Geof Crowl

I’m a software designer currently living in Salt Lake City, Utah. I like to make nice apps and websites. Sometimes I share things of interest here. Subscribe to the RSS feed with my open source reader.
On The Web

Twitter, Strava, LinkedIn, Instagram, GitHub, email

Air Lookout, Simple Pacer, Super Simple RSS
Suggested Reading
Introducing Air Lookout 2
Guetzli JPEG Image Comparison
Collection of Human Interface and Software Design Guides
Air Lookout 1.4: All The Complications
My Favorite Podcasts
Kawasaki KLR 650 Rebuild Compilation

Monday, Feb. 17th 2020

Collection of Human Interface and Software Design Guides #

After posting about the OpenStep User Interface Guide, I started to wonder how many different human interface guides or software design guides that I could find from the past and present. It doesn’t seem like there’s a good collection of these anywhere on the internet, especially in regard to past software design guides. I think there’s a lot of value in these even outside of just being a historic reference.

If you have a link or PDF of human interface or software design guidelines to past or present software that you think I should include, please contact me: @rectangular.



Elementary OS

Gnome Desktop Environment







Gnome Desktop Environment





Silicon Graphics, Inc.

Sun Microsystems


1 This is before IBM OS/2. I assume it’s referencing DOS based applications.

Thursday, Feb. 13th 2020

OpenStep User Interface Guidelines #

While looking at Nextspace, a desktop environment that brings a NeXTSTEP look and feel to Linux, I saw a link to the OpenStep Interface Guidelines PDF.

I am weirdly nostalgic for this era of computing and the interface advancements made during this time. There were some incredibly smart people figuring out a lot of the paradigms that we are familiar with (that we can't seem to replicate today).

Thursday, Feb. 13th 2020

The Length of Time: Inside the Tour Divide #

This approximately hour long documentary follows Josh Ibbett tackle the brutally long Tour Divide race in 2019. While the film is short on narration, you can definitely see the miles stack up in Josh’s eyes (and on his bike). I’d recommend saving to watch this on a TV.

I’m certainly dreaming of summer riding weather now.

Also recommended: I Just Want To Ride—Lael Wilcox and the 2019 Tour Divide

Tuesday, Dec. 10th 2019

Mac Pro (2019) and Pro Display XDR Initial Roundup #

Apple Mac Pro

Apple: Buy Mac Pro, Apple: Mac Pro Tech Specs

Processor: Configure from an 8‑core to 28‑core Intel Xeon W processor

Memory: Configure up to 1.5TB of DDR4 ECC memory in 12 user-accessible DIMM slots

Graphics: Configure two MPX Modules with up to four GPUs

AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo

  • Two Vega II GPUs, each with 64 compute units and 4096 stream processors
  • 64GB of HBM2 memory (32GB per GPU), each with 1TB/s memory bandwidth
  • Up to 28.3 teraflops single precision or 56.6 teraflops half precision
  • Onboard Infinity Fabric Link connection connects the two Vega II GPUs at up to 84GB/s
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports and one HDMI 2.0 port on card
  • Four DisplayPort connections routed to system to support internal Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Support for up to eight 4K displays, four 5K displays, or four Pro Display XDRs
  • Full-height MPX Module fills an MPX bay and uses extra power and PCIe bandwidth

Power Supply: 1.4 kilowatts

Expansion Slots: Eight PCI Express expansion slots

Storage: Configure up to 8TB of SSD storage

Two USB 3 ports

  • Support for USB-A (up to 5Gb/s)

Two Thunderbolt 3 ports

  • Support for Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40Gb/s)
  • Support for USB-C (up to 10Gb/s)
  • Support for DisplayPort

Two 10Gb Ethernet ports

Apple Pro Display XDR

Apple: Buy Pro Display XDR, Apple: Pro Display XDR Tech Specs

Retina 6K Display

  • 32-inch (diagonal) IPS LCD display with oxide TFT technology
  • Resolution: 6016 by 3384 pixels (20.4 million pixels) at 218 pixels per inch
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9
  • 2D backlighting system using 576 full array local dimming zones
  • Apple-designed timing controller (TCON) chip engineered to precisely control high-speed modulation of both 20.4 million LCD pixels and 576 LEDs in backlight for seamless synchronization
  • True Tone technology with dual ambient light sensor (ALS) design to ensure an accurate viewing experience in any ambient lighting condition
  • One upstream port for Mac Pro or other Thunderbolt 3 host (96W host charging)
  • Three USB-C (USB 2) ports for charging or syncing

