5ive on Friday

5ive on Friday: Essential macOS Software

Every Friday, a list of five things: 5ive on Friday. Quickly bashed out, designed to start not finish conversations. 95% of these will be inspired by the week’s social media conversations.

Essential macOS Software

I just got a new iMac; my 2009 Mac Pro was very long in the tooth and although it was still great in some respects, it wasn’t keeping up with the latest Creative Cloud releases. I’d done a few hardware upgrades this year, but nothing really brought it to the point where I needed it.

So, enter the new iMac.

Usually after reinstalling my OS or getting a new computer, I try to not install much new software on it, installing only things I really need right away, and going without “kinda nice to have” stuff for as long as possible. Here’s five things I installed right away that may not be totally obvious:

  1. Default Folder X extends the functionality of Open and Save windows, giving you access to recently used folders, favorite folders, and a lot more.
  2. Divvy is a simple app that lets you quickly resize windows with keyboard shortcuts. You can set up shortcuts to easily make a window a vertical half of your screen, a horizontal half, etc. I use most of my apps full screen, but I like having precise control when using multiple Finder windows, web browsers, etc.
  3. TextWrangler or BBEdit are by the same company, with BBEdint being the traditional powerhouse text editor and TextWrangler a cut down but still mighty text editor. For years I’ve used TextWrangler, but it’s been sunsetted (and BBEdit dropped in price + made available free with the same feature set as TextWrangler) so I’ve been trying to transition. I use a text editor throughout the day to take notes, write drafts, make TODO lists, and other such things. Both TextWrangler and BBEdit have a very nice interface that lets you easily keep dozen of files open and navigable.
  4. HoudahSpot gives you much better control over Spotlight searches: letting you save searches, easily exclude folders, include only certain folders, search more easily based on file type or content.
  5. Dropbox as the best solution for file syncing and backups.

5ive on Friday: Just My Type Excerpts

Every Friday, a list of five things: 5ive on Friday. Quickly bashed out, designed to start not finish conversations. 95% of these will be inspired by the week’s social media conversations.

Just My Type Excerpts

There’s an independent bookstore about a block from my new office space. Danger danger! I’ve managed to only buy one book there so far, and I think I had good justification: I needed something small to read on the bus. I grabbed Just My Type by Simon Garfield, which is a relatively breezy journey through the history of typefaces and fonts, with digressions about specific faces, designers, and events. There’s some very interesting stuff about the design of typefaces for road signs, and the competitions between them!

Here’s five little fun excerpts:

  1. “In Manhattan, we can stroll into the reassuring chaos of the Strand Bookstore on Twelfth Street and Broadway, and find that their popular T-shirts and mugs (
    ’18 Miles of Books’) are in Helvetica. But you will find no better example of the diversity of type than by touring the tables and stacks. The text choices favour the digitized traditionals, the Bembos and Baskervilles and Times New Romas, but the jackets display the full roster, the fluid scripts for those intimate heartrending memoirs, the all-lower-case for the comic novels, the no-nonsense bold capitals for the business books, the wimpy scrawls for the kids stuff. Of course you can judge a book by its cover; moreover, we are obligated to.” (Hell yes. If you don’t judge a book by the cover, why the hell do you think a publisher puts a cover on a book? To attract people! To be judged! To indicate what it contains and the style of the book! To be judged! A cover shows a publisher’s priorities and intentions! Judge it!)
  2. [Vincent] Connare can sometimes be elliptical about his fame. ‘If you love Comic Sans, you don’t know much about typography. If you hate it, you really don’t much about typography, either, and you should get another hobby.”
  3. “This is one difference between legibility and readability: at small sizes, Cooper Black is legible but not very readable. But some type is meant to be seen rather than read (a type designer once compared this attribute to a dress designed to look great on the catwalk but provide no protection against the elements). Font-as-couture is a common analogy. Adrian Frutiger, designer of one of the most popular modern fonts, Univers, had another: ‘The work of a type designer is just like that of a dressmaker,’ he noted. ‘Clothing the constant, human form.’ Or as the graphic designer Alan Fletcher put it. ‘a typeface is an alphabet in a straitjacket.'”
  4. “Much of what one needs to know about the history and beauty of a font may be found in its ampersand. Done well, an & is not so much a character as a creature, an animal from the deep. Or it is a character in the other sense of the word, usually a tirelessly entertaining one, perhaps an uncle with too many magic tricks.”
  5. “The alphabet as a free-for-all is an appealing concept, not least for lawmakers who fear the restriction of free speech (and the complex possibilities of distinguishing one lowercase ‘g’ from another). Zapf argued his case at a time when he believed there were 7,000 to 8,000 different typefaces, and he claimed, ‘I hold the world record for the most type designs copied without permission.’ In 2010, with the number of faces rather greater, and Zapf into his nineties and no longer designing, the title may still be his.” (Hermann Zapf has since passed, in 2015.)

