Actor and artist Tom Wilson joins Matt this week to discuss being present (but also past and future) in the Back to the Future Trilogy as Biff Tannen, among other members of the Tannen clan. Tom tells us about finding a creative way to approach being asked the same questions about the films, which includes creating a handy postcard to present to anyone on the street that asks him the same questions over and over. We also hear what it was like for him - as someone who was bullied - to play a bully himself, being paired off to rehearse his scenes with Crispin Glover, and what he believes to be the heart of all the movies. Plus, Tom talks about being on a debate team with David Brooks of the NY Times, the inspiration for his ‘Pop Fugue’ paintings, and various roles he’s played over the years including one of his earliest on The Facts of Life.Los Angeles: On February 28th there will be a LIVE I Was There Too at The Regent Theater with legendary screenwriter Steven de Souza (Die Hard, Commando) along with a screening of The Running Man (celebrating it’s 30th Anniversary). Get tickets at
2.18: Seventeen People (with Richard Schiff, Emily Procter, Rebecca Walker, and more) — The West Wing Weekly
We’ve got seven people for "Seventeen People." Richard Schiff (@Richard_Schiff) talks to us about Toby’s journey, and the origins of the Spalding ball. Emily Procter (@emilyprocter) talks to us about Ainsley "spilling coffee" with Sam. Rebecca Walker (@rebeccawalker), one of the actual ERA panelists set to debate Ainsley at Smith, responds to her arguments, along with the President of the ERA Coalition, Jessica Neuwirth. And we get a little insight into a fantastic website dedicated to this episode, seventeenpeople.com, from its creator, Jon White (@jonwhitebriefly). footnotes—Anne Coulter’s 2003 quote in The Guardian: "It would be a much better country if women did not vote. That is simply a fact.""Credible Threats" by The One AM Radio [music video]"Becoming the Third Wave," essay by Rebecca Walker [Ms. Magazine, 1992]The ERA Coalition [site]"How the Haters Made Trump" by McCay Coppins [Buzzfeed]americanscraps.com by Jon WhiteZoom opening credits[ download ]
We return to both Kurt Vonnegut and to Jason Snell, as we discuss the most famous book about time and birdsong ever written, Slaughterhouse Five.
Craig Hockenberry’s ‘Making Sense of Color Management’
2 January 2017
When I was an incoming freshman at Drexel University in 1991, the school had a program, in collaboration with Apple, that allowed students to buy Macintosh computers at a significant discount. I had narrowed my choices to two: a Mac LC and a Mac SE/30. The SE/30 was significantly faster. But I wound up choosing the LC for one reason: the LC came with a color display, and the SE/30’s display was black and white. Even today, I love the original Mac’s 9-inch black and white display, but even then, just seven years after the Mac debuted, that love was nostalgic.
A color display was, for me, an irresistible draw.
The display on that Mac LC now sounds quaint. It measured only 12 inches diagonally (common for notebooks today, but the LC was a desktop), with 512 × 384 pixel resolution. A retina display it was not. And it could only display 256 colors at a time. Today that sounds ludicrous. In 1991 it sounded luxurious — most Macs were black-and-white and many PCs with color support could only show 16 colors at a time. Macs that could display “thousands” of colors cost thousands of dollars more.1
For a while, I was obsessed with a Mac golfing game. (Exciting, right?) As a computer nerd and budding designer, I noticed immediately that the game’s graphics seemed too good to be true — the scenery on the golf courses was clearly better looking than what was possible with the system’s 256 color palette. I delved into it and learned that while my LC indeed could not display more than 256 colors at a time, the OS provided APIs that allowed an app to specify which 256 colors to display.2 The golf game, for obvious reasons, used a custom palette with way more greens than the system’s standard palette. “That’s clever”, I remember thinking. I also remember thinking that 256 colors no longer seemed like “a lot”.
A few years later, after I’d immersed myself in the online indie Mac developer/power user community, I became aware of a design studio that specialized in a delightfully specific niche: software icons. Their name said it all: The Iconfactory. Soon, The Iconfactory started making their own apps, too, the user interfaces for which were just as exquisitely pixel-perfect as their icons. The Iconfactory’s developer was a very tall fellow named Craig Hockenberry.
Craig’s long been a good friend. So, when he asked me last year if I’d consider writing the foreword to a book he was writing about color management, I was honored.
