Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best music of [Date added] is in the last [12 months]

I looked through my iTunes library to look for the best music I put into it this year. Some of this music didn't come out in 2008, but that's apparently when I found out about it. Some of this stuff is rooted in traditional musical forms, but towards the end of the list it gets a little further out there.

Most of the links are to eMusic pages where you can listen to samples.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Burnet Woods

Plastic bag in Burnet Woods

A plastic bag within a glade.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

LaunchBar 5

Looks like a lot of long-wished-for improvements are coming in the next version of LaunchBar -- support for multiple (global) clipboards is the big one for me. There are a lot of programs that provide this service, but the way LaunchBar is doing it looks very clean and robust -- a lot of data formats are supported. The ability to add an event to iCal from LaunchBar is also very cool.

Go look at the beta.launchbar5.png

Thursday, November 20, 2008

VoodooPad 4

VoodooPad 4 is out. It was already a great tool... and now it finally looks at home on Leopard.

I can't tell you how many times someone has asked me if I remembered some design project we did way back a couple of years ago, and who was the printer, or why did we have to bla-bla-bla, and I'm able to recall it instantly.

It's the best way I know to make your coworkers think you're a genius.

Of course, it only looks like magic if you are diligent about putting stuff into it, and keep your VoodooPad documents available all times.... which is why 4.0 features like document synching and "The Bucket" are cool.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

TextExpander gets an update

Many programs have the ability to assign the current date or time to a shortcut. For instance, I have TypeIt4Me set up so that if I type "dd" it will insert "2008-10-30 Thursday" into whatever I'm writing. But, I've never run across an easy way to have a shortcut that expands to, for example, tomorrow's date.

But, I have now. If you are one of those people who keeps plain text files around in order to Get Things Done, then you may actually be thinking to yourself, why yes, I do hate struggling to type out future dates in year-month-day format all the time. If so, check out TextExpander 2.5.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Unilever tries extended-gamut

A division of Unilever is moving away from spot colors for their packaging printing. I would guess the six "process" inks are CMYK plus green and orange, like Hexachrome, or rich blue and orange -- seems like rich blues are more sought after than bright greens.

Most of the advantages to moving to such a system have to do with cutting makeready time, and allowing more flexibility to gang up unrelated labeling together. This might be more important in markets that require a lot of regional adaptation than it is here in the U.S...

Judging by a similar trial I've seen, a six color system still leaves a lot of colors a bit out of gamut. I also have to imagine that this isn't targeting traditional flexography. Small type on a flexo label, built out of two or three inks, would look pretty bad.

This system has serious implications for the design "end user." No area of the design could have more than four different inks in it, so the ordinary human brain wouldn't be trusted to pick colors directly: familiar desktop design applications won't give you a palette with six sliders in it. If I recall, the old Hexachrome system dictated that designers go over to an RGB workflow, with separations created by proprietary software once it left the desktop.

For most imagery, the designer would never know what the exact color build was. Instead, they would only know what the values in RGB on the desktop were, and color management software would do the rest.

So the color management business would have a lot to gain by adoption of extended gamut printing.

Thanks to David Johnson for the tip.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rules of design

From an article in Business Week about designing Coke:
Another example of working within the peculiar constraints of Coca-Cola is a Web-based software tool that Butler calls the Design Machine and describes as "the Nike ID of internal design." The tool allows designers at the company's many bottling partners to create new bottle or can label designs or even promotional posters. Because of parameters built into the tool, the final design will always conform to the global standards set by the corporate design team. The neat internal use of Web 2.0 technology cuts back on the need for top-down control from the brand managers in Atlanta, allowing greater brand flexibility.

I'd love to see what that looks like.

Monday, August 25, 2008

use your memory usage as your iChat status message

This script will let you use your iChat status message to brag to your friends about how much RAM you've got in your Mac -- or more usefully, petition the IT overlords for mercy if you're scratching to disk a little too much.

I have this triggered periodically by Keyboard Maestro, but there are other ways to get it to run every so often. Not too often, or the overlords will have an easy (if specious) excuse for why it's your own fault you're running out of RAM.

Briefly, it runs a "top" shell command and extracts the two most rhetorically significant memory usage figures, and pipes that to iChat.

set myoutput to (do shell script "top -l 1 | perl -pe " & quoted form of "

my ($unwanted, $wanted) = /(.*inactive,)(.*free)/sm;
$_ = $wanted;


tell application "iChat"
    set status message to myoutput
end tell

Friday, July 04, 2008

New Features In Adobe Illustrator CS3

From the Help pages:
Work more fluidly and efficiently without waiting for Illustrator to catch up with your hands and your thoughts. The underlying architecture of Illustrator has been improved. You’ll notice increased scroll and zoom times...

I can vouch for the increased zoom times, but it's a bit odd they'd tout this as a feature...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

little black notebooks

I found a blog covering Moleskines, Miquelriuses, and other little blank books. You love 'em, I love 'em, and this guy loves 'em so much he has a blog devoted to them. And if you go there, you'll see the reason I'm linking to him in this post....

