Capn Design

January 2008

This month I posted 23 entries, crafted 15 tweets, listened to 122 songs, watched 3 videos, bookmarked 1 site, took 23 photos and favorited 3 things.

The Shirt Project

Every four weeks they make a new shirt about a current event. Oh, and the shirts are fantastic. I would have posted it earlier, but I wanted to get my subscription in first. [via Khoi]

The Illustrated President

Turns out Bush's favorite painting is not about spreading the good word, but about a horse thief nearing capture. Whoops! [via kottke]

Why the Former President of Chicago NOW Switched Her Support from Hillary to Barack

The gist: Hilary ran direct mail saying Obama is soft on abortion rights, which was a complete lie.

My Top Feature Request for All Feed Readers

Posted January 24, 2008

20080124nnwstyle.jpgAfter putting together Simply Structured and years of hearing people gripe about the dearth of style in feed readers, I've realized my biggest request for NetNewsWire, or any reader for that matter, is customized styles for each feed. Even more, I don't just want the end-user to be able to customize styles, but for the author to be able to push styles alongside their content.

Styles on a feed-by-feed basis isn't a huge stretch, especially in NNW where style packages already exist, but pushing styles with your feed is something RSS and Atom don't support. But so what? In the early days of HTML, Netscape Navigator went beyond the HTML spec and added unsupported styles that developers wanted and the web is a better place for it. I'm not advocating for every feed reader to require its own custom flavor of RSS, but if they could add one line that was easily ignored by other RSS parsers, it would make for a fantastic experience. If we're already designing custom versions of sites for our iPhones and other mobile platforms, why not feed readers too?

You could argue custom styles unnecessarily complicate a feed reader, but I don't think it effects how most people consume feeds. The primary benefit of feed readers is having a device that notifies you when there is new content. The second largest benefit is having all the content in one place. Individual styles don't diminish these facts and help bring some individuality back to the web. In a time when we all have custom homepages and visit fewer and fewer sites, it'd be nice to inject a bit more personality into our daily lives.

Hyundai i30: 2007 Green Car (and Car) of the Year in Australia

Looks good, relatively cheap and does 73.5 mpg in the real world. BRING TO US KTHXBYE.


Saw this font in Fontshop's Top 10 for 2007 and thought it was classy for a blocky, sans-serif font.

Lasagna Cat

Live-action recreations of Garfield strips followed by trippy "tributes" to Jim Davis. Words fail to explain the awesomeness.

David Bordwell, a Cinema Studies God, Proclaims His Love for National Treasure

He wasn't a huge fan of Book of Secrets, but he makes a convincing case. Now I want to see the first one again.

12 Modular Homes

I'll take one of each.

Simply Structured: A NetNewsWire Style

Posted January 14, 2008

Simply Structured Screenshot

I'm an avid NetNewsWire user and was ecstatic when they announced it is now free. I don't know if the announcement inspired me, but I decided the release of NNW 3.1 would be a good time to create a custom style. I've been a longtime user of EAB - Gray, so I used Eduardo's code as a base to get started.*

More than anything, I wanted a design that stayed out of the way. Reading posts via feeds instead of actual sites lets me consume more data. Having a simple, highly legible style makes it much easier. Here are the problems I hoped to solve and I think this new style does a good job with it.

  • Highly legible type that squeezes as much content as possible on a page. Helvetica, Verdana and a base font size of 11px helped make this possible. I think short posts, long posts and image-heavy posts look good, if I do say so myself.
  • Feed metadata that's easy to process. I like having the data at the top of the screen, but NNW defaults to putting it all in one line. Simply Structured adds labels and makes everything a little more orderly.
  • Images that float right or left when they're supposed to. When an image style is not embedded inline, the style won't come through. I fixed this by adding styles for some common image style declarations. (If you end up using Simply Structured and find styles I haven't included, let me know and I'll put them in.)
  • Even though I don't use it, I also adjusted the style to work with the widescreen view. You can see an example at the bottom of the entry.

Putting this together was a lot of fun. After years of worrying about IE6, Firefox 1.5 and who knows what else, it was refreshing to work in a closed system. I've never used :before before!

The style still isn't perfect, but it suits my needs. The biggest concession was cutting off long URLs in the feed metadata box, which only bothers me a little. If you do find any other problems, feel free to leave a comment and I'll do my best to fix it.

Installing Simply Structured

  1. Download this:
  2. Unzip it and place "Simply Structured.nnwstyle" in the folder you keep your NNW stylesheets, which defaults to USER_NAME/Library/Application Support/NetNewsWire/StyleSheets/.
  3. Open up NNW. If the style menu is not visible in the lower right corner of the application, click "Show Styles Menu" in the View menu. Then select Simply Structured and you're good to go!

More Screenshots

Simply Structured Screenshot

Widescreen view

Simply Structured Screenshot

All text

* Expect a post later this week about creating your own style and another one with my biggest feature request for NNW.

White Whine

A new white person complaint every day of the week. "I just can’t get the same high score on brick breaker with this damn trackball...I was great with that scroll wheel." [via Mike_FTW]

One Hundred People, Aged 1-100, Bang a Drum

This was way more fun than I'd expected. The highlights were seeing the visible progression of age and the mad stylee of the older folks. They were awesome.

