Nathan Willis

Inaccessible Island

Nathan Willis, Verified

  • Terminology

    2017-08-18T09:13:02Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Worth reading, from the Associated Press, about the terms they use to describe neo-fascists and hate groups.

    As someone who spent a decade and a half in the news business, I deeply appreciate the AP's commitment to strict adherence to specificity. As I've written about a couple of times in the past, it's all too easy to be loose and vague in one's language, especially when talking about the people you vehemently disagree with or abhor on a fundamental level.

    But you can't be lax or slack off; that's a logical fallacy that provides an opening for the hate groups to do the same, to say that you're painting them with false colors, and to say that terms like these don't really matter. They do. A commitment to meaning what you say and saying what you mean is vital.

    Charles Stanhope likes this.

    And no, I don't expect white supremacists or fascists to be precise in *their* language. It's part of their game and their propaganda playbook to be divisive and misleading. But their being deceptive does not grant you a license to be deceptive, too.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-08-18T09:15:01Z

  • 2017-08-16T19:19:56Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    It's weird being in another country when all this intra-US arguing and fighting is going on. I don't have anyone around I can actually talk to about it.
    Good?  It may be safest to say nothing.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2017-08-17T01:08:14Z

    I thought we foreigners in general were more than happy to weigh in on US-internal matters. :-)

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) at 2017-08-17T06:15:42Z

    I'm not worried about safety.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-08-17T10:41:14Z

  • Reeserch

    2017-08-15T18:50:04Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I continue to be amazed at the success rate I encounter for just looking someone up and emailing them to say "Hey, are you the person that worked on $project 20–25 years ago? If so would you be interested in talking to me about it?"

    Even for stuff that was highly competitive and proprietary.

    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.

  • Inbox alert

    2017-08-15T11:47:00Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Uh-oh. First email notification of the upated Let's Encrypt cert just arrived from my hosting provider. Now bracing myself for the 800 subsequent notifications about to follow....

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Christopher Allan Webber likes this.

  • Flat it up

    2017-08-13T22:20:52Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Fascinating talk from GUADEC a couple of weeks ago, taking a hard, cold stare at the Flatpak train and where it's headed:

    (Namely, is it headed in the right direction, are there seatbelts, and are people going to learn from all the wrecked trains they're passing along the way?)
    I can tell that I'm going to like this.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) at 2017-08-14T02:34:00Z

  • Poll

    2017-08-12T13:22:40Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    (1) Would you listen to a podcast that was just me & another host arguing about the free-software related news of the week?

    (2) Who should be the other host? Sky's the limit. [I know a lot of people in the FOSS community, but I haven't actually discussed this idea with people]

    John McClane, Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

    John McClane, John McClane, John McClane and 2 others shared this.

    I would listen to this, assuming there was a bit more to it than arguments. ;)   (I don't have a suggestion for co-host.)

    Charles Stanhope at 2017-08-12T15:24:23Z

    Ask me after September 30th. I may have quite a bit of free time on my hands if the Treasury departmental offices go ahead with the cull in my job series.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2017-08-12T17:14:16Z

    I don't usually listen to podcasts but your concept sounds interesting

    John McClane at 2017-08-13T21:49:50Z

  • 2017-08-12T08:08:38Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Time to binge-watch this season of DebConf....

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), AJ Jordan, Stephen Sekula, Elena ``of Valhalla'' and 1 others likes this.

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


    Nathan Willis at 2017-08-12T08:44:26Z

    AJ Jordan, Stephen Michael Kellat, Ben Sturmfels, Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

    This is going to be annoying.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-08-12T08:44:43Z

    Stephen Michael Kellat likes this.

    >> Nathan Willis:

    “This is going to be annoying.”

    I could easily do classes on showmanship for events like this. Nobody would pay, though.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2017-08-12T17:15:08Z

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

  • UDEC

    2017-08-07T09:24:10Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    In other news, I went to GUADEC last week in Manchester, and it was a blast. Stayed in a nice AirBNB in the trendy northwest district (just kidding; all of Manchester is trendy, and is really awesome compared to spending Yet Another Stretch in London).

