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Archive for June, 2007

20 Jun 2007

by Noel

Selenium Code Released

The Selenium code I talked about in an earlier post has beenreleased to PLaneT

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19 Jun 2007

by Noel

Font Rendering Fun

I’ve always wondered why fonts looked different on OS X and Windows and thanks to this blog post I now know why. The summary is that Windows favours aligning the fonts with the pixel grid, which leads to clearer type but thinner blockier text. Follow the link to see examples of the difference.

More interesting are the various font rendering techniques in use. Microsoft’s ClearType takes advantage of the known arrangement of pixels in LCD monitors which effectively triples horizontal resolution at the expensive of distorting colour. FontFocus takes a different approach to get a better result. It again focuses on aligning fonts with the pixel grid. Here’s an explanation from the white paper linked above:

Previous grid-fitting techniques … improve contrast by aligning stems to pixel boundaries, but in doing so distort individual letterforms. FontFocus leaves the shapes of the glyphs completely unchanged. Instead, it shifts each character left or right by a tiny subpixel amount, and also subtly expands or condenses individual glyphs to align all stems, if there are more than one. …

While the idea of subtly shifting and stretching glyphs to enhance contrast is simple, the core of the of FontFocus technology is how it chooses these tweaks. Most existing font rendering techniques work with a single glyph at a time. FontFocus optimizes the entire word at a time. The results are similar to what you’d get from trying each combination of subpixel offset and width stretch for each glyph in the word, and picking the combination with the best overall score. FontFocus uses an intelligent divide-and-conquer algorithm to avoid the combinatorial explosion of this brute-force method.

This immediately suggests a further improvement: try to align a whole line of text optimally. Of course the search space gets much larger so a better search method is needed. If anyone is looking for a PhD this could be fun.

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8 Jun 2007

by Noel

What The World Eats

What the World Eats is a moderately fascinating photo essay of the weekly food consumption of 16 families around the world. The choices and differences aren’t that unexpected, but it is interesting none-the-less. Here are some thoughts:

  • Those starving Africans really are. Of course I knew that intellectually, but didn’t feel it till I saw what they ate.
  • The Bhutan family’s food looks tasty. All those chillies and ginger. Yum. Mexico and Cairo also look good.
  • I’m surprised the Sicilians have such anaemic looking tomatoes. Perhaps the photo was taken in winter.
  • The backgrounds are fascinating. Almost the best thing in the pictures. Favourites are Bhutan, Mongolia, and Ecuador. What’s with the Western families that look like they haven’t redecorated since the 1970s? I can just feel the desert looking at the Kuwait house.

For comparison the two of us spend around £40 on food a week.

Posted in Fun | No Comments »

5 Jun 2007

by Noel

Of Interest 05/06/2007

Just some quick links. It has been a busy day.

  • [T]he human race publishes a book every 30 seconds. If current trends continue, by 2052 the number of people writing and publishing a book in a given year will exceed the number of people who will read one.
  • From Design Observer

    Last night I had my first foray onto eBay. As I surveyed the hundreds of professional sellers my stuff would be competing for attention against I thought I’d missed the boat on this one. Looks like I have a few years yet to impress any book-length ideas on the world, but the window is closing.

  • Just everyone has linked to the Profit Calculator, which lightly skims over how a variety of NY businesses make money. Most interesting for me were the drug dealer, the yoga studio, and Nobu.
  • Mark Fletcher asks if distributed development leads to better communication. Interesting idea. So far I’m undecided on the basis of our efforts.

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