Apple Customer Service Rocks

Last Saturday, while visiting my mom in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I took my baby Vương out for stroll. As I was enjoying the beautiful morning sunshine and breathing in fresh, manured air, my wife called. I picked up my iPhone 6 Plus and it slipped off my hand. The screen hit the concrete and smashed.

I took it to the Apple store in Park City to have the screen replaced. The cost was $150, a young Apple technician told me, and I agreed. I also let him know that I had been experiencing “ghost touches” in the past few weeks. I explained that the phone was having a mind of its own. It opened up apps all by it self. When I listened to music, it would jump to the next song randomly as if it doesn’t like the song I had selected. Typing had been extremely awful since I had done quite a bit of blogging on the phone. He understood and said, “The experience must be really frustrating. Let me take it to the back to take a look.”

Ten minutes later, he came back and told me that the touch screen would be hard to repair; therefore, Apple would replace it with a brand new iPhone 6 Plus with the same specs as my current one. The cost is $150, which was the price for replacing the glass. I was in disbelief. It was too good to be true. Of course I agreed. Then he did the final diagnostic on my current phone and it failed. The phone needed to be sent to Apple’s repair center for further testing. It would take three business days. See, it was too good to be true. Fortunately, he loaned me an iPhone 6 while mine was sent out.

Three days later, I received emails and a phone call to let me know that a new iPhone 6 Plus was ready for me to pick up. In addition, Apple gave me a 90-day warranty even though my old phone was already 5 years old and had no warranty beyond the manufacture. I had my new phone since Friday and just loving it. It does everything I needed. I am glad that the Apple guy didn’t try to sell me a new iPhone X because I was not going to drop a grant on a phone.

I was thinking of getting a Pixel 3A because I enjoyed Google’s user experience. Unfortunately, its hardware sucks. I loved my Pixel 2, but it died on me one day and I still owe Verizon $200 for the dead phone. I tried to contact Google online, but it required the phone’s serial number, which I could not find since I can’t even get the phone to start up. I gave up and went back to Apple.

New Samples for Vietnamese Typography

I have been working on two new samples for Vietnamese Typography.

Rhymastic’s Lyrics

Rhymastic is a young Vietnamese rapper with virtuosic flows and lyrical skills. He piqued my interested in Vietnamese hip-hop. I put together this page to showcase his storytelling as well as to provide a sample of editorial design. The text is set in Frequenz and the heading is set in Sequenz, both typefaces designed by Sebastian Losch. Although Maelstrom Sans, designed by Kris Sowersby, does not support Vietnamese, I included it to spice up the design.

A Useful Guide for Diacritics

In Vietnamese writing, the hook above and the tilde are often misspelled because they often sound the same in speech, especially for the South Vietnamese. In most cases, I have to consult a dictionary to make sure I get the right mark for the word I intended to communicate. When I came across this guide, which helps to differentiate between the two, I wanted to include in this section. It might be useful for type designers to copy and paste the text to see how their Vietnamese characters look and feel. The text is set in Exchange, designed by Tobias Frere-Jones, and the headings are set in Halyard, designed by Joshua Darden.

Samples for Vietnamese Typography

Due to popular demands, I brought back samples for Vietnamese Typography. My favorite piece is obviously the page for Trịnh Công Sơn’s lyrics. I also redesigned the menu with pretty mouth-watering photography.

Updating on Design

I just jazzed up my professional portfolio website with variable fonts. Both Bild and Roslindale are designed by David Jonathan Ross and they are available at Font of the Month Club for discount prices.

I wanted to create a block of text and variable fonts make it easy to experiment in CSS. These days I design webpages exclusive in the browser. I keep playing around with different layouts and typefaces until I get the right feel for the design. That was how I came up with the design for Trịnh Công Sơn’s lyrics.

Designing with static comps, which I did for Thinkpoint, was a huge challenge. Even though the designer had given me the flexibility to design the way I saw fit, it was still difficult.

An old client has asked me to develop custom WordPress themes, but I turned her down. I have giving up on WordPress theming. Gutenberg had lost me. I can’t find any tutorial in which I can develop a theme from scratch. I would need to take a starter theme and run with it. The goal of Gutenberg is to make layout richer, but I see so much templated WordPress theme with a heavy baggage on performance. I still see lots of WordPress themes with common look and feel like full-screen photos, tiny text, boxes, gallery and so on.

