Archive for March, 2008

Missing Maui

Monday, March 17th, 2008

Back from Maui, and would you believe it was sleeting and gray in Chicago? Of course you would. That’s how it works. Sigh…

Anyway, didn’t take too many pictures, but here’s one I kind of liked (click for bigger):
sunrise, viewed from a volcano

That’s a snap of the sunrise from 12,000 ft up in Haleakala National Park. Specifically, it was taken from outside this little building, which is really better appreciated in context.


Sunday, March 9th, 2008

View from the balcony of my resort; feet up on the railing

Worst. Chart. Ever.

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

One of the programs I use (alas, sporadically) to try to get some insights into my finances is called iBank. Despite a few glitches, I’ve found it to be tolerable for what I need.

The makers have just released a new update, and my jaw dropped when I saw a screenshot that included this:
pie chart with segments hard to distinguish due to full-color wallpaper graphics being used for each slice

What? I think it’s trying to show auto, childcare, grocery, clothing, and travel expenses, but that’s just a guess based on the horrible, horrible graphic treatments. And the black background? The reflection? Why, why? (Click through to the screenshot for additional, gratuitous “CoverFlow” action.)

Somebody needs to buy these guys a copy of the Tufte canon.

Now, I know some people will place the blame on OS X for tempting developers with flashy built-in systems to make everything — even a simple chart — look slick. And those people would have more ammunition for their argument if they compared this new iBank release to, say, Quicken Online:
cropped screenshot of Quicken online with

There’s a lot to love about this display: the simple money in/out/difference boxes, the Trivial Pursuit-style chart (though the perspective is unnecessary, what’s wrong with a flat view?) and overall the austerity is no doubt influenced by the comparatively limited functionality of a Web-based application.

Maybe the iBank crew should be confined to the Web until they learn that “useful” and “pretty” should go together…