The Null Device
Typography/design blogger Stephen Coles offers a typographically-oriented critique of Apple's iPad interface, and it doesn't come off well. Apple, it seems, are guilty of privileging style over substance, aiming to make the iPad look stylish rather than be legible. As an e-book reader, it fails, with the iBooks application falling for that most vulgar of desktop-publishing tricks and forcibly full-justifying all text, despite research showing that ragged-right margins are actually more legible. iBooks also falls down on typeface choice; the user has a choice of reading books in one of five typefaces, which range from middling to poor for reading large quantities of text. Support for custom fonts on the iPad is poor all round; there is no option to embed fonts in e-books, and the version of Mobile Safari supplied doesn't have up-to-date @font-face embedding support.
And then there's the famously Helvetica-fetishising UI, whose typographical choice is seemingly more designed to exude mid-20th-century modernist chic and pander to the owner's self-image as a stylishly cool individual, rather than aiming for anything as gauchely utilitarian as legibility. While Helvetica is good for print and signage, or, indeed, larger sizes on the screen, there are more legible typefaces for use on computer screens (the Lucida family, shipped with Apple's own OSX, is a case in point). The Helveticolatry, though, pales into insignificance next to the Notes application's cutesy felt-marker typeface, which, whilst less cringeworthy than Comic Sans, is still somewhat ridiculous; all of a sudden, High Modernist chic gives way to kitsch.
Bonus link: Stephen Coles with a list of alternatives to Helvetica. (Note the complete absence of Arial in this list; it's a list of actual typefaces of typographical merit.)
The latest frontier of Antipodean coffee culture: New York, where Melbourne-style cafés, and even a barista college, are opening:
''The New York coffee scene is similar to Melbourne in 1985. When I moved here about six years ago, there was virtually nowhere that served quality espresso coffee. I originally planned to pick up an idea here and then move back to Melbourne to cash in. But I realised there was a huge opportunity here because nothing in New York compared to our cafes,'' Mr Hall says.Though wasn't Melbourne's coffee scene at a fairly decent technical level, if not yet acclaimed around the world, in 1985? After all, Australia had mass Italian immigration in the 1950s, resulting in the establishment of Italian-style cafés catering to patrons who expected quality. (This is not to be confused with places where handfuls of immigrants trickled in and opened cafeterias or diners, making whatever the locals were already used to; this is the case in the UK, where there are plenty of cafeterias run by Italian immigrants, most of them serving the greasy fry-ups and mugs of builder's tea the locals feel comfortable with. It seems to me that a country only assimilates a culinary tradition if it takes in enough migrants from that tradition to not only act as producers but also as discerning consumers.)