Emoji Fails: Cross-platform miscommunication

Emoji are increasingly a part of text-based communication, but they don't quite have the universality of text; whereas text would be interpreted the same way in different fonts (well, mostly, and not including ALL CAPS), the same emoji as rendered in different operating systems may be interpreted very differently. The example above is perhaps the worst: the emoji standard calls for a "grinning face with smiling eyes," but each operating system is free to design their own graphic to represent that - and that's where the trouble begins. If an Android user sends this to an Apple recipient, the sender sent something they perceive as +4.3 on the happiness scale, but the receiver gets something they perceive as -1. That's a big difference, which is just begging to cause trouble! (And I think Apple is at fault here: that's no grin, that's a grimace at best.) This was studied by the GroupLens research team at the University of Minnesota. Their results make me want to make my own grinning-with-smiling-eyes face... but Apple-style.
[GroupLens, including image credit, via Gizmodo]

Asinine Cross-Marketing: Cold Stone V Superman?

Hey Cold Stone: all I wanted was to order a cake for my wife's birthday. I didn't want to find most of your website occupied by a trailer for a bad movie that's been out for a month. A movie, by the way, which is dark and violent and not at all ice-cream-related. I'm a little concerned that any treats I do order from you will be contaminated with Jesse Eisenberg's Lex-Luthor hair. And it's especially annoying that the web browser tab title is just "Batman V Superman" - not the tab I'd be looking for to complete my order. So let's take it easy on the cross-marketing, and just stick to making ice cream? You're pretty good at that.

Good design requires compatibility.

Apple's slimmest laptop, the Macbook, partly achieves its svelte profile by sporting only a single USB-C port. And that's great, USB-C is the future; but good design requires compatibility, in this case with the present. See, Apple's mobile devices uses their proprietary Lightning connector, and until just recently Apple didn't make a USB-C-to-Lightning cable. You could spend thousands of dollars on the highest-end devices from the most successful company in the world, with no way to connect them to each other except a clunky, expensive, band-aid of a dongle. They finally got around to it, but compatibility shouldn't be an afterthought.

The Cue Ball's Secret Magnet

One thing that's come up on this site frequently: I love magnets. So imagine my delight upon finding that my favorite physical force (way better than gravity, I mean come on) is responsible for helping the cue ball come back out of pay-per-play pool tables while the other balls are swallowed until the next game. Check out the animation on Sploid: a magnet in the table pulls the iron layer only present in the cue ball, yanking the ball onto the "exit" track instead of the "stick around for a while" track. I'd always assumed it was a subtle size difference or something - but this is much better!

Bottle Cutter: Answer in search of questions?

The Plastic Bottle Cutter sure seems like a simple device: insert a used plastic bottle, spin, and you have some tough, possibly-colorful, possibly-soda-scented plastic ribbon. Neat! But now what to do with it? Use it as weatherproof twine? Weave some rope? Arts and crafts? It's an answer in search of questions - but I'm pretty sure there are plenty of good questions out there. It's refreshing to take this approach every once in a while instead of the other way around.
[via Core77]

Third Brake Light, Tested & Confirmed

Jalopnik recently wrote about the surprisingly structured, rational addition of the third brake light that's been mandatory since 1986. Psychologist John Voevodsky came up with the idea for a third light that's only on when braking, as opposed to tail lights which are always on at night and just brighten when braking. From there it was a well-controlled scientific experiment, randomly applying the feature to taxis and comparing accident rates. The results: "The light prevented 5.4 collisions, 1.02 cab driver injuries, and $643 of taxicab damage per million miles." Now that's good design!
[via Jalopnik]

Watch out for that kerning...

Apple was an early advocate of beautiful typography in computing, including kerning, the aesthetic spacing between characters. This evidently continues to today, to the point that the word "click" in the above splash page for OS X is spaced differently than the rest of the sentence. Why that particular word benefits from extra spacing is funny, crass, and an exercise left to the reader. (Or you can just read what Dan Leech Tweeted about it upon discovering the tweak.)
[via Gizmodo]