The Woman Behind Apple’s Icons

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Brandon Griggs of CNN wrote a great article about the woman behind Apple’s icons.

I certainly did not know her name but thanks to Griggs I now know her work which still influences how we interact with our computers today.

She is Susan Kare, and she designed fonts and icons for Apple’s original Macintosh, including the little trash can for discarding files and the computer with a smiling face. In that way, Kare helped people such as Steve Jobs pioneer the transition from controlling computers via text to the icon-based interfaces now common on touchscreen devices.

Kare had a fine-arts background when a friend recruited her to join Apple in 1982. For the Mac, Kare designed the first font whose letters were spaced proportionally – in other words, accounting for the varying width of ”i” and “m” instead of just fitting letters into identical blocks regardless of size, which left gaps in between. As a graphic artist I am pleased about that but never knew who was behind what seems to be a simple idea unless you are obsessed with typography like I am.

Because an application for designing icons on Macintosh screens hadn’t been coded yet, Kare went to an art-supply store and bought a sketchbook so she could begin playing around with ideas. In those pages she created the casual prototypes of a new, radically user-friendly face of computing — each square of graph paper representing a pixel on the screen.”
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After leaving Apple Kare designed icons and products for Microsoft’s Windows, New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Facebook’s Gifts program, which encouraged users to send each other virtual birthday cakes, flowers and other amorphous treats.

After years of semi-obscurity, Kare has been getting some renewed attention lately. She just published an art book of 80 of her favorite icons created between 1983 and 2011. Her work with Apple is also cited in Walter Isaacson’s new biography of Steve Jobs, currently the top-selling nonfiction book in the country.
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“She and Jobs hit it off because they shared an instinct for simplicity along with a desire to make the Mac whimsical,” Isaacson wrote.

In keeping with his rep as a perfectionist micromanager, Jobs stopped by to check on Kare’s work almost every day. When she first named her Mac fonts after stops on the Main Line commuter train in her native Philadelphia, Jobs encouraged her to think bigger.

“They ought to be world-class cities!” he complained, according to the book, Kare’s fonts were soon renamed after such cultural capitals as San Francisco, London and Venice.

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Mandela reveals 67 ways to change the world.

To celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 93rd birthday Monday, the former South African president is asking people around the world to donate their time to public service. At least 67 minutes’ worth.
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CNN reports a group of multiracial, multilingual motorcycle riders known as “Bikers for Mandela Day” have been riding throughout South Africa the past week. In one of their seven community service projects, the bikers stopped in the small town of Harrismith to paint a children’s orphanage.

“For Madiba (Mandela), it demonstrates to him that people are passionate about his legacy,” Mandela’s personal assistant Zelda la Grange said.

Though South Africa doesn’t officially recognize the holiday, the United Nations has been supporting Nelson Mandela International Day on July 18 since 2009. According to CBS, people throughout the world are encouraged to spend at least 67 minutes of their time helping others in recognition of Mandela’s 67 years of public service.
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Here are 67 ways Mandela’s website suggests people can “change the world”:
1. Make a new friend. Get to know someone from a different cultural background.
2. Read to someone who can’t at a local home for the blind.
3. Fix the potholes in your street or neighborhood.
4. Help out at the local animal shelter. Dogs without homes still need a walk and a bit of love.
5. Find out from your local library if it has a story hour and offer to read during it.
6. Offer to take an elderly neighbor who can’t drive to do their shopping/chores.
7. Organize a litter cleanup day in your area.
8. Get a group of people to each knit a square and make a blanket for someone in need.
9. Volunteer at your police station or local faith-based organization.
10. Donate your skills!
11. If you’re a builder, help build or improve someone’s home.
12. Help someone to get his/her business off the ground.
13. Build a website for someone who needs one, or for a cause you think needs the support.
14. Help someone get a job.
15. If you’re a lawyer, do some pro bono work for a worthwhile cause or person.
16. Write to your area councilor about a problem in the area that requires attention.
17. Sponsor a group of learners to go to the theatre/zoo.
18. Get in touch with your local HIV organizations and find out how you can help.
19. Help out at your local hospice, as staff members often need as much support as the patients.
20. Take time to visit terminally ill people and bring some sunshine into their lives.
21. Talk to your friends and family about HIV.
22. Get tested for HIV and encourage your partner to do so too.
23. Take a bag full of toys to a local hospital that has a children’s ward.
24. Take younger members of your family for a walk in the park.
25. Donate some medical supplies to a local community clinic.
26. Take someone you know, who can’t afford it, to get their eyes tested or their teeth checked.
27. Bake something for a support group of your choice.
28. Start a community garden to encourage healthy eating in your community.
29. Donate a wheelchair or guide dog, to someone in need.
30. Create a food parcel and give it to someone in need.
31. Offer to help out at your local school.
32. Mentor a student in your field of expertise.
33. Coach extramural activities at the school.
34. Offer to provide tutoring in a school subject you are good at.
35. Donate your old computer.
36. Help maintain the sports fields.
37. Fix up a classroom by replacing broken windows, doors and light bulbs.
38. Donate a bag of art supplies.
39. Teach an adult literacy class.
40. Paint classrooms and school buildings.
41. Donate your old textbooks, or any other good books, to a school library.
42. Give blankets you no longer need to someone in need.
43. Donate clothes you no longer wear to someone who needs them.
44. Put together food parcels for a needy family.
45. Organize a bake sale, car wash or garage sale for charity and donate the proceeds.
46. Donate shoes you don’t wear.
47. Volunteer at your local soup kitchen.
48. Help at a local children’s home or orphanage.
49. Help the kids with their studies.
50. Organize a friendly game of soccer, or sponsor the kids to watch a game at the local stadium.
51. Coach a sports team and make new friends.
52. Donate sporting equipment to a children’s shelter.
53. Donate educational toys and books to a children’s home.
54. Paint or repair an orphanage or youth center.
55. Mentor someone.
56. If you play an instrument, visit your local old-age home and spend an hour playing for the residents and staff.
57. Learn the story of someone older than you.
58. Take an elderly person grocery shopping; they will appreciate your company and assistance.
59. Take someone’s dog for a walk if they are too frail to do so themselves.
60. Mow someone’s lawn and help them to fix things around their house.
61. If there are no recycling centers in your area, petition to provide one.
62. Donate indigenous trees to beautify neighborhoods in poorer areas.
63. Collect old newspapers from a school/community center/hospital and take them to a recycling center.
64. Identify open manhole covers or drains in your area and report them to the local authorities.
65. Organize groups that you work with to switch off all unnecessary lights and power supplies at night and on weekends.
66. Engage with people who litter and see if you can convince them of the value of clean surroundings.
67. Organize to clean up your local park, river, beach, street, town square or sports grounds.

