The Craft-and-Metaphor Edition Friday, April 20, 2018

The Woman Who Gave The Macintosh A Smile, by Alexandra Lange, New Yorker

Paola Antonelli, the senior curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art, was the first to physically show Kare’s original icon sketches, in the 2015 exhibit “This is for Everyone.” “If the Mac turned out to be such a revolutionary object––a pet instead of a home appliance, a spark for the imagination instead of a mere work tool––it is thanks to Susan’s fonts and icons, which gave it voice, personality, style, and even a sense of humor. Cherry bomb, anyone?” she joked, referring to the icon which greeted crashes in the original operating system. After working for Apple, Kare designed icons for Microsoft, Facebook, and, now, Pinterest, where she is a creative director. The mainstream presence of Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, emoji, and GIFS is a sign that the visual revolutionaries have won: online, we all communicate visually, piecing together sentences from tiny-icon languages.

Kare, who is sixty-four, will be honored for her work on April 20th, by her fellow designers, with the prestigious AIGA medal. In 1982, she was a sculptor and sometime curator when her high-school friend Andy Hertzfeld asked her to create graphics for a new computer that he was working on in California. Kare brought a Grid notebook to her job interview at Apple Computer. On its pages, she had sketched, in pink marker, a series of icons to represent the commands that Hertzfeld’s software would execute. Each square represented a pixel. A pointing finger meant “Paste.” A paintbrush symbolized “MacPaint.” Scissors said “Cut.” Kare told me about this origin moment: “As soon as I started work, Andy Hertzfeld wrote an icon editor and font editor so I could design images and letterforms using the Mac, not paper,” she said. “But I loved the puzzle-like nature of working in sixteen-by-sixteen and thirty-two-by-thirty-twopixel icon grids, and the marriage of craft and metaphor.”

Susan Kare, by Zachary Crockett, AIGA

No great technological revolution can succeed without an artistic sleight of hand. Susan Kare, known as the “woman who gave the Macintosh a smile,” has spent her three-decade career at the apex of human-machine interaction. Through her intuitive, whimsical iconography, she made the graphic user interface accessible to the masses, and ushered in a new generation of pixel art.

In the early 1980s, Kare—then a sculptor and tech-world outsider—pivoted to a graphic designer role at Apple. There, she created some of the most recognizable icons, typefaces, and graphic elements in personal computing: the command symbol (⌘), the system-failure bomb, the paintbrush, and, of course, “Clarus the Dogcow.” With little more than a few dots on a screen, Kare created a canvas of approachable visual metaphors that are instantly recognizable decades later.

The Early Hallmark Cards Of Mac Icon Designer Susan Kare, by Meg Miller, AIGA Eye on Design

“In the early 1980s, [Susan] Kare—then a sculptor and tech-world outsider—pivoted to a graphic designer role at Apple.” So reads an early line in Zachary Crockett’s essay for the AIGA Medal that Kare is a recipient of this year, honoring the designer for her pioneering work in interface design. After being hired for the position of “Macintosh Artist” Kare went on to design the earliest Apple icons—the “Happy Mac,” the error bomb, the trash can—as well as the first proportionally spaced digital font family.

But before that? Kare had just relocated to the Bay Area from New York with a PhD in fine art and no experience in design or tech. She quickly put together a design portfolio of personal works to take around to creative agencies and, in one particular instance, mocked up an entire book of greeting cards to take to an interview at Hallmark. Lucky for us, Hallmark didn’t take her. A high school friend at Apple did. Here’s Kare in her own words about some of her earliest, unpixelated designs.

Donate and Recycle

Apple Adds Earth Day Donations To Trade-in And Recycling Program, by Apple

Ahead of Earth Day, Apple today announced that for every device received at Apple stores and through the Apple GiveBack program from now through April 30, the company will make a donation to the non-profit Conservation International. As part of its ongoing recycling effort, the company also debuted Daisy, a robot that can more efficiently disassemble iPhone to recover valuable materials.