The blog has a prejudice for smaller rather than larger, the idea being that if it can't be with you at all times, it won't be with you when you need it.

Personally, I go for the 200 sheet SM Grid Miquelrius. Barely fits in my back jeans pocket, but it's good for about a year's worth of pensees...

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Brad Bird on Innovation

This is a must-read article clipped out of the McKinsey Quarterly, an interview with Brad Bird on "fostering innovation" in the workplace. One feels the pain of recognition in every one of Mr. Bird's points:

When I entered Disney, it was like a classic Cadillac Phaeton that had been left out in the rain… The company’s thought process was not, “We have all this amazing machinery—how do we use it to make exciting things? We could go to Mars in this rocket ship!” It was, “We don’t understand Walt Disney at all. We don’t understand what he did. Let’s not screw it up. Let’s just preserve this rocket ship; going somewhere new in it might damage it.”

"Innovation" seems to be the way in which capitalism can understand and harness creativity, which makes it a
buzzword with a future.

You can tell the idea of innovation has arrived because The New Yorker this year added a themed issue around it, right between the fashion issue and the fiction issue...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mound Magnet Part Two

New album from Lithops (a.ka. Jan St. Werner) released today. Available now on eMusic and iTunes. Highly recommended for all Mouse on Mars fans....

Friday, March 07, 2008

1,000 True Fans

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author - in other words, anyone producing works of art - needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

From a thought provoking article by Kevin Kelly about how to make it as an artist in whatever age we're in now, the one after the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.

Thanks to the Internet, there can now be far more idiosyncratic artists in all disciplines who are able to make an honest living, with high status within a certain subculture. The corollary to this may be that after a while there will be fewer expensive blockbuster movies and platinum albums.

And while I haven't been a "true fan" of Trent Reznor, the first music he's created after being free of Interscope is, by far, his most compelling. I encourage you to download it. For free.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Si usted no entiende la etiqueta...

Si usted no entiende la etiqueta....

Really funny text below the Caution Statement on this label for Clorox Disinfecting Kitchen Cleaner. Everything that appears on the label in English also appears in Spanish, so I'm not sure why they'd need to single out their Spanish speaking consumers to tell them what they should do if they couldn't understand it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


The Advantages of Closing a Few Doors is a nice take by John Tierney on the power of letting go -- accepting realistic limits on how many possible futures you can entertain.

Xiang Yu was a Chinese general in the third century B.C. who took his troops across the Yangtze River into enemy territory and performed an experiment in decision making. He crushed his troops’ cooking pots and burned their ships.
He explained this was to focus them on moving forward — a motivational speech that was not appreciated by many of the soldiers watching their retreat option go up in flames. But General Xiang Yu would be vindicated, both on the battlefield and in the annals of social science research.

And thanks to Time putting some of its archives online, I can provide the name for the trope of the closing door: Torschlusspanik, as felt in East Germany, 1961:

Last week a curious and serious malady was affecting Communist East Germany and reaching almost epidemic proportions. The name of the disease was Torschlusspanik, which literally means "fear of gate closing." Everything East German leaders did to shut off the flow of refugees to the West seemed, instead, to spur it on.

So the fear of a closing gate spurs people to finally take the hard path to the desired outcome.

There seems to be a lot of Torschlusspanik in the air these days.

unreleased Marumari EP

Has been available from the source himself for quite a while now, here. It is quite good, as usual. Simple, blissful, wordless electronica. I would have paid money for it...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Name Mangler

New version of the file renaming utility formerly known as File List. I have used several such utilities and this one's the best. Powerful regexes and conditionals, though I still manage to find things I can't make it do. Probably my fault. New version Leopard-only.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

more tropes

Tropes of the Times -- words which occur more frequently in the NY Times than anywhere else.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Biometric database

Did you see the story about the gov't's biometric database? Storin' your iris patterns, etc.

What will be convenient will be when the gov't underwrites the cost of the program by renting access to the database, because it will mean I can buy a Coke just by winking at the Coke machine.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

À la recherche du temps perdu

BBC reporting Electrical stimulation of areas deep within the brain could improve memory, early research suggests.

Fairly poignant stuff. Cyberpunk meets Proust. When it's reported in the NY Times, I hope they pull out a reference to madeleines from their trope-bucket.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Phantom Orchard

Phantom Orchard is an album by Zeena Parkins and Ikue Mori which is growing on me greatly. I truly possess no technical musical vocabulary to bring to bear to explain what about this complicated noisescape is so arresting; all I can say is it feels uncomfortable and restless, but somehow compels the listener (me, at least) to pay attention -- something missing from most music of this type.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

NetNewsWire now free

I've been using the previously-free "light" version of this RSS reader for a while; now the full version is free too.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

windshields of the midwest - week 52/week1

North Dakota


One of those other states that begins with an I.