On this week’s show, Ben and I talked about responsive design and why shawnblanc.net is responsive even though it’s not “fluid”, Netbot going free, and a few other things.

Also: big news. This was our second-to-last episode. It’s been a lot of fun doing the podcast, and we’ve had a good, long run — over 90 episodes — but next week will be our final episode. It’s time to make room for new projects.

The B&B Podcast: The Penultimate Episode

Austin Carr profiles Square’s internal design culture and their desire to design things like receipts, points of sale, and refund screens with a bit of fun and whimsicalness. And it’s true: just Tuesday I bought a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop which uses Square on an iPad as their point of sale. I used my finger to sign my name in the giant signature box and then thought to myself,“that was fun.” (Though not as fun as drinking the cup of coffee.)

Solving Problems The Square Way

Steve Craig:

So I think some people objecting to the fact that things are skeuomorphic may really be articulating the fact that they object to having busy, stressful places to work.

For play, it’s different.

Calm UI

Chris Bowler, regarding the Omni Group:

The OmniGroup applications I own have delighted me over time. It’s hard to describe — using the tools is the best way to experience what I’m referring to.

So true. Over the last couple of years, I’ve probably spent more time learning and wrangling OmniFocus than any other app. And I think the dividends I’ve reaped from OmniFocus have been better than probably any other app. There are apps in similar categories as OmniFocus, but no app is like it.

Good Software Delights

Great piece by Matt Alexander regarding the just-announced 128GB iPad (4):

In the word’s of Phil Schiller, “With more than 120 million iPads sold, it’s clear that customers around the world love their iPads, and everyday they are finding more great reasons to work, learn and play on their iPads rather than their old PCs.”

The rhetoric is telling. The PC is “old” and the iPad and iPhone are at the forefront of the company’s profitability and growth. The iPad is the future of the company’s presence in computing and today, in my eyes, marks the beginning of the company’s true and emphatic push into that era.

In other words, today’s the day the iPad became the Mac. And that’s no small matter to consider.

Now, I don’t know that today is the day the iPad became the Mac, or that there is any particular day at all, for that matter. But a few things are clear: the iPad is cannibalizing Mac sales; and every day it gets a little more capable as a stand-alone PC, and every day a few more people put aside their preconceived notions about “tablets” and they realize the iPad makes a darn good personal computer.

My 3rd-gen iPad “only” has 32GB of storage — just one-quarter of what you can now get. And no doubt there will come a day when the iPad has 1TB of storage. If the original iPad had offered a 128GB capacity, it wouldn’t have been any more usable as a PC on day one than it was with the storage capacities it did offer. And today, my 32GB iPad (3) is just as usable as a 4th-gen iPad with 128GB of storage.

Because the tipping point for the iPad’s usability isn’t mostly regarding internal storage. The tipping point is the apps. People are “finding more great reasons to work, learn and play on their iPads rather than their old PCs” because of the iPad’s apps, not its storage capacity.

Anyway, getting back to the point Matt is making in his article, he’s not arguing that the iPad is “finally” usable now that it comes in 128GB flavor. Rather, he’s making a point that a threshold has been crossed. And I agree. The iPad just became that much more “professional grade” — which is just one more reason for people to buy and use an iPad rather than a traditional Mac or PC.

The Day the iPad Became the Mac

Louie Mantia:

I believe good app icons are most valuable for your customers, your everyday users, not first-time shoppers. […]

Instead of focusing on what your app does, focus on what your app is. This will help your brand show through, which will be more unique and more recognizable.

About App Icons

I’ve used Mail.app since I became a Mac user back in 2004, and I’ve always thought it was the best. I’ve used Sparrow, and PostBox, and Gmail in the browser, and they all just pretty much seem like different types of window dressing for the same fundamental task: read and act on incoming emails, write outgoing emails.

While I like the cleverness in this article by Pierre Wizla (via Dave Caolo), I could never actually use this set up because it would make managing email on iOS nearly impossible. Since, as you’ll read, Pierre uses his Inbox as his “archive” and lives entirely in smart folders.

But it’s a good read nonetheless. Because, I am a huge fan of stepping back every now and then to look at how I’m using my software, what my workflow is like, and how I can adjust that workflow, or tweak my software in order to work smarter. Because, needs change and software changes and sometimes we don’t realize we’re being old fashioned and slow with our work habits.

Also, anyone else miss Hawk Wings?

Turning Mail.app Into the Best Mac Email App

Whither Link Posts?