Apple Has A New iPhone Recycling Robot Named ‘Daisy’, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

Daisy was developed in-house by Apple engineers, using some of Liam’s parts — a recycling of sorts. The industrial robot is able to disassemble nine different versions of the iPhone, sorting all of their reusable components in the process. In all, Daisy is capable of taking apart a full 200 iPhones in a given hour, proving a solid alternative to traditional methods that can destroy valuable components in the process.

Greenpeace To Apple: Forget The Robots And Make iPhones Repairable, by Mark Sullivan, Fast Company

Greenpeace quickly released a statement saying, in effect, that Apple should focus its green energies on making iPhones more repairable in the first place, so that they last longer and don’t show up in landfills quite so soon.

Peace and Calm

iPhone X Diary: I’ve Gone On An App And Notifications Diet, And My iPhone Is Now An Oasis Of Calm, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

The upshot of all this? My phone feels like a calmer part of my world. It’s not constantly flashing up alerts. I don’t have a long stream of notifications to scroll through on the lockscreen when I take it out of my pocket. I don’t have a mass of apps with those little red dots all demanding I look at them.

It feels like it is now what it should be: a device that’s there to serve me, rather than the other way around.


This Ex-NSA Hacker's App Protects Your Mac From 'Evil Maid' Attacks, by Andy Greenberg, Wired

Wardle never found evidence of tampering or malware on that burner machine. But he did keep thinking about so-called "evil maid" attacks, the classic security problem that computers are far more vulnerable to hacking when the attacker can get physical access to them. Like, say, in a hotel room, while the computer's owner is ordering appetizers on the other side of the Moskva River.

Now Wardle's making his own best effort to grapple with that evil maid problem—if not to solve it, at least to make the job much more difficult. This week at the RSA security conference, he's releasing Do Not Disturb, an app for Mac laptops that tries to detect physical access attacks with a dead-simple safeguard: If someone opens the lid of a MacBook running the tool, the app sends a notification to the owner's phone.

There’s An Entire Photo Studio In Your Phone With This AR App, by Hillary Grigonis, Digital Trends

A new app could help photographers experiment with poses, lighting, and setups with nothing but a smartphone. Photo Studio AR is an augmented reality photo studio headed up by a Hollywood visual effects technician that also assisted on Snapchat filters. The app allows photographers to place models, lights, and props inside any scene.

Sleep Cycle Debuts Apple Watch App With Snore Prevention, Silent Alarm, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Using the Apple Watch’s Taptic Engine, Sleep Cycle can give your wrist a subtle (and silent) tap when the iPhone app detects that you’re snoring. The tap is subtle enough that it shouldn’t wake you, Sleep Cycle says, but it should prompt you to change positions which can help you stop snoring.


Apple’s Cloud Database FoundationDB Now Open Source, by Guilherme Rambo, 9to5Mac

FoundationDB was originally founded in 2009 by Dave Rosenthal, Dave Scherer and Nick Lavezzo with the goal of making a NoSQL database that was ACID compliant, a set of properties for databases that are designed to guarantee the integrity of data even when errors occur.


‘F*ck Them. We Need A Law’: A Legendary Programmer Takes On Silicon Valley, by Noah Kulwin, New York Magazine

"So I think the problem is fundamental. Companies are collecting data about people. We shouldn’t let them do that. The data that is collected will be abused. That’s not an absolute certainty, but it’s a practical, extreme likelihood, which is enough to make collection a problem."

"A database about people can be misused in four ways. First, the organization that collects the data can misuse the data. Second, rogue employees can misuse the data. Third, unrelated parties can steal the data and misuse it. That happens frequently, too. And fourth, the state can collect the data and do really horrible things with it, like put people in prison camps. Which is what happened famously in World War II in the United States. And the data can also enable, as it did in World War II, Nazis to find Jews to kill."