Ben Crowder

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Links #63

Carbonyl, a Chromium browser in a terminal. More impressive than I expected.

Andrew Plotkin on the new 3D VR version of Colossal Cave. I spent many hours of my childhood playing interactive fiction like Colossal Cave and Zork, building my own with TADS and AGT, frequenting the IFDB and the annual IF Competition. Ah, memories. I’ve tried to play some of the old text adventures with Frotz, but I’m no longer a gamer and my brain refuses; it would rather read books. (I also struggle to watch movies for the same reason. I know this is weird.)

Hundred Rabbits’ Oquonie game. Gamer though I’m not, games still interest me, and I love the art on this one. The new pixel art version they’re working on also looks good.

Stephen Winick at the Library of Congress on the origins of ring-around-the-rosie. It’s more modern than I expected.

Fiona Harvey on Colossal Biosciences trying to de-extinct the dodo. This is the company that’s also trying to bring back the woolly mammoth and that clearly took the wrong message away from Jurassic Park.

Bertrand Delacretaz on the web platform being back. “We strongly believe in making maximum use of the Web Platform for our current and future developments, and in being frugal with anything that we put on top of it.” Yes.

Jason Wang’s videos showing exoplanets orbiting their stars. That first one! (HR 8799.) Wow!

Ewen Callaway on a study showing that microbiomes become similar among cohabitants over time. Which could have interesting ramifications.

Amelia Pollard on the intriguing architecture of the Vancouver House apartment tower. I would not live in that tower. Whew.

Rach Smith on a recommendation from Steven Pressfield: “Start whatever you’re writing with ‘this is what a bad version of this idea looks like:’, or something similar to free yourself from thinking that whatever you write needs to be good.” I like that a lot.

Felt map showing the number of times each U.S. state appears in an NYT crossword. No idea why Utah and Ohio are so popular.

Oliver Burkemann on how to forget what you read. I like that idea, of forgetting as a filter. (I probably like it especially because I never take notes anymore.)

Andy Bell on speed for developers vs. users. Yep.

Lincoln Michel on qualities of fairy tales. This is good and makes me want to write some fairy tales with these qualities.

Animation Obsessive on how to paint like Hayao Miyazaki.

Tyler Johnson on soulcraft at BYU. I liked this, and also quite liked Laura Miller’s watercolor illustrations for the piece.

Information Is Beautiful on the most successful Hollywood movies of all time, including some new ways of looking at the data.


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Links #62

@elsif’s Genuary 9 generative art piece. Love the painterly feel of this.

Ian Sample on scientists steering lightning bolts with lasers for the first time. A sentence I never thought I’d write.

Jason Kottke with a video of a drone diving the full height of the Burj Khalifa. Whew.

The Book Cover Review, where they review book covers. I love book covers.

Chris Coyier on scalable CSS. I’ll mention here that I don’t really like Tailwind. Used it at a job and while I get the appeal, it takes away the joy of CSS for me.

Michelle Barker on a couple downsides of using a CSS framework like Tailwind. Yep.

Autogram on design systems and AI.

Scott Alexander on the ethics of eating insects. Food for thought. (Har, har.) Did I ever mention the time I bought waxworms and ate them? Looks like I blogged my plan to buy them back in 2018 but forgot to post about it afterwards. Eating one live was traumatizing and felt like a car accident in my mouth. I froze and then fried the rest and ate them in tacos and they were surprisingly good!

Bill Ferris on how to blurb someone’s book. Ha.

Gluon, a new framework for creating desktop apps from websites (like Electron or Tauri) using normal system-installed browsers, for a much smaller footprint. Intriguing.

Jim Nielsen on the anti-capitalist web. Yes, yes, yes. That’s probably one of the main reasons I love the web, too, now that I think about it.

Esther Hi‘ilani Candari’s ARTbook project, an art companion to the 2024 Book of Mormon Come Follow Me curriculum, aimed to be more diverse and inclusive. This is great.

Jeremy Keith on three attributes for better web forms. I didn’t know a lot of this!