I turned off the classic editor and switched to Gutenberg for this blog. It works fine. I just don’t have any block. That’s fine. I still want this site to remain as a blog and nothing fancy. I don’t care about rich content and photography. All I care about is typography. I want the editor to remain as simple as possible. It appears that Gutenberg has improved with the release of 5.2. As long as everything works as I expected, I am fine with using WordPress as it was intended for blogging. I hope that WordPress won’t abandon that.

Some Enhancements

Just wanted to jazz up this blog a bit with some small enhancements.

Added a dark mode switcher, which locates at the top right corner of the blog. The simple instruction is taken from Flavio Copes’s “How I added Dark Mode to my website.”

On the desktop layout, I am setting the body text to justify and using hyphens. I decided to give it a shot after reading Richard Rutter’s “All you need to know about hyphenation in CSS.”

I also added a bit of an embellishment to the end of each article after reading Jason Pamental’s “Of marks, ends, and middles: end marks, sections, and dead ends.”

I love these kind of tutorials on the web. They give me a chance to play around with this blog.

Vietnamese Typography Exhibition

When Linh Dương, a graphic design student, asked my permission to use part of Vietnamese Typography for her final project, of course I said yes. She wrote:

I am an admirer of your work “Vietnamese Typography”. It has to be the most extensive, well-written and structured work into the Vietnamese language that I have known.

Hearing this from a Vietnamese designer made my day. I am glad that this book had reached student designers who are interested in Vietnamese typography. The book, which takes advantage of the web as a medium, made this possible.

Yesterday, Linh sent me some screenshots of her final products, which will be displayed at the end-of-the-year exhibition. They look lovely.

How to Customize a Typeface into a Logo

James Edmondson shares:

While logotypes can be simply typeset, it often makes sense to put another level of care and attention into how letters exist within their unchanging context. Type design is a compromise. Decisions are made about the structure of a drawing to excel best in the greatest possible number of contexts. This changes a lot for logotypes. When words are drawn as a single image, opportunities arise to get a little more own-able, without worrying about the letters jumbling up again.

Useful tips and examples.

Skill Assessments

My current title at Scalia Law School is Director of Design and Web Services. I supervise a part-time employee who helps me out with updating content, managing MODX and WordPress, and putting together HTML newsletters. As for my role, I am still involved hands-on with design and development.

For design, I am still kicking ass in Illustrator, Photoshop, and typography—I wrote two books on it. I still work with the Dean’s office, admissions, alumni, and various centers to design print materials ranging from magazine ads to invitations to conference’s programs.

For the web, I am still kicking ass in HTML and CSS. I design in the browser and have not touched Sketch, Figma, InVision, or any UX tool. I write a bit of JavaScript and PHP. I can develop sites with content management system including MODX, WordPress, and Kirby. I have not touched any design or JavaScript frameworks.

I am not in the market to look for a new job, but I wonder if my skillsets will still be useful. My current director role isn’t conventional because most design and creative directors aren’t hands-on. By keeping my hands in the technical side, I understand exactly what designers and developers are doing. I know about performance, accessibility and usability.

Vietnamese Typography is Completely Self-Host

My book, Vietnamese Typography, is now completely self-hosting all the fonts. I wrote about moving off Adobe Fonts a couple of weeks ago. In the past two days, I moved off Google Fonts as well. I also wrote about self-hosted vs. subscription-based fonts. I am going for the self-host approach as much as I can.

Yesterday, I received both Skolar and Skolar Sans from Rosetta. Thanks David Březina. While making the update, I redesigned the recommendation section to better showcasing the typefaces with Vietnamese lyrics from Trịnh Công Sơn. I am very with the selection I am featuring and I will continue to add more in the future. I also gave a shoutout to the type foundries and designers who have provided me their font files.

Learn HTML & CSS for Designers

Meagan Fisher shares her own experience of why and how she learned to code:

My absolute favorite thing about writing code — and the reason I stuck with it through the initial learning curve— is that there is pretty much always a right answer when it comes to code. Your code either works or it doesn’t. This is not the case with almost anything else in life. When you write an essay, paint a picture, or design a website, you never really know if you did it “right.”

With code, there is a solution. You want to replicate the little boxes you drew in Sketch in your browser? There is a concrete set of words you can type in your text editor to do that.

This is a great advice for beginners.