Friday, August 17, 2012

A new name! A new look! Same great-tasting automata!

I warned you a few months ago that changes were coming. Indeed, they have come. I'm dedicating more of my time to automata these days. Mostly, that means an increase in the time I spend in the workshop creating things. It also means a bit more time to attend to this blog.

I started my blog back in June of 2006. I knew I wanted it to be about automata for the most part, but struggled with what to call it. Which word would be better: "automata" or "automaton"? I decided to use both. So, the somewhat awkwardly named "The Automata / Automaton Blog" was born.

I'll confess: in an actual face-to-face conversation, that is a mouthful! I could also see that the good folks who link to my blog on the web also struggled with what to call it in their links. Sometimes they linked to "The Automata Blog", sometimes to "The Automaton Blog", sometimes to the full title. Making the name shorter started to seem like a good idea.

I've also become increasingly concerned that the title of the blog has led people to believe that the words "automata" and "automaton" are one and the same. Not so. I get a lot of email from excited, enthusiastic people who love my blog and want to show me what they've made. More often than not, they will refer to one automaton as "automata". It's a tricky work, for sure. For the record, here's how it breaks down:

Speaking of only one? Use automaton.
Check out my very first automaton!

Speaking of more than one? Choose either automata or automatons.
I love looking at all of the automata Paul Spooner has made over the years!

That said, welcome (or welcome back to nearly 25% over 30% of you) to The Automata Blog. I chose this title so as not to create undue confusion with the excellent blog titled Automaton -- IEEE Spectrum's award-winning robotics blog. If you like slightly higher tech things than what you find here, I encourage you to check out their news, articles, and videos. Great stuff.

The new shorter name can also be used to find the blog. Simply type into a browser and you're

I thought the new name deserved a new look -- something beyond the simple black template I've been using for years. I can draw reasonably well, but I found the task too daunting. I had a dozen things in my head and no idea how to get them into a header graphic. After 5 years of avoiding the job, I knew it was time to hire a professional. The award-winning Canadian illustrator and cartoonist, Eric Orchard, created the image you now see at the top of the screen. My thanks to Eric! I couldn't be happier with the illustration.

Photo of Dug North

Stay tuned for more changes in the coming months, including more of a behind-the-scenes look at the things I make. I also have a few other new things in mind for you. I hope you will come back often. I appreciate the on-going support that comes in so many forms: return visits, links on your sites, references in written work, word-of-mouth recommendations, invitations to tour exhibits, reviewer copies of books, the use of the Amazon links on this site, tips on things to post, and all of the kind email messages. Thanks for all of it. I'm honored to be part of this dialog.

All my very best to each of you!

-Dug North

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Blogger Unknown said...

Congrats on the blog name and look roll-out, and on your change to commit more time to automata! I look forward to the exciting new additions in the months to come.

August 17, 2012 at 9:20 AM  
Blogger Dug North said...

Thanks, Catherine! You won't have to wait long for more news, so stay tuned.

August 17, 2012 at 9:51 AM  
Anonymous Ron K said...

Looks sweet Dug! Hope the change in tack works out well. Looking forward to seeing more of your work.

Ron K

August 17, 2012 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger Will Granger said...

It looks really great, Dug. The font and new graphics really stand out.

August 17, 2012 at 11:58 PM  
Blogger Dug North said...

Thank you Ron! I'm keeping busy, that's for sure.

August 18, 2012 at 8:46 AM  
Blogger Dug North said...

Thanks, Will! Glad you like it.

August 18, 2012 at 8:47 AM  
Blogger J. E. Johnson said...

Love the new header! Looking forward to what's next.

August 21, 2012 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger Dug North said...

Thanks so much! It's going to be a busy month, but hopefully I can get to some of the things I have planned nevertheless.

August 21, 2012 at 5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice new look.

My readers are general woodworkers and so for the few automaton articles I've written (here, automaton -- a noun -- is used as an adjective), I refer to automata as mechanical sculptures, a layman's term for what automata really are in essence.


August 28, 2012 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger Dug North said...

That's a good strategy, Charles. I do much the same thing on my business cards and exhibit banners. My name is accompanied by the words "Animated Wooden Sculpture". "Mechanical" might be clearer than "animated", though I suppose the latter has a nice double meaning.


August 28, 2012 at 6:27 PM  

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