Jessie Inchauspé on how the order we eat food actually matters. This changed my life, in the sense that it was a notable revision to my mental model that’s going to affect how I eat going forward.

Robb Owen on hand-thrown frontends (as opposed to assembling Lego bricks). I like this.

bsandro made a monochrome terminal for an e-ink monitor. Mmm. I really hope that larger e-ink displays with fast refresh rates become an affordable thing in the future.

Mirza Silajdzic on how Wi-Fi routers can be used to produce 3D images of humans. Fascinating and a little creepy.

Daniel Sims on gravity batteries in abandoned mines. This sounds really cool, actually.

git-sim lets you pre-visualize Git operations, which could come in handy.

The misleading St. Louis Fed graph. (And oh how I wish the U.S. would take a big chunk of its military spending and put it towards something more humane.)

Gideon Burton about children leaving the faith. A really good article. This is something I think about a lot, having children of my own and also seeing siblings and cousins leave.

Steven Garrity on efficiency over performance. Yes, agreed.

Blenderheads, a documentary about the people making Blender. Cool.

TBRCon2023, a virtual sci-fi/fantasy/horror convention. I was surprised by how many well-known authors they had. I’ve only watched parts of a few panels (video is not my thing and I struggle to make time for it), but what I saw was great.

JinjaX, a way to do Jinja includes via component instead of extension. Cool.

Kellan Elliott-McCrea on complexity in software. Yup.

Deena Theresa on a newly discovered anti-aging gene that apparently rewinds heart age by ten years. Hopefully this ends up being usable (and safe) for humans.

Haley Nahman on the contagious visual blandness of Netflix.

Becky Ferreira on a liquid metal robot that can escape a cage. It’s slower and clunkier than you might expect, but still fascinating.

Jason Kottke on sunburn photographic printing. Disturbing yet fascinating.

Chronophoto, a web game where you try to guess what year each photo was taken.

Tom Critchlow on the magic of small databases.

eBoy’s TiliX reference, a howto on drawing isometric pixel art.

Meta’s Text-To-4D dynamic scene generation paper. What is this new devilry.

widget.json, “a file format designed to push content from the web to your home screen.”

Joe Miller’s Screens, Research and Hypertext book. A fascinating exploration of hypertext and the web.

Chris Lattner’s introduction to LLVM, in the Architecture of Open Source Applications.

Robin Rendle on hypertext, which led me to the next link.

Kicks Condor interviews Nadia Asparouhova. Quoted in the Robin Rendle piece, this bit stood out to me: “Someone (I think Eugene Wei?) once tweeted that all Twitter accounts eventually sound like fortune cookies. I don’t want to become a fortune cookie. So I like things like newsletters, and my notes page, which are still discoverable and semi-public, but aren’t subject to short feedback loops. I also removed comments on my blog for the same reason, and I never look at my site analytics.” Also this: “The problem with likes is it naturally draws your eye towards the most-liked stuff, instead of deciding for yourself what’s most interesting. It almost feels like I’d be taking agency away from the reader by doing that.” This is one of the several reasons why I much prefer posting here.


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Links #61

Alexandre Prokoudine on 2023 in preview for Libre Arts. Looking forward to Metal support in Blender.

The MuseScore 4.0 announcement video. When I used MuseScore recently for the hymn prints, I didn’t realize it was a new version and had completely forgotten what the old one was like. 4.0 is so much better. Wow.

Tantacrul with an in-depth video on how they made MuseScore 4. This was great, loved it. I wish there were videos like this more often for open source projects. (Maybe there are and I just haven’t seen them.) The new instruments and playback quality are incredible and have me itching to get back into composing, now that I can export audio that will actually sound good.

Tantacrul on designing Leland, MuseScore’s music font. Loved this. Especially liked learning about SCORE.

Oktophonie on engraving changes in MuseScore 4.0. A lot of this is covered by the video, but I still really enjoyed reading through it. Mmm. (Very impressed by the engraving quality in 4.0, too.)

SMuFL, the Standard Music Font Layout. Bookmarking this here in case I ever end up getting into type design for real and want to design my own music notation font.

