Ben Crowder /blog

Blog

Finally got around to trying CSS grid layout. It’s amazing. I’m very much looking forward to learning it in depth — it seems so much easier for desktop-size layout.

Came across Cal Newport’s phone foyer method this morning. My wife and I tried it out today and what do you know, it really does feel different. Who knows whether we’ll actually end up sticking with it, but at this point I hope we do.

Tectonic is an intriguing modern TeX engine written in Rust and powered by XeTeX.

What exactly that last bit means, I’m not entirely sure. But what I do know is that Tectonic is a much smaller install than MacTeX, and my initial tests came out with no problems whatsoever. Also, by default it doesn’t write out those intermediate .aux/.log files. I’m planning to use it instead of MacTeX going forward.

Last year I posted a note about Curves, a Python type design library I was working on. At the time I’d given up on it, but I recently had some new ideas on how to make it more ergonomic. It now stands resurrected:

curves-wip.png

Since I don’t think I mentioned it in my earlier post: the idea is that programming language constructs (functions, variables, source control, etc.) may make it easier to design a typeface, given the parametric and repetitive nature of that work.

It’s still a work in progress and very much an experiment — placing points in code rather than in a GUI will always have some friction to it — but it seems promising enough now that it’s worth finishing it and trying to use it for some actual type design.

Recent reads:

Digital Minimalism, by Cal Newport. My favorite parts were the bits on solitude and on analog hobbies and strenuous leisure.

The Revenge of Analog, by David Sax. After reading this, I was ready to shrug off all my digital hobbies and go full analog. Still working on finding the right balance.

Range, by David Epstein. I’m cheating a little by including this since I’m still in the middle of it, but it’s good and right up my alley. The part about premodern villagers being incapable of abstract thought was fascinating.

The World as It Is, by Ben Rhodes. I didn’t vote for Obama, but now I wish I had. A good on-the-ground look at those eight years.

Isaac’s Storm, by Erik Larson. Whew.

12 Strong, by Doug Stanton. Also whew.

The Tiger, by John Vaillant. The hunt for a man-eating tiger in eastern Russia. Eye-opening.