Monthly Archives: April 2013


This is an Arduino library for the Adafruit Thermal Printer.
Pick one up at –>
These printers use TTL serial to communicate, 2 pins are required.

Adafruit invests time and resources providing this open source code.
Please support Adafruit and open-source hardware by purchasing products
from Adafruit!

Written by Limor Fried/Ladyada for Adafruit Industries.
MIT license, all text above must be included in any redistribution.

// If you’re using Arduino 1.0 uncomment the next line:
#include “SoftwareSerial.h”
// If you’re using Arduino 23 or earlier, uncomment the next line:
//#include “NewSoftSerial.h”

#include “Adafruit_Thermal.h”
#include “adalogo.h”
#include “adaqrcode.h”
#include <avr/pgmspace.h>

int printer_RX_Pin = 5; // This is the green wire
int printer_TX_Pin = 6; // This is the yellow wire

Adafruit_Thermal printer(printer_RX_Pin, printer_TX_Pin);

String inputString = “”; // a string to hold incoming data
boolean stringComplete = false; // whether the string is complete

void setup(){
pinMode(7, OUTPUT); digitalWrite(7, LOW); // To also work w/IoTP printer
// reserve 200 bytes for the inputString:

// Test inverse on & off
printer.println(“Inverse ON”);

// Test character double-height on & off
printer.println(“Double Height ON”);

// Set text justification (right, center, left) — accepts ‘L’, ‘C’, ‘R’
printer.println(“Right justified”);
printer.println(“Center justified”);
printer.println(“Left justified”);

// Test more styles
printer.println(“Bold text”);

printer.println(“Underlined text “);

printer.setSize(‘L’); // Set type size, accepts ‘S’, ‘M’, ‘L’
printer.println(“Large”); // Print line

printer.setLineHeight(); // Reset to default

// Barcode examples
// CODE39 is the most common alphanumeric barcode
printer.printBarcode(“ADAFRUT”, CODE39);
// Print UPC line on product barcodes
printer.printBarcode(“123456789123”, UPC_A);

// Print the 75×75 pixel logo in adalogo.h
printer.printBitmap(adalogo_width, adalogo_height, adalogo_data);

// Print the 135×135 pixel QR code in adaqrcode.h
printer.printBitmap(adaqrcode_width, adaqrcode_height, adaqrcode_data);

printer.sleep(); // Tell printer to sleep
printer.wake(); // MUST call wake() before printing again, even if reset
printer.setDefault(); // Restore printer to defaults

// The following function calls are in setup(), but do not need to be.
// Use them anywhere! They’re just here so they’re run only one time
// and not printed over and over.
// Some functions will feed a line when called to ‘solidify’ setting.
// This is normal.

void loop() {
// print the string when a newline arrives:
if (stringComplete) {
// clear the string:
inputString = “”;
stringComplete = false;
void serialEvent() {
while (Serial.available()) {
// get the new byte:
char inChar = (char);
// add it to the inputString:
inputString += inChar;
// if the incoming character is a newline, set a flag
// so the main loop can do something about it:
if (inChar == ‘\t’) {
stringComplete = true;


//Build an ArrayList to hold all of the words that we get from the imported tweets
ArrayList<String> words = new ArrayList();
Twitter twitter;
import processing.serial.*;

Serial myPort; // Create object from Serial class
int val; // Data received from the serial port

int lineWidth = 32;

void setup() {
String portName = Serial.list()[0];
myPort = new Serial(this, portName, 9600);

ConfigurationBuilder cb = new ConfigurationBuilder();

//Make the twitter object and prepare the query
twitter = new TwitterFactory(;


void draw() {

Query query = new Query(“#R.I.P”);

//Try making the query request.
try {
QueryResult result =;
ArrayList tweets = (ArrayList) result.getTweets();

for (int i = 0; i < tweets.size(); i++) {
Tweet t = (Tweet) tweets.get(i);
String user = t.getFromUser();
String msg = t.getText();
Date d = t.getCreatedAt();
println(“Tweet by ” + user + ” at ” + d + “: ” + msg);
msg = msg.replace(“\n”,” “);
msg = msg.replace(“\t”,” “);
String msgToSend = “”;
String curLine = “”;
// Split lines
String[] wordList = msg.split(” “);
for (int j = 0; j < wordList.length; j++) {

if(curLine.length() + wordList[j].length() < lineWidth )
curLine += (wordList[j] + ” “);
} else
curLine += “\n”;
msgToSend += curLine;
curLine = wordList[j]+” “;

msgToSend += curLine;

//Break the tweet into words
String[] input = msg.split(” “);
for (int j = 0; j < input.length; j++) {
//Put each word into the words ArrayList
catch (TwitterException te) {
println(“Couldn’t connect: ” + te);



Today I have spent 7 hours and 20 minutes doing work. I’ve found that recently that if I time myself/day at the end of the 8 hours (usually) I can look back and ask myself “does it look like I have done enough work in that time” Plus it also forces me to do work as it makes the time pass quicker.

