It’s that time of the year, again, where I dig out photos that would otherwise be languishing on my hard drive (No Facebook, I don’t need your algorithm’s help).
2016 was a good year for me. I’m a big tourist, so I keep a running list of places I want to visit. This year, I was able to cross off quite a few places in my travels. Here, in no particular order, are some photos representing my 2016.
Finally got this one off my list. Daphyn and I took a tour of Beth Shalom, Frank Lloyd Wright’s take on a synagogue down in Elkins Park. It’s worth the trip, especially if you like triangles.
Rodin would be proud. This paperweight was on display at the New York Historical Society’s ‘Silicon City’ exhibit. Sadly, this wasn’t available at the gift shop.
Yes, there’s a little boy under there. Typical for my house at 7 a.m.
Try as I have, sometimes, the camera doesn’t do it justice. This was one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. Shot from a car outside Silt, Colorado.
I’m turning beer runs to Greensboro Bend, VT an annual thing. It’s worth it.
Cross another one off my list. I finally made it to Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, NY. Rent the bike.
For whatever reason, I really liked this photo I took at Burley Oak Brewing in Berlin, MD. I never posted it until now.
Playing with my fisheye at 10,000 feet at Rocky Mountain National Park outside Elkins Park, CO.
I almost didn’t post this, as I didn’t mean any disrespect, but I didn’t technically touch this car as I took it for a spin (Bodie, CA).
Here’s the world’s largest wind chime (Casey, IL). It also has the world’s largest, pencil, rocking chair, knitting needles, and more. This town rivals South of the Border!
Andy and I stopped at this oasis of a gas station in the desert (Amargosa Valley, NV–right by Area 51). It wasn’t until after we left that we realized it was a brothel, too.
I think the boys were more excited with their first taxi ride, but I just loved the smile in this shot (the Oculus, downtown Manhattan).
Oh, yeah, we had a new addition to the family. Here’s a shot of my boys meeting their new brother for the first time.
The St. Louis Arch. Done.
Happy to have helped Tierney to 3000. On to 4000!
Nothing like a diesel scandal to warrant an upgrade. Out with the old, in with the new.
DIA: Beacon. Off my list after 10 years (Beacon, NY).
…Then there’s the night I spent in Saratoga Springs, NY right before the first horse race. The streets spilled out with people and the party was palpable.
The missus and I visited Longwood Gardens. Of course, I’ll have to go back when the fountain’s actually open (Kennett Square, PA).
I did a lot of flying this past year. This one’s over Virginia, according to the metadata.
It feels like it’s become commonplace, but I don’t mind playing third wheel with these two (West Village, NYC).
My best friend and I trying to make the most of a rainy day at Zion National Park in Utah.
Looking back, I didn’t attend quite as many games this past year as I have in the past. I made it to a new ballpark, but didn’t even make it to a Senators game. On to 2017–opening day can’t get here fast enough!
First game of the season–Yankees with a pretty mixed crew.
I made it out to Denver three times this year, and finally got to see the Rockies play during my second trip out.
Back in Baltimore watching Kansas City with some friends from Kansas.
We took the kids to run the bases on a Sunday afternoon.
“I want the most expensive seats in the house.” I guess that’s fair when you’ve traveled across the country to see a game. What I didn’t realize was that dugout seats aren’t listed online and require an inquiry to the ticket office.
Annual game with Terry
Catching a game with Anna on a Saturday night before a long road trip.
Same place with Anna one week, 6000+ miles, and some facial hair later. I hadn’t even been home for a week when this picture was taken.
I find myself revisiting this post after four months of it remaining neglected in my draft folder.
What do you say about a ballpark that you find slightly…underwhelming?
There were interesting aspects of the ballpark, sure–the seats in the 20th row in the upper deck are purple to indicate a mile above sea level. The stadium is the only one in baseball to house a humidor for the baseballs (though I didn’t see it personally).
