9 Jul 2007 Ankh   » (Master)

Travel

I just got back from one of those trips where things keep going wrong. Upgradeable trans-atlantic flight has no business class---it felt like what Air Canada calls Premier Economy so not too bad, but no laptop pwer---and then luggage delayed a couple of days on arrival in Pisa. My laptop (a Dell D600 that I think was kindly donated to W3C by Intel) didn't start, but eventually I found that it would start if I held it on its side. Meetings in Pisa went OK, not as well as I had hoped although a lot of work was done. We did have a really nice trip to San Vivaldo (see below for pics) and San Gimignano (photos coming) both in Tuscany. The trip was the day after the Toronto pride Parade, where I took 6 Gigabytes of photos, oops.

And then on to Glasgow for the Text Layout Summit, except that a rather badly planned terrorist attack on the airport meant my connecting flight was canceled. So I got on a later flight, but my bag didn't arrive. Second time this trip. Many long calls to BA baggage on my mobile phone at over $2/minute. At which point do you give up and buy a temporary phone? once you've given them your mobile phone number there's a strong incentive not to change. A week later I am back in Canada, still with no luggage. I hope it does arrive.

The BA people gave me incorrect information, saying the bag was in Glasgow and would be delivered that night (the day after I arrived) when in fact it was in London and never arrove. Service people, don't tell lies just to keep a customer quiet. Tell the truth. Maybe British Airways says they are the "world's favourite airline" because no-one else will say it for them?

On the 'plane back from Glasgow I'd planned to do some work on my mkgallery software that I use for my photo galleries. But I didn't have the energy. The lack of laptop power was my excuse. I did get a little work done.

I upgraded (needed one of my two Special System Wide certificates that I had been saving for an upcoming trip to Japan, but I was too tired and irritable to cope without, so I did it. Boy I'm whiney today, sorry. I did get to sit next to an actress (she had been in Eastenders a few times, and was going to Toronto to be in an advert/commercial).

Our flight was delayed by a couple of hours. The captain kept us very well informed: it was because some people whose luggage had been loaded were delayed in security (this was in London Heathrow, LHR). Someone in the row behind me was on his 'phone talking about how dirty $ethnicGroup people were always causing trouble, sigh.

Of course, we arrived late, and I was glad I'd booked a hotel at Toronto airport for the night before taking the train the next day, as I'd have missed the last train. They don't understand passenger trains in North America. The rules for success are frequent, fast and cheap, and although you can lose either of the last two properties, the first is essential. Three trains a day doesn't count. There should be a train from Toronto to Montreal every ten minutes, 24 hours a day. And back again, too.

Well, I go only the 2 hours to Belleville, not all the way to Montreal. The train averages a little under 60 miles per hour, with only three of four short stops on the way. I'd expect a fast passenger train in most of Europe or the UK to be able to get up to 120 mp/h or more, and average at east 80 mp/h, on such a simple and straight track.

Text Layout Summit

It looks like HarfBuzz is making good progress. This is the next-generation text layout engine to be used by both Pango and Qt. It looks like it will also gain Apple's AAT and SIL's Graphite happy goodness, too, since OpenType isn't by itself sufficient for all the world's scripts. It also looks like it will be powerful enough (or simple enough, if you prefer) to be useful for projects such as Inkscape, Scribus and Gimp, all of which desperately need better text layout and font smarts even for Western scripts, let alone others.

Part of my reason for going was to make sure that what we (W3C) do with XSL-FO (and maybe with SVG and CSS too, as well of course as Internationalization) is compatible with what's going on in the world. That means making sure we're aware of what's going on, and enabling a two-way conversation, inviting people to participate in the W3C work where necessary too.

The Text Layout Summit was hosted by the KDE aKademy, but I didn't get to go to any of the aKademy sessions unfortunately.

One person in our group did try out the Mandriva Flash USB Linux that was given away, and was very impressed with it. He said it was the first Linux that had set up the display on his laptop at the right resolution so it actually worked. I tried it on my HP desktop at home yesterday and it worked there too, which was cool as the computer uses an ATI graphics card which until recently was supported by neither the Free nor the closed source drivers.

Commenting...

kelly, binary thinking is not of course limited to Wikipedians. Them or Us, Bad or Good, White or Black (or, Black or White, depending on context), ignorant or wise, male or female, people like to sort others into categories. Only a white sock wearer would be so stupid as to think this was sensible.

In some societies it seems that there is a strong link between the divisions into categories and "good or bad". It seems to be stronger in much of the US than in much of Canada, for example, which perhaps helps to make Canada more accepting of difference. But that's a generalization, and of course you can meet people in either country at either end of the spectrum (and I have, many times). Just as you can find reliable or unreliable Wikipedia articles, or good or bad articles in pretty much any publication, The Register included.

You have to expect that people will do this categorising and judging. The judging part isn't good of course, but people will do it anyway. "You're not one of us, so you're not such a good person" seems instinctual. When it turns into "you don't agree with me so you're not a good person" something has gone even more badly wrong. Which brings me to...

zbowling, boy what a rant! The speaker (from MSNBC) is right of course, although I don't think the episode was the first example of hypocrisy from Bush. Any leader of any group is under pressure from dissenting views, all the time, and again it may be unreasonable to expect perfection (although people do); on the other foot, it's not clear that the Bush regime is any less corrupt than those it sought to depose, nor that there are fewer deaths or injuries under the Bush colonization than before. At any rate, thanks for the link to the video!

federico yes, I like very much the 50mm f/1.8 lens that I have for my Canon D400; there's an f/1.2 but it's too expensive for me right now. I rented a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens a couple of weeks ago and liked that too, especially the image stabilisation, but it would cost more than a thousand pairs of socks! I'll post some of the pictures, or links to them, when I have found time to put them online. I especially like your hanging-dye-bottle picture! The warm colours in the others are great too. It's something I liked about a recent trip to Italy (San Vivaldo in Tuscany). More Italy pictures coming too :-) but I have not processed those in any way, they are just out of the camera.

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