Eightface

by Dave Kellam

Flipboard and automating layout

Flipboard Duplo candidates

Charles Ying wrote an article for TechCrunch detailing Flipboard’s automated approach to layout with their new Duplo engine.

Ultimately, what we’ve done with Pages and Duplo is take the elements of magazine layout design — a powerful tool in framing a story and its impact on the reader — and created a way to automate the process, while still capturing the essence and art of a human designer’s craft.

There’s some pretty cool stuff going on under the hood, including adding a degree of randomness to the layouts, so you don’t get the same layouts over and over again.

Acceptable in the 90s

The folks who’ve made things on the Internet since the 1990’s have had a kick out Zach Holman’s piece Only 90s Web Developers Remember This. For me, it was the 1×1.gif:

1×1.gif should have won a fucking Grammy. Or a Pulitzer. Or Most Improved, Third Grade Gym Class or something. It’s the most important achievement in computer science since the linked list. It’s not the future we deserved, but it’s the future we needed (until the box model fucked it all up).

All the things I’ve forgotten. Blink, deal with it.

Landmarks in time

Matt Connor wrote an article about Netflix killing discussions, which has an interesting quote from a book I hadn’t heard of before; Moonwalking with Einstein by Michael Siffre.

Monotony collapses time. Novelty unfolds it. You can exercise daily and eat healthy and live a long life while experiencing a short one. If you spend your life sitting in a cubicle and passing papers, one day is bound to blend unmemorably into the next — and disappear. That’s why it’s important to… have as many new experiences as possible… Creating new memories stretches out psychological time, and lengthens our perceptions of our lives.

When I arrive in a new city and start exploring, one of the first things I do is pick out some landmarks to orient myself and avoid getting lost. Similarly, events in life can serve as a landmark in time. When you’re young and in school, it’s easy… the semesters and various breaks serve to chunk things up. As you get older, it becomes harder, the days begin to bleed into each other. Getting out and doing something different allows you to break up any monotony and slow down the passage of time.

Rethinking blogs at the New York Times

The New York Times website was redesigned recently. You can read about the technology behind it. Personally, I’ve been waiting for a behind-the-scenes about the WordPress at the core of their blogging operations. Scott Taylor delivers with an article entitled Rethinking Blogs at the New York Times.

Because we are turning WP content into Module content, we no longer want our themes to produce complete HTML documents: we only to produce the “content” of the page. Our Madison page layout gives us a wrapper and loads our app-specific scripts and styles. We have enough opportunities to override default template stubs to inject Blog-specific content where necessary.

Overall, it’s less about a visual redesign and more about an architectural redesign. The NYT’s legacy system seems like it was an absolute nightmare. I tried to condense Scott’s article into a short blurb, but I can’t. So, if you’re remotely interested in the structure of large scale online publishing systems go read it (regardless of your opinion about WordPress). If you are a WordPress developer, there’s some cool stuff going on, like abstracting the away the visual structure.

The period of anger

The period is pissed. It seems that using the period at the end of text messages is starting to be seen as passive aggressive.

The period was always the humblest of punctuation marks. Recently, however, it’s started getting angry. I’ve noticed it in my text messages and online chats, where people use the period not simply to conclude a sentence, but to announce “I am not happy about the sentence I just concluded.”

Overthinking things

I was chatting with Zach the other night and mentioned that I have a tendency to overthink things and never follow through on projects and whatnot. His reply was spot on, “You… overthink? Never”. It bothered me a bit, but the truth can hurt.

When I was younger, I had a tendency to put everything I did online… just didn’t think about it and posted whatever. As I aged, I started to worry more about my posting (relevancy, career suicide, whatever). I got older. And older. And I’ve reached the point where I’ve stopped giving a fuck.

This is my personal site, you don’t have to be here. If I feel like posting a ton of articles on some particular day and lose subscribers or hits or whatever, that’s fine. Don’t worry, this isn’t a crazy rant, just a pre-cursor to more regular content posting. Cheers!

The story of an old-timey programming hack

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Tom Moertel’s tale of a great old-timey game-programming hack, it reminded me of my computer science days and assembly programming.

A long time ago, when I was a college undergrad, I spent some time working on computer video games. This was in the 8-bit PC era, so the gaming hardware was almost impossibly slow by today’s standards.

It might not surprise you, then, to learn that, back then, game programmers did all sorts of crazy things to make their games run at playable speeds. Crazy, crazy things.

This is a story about one of those things.

Antitext

TELEPHONE ONLY TELEPHONE ONLY by Eric Boucheron

Eric Boucheron is an old internet friend of mine. We made things together at the turn of the century (too early?), as members of an art collective called Suffocate. He has started posting artwork on his website again. It’s awesome, you should go check it out.

I’ve always loved his work, it was a big influence on my early grunge aesthetic. He also takes pictures of banana peels.