The job of a designer is to be a psychologist [Podcast interview]

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Belkin's design director Oliver Seil says designers are basically psychologists.
Belkin's design director Oliver Seil says designers are basically psychologists.
Photo: Oliver Seil/Belkin

In the last decade or so, lots of companies have gotten design religion. Design has been brought in-house, where it can shape products from the very get-go. There’s an obvious source for this idea — Apple.

This week on the Kahney’s Korner podcast, I talked to Oliver Seil, senior design director of Belkin International’s Innovation Design Group. We discussed Belkin’s products and design process; the surprising complexity of USB cables (and why they cost so much); and why Apple has had such an enormous influence on design and manufacturing.

You can listen to the podcast or read a full transcript of the interview below. (Or dive into the show notes.)

How industrial design is changing the tech industry [Kahney’s Korner Podcast]

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Belkin's design director Oliver Seil says designers are basically psychologists.
Belkin's design director Oliver Seil says designers are basically psychologists.
Photo: Oliver Seil/Belkin

For many ugly years, manufacturers considered industrial design an afterthought. They would outsource the task to a contractor or neglect it altogether, in an effort to get products out quickly and cheaply.

The result: hideous-looking products that didn’t work well or proved difficult to use.

Nowadays, companies like Apple are changing the game when it comes to incorporating industrial design and user experience into product engineering.

On this episode of Kahney’s Korner, I talk with Oliver Seil, senior design director with Belkin International’s Innovation and Design Group. Seil is Belkin’s Jony Ive, the top designer who overseas the company’s diverse array of products.

Belkin specializes in mobile accessories, from power packs and iPhone cases to WeMo home automation products

Indie rockers Airplane Mode get their spark from Apple

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These guys rock — and design great apps. Bassist Joe Cieplinski, left, and lead guitar and vocalist, Dave Wiskus, of the band Airplane Mode.
These guys rock — and design great apps. Bassist Joe Cieplinski, left, and lead guitar and vocalist, Dave Wiskus, of the band Airplane Mode.
Photo: Airplane Mode

Cult of Mac 2.0 bugThe indie rock band Airplane Mode does indeed get its name from the feature on an iPhone that shuts off wireless transmission.

The name and the resumes of three of the band’s musicians — well-established iOS designers — have led more than a few people to assume they have found a source of cute parody music about Apple culture.

In fact, you won’t find any iPhones, iMacs or odes to Steve Jobs in the lyrics of the tight, hard-charging synth-driven music. However, the band’s roots in Apple culture permeate everything else, from its use of technology and understanding of social engagement to its start-up energy.

And there is one other way: Airplane Mode is making money.

Hold onto your butts: Apple restores bootylicious peach emoji

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The emoji that also looks like a butt will stay that way.
The emoji that also looks like a butt will stay that way.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Sometimes a peach is just a peach. But when it comes to emoji, it’s also a tush.

Yet, much to the chagrin of those who like to use emoji for more than visual grocery lists, Apple’s first 10.2 developer beta replaced the peach emoji with something that looks less like a posterior, and more like a piece of fruit or something.

Luminar takes the negatives out of photo editing

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Macphun Luminar
Luminar by Macphun shows its might with simple pre-sets and slider bars.
Photo: Macphun

If Apple has made photography for the masses easy, then Macphun wants to knock down remaining barriers that might keep some from using software to bring creative style to those photos.

It’s latest Mac-based photo editing software, Luminar, is its first all-in-one app that will include a variety of features to help photographers of all levels make corrections and bring creative finishing to their images.

Logitech headsets go for nearly half off, Samsung slashes $1,100 off TVs and more [Deals]

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Week Deals 11.4
Prices are falling for brand-name electronics this week
Photos: Apple, Samsung

Look alive, everyone! November is finally here, and that means Black Friday is on the way. However, you won’t have to wait until the 26th to start saving. Now that Apple has unleashed its new tech lineup, prices are falling for iMacs, and refurbished Apple products are making a comeback. Logitech is even getting a headstart on Black Friday sales with an $80 discount on their premier gaming headphones.

Now is a great time to sell your old MacBook

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This guy spilled his coffee and then sold us his laptop.
This guy spilled his coffee and then sold us his laptop....
Photo: Pexels

With new MacBook Pro models just announced, it’s a great time to clear out your old laptop. Our MacBook buyback program will give you cash to upgrade.

You can still make money off your aging MacBook. Yeah, even those dusty old white ones from 2008. The buyback program will pay you cash for your Apple laptop, whether it’s the newest 15-inch MacBook Pro or a clunker you haven’t touched in five years.

The new MacBook Pro models look super sweeeeet, so it’s a great time to clear out old gear and pad your bank account so you can afford an upgrade.
The new machines are pricey, so you’ll need the extra cash.

Adapt to the MacBook Pro with these USB-C docks and dongles

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USB-C adaptors
An adaptor, like this hub from Satechi with a MacBook, will let you plug in your peripheral devices into the USB-C ports on the new MacBook Pro.
Photo: Satechi

Allow yourself to bask in the glow of a brighter screen and the multifunction Touch Bar. But when the high subsides and you’re ready to order the new MacBook Pro, you will need to deal with a slight inconvenience: all those USB-C ports.

But because Apple prepared us for the new industry standard last year when it introduced a single USB-C port on the 12-inch MacBook, accessories companies responded with loads of affordable adapters that allow users to plug in peripheral devices.