Gray Anatomy

Sunday, April 24, 2005


Still from Sin City.

One of the most overlooked colors in the palette is gray. Like black and white, it’s normally considered an absense of color rather than a color that could be a vibrant design tool.

Let’s take a moment to look at how one might take an otherwise bland gray color scheme and sauce it up a bit. It’s simple, really. uses primarily gray tones to allow me to direct the reader’s eyes with limited splashes of color. The section headers in the right sidebar and the ads and Oscillate Night ad in the left sidebar gently attract the eye. The simple colors don’t get lost in a sea of vividness. The only purely design element on the page that carries a rich color at all is the background that creates the border between the main weblog text panels and the sidebars. (Reload the page a few times — it changes color.) And the colors used there are rather mute.

The overall gray palette also makes the colors of the posted photographs look much more vivid and allow me to include much more on the page before it feels cluttered or gaudy.

But what about those grays? Well, hopefully you find them attractive. One reason they might feel a bit more energetic to you than normal grays is because they’re not really gray… They’re colors that have been almost entirely desaturated.

Here’s a selection of the actual color palette used on this site (as of April 2005):

Here’s the same color palette with all saturation removed.

The effect is subtle, but you should notice a clear difference.

Now here’s the color palette fully saturated, to accentuate the colors used.

You see that I’m really using very subtle yellows, blues, and greens., one of the websites of my friend Jared Tarbell, uses a similar technique.

Here’s a selection of the color palette (as of April 2005):

And with all color removed:

And with all color super-saturated so you can see the actual hues used in the design:

Oranges and blues.

One more. This palette I made using colors from the Sin City still above. The makers of SinCity did a good job using subtle grays to enhance the mood of the film.


And super-saturated:

So what’s the point? Well, by adding a hint of color to your grays and playing with those colors, you can find some truly electric grays that could add vibrancy to your site design without being obnoxious or interfering with the visual usability of the site. Feel free to copy the images above into Photoshop (or whatever tool you use to find colors) to use as a starting point.

Use this new-found knowledge for good and never evil…


TV Quotes about the Pope…

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Pope cartoon.

Found here.

So rather than just shut up and let the images speak for themselves, almost all of the news stations have been broadcasting an endless stream of reporter-babble during these past few weeks while covering the changes in leadership at the Vatican. And it must be hard to fill so much time with speech when you really don’t have much to say, so it’s understandable when the talking heads say something odd. These are quotations as best as I can remember them, so they may not be 100% verbatim — but they capture the spirit of a few of the better comments uttered during the Papal coverage this month.

(I’ll add more if I hear any.)

“The Pope was exactly like an American, loving of all people and very humble.” - Someone on CNN, April 1st (during the “John Paul’s dead!” false alarm). (Have you heard? We’re as humble as the Pope! Humbler, even. The humblest! EVER.)

“That’s the money-shot right there.” - Wolf Blitzer looks forward to the next pornocracy as he describes the scene of the new Pope Benedict XVI walking out onto the balcony for the first time on April 19th.

“There’s symbolism all over the place down there.” - A CBS reporter describes St. Peters during the Papal “Inauguration” on April 24th.

“Selectively ignore the laws of your country.” - Pope Benedict XVI. (Well, I’m paraphrasing. And I know — he’s not a television journalist. But his brand of firey conservatism would work great!)

Anyway. Enough silliness.


Summer Travel Plans

Saturday, April 23, 2005


The world, circa 1581. From the Library of Congress collection.

Okay. Hi.

The first ticket has been purchased, so it’s for real… I’ll be travelling around Europe and the Middle East through the summer. Here’s the basic itinerary:

  • May 9th: Leave Austin for New York
  • May 16th: Leave Austin for Berlin
  • Approx. June 6th: Leave Berlin for Cairo
  • Approx. July 20th: Leave Cairo for Berlin
  • August 8th: Leave Berlin for Austin

And soon thereafter I’ll probably be back in New York to get ready for the big move at the end of August.

So I’m sort of “stacking” tickets, buying a round-trip to Berlin and then a round-trip from Berlin to Cairo. This seems to be the most cost-effective way to do this, though it does seem kind of odd at first. Also, I’m not going to stay in Berlin and Cairo the entire time (if you’re wondering)… I’d like to take a few days in Poland and maybe Denmark and visit Haley in Italy while I’m stationed in Germany. And, well, I’m not really exactly sure what the plan out of Cairo will be. Certainly don’t want to overplan…

Anyway, that’s the framework. If you know me and think I’m forgetting about something, please let me know. I can still make modifications to the itinerary without too much extra cost.



Free WiFi Comments for the New York Times

Thursday, April 21, 2005


An entrance ramp to the MoPac Expressway in Austin.

Last weekend a reporter for the New York Times sent to me a few questions related to an article about free wifi hotspots. (Because, if you don’t know, I have rather complete lists for several US cities.) They haven’t run the article yet, but I figured I would post my complete responses here… Because I doubt they’ll put each glistening flake of my refulgent commentary in the Times. So here we are.

By the way: I wrote my responses rather quickly, so I’ve corrected a few of the more egregious spelling and grammatical errors. I’ve also slightly modified the questions &mdash not to change their content, but just to make them more succinct.

Q: Why do you post free wireless spots and when did you start?

A: In 2001 I got a new iBook and it had one of Apple’s Airport wireless cards installed. I noticed a few coffee shops around town and the University of Texas offered wifi service, but I couldn’t find a comprehensive listing of any sort. So. Using my skills as a professional web developer, I decided to start my own list. And rather than having to add all of the hotspots on my own, I designed the list so users could add listing on their own.. I began to add listings for cities other than Austin because it seemed like a useful service. When I travel, I use my own list to find places to get free internet access. So far it’s been a huge success, I think.

