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Showing posts from September, 2011

Ugly, Jagged, Fonts on Linux - How to Fix

Rendering fonts, especially on modern LCD screens, is a non-trivial problem. I'm not an expert in computer graphics, biophysics or UI design. However, what I do know is that most out-of-the-box Linux installs result in a visual experience that is unacceptable from my personal point of view.

Sure, it's possible to use the system tools (Appearance Preferences in Gnome 2 for example, now it's gnome-tweak-tool in Gnome 3) to set your default fonts and default sizes, and to tweak how they are rendered (hinting, smoothing, sub-pixel smoothing and presumably other sorts of manipulations). What I quickly discovered was that it was akin to a game of whack-a-mole. No sooner would I get one part of my screen free of jaggies, ugly color hinting, or letters that are barely recognizable, than these undesirable effects would show up elsewhere. 
There is one more knob that we have available to us and that is the DPI (dots per inch) of the overall display. This often defaults to 96 on Linu…

To Île Aux Marins and Back

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I recently got back from a trip to Saint Pierre et Miquelon, two French Islands just off the coast of Canada's Newfoundland. These islands actually belong to France, and have for the past 150 years. The people there speak French, hold French citizenship, vote in French elections, are educated in the French educational system and if they get sick, are treated in the French medical system. In short, a little bit of France in North America, as they like to describe themselves.
One of the day trips I took while there was to Île Aux Marins (translation "Sailors' Island" - pictured above) - a small island reachable by a very short ferry trip from the main island of Saint Pierre. Before 1963 this small island was fully inhabited by a small number of local fisherman. From 1963 to about 1985 it was uninhabited and it's buildings fell into ruin. However, starting around the mid-1980s some of the buildings have been restored, and many others have been completely rebuilt as v…

Macbooks from early to mid 2009 can't output S-video

Disclaimer:  I am not a Mac guy. But I think I can still contribute with a possibly useful blog post. The purpose of which is that if you have a 2009 Macbook and you can't understand why your S-video connection won't work - read on!

Backstory: A friend had a Macbook - not a Macbook Pro, not a Macbook Air, just a Macbook. The vintage was as best as he could determine, early 2009. When he tried to use the Apple mini-DVI to S-video adaptor nothing happened. Nothing. Zero. Zilch, Nada. Nothing.

No amount of fiddling with inputs on the TV or dialog boxes on the Mac would change the outcome either.

Additional Datapoints:
Repeat with two other TV's and S-Video. Same result.Same Macbook worked fine going to another TV using VGA output.Working Hypothesis: Some Macbooks cannot be persuaded to output S-Video.
Confirmation of Working Hypothesis: Can be found here in this Apple support document. It says "However, these MacBooks do not work with S-video output or composite output using…