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Tag Archives: design

  • Why Carl Sagan is Truly Irreplaceable
    A relatively short bio of Carl Sagan as Cosmos is revived and his papers are available at the Library of Congress. I think the most interesting thing that I learned was that he has a sister named Carli.
  • From Retail Palace to Zombie Mall: How Efficiency Killed the Department Store
    I think the most interesting thing about this look back on the peak and downturn of the department store, is how influential design was in making department stores a success. Design is not just a recent thing

    Not only did the design influence where a shopper’s eyes would go, it also influenced the steps that shopper would take through the store. “In a department store, there’s a tile path or flooring that you feel compelled to walk on, because you’re not going to cut through the carpeted area that has all of the fixtures to get from one place to another,” Wood says. “So you follow that path, which leads you where the store wants you to go. It leads you away from the exits and toward the interior. When you want to go up, the elevators are always hidden so that you’re more likely to take the escalator. Once you get to the next level, you have to walk all the way around the other side to keep going up, so you see everything showcased on that floor.”

  • What Do Animals See in a Mirror?
    One of the challenges of a baby is to recognize that what you see in the mirror is yourself. It has been thought that this ability is related to higher intelligence in species. Here’s some more about that idea

    Gallup, now in his 70s, mainly stays away from advocacy work but he likes to philosophize about what exactly mirror self-recognition shows, and why that capability might have evolved. Clearly, it has little to do with mirrors since aside from the occasional still pond, our distant ancestors would never have encountered their reflections. He’s come to the conclusion that a pass of the mirror test indicates a profound level of consciousness that includes animals’ ability to contemplate their own thoughts and experiences as well as to imagine what others could be thinking and experiencing. This ability is called “theory of mind.”

  • The Real Butlers of the .001 Percent
    I was really hoping that this article would be full of juicy gossip about the crazy practices that the .001 Percent have, but there was only one interesting story and a bunch of so-so ones

    The sheik wasn’t on his boat all that often, but when he did set sail, he liked to take the vessel “whoring,” as Bentley puts it. “The girls would all line up on the dock. The sheik would say, ‘You go. You go. You come aboard.'” On one four-day trip from Spain to Morocco, one of the sheik’s wives surprised the crew in port. “She came on board with her daughters, looking in every bed, trying to find a pubic hair.” Luckily, Bentley had been given a heads-up. He had his maids strip the sheets. Meanwhile Bentley hid six prostitutes in his own cabin, knowing that a sheik’s wife would never go into the staff’s lower-deck quarters.

  • Let’s, Like, Demolish Laundry
    A look at the heavy competition in the start-up world around…laundry. This article laments the fact that some of the smartest, motivated individuals in the world are tackling first-world specific problems (and not really problems at that). But hey, there’s money to be made.

    In Silicon Valley, where The Work of creating The Future is sacrosanct, the suggestion that there might be something not entirely normal about this—that it might be a little weird that investors are sinking millions of dollars into a laundry company they had been introduced to over email that doesn’t even do laundry; that maybe you don’t really need engineers to do what is essentially a minor household chore—would be taken as blasphemy. Outside mecca, though, there are still moments of lucidity.


When I revived my Monopoly Deal project (for the second time – first time here), I decided to scrap most of my Android code that I had built before. The reason for this was three-fold. The Android API has moved forward since I started, and I have learned a lot more about how to do UI effectively. Finally, I was not satisfied with how I abstracted the UI layer from the game engine so I figured I would just start from scratch.

I kept the UI design for some parts, especially the cards (although I re-wrote the code so that it is cleaner), but threw the rest out. I’m working on it bit-by-bit and finally finished adding the designs for normal and wildcard rent cards (see below). I’m not too happy with how the normal rent card looks so I might change it.

So far, I’ve spent most of my time working on the bank. The functionality of the bank is pretty straightforward. It needs to:

  • Show the cards and total in the bank
  • Allow changing of the top card (as opponents can see it)

I made the bank a slide out overlay that shows the cards. To move a card to the top, you can drag and drop it, and there are some nice animations around that.

