Category Archives: graphic design

What is that supposed to look like? VPN edition

In Windows 10, the Action Center is a flyout panel with information and common (supposedly) actions that you get by clicking the little message icon in the notification area at the lower right of your screen (lower left if you have an RTL language). A sales-language infused explanation is here on Microsoft’s site for Windows (10).

Down in the lower part of the flyout is a collection of “quick actions” – buttons you can hit to bring up common tools like PC Settings and OneNote. One of the common actions is VPN. Evidently Microsoft is expecting them to become a big thing, but my question is:


What is that swirly icon supposed to be? It looks sortof like the Command key on a Macintosh, or maybe this flag from New Zealand. Nothing about it says “virtual private network” to me, nor would I guess that’s what it meant if it was spotted alone in the user interface somewhere.

Seeing Things at Night – a study of titulature and coverture

I have previously mentioned patronizing Project Gutenberg for interesting and entertaining out of copyright works. This one I’ve no comment on the contents of, but am quite struck by the name and cover of.

First, the name. It’s deceptive. It sounds normal at first, but then becomes a quandary. How can you see things at night when, presumably, all is dark? Is it an oxymoron, or a suggestion of a light source?

Second, the cover design. This is what really took my attention. It has a quality that I can’t really explain. The orange on black lettering, the strange font (note the shape of the letter G) and the arching text combine to make me almost frightened of it, like it was designed for Halloween. I wish the contents of the book were as interesting as the cover is.

More VirtualBox silliness

Previous post I had mentioned that the virtual machine software VirtualBox uses an entertaining metaphor for file transfer between host and guest operating systems.

This new discovery of mine isn’t really new to me, but I just realized that is represents a kind of whimsical reference that you don’t see in “professional” software very often:


The icon for “cloning” (essentially a special duplication procedure) is a sheep. This is undoubtedly a reference to Dolly who was cloned famously in the late 1990s.

Personally I think it’s clever piece of metaphorage. ;) ;)

Drop by wire; imagining impossible things

Playing around with VirtualBox‘s new release (Version 51) I’ve discovered that when you drag and drop a file from your system to the guest system in the virtual machine, you get this as a progress dialog:


I always enjoyed these metaphors of making physical objects out of (mostly) nonphysical objects. I can see in my mind “loading” and “moving” data with a crane. I’ve been doing this since forever: Many many years ago, say 15 or so, I ran across a book of photoshop exercises. I remember the cover, and one of the exercises, was some farmer dude holding canning jars full of… lightning. There were others, but that was the one I remember the most. I loved the idea and the image of being able depict and draw mentally together the real and unreal.

I’m sure the book had some crap with gradients in it too, since it was that time of web design.

  1. Highly recommended. It’s free and twice as natural.