Web Design Survey Results Released

The results of the web design survey conducted by A List Apart in April have finally been released. A staggering 33,000 people responded to the survey and the final report tops out at 81 pages.

Overall the report is quite interesting. It seems to confirm a lot of suspicions about the industry as a whole. The industry is in fact male-dominated; only 16% of the respondents said they were female. Almost everybody in the industry has a blog, but not necessarily any prominence for it. There are a lot of self-employed people, with varying salaries and levels of job satisfaction/unsatisfaction.

I’m quite impressed by the results of the report. There are some interesting questions posed by the data and also clear areas where a more focused approach is needed. Obviously, the method of data collection (voluntary web survey) has some serious drawbacks, but I think the data does lead to some broad conclusions of the industry and is a good starting point for more research.

On a side note, the design of the report looks positively snappy! The graphs and charts all look great, as does the type. I’d love to know how all those graphs were made so pretty.

Update: Eric Meyer has written in-depth about the process of collecting the data and creating the report. Definitely read this post after taking a look at the report. I’ve also experienced those Excel pains Meyer speaks of as well. Short answer for how the charts were created: Excel (for mac)NumbersPDFInDesign. Yikes.

Theft Detection for Mac Laptops

Are you ever scared that your fancy MacBook might get stolen? I am. I don’t actually own mine, so at least I wouldn’t have to front the cost of a new one if it got stolen. The worst part is really the data loss though.

There is a new theft detection software called Undercover which actually looks very nice. Basically you install it on your system and forget about. It does it’s own thing in the background and won’t bother you. If your laptop ever gets stolen, you file a report with Undercover online to declare that it has been stolen. The next time a user goes online using your laptop, Undercover will track the network information, take screenshots and even use the built-in iSight to take pictures of the thief.

If your Mac has a built-in or external iSight, Undercover will transmit pictures of the thief and his surroundings every 6 minutes, making it even easier to identify the current user. It’s like having a private detective working for you.

Undercover will then work with law enforcement agencies and ISPs to recover the laptop.

If the first method is unsuccessful, Undercover will basically render the laptop unusable, with a full-screen message reporting that the laptop has been stolen.

One of the first things that I wondered about was how a theif would log into your account (provided you’ve actaully enabled a firmware password and turned off auto-login). Their answer to this was actually quite surprising:

What if the thief can’t login into an account? Will Undercover still phone home?
Even when no one is logged in, Undercover will still phone home because it’s a root process that’s always active. However, we do recommend to create a dummy account that will enable the thief to play around on your Mac. This account should have a blank password and no admin privileges.

I’d really like to try this software out. It sounds really cool and I’m curious to know how well it actually works. Unfortunately…I think you’d actually have to get your laptop stolen to find that out.

Office 2008 Will Follow Some Mac Standards

Honestly, this is probably one of the first really good things that I’ve heard about Office 2008 for Macs. The MacBU team has just announced on Mac Mojo that the Office update will now come in a package file and use Apple’s Installer.

I am happy to announce that Office 2008 for Mac will use the Apple-recommended Apple Installer technology for Office 2008 installation. This means that the data that Office installs will ship on the disc in .pkg format, installs will work well with Apple Remote Desktop (ARD) and will be Applescript-able. Once installed, the user has the freedom to move the Office folder to a different location on the system and Office will run from there. I hope that this will make Office for Mac configuration/deployment easier for IT admins.

You can read more about installers and Apple’s recommendations for them on Apple Developer Connection . Being able to easily deploy Office through ARD is great news for IT people.

My favorite piece of news though is about fonts (emphasis added):

In addition to the change to the Apple Installer, we’ve provided IT admins greater ability to customize their deployment with optional font installations.

The current practice for Office on Macs is to automatically copy a gazillion Microsoft True Type fonts into a user’s font directory the first time they open an Office application. This behavior is truly obnoxious, especially if you already have a ton of fonts that you are trying to manage. It’s also wrong. If those fonts are actually needed for everybody for that application, they should really be put into /Library/Fonts/ at the time of the installation.

I don’t have a lot of good things to say about Microsoft these days, but I am at least happy that their Mac team is taking steps to create a better “Mac Application.”

Via Daring Fireball.

Essential software for Mac OS X

I’m well aware that there are hundreds of lists of essential software for OS X floating around out there. I thought I’d link to this list in particular, because I actually use much of the software listed on it.

I can’t stress enough how great both Quicksilver and TextMate are. They are simply irreplaceable. More importantly, I’m aware of no other software for Windows or Linux that come close to the functionality and ease of use as these two applications.

Rethinking Forum Designs

37signals has recently rethought the design of their forums for their products Basecamp and Highrise.

The new forums do away with the traditional box-heavy design approach. John Gruber says it best:

The “standard” template for web-based forum design is just awful – just dozens and dozens of boxes for something that shouldn’t be boxy at all. 37signals’s new forum design is a good rethinking of the form. It’s just lists: a list of forums, a list of topics within each forum, and a list of posts within each topic.

I really like the new look of the forums. They are much cleaner and easier on the eyes. There’s also plenty of whitespace, which is always a good thing.

Via Daring Fireball.