TUG 2016 – Day 3 – Stories and Histories

The last day of TUG 2016, or at least the last day of talks, brought four one-hour talks from special guests, and several others, where many talks told us personal stories and various histories.

A great finish of a great conference.

Jennifer Claudio – The case for justified text

Due to a strange timezone bug in my calendar program, I completely overslept a morning meeting and breakfast, as well as the first talk, so unfortunately I don’t have anything to report about this surely intersting talk comparing justification in various word processors and TeX.

Leyla Akhmadeeva, Rinat Gizatullin, Boris Veytsman – Are justification and hyphenation good or bad for the reader?

Still half dizzy and without coffee, I couldn’t really follow this talk, and only woke up till the end when there was a lot of interesting discussion about speed reading and its non-existence (because it is simply skimming over text), and improvements on reading comprehension.

Charles Bigelow – Looking for legibility

Another special guest, Charles Bigelow, presented a huge pool of research and work into readability, and how attitude and usage of fonts change over time. A very involving and well laid out talk, full of interesting background images and personal opinions and thoughts. Charles also touched onto topics of readability on modern devices like e-readers and mobiles. He compared the recent developments in font design for mobile devices with their work on Lucida 20+ years ago, and concluded that both arrived at the same solutions.

A very educating and amusing talk packed full with information on readability. I surely will revisit the recording in a study session.

David Walden – Some notes on the history of digital typography

David touches on many topics of the history of digital typography which he has experienced himself over the years: First the development of newspaper production and printing, then the evolvement of editors from simple text editors over word processors to full-fledged DTP programs. Finally he touches on various algorithmic problems that appear in the publishing business.

Tim Inkster – The beginning of my career

Tim, our fanatastic guide through his print shop the Procupine’s Quill on the second excursion day, talked about his private ups and downs in the printing business, all filled with an infinite flow of funny stories and surprising anecdotes. Without slides and anything but his voice and his stories, he kept us hanging on his lips without a break. I recommend watching the recording of his talk because one cannot convey the funny comments and great stories he shared with us in this simple blog.

Joe Clark – Type and tiles on the TTC

Joe unveils the history of rise and fall of the underground types and
tiles in Toronto. It is surprising to me that a small metro network as in Toronto can have such a long history of changes of design, layout, presentation. Some of the photos completely stymed me – how can anyone put up signs like that? I was thinking. To quote Joe (hopefully I remember correctly):

You see what happens without adult supervision.

Abdelouahad Bayar – Towards an operational (La)TeX package supporting optical scaling of dynamic mathematical symbols

A technical talk about a trial in providing optical scaling of mathematical symbols. As far as I understand it tries to improve on the TeX way of doing extensible math symbols by glueing things together. It seems to be highly involved and technically interesting project, but I couldn’t completely grasp the aim of it.

Michael Cohen, Blanca Mancilla, John Plaice – Zebrackets: A score of years and delimiters

John introduced us to Zebrackets, stripped parentheses and brackets, to help us keep track of pairing of those beasts. But as we know, Zebras are very elusive animals, … and so we saw lots of stripped brackets around. The idea of better markup of matching parentheses is definitely worth developing.

Charles Bigelow – Probably approximately not quite correct: Revise, repeat

The second talk of Charles, this time on the history of the Lucida fonts, from the early beginnings drawn on graph paper to recent developments using FontLab producing OpenType fonts. A truly unique crash course through the development of one of the very big families of fonts, and one of the first outside Computer Modern that had also support for proper math typesetting in TeX.

Aggressively legible!

One of the key phrases that popped up again and again was aggressively legible, mostly in negative connotations as far to fat symbols or far to big Arabic letters. But for me this font family is still close to my heart. I purchased it back than from Y&Y for my PhD thesis, and since then have upgraded to the TUG version including the OpenType fonts, and I use them for most of my presentation. Maybe I like the aggressive legibility!

Chuck slided in lots of nice comments about Kris Holmes, the development practice in their cooperation, stories of business contacts, and many more, making this talk a very lively and amusing, and at the same time very educating talk.

This concluded the TUG conference talks, and we thanked Pavneet for his excellent organization. But since we still have up to two days of excursions, many people dispersed quickly, just to meet again for a optional Type and Tile Tour – 3-5 subway stops with discussion of typesetting

This guided tour through the underground of Toronto, guided by Joe Clark who spoke in the morning about this topic, was attended by far too many participants. I think there were around 25 when we left. I thought that this will not work out properly, and so decided to leave the group and wander around alone.

The last program point for today was dinner with a blues music concert in the near by Jazz Bistro:

Excellent life music in a bit schick/sophisticated atmosphere was a good finish for this excellent day. With Herb from MacTeX and his wife we killed two bottles of red wine, before slowly tingling back to the hotel.

A great finishing day of talks.

2 Responses

  1. Are the talks being recorded? The first few look extremely interesting, I’d love to watch them.

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