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Friday, August 27, 2010

Reading books on the go

If you're like me, you spend countless hours every day waiting in a queue, staring at stuff outside from a bus, running in the treadmill and so on. While I agree these activities are useful in consequence, wouldn't it be nice if you could engage in some productive activity at the same time? I'm talking about reading some book, or rather hearing one. I'll tell you exactly how you can get an edge over your peers via listening to books while apparently engaged in some mundane business.

Requisites: All you need at your disposal is a mobile phone(which I presume you already have, click HERE if you don't). If it can read play music and read .txt files, you're all set(can't read .txt files? Click HERE).

  • First off, head to librivox. You can download recorded versions of your favorite book from the catalogue( If your favorite book is no longer under copyright, i.e, published before 1923). Download all its chapters. Most classics are available, so you got choice!
  • Your next stop is Project Gutenberg, where you can download .txt, html, pdf versions of the same book(Link to it can be found in your book's Librivox download page). For now, download the .txt file to your harddisk.
  • Transfer these files to your phone and you're done(it's desirable to transfer only few ongoing chapters, lest you'll consume space on your phone).
  • Plug in your headset and start listening. In case you find any part of it difficult or insist on reading a portion yourself, you can always check the .txt version!

Do not have a mobile phone?
It's ok if you can get hold of an mp3 player too, the only disadvantage being the inability to refer to the text. The idea is to pretend you're listening to music!

Can't read .txt files on your phone?
At least if there's java on your phone, you can download midlets/ midlet-creators that will allow you to open .txt files. Here are a few I think might help : ReadManiac, Bookshelf, Mobipocket.

Concluding remarks
There's nothing like reading a real book, so this is not a substitute for actual reading. This is in fact just another way to make productive use of your otherwise futile time. Enjoy!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Street art

There are artists/designers who are employed at companies, some prefer to freelance at the comfort of their home and be their own boss, and there are others who are left with no choice but to draw on the street to earn a livelihood. I happened to see one of the latter recently. 
If you're thinking 'not exactly Picasso', know this- all his limbs are disabled, and chalks are his only tool. Yet he drew such perfect curves and proportionate body,  that  most of the able-bodied of us might find difficult to achieve.
I wish I had waited till the end and captured the finished work, but I was in a hurry. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Unpacking the Texts

We've all seen them since first grade- initially they used to bear beautiful illustrations and colorful content at which we could glare all day, such were their appeal. As we grew older, they grew bigger, and the pictures vanished, making room for uninterrupted lines of text and more text. I'm talking about our text books, our old pals who'd stay up late on days before exams during all-nighters, yet at the year end look brand new and untouched by human hands.

I've been issued my set of material for the IPCC (shown above) yesterday. To say the least, I was stunned on seeing its sheer volume, as were my friends. The very thought of covering them all within nine months was depressing. And then to cool me down, I thought of viewing them from a designer perspective, and arrived at the following goofy yet interesting observations:

  • Each subject follows a color code when it comes to the cover, enabling us to pick out our choice easily.
  • The covers have a sleek and modern look, which is good.
  • The covers might be a little confusing with "Paper-1, Volume-II, Part-3…" on every one of them.
  • The entire design and layout is minimalist, appropriate for text-books.
  • Headings, paragraphs and tables stick to a solid hierarchy.
  • Numbering of pages is convincingly done in a "Chapter-no. Page-no" format.
  • Tables are in plenty, and pretty consistent in style. Graphs and charts are a rarity.
  • The whole set of books is set in a sans-serif font, which in my opinion is quite unsuitable for print, especially for text books. While sans-serifs may suit the screen media, serifs are less straining to the eyes and more pleasant to stare at in the print media. Most standard texts and other books follow this practice in their typography, sadly not these.
  • Even in theory-based books like that of Law, the whole text runs from left to right of the page and are not split into columns like in a newspaper. Another let-downer for me.
  • They all smell really good (think I mentioned goofy on top!).

So these were nothing you never really knew, but I did you good by listing them out. To those of you who question the very purpose of 'viewing from a designer perspective': I agree content is king, but let's accept that the way it is presented is important too. Design matters. Hence this post :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

ChiselScript : my brand new font!

After a day long painstaking work, here I am with a (possibly) cool font, that is actually usable. I've named it "ChiselScript", it is supposed to look like it's written with a chisel tip. All my fonts including ChiselScript are available for download here : 
and the license information is available here : I'd like to here what you think of it- please post your comment here or at the download page.
I have'nt uploaded them separately elsewhere because most people find them through acidfonts and I want to know the statistics.