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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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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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Links #119

Lea Verou on inline conditionals in CSS. Lots of interesting developments in the works for CSS these days.

Stitch People’s realistic hair cross-stitch techniques book. Cool.

John Durham Peters’ research techniques. “Write early in the morning, cultivate memory, reread core books, take detailed reading notes, work on several projects at once, maintain a thick archive, rotate crops, take a weekly Sabbath, go to bed at the same time, exercise so hard you can’t think during it, talk to different kinds of people including the very young and very old, take words and their histories seriously (i.e., read dictionaries), step outside of the empire of the English language regularly, look for vocabulary from other fields, love the basic, keep your antennae tuned, and seek out contexts of understanding quickly (i.e., use guides, encyclopedias, and Wikipedia without guilt).” I especially like the dictionary reading recommendation and need to make time for that more often.

Elan Ullendorff on an eighteenth-century map of Spain. Five hundred maps, actually. Delightful.

Madiba K. Dennie on how constitutional originalism is a dangerous, disingenuous ideology. “Originalism observes that white supremacy dominated the country’s past and reasons that it must also dominate the country’s future.”

Melissa Price’s English monarchy book. Enjoyed the design of this.

Caroline Cala Donofrio’s list of 40 things she needed to hear. Several good recommendations here, particularly the New Yorker one.

Ambuj Tewari on recent advances in machine learning helping computers to recognize smells. Cool.

Alexander Obenauer on the interfaces with which we think. I like the idea of decomposing computing into smaller blocks that aren’t wrapped in monolithic apps. Seems like a great concept, allowing for more interesting composition.

Sara Saljoughi on how to get unstuck. Yep. This has worked for me.

Rob McCormick on building flexible, fluid websites rather than using breakpoint-based media queries. (Since there’s always going to be a large variety of different browser sizes.) At some point I’d like to do this with this site.

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Links #118

Bronwen Tate on five ways to take a real break from creative work. Good tips.

Tjaart on the curious case of the missing period. A weird little SMTP bug.

Web lunch video with Maggie Appleton. Her comment about having no long-term overarching plan for her career resonated with me — with both my day job and my personal projects, it’s always been one step at a time. Once in a while I freak out about that and feel like I need to get things figured out, but as I look back, line upon line has been working out pretty well so far.

Douglas Adams on our reactions to technology as we age. This may have felt particularly apropos in context of how I feel about generative AI. Ha.

Sean Voisen on networked note-taking using tools like Obsidian and Roam. “I’ve found networked note-taking to be a practice that mostly overpromises and under-delivers.” I feel a little better about never actually linking my notes like I always intended to.

Who Can Use, “a tool that brings attention and understanding to how color contrast can affect different people with visual impairments.” This is great.

Jaron Schneider on Looking Glass’s new holographic spatial displays. Cool.

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Links #117

Hamilton Nolan on putting everyone into the grinder (metaphorically, don’t worry). “One of the most direct ways to improve a flawed system is simply to end the ability of rich and powerful people to exclude themselves from it.” Hear, hear. Via Tracy Durnell, whose post on equal systems being better systems is also good. I also liked and agreed with Hamilton’s post on nationalism being poison.

Louise Perry on the quiet return of eugenics. Interesting throughout. In reading this, I realized I don’t yet know what I think about polygenic screening. Something to mull over.

Mixbox, a library for paint-like color mixing. Very cool. I wish Procreate adopted this.

James Brown on Apple Intelligence. “Someone took all of the liberal arts people out of the room when they built this feature and let the Wall Street AI hype-men steer the ship. This isn’t a bicycle for the mind, this is a steamroller for the mind.” Count me among those who aren’t terribly excited to start getting emails from friends LLMs.

Rick Perlstein on conservatism’s endgame. “Note how conservatives talk in every generation about whatever it is they identify as the latest existential threat to civilization…. This is why I now describe the history of conservatism as a ratchet. It must always move in an invariably more authoritarian direction, with no possible end point but an apocalyptic one.”

Sharon McMahon on America’s rising sun moment. As someone who’s been feeling less optimistic about America’s future (cf. the previous link for one example), I found this a bit of hope in this post. Recommended.

