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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Font flashbacks and dubious design

A couple of weeks back, there was a post on Hacker News about some kind of Ruby project. It had a curious name, so I decided to take a look just to see what it was all about. I'm not a Ruby person by any stretch of the imagination, but it can be interesting to see what people are calling "the new hotness", particularly if it isn't really new.

The project's name was "Rack: a Ruby Webserver Interface". I clicked through to their web page and was rewarded with this, and a wee bit of shell-shock:

Rack logo

It's not the title or the cute little image. Oh no. It's their font choice. I had a flashback to days of old where umbrellas were opened indoors and things like Project Darkness fought "the man".

Want to know why? Here's why.

Rackspace sign

That picture is from 2004, showing the post-dotcom and pre-IPO styling. Same word, same font, same color. Is it any surprise I shuddered?

...

As long as I'm going on about graphic design and this particular company, I might as well share this little gem. I can't figure out if they were going for more of a Soviet thing or a North Korean thing.

Fanatically... something...

At the time, there was an entire division of the company we called the "fourth reich" because they were so ridiculous in how they did things: tons of useless paperwork and no attention to technical proficiency. Then, one day, this thing popped up on the wall. It was too perfect to ignore so I took this picture.

...

I should point out that we moved into a half-baked building. Not even the proxcard readers worked completely for the first couple of days. Then, when they *did* start working, there was no warning. The first time some of us entered the building after they switched things on, one of my friends grabbed the door and pulled it, just like we had been doing for several days before that point. It opened... because he had just pulled it off the (not very strong) magnet. It made a nice *BOINGGGGG* noise as it popped loose, and then the receptionist growled at us and said "don't do that!" as if he did it on purpose.

If you go through a door a bunch of times and the card reader does nothing, pretty soon you're just going to grab the handle and pull on it like a normal human being. When they turn on the card reader and get the lock working, there's going to be a period of adjustment. Yelling at the people who had no idea it had just "gone hot" accomplishes nothing.