Blue is the Warmest Color – Would critics champion it with a gender swap?

Blue is the Warmest Color has been a sensation among cinephiles, winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes from a jury headed by Steven Spielberg. It is an amazing film that manages to portray romance and relationships as they are – full of complexity, anxiety, shame, tenderness, sexuality – all of it. Anyone who was once young and in love can see so much of themselves in the passion between Adèle and Emma.

And yet I wonder if much of the film’s commercial and critical success is a reflection of our enduring patriarchy. I wonder if it is because the two lovers are women, and not both men, that male critics and tastemakers feel comfortable backing the film. Yes, we had a Brokeback Mountain moment almost a decade ago, but the sex between Jack and Ennis was brief and implied. This does not discredit the film or its impact, it simply means that audiences are still more comfortable with witnessing gore and murder than passion and sexuality. At a recent Q&A in New York City,  said as much. How queer that at her age, she could live in the Unites States and buy a gun but not a beer.

A question that has probably existed for as long as there have been art critics – is sex in art necessary? Is it enough to imply it? Does the way in which a character has sex on top of the sheets say something about them that wouldn’t be conveyed were they under them?

Blue is the Warmest Color features approximately seven minutes of unobscured sex over a handful of scenes. But again, if the leads were men, but the film equally brilliant in structure and performance, would a film industry dominated by men still have championed it? Would female critics have taken up the charge? How wonderful that we have a film on our hands which raises such discussion.

Redesign in Progress

Just a quick note to any remaining loyal readers, a redesign of my blog is underway which will hopefully allow me to post more regularly and quickly, and better integrate my various social media outlets. Hopefully this will go live in the new year.

Arranging Apps on iOS is Awful UX

Why is the experience of arranging apps on iOS so poor?

To arrange app icons on the home screen on any device running iOS, you long press any given app icon and they all start to jiggle. So far so good. At this point you can choose to tap the small X in the corner of the icon to delete the app, or press and drag the icon to the position you’d like it to be. Drag it to the edge of the screen, and you can move between your different home screens. Drag it on top of another app, and if you’re careful, it will create a folder into which you can deposit more apps. But if you’re not careful, and you don’t drag the app directly on top of another app, that other app will scoot out of the way, shifting all the other apps one space down. If you’re dragging the app to another home screen, and that home screen is already full of apps, it will kick the last app in the grid off to the next home screen, and so on and so forth.

In theory, it seems simple enough. In practice, it’s a nightmare.

There are many ways in which one might organize apps. Some people organize by app-type, for example, keeping note-taking apps grouped together. Some people like to make many folders, some prefer none. Some like to group apps by color, with all the green apps (Evernote, Spotify, Messages, etc.) in one horizontal or vertical row, all the reds (YouTube, Seamless, Netflix, etc) in another, the blues (Facebook, Twitter, Skype, etc.) in another, and so on. I’m partial to this myself, for whatever reason.

But you could spend upwards of half an hour or more getting your apps just the way you like them, instead of the three to five minutes it should take. Just when you think you have an app where you want it, the next app you move kicks it out of the way. You have to think backwards and predict the eventual positioning of the apps to make any headway.

What do you think of this idea – remember the pre-iOS7 multitasking bar? Why not add an ‘arrange apps’ feature, where you can pull your apps down into a tray at the bottom of the screen, like a scrabble board (or a dock!), and then replace them where you want them?

Or why not adopt a Mac OSX feature where these app icons are no longer strictly bound to a grid, uniform in size and position, but instead allow us to drag them, resize them, and group them however the hell we want, so long as they don’t overlap one another?

Or why re-think the way folders are made, and instead have any app that’s dragged atop another app swap positions with that app?

Why not institute any number of better designs users have suggested over the years, all of which would be a vast improvement over the headache that we face now?

Johnny Ive, I seek your counsel.

A Quick Note on the Stylus

I recently purchased an iPad Air, the latest and greatest iPad from Apple. I have a few small issues with the device, namely the anti-fingerprint coating isn’t really up to snuff, and the Smart Case I bought for it leaves two horizontal lines of dust on the screen from where the folding seams contact the glass. But other than those minor qualms, it’s a very good device.

I’m particularly excited about the prospect of drawing storyboards and upgrading my note-taking and diagramming experience, and proceeded immediately to download apps such as Paper by FiftyThree and Penultimate by Evernote.

To further enhance this experience, I thought I’d purchase a stylus for more accurate and natural sketching and writing. Yet now, having read dozens of reviews, and trying two of the most highly rated styluses, I’m profoundly disappointed by the state of the stylus industry! These things are crap! Utter crap!

Perhaps my expectations are way too high. Perhaps all the reviewers took for granted the knowledge that writing and drawing with a stylus would be nothing like writing or drawing with a real pen. I wish I had known that.

The Wacom Bamboo Stylus has been highly rated as one of the best all-round. Quite the opposite, I found its tip (and I suspect that of its ilk) incredibly squishy, such that to create a comfortable and consistent input, I would have to press such that it squished to one side and the barrel of the pen would often click and contact the screen. Hardly a reassuring sound, experience, or philosophy of use. Back to Amazon it went.

Next, I tried the StudioNeat Cosmonaut, which reassured me with its fat and solid looking build and reputation for having a firmer feel. Once again, pressure sensitivity was horrible, almost inexcusable. With the iPad propped up in landscape mode within its smart case, the whole device would be pressed down and almost bend to make any meaningful mark, and forget about accuracy.

Meanwhile, the slightest, lightest press of my finger would instantly begin creating fine lines. Why is this experience so hard to reproduce in a stylus?

My next and final options are two-fold. The Pogo Connect, and the Adonit Jot Script for Evernote. If these things don’t deliver, I feel that my worldview may shatter, and the whole stylus industry will come crashing down as one big lie.

Perhaps Steve Jobs was right back in 2007 when he introduced the first iPhone. “Who wants a stylus?! … Yuck!”