New Font by Adobe: Source Code Pro

27. September, 2012

Some of us know that software not only has to work, it also should be beautiful.

One important aspect here is the font. How does this look:

1Il|iO0oB8

If you can’t tell for sure which character is which, you probably don’t use a good font.

Paul D. Hunt, a font designer working for Adobe, finally spent some time to make life for his fellow developer easier:

As a font developer, I spend a good chunk of each day coding in a text editor and reading output messages from a terminal window, so I can appreciate the importance of a good monospaced font. (source)

If you’re interested in font design, his blog post contains some of the ideas and decisions he made when designing the font. Btw, the text above looks like this in Source Code Pro:

Some potentially confusable characters

You can download the font on Sourceforge or look at the source at GitHub.


Targeted Spamming via Facebook

26. September, 2012

 

In the past few weeks, I started getting mails from friends which just contain a link:

hey, Aaron

    http://some-dubious-link/a/b/c/

9/25/2012 12:34:56 PM

Turns out that someone is analyzing my Facebook account and sends me mails using names from my friends list.

If you get such a mail, don’t click on the link. It probably points to a page which infects your computer with a virus.

Right now, these mails are pretty easy to identify as fake because the email address is wrong. But you should know that the sender address in emails is just a text; neither the sending nor the receiving computer will check what is in there. A spammer can write anything into that field. If the scheme starts to fail too often, I expect to see “better” email addresses.

This means as a receiver, you should never click on links in emails. As a sender, you should never share links by email.

 


Patently Unpatentable: Ask Patents

25. September, 2012

Ask Patents is a new website by the guys at StackExchange with the goal to answer questions about the patent system in general and to help finding prior art for certain patents.

From the FAQ:

Ask Patents – Stack Exchange is a collaboratively edited Q&A platform for patent experts, inventors and citizens who wish to participate in the US patent process. Its primary purpose is to help individuals:

  1. Solicit help finding prior art that might apply to a patent or application
  2. Get answers to hard questions about specific patents
  3. Ask questions about the US patent system or process

Ask Patents – Stack Exchange was designed in collaboration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and Peer To Patent, whose efforts empowering citizens to help find prior art inspired the crowdsourced approach you see here. We also worked with Google to leverage the power of Google Patents Search and their new Prior Art Finder Tool.

If you care about patents or work in the software industry, have a look.


Xorg X11 Server Crashing After Update

24. September, 2012

 

After installing a new version of xorg-x11-server, it started crashing every time I started chromium. The effect was consistent: Every time I started the browser, the screen would go black and I’d be back in the login screen.

Looking into /var/log/kdm.log, I saw these lines:

Backtrace:
0: /usr/bin/Xorg (xorg_backtrace+0x36) [0x564616]
1: /usr/bin/Xorg (0x400000+0x168349) [0x568349]
2: /lib64/libpthread.so.0 (0x7f1d1618b000+0xf140) [0x7f1d1619a140]Segmentation fault at address (nil)

The reason for the error was that the xorg-x11-server contains the file /usr/lib64/xorg/modules/extensions/libglx.so which is needed for the NVIDIA driver but the NVIDIA driver has its own, special version.

The fix for the error was to reinstall the NVIDIA driver again.

Related posts:

 


Touching the RGB Colorspace

22. September, 2012

Ever wanted the RGB cube?

Tauba Auerbach printed one.

Found on WIN blog.


Anomaly – Warzone Earth

21. September, 2012

Anomaly – Warzone Earth (forum) is basically a reverse tower-defense game. The computer builds the towers and you try to get past them.

The game works on Linux, Mac and Windows. Installation on Linux 64-bit was painless: just unpack the archive and execute the game.

By default, it runs in full-screen mode which is a bit of a problem for me since I have two screens. Alt+Enter toggles between full-screen and windowed mode.

Your goal is to lead a train of 5 armored vehicles through a dangerous area. You can heal the vehicles, give them directions, change their order, add and remove units. In later stages, you will get decoys that draw enemy fire, or smoke grenades that cover your for a time.

Some tactical tips:

  • Don’t rush. In most levels, you have lots of time.
  • Crawlers have a slightly higher range than the basic enemy towers. If you circle an adjacent city block, you can often take out some of the enemies with little or no damage at all.
  • Heal units using corners. Place the repair item in the corner and four units will be in range instead of the normal three.
  • If you need to heal the leading unit, place the repair token a bit ahead so the unit gets enough exposure.
  • Keep an eye on health. If a unit is losing a lot of health and you can’t reach it or you’re out of repair tokens, you can put them in a different place in the train. If the first or last unit is out of range, move the damaged unit there. Losses are really expensive in this game.
  • Try to clear all enemies. In the first levels, supplies will be dropped anywhere but soon, they will be dropped after destroying enemy towers. Plus, each kill gives you a bit of money that you should spend on more units or upgrading existing ones.
  • The first unit takes most damage. Upgrade it first.
  • When a unit is under attack, you can cancel the effects by dropping a repair token.
  • If you walk in circles around the basic towers, they will aim at you. That way, you can buy your tanks an extra moment since the turret will first have to turn back before it can open fire.
  • Plan ahead. The closest reward might not be the easiest. Try to single out towers. Drive past and out of range to repair or recharge shields.
  • Each tower has a specific weakness. Exploit them.
  • Some can’t turn. Don’t attack them head on; drive by instead or kill it from behind.
  • Behemoths do area damage. Use a decoy and place it far away from your units.
  • When you need to squeeze through a bunch of towers, use a smoke bomb.
  • Decoys work well with flash towers but you need to place it at a distance or the damage will spill.

