mia caro - web and interactive design
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Chalkdust v.3.0 is live!

Well, after considerable buildup, a lengthy wait, and a fair amount of radio silence, it’s finally finished–the third revision of Chalkdust, my most popular Tumblr theme, is now live on the Tumblr Theme Garden!

Chalkdust v.3.0

The Tumblr Theme Garden listing has a brief rundown of the theme’s details, but for the sake of completeness, here’s the scoop!


  • New sidebar allows for unlimited length on descriptions and links without cutting off content.
  • Added jQuery script to title display to scale type for any length of title. Go nuts!
  • Post widths are larger, and content for certain post types, such as video posts, now expands properly to fill its frame.


  • Customizations are still present as before–you can choose the color for your background, title scrap, and title scribble. In addition, you can select which “doodles” to use for your posts; the ever-contentious heart makes its comeback, along with a star as an alternative. Or turn them off entirely.
  • Toggle a sidebar display of your most recent “likes” to show off your impeccable taste.


  • Support for high-resolution (retina) graphics! If you’ve got a device that supports hi-res graphics, you’ll be served the correct graphics for your display.
  • Major CSS improvements, including embedded fonts throughout for consistent typography and CSS3 effects and transitions.
  • Optional support for Disqus commenting and infinite scrolling, as requested by users (thanks for your input)!

Known Issues:

  • Hi-res graphics have reportedly been disabled in the most recent builds of Firefox (18.x and 19.x) and will not be reimplemented until the next major release. The theme graphics will, of course, default back to their standard resolution counterparts, so you’ll have no problems viewing blogs that use the theme. Chrome and Safari have both been tested to work with hi-res graphics.

If you’ve modified your blog with custom HTML and aren’t seeing the changes propagating to your blog, be sure to remove all customizations and reload the unmodified theme. Once the updated theme has been applied properly, you can modify to your heart’s content (but tread lightly, as it’s a complete rewrite)!

As always, thanks so much for all of your feedback and support–I’d love to hear what you think of the new version! Feel free to leave me a comment here, on Tumblr, or on Twitter. I’m also happy to answer any questions anyone might have about customizations or edits; if I receive enough of the same questions, I’ll feature the answers here for everyone to read.

Enjoy it!

Chalkdust v.3.0 pending + Tumblr theme questions

We’ll start with a little bit of good news: Chalkdust v.3.0 is finished and submitted to Tumblr for Theme Garden inclusion, so you should be seeing it pop up for your installing pleasure sometime (hopefully) soon! Yay!

The bad news, unfortunately, is that there’s no estimated turnaround time for the process, and theme updates going live are pretty much at the mercy of how quickly the queue is moving. It’s been submitted as a revision to v.2.0, and if you check out the install page for v.2.0 now, you’ll see the updated screenshot and info, but installing the theme to your blog will still apply the previous version. I admit that I find this behavior somewhat vexing, but it is what it is, and it’s out of my hands. I will, of course, post again when the changes have gone live, so anyone who’s been anticipating the update can hop right over as soon as it’s available. Thanks for being patient so far–it’s definitely appreciated!

In the meantime, I’d like to go ahead and use this space for some questions that I’ve been receiving over the past few months, because why not. Without further ado, then!

Q. How do I apply your theme to my blog?
A. My themes have been updated to display properly within the new Theme Garden format now, so hopefully this question won’t occur so frequently in the future. That said, if you’re having trouble finding the links, here are links to the respective install pages for Chalkdust and TumblOS. Make sure you’re logged in to the correct account, click Install, select your blog, and poof, magic!

Q. I’d like to change the font/background/colors/____ of your theme for my blog. Is that okay?
A. Absolutely! Any modifications or additions you’d like to make on your personal blog(s) are 100% okay–they’re public themes for public consumption, so please, enjoy them as you will!

Q. I’d like to make changes to your theme and resubmit it to the Tumblr Theme Garden. Is that okay?
A. Although my public themes are offered free of charge for anyone to install and modify for their own personal usage, they are not to be used as templates for your own theme designs. If you’d like a custom theme for your Tumblr and know a bit of HTML and CSS, Tumblr’s own theme documentation should cover all of the basics in development. Otherwise, feel free to contact me for a custom quote.

Q. Are you associated with any blogs that use your themes?
A. I’ve received several emails intended for specific users that have installed my themes, so I want to clarify: I have no affiliation with any blogs that may display my themes! Please use reblogs or the “ask” option (if enabled) to contact individual blog owners. I can’t redirect your messages.