A.V. Club Interview with Anthony Bourdain

The interview is long, but it makes me love him more.

What Do Real Thugs Think of the Wire?

The Freakonomics blog rounds up NYC gang members to comment on the Wire. They think Bunk is on the take and Marlo will be dead by the end of the season.

The Hood Internet Make Alicia Keys' "No One" Awesomer

Not that I loved it in the first place, but it sounds great with that CSS beat in the background.

The Air Car

Posted January 7, 2008

20080107aircar.jpgThis was going to be a quick post, but there were too many amazing facts to include. Before I list through them, the air car's engine was built by a French engineer and runs on compressed air. There is no emission and the car will cost $7,000 when Tata Motors releases it. While the list below is enlightening, watching this BBC video will tell you the story in 80 seconds.

  • In the single energy mode MDI cars consume less than one euro every 100Km. (around 0.75 Euros) that is to say, 10 time less than gasoline powered cars.
  • When there is no combustion, there is no pollution. The vehicle's driving range is close to twice that of the most advanced electric cars (from 200 to 300 km or 8 hours of circulation) This is exactly what the urban market needs where, as previously mentioned, 80% of the drivers move less than 60Km. a day.
  • The recharging of the car will be done at gas stations, once the market is developed. To fill the tanks it will take about to 2 to 3 minutes at a price of 1.5 euros. After refilling the car will be ready to driver 200 kilometres.
  • Because the engine does not burn any fuel the car's oil(a litre of vegetable) only needs to be changed every 50,000Km.
  • The temperature of the clean air expulsed form the exhaust pipe is between 0 and 15 degrees below zero and can be subsequently channelled and used for air conditioning in the interior of the car.

They'll initially come to market with the MiniCat and the CityCat. This first generation technology sounds amazing. I can't wait to see where this is going to go.

The Magazineer

Derek Powazek does a blog about magazines? Hello new favorite blog.

The Robot Vacuum

Posted January 5, 2008

20080105obama.jpgPolitics piss me off. Everyone is too worried about keeping their job or getting a new one to bother doing what's best for their constituents. Most politicians enter Washington with the best of intentions, but a potential failure looms and their scruples go to the wayside.

"'You've got to do what's right, OK?' [McCain] told me, 'but if you want to succeed, you have to adjust to the American people's desires and priorities".

Unfortunately, the people don't always know what's best for themselves. As James Surowiecki says, crowds are smart, people are dumb. This is why I want a leader who is smart and has a mind of his/her own. I'm not so worried about aligning perfectly with their views, so long as it's close. I also don't mind if they're lacking in experience if they seem willing to turn to any of their dozens of advisers.

I singled out McCain above because, despite having very different views on social policy, I always liked him. After failing to get the nomination in 2000, he has been sucked into the robot vacuum. Sure, he'll talk off the cuff and verbally attack an audience member now and again, but he has sold out. He's just too willing to play the game.

Obama also seemed in danger of a one way trip to the vacuum. His speech at the 2006 DNC really moved me, but I was a bit turned off at the beginning of his campaign. Somehow, his advisers managed to make him boring, which is a travesty. In the last month or two, and especially at his Iowa victory speech, he's got me back into the fold. He's a real person and I love it.

Harold Washington

While this ended up being about the current election, the idea for this post came from an episode of This American Life about Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. I didn't know much about him, but the episode painted him as the rare politician who could both play the game and speak his mind.

There's plenty more to say about Harold and this episode of TAL, but an interesting statistic from Washington's original campaign is that he was able to register 140,000 new voters when his campaign thought 50,000 would be a stretch. On Thursday Democrats nearly doubled 2004's caucus with 100,000 additional voters.

Okay, to finish it off here is my favorite quote from that episode. This is what Harold had to say about Richard J. Daly, a man revered by white Chicagoans. Try to imagine anyone saying this today.

"When he says that he had hoped I'd have the good qualities of past mayors, there are no good qualities of past mayors to be had. None. None. None. None." "I regret anyone dying. I have no regrets about [Daly] leaving. He was a racist to the core, head to toe, hip to hip, there's no ding or doubt about it. He eschewed and fought and oppressed black people to the point that some thought that was the way they were supposed to live, just like some slaves on the plantation thought that that was the way they were supposed to live. I give no hosannas to a racist, nor did I appreciate or respect his son. If his name were anything other than Daley, his campaign would be a joke."
Well Excuuuuuse Me, Princess!

[via Maniacal Rage]

Trailers for Hilarious Knockoffs of Pixar Films

Enjoy Ratatoing and Little Cars. I wonder if they know the Snakes on a Train guys. [via waxy]

Even More Human Tetris

More impressive, but slightly less amusing than the other human tetris [via keith]

The A/V Club Shoots Down David Cross' Alvin Defense

David Cross wrote a long defense of his decision to do Alvin and the Chipmunks, but Steve Hyden does a better job than I could of explaining why Cross sounds ridiculous. "And, truth be told, the guy chooses to do a lot of terrible projects that never had a chance of not being terrible. Even he knows this. So why does he get pissed off when we notice it, too?"

Kottke's Best Links of 2007

If I were to anthropomorphize the internet, it would look nearly identical to Jason.

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