Jetpack Identity

I ordered Identity: Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv a few months ago, and today it surprised me when it showed up at my doorstep. Over my lunch break, I took a quick look at it, and it’s a beautiful book I can’t wait to spend more time with.

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The official product shot

After a few minutes I wondered whether Jetpack’s new logo would be included in the book. I figured it wouldn’t, since there were only a few months between when CGH did the logo and the book’s publication. Lo and behold…

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Look ma, we made it

There we were in the index. I turned to page 269, and:

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In all its PANTONE 2271 C glory

Pretty amazing to see good ol’ Jetpack listed alongside some of the giants of industry that make up the portfolio of Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv.

Kramer, the Goodest of all the Good Boys

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I took this at 12:41pm, Tuesday, June 5th, 2018. Forty minutes later, we said goodbye to Kramer.

Losing a pet feels (I imagine) like being hit by a bus. But losing one so suddenly, with no time to prepare yourself for the grief… the sadness is so overwhelming, so intense that it’s literally breathtaking, in the bad definition of that word.

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The day after I brought him home. April 28, 2014.

On Saturday, Kramer was his normal, weird, goofy self. When I woke up Sunday, something seemed off about him. He didn’t seem to be in pain, he was just acting kind of odd. I thought maybe he’d eaten something in the garden that had given him a stomachache, so I didn’t worry too much. But on Sunday night when he couldn’t stand up, I rushed him to the emergency room.

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My big goofball. May 17, 2014.

They kept him overnight, and the next morning I learned the diagnosis: not just cancer, but advanced, end-stage cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes and lungs. Even though he’d just been at the vet for a checkup the week before, there had been no sign that he was sick. There were some slightly strange results in his bloodwork, but nothing I was told to worry about. We’d re-check it in three weeks. But we never got that far.

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Naptime habits. July 2, 2014.

After I got the diagnosis, I talked to the emergency room vet, then our family vet, and they gave me the same advice. Ease his pain and give him a humane ending, rather than putting him through chemotherapy that would probably prolong his suffering and only give him a few more months. And so the next day, I sat on the floor with his head in my lap as he gently passed away.

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After doing a set. August 21, 2015.

I don’t know what to say, or what to do to console myself. There isn’t anything, really. The passage of time will mean that I’ll remember the pain less often, but all my happy memories of this goofy, playful boy are now also tied to the memories of how quickly, how unfairly his life was cut too short.

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Keeping me company at work, May 30, 2015.

It hurts to even think about him right now. Even the good times, and the ways he’d make everyone laugh. He was such a weird, funny dude. When I was at home, Kramer never left my side.

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Christmas 2015.

In 2014 I adopted Kramer from my friend Charlie, the same friend who had given me Maggie eight years earlier. He was four years old at the time, and it’s hard to believe that at that point he’d lived half his life.

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The ultra-rare photo of him playing with a toy. January 26, 2016.

Soon after I brought him home, I realized his name fit him very well. Kramer was happy, excitable, nervous, and a bit manic, but he was always full of love for the people around him.

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Christmas 2016.

I was never quite fast enough to keep up with him, and he and Maggie had a few disagreements over the years. But he became a part of the family, and he made me so happy. I think the feeling was mutual.

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Working in the new garden. March 27, 2017.

For as long as I live in this home, the house I was building when I got Kramer, every corner of every room, ever slope of the garden will remind me of him. With time, I think—I hope—these will become happy memories.

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It cracked me up when he crossed his paws like this… so gentlemanly. June 7, 2017.
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Staring at the solar eclipse. August 21, 2017.
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Not quite understanding snowfall. December 8, 2017.
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Springtime loungin’. April 8, 2018.
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Squirrel Watch. April 14, 2018.
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After leaving the hospital. June 4, 2018.
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One last moment in the sun. June 5, 2018.

Kramer, I don’t know how to get over you, bud. I can’t imagine what it will be like, but I’ll never forget you.

Garden Design i2

At Automattic we call new rounds of design work “iterations” and post them in the format i1, i2, i3, etc. These first few days of spring, I’ve been working with my garden designer Humzah Khraim on i2 of my garden. More pictures once everything’s done and the weather is nicer, but here’s a taste of some of the changes so far.

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Here’s the before picture from one year ago.

Enabling Network Link Conditioner on iPhone and iPad

Network Link Conditioner is an Apple tool that lets you simulate adverse network conditions on your Mac or iOS device. For those of us who are lucky enough to have gigabit internet connections, it should be considered a required part of a designer’s toolkit; without it, you can’t possibly imagine what it’s like for people to use the websites or apps you create out in the real world.

Unfortunately, Apple makes it kind of difficult to find. My colleague John Maeda wrote a guide that walks you through using it on your Mac. I couldn’t find a simple, up-to-date set of instructions for using it on iPhone, so here’s how you do it as of iOS 11.