Please feel free to shoot me a message or leave a comment with any other burning questions you might have (theme-related or otherwise)! I’ll attend to them as quickly as I can!

New site design + Chalkdust feature requests

I’m still in a state of mild disbelief about it, but apparently it’s true–the last time I posted here, it was amid musings about birthday cake. And now, I’m back to post again, just a few days following this year’s birthday. I don’t even know what to say about that.

I’m sorry. That’s a good place to start, perhaps.

I hope you’re all doing well so far in this lovely year of two-thousand-and-twelve! I’ll dispense quickly with the business talk: I’ve done a major overhaul of the site for this year, which I hope you might take a peek at if you’ve a moment to spare! Among what you’ll find therein: HTML5/CSS3 pretties, new gallery setup with custom styling, and a wax seal power button that glows when you mouse over it. With credit to my handsome beau for that bit of inspiration–it’s a pretty cute effect, non?

Please do take a look if you’ve got a minute or two to spare! And as long as we’re talking site stuff, a big thanks to those of you who slipped below my radar and “liked” the site on Facebook, quietly before there was a button on my index page to rat you out. You sweet, sneaky things, you.

Okay, now, the fun stuff: Chalkdust update talk! No, it’s not ready yet. (Sorry. Again.) I’m compiling a list of feature requests to address, along with things I’d like to add on my own time. These are the ones that come to mind–if you’ve got a missing feature you’d like to see added to the next update, please leave me a message here or on Tumblr (link to my ask box), and I’ll add it to this post. I don’t anticipate that I’ll have to veto any reasonable requests, but there’s a chance that not every requested feature will make it to release. But you are, of course, free to modify your own personal install(s) of Chalkdust to your heart’s content! You don’t even have to ask!

My Desired Updates

  • Embedded fonts for consistent visuals
  • Reconfigured display for larger screen sizes
  • Larger side panel for links/long descriptions

Requested Features

  • Infinite scrolling
  • Disqus support

I’ll do my best to keep this post updated with feature requests and progress notes, but if you really want to keep up to tabs, your best bet is probably to follow me on Twitter. I’ll try to keep you all posted as best I can!

New gallery setup, iOS games, and some updates

Hi, lovelies! I’m ducking away from my current occupations (read as: crazy organization/cleaning bender) temporarily to mention a few things here. Because if I don’t, I think it will all be swept from my memory in a haze of Goodwill boxes and shredded paper.

First of all, it was my birthday on August 18th, and I got to have not one, but two different types of cake, so I was pretty happy about that.

Secondly, I’ve updated the design gallery setup recently with a new design that will make things more attractive and much quicker to navigate. I’ve employed (with modifications, of course) the lovely Coda Slider Effect script found at jQuery for Designers, and I love it very much and want to click on it all day.

Blog readers can hit the “design” button up top and check out the sidebar to begin browsing. For the rest of you, the direct gallery link is here!

I’m also adding some new portfolio pieces to populate the new gallery, the first of which is an iOS (iPhone/iPod touch) game prototype that I developed in April. It’s a simple side-scrolling/adventure concept and was my first real foray into the world of Objective-C coding, but in spite of the late nights, I had a lot of fun working on it. I hope to renew my iOS Developer credentials someday and get back to playing! Video game development and I go way back, so it was cool to dust off my old coding chops and produce something for the modern era.

I also made some small general improvements about the site, and for the most part, they’re things that you probably won’t notice at all. My résumé has been brought up to date, so if you’re in the market for contract or other work, please take a look!

Soon to come: things I’m enjoying lately, plugging my talented friends, Chalkdust and TumblOS updates, and the long-anticipated new Tumblr theme! It’s real. Promise. I have a folder on my desktop and everything.

Share This: social media vs. stranger danger

(Photo: “Sharing Is Caring – Fotosöndag” by Niklas Wikström)

It strikes me–particularly recently, though I’ve had the thought for some time–that we’ve somehow reared two very different breeds of internet user.

I don’t mean that in terms of generations, either. Obviously age demographics will show similarities among themselves and differences compared to other groupings. As a twenty-four-year-old P.Y.T. in the prime of shimmering youth (yes, yes), I don’t expect that my internet usage bears much in common with that of, say, my lovely great-aunt of… twenty-nine. Although, I suppose, we are both on Facebook in some capacity, but I honestly think she uses it more.

