Runaway Success

Do fonts have stories?! I didn’t think so. At least, not until I came across “The Scourge of Arial”…

Do fonts have stories?!  I didn’t think so.  At least, not until I came across “The Scourge of Arial” :

Arial is everywhere. If you don’t know what it is, you don’t use a modern personal computer. It has spread like a virus through the typographic landscape and illustrates the pervasiveness of Microsoft’s influence in the world.

Arial, however, has a rather dubious history and not much character. In fact, Arial is little more than a shameless impostor.

What follows is a rather interesting storyline that details the dominance of Helvetica throughout the typographic world, and traces the evolution of various font styles and of the business empires that popularised them…

An icon of the Swiss school of typography, Helvetica swept through the design world in the ’60s and became synonymous with modern, progressive, cosmopolitan attitudes. With its friendly, cheerful appearance and clean lines, it was universally embraced for a time by both the corporate and design worlds as a nearly perfect typeface to be used for anything and everything. “When in doubt, use Helvetica” was a common rule.

Eventually, you learn about the motivation behind the entire range of ‘me-too’ clones of Helvetica, that attempted to reduce dependence on Adobe PostScript.  Some, like Arial, made the most of the opportunity by creating a “new design” that fit in the old bottle…

Arial appears to be a loose adaptation of Monotype’s venerable Grotesque series, redrawn to match the proportions and weight of Helvetica. At a glance, it looks like Helvetica, but up close it’s different in dozens of seemingly arbitrary ways. Because it matched Helvetica’s proportions, it was possible to automatically substitute Arial when Helvetica was specified in a document printed on a PostScript clone output device.

The situation today is that Arial has displaced Helvetica as the standard font in practically everything done by nonprofessionals in print, on television, and on the Web, where it’s become a standard font, mostly because of Microsoft bundling it with everything—even for Macs, which already come with Helvetica.

In this case, at least, imitation may not have been the sincerest form of flattery!

Does It Matter?

I started this blog inspired by the words of Martin Luther King, who once remarked : “Our lives begin to end, the day we become silent about things that matter.” Sometimes, when I think about those countless hours spent in composing and posting entries to this site, I find myself wondering if it really matters. Is there any body out there, reading what I’m writing about?!

I started this blog inspired by the words of Martin Luther King, who once remarked : “Our lives begin to end, the day we become silent about things that matter.” 

Sometimes, when I think about those countless hours spent in composing and posting entries to this site, I find myself wondering if it really matters.  Is there any body out there, reading what I’m writing about?!

Here are some statistics from the logs of my host provider :

158 entries till date (since inception)

201 comments till date (since inception)

102 subscribers (rss feeds)

896 Avg. Unique Visitors/Month (Jan-Dec 2005)

5,402 Avg. Raw Hits/Month (Jan-Dec 2005)

82 visitors (past 24 hours)

293 visitors (past week)

699 visitors (past month)

Glad to see that at least some people are finding it worth their while.

Ticket to Heaven

Mumbai is not on the usual rock circuit, and is quite starved for good concerts. Most international acts give the city a pass, thanks to unfriendly government regulations and taxes. So it was with much surprise and enthusiasm that, yesterday, we witnessed one of the all-time greats of rock – Mark Knopfler – in concert at the MMRDA grounds!

Mumbai is not on the usual rock circuit, and is quite starved for good concerts.  Most international acts give the city a pass, thanks to unfriendly government regulations and taxes. So it was with much surprise and enthusiasm that, yesterday, we witnessed one of the all-time greats of rock – Mark Knopfler – in concert at the MMRDA grounds! 

A long time ago came a man on a track
walking thirty miles with a pack on his back
and he put down his load where he thought it was the best
made a home in the wilderness

Dire Straits – the band Knopfler founded way back in 1978 – has always been the ultimate source of joy for me.  And it has been a lifelong dream to attend a live concert of Mark Knopfler.  Can you imagine Knopfler on a stage, some rows ahead, playing for you ?!

Here I am again in this mean old town
And you’re so far away from me
And where are you when the sun goes down
You’re so far away from me

So when I learned that he was to perform in Mumbai on 5th March 2005, I couldn’t believe it.  More so because I was scheduled to be on a plane out of India the same day – the one day that I didn’t want to be anywhere else but here!  As luck would have it, just three days before the show, my trip got postponed.  And, it seemed like I was finally going to make it to the show…

how long, how long baby
how long has it been
how long you gonna keep me wondering
how long before you see
stallin’ me was wrong – how long

It was every thing I’d dreamed of, and more.  The arrangements were well coordinated, the audience was well behaved, the sound quality was superb and the music… the music was sheer bliss.

I got my ticket to heaven
and everlasting life
I got a ride all the way to paradise

The Sultan of Swing performed live last night, and I was just a couple of rows away from him!!!