Test Flight by Vanja Utne

One the best pictures ever released for the Commodore 64 has got to be this one, by Vanja Utne:

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What it looks like on the monitor:

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Released just a couple of days ago in 17th November, 2016 shows everything one can hope from craftmanship. This picture was drawn in AFLI mode, which means that the artist could only use 2 colors per line in each character block. This is more apparent if you turn on the 8×8 grid…

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…and zoom in a bit:

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No matter how hard you look, one line in one block will only have at most two different colors displayed from the fixed 16 color palette.

The picture is amazing. If you look at it, additional shades are created by mixing colors together either by dithering or switching colors every other line. (Look for the parts in the monitor photo!) Neither technique is new, but if just by glancing on it, it really displays something more than what it had been considered possible on the platform. Commodore 64 never ceases to amaze me.

Why AFLI? Vanja originally drew this picture years ago for the original MSX. Fixed 15 colors, 256×192 resolution, and, not surprisingly, same limitations as AFLI: max 2 colors per line in a char block. It was not a scan, she started to doodle a bit, then it just came to be. Here are a couple of steps of the MSX picture:

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If you then swap the MSX picture with the C64 one, it becomes apparent what the difference is between the old and the new version:

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There is more. A scener, Carrion took the C64 version and converted it into a Plus/4 version picture. The pixel data remained the same, but he applied the platform specific colors. Here is the result:

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Sources: I used the CSDb page and Vanja Utne’s public Facebook page to dig up the information as the basis for this post. The comparisons were made in Photoshop, if you’re interested in the file, you can grab it from here.

Do things imperfectly

Sara Mauskopf on how to succeed when you don’t have time:

Force yourself to do things imperfectly

To give a very practical example, I have given myself an hour to write this post before I’m on childcare duty. I can publish the post after that hour or I can spend more time later polishing it and making it perfect. I’m forcing myself to publish the piece before the hour is up even though it probably has some typos and maybe could be written more concisely.

The extra couple hours I could spend polishing it won’t make a massive difference in the number of people who read and benefit from this post. Perfectionism is a tough habit to break so you have to set time limits and force yourself to just put things out there even if they aren’t 100% perfect.

I have this problem myself. (No, not about writing blog posts, but realizing how much work I need to put into things. I like to make it as good as I can – which is great if you have a lot of time for a lot of things, but if you have a set amount of time for a lot of things, you just need to learn how to deal with imperfections and let them pass through you.)

The new MacBook Pros are interesting

Tobias van Schneider, designer extraordinaire:

As for the new Macbook: I’m not impressed. As a “pro user”, my Macbook Pro is mostly connected to an external display which renders the new Touch Bar useless.

This is a valid point, but maybe the Magic Keyboard with Touch Bar is already in the works?

I think Apple used to be the company that shipped magical products. It used to be the company that built “computers for the rest of us”. But things have changed, Apple has changed. Today, Apple doesn’t ship magical anymore, but solid experiences that work but don’t necessarily surprise you.

Touch Bar as another dedicated channel of interacting with the screen in itself is a pretty interesting paradigm. I can’t wait to try it out (and use it!). People are demanding way too much from Apple. If you consider your view as a technology bystander, I think they’re just moving at the right speed doing the right things AT THE WRONG PRICE. 😀