Category Archives: design

Christopher Chapman, 1927-2015

Christopher Chapman
He had a unique doorstop at his front door.

I was sorry to read in the Globe and Mail of the recent passing of Oscar-award-winning Christopher Chapman. He was an acolyte of Eric Aldwinckle, and I met him and his wife Glen at his Uxbridge home about ten years ago when researching a book on Eric. Christopher was a brilliant innovator who mastered the technique of choreographing multiple moving images in one large movie frame. He won his Oscar with the short film at Expo ’67: “A Place To Stand“.

He was a gentleman.

Design is in the Details

Recently sent to design students:

If you’re receiving this email, you have sent me information regarding your third assignment, but what you’ve sent is not what I’ve asked for.

When I was just out of school and had a burgeoning illustration career, I made a terrible mistake: I gave an art director what he didn’t ask for, thinking that he was getting better than what he’d asked for. I re-did the assignment, but word got around, and I never got another assignment in that industry. It may have been a good thing for me in the long run, but it was a difficult lesson to learn.

So please look carefully at the assignment brief and consider that if you do not pay attention to details, you may slide through school, but your career as a designer will be a short and/or unhappy one!


RAzer: Another headline cutup program

RAzer results
Results using join word ‘in’ from headlines on Aug. 30, 2014

RAzer is an extra Python gadget behind the rear end of Media Circus.

The source text for Media Circus are ‘cutups’ of headlines, retrieved from RSS feeds of news agencies. Up until this month, I have been using an online php program called ”cutup“ that accesses feeds from the Toronto Globe and Mail and the CBC, cuts them up and re-presents them on a web page. The strategy for this program is simple: count the words in headline 1 and split it through the middle, do the same with headline 2, then combine the front of headline 1 with the back of headline 2, and vice versa.

RAzer retrieves headlines from 12 world sources and re-combines them by identifying common “join words”, such as ’in‘, ‘on’, ‘of’, ‘the’, ‘at’, ‘to’, ‘into’, ‘as’, ‘from’ and ‘over’. Like cutup, the interface is through the web, but in this case the user has a choice of join word, the number of headlines to generate, and whether or not to retrieve a fresh set of headlines. The form data is sent through a post action to a Python script on my little RaspberryPi.


And by the way, here’s another reason to own an RPi: although I’m very happy with my web hosting provider Hostgator, shared hosting accounts have a defined set of Python libraries that are installed, and you can’t add new ones. In the case of RAzer, I needed the feedparser library, which was not included, so I had to use my little guy.