Monthly Archives

June 2010

Pixels in the round

Pixels didn’t have to be square.  Like Frankenstein’s monster, it’s just how their creator made them.  In digital imaging’s fetal years, Russell Kirsch decided to choose an arbitrary shape for a unit of visual media.  And thus the pixel we know and love was born.

“Squares was the logical thing to do,” Kirsch says. “Of course, the logical thing was not the only possibility … but we used squares. It was something very foolish that everyone in the world has been suffering from ever since.”

As was Kirsch’s regret.  Regret that he is now rectifying with software that can minimize the shape of square pixels by resampling them into more complex shapes.

Don’t fret too hard, Russell.  We’d never have Diesel Sweeties without your mistake.

RootsxDouglasCoupland

I love Douglas Coupland, having read Microserfs more times than I can count since middle school. I love Canada, having visited Toronto all throughout college (how I miss being just a few hours from Canada!) And, of course, I love both telecommunications and fashion in equal measure. So reading the following in an article on Alt.Engadget was like watching worlds collide:

Douglas Coupland may be best known as the author that popularized the term “Generation X,” but he’s also an artist, a designer, and a Canadian, so it makes a bit of sense that he would team up with that most iconically Canadian clothing retailer, Roots, for a new clothing line [...] inspired in part by Canada’s history in telecommunications, and by Coupland’s idea that “what really links Canadians together is that we’re all far apart.”

Brilliant! The collection can be preordered via Facebook and features lots of tech-prints like television test patterns and matrices. There are also wireframe beavers on t-shirts and more than a few shopping totes in loud neon colors. My favorite item of all, the motherboard scarf, doesn’t seem to be available online (I hope just “yet.”) Prices for everything else are reasonable – gift, anyone?

Summer drink mixing

Discovered in the newest issue of Everyday Food, this drink required the purchase of a massive bottle of Maker’s Mark, a brown liquor that I would normally shun.  However, after muddling a slice of peach or two with three blackberries, tablespoon and a half of honey, tablespoon of lemon juice and some powder sugar, splashing with seltzer and allowing some dried mint to infuse, it was infinitely sippable. A truly Southern sort of beverage.  Bravo to Kate.

Twenty-four hour shopping in Rapture

The scene: Kate and I pull up behind a blue pickup wearing two massive bumper stickers on the tailgate while at a red light on 213. Upon reading them, I am smitten but the light changes too fast for us to get a good picture.

Kate: “Do you want me to follow them until we get another light?”

Nick: “Sure…let’s hope they aren’t leaving town.”

A chase ensued.

We only had to make it to the parking lot of the nearest shopping plaza. You can see it was well worth the pursuit. And I thought I’d have nothing to blog about today…

So, about that word

I do it all the time: begin my sentences with the word “so.” I do this frequently enough that a part of proofreading has now become the active removal of this two letter word from blog posts. I was chuffed to learn that The New York Times put writer Anand Giridharadas on the case.

This logical tinge to “so” has followed it out of software. Starting a sen­tence with “so” uses the whiff of logic to relay authority. Where “well” vacillates, “so” declaims.

“So” seems also to reflect our fraught relationship with time. “Well” and “um” are open-ended; “so” is impatient. It leans for ward, seeks a con­sequence, sums things up. It is a word befitting a culture in which things worth doing must bear fruit now, where it is more fulfilling to day-trade grain futures than to raise grain.

So, it’s a nerd word. And an impatient one at that. Sounds about dead on, frankly…

I have a new portfolio

Since so many of my web design projects are built on blog platforms – specifically, WordPress – these days, I thought it might be smart to remake my portfolio using the same technology. So, gone is the Flash-based navigation and SlideShowPro display system and in its place is a much more streamlined WP theme that I’ve customized to suit my needs. Added bonus: completely compatible with iPhone and iPad!

Visit at nicholasjsmerker.info/Professional (or from the Portfolio link on the right.)