Wednesday, December 23, 2009

On Font Rendering

If you have ever wondered (as I have years ago) why the text rendering on Linux usually looks inferior to both Mac OS X and Windows text, no matter how much you try and tweak the settings, there is a great and very in-depth article at http://www.antigrain.com/research/font_rasterization/index.html. It is quite long, but it contains excellent background information, theoretical and practical discussions of the concepts behind text rendering in general, what Windows and Mac OS do right/wrong and how to improve the situation in general.

This is a must read for anyone remotely interested in font rendering.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Star Wars Review – Hilarious

I just came about this Star Wars – The Phantom Menace Review on Daring Fireball. Yes, the movie has been out for years, so why a review? Well, go see for yourself (it is 7x10 minutes long!). Be aware that if you loved it (who would?) you might be offended by the heresy against George Lucas’ creation, but I for one mostly agree with it.

You might have to get used to the guy’s voice, but the contents and the insight are definitely worth hanging on.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

51 Weeks since my book writing adventure began

In one week, on December 24th, it will be exactly one year since I was first contacted by Packt Publishing. After reading several posts from this blog they asked me if I’d be interested in writing a MySQL administration cookbook with hands-on recipes for those among us who have to make sure the MySQL servers are kept running and in good shape.

Funny thing, I almost deleted their email, because initially I thought GMail’s spam filter had not caught some sort of bulk or phishing email, because I had never heard of Packt Publishing before and at first only saw an unfamiliar sounding sender’s name. As I was one of very few people in the office on that day I decided to read it anyways. Turned out to be not so spammy after all…

What followed were several weeks of sending mails back and forth, convincing a colleague to co-author and together set up a chapter outline. Finally, around February we started writing actual contents. Boy did I underestimate the amount of work this was. This being my first book I was completely unable to make any educated guessing as to what was lying before me. The initial estimate from the publisher was an hour a day – I strongly doubt than anyone would be able to sit down for an hour every day and get anything done. Often just setting up some test scenario takes longer…

Even things I knew inside out turned out to be really time consuming in writing them down in a structured manner. Add to that preparing screenshots and diagrams, discovering bugs and unexpected behavior in the tools, fighting the word processor and you are in for many late nights in front of the computer, sometimes wondering if I’d ever be finished.

Nevertheless yesterday I submitted the edited – hopefully final – drafts of the last two chapters. If everything goes according to plan most of what’s left is for the publisher to do. Alas, now that I have said this, there will almost certainly be some more fine tuning for me to do as well…

Strangely enough – even though I had somehow almost expected this – editing and going through the stuff you wrote sometimes weeks ago is a real eye-opener. It is as if you were reading someone else’s material; things you thought were perfectly clear when you wrote them sometimes sound strange, sometimes are not clear to understand and sometimes even plain wrong. The feedback from the publisher and the reviewers was extremely helpful to get a different point of view and become aware of ambiguities and flaws you otherwise would probably not have seen at all.

If you are a regular reader you might have wondered why my blogging frequency somewhat stagnated over the past year – now you know what was eating up my time.

So if you like, you are welcome to pre-order the book right now. It is planned to be released in March of 2010 and I expect it to show up on Amazon and other online stores soon. Nevertheless, you can already read more about it on Packt’s website: MySQL Admin Cookbook.

When everything is really finished and I hold the first copy in my hands I plan to write some more on the process of planning, writing and editing. Until then, it might remain somewhat quiet around here for a little longer.