tecznotes

Michal Migurski's notebook, listening post, and soapbox. Subscribe to this blog. Check out the rest of my site as well.

Dec 30, 2012 6:01pm

back to webgl and nokia’s maps

I’m picking up last year’s data format exploration and dusting it off some to think about WebGL shader programming. More on this later. Click through to interactive demos below, if your browser speaks ArrayBuffer and WebGL. Tested with Chrome.

Dec 13, 2012 10:58pm

three ways fastly is awesome

We released the Google #freeandopen project earlier this month.

In a few days the International Telecommunication Union, a UN body made up of governments around the world, will be meeting in Qatar to re-negotiate International Telecommunications Regulations. These meetings will be held in private and behind closed doors, which many feel runs counter to the open nature of the internet. In response to this, Google is asking people to add their voice in favor of a free and open internet. Those voices are being displayed, in as close to real time as we can manage, on an interactive map of the world, designed and built by Enso, Blue State Digital, and us!

Stamen blog, December 3.

It was a highly-visible and well-trafficked project, linked directly from Google’s homepage for a few days, and we ultimately got over three million direct engagements in and amongst terabytes of hits and visits. We built it with a few interesting constraints: no AWS, rigorous Google security reviews, and no domain name until very late in the process. We would typically use Amazon’s services for this kind of thing, so it was a fun experiment to determine the mix of technology providers we should use to meet the need. Artur Bergman and Simon Wistow’s edge cache service Fastly stood out in particular and will probably be a replacement for Amazon Cloudfront for me in the future.

Fastly kicked ass for us in three ways:

First and easiest, it’s a drop-in replacement for Cloudfront with a comparable billing model. For some of our media clients, we use existing corporate Akamai accounts to divert load from origin servers. Akamai is fantastic, but their bread and butter looks to be enterprise-style customers. It often takes several attempts to communicate clearly that we want a “dumb” caching layer, respecting origin server HTTP Expires and Cache-Control headers. Fastly uses a request-based billing model, like Amazon, so you pay for the bandwidth and requests that you actually use. Bills go up, bills go down. The test account I set up back when I was first testing Fastly worked perfectly, and kept up with demand and more than a few quick configuration chanages.

Second, Fastly lets you modify with response headers. It’s taken Amazon S3 three years to release CORS support, something that Mike Bostock and I were asking them about back when we were looking for a sane way to host Polymaps example data several years ago (we ended up using AppEngine, and now the example data is 410 Gone). Fastly has a reasonably-simple UI for editing configurations, and it’s possible to add new headers to responses under “Content,” like this:

Now we could skip the JSONP dance and use Ajax like JJG intended, even though the source data was hosted on Google Cloud Storage where I couldn’t be bothered to figure out how to configure CORS support.

Finally, you can perform some of these same HTTP army knife magic on the request headers to the origin server. I’m particularly happy with this trick. Both Google Cloud Storage and Amazon S3 allow you to name buckets after domains and then serve from them directly with a small amount of DNS magic, but neither appears to allow you to rename a bucket or easily move objects between buckets, so you would need to know your domain name ahead of time. In the case of GCS, there’s an additional constraint that requires you to prove ownership of a domain name before the service will even let you name a bucket with a matching name. We had to make our DNS changes in exactly one move at a point in the project where a few details remained unclear, so instead of relying on DNS CNAME/bucket-name support we pointed the entire subdomain to Fastly and then did our configuration there. We were able to keep our original bucket name by rewriting the HTTP Host header on each request, in effect lying to the storage service about the requests it was seeing so we could defer our domain changes until later:

It sounds small, but on a very fast-moving project with a lot of moving pieces and a big client to keep happy, I was grateful for every additional bit of flexibility I could find. HTTP offers so many possibilities like this, and I love finding ways to take advantage of the distributed nature of the protocol in support of projects for clients much, much larger than we are.

Dec 8, 2012 2:58pm

fourteen years of pantone colors-of-the-year

I love the language patterns in press releases that accompany annual announcements, like Pantone’s Color Of The Year. Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, has been providing adjectives and free-associating since 1999. Between 9/11 and the economy, a lot of political freight gets bundled into these packages as well—“concern about the economy” is first mentioned in late 2005 (sand dollar).

2013: Emerald Green.

That’s the news if you were waiting to plan any decorating updates around Pantone’s Color of the Year announcement.
“Green is the most abundant hue in nature—the human eye sees more green than any other color in the spectrum,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “Symbolically, Emerald brings a sense of clarity, renewal and rejuvenation, which is so important in today’s complex world.”
Emerald green, being associated with gemstone for which it is named, is a sophisticated and luxurious choice, according to Eiseman. “It’s also the color of growth, renewal and prosperity—no other color conveys regeneration more than green. For centuries, many countries have chosen green to represent healing and unity.”

2012: Tangerine Tango.