Q: Tell me about your site.

A: Well, is a personal site. Right now it’s got a blog and links to purely personal stuff such as info about music I perform, travel photographs, and such. When I first started keeping a list of wifi hotspots, I didn’t imagine it would grow to be such a popular part of the site, so I just stuck the list at So many people have linked to that URL, now, that I’m hesitant to move it elsewhere, but it does do good things to my overall site traffic. But, to summarize, the wireless hotspot list is just the most popular part of an otherwise personal website. Based on the success of the wifi list, though, I have been developing some new community-oriented tools, though, which I will hopefully launch this month.

Q: Would you consider yrself kind of a Robin Hood of wireless access, or are yr motives more pragmatic?

A: My motives are pragmatic in that I want to know where I can go to get good wifi service. But I do receive a regular stream of e-mails from people who find my site helpful and businesses that appreciate the free advertising, so it’s also a community service. But: As someone who prefers independent coffee shops, I’m happy that Starbucks stupidly charges users for something that should be free &mdash that way I get to direct people to the cooler places. $15/hr for wifi at Starbucks? That’s just silly &mdash especially when it’s free nearly everywhere else (in Austin, at least).

Q: As far as you know, are there any hand-held devices you could use to walk down the street and check businesses, private residences, etc, that have wireless access, and whether they’re locked by a password?

A: Hm. I don’t have any personal experience with any devices like that, but Engadget has a brief report on them available at:

Q: Would you post someone’s private residence? Say, a home’s access you could jump on by parking outside the house?

A: I don’t post private residences and I remove them if someone else does. But this doesn’t really come up very often. I want to provide a list of comfortable, high-quality sites. Sitting in your car with a computer on your lap in someone’s apartment parking lot getting a weak signal doesn’t count, even though it technically counts as a free wireless internet hotspot.

Q: What is your opinion of wireless pirates?

A: If you’re using the wifi service of the person in the apartment next to yours without impacting their service, I can’t see the problem. But if someone explicitly doesn’t want you sucking on their bandwidth, you should obey their wishes. As with many things in life, if you’re piggy-backing off of someone else’s service, you should be polite and respectful. If someone wants to sit in my front yard and use my service &mdash that’s fine, as long as it doesn’t cause me problems.


Accepted to NYU

Sunday, April 17, 2005


The NYU torch logo.

Well, to some of you it may not be news anymore, but I’ve been accepted to the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for graduate school. Excellent.

And, it a fit of particularly good timing, I’ve also been laid off from BMC, so I’ll be picking up a bit of severance and will be able to travel during the summer. Again, excellent news.

So far, it really couldn’t have worked out any better.

Anyway. April may be my last full month in Austin. I’ll miss it, but the change will be healthy. It’s gotten to the point where I know every crag in the sidewalk around here and, well, I know there are bigger, better, more interesting crags to be found elsewhere…

So off I go…

Update: I forgot to mention… The creative portfolio I submitted can be found here.


Israel Photos, Round 3

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


A photoshoot on the Jaffa jetty.

I’ve put another batch of about seventy photographs up from Israel… This set starts here and features the rest of my photos from warm, sunny Jaffa.

Coming soon: Shots of the suicide bombing and Jerusalem.


Opening for the Kronos Quartet on April 6th

Wednesday, April 6, 2005


From the "Sun Rings" web page.

So I’ve been invited to perform a set in the mezzanine of the UT Performing Arts Center before the Kronos Quartet performance of “Sun Rings.” If the Kronos Quartet is your thing and you’ve got $40 to spare, you should check it out.

Sorry for the late notice!


Map of Suicide Bombings in Tel Aviv Since 2000

Monday, April 4, 2005


Map from Yahoo!

I couldn’t find such a thing on the web, so I decided to do a bit of research on my own to see the pattern of suicide bombings in Tel Aviv since 2000. So here it is:

  1. February 25th, 2005 / The Stage club: “Four people are killed and at least 30 people are injured in a bomb blast outside a night club in Tel Aviv, weeks after Israeli and Palestinian leaders declare a truce.”
  2. November 1st, 2004 / Carmel Market: “A teenage suicide bomber kills at least three people in the crowded Carmel market in Tel Aviv.”
  3. July 11th, 2004 / Near the Old Central Bus Station: “One person is killed and 21 are wounded by a bomb packed with metal bolts, which explodes near a bus stop in Tel Aviv.”
  4. April 30th, 2003 / Mike’s Place bar: “A suicide bomber attacks a popular cafe in Tel Aviv, just hours after a new Palestinian cabinet wins approval under Abu Mazen who has pledged to crack down on militants. At least four people including the bomber are killed and dozens more injured.”
  5. January 5th, 2003 / Near the Old Central Bus Station: “At least 23 people are killed and 100 wounded when two suicide attackers set off charges in crowded, parallel and adjacent streets during rush hour in Tel Aviv, echoing an attack in July 2001.”
  6. October 10th, 2002 / Near the Old Central Bus Station: “A suicide bomber kills himself and a woman in an attack on a bus stop near Tel Aviv.”
  7. September 19th, 2002 / Near Allenby and Montefiore: “A suicide attack on a bus in Tel Aviv kills five and injures more than 50. A sixth victim - a medical student from Scotland - dies from his injuries the following day.”
  8. June 1st, 2001 / The Dolphinarium club: “Suicide bomb attack on a disco in Tel Aviv leaves 21 people dead and more than 60 others injured. Islamic Jihad claim responsibility.”

The brief descriptions come from the BBC.

Update: Yes, I’m aware that #3 is not technically a suicide bombing, but I’m going to leave it in there.

Update 2: And if I’ve missed an event, please let me know. I’d like this to be complete…