Quartz Composer: Who knew you were so dang amazing?

Years ago, I remember reading a blog post about Quartz Composer, a Mac OS application that seems to have been intended to create graphical filters, screensavers, and graphics-intensive applications. It's not an authoring environment, it is more of a visual programming language. There are little blocks of code called Patches and patches have inputs and outputs that can be wired up to each other, and can be combined to form larger blocks of code that are easier to manage.

Back to Yale for my class reunion

My freshman year a guy named Mark lived above me. He played the organ. After the library closed one night, he said: "Let's go to Battelle Chapel and I'll play the organ." I sat in the front row of the dark chapel while he played Bach. It was quite an experience. Not unlike the video below.

From pyramid to rectangle

America's morphing age pyramid

Longer life-spans and reduced birth rate means that the age pyramid in America has become a rectangle.

Remembering Gabriel García Márquez

When I was in elementary school there was a book that sat on the drafting table in the kitchen. On its cover was an illustration of a man and woman embracing, a reddish glow in the distance, some jungly growth crawling from below. The book was titled One Hundred Years of Solitude. One day when my dad was not around, I cracked it open and read a few pages, but put it down. This is a grown up book, I thought. I could tell by the illustration on the cover. I probably shouldn't read it.

The joy of confusing the map with the terrain

Cockpits and other sublunar user interfaces

Long ago, I worked at an R&D center at the University of Texas at Austin. It was a fun job. One the the perquisites of working at a university is that you hear about and can attend all sorts of lectures. A hero of mine, Oliver Sacks, the neurologist, writer, and lover of ferns, came by one day and talked about his research. Another time Richard Avedon discussed his photography. And once, a professor of Human-Computer Interaction lectured to us about what he had learned from the research and design of airplane cockpit hardware and software.

Doing with images makes symbols

Bret Victor delivered a talk recently at the Stanford Human-Computer Interaction Seminar. It was about the need for scientists, engineers, and artists to make and communicate ideas using pictures. Not symbols, but the direct manipulation of pictures.

Drawing Dynamic Visualizations from Bret Victor on Vimeo.

25 is the magic number

On Valentine's Day, the hip-hop instigators De La Soul released their entire catalog of music to fans. It has been 25 years since De La Soul released 3 Feet High and Rising. It still sounds as original and linguistically clever as it did back then.

They have a book and a new album coming out soon. I'm going to give it a listen.


What we can learn from the user interface that guided us to the Moon and back

This DSKY, or Display Keyboard, enabled Apollo 11 astronauts to land the Lunar Module on the moon and to return to Earth. Alive.

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