4 May 2003 raph   » (Master)

Urgh, haven't updated in a while. Last weekend, we went to a Quaker retreat at the beautiful Ben Lomond Quaker Center, and then the next few days an Artifex staff meeting.

RH 9, fonts

My laptop's hard drive failed (another quality product from IBM :). This time around, I decided to install RH 9 from scratch on the new drive (it was Debian before).

So far, I like it. I miss apt-get, but more stuff seems to just work. Also, the antialiased fonts are a nice big jump. I am sad that support for subpixel positioning isn't there yet, though. In general, you can get away with integer quantization on the widths when you're doing imprecise text layout (GUI labels and HTML rendering, as opposed to, say, PDF), but there are still definitely cases where the spacing gets wonky.

As far as I know, there is only one text rendering engine that does antialiasing, hinting (specifically, contrast enhancement by subtly altering the position of stems), and subpixel positioning: Acrobat (Reader) 5. Mac OS X does AA and subpixel, while RH 9 (by means of FreeType 2) does AA and hinting. I'm looking forward to the first free software implementation of all three.

At the staff meeting, we've decided not to move forward with our funded project to integrate FreeType as the font renderer for Ghostscript, rather concentrating on improving the existing font renderer. I'd still like to see the FT integration happen, though. The best outcome, I think, would be to recruit a volunteer from the free software community to take over this project.

Fansubs

I've discovered anime fansubs. These are basically Japanese anime shows, with English language subtitles added, then encoded (usually to MPEG-4) and distributed over the Internet. Their legal status is murky at best, but a sane code of ethics prevails: fansubbers release shows that have not been licensed to English-speaking markets. Under this code, everybody wins. Copyright owners of shows don't lose revenue directly, because there isn't any from those shows. Indeed, it's likely that popularity of the fansubs fuels interest in official licensing. And, of course, viewers win because of access to great shows like Hikaru no Go, which would otherwise not be available, or only at great difficulty. Alan has started watching Naruto (I still read the subtitles aloud to him, but I'm sure his reading speed will catch up soon), and enjoys the insight into Japanese culture as well as the Ninja-themed action-adventure storyline.

The best of the fansubbers do really good work on the translation, subtitling, and other stuff; arguably much better than many "official" versions. I think Hollywood could learn much from their example.

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