Tuesday, July 24


Drop The Shadows


My drop shadows are only working on rectangles.  Hackity hackity...  Ah, there, that'll do for text:


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Busy working on the theme builder thingy, and seeking fonts that are both attractive and under licenses that will let me use them for

Here are a few examples of fonts that make the cut in both respects:


These fonts appearing by permission of the very talented Nick Curtis with the aid of aggdraw.

Now, back to my masking and shading and transparencies and stuff.

Update: Link fixed.  Oops.

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Monday, July 23


Reading The Docs

If omitted, or if the image has mode "1" or "P", it is set to NEAREST.

When I put up the post about the Import module, I noticed that rescaling gifs on the fly with Minx looks like crap.  I tried fiddling with the settings, but it didn't help, because the image library ignores the frigging settings!

Well at least now I know what to do - convert it to RGB mode, then resize, then convert back to Palettised mode.

Meanwhile: Circle?  Circle?  You call that a circle?

Looks like I'll have to generate the mask at 2x or 4x and then scale down and anti-alias.

Dum de dum... Okay, now with 4xFSAA!  I wonder if that preserves the transparency settings...

Now all I need to do is work out how to do proper drop shadows, and I can do the entire banner generating thingy dynamically.

Aaaand: Dropshadows over solid colours: Check.  Now to tweak that to do dropshadows over images...

Got it!  Thank you ASPN and Google. smile

Update: Hrm.  I can see why this is not a common feature.  To get good results with curves I need to work at at least 4x the base resolution and then downsample, which means I'm working with 2 to 4 megapixel images; 8 to 16 mb of data each.  There's another library I can add which would let me do antialiased drawing; I may have to try that.  Meanwhile, I'll see what I can do with these fonts I've got here...

Update: Or I could try that library first.  Better.  Vertical as well as horizontal symmetry and without downsampling, so it's 10x faster.  Just need to tweak the radius of those corners up slightly.... Got it!   Now, er, can I use that as a mask?  Kind of pointless if not.  So let's give that a whirl.

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Sunday, July 22


The Wonders Of Modern Technology

So it turns out I can make arbitrary transparency effects on the fly.  That'll come in handy; it's a whole bunch less static images I need, and a whole lot more flexibility.

Only works for rectangles so far.  Let's see what I can do with shapes...

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Feeling Good 'Bout My Irregularity

I happened to stumble across the source code for an ASP-based open-source blogging app while I was looking for something else entirely* and I was struck by how regular and elegant the code was.

The code for Minx doesn't look like that.  Partly because I developed it relatively quickly and it's still on version 1.  But mostly, I realised a bit later, for another reason; for the same reason that the uncompressed source code for the entire system will still fit on a 360K floppy: I've squeezed all the regularity out.

A lot of the regularity in the code I was looking at was sequences of assignment statements - in Minx these are rolled up into loops, driven by tables.  I wrote my own SQL abstraction module for this reason.  It doesn't abstract the queries for me, but it completely abstracts the data.

I still want to prettify my code, but I feel happier now.

Also, while I was asleep I thought of a straightforward way to handle per-user/per-site customisation.  That will address a lot of limitations of working with a hosted system rather than your own custom app; it will allow per-user themes for blogs, for example.  I'll try to fit that in this coming week, along with the theme builder, site wizards, and AJAXulation.

* An open source web-based code display thingy**; turns out that SyntaxHighlighter is now LGPL and will do just fine.
** For an enhanced version of the [code] tag.

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Saturday, July 14


Will It Blend?

Sure it will!

You can now import Blogspot and Movable Type blogs* in Thai, Vietnamese, Turkish, Greek and Hebrew** into Minx.  Or at least, I can; you'll get the opportunity tomorrow.

Does it work?  If have no freaking idea.  I've put a wrapper around a standard set of character set codecs to convert your file into Unicode, which gets stored and served as UTF-8.  But I don't have any sample blogs in Ukrainian or Korean to try it out with, and I wouldn't necessarily pick up the errors if I did.

It looks interesting if you tell it your file is in Arabic when it's really Windows-1252, though.

I also discovered that Minx wasn't necessarily serving up UTF-8 when it said it was.  I'm going to fix that tomorrow as well; it shouldn't affect anything because the back-end really is entirely Unicode, but Steven, if your Japanese examples suddenly turn into randomly accented Latin text, that's why.

* And blogs from anything else that can produce a Blogger/MT-style export file.
** And normal-type languages, too.
*** Also automatically handles gzip and bzip2!

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Friday, July 13


We Don't Need No Stinking Badgers!

Sure, they deny it, but where there's smoke, there's badgers:
The Iraqi port city of Basra, already prey to a nasty turf war between rival militia factions, has now been gripped by a new fear -- a giant badger stalking the streets by night.

British army spokesman Major David Gell said the animals were thought to be a kind of honey badger -- melivora capensis -- which can be fierce but are not usually dangerous to humans unless provoked. 

"We have not released giant badgers in Basra," he said, "and nor have we been collecting eggs and releasing serpents into the Shatt al-Arab river."
That's as may be - but what about the mushrooms, eh?  What about the mushrooms?

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Wednesday, July 11


Back From The Not Dead, Feeling Just Fine Really

I've been very busy the past couple of weeks, tracking down bugs, implementing new features, foiling miscreants of various sorts.

My neighbourhood got invaded yesterday.  I was heading out to lunch (it was 2:30 and the import function seemed to be working, so it looked like a good time), and there was a family with a toddler in tow heading up the footpath outside my house.  I went to step out onto the road to give them some room, but there was a car coming - several cars coming, on my quiet suburban side street.

Reached the next street, and there were two more families coming up the hill, with several small children.  And more cars than usual.  Looked up ahead, and more kids, and more cars. Got up the hill, and there's this long line of mums, dads and kindergartners snaking around the corner of the RSL.  Preschoolers everywhere.

Then I saw the sign.

Wiggles concert.  Three minutes from my house.

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