Looking over my last entry, there's progress on at least one front: I have a car now, so I've finally joined the petroleum-burning bandwagon. The thesis also continues to go very well. I have working code for solving sophisticated sets of constraints (especially those needed to make smooth corners and transitions between straight and curved segments), and have been steadily refining the numerical techniques. I can barely wait to release all this stuff publicly.
The primary focus of my work lately has been screening and image science. I'm currently doing drivers for the Konica Minolta 5430 and the HP DesignJet 110, with the goal of acheiving even higher quality than the vendor-supplied drivers. All of this work will shortly get checked into AFPL Ghostscript, with the GPL release to follow not long after. I really like this kind of work, not least because of the immediacy of the results.
Microsoft has announced their Metro printer language, and their beta implementation is floating around. This probably won't make much difference in the free software community for some time, as there is precious little that Metro can do that PDF can't. However, PDF doesn't ship inside many consumer printers (and probably won't, because it demands so much RAM to run), so this might revitalize the dream of device-independent page description languages started by PostScript, but then largely abandoned by Adobe due to greediness and lack of focus (their desktop apps make real money; their printer business doesn't).
If there are other people out there in free software-land working on Metro, I'd really like to hear from you.
It's not too much of an oversimplification to say that page description languages are now used in two places: printers and the Web. Unfortunately for Adobe, they've dropped the ball on the latter as well. While the PDF file format is very nice for distributing statically formatted documents, most users hate to follow PDF links, mostly the fault of Adobe's wretched browser plugin.
So there's an opportunity to do better, and tor has been hacking on a Firefox plugin based on mupdf (soon to be renamed ghostpdf). It looks really promising.
For some reason, I find myself wanting a Nokia 770. Maybe it's just the 226 dpi screen, maybe it's that it looks really easy and pleasant to develop for. Nokia seems serious about being developer-friendly, as clearly evidenced by their no-nonsense website. If they really want to stir up some buzz, they'd seed a few dozen devices to the free software community.