Extreme Tech:

Back in 1999, scientists slowed light down to just 17 meters per second, and then two years later the same research group stopped light entirely — but only for a few fractions of a second. Earlier this year, the Georgia Institute of Technology stopped light for 16 seconds — and now, the University of Darmstadt has stopped light for a whole minute.

Fascinating article by Ben Popper on MLB’s Advanced Media division:

The latest expression of this boundless initiative is Statcast, a big data approach to sports that only a major league nerd could love. High-speed cameras and radar installed in every stadium capture the game in three dimensions and allow for real-time tracking and tabulation of each motion a player makes on the field. Fans watching an amazing replay of a diving catch can learn exactly how fast that outfielder’s first step was, if he broke in the right direction, and how that compares to his historical average.

Baseball has always had a strong statistical element to it. This just takes it one step further.

Great excerpt from a LWN.com article:

Krekel quoted former Facebook researcher Jeff Hammerbacher, who said: “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That Sucks.” Instead of spending time on “getting us into space, flying cars, or whatever”, the best minds in IT are focused on how to get people to click more ads.

Web advertising has become invasive and hostile regardless of the platform. The advertising-driven business models have put reputable sites in a bad position, they either make less money or provide a better experience. This plus the above note make me think that this topic isn’t getting the attention it deserves.

Kate Meyer:

Unfortunately, some designers misinterpret minimalism as a purely visual-design strategy. They cut or hide important elements in pursuit of a minimalist design for its own sake—not for the benefits that strategy might have for users. They’re missing the core philosophy and the historical context of minimalism, and they risk increasing complexity rather than reducing it.

Great point. Minimalist strategy is one where you approach designing layouts and information architectures with the intent to reduce unnecessary cruft and focus on the user’s goals. It’s easy to get carried away and end up with something so spartan it’s barely usable.

Great article from UI and Us:

Nänni confirmed my theory: “You are absolutely right. A rectangle with sharp edges takes indeed a little bit more cognitive visible effort than for example an ellipse of the same size. Our “fovea-eye” is even faster in recording a circle. Edges involve additional neuronal image tools. The process is therefore slowed down.”

Professor Nänni is saying that rounded rectangles are literally easier on the eye. Put another way, compared to square-edged rectangles, rounded rectangles are more computationally efficient for the human brain. To me, this is a revelation. An idea that at the very least demands more investigation.

Rounded rectangles have been a staple of UI design since the dawn of the graphical user interface. Lately there has been an increasing number of sharp-edged rectangles used in UI designs, specifically in buttons and forms. For instance, Material Design uses nearly-straight edges throughout its UI components.

Gene Spafford:

In the late 1980s, around the time the Airbus A340 was introduced (1991), those of us working in software engineering/safety used to exchange a (probably apocryphal) story. The story was about how the fly-by-wire avionics software on major commercial airliners was tested.

According to the story, Airbus engineers employed the latest and greatest formal methods, and provided model checking and formal proofs of all of their avionics code. Meanwhile, according to the story, Boeing performed extensive design review and testing, and made all their software engineers fly on the first test flights. The general upshot of the story was that most of us (it seemed) felt more comfortable flying on Boeing aircraft. (It would be interesting to see if that would still be the majority opinion in the software engineering community.)

Well that’s one way to do it.

TechCrunch has a write up on Tim Cook’s Speech from EPIC:

We believe the customer should be in control of their own information. You might like these so-called free services, but we don’t think they’re worth having your email, your search history and now even your family photos data mined and sold off for god knows what advertising purpose. And we think some day, customers will see this for what it is.

Hard to say if customers will really see this for what it is someday. Google and Facebook have business models that work because people have already decided they are willing to give up privacy for service. Will that change as privacy concerns become more apparent? Maybe, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Teo Yu Siang in a great post on Medium:

FABs are circular buttons that float above the UI and are “used for a promoted action,” according to Google. They act as call to action buttons, meant to represent the single action users perform the most on that particular screen.

And because of the bold visual style of Material Design, FABs are strikingly hard to ignore and stand out — and herein lies the problem.

While FABs seem to provide good UX in ideal conditions, in actual practice, widespread adoption of FABs might be detrimental to the overall UX of the app. Here are some reasons why.

Material Design is an exciting direction for Google, but I have a hard time getting past some of the usability concerns with it.

Google yesterday announced Google Photos which, among other things, has an extremely impressive search feature:

…with a simple search you can instantly find any photo—whether it’s your dog, your daughter’s birthday party, or your favorite beach in Santa Barbara.

I have only used it for a few minutes but I can already tell how incredibly useful this will be. Seems so obvious but I think this is the true way forward for photo management. Google at its finest.

Benedict Evans on Google’s evolving business:

The key change in all of this, I think, is that Google has gone from a world of almost perfect clarity – a text search box, a web-link index, a middle-class family’s home – to one of perfect complexity – every possible kind of user, device, access and data type. It’s gone from a firehose to a rain storm. But on the other hand, no-one knows water like Google. No-one else has the same lead in building understanding of how to deal with this. Hence, I think, one should think of every app, service, drive and platform from Google not so much as channels that might conflict but as varying end-points to a unified underlying strategy, which one might characterize as ‘know a lot about how to know a lot’. 

Fascinating article on the lives of astronauts onbord the ISS:

Sleep position presents its own challenges. The main question is whether you want your arms inside or outside the sleeping bag. If you leave your arms out, they float free in zero gravity, often drifting out from your body, giving a sleeping astronaut the look of a wacky ballet dancer. “I’m an inside guy,” Hopkins says. “I like to be cocooned up.”

I really have a hard time imagining what it would be like in space for an extended amount of time.


BlackBerry CEO John Chen, however, thinks this is unfair. In fact, he thinks it is so “discriminatory” that he wants legislators to widen the definition of net neutrality to include “application neutrality.”

In other words, if a company makes an app for iOS and Android, they must also make a version for BlackBerry and all other operating systems.

Call him out of “touch.”