Archive for April 22, 2018

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Woman Who Gave the Macintosh a Smile

Alexandra Lange (via John Gruber):

Paola Antonelli, the senior curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art, was the first to physically show Kare’s original icon sketches, in the 2015 exhibit “This is for Everyone.” “If the Mac turned out to be such a revolutionary object––a pet instead of a home appliance, a spark for the imagination instead of a mere work tool––it is thanks to Susan’s fonts and icons, which gave it voice, personality, style, and even a sense of humor. Cherry bomb, anyone?” she joked, referring to the icon which greeted crashes in the original operating system. After working for Apple, Kare designed icons for Microsoft, Facebook, and, now, Pinterest, where she is a creative director. The mainstream presence of Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, emoji, and GIFS is a sign that the visual revolutionaries have won: online, we all communicate visually, piecing together sentences from tiny-icon languages.

Kare, who is sixty-four, will be honored for her work on April 20th, by her fellow designers, with the prestigious AIGA medal.

See also: Luke Dormehl.

Previously: Interviews: Kare, Bezos, Musk, Felleisen, Gruber.

Oracle Claims Trademark Infringement for an iOS JavaScript Editor App

James Sanders:

To put it lightly, it strains credulity to state that the app in question: HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, HTML, Snippet Editor is “likely” to be mistaken for something developed or licensed by Oracle. Thousands of projects include support for JavaScript, and in so doing, name JavaScript a thing that the project uses. For starters, the Webkit rendering engine on which the Safari browser, among others, is based, references JavaScript in the source.

If user reviews are any indication, the app is not even particularly good, with reviewers stating things such as “Not ready for production,” “Does not work as advertised,” and “Waste of money, don’t buy this.” The last update to the app was in 2014, which the changelog notes was only an upgrade to add support for iOS 8. The app developer is at least honest about the intent behind the unwieldy name for the app, saying in a Reddit comment that “we game the App Store ranking by adding all the keywords to the app name.”

While Oracle has a duty to protect their trademarks, this type of legal bludgeoning underscores a historical problem that has been left unaddressed for too long: JavaScript is a terrible name for the thing being described.


According to Crockford, Netscape called it LiveScript, originally. In their attempt to ‘destroy Microsoft’, they teamed up with Sun. One of Sun’s original goals with Java was making it the client-side scripting language for the browser. However, Netscape had LiveScript. Apparently the negotiations almost broke down over this point.

In an enlightened moment, (probably) Marc Andreessen proposed renaming LiveScript to JavaScript (despite the fact that the languages have very little in common), and joy was had. Sun got the JavaScript trademark (and passed it on to Oracle), and Netscape got a perpetual exclusive license to use it.

When JavaScript was standardized to avoid Embrace, Extend, Extinguish, Netscape refused to share its license, and so the official language was renamed to ECMAScript, after the standards body. When Sun was bought by Oracle, it also got the trademark, and presumably, Mozilla inherited the exclusive license from Netscape.

See also: Reddit.

SmugMug Acquires Flickr

Jessica Guynn (via Andy Baio, Hacker News):

SmugMug, an independent, family-run company, will maintain Flickr as a standalone community of amateur and professional photographers and give the long neglected service the focus and resources it deserves, MacAskill said in an exclusive interview.

He declined to disclose the terms of the deal, which closed this week.


The surprise deal ends months of uncertainty for Flickr, whose fate had been up in the air since last year when Yahoo was bought by Verizon for $4.5 billion and joined with AOL in Verizon’s Oath subsidiary.

Don MacAskill:

We are committed to a huge, healthy, vibrant community of people using the Free plan. :)

Nelson Minar:

Everyone excited about the SmugMug / Flickr news (ie: fellow old people) may enjoy this other happy story about SmugMug saving a bunch of photos lost by Picturelife as that company ran out of money.

Riccardo Mori:

SmugMug acquiring Flickr makes me oddly hopeful. I still use and love Flickr, and I hope it’ll be able to gain back the relevance points it had been losing in recent times.

(So come on, pundits, a bit of enthusiasm, instead of this “Ahh, remember Flickr? Good times” attitude.)

Anil Dash:

I am excited to see an independent company that cares about photography and has a long-term sustainable business model become a steward for Flickr. We need open, indie social platforms more than ever on the web right now.

See also: Flickr, Flickr Code, SmugMug.

Previously: Verizon Acquires Yahoo.

Update (2018-04-29): Glenn Fleishman:

SmugMug and Flickr aren’t precisely yin and yang in the audiences they serve and features they offer. But they do represent two distinct approaches to photo sharing and community interaction. SmugMug, founded in 2002, has charged a subscription fee from the first day, and focuses on beautiful presentation of photos and on services for semi-pro and professional photographers rather than social networking. It’s never raised venture-capital funding, and several family members are in key positions.


MacAskill says he knows there will be challenges in meshing these two distinct cultures, but adds that he did the deal because of Flickr’s unique strengths. “Both companies really stand for photography and for photographers,” he says. SmugMug had been wrestling for years with the question of how to add a free tier in a way that would complement its paid services and encourage more participation; Flickr, which offers a terabyte of photo storage for free, may be part of the solution.

Don MacAskill:

No need to know or care about @SmugMug plan types - we're not merging the two. We're also not Flickrizing SmugMug, not SmugMugging Flickr. Stick with what you love - and know that we love you for it.

Update (2018-11-06): See also: Triangulation.