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John Savard


John Savard
Last Active
  • Re: Is there a way to create a font that uses the two Shift keys differently?

    It certainly is possible to write Windows programs that obtain scan codes corresponding to keypresses from the keyboard, rather than requesting input of ASCII characters. Many game programs do so.

    However, the techniques involved are still considerably different from what would be used by a program written for the Commodore 64.

    The keyboard on a PC-compatible computer isn't part of the computer, and it could be connected by means of a PS2 connector (the internal connections of today's laptop keyboards are of that type) or by USB. In those two cases, a completely different set of scan codes are used - and the scan codes are translated by the operating system and/or device drivers.

    I wrote a program that edited upper- and lower- case on the Commodore 64; it worked by copying BASIC to RAM and just changing the keyboard layout table rather than attempting to drive the keyboard directly, though.
  • Re: Coolangatta

    By the way, there isn’t a single superellipse, there is an infinite number of superellipses with parameters between a normal ellipse and a rectangle.
    Yes, but the one Piet Hein used was the one with the exponent 2 1/2.

    Of course, that ellipse resulted from fitting four simple mathematical curves together which would not naturally be closed curves: only even exponents, like 4, naturally make a closed curve that is a squared-off circle.
  • Re: Plex; IBM's new font identity model

    Exactly. So let's stick to common sense: virtually everybody likes to save money; and most people have trouble telling apart TNR and Georgia. Now work from there.
    The conclusion to be drawn from the situation you cite is obvious.

    The market for paid fonts will largely evaporate once somebody makes a free clone of either Times, Century Expanded, or Baskerville, and then once that happens, additional free fonts will have little or no effect.

    Irony aside, that is sort of like what actually happened: Bitstream nuked the paid font market, but there has been no noticeable additional impact from Google Fonts.
  • Re: Plex; IBM's new font identity model

    Ben Blom said:

    Making free fonts, facilitates to kill the market of paid fonts.

    This statement is empirically testable. What’s the evidence base?
    Is it? It's not as if we can actually do an experiment, setting up two parallel timelines with and without free fonts.

    But apparently there is some evidence:

    Two things happened around the same time in the early 90s: Microsoft introduced their TrueType Font Packs, and Corel started bundling a boatload of fonts.

    Within a year or two, the market for retail fonts at the prices they had at the time crumbled. Adobe for example ended up laying off something like 3/4 of the people they had working on fonts, mostly in 1994, I think it was. Leastways, that’s my recollection.

    He goes on to say, though, that the current boom in libre fonts hasn't produced a similar effect that he has noticed. I think the Corel boatload of Bitstream fonts, though, include license terms that preclude using them with PDF files to be distributed generally online, so that makes a case for using libre fonts in preference even to such cheap ones.

    I would think there are at least some people who can't pirate paid fonts for some application, because its output is public, but will choose a free font, if one is available, instead of a paid one.

    The question isn't really whether such a common-sense conclusion is true. Instead, the real questions are:

    Is the effect a significant one, that is a real threat to font designers making a living?

    And how can one legitimately prevent amateurs from designing fonts for themselves or giving them away for free?

    As a free font, I find the serif version of Plex potentially a threat in this area, because it happens to resemble a certain style of typeface that is currently fashionable - and so I presume its widespread use is generating sales of some (possibly expensive!) paid font. However, there are already a number of free fonts of this general style.

    The two cases, thus, that I am distinguishing here is between sales of new typefaces that have become fashionable - and older typefaces that are standards, such as Caledonia, Optima, Century Expanded, Palatino, Bembo, and so on.

    At the moment, the market is robust for typefaces of the former type, but probably quite weak for those of the latter type, and I'm not sure much can be done about this.

  • Re: Dutch IJ with dots

    I don't have any suggestions for improving Armenian, but I think that the Latin alphabet should rip off letters from Cyrillic, or otherwise add new ones, so as to have as many as Armenian does - in order to be able to represent the additional consonants found in Eastern Armenian and Chinese that currently have no equivalent in the Latin alphabet.

    The basis for this is that using diacritics instead to transliterate Chinese, at least, has tended to prove unsatisfactory in practice.

    There's no reason, though, for the Cyrillic and Greek alphabets not to also attempt to grow in this direction - so as to make every script capable of competently transliterating every language. Of course, isomorphism would cut two ways, as while it would make every script suitable for quoting from other languages, it would also reduce the barrier to switching to a dominant script.

    The good news, of course, is even if letters allowing Armenian to be written in the Latin script were in some sense "added" to it, since they're not needed for the languages now using the Latin script, they wouldn't be used enough, or available enough, to create any real threat to the Armenian script.