I had a problem though, which is when a player has a lot of cards in the bank. I couldn’t let the user scroll the screen because a touch event would kick of the drag and drop. So I made all the cards stack up to fit on screen. This has the convenient side effect of making it look like a stack of cards.

Finally I added a little randomness in the stacking so the cards are not flush – just a little visual treat.


When you think about (browser) bookmarks, I think one of the most important things about a bookmark is the title – because without the title, you don’t know what the bookmark is for! But in my browser; the majority of my bookmarks don’t have a title at all!

Nowadays, most websites I visit fall under 3 categories: 1) I memorized the domain (Google, Facebook, Twitter), 2) I visit the site from Google Reader my RSS reader, or 3) I searched for the site. There’s not actually a need for bookmarks! That’s what I realized awhile ago – but I also realized that I visit the same few sites all the time and it’s time consuming to type in their domain names (even if they’re only a few letters).

So what I did was rebrand the “bookmark toolbar” that most browsers have. I started making them like the Start bar in Windows – where each site had its own entry. Since each site was different, they would have its own favicon which rendered titles irrelevant. I also ended up with a nice strip of icons which adds a bit of variety to my browser.

In future revisions, I started putting folders into my bookmark toolbar (with titles) to group more bookmarks together. But then I guess I’m kind of undergoing a regression as we’re back to real bookmarks instead of quick links.


When I get a device (computer or phone), I like to have a theme for the device. That could mean that the computer is named something specific, or the wallpaper is a certain style. The theme then lives with the device as if it’s a part of its identity.

When I bought my Nexus S, I decided that I would use a specific wallpaper that I had downloaded awhile before – it was a space theme to reflect the advanced nature of the phone (although the phone I had before was also an Android so…). I used that same wallpaper from the beginning and still have it on the phone name, so for me the image of the wallpaper is as much a part of the device as the hardware design. Here’s what it looks like (my home screen and just the wallpaper itself)

For my Nexus 4, I’m following a similar philosophy – here’s my new wallpaper and design:

One thing I decided to do was to make better use of folders to group functionality, which gives me more room so that I can make my layout more flexible.


One of the reasons why I’m working on another card game is because, after making a card game, I already have a lot of resources and experience in it. This is, however, both a blessing and a bane. It makes it a lot easier to make certain decisions since there are existing patterns to follow (or even code to just copy). But in a way, that takes a lot of fun out of the process – a lot of it becomes routine. It’s a lot more interesting and fun when there are hard problems to solve.

One aspect that is a good blend of both is constructing the cards. I already know how to make the cards and to write an interface for a player’s hand. But I get to do something new this time around by changing the design of the cards. I decided to go with a square and more defined design like this:

I also decided to add make things a bit more varied. For example, the money cards are quite simple (since it doesn’t need to communicate much), where as action cards have a bit more content.

I haven’t gotten around to designing the property cards yet, but I’ll show them off once they are done.


Earlier this year, I bought a neat wallet. It’s designed to look like lined paper (one of many designs) but built from a patented type of paper that resists water and tearing.

I bought it because I liked the design, and because the material was very thin. The thickness of the wallet is mostly made up of your bills and cards, rather than the wallet itself.

I should have blogged about this earlier because I kept getting asked whether I folded it myself! The second question that I get invariably asked is its durability. I used it for over half a year until I switched back to a conventional wallet. It didn’t fall apart per se, but the design started fading (I guess my pant pockets are dirty) and it started warping. I think the fallacy is that it is folded together rather than glued (to be flexible for various contents).


When I get lazy with blogging, I just post links to some neat stuff around the web:


When I was driving the Seattle gridlock, I was pissed off by their highway design of putting the HOV lanes in the right-most lane. This caused a mess during rush hour as merging traffic had to merge through the HOV lane and into regular traffic, slowing down both the HOV lane and regular traffic.

I’m encountering a similar problem on the 403 now. Between where Mavis and Eastgate, there are a lot of cars coming onto the 403, who like me want to get over to the fast lane. At the same time, the are a lot of cars in the leftmost lane, which is the HOV lane, who need to exit. So you have cars trying to merge across 3-4 lanes in both directions at the same time. Would the Seattle system be better in this case? Probably.