mm123: Classical music II — one more time, with wood

August 31, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Danger! Western Cultural

Treasures Content!

Run Away!

So, I was cruising the blogs at BlogExplosion.com and I found this one, courtesy of YouTube, via Subbie.

When I’m all by myself, I seldom LOL. This video, I did laugh out loud.


YouTube – Rachmaninov had big Hands

So, last post, somehow I left Rachmaninov off (no, I’m not stuttering) of my desert island list. Inexplicable. What a genius.

The music, by the way, his Prelude, Op.3 No.2 In C Sharp Minor. Here’s a great recording performed by the incomparable Vladimir Ashkenazy.

Anyway, this video made my day. Pretty good for a couple minutes, huh?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Non-commercial Note!: the link to Amazon.com used above is for the convenience of faithful reader and represents no commercial relationship whatsoever. Left-Handed Complement should be so fortunate as to ever collect remuneration of any kind for this endeavor. I can link, so I link. It’s technology. It’s cool. Deal with it.

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mm119: Creating the sequitur

August 27, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Had this thought yesterday.

Any of you regular reader of this nanocorner of the blogosphere are aware that MUDGE often is slightly link-crazy.

I believe I learned this style best from one of my most regular reads, Slate.com, and good teachers they’ve been.

What linking does for yours truly, and here comes that flash of insight –drum-roll please — linking sequiturizes.

We all think we know what a non sequitur is. My new toy WordWeb says that it’s “A reply that has no relevance to what preceded it.”

So, when MUDGE pops out a comment, like this one from a recent posting…

An ambitious plan, to be executed of course by the lowest bidder.

… you don’t have to be in the dark about what I might mean by that.

Because I’ve provided a handy hyperlink to let you know exactly what I had in mind.

Wikipedia’s article goes a bit into the history of the hyperlink:

The term “hyperlink” was coined in 1965 (or possibly 1964) by Ted Nelson at the start of Project Xanadu. Nelson had been inspired by “As We May Think,” a popular essay by Vannevar Bush. In the essay, Bush described a microfilm-based machine (the Memex) in which one could link any two pages of information into a “trail” of related information, and then scroll back and forth among pages in a trail as if they were on a single microfilm reel. The closest contemporary analogy would be to build a list of bookmarks to topically related Web pages and then allow the user to scroll forward and backward through the list.

Ted Nelson was a genius — I remember reading him in the fondly remembered Byte Magazine (I was a near-charter subscriber, of course), and thinking “this man is a way out futurist.”

So, the non sequiturs will keep on coming, gang, sequiturized (must be the process of negating a non sequitur, right), by Ted Nelson’s (and of course Tim Berners-Lee‘s) marvelous hyperlinks.

New motto for this nanocorner:

proudhome

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm100: The Road to Clarity – New York Times

August 12, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

[The 100th MM! Wow! Who’d have thought this guy had that kind of attention span!]

highwaysign

From the usually dependable most emailed list in this day’s NYTimes, a most fascinating story on highway signage. Take a look.

The New York Times

August 12, 2007

The Road to Clarity

By JOSHUA YAFFA

“So, what do you see?” Martin Pietrucha I asked, turning around in the driver’s seat of his mint green Ford Taurus. It was a cold day in January, and we were parked in the middle of a mock highway set on the campus of Pennsylvania State University in State College. Pietrucha is a jovial, 51-year-old professor of highway engineering. His tone was buoyant as he nodded toward the edge of the oval stretch of road where two green-and-white signs leaned against a concrete barrier.

What I saw, Pietrucha knew, was what we all may see soon enough as we rush along America’s 46,871 miles of Interstate highways. What I saw was Clearview, the typeface that is poised to replace Highway Gothic, the standard that has been used on signs across the country for more than a half-century. Looking at a sign in Clearview after reading one in Highway Gothic is like putting on a new pair of reading glasses: there’s a sudden lightness, a noticeable crispness to the letters.

The Federal Highway Administration granted Clearview interim approval in 2004, meaning that individual states are free to begin using it in all their road signs. More than 20 states have already adopted the typeface, replacing existing signs one by one as old ones wear out. Some places have been quicker to make the switch — much of Route I-80 in western Pennsylvania is marked by signs in Clearview, as are the roads around Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport — but it will very likely take decades for the rest of the country to finish the roadside makeover. It is a slow, almost imperceptible process. But eventually the entire country could be looking at Clearview.

