Thank you Google, for the fonts!

Despite being primarily an advertising company, which tries to monetise you in every way possible, Google has gotten into the good books of typophiles by making some really beautiful fonts available for free (do the fonts have any embedded advertising codes?). In a world disfigured by Comic Sans and Arial, fonts like Lato, Lora, Roboto etc. provide immeasurable relief to the eyes of typophiles! Lato will become an Arial at some point I guess, but not for a few more years. WordPress.com websites seem to support many of these fonts seamlessly: hence the visual upgrade for this blog too.

The Master of them all…

He [Knuth] was deeply disappointed when saw the typesetting from Addison-Wesley for the second edition of volume 2, because in 1973 Addison-Wesley had replaced its mechanical typesetting technology with computerized typesetting that did not reproduce the high quality of the original printings of volumes 1-3.

donald_ervin_knuth
Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Consequently, in 1977 Knuth began developing a new typesetting system to enable high quality computerized typesetting, in particular for TAOCP. This system was announced in his 1978 American Mathematical Society Gibbs Lecture entitled “Mathematical Typography” and published in the Bulletin (New Series) of the American Mathematical Society, volume 1, 1979, pp. 337-372. Knuth had two goals for his system:
(1) achieving the finest quality printed documents
(2) creating a system that would be archival in the sense that it was independent of changes in printing technology to the maximum extent possible.

Knuth’s system, developed with help from Stanford students and colleagues, had three primary components: the TeX typesetting engine, the METAFONT font design system, and the Computer Modern set of type fonts [4].  Combined, these revolutionized digital typesetting. Knuth made his code publicly available, and it has been widely adapted by commercial typesetting systems.

Knuth put hooks in his TeX engine so that others could make additions, with the condition that any resulting system be give a different name. That produced a vibrant, worldwide community of users and developers for TeX and related systems like LaTeX, ConTeXt, LuaTeX. Knuth’s TeX was an early success story for the free and open-source software movement.

From: Turing Award Citation for DEK (1974)

Special thanks to Knuth for the Computer Modern typeface; every article written in TeX looks professional and beautiful, thanks to this font. Especially in the ages when Times New Roman was the default font in Microsoft Word!

For those tired of Computer Modern, Palatino is another beautiful font.

Thank you, Microsoft too!

Microsoft has also scaled heights in the last decade with their typesetting: undoubtedly, Segoe UI (and the mobile version) is beautiful. Calibri, Cambria, Constantia, Consolas are all nice in their own way — any day better than Arial and company — and are thankfully the default fonts in Office since the last 9 years!

My Favourite Google Fonts

Droid Sans | Droid Sans Mono | Droid Serif | Inconsolata | Lato | Noto Sans | Noto Serif | Open Sans | Open Sans Condensed | Roboto | Source Sans Pro

Cricket typography

Every World Cup and major ICC event comes with a nice upgrade of the interface for display of score panels, scorecards etc. I thought the fonts used in the recent World T20 were rather nice, but the current IPL fonts are an abomination (more so than IPL itself? :j)

The fonts appear to be a hideous Monospaced font, the stereotype of the 2030s science fiction fonts as conceived by 1990s designers! Not to mention, the ugly batsman on strike indicators that keep blinking (wow, sci-fi FTW!) To catch a glimpse of these fonts, head over to Match 2 – a slashed zero too!

Ah, IPL has indeed fixed the monospace font at least: see IPL Match 8 Video — but the blinking marker remains!

Some interesting links:

 

Give, and let live!

giveIt’s been a while since I blogged, but I thought it important to share information on some very interesting NGOs/charities I’ve come across [recently]. I understand the India has a huge number of NGOs (read a debate about the legitimacy of some of these NGOs a while back!), and it’s rather difficult to find good NGOs/charities on a regular basis. I do get badgered by enthusiastic management trainees from the popular NGOs once in a while, and I often turn them away since I like to donate to more obscure and upcoming charities rather than established ones (I also suspect they have more ‘overheads’, like paying the salaries for the MTs!).

I must emphasise that is very important for each one of us to give; we all have [one or more of] a roof over our head, good clothes to wear, and the luxury of a bike/car and smartphones, tablets and laptops. Let’s try to help others educate themselves, lead a healthy life and sustain themselves in changing and challenging circumstances. I think there’s an adage that 1/6th of one’s salary must be spent in ‘good deeds’; assuming that the taxes we pay are part of this, I am sure we can still part with a few thousands every year to help the needy. I also think that many of us are happy to donate, but aren’t aware of the best charities. All of us can’t become Bill and Melinda Gates (दाता लक्षेषु जायते), but I think a little help here and there can go make a big difference to at least a few people!

I think we all have causes we’d really like to support (mine are usually health, education, food, culture), so it’s good to share the word and let people know. I even toyed with the idea of a social portal for sharing, rating and ranking NGOs, but here goes my first effort. Here’s a list of NGOs which I have donated to in the past and I firmly believe to be sincere and doing good work, in their chosen sphere (I hope to have a dedicated post about each of them, and hope to update the links below):

  1. Deepam Trust (email; no webpage as far as I know for this Deepam trust)
  2. National Trust Niramaya: A Health Insurance Scheme for the welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities (web)
  3. Uday Foundation for Congenital Defects and Rare Blood Groups (web)
  4. Ramakrishna Mission Students’ Home (web)
  5. Madras Sanskrit College/V. Krishnaswami Iyer Sanskrit Educational Trust (web)
  6. Sevalaya (web)
  7. Samskrita Bharati (web)
  8. Teach for India (web)
  9. Veda Rakshana Nidhi Trust (VRNT)*
  10. Vidya Vikasa Trust: College Education of the Visually Impaired (web)*
  11. Wikipedia!
  12. Khan Academy!*
  13. Blood! Check out http://bloodlinelabs.com/

There are any number of sayings about the importance of giving, and here’s a large collection of Sanskrit sayings!

