The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'pixel art'
A few random odds and ends which, for one reason or another, didn't make it into blog posts in 2011:
- Artificial intelligence pioneer John McCarthy died this year; though before he did, he wrote up a piece on the sustainability of progress. The gist of it is that he contended that progress is both sustainable and desirable, for at least the next billion years, with resource limitations being largely illusory.
- As China's economy grows, dishonest entrepreneurs are coming up with increasingly novel and bizarre ways of adulterating food:
In May, a Shanghai woman who had left uncooked pork on her kitchen table woke up in the middle of the night and noticed that the meat was emitting a blue light, like something out of a science fiction movie. Experts pointed to phosphorescent bacteria, blamed for another case of glow-in-the-dark pork last year. Farmers in eastern Jiangsu province complained to state media last month that their watermelons had exploded "like landmines" after they mistakenly applied too much growth hormone in hopes of increasing their size.
Until recently, directions were circulating on the Internet about how to make fake eggs out of a gelatinous compound comprised mostly of sodium alginate, which is then poured into a shell made out of calcium carbonate. Companies marketing the kits promised that you could make a fake egg for one-quarter the price of a real one.
- The street finds its own uses for things, and places develop local specialisations and industries: the Romanian town of Râmnicu Vâlcea has become a global centre of expertise in online scams, with industries arising to bilk the world's endless supply of marks, and to keep the successful scammers in luxury goods:
The streets are lined with gleaming storefronts—leather accessories, Italian fashions—serving a demand fueled by illegal income. Near the mall is a nightclub, now closed by police because its backers were shady. New construction grinds ahead on nearly every block. But what really stands out in Râmnicu Vâlcea are the money transfer offices. At least two dozen Western Union locations lie within a four-block area downtown, the company’s black-and-yellow signs proliferating like the Starbucks mermaid circa 2003.
It’s not so different from the forces that turn a neighborhood into, say, New York’s fashion district or the aerospace hub in southern California. “To the extent that some expertise is required, friends and family members of the original entrepreneurs are more likely to have access to those resources than would-be criminals in an isolated location,” says Michael Macy, a Cornell University sociologist who studies social networks. “There may also be local political resources that provide a degree of protection.”
- Monty Python's Terry Jones says that The Life Of Brian could not be made now, as it would be too risky in today's climate of an increasingly strident religiosity exercising its right to take offense:
The 69-year-old said: "I took the view it wasn't blasphemous. It was heretical because it criticised the structure of the church and the way it interpreted the Gospels. At the time religion seemed to be on the back burner and it felt like kicking a dead donkey. It has come back with a vengeance and we'd think twice about making it now."
- The Torygraph's Charles Moore: I'm starting to think that the Left might actually be right:
And when the banks that look after our money take it away, lose it and then, because of government guarantee, are not punished themselves, something much worse happens. It turns out – as the Left always claims – that a system purporting to advance the many has been perverted in order to enrich the few. The global banking system is an adventure playground for the participants, complete with spongy, health-and-safety approved flooring so that they bounce when they fall off. The role of the rest of us is simply to pay.
- The sketchbooks of Susan Kare, the artist who designed the icons, bitmaps and fonts for the original Macintosh, and went on to an illustrious career as a pixel artist (Microsoft hired her to do the Windows 3.x icons, and some years ago, Facebook hired her to design the virtual "gifts" you could buy for friends.) The sketchbooks show her original Macintosh icons, which were drawn by hand on graph paper (because, of course, they didn't have GUI tools for making icons back then).
- How To Steal Like An Artist: advice for those who wish to do creative work.
- The street finds its own uses for things (2): with the rise of the Arduino board (a low-cost, hackable microcontroller usable for basically anything electronic you might want to program), anyone can now make their own self-piloting drone aircraft out of a radio-controlled plane. And it isn't actually illegal in itself (at least in the US; YMMV).
- An answer to the question of why U2 are so popular.
Web interface of the day: A Chinese company has unified isometric pixel art and Google Maps-style draggable maps to make pixelicious city maps.
