17 Posts Tagged 'Cows'
I've been getting into pixel art a lot lately. It appeals to me on a lot of levels.
The coder in me likes it because it's so precise. Every pixel is placed just so. The color palette is limited to a dozen colors. Building a drawing out of such limited means reminds me of building programs out of primitives. There are design patterns in pixel art: dithering, manual anti-aliasing. There are abstractions that work and abstractions that don't. There's a lot of goofing around with RGB values and transparency settings; it's perhaps the most deeply computer-based art form you could come up with, and as a deeply computer-based human, I really like it.
The gamer in me is still partly stuck in the early 90's, so it's a huge injection of nostalgia to look at pixel art. NES- and SNES-era games had a charm that is unmatched by anything since. And I don't think that's entirely nostalgia talking; I still play old games and they're still so much fun. And the art in a lot of those games was just darned good. If you stop and look at it really carefully, and start to get an understanding of how it was made, you can't help but be impressed.
The "artist" in me (if there is such a thing in my brain somewhere) is blown away by some of the things good pixel artists can produce. Go look at foolstown.com and try not to slobber. Some of this stuff just looks amazing. Not "good for a pixel drawing", but good on a level anyone could appreciate.
Pixel doodles are also good practice for the RPG my wife and I are still ever-so-slowly creating. Creating art and music for a game are turning out to be much harder work than programming it.
In any case, I drew a cow standing beside a tree. And I made a new pixel art page to house my admittedly still-amateurish drawings.
I threw together a new blog layout today. I scaled back the level of cows a bit (just a bit, don't worry!) Criticism / feedback welcome. (IE-related feedback should be dropped off in the circular file by my desk.)
In what is surely a prelude to the future of the internets, I'm abusing
border-radius pretty heavily in this layout.
border-radius is likely to become the new
marquee HTML tag or
text-shadow CSS attribute: Maybe an OK idea at first, but then everyone uses it so much it makes your eyes bleed.
So I figured I'd best get my border-radiusing in early while it's still cool. IE8 users, you still get pointy corners. Sucks to be you.
Also, if you have any ideas for features I should implement for cow-blog, please let me know. I've been crawling the internet looking at blogs for ideas of things to implement and features to steal, but I'm running out of ideas. It does everything I want now, but I'm not a reader.
Well, my new blog is up and running. Sorry for the temporary lack of cows in my layout. I'm dogfood-testing the blog engine in a fairly vanilla state until I work out some of the bugs. This layout is based upon barecity, a minimalist Wordpress theme that I adapted easily enough to my blog.
As a bonus, I applied a dirty hack to my RSS feed that I think should help avoid screwing up people's RSS readers with duplicate entries.
I'll write again soon with some info about the blog engine and some things I learned writing it.
(As mentioned previously, here's the code.)
By popular demand, I've released the source code for my blog. Hope someone finds it useful.
Feedback and bug reports welcome, email me or post them somewhere on my blog and I'll find them.
I was in a rush to get this darn blog finally done, so I threw some stupid anti-spam measures on here. Namely, the comment form included 20 textareas, 19 of which were
display: hidden and one of which was randomly the right one, and any text in the hidden ones would cause the comment posting to fail.
It only took a spam bot 48 hours to figure this out, I guess, because the last hour I've been hammered. So I implemented a CAPTCHA as another short-term holdover until I can code up something good. At least it immediately stopped this spam bot whose crap I've been deleting for the past hour.
Hopefully this isn't too intrusive. I think it fits the site fairly well, as you will probably agree once you see it.
I took a screenshot of my blog and went into Gimp and did
Colors => Invert and thus a new blog layout was born. I also brought back the purple/green one. You can change it via the little skin-selector drop-down thing that's hopefully showing up and working properly for everyone. Skin selection is courtesy of a WP plugin; that site is not in English, but the instructions in the download are, if you want to use it yourself.
Black text on white vs. white text on black... the age-old question. My Vim theme has forever been a black background (ps_color to be specific). Even in broad daylight I find that a black background reduces eye strain considerably. Or maybe it's all in my mind, but then again this is a subjective sort of thing, so whatever's in my mind is all that really matters isn't it?
It's notoriously difficult to use a dark-background GTK/QT theme. Too many programs are written with the assumption that your theme is going to be light backgrounded. However thanks to Kore and a few tweaks here and there I've been getting along pretty well for a few months with a dark theme in KDE. I really need to start posting desktop screenshots more often again. Note to self.
Are cows really dumb though? Does their silent cud-chewing indicate stupidity, or thoughtfulness? Are cows really silly? Or do we project our own latent silliness onto them? Cows thus embody some of the deepest philosophical questions man has ever dared to ask.
