A 600-Mile Quest to Savor Japan’s Kissaten and Pizza Toast

Craig Mod, writing for Eater:

So it was a great surprise when the next morning they presented me with an entire pizza. “We didn’t think you’d want just pizza toast,” Mrs. Kumata — who insisted on being called “Mama” — said to me as she emerged from the kitchen with a thin-crust pie on a plate. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that pizza toast was everything. Was a totem. That pizza toast was the great unifier, the healer of this modern walker. That pizza toast was more than just pizza toast. It was the underdog fighting Pachinko Road. A food that had been forged in some bizarro cultural oven wedged between American GIs and poverty that somehow managed to shed all of that baggage over the years. It was unique, a quirk of reality. And most importantly: It was delicious.

Craig Mod is a brilliant writer and photographer. His ability to form a piece that delicately discusses history, cuisine, and rituals is inspiring. He has a unique ability to write as both a knowledgeable insider and curious outsider. I highly recommend subscribing to his newsletters: Roden and Ridgeline.

Quick Website Updates

Back on the mat 🧘🏻‍♂️ – evhead:

A few years later, I wrote some code that allowed me to hit a keyboard shortcut when visiting evhead.com — I believe it was the letter ‘n’ — which would bring up a modal textarea. When I typed into that and hit submit, that text would show up at the top of this very web site. It felt like magic.

In ~2004 I had a website hosted on a friend’s server. Several times per week I would manually update the homepage with my latest thoughts and observations. It wasn’t too difficult: edit a text file, upload via FTP, refresh. I thought of it as a web-based AOL Instant Messenger away message. I tried to simplify this process similar to what Ev describes in his recent blog post. I guess it was a good idea.

Spectre Camera—iPhone App of the Year

Marshall’s Beach, San Francisco · iPhone 11 Pro

Apple’s coveted Best of 2019 awards were announced, and iPhone App of the Year was awarded to Spectre Camera by Lux Optics. Coincidentally I tried Spectre recently while photographing the sunset against the Golden Gate Bridge during a Photosprouts landscape photography course.

Spectre is amazing. It allows anyone to capture gorgeous long exposure photos with minimal effort. I also use Halide, the app that allows you to shoot photos in the RAW format and was built by the same team.

Sony Metreon

The San Francisco mall was set to revolutionize urban entertainment in 1999, burning bright before a spectacular fall.

Today we think of the AMC Metreon as a movie theater complex with an average Japanese restaurant, small food court, robot cafe, Target, and Bitcoin ATM.

In 1999 though it was the Sony Metreon, an attempt to shove Universal Studios into downtown San Francisco. I actually went with my family when it opened. Tickets were approximately $20 each for complete access (there were multiple tiers for some reason). There were short 3D films, a Microsoft retail store, a large food court, and a gigantic arcade. It was fun for an immature teenager, but as one can imagine there was little desire to ever return.

I highly recommend reading the San Francisco Chronicle article about the Sony Metreon (or at least look at the photos). Afterwards listen to The Big Event podcast episode for some fun stories about San Francisco and this unusual development.


Khoi Vinh on How His Blog Amplified His Work and Career – Own Your Content:

Paul Jin:

When you’re looking through other people’s portfolios, what stands out? Do you have any advice And could you share any practical wisdom to creatives on how to showcase their portfolios better?

Khoi Vinh:

I’d be much more interested in a portfolio full of made up projects that are representative of exactly what a designer wants to do more than anything, than I would be in a portfolio of highly competent but passionless work executed by someone who’s not thrilled by any of it.

The passion is the difference maker.

Portfolios should show personality and passion. Both are tricky to depict in a portfolio vs. a video chat. Spend extra time writing about who you are, how you solve problems, and what you’ve learned along the way.

Scandalous Designs

Periodicals as Collections, No. 2: bauhaus:

Which brings us to some of the more contentious principles of the Bauhaus’s modernist typography: the liberal use of sans-serif typefaces, for both headlines and text, as well as the use of exclusively lowercase letters. In their historical and cultural context, these choices were far more scandalous than they appear to us today. At that time sans-serif type was not wholly uncommon in advertisements or headlines, and had been experimented with by earlier avant-garde movements, but its use for running text was still regarded as unorthodox, and less readable than roman or blackletter.

Do we have any “scandalous” designs today?

Facebook Paper

5 years ago today Facebook Paper was released. So cool to see this incredibly thorough archive of all the little interactions we worked so hard on. https://mobile-patterns.com/iphone/facebook-paper

Mike Matas

I was a huge fan of Facebook Paper. I knew when Facebook acquired PushPopPress that Mike Matas and team were going to build something amazing.

Facebook Paper launched in 2014 and I recall the overall reaction to be simultaneously “wow!” and “what?” Reflecting now it’s clear that Paper was an inspirational yet unusual attempt to combine Facebook with periodicals. You were able to follow publications and topics, and then swipe between your Facebook feed and these other sections. I consistently used Paper to browse my feed, and, more importantly, communicate with friends using instant messaging after Facebook removed messaging functionality from the main app.

Tilting through full-screen photos using the phone’s accelerometer was cool, but my friends don’t usually share gorgeous photos on Facebook. The assumption that people carefully edit photos after shooting with fancy cameras was also a misstep with Facebook Home.

As an interface designer I was floored by the details: the animations were perfect, the swipe gestures were fun, the onboarding tutorial was clear, and the primary interaction was horizontal instead of vertical. For right-handed users this was a very pleasing interaction (although Instagram recently tried a similar approach with less success). Paper pushed me and the rest of the now defunct startup I worked for at the time to get the details right.

I hope to one day build an app as beautiful and delightful as Facebook Paper.


Sausalito, California:

Alas, it was time again for the San Francisco Unplashers to congregate and capture. This event was a bit more ambitious than the previous get-togethers and schmoozes. We decided to hop on the ferry at the Ferry Building and ride over to the quaint yet delightful town of Sausalito. But first, coffee at Blue Bottle for some pour overs and lattes.

I recently hosted another photowalk event for Unsplash. Read about it on Medium.

Essential Skills for Product Designers


When you receive a new project, listen to your manager. Ask for requirements, historical information, the definition of done, timelines, etc. When you show your designs, listen to your design team. Ask follow-up questions. Consider every piece of feedback even if you disagree with it. Try their suggestions. Make a few more iterations. When you show your prototypes, listen to your users. They will surprise you by interpreting interfaces in ways you did not expect. Ask why. Ask what they’re thinking. Ask what they expected.
When you hear concerns and clarifications, listen to your engineers. They need to solve problems you most likely didn’t consider. If they have a tough sprint they may need to find ways to simplify your proposal. Cooperation and compromise are key to building strong relationships.

Yours truly on Budi Tanrim’s fantastic design blog, Yellow Stroke.

Memobottle Notebook-Sized Water Bottles

I loved the medium-size Memobottle, and I carried it around at work for several months. The only problem was how often I was asked with a sarcastic tone, “What are you drinking?” People assumed it was vodka because of its flask-like shape. I eventually changed to a Yeti, but I was never in a fraternity. Now I drink water out of a glass like an adult. Sigh.