Unshelved comic strip for 1/3/2008

RSS update

I noticed that our email subscription numbers have been a little stagnant lately, so I did some research. We still have about as many people signing up as before. But it turns out that more and more of you are switching to our RSS feed. This is good news for us, because we spend way too much time trying to help folks who are having one trouble or another getting our email. Bottom line: it's almost never our fault. Email is just touchy, and thanks to image-blocking and spam filters it's touchier than ever. Not so with RSS feeds, which are spam-proof.

Don't know what I'm talking about? I wrote a little post about it a few months ago. Since then hundreds of you have switched. Give in to peer pressure!

Cutting Down

As I gradually move my computing life over to the Mac side of things, I'm learning to adopt more of an Apple philosophy about things. My new office is a good case in point. Our old family office had stations for me, my wife Sara, my housemate (and Unshelved's store manager) Jana, and our kids. But while I work in the office 8 or more hours a day, everyone else just drops in for a half hour now and again. So now in addition to my permanent station the new office (which is smaller) has a nice old round wood table that used to be in our garage, two chairs, and a power strip (the printers and server went into a closet). Jana and Sara drift in, plug in their laptops, do some work, and drift out. The table is perfect for meetings (family and otherwise), paying bills, and the occasional need to spread out. We optimized for the most common case, and stripped out the rest of the complexity. As a result I work in a spare, attractive office that seems to inspire creativity.

Apple-wise, this philosophy is most evident in my new wireless keyboard. I just got it today but in a way I've been typing on it for weeks because it's the exact same as the one on my MacBook. And on Apple's iMacs. And I expect you'll see it on the new MacBook Pros when they're announced later this month. By consolidating on a single keyboard layout, Apple is helping us train our hands in the most optimal possible fashion. When I pack up and go mobile, I don't have to switch gears. Everything is exactly the same. It's really quite tiny, this keyboard, but the keys are full-sized. It's just that that everything inessential has been stripped out. It's everything I need and nothing more. And the tinyness is especially nice for me, because I have to shove it to one side when I'm drawing on my Cintiq.

I'm hoping to bring this sensibility to our home page (current design: 4.5 years old and counting). I've been working on a new design for a while, and I hope to implement it in the next few months. Web pages are funny things - by far the most commonly designed thing in the history of mankind, and yet very seldom are they done right. We'll give it a shot.

This Unshelved strip

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