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Luigi Ray-Montañez
Pop Music Connoisseur
Pop Music Connoisseur

Luigi's posts

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Good food for thought on how to drive innovation in the browser.
The web needs a faster release cycle. "Forward polyfills", are a way for developers to accelerate the evolution of this great platform.

So here's how I think the web should work. Keen to hear your take on these thoughts.

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Update: Top 5 Candidate Search Gains in New Hampshire

In a matter of hours, the results from the first-in-the-nation primary will be announced. Who has the momentum to win this election? Yesterday, we reported internal Google search trends in New Hampshire showed +Jon Huntsman with a post-debate bump (

Comparing searches from today (January 10) to search volumes from before the first debate on Saturday (January 7), +Jon Huntsman is now seeing a whopping 224% increase in traffic, followed by higher numbers from +Newt Gingrich (+92%), +Ron Paul (+88%), +Mitt Romney (+74%), and finally, Rick Santorum (+3%).

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Here's the article I wrote for ACM's XRDS magazine.

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I wrote an article for the upcoming issue of ACM's student magazine, XRDS.

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Remember Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist convicted for mail fraud and conspiracy who was sentenced to several years in jail? Well, Abramoff wrote a book. Several of the early Amazon reviews struck me as a somewhat artificial in tone, so I did a little digging into the reviews at

One reviewer is "Edward Buckham." Looks like he might be a former lobbyist and a former top aide to Tom DeLay. Buckham's company employed Tom DeLay's wife and had to shut down because the firm "was fatally damaged by publicity about the ongoing federal investigation into the affairs of Abramoff," according to the Washington Post: . Buckham doesn't disclose any connection to Abramoff either in his Amazon review of Abramoff's book or in his 1-star review of a different book critical of Abramoff.

Another reviewer is listed as "Donald W Keyser" of Fairfax Station, Virginia. It looks like that's the same Donald Keyser who "pleaded guilty to unauthorized possession of secret documents, and to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding his sexual relationship with a Taiwanese intelligence officer" in 2005, according to Wikipedia:

Another reviewer lists their name as "walfredo freitas." There's a "Free Jack Abramoff" page on Facebook at where a "Walfredo De Freitas" praises Abramoff, and the admin for the "Free Jack Abramoff" page is listed as "Walfredo." Walfredo also appears to be a lobbyist, according to

Another reviewer is Vicki Siegel of Bethesda, Maryland. That might be Vicki Siegel Herson, a former lobbyist and one-time legislative aide to Arlen Specter. Specter faced questions that he directed roughly $50 million dollars in earmarks to clients represented by Vicki Siegel's husband, Michael Herson (also a lobbyist) according to the New York Times: It appears that Siegel resumed lobbying in 2011, this time for her husband's firm.

These people are of course welcome to their opinion of Abramoff's book, but if any of them knew Abramoff or had connections to him, I wish they had disclosed those relationships in their Amazon reviews. There's also several other 5-star reviews from Amazon profiles like "politico" and "DC Dubious" where the reviewer's identity is not revealed.

Does anyone like +Dan Gillmor or +Jeff Jarvis or +Jay Rosen know someone who could do a proper job of contacting the people involved for comment or asking Amazon to check for shenanigans with Abramoff's Amazon reviews?

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I still really like the Droid series of fonts...
Hello Roboto
When we announced Ice Cream Sandwich I also got a chance to introduce Android’s new typeface Roboto. Today I’d like to talk about how Roboto was born — why we decided to create it, and the design choices we made in the process.

Why replace Droid?
Droid is a great font family which served Android well over the years, but it was designed and optimized for screens that were much lower in pixel density than today’s HD displays. To be legible at smaller sizes, and to avoid turning to anti-aliased grey mush, the letter forms had to be quite dramatic. They had a tall x-height and a very regular rhythm so that they snapped to the pixel grid crisply. The bold variant was significantly wider than the regular text, because when a letter’s vertical strokes are one pixel thick, the only way to be bold is to double! It’s no surprise that on high rez screens, and at larger more dramatic headline sizes, Droid struggled to achieve both the openness and information density we wanted in Ice Cream Sandwich.

What were we looking for?
Most important was to create something that matched our ambitious design goals for Ice Cream Sandwich. Emotionally we wanted Ice Cream Sandwich to enchant you, to be attractive and eye-catching. Our new typeface had to be modern, crisp, and structured to match our new emphasis on open layouts and rigid grid alignments, but also friendly and approachable to make Android appealing, and a little bit more human.

Interactive display is a new and still evolving medium and what it demands from type design is subtly and uniquely different from print. We wanted to take maximum advantage of ultra high density screens like that of Galaxy Nexus, yet still be crisp and legible on lower resolution displays like that of Nexus S. Because Roboto would be used for the UI we wanted to make the bold very similar to the metrics of the regular weight, so that text could gracefully switch from bold to regular (like when you read emails in your inbox). We also wanted to include tabular figures (numbers that are all the same width) so we could display times, dates and other counters without having the characters jump around.

Finally we wanted Roboto to make a design statement in and of itself, in the same way that we wanted every screen on the device to have a strong and unique design point of view. Yet, just like the rest of the UI, Roboto is ultimately a medium for your content. We wanted Roboto to have a design character that made it recognizable, to be distinctive when you were paying attention, but never be overbearing or distracting.

How did we make it?
We realized early on that we needed something with a strong geometric backbone to hold up to our new open “Magazine UI” layouts. When we got rid of the boxes and bevels, dividers and other structural crutches, the more humanist fonts of our legacy felt uncomfortable and a little chaotic. Naturally we looked at some of the circle based geometrics like Avenir and Futura, but they’re very demanding in the rhythm of their metrics and ultimately were a little too soft for the crisp corners that we were using in the UI. The breakthrough came quickly when we settled on a straight sided grotesk.

Roboto’s straight sided capitals and distinctive racetrack-shaped rounded letters turned out to be perfect for our needs in a system font. It is space efficient and and holds its own for the short terse messages that are so common in UI. It has a high degree of compatibility with legacy designs created for Droid, because in almost all cases the same size Roboto sets in the same amount of space. Yet because of Roboto’s more structured forms we can actually set it smaller and with tighter line spacing, allowing us to put more information on the screen without inducing claustrophobia.

One of the potential drawbacks of a grotesk font is that the structured evenness of the type can make it more difficult to read. We started by softening up the lower case letters, and then experimented with opening up some of the glyphs to get a more diverse rhythm. We found that by adding a little more diversity to the lower case the font become more readable. In particular, we opened up the ‘e’ and ‘g’ while keeping the ‘a’, ‘c’ and ‘s’ characters closed. The rhythm starts to compare more to book types and makes for really nice reading over longer spans of text.

In the end we were iterating ceaselessly on minor details of the letters, extending the character set to Greek and Cyrillic, and tweaking the rendering so that Roboto would look just as good at all sizes and resolutions. In fact our work is not yet done as we continue to extend the character set and begin to hint Roboto so it works as well on computers as it does on Android devices. Still, I’m terrifically proud of the work the team and our lead typographer did in an ludicrously short amount of time. Roboto is a new foundation for Android and the team really deserves kudos for their accomplishment.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little ‘behind the scenes’ peek at Android’s evolution. I had fun writing it, so let me know if you’d be interested in hearing more.

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Some thoughts on expectations and criticisms of MongoDB.

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Trying out the new Google Reader+
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