Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 07:17 on 14-04-2012, Adrienne
So à propos of nothing that's been going on HERE lately (though it has been known to happen in the past), I'm suddenly seized with a great desire to create either the SM Stirling Threadshitting Bingo Card, or the SM Stirling Threadshitting Drinking Game. Or maybe both. Gah.
at 19:09 on 13-04-2012, Wardog
Yeah, we're fixing spider font of doom :)
at 19:05 on 13-04-2012, Ibmiller
As another Chromezombie, I like the new title font, but the main text fonts are just so spidery and trick my eyes into thinking it's fading from view. Sadface.

But then, my favorite font is Garamond, because I can trick teachers into accepting it instead of Times New Roman :-)
at 17:49 on 13-04-2012, Guy
You've all gone mad... mad with power.

So... Purisa? Umpush? Sawasdee? Who comes up with these names?
at 16:27 on 13-04-2012, Wardog
Yeah, I just chose random fonts that looked cool on preview - I'm glad the 'title' font looks funky at least :D
at 15:29 on 13-04-2012, Andy G
@Rami Don't trust my judgement too much! I'm probably just taking a while to adjust - by tomorrow, it'll look perfect to me.
at 15:05 on 13-04-2012, Arthur B
Looking at the main Cantarell page it says it's optimised for HTC mobile phones. It does look good on my mobile so maybe it can be kept for the mobile version of the site. :)

Plus the new font for the big titles at tops of pages looks dead classy.
at 14:51 on 13-04-2012, Rami
Andy: it sounds more and more like I have to suck it up and give it a full design refresh :-(
at 14:49 on 13-04-2012, Rami
Arthur: whitespace is the same but the font is a bit bigger and more spaced out so it probably looks a bit bigger?

The current font is called Cantarell and we thought it looked nice (but didn't check Chrome on Windows :-().
at 14:43 on 13-04-2012, Andy G
I think somehow the font jars with the very straight lines in the surround - would it look better if they were less plain? Or possibly I'm just unable to adjust to change.
at 14:32 on 13-04-2012, Arthur B
Having checked on Firefox the new font does look significantly better on it. In particular, it seems to be notably darker and so doesn't disappear against the background. (Then again some parts of letters still look a bit dodgy. The cross-bars on capital H and the middle bar on capital E look ridiculously thick compared to the rest of the text, whereas the top crossbar on P is vanishingly thin.)

EDIT: Checking it looks like the above effects I mention vary where text appears - in general if text is normal size, like this comment on the main Playpen page, it's fine, whereas if it's a tad smaller like on the Playpen boxes on the front page it looks a bit worse. So perhaps the issue with this font is that it doesn't scale brilliantly?
at 13:39 on 13-04-2012, Wardog
I like the new font but then on account of having My only issue is that, for whatever reason, it looks shitetastic on Chrome, but lovely on firefox. I agree with Rami that personalised fonts look a bit snazzier than verdana. I originally chose verdana because it's so damn readable but it does look, err, a bit blah. I was just kinda conscious of the fact Fb is looking kind of fossilised - it's meant to be retro but there's a limit :)
at 12:59 on 13-04-2012, Arthur B
Also: is it just me or has the whitespace on the right-hand side of the screen got even more huge? Are we becoming Google Plus now? ;)
at 10:20 on 13-04-2012, Arthur B
Well if you want original you'll want to use WingDings or something like that. :)

What is the current font and why did you pick this one in particular?
at 10:00 on 13-04-2012, Rami
Originality, mostly. I'd like Fb to look a bit less like no effort had been put into it ;-)
at 09:18 on 13-04-2012, Arthur B
Just to help us pick, what criteria is the new font meant to fulfil that the old one didn't?
at 01:24 on 13-04-2012, Rami
Alignment issues should be fixed. New font(s) remain in trial for now; I'll have to do some more poking around, though, and suggested fonts welcome! (Ideally ones I can use e.g.
at 01:15 on 13-04-2012, Dan H
Same on my screen.

I confess to not being wild about the new font.
at 00:40 on 13-04-2012, Arthur B
On my screen the left-hand line P in "playpen" points to the middle of "e" in "Welcome" when it should be starting in line with the W...
at 00:38 on 13-04-2012, Rami
Indents on titles? Those shouldn't be there...

I'm experimenting a bit with new fonts, etc -- please bear with me, just trying to make FB a little snazzier!
at 00:37 on 13-04-2012, Arthur B
(Also the indents on titles are doing my head in.)
at 00:33 on 13-04-2012, Arthur B
Ow, the new font is hurting my eyes (it's too light against the white background and I'm having to strain to read...).
at 17:09 on 11-04-2012, James D
Just read The Moon Moth by Jack Vance, definitely one of his better short stories. He often writes about societies with bizarre modes of self-expression, sometimes involving music (as in Maske: Thaery) but this one features it as the central point of the story.

Vance slips in his typically sardonic social commentary, as the Sirenese society uses its vast wealth not to help one another but to establish a punishing social hierarchy that enslaves or excludes those at the lowest ranks, while idolizing self-sufficiency. Luck (and by extent, privilege) is an insulting concept, and everything good or bad is believed to be earned by the individual. There is the illusion of social mobility, in that any Sirenese (or even off-world) individual can wear any of their highly ritualized masks and thus appear as whatever social status they might want; however, pulling that off depends on their ability to express themselves using a large number of small, complicated musical instruments that are used to accompany conversation. A person perceived as playing above his station, especially an off-worlder, is quickly killed.

The protagonist is an off-world ambassador, who must navigate the Sirenese social complexities in order to catch a criminal, but the plot is more or less a frame for Vance's vibrant worldbuilding. I haven't read a lot of Vance's short stories outside of the Dying Earth anthology, but I think I'll have to track down a collection, if this is any indication of their quality.