Dismissed.


Could not find a GenModel for EPackage ‘http://www.eclipse.org/xtext/common/JavaVMTypes’

20. September, 2012

If you added

import "http://www.eclipse.org/xtext/common/JavaVMTypes" as jvmTypes

to your DSL and now you get this error:

java.lang.RuntimeException: Could not find a GenModel for EPackage 'http://www.eclipse.org/xtext/common/JavaVMTypes'
If the missing GenModel has been generated via EcoreGeneratorFragment make sure to run it first in the workflow.
If you have a *.genmodel-file, make sure to register it via StandaloneSetup.registerGenModelFile(String)
	at org.eclipse.xtext.generator.GenModelAccess.getGenModelResource(GenModelAccess.java:119)
	at org.eclipse.xtext.generator.ecore.EcoreGeneratorFragment.findEPackagesInGenPackages(EcoreGeneratorFragment.java:347)

then add this line

registerGenModelFile = "platform:/resource/org.eclipse.xtext.common.types/model/JavaVMTypes.genmodel"

to the “bean” block in your MWE2 workflow. It should then look like this:

Workflow {
    bean = StandaloneSetup {
        scanClassPath = true
        platformUri = "${runtimeProject}/.."
		registerGenModelFile = "platform:/resource/org.eclipse.xtext.common.types/model/JavaVMTypes.genmodel"
    }

How To Ask Questions The Smart Way

20. September, 2012

When you write software, you get bug reports and pleas for help. When you use software, you sometimes (or even often) stumble over problems and need help.

Since processes of this type involve more than a single person, friction occurs. To reduce this friction, read this document: “How To Ask Questions The Smart Way

It’s a good read for both sides. It will help you understand why some questions irritate you and it will help you understand why you didn’t receive any help when you had a problem.


Leviathan Wakes: Book One of the Expanse Series

17. September, 2012

Leviathan Wakes (Amazon) is the first book of the Expanse series.

First of all, a warning: Buy this book on a Friday evening. You might not get much sleep after starting reading.

I admit that I felt uneasy after reading the first scene in the “Look Inside” sample chapter. Julie’s fate made me wonder whether this was going to become splatter & gore later. That didn’t happen. The author does use violence when it makes sense at that point in the story. It’s still repugnant but it makes sense.

Which is the strong point: Everyone in the book is smart. There aren’t any stereotype evil guys. Everyone – protagonists and side characters – has a clear plan, a goal, means and will to achieve that goal – even if someone else is getting in the way. If something goes wrong, it goes wrong for a reason. If people make mistakes, they make them because it seemed a really good idea at the time. Shit happens. A lot of shit. The hard-boiled cop and the righteous ex-military, scraping off each other. Each absolutely sure that their course of action isn’t the best but only viable solution. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t about cop vs. military. This is the struggle of two completely different characters that need to achieve the same goal and who actually get along pretty well. If one of them isn’t broadcasting information that might kill thousands of people in riots. And the other isn’t shooting people in the head in cold blood because he believes them dangerous sociopaths that might get away with their crimes.

The story takes many twists and turns, never losing enough speed to get boring, but with slower sections to allow the reader to put down the book. To handle the most pressing human urges. Eating. Drinking. Restroom. Reading on to know what happens next.

Characters: Great individuals. Most of them seem to be the usual stereotypes but cracks appear pretty quickly. People get away and people die. I cared. Well done.

World: He doesn’t go into much physics and cuts a few corners (distances are probably not quite right and flight times are probably not accurate) but the world as a whole makes sense. After reading the book, you have a feeling how Ceres and Eros look on the in- and outside, and how they work. Medicine is advanced but not almighty. If your bones break, you’re mobile again after a few minutes but it still takes the bone some weeks to heal.

I have only two minor points of criticism: When Julie comes out of her locker after four days without water, she passes a lot of ship but doesn’t stop to find something to drink. I could imagine that she’s too frightened to stop and get killed but there is no hint either way in her thoughts.

And there is no trace of information how everyone makes sure they don’t get contaminated with the “virus” as they enter and leave infected areas. A few sentences about medical checkups and decontamination would have worked wonders.

Apart from that, I loved the many details.

Q: What’s the most important part of a military ship?

A: A coffee machine that spits out good stuff no matter free fall or 5 g acceleration.


The End is Nigh

12. September, 2012

No, the world doesn’t end 2012 but it will soon be a much less hospitable place for us humans. Before I share my view, what do you believe will be the most prominent factor in the massive reduction of the human population?

Update: Polldaddy didn’t keep my poll alive and I missed to copy the results before it was gone. Sorry for that.