BlenderBIM, a BIM plugin for Blender. I have no need for this but I wish I did! (Alternate timeline.)

The Visual Dome, AI art from a semi-consistent secondary world. Freaky but fascinating.

Andy Matuschak on cultivating depth and stillness in research. This resonated — both the part about feeling the need to release work frequently and the part about social media making it hard to think slow thoughts and read books. (Some of that might be more my takeaway than things he actually says, by the way.)

David Heinemeier Hansson on why 37signals is largely leaving the cloud for their own servers. Bravo. Decentralization is a good thing, and AWS’s monopoly is a bit worrisome for the future of the internet.

Zach Leatherman on the JavaScript community. I hadn’t seen that only 3% of sites use React and a staggering 77% still use jQuery. Wow. While I do use React at work, I too have felt the disconnect (as is probably clear from some of these link posts) and have often feel at odds with the direction of contemporary frontend engineering. More JavaScript isn’t the answer, at least for me. (Which I say in spite of really liking JS. It’s my favorite language to write code in at the moment.)


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Links #60

Vox on how Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse shifted the style of animated films. Into the Spider-Verse was probably my favorite superhero movie — live action doesn’t fit the genre nearly as well, at least for me.

Nicholas Rougeux on the making of his edition of The Four Books of Architecture. Loved this.

Luca on one way to do generative art landscapes. I like that it’s a 2D technique that makes things look 3D. (Which I guess could technically apply to all 3D content on screens. Ha.)

Matthias Ott on transient frontend frameworks. Yep. For personal projects, I find myself occasionally wishing there was a platform-native way to build reactive UI. I haven’t yet thought through what that would look like, though.

Jack Evoniuk on how the Atari 2600 game Pitfall generated its world. This was great. A single byte!

Jim Nielsen on LCH color space in CSS. I’m convinced too.

Damir Yalalov on Microsoft’s new VALL-E text-to-speech model. Only three seconds of training data needed, apparently. We are fully in the “be skeptical of the provenance of anything you see or hear” phase.

Steve Krouse’s Val Town project, a website for writing, running, and deploying scripts. Intriguing.

Brad Woods’ explainer on 3D in CSS.

Clive Thompson on the power of indulging your weird, offbeat obsessions. This was great.

Josh Comeau on clever code considered harmful. Yes. I love clever code (within reasonable limits), but I fully agree here. It’s sometimes hard when there are cultural currents flowing towards clever, but swimming the other way seems very much worth it.

Robert van Embricqs’ flow wall desk. Very cool.

Ben Abbott on the Great Salt Lake report. I had no idea. I hope things get under control.

Benjamin Dean Taylor on five Latter-day Saint video game soundtrack composers. A world I haven’t really been aware of!

Libre Arts, an online magazine for people who use free artmaking apps (like Blender, MuseScore, Krita, etc.).

Simon Thalmann on using ChatGPT to write surreal prose poems. I really liked these and am thinking about writing some myself (though without AI helping).

Colin Devroe on blogging being alive and well. Yes!

The 2022 State of JS report is up. (Given that I don’t think chasing trends is a great idea, I’m not sure why I’m linking to this. Anthropological interest, I guess. Ha.)

Gabriele Corno with a video of a white moose in Sweden. Wow.

3D VR Zelda. Ooh! Very cool, at least for those who grew up on the first Zelda game.

Shiftall’s mutalk, a muzzle for VR. Um.

Mike Crittenden on ChatGPT uses for lazy parents. Ha.

Keith Houston on what to call chapter summaries. That’s what I’ve called them.

Glen Nelson on The Cultural Hall podcast about trends in Latter-day Saint arts. His fifth trend certainly applies to me.

The Book of Mormon Art Catalog, sponsored by the BYU Maxwell Institute (though run separately). Love this. Had no idea it existed until recently.

Saahil Desai on the design of pizza delivery boxes.

Rachel Neumeier on positive fantasy. Also see her other post about it. I like this. (I also like other kinds of fantasy, but it’s nice to see the emphasis on kindness.)

