Cairo Throw

(www.areaware.com)

The original emoji, Cairo was a typeface designed by Susan Kare in 1984 for the first Macintosh operating system. Taking its name from the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt, each symbol was drawn by hand using the bitmap grid. A few notable symbols lived on into later operating systems including the cursor and watch.

Kare designed this woven blanket for the Jacquard loom, an early example of computer-controlled machinery, operated with punched cards and invented by Joseph Jacquard in 1801.

I discovered this blanket in Stephen Hackett's Instagram stories and was immediately smitten. It would go great on the wall of my office, but at $135 it's well outside my decorating budget.

Musical Meandering

I spent a little bit of time today fiddling around with the Nanoloop iOS app on a few different devices today. I was kind of curious if it still ran on the latest 64 bit hardware because it came out 10 years and I have it installed on my still functioning original iPad. It turns out that it works fine on my iPad Pro, but crashes on my iPhone 11. Kind of a bummer, but not the end of the world as it's probably a relatively simple bug fix related to the screen.

Nanoloop has kind of an amazing history, it was originally developed as a music creation cartridge for the Nintendo Gameboy1, but made its way to the iPhone and Android phone not long after third party apps became a thing a decade ago. It has a very elegant music creation interface that's totally suitable for the small screen of an original iPhone because of its Gameboy heritage. It's use of Times Roman for some of its file interface UI does grate on me though. It should really use a simple bitmap font for that in my opinion!

Switching musical gears slightly, in the last week I discovered2 that there is in fact a common and elegant plain text format for encoding music called abc notation. This is something I had wondered about a little bit as I started thinking about music more again3 as a creative outlet during the last few years. There are tons of utilities that will convert the abc notation music files into sheet music or playable midi files, and there are also lots of large song collections in the format as well. One exercise that I've been meaning to do a little bit is encoding some simple songs using applications like Nanoloop and PixiTracker and this format serves as a very good resource in that regard because I'm still kind of slow reading treble clef music4


  1. You can still purchase a cartridge that runs on the Gameboy Advance in fact.

  2. Somewhat bizarrely via a utility that builds off the capabilities of Starbound the game my sons are really into right now.

  3. I played baritone/euphonium and trombone back in high school.

  4. Bass clef is still second nature and even though I haven't played a trombone in decades I can still immediately map sheet music to slide position and note name in my head. I just need more practice with treble clef music to get to the same level of note recognition.

Adam of the Road

(www.goodreads.com)

📚  The winner of the Newberry Medal in 1943, Adam of the Road (★★★★) is the simple yet enjoyable tale of a young 13th century boy and his journey to reunite with his beloved dog and minstrel father after getting separated from both of them. I particularly enjoyed Adam's independent nature and resourcefulness, the historical elements of the setting, and the idyllic pace of the story which contrasts so sharply with modern life and storytelling.

Media Update

Today was a weird day of not being overly productive, but I did get some reading done, listened to a few podcasts1, and got caught up on Star Trek: Picard last night.

The book I'm reading at the moment is the classic Newberry Medal Winner, Adam of the Road. One of my longer term reading projects is working my way through all the Newberry Medal Winners that I haven't read, and since I had to specifically check this one out for one of my kids,2 I thought I might as well give it go before returning it to the library. I'm about halfway through and enjoying its simple story of a young minstrel growing up in late 13th century England. I've read most of the Saxon Stories series which are set in late 9th and early 10th century England so it's interesting to see how England changed and became a little more civilized post Norman conquest even as the march of progress is glacial by modern standards.

Star Trek: Picard continues to be a lot of fun. I'm enjoying the slow build up as he assembles his team and the general mysteries around Romulans, synthetic life, and the various competing conspiracies that seem to be at play. Despite their long history in the Star Trek universe, the Romulans have remained fairly under utilized and mysterious in spite of their prominence as a major Federation foe. It looks like next week will feature even more Romulan related developments and potential crew members so I'm all for that.


  1. Shout out to Scott McNulty and Jason Snell for their excellent "New Star Trek" focused podcast, Vulcan Hello.

  2. It's not available as an ebook.

USWNT Rolls

Big night for the US Women's National Team as they defeated Mexico 4-0 in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament semifinals. Rose Lavelle opened the scoring with a great goal in traffic. Sammy Mewis added 2 goals of her own. And of course Christen Press continues to be an underrated monster off the bench with an amazing chip shot goal after her first shot was blocked. It's going to be interesting to see who ends up being the Olympic starting 11 because I feel like Press and Lynn Williams are making a case to relegate the old guard (Carly Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe) back to sub roles on the bench.

On a cool note, 7 months pregnant Alex Morgan is in California training with the team. I still have a lot of doubt about her being ready and physically able to make it back onto the team just a couple months after giving birth. If she had six months I could totally buy it, but she has two, and the USWNT is way too deep and talented with only 18 spots available. If anyone is able to do it, it would be a world class athlete like Morgan with all kinds of support staff around her to assist with childcare, health and personal training. I just think it's a little optimistic and a naive to think everything will go smoothly and work out in accordance with her desires and goals rather than how caring for a baby for the first time actually goes.

'I learned how to draw': Spokane native Jody Zellman's comic strip 'Earth to Planet' joins S-R lineup

(www.spokesman.com)

Zellman competed with nine other artists during autumn to score a weekly gig as the new cartoonist in The Spokesman-Review. “Earth to Planet,” which turns 3 this the summer, won the reader’s choice competition and will run every Wednesday starting today.

I thought it was pretty cool that Jody Zellman's Earth to Planet had a chance back when I first heard about the contest last August. Happy to hear he got the gig.

