A Blackstar alphabet in Visio

I wrote an article last year for Microsoft, using Visio to explain some bits of messaging and encryption (see https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/uktechnet/2016/05/27/a-history-of-messaging-and-encryption/ ). I finished the article with an unexplained image of a word, well the solution was obviously “BOWIE”, as written on the cover of his final album, Blackstar, released exactly one year ago today.


Last night, my wife and I went to see Lazarus, which was Bowie’s musical, and a big tick on his bucket list. He died two days after the release of Blackstar, and the soundtrack of my life began to fade….

So, I decided to try to finish the alphabet using a single Visio shape that ch-ch-changes with the ch-ch-character set in the Shape Data window. This obviously required that the original 5 letters were present, and the rest were represented by different parts of a black star. Two characters, W and M, are twice the width of the others.


The “O” character is the complete star, which is made up of 16 shapes, as displayed below. Selecting a Character Shape Data value causes the display of the sub-shapes to be visible or not.


The page includes a Hide Text Shape Data row to toggle the display of the actual character in whichever font is applied.


The Blackstar master shape includes a flipped version in order to accommodate the M and W characters. For these two shapes, the LocPinX is adjusted from Width*0.5 to Width*0.25, and the Width is set to Height*2.

The start sub-shapes contain 16 segments, each of which test their visibility from the presence of their number in a list in the parent shape:


The sub-shapes have a Segment Shape Data row, whose value is used in the formula for the Geometry1.NoShow cell.


My Visio document is available from https://1drv.ms/u/s!AqkzN8kb1lAzoc5nDgrsWtTteDtLfg.

This is a purely theoretical completion of the Blackstar alphabet, just like Lazarus is a theoretical sequel to The Man Who Fell to Earth.


Thank you, David Jones, for bringing me 46 years of musical pleasure.









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