Ben Crowder / Blog

Blog: #prints-2.8

Projects — Prints 2.8

New story: Unlocked. About fifteen pages long, fantasy.

Also, some new generative art. For these, the fundamental idea was to lay out horizontal bands, where each band was composed of rectangles of random widths, rotations, and color variations on a base hue for the band. I wrote some JavaScript to generative the patterns as SVGs and rendered them to 4500px-wide PNGs via headless Inkscape. I painted textures on them in Procreate on my iPad, mostly using MattyB’s canvas brushes. I upscaled them 2x via Real-ESRGAN on the command line, added noise in Affinity Photo (12% monochrome), and scaled them down to 7500px wide. Real-ESRGAN was a brand-new addition to my workflow but it turned out quite well, I think.

Pattern 005
Pattern 005. Bricks overgrown by vegetation, loosely.
Pattern 006
Pattern 006. A slightly stained glass kind of feel.
Pattern 007
Pattern 007. Going for a less saturated look here.
Pattern 008
Pattern 008. My favorite, even with the imperfections at the bottom.

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Links — Prints 2.8

Mary Holstege on the metaphors we code by. Fascinating analysis.

Uri Bram on happiness and unhappiness. A useful take, I think.

Stephen Doyle’s book sculptures. Love these.

Dave Rupert on the madness of frontend web development. Seems like this is only useful where you have enough people to be able to specialize.

Tim Bray on slow travel. Yes. Hard to pull off, but yes. Also, I’m not sure I’d use this myself, but the decade part of the URL (/202x/2022/08/16/...) sparked some joy for me.

Eliot Peper on what writers do. A useful way of thinking about it.

Austin Kleon on breaking out of writer’s block by transcribing yourself thinking out loud. Need to try this sometime.

Ari Lamm on the tower of Babel. Loved this — it makes way more sense to me now. (And seems even more applicable to today.)

Unicode confusables. Use this for good, not evil. Ha.

James Brown’s Lego brick computer. Delightful. This reminded me of my master’s thesis, where I built lots of little widgets out of Raspberry Pi Zeros. One was a screen widget similar to this — though nowhere near as cool.

Ben Eater’s tutorials. I haven’t actually gone through any of these, but they look great.

KiCad, an open source tool for schematic design and PCB layout. Every few months I get the itch to make something physical and electronic — design the PCB, get it printed on demand, 3D print some housing, the works. Haven’t yet figured out what I want to build, though.

Wokwi, a tool to simulate IoT projects in the browser. This is so cool! (See the Arduino calculator, for example.)

Flux. Figma for circuit design and simulation, basically. Very cool.

Physically Based, a database of real-world values for rendering physically based materials. Part of me is adamant that the colors are less useful because real-world materials vary so much, but it’s still a nice project.

Riley Goodside on GPT-3 interpreting long instructions. Crazy.

VisiData, a terminal-based spreadsheet tool.

Luke Plant on “Everything is an X” in system design. This was good.

Luke Plant again, this time with his recommendations on writing Django views. I haven’t been doing as much Django lately, but I was pleased to see function-based views recommended. (I much prefer them to class-based views.)

Adam Mastroianni on good conversations having lots of doorknobs. An interesting way to think about it.

Eric Barker on Michaeleen Doucleff’s parenting advice. Both of these suggestions are great.

Jen Simmons on what you can do with the new :has selector in CSS. So glad to see this.

Suketu Mehta on India’s unraveling democracy. Yikes.

Graham Nelson on upcoming changes to Inform (for writing interactive fiction). IF was a huge part of my childhood but I haven’t done much with it since. Hoping to at least play through one whole game sometime.

Hillel Wayne on path objects in Python. I didn’t know this!

Nick Morgan’s Easy 6502 tutorial. Only partway through this (for fun) but it’s a good tutorial.

Mike Crittenden on stay interviews (the opposite of exit interviews). Interesting.

Nathaniel on websites under 14kb. Little performance hack.

Stable Diffusion’s public release. Very interesting, especially after I found that apparently this is what’s powering Midjourney. Haven’t actually tried it, though.

Mary Fetzer on a new material Penn State researchers have developed. Sounds cool.

Scott Galloway on TikTok. Yup.

Oven, Jarred Sumner’s new company for developing Bun. I tried Bun with my family sheets project but it didn’t work with the yaml library at the time. Need to try it again sometime. (The built-in TypeScript and NPM install speed are very intriguing.)

Josh Comeau on why React re-renders. Helpful.

Hillel Wayne on why arrays start at 0, though not with a definitive answer.

Carlin Eng on a critique of SQL from 1983. Interesting to see where it was and where it is now.

Christof Damian on the thinking behind his Friday link posts. I’ve been subscribed to his blog ever since we met via Lunchclub a couple years ago, but I hadn’t seen this page till now.


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Reading — Prints 2.8

A good month for reading — pretty sure I’ll hit 5,000 pages by the end, at the rate I’m going. (Not that quantity matters more than quality, to be clear.)

Recent nonfiction reads

  • Clementine, by Sofia Purnell. A biography of Clementine Churchill, Winston’s wife. This was a somewhat draining book — sad family life perpetuated across three generations (so much bad parenting and dysfunctional marriage and adultery!), not to mention the weight of two world wars — but I’m glad I read it. Before this, for example, I don’t think I’d read much WWII history from the British perspective. Eye-opening. Also, I came across “rumbustious” for the first time ever. What a lovely word.
  • Here Is Real Magic, by Nate Staniforth. Quite liked this. I didn’t expect half the book to be a bit of an India travelogue, but it turned out to be a nice surprise. (India and Brazil have been in my mind a lot lately as places I’d like to travel to someday.)

Recent fiction reads

  • The Hands of the Emperor, by Victoria Goddard. I initially heard about this via Alexandra Rowland’s post and figured I’d give it a try. Ended up loving it, enough so that I immediately bought all of Goddard’s other books. It’s cozy fantasy — more calm, less action — and I initially thought it was going to be too relaxed for me, but the stellar character work sucked me in before long. There’s also enough magic to make it interesting to me (I struggle with completely mundane fiction), though the magic is not at all the point of the book. Reading about Cliopher kept reminding me (in some ways) of my time as ward executive secretary and ward clerk over the years. Fond memories. Looking forward to reading the rest of the books (of which there are many, and they’re multiplying quickly!).
  • A Practical Guide to Conquering the World, by K. J. Parker. Final installment in the Siege trilogy. This one didn’t click as much for me as the others did, sadly. Not entirely sure why, but I suspect I had trouble suspending disbelief with the central conceit. (Which confuses me a little, because it’s basically the same conceit as in the first two books.) The archery nerdery was fun, though.

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