Pro Display XDR is compatible with the following Mac models running macOS Catalina 10.15.2 or later:

  • Mac Pro (2019) with MPX Module GPUs
  • 15-inch MacBook Pro (2018)
  • 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019)
  • 21.5-inch iMac (2019)
  • 27-inch iMac (2019)
  • Any Mac model with Thunderbolt 3 ports paired with Blackmagic eGPU or Blackmagic eGPU Pro

The iMac Pro is missing from this list.

Blogs and Tweets


I’m happy that the new Mac Pro exists, but for my purposes it feels like they built the wrong product, too late. Apple has a great history of making modular desktop Macs, at sane prices, and this is not that.

I agree that a cheaper modular pro Mac doesn’t exist, but I’m not really sure if there’s much of a market.

It seems like there’s still a hole in the lineup. … Meanwhile, the iMac Pro hasn’t been updated since 2017 and is likely slower than the regular iMac.

This hole should be filled by an update to the iMac and iMac Pro. But it seems like these holes in Apple’s lineup appear faster than they can fill them.


A 47min TV episode we’re cutting, exported directly to h.264 takes 2mins 40secs. Previously 12mins on iMacPro.


Mac Power Users 514: Apple is Listening — The 2019 Mac Pro, with Thomas Grove Carter


MKBHD: Mac Pro Unboxing & Second Impressions: The Power is Back!

iJustine: Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR 8K Unboxing!

Jonathan Morrison: MASSIVE Mac Pro + Pro Display XDR Unboxing!


Apple: Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR Accessories

The Verge: Logitech made a bespoke $200 magnetic 4K webcam for Apple’s Pro Display XDR

A Pro webcam for a Pro Display

The 4K Pro Magnetic Webcam attaches magnetically to the display with a stand designed to perfectly fit the screen. Logitech says that the magnet is strong enough that it’ll stay attached even when rotated sideways into portrait mode. It can even automatically rotate the video input when the rest of the display is rotated so that you can still video chat no matter what your screen orientation is.

Closing Thoughts

I’m really happy that there is, once again, Apple hardware that is much faster than what I would need or can afford. It felt strange to me, that at times, even the top of the line Apple laptop or iMac was what I would use for my design and programming work. There are certainly professions that need faster computers than me.

Apple hardware should span a large gradient of needs and idioms. Now that there is a range from the $329 USD iPad to a fully loaded $52,748 USD Mac Pro (display not incl.) I think this gradient is larger and stronger than ever before.

Wednesday, Nov. 13th 2019

16-inch Macbook Pro (Late 2019) Review Roundup #

MacBook Pro 16-inch laptop

Jason Snell at / Key upgrade: A first look at the 16-inch MacBook Pro

On Wednesday Apple announced a new 16-inch MacBook Pro, with a completely redesigned keyboard, bigger display, increased battery life, ninth-generation Intel processors, upgraded graphics processors, expanded storage, and improved audio input and output. And despite the rumors that Apple’s newest laptop would be a super-premium product at the top of the price list, in fact that 16-inch MacBook Pro is replacing the 15-inch model at the same base prices of $2399 and $2799.

The 16-inch display can also alter its refresh rate, which is especially helpful for video editors. You can choose from 47.95, 48, 50, 59.94, and 60 Hertz refresh rates. (The MacBook Pro can also drive up to two of Apple’s high-end Pro XDR displays, once they arrive—presumably alongside the Mac Pro, which is officially shipping in December.)

A big part of the story of the 16-inch MacBook Pro is offering even more to people who need as much of anything as Apple can give them. So these laptops can be loaded with up to 64GB of 2666Mhz DDR4 memory. And you can configure them with up to 8TB of storage, which Apple says is the largest solid-state drive ever in a laptop.

I can always use more memory. But I think 64GB will satiate my memory hunger for a few years.

The heat sink’s surface area increased by 35 percent, and the fans have larger impellers and more blades so they can move 28 percent more air.

