Cold Season and Another Try with FontKit

I haven’t had a cold in quite a while, so the one I have now feels par­tic­u­lar­ly annoy­ing. It’s not as if I’ve for­got­ten what a cold is like, but I think you can get used to them, when you get them more often (and I’m sure I did suf­fer from fre­quent colds- near­ly every few months or so when we lived in Boston). It’s a rainy day, and this is Cold: Day 2 ( which means, run­ny nose, sneezes and a lit­tle less ener­gy), Cold: Day 2 is always eas­i­er for me than Cold: Day 1 (sore throat, run­ny nose, feel­ing like crap). Hope­ful­ly, this cold will progress at the usu­al rate, or maybe even faster.

It’s Labour Day week­end, and although I do have a con­tract I’m work­ing on, I do have the lux­u­ry of not hav­ing to work very much this 3‑day week­end. This hol­i­day falls on the last week­end of sum­mer and ush­ers in School, Work, and gen­er­al ‘Lets-Get-Down-To-It’ sort of things that we asso­ciate with the Fall sea­son. We’ve had a spec­tac­u­lar­ly sun­ny sum­mer, and it real­ly was extra­or­di­nary, with months and months of sun­shine, sun­shine and more sun­shine. That was unfor­tu­nate for those peo­ple who had to deal with wild­fires to the East of us, but for those of us in the city or near the water, July and August have been a rarely inter­rupt­ed suc­ces­sion of one beau­ti­ful day after anoth­er. Does this mean we are in for some weath­er come­up­pance?  Will we see a Jan­u­ary and Feb­ru­ary mon­soon, or worse, lots of snow, like last year? Time will tell, I sup­pose. What I can say for sure is that for the first time in ages, the rain that we have (and there has been a lit­tle of it), is falling on a week­end. Rainy week­ends hold their own charm for me; you don’t have to feel guilty about indoor pur­suits like movies, TV, blog­ging, lis­ten­ing to iTunes or even clean­ing up the place. I’m not miss­ing any pre­cious hours of vit­a­min D har­vest, and it can be nice to be cozy, wrapped in a blan­ket, snooz­ing through some of those sniffles.

The end of the Sum­mer real­ly began a cou­ple of weeks ago when Pam and I once again went to the PNE, which is in its last week­end right now. While we missed Dal Richards, (Canada’s answer to Guy Lom­bar­do and Glen Miller and a liv­ing leg­end, still per­form­ing well into his 90’s), we did make it to see many of the ani­mals (and on Open­ing Day, there are many of them):

Cow and Handler

I loved how this pic­ture came out

The Open­ing Day crowds, brought out by the per­fect weath­er were large:


We chat­ted with an old friend at the Home Improve­ment Pavil­ion, ate some of those famous lit­tle donuts:
Mmm Donuts!

Mmm Donuts!

David Eats the Donuts

They were Hot and Delicious

and Pam got a bar­gain of 4 ears of roast­ed corn for the price of 1 (the line was so long, they were get­ting behind and she got a plate of not-quite-good-enough-for-1-serv­ing ears):
Pam's Corn

Pam’s Corn

We also went to the ‘Mar­ket­place’ where you see all of those demon­stra­tions of every­thing from Sham­mies to Blenders and end­ed up get­ting a Smart Liv­ing Steam Mop. We’ve since put it through it’s paces on our car­pets, wood and tile at home and while it does not per­form mir­a­cles, it does work pret­ty well, and we hope it will help us keep the place a lit­tle clean­er. We still do need new car­pet, but that will hope­ful­ly come in the next few months or so.

So, with the sea­son now clear­ly com­ing to an end, it’s time to return my atten­tion back to this blog, which I’ve been giv­ing a bit less atten­tion this sum­mer. With that, I’m try­ing to once again look at the new Font tech­nol­o­gy that will be com­ing soon to a web page on your screen…

Squishy Fonts?

I’ve tried some dif­fer­ent Type­kit fonts, and it seems as if the body text is always look­ing a bit squished. I’m con­vinced it’s not the fonts them­selves, but the met­rics I’ve spec­i­fied on the orig­i­nal Geor­gia font (which is what old­er browsers see when they view my pages). I’ll keep at it, but for ref­er­ence, here are the fonts as they appear on the Type­Kit Edi­tor page:


Click to see the full-size, which clear­ly shows how the fonts should look.

