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January 17, 2012: Unicorns like freedom.

On January 18, between 8am and 8pm Eastern Standard Time, Unicornify will serve its images in grayscale.

Why?

This is why. To protest against and raise awareness of US legislators' plans to pass bills that seriously threaten the internet as we know it, many sites have announced to go on strike on January 18, 2012, including reddit, imgur, and the English Wikipedia.

Although Unicornify is just a small fish between these giants, I consider this a worthy cause. The freedom of the internet should be protected. Many countries, not just the USA, have passed or are planning similar legislation. This should not be taken lightly. Over the past two decades, the internet has been the single biggest part in advancing freedom of speech worldwide; taking this away under the false claim of wanting to fight piracy is not an option.

Why not a total blackout? Or a "STOP SOPA" banner on the avatars?

Unicornify is used as the avatar generator on many forums and blogs. It's the freedom of each of these sites' owners to feel about SOPA, PIPA, and similar laws in whatever way they want. By including Unicornify in their sites, they're giving me a great deal of trust to serve Unicorn images, not political messages.

Putting a STOP SOPA banner on the avatars would be a breach of this trust. In particular, since in almost all cases Unicornify is used to create avatars for blog commentators and forum members, these words would not only be associated with the site, but with each and every such person. But they all have their own choice on how they think about this issue. I will not put words in their mouths.

I have considered just serving black squares instead of unicorns, but I have decided that Unicornify promises to serve unicorns, and I'll keep that promise. However I wanted to do something (even if you consider it just a symbolic act), so I've decided on the grayscale variant.

I use Unicornify on my website. I want the unicorns to stay colorful, even during those 12 hours.

That is your choice, and you can reach that goal. Just append the parameter c=1 to the image URLs. This URL:

http://unicornify.appspot.com/avatar/ba95799ceedd18316033196cb243cfc0?s=128

will return a grayscale image between 8am and 8pm ET on January 18; before and after that, it will be in color, as always. This URL:

http://unicornify.appspot.com/avatar/ba95799ceedd18316033196cb243cfc0?s=128&c=1

returns a color image even during that time.

July 11, 2010: Do this at home, kids.

Now Open Source: If you want to look at what happens behind the scenes, you can now download the source code of the unicorn avatar generator: unicornify.zip. Start with example.py.

April 1, 2010: And thus a circle is complete.

It's official: The Stack Overflow familiy of sites has switched to Unicornify as their avatar service.

Well, for today at least.

Ever since it came into existance, Stack Overflow has delighted its users with some unicorn-related fun on April 1st, and this year it is my honor to be admitted to the club of Stack Overflow April Fools' Unicorn Providers, a group that contains such prolific sites as Cornify and… well, that's it, Stack Overflow is pretty young.

Long story short: It's great! Thanks, Stack Overflow, for your trust!

February 23, 2010: It's rotatory gallop, actually.

The unicorns look much more dynamic now. So far, their leg positions were close to static, which made the poses a little boring and stiff. This has changed; our unicorns can now walk and gallop.

No, it's not animated, but I can tell you that I have already played around with animated unicorns, and it looks quite nice. So keep waiting for the motion picture …

February 17, 2010: Avalanche.

The original Meta question has hit programming reddit today. This is awesome, but unfortunately it pushed the outgoing bandwidth over quota within a few hours.

As a result of that, I'll now be serving JPEG images instead of PNGs. Because of lossy compression, they are obviously not as pretty as the PNG ones. Drop me a line on Twitter if you really need your high quality unicorn avatar – I may be open to bribes :)

Also, two comments on the reddit page are quite interesting. au79 writes

Since no two are exactly alike, they are "uniquorns", yes?
– I love it!

Also, tmcw asks

No source?
which I've also thought about. I will probably release the source code when I feel it's more or less done. That might still be a while, though.

February 14, 2010: The unicorns are growing up.

The unicorn avatars have been updated. Among other things, they now have tails, improved hair, eye browes, a more flexible neck, and there are clouds in the sky. Also, all sizes from 32 to 128 are now served.

Feel free to leave a comment or tell me on Twitter what you think!

February 5, 2010: You knew it had to happen.

You can follow the unicorns on Twitter now!

February 4, 2010: I have a unicorn farm at home.

I have added a little description of how the unicorns are created, in case you're curious. I have also started working on the next version of the unicorns, but so far I can't show you anything yet. Sorry …

February 3, 2010: It's Web 2.0, you gotta have comments.

I have set up a basic comments page, so feel free to say a word or two!

I have also added 48 to the allowed avatar sizes, because that seems to be a fairly often used value. Best example: Igor's blog – the first site (I know of) that has been unicornified!

February 2, 2010: I, for one, welcome our new unicorn overlords.

The Unicornify website is now online. Remember that my unicorns are still under active development, so check back often – they will get even cuter!