Because this laptop comes with the same processors in the outgoing 15.4-inch MacBook Pro, I think this is the first time a new mac product has come out with the same processors as the product it replaces. However, because of the improved cooling, it sounds like it is benchmarking and compiling faster than the predecessor.

Marco Arment / Photo of 16-inch MacBook Pro

Marco Arment / The 16-inch MacBook Pro

The new MacBook Pro has no massive asterisks or qualifications. It’s a great computer, period, and it feels so good to be able to say that again.

This is the first time, in a long time, that I am excited again for mac laptops.

Daring Fireball / 16-Inch MacBook Pro First Impressions: Great Keyboard, Outstanding Speakers

The new 16-inch display has a native resolution of 3072 × 1920 pixels, with a density of 226 pixels per inch. The old 15-inch retina display was 2880 × 1800 pixels, with a density of 220 pixels per inch.

I would have loved if the resolution density could have been high enough for the default resolution on the laptop to be true 2x.

512px / Apple Unveils 16-inch MacBook Pro

That’s not to say these won’t sell; contrary to the rumors, this is not a new high-end MacBook Pro. It replaces the 15.4-inch machine entirely. If you want a MacBook Pro, they come in two sizes: 13 and 16 inches.

I am really hoping that a similar 14-inch follows.

Starting at the top of the keyboard, the Touch Bar and Touch ID sensor are still present, joined this time by a physical Escape key.

The ESC key is used pretty often in design and programming tools. The software ESC key really scared me away from getting a laptop with a TouchBar because of this. I’ve heard that some people are so frustrated with the software ESC they use 3rd party tools to disable the standard TouchBar and replace it with a bunch of software ESC buttons.

Kaya Thomas on Twitter

The 16" MacBook Pro is much faster for fresh builds and incremental builds in Xcode. Some stats below for the @Calm app:

MBP 15": 216 seconds for a fresh build 7 seconds for an incremental build

MBP 16": 135 seconds for a fresh build 2 seconds for an incremental build

c| / Apple’s Phil Schiller on reinventing the new MacBook Pro keyboard

But a few years back, we decided that while we were advancing the butterfly keyboard, we would also—specifically for our pro customer—go back and really talk to many pro customers about what they most want in a keyboard and did a bunch of research. That’s been a really impressive project, the way the engineering team has gotten into the physiology of typing and the psychology of typing—what people love.

I hope this doesn’t mean that the butterfly keyboard is going to continue to ship with new products. I could possibly see an argument made for it to remain on the MacBook Air. However, if this new keyboard is as good as it sounds, I don’t see any great reason to keep the butterfly keyboard around.

Apple Insider / MD details the 16-inch MacBook Pro's Radeon Pro 5000M-series GPUs

AMD has revealed the specifications of the new Radeon Pro 5000M-series GPU options available in the just-launched 16-inch MacBook Pro, with the Radeon Pro 5300M and 5500M offering better graphics performance and an option for up to 8GB of GDDR6 VRAM.

The Radeon Pro 5500M GPU is equipped with 24 compute units, 1,536 stream processors, a peak engine clock of 1,300MHz, and can provide up to 4 teraflops of single-precision floating-point performance. The Radeon Pro 5300M GPU has 20 compute units and 1,280 stream processors, along with a peak engine clock of 1,250MHz, giving it up to 3.2 teraflops of performance.

In a comparison of the highest-performing GPUs for each, consisting of the Vega 20 with 4GB of VRAM against the 8GB Radeon Pro 5500M, Apple claims there is an 80-percent increase of graphical performance for the 16-inch MacBook Pro's GPU.

That is impressive. I’m glad we’re starting to get better GPUs in mac laptops. Although, I think there could always be more in this area!

Additional Media


Upgrade, Accidental Tech Podcast, Under The Radar

Video Reviews

MKBHD, The Verge, Jonathan Morrison

Closing Thoughts

With the 2016 MacBook Pro redesign, while initially exciting, it became pretty clear that there were large design compromises made. I hope this is an indication that there has been a notable re-balancing of those compromises. It would be even better if they could figure out something useful to do with the TouchBar. But at least now the fundamentals seem to be solid again.

I am happy to be excited about mac laptops again. Even if this is a seemingly small step in the right direction.

older home newer