Friday, 30 July 2010

The Biggest "F14 Feature" Is Here!

Yes, fedora SCM (source code management) system finally moved from the aging CVS to the modern, fast and efficient git. I express my sincere thanks to all who participated in making this change possible, you rock! I've already made my first changes using this new system, and it is simply awesome, especially if one has a previous knowledge of git (which is however not required to properly operate the repositories). Looking at the F14 Feature list, I think this is one of the best features of this release cycle.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

F14 Laughlin Wallpapers Package

So, at the today's design team meeting we decided on the wallpapers for Laughlin Alpha and I've packaged them. The packages are available at the usual place until they get into fedora (review request). For gnome you'll need laughlin-backgrounds-gnome, for kde you'll need laughlin-backgrounds-kde, and in addition, in both cases you'll need laughlin-backgrounds-single. The packages are built in F12, but should work on any reasonably new Fedora ;-)

And here's a screenshot from my F12:

Please contribute to the F14 artwork by giving us feedback, preferably at a dedicated wiki page.

2010/08/01 UPDATE: the packages are now available in F14 and rawhide.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Doing 'The Wrong Thing' (TM) Again…

So, I still have a bunch of exams at school I need pass through and instead of studying I'm playing around. This time I designed quite a strange and very early work in progress sans serif font. It has only letters of latin alphabet and three Czech diacritic marks. And of course, it's not a font but just a SVG file with font design idea :-D

The original idea was to design a font that would look good in computer interfaces, hence I targeted a rather small size for starters. But as I played with the shapes it evolved into something, for good or bad, more complex. The strokes are not constant width which is quite unusual for sans-serif font… And of course, I wanted the font to look good to me, which explains lots of the oddities of it ^_^. During the designing I noticed that it's much easier to start from simple shapes (like even succession of lines) that approximate the shape at target resolution and then slowly improve the detail so that the glyph looks good when zoomed in as well. Here's a preview:

In case someone would like to play with it I've put the source SVG on my fedorapeople page, you can consider the licence to be CC-BY-SA or even Public Domain for the time being (it's just a sketch, no real font) so do pretty much anything you want with it, but it would be nice if you showed me results of such playing, if any ;-)

And one thing to add: font design is quite tedious, especially if you are a complete newbie, just these few glyphs took me a few days of work :-D

Sunday, 11 July 2010

When things just don't work

I have to admit that Fedora 12 has been the most usable and stable distribution I've ever used. Sans one broken HAL update and one broken mplayer update, there weren't any bigger problems since about its beta! However, and I feel a bit disappointed about it, Fedora 13 does not continue in this way. Every time I run a full update on it and try to stay with it, issues appear (not always same issues). And hence I always return back to Fedora 12 where things work, but where I miss some nice features from Fedora 13 like two panels in nautilus. The current set of my issues with Fedora 13 goes like this:
  • wifi connection seems to pseudo-randomly disconnect (looks like it happens only when some network-heavy transfers, like torrents, are in process). This is even a more pain because after disconnecting it simply refuses to connect again unless I turn the hardware switch off and on… And yes, it's using an open source driver, but proprietary binary blob firmware (broadcom BCM4318 chip), so I'm not sure if reporting a bug would lead anywhere (especially given the rather random nature of the first issue)…

  • xorg seems to randomly just stop repainting itself, sans mouse cursor. It happened twice, always after trying to unlocking screen when laptop lid had been closed. Again, as this does seem random, and I have no idea how to reproduce it, filling a bug would probably lead nowhere. Killing X just changes the background from default wallpaper to solid black (of course, with fully working cursor, and probably even working, though not displayed, gui)…

  • evolution is a sucker. After the last batch of updates it keeps asking whether I want to mark messages as read even in subfolders. Even for folders which do not have any subfolders! Furthermore, every now and then it pops out an error message about not being able to store folder [mem].{folder-name}, blah, blah. And to add to that, it does not display images in rss feeds (not sure about html mails, I haven't tried it). I'll probably fill bugs about some of these issues later. And to add to all that, it does not offer an option to store gpg keyphrase during session.

It's a good thing I always keep two working systems at the same time. Thanks to that I always have a place to return to (and I sincerely hope that Fedora 14 won't be the same pool of issues like Fedora 13 is, otherwise I'll be stuck with EOLed release for the first time since I started using linux).

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

CJK Glyphs Fun

I self-study (which is very ineffective, because there is no one to push me forward, so I slack too much) Japanese. And with the language comes a different character set from what I already know (latin, Greek and Cyrillic alphabets) and that is a set of two kana – ひらがな [hiragana] and カタカナ [katakana] – (which I already more or less learned and am able to read and write them, though not as fast as latin, but maybe faster than Greek :-D), and a selected number of Chinese characters, in Japanese called 漢字 [kanji, in Mandarin Chinese it's hànzì, in Korean hanja], literally it means 'characters of Han' (han means Chinese people, Chinese language). And sometimes when I see Chinese, Japanese or Korean writing I get the urge to decipher what it means. With Korean it's usually easy, today I was deciphering "brown rice vinegar" on a bottle with it I bought:

First of all, all the characters are very clear to read, so if you have Korean alphabet around you'll quickly decipher them one by one. First character is composed of ㅎ [h] 여 [yeo] and ㄴ[n], creating a 현 [hyeon], next is composed of ㅁ[m] and 이 [i], creating a 미 [mi]. Together these two make 현미, in hanji 玄米 (this exact writing and meaning also has a japanese word genmai), meaning brown rice. Next character is composed of ㅅ [s], 이 [i] and ㄱ [g/k] making 식 [sog], and the last one is composed of ㅊ [ch] and 오 [o], making 초 [cho]. Together they make 식초, in hanji 食醋 (this writing does not correspond to any word in japanese, where vinegar is 酢 [su], 醋 [su] is another variant for vinegar in japanese, though apparently not in common use), meaning vinegar.

But when it comes to Chinese or Japanese, especially if written in (semi)cursive style, things get hard. I bought a tea today and tried to decipher its name, which was written in Traditional Chinese in semicursive style:

It took me about half an hour to find the first hànzì, because as you can see, in regular script (which is close in shape to what is usually displayed on computer, but is nicer) it looks like this:

In simplified Chinese (which uses simplified variants of many hànzì) it's 铁观音 [tiěguānyīn] and it means something like "Iron Goddess of Compassion".

And as a bonus to end this blog post about my afternoon here's a picture of I-am-not-sure-if-it-is-Japanese-or-Chinese written on my tea kettle:

The only character I'm able to recognise is 茶 [cha in Japanese], tea and maybe 月 [tsuki in Japanese], moon.

And sorry for the poor quality of the pictures, that's the best I can manage with my mobile phone…