In re: On the 8th day he created the iPhone

Okay, so maybe the iPhone is not so perfect that it has some kind of godly origin, but I have been so impressed by the iPhone I decided that I could no longer live without one.  The iPhone has plenty of limitations right now (hopefully many are addressed by future software updates) but the many things it does amazingly well, so much so that it is head and shoulders above any phone I’ve seen or used before.  (My previous phone the Nokia N80 actually has pretty much all the functions of the iPhone, web, email, WIFI, music player, video, but the usefulness of these functions and the ease of use makes for no comparison) 

A few of the iPhones features that may not go with mainstream notice but I have come to love are the dedicated silent mode / ringer mode switch that without needing to come out of hibernate shows you whether you are silent (most phones require at least a few keystrokes or opening the phone), the navigation of contacts, music or anything else by ‘flicking’ your finger is so easy and intuitive that it is amazing to use.   Viewing photos on the amazing screen, and zooming and moving with simple motions of your fingers is also truly amazing. 

One thing that I feel a lot of people didn’t know about, or at least I didn’t, that has proved quite useful is the iPhones ability to dock w/ more than one computer.  This has limitations, as you can’t sync music with more than one computer for example (piracy issues I would think) , or contacts with more than one computer, but you can sync your music on your home computer and your calendar and contacts on your work computer with no problem.  (Video on Macworld showing this in action) 

The last thing I will mention I was truly impressed with is the headphones it comes with, they are simple, standard white iPod headphones, that also feature a tiny mic on one cord.  If you pinch the mic it answers the phone, or pauses your music or two presses skip to the next track.  While its simple and offers only those few controls it is really great while walking the dog, listening to music and being able to grab your calls with no hassle.  Of course one may not truly be so connected, but then the iPhone might not be for you.

 Of course the iPhone has flaws, no cut and paste is one, of course the much hearlded 3G lacking is another, but I think the lack of a dedicated keyboard isn’t as bad as folks made it out, as your speed improves quickly on it.  If the iphone gets push email (true push) later it may intrude into some Blackberry or Treo users.   The battery (non removable) and screen (smudging)  are both issues that have also been brought up a lot,  and I have discussed earlier. 

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In re: Bar review browsings

Just a few misc topics to distract you with (I should be studying and I will get back to the books ASAP – the bar is tuesday can’t wait!)

Saw this on Slash Food, normally we think of the Japanese as healthy eaters (although I’ve mentioned  before how that’s changing as they have shortened lunches and added lots of fast food to it) but Pizza Hut in Japan has created the ultimate Japanese pizza – check it out, its pretty amazing.

 Walkability – haven’t had the site Walk Score work for me, but basically sounds like a cool Google Maps mash-up that scores how walkable your house is, seems like a good tool for folks who are planning a move or want to assess if they really should be driving all they are.

Stuffing your bookshelves – you may remember a recent post where I talked about bookshelves?  Well one reader of Apartment Therapy, a blog on design among other things, asked the readers how they should go about filling the bookshelves for a client who didn’t want to pick out his own books for a new apartment.  The backlash was immense, but there were a few good counter arguments to those who demonized anyone who wouldn’t fill their books with their personal, slowly acquired collection that reflects who they are (defining us, or are we defining the shelf?)

“I don’t trust people who don’t own books. Unless there is a good reason, like their old place just burned down or something.” Comment on Apartment Therapy (I think I kinda agree, it would be kinda weird to have no books at all)

In re: Shelving books

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When I look at my bookshelves, I see my life. Whole glimpses of previous interests are represented, from my collection of Latin American fiction to the many reminders of the years I spent living in Italy (the novels of Primo Levi and Italo Calvino). There is my love of Ian McEwen, Susan Sontag and Paul Auster (which brings back memories of long-ago Saturday mornings spent in the New York Public Library researching and writing his bibliography).” William Drenttel, One Man’s Literary Compass from Design Observer

Having grown up around heavy library users I often struggled with whether it was a smart idea to purchase books, which for me were often one time uses, versus the more sane approach of borrowing, both as they were free and by saving the resources of having books made for the sole purpose of lining my shelves. Despite the impracticalities of having books lying around I enjoy their presence on my bookshelves and the reminder of the good, the great and the bad books I have read either on my own for pleasure or interest or forced upon me in some miserable philosophy class during my undergrad (St. Augustine’s Confessions for example).