No, I mean in terms of sharing, particularly in the era of social media. There’s a stark divide between two stereotypes: the media-obsessed oversharers and the stranger-danger anonyms hiding behind HTTP proxies. Obviously these are a touch overblown (although I think I’ve seen at least a couple of each), but the separation does exist. At the same time that many have embraced the connectivity that New Internet offers, a great many others remain rooted in the old conventions and the relative security that they promise.

I admit to struggling a bit myself with finding a comfortable place in social media. Growing up online in the ’90s, the importance of anonymity was seriously stressed. Every chat contact a potential felon! My first offline meeting with an online friend was treated with all the seriousness of a hostage situation. Things are more laid-back these days, but the old conditioning runs deep. There’s still that hesitation… how much is too much? (I’m not sure that I’ll ever get around to using Foursquare or anything like it. Too creepy. Can you imagine trying to market that fifteen years ago?)

So I’m wondering where others might stand on this. Where do you draw the line? Did others coming to the internet in the early ’90s have similar experiences? Is Foursquare creepy or what? Talk to me. Even you, brave souls of the new media. Let’s reach across the aisle.

Validate my existence by clicking buttons on the internet

Those of you viewing my posts on the blog itself may notice that I’ve added a handful of social media buttons to single post views. This is pretty much par for the course on most blogs, so I thought it was only appropriate that I append a few of my own. It’s not much–Facebook, for instance, is conspicuously absent, as their buttons are huge, unpleasant, and full of tracking code. But most people, myself included, probably have a personal system for sharing content to Facebook, anyway, so I just went with a Twitter, Google+, and StumbleUpon trifecta. These will probably become more useful once I start writing actual content, which is happening, I promise.

I spent some time and managed to assemble the buttons in a way that’s still valid XHTML, albeit a bit hack-y. It’s a regrettable compromise, as Google’s +1 button uses weird DOM implementation, and the only alternative is HTML5. (Twitter’s button is HTML5, as well.) Thanks to TVD at TechOctave for the base code for Twitter’s button!

I also had to go into the PHP for the Disqus plugin… again… to fix a validation error that surfaced after updating. Guys, you can make your plugin W3C-valid without my help. Promise! (That said, if you want to hire me to do it for you, I’m all ears.)

Alright, lunchtime. I’m out! Ciao, bella!

Chalkdust updates, Mashable, and camels!

Oh my goodness. I’m honestly a little afraid to look and see how long it’s been since my last post. That’s a bad thing, right? I think that’s probably not good, at least.

So I guess I should apologize first for my unannounced leave of absence! Life has been a little hectic, what with post-graduation planning, job interviewing, general life de-cluttering, and just being a busy busy bee. Just because it’s satisfying work doesn’t mean it’s not tiring! I take a decent amounts of naps. I dreamed about camels today. That was pretty fun.

Anyway, let’s get right to it.

I can’t go any further here without doling out more thanks for the incredible response I’ve gotten to Chalkdust! Thank you so much to everyone who’s installed, of course, and another helping for those of you who’ve left such kind comments (here or elsewhere). Please keep sending feature requests and problem reports as you’ve been doing. I’ve taken some time to update the code and address a few requests I’ve gotten over time, so I hope this will be a good update for some of you! If you find this release still lacking a feature, do leave a comment or drop me a tweet, and I’ll get right in to add it.

Today’s additions:

  • Previously, due to rendering concerns, post titles were capped at a full two lines of text. This remains the default behavior, but you can now turn it off if you’d like to see longer post titles in all their rambling glory.
  • The infamous chalk hearts can now be disabled at will! This has been a really polarizing design element, so I hope this option will please some of you less cutesy-minded users. ;)
  • Twitter integration is now supported with recent tweets displaying in a sidebar (where your likes, if enabled, also render).
  • A few tweaks for general prettiness (mostly concerning typefaces).

Check it out! Install! Go forth! Be merry!

I trust everyone knows the drill by now, but just in case: if you’ve got no custom HTML, the changes should propagate automatically for you once the server gets around to it. If you have custom HTML, you’ll want to save your changes, revert the theme to remove all custom HTML, check to make sure the theme updates have applied (just peek at your Appearance menu), then reapply your custom HTML.

Now that that’s out of the way, it’s time to spread a little more love around! Oh boy!

The masters of social media at Mashable featured Chalkdust last month as part of their “Mashable Picks: Our 11 Favorite Tumblr Themes“. Sob! I’m overcome with joy. Internet, I don’t think I need to tell you that they are great, so this was a pretty awesome discovery, as well as a good reminder that I need to set up Google Alerts for the things I make.