Color Palette Math

I spent some time today fiddling around with simplifying a few popular 16 color palettes because of an Adventuron text color limitation. While there are no color palette limitations on any graphics files you import, Adventuron only supports 3 character hex codes when setting text colors. That translates to only 4096 possible colors which should be perfectly adequate for most uses, but makes matching an arbitrary limited color palette a little bit tricky. I was curious to see how close a given palette would look to the original if I simplified it down to three character hex codes by rounding to the closet value. So I did a little math, figured out that 3 color hex values translate to a 17 number gap in decimal and used that knowledge to start rounding up or down.

The first 16 color palette I tried this on was Dawnbringer 16. The upper half of each color is the adjusted value, while the bottom half is still the original shade for comparison.
db-16
I ended up tweaking the hex values on the fourth color from 545 to 444 because I felt the rounded result was a little too purple compared to the original, but otherwise I stuck with rounded values.

The second palette I tried was Pico-8 and I have to say it translated quite nicely. The visible differences are all still quite subtle and there weren't any I manually tweaked.
pico-8

Overall I'd say they're definitely close enough to pass muster. I don't think I would bother to convert existing images to the aligned palettes, instead I would just use the values for the text that I wanted to match knowing that it should be close enough and not really discernible.

GSL Update

Tough end to a game that Ferris led 3+ quarters as Gonzaga Prep came back behind some clutch Liam Lloyd 3 pointers in the 4th quarter to win 53-45. The biggest win of the night went to University who defeated GSL leader Central Valley 74-64. That outcome wasn't surprising given how close they played the first go around and how well University has been playing of late (even though they've come away with losses). Rounding out the night LC defeated Mead 65-53 (for the second time this season) to further cement the weirdness of the league this year.

At this point it's still really hard to predict how the three and four 4A spots will shake out. I expect Central Valley to beat LC Friday and lock up the one seed, and Prep is assured of the two seed thanks to last night's win and Mead's loss. It's mathematical possible for Ferris, Mead, and University to end up in a 3 way tie at 7-7, but pretty unlikely. I'm not sure how they would sort that one out, although Mead would hold the head to head edge over the other two teams. I think Mead has the three seed pretty much locked up unless Ferris wins out (unlikely, given two tough opponents) and University must win to stay alive tomorrow. No question that the Ferris vs. University game will have a playoff atmosphere. Should be fun.

Adventuron Game Jam

I spent a little bit more time playing with Adventuron today and its built-in theming capabilities. Part of my motivation lay in potentially participating in the Treasure Hunt Jam on itch.io. The built-in theme used for Two is the starting point, but I was curious if I could tweak the layout to something other than a red titlebar and red horizontal rule divider. It turned out I very much could once I learned the basics of theme inheritance and that the separator line was even more customizable than I anticipated1.

Getting back to what making a game for the Treasure Hunt Jam is all about:

Treasure hunt is a sub-genre of text-adventure in which the player must collect some objects that are considered treasure objects, and place them in a room that is known to be the treasure room.

Some treasures may not require a puzzle to be solved, but most treasures usually require some kind of challenge or puzzle (or series of puzzles) to be solved in order to be able obtain them.

Though the text adventure form has evolved a long way from the treasure hunt today, it's exactly what classics Colossal Cave Adventure, Adventureland, and Zork I were when they came out. Adventuron's retro aesthetic2 makes it perfect fit for a throwback game jam like this. I have a few ideas for turning the premise on its head, we'll see if that's actually doable given the other constraints of this jam.


  1. Although I think it's more retro to keep it simple.

  2. Particularly with the Two style theme that takes it all the way back to a Scott Adams style text adventure.

Garage Door Opener Shopping

Our 20+ year-old garage door opener failed unexpectedly on Saturday. It's not the end of the world as only Mary is parking her car in the garage right now and even that was a recent change motivated by some problems with her door locks freezing in really cold temperatures. So it's not a big deal to have her park outside again temporarily while I figure out the next steps.

I've been doing some research on various brands and models on Amazon and Costco's respective websites, but haven't made a conclusive decision yet. I'm not sure of the horsepower of the current Wayne Dalton brand model that we have, but it's a relatively compact unit. I don't know how much our door weighs either which is probably the main factor in deciding on an opener. It has some heft and insulation compared to a basic metal door, but it doesn't feel that hard to open and close manually- the springs are definitely still doing their job. Interestingly most current models are built around quieter DC motors (and aren't really rated by horsepower like AC motors) and often use belt drives. I think a 1/2 Horsepower rated motor could work (especially as smoothly and slowly DC openers seem to open and close doors), but a 3/4 HP motor and up would provide more longevity over time. I'm also very interested in integration with our wireless network and phones. I like the idea of controlling things remotely if necessary and being able to check the state of the door to confirm it's closed. There are also times that I'm parking outside a lot and don't feel comfortable leaving a garage opener in my car (unfortunately our neighborhood occasionally has early morning prowlers), but I always have my iPhone with me.

One annoyance factor on these openers I've discovered is the built-in lighting constraints. Most of the Genie and Chamberlain models in the $250 or less price range I'm looking at have conventional sockets and require you to supply the bulbs. Unfortunately conventional LED and CFL bulbs also seem to interfere with the radio frequencies that the openers and their remotes use. Genie at least sells some custom designed LED bulbs that are specifically made to avoid the radio signal issues and handle a little more vibration, but they're an additional $20 for a pair. I really feel like built-in compatible LED lights should be standard for this price range in 2020. The Genie model that Costco sells has built-in LED lighting, a more powerful 1.25 HP (equivalent motor), battery backup, and smart phone integration at a $230 price point. At this point I think it's the clear front runner on price and features. Just need to run it by Mary and then we'll probably place the order tomorrow.