The 2011 color of the year, PANTONE 18-2120 Honeysuckle, encouraged us to face everyday troubles with verve and vigor. Tangerine Tango, a spirited reddish orange, continues to provide the energy boost we need to recharge and move forward.
“Sophisticated but at the same time dramatic and seductive, Tangerine Tango is an orange with a lot of depth to it,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “Reminiscent of the radiant shadings of a sunset, Tangerine Tango marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow, to form a high-visibility, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy.”

2011: Honeysuckle.

Honeysuckle is encouraging and uplifting. It elevates our psyche beyond escape, instilling the confidence, courage and spirit to meet the exhaustive challenges that have become part of everyday life.
“In times of stress, we need something to lift our spirits. Honeysuckle is a captivating, stimulating color that gets the adrenaline going—perfect to ward off the blues,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “Honeysuckle derives its positive qualities from a powerful bond to its mother color red, the most physical, viscerally alive hue in the spectrum.”

2010: Turquoise.

Combining the serene qualities of blue and the invigorating aspects of green, Turquoise evokes thoughts of soothing, tropical waters and a languorous, effective escape from the everyday troubles of the world, while at the same time restoring our sense of wellbeing.
“In many cultures, Turquoise occupies a very special position in the world of color,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “It is believed to be a protective talisman, a color of deep compassion and healing, and a color of faith and truth, inspired by water and sky. Through years of color word-association studies, we also find that Turquoise represents an escape to many—taking them to a tropical paradise that is pleasant and inviting, even if only a fantasy.”

2009: Mimosa.

In a time of economic uncertainty and political change, optimism is paramount and no other color expresses hope and reassurance more than yellow. “The color yellow exemplifies the warmth and nurturing quality of the sun, properties we as humans are naturally drawn to for reassurance,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “Mimosa also speaks to enlightenment, as it is a hue that sparks imagination and innovation.”

2008: Blue Iris.

Combining the stable and calming aspects of blue with the mystical and spiritual qualities of purple, Blue Iris satisfies the need for reassurance in a complex world, while adding a hint of mystery and excitement.
“From a color forecasting perspective, we have chosen PANTONE 18-3943 Blue Iris as the color of the year, as it best represents color direction in 2008 for fashion, cosmetics and home products,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “As a reflection of the times, Blue Iris brings together the dependable aspect of blue, underscored by a strong, soul-searching purple cast. Emotionally, it is anchoring and meditative with a touch of magic. Look for it artfully combined with deeper plums, red-browns, yellow-greens, grapes and grays.”

2007: Chili Pepper.

In a time when personality is reflected in everything from a cell phone to a Web page on a social networking site, Chili Pepper connotes an outgoing, confident, design-savvy attitude.
“Whether expressing danger, celebration, love or passion, red will not be ignored,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “In 2007, there is an awareness of the melding of diverse cultural influences, and Chili Pepper is a reflection of exotic tastes both on the tongue and to the eye. Nothing reflects the spirit of adventure more than the color red. At the same time, Chili Pepper speaks to a certain level of confidence and taste. Incorporating this color into your wardrobe and living space adds drama and excitement, as it stimulates the senses.”
“In 2007, we’re going to see people making greater strides toward expressing their individuality,” says Lisa Herbert, executive vice president of the fashion, home and interiors division at Pantone.

2006: Sand Dollar.

Pantone’s Sand Dollar 13-1106 was the 2006 Color of the Year. It’s considered a neutral color that expresses concern about the economy.

2005: Blue Turquoise.

Pantone’s Blue Turquoise 15-5217 was the 2005 Color of the Year. Following the theme of nature from 2004’s color, Tiger Lily, Blue Turquoise is the color of the sea and is also used in tapestries and other artworks from the American Southwest.

2004: Tiger Lily.

Pantone’s Tiger Lily 17-1456 was the 2004 Color of the Year. It acknowledges the hipness of orange, with a touch of exoticism.
With inspiration from the natural flower, this warm oragne contains the very different red and yellow. One of these colors evokes power and passion while the other is hopeful. This combination creates a bold and rejuvinating color.

2003: Aqua Sky.

Pantone’s Aqua Sky 14-4811 was the 2003 Color of the Year. A cool blue was chosen in hopes to restore hope and serenity. This quiet blue is more calming and cool than other blue-greens.

2002: True Red.

The color was chosen in recognition of the impact of September 11 attacks. This red is a deep shade and is a meaningful and patriotic hue. Red is known as a color of power and/or passion and is thus associated with love.

2001: Fuchsia Rose.

2000: Cerulean Blue.

This color represents the millennium because of the calming zen state of mind it induces. Blue is known to be a calming color.
Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®, said that looking at a blue sky brings a sense of peace and tranquility. “Surrounding yourself with Cerulean blue could bring on a certain peace because it reminds you of time spent outdoors, on a beach, near the water—associations with restful, peaceful, relaxing times. In addition, it makes the unknown a little less frightening because the sky, which is a presence in our lives every day, is a constant and is always there,” Eiseman said.
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