143 Slices
Medium 9781491907092

1. On the Merits of Letters

Jason Pamental O'Reilly Media ePub

Let’s talk just a bit about typography, its history, and its impact on design. From the first written words, letters have been the vehicle through which meaning and knowledge have been conveyed. That job is performed in more than one way: the words the letters form impart meaning, but the shape of the letters themselves can make an important contribution.

While this book isn’t meant as a complete stand-in for a true typography textbook, I’d be remiss if I didn’t explain some of the key terms and concepts before we dive in:

Consider the images conjured by the lettering on a stereotypical Chinese restaurant takeout menu, or a poster advertising an old Western movie, or the opening credits to the show M*A*S*H (see Figure 1-1). Or Apple’s “Think different” campaign. Or picture any of the classic IBM ads, with their headlines set in those distinctively exaggerated thick-and-thin stroked letterforms. It’s hard to use Bodoni without that coming to mind, at least in some subconscious way. That’s pretty effective branding when a company can own an entire typeface in our collective consciousness.

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Medium 9781457185922

13. Milling

Paolo Aliverti Maker Media, Inc ePub

Michelangelo, artist and master of subtractive techniques, used to say that what he did was to free his works from the marble that kept them trapped. Today, thanks to machines, we can also free “objects” trapped in foam blocks, resin, or wood, without necessarily becoming artists of the chisel. These machines, which make our objects rise from an ocean of burrs, are called computer numerical control (CNC) machines—that is, machines that can control other tools (such as mills, lathes, grinders, and drills) via computer.

Just like 3D printers, CNC machines are nothing new: they have been used for decades to manufacture precision mechanical parts. These machines are often very large and expensive, made of cast iron and filled with gravel to reduce vibrations, and carefully mounted in industrial plants not accessible to everyone, for obvious safety reasons.

These CNC machines are essentially robots that can move tools in space to create objects. In subtractive technologies, the tool being moved may be a laser beam, a blade, a supersonic water jet, or a rotating instrument…the important thing is for it to be suitable to remove material. The digital revolution couldn’t help taking CNC machines into consideration, so some years ago a series of open source projects appeared on the Net to help makers manufacture CNC machines in their own garages.

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Medium 9781457185922

15. Electronics and Fairy Dust

Paolo Aliverti Maker Media, Inc ePub

Tinker Bell and Peter Pan could fly thanks to a happy thought and some fairy dust. Our projects also need some fairy dust to fly, in the form of ghostly subatomic particles called electrons. Moving electrons are the basis of electricity, and their behavior in components is the basis of the field we call electronics. A beginner might view electronics as a difficult and inscrutable topic, and circuits as tiny and complicated objects. Electronics books are chock-full of math and physics formulas, so there is apparently nothing magic or fantastical…just a bunch of stuff an engineer would love!

But if you looked at electronics metaphorically, with an artist’s eye, you could see wires and currents as pipes and water, transistors and potentiometers as valves and taps…and you would find out that electronics can be pretty intuitive, and a lot of fun too!

When a programmer approaches a new computer language, she first checks that everything is properly installed on the computer, and that the development environment can compile her program. For this first program, it’s a programming tradition to write one called Hello World. Hello World does nothing more than print the words “Hello World” on the screen. Ridiculously simple, yes, but successfully writing, compiling, and running the program tells you that your development environment works.

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Medium 9781449371036

1. The Hardware Startup Landscape

Renee DiResta O'Reilly Media ePub

If you’re reading this book, it’s likely because you’ve decided to start, or are thinking about starting, a hardware company. Congratulations! Launching a hardware startup is an exciting and challenging undertaking. There’s a saying: “Hardware is hard.” You have to navigate the complexities of prototyping and manufacturing, the daunting optimization problems of pricing and logistics, and the challenges of branding and marketing. And you’ll be doing it all on a pretty tight budget.

But today—right now!—is probably the best time in history to be starting your company. Technological advances, economic experiments, and societal connections have facilitated the growth of an ecosystem that enables founders to launch hardware companies with fewer obstacles than ever before.

Before we get into the specifics of getting your business off the ground, let’s set the stage by discussing some important influences that have brought the ecosystem to where it is today.

Today’s hardware entrepreneurs stand on the shoulders of early makers. The maker movement has had a profound influence on the hardware-startup ecosystem. Defined by three characteristics—curiosity, creativity, and community—it emphasizes project-based learning, learning by doing, and sharing knowledge with others. Experimentation is important. Having fun is a priority.

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Medium 9781449344160

8. Validating XML in InDesign

Dorothy J. Hoskins O'Reilly Media ePub

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

Validation is the process of assuring that the XML you create conforms to the rules of your structure, whether governed by a DTD, schema, or database structure. Although a foolish consistency in philosophy may not be praiseworthy, a wise consistency in content creation may save you a lot of later effort.

When you validate your XML content, the assumption is that any other system using the same structural rules can use the XML you create. For solo content creators who are only making XML and storing it for their own uses, validation may not be necessary. But for anyone who is working with XML with the intent of passing along the content they create to other applications or processes, making sure that the XML is valid will be imperative.

Adobe has given you the ability to make mistakes when creating XML content, then go back and fix them by checking the contents validity against a DTD. If you need really robust validation while authoring XML content, InDesign is not the right choice for your publishing needs. Adobe FrameMaker and other XML publishing applications that offer a guided content creation process (preventing you from inserting invalid structure in your document) will serve you better.

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