Lars Wirzenius: November, 2004


Sunday, November 28, 2004

Random hacks: Sound Converter 0.2

I've hacked a bit on my sound converter application for the GNOME environment. Now releasing version 0.2. It is still very raw, but it works again, after I broke it and when things changed in the Python GStreamer bindings.

I still only support Ogg Vorbis output, but the input can also be Ogg Vorbis. I intend to add support for more formats (input and output), just haven't had the time to do it yet.

The app should now be usable by people who know how to make backups.

See my program page for the source. No Debian package yet, it's too raw for me to bother with it yet.

Random thought: End of bitmaps

At work, my laptop has a 14 inch screen with 1400 by 1050 pixels, giving a resolution of about 123 pixels per inch. Such a high resolution (that is, pixel density, as opposed to pixel count) makes text and vector graphics look really nice. Bitmap pictures, such as web comics, are giving me a difficulties, however. For example, I find it difficult to read User Friendly at work: the text becomes a bit too small for my eyes. Similarly, photographs displayed on the web become almost thumbnails.

I expect resolutions to go further up in the future. This creates a dilemma: monitors now have resolutions that vary from about 70 to about 130 pixels per inch. That is quite a lot of variability. User Friendly's archived comics are 720 pixels by 247 pixels (the daily ones on the static page are a bit smaller, I think).

Resolution (ppi) Width (in) Height (in) Note
75 9.5 3.3 Common in older/low-end machines
90 8.0 2.7 My laptop at home
123 5.9 2.0 My laptop at work

On the highest resolution monitor, the comic is only about 60% of the width on the lowest resolution monitor. No wonder the text can be hard to read.

How much resolution do we need, anyway? Screen resolutions are really far away from what even cheap ink jet printers are capable of. Those are not known for being too sharp.

The limit of human eyesight is probably the best limit. Take the sharpest known eyesight, make the screen resolution be slight sharper than that, and then be done with it.

Even with the current situation, I foresee the end of using simple bitmap pictures for showing information on the web and in applications. For a simple line drawing comic such as User Friendly, using SVG or some other vector format should work really well; it might even use less bandwidth than GIF. If done properly, the image shown on the screen should match or surpass the GIF in quality, whatever resolution the user actually has.

I don't know what this means for pictures that are not easily convertible to vector graphics, such as photographs. Still, something needs to happen.

Random thought: Where are all the Erics?

Many years ago, when I first stumbled on the Internet and Usenet, I repeatedly ran into the Eric Conspiracy. I haven't heard of them in many years now. Did they succeed in taking over the world and now they are so powerful, no-one ever hears of them anymore? I guess I'll know if this log entry mysteriously vanishes.

Random thought: Death is depressing

I seem to have had an accidental break in my log writing. The main reason for this is that I've been thinking about life and death lately, and this has created a weird sort of writer's block. My grandmother died four weeks ago, and that turned my thoughts into sombre directions. Not morbid, I think. I've been thinking a lot about mortality, my own and other people's, and of the transitory nature of most things in general, as well as what is and isn't important to me. Whether I want be remembered after I die. Whether I want to reconsider my decision to not ever have children. That sort of thing.

Some conclusions:

This probably sounds way too corny to everyone else, but that's all right. This process and its results are important to me and I don't really care what others think. My main reason to write this in my public log is so I can look back at it fifty years from now and remember this time, and I don't keep a private diary.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Debian: Adopted vorbisgain

I adopted the vorbisgain package from Tollef Fog Heen, found a new upstream version (only minor changes, however), packaged and uploaded it, and it should now be built on most (I think all) architectures.