Thank you, Mashable! Thank you, Ms. Stephanie Buck! If I’m ever in NYC, I’ll definitely buy you guys some Babycakes.

Right now priority number one is wrapping up a few freelance projects I have still under wraps. I’m very excited to show you guys what I’ve been working away at! Afterwards, perhaps my long-hinted-at next Tumblr theme? Or maybe I’ll just collapse and take another nice, long nap…

My birthday is this month. I can’t wait to take the biggest nap of my life.

Not-daily sketching (May 16)

I’ve always had an affection for nice, simple, no-frills personal art blogs. Big elaborate days-long pieces are admirable and beautiful and all manner of good things, of course, but I really like just as much–sometimes more–the little things that happen in sketchbooks or tablets in just a few minutes’ time. Daily sketches, comics, that sort of thing. There’s something very genuine about that kind of short process.

I’ve entertained before the idea of having a sketch-of-the-day sort of thing going here, but the last time I attempted something like it, needless to say, it didn’t quite happen. The quarter isn’t over just yet (hence me being sporadic with replies and theme updates–so sorry!), so I’m not going to promise a daily sketch now, but since getting set up with new versions of some of my go-to apps, I’ve been trying to get back into the habit of making regular little pieces. If nothing else, it’s something fun and good for blowing off steam between design projects. My big course this quarter involves making iPhone apps–not easy! My last day is June 1st. I’m going to sleep for fifteen hours straight after I’m done.

Trying to get used to working in Painter again. I think the pencils are so pretty. I haven’t found a Photoshop tweak yet that quite captures the same look and feel. Of course, it’s still not the same as working on paper (and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise).

Pretty shiny (business cards and USB drives)

I’m just checking in somewhat briefly, internet–these few months have proven to be demanding in more ways than one, so please forgive me if I’m a bit scattered at times! Or absent at others. I’m trying to divide my time and resources to various projects as much as possible, but of course one thing or another must be prioritized at any given moment, and sometimes I just need to drop everything and go take a nap or eat pizza and watch more episodes of 30 Rock. You know how it is.

I hit up a local printer last month and got a new batch of lovely business cards pressed, just one of many career-related preparations I’ve undertaken recently. The first guy who helped me–I’m so sorry I didn’t catch your name–was incredibly complimentary towards the design (thank you!) and even went so far as to recommend a beautiful linen cardstock for the printing. I think it makes all the difference. Looks gorgeous with the watercolor graphics and feels so nice in your hand. I’m so happy with them! Thanks so much to all of the awesome staff at Creative Approach for taking care of me that week! It was a hectic time with SCAD’s career fair looming, but they still did a fantastic (fast!) job and I couldn’t be more pleased.

And specifically for aforementioned career fair, I prepared a couple of leave-behinds for my top company, though I didn’t get to present them for various reasons. Tiny USB drives featuring my digital portfolio, decorated with custom tags and jewelry. I’ve kept these set aside in case another opportunity to hand them out presents itself, but I like them so much that I might make more to keep…!

And here’s a chihuahua doggy. Yes. (Should I post more doodles like this just for the hell of it? I’d update a lot more often if I did… hm…)

I do need to get back to work, and this mango smoothie is demanding some attention, as well, but I hope everyone’s doing well or at least hanging in there, like myself. Keep on keepin’ on, guys. Stay cool and stuff.

When Puerto Rican eyes are smizing (photo shoot)

Check out my Blue Steel, you guys! Okay, okay, no. Let me back up.

I meant to make this post last night, though really I should have made it weeks ago (but I didn’t, so step off). My dear and lovely Miss Alexandra (of Ladyfawn Designs fame) called upon me last month to do a bit of modeling for her photography final, which I very eagerly accepted. And because she is AMAZING, I have these pictures to show for it! Vintage-styled portraiture, drawing inspiration from 1920s-1930s fashion and postmortem photography. And tiny animals. I die! Which is appropriate for aforementioned inspiration, oddly.

It was a blast, and not just because we had a silly girly slumber party after the fact. But that didn’t hurt, either. (Pizza was had. You shoulda been there.)

Photo styling and makeup by Alexandra; hair by yours truly. And the pets. Those are mine.

I hope to get a chance to do something like this again soon–thanks a million times to Alexandra for the opportunity! Danke danke, lady. Check out the original post on her blog to see the full shoot with all of her models!