What’s new? I recently gave a talk about generative AI at AWS. I’m heading to Yosemite this week and made a few nightmarish creations with emojis in Midjourney.

As I mentioned, I gave a talk about Generative AI for Industrial Design to a group of designers, researchers and technologists at AWS last month (Thanks for the invite Lauren!). The talk was about building processes around using generative AI through the lens of industrial design.

A collection of AI generated products using ChatGPT and Midjourney. Products include a toy rv, selfie drone, vaporwave coffee maker, robot lawnmower and steampunk robot vacuum.

In short, there are three steps: prepare and set expectations, provide examples and give requirements. There are a ton more details and my example script in that post. If you’re interested in generative AI or want to generate product ideas—that post is a good starting point.

Next week my dad, uncle and brother-in-law are headed to one of my favorite places—Yosemite—for a hiking trip. Sadly, Tuolumne Meadows and the high-country camps aren’t opening this year. So that has limited some of the experience. Still, I am looking forward to spending time with them and doing some spectacular day hikes. I’m hoping we can make the hike to Clouds Rest. My dad and uncle are in their 70s. Even though they are in excellent shape, I think that might be tough for them. Regardless, I should have some good photos in my next newsletter.

Other writing

A collection of giant face houses generated in midjourney.
/imagine 😀

How do emojis work in Midjourney? I initially thought Midjourney interpreted emojis as their associated names—just text. That might not be the case though. I can’t seem to get it to stop creating these giant face houses whenever I use the 😀 emoji. This post documents my eerie descent into madness trying to understand what Midjourney does with emojis. It is one of the strangest things I’ve ever published. Leaving a few of my favorite giant face houses at the bottom of this newsletter.

Stop overdesigning It has been a long time since I’ve done any short-form writing here, but figured it might be worth a shot. I had some notes scribbled on my phone while in jury duty last week and decided to turn them into a post.


This past month we took a trip with Holly’s sister and her family to Port St. Joe. We stayed in Windmark Beach and went to Cape San Blas, which was a change from our usual beach trips. The water was a beautiful clear green and like Port St. Joe the beaches weren’t very crowded.

Holly's nephew digs in the sand at the beach.
Holly’s nephew doing some digging at Cape San Blas.
Me laying with Remi and Otto under an umbrella at the beach.
Me and the dogs taking a break in the shade.

Windmark Beach is a development between downtown Port St. Joe and Port St. Joe Beach. It reminds me a bit of Seaside before it became super popular. They’ve got a cute little town square. In the evenings people gather to have drinks, listen to music and play cornhole. Honestly, it’s a wonderful little place.

The common area in the down square at Windmark Beach.
Live music, people playing cornhole in the evening at Windmark Beach.

One reason we wanted to stay at Windmark Beach this time was that a potential wedding venue was there—a little restaurant near the beach called Southern Patio. Here’s a picture of the view from our table. There’s a beautiful park and green space separating the restaurant from the beach.

View of the park and beach from a restaurant pato.
The park and Windmark Beach from Southern Patio.


Microsoft Aptos typeface example slide.

Microsoft names Aptos, the successor to Calibri, and Sweden announces a new typeface—an uncommon amount of typeface news recently. The change from Calibri is meaningful because that will be the default typeface for emails, PowerPoint presentations and Word documents for the next decade. I will say, it is an attractive typeface. I wonder if I’ll still feel like that after seeing it for the millionth time?

Shopify’s design team is batting 1000 Maybe since I’m not on Twitter (or X) anymore, but has nobody been paying attention to the absolute product machine Shopify has built? They’ve made significant changes to the UI of the application. I’m confident this is enabled by the heavy use of design tokens in the application—it’s still impressive. And how about the magazine-style product updates? I’d love to see Salesloft adopt some of these concepts.

The SAG actor strike is just a preview of coming AI disruptions Studios are asking actors for full-body scans so that they can use their likenesses in future productions. While actors that are part of SAG are protected for now, how long before random non-actors start offering their likeness for a small upfront sum? Isn’t that the same phenomenon that launched reality television? I predict this will bode well for top actors, but make it more difficult for everyone else in the industry.

Web Interface Guidelines and post on Invisible Details of Interaction Design Some opinions and observations on UI design by the outrageously talented designer and engineer Rauno Freiberg.

Screenshot of Dino Runner recreated in Figma.

Chrome’s Dino Runner inside of Figma No doubt Figma is a spectacular piece of software. That’s why Adobe is paying $20 billion for it after failing to build a viable competitor. Someone on Reddit went the extra distance and recreated the Chrome mini-game using some of the tools’ new features.

A forum-only search engine Smart idea—I frequently add Reddit to the end of search terms because I’m looking for opinions. Unfortunately, it looks like they only index large forums right now. My consumer product forum, Product Notes doesn’t appear in the results currently. One key missing feature is to filter by time. If I’m searching for opinions on a power bank, I don’t care about posts from 5 years ago.

The World’s Last Internet Cafes A fantastic photo essay documenting the rise and fall of internet cafes.

Vox drops its own CMS, Chorus, in favor of WordPress As someone who worked for several years at my collages paper, The Auburn Plainsman, I’ve always been interested in the business of journalism. In the early and mid-2010s, it looked like Vox and Buzzfeed had figured it out. In the long run, it doesn’t look like that’s the case. It’s interesting to me that the move was to WordPress VIP. It’s amazing that Automattic has made the CMS work for news organizations, enterprise businesses and indie bloggers.

Economist Noah Smith makes the unpopular case for spending more on defense Economist Noah Smith’s newsletter, Noahpinion, is one of my favorites. It’s a challenge to write informative and entertaining pieces, but he does so consistently. Here Smith challenges prevailing skepticism toward defense spending. He argues that increased investment in defense is necessary for national security, deterring threats, and maintaining geopolitical stability and highlights the role of defense spending in driving technological innovation and economic growth. What do you think?

Can you make an anti-imperial empire game? Game designers from Civilization and Paradox Interactive discuss whether it’s possible to make an anti-imperial empire game. If you’re into Civilization or any 4x strategy games, it’s worth a read.

Zenith Clicker remote.

Zenith’s original “clicker” remote buttons revolutionized the television viewing experience when introduced in the mid-20th century. They made it easier to change channels, adjust volume and control TVs from the couch. The remote’s simple iconic design and satisfying click sound are pretty far from the squishy amalgamation of buttons on most remotes today.

The origin of X to close in UI design A fascinating deep dive into the early origins of X to close with replies from some employees at Microsoft who worked on Windows 95, which popularized the pattern. Apparently, the inspiration came from NeXT!

Twenty, an open source CRM I live and breathe CRMs. They are the backbone of most businesses and I am fascinated by them. At their core, they are simple things—lists of records that have associated values. But then you start trying to figure out how to mold them to different business processes—in different industries. Then they become difficult to use and all of a sudden everyone hates touching their CRM. I love seeing stuff like this and wish the team the best. If I were to give the team one bit of advice—find something CRMs do poorly and cater to that. Salesloft became a billion-dollar business doing just that.

Behold the glory of the Pentagon’s Porta John painting Just going to leave this here.

More giant face houses

Some of the other bizarre creations I came across using /imagine 😀 to generate cover art for this newsletter. Should I have picked a different one?

Posted by:Sam Solomon

I'm a designer, writer and tinkerer. I currently lead workflow and design systems at Salesloft.

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