The typeface is the brainchild of Don Meeker, an environmental graphic designer, and James Montalbano, a type designer. They set out to fix a problem with a highway font, and their solution — more than a decade in the making — may end up changing a lot more than just the view from the dashboard. Less than a generation ago, fonts were for the specialist, an esoteric pursuit, what Stanley Morison, the English typographer who helped create Times New Roman in the 1930s, called “a minor technicality of civilized life.” Now, as the idea of branding has claimed a central role in American life, so, too, has the importance and understanding of type. Fonts are image, and image is modern America.

The full article includes an interesting slide show (from which the images in this post have been captured), so why not check it out. Remember, though, it’s from the Magazine, so it’s long form, but worthy of your attention.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The Road to Clarity – New York Times

So, it’s about highway signs, but it’s also about one of this writer’s favorite subjects, typography. I’ve always been a collector of interesting fonts, and I’m guessing that there’s a lot of such interest out in the ‘Sphere, since there are a myriad of typography sites, both interest groups and foundries, to be found.

I’m imagining that there are many amateurs out there like me, whose Fonts file on their PC is quite full.

Just checked, and my C:\Windows\Fonts folder has 249 fonts currently; I’m surmising that there are many, many others tucked away elsewhere, since this sounds like only about half the number I’ve counted in the past (perhaps on one of MUDGE‘s earlier PCs).

Can’t possible use that many, ever. And for L-HC, I’ve used a fixed width font (very typewriter like, in case anyone remembers what a typewriter was) called, appropriately, Lucida Sans Typewriter, because it seemed a distinctive choice at the time, when many choices were made.

Only 248 to go.

Just kidding.

I think.

Why is typography such an alluring topic for so many people? Because it’s more than just black letters on a white background.

Type is just as much about psychology as geometry. A letter’s shape, its curves, the way it sits next to other letters — all these factors give a font its personality and in turn create an emotion and connotation for the reader.

Personality, emotion, connotation. And I thought it was just some designer’s clever new way of looking at something quite old, the 26 letters of our English alphabet.

Who knew?

This story is on the Times’ most emailed list because most everyone drives (except of course, in the Manhattan home of the Times!), and can relate to poorly designed signage. Quick, at 75mph, do I exit for Smithton at the first exit, or the next? There’s glare, is that route 65, or 86?

highwaysign2

Driving long distances at night is a task I seldom undertake as cheerfully as once I did, and glare and poorly worded and designed signs are part of the reason, though not the only one. But that’s a story for another time…

The lonely campaign fought by Meeker and Montalbano for so many years, is a worthy one, no question.

Of course, these days, the most pressing issue is going to be examine and FIX ALL OF THOSE GODDAMN BRIDGES ALREADY!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm089: With Tools on Web, Amateurs Reshape Mapmaking – New York Times

July 29, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Things I found on the way to finding other things…

The New York Times

July 27, 2007

nytmapping

With Tools on Web, Amateurs Reshape Mapmaking

By MIGUEL HELFT

SAN FRANCISCO, July 26 — On the Web, anyone can be a mapmaker.

With the help of simple tools introduced by Internet companies recently, millions of people are trying their hand at cartography, drawing on digital maps and annotating them with text, images, sound and videos.

In the process, they are reshaping the world of mapmaking and collectively creating a new kind of atlas that is likely to be both richer and messier than any other.

They are also turning the Web into a medium where maps will play a more central role in how information is organized and found.

Already there are maps of biodiesel fueling stations in New England, yarn stores in Illinois and hydrofoils around the world. Many maps depict current events, including the detours around a collapsed Bay Area freeway and the path of two whales that swam up the Sacramento River delta in May. …

Using new applications such as Google’s My Maps, and a startup called Platial, the Times reports that these annotations of existing maps are adding rich new layers of data to the way people understand their world.

“What is happening is the creation of this extremely detailed map of the world that is being created by all the people in the world,” said John V. Hanke, director of Google Maps and Google Earth. “The end result is that there will be a much richer description of the earth.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

With Tools on Web, Amateurs Reshape Mapmaking – New York Times

In this case, once again the web is changing the world, which is changing the web — a true virtuous cycle (a typical outcome from the Internet).

We see this phenomenon everywhere we look: another great example, last week’s YouTube Democratic presidential debate.

As they’ve always said, information is power. Imagine the leverage we’ll gain as we add so many new potential sources of information (OLPC from our previous post, mm088) in places that are presently under-represented in our (Western culture?) collective world view.

Our world will simultaneously grow larger, and smaller.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm087: You’re always hurt by the one you love…

July 27, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Constant reader of this nanocorner of the ‘sphere hasn’t had a long time to make this a habit. mm001 dates all the way back to the first week of May.

Guess the point is, MUDGE is quite new to this blogging thing, quite low on the learning curve as it were, and quite surprised that anyone beyond a small coterie of similarly inclined hobbyists even were aware of the existence of Left-Handed Complement.

