March 2002

Alleged Tarot (10): A bunch of fives

This week’s installment of my ongoing tarot-deck project features the fives our all four suits: Wands, Cups, Swords, and Coins. As it turns out, three of the four use the brush tool from Adobe Illustrator, a relative new addition to the intentionally limited repertoire I have allowed myself in this project. (Mostly I use the freehand tool to draw the heavy outlines, and then colour them in using coloured shapes made using the pen tool. I use the brush for coloured shapes in the background like the painting in the Four of Wands, and backgrounds in the Fives of Wands, Coins and Swords this week.) Live and learn, eh?

Tonight I discovered that my web site was full—I have reached my 20 Mbyte quota! As a stop-gap measure, I have made format changes to my tarot sections. First, I have removed the ‘simplified’ SVG versions; your choice is now simply SVG vs. PNG. If you have a burning need for the font-free versions (this being the major difference), let me know and I will see if anything can be arranged. Second, I have switched to compressed SVG (.svgz). This format is identical to SVG, except that it is compressed with ZIP (the format used by GNU zip and by PKZIP). This SVG variant is understood by Adobe’s viewer plug-in (versions 2.0 and 3.0), Batik, and, I hope, other viewers as well. Since the reduction in size is typically from 69 K to 16 K bytes, I don’t think I can afford to ignore this option. Again, please let me know if this ruins your enjoyment of the graphics.

Three SVG Articles on

The three headline articles on all concern SVG: The Visual Display of Quantitative XML (Fabio Arciniegas A.) transforms data using XSLT (and uses JavaScript for interaction that I have shown can be done with intrinsic animation); Server-Side SVG (J. David Eisenberg) describes using Java with Batik to serve SVG graphics, with fall-back to JPEG or PNG should the user’s browser not support SVG; Doing that Drag Thang (Antoine Quint) gives a system for making draggable objects in SVG (using EcmaScript); this is the second in his series, which starts with Digging Animation, where he compares SVG with SWF (Macromedia Flash) and shows how to suplicate a simple interactive animation.

Alleged Tarot (11): Wheel of Fortune and Strength

The latest installment of my on-going project to create a virtual tarot deck consists of two more trumps: X. The Wheel of Fortune, and XI. Strength. I flirted with using the older name (Fortitude) for the latter, but in the end Strength is such a stronger title, even if it is a little misleading.

The Wheel is probably the most complex image to date—especially in the SVG version, which has details that are lost in the raster version (the Ace of Diamonds card tucked in to Fortune’s hat-band, and the labels on the Wheel). Strength was tricky in a different way—it took me a few tries until I could get the lion to look more or less right.

It turns out that the title of The Wheel of Fortune is a little long for the way I have designed the cards, annoyingly. On the other hand it is time for bed, so I shup upload a corrected version later in the week.

Alleged Tarot (11a)

I have redesigned the layout of the cards so that the titles are on the left side rather than the right—and this way they read up from the bottom of the card rather than from some point part-way down. This means I can fit in the Wheel of Fortune without the rest of them looking lop-sided. Also, I have decided that the titles will no longer overlap the artwork.

I have also fixed a few bugs—the Ace of Coins had not had its colours adjusted after the CMYKRGB translation; Five of Coins had changed the figure’s hair from pink to white; The Chariot was cropped wrongly.

To explain the colour issue: I am using an old version of Adobe Illustrator which does not seem to have an RGB option. To convert to SVG I use a freeware drawing program called Sketch, which is happy to translate CMYK to RGB, but does not take account of the fact that Adobe’s screen display simulates the printed paper, rather than showing mathematically correct CMYK colours. My brute-force solution to this is to cobble together a Python script that takes as inputs Adobe Illustrator’s Targa image and a screen shot of the ‘bad’ SVG, and examines them pixel-by-pixel to generate a map from the ‘bad’ colour space to the correct one. It then generates a new SVG file with the adjusted colours. Sounds complicated? I’m hoping the new version of Sketch will make it unnecessary...

Alleged Tarot (12): All the sixes

This week my on-going on-line tarot deck reaches the sixes: Wands, Cups, Swords, and Coins. Alas! the font I am using for the titles is missing the letter x, so there is a blank square for now. I will fix this when I have a free evening—I spent most of this evening finishing off the drawings themselves. Far too tired to do it now. I also need to see if I can think of a better way to combine the pips with the drawings, since the pips are now obscuring most of the artwork...

Update: I have added x to my title font, after covering excessive quantities of paper with mathematical workings as I try to reconstruct enough of my geometrical and trigonometrical knowledge to calculate the intersections of all the lines...

Update: I have added an animation to the pips so that when you click the button to show the interpretation, the pips shrink and shuffle out of the way!

PocketSVG! etc.

The CSIRO in Australia have an SVG Toolkit for PocketPC. Yahoo have a Group for SVG Developers, but so far I have failed to register with Yahoo (their clever on-line forms fail on Opera/Linux 5). This leaves me forced to subscribe to the mailing list, which (given I hardly ever find time to read may email at home) is likely to flood my inbox to little effect. Oh, well. There is also the SVG Wiki, where the distilled wisdom of the mailing list is already emerging.

Alleged Tarot (13): Lucky for some

This is the thirteenth installment of my tarot project. Naturally this means an appearance of the famousest tarot card, XIII. Death, as well as the card that seems most mysterious to most people: XII. The Hanged Man.

This installment also represents the appoximate half-way point in the project—fourteen out of 22 trumps and 24 out of 56 of the minor arcana (38 out of 78 total). By way of celebration, I have rearranged the descriptive pages a little and expanded on the technical info.

Jeremy’s Weekly Strip completes its first year

Jeremy’s completed the first year of her Weekly Strip: the first strip was Monday 2 April 2001, the 52nd will be Tuesday 2 April 2002 (which she assembled before disppearing to Amsterdam for Easter).

To mark the occasion I am belatedly overhauling the Tcl scripts used to generate the HTML pages that form the index for the strips. Careful readers will have noticed that the old index page had the year 2001 in its URL, despite including all the 2002 strips as well. Basically my indexing script was all organized around generating a single index page. I have now refactored the whole shebang so that not only are there now per-year index pages, all the ones for years beyond 2001 have their own directories (e.g., the index for 2002 is /jrd/2002/ instead of being /jrd/tws-2002.html). There was a little jiggery-pokery required to ensure that existing pages do not move to different URLs (to avoid breaking any links or bookmarks other people might have). Thus last week’s strip remains at URL /jrd/20020326.html, and this week’s /jrd/2002/20020402.html.