Archive for April, 2011

[tech] They Actually Are Still Making Typewriters, Somewhere

Posted in metareferencial things, modren times, typography on April 28, 2011 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

2615.It would seem that, as a wise American once expounded, reports of the death of the typewriter have been greatly exaggerated. This from Gawker, via The Great Penguini:

In the retelling, however, this somehow came to mean that Godrej & Boyce was the last existing typewriter manufacturer in the world, and that this therefore marked the final, wheezing gasps for the antiquated word-processing machines. From the fake typewriter ashes, a million nostalgic personal essays bloomed.

There are at least a few firms left that are creating new typewriters, including a firm referenced in the article that apparently creates “see-through” typewriters for use by prisoners.

Referenced was this search on Staples website which turns up several models. I would point out that these are strictly electronic typewriters, which, to me, is an important distinction … perhaps not to others, but certainly to me. I think the mechanical typewriter has a niche, infinitesimal though it may be.

But breathe easy, fellow lovers of the rustic art of creating type with actual mechanical effort … our day is not completely over. Not yet, anyway.

And while we’re there, mea culpa for spreading a bit of un-information there. But it was with a good heart.


[Address_Nerd] You’re So Vain, I Bet You Think This Address Is About You

Posted in Address Nerd on April 28, 2011 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

2614.Thanks to fellow League of Extraordinary Address Nerds member Ben Lukoff for this little gem.

To a person like me, the New York City address pattern in extremely interesting. Twenty house numbers to the block on the avenues (and not every avenue beginning on the baseline of 5th Avenue) make for a very interesting address location experience: a tradition in phonebooks and travel guides is to include a amusingly abstruse algorithm to determine what cross-street your address may (or may not) be near.

Latterly the wonders of the intartubez have brought web-based pages and apps for download that make it very easy for those who are NYC tyros to find what they need. But, as in life, everything is as it is, but not as it ought to be: there is cachet and status to addresses, and as it turns out, if you are sufficiently close to Fifth Avenue, that Avenue of distinction, you can petition the City of New York for a vanity address:

Borelli is a somewhat reluctant steward of the vanity-address program, which dates back several decades and can be blamed for, among other things, the proliferation of the word “plaza” and the disproportionate number of businesses and homeowners with Park Avenue and Fifth Avenue letterheads. (“Pulling an avenue address over” is the topographical parlance for denying that your building’s real entrance is on, say, East Seventy-sixth Street.) “I usually try to talk them out of it,” Borelli said, referring to vainglorious building owners. “If you’re having a heart attack and you’ve got a vanity address, it could take a few crucial moments for the E.M.T. driver to figure it out. And you could be dead by the time help arrives.” The residents of 44 West Sixty-second Street once sued the owners of 62 West Sixty-second Street, whose nifty mnemonic address comes at the expense of directional logic: it is east, not west, of No. 44. The plaintiffs were upset about missing out on pizza deliveries and Town Car pickups amid the confusion. (They lost.)

I like to think, anyway, that such a thing is very unlikely to have happen here in PDX, with our excuciatingly-logical street rationale; while we will be goofy about naming our streets sometimes (it must be said, I’ve warmed to the idea of SE César E Chávez Blvd instead of Thirty-Ninth Avenue, as flawed as the process of getting there was … heck, it looks great on a street blade), you aren’t going to get an address on SW Broadway, say, if you are two doors around the corner on Taylor Street.
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[logo_design] Google Chrome Logo … With A Bit Less Chrome

Posted in logo design, web design on April 28, 2011 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

2613.I just now noticed this … I should keep up on Google Chrome browser news, especially since I love the logo quite a bit. Clever little thing.

When I started up Chrome today, just to go get a look at somthing in it, I noticed it had become, well, flat

New Google Chrome Logo

… and I knew it used to look a bit more pictorial:

Old Google chrome logo


Or as Steve Rura, designer, explains it:

Since Chrome is all about making your web experience as easy and clutter-free as possible, we refreshed the Chrome icon to better represent these sentiments. A simpler icon embodies the Chrome spirit — to make the web quicker, lighter, and easier for all.

Which, if you’re going to evolve a logo design, is a good way to move – in concert with the animating idea, or at least as close as you can execute it. After being a bit surprised by the evolution, I found myself warming to it right away. So, for me, it’s a good move.

Read all about it and look at some of the user explorations that inspired the move here:

[logo_design] That Peculiar Lightness of Logos for 2011

Posted in advertising, art, Graphic Design, memes, web design on April 26, 2011 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

2612.So saith GD USA’s Logolounge: the fashion trend for logos seems to be light, airy, and transcendant:

For the 2011 report, our ninth, color is still prevalent, but tinted down. Where black has been used as the strong neutral, now brown or gray is in place. Blues and greens are softer, and pinks are starting to appear.

Other degrees of lightness: Shapes are airier, lifting off the page. Designs are rising out of their 2D resting places and suggesting that they would really like to go places. In some logos, line weights are slimmer. There’s plenty of transparency, too, as if light is now able to flow right through.

