Minh’s Notes

Human-readable chicken scratch

Minh Nguyễn
November 26th, 2011
This Website


Human-readable chicken scratch

From the department of what-was-I-waiting-for, Minh’s Notes got a much-deserved makeover this past Monday, with a new motto, “human-readable chicken scratch”, and a hand-made theme called “Studio”. Yes, you may find the stickies and index cards unbearably cliché, but at least it’s all printed on 100% post-consumer recycled bits.

“Studio” is a lesson in missed opportunities. The design made it from concept during summer 2006 to working demo sometime in 2007, but then it languished on my hard drive for another four years. This thing called “programming” kinda got in the way.

In the meantime, the browser industry marched forward with ever-increasing support for HTML and CSS, forcing me to rewrite the mockups several times. Ultimately, the hard work that produced “Studio” circa 2007 – all the triumphs of CSS wizardry – got thoroughly obsoleted by simple one-liners circa 2011. And it even mostly works in Internet Explorer! (But no matter which browser you use, make sure it’s up-to-date; otherwise, this site will be a mess.)

Of all things, it was Facebook nixing their Import Notes feature that finally spurred me to revive “Studio” and get it into working order. Although the redesign didn’t make Facebook’s deadline, I’ll still slip blurbs for Minh’s Notes into my feed once in awhile.

“Studio” goes public already a bit aged, but there’s still some novelty left in it. Hopefully the masthead reminds you of uncovering your reading assignment line by line with those paper “straight-edges” in second grade. And the comment form should remind you of a standard application form – unless you’re one of those newfangled youngsters who earned your first dollar via PayPal. Plus, those annoying half-boxes around each letter will throw off the spammers – for another half-second.

On the technological side, the archives employ dot leaders along arbitrarily long lines. Less typographically refined are the comment and TrackBack counts on entry archives, written as tally marks using a custom font that I cobbled together. It doesn’t automatically do the math on an arbitrary number, alas; instead, you have to write out an addition problem. If you’re using a browser that supports Web Fonts, you can see it here: 5+5+5+5+3.

There’s a long-winded colophon for this site now, if you’re into that sort of thing. In any case, I’m just glad it’s all done. Now I can get back to writing.


  1. Minh’s Notes is now responsible for the most pointless use of the word “app” in recorded history.


  1. If you’d be so kind as to offer up your opinions, I’ll copy them down onto an index card like this one and stick it right here for all to read. Go ahead; the comment form below isn’t as intimidating as it looks.

    1. Hover your mouse over an existing comment, then click the small piece of tape that appears to reply to the comment. To keep the conversation flowing smoothly, I’ll be sure to tape your comment to the one you’re replying to.

    2. I like the studio theme. It looks cool. The protractor under "old stuff" is a nice touch. David Miller

  2. And oh hey, you can sign in using Facebook now!