Cirkoban, an interesting Sokoban + cellular automata mashup.

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Links #116

Maciej Cegłowski on the follies of NASA’s Artemis mission. Really good. And sad that the project is so disappointing. (Obligatory disclaimer that this blog post does not represent my employer in any way.)

Jason Kint with a supremely satisfying set of newspaper front pages from this week’s big conviction.

Meredith Whittaker on AI. Quite good. Contrary to the initial appearance, by the way, it’s in English — just scroll down a bit.

Frank Force’s 256-byte raycasting system. Cool.

Matt Sephton on the early history of emoji, which have been around longer than I realized. I love the early pixel art style, too.

Maggie Appleton on generative AI forgeries, “buying fake William Morris prints on Etsy and other early signs of epistemological collapse.” Generative AI seems to cause more problems than it solves.

Slash pages, the new name for all those indie web page types (/now, /uses, /hello, etc.). I fully acknowledge that I may have gone a bit overboard on adopting these. But they’re fun!

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Links #115

Vadim Kravcenko on aging code and the wisdom of old code. This was really good, and it’s not a viewpoint I see often. “The longer your code has been around, survived different cataclysms (read: business pivots), and evolved, the more robust it is. The team that has built it before you had time to debug, to optimize, to improve — the code has accumulated years worth of bugfixes that are in places you cant even imagine.”

Amy Harris on being “a single and childless woman in a church that is so focused on marriage and child-rearing.” A good perspective on family.

Daniel Huffman on making Blender relief maps less Blender-y. I’ll admit to liking the aesthetic of those maps, but that’s looking at them as art; from a cartographic angle, yes, it’s a bit much. This also made me want to make more maps in Blender.

Loz Blain on an underwater bicycle. Cool.

Mandy Brown on the practice of bookending your work days. I’ve done something vaguely similar to this (well, half of this) and it’s been helpful. I think one of the most helpful techniques I’ve adopted at work has been keeping a log of what I work on. When I come back the next day, or even just from lunch, it’s so much easier to pick up where I left off. Externalizing memory makes context refreshes smooth.

Jonathan Beebe on how JavaScript got good. Yep. I really enjoy writing JS these days.

And I’ll like it even more if this do expressions proposal makes it into the language. I’ve wanted this (instead of those awkward nested ternaries) for a while. Hope it happens!

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Links #114

Chris Burnell on an /interests page. Cool idea. I’ve added one. (I have a small list of my interests listed on my about page, but I like having more space to talk about things — even though it carries an increased risk of becoming exceedingly boring.)

Tracy Durnell on how developing taste requires intentional attention. I especially like the push/pull idea. And other people’s recommendations are how I find pretty much all the books I read these days.

Modal, a programming language based on string rewriting via substitution rules. A little mind-bending.

Anna Andersen on how some people ended up accidentally running for president of Iceland. UX matters!

Alin Panaitiu’s woodworking projects. Every once in a while I think about ditching tech and becoming a carpenter instead. The fact that I haven’t built anything with wood since I was seven has not stopped me from thinking this.

Jan Nicklas’s text-box-trim examples. Ooh. I like this. I hope browser support comes around.

Michelle Barker on using color-mix to generate shades of grey. Cool. I need to spend some time playing around with newer CSS features.

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Links #113

Molly White on the good old days of the web. Life outside the walled gardens is nice and relaxing.

Terence Eden on what a blog post is. Yep. Makes me wonder what other forms of posts are out there in the possibility space.

Ash Huang on how she drafts a book. Something like this might be a good fit for me.

Rachel Kwon on technology. “Sometimes it feels like being able to take photos so easily means we also end up creating a lot of lower value photos that don’t take up much physical space but do take up mental energy to delete, deduplicate, etc.” Managing family photos: something I feel is super important but I am also not very good at it. (Currently using a folder for each month, and I rarely dedupe or delete photos. I back up [not regularly enough] both to local external hard drives and to Backblaze B2.)

Stephen Band on typesetting responsive sheet music with CSS Grid. Interesting.

Maria Farrell and Robin Berjon on rewilding the Internet. Late to the party on this one, but it’s good and still very much worth reading.

Oliver Burkeman on generative AI and human connection. This is good. I agree.

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