Nathan Willis n8@identi.ca

Inaccessible Island

Nathan Willis, Verified

  • Me starting to add Maltese glyphs to my typeface project

    2017-04-25T22:14:27Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I'm the one in the hat.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-04-25T22:14:44Z

    Also, it turns out Maltese is a really fascinating language. Have to add Malta to list of places to visit now.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-04-25T22:15:42Z

    I thought you were the one with the cigar ;)

    mray at 2017-04-26T14:08:26Z

  • Hey ya know what? Don't silently change the URL of your blog or planet feed

    2017-04-23T07:48:22Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Your subscribers will not know. They'll just stop reading you.

    I'm looking at you, Planet Ubuntu, Planet SUSE, and Kernel Planet.

    Charles ☕ Stanhope, Elena ``of Valhalla'' likes this.

    And who knows how many others, because I don't have the time to manually re-check every feed URL I've ever subscribed to on a regular basis, just to see whether it's been altered.

    Because that's the opposite of syndication.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-04-23T07:51:49Z

  • Peak Muad'Dib

    2017-04-22T12:14:47Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Statisticians predict that 2017 will be the year when the number of words debating whether or not various film adaptations of "Dune" are brilliant or terrible will finally surpass the word count of Frank Herbert's complete Dune saga.

    Scott Sweeny, Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) and 1 others shared this.

  • LGM

    2017-04-19T10:29:49Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Sad to be missing Libre Graphics Meeting for the first time in many years, but happy to be where I am.

    And happy to have sent in some slides showcasing the work others have done in all the great free-software font projects over the course of the past year: FontForge, TruFont, fontmake, Font Bakery, FreeType, OpenType feature support, and groundwork for the new OpenTYpe 1.8 variable-fonts format!

    der.hans, Charles ☕ Stanhope, Christopher Allan Webber likes this.

  • 2017-04-16T19:15:43Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    It just dawned on me that "seasons" in podcasts behave according to the same rules as seasons in Westeros.

    Scott Sweeny, Stephen Michael Kellat likes this.

    Stephen Michael Kellat shared this.

  • 2017-04-16T15:18:23Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Imagine how difficult it must be to explain to a database programmer from the fictional world of a novel or movie that it is possible for two human beings to have the same first name.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), mray, Stephen Michael Kellat likes this.

    Stephen Michael Kellat shared this.

  • 2017-04-14T22:17:23Z via AndStatus To: Public

    In other news, you may have heard that Unicode is "virtually complete" or something along those lines , but boy howdy, you don't have to get very far into Bengali to realize how shockingly underserved it is. The script uses combining forms called conjuncts whenever two+ consonants appear together at the beginning or end of a word. They are well-defined and specific, but literally none of the 200-or-so of them have Unicode codepoints, because that's what the committee decided back in the day. The closer I look at Unicode, the less special it seems and the less reverence I feel for it.

  • 4K is for wimps

    2017-04-14T17:46:26Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    L–R: Latin k, Greenlandic k, Hausa/Nigerian k-hook, Greek kappa, Cyrillic ka, Cyrillic zhe.

    Stephen Sekula likes this.

    Yes, I am procrastinating.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-04-14T17:46:53Z

    Stephen Sekula likes this.

    And yes, the kappa needs more weight.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-04-14T17:47:08Z

    Stephen Sekula likes this.

  • Some distinctions between Latin and Cyrillic

    2017-04-14T09:42:50Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Related letters (or, more accurately, related-looking letters) should not just be carbon copies of each other. Although the two alphabets are siblings, they've got distinct histories and distinct expectations for what constitutes 'normal' forms.

    To be fairer; the norms issue applies only to the T, M, and K here. The other letter pairs are actually unrelated letters that simply look familiar to us Latinspeakers.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-04-14T10:23:34Z

  • 2017-04-14T08:05:52Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I have zero sympathy for Wall Street, but I do kinda have some sympathy for the sculptor.

    Yes. I saw way too many people on social media networks saying "F*ck that guy!"

