Nathan Willis n8@identi.ca

Inaccessible Island

Nathan Willis, Verified

  • 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: http://www.texmacs.org/tmweb/help/manual.en.html

    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.
  • 2017-07-04T09:47:56Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    For everybody who's keeping track, I have now successfully injured myself in the kitchen on three consecutive days. PS I am keeping track.
  • Different

    2017-07-03T14:49:30Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Got an email out of the blue a few weeks ago from a high-school student asking me what the benefits are, to distributions, of sandboxed application containers like Snap and Flatpak.

    Bear in mind, this is probably a year after the last time I wrote anything about this topic at all. And I can't remember anybody emailing me to ask my opinion on a topic when I was actually employed as a tech journalist....

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Tyng-Ruey Chuang likes this.

    in what way sandboxed?


    does that mean I could use that to put a web browser in a sandbox to protect my system?


    I still need a way to do that because the big bloaty browsers these days are too scary nowdays.

    Michael at 2017-07-04T01:58:47Z

    Not so much security sandboxed as merely namespaced to be able to have specifically-versioned dependencies. At least from what little I have read.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) at 2017-07-04T06:04:06Z

  • 2017-07-02T15:07:47Z via AndStatus To: Public

    Fermat's Last Theremin #mynextband

  • Jokes

    2017-07-01T15:20:09Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    (1) I guess it really is inspired by Emacs
    (2) Aren't atoms supposed to be small?
    (3) Yikes, bring on the quantum computing already
    (4) ...?

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

    Optimiiiiized! =)

    JanKusanagi at 2017-07-01T16:22:01Z

    (1) buuuut, can you use the computer if you run it as pid 1? with emacs you probably can :)

    Elena ``of Valhalla'' at 2017-07-02T07:00:03Z

    Christopher Allan Webber likes this.

  • Possible Conference-talk Titles

    2017-06-30T15:23:04Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    "Bus-factor–driven development"

    Elena ``of Valhalla'', 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) shared this.

  • Possible Conference-talk Titles

    2017-06-30T09:30:37Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    "Your documentation sucks, and it's your fault, and you should feel bad."

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

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) and 3 others shared this.

  • 2017-06-30T07:06:57Z via AndStatus To: Public

    Some smart words from Peter Sikking on the subject of why we need more fonts: http://blog.mmiworks.net/2017/06/the-world-needs-more-fonts-honestly.html?m=1
    I'm no stranger to this topic, of course. On the one hand, it's kind of funny that it seems to plague some disciplines more than others; on the other, I suspect that it's just a sign that people are underinformed about what your entire field is. I know my brother regularly faces the question "but why do we need to do $Physics? What good does it do?"
    (Which, basically, means they expect you to have some three-point connect-the-dots 'it cures cancer' reply, in his case. My go-to answer for typefaces is different)

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

  • This just in

    2017-06-28T08:42:39Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Yesterday w officially submitted our typeface design practicals. Digital files, printed specimen book, and reflection-on-practice paper.

    Now I've got nothing to do ... except write up that dissertation. To the research!
    To the researchmobile! :)

    Jason Self at 2017-06-28T12:57:45Z

    Nana nana nana nananana nana nana nanaaa labmaaaaaaaaaan ♫

    JanKusanagi at 2017-06-28T15:09:34Z

    Jason Self likes this.

  • 2017-06-26T00:32:04Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Look, I hate Ted Cruz more than you do, but folks ya really gotta stop referring to his cabal as "a group of white men." He is Latino. That does not stop him from being the human disaster that he is, of course. But it's reality.
  • 2017-06-18T21:37:19Z via AndStatus To: Public

    Another day, another batch of notifications, by name, about which acquaintences of mine have installed the"privacy-friendly" Signal app....

    notifcations from what?


    signal?


    not sure what the story is with that ..

    it says it needs to be updated but the update doesn't work.


    now I probably need to get rid of it just to be able to send an sms!


    not that it was much use anyway, only one person I know used it and not even that person got round to doing the key exchange thing.


    so that would mean its just ordinary sms anyway..


    so not much point to that hassle






    Michael at 2017-06-19T16:48:11Z

  • Mr Mayor

    2017-06-18T16:25:21Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    My hometown elected its new mayor this weekend and it's the first person of color in the office.

    The position is effectively ceremonial as far as executive policy goes (city council /manager format), but the mayor does vote. The bigger issue for representation is that the council (and the county commission) are all still elected at-large, which has the effect of diluting the franchise of minority communities — which tend to be clustered in neighborhoods, as I'm sure you can guess. The town has made some strides forward as far as the council make-up goes in recent years, though.

    Still, all things considered, you have to admit it's pretty cool.
    http://www.reporternews.com/story/news/2017/06/18/williams-easily-wins-runoff-abilene-mayor/406775001/