Simon Griffee
Design consulting, art direction, photography.

July 2016

Self-Portrait With Bad Thumb, New York City, July 2016

Published 2016 July 31

By the way, you should really go watch the new Star Trek (Beyond) — a film with much-needed optimism, focussed on unity and going beyond our reptillian instincts of agression, fear and violence. McCoy and Spock’s characters are at their best and I feel the story arc is almost perfect.

The film was particularly poignant given the tragic death of Anton Yelchin, who played Chekov, and Leonard Nimoy’s passing last year.

Queensboro Plaza Station, New York City, July 2016

Published 2016 July 31

Milton Glaser Still Hearts New York #
Stephen Hawking: Our Attitude Towards Wealth Played a Crucial Role in Brexit #

A basic income is needed for each human being on Earth.

5th Avenue and 42nd Street, New York City, March 2015

Published 2016 July 30

5th Avenue by New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, New York City, March 2015

Published 2016 July 30

Courtyard in East Village, New York City, July 2015

Published 2016 July 30

LaGuardia Airport, New York City, June 2016

Published 2016 July 28

Riegelmann Boardwalk, Coney Island, New York City, July 2016

Published 2016 July 27

Luna Park, Coney Island, New York City, July 2016

Published 2016 July 26

A Nihilist’s Guide to Meaning #

In lieu of meaning, I mostly adopted the attitude of Alan Watts. Existence, he says, is fundamentally playful. It’s less like a journey, and more like a piece of music or a dance. And the point of dancing isn’t to arrive at a particular spot on the floor; the point of dancing is simply to dance. Vonnegut expresses a similar sentiment when he says, “We are here on Earth to fart around.”

Rosarivo #

Nice typeface designed for use in letterpress printing. Found via Kevin Simler.

Broadway by Union Square, New York City, March 2016

Published 2016 July 24

The Fuck #

Magnificent app which corrects your previous console command.

Node.js Template For Quickly Hacking Together a Website #

Useful for hackathons.

Simple Portfolio Website With Google Sites

An image showing the site template that includes Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa as an example portfolio piece.

Here’s a simple Google Sites template made to help anyone publish a portfolio of work online. A template for a résumé is also included in the about page.

Face on Paper Bag

Published 2016 July 23

Queens Boulevard Near Van Dam Street, New York City, May 2016

Published 2016 July 22

West Street by World Trade Center, New York City, September 2015

Published 2016 July 20

Prince Street and Broadway, New York City, September 2015

Published 2016 July 20

42nd Street Near 8th Avenue, New York City, July 2016

Published 2016 July 19

Idea × Execution #

The impact of an idea depends on how well it is executed.

Arguman #

Open source argument analysis platform for critical thinking using argument maps. Love the design that uses American Typewriter.

Bleecker Street Near Cornelia Street, New York City, July 2016

Published 2016 July 18

The History of the URL: Path, Fragment, Query, and Auth #

In 1992 Tim Berners-Lee created three things, giving birth to what we consider the Internet. The HTTP protocol, HTML, and the URL. His goal was to bring ‘Hypertext’ to life. Hypertext at its simplest is the ability to create documents which link to one another. At the time it was viewed more as a science fiction panacea, to be complimented by Hypermedia, and any other word you could add ‘Hyper’ in front of.

Galileo’s Drawings From Observation and the Enlightenment of Our Species

From The Galileo Project website’s page on Galileo’s drawings of sunspots:

In 1612 during the summer months, Galileo made a series of sunspot observations which were published in Istoria e Dimostrazioni Intorno Alle Macchie Solari e Loro Accidenti Rome (History and Demonstrations Concerning Sunspots and their Properties, published 1613). Because these observations were made at appoximately the same time of day, the motion of the spots across the Sun can easily be seen.

Here’s an animated GIF created from the video MPEG file made from 35 of Galileo’s drawings. I used Photoshop → Video Frames to Layers → Save For Web with a lossy setting to reduce file size:

Toggle Moon Animation Animated GIF of Galileo's 35 sunspot drawings.

