Adobe Flash was good, actually

Adobe Flash, the clunky and unsearchable interactive plugin tech, was always bad. Its presence on a website guaranteed a user interface disaster, an unblockable ad, or general bloated shonkiness. But it was also liberating, making animation and programming accessible in a way unseen since the days of 8-bit computers with BASIC built-in. Flash Is Responsible for the Internet's Most Creative Era, writes Ernie Smith.

The web has actually gotten less creative over time, not more. This interpretation of events is a key underpinning of Web Design: The Evolution of the Digital World 1990-Today (Taschen, $50), a new visual-heavy book from author Rob Ford and editor Julius Wiedemann that does something that hasn’t been done on the broader internet in quite a long time: It praises the use of Flash as a creative tool, rather than a bloated malware vessel, and laments the ways that visual convention, technical shifts, and walled gardens have started to rein in much of this unvarnished creativity.

This is a realm where small agencies supporting big brands, creative experimenters with nothing to lose, and teenage hobbyists could stand out simply by being willing to try something risky. It was a canvas with a built-in distribution model. What wasn’t to like ... besides a whole host of malware?

Actionscript 2 was the heart of this, a marvel of approachability to amateurs, beginners and people who were just not gonna put up with a bigger headache. After years of trying to learn to program, AS2 got me going. Read the rest

3D Ken Burns effect from a single photo

Simon Niklaus et al devised a method to convincingly add a 3D Ken Burns zoom effect to 2D photographs. Their code works as well as a professional graphic designer: better than simple cut-outs slapped into an After Effects stage, thought I still get that slightly uncanny "2.5D" Viewmaster effect.

The Ken Burns effect allows animating still images with a virtual camera scan and zoom. Adding parallax, which results in the 3D Ken Burns effect, enables significantly more compelling results. Creating such effects manually is time-consuming and demands sophisticated editing skills. Existing automatic methods, however, require multiple input images from varying viewpoints. In this paper, we introduce a framework that synthesizes the 3D Ken Burns effect from a single image, supporting both a fully automatic mode and an interactive mode with the user controlling the camera. Our framework first leverages a depth prediction pipeline, which estimates scene depth that is suitable for view synthesis tasks. To address the limitations of existing depth estimation methods such as geometric distortions, semantic distortions, and inaccurate depth boundaries, we develop a semantic-aware neural network for depth prediction, couple its estimate with a segmentation-based depth adjustment process, and employ a refinement neural network that facilitates accurate depth predictions at object boundaries. According to this depth estimate, our framework then maps the input image to a point cloud and synthesizes the resulting video frames by rendering the point cloud from the corresponding camera positions. To address disocclusions while maintaining geometrically and temporally coherent synthesis results, we utilize context-aware color- and depth-inpainting to fill in the missing information in the extreme views of the camera path, thus extending the scene geometry of the point cloud.

Read the rest

Chat client made entirely with CSS

CSS-only-chat uses no javascript and doesn't reload the page. It's amazing—and terrible. How is it done?

Background-images loaded via pseudoselectors + a forever-loading index page

In laypersons' terms: cover the page in elements, assign each one an individual background image, but only trigger the image when the mouse interacts with it. Voila: communication with a server without javascript or form submission. Other users get updates thanks to a HTML header that forces a page to render before it completes loading, so you can just keep appending new html to the end so long as you never stop sending data.

It's a total abomination and I love it.

Read the rest

Lorem Ipsum but for images

David Marby & Nijiko Yonskai's Lorem Picsum is an online service that generates placeholder images. All you have to do is write image URLs like so — https://picsum.photos/400/300 — with the folder names defining the image dimensions.

Part of the utility of lorem ipsum, however, is that the text consists of real words and sentences, but jumbled up. This means it has the dimensions of real text, but no meaning to distract the typesetter or designer from its form. Latin having similar dimensions to English, lorem ipsum has only improved for this purpose with the decline of Latin.

It seems to me, then, that the garbled reality of deep-dream images is more appropriate than the meaningful stock photos used here. Perhaps I'm just encouraging the world to be more completely filled with nightmares? Some of these AI-mediated works are quite lovely. Read the rest

Procedurally generated infinite CVS receipt

Sure, CVS receipts are farcically long, but they're not infinitely long: they could be, though, as Garrett Armstrong's CVS Receipt generator demonstrates, using nothing more than HTML, CSS and Javascript (Armstrong: "I even made a crappy web-scraper to get real product names from their site"). (via Kottke) Read the rest

Glitching PNGs

PNG, the classiest just-works web image format, offers unique opportunities for glitch art—all flowing from the fine details of its specification.

PNG is a very simple format compared to JPEG or other new image formats. The filter algorithms are like toys, and its compression method is the same as oldschool Zip compression. However, this simple image format shows a surprisingly wide range of glitch variations. We would perhaps only need one example to explain a JPEG glitch, but we need many different types of samples in order to explain what a PNG glitch is. PNG was developed as an alternative format of GIF. However, when it comes to glitching, GIF is a format that is too poor to be compared with PNG. PNG has prepared surprisingly rich results that have been concealed by the checksum barrier for a long time.