More recently, now that my little collection has grown a bit I’ve also taken to lending my books out, which has some pleasure attached to it. If a book is good I want others to know about it and enjoy it as well, and there is something nice about knowing they are reading the same copy you read as well – although there is no reason for it and it would often be easier to have them just go get a library copy.

Either-way, thats where I am, and I came across an interesting article and photo essay on Design Observer that covers a bit of the way I feel as well, but I was surprised at the photos to be honest as one would think photos of bookshelves to be quite boring, but I found these rather intriguing. See Bookshelves from The Greenwood Press

In re: Living small

sarti1.jpgFor the first time in a long time home sizes in America have stopped growing and some people long relegated to the suburbs are considering moving into smaller, inner suburb or city locations. Why the change? Well for one with family sizes shrinking, an aging population that is living longer and the traffic and commutes (as well as gas prices) get worse, living closer in is looking better. Add to that (maybe) a backlash at the McMansion, the faux-status symbol that defined the building boom of the last two decades or so.

“The size of American homes increased at the same time that family size decreased. Ahluwalia says the average home size has grown from 1,500 square feet in 1970 to a projected 2,450 in 2006. U.S. Census figures show the average household size declined from 3.14 people in 1970 to 2.58 people in 2002.Ahluwalia says the average home size and what Americans consider their optimal home size seem to have reached a sweet spot at roughly 2,400 square feet, less than half the size of the smallest McMansion. “I don’t think the home size will continue to increase anymore,” he says.”(see Are McMansions a McThing of the past?

That said most Americans are not giving up many of the newer amenities that are expected, including the expectations for large spaces that without an eye towards insulation and building materials often lead to a huge amount of energy to heat and cool. There is a small movement however that seeks out the opposite of large spaces, the ‘small house’ or ‘tiny house’ movement. Some people have showed that well designed small spaces can be great to live in (think in terms of the cleverness found in boat designs) with rooms finding multiple purposes and light and space used in creative ways to trick the eye and sense. While I myself cannot say I would love to live in a sub 400 sq foot home (I recently visited a local Columbus rental property that was a free standing, 500 square foot house, which I could not imagine squeezing my furniture into). That said I do have a bit of a fascination with the small house idea and have read numerous design ideas, including small prefab houses that can be built off site and brought in (even helicoptered in, in some cases to the roof of other buildings).

Pages or posts of interest:

Little Houses in Big Cities (Article on treehugger)
The Small House Society
The m-house (UK built prefab houses)
The Loftcube project (prefab ‘cube’ house that can be put on the roof of other buildings via crane or helicopter)
Condominium‘ possibly the smallest, the m-ch at 76 square feet (via Wired)

In re: Helvetica. Is it just a font?

2551.jpgYou may have guessed, without even really knowing (or thinking about) that the font Helvetica is from Switzerland as it echoes some of the values of Swiss design and neutrality. You may not know that its now 50 years old, many major corporations use it for their logos (including Microsoft who used Arial (a knock off) in Windows in order to save licensing Helvetica), along with countless other important locations (NYC subway). There is a good photo essay on the font over at Slate and as someone who is interested in fonts and design I thought it was pretty interesting. See “The Helvetica Hegemony: How an unassuming font took over the world.

Also see BBC “The Helvetica font is celebrating its 50th birthday. You’ve probably seen it a thousand times today. Why?” which questions if the font merely propagates bland uniformity “Type “I hate Helvetica” into Google and there are forums for people who rage at the mindless “corporate chic” of this dominant font. They see it as a vehicle for social conformity through consumerism, shifting product with a great big steam-roller of neutrality…”