Happy Father's Day

I'd wondered how long it'd take before I ended up linking to my wife from this space. That time has come.

Today, as hopefully you've remembered, is Father's Day. I've got two daughters. I've got more smartphones and tablets and computers and other geeky stuff than probably one person should have -- even one with my job. Inevitably, this tech ends up in dirty, sticky, little hands, to sometimes disastrous, sometime hilarious results.

It's amazing to watch a child not yet 2 years old swipe to unlock a phone. Whether she figured it out on her own, or saw her sister or mother or me do it, I'm not sure. But here's a kid who can't say more than a dozen words and for whom not falling down that many times a day is quite the accomplishment. To watch her pick up a phone with purpose, quickly unlock it and then proceed to rearrange the home screen beyond all recognition is worth the aggravation of taking an hour trying to restore things to a semi-usable state.

It's also interesting to see how far a toddler can throw a glass smartphone, much to the chagrin of the device in question.

Yes. My kids, like yours, are geniuses, smarter than any kids before them. They swipe to unlock. They use apps. They watch videos. They fling birds at pigs. They draw. They learn.

Back to my wife, though. She's now the local columnist at the newspaper where I worked for nearly a decade. (She's been there for 13 years or so now, previously as an editor.) She's also inundated with the ridiculous amount of tech in this house. Her most frequent question to me after "What the hell is that?" usually is "OK, then what does it do?" But, like any good wife out there, she helps this over-teched dad keep things in perspective. From her column today:

I want (the dads of my generation) to get credit for teaching their kids that picking on someone just because you can, or because everyone else is doing it, is wrong every time, on the playground and online.

I want them to get credit for teaching their kids to use a computer and an iPad and for making them put those things down and go play outside for an equal number of minutes.

... I want them to get credit for teaching their kids that without the Pixies, there never would have been Nirvana.

Well said, wife. Happy Father's Day, y'all.

Perhaps I should have used the whole fist?

The reaction to last week's news that Verizon will be adding shared data plans -- as in buckets of data that can be shared by multiple devices, and not necessarily to the benefit of your wallet -- was nothing if not expected. As I said in an editorial that followed the announcement, we tend to not like change, and the carriers don't exactly change things in our favor very often. But we're also at the mercy of the carriers. We only have so many options. And while there's more parity than ever between the carriers  (and with Sprint and eventually T-Mobile moving to LTE, the playing field will level itself even more), the current two-year contract system means, fear of cancellation fees and overall confusion over the way things work mean that, for the most part, we're going to have to bend over and take it.

Thus, last week's picture of a man in a doctor's office, about to get a finger where most folks don't like digits to disappear.

Apparently that symbolism wasn't strong enough. But the simple truth is we're all in that position, and it's up to us to minimize the damage done to our wallets. If that means switching carriers, by all means switch carriers. If that means backing down on your plan to lower your bill, at the risk of possibly going over, then you should at least consider it. Otherwise, all that shouting is being lost in the wind.

But if you think I particularly like the idea of any business egregiously overcharging us just because it can, you're dead wrong. Companies have to make profits. And they're going to try to get away with as high a margin as they can. Just make sure you're getting your money's worth, at least as best as you can. Perhaps the illustration of a man bracing for a prostate exam wasn't strong enough. Next time I'll use the whole fist.

Now, onto happier visuals.

Good design is easy and hard

Google's Romain Guy last week tweeted links to a series of fascinating blog posts from Cyril Mottier, the lead software designer at Prixing. Mottier goes into pretty exacting detail about application design, the technical mechanisms of how to do things and how they work, as well as the visual design involved.

I don't pretend to understand the code side of things. But it's a great reminder for those of us on the user side of the equation of just how much work goes into apps from a design standpoint, and how it has to work with code.. It helps you to remember that good work takes time.

It also makes me continue to wonder why the hell a company like Facebook has such a slow, janky application.

Mottier's blog is here. You can read the posts in question here, here and here.

This ain't gonna be easy

The Samsung Galaxy S III starts hitting shelves of U.S. carriers this week. First up: Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T on Thursday. Verizon's coming ... eventually. 

At some point I'm going to have to make the call. I'm going to have to decide between the HTC One X and the GSIII. (And Alex Dobie has assured me that this one's mine to decide. That wuss.)

That should make for some interesting comments.

One week till Google IO

It's so close, I can taste the smell of a few thousand nerds packed tightly into the third floor of Moscone West. We're a little more than a week away from Google's annual developer conference. This'll be my third. Jerry Hildenbrand's making the trip again, and we're bringing Alex Dobie over from England, too. We'll have plenty more coverage this week leading up IO. Stay tuned.

Bookmark our Google IO page now. You're not going to want to miss this.