Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • Everyone’s talking about a recent Copyright Office ruling that jailbreaking of smartphones is no longer illegal, but few have mentioned that several other significant exceptions to the DMCA’s anticircumvention provisions have been issued in the same ruling. Most interesting to me are limitations on ebook DRM where they prevent audio interpretation of texts from working.
  • Could Popular Electronics be returning? Let us pray. (And thanks to Don Lancaster for the link.)
  • Carol and I have begun avoiding movies in 3D. They give her headaches and they make me seasick. I thought it was just us being weird, but there’s some evidence that 3D isn’t the crowdpleaser that everybody (especially in Hollywood) thinks it is. Here’s some explanation.
  • And even the 2D movies we’ve seen recently seem excessively loud. We may not be imagining things.
  • A new dual-core Android-based tablet by an otherwise unknown German firm is really calling to me. We may not see this one here for awhile (if ever) but if it’s evidence of an evolutionary explosion in Android tablets, I’m good with that. Ours will arrive eventually.
  • I’ve always been taken aback by the near-psychotic venom with which certain people treat an informal, likeable little font called Comic Sans. Scan the Internet and you’ll get a sense for what I mean. From ten steps back it looks like a tribal identity thing: You must slander Comic Sans to prove that you’re a member of the tribe, especially if you’re insecure about your membership. Secure people just keep their mouths shut and use something else.
  • The little red guy running with a hatchet (see my entry for June 27, 2010) appears to be the logo of Psychopathic Records, not the Insane Clown Posse band itself, granting that the label was founded by the Insane Clowns and is probably owned by them. (Thanks to Ricky C on LiveJournal for the tipoff.)
  • I solved another band logo question with the help of Google’s new output format for their Images search. Carol and I saw a band logo that resembled a bright red ballet dancer, apparently headless. I typed “red dancer band logo” into Images and there it was, an emblem of the Dave Matthews Band. I’m starting to like the new Google Images search output because it allows me to scan more images at once, rather than page repeatedly through a more limited matrix. This isn’t always useful, but I’m guessing it’s useful more often than not.
  • Bicyclists in NYC seem to be preparing early for the coming Ice Age.


  1. Andy Kowalczyk says:

    I was shocked when my Fine Arts student son berated me for using Comic Sans (and even more-so when I read all the web sites you mention). I always liked a good print hand – like on technical drawings and that Signal Corps style we were supposed to use when transcribing Morse code. Even with my little green plastic lettering guide I could never master it. But with the advent of LASER printers I was saved. Early on I used the Tekton and VAG typefaces – but they got expensive and Comic Sans seems to be on every computer by default.

    Also – as a computer programmer – I am strongly biased to any sans serif font that distinguishes 1Il| (one – EYE – el – pipe).

    1. Ha! That may be the key: I had two years of drafting in high school (long, LONG before CAD) and spent a great deal of time practicing freehand lettering. I was pretty good at it, and because it was mechanical rather than architectural drawing, there was nothing “artsy” about the glyphs. The glyphs were perhaps a hair straighter in their strokes than those of Comic Sans, but still in the same general family of typefaces. I suspect that that may be why I don’t associate them with laziness or even informality: Freehand lettering used to be a fundamental skill in technical curricula. No more.

      1. Tom R. says:

        Although I have used a CAD program since one of the early affordable ones for DOS came out, I do sometimes miss the days of T-Squares, Triangles and erasing shields (yes, I was an engineering student in the late 1960’s!).

        For lettering there was of course the Ames Lettering Guide and I was somewhat surprised to find that they are still available from a number of places.

        As a third generation engineer I block print almost everything and always have. It drove some of my teachers crazy. What little cursive writing I have been forced to do is illegible, even to me, after it gets any age on it at all.

  2. Jim Tubman says:

    I think what makes people’s blood about Comic Sans is that it is so frequently used in egregiously inappropriate ways. For example, at my daughter’s school, the notice describing lock-down and evacuation procedures was set in Comic Sans. The Facebook group “Ban Comic Sans” has a discussion group topic “What’s the most inappropriate place you have found Comic Sans?” Some of the examples are incredible: funeral service sheets, official diplomatic documents, court summons, job rejection letters, a report on rape statistics, and on and on.

    There are lots of good ways to use an informal, likable font like Comic Sans but a report on rape is not one of them.

    1. Comic Sans is one of a largish group of typefaces I call “teacher fonts,” and schools love them, I think because they’re something like the block printing glyphs used in the early grades. I’m guessing that people who work in a school environment don’t consider them “specialty” fonts with any particular emotional association.

      Most people don’t know a great deal about typography, and may just think letters are letters.

      1. Jim Tubman says:

        “Teacher fonts” is a great term. Teachers (with conspicuous exception of art teachers, in my experience) do indeed love them, as do school administrators.

        I reserve my typographic nerd’s near-psychotic venom for underlined uppercase bold italics. Nothing calls for that much emphasis.

        Ever read “The Elements of Typographic Style” by Robert Bringhurst? Some useful and thought-provoking advice and philosophy about typography for books and magazines. (It is not so useful for signage, advertising, business cards, and so forth.)

        1. Have not read that, but it’s worth getting.

          I’m fairly conservative in how I lay out books. I have one font that I bought after a long search, for body text: DTL Albertina. I use one “fancy” font for the cover, and something sans-serif for back cover copy, so that it “glances” well in the bookstore. (I wish that my books were in a bookstore!) I have yet to need anything like Comic Sans, but I still think it has its place.

          1. Jeff: Wow, that Albertina is one lovely font. I’m a fan of Minion (we used it at TurboPower for our manuals), but find it’s used an awful lot these days, as well as its companion Myriad. Albertina looks like a great replacement for my mythical next book.

            Cheers, Julian

  3. Barbara Bennett says:

    I try to remember to take earplugs with me when I go see a movie. If I get to the theater without earplugs, I’ve been known to tear up a napkin and stick it in my ears.

  4. Jeff Rice says:

    Hey Jeff — how about making a pitch to John Schroeter at Popular Electronics on reviving Carl and Jerry? Or, at least, something similar but updated (Carla and Jerry?). You’re certainly the guy that could do it.

    1. John just contacted me via email. I’m still trying to figure out what might work in today’s marketplace and why everything that’s failed, failed. I’m definitely going to be in touch with him, though what my contribution may be is hugely unclear.

      I already have a concept paper for “Carl & Jerry in the 21st Century.” The “boys” now have two 15-year-old grandchildren and help them solve problems in creative fashion, from their mountain hideaway just outside (fictitious) Limbo, Colorado. Don’t know if it’ll work, but it would be fun to try.

      1. Erbo says:

        Just punched “follow” on their Twitter feed. I actually had a Popular Electronics subscription when I was younger (about middle-school and high-school years for me, I think), so it’d seem like old times.

        I’m picturing Carl and Jerry’s “mountain hideaway” you speak of as something of a cross between your house and my aunt’s former house in Florissant. The latter was a 3-story log house, with a big picture window in the (second-floor) family room framing Pikes Peak. It also had plenty of room where a workshop could go…

        1. Actually, it’s cooler than that: It’s an old gold mining patent, with a 100′ hard-rock tunnel cut into the mountainside, which the “boys” use for various things; a large log house, antenna farm, vehicle barn and walkout lower level machine shop and lab. It’s what I would shoot for if I had ten million bucks to spend and another 50 years to live.

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