That said, they can’t tout a long heritage or celebrate past championships in their short history. The ballpark’s namesake doesn’t help my argument, either (though I guess I’ve become a craft beer snob).
By no means do I mean that as a knock to the fan base of the Rockies. The ticket attendants were incredibly polite, and my wife even commented on the crowd being a better mix of children than she had ever seen in Baltimore.
As for the surrounding neighborhood, well, I have a confession to make: I didn’t really like Denver the first time I visited it. It was too clean for a city!
Coincidentally, I visited Denver three times this year, and my opinion of the city has shifted significantly. After subsequent visits I’ve come to appreciate the laid-back feel of this metropolis in the mountains. Having a Lucile’s, a VooDoo donuts, and an inexhaustible number of decent breweries doesn’t hurt, either. Oh, and then there’s Biker Jim’s. The ballpark has its own Biker Jim’s in the upper deck behind center field, but the full experience (with better buns and beer) is available at the original location a few blocks away.
The most memorable architecture (beside the lush batter’s eye) is the strip of nightclubs in the upper deck known as ‘The Rooftop’. Introduced in 2014 to replace unfilled seats, it’s open to anyone with a ticket. It’s an electrifying atmosphere, but I’m glad Cleveland followed suit and not Baltimore.
Yes, this is part of the ballpark. This upper deck was a little too hip for me, plus I find it odd to watch the game on TV when it’s happening in-person behind you.
Section 5280, aka the number of feet above sea level.
Ugh. People still smoke? This amused me. Besides Seattle, it’s unlikely you’ll see a sign like this at another ballpark.
The pillars paid tribute to past players, though it’s tough to pull off with such a short history.
This promenade shot (above) summarizes it for me. Yes, it’s nice that you can see the field (to the left) as you walk around, but it’s clear HOK followed this pattern for all of the modern ballparks, as I’ve found the same walkway at Yankee Stadium and AT&T Park.
No longer is there a barrier to the field, and in some ways that’s an unfortunate thing. I always got a feeling of anticipation seeing the field and the crowds once you step out of the gate. This layout bares all, and no longer do you feel that rush to return to your seat and see why the crowd’s roaring while you stand in a concession line.
I recently completed a project where I was tasked with creating a mega menu but was also afforded time to focus on website accessibility. Sure, I knew of the value of HTML5 validation, image alt tags, and including a skip navigation button, but during my research this video inspired me to give up icon fonts and try to include ARIA roles in my code.
In keeping with this accessibility-conscious kick, I sought a mega menu navigation that supported ARIA roles. I ultimately came across Adobe’s mega menu from 2013. While I uncovered other JQuery mega menus, I still consider this one to be one of the best examples of a working mega menu that’s also accessible (see Adobe’s Github repo).
The object arguments for the accessibleMegaMenu() constructor are a bit excessive, but I’ve kept with Adobe’s pattern in an effort to make the code as approachable as possible. I added three major arguments:
navToggle – The id selector of the element triggering the mobile menu toggle
navId – the id selector of the navigation
mobileBreakpoint – The breakpoint at which the navigation toggles to mobile.
The last one, mobileBreakpoint, is perhaps the biggest change, as it’s referenced in conditionals throughout jquery-accessibleMegaMenu.js to determine whether navigation items behave on click or hover.
I knew I wanted to output a vector file, and while I was considering P5.js or straight HTML5 canvas, I stuck with Adobe Animate CC. Of course, that didn’t prove to be an easy path, as Animate CC strips ActionScript 1.0’s onClipEvent (remember that?!) completely, so I couldn’t even see the code.
I dug into my bookshelf and installed an old copy of Flash CS6. It was a surreal trip down memory lane, as I found myself looking up ActionScript methods that I used to have memorized 10+ years ago. Sure, Flash whined about Java SE 6 (my laptop was running 8) and it crashed several times, but I was able to extract what I needed.
Here’s an early draft of the mural. I opted against this because I couldn’t imagine anyone painting all that transparency on a wall!
