Comet


Get your own Comet.cool patch

Posted by: Ryan 2 years, 6 months ago
Categories: Comet Metaposts Projects

 

I created a patch! I have a bunch of them.  Read below for info on how to get a patch, and to learn how the patch was made.

How can you get your hands on one of these patches?

Over the past few months, I've been steering the content on Comet.cool towards being slightly more about projects (while still keeping all of the other fun and goofy stuff too).  I am testing the hypothesis that if someone writes about a project that they themselves are passionate about, a few things will happen: first of all, they will be more motivated in that project, the project will be more rewarding, and other people will feed off of their enthusiasm and passion.

So, I will give you one of these very exclusive and moderately desireable patches in exchange for a single post onto this site documenting the initiation, progress, or completion of a project (big or small).  If you want help with the post, let me know.

(If nobody is interested in writing about projects, then I will give up and hand out the patches for free after a few months)

About the design and creation of the patch...

For the past few months, I've been experimenting with designs for a Comet.cool t-shirt, hat, or some other kind of merchandise.  The problem was, I couldn't really see myself (or anyone else) actually wearing Comet.cool clothing.  So, I decided to instead design an embroidered patch.  I liked this better because the patch could be ironed onto a piece of clothing if desired, or it could just be tucked away somewhere like a badge of honor without any expectation of actually being worn in public.

The picture above shows the design process I went through to make the patch.  I haven't ever designed a patch, so I had to do some reading to figure out what design principals to follow for embroidery.  I realized I would need to keep the design relatively simple, avoid color gradients, and limit the color palette.  Beyond that, I knew I wanted a somewhat geometric design with highly contrasting colors.  I started with paper and pen, then used CAD to quickly sketch the "COMET" characters.  I finished the design off using image editing software.

I commissioned www.qualitypunch.net for the actual embroidering.  I recommend this site if you need to do any similar work.  They were extremely helpful and responsive throughout the whole process.

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Two years!

Posted by: Ryan 2 years, 7 months ago
Categories: Metaposts

Today is the two year anniversary of Comet.cool!

Reflecting back, this blog has far exceeded my expectations in terms of longevity and purpose.  It has been a way to share stories, pictures, jokes, and memories, but it has also become a vehicle for self-teaching and self-improvement.  I've learned that sitting down to write a few times per week helps me focus my thoughts - even beyond the thoughts that I am actually writing about.

I've got some fun and exciting new concepts in the works to keep the site fresh.  And there are a few bugs with the site that I intend to fix soon too.  Stay tuned.

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Text formatting

Posted by: Ryan 2 years, 9 months ago
Categories: Metaposts

The "Contribute" page should now allow you to format your text much more easily!  I thought this would be an simple thing to implement, but - nothing ever is!!

Picture is unrelated, it is Jess hanging out with Matt Lauer during a visit to NYC a few years ago.  Jess told me she got bad vibes from him.

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Bad Gateway

Posted by: Ryan 2 years, 10 months ago
Categories: Metaposts
You may have encountered a "Bad Gateway" error on this website over the past few weeks. I spent some time trying to resolve this error, and finally came to the conclusion that it must be caused by the website server. I was renting the cheapest virtual server available. I just doubled the RAM on the server, and hopefully it resolves the error. We'll see...
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Title bar colors

Posted by: Ryan 2 years, 11 months ago
Categories: Metaposts
When I first made Comet, I realized how difficult it is to make a website that stands out in terms of appearance. I wanted the site to be visually interesting and unique, so I decided to make the site's color scheme change slightly depending on what photos were being shown. The end result was post title bars that shifted in color from post-to-post.

To do this, I made use of a method known as k-means clustering. This technique essentially scans through an image to find its most common colors. Depending on how rigorous that scan is, this can take a computer between a fraction of a second and a few minutes. On the new version of Comet, I had to program the k-means detection to work on a separate "thread", otherwise the entire website would be unresponsive while an image is being processed.

Teaching a computer identify "interesting" colors is not easy. The site currently looks for colors with high "saturation" (i.e., intense colors), but I am finding it gives mixed results. The site often has to lighten the selected colors so black text can still be legible on top of it. I'd like to experiment with different options when I have more free time.

Now you know a little bit about what goes into those odd colors above each post. I just turned the color detection mechanism back on - it has been turned off for awhile now - so we'll see how it works over the next few days.