Galileo also knew about our galaxy:

What was observed by us in the third place is the nature or matter of the Milky Way itself, which, with the aid of the spyglass, may be observed so well that all the disputes that for so many generations have vexed philosophers are destroyed by visible certainty, and we are liberated from wordy arguments. —Galileo Galilei in Starry Messenger (Sidereus nuncius), 1610.

And his discovery that our moon is not smooth, but irregular and cratered like Earth — and that there are countless stars beyond the ones we see with unaided eyes — brought the enlightenment of science to our species. Edward Tufte, in Beautiful Evidence, page 97 (emphasis mine):

The Starry Messenger, published in March 1610, announced discovery of craters on the moon, a multitude of stars beyond those few seen by unaided eyes, and the 4 satellites of Jupiter. More importantly, the book “told the learned community that a new age had begin and that the universe and the way in which is was studied would never be the same.”1 From then on, theories about the universe had to be tested against the visual evidence of empirical observation. This is the forever idea in Galileo’s book. And so armchair speculation, parsing Aristotle and religious doctrine, and philosophizing were no longer good enough. Evidence became decisive in understanding Nature.

The moon drawn by Galileo as he saw it through his telescope (BNCF, Ms. Gal. 48, c. 28r).

A photograph of the reproduction of Galileo Galilei's Disegni della Luna, novembre-dicembre 1609, Firenze, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Ms. Gal. 48, c. 28r, from Tufte's Beautiful Evidence.

  1. Alber Van Helden, “Preface”, Sidereus Nuncius, translated by Albert Van Helden (Chicago, 1989), vii. ↩︎

Pale Blue Dot #

The Pale Blue Dot image.

When bombarded with bad news I like to remember Carl Sagan’s comments about a picture of our solar system taken from Voyager 1:

We succeeded in taking that picture, and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there – on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

Sakura Park, New York City, July 2016

Published 2016 July 17

George Dibbern, Citizen of the World #

Quest is a book by sailor-philosopher and self-declared citizen of the world George Dibbern, who renounced his German passport in 1940 and created his own with the following declaration:

I, George Dibbern, through long years in different countries and sincere friendship with many people in many lands feel my place to be outside of nationality, a citizen of the world and a friend of all peoples.

I recognize the divine origin of all nations and therefore their value in being as they are, respect their laws, and feel my existence solely as a bridge of good fellowship between them.

I’m looking forward to the day when my passport, if any, has the word “Earth” on the cover.

Istanbul #

Fan-made music video using Morrissey’s song Istanbul from the album World Peace Is None of Your Business using visuals from two of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s films: Uzak and Three Monkeys.

42nd Street and 5th Avenue, New York City, September 2015

Published 2016 July 16

Pasta Clock Now Works Without Flash

Just a note that Pasta Clock (al dente, not al mush) now works on browsers without Adobe Flash installed. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a way for the alarm sound to play on iOS, so I use the default iPhone timer when I can find my phone .

George Orwell: Toward European Unity #

Bryant Park, New York City, September 2015

Published 2016 July 16

Record Part of Your Screen, Save as Animated GIF #

‘LICEcap’ is an odd name, but it works well.

14th Street by Union Square, New York City, September 2015

Published 2016 July 12

42nd Street Near 8th Avenue, New York City, June 2016

Published 2016 July 11

You Are Text in a Dungeon #

Nethack is certainly one of the greatest games you will ever play.

Khoi Vinh Adobe XD Interview with Tom Krcha #

It would be nice to be able to download the Adobe XD preview without signing up for an Adobe ID.

6th Avenue and 23rd Street, New York City, July 2015

Published 2016 July 10

A-Train, New York City, March 2016

Published 2016 July 10

49th Street and 5th Avenue, New York City, March 2016

Published 2016 July 8

Content, Connection, Self-determination, Convenience, Beauty #

Am going through Jenifer Tidwell’s insightful blog posts from 2011:

It’s interesting that nowhere in this list does “layout” appear. Nor “color” or “typography” or “form design” or any other low-level design concept. They’re still important parts of our craft, of course, and laypeople ought to know about them. But in the end, their only real value is in how well they serve bigger needs: content, connection, self-determination, convenience, beauty.

Open Camps #

Today is the first day of the world’s largest mission-driven open source conference, hosted at the UN here in NYC.

