Posts tagged ‘Design’

Garmin understands amateur aircraft builders

For anyone who has worked with Garmin’s prior generation of aircraft avionics, they are all too aware of the challenges of wiring high density D-Sub pin connectors, threading back-shells, and conforming to old standards. So I keep being amazed by the small changes Garmin has made with their latest generation of avionics targeting the amateur home built aircraft community.

I’m very grateful for the switch to standard D-Sub pins and the open top connectors makes the assembly much easier. And here is another example of Garmin thinking like a builder rather than an engineer – mounts which can be switched from the ends to the sides of their new remote mounted radio.

When building a kit plane, everything is up to the builder and this means every airplane is a bit different with hundreds of decisions.

In my RV-8, finding a location for the remote radio was becoming a challenge of compromises. I finally located a suitable space but the radio mounting tabs were in the wrong place to make it work. I was about to concede and build new mounting tabs but when I removed the factory tabs I discovered Garmin had anticipated my need!

With the factory installed mounting tabs at each end of the radio, it can be mounted horizontally or vertically with ease. In my case, the problem was that I needed to mount it across between the RV-8’s forward baggage bulkhead and the Z-brace. Ideally, I wanted those tabs to be on the sides of the radio rather than the ends. Thankfully, Garmin attached the mounting tabs with screws. When I unscrewed the tabs I was delighted to see that Garmin had designed the tabs’ screw locations and the radio’s screw holes (two extra ones hidden under the tabs in their original locations) to rotate 90 degrees and re-attach! All I had to do was unscrew the tabs, turn them 90 degrees and there were nut plates already installed for the alternate orientation.

Garmin had designed the radio to give the builder multiple choices for how to install their radio.

This truly is an example of designing for their end user!

GTR-20 with adjustable mounting rails
GTR-20 with adjustable mounting rails

Size is relative for the iPhone 6 Plus

big phone in a big hand vs small hand
big phone in a big hand vs small hand

A friend posted a link to Monday’s “Live with Kelly and Michael” where they are talking about the iPhone 6 Plus.

The interesting visual from the segment is the size of the phone appears to change. With Michael Strahan the phone looks completely normal but with Kelly Ripa, the phone looks huge!

Think before you CSS

execution order of CSS affects usability
execution order of CSS affects usability

Modern websites are a rich combination of content, behavior, and style. The behavior has traditionally been implemented in JavaScript and the style has been achieved with CSS.

Ten years ago, browsers were simple and so were web pages. Developers didn’t have a lot of tools. Java in the browser was one solution JavaScript was another. Both had their usefulness, both had their issues. Most Java in the browser has gone the way of the Dodo Bird … thankfully.

JavaScript hasn’t been perfect. It’s biggest strength has also lead to it’s biggest challenge – it’s very easy to learn and use which has lead to it being used A LOT! This make websites heavy and slow, especially for those with slow internet connections such as DSL connections and mobile cellular internet.

Web developers – good web developers – understand not only what JavaScript can do but also HOW it it is handled by the browser. Their testing covers transmission, loading, and execution – not just functionality.

HTML5 and CSS3 are enabling more and more behavior without JavaScript. Modern browsers are really “web execution engines”. Look at the size (install and runtime footprint) of a modern browser and it’s clear it has been built to be a runtime system. They are capable of performing image manipulation from real time scaling and drop shadow to 3D transformations.

The shift from JavaScript to HTML5 and CSS3 for these capabilities brings with it the same developer concerns.

The image in this post is of a website which took approximately 30 seconds to render. It makes heavy use of CSS. As you can see, the developers didn’t consider what happens when their CSS loads slowly. The site is unusable – even confusing – until everything gets loaded and executed.

A good web experience requires a “progressing experience” – one where the user can get value very early and gets additional capability and options as more of the content is loaded. It’s bad design when the “content” is loaded but unusable because the “style” is slow. This type of experience suggests the developers and the owners believe “style over substance”. I doubt they want that to be their slogan.

Front porch columns – Craftsman style architecture

farmouse_20130831

The front porch will receive Craftsman style columns with stone bases. I’ve taken a real picture of the farmhouse and rendered in the five columns.

The bases will be 30" x 30" x 32" (W x D x H) and the columns will be 6′ tall square tapered with a 16-1/2" cap and a 21-1/2" foot.

The stone bases will be made from the same paver stones used for the patio-porch.

On paper the bases sound massive but given the proportions of the farmhouse, they do not look out of place.

… and yes, there is enough space at the top of the bases for a coffee cup … or to put your feet up !

Front porch columns – vote for your choice !

columns

It’s time to finish the front porch. The current appearance is a stone paver "deck" that is at ground level. It is really just a patio extending from the farmhouse out to the end of the overhang. The overhang will receive a lapboard ceiling. The columns are currently steel I-beams resting on round concrete footings, about 24" in diameter. Since the column locations on the footings vary a bit, the base needs to be 30" square to have each column consistently center over each base.

The columns will be 6′ tall pre-formed fiberglass wraps and will be painted to compliment the farmhouse. The columns will sit on 32" tall bases.

Choices:

  • strait vs tapered columns
  • strait vs tapered bases
  • painted material vs stone bases

What is your vote ?

Visualization exercise

I'm working my way through a drawing book called Rapid Viz. it's mean to help designers to think visually and be able to convey ideas easily through drawings, sketches, and simple mockups.

Today's exercise was “what do you see in the following squiggles?” It's part puffy clouds and part Rorschach test.

Here are my answers:

  • A candle stick
  • A camping tent
  • A flamingo swimming the freestyle leg of a relay race
  • An old pitcher pump
  • A table (with a boogie board on top)

What do you see?