Room 34 music now on ReverbNation and SoundClick

I’ve recently set up pages on the musician sites ReverbNation and SoundClick. (Basically, these sites are what MySpace was supposed to be, and they don’t suck.)

I’m presently working on a major redesign of this site to make it more portal-like and less generic-WordPress-blog-like, and once that’s in place I’ll integrate ReverbNation and SoundClick content more seamlessly into the site (plus I’m planning to set up some PayPal-Kunaki integration to handle sales of my CDs directly from this site), but in the meantime, here are the links:

The R’s have it… “It” being the most distinguishable difference between Helvetica and Arial

The R’s have itWhether or not my aesthetic sense and artistic ability really warrant the appellation “designer,” design has been a part of what I do for my entire career, and I’ve had the eye for detail (minutiae?) since I was a kid. It follows naturally that I have an unhealthy fixation on fonts. Just ask anyone how I feel about Verdana to erase all doubts on that point.

My obsessions seem slightly less unhealthy working in the publishing field, and they’re downright validated at moments like last Friday, when the recent documentary honoring the 50th anniversary of Helvetica was screened in our boardroom over lunch. I loved it.

While I unequivocally loathe Verdana (unless, that is, it’s displayed at such a small point size that it’s hard to tell what it is), I hold Helvetica in high regard. It’s rather plain, I’ll admit, but it’s just such a perfectly realized vision that in its relatively short lifetime it has become the norm. Helvetica is just how letters should look, and any other font’s uniqueness is judged most clearly by how it differs from that norm.

Unfortunately, on-screen type is a world of its own. Although with the advent of Mac OS X, system-wide anti-aliasing has made smooth font rendering possible, most computer systems still look better when fonts are specially tooled for the low-resolution environment of a CRT or LCD display. And for the most part, Helvetica has never really fared too well in such an environment.

So when, in the mid-’90s, Microsoft made what might have been their single most thoroughly positive contribution to the world by releasing a set of standard fonts to be used on web pages that look (reasonably) good on computer screens, I embraced them wholeheartedly (Verdana notwithstanding).

The closest counterpart to Helvetica in this set of fonts is Arial. Many people hate Arial, for reasons generally too arcane even for me to appreciate, but ultimately, for me, the fact that it doesn’t quite hit the mark of being a pure Helvetica clone, it tends to render much better on-screen than Helvetica does, and it’s become my own personal standard (along with another of the Microsoft web fonts, Georgia) for web design.

But this Helvetica movie has turned my world on its ear. For the last week I’ve been hyper-sensitive to fonts, noticing Helvetica everywhere I turn all day long, and becoming acutely aware of every slight difference between Helvetica and its web font doppelgänger, Arial. I think I’ve hit upon the most easily identifiable difference between the two fonts: the right “foot” of the capital R.

To be honest, I don’t really like the capital R in Helvetica. That wavy little foot seems too jaunty, too incongruously immoderate next to its supremely efficient and utilitarian siblings. But if anything is worse than the capital R in Helvetica, it’s the capital R in Arial! What the heck is that? It’s almost enough to make me want to give Verdana another chance. (After all, it’s even used on the Helvetica site.)

This is what I’ve imagined every time I’ve been in an elevator with mirrors on both sides…

Valve Software, makers of the Half-Life series, will soon release a new set of games set in that universe, called The Orange Box. The most intriguing element of this, for me, is a game called Portal. The game equips you with a special gun that can create teleportation holes at will. What does that mean? Allow them to demonstrate:


And so it all comes together. I have had plenty to say in the past regarding both poorly proofread Chinese English and Menards. But when the two join forces, it’s truly awe inspiring, as shown below.

Last weekend Menards was having another of its periodic “15% bag sales.” The idea is, they mail out paper bags (like grocery bags), you bring them into the store, stuff as much into them as you can, and you get 15% off everything in your bag. Not a bad deal. So I took advantage of that opportunity to stock up on some sorely needed hand tools, including a ratchet set.


As I was taking the ratchet set out of its package I noticed, printed on the back, “The Famous Forexer Warranty.”

“Forexer”? Yes. My “pyrchase” is warranted “forexer.” Sweet! Let’s see Home Depot match that!


Where are all of the pictures?

I know many of you have been waiting patiently (?) for the return of the “Offspring” photo galleries. Unfortunately I’ve been really busy with work (and life)… and I’ve been spending most of my “geek” time doing music in GarageBand or playing the Wii (i.e. losing to Fletcher at bowling), rather than getting the new photo gallery stuff set up on the site.

Fortunately for you, we’ve taken almost no new pictures since Christmas, because a) the camera’s batteries are crapping out and b) the camera has been misplaced for several weeks. So, you haven’t missed anything, really.

One of the key points in getting this set up was finding a mechanism in WordPress to restrict access: in short, I want to know who’s looking at pictures of my kids. Now I’ve found a plug-in to manage access to individual blog posts, so that’s one more hurdle jumped.

Future posts in this category will require you to be logged in. Fortunately, it’s easy to register and once you’ve done it, you should never have to do it again. (At least, not until I decide to change my site entirely again. But I don’t anticipate doing that in the near future, if only because I’m not going to have the time to mess with it!)