    This may not seem like news; I have been to GUADEC six years in a row now, but this was my first one as a real dyed-in-the-wool civilian attendee, rather than as the token Industry Reporter. Which is not to say that being there as a reporter wasn't fun; the free software community treats everyone as a member, including people whose contribution is writing about other people's contributions.

    Nevertheless, it was fun to go and just listen to talks without feverishly taking notes, and to let yourself get drawn in to hallway conversations.

    For my part, I helped coordinate a workshop on several up-and-coming changes to font and text-rendering support. The main one, of course, is support for OpenType variable fonts (a way of encoding weight/width/slant/arbitrary variants as deltas to an existing font, allowing interpolation on the fly). But we also talked about support for layered/chromatic fonts, emoji, and some potential niceties to add to Pango Layout.

    As you might expect, there was actual work accomplished, virtually all due to the efforts of Behdad Esfahbod and Matthias Clasen. Behdad fixed emoji support in Fontconfig (which basically also buys chromatic font support for free) and Matthias got long-gestating patches into Cairo to make it all actually work.

    I also learned that Matthias started out as a TeX-and-typography dude back before he became the lead GTK+ developer, which is perhaps why it's possible for us to get him excited about font stuff to this day.

    Moving forward, we chatted a little bit with the GNOME design team; I'm trying to get them to revisit GNOME Font Viewer and the GtkFontChooser widget to expose some of these technical features. Matthias is all for this as well; the design team, though, wisely wants you to convince them that adding complexity is Actually A Good Thing, but I think we made progress on that front with Jakub Steiner. The question of improving Pango layout will probably get deferred until it gets more peoplepower, but Behdad made headway into adding variable font support to it, which is the crux of supporting the format in the GNOME text stack. I could say more on that later, but this probably needs to turn into an actual blog post first.

    Finally, I hatched a scheme to 'level up' several open font packages with some missing smart-font features that, hopefully, will make them more usable but do not introduce any compatibility-breaking problems like a redesign might.

    Then I came home. Best of all, though, it was great to see so many of my friends from the free-software world, whom I've been largely absent from for the past year as I've been buckled down studying. If you weren't there, maybe I'll see you in January when the 2018 event cycle starts up and I'll be able to travel again!

    AJ Jordan, Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

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

  • 2017-08-07T09:08:32Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    One of these days, I'd like to corner a GMail developer in a dark alleyway and make em explain to me why their idiot interface can't open a simple PDF attachment as a PDF in Firefox like mother nature intended.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

    "Google produce best experience in Chrome".

    In other words, Chrome is the new IE.

    Hubert Figuière at 2017-08-11T23:04:15Z

  • CFP

    2017-08-05T13:55:43Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Finally getting around to writing my LCA talk proposals today.

    The struggle is how to express the things that interest me about free software (like the possibility of variable and chromatic/layered fonts) in terms that a talk committee will feel. Which feels doubly unfair because they wouldn't be able to read any of the submissions without a working free-software text stack.

    Life would be so much simpler if I worked on hyperledger unikernel orchestration mentoring.
  • 2017-08-05T10:18:38Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I'm still mad that the rest of you people haven't implemented mDNS / DNS-SD. Configuration of networked devices is for wimps.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

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

    But I forgive you.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-08-06T19:04:17Z

  • Erdős

    2017-07-21T09:49:10Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    While Googling for the query "is it possible to artificially lower your Erdős number by surreptitiously crediting tangential co-authors", I discovered that apparently there used to be something called "Erdős At Home" (it came up in the auto-suggest completion options).

    Unfortunately, it was a furniture store in Dallas. And, even more unfortunately, it closed down in April.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

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

  • Tonight our hero makes no progress toward his goals

    2017-07-19T20:23:55Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    In the ultimate act of procrastination, I started writing a short story rather than bang out some words for my dissertation.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Charles Stanhope, Christopher Allan Webber likes this.

  • 2017-07-18T20:24:13Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    It's cool and raining, my window overlooks a park and a lake, and I'm reading emails from people who are interested in answering questions about my dissertation research. It could be a lot worse.

