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Handwritten code

News | January 17, 2012 ⋅ 4:07pm

Code Monkey font by ComicraftI just love this. Comicraft is one of the companies that pioneered digital lettering for comic books. These days, they earn some of their income selling their custom-designed fonts, most of which resemble hand-lettered comics text and sound effects. Among their latest additions is Code Monkey, a hand-lettering font for computer code! Code Monkey lets you add a little bit of humanity and flair to your code listings by making it look as if your output was written by hand. Unlike most of Comicraft’s fonts, it’s fixed-width, making it ideal for text editors and terminal windows. It’s also available in a proportionally spaced version, if you prefer that.

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America’s next top programming languages?

Writing | January 5, 2012 ⋅ 2:37pm

Source code iconWelcome to 2012! Once again, I’ve been remiss in keeping this blog updated, but I’ll try to do better this year. Remember you can always follow the latest from my Fatal Exception blog for InfoWorld in the box to the right!

My first feature article of the year is another piece for InfoWorld. This time, I’m looking at up-and-coming programming languages. You’ve heard of C, Java, Python, Ruby, and maybe even Haskell, OCaml, and Scala … but have you ever heard of Zimbu, Fantom, Chapel, or haXe? Probably not — but you may, soon. Some people say we already have more than enough programming languages. Others say the computing field is changing so rapidly that the same old languages can’t move fast enough, and the only way for developers to gain the agility they need is to start over from scratch. In this feature, I look at ten experimental programming languages, why they were invented, where you can get them, and why they matter.

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First look at Adobe Edge

Reviews, Writing | August 23, 2011 ⋅ 11:01am

Adobe Edge logoWith the rise of HTML5, a lot of folks wonder whether it might displace plug-ins such as Adobe Flash for rich Internet Application development. Adobe doesn’t see it quite that way. It sees the two technologies as complementary, and it’s putting its money where its mouth is. Adobe Edge is a new technology from Adobe Labs that aims to make it as easy to build complex animations in HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript as it is to do the same in Flash. It’s still rough around the edges, but it does make it possible to do some pretty remarkable things, especially if your goal is to develop banner ads, infographics, or other short animated sequences to be embedded in Web pages. Read on for more of my first impressions of the Adobe Edge Preview.

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Tough times ahead for Google?

Opinion, Writing | August 8, 2011 ⋅ 4:53pm

Seven years after its IPO, Google is entering the next phase of its growth as a company. It’s impressively large by anyone’s standards, with $29.3 billion in revenue in 2010, nearly 30,000 full-time employees, and offices in 42 countries. And yet Larry Page, now Google’s CEO for the first time since 2001, still seems to view the company as a cross between a startup and his old Stanford University grad project. It’s neither, and it faces difficult challenges. The legal environment around Google is tightening even as it goes head-to-head with the industry’s largest companies, and the changes it must make to remain competitive may mean tomorrow’s Google little resembles the fun-loving Silicon Valley darling of yesteryear. Read on for the rest of my analysis of Google and the road it must travel, this week at InfoWorld.com.

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LibraryLookup for Google Chrome

Hacks | July 24, 2011 ⋅ 7:14pm

I’ve written a new version of my LibraryLookup script for the San Francisco Public Library that works with Google’s Chrome browser. If you’re running Chrome, you can try it out by clicking this link. It should work regardless of your OS platform — in fact, it even works on Chromebooks! Note that this version of the script is a substantial rewrite from the Firefox version, so I’ll be especially interested to hear any bug reports. It works pretty well for me so far, but I still don’t use Chrome as my main browser.

Also, note that because LibraryLookup uses cross-site scripting, it has to run as a Background Page in Chrome, because of the way the browser was designed. That means it’s consuming some small amount of memory all the time, even when you’re not browsing Amazon. The amount of resources used should be negligible, but you should be aware of this before you install it. Enjoy!