Not really. I've been told by various people that I have the kind of sense of humor where it's impossible to tell whether I'm joking or being serious. Sometimes even I can't tell whether I'm joking or not. I love walking that line. Cows are partly a joke that I never get tired of telling, but also they really do make me smile. Cows are a way to have fun with this website. I view my website almost as a sort of parody of a blog, but a parody I still take seriously in a way. I believe it was Friedrich Nietzsche who said:
If you look long enough into the cow, the cow begins to look back through you.
The internet does not have to be serious business, and I don't want my website (or my opinions) to be taken as seriously as many people seem to want to. My secret hope is that whenever someone comes on here to flame me about my opinions, they'll look up and see a cow in a fedora and say "Wait a second... what am I doing?"
Also Gentoo's mascot is a cow. I estimate that the cows on my website increase its overall performance by 14%.
"OK, what's up with the cows?", you might ask. Actually no one ever has asked. So I'm not saying.
I'm experimenting a bit with a new blog layout. It's black text on white rather than my customary white text on black/grey. I drew the cow in the top right using Inkscape. (Inkscape is such a wonderful program. So easy to use. )
I put this layout together from scratch in exactly 4 hours (not counting cow-drawing time). Just goes to show how easy it is to make Wordpress themes I guess.
I've gone from a sort of three-column layout to a one-column layout. This is partly / largely because I post source code snippets, and I need the full width of the screen for those.
Source code should generally go into
PRE tags to preserve whitespace. However that usually has the side effect of preventing text from line-wrapping. In many blogs with multi-column layouts, source code snippets overrun into the sidebar area, and either end up being hidden under the sidebar (thus unreadable), overflow over top of the sidebar (thus looking messy), or if you're lucky, the PRE element itself is side-scrollable like a mini frame (which is kind of annoying). In a one-column layout, I get to use the full width of the screen, which is much nicer in my opinion.
The other reason I like one-column is that the sidebar columns in a multi-column layout invariably have just a few links at the top, and then you have a 200-pixel wide column of blank space all the way down the page to the bottom. It's a bit of a waste. This layout on the other hand is still fairly readable even if I resize Firefox to 400 pixels wide.
Do users really USE most of the links webmasters put into their sidebars? If people want to look at my archives, they can probably go to an archives page. It seems almost absurd how much we try to cater to people's whims and impatience by loading up websites (and computer interfaces in general) with every single thing anyone might want to do on every single page. It ends up looking cluttered and most of those links are probably unused the vast majority of the time. I wish I know how many times anyone ever used the tag cloud I had displayed in my sidebar for so long.
If anyone has any suggestions about things that would make this layout easier to read or use, or if you loathe the new layout (or love it, I guess that's a slim possibility) feel free to leave me a scathing comment. I've tested it in Firefox 2 / 3, IE7, Opera and Konqueror. IE6 can die in a fire.
I put my old Wordpress theme up for download as requested. Enjoy. I think.
I've read that good website layouts evolve slowly over time, and it's better to change and improve the layout you've already got rather than redo the whole thing from scratch. Probably sage advice. I tweaked my layout a bit to take more advantage of a bunch of empty space where nothing much was happening, and also to add more cow. My girlfriend drew me a cow silhouette for my blog layout. (By the way, when your girlfriend is willing to take the time to draw you a cow graphic for your blog layout, you know it's true love. <3) I used a sort of cliche'ed "reflective" effect, thanks to the GIMP, but such is life. I couldn't think of anything better to put up there, and this may be the first time it's ever been used on a purple cow, so maybe I'm breaking new ground.
I think there is a science to certain aspects of layout design. For example should you have your links underlined or not? It's likely that many people (especially people who've been using the internet for a long time) associate underlined text in webpages with links. Having links that aren't underlined may slip people's notice; on the other hand, having text underlined that isn't a link may make people click around on non-links before they notice. It may only break someone's concentration for a split second, but sometimes that can still be annoying, especially if it happens lots of times. To that end I try to make all my links underlined, and nothing else. An exception is that category cloud thing on the right, because I figure people are probably smart enough to figure out to click there, and the underlines cluttered it so much that it was hard to read. In reality I have no idea what I'm talking about, but these kind of things probably matter.
To my amazement, someone actually expressed interest in my putting this layout up for others to download, so I plan to once I remove all the places I've hard-coded the thing to work with my website. It's not the prettiest code in the world, but PHP never is.
I've said it many times, and I'll never stop saying it: you simple can't go wrong with cow-based web page layouts.
I finished my new layout, for some sufficiently small value of "finished". I went really minimalistic with a hint of cow. Lack of cow was the real problem with my last layout.