Breathtaking footage of the Sun makes for stunning desktop backgrounds

I came across a video released by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory mission that I found so mesmerizing that I decided to create several wallpapers from it. After downloading the original UHD video file, I opened it in VLC and exported what I thought were the most dramatic and interesting frames.

They are all optimized for 16:9 4K (3840 x 2160) monitors, but given that they’re such high-resolution, they also look great on 5K displays, MacBooks, and iPad. You can download the full set as a zip file here.

I like these images enough that they are now in rotation with what I consider to be the most beautiful picture ever made: The Hubble Legacy Field, an image that combines nearly 7,500 Hubble exposures captured over the course of sixteen years, including some of the deepest images ever captured of the universe.

Thank you for continuing to inspire us, NASA.

Solving one of smartphones’ most annoying user interface and experience problems

You know how you sometimes go to select something on your phone (or other touchscreen device for that matter), and either the application layout changes, or something like a notification appears just in time for you to tap on the wrong thing? I call that “UI Crossfire,” and I’m proposing a solution I call “Intent Buffering.” Take a look at the prototype.

The iPhone, fixed.

Merriam-Webster defines an appliance as:

  1. A piece of equipment for adapting a tool or machine to a special purpose.
  2. An instrument or device designed for a particular use or function.

Wiktionary’s definition is similar:

An implement, an instrument or apparatus designed (or at least used) as a means to a specific end (often specified).

In terms of hardware, the iPhone is nearly perfect. But iOS makes it feel more like an Apple appliance than a flexible and versatile computer.

So I decided to fix it.

Adobe Logo in LEGO

I was playing around with the LEGO Digital Designer app the other day, and as a quick, single-evening challenge, I decided to design and build the Adobe logo (I’m an Engineering Manager on Adobe’s Experience Design team). In order to ensure I’d be able to build it with pieces I already had, I used only the most common bricks (1×2, 2×2, 2×3, and 2×4). And, of course, it’s built for maximum rigidity.

Here’s the 3D model:


Here’s here’s how it turned out:


And finally, here’s the parts list:

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Lego Monitor Stand


Last year, I decided to design and build a Lego monitor stand. Several people have asked me about it, so I figured I would finally post not just pictures, but the LXF (Lego Digital Designer) file, as well. If you want to play around with it, all you have to do is:

If you actually want to order the pieces to build the stand, I would not recommend doing so through the Lego Digital Designer tool. First of all, the auto-generated building guide is worthless, and the set is very expensive to order. Instead, I would recommend something like this:



Building The Virtual Keyboard From TRON Legacy

tron_keyboard_500I’ve become a bit of a keyboard geek (proof here and here), so when I re-watched TRON: Legacy recently and saw Sam use that very cool blue-green virtual keyboard, I decided I had to try it for myself. I built one using two iPads and discovered it’s much more difficult to use than it looked in the movie. Below is an explanation of the project as well as my conclusions.

If you’re interested in the code I used to build the prototype, it’s all available on GitHub.