I have been developing my labels. I have played with colour, layout, type sizes etc. Its has been difficult to get the layout correct for a while as the icons at the bottom are not exactly the same dimensions or shapes. I think the next step is for me to show people these labels and see if they understand all the information or whether some bits maybe slight confusing – such as the summer piece at the bottom… this could mean that the berries are picked then etc. When it is meant to communicate when its best to drink. Happy with progress, but need to push and refine the labels further…

Just over one week has passed since I started this project and I have wasted far to much time on other things as well as spending time on other projects. But I have forced myself just to focus on my current one and worry about the rest in the week I have to sort my portfolio out.

So I was doing tonnes of research and not really getting any where so basically stopped doing my sort of beneficial procrastination and just jumped in to doing sketches and testing out the info graphic idea – which wasn’t mine.

I pushed a lot with this info graphic and looked at various books such as data flow 1 & 2 etc. But I think I found the real issue.

I don’t have any data.

Yup. Words are data but not enough to make an info graphic. So I went to my crit with my experiments and explained that this did not work. For some reason the response was disagreeing with my snub of the info graphic. Maybe I didn’t explain clearly enough.

I and not doing an info graphic and I feel that is being dishonest to the proper use and need of info graphics. Infographics are used to explain complex data in a visual way. I do not have complex data so what I am doing is then using the visual aesthetic of a info graphic is hide my mistake… or try to make something look cool.

I am not that designer. I am not going to do that.

So I have moved on as I feel that I have a better visual response.

When thinking about this project I had a few possible solutions 1. Infographic. 2. Using materials to communicate. 3. Form / Statement / Sheet.

Now I have gone back to the form idea. I am very much a no nonsense person. I think this is why I have a problem with wine labels as they are not transparent. Their real meaning or content hides behind a lavish illustration and gold calligraphy letters. I like to know what i’m getting.

So I have a look in my favourite book – The Form Book by Borries Schwesigner, and found a paragraph that explains what I am looking for;

“The aim of this type of form is to send a message in which the content has been unified, making it easier to produce and to read.”

I started doing some other research too. I found a fantastic redesign of a birth certificate ( there is some information that I think is pointless as well as the icons but thats another blog post altogether.)

It was done by design studio IWANT. I like that there it is bold and systemises information. Easy to read as well as interesting to look at.


I have now actually started designing my own icons and layouts. I first gathered my information (all the details that would be on each of the wine labels) and put the information into a hierarchy. Its has been beneficial to actual get started instead of thinking about what to do, just doing it and seeing what works is really the best way to go about it.

So today I have spent a good 8 hrs doing college work and I timed myself as I feel that forces me to actually be productive rather than getting side tracked every 15 minutes.

Just need to keep this level of productivity up.

People Buy the Wine Label, Not the Wine. Do they?

The Label Itself

If the information searcher wants to build his own impression by going to a shop and reading the labels instead of asking for expertise in journals and specialized shops, it is of extreme importance that the label is striking enough to stick out of the vast amount of bottles surrounding it. Only then is there a chance of the bottle being perceived and eventually purchased. Consequently, a consumer looking for a wine that goes well with fish will be glad to see a fish or the picture of a fish dish printed on the labels, thus sparing him to read all the information on the back label, mostly written in very small letters.

In picture 8 I give an example for a bottle of ordinary Spanish red wine that is pepped up with a recipe of a traditional dish of that region, “Castillan-Style Paprika Chicken”. You can find a picture of the finished dish on the front label and the recipe on the back label. Both labels can be easily peeled off so you can even collect the recipe. Picture 8: Front and back label of a Sainsbury`s Tempranillo 1998 red wine (Madrid, Spain)

It doesn’t look very arty, but gives practical information and thereby gains a competitive advantage.

The quintessence of the stage of information search is to grab the consumer’s attention. One of the simplest strategies therefore is to design unusual or funny labels – even though the strategy is simple, the realization might be difficult. Some labels try to be funny, but aren’t. See the following examples to get an impression of how marketers and designers try to reach their aim.


As a conclusion, at this stage of the process the marketer has to provide information when and where consumers are likely to search. Therefore, it is crucial to use marketing strategies striking enough to gain the individuals attention. This aim can be reached by advertising and by creating eye-catching labels, adequate type lettering as well as shapes and colours of bottles.