Mandatory:

Read the rest

Procedurally-generated racetracks

I haven't played Bloody Rally, an old-school top-down racing game echoing Super Sprint and Carmageddon, but I like the look of its procedurally-generated tracks. Read the rest

Procedurally generated Tarot cards

Procedurally-generated Tarot cards by watawatabou: "This is my submission for Summer PROCJAM 2018 - Procgen Tarot: https://watabou.itch.io/procgen-tarot. The algorithm is based on my experiments with streets generation." [via] Read the rest

Dev Tube: collection of videos for computer programmers

Dev Tube delivers exactly as promised: a selection of high-quality videos for developers. And it's not just about code, but craftsmanship and career. Read the rest

Fake reviews now generally necessary to do business online

"The temptation to pose as an impartial reviewer of one’s own work will be familiar to many authors across history, writes Simon Parkin. "But the Internet has, as with all vices, smoothed the transition from temptation to action."

Such self-fluffing is at least supposed to be secret. But the review systems are so crude and easily-gamed that it enables nakedly public manipulation. When The Gamers want to waltz around Amazon's useless "verified purchase" wall to punish a developer for offending them, it's easy...

“People would buy our game, not play it, leave the terrible review, and instantly request a refund,” Sean Vanaman, Campo Santo’s co-founder, told me. “It’s a well-worn tactic.” In his estimation, user-review systems such as those used by Valve, Steam’s developer, are so vulnerable to exploitation that they require as much moderation as social-media platforms.

Worse, without fake positive reviews, your thing -- your book, your restaurant, your startup -- is at a disadvantage in the apps and platforms that potential customers use to scan for new stuff. Once the medium is corrupt, everyone has to follow suit to survive. Get a load of this wonderful nonsense at TripAdvisor:

For the recent test, he created his own fake business, which he called the Shed at Dulwich. (It was named for his garden shed, in Dulwich, London.) He photographed plates of carefully arranged food (created using household products such as shaving cream and dishwasher tablets), bought a burner phone, and added the Shed to the site. Within four weeks, he had posted enough fake reviews to move the spectral establishment into the top two thousand restaurants in London.

Read the rest

Glitch makes programming on the web fun again

Glitch is a simple and powerful open-source canvas for experimenting on the web—and after a year of beta testing, it's ready for artists and coders to get stuck in. If you want to make things online but get put off by complicated frameworks, the headache of server set up, and myriad incompatible platforms your work has to end up running on, Glitch might be for you.

I tinkered with it for the first time last week, and within minutes had overcome hurdles that I thought I'd never have the time or energy to figure out.

To a casual visitor, Glitch looks like YouTube, but for digital artwork and rudimentary games. You can even embed stuff there on your own site, just like video, though you have to click into the editing tools to get the snippets.

Dig in, though, and it turns into a simple but powerful coding environment: one that can't be messed up, no matter how hard you try. For me, it seems to offer all the freewheeling instant gratification of the early web, but with modern tools and technology -- and the chance to collaborate with other people without having to teach them Git. The promise of just focusing on art or application code seems almost alien to the modern web, but here it is, all without having to be my own sysadmin, security expert and full-stack drudge.

Best of all, you can take anything anyone's done, clone it, and tinker with it, and see the results change live: the best and fastest way to learn markup and scripting languages. Read the rest

lossy-compress GIF animations

Who needs mp4 and the mystery meat data within? Kornel Lesiński's lossygif compresses GIF images, including animations, at the cost of noise. Though GIF does not offer true lossy compression, superimposing long horizontal lines of identical pixels gets the job done before encoding. Photoshop already does this, but this is better at it and it's free.

See also Gifski, the author's high-definition GIF movie encoder. It does the exact opposite thing, manipulating the GIF format into showing thousands of colors per frame at the cost of massive file sizes. Read the rest

Introducing Nocode, the long term solution to web application security and reliability

Kelsey Hightower's Nocode [github] fixes all the problems associated with modern web app development: "Write nothing; deploy nowhere."

Now that you have not done anything it's time to build your application:

 

Yep. That's it. You should see the following output:

 

A number of issues are open at github, mind you. Perhaps it wasn't ready for prime time. Read the rest

Split images into individual pixels, then stack them neatly

Pixel Chart splits images into their constituent pixels, then organizes them in various interesting ways that you can define. [via] Read the rest

Perl is the most hated programming language

What do computer programmers not want to code in? Read the rest

Crunch: game development hell

In the New York Times, Jason Schreier reports on the game industry's cult of crunch: the pervasive practice of making workers put in 20-hour days, resulting in one met deadline and a many lines of low-quality code.

“People think that making games is easy,” said Marcin Iwinski, a co-chief executive and co-founder of CD Projekt Red, the Polish developer of a 2015 game, The Witcher 3. “It’s hard-core work. It can destroy your life.” Mr. Iwinski, like many other top video game creators, sees crunch as a necessary evil ... A growing faction of game developers, however, argues that it’s possible to make good games without crunching. Tanya X. Short, a co-founder of the independent studio Kitfox Games, asked colleagues to sign an online pledge against excessive overtime. The pledge, which was published last year, has been signed by over 500 game developers. “Crunch trades short-term gains for long-term suffering,” said Ms. Short in an email.

Hey, ever met a geeky computer programmer with a bottomless need to prove his own competence and a political ideology perfectly tailored to capital's needs? Read the rest

You can do everything in Javascript with six characters: []()!+

Springing from the august tradition of esoteric programming language Brainfuck, behold the mind-mangling power of JSFuck. Read the rest

More posts