Mike Wakerly on how your tech stack is not the product. Yep.


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Links #59

Trying to catch up on these, so this batch will be long.

Codon, a high-performance Python compiler.

Lottie Limb on France banning short-haul domestic flights in favor of train travel. Bravo.

Ben Darfler on his analog productivity system. I’ve nostalgically wanted to start using something analog again, but it never sticks.

Christian Hammond on peer programming with ChatGPT. Crazy.

Helen Warrell on MI6’s top female spies.

Inkbase, programmable ink from Ink & Switch (who are doing some great research).

Crosscut, another intriguing project from Ink & Switch.

Cuttle, an interesting web-based design tool for digital cutting machines like laser cutters.

Chris Coyier on Arc (the new browser). After reading this I tried Arc (I wouldn’t say I’m super happy with Firefox) but alas, my brain really does not like tabs on the side.

RFE/RL with a map showing countries that have been renamed in recent years. I didn’t know about Eswatini or Cabo Verde.

International Intrigue, a global affairs newsletter I’ve recently subscribed to and quite like.

Mark Harris on Saudi Arabia’s new megacity, The Line.

Avid Halaby on the Twitter whistleblower report. Some of these things are…not great (from a technical perspective).

One-dimensional Mario. Love this, even though it’s barely playable.

The 2022 State of CSS survey results.

Peter Rogers on a new class of antidepressant that works in two hours. Great news. I wish my dad had stuck around long enough for us to see if it helped him.

A new gold nanocoating prevents glasses from fogging up.

Samuel Arbesman on emergent microcosms. (I linked to a Twitter thread he wrote earlier; this is a blog post with more details.)

Matt Webb on transcribing ourselves 24/7. Interesting thoughts as alwayas.

Erik Spiekermann and Google have released a new, free edition of his Stop Stealing Sheep typography book.

Kottke on Bill Tavis’s Mandelbrot set in the style of a vintage map. Mmm. I love vintage maps, and this is delightful.

Supernumerary rainbow on NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Rupendra Brahambhatt on lab-grown 3D-printed wood. Ooh.

BBC has a new radio play version of The Dark Is Rising. (Which I still haven’t reread.)

Alex Russell on the browser performance baseline for 2023. Still pretty low. We’re not doing a great job at serving users on slower devices.

Tom on the topologist’s world map he made. Cool.

David Bauer’s You Don’t Know Africa games. Love this.

Paul Fairie with 2022’s Headline of the Year nominees. Many of these are great.

Tom Cruise riding a motorcycle off a cliff several times for a stunt. Crazy.

Blink, an iOS terminal app I wasn’t aware of. Nice.

Matthew Guay on notes apps helping us forget. Yep. I hardly ever go back to review notes.

Cat Valente on how capitalism always ruins the internet.

Klim’s Epicene Text is a lovely text font.

Stephanie Eccles’ 2022 12 Days of Web Dev. Nice coverage of new features.

Jackson Huff’s Clipboard, a terminal-based clipboard tool.

Fernando Borretti on tools for thought. I’ve largely reached the same conclusion with my own tools (separate tools for separate tasks), though I wasn’t as conscious of what I was doing.

Mandy Brown on writing being hard and that being okay. Yes, yes, yes.

Rach Smith on blogging. After a long period where I worried too much about what other people think, I feel like I’m finally getting past that — finally comfortable with the idea that things on here aren’t going to be perfect, and it’s more important to publish.

Spinda on using ChatGPT as a Redux reducer. Oh goodness.

Ben Kuhn on writing for the internet. Several good ideas here.

Jeff Kaufman on blogging thresholds. Yes, agreed.

Jason Kottke on 36 things he learned in 2022.

Steve Nadis on some MIT research where they had programmers do an MRI while coding.

Justin Alvey and Karen X. Cheng on using Stable Diffusion to create architecture photos from dollhouse furniture. Very cool.

Carson Katri’s Dream Textures, a Blender add-on for creating textures with AI.

Tesseract.js, a pure-JS implementation of the Tesseract OCR engine.

