When writing in French I'm always looking for characters that can't be easily typed with a keyboard (like œ, for example). I used to go to copypastecharacter.com for its simplicity: just go to that page, click on a character and boom, it's in your clipboard, ready to be pasted!
But I wanted something more powerful/thorough that would remember my frequently used characters. So I wrote Unipasta!
Here's what you should know about it:
Every input under the selected character (char, code and hex) can be edited and will update each other. Easily jump to any character!
The font metrics (baseline, x-height and cap-height) are auto-calculated and will help you know where the char lives;
Click on the "More Info" link to jump to fileformat.info and access a lot of details about the selected character;
Every character your click will be automatically copied to your clipboard, handy!
Use the "Recent characters" list to quickly access your favorite ones (latest used will always be listed first).
If you think some missing Unicode blocks are important to you or if you'd like to add a new character listing, just ask for it!
When I moved in I bought an IKEA Ramvik table and while travelling this summer I had an idea (don't ask why): decorate its top with Lego bricks used as pixels. Here are the steps I went through. If you don't care about those steps and want to see a nice time-lapse video, scroll to the end of the article!
First things first. What are the Lego brick sizes and colors available? Oddly enough this question is not that easily answered. Probably because Lego's site is crappy, or because nobody really cares... I eventually found Brickipedia which happens to be a much richer resource than the official ones. Everything I was looking for was there: the Lego "unit" is 8 millimeters and the color palette is pretty simple.
Knowing my table size I had various options, depending on the "pixel size" I'd choose. Of course the number of bricks (and the price) would also vary. So I created a dynamic spreadsheet on Google Docs that'd do the calculations for me... Here it is, with all the options possible (French, sorry).
I chose the 4x4 option, quite cheap and still offering a cool number of pixels.
36x16 pixels of freedom, that's it. I tried lots of different designs, from lo-fi photos to pixel-art drawings. I decided to go for a Heavy Oblique Futura.
The Lego palette
I set my type to white, on a black background. The anti-aliasing process creates gray-scale pixels to smooth the curves, which is great, but Lego bricks aren't available in all colors! To have a realistic preview of what it would look like I had to create a Photoshop Color Table matching Lego's gray-scales (if you're interested, just ping me [UPDATE: here they are]). Here's a comparison between Photoshop's default gray-scales (left) and Lego's palette (right):
You may notice that Lego's black is a little bit light and the grays are yellowish.
Time to order bricks!
Already? Nope, not that fast. Before ordering I had to know exactly what to order, that means counting the pixels. Well, I'm not this kind of guy. I'm a developer; I hate repetitive chores, you know.
So I fired up Flash Builder and came up with PaletteCounter a simple, OpenSource, app to count pixels of each color. I also added some kind of "assembly instructions generator" to help us build it. Handy.
Time to order!
Really? Yup. I placed an order on lego.com's Pick A Brick and received it a couple of weeks later. Yay!
Let's do this
I'm not going to describe the process (that happened this saturday), just have a look at this time-lapse vid. 1020 pics shot in about an hour, yummy. Thanks to Céline and Julie for helping out!