DESIGN

Widescreen as Tallscreen

A little-used new feature in the Displays preference pane in OS X 10.4 is rotation in 90-degree increments. I tried this feature out with the 20-inch Cinema Display on my desk. Novel – it took me back to the old grayscale Pivot I wrote so many columns on in the ’90s. A base that handled rotation would make it nicer. Also, the type and other elements onscreen just don’t look as good at 90 degrees – I don’t know if it’s the disparity in vertical and horizontal viewing angles, or maybe a change in anti-aliasing behavior.

Software for determining image similarity?

This is a lazyweb request – I’m looking for something but I don’t even know if it exists. I have about 200 photos (headshots) and I’d like to make an animation that runs through them in order of, for lack of a better term, visual similarity. I’m not talking about morphing or just fading between the images in arbitrary order. Is there software out there that, given a reference image and a set of images to select from, can choose the most similar image?

Technology wanted: FFE

When I’m using my PowerBook with an external screen in spanning mode, this sequence happens more often than I’d like: Working on in Application A on the internal screen, I need to refer to something displayed in Application B on the external screen. I look over at Application B and read. When I’m done reading I realize I don’t need that window anymore, so I press cmd-W. Frontmost window of Application A closes – say, a browser window with unsaved content in a web form.

Why the python.org redesign is good

I just posted this mini-rant over at reddit.com in response to implications that Python is somehow selling out by getting a more business-friendly makeover. Here’s the thing about the new site being “too corporate” or whatever. Python is not a band with a MySpace profile and an awesome debut album. It’s a programming language. Programming languages live if they’re used, and more or less die if they’re not used.

Python.org redesign launches

This must have happened over the weekend. The redesigned python.org has launched. It’s a huge visual improvement over the old design, which really hadn’t changed much in, oh, about seven years. The Python community has achieved a gradual, grudging acceptance of the idea that marketing and presentation matter, but I think it was Ruby on Rails that really drove it home. Ruby (a very cool language in its own right) has seen a huge surge in popularity in the past year, driven largely by the excitement around Rails.

Baby steps with Ajax

I’ve tiptoed into the Web 2.0 world by adding a couple small Ajax features to the blog. First, there’s now a “More” link at the top of my Random Bookmarks sidebar which fetches another seven random links from the server and plugs them into the page without reloading. Second, I added a gratuitous animated roll-unroll toggle to the comment form, and made it closed by default. OK, that’s not Ajax, that’s just fluff.

Sort tables with sorttable.js

I’ve been enjoying listening to the “Audible Ajax” podcasts from Ajaxian lately. One of the older shows was a talk by Lugradio’s Stuart Langridge in which, in an aside, he mentioned a table sorting widget he had written. It sounded cool. When I got home I fired up the browser and found it: sorttable.js. Even though it’s over two years old and doubtless there are a bazillion Ajax (tm) toolkits that include supersets of this functionality, I find it to be a very elegant thing.