Just My Type is worth checking out as a light summary of the history of type, or just a fun read that will give you a bunch of jumping-off points to research in depth later, such as a the delicious Adobe Systems, Inc. v. Southern Software, Inc. lawsuit.

5ive on Friday: Hair Products

I get stopped multiple times a week to ask what I use to turn my hair bright blue/purple. This is the list of stuff we use!

  • Radical Bleach Kit — we’ve tried a few different bleach kits, but we keep going back to this one, which always does a great job on my hair. It’s not the cheapest, but it’s the best we’ve used.
  • Toner: Manic Panic Amplified Virgin Snow — my hair ends up a little yellow/brassy after bleaching, so some Toner helps strip it right out.
  • Pravana Chromasilk Vivids Blue and Violet — sometimes I use one, sometimes I mix them up a bit. A full head of blue with some wisps of violet combed through a couple days later turns out very well! (Pravana, of course, has a billion other colors.
  • Hats and gloves — high fashion, multiple uses.
  • Joico Shampoo and Conditioner — truth is, with much less hair than I used to have, and dyed hair, I don’t wash my hair more than a couple times a week now. A bottle of each of these lasts for about a year.

21688911 1581370518588504 5352146227163037696 n 1

5ive on Friday: Things I Did This Week

Every Friday, a list of five things: 5ive on Friday. Quickly bashed out, designed to start not finish conversations.

Things I Did This Week

It’s been a busy week!

  1. Moved into my new office space: This has been a weeklong process, a few things each day, culminating with my new monitor arriving on Friday, so I can finally boot up my Mac Pro for the first time in three months, which leads to …
  2. … currently downloading 7,000+ dropbox files from the last three months to my Mac Pro.
  3. Posthuman Studios released Infinite & Indivisible, the Scott Fox ambient soundtrack for Eclipse Phase. It’s so fucking great, I’ve been listening to it a ton since Scott turned the files over to us and I’m more in love with it than ever.
  4. Worked on the schedule and other resources for the Posthuman Summit, our yearly gathering to go over our schedule, brainstorm new ideas, reflect on the last year, and eat some good food. I leave next Thursday for it, and I’m excited to see the gang and the autumn Chicago weather.
  5. Kickstarter/BackerKit tech/customer support. It never ends!

What did you do?

5ive on Friday: Kickstarter Warning Signs

Every Friday, a list of five things: 5ive on Friday. Quickly bashed out, designed to start not finish conversations. 95% of these will be inspired by the week’s social media conversations.

Kickstarter Warning Signs

None of these warning signs may be a dealbreaker by themselves, but if a project ticks off more than a couple, I’d consider not pledging even if I was otherwise interested. Some of these are a little specific to publishing, but could easily be transferred to other types of projects.

In no particular order:

  1. The creator is an individual and has not backed other Kickstarters. There are exceptions to this—perhaps they created a new account to simplify running the campaign—but in general, I think actively backing other Kickstarter campaigns is one of the best ways to research how other Kickstarter projects work, and I think creators should be active consumers within the ecosystem they want to work in. If you’ve created a new profile for some reason, you may want to link to your older profile to show the projects you’ve backed.
  2. The creator is an individual, has never published anything before, and is trying to publish a large or “dream” project. I always recommend that someone new to publishing create a few small books, non-crowdfunded, to learn the publishing ropes with a little less pressure. Even if it’s as simple as having released a couple of $0.99 3-page supplements.
  3. Project details are sketchy: they do not include estimated page counts, binding type, paper/trim size, or whether the book is in color or not. The second half of the “elevator” pitch for a Kickstarter should include this information.
  4. Backer level prices are too low, especially for printed projects. This shows that there’s usually some misunderstanding about how much it costs to produce and ship a book. I saw a recent project that claimed that DriveThruRPG doesn’t charge upfront money to print books, but that they take it out of royalties. This is true in the sense that you can pay for printing projects with royalties you accrued from previous sales, but DriveThruRPG won’t front you the money. In a similar vein, if the backer levels and add-ons are weighed down by tons of options—t-shirts, buttons, pins, and other tchotchke—that can indicate a campaign that will sag under the weight of many minor fulfillment items.
  5. The sell text / back cover copy / project updates indicates that the creator is not in touch with the current marketplace. They may not be aware of other similar products, believe that their project fills a niche that has already been filled, engage in awkward smack-talk about other products or creators, or make grandiose claims. A little bit of bravado is expected in sales text, and there is room for a Kickstarter project to approach the market differently—but usually, for such an approach to work, you have to know “the rules” and how the market works in order to successfully subvert it.