October 2005 Archives
Last weekend I wandered the aisles of a tent at a country fair in the presence of over 600 varieties of squash. The humble squash, it turns out, has the distinction of being the oldest of cultivated vegetables. I recognized perhaps three or four out of the riotous collection of shapes and colors, most of which were rare varieties, not commercially available. The examples on display were grown by squash fanciers, who in cultivating these obscure, almost-forgotten vegetables, were making a perhaps unconscious statement that in a highly homogenized world, where commercial interests have worked hard for generations to convince us that "one size fits all," in fact, one size fits one.
Okay, I lied. A few weeks ago I mentioned that the British software developer Xara Corp. was rumored to soon be shipping a new version of its eponymous Windows illustration application. In fact, I knew it all along, but was sworn to secrecy. I also knew the new version would improve on the current Xara X. But what I didn't know was that the latest iteration, now dubbed Xara Xtreme, would be dramatically less expensive—to the point of running the risk of not being taken seriously. But Xara Xtreme is in fact a serious, highly-capable illustration tool.
I can usually be heard around this time of month breathing just such a sigh of relief as I browse through the growing number of entries in the current Photos.com Challenge on Graphics.com. If you're not familiar with it, the concept itself has been around for some time: visitors can download and modify an image, then upload it to a gallery where others can add comments. Sounds simple. And in fact, the Challenge began simply enough in February of last year with the base image at right.
I have a weakness for grand projects that exude a kind of Tower of Babel odor. The grander and more difficult to achieve, the better. So I'll resist the temptation to invoke the name of Saint Jude Thaddeus in relation to a recent initiative to create a universal vector graphics translator. On the contrary, I wish this Open Source software project, driven by Scratch Computing, all the best. Wouldn't we all like to live in a world in which the current profusion of graphical file formats was more manageable?