As you can see, the new font, Luxi (Sans and Serif) are not sup­posed to be that squishy, so I’ll have to work on the orig­i­nal CSS (and do so with­out ruin­ing the look of the page for old­er browsers. Back­ward com­pat­i­bil­i­ty with­out mess­ing up the new fonts is going to be one of the chal­lenges for us using these new fonts, I guess.

Fun With Fonts

For those folks who read my blog as an RSS feed,  or those who read it with an old­er brows­er (such as Inter­net Explor­er 5.0 or less, Fire­fox 2.0, Safari 1.0, or oth­ers), you won’t notice much of a change, but if you are look­ing at this page or oth­ers with a new­er brows­er, you should be see­ing some inter­est­ing changes: main­ly the fonts for the head­lines and body type. How did I do this? I’ve been play­ing with the type­kit ser­vice ( — if you don’t see any­thing yet, it’s because I got an ear­ly invi­ta­tion. They’ll be going live for the gen­er­al pub­lic soon, I think. ), which has start­ed  to post web fonts for those peo­ple design­ing and build­ing web sites, as well as the browsers that can see them, and they’ll be offer­ing a free account with 2 fonts on a sin­gle URL. I decid­ed to use the font  “M+ 1c” for the head­lines and “Droid Serif” (which is actu­al­ly one of the fonts designed for onscreen read­ing on the Google Android OS) for the body copy.  I prob­a­bly will need to tweak some oth­er set­tings and CSS (Com­ments and a few oth­er items in the con­tent areas are still show­ing up in Geor­gia), but over­all, I’m intrigued with the prospect of web sites and blogs that use fonts oth­er than the 6 or 7 that we’ve been see­ing reg­u­lar­ly for the past 10 years or so. I hope this does catch on, as I think it could spur a renais­sance in web design. In the mean­time, it’s always a thrill to be an ear­ly adopter and catch some of this at the beginning.

Blog Vacation is Over

I admit it: I was tak­ing the sum­mer off from blog­ging. A com­bi­na­tion of lots of change in work/life com­bined with some real­ly great get-out-and-enjoy-the-out­doors weath­er pushed typ­ing at the com­put­er screen right off the sched­ule. Until now.

What pushed me back to the blog? Lots of changes in day-to-day life around here:

  1. The new Canada­Line, which is essen­tial­ly a sub­way (with a bit of it above ground once you get fur­ther out — just like the good old Boston T) start­ed ser­vice this past Mon­day (the first day free from 1 till 9). That means, for all intents and pur­pos­es, that the city that I know of has instant­ly grown. Rich­mond, as well as parts of the city clos­er to the Fras­er riv­er are now just as con­ve­nient to get to as Burn­a­by, the city to the East. Pam and I rode it from the sec­ond stop (Granville/City Cen­tre) to the last one (Rich­mond) — but did not take the spur to the air­port. This new tran­sit line also brings Van­cou­ver the dis­tinc­tion of being the first city in Cana­da to have a tran­sit line that links the down­town to the air­port, just like Lon­don, Paris, Bei­jing and oth­er cities not in North America.
  2. The har­bin­ger of the end of the sum­mer is around the cor­ner: The PNE. I look for­ward to this ‘Coun­ty Fair’ just out­side the city (although tech­ni­cal­ly it’s still with­in the city lim­its) every year.  This will be our (gasp!) fifth one.
  3. A shock­ing and sad announce­ment that Work­space, one of the favourite gath­er­ing places for the tech com­mu­ni­ty here in Van­cou­ver, will be clos­ing its doors at the end of the week. Work­space was an engag­ing com­bi­na­tion of café, office space for cre­ative tech­no­log­i­cal entre­pre­neurs, incu­ba­tor, club­house and even a lit­tle bit of a Soho gallery (lots of local art on the walls). The floor to ceil­ing views of Howe Sound and the moun­tains, the grit­ti­ness of the train tracks (and trains pass­ing close by), along with the white paint over a for­mer slaugh­ter­house all con­tributed to a unique space that I will miss ter­ri­bly. For­tu­nate­ly, as I write this, there is some heart­en­ing traf­fic on Twit­ter about some­thing to fill this gap­ing void in the Van­cou­ver tech­nol­o­gy and social scene. We’ll have to see what comes out of the ash­es of that gem of a loca­tion that holds many fond mem­o­ries for me (and I’m sure it does for many oth­ers as well).
  4. I men­tioned changes in work. I don’t usu­al­ly blog about work on this blog. My phi­los­o­phy has always been that there was plen­ty of oth­er things to talk about, and there was always the poten­tial of offend­ing some­one or mak­ing some oth­er career-lim­it­ing move, so why chance it?  That said, I’ve resigned from my posi­tion of VP of Cre­ative Solu­tions at Busi­ness Log­ic (if you want to find out why, I can tell you over a cou­ple of beers), and I’m once again look­ing for a per­ma­nent posi­tion, despite the fact that I have a con­tract at a local Finan­cial Plan­ning com­pa­ny.  I know all too well, when con­tracts are done, there is often noth­ing else wait­ing in the wings, espe­cial­ly dur­ing cer­tain months of the year (although I’m pleased that for once, I’m work­ing in August, despite the fact that I’m not an employ­ee any­where — yet).
  5. I’ve also got a back­log of some video and pho­tos to show. The sum­mer of events and peo­ple con­tin­ued with the always enter­tain­ing and colour­ful Gay Pride Parade, Vinocamp (and Cheese­camp), a pleas­ant Wed­ding Anniver­sary pic­nic at Kits Beach (and thanks to Netchick for the idea). I’ll try and post some pics and video before it’s too ancient. If noth­ing else, the video of out first trip on the Canad­line has some great ver­ti­go-induc­ing footage look­ing back­ward down the tun­nel (I could­n’t get any­where near the front of the car, but the back end was more acces­si­ble, hence the back­ward-look­ing video).

