Pixel City

Oh look, another blog about design and technology.

Color and Usability

Interesting article from C. G. P. Grey about how color imacts usability. (Via Marco Arment)

Reasons to Upgrade Your Phone

Not just rationalizations — there are actually good reasons to upgrade your phone sooner rather than later.

  • The new phone will be in warranty.
  • Flash drives slow down over time.
  • Batteries degrade over time.
  • Buttons wear out. Probably on all phones, but in particular, the home button and sleep/wake buttons on iPhones seem to wear out a lot as you hit the two-year mark.
  • You will be able to run the newest OSs and apps well.
  • If you're on a plan where your phone is subsidized and your monthly payment doesn't go down once it's paid off, you're leaving money on the table if you don't take advantage of the ability to upgrade as soon as it's possible.
  • iPhones hold their value well, and you'll get more money for it the sooner you sell it.

So... if you can afford to upgrade comfortably, do it!


You don't always get a big "aha!" moment when trying to solve a problem, but when you do, it's pretty sweet.

"... image stabilization was the answer, but the technologies of that time, which you’d find in Final Cut and myriad other video editing programs, were simply unworkable for smartphones. ... image stabilization algorithms typically analyze a movie frame by frame, identifying image fragments common to each. By recording how those shared points jump around across frames, algorithms can then infer how the camera has been moving. By reverse engineering that motion data, software can recreate a new, steadier version of a film clip. Yet every step in that process requires processing muscle. That’s fine for a movie studio, which has massive computers that crank overnight to re-render a scene. It’s ridiculous for a smartphone... Karpenko had an aha moment: Smartphones didn’t have nearly enough power to replicate video-editing software, but they did have built-in gyroscopes. On a smartphone, instead of using power-hungry algorithms to model the camera’s movement, he could measure it directly. And he could funnel those measurements through a simpler algorithm that could map one frame to the next...

From an article in Wired about the creation of Hyperlapse for Instagram.

Name design?

Yes, it exists. This great old (1999!) article popped into my head so I figured I'd add a link to it. I think it's hysterical — a view into an industry that's so nuts it almost reads like satire.

“What a crummy name,” he says. “[Agilent] sounds like a committee name. ‘Who’s your competition?’ ‘Lucent.’ ‘Well, we want to play off Lucent — only we’re agile.’ I mean, if you wanted a name like that, I could come up with that kind of name in about four seconds.”


Landor, for its part, is quick to defend its handiwork. “To our critics, I can only say, vive la diffirence, vive the competition and vive individual entrepreneurialism,” says Redhill, in his gentle, grandfatherly voice. “We have the utmost confidence in our model.” To drive home that point, Redhill put me in touch with Darius Somary, the research director who had confirmed to an empirical certainty the allure of names like Agilent. “From a quantitative standpoint, it’s a very appealing name,” Somary told me. “On all the scalar measures of distinctiveness and appropriateness, it tested right off the charts.”


I occasionally post things here that are not design- or technology-related but are just really interesting. This is one of them — an article about how climate change will affect the grapes grown for wine production. (Via Paris Lemon.)

Great Video about Adobe Illustrator

Fast Company has a great video (19 minutes) about the history and impact of Adobe Illustrator. One of the interviewed subjects is Dylan Roscover, a former Full Sail student, who had his work used in Time Magazine while he was still in school.

Word Crimes

What does it take to make a 3 minute, 44 second video with amazing kinematic type? About "500 hours of work in After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator and Premiere". Read (and watch) all about it in this post by the creator, Jarrett Heather.

Word Crimes screenshot

I never would have guessed that these companies shared a typeface.

Apple, Reebok, and Trapper Keeper. Who knew?


Via 512pixels.

How to Design a TV Show

OK, that's not really what this article is about, but the design stuff is my favorite part.

Siskel and Ebert had switched to sitting in movie theater seats—slightly angled, 18 inches apart—to a mock balcony, a kind of belvedere from which they could surveil all of moviedom. This created a narrative frame for the reviews. They were critics playing moviegoers, who discussed films as they were shown to them; it gave the show its sitcom quality, which became a central part of its appeal... In order to sustain the illusion, Siskel and Ebert would turn their heads in the direction of the screen after introducing a clip, as though they were watching it alongside the viewer... It read as inclusive; the camera always positioned the viewer either in a seat close to the hosts, or in an impossible spot just leaning over the balcony railing.

I totally want some of this material.

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it.

"You expect to see the hills and all you can see … it's like black, like a hole, like there's nothing there. It just looks so strange," said Ben Jensen, the firm's chief technical officer.