For the majority of consumers, the design of a wine bottle consisting of the label, typography and shape and colour, indeed will be a good help in their decision. As mentioned before, a consumer is quite impressionable during the decision process.

But if you are part of the majority of wine-drinkers, you will feel quite lost when you look at the array of wine in the supermarket shelves and think to yourself: “Isn’t it just grape-juice, after all?” It is exactly then that you have to build up an opinion in order to come to a decision and therefore you’ll gratefully rely on every help you can get – a well designed label is one.

The main aspect of my project is to visualise taste. I am totally aware that this probably is impossible as taste is very subject, however it will be a good challenge none the less. This project does no have one correct way of visualising taste, I think that this allows me to be more experimental and conceptual with my form of illustration/visual.

How do different wines taste? HERE

What is the relationship between wine varieties and flavor components? This visualization attempts to show the strength of these relationships. I culled descriptive flavor words from over 5,000 published wine tasting notes written between 1995-2000 in a major Australian wine magazine. Written by Carl Tashian for Visualizing the Five Senses, a class atITP @ NYU. Special thanks to chef Adam Melonas and sommelier Maria José Huertas for categorizing the flavor words.

This is a really interesting visual, and looks clearly at the kind of tastes and sensations associated with wine.

The thing about taste is that you only know how to describe something as you associate it with something else. For example if a wine has gooseberry flavours, and I drank it, I would be unable to identify or describe that taste as I haven’t tasted it before.

Data Cuisine


Screen shot 2013-04-21 at 12.33.59

This map of Finland shows the differences in alcohol consumption across Finland. Each region is symbolized with typical food from the area; the amount of wine, beer, and spirits consumed (compared to the average) is hown in the fill height of three glasses per region.


Have you ever tried to imagine how a fish soup tastes whose recipe is based on publicly available local fishing data? Or what a pizza would be like if it was based on Helsinki’s population mix? Data Cuisine explores food as a means of data expression – or, if you like – edible diagrams.

Binders full of burgers. visualising the US Election 2012. with burgers & fries

Off on bit of tangent, but it is interesting how people use food to visualise information… politics may not be the best to be visualised with chips. But the culinary data is perfect to be visualised with actual food.

Design Week – Visualising Taste

What does the taste of lime look like? Its colour association might be straightforward but what about it’s texture – is it spiky, round, transparent or opaque?

Artist Marcos Lutyens has tackled the visual identity of tastes for the Future Everything art and music festival which will be held in Manchester in May.

Taste Visualization for Pixar’s Ratatouille – Michel Gagné –

Visualising The Flavour of Data – PDF 

David McCandless – Taste

Wine Blog – Drawing Taste 

‘How do people visualise taste?’

‘Synesthesia-Like Mapping’ is a way to force people to be aware of their senses and analyze them from a different perspective, synesthetic point of view. Based on commonality in visualization database of people’s drawings, I mapped my own drawings -Visualization, Materialization, and Pattern Study of Taste in order to further investigate how our sensorial experiences could shape the objects we use everyday. It was a way to widen our awareness of senses and actually analyze them from a different perspective as cross-wiring sensorial perceptions. Despite the differences between individuals, there are common elements that define a comprehensive basic level of synesthetic experience. Many people with synesthesia use their experiences to aid in their creative process, and many non-synesthetes have attempted to create works that may capture what it is like to experience synesthesia. Psychologists and neuroscientists study synesthesia not only for its inherent interest, but also for the insights it may give into cognitive and perceptual processes that occur in synesthetes and non-synesthetes alike. Therefore my investigation shows that a new way of perceptual processes would challenge our potential sensory experiences and possibly impact on in the process of sensorial perception.

Link to flash/interactive flavour information graphic – HERE


So I gathered the wines I purchased yesterday to taste them and see how close they connected to their descriptions. All I have really found is that trying to describe a very subtle taste in words is ridiculously hard!

I printed a sheet off the internet that I used to write down the names, colour, smell, taste, drinkability as well as likability. Writing down the colour was pretty difficult too as they are all pretty transparent, some have a more yellow tinge than others.

I used words such as acidic, tangy, sweet, full flavour, flowery, fruity and tropical to describe the flavour, but I think with white wines they are quite subtle in flavour. From this test I think that wine company’s must try really hard when choosing the wording, because it is really hard to describe when thinking about it. I also think that many white wines are to accompany food, this way if you was eating say crab, the flavour would not be over powered by wine.

Then next step would most likely be to see and tally up the words used by the wine labels, perhaps this would be a better way of comparing, as I already have the information to hand.