Mandela, who was imprisoned for 27 years for his efforts to end South Africa’s apartheid regime, was freed in 1990 and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

Survey On The Spot


Abbi Tatton from the CNN Situation Room reviewed the newly released TSA survey available through SURVEY ON THE SPOT, a new iPhone app.

In the wake of new security concerns at airports, can this free app provide useful and timely information to the TSA and the traveling public. The survey, which is available for smartphone and web users via browser ( http://www.surveyonthespot.com/go/tsa ) as well as on the iPhone enables travelers to complete the survey immediately upon passing through TSA security.

I worked on the creation of this app with Ken Kimmel and Geofrey Palmer from SOTS. It was also featured in USA Today last week.

A President With a MySpace and Facebook Page!?

As the first president-elect with a Facebook page and a YouTube channel, Barack Obama is poised to use the Internet to communicate directly with Americans in a way unknown to previous presidents.
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Judging by Obama’s savvy use of social-networking sites during his campaign and the interactive nature of his transition team’s Web site, Americans can expect a president who bypasses the traditional media’s filters while reaching out to citizens for input, observers say.

“The rebooting of our democracy has begun,” said Andrew Rasiej, founder of Personal Democracy Forum and the techPresident blog. ” Obama has the potential to transform the relationship between the American public and their democracy.”
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During the presidential race, Obama’s campaign won praise for its innovative use of social-networking sites, including Facebook, MySpace and MyBarackObama.com, to announce events, rally volunteers and raise money. Facebook has more than 150 million active users, and the average user has 100 friends on the site, according to the company.

Obama has more than 1 million MySpace “friends” and more than 3.7 million “supporters” on his official Facebook page — some 700,000 more than when he was elected in November. His campaign also has a database of almost 13 million supporters and their e-mail addresses.

Transition officials hope to transform Obama’s vast Web operation and electronic list of supporters into a 21st-century tool to help accomplish his goals as president. They even have a name for this ambitious effort: Obama 2.0.

“Obama has invented an alternative media model,” said CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider. “In the old model, the president talks to the people on television [and] the people talk back in polls. In the new model, communication is online, and two-way.”

Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter didn’t exist when George W. Bush took office eight years ago. But since last November’s election, Obama has wasted no time embracing these online communication portals. In recent weeks he has taped weekly video addresses and posted them to YouTube, where most have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

Obama’s staffers also have stopped posting information to social-networking sites since the election, preferring to reach out to constituents through YouTube and Change.gov, the official site of the president-elect’s transition team. Visitors to Change.gov can read a frequently updated blog, post their ideas on issues facing the country, and rate others’ ideas. Top-rated ideas will be gathered into a briefing book and given to Obama after he takes office.

“They want information going not just from them to the voters, but from the voters back to them,” Democratic strategist Steve McMahon said Wednesday on CNN’s “The Situation Room.” “Thirteen million people pushing a button, sending an e-mail to their elected representatives, making a phone call, taking action, is a powerful, powerful lobbying tool.”

“It’s a very smart use of the Internet, to get people to offer ideas,” said David All, a Republican Internet strategist. All hopes that Obama and his staff take a similar approach to WhiteHouse.gov, the president’s official Web site. The current WhiteHouse.gov site, operated by the Bush administration, contains few interactive features.

A statement on the president-elect’s transition site says that Obama hopes to “use cutting-edge technologies to create a new level of transparency, accountability, and participation for America’s citizens.”

It’s fitting, then, that Obama’s inauguration next week could be one of the most watched video events in Internet history. Rasiej expects that hordes of users will be watching online when Obama takes the oath of office, visiting WhiteHouse.gov and refreshing their browsers to capture the moment the site switches to proclaim Obama, not George W. Bush, as president.

As president, Obama will likely not just rely on WhiteHouse.gov but use multiple Internet sites and technological tools to build grass-roots support for his agenda, observers say.

Obama is using the tools that are available to him today. The next president will be using some of the same tools, and also some tools that haven’t been invented yet.

Green Businesses

Mohawk Carpet? Who would have believed it…the CEO of Mohawk is very proactive in the green movement.

One person’s waste is another’s business opportunity. U.S-based Mohawk Residential is part of the new breed of green businesses aimed at making profit and environmentally-friendly goods.

Mohawk’s showcase product is carpet made from used plastic bottles. They process a staggering 14,000 used plastic bottles a day to produce their Everstrand carpet. The old bottles are cleaned and sorted by color, then melted and spun into yarn to make carpet.
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In a country where some 3 billion bottles are used a year, it’s a business which is taking big steps to reduce our ecological footprint.

I will invite them the the Global Earth Summit in Japan this year.
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