    Charles Stanhope likes this.

  • Hope

    2017-07-16T22:01:47Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I hope you all like the new GitHub terms of service.

    I say this because nobody else cares whether or not you like the new GitHub terms of service at all — certainly not anybody at GitHub. But at least you have me.

    Charles Stanhope, Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

  • 2017-07-16T16:32:43Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    How did nerds express their hatred to each other before they could argue online about Dr Who?
    Probably Star Trek, now that I think about it.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-07-16T16:49:21Z

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

    Doctor Who is older =)

    JanKusanagi at 2017-07-16T17:13:56Z

    They took it off for the invention of the web and the decade that followed, though.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-07-16T20:27:44Z

    Half correct: It was Star Trek vs Star Wars. :-D

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) at 2017-07-16T23:43:16Z

  • Irony, n.

    2017-07-06T19:02:33Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    There's a certain amount of irony in advertizing your document editor as a "user friendly" "what you see is what you want" application, then providing your documentation only in unsearchable plain PostScript files:

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

    If the translations are not up to date for the manual...which one is the original?

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2017-07-07T01:42:54Z

    "only"? What is that link that "you may also browse the manual on the web"?

    Jason Self at 2017-07-08T04:36:57Z

  • Tick tock tick tock

    2017-07-06T09:44:54Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I understand that there's a substantial number of people in the free-software world who think that RMS is "embarrassing" in one or more ways and that "he needs to go" for what they see as the good of the future of the movement. I just hope that those people think about how they hope they'll be treated years from now, when they're the old person who's embarrassing the young community members who aren't even active (or alive) now.

    Because the cold, hard linearity of time means that, someday, you *will* be the oldest person in the free-software world. Unless your plan is to die early, of course.

    Charles Stanhope likes this.

    I'm reminded of something that Bradley Kuhn said in a hallway conversation a couple of years ago (LCA I think): to paraphrase, "I'm trying not to think about what's good for software freedom next year; I care about software freedom 30 years from now."

    He was, I'm pretty sure, talking about compromises with code and licensing. But it also applies to community work, I believe.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-07-06T09:47:49Z

  • 2017-07-05T16:25:18Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I think there are people out there who genuinely think that RGB captures every possible color value.
    Show all 5 replies
    I'm just gonna start with this: who said anything about the rods or cones in the human eye?

    Nathan Willis at 2017-07-05T23:07:22Z

    If you didn't mean "is able to reproduce every possible sensation of color in the human eye" but literally "is able to represent every frequency of light" then yeah, they're way off.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) at 2017-07-06T07:00:02Z

    I want to be able to use the sliders on my photo editor, so that when I start with a shot where something in the shadows was too dark for my eye to see, I can still slide the brightness up and recover color. So that's imperative.

    Moreover, a "color" is not simply an electromagnetic frequency. A color that is recorded by any receiver (living or mechanical) may be the combination of many light sources of different types (and frequencies) reflecting off of the same surface. Which is why lightbulbs get rated with CRI numbers that (allegedly) tell you that your deep orange retro-Edison bulb will make everything in your house look different than your Phillips Daylight LED bulb.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-07-06T08:28:14Z

    (You actually also don't have 'red cones' and 'green cones'; that's a confusion just caused by the fact that there are three of them. The sensitivities overlap considerably, and the opponent process in the brain compares and contrasts them to arrive at the signal that you ultimately see. But all that's a side issue, apart from the fact that if you actually look at a chromaticity diagram, it isn't triangular.)

    Nathan Willis at 2017-07-06T08:43:52Z

  • What's that?

    2017-07-05T09:17:22Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    All year long, I've been using free software to do my work in the MATD program.

    While there have been a few people (fellow / former students) who asked about FontForge, by and large they're more than happy with their current option (Glyphs App), although they expressed some curiosity about things FontForge can do.

    In contrast, I have gotten a lot more questions about Scribus and how to try it out, followed by LibreOffice.

    Not sure what to conclude from that.