Saturday, October 21, 2006

"The David Young(s) of the World"


I just joined a Facebook group called "The David Young(s) of the World." A few quotes from the group's description to acquaint yourself with my new-found "family":
I am sure that all of us David Youngs are quite diverse, but yet we share a name...

And judging by the variety of comments on the Wall, pictures, and discussion forums, our name is but a loose thread tying us together. The first Wall poster pressed the point by noting that although he was born on 3/1, he celebrates his bday on 3/3. "Turning 60 has allowed my to adjust my life to suit myself." Including grammar, apparently.
For those of you who feel like your name should be "David Young" but isn't, by all means join us! After all, it is an awesome name even if it seems ordinary.

Pure hilarity. For the masses out there who are just *dying* to gain the glorious name of David Young. I don't know of a single famed David Young out there, but who knows, maybe someone on this list will "make a name" for us. The first Discussion Post is entitled, "Are David Youngs Really More Successful?"

But of course we must advance beyond the confines of Facebook. To truly unite, we must all meet together at a conference. And then we can all smile and wear nametags.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Clearly, This Is It

I can't believe that I've been working on my laptop all this time without ClearType enabled.

On the shuttle home, I asked Colin, a biomedical informatics student, why text on Linux seemed much clearer than that on Windows, even though they were displayed on the same monitor? Linux was even running within VMware, not on its own.

"Anitaliasing, maybe," he told me.

That night, I looked for ways to turn on antialiasing in Firefox, the application in which I had noticed the display difference. I didn't find much, but upon searching for a way to turn on antialiasing system-wide, throughout Windows, I stumbled upon this page: http://www.microsoft.com/typography/cleartype/tuner/Step1.aspx. The page installs a little utility to turn a feature called ClearType on or off. (Note that to use this page, it needs to be viewed in Internet Explorer...or IE Tab within Firefox.)

The way that ClearType works is that it uses an effect called "subpixeling." Normal flat panel displays can look "saw-toothed," or jagged, at the edges of these pixels. But pixels on the a display actually consist of 3 subpixels corresponding to RGB colors. Apparently the human vision is more sensitive to variations in intensity than in color. By sacrificing a little color accuracy, the computer can make use of these subpixels to fill in the gaps between the saw-tooth edges, creating a smoother shape for letters and other text.

In case that flew by you, just take a look at this:




Viewed here are shots of Firefox displaying a page from the same site, DistroWatch, as in the monitor entry, but instead of Linux vs. Windows, it's Windows sans ClearType vs. Windows ClearType. And the choice is...well, it's clear.