always trying

Hello, I'm Pierre Wizla.
I write, I try, I fail, I win. Sometimes.
I'm just a tech enthusiast in this ever-changing world.

always trying

iCloud web apps redesigned, iOS 7-style

A few days ago, Apple started rolling out a beta version of its iCloud web apps. It features a complete UI overhaul, giving it an iOS 7-like look.

First, the new iCloud home page features a subtle dynamic bokeh effect that lasts a few seconds:

Moving Bokeh

All apps now sport the “flatter”, cleaner look taken from Ive’s redesign of iOS, as you can see in the screenshots below (click images for bigger versions):

iCloud beta Mail UI

iCloud beta Contacts UI

iCloud beta Calendar UI

iCloud beta Notes UI

iCloud beta Reminders UI

I like the new look for the most part but it clearly is a radical departure from previous iterations. However, fonts look a bit too big for my tastes with the default 100% zoom.

Microsoft with its Metro/Modern UI and the new Outlook.com, Google with its Gmail redesign in 2011, and now Apple: everyone is moving towards clean, clutter-free, mainly text-based UI these years. You’d better like it.

Does this prefigure changes coming to the OS X version following Mavericks? Time will tell, but I won’t be surprised if the new, minimalistic iOS/iCloud design comes to the Mac as soon as next year.

Editorial for iPad is out

Ole Moritz’s OMZ:software hast just released the long-awaited, game-changing text editor/automation tool for iPad: Editorial.

I won’t delve into the details because Federico Viticci has an extremely thorough review of it while I’m just scratching the surface.

Go buy this app now. $4.99 for accessing the future of iOS for power users is a bargain.

Science, Hope and Tiny Steps

I’ve just stumbled a wonderful, touching story about Carl June’s/Bruno Levine’s/David Porter’s new approach in cancer treatment, which leverages “engineered T-cells” to kill cancer cells. Basically, the patient is growing the drug in her/his own body.

Highly recommended reading.

Science is incremental. It’s a slow and global grind, a steady accumulation of facts wrested from failure. But every once in a while, there really is a leap, and a small group of people can change how thousands think about the possibilities.

Being a scientist myself, I know how true it is.

We are currently developing another approach, this time by using a virus, inoffensive to normal cells, but efficiently replicating up to a million times in the body and killing tumor cells. We achieve similarly impressive results in mice bearing leukemia. Here’s to hope we’ll find enough funds to pursue our research.

Reading this kind of articles — as well as watching movies like Elysium as I did yesterday evening — makes me more aware than ever than my full-time job as a scientist in cancer research is one of the best ever. A challenging one, for sure. A slow-paced, almost steady-state job, but an overjoying journey. And it teaches one of the most important things in life: keep trying, always trying.

OS X ‘Ivericks’ concept

The Stu Crew design team has just tried to apply the iOS 7 redesign principles to OS X, giving it the playful 'Ivericks' name.

My favorite is the Notification Center redesign:

Screenshot of Ivericks Notification Center

While Calculator, iTunes mini player and Notifications look fine, Notes look odd.

I’m not fond of the suggested Finder redesign either. Some good ideas, though, such as the ‘Photo Stream’ view for the Images folder, and the badge next to Downloads in the Finder sidebar.

What do you think?

(via TUAW )

Always Clear Downloads in Chrome

If, like me, you’re tired of clicking the little cross in the bottom right of Chrome when downloads are finished, this extension should make your day.

It’s the Little Things

Stumbled upon this article from Michael Schechter.

Where I’ve found success and where I believe you can too is in finding more focused applications that work together to make you a more productive and less overloaded person. In getting away from apps that theoretically do everything, you can focusing in on smaller programs that do one or two things really, really well.

Like Michael, I love small programs that do simple things, but do it extremely well (burn in hell, Microsoft Word; hello nvAlt, Byword and Marked). When reading the quoted paragraph above, I figured out that this may be because over the years I’ve been getting used to break projects into small steps. Lessons from my project management courses ;-)

Shiori

A minimalist, elegant and fast Pinboard & Delicious client with a unique approach. Lets you easily add bookmarks and browse through your full list in a cinch. Highly recommended.

Read my complete review.

Feedly: the next Google Reader?

I discovered feedly a while back, I think it was in 2007, when I was still using Firefox on my Windows XP machine. Since then, I’ve seen this little Firefox-only add-on grow bigger and bigger. It quickly became available for Safari, Chrome. Then for mobile devices: iPhone, iPad, Android smartphones and tablets.

Right from the start, I found feedly to be the most innovative and beautiful approach to delivering your RSS content. Over the years the DevHD team never stopped iterating, tirelessly providing users with new content layouts, new themes, new options at a fast pace…

When Google announced in March the closing of Reader, thousands of users around the world were shocked. And soon began to look for alternatives. At that time, I already found feedly was the best one. My thoughts are now re-inforced by the latest announcements:

So feedly is now not only a news reader (with a seamless transition from Google Reader) but also a cloud syncing solution and a platform with a widespread ecosystem around it. What else?

Long live, feedly!


  1. Linux excluded, though you can of course access the web app in your browser  ↩

Attention is the new gold

I disable every possible notification on any machine I own. OS X Notification Center turned off.  No Growl notifications for Twitter DMs or mentions. No sound for incoming emails. No red badge on my Mail.app dock icon. No red badge on my iPad home screen —  except for that one coming from App Store for which I don’t have a choice.

On my phone, the only sound notifications allowed are for incoming calls and SMS. And that’s only if I did not set my phone to Airplane mode, which happens regularly: at night, when I’m watching an interesting movie, when writing, in fact whenever I need to focus or just do not want to be disturbed.

Does all of this make my smartphone a dumb phone? Does that make my computers less connected? No, but it avoids them being turned into attention-vacuums.

Does all of this make me less connected? It all depends on what you want to be connected to. I think it makes me more connected to the present time, to what’s actually happening right before my eyes, to what I’m hearing, smelling, feeling and experiencing right now.

Don’t take me wrong: smartphones are great inventions. But because you have an over connected device in your pocket, on your desktop, your coffee table or wherever does not mean you must be turned into a slave. These devices were only designed to help you and entertain you when you need it. Nothing more.

I write allowed — and not enabled — on purpose. In today’s world, it’s easy to drown in a constant, overflowing wave of distractions. It’s up to you to allow all of this to get in your way, or not.