By the way - this picture is completely unrelated to the content of this post. This was taken in September of 2011 at an Alzheimer's walk in Western MA. For those who don't know - that white doggo was our family dog, Molly - she was very sweet. This picture is colorful, so I decided to use it for this post.
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Incorrectly Rotated Images

Posted by: Ryan 2 years, 11 months ago
Categories: Metaposts
Depending on which browser you use to view this site, images might sometimes show up sideways or upside down if uploaded from a phone. Here is a (slightly technical) explanation of why this is happening:
If you take a picture on your phone while holding it sideways or upside down, the phone recognizes it is being held that way and it can correct for that rotation. However, if you look at the actual data of the photo, the rotation is not actually corrected. The photo data is still saved sideways/upside down - the phone just added a little hidden note to the photo that explains how it should be rotated. Phones do this because it's much faster for the phone to just save an incorrectly rotated image along with a note than it is to actually rotate the image. This way, the phone can save a photo quickly and almost instantly be ready to take another photo.
Some browsers know to look at that little hidden note and to rotate an image based on the note; for example, the built-in browser on the iphone does this automatically. Some browser don't. I actually found the bug report on this for the Chrome browser (bad news, the bug report is from 2010 and its still not "fixed"). Most non-mobile browsers seem to be holding off on "fixing" this because a unified standard hasn't been set yet. Android phones and iPhones write those hidden notes differently at the moment.
In the old version of comet, I wrote a nice piece of code to automatically fix the rotation. For this version of comet, the back-end is a bit more complicated and I am not 100% sure what the best method of fixing this will be (I have a few ideas, but I haven't tested them out yet).
So - long story short - we will need to live with the silly sideways or upside down photos for a little while. If you look at the site on your phone, it should be fine. Once I fix this, I will delete this post and we will all pretend like this site was always perfect.
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Comet Version 2.0

Posted by: Ryan 3 years ago
Categories: Metaposts
I am pleased to present a whole new Comet.cool. It might look very similar to the old version, but the back-end is new and improved. Here is a list of some of the new features you'll enjoy: The site is still under development, but hopefully its somewhat stable. If you've posted to comet in the past, then I've already set you up with an account. You can click on the "Log in" button in the top right and then log in with your old username and password (password should be all lowercase). There are more detailed instructions for the new site here. Some things you should know: The old comet served me well for the last 1.5 years. I look forward to using this new blog to share new adventures for years to come.
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One year!

Posted by: Ryan 3 years, 7 months ago
Categories: Metaposts
So I registered this lovely domain name about one year ago. I know because I just got billed to renew it. My first ever post was on February 15, 2016. As you might expect, a ".cool" domain name isn't very expensive. If ".com" is a luxurious beach-side property, ".cool" is an empty lot next door to a sewage treatment facility.
So, the blog has a bad name. Big deal. I don't think the name of a blog is important. It's the content that matters. And when it comes to content...this site is also quite bad.
For instance, the last post was 6 days ago - and my new year resolution was to post once a day - and it's only February - and the post wasn't even real. Yes, I admit it, some of those things I said about the glulam were stretching the truth.
Anyways, we're going to keep it casual here at comet.cool. Let's not get caught up in the negatives. After all, this is supposed to be a cool comet, not an up-tight neurotic comet that is constantly blogging.
For today, please enjoy this image I downloaded from google. It's the first image that came up when I searched for the words "cool comet". I added the sunglasses myself to increase its coolness.
In celebration of the blog's one year anniversary, I am going to put sunglasses on everything and submit it to the blog. Feel free to join in on the festivities.
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Let's Review

Posted by: Ryan 3 years, 10 months ago
Categories: Metaposts
I've added the capability to turn regular post submissions into reviews. You can rate anything you'd like - movies, music, restaurants, beers, your children, your elected presidents. It's up to you. All ratings are out of 5 stars, and half stars are allowed. To make your next post a review, simply add the tag $rating:3 to the top. The website will take care of the rest. Please keep in mind that this new feature will almost certainly have bugs because I haven't tested it at all.

Edit 10/28/2017: Please note that, as of right now, comet.cool version 2.0 does NOT have the capability to have star ratings in the posts. Furthermore, all of this stuff about adding tags with the dollar signs ($) is no longer relevant.
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Ongoing Development

Posted by: Ryan 4 years, 7 months ago
Categories: Metaposts
This is a scene from my desk at home tonight. The website was copied onto the web for the first time last night, even though it is still a work in progress. It gets better every day as I work the kinks out and add functionality.
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