How a writing system went from being a dream (literally) to a reality, codified in unicode.
Wednesday, June 1st, 2022
Friday, June 7th, 2019
Language is not an invention. As best we can tell it is an evolved feature of the human brain. There have been almost countless languages humans have spoken. But they all follow certain rules that grow out of the wiring of the human brain and human cognition. Critically, it is something that is hardwired into us. Writing is an altogether different and artificial thing.
Wednesday, January 16th, 2019
Wednesday, April 4th, 2018
I love this idea (and implementation)—instead of treating braille signage as something “separate but equal”, this typeface attempts to unify lettering and braille into one.
Braille Neue is a universal typeface that combines braille with existing characters. This typeface communicates to both the sighted and blind people in the same space.
Tuesday, April 18th, 2017
Neither matters all that much and you can use every method on the same project without the universe imploding.
Some interesting approaches in the comments too.
Wednesday, December 28th, 2016
Sunday, May 22nd, 2016
A fascinating thought experiment from Ted Chiang:
So let’s imagine a world in which Chinese characters were never invented in the first place. Given such a void, the alphabet might have spread east from India in a way that it couldn’t in our history, but, to keep this from being an Indo-Eurocentric thought experiment, let’s suppose that the ancient Chinese invented their own phonetic system of writing, something like the modern Bopomofo, some thirty-two hundred years ago. What might the consequences be?
Thursday, August 13th, 2015
Twenty-six letters of independent publishing building blocks.
Sunday, March 2nd, 2014
The alphabet illustrated with CSS.
Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
From Kornel, the genius who gave us ImageOptim, comes another Mac desktop tool for optimising PNGs, this time converting 24-bit PNG to 8-bit with full alpha channel.
Monday, September 26th, 2011
Take all the fonts on your operating system, superimpose them, and whaddya get? This.
Friday, June 10th, 2011
Ignoring the awful misleading title, this is a really good post from Paul on his personal experiences dealing with accessibility on one or two projects.
Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
I’ve always thought that Brighton has a lot of steampunk appeal. Quite apart from the potential for criminal mastermind lairs within the the Victorian sewers, there are a whole slew of wonderful inventions from the mind of Magnus Volk.
The Volk’s Electric Railway is still in use today. The Daddy Long-Legs, alas, is not. And while the Jubilee clock tower still stands in the centre of town, its moving parts have been disabled (due to noise complaints and damage to the structural integrity):
The hydraulically operated copper sphere moved up and down a 16-foot (4.9 m) metal mast every hour, based on electrical signals transmitted from the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.
But even with all this steampunk history, I was still surprised to read the story of Alpha the robot on Paleo-Future:
During the autumn of 1932 a group of curious onlookers assembled in Brighton, England to see inventor Harry May’s latest invention, Alpha the robot. The mechanical man was controlled by verbal commands and sat in a chair silently while May carefully placed a gun in Alpha’s hand.
It all goes horribly awry according to contemporary reports, doubtless exaggerated. I, for one, welcome our new metal overlords.
When commanded, the robot lowered its arm, raised the other, lowered it, turned its head from side to side, opened and closed its prognathous jaw, sat down. Then Impresario May asked Alpha a question:
“How old are you?”
From the robot’s interior a cavernous Cockney voice responded:
May: What do you weigh?
Alpha: One ton.
A dozen other questions and answers followed, some elaborately facetious. When May inquired what the automaton liked to eat, it responded with a minute-long discourse on the virtues of toast made with Macy’s automatic electric toaster.
Saturday, August 14th, 2010
A wonderful history of our alphabet. Set aside some time to read this.
Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
Kanji characters that transform into the animal they represent.
Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
A nice explanation of the ruby element in HTML5: very handy for marking up phonetic pronunciation.
Saturday, September 27th, 2008
Could it be that the inability of 8-bit computers to render Kanji had a direct influence on the direction of Japan's electronic product design and economy?
Monday, March 19th, 2007
The first public alpha release of Apollo is out. Grab the runtime and then play around with some of the sample apps (none of which are that impressive but it's the thought that counts).