Designers That Code #

Jenifer Tidwell:

So, it’s possible to be seen as both a designer and a coder. But it requires very, very careful management of your personal brand. Set expectations clearly, and defend your personal boundaries — if you’re doing more coding than you like, you’ll have to decide when and how to push back or ask for more design responsibility.

Queens Boulevard Near 33rd Street, New York City, June 2016

Published 2016 July 7

A Mechanism Designed to Ensure Nuclear War Could Be Reliably Fought #

Yonatan Zunder:

Hidden inside the network protocol that powers the Internet is a system designed to fight a nuclear war, even if Washington were destroyed by a surprise Soviet attack. Today, it mostly powers cat videos.

Website Redesign

Ferns in Inwood Hill Park.

Ferns in spring in Inwood Hill Park, New York City, May 2016.

After eleven years apart, (design) and (photography) were combined into one — this — website. If you came here looking for photographs, don’t worry, those are not going away and regular entries depicting the streets of New York will resume shortly right here in the Notebook (the front page).

A mailing list is still available for my six faithful subscribers, as is an RSS syndication feed, and you can now browse content by keyword, time, location and the randomness of life thanks to Hugo’s wonderful Taxonomies system. Uh oh. Here comes technical talk.

Ready? Deep breath…Go:

I modified a Python script to convert posts living in the Django web application’s SQLite database to plain text files to be parsed by the Hugo static website generator. When it worked many students were startled by my jump off a chair while cheering in Columbia’s Science & Engineering Library.

Regular expressions (regexp) — one of my favorite ‘It’s like magic!’ programming tools — were then used to clean up YAML frontmatter dates and URLs. Here they are in the format I used in Textmate 2’s Find and Replace dialogue, making sure the Regular Expression option is checked:

To Convert: /notebook/2010/06/20/soccer-field-from-train/
Into: /notebook/soccer-field-from-train/

Find: (url: \/notebook)(.+?)(\/[a-z%\-])
Replace: $1$3

To Convert: /notebook/2011/11/15/GRS-20111025-113153/
Into: /notebook/GRS-20111025-113153/

Find: (url: \/notebook)(.+?)(\/GRS\-\d{8}\-\d{6}\/)
Replace: $1$3

To Convert: date: 2005-09-20 03:31:00
Into: `date: 2005-09-20T03:31:00Z 2005:

Find: (date: \d{4}\-\d{2}-\d{2})(.+?)(\d{2}\:\d{2}\:\d{2})
Replace: $1T$3Z

I don’t like Go’s syntax much and was bewildered by its time reference format for some time. But it’s fast. The site takes around 40 seconds to generate with twice the number of entries (both photography and design) compared to ~10 minutes with Jekyll and half the entries (only photography).

Google App Engine will soon be hosting these words once I figure out how to get shit secure there with Lets Encrypt1. A friend says its ‘overkill’ for hosting a small site, but I like to learn and am enjoying playing with Google’s infrastructure. Its also free for small sites. Not sure I’ll still be able to deploy with rsync, but Google’s command line SDK is quite nice. Lets see.

Having everything in one place with a fast publishing workflow with Hugo and version control with Git and GitHub GitLab feels good and makes buzzwords like continuous integration and continuous deployment real in my own little home on the net. I suspect I’ll always be an advanced beginner coding for the web — on the shore of an ocean, walking through forests of abstractions. That’s the fun of it: The journey never ends.2

Thanks, dearest visitor, as always, for visiting my website! You should consider publishing your own so that the big company with the blue logo doesn’t take over the internet, and I’ll be writing a guide and providing a Hugo theme to help you do just that, shortly.


  1. Think of SSL encryption as the glue on an envelope. With no glue, anyone could read letters addressed to you, or replace the letter inside with a different one. ↩︎

  2. Please excuse rough edges. Color and type need adjustment, CSS and markup need debugging, old entries need to be tagged and cleaned, links need fixing, and so on. By the way, I’ve named the yellow I chose in the pattern in the header ‘Golden Sunflower’ — HTML entity #ffe82f — for a brighter look that makes me, and hopefully you, feel happy and loose↩︎

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