chris barr


Simple PHP Navbar

While working on a simple website that didn’t need any kind of CMS with it, I came up with a very simple way of creating a dynamic navigation bar with PHP. The code is pretty simple, but I’ve always done this manually before and this just makes it simple. So here it is.

First we create a function in PHP:

function createNav($title, $link){
   if("/".$link == $_SERVER['PHP_SELF']){
      return "<li id="current">".$title."</li>r";
      return "<li><a href="".$link."">".$title."</a></li>r";

And then this is how you call it:

echo createNav("Home","index.php");

So if you are on the page that navigation button relates to it will give you <li id="current">Home</li>. If you’re on any other page, it gives you <li><a href="index.php">Home</a></li>.

Easy enough. So just call that for each button you need between your <ul> tags:

   echo createNav("Home","index.php");
   echo createNav("About","about.php");
   echo createNav("Products","products.php");
   echo createNav("Contact","contact.php");

I know it’s nothing spectacular, but it sped up the coding process for me once I figured it out, and it will certainly be a lot faster in the future if anything needs to be changed or added.

The Comic Sans Effect

If you don’t already know, I’m a huge advocate of the Ban Comic Sans site.  It’s a bad font, and it’s just plain overused.  Look for it next time you see anything that’s been designed, I’ve seen it everywhere from menus to billboards.  Another font that I similarly despise is Papyrus, so much to that I own – one day I’ll get around to making a real site for it, I promise.

I suppose you can link the use of comic sans to print design, but it really can be used in any kind of media.  But, I got to thinking the other day, every different type of media has it’s own “comic sans” per se.  These are all extremely common to see in their respective media types, but that’s because they’ve become overused and bland now.  Whenever I see any of these, it makes me wonder if the designer behind it is actually aware of how incredibly overused they are!  The problem with any of these is that when you look at a design, I shouldn’t see the tools or fonts used, I should see the design and overall message.

I’ve got a more detailed write up about all these after the jump.

Typography – Comic Sans/Papyrus

Just for clarity, I figured I should actually include these and some examples. Sure there are lots of fonts that are overused out there, but these two take the cake for sure. Comic Sans is commonly used when the designer wants to show something as being simple or for children since it looks like handwriting. The intended use of this font was, as the name implies, for comics – but since it’s inception it has been grossly overused and is no longer even good for this use.

So if you do need a font that fits into one of these categories, don’t use comic sans when there’s so many great looking alternatives that most people haven’t already seen! Here’s a great list of comic sans alternatives at Fontscape. Need a comic book font? Try Blambot for some fun comic lettering. For some simple curved and simple fonts, try the Bryant 2 pack. If you need something that looks like handwriting, try this group of contemporary handwriting fonts. Lastly, Ulixa is a great looking alternative.

Papyrus... on a liquor store

Papyrus seems to be assumed to be many things. It looks “asian” and I’ve seen it on chinese restaurant signs, menus, bottles, etc. It can also be used for “beach” stuff, and when one lives less than 30 minutes from the beach like I do, it gets used a lot. Many people seem to interpret this font as having a “natural” look to it and just use it for any kind of product that they want to portray this message about. The problem, of course, is that it’s already been done by everyone else!

For those tempted to use papyrus, here’s some great alternatives. Canterbury Sans, P22 Morris Golden, Tempo Medium Grunged, Platino Sans Informal, and The Florentine Set.

Motion Graphics – Shine

This one is a bit touchy for some people. Shine is a plugin for Adobe After Effects, and Trapcode is a great company that does a lot for the motion graphics community. They’ve made so many plugins that people depend on, and there’s several that I love to use when I do any sort of motion graphics. Shine is a brilliant idea for a plugin, and it does actually look pretty cool.


The problem of course, is that it’s incredibly overused! Yes, it is possible to use this plugin properly, and when done so you shouldn’t be able to recognize it as Shine. So commonly what is done is shine is simply applied to a title or name to make it feel powerful or futuristic. Many times designers just drop it on the text and move on, usually leaveing it on one of the default settings!

What sticks out most in my mind is The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. For such a high budget movie, I’m surprised they left it on the default colors! At least tweak a few of the settings to get it a bit customized, or perhaps they threw shine in there, liked it, and designed the rest of the poster around the colors from this plugin?

Regardless, the goal of most designers using Shine is to give depth and power to text with ease. This can be achieved so many other more original ways, and it just takes a bit of inspiration. I don’t condone just ripping off someone else’s ideas, but there’s nothing wrong with learning a new technique or combining several ideas into something thats new. When I need inspiration for motion graphics I jump on over to and take a look at some demo reels. There’s some amazing talent out there, so why not be inspired by it.



Audio Design – The “Wilhelm Scream”

Most people don’t know about the Wilhelm scream, but they’ve heard it. It’s been in nearly every movie ever made, and once you know it you’ll be able to pick it out from now on. Take a listen.

Not much explanation needed for this one. Sound designers seem to always flock to this sound when a character is falling to their death or getting hurt. It’s actually become somewhat of a running joke among directors and sound designers, they just throw it in somewhere because people in that industry will “get” the joke. Personally, whenever I hear it in a movie I’ll laugh, but I’m actually a little bit annoyed that they couldn’t come up with something more original. Just grab a microphone and scream in it for something new – or just use one of the thousand other stock sounds you can buy. Don’t nkeep using the same one over and over again.

You can learn more about the history of the Willhelm Scream from Steve Lee, a film historian.

Jack Conte

I found a new artist today, and he’s got some great music. Jack Conte classifies his music as Indie / Alternative / Electroacoustic, and he’s a great songwriter as well. He also has done a cover of a Radiohead song, which is my favorite band and what got me interested in him in the first place. Visit his myspace page, and listen to his music. If you liek it, please consider buying his album and supporting him! It’s less than $4 on iTunes and Amazon, which is less than what I paid for dinner last night!

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah



Oh Hell


The Giant

These Days

Eclectic 2.0

Eclectic 2.0 is an incredible time-lapse movie all shot with DSLR cameras.  Ross Ching went to some amazingly beautiful locations and set up his camera with a special slow moving tripod and the camera set to take photos at a certain interval.  Watch and be amazed.  Read more about this project on Ross Ching’s site.

Download it here: (Quicktime required)
480p (17.6 mb)
720p (182.9 mb)
1080p (359.6 mb)

After watching this, I’ve gotten really interested in making these types of movies.  Unfortunatly for me, my camera doesn’t support taking photos at an interval without a special intervalometer I’d have to purchase.