Now perhaps someone can commission eBoy to do one of Berlin. Or of the internet.
How To Behave On An Internet Forum, presented in the form of a retrostyled pixel-art video:
(via Boing Boing)
There's an abundance of unusual pixel-related projects online today:
- Papierpixel is a mechanical device which shows animated bitmaps, using no electronics other than the lightbulbs; the animated frames are encoded in perforations on a strip of paper, and the frame rate depends on how fast one pulls the strip through the machine.
- Infernoptix is a display device which uses propane jets as a display medium. It can work in a number of modes, including as a scrolling text sign, displaying freehand drawings or (low-frame-rate) animations, in "Audio Mode", putting on a fearsome light show to your favourite industrial power-noise band, or in "Percussion Mode", where it apparently makes terrifying sound that makes said industrial band sound like Isobel Campbell on valium by comparison:
Whereas the preceding modes of operation involve harnessing fire for visual appeal, the percussion mode takes advantage of the concussive nature of each burst of fire to create complex custom rhythms. What is the sound of one pixel firing? Well, it's not too scary, but add more and more simultaneous bursts and the depth and amplitude of the shockwave increase rapidly. Now by firing different quantities of pixels, and pixels at specific locations on the screen, it is possible to create beats of varied pitch and amplitude. Again the software allows easy control of tempo and pulse length, so you can optimize playback every time. Scripting and editing of a pyrocussion arrangement is easily handled with the percussion editing mode- just hit record and play along with the metronome on the keys of your keyboard. When you're done you'll see a visual representation of each beat, and be able to edit each beat's exact timing, volume, and location, as well as building up more beats on top. Then save your file and play it back any time. What's great about using combustion for percussion is that much lower frequencies can be achieved than with most any standard percussion instrument. Frequencies at and below the threshold of human hearing dominate in the larger bursts, and with the long-distance capacity of low frequencies, it means that you'll be feeling the beats of the Infernoptix before you're hearing them, and hearing them long before you're seeing them. Guaranteed to rattle windows over 1 block away . . .
- PixelRoller is a device which looks like a paint roller but, when rolled over a surface, paints a preprogrammed sequence of pixels on it. No word on how it actually works, though it sounds like it could be a boon to graffitiists and street artists.
A tutorial on how to make isometric pixel art, à la the pixelicious Eboy.com. It's pitched at beginners, though has some useful hints. From what I gathered, Eboy's system is somewhat more sophisticated, with modular libraries of elements (buildings, street scenes and so on) that they can plug together, and possibly some sort of Common Lisp-based compositing engine, but this should work.
(I was thinking that someone should do an Eboy-style streetscape of Brunswick Street. Perhaps, once I figure out the forking-into-infinite-numbers-of-parallel-universes trick, I'll do it.)
This looks cool; it's a web/DHTML-based bitmap font editor, like those ones they had in the 8-bit days. Once you've finished your font, press the button and it sends you a TrueType file of it.
SuperBroncoBattle, massive, pixelicious new poster from the sultans of isometric, eBoy. And they're having an exhibition in London (187-211 St. John St., EC1) from the 29th of October to the 4th of November, featuring "wild cityscapes, celebrity vector graphics and x-rated images", as well as this poster.
The Bush Game is a very well done propaganda piece for the John Kerry campaign in the form of a fashionably pixelated Flash game, referencing 1980s kid culture that's the height of ironic retro hipness with the Generation X/Y crowd. It's a politically-incorrect arcade beat-em-up game, in which hip retro characters such as Mr. T, Hulk Hogan, and He-Man, along with the likes of Mike Moore, Jessica Lynch, and, of course, Democratic Party heroes like John Kerry and Howard Dean, battle evil hordes of porcine crony-capitalists and end-of-level bosses (the entire Bush Cabinet, as well as the likes of Paris Hilton and Janet Jackson's robo-breast). Along the way it shows presentations about Bush's depredations of social security funds, redistribution of wealth to the ultra-rich, and collusion with the likes of Enron, in a fairly easy-to-grasp way -- and then claims that the Democrats will fix everything if they get elected. (via everyone, it seems)