At the end of 2012, Michael Lopp looked back at 6 years worth of his site, Rands in Repose. Right at the end he concludes with this sentiment about where he shares links and what the primary content on his site is and will be:

I scratch my link blog itch with Twitter, I share my travels with Instagram, but here – I continue to learn how to write.

Lopp’s not alone. Chris Bowler, in his recent migration from Expression Engine to Kirby, spent some time re-evaluating if link posts were worth doing on his site:

I wrote linked posts for two reasons. To share what interests me and to bring attention to the work of others. It’s clear that my Twitter account is a much better place for this sort of sharing, while my own site is a place for content created by me. Content that, God willing, brings value that is more lasting.

And, late last fall, my pal Ben Brooks had a similar change of heart about the link posts he publishes on The Brooks Review. However, he decided to change the format of his link posts to be “DF-Style” to “Kottke-esque”. Why?

Because this puts my commentary on a level playing field of that which I am linking to, which is ultimately how I view the two.

I very much value and appreciate the above perspectives on the Link List vs. Articles stance. I’ve been posting links and articles on shawnblanc.net since its inception nearly 6 years ago, and in those years I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the formatting, content, and existence of my link posts.

The fact of the matter is: there’s no right or wrong here. Lopp, Bowler, Brooks, and so many others out there have spent time evaluating what they want to focus on. And so I thought I’d share briefly about why I personally am keeping my link posts here.

Like Lopp and Bowler, many people are migrating to Twitter as their outlet to share links. And while I think Twitter and App.net are great places for that, I personally like the idea of sharing most of the links I come across via my site.

Here’s why:

The Time

For one, there’s just no way I could write the sort of original content I do often enough to keep the site updated on a near-daily basis. I spend a lot of time reading and researching, and I love to pass along links to the things I find of value.

If I were to shift the time I spend posting links to be time spent on original articles instead, it’s not like there would be a new article every day. Because I would still be spending time reading and researching and working behind the scenes. And I’d still be discovering the same stuff I am now — I just wouldn’t be linking to it.

The Format

The difference between a Kottke-esque link post and a DF-style one is almost wholly a matter of formatting. Though a Kottke-esque post may by nature be more inviting for commentary, at the end of the day it is up to the author if he/she will add any substantial commentary.

The Discoverability

Links shared on Twitter are relatively fleeting. Isn’t the average lifespan of a Tweet something like 120 seconds? Thus, someone who checks Twitter once or twice a day probably has to scroll through myriad of tweets if they want to find your links of value.

If, however, those links are being posted to a website then they are more “static” (less fleeting) — someone looking for the day’s links can go to their websites of choice and browse through the 3 or 4 or 10 which were posted, read the accompanying commentary, and click the ones they’re interested in.

* * *

This is a conversation that pops up every now and then, and every time it does I take a step back and think about it myself to see if what I’m doing is the best for my pace, my writing habits, my site, and, of course, the readers.

Every time I think about it, I keep coming back to the above conclusions for why I want to stick with running a link list as part of my site. In short, I enjoy it and I believe readers get value from it.

Whither Link Posts?

Poster — a WordPress blog editor — is the easiest way to blog on iOS. It has built-in support for Markdown, can quickly create new posts from Dropbox files, and supports the WordPress features other iOS apps don’t, like custom fields, custom post types, post slugs, and much more.

Version 2 was just released, and it’s available at a special launch price of $2.99. Go check it out on the App Store.

* * *

Editor’s Note: Poster is the iOS app I use to post to this site. Version 2 of Poster just came out, and it’s just about as close to the perfect iOS WordPress app I could ask for. Poster has support for custom fields, it lets me edit the post slug, I can create a new post from a Dropbox file, and thanks to it’s use of URL schemes, I have a handy dandy bookmarklet that grabs the title and URL of a Web page and tosses them into Poster so I can easily post links from my iPhone or iPad.

If you’ve got a WordPress site and an iOS device or two, you’d be silly not to check out Poster. Especially considering the fact it’s a universal app and is just 3 bucks(!).

Sponsor: Poster — a WordPress blog editor for iOS

A Vimeo channel featuring videos of makers making. Click through with caution — you may never come back.

And I think it’s fair to say that this line from Billy Tennent in his video introducing him and his hand-made leathers brand pretty much sums up one of the most wonderful things about hand-made goods:

The perfect piece of any craft — leather work, in particular — is it’s fit for function. It does what it’s designed to do, perfectly.

Update: There’s a Those Who Make website as well, which, in addition to the videos, also has some interviews.

Those Who Make