So, once I had a for loop generating the pattern and a script randomly choosing which card to display, I wanted to output the SWF to a PDF. I looked into PDFConverter, scanned Quora, and explored a few ActionScript libraries. I then started opening the SWF file in a browser and tried printing it as a PDF. Both Firefox and Safari output it as a screen capture (PNG). Chrome, on the other hand, gave me the vector file I wanted, with one little catch:
As you can see above, it distorts the vector images. This being my best shot, I tried different ways to publish the SWF from Animate, but it always yielded the same result.
I finally tried one more approach that got me the print. By opening the SWF file in the standalone Flash Player, I was able to do a File > Print that retained the curve quality. The final print is below.
It’s on exhibit at WITF (with a lot of other great pieces!) until June 30.
A few colleagues of mine stumbled across this technique to save out bitmap images as SVGs using Adobe Illustrator that substantially saves on file size. I’ve personally done some testing with this approach (below), and my results yielded more than 80% file size reduction with no noticeable compression.
This approach is production-ready (provided your target browsers support SVG), and what makes it so eye-opening to me is I can’t seem to find anyone that has documented it online. Not only that, but Adobe’s documentation would lead you to exporting the SVG in a manner that doesn’t offer this file size benefit.
Here’s what I did:
I started with this image of the late 5ptz as a guinea pig. It’s 72ppi, 1200×800, and weighs in at 1.3MB. I copy it out of Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 and paste it into Adobe Illustrator CC 2015.
In Illustrator, I choose “File > Save As… > SVG”, NOT the “File > Export As…” option. Illustrator will prompt you to use “Export As…” for web-optimization, and while this is the correct approach for vector graphics, it doesn’t suit our needs for a bitmap image.
Here’s the final result, an 224kb SVG that looks identical to it’s 1.3MB JPG counterpart (!):
I did a series of export tests to see how I could achieve this, but saving from Illustrator seems to be the best approach. My results (with resulting output files linked):
All of these export options are converting the image into a base64 format, but the biggest reason the save to SVG version is so small is because it’s the only option that minifies the file.
Now, bitmap-based SVGs have a few limitations in the modern production flow–some servers aren’t configured to render SVGs, forcing one to use an SVG htaccess settings tweak. SVG bitmaps scale proportionally, but don’t have an inherent size that one can automatically rely upon when embedding into an HTML page. Lastly, some CMSs (WordPress included) do not permit uploading SVGs through the admin WYSIWYG, though workaround and/or plugins are available.
This out for yourself and let me know what you find. As for me, I’m already eyeing it as a solution for large website images that aren’t generated by the client.
I’m exhausted. I’ve had a full day of proposal writing, coding, and conference calls. I’m also under deadline for this month’s The Burg illustration, so what better time to procrastinate!
Last month, I did my illustration using Procreate for the first time (while visiting a friend in a hospital room in Denver). As I was about to get started on tonight’s illustration I remembered that Procreate has a cute little playback feature. So, here’s last month’s illustration captured on video (you can check out my son standing in as a model, and here’s the article).
It encapsulates the rushed nature I always get when doing these illustrations, as well as the luxury of working with multiple layers and resizing on-the-fly.
I made a recent trek to Colorado for a more somber reason than sighteseeing, but I certainly made the best of it. I sampled eggs Benedict from a different city every morning, sampled libations from various breweries after work sessions at coffee shops, and otherwise subsisted on sushi and Voodoo donuts every night.
My favorite portion of the trip (besides visiting friends) was on my last day visiting Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Some shots below (along with a few less-scenic shots from my trip).
This was by far the most beautiful electrical box I’d ever come across (in Fort Collins).
I spent my evenings playing XBox in a hospital room.
Representing Pennsylvania in Denver. Alas, my team lost to the healthier one.
I'm a creative technologist at Hauck Interactive, Inc. and an adjunct instructor at HACC. I live in Harrisburg, Pa. with my wife and two boys. I enjoy good coffee, Trappist beers, Orioles baseball, and good design.