So, as my father is fond of say­ing ‘The only thing you can be cer­tain of is change’.  He’s right, and I sup­pose it makes life more inter­est­ing. I have to admit that I’m nev­er a huge fan of change, but I’m get­ting bet­ter at it, and some of these changes haven’t been bad. Just the Work­space loss. Yup, that one just plain sucks.

A Brilliant Idea: Concerto for Nora (the Cat) and Orchestra

Com­pos­er and Con­duc­tor Min­dau­gas Piecaitis in Lithua­nia had an idea. Why not build an orches­tral accom­pa­ni­ment around the now-famous YouTube video of Nora the Piano Cat? The result is a bril­liant, if some­times quirky piece of music that gen­tly and play­ful­ly inter­acts with the cat video.

Despite the title ‘CATcer­to’, this is actu­al­ly a sen­si­tive and at times con­tem­pla­tive piece, and shows just what a com­pos­er can do, how they can make some inter­est­ing com­po­si­tion­al choic­es in response to almost ran­dom events, and make sense of it all. As Igor Stravin­sky once said: “The more con­straints one impos­es, the more one frees one’s self. And the arbi­trari­ness of the con­straint serves only to obtain pre­ci­sion of execution.”

We now live in an Inter­net-con­nect­ed world, where dig­i­tal video, com­posers and cham­ber orches­tras can all some­how blend into some­thing that’s…well, Art. I’m all for it.

Helen Back (As In, I’ve Been To)

I’m a lit­tle bleary-eyed, but I am here, awake, and still able to blog. I believe that I’ve exor­cized all of the demons (or dae­mons for the UNIX folks out there) that were putting in the SPAM in my posts and RSS feeds. I did locate code in my xmlrpc.php file that had a graph­ic of a spi­der (in ascii — how old school!) and then a bunch of what looked like Russ­ian. It had every­thing but ‘From Rus­sia with Love’ in it. I did­n’t keep it around long enough to fig­ure exact­ly what it was doing, but after sev­er­al tries at clean­ing out, I inevitably had to blow away my Word­Press install and rein­stall from fresh files. After all of that, rein­stalling and recon­fig­ur­ing plu­g­ins, re-enter­ing and updat­ing pass­words, and ping­ing servers,  I final­ly appear to be back in busi­ness, and most of what I had is back (save a few plu­g­ins and oth­er niceties).

So, by way of a test, here’s a video I took with the Flip Cam­era of our sec­ond vis­it to the Night Mar­ket in Rich­mond last night. This evening I had Bánh mì (the incom­pa­ra­ble Viet­namese sand­wich­es of ham, paté and crisp veg­eta­bles on crunchy French style baguettes) and Tai­wanese deep-fried squid which was absolute­ly fan­tas­tic. Pam had a Green Papaya Sal­ad with shred­ded beef jerky and a pip­ing hot waf­fle filled with red bean paste. Too bad the video can’t be smelled or tasted.

This is also a first attempt at using the quick and dirty Flip­Share soft­ware to make a movie from my short clips, and despite the rather ugly open­ing titles, I think it actu­al­ly does a pret­ty good job.  It’s cer­tain­ly faster than iMovie, but then again, I did­n’t do much but trim a few of the clips. Let’s hear it for raw video, free of spam!