    Nathan Willis at 2017-04-14T17:41:20Z

    I have some sympathy for an artist whose work is perhaps interpreted not in the way they would like (although I don't understand the copyright claims), but it is a public art piece. It's meaning is affected by where it is placed. The artist describes his piece as representing "freedom in the world, peace, strength, power and love." I haven't seen the piece in person, but knowing it's placement, and having seen many pictures of it, my interpretations never included freedom, peace, or love. Strength and (reckless, frightening) power, yes, but not those other things. I find it fascinating that was his intent.

    Anyway, no need to beat up on him, but it's too bad he chose to fight this challenge to his work. If he really feels the way he does about his piece, perhaps he could come up with a way to participate with this sudden attention, and recast his work the way he intended, instead of nursing a grievance.

    Charles ☕ Stanhope at 2017-04-14T19:16:43Z

    Christopher Allan Webber likes this.

  • Variables

    2017-04-13T07:58:54Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I submitted a talk proposal to GUADEC about OpenType 1.8's "variable fonts" format and what it will take to support it on free-software desktop systems.

    (Short answer: a lot. FreeType renders the fonts perfectly and HarfBuzz does the layout correctly, but making them accessible to toolkits will require changes to things like Fontconfig, Pango, and a lot of GTK+ widgets, not to mention the UI/UX challenges of making the features useful in user applications. And the work of making open fonts compatible with the new format.)

    [For a brief primer on the format, here's the LWN article from September: https://lwn.net/Articles/701158/ ]

  • 2017-04-11T07:08:14Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Artist's conceptions as images on astronomy stories really bum me out.

  • Project

    2017-03-31T11:22:44Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Debating starting a YouTube channel where I post only ripped clips of the "anti-piracy" warning from DVDs that I legally own.

    I think it would attract some attention; it would certainly be safe to do under fair-use as a blatant satire. But it would probably still mean dozens of daily takedown requests, because that's how the stupid racket works.

    So my alternative is to make my own reproductions of the "anti-piracy" warning screens in Blender and post those instead — claiming that they are from DVDs.

    Not sure which is the better approach. Thoughts?

  • 2017-03-31T08:35:24Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Among the many, many, many awesome things about Sneakers is the fact that Bishop & the gang have to reverse-engineer the hardware decryption device they steal from Janek before they even know how to use it. And that the movie shows them doing that, with Mother & Whistler using a set of logic probes.

    It was also clever of the script (and Janek) to make the decryption backdoor something that was implemented in hardware rather than software. I just looked through the Wikipedia page on FPGAs, and both Xilink and Altera were founded in the mid-1980s; Janek with his grant money could very believably have implemented his algorithm on an FGPA in order to make it harder to copy.

  • Translation

    2017-03-29T10:01:52Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Part of my practical work for the MA in Typeface Design involves learning and creating a typeface for a script that I do not read. I've selected Bengali, which is a "minority" language in India and the main language in Bangladesh (although 'minority' here adds up to 300 million people).

    The script is complex, meaning that it has hundreds of "conjunct" forms, where adjacent letters in a text string recombine to result in an entirely new glyph. So for our work, we essentially have to select a subset to target based on a particular text that we want to use in our final specimen.

    I wanted to use the text of the GPL as my target text, but it is not translated. On the other hand, the FSF's "what is free software" page IS available in Bengali: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.bn.html

    Any other suggestions?

    Alas, the Bengali Wikipedia doesn't have a page for rickrolling. Nor is the Debian Social Contract translated to Bengali.

    Lars Wirzenius at 2017-03-29T12:27:05Z

    Nathan Willis likes this.

    I did actually check for the DSC and the Open Source Definition (without success). There are Bengali translations of several CC licenses, too, but they seem to be unofficial. The FSD is still a pretty good option, though!

    Nathan Willis at 2017-03-29T19:23:20Z

  • 2017-03-12T19:05:59Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    It's been a long, dismal week and I need to take a break and turn off my brain for 30 minutes or so. Unfortunately there's nothing amusing to be found on either of the meager streaming services I have access to from here (Netflix UK and whatever junk Amazon shovels at you for free when you sign up for Amz Student's free trial). Don't worry, no free-software web browsers have been harmed in either of these exercises.

