A while ago I decided it was time for a blog redesign. After considering lots of options, including radical change based on entirely new templates and a fun diversion, I have settled on some simple tweaks:
Simplified Font: “Lucida Grande” Verdana replaces Arial — and no italics except for quoted text (from linked content).
Simplified Sidebar: A lighter background, border and header font colours and some content revision to reduce clutter.
Simplified Banner: Squared up logo and banner image panels with no more gradient transitions on the image(s).
Back to the future?
This squaring up may be slightly influenced by the Windows 8 look Microsoft no longer call Metro as I have been quite taken with that after playing with the preview. However it has some history as relates to my first image based banner from way back in 2004.
No code was hurt in the making of this blog
Although TypePad design templates (right) make this sort of change painless, no coding required, you can still spend quite a lot of time playing around.
Who sees it anyway?
Then I wonder, when so many read blogs via reader sites and applications which just consume the RSS Feed content does anybody actually still see or care about the site design?
Oh well, for my own records and amusement if nothing else:
The Road to Muckle Flugga is collection of articles about “Great drives on Five Continents” by the late Phil Llewellin. He was a wonderful writer, who happened to write about motoring, for CAR Magazine (U.K.) among others.
I referred to an article I still have:
I think the finest piece is, the appropriately named, “Their Finest Hour”. I clipped this out of CAR when first published in 1990 as I loved it then.
To mark the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain Phil went on a personal pilgrimage to major landmarks connected with “The greatest aerial campaign in history”. He drove a Red Bentley Mulsanne Turbo which is reviewed along with the history of the places he visits, the events, people and machines. This is far from a dry historical tale as he recounts the experiences of the air-crew, families and children involved.
It’s a pity is only some of the photos from the article, which featured both modern & historical photo’s and lovely watercolour illustrations, made it to the book. That aside it’s a must read in a book of great reads.
If anything the book format is the only weakness. It’s a pity this wasn’t a magazine format book reproducing the articles, with the photos and layout, as first published.
As part of their 50th anniversary Car have published the article on-line, along with images of the original magazine layout and artwork. I totally recommend you read it and be sure to look at the artwork:
I’ve always regretted missing Richard Feynman’s 1979 Douglas Robb Memorial Lectures. I was 13 and although aware of Richard Feynman’s work — thanks to Isaac Asimov — a lecture on Quantum Electrodynamics probably wasn’t high on the priority list. Later on, having read his books and several about him, I sought out the lectures on VHS (this was before YouTube!). It was a treat to see Feynman in action, if only via a grainy video.
So, I couldn’t miss the chance to hear another brilliant science communicator. I haven’t read 'A Universe from Nothing' yet and only recently started Lawrence’s own book on Feynman: Quantum Man. Throughout the lecture (similar to the Richard Dawkins Foundation YouTube below) I was reminded of Feynman.
Lawrence’s ability to take a complex subject and make it understandable for someone whose formal Physics education ended at High School is remarkable.
“Lawrence Krauss will present a mind-bending trip back to the beginning of the beginning and the end of the end, reviewing the remarkable developments in cosmology and particle physics over the past 20 years that have revolutionised our picture of the origin of the universe, and of its future. In the process, it has become clear that not only can our universe naturally arise from nothing, but that it probably did.”
Throw in some social comment — mainly targeting US education, politics and creationism— and it was an entertaining and inspiring evening. It’s amazing how fascinating Nothing can be, even more amazing to think there is a plausible case it is responsible for everything.
While searching for the video above I also found this: “Join critically-acclaimed author and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and world-renowned theoretical physicist and author Lawrence Krauss as they discuss biology, cosmology, religion, and a host of other topics.”
(Way) Back in the 80s I used to buy an Aussie technology magazine “Omni”, correction it was “Omega Science Digest”!. One issue had a card you could send off (with a few au$) to get the demo cassette for a remarkable new electronic instrument. Yes, that there was an analogue demo cassette for a digital instrument gives an idea of how long ago that was!
It had a bunch of different tracks, samples etc. all created with the Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument but one (complete unlike the others) was the most memorable. I found Claude Larson’s Murrumbidgee River on YouTube (below) but sadly it appears you can no longer buy it, or the album “Rivers” (via iTunes or Amazon at least).
I probably still have that cassette somewhere… (see UPDATE 2012-02-22 below) and wanted to hear it again after listening to an ABC Radio Podcast interview — Big Ideas - Blinded by Science — with Fairlight Inventor Peter Vogel and Thomas Dolby. It covers all sorts of aspects from the evolution of digital musical technology, its impact on music and composition, the inventive process and the business of creating/marketing new ideas. There is even the tale of the (not so ubiquitous as once was) default Nokia ringtone and mention of the Fairlight iPhone/iPad app (why Dolby was in Aus.) which runs on a device vastly more powerful than the original $100,000+ Fairlight CMI!
I never did get a CMI as $100k seemed a bit much for someone who never progressed much past Grade 1 Piano before discovering sailing seemed more fun in the weekends! Maybe if I get the iOS app that cassette will have justified its demo label!
In 1979 two young men in Sydney invented a digital sampling synthesizer that sparked a worldwide musical revolution. It was called the Fairlight and for the first time musicians could play the sound of any instrument on a keyboard. It also allowed them to compose and perform compositions that would otherwise require a band or an orchestra to play. Those two men were 21 and their names were Kim Ryrie and Peter Vogel.
Without the Fairlight you might not have the same sounds out of Thomas Dolby; who shot to prominence in this country with his 80s hit ‘She blinded me with Science’. Dolby had a boyhood obsession with music and technology and some two decades later his innovative computer music has greatly impacted on today’s popular music, games and mobile phones.
Tonight they talk about music and technology then, now and in the future.
February 20, 2012 10:05 PM
Copyright 2012, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
* UPDATE 2012-02-22: The Just Fairlight Cassette Online
Charlotte’s post from the Kiva Fellows Blog reminded me of a great evening spent at Preservation Hall (back in 2007). It was also a great excuse to use my favourite, even though out of focus & blurry, photo which best captured the atmosphere.
A few nights ago I saw the Survivors Brass Band at Preservation Hall with Kiva CEO, Matt Flannery and Jonas Miller from Good Work Network…
(Charlotte is a Kiva Fellow in KF-16, the 16th Kiva Fellows Class, with ASI Federal Credit Union and is now living in New Orleans. Charlotte has lived in India, Japan, and has built houses with Habitat For Humanity in Ethiopia, Zambia and India.)