Matt mentioned we haven’t had many pictures on the blog recently, so it’s about time I rectified that.
It’s been linked all over the web, but it’s still very much worth pointing out this lovely essay and series of visualisations of Choose Your Own Adventure books. Beyond the obvious prettiness of it, it’s a shrewd piece of work – I particularly enjoyed the insight into the changing editorial trends of the books, obtained simply from the visualisation work. Don’t forget to check out the “animations” and “gallery” at the top of the page – the animated versions of some of the graphics are particularly attractive. A really vivid example of the way visualisation work can be both useful and informative as well as beautiful.
Chumby have launched the Chumby One, a new version of their internet-connected device that can play Flash applications. The Chumby was always a hard product to explain – reliant on applications being installed into it, a squishy and unusual form factor, a quite high price tag. I’m really loving the design of the One, though: it’s much more straightforward and makes its intended usage (a kind of bedside/tabletop connected screen) much clearer. The inclusion of an FM radio helps put it into the bedside category, too. Still, there’s something about its new form factor (well illustrated in this Engadget review that is in many ways more endearing – simple because of its readibility – than the original, squishy box.
The most interesting point – for me, anyhow – is the pricecut. At nearly half the price – $119 compared to $199 – of the original Chumby, it becomes a much more attractive proposition, especially if you’re not entirely sure what you’d do with it. Not only cheaper, then, but also improved. It’s interesting to see a product slowly defining its edges over time.
Bear with me, but I think this is beautiful. It’s ICU64, a real-time debugger for Commodore 64 emulators. On the right in the video is the emulator; on the left is ICU64, displaying the memory registers of the virtual C64. To begin with, you can see the registers being filled and decompressed to in real time; then, you can see the ripple as all the registers empty and are refilled. And then, as the game in question loads, you can see registers being read directly corresponding to sprite animation. What from a distance appears to be green and yellow dots can be zoomed right into – the individual values of each register being made clear. It’s a long video, but the first minute or two makes the part I liked clear: a useful (and surprisingly beautiful) visualisation of computer memory. It helps that the computer in question has a memory small enough that it can reasonably be displayed on a modern screen.
A rain-proof planetarium machine could be installed in public, anchored to the plinth indefinitely. Lurking over the square with its strange insectile geometries, the high-tech projector would rotate, dip, light up, and turn its bowed head to shine the lights of stars onto overcast skies above. Tourists in Covent Garden see Orion’s Belt on the all-enveloping stratus clouds—even a family out in Surrey spies a veil of illuminated nebulae in the sky.
The Milky Way rolls over Downing Street. Videos explaining starbirth color the air above Pall Mall and St. Martin in the Fields goes quiet as ringed orbits of planets are diagrammed in space half a mile above its steeple.
The Zeiss Star Projector Manaugh illustrates his article with is a beautiful object (see above), and it’s the best I can do to illustrate this link; the idea has a few implementation details, you might say, but there’s an undeniable poetry in it, and that idea feels like a very beautiful picture to end on.