The transcendancey comes from what’s turning out to be a logo’s new remit: it did what it does before, but now it does it in places that Paul Rand never would have guessed. You’ll find a logo as a favicon, animated, in print and in electronic form … but not just one form, many of them – animated, backgrounded, what have you. As digital design tools evolve, more effects and functions, once the domain of fairly abstruse professionals, now come to the fingertips of your friendly neighborhood desktop designer.

They can be used for evil, yes, we understand that. With great power comes great responsibility. Also, large power bills.

Read the Logolounge’s report here … … and go right to the graphic that illustrates what they see as the 2011 trends here … … each image has a link to a definition and examples.

H/T to Jeff Fisher.

[tech] The Typewriter Era Is Over … Period

Posted in art tools, Graphic Design, modren times, typography on April 26, 2011 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

2611.Typewriters have, of course, been on the way out for a long time. Here in America they’ve all but become ghosts, and those of us who have actual typewriters and use them (me, for one) have to know where to get typewriter ribbons (not an easy thing, but I at least have Bill Morrison’s at 122nd and SE Stark St, which is within walking distance).

I was aware that they were less popular for a long time, you know when I knew that the typewriter’s days were numbered? When you couldn’t find them at the Goodwill store anymore. They used to have shelves and shelves of broken old machines. Then, one year … and not all that long ago … the old typewriters just kind of disappeared.

Those of us who like type and typing … and for me there’s always a sort of joy to it, a healing feeling … cherish our machines. The author Harlan Ellison has several in storage, because nothing lasts forever and, I imagine, soon enough, there won’t be any way to even get them fixed any more. Keeps spare typewriter ribbons in the freezer, I understand.

With the announcement of the last known typewriter manufacturer in the world ceasing operations, I fear that day is here:

With only about 200 machines left — and most of those in Arabic languages — Godrej and Boyce shut down its plant in Mumbai, India, today. “Although typewriters became obsolete years ago in the west, they were still common in India — until recently,” according to the Daily Mail, which ran a special story this morning about the typewriters demise. “Demand for the machines has sunk in the last ten years as consumers switch to computers.” Secretaries, rejoice.

“We are not getting many orders now,” Milind Dukle, Godrej and Boyce’s general manager, told the paper. “From the early 2000s onwards, computers started dominating. All the manufacturers of office typewriters stopped production, except us. ‘Till 2009, we used to produce 10,000 to 12,000 machines a year. But this might be the last chance for typewriter lovers. Now, our primary market is among the defence agencies, courts and government offices.”

Well, my Royal Futura isn’t on the verge of breaking down, and I can still get ribbons for it. But she’s amongst the last of a now-extinct species.

[icons] "Get A Mac": Art Imitates Life Imitates Art Imitating Life

Posted in advertising, liff, metareferencial things, This Modren World on April 24, 2011 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

2610.They’ve become iconic: John Hodgman as the PC and Justin Long as the Mac. Over many years and between 60 and 70 seperate commercials, the buttoned-down, business-suited, bland Hodgman became a sort of PC-tan against Long’s Mac-tan in the ultimate collision of American advertising and moe anthropomorphism.

Turns out that the incarnations are actually quite close to the stereotype.

An article on PC World reports than an unscientific survey run by a site called Hunch suggests that the stereotypes have basis in reality:

An unscientific survey by Hunch, a website that makes custom predictions based on your interests, shows that PC users tend to prefer fitting in with others, are less tech savvy, and prefer Hollywood films over indie films. The same survey suggests Mac users tend to throw more parties, are modern art enthusiasts, and would rather drive a Vespa than a Harley.

The real cosmic joke, in my opine, is that John Hodgman is actually a hardcore Mac user:

Here is the joke that is absolutely apt, though I once promised I would never make it: “I play one on TV, but I am not a PC.” It is true. I am first of all: not a computer, but a human being; and second of all: a Mac user, almost exclusively, since 1984. There was a brief period in the wilderness between 1997 and 2003. Let us not speak of it.

Justin Long is an Actor whom, I presume, doesn’t trouble too much about computers.

And so it goes.

[logo_design] Descendants of Original NY Yankees Logo Desiger Suing For Rights

Posted in Uncategorized on April 24, 2011 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

2609.This story may or may not demonstrate the wisdom of getting it in writing, depending on how the court case works out.

The New York Yankees “Top Hat” logo is, if not among the most famous logos, certainly one of the most recognizable, and carries a lot of history and fame. The logo was reputed to have been created by Kenneth Timur in 1936 who, according to the article at CNN, apparently depended on the good will of the Yankees organization to be properly recompensed:

Buday explains that her uncle was not aware that the Yankees adopted the logo until he immigrated to America in 1947 and was asked to revise the logo for their 1952 celebration of 50 years based in New York City.

She claims Timur was hopeful that this time the sports franchise would offer him some kind of recognition, but took the opportunity to “sign” his work with a “P.” Instead of 1903 to 1952, the logo appears as “1P03-1952” on the patches of the uniform.

A spokesperson for the organization quipped in response This is a wonderful country where anybody can sue for anything, even when the allegations are over 70 years old. And there, though I’m not a lawyer, would appear to be at least one place where there may be a crux of the matter. There may indeed be a credit due, but a delay of 70 years would seem, to this layman, to be a big obstacle to the claims of the descendants.

Good luck to the litigants, and we’ll keep our eye on this one.