Amar Sagoo

1 August 2023

Goodbye, Google. Hello, World!

When I joined Google in 2011, it felt like I was realising a dream. I had been working primarily as a software engineer, with my design activities limited to an unofficial portion of my job and to personal projects in my spare time. Google provided an opportunity to be a full-time interaction designer working with very clever people on widely used products, in a fairytale-like work environment.

But time changes things, including your perspective. In the last 12 years, Google got a lot bigger, making it a very different place to operate in. Also, not everything may turn out like in your dream – for instance, my field (UX) hasn’t developed into the rigorous, science-based discipline I had hoped it would. And, perhaps most significantly, I got to know myself better, learning what I enjoy and what frustrates or stresses me. So a new dream began to form.

Licensed 1.5.1

I’ve just published a minor update to Licensed, my free app for storing software licenses. It fixes a bug where the contents of the Notes field were not legible when using macOS’s dark mode. Download the latest version here. You can read more about the previous update to version 1.5 in this blog post.

Also, I now gratefully accept donations, in case you enjoy my free apps and would like to support me in developing more in the future (more news on that soon).

1 July 2023

Tofu 3.0

Tofu started as an experiment 20 years ago. It was based on a hypothesis that long lines of text and vertical scrolling made it challenging to read on your computer. Arranging text in columns seemed like an elegant way to address both the movement and the line length.

I was amazed at how well the solution was received. Of all the apps I’ve made, Tofu has been the most popular. It’s also the one people missed the most after I announced in 2014 that I wasn’t planning to update it again, especially when the last version became incompatible with macOS releases beyond 10.14.

As requests for an update kept continuing even into 2023, I finally decided to update Tofu to run on modern Macs. I also took the opportunity to make many improvements to usability and layout, increase performance and fix bugs. The result is Tofu 3.0.

27 November 2022

Licensed 1.5 (and Tofu news)

In 2014, I announced that I was not planning further development of my Mac and iOS apps. I have a couple of updates on that.

Licensed 1.5 now available

One thing I still intended to do was update Licensed, my Mac app for managing software licenses. That update is finally here. I’m sorry it took so long.

My main motivation was to add an export function, so that you could get your data into other tools such as a spreadsheet, and finally say goodbye to Licensed if you were still relying on it.

But it also turns out that technology moves on in 14 years (yes, that’s how long it’s been!), and the app couldn’t even run at all on recent versions of macOS. So that became the first problem to address. Licensed is now built to run on macOS 10.13 (High Sierra) through 13 (Ventura). This update also increases the chances that Licensed will work with future macOS versions.

4 October 2015

The quest for the perfect movie rating

For the last 15 years or so, I’ve been using IMDb to look up how good movies are supposed to be. I also try to do my bit by submitting ratings for those I’ve watched. So far, I’ve rated nearly 700 films. In recent years, I’ve noticed more and more people referring to Rotten Tomatoes as their trusted source. Also, IMDb has started listing Metacritic’s score alongside their own, and Google can show all three in their search results for a film. Naturally, I had to go and look at the data to figure out which site I should be using.

4 September 2014

Now tweeting

I have a very high threshold for joining social networks, but I recently overcame this in a rare instance and finally started posting on Twitter. If you don't use an RSS reader, this may be the best way to find out when I publish new articles. I also share briefer thoughts there which I wouldn't put on this blog (this post is already exceptionally short).

Here I am: @amar_designer

22 January 2014

Demystifying colour management

Colour management is a pretty arcane subject to most people, even if it’s relevant to their work. I recently spent some time trying to understand it, and encountered two challenges. First, I didn’t find any really clear explanation of the concepts involved. Some are thorough but difficult to follow. Others give practical advice without elucidating the fundamentals. The second problem is that there’s conflicting advice about best practices when designing for the web.

I’d like to take on the challenge of addressing both of these issues. I will first explain some of the basic concepts behind colour management, using illustrations that hopefully make it easier to understand. I will then talk about practical implications for web-oriented design.

How it works

Colours can be described in different ways, for example as a mix of red, green and blue light, or in terms of their hue, saturation and lightness. In each of these colour models, you can think of the dimensions as forming a "space". One such colour space is called CIE xyY, and I’ll use it for my illustrations here. It contains all the colours visible to the average human eye, and has the convenient property that, although it’s three-dimensional, you can look at it "from above" and get a nice, two-dimensional map of chromaticities at maximum brightness:

CIE xyY chromaticity diagram

When you’re working on a particular display, it’ll only be able to show a subset of all visible colours. This range is called its gamut and will have a triangular footprint in the CIE xyY space (as will any other RGB space):

Display space within the xyY space

If a colour profile describes a sub-space like this which exactly corresponds to the range of colours your display can actually show, it’s said to be perfectly calibrated.