good portion of my afternoon doing a little user interface time travel, back to the glory days of pre-OS X Mac operating systems, courtesy of the Internet Archive classic Mac OS emulators.

I came to find out about these classic Mac OS emulators via the Tedium email newsletter (always interesting), which cited an article from Fast Company In it, author Mark Wilson reminisces about the classic Mac interface, and explores the virtues of elegance and simplicity over complexity and flash.

Despite its 1-bit color scheme and seemingly unsophisticated graphics, the classic Macintosh (not Mac) OS possesses a warmth and personality that modern operating systems struggle to convey. Susan Kare’s design, especially her icons, have become, well, iconic – leaping from that little 8-inch black and white screen into popular culture and design immortality. And maybe I’m remembering this more fondly due to the passage of time, but that cute little bomb icon made those system errors a little easier to take.

It may seem impossible to some people now, but to use that original Macintosh in 1984 was a truly revelatory experience. There was no color (OK, there were two colors – black and white), and the animations were rudimentary and limited And yet, it almost seemed alive, like a trusty companion rather than a tool. And that user interface was the reason why.

If you remember what I’m talking about, do yourself a favor and try these emulators out (my personal all-time favorite Macintosh system is System 6, but there are several from which to choose). And if you have never had the pleasure of using a pre-OSX system, take one of these classic mac OS emulators for a spin. I think you will be surprised and delighted.

Step Up Your Video Conference Background Game With GotYourBack

Video calls and conferences are fast becoming the new normal, in both our work lives and everyday lives. While you may not mind your colleagues or friends getting a glimpse into your home during a chat, GotYourBack can help you up the cool factor of your video meetings with custom backgrounds contributed by some of the world’s best artists, designers and museums. From the GotYourBack site:

Whether for work or personal use, many of us spent the last weeks in and out of video conference calls.

Far from ideal. But it sparked an idea.

GotYourBack

An ever growing collection of virtual backdrops for use in video call apps. Expressions of optimism and art by the world’s best designers, illustrators, animators, photographers, filmmakers and artists.

Adding some much needed creativity to video conferences whilst also raising awareness for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and promoting artists and their art. Everybody benefits.

The backgrounds include colorful abstracts, whimsical photo manipulations and illustrations, fine art paintings from the Dutch Rijksmuseum and breathtaking photography. There are even several animated backgrounds, if that’s your thing. The site’s FAQ gives instructions for using the backgrounds in Microsoft Teams and Zoom, and they are also perfect for desktop wallapers.

All of the backgrounds on GotYourBack are available to use free of charge, but you can make a voluntary donation to the COVID-19 Response Fund when you download.

Via It’s Nice That.

What I’m Listening To: Lullatone

I don’t often listen to music when I do design work. Depending on the task at hand, I sometimes find it distracting. However, lately I have been engaged in some tasks that don’t require a great deal of concentration, and was happy to have recently discovered the music of Lullatone through the wonderful SwissMiss email newsletter. The most recent edition featured a link to a marvelous web app called Patatap. Created by Shawn and Yoshimi of Lullatone and programmer Jono Brandel, it’s a soundboard of sorts, allowing you to make music (or just noise, in my case) by typing at your keyboard.

And check out some of Lullatone’s music. It’s soothing and upbeat and innocent – just what I need in these uncertain times to ground me and keep me focused.

The Myth of Apple’s Great Design

I am almost certainly in the minority here, especially among my designer peers, but I have been off the Apple bandwagon for years now and have never felt more free.

I was reluctant, at first, to leave the comfortable embrace of the cult of Jobs. But it was, at the core of it, a financial decision. I needed a new computer, and I would have loved to have gotten a new Macbook, but I simply could not afford it – not even a pre-owned one. Continue reading