Archive for the ‘Rant’ Category.

No support for transparent PNG images?

A PNG image with alpha While being in Aalborg I’ve had the chance to see what GimpsterDotCom looks like in browsers other than Mozilla. In particular Internet Explorer… It turns out, that GimpsterDotCom looks somewhat funny in that browser because it doesn’t support transparent PNG images. I’m talking about the black edges around the rounded corners — Internet Explorer blends the images agains a black background when it should have used the red backgroundimage instead.

I’ve put an image that illustrate this on the right. If the browser supports PNG images with antialiasing, then you should see a blue square with a Greek alpha in it. The image is very blurred and this blur is transparent so that you can see the (white) background through.

This is ridiculous! All major browsers except Internet Explorer can handle alpha-blended PNG images — my father uses the Opera browser and it displays the pages without any problems. The PNG format is a well-established, open standard but Microsoft cannot be bothered to implement support for it, it seams… The strange thing is, that the version of Internet Explorer for Machintosh fully supports PNG images. It handles gamma correction and transparency beautifully. Perhaps the guys responsible for the Windows version of Internet Explorer should talks some more with the Machintosh division…

You can read more about the PNG image format at the PNG homepage and at W3C. –Martin Geisler

Saw the dentist today…

I had an appointment at the dentist today — it was just a routine check to see if everything was OK. I had my last dental checkup just before I moved to Århus which is a year ago now, so I thought that it would be a good idea to have a check.

It turned out that I had caries in two of my teeth :-( The dentist said that it wasn’t that bad because they were small cavities, so I agreed to have it fixed while I was there. Also, when he said that they were small, I hoped it wouldn’t cost as much as if they had been big and difficult, but that didn’t hold true…

So he had to drill… it wasn’t too bad, and I didn’t even get anaesthesia. I’m generally OK with going to the dentist: it’s a matter of concentrating on something else while we does his magic on your mouth. He was finished after 45 minutes.

I then had to pay for the pain: the bill was $100(!) and that’s for less that one hours work… And then he also gets some money (about $50) from the Danish health insurance. I’m sure that his equiptment is expensive, and that he has to pay a lot to rent his place, but it’s still quite expensive for a student to go get his teeth fixed. When I made a remark about how expensive it was, he discovered that he had forgotten to charge me for the two X-ray photos he took of my teeth. But he didn’t change the bill — that saved me $20.

But now it’s done, and I wont be back for at least a year.

Hmm… WikiVandalism :-(

Today I saw the first incident of WikiVandalism here at GimpsterDotCom. Some guy couldn’t find anything better to do than delete the contents from the PHP Tutorial and write ”I’m gay” instead.

This is exactly the kind of thing people have been worried about when I’ve told about how my WikiWikiWeb works. They would ask something along the lines of: But wont someone just come and delete your pages? And I would say: ”Probably, but I have backups and they’ll soon discover that it isn’t that much fun to destroy other peoples work when it’s this easy…”. I still believe this to be true because of the reasons that can be seen here: Wiki:WhyWikiWorks.

I just have to figure out how to delete a single revision of a page instead of deleting everything in one go as I just did with the PHP Tutorial page…

The DFSG vs the LPPL

I just saw this huge discussion over at the Debian-devel mailinglist about whether or not the LPPL (LaTeX Project Public License) is a free license. That is free in the Debian sense: it has be fulfill the DFSG (Debian Free Software Guidelines) before it can be included in the main section of the Debian archives. There’s currently lots of stuff in the archive that’s licensed under the LPPL, but the Debian guys would rather see that it was distributed under another license, or that the LPPL is changed to conform with the DFSG.

The problem seams to be, that the LPPL forbids you from modifying a file and then redistributing it using the same filename. This is important for us LaTeX folks, because one of the promises of LaTeX (and TeX) is, that a document processed today will look identical when it’s processed 10 years from now. If everybody is allowed to change important files, then that promise would be hard to keep. This isn’t just a theoretical concern — it has happened that someone changed the Computer Modern fonts made by Donald E. Knuth and distributed them as the original set. They thought that they were helping people by improving the fonts, but that wasn’t how others looked at it. I don’t know exactly what the problem was, but if they had changed the width of a character just a little, then it could mean that lines would be broken differently, something that must not happen. If an author has prepared a document using his own installation of LaTeX, then he has to be absolutely sure that the publishers version of LaTeX will place the letters at the exact same position on the page.

One the other hand, then the Debian guys want to reserver the right to change the files in their LaTeX distribution, in case they discover a security risk or something like that. This is a very hypothetical situation, but they want the right to do this anyway.

So, is boils down to a question of trust: do the LaTeX community trust the users not to cause havoc by distributing modified files from the core of TeX and LaTeX? Apparently not, and after the story about the improved CM fonts, I can understand their fear. I don’t think they fear that the teTeX maintainers would go crazy, it’s more about the principle that people has the option of changing those files.

I hope that they can works things out — it would be a real shame if this “battle of principles” should end with moving the teTeX packages to non-free, as almost everybody recognizes that TeX and LaTeX are some of the finest examples of free software.

Hmm — a virus is loose (again…)

Watch out for viruses!

It seems that the Windows community is suffering from yet another virus-attack. I’ve received 53 — no make that 54 — mails from all over the world with an attachment of type audio/x-wav and various subjects.

I believe that this is the W32/Klez.h@mm virus that is to blame, so please get yourself some good antivirus software (and keep it updated) if you’re using Windows or any other operating system for that matter — you can also get antivirus software for Linux these days. It’s just that the vast majority of viruses target Windows based machines because there are so many more machines to infect by doing so instead of going after Linux or Macs.

It’s also much harder for a virus to infect a machine like mine because I don’t use a mailreader that will execute each and every script it sees… It does happen from time to time that I receive a HTML-email. Gnus will then invokes the W3 webbrowser in Emacs to display the mail. This browser doesn’t support any of the scripting languages used by viruses — it just displays the page. It’s this kind of simplicity that keeps systems secure — I’ve never heard that all those scripting capabilities were used for something useful, instead we hear again and again that a virus has been allowed to executed malicious code on the client machine. So if you’ve never used those scripting capabilities, then please turn them off — if you can…