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Links #122

Marcin Wichary’s talk on pixel fonts at Config 2024. Way good. The effects on his slides (made with JavaScript and Canvas) were amazing, too. And the font editor is fun. Also see his segmented type demo.

Fontra, a newish browser-based tool for variable typeface design. Very cool. Looking forward to trying this out. (Also, I found Just van Rossum’s video from October to be helpful as intro documentation of sorts.)

Simon Cozens’ HarfBuzz WASM shaper demos, including one for Nastaliq and one for Egyptian hieroglyphs. Love this.

FontGoggles, a better way to preview fonts, including .ufo and .designspace files, with automatic reloading.

Rob en Robin’s F.C. Variable, an illustration variable font. Ha.

Robin Sloan on designing a script for his new book. It does look good. I don’t know that I’ve ever really thought about designing a conlang script, but now I totally want to.


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Links #121

Mike Hogan on keeping a development diary. 100%. I do this both at work — just a Markdown file that I edit in Vim on my work laptop — and on personal projects. Very much recommended. (It’s so much easier to start working on a project when I can look at the last diary entry to see where I left off and regain context.)

Sharon McMahon’s proposal to improve U.S. elections. All eight of her proposed reforms sound great. I hope we see at least some of these happen.

John Gruber on the attempted assassination. Yep.

Kristine Haglund on the beauty of holiness. “Beauty is an index to the divine not because it lifts us out of the earth, but because it lets us see the ways we are part of it and lets us hear God whispering that ‘it is very good.’”

Wm Morris on what’s possible with ebooks. Some interesting ideas here. When I make EPUBs, I try to not care about the formatting, because so much of it is in the hands of the reader app; that’s a big part of why in recent years I’ve focused more on making PDFs (Historia Calamitatum, Plutarch). I’m intrigued, though, by the idea of web pages as a possible best of both worlds — they’re reflowable, you can easily design full responsive layouts that work on any size device, you get the full power of CSS (including features like scroll snap), you can view source, etc. (Thinking about Make Something Wonderful, for example.) There are downsides, clearly, but maybe those can be worked around more than I’ve realized.


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Family descendancy list generator

New release: a family descendancy list generator. (The first version of one, anyway. It’s still pretty new.) It’s a web app that lets you enter a descendancy list in a text-based format like this:

https://cdn.bencrowder.net/images/projects/family-descendancy/family-descendancy-1.png

And you then get something like this when you print:

https://cdn.bencrowder.net/images/projects/family-descendancy/family-descendancy-2.png

Seven years ago I started making these types of charts in Google Docs, which worked out okay, but I got tired of fiddling with tab stops and here we are.

This marks a change from how I’ve been building genealogy chart apps, by the way. CLI scripts are all well and good, but doing it this way should hopefully be a lot easier for people to use.


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Four new art pieces.

Why Weepest Thou? VI:

Why Weepest Thou? VI

My Grace Is Sufficient:

My Grace Is Sufficient

If Ye Shall Ask:

If Ye Shall Ask

Hearts of the Children VI:

Hearts of the Children VI

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Booknotes 3.14

Nonfiction

  • The Wager, by David Grann, published 2023. Whew, what a story. Compelling throughout, and I learned lots of interesting things about seafaring to boot. I’m so glad I was not a sailor in the 1700s.
  • The Power Broker, by Robert A. Caro, published 1974. This was almost 1,200 pages long and took me over a year to read (though for much of that year I was admittedly only reading a couple pages per week; it’s actually quite readable and I sprinted through the last 200+ pages in a single day). Really good book, and what a fascinating (and detailed!) study in power. While it was very long, I feel that the length was fully warranted and worth it. (Stockholm syndrome? Maybe. But I do think I’m going to remember this book a lot more than some shorter books I’ve finished in a sitting.)

Fiction

  • The Unselected Journals of Emma M. Lion, volume 5, by Beth Brower, published 2021, fiction. Witty and delightful. Loved it. Looking forward to volumes six and seven, and I’m glad there are many more to come. I can see myself rereading these often over the years, which is saying something since I’m not a rereader at all.
  • The Saint of Bright Doors, by Vajra Chandrasekera, published 2023, fantasy. Well crafted and inventive, with good prose and worldbuilding, and an interesting take on religion. Also, that twist near the end! Great and unexpected. There were some gross parts I didn’t care for, though, and even without taking those into consideration, I don’t think I would say that I loved the book. But I’m glad I read it.

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Grepping by Unicode range

TIL that ripgrep supports searching by Unicode ranges. For example:

rg "[\u0250-\u1FFF\u2027-\uFFFF]"

This greps for anything after the Latin Extended-B block, excluding some general punctuation like em/en dashes, curly quotes, and ellipses. (Useful to me for easily checking which characters I’m using on my website and thus what a new font would need to support.)


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Some small site changes:

  • I’ve added a timeline page, listing the types of projects I’ve worked on each year. (A chronological view of my work to complement the topical view already on here. And mostly just because I’m a nerd and like making charts.)
  • I recently redesigned the reading log to be more compact.

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Three new art pieces.

Neither Doth He Vary:

Neither Doth He Vary

In Wisdom and Order:

In Wisdom and Order

He Hath Talked With Me Face to Face:

He Hath Talked With Me Face to Face

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Links #120

Hurl, “a language created for one purpose: to explore a language based around exception handling as the only control flow.” Ha.

Tracy Durnell on blogging about blogging. Several of these resonated with me. I pretty much always like reading blog posts about blogging.

Sean Voisen on moving beyond chat as interface. “One of the great failures of modern computing is how it has largely ignored the presence of the human body beyond the slightest acknowledgement that humans have a pair of eyeballs and a few fingertips…. Compared to the way we employ and use other tools and instruments—from spatulas to screwdrivers to accordions to violins—the way we use computers today is a gross underutilization of both the expressiveness and sensitivity of our bodies.” I think it’s great how some with disabilities are still able to use computers because of this very thing, but I’m also intrigued by the idea of multimodal interfaces.

Daniel Schroeder’s voxel displacement rendering technique. This is cool.

Jason Becker on one’s consumption-to-creation ratio. Agreed, time spent is what matters on this.

Cory D on boring technology being good. Generally agreed. I’ve even entertained thoughts lately of building local CLI tools in C or C++, as a more boring (and thus hopefully more resilient) solution than using Node and JavaScript. (C/C++ compilers are omnipresent, and the binaries don’t require an interpreter.) (Yes, Rust or Go would probably make more sense. But I think I also kind of miss the old days when all my programming was in C/C++.)

Chase McCoy on some new animation features in CSS. These are great.


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Booknotes 3.13

Nonfiction

  • Four Thousand Weeks, by Oliver Burkeman, published 2021. Some good advice in here, but for the most part I feel like religion fills this need for me, so I wouldn’t say I loved it. I do enjoy Burkeman’s newsletter, though.
  • The Sisterhood, by Liza Mundy, published 2023. A history of women in the CIA. Interesting throughout. I’m glad things have improved somewhat over time.

Fiction

  • The Beast of Ten, by Beth Brower, fantasy, published 2018. A loose retelling of Beauty & the Beast. I liked it, but it was a bit slow going and the voice didn’t have the same spark and wit as the Unselected Journals.
  • The Big Score, by K. J. Parker, fantasy, published 2021. Quite enjoyed it. As I think I’ve said before, Parker’s writing really clicks with my brain, and this was no exception. Saloninus here is a fun amalgam, too.

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