Making Sense of Color Management came out last month. It is an excellent book — useful for both designers and developers who are trying to, well, make sense of the state of the art in color management. Here’s an example. You specify a certain exact RGB color in your CSS for a web page. Then you make a graphic for that web page, with the exact same RGB value for the background color. But when you put the graphic on the web page, the background colors don’t match up. But only in some browsers, on some platforms. What the hell is going on?
In this book, Craig tells us not just what to do, but why. It’s not merely a checklist of steps to follow blindly, but rather a foundation of knowledge. The famed physicist Richard Feynman believed that if he couldn’t explain a complex subject to an audience of first-year students, that meant he himself didn’t truly understand the subject. This book is proof that Craig now truly understands how modern color management works.
A few salient facts:
It’s an e-book, and it costs only $8.
You can read it in iBooks, Kindle, and as a PDF. You only have to buy it once.
It’s only 91 pages long. It contains everything you need to know, and nothing you don’t.
It’s published by A Book Apart, so unsurprisingly it’s well-edited and exquisitely-designed.
Color graphics have never been easy. As our technical capabilities have expanded (e.g. wide color gamut displays), so has the complexity involved in understanding how it all works. If you work in design or graphics, you should read this book.
See also: Craig’s blog post announcing the publication of the book, and the mini-site he created to accompany it. Last but not least, Craig and I discussed the book a few weeks ago on my podcast. ★
Back in the System 7 era of the 1990s, you could change the number of colors used by your display in the Monitors control panel. There were options like “Black and White” and numbers like 4, 16, and 256. After that, though, the system’s actual labels for how many colors to display were “Thousands” and “Millions”. It’s one of those little details that made me love the Mac. 256 is a manageable number. 65,536 is not.
This preference for humane descriptions over technical descriptions lives on today in MacOS 10.12 Sierra’s Displays System Preferences panel. You can’t change the number of colors, but you can change the scale of the interface. If you have a retina display, rather than a list of pixel resolutions (e.g. 2560 × 1440), you simply see five side-by-side example icons, with “Larger Text” on the left, “More Space” on the right, and “Default” somewhere in between. ↩︎︎
I even remember the 4-character code for the resource type that specified the custom color palettes: “clut”, for “color look up table”. I don’t think there’s any classic Mac app that I have stronger nostalgia for than ResEdit. I probably haven’t used ResEdit in 15 years, but I feel like I could sit down in front of it and be right at home. ↩︎
A special from the Macworld Expo show floor: Daring Fireball blogger John Gruber and Panic’s Cabel Sasser discuss the issues of the week.
For the last episode of the year, we answer listener questions in our 2nd edition of The West Wing Weekly Big Block of Cheese Day. Thanks so much for listening to the show this year and giving us a great 2016 — apart from, well, everything else that happened.If you are looking for good causes to support this holiday season, we suggest:MazonThe Pablove FoundationSouthern Poverty Law CenterBet Tzedek Justice for Vets[ download ]footnotes —Hrishi’s West Wing cast: starring roles with photos | full cast listOur West Wing prequel: starring roles with photos
Oh-My-Zsh is an open source, community-driven framework for managing your ZSH configuration. It comes bundled with a ton of helpful functions, helpers, plugins, themes, and a few t…
You’ve heard a version of this story before: Steve Jobs calls some executive out of the blue to come work for him. Only this time the story turns out great … and the company wasn’t Apple. This episode of the a16z Podcast shares some of the journey that former CFO Lawrence Levy went on with Steve Jobs as they took Pixar — a company then on the verge of failure — to its IPO and subsequent greatest hits.
It’s sort of an adventure story but is really more of a quest for product-market fit. How did they figure out a model for such an old-but-new business (i.e., animation and entertainment)? How did they take an improbable plan and figure out how to make it work — both qualitatively and quantitatively? How did they then navigate and straddle the diverse worlds of Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and Wall Street? And finally, how did they price their IPO, which was also a symbol of Steve Jobs’ comeback story … a narrative that’s sometimes lost in the Apple story.
From the business of creativity to corporate culture, Levy — former CFO of Pixar, board member, and author of the new book To Pixar and Beyond: My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History — shares his (and Jobs’ untold) story. But it isn’t just a story about finding the right model and nu…
Original video: https://m.soundcloud.com/a16z/business-creativity-pixar-cfo-ipo/download
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Stories in which ordinary people make last ditch efforts to get through to their loved ones.
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