    Are there any well-made comedies distributed on YouTube, for example? There are a number of awesome educational things that I watch that way (Numberphile and Chop-n-Brew, for starters); a lot less pure-creative comedy, which I kind of miss.

    The whole "buy a license to watch TV" thing in GB is alien beyond words.

    To clarify, as I mentioned before, I have been successfully deep-diving into podcasts (even managing to track down a few of the vanished ones though various unscrupulous means), but if I try to power down my brain with audio only, I know I'll just end up opening FontForge and pushing diacritic anchor points around.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-03-12T19:07:47Z

    And yes, I do also know how to distract myself in other ways; I can read and everything. But why is no one producing sitcoms on YouTube or another gratis distribution channel? I've found a lot of audio content coming from the improv community ... as podcasts. Makes you wonder why those people don't publish video, too. I would be all over that.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-03-12T19:09:54Z

    since free to air tv switched over to digital in this part of the world theres no reception .. can't even pick up one channel so left with the only option being cable even to get the free-to-air channels.


    as for netflix, etc .. I don't know, haven't looked around to see whats available online because I'm worried that watching tv over adsl might be a bandwidth hog and I don't really want everything else to be slow. (the bw cost is not a problem on the plan that I am on- just not sure its fast enough to do both as its a noisy line and I'm not getting anywhere near the spped adsl2+ is capable of. There isn't much my isp can do about it, its due to ancient wiring under the street)

    Michael at 2017-03-13T01:05:22Z

  • #outofthebox

    2017-03-10T19:45:02Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Didn't renew my Flickr account last year; thinking of just uploading every photo I take to Wikimedia Commons.

    There don't seem to be a lot of barriers to entry.

    _every_ picture you take ?
    I would agree it's a better place for sharing, but would not send all on public show ;)

    olm-e at 2017-03-12T21:26:08Z

  • 2017-03-09T07:46:28Z via AndStatus To: Public

    Current mood:

    Scott Sweeny, Charles ☕ Stanhope likes this.

    He is Vigo! You are like the buzzing of flies to him!

    Stephen Sekula at 2017-03-09T16:28:00Z

  • 2017-03-07T20:22:06Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Do you think that regular Republican voters understand that "tax cuts for the super rich" does not mean "lesser tax cuts for other people so that maybe someday you'll be rich too and you'll get to bask in the tax cut that the super rich are getting"?

    Cause maybe they don't.

    Charles ☕ Stanhope, Christopher Allan Webber likes this.

  • 2017-03-06T23:26:52Z via AndStatus To: Public

    So I've been listening to a lot of weird podcasts while working on typeface design the past few weeks (stay with me; this goes somewhere).
    Problem is, I have about 20–25 hours a week to fill that way (although I don't max out of course), which means I have a tendency to run out of podcasts.
    Which means I look around for more, which means I read recommendations. And a LOT of the recommended podcasts that aren't currently in active production just vanish completely. No archive. Sometimes it's produced by a commercial broadcaster and it disappears behind a paywall, but for the most part, independent sites just go offline; the feed URLs vanish and the sites (and, often, domains) shut down. Sometimes the Wayback Machine folks archive the pages and the RSS, but that doesn't capture the media files.
    I don't think we've learned anything from the days when broadcast radio, TV, music, and printed material was just thrown away under the assumption that it was no longer current therefore it was no longer of any importance.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Charles ☕ Stanhope, James Dearing 🐲, Christopher Allan Webber likes this.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) shared this.

    @n8@identi.ca archive.org does have large media archives as well... maybe an opportunity to avoid losses there with auto-chasing of RSS feeds?
    It would be better, perhaps, if something like Freenet/ipfs/zeronet would gain traction and become the default. I'd like to have the older media that I've created or accessed kept around by default as long as there's a modicum of interest in it.

    Kevin Everets at 2017-03-07T14:52:02Z

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

    You would think so. I suppose there is some general caution to be exercised regarding copyright; I don't know necessarily what standard redistribution licenses on podcast content are, but I do suspect that licensed music would pose a bigger problem for IA than does the text content of web pages on Wayback.

    But I still personally think such an archive ought to exist, objections from advertisers / royalty-collection agencies or no.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-03-07T22:09:42Z

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.