Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Painful Swashes

924 words

Uh, what a strange day. I woke up with a terrible ache in my back. Something I had before and which the doctor was clueless about… and which just went away after a few days the last time. That said, the pain is really horrible, creeping up the spine and giving me a terrible headache in a way that I couldn’t do much. So I took some painkillers to at least be able to leave the house and make sure there’s food etc. Those painkillers are really magic… about half an hour or so after taking them I’ll start feeling a bit hot and the pain will be gone. Taking them is what the doctor recommended the last time, as having the pain may keep you from holding and moving your back naturally and thus potentially making the problem worse.

So with the drugs inside me, I went to town. First to the post office to pick up my latest little acquisition. I’ve wanted a little digital camera for the past four years or so… and recently I learned that for a little over €200 you can buy quite a decent version of last year’s cameras these days. As I doubt that the difference between 5, 6 or 7 megapixels benefits the photos you take with a tiny camera that has a tiny lens, going for less pixels didn’t bother me. And having in mind that I ‘found’ an unxecpectedly large stash of cash last week which almost paid for the camera, I went ahead and ordered it when I saw that its price was good an amazon.

Once you have stuff in your shopping basket on amazon, the site will inform you on price changes of every item in there whenever you revisit it. And, luckily, the price dropped by €30 for one day only. While I don’t understand why that is happening, I know how to benefit from these changes…

The camera I got is a Ixus 55 by Canon. A number of people I know have Ixus models and everybody seems to be reasonably happy with them. So this wasn’t a hard choice to make for the Canon-fanboy that I am anyway. Compared to my mum’s old Ixus 330, I was suprised how sleek the newer model is and how large its screen has become. The screen also looks quite shiny, though, so I’m not completely convinced that’s great.

The camera seems to have become simpler to use than earlier models. In particular I like that changes you make to any settings (the flash, say) are shown in a huge icon on screen after you press the button rather than just some tiny icon on some edge of the screen changing the way it looks. I also like things like the fact that the (tiny) memory card and battery are now held in the same compartment of the camera and that everything seems much faster than it is with the older cameras. It remains to be seen how well all this plays out in practice.

A final note to make is about the packaging: It’s an ugly mess. Perhaps I’m just spoiled from having opened an iPod package, but opening a little box and then finding gazillions of brochures and plastic bags of different forms and types in there, isn’t too good. Particularly if the camera, the package’s most important doesn’t feature too prominently in the package.

Pink Pig

After picking that parcel up, I went for another treat. There’s an exhibition of nicely printed books in the old university library. The books are made by the Aldus-Presse Reicheneck and they are hand-set and hand-printed.

Very pretty books, a joy to look at. Printed in a nice way on nice paper – and many of them including special illustrations or other features. All of them are extremely limited editions of (sometimes significantly) less than 300 prints. While I really liked looking at them, I wondered who’d actually buy those books. The exhibition also showed our library’s copy of Aldus Manutius’ Hypnerotomachia Poliphili which is said to be one of the most beautifully set books of all time.

Things to observe in the exhibition were that in very few place the letterspacing or kerning didn’t look as good to me as it does on the computer these days. A consequence of setting the type in the classical way with lead perhaps? And the reassuring confirmation that even those typophiles are happy to set most of their works in Garamond, Baskerville or – if applicable – a quite good looking Fraktur Neue.

In many of the books they made use of old-style ‘s’ glyphs as well. Actually you can enjoy these on your Mac as well if you’re willing to use the Hoefler Text typeface and turn on the archaic long s Swash option. The wonders of the computer will even make sure that you’ll end up properly using the usual round s at the end of a word. And – as bonus – you’ll get additional fun ligatures and an idea how the German ß came to be

swashy s in Hoefler Text

And it’s even more fun in italics… with an obscene amount of the font’s features turned on:

Hoefler Text italic sample

After that exhibition I bought some fish for barbecueing. With the beginning of spring/summer having taken ages to come around, it felt necessary to fully indulge in the good weather now that it is there. We already had some extremely good steaks on the barbecue yesterday, and still couldn’t resist going for another load of grilled goodness today…

May 7, 2006, 0:13


Comment by Nicholas Shanks: User icon

You might like to know also that the long s is at U+017F, thus: ſ

May 9, 2006, 10:16

Comment by ssp: User icon

Thanks for pointing that out Nicholas!

Somehow I forgot to look up the glyph in UnicodeChecker… So I guess I can play around with those everywhere now…

Der Haſe iſt naſs…

May 9, 2006, 11:04

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