EasyBPY is a more ergonomic wrapped library for Blender’s Python API. Awesome. This is much better.

Riley Cran on all the custom old-looking fonts Lettermatic made for their game Pentiment. Mmm.

Stanko on making a rope with SVG and JavaScript. Nice.

Monique Judge on bringing back personal blogging. If you can’t tell, I’m always here for posts about blogging.

Dave Rupert on prototyping. “The composting of failures produces rich and fertile soil.” Yes.

Dylan Black taught ChatGPT to invent a language. Whoa. This is mind-blowing.

Devine Lu Linvega on weathering software winter. As usual, this makes me want to make small VMs.

Maciej Cegłowski on why we shouldn’t send humans to Mars. Color me convinced.

Michael Irving on the apparent discovery of the first virovore, organisms that eat viruses.

Jillian Hess on twelve ways to use a diary.

Nathan J. Robinson on living in the age of BS. Good to be conscious of.

Alan Jacobs on AI. “If you’re trying to get through your work as quickly as you can, then maybe you should see if you can find a different line of work.”

Kate Rose Morley with a nice tree view using HTML and CSS. Thinking about using this for descendancy charts.

Kent Hendricks on 52 things he learned in 2022. “Compared to irritant-induced crying (e.g. caused by onions), the tears you cry when you’re sad contain 24% more protein, which means they roll down your face more slowly and are more likely to be noticed by others, who, in turn, can comfort you.”

The hands of Maarten Baas’ Schiphol clock are drawn on in real time. Whew!

Vadim Makeev on a skewed highlight effect in CSS. Quite nice.

Jenny on work. “Your job won’t love you back, no matter what love you give it. But the people you work with will.” Yep.

Sam Hughes on creating new people (looking forward to reading Valuable Humans in Transit).

Rodrigo Copetti’s site on the architecture of old game consoles. Looking forward to reading some of these.

Matthias Ott on it being the year of the personal website.

Hillel Wayne on microfeatures he’d like to see in more programming languages.

Joseph Homer Saleh with a statistical reliability analysis for Roman emperors. Intriguing!

David L. Chandler on some new research that purports to show why Roman concrete was so durable. Quicklime, it appears.

Personal Sites, a directory of personal websites.

Tech Jobs for Good, a nice site for highlighting mission-driven jobs. (I’m not looking for a job right now, but when that day comes, I’ll be checking here.)

William Hales on CGI. Not graphics — cgi-bin. Ah, the good ol’ days. This has really got me thinking about simpler and easier ways to get web stuff up and running.


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Links #58

Robin Sloan on new avenues for the web now that the platforms of the last decade (like Twitter) are crumbling. Yes, yes, yes. This is so exciting. Very much looking forward to seeing the innovations that come out of this period.

Robert Epstein on our brains not actually being like computers. Food for thought. As an additional observation, and I’ve mentioned this before, I’ve found a lot of value lately in considering humans’ bad behavior as a function of buggy internal state that can be changed.

Daniel Huffman on redesigning a route map for an airline. Loved this.

Die with Me, a chat app you can only use when you have less than 5% battery life left. Ha. (I get antsy when mine goes below 60%.)

Brian O’Donovan on Ireland’s An Post adding support for handwritten digital stamps. Cool idea. Makes me wonder what else could be done in this vein.

Tom Scott on the benefits of the design of British plugs. Good points.

Zoni Nation with plots mapping perceptions of probability words — “probable” vs. “likely,” for example. Fascinating!

Max Brooker on writing being magic. Definitely agree. Writing is amazing.

Julia Evans’ debugging manifesto. This is great. Recommended.

Kamil Galeev on Russia’s imminent political crisis. I have no idea how likely this is, but it was compelling reading.


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Links #57

Eric Chiang’s pup, a jq-like command-line tool for parsing HTML.

Scaife Viewer from the Open Greek and Latin Perseus Digital Library. Cool.

BrachioGraph, a cheap, simple DIY pen plotter. This one would be fun to build.

Leo McElroy’s SVG-PCB, which takes a code description and outputs PCB designs in SVG.