Wikipedia – Wine Label HERE

Wine labels are important sources of information for consumers since they tell the type and origin of the wine. The label is often the only resource a buyer has for evaluating the wine before purchasing it. Certain information is ordinarily included in the wine label, such as the country of origin, quality, type of wine, alcoholic degree, producer, bottler, or importer.

Scratch & Sniff wine label! Great idea.

Sweetness of Wines

Degree of sweetness information is particularly inconsistent, with some countries’ manufacturers always indicating it in standardized fashion in their language (brut, dolce, etc.), some traditionally not mentioning it at all or referring to it informally and vaguely in a rear-label description, and yet other countries’ regulators requiring such information to be included (commonly on a secondary label) even when such information has to be added by the importer. In certain cases of conflicting regulations, a wine may, for example, even be labelled “sweet” by a manufacturer, but also “semi-sweet” (as per a different law) in the local language translation on a supplementary label mandated by the jurisdiction where it is sold.

Misleading Information

Labels may include terms that may be perceived as misleading. The term Blanc de blancs may be included in a label. This term means “white wine made from white grapes”. The fact is that white wines are predominantly made from white grapes, with the exception of many sparkling wines, the common use of the red Pinot noir in Champagne wines being a typical example.

Although the word château is most associated with Bordeaux, it does not mean that the wine does come from Bordeaux, and there may not be any kind of building – let alone a château – associated with the vineyard. The name château can even be included in wines from Australia or California. Labels of Vin de pays never include the word château.[1]

Cru, a word used to classify wines can mean different things. For example, in the Médoc part of Bordeaux, this terms means the château is one of the classified growths in the regions. In Saint-Émilion, the term cru is of little importance because it bears little relation to quality. For Provence the term cru classé is included only for historical reasons. On the other hand, the use of the term cru in Switzerland has no foundation and it is included at the producer’s discretion.[1]

Food Standards Agency – HERE

Regulations in the Wine sector:

3. Labelling

specific mandatory items must be shown, in one field of vision. These include nominal volume (eg 75cl), alcoholic strength (eg 11.5% vol), bottler’s details, country of origin, type of wine. In addition a statement about the sulphur dioxide content will be required on any label when this exceeds 10mg/litre.
specified optional items may also be shown on certain types of wine, eg vine variety, vintage. Further information may be shown, providing it does not conflict with mandatory or specified optional details and that there is no risk of confusion
Labelling provisions are included in EU Regulations 479/2008 and 607/2009(legally 479/2008 has now been replaced by 491/2009 amending the Single Market Regulation 1234/2007)

EU Wine Labelling Regulations

I continue to be amazed at the lack of compliance with EU legislation of wine labels marketed to the UK. And that is even on wines produced and bottled within the EU itself. I have seen several bottles of Spanish wine that are non compliant.In these days of budget cuts it is easier for the governmental authorities to generate fines than to raise taxes or cut expenditure. So don’t inadvertently become a major contributor to balancing the UK’s budget.

Wine for Spice: Rani Gold Back Label

The simplest things to spot on labels are:

(a) the size of the Alcohol % number, and
(b) the size of the Volume of liquid in the bottles.
That is the 11.5% and 75 cl on the label.

The Alcohol number must be at least 3mm.

The Volume must be at least 4mm.

Or is it the other way round?
Best on the safe side for wine in bottles from 37.5 cl to 75 cl to have both Alcohol and Volume numbers at 4mm.

4mm high minimum requirement. Too small.

And beware of your label designer’s elaborate choice of font. Some fonts don’t have all the digits of the same size. So the smallest font perhaps the zero, counts for the minimum size.  Stick to a simple font with all the digits the same size.

And these are EU wide rules. There are no exemptions except for very small or large bottles.
Nominal Volume in litres, centilitres or millilitres & expressed in figures
e.g. 75cl, 375ml

i)  3mm high if equal to or less than 20cl
ii) 4mm high if equal to or less than
100cl., but greater than 20cl.
iii) 6mm if nominal volume exceeds 100cl.

3mm high minimum requirement. Just right.

Alcohol content phrase must be shown as whole or half unit e.g. XX%vol. or XX.5%vol. So 11.5% is

Min height
i) 2 mm : 20cl or less
ii) 3mm : over 20cl-100cl
iii) : 5mm over 100c

As for sweetness by way of Residual Sugar level these are well defined. “Dry” isn’t something you can add to a label because you think it sells well. there are rules for this. See my earlier blog post: “Not such a Brut”
As I said don’t by casualness fund the UK’s borrowing requirement by paying large fines.
Read the legislation as simplified by the UK Food Standards Agency.
And as it happens I fully agree with the legislation. There is far too much small print in the financial world. Let’s keep it out of wine labels.
………. Warren EDWARDES …………