Thursday, February 25, 2010

More slippery characters

Thanks to Asbjørn Clemmensen for the guy on the left who appears to have had an accident while ice-fishing. In the middle, he seems to be posing by the beach, while on a recent visit to Ljubljana I learned what 'disco dancing' is in Slovenian.

Friday, February 19, 2010


I've been just been looking at the 1859 Post Office Directory which lists all the commercial companies and traders in London.

My eye fell on the surname Mash. I note that of the eleven people listed with that name, no fewer than six were potato dealers (well, one of these was a greengrocer, so sold potatoes). Perhaps with that name they were drawn to the profession, like Thomas Crapper to toilet manufacture, or a former colleague of mine John Sparkes to electrical engineering.

I now plan to ask the curators to turn the directory open at the Bs, so I can check whether the theory holds good for people called Banger.

The directory is an exhibit in a very interesting exhibition of nineteenth century information design, Designing information before designers, organised by colleagues working on the AHRC funded project 'Designing information for everyday life, 1815-1914'.  It has now moved from St Brides to Reading University where it will remain until 15 April.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hmm nice truck

Beautifully observed and pitch perfect, I think this ad is ironic, but I'm not entirely sure.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Microsoft Mot

Just a short irritated post from one who is suffering the hell that is Microsoft Word. I'm pouring a conference paper into a template provided by the organisers, who are in France. The template seems to have brought with it a French spell checker. So just after I have typed a word, it changes it to the nearest equivalent in its French dictionary, or in the case of the word 'bélong', its Franglais dictionary.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Not an urban myth

A colour-related factoid from Steven Fry's QI programme this weekend, which apparently is not an urban myth: during the cultural revolution in China it was thought that red, as the colour of progress, should mean 'go' in traffic lights, and green should mean stop. But they didn't all get changed over, so...

Colour blindness simulator

As a graphic designer I've often wondered whether to confess that I usually fail the classic Ishihara test for colour blindness. Perhaps that's why I prefer to call myself a typographer or information designer (we mostly work in black and white).

People tend to assume that colour blindness, or colour vision deficiency, is an on-off thing - that you just see grey, or that all colour blind people have the condition to the same degree. Mine is fairly mild, I maintain – it reveals itself in poorly lit shops where I pick out grey clothes and see they are labelled green (no, not lime green, but perhaps a dark olive or almost grey kind of green). And I am slower at picking raspberries than other people – I see the red against the green leaves but they just don't sing out to me as they obviously do to others.

Around 8% of men and 0.5% of women have some degree of colour blindness, mostly red-green. It is apparently genetic and carried by women, not men (somewhat ironic then to hear mothers criticising their sons' choice of clothes).

I found these christmas cracker facts on a useful website called colorblindor, run by Daniel Flück. It has a lot of resources and links – I was especially gratified to find his online RGB Anomaloscope test which reports on your degree of colour blindness (Ishihara just says you are or are not). Although all online tests are accompanied by a health warning about monitor settings, it seemed to work for me.

One useful feature is this colour vision deficiency simulator. You can upload an image and see what it looks like to someone with various colour deficiencies.