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Review: Samsung Chromebook Series 5 3G

Writing | July 24, 2011 ⋅ 6:50pm

One of Google’s many big ideas is Chrome OS, an operating system that essentially is a Web browser — nothing less, but nothing more. A Chrome OS computer, called a Chromebook, can’t install any software and it has very limited processing power and onboard storage. All the applications you use on a Chromebook are running “in the cloud,” which is to say they’re Web apps. Acer and Samsung are now shipping Chromebooks, and I recently spent some time working with Samsung’s latest model to see whether it has a place within my normal computing workday. The results weren’t particularly encouraging, unfortunately, though I think a Chromebook can be useful as a secondary way to access the Web around the home or office. Click through to InfoWorld.com to read my full run-down of the Samsung Chromebook Series 5 and how it stacked up in my tests.

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Comic Book Color Swatches for Photoshop

Hacks, News | July 9, 2011 ⋅ 4:50pm

Classic Comics Color GuideA recent blog post by Ed Piskor generated some interest in the old craft of coloring comic books in the days before comics were printed using full-process color. Ed created a chart showing all 64 colors available in most comics of the bygone era. I also enjoyed an article at the CO2 Comics Blog that went into depth on the classic comics coloring process and how it evolved over the years. What I thought was missing, however, was an easy way for folks to use the same colors to get a “Silver Age” effect in their own comics. To that end, I wrote a script to generate a swatch palette for use in Photoshop, Illustrator, or other graphics software. But I didn’t stop there! I also created palettes that recreated the even-more-limited Golden Age palette, as well as the expanded palettes that began to appear in the 1980s. You can download my palettes here. » More... »

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Flash for Android 3.0 tablets is no “iPad killer”

Writing | April 18, 2011 ⋅ 1:34pm

Adobe Flash iconWow-weee! It’s been a long time since I’ve updated this site. Other than the RSS feed for my Fatal Exception column (to the right), I haven’t posted an update in nearly a year. I guess I must have been distracted.

To rectify that, then, take a look at my latest work for InfoWorld. This time it’s a review of Flash Player 10.2 for Android 3.0 tablets, and the results were hardly inspiring. Although Flash is still technically in beta for Android 3.0 as of this writing, it’s available on the Android Market for any Android 3.0 device owners to download. I did just that on a Motorola Xoom — the first Android 3.0 device to hit the market — and set out to see how it worked in real-world situations browsing Flash content. I was almost universally disappointed (though Flash Player certainly does a good job of displaying animated ads)! Click on over to read about the various frustrations I encountered in my trial run with Flash on a tablet, and why I think Apple’s decision not to support Flash on iOS devices makes a whole lot of sense.

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Office 2010 Web Apps disappoint

Writing | July 1, 2010 ⋅ 1:01pm

Boy, was I ever let down when I saw the final version of the Office 2010 Web Apps, the Web-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote that shipped with Microsoft Office 2010. My early impression was that they were amazing — they could display Office 2010 files flawlessly, something no competitor could do. But I should have been more suspicious when Microsoft seemingly kept showing half-finished versions of the products as the ship date approached. I realize now that Microsoft was toying with us; the reason it wouldn’t show reviewers a full version is because the final Office Web Apps aren’t that impressive. Click through to read my full review at InfoWorld.

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Two technology showcases from InfoWorld.com

Writing | July 1, 2010 ⋅ 12:38pm

I realize I’m way behind on my shameless self-promotion, so I thought this time I’d better double up!

First up, an article that addresses the old saw that open source software only imitates existing proprietary software, rather than innovating new concepts. Microsoft loves to throw that idea around, but it really doesn’t hold much water. To prove it, I dug around to find a collection of active open source projects that really don’t have any proprietary software analogues. Click through to learn more about innovative open source in 2010.

Next we turn our gaze forward. Considering how far we’ve come since the beginning of the PC era, it’s always hard to predict what will come next. Rather than presaging any massive tech revolutions, then, InfoWorld decided to look to the near term, by examining up and coming technologies now in the labs. Are you ready for seven-gigabit WiFi or racetrack memory? Read on.

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