Today, however, I was called to account for what probably should be classified as a rookie mistake.

Received a polite letter from Salon.com, asking me to remove the article that I posted a couple of days ago, as its reprint in full represents a potential violation of copyright.

Hi there.

I’m Walter Thompson, director of marketing for Salon.com. It’s come to our attention that your site features the full text of at least one article originally published on Salon.com. The original article may be found here.

The article appears in full on your Web site here.

Although posting an excerpt of copyrighted material is acceptable, republishing a work in full that’s owned by another party is a copyright violation.  Please remove this material from your site at your earliest opportunity.

If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line.

Thanks,
— Walter.

Walter Thompson
Director, Marketing
Salon Media Group, Inc.
101 Spear Street
Suite 203
San Francisco, CA 94105
walter@salon.com <mailto:walter@salon.com>

Guess my wide readership (Lifetime: 1,178 hits overall as of 20:45pmCDT on 27-July-2007) is just too scary for Salon.com. And I hope I haven’t just compounded the violation by printing Walter’s letter in full!

But, MUDGE always intends to do the right thing, so here’s what mm084 looks like now, in part:

mm084fixed

Lesson learned.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm077: We pause for a few words about process

July 21, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

So, this blogging thing could consume my entire life if I let it. There is so much to write about. There is so much to read about.

At the end of mm076.1 just now, I ran off a litany of important topics. I decided to add value (?) by linking them to recent entries in the ‘sphere, as found just then in Technorati.

Found a couple of very interesting sources that I only wish I had time to explore, and perhaps make part of my regular reading routine. But, god, where is there time?

When WordPress.com greets me, they remind me how huge is the ‘sphere:

wordpress7721

So many blogs! So little time!

As I’ve said before, my writing would be more informed if I read more. But, where to start? How can I possibly keep up? And, if I could spend 24/7/52 reading, and maybe 2/6/52 writing, and 2,300 hours or so making a living, and that pesky eating and sleeping and spending time with my lovely wife, how does that compute?

Sigh.

But, this is about process. Last week I popped for an upgrade to one of my favorite screen capture tools, SnagIt. I’ve used it for nine years professionally, and although like all software it has its moments (such as: why can’t I set a preference so it would always print in landscape mode?), I wouldn’t be without it at HCA.

So, after I plunked down my $19.95 upgrade charge for my home copy of SnagIt 8, to take advantage of their Firefox extension that required a more up-to-date version than I was running, as well as their plug-in offered for Windows Live Writer, I suddenly recalled another extension already running in my crowded Firefox add-on pile: Picnik.

See, the way I use SnagIt is to capture the contents of the screen, open up a graphics program (a huge topic for another time, tyvm) to crop the part I want, resize it, add a border, etc. and convert it to JPEG.

Now, consider Picnik: I right-click on the web page I’ve found, select “Send Page to Picnik,” select from Visible Page or Full Page, and a new tab opens at Picnik.com, where some great Flash functionality allows me to crop (usually what I do, and what I just did as I wrote this to grab the WordPress fragment shown above), perhaps add a border and save as a JPEG right in one seamless operation.

And I’ve just scratched the surface of Picnik’s graphic capabilities. So, of course, it’s limited to web pages, and thus I’ll not be replacing SnagIt at work, where screen captures require a wider universe than that. But for blogging, it’s a beautiful piece of work. Well done, Picnik! And, the price is right: $0.00!

So, MUDGE’S blogging process hall of fame has a new member:

halloffame

Wouldn’t be without either one.

I’ve raved previously about WLW, as has WordPress.com itself, saying that it’s used by more of its bloggers than any other tool. It has so simplified the task of preparing my posts, and the Blog This in Windows Live Writer Firefox extension is sweet.

Blogging about blogging. Well, it’s interesting to me. The process always threatens to overwhelm content, for me. In fact, I had to discipline myself last night, waiting to create my new Web Conferencing Week logo (not bad for a left-handed amateur, tyvm) until after I wrote the damned first post.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm067.1 Why I love the Internet!

July 14, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

I wasn’t going to post again today, conserving my “bank” of interesting stuff, and responding to the fact that I do have a life outside the ‘sphere.

But, this I could not resist. Found courtesy of Thoof. blogroll2

Imperial History of the Middle East

middleeastmap.jpg

WordPress.com did not let me embed this video; probably due to its size (i.e. it didn’t fit into the column width of the theme I use). Notwithstanding, click the link, please!

