Seth’s Findings

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I have been sitting on this information for quite some time now, and it pains me that I haven’t shared it with others — not because I’m trying to horde it, but because sometimes I start a blog entry and just never get around to finishing it up. Well, today I found some extra time and decided to finish off some of the blogs that have been atrophying in the database.

Introducing sIFR: The Healthy Alternative to Browser Text

The web is not a typographically friendly landscape, typically using only two fonts and very little color. This was by design and it has worked extremely well, but leaves us with visually unapealing type. Those who wish to have more control of layout and style, not to mention using more than 2 fonts, have been forced to render text as graphics, a horrific practice that adversely affects bandwidth, rendering times, indexing, accesability, and maintenance to name just a few.

There have been various initiatives over the years to address this problem, which is in all honesty a herculean task because of the complexity, and not surprisingly there has been no measurable success. But one of the most intriguing alternatives has been the sIFR project which attempts (and succeeds) in providing a anti-aliased fonts of various colors, fonts and orientations using Flash instead of graphics. While not a perfect solution, it is an intriguing one and does work. Check it out at:

Here is a demo newspaper-like page using the technique.

Auto-Completing Textbox Demo

This web site has a demo on how to create text boxes that will auto complete. I believe Goolge uses this technique in their e-mail service to fill in matches from their address book.

I Need Help — Mass Archive to CD-ROM

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I need help. I’m hoping someone out there can help me. Keep in mind as you read this that I have thought about the problem for a long time and analyzed costs, longevity, ease of use, etc. I’m not saying that I have all the answers, because I clearly don’t, but I do have a very clear set of requirements.


I have a lot of data that I need archived for a long period of time. The data may never actually be accessed but it must be accessable if needed. These data consist of collections of files, mostly graphics, that range in size from 30 GB to 110 GB (the whole collection, not individual files). I need the collections archived in an inexpensive way and it must be easily retrievable in 20 years. Obviously, the data needs to last 20 years as well. Physical storage area is also a concern, but I figure as long as it’s stored digitally, it won’t take up much space anyway.


Here is what I’m looking for in an archiving process:

  • System must traverse all files and subdirectories from its starting point to define the scope of files to archive. Wildcard selction would be nice but is not required.
  • All files must be burned onto CD-ROM in their native formats (no compression or file splitting). No DVDs as the dyes used for them have not yet proved to be stable long-term. They are also more expensive per MB and burn rates are much slower.
  • The burn process minimizes human interaction — ideally only requiring an operator to take out completed CDs and put a new blank one in (and of course, to label it with a number).
  • All files must be stored in their relative directory path on the CD (meaning the directory structure on an individual CD must be the same as on the master system).
  • A separate CD is created at some point whith a list of all the files that were archived, their placement in the directory structure and which disk in the archive it can be found. This will save a ton of time looking for one file if retrieval ever has to happen. I’m thinking HTML or ASCII text.

Other Assumptions

I don’t really care what OS it runs on (linux, OS X, Windows). It can be a compiled application or a script of some kind. Don’t care what language it’s written in. Don’t care if it is a collection of scripts and/or programs as long as the human interaction with the process is minimal. Pretty easy, huh?

The problem is I can’t find anything to do this for me. I’ve talked to some friends about it and they have all had ideas, but nothing has actually materialized.

If you have any suggestions or help, please let me know.

Papyrus – Font of the New Millennium

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PapyrusI’m not sure if you pay attention to fonts, but I sure do. And one of my favorite fonts, Papyrus, has become the font of the new millennium. This year I have started to see it all over the place — on billboards, in magazines, on business cards… everywhere! If any font is more unique, identifiable and pervasive I’ll eat a sandwich.

I consider the Papyrus font a friend, and would use her sparingly and graciously, and only in a setting and stage that would enhance it’s natural beauty. But now everyone seems to be using her and she has become the cheap and tawdry hoar of the font world.

Last weekend I was in Saint George, Utah and I saw that font on buildings, add banners, bumperstickers, gated communities, golf courses, and the list goes on and on! It’s really a shame. I can see the graphic designers now “Hey, how about we make your company logo using this hip new font called Papyrus! Yeah! Everyone is doing it! It’s very hip!”

It’s really too bad. There are so many fonts out there — thousands if not tens of thousands but everyone has to use Papyrus. Now I’m not saying people can’t or shouldn’t use the same font all the time because fonts like Ariel and Times New Roman and Courrier are used everywhere all the time. They are so everywhere people don’t notice… they kind of disappear into the background. But fonts that stand out, like Papyrus, are more noticable for people and less usefull for general reading.

I wish I had a camera phone becuase I would like to take pictures of all the crazy places using Papyrus. And if I did take those pictures, I would make a photo gallery dedicated to it’s use.

And so, because of its ubiquitous usage, I pronounce Papyrus the font of the new millennium!

P.S. The font was developed by Chris Costello in 1983 then later sold it to International Typeface Corporation. I believe Apple aquired the rights to distribute the font as part of OS X — whenever that was.

Nominate Me for Best Tech Blog

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We all know you read this blog, I mean, look at you right now! Since you seem to come back time and time again, why not nominate Peregrine Findings for the First Annual TechWeb Network Best Independent Tech Blog Readers Choice Awards. That’s a mouthfull!

Peregrine Findings is not just a place to share information about technology but it also discusses the human aspects of those who use technology. Human issues disceted and analyzed from the point of view of engineers. We engineer a better more efficient life one day at a time. If I win, I can pay someone to add spell checker to WordPress so my posts are even better — you see I’m always thinking of you, the reader!

The ten finalists will be announced on Novemeber 1, 2004 so go now. Ok… now! Now! Go!

So quit wasting time and nominate Peregrine Findings!

Digital Camera Test Chart

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Have you ever wondered just how good your digital camera is? I mean, sure you take a picture of the salesperson in the store, look on the built-in LCD and say “wow! That’s craptacular!” But beyond that how good is your camera? Well the big boys, or I should say, the experts us the ISO 12233 chart for determining the quality of the CCD sensor (the little thing in all digital cameras that capture the image).

The ISO standard for measuring resolution of “electronic still imaging” cameras is available only from the International Standards Organization for only 116 Swiss Francs (about $US 93 as of this writing) and under copyright protection. But the design of the test chart seems not to be protected; its description has been available on the Web in an Excel spreadsheet.

Stephen H. Westin decided to re-create the chart using Adobe Illustrator and makes it available for download as a PDF on his website. His web page also has links to other sites with programs that will help determine just how good the image is. Give it a try!

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