  1. Install and run Xcode on your Mac.
  2. In Xcode, select the Window menu, then Devices and Simulators.
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  3. Unlock your iOS device, then connect it to your Mac with a lightning cable. In the Devices window, a message will appear stating that your device is being prepared for development.
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  4. When it’s done, you can disconnect your device from your Mac. (You’ll only need to do steps 1-3 once.)
  5. On your device, open the Settings app. You’ll find a new option just above the list of app settings called Developer. Tap it.
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  6. Then, tap Network Link Conditioner under the Networking section.
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  7. Finally, choose a profile or create your own, then tap the Enable toggle switch to turn it on. Just don’t forget to turn it off when you’re done. 🙂
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What about Android?

Unfortunately, there’s no equivalent of Network Link Conditioner for Android. (If you learn of one, please comment below!) But if you have both an iPhone and an Android device, you can enable Network Link Conditioner on the iPhone, create a Personal Hotspot, and then connect your Android device to the hotspot. Note that this option will use cellular data. There are also options to simulate poor connections when creating an Android emulator, or to connect an Android to something like Charles Proxy which can throttle connected devices, but I’d really love to find a solution for Android that’s as easy as Network Link Conditioner.


As always: if you’re an empathetic product or marketing designer who loves considering the needs of the real people who use your work, Automattic is hiring.

Go Vote.

In 2004 I voted for the first time. I was so excited that year, because it felt like we were on the cusp of change. Needless to say, that election was a letdown. I spent that night at Huc-a-Poo’s on Tybee, surrounded by Bush supporters, trying to forget about the weight of my disappointment.
 
But two years later, I voted again. And Democrats took back the Congress. And two years after that, I voted for Barack Obama. The progress that LGBT people made during his presidency was astonishing, especially to a young gay kid from Alabama who never thought he’d be treated equally under the law.
 
Last year was the most soul-crushing election I’ve ever experienced, and that’s probably true for some of you, too. However badly I felt in 2004, 2016 was an order of magnitude worse. But I can’t help but remember how fast things changed after 2004. With every election, we have the chance to make our government a little bit better, and more responsive to its citizens. We have the chance to support incumbents who truly care about their communities. We have the chance to lift up new voices and to give them power.
 
Today, I’m proud to cast my ballot for Cathy Woolard for Atlanta mayor and Natalyn Mosby Archibong for my city council representative. If there’s an election where you live, and you’re able to do so, I hope you’ll go vote today.

Running an effective remote design team

Around this time last year, I got an interesting call on Slack.

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Automattic had recently organized its mobile teams into a new division called Hogwarts, and our new division lead Cate Huston had embraced her new identity. I was coming off of several weeks of time off after surgery to repair a nerve in my hand that I severed during a cooking accident. Feeling down and sorry for myself, I was having a hard time getting back into the rhythm of work. But I was jolted out of my inertia by the reason for Cate’s call: to talk about forming a mobile design team within Hogwarts, with me as its lead.

Continue reading “Running an effective remote design team”

Improving Accessibility in WordPress with Dynamic Font Sizes

At Automattic, I lead a team of three designers dedicated to our native apps. We focus our time on the design of WordPress for Android and iOS.

Over the last few months, the developers and designers who work on our apps have been improving our support for the accessibility features available on mobile devices. This includes ensuring our apps properly support features like VoiceOver on iOS, and TalkBack on Android, which make the apps accessible to blind users.

One new feature I’d like to highlight is support for dynamic type sizes. This lets users choose larger (or smaller) text, to find the size that’s most comfortable for them to read. We recently made a change to the text used for blog posts and pages on iOS to make it even more readable. Now, no matter what text size the user prefers — even the largest sizes, which are huge — WordPress responds as the user should expect. This makes the app accessible to users with low vision, in a way that wasn’t possible before.

Screenshots of dynamic text on iOS

If you use an Android device, you can customize your device’s font size, too.

Screenshots of enlarged text on Android

We’re continuing to perfect this feature, so if you notice parts of the apps where it doesn’t work quite right yet, drop us a line, and stay tuned for future improvements.

For more information on adjusting the font size on your device, see these articles:

Originally published on A8C Design.

Just a Bunch of Silly Pictures of Me and my Dog, on the Occasion of Her Adoption Day

Exactly 11 years ago, I brought Maggie home for the first time. A few days later, I took this picture.

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This was the first in a long line of silly pictures of Maggie and me.

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Eventually, I realized how much she hated being picked up, and I found new ways to make her hate being photographed.

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The past eleven years have had many ups and downs, but the constant source of happiness, stability, and love is this pup.

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I took this one on the scariest day of our lives together; the morning I dropped her off for her cancer surgery.

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And took this one once she was home.

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We’ve both got a little more gray in our beards these days, but we’re going to keep taking silly pictures every chance we get.

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Maggie D, you’re the best. Happy adoption day, little bear.

 

The Big Reveal

After much planning, estimating, digging, hauling, welding, grading, planting, adjusting, and obsessing, my back yard is complete. I’m thrilled with how it turned out and am excited to share the first pictures of it today. But before we get to that, here’s a 2-minute timelapse video that shows where we started, and how we got here.

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Before:
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After:IMG_1403.jpg

Shouts out to Humzah Khraim of Seasonswood Group here in Atlanta for a beautiful design and a job well done—if you’re in Atlanta I highly recommend working with him.

Now… I’ve got to buy some furniture for this back porch. 🤣

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