The capacity to educate using these pipes is awe inspiring. I don’t know who Maps of War is, or what is their agenda (hoping for the best on this one, I gotta say!), but I’m certainly on the track to discover it, thanks to this example of their work.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm061: Back from vacation…

July 11, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

First day back at work after several days of vacation — not bad, but a comedown from the blogstorm of the past few days, as the first opportunity to write at all, or read for that matter, has come after 8:00pm, seldom MUDGE’S sharpest hours.

Those of you seeking to read more about Michael Bloomberg here will be disappointed, since on that subject I know very little more than I did yesterday. I’ll even control myself and not put his name in today’s tags. Such restraint! I’ve struck some kind of nerve, since those posts have exceeded interest in everything else I’ve had to say by an order of magnitude.

Your interest is my interest. More on Bloomberg will follow. But not tonight.

Several posts ago I wrote about my spiritual renaissance, one manifestation of which are these electrons you peruse, and another that I determined to apply for my retiring manager’s open position. Did so just before leaving for that stay-at-home vacation last week.

No word on the application as yet, although my intuition is that the manager and the department head are content to let HR do the dirty work. You’ll remember HR: don’t call me, we’ll call you. One of the known candidates was in town today lunching with the incumbent; appears that the fix may already be in.

I don’t really mind rejection; I get white hot when not taken seriously.

Well I still love my job — remember? Tsar of Web Conferencing! I’m sure that long term I’ll be a happier camper than counselor. Still…

BTW, thanks for the kind response to mm060 from kindred spirit ClapSo. The word for my lovely, extraordinarily patient wife is not saint, a concept foreign to our heritage, but rather, valorous.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm031: … on the other hand …

June 24, 2007

From Machinist (–>) in Salon (–>), a second opinion regarding the previous post.

What’s the most-hated tech term? An odd poll by the British survey firm YouGov found that “folksonomy” is the most likely of any nerd-word to make people online “wince, shudder or want to bang your head on the keyboard.” The word “blogosphere” was second, “blog” was third, and “netiquette” came in at number four. But do folks say many of these anymore? “Blogosphere” and “blog,” sure, but it was the last century when I last heard “netiquette.” “Blook” — the allegedly popular blending of “book” and “blog,” which came in at number five — gets under 500,000 on Google. “Onomatopoeia” is more popular. Sounds like a push-poll to me.

Machinist: Tech Blog, Tech News, Technology Articles – Salon

Differences of opinion are so rare in the ‘sphere. I still hear “webinar” way too often to suit me.

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mm023: Trying out WLW

June 19, 2007

MUDGE’s Musings

Since early last month, when I began to get real with this project, I have been using a tool called Qumana to create and support Left-Handed Complement. I found it to be useful in a few ways, but awkward in many.

While surfing this past weekend, I found mention of Windows Live Writer, with some extremely positive endorsements, not least from Digital Inspiration (see the blogroll for the link).

Enough good things have already been said about Windows Live Writer. If you still haven’t heard about it, Live Writer is an extremely powerful WYSIWYG blog editor from Microsoft that is miles ahead of competition (from w.blogger, ecto or blogjet) both in terms of features and user interface. It also have a very reasonable price – $0.00

As Amit Agarwal says, the price is right and it promises WYSIWYG, sadly lacking in my (previous?) tool of choice.

So we’re giving it a try tonight; so far so good. See the Qumana thing really seemed to be about the advertising they’d like you to sign up for. Really, do the two or three of you really need to see more “context sensitive” advertising? I’ve not thought so. Doesn’t seem part of WLW’s setup, so far, which is a positive.

And the WYSIWYG seems a tall improvement. Writing in Qumana has been a chore, since it seems a very basic (think Notepad) editor, and formatting seems to go away when posted. We’ll see what happens here shortly, but WLW already looks more like L-HC looks (nothing extraordinary, based on a stock WordPress template, but I like it).

What I had taken to do for Qumana is actually write in a simple editor, Wordpad actually, so that copying the text out didn’t grab out too much overhead — using Word or in my case OpenOffice.org Writer took much baggage, and formatted very little anyway. So, I’d write in Wordpad, open up a new post in Qumana, copy over “MUDGE”s Musings” and then copy the text from Wordpad into Qumana, adding tags and links. Kind of a bother.

WLW so far seems much simpler: I am writing, and I can see what it’s gong to look like. I just saved a draft of the above, and WLW shows me in its control panel that it has done so, another plus. And it just added the blockquote from Digital Inspiration, and it was seamless. This is the kind of thing I used to have to do directly in WordPress (post-posting as it were); this is much easier. Very good stuff so far.

So, a blog about the nuts and bolts of blogging. How self-referential and navel-gazing can I get? Just watch!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–Mudge

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