The Quill to Live on the best SFF of 2022. Some good recommendations.

Peter Baker’s Ygt, a TrueType hinting app. Peter wrote the textbook we used in my Old English class many years ago. He also designed the Junicode font.

Swyx on everything we know about ChatGPT, as of the beginning of December. (Which I acknowledge was eons ago in AI time.)

InvokeAI, another Stable Diffusion wrapper.

Jonas DeGrave and Frederic Besse built a VM inside ChatGPT. Sort of, anyway. This is pretty crazy stuff.

Tobias Ahlin on GitHub’s new open source variable fonts, Mona Sans and Hubot Sans. Nice.


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Links #56

Slynyrd on making isometric pixel art. Mmm.

Oliver Burkemann on urgency not really existing. I’ve found this to be true. Loads of things are more deferrable than they seem.

Jeremy Keith’s 2008 Iron Man Flickr story. Ha.

David B. Parker on “y’all” going mainstream. Good. My dad was from Virginia, so I grew up with “y’all” embedded in my bones.

Matt Bell on there being no failure, only practice. I like this.

Palmer Luckey’s crazy VR headset that kills you for real if you die in the game. I guess it was only a matter of time. Still, hopefully just trolling.

Noah Smith and roon on generative AI being autocomplete for everything. Seems like a reasonable take.

Jason Kottke on Maastricht University’s animation of the Covid virus lifecycle. Well done.

Charlie Jane Anders on mosaics of small stories. I love this. It’s something I try to do with my fiction, too.

Wyldcard, e-ink playing cards. Cool. I’d love a small e-reader around this size (smaller than my phone, super lightweight, no bells or whistles), especially once e-ink resolution gets better.


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Links #55

VectorFusion, text to SVG through diffusion.

Liza Daly’s A Letter Groove project, cutting words out of book page scans and showing the pages beneath. Cool.

John Keegan on visualizing rivers and floodplains with USGS data. A few months ago I played around a little with QGIS’s hillshade rendering for DEMs and with rendering DEMs in Blender and need to get back to all that. Also, Daniel Coe’s work (mentioned in the post) is lovely.

Clive Thompson on maximum viable product and stopping feature creep. Hear, hear.

Christopher Robbins interviews Robert Caro. I really need to start reading The Power Broker.

France brings out the horses Angelique Chrisafis on some French towns using horses for waste collection to try to combat climate change and slow down city life. Love that.

Rocks that look like food, part one of three. Fun.

ChatGPT came out. (I’m still about a month behind on these links, working through my list.)

Benj Edwards on Disney’s FRAN AI for re-aging actors. Decent results. I wonder how long it’ll be before fully synthetic actors are in use, and what that’ll mean for real actors.

Sony’s Mocopi motion capture system. Reminds me of the Hinge Health sensors.


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Links #54

I’m so behind on posting these links (these are all from a month ago). Also, I’m going back to posting fewer at a time.

ooh.directory, a new blog directory by Phil Gyford. Nice way to find blogs. It has an RSS feed for new additions, too.

Ian Sample on a potential new universal flu vaccine. I hope this works out.

Tom M on things he wished he knew when learning C. Ah, C. (My first two languages were BASIC and Pascal, but then for a fairly long time my main languages were C and C++. Haven’t used either in years, though, other than during my master’s.)

Colima, container runtimes with minimal setup.

Ben Abbott on five positive developments in the global energy system this year.

Geoff Graham on color contrast issues in Apple Messages, on the green SMS bubbles. Yes.

Dioramas created from Van Gogh art, using AI-generated depth maps. Very cool.

Carol Ann’s Paper Quill Seascape piece, made with Midjourney.

Markos Kay’s process video for his Creature Perch piece using Midjourney and Stable Diffusion. (I’ll add here that the ethics of the training sets for these aren’t great, especially for the artists whose works were taken without permission. Hoping that gets better.)

Google’s Infinite Nature paper on generating 3D flythroughs from still photos. Slowed down a lot, this would make for a nice screensaver or decorative display. Reminds me a bit of those eight-hour train ride videos on YouTube, too.


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