*updated 11-Feb-2016

Anne Frank  “No one has ever become poor by giving.”

Jagadanandakaraka!

Vishakha Hari mentioned in one of her discourses on पञ्चरत्न वैभवम् that this great kriti actually contains a 100 names of Lord Rama. One can only marvel at Tyagaraja’s genius and the grace bestowed upon him by Lord Rama!

Here is a link to the namavalis: http://stotrasamhita.net/wiki/Jagadanandakaraka_Shatanamavali

I must acknowledge http://sahityam.net/wiki/Jagadanandakaraka and all the contributors there for help in discerning the different names in the Kriti, through the translations and word-splittings.

See also: https://karthikr.wordpress.com/2009/04/09/jaya-janakiprananayaka/

IPL, Money Mania

We’ve all been fretting and fuming about the IPL. I’ve been wanting to write some nasty posts about Lalit Modi, the strategy break and so on… but haven’t found the time. Thankfully, cricinfo’s new Page 2 has some irate cricket fans, who also have time to write such stuff:

Let’s take a moment (or 75) – A nice spoof of the strategy break (as though all the other money was never enough)

Excerpt:

1. The Dog-Running-Onto-The-Ground Break
After some six overs of the first game, the first dog – second only to rain as cricket’s constant companion – arrived. The advertisements during the ensuing break apparently took care of the salaries of half the Chennai team.

2. The Injury-Break Break
One player is nominated during each match to fake an injury. The cameras then move away from the action, and television viewers are treated to a whole cycle of advertisements. The time is not important, timing is.

Money, money, money – Songs on Lalit Modi’s Ipod

Excerpt:

1. “For the Love of Money”, The O-Jays
Donald Trump took the 1974 No. 9 hit from soul/R&B group the O-Jays and made it into an anthem of sorts on his smash reality show The Apprentice. You can almost picture Modi hitting “repeat” for this catchy tune. Especially when he gets out of one of those fancy imported cars, entourage in tow.

2. “Money”, Pink Floyd
The definitive money song, complete with cash register and coin sound effects. A must on Modi’s list of beats to play in the office, while travelling, on the treadmill, before business meetings, and during power naps. Cha-ching.

Commentary Humour [sic]:

“You talk of Citi Moments of Success, but when you get five wickets in four overs like that, that’s very special indeed.”
Robin Jackman describes how unique Anil Kumble’s feat on day one is, failing to account for the inconvenient fact that normal human beings do not, in fact, actually talk of Citi Moments of Success

Rules from hell:

Any team owner or official who even casually mentions any sum of money less than US$100,000 will have to pay a fine of one million dollars. As further punishment, the sum mentioned will be enforced as a salary cap for that team for the next IPL season.

Any words that contain the three letters IPL in sequence, such as “triplet”, “gripless” and “whiplash”, cannot be used in any form, printed or in verbal communication, without paying royalties to the IPL.


Mocking at the IPL Hype:

Lalit Modi, at the opening ceremony: “As I stand here before this excited, committed and [following phrase delivered in a shriek] sold out crowd in one of cricket’s most spectacular arenas for our opening day of Season 2009 of the DLF Indian Premier League , I feel joy, humility, pride and gratitude.” Joy, no doubt yes, but humility? Surely you jest, Mr Commissioner?

GQ magazine, India: Columnist Prashant Agarwal has seen the future and is suitably impressed. “Mark my words: in 2020, the most expensive commercial spot in the world will be a 30-second ad screened during IPL footage.”
[For heaven’s sake, I hope this doesn’t come true]

WHY I HATE THE IPL:

1. IPL = ICL + Money (+ Money + Money ..) + BCCI roping in Indian cricketers

2. Lalit Modi

3. Who the hell is BCCI to declare ICL illegal?

Of course, that doesn’t stop me from watching IPL😦 (only on cricinfo, of course!)

Jaya Janakiprananayaka!

It’s been a while since I have blogged, but I just had to write about this new-found obsession of mine, with Jagadanandakaraka. I keep humming it all the time these days, despite my scanty knowledge of Carnatic music. I have always been a fan of Nata ragam, but Jagadanandakaraka is not just about music. It is about Sri Rama, Sri Tyagaraja and much more than even Srimati Vishakha Hariji had so beautifully put forth, in her discourse on the Pancharatna Kritis.

(You can find the notation for Jagadanandakaraka here.)

Over the last couple of days, I have been so fascinated by the commentary I heard, that I found it too difficult to resist blogging on it.

Some quick highlights from the discourse:

  1. Sadkavihridalaya: Story of Tulasidas, and how Lord Kasi Viswanatha instructed him to write in pradesha Hindi bhasha, rather thank Samskritam.
  2. Pada-vijita-mauni-sapa: Whole of Balakandam in one charanam
  3. Purahara-Sarojabhava-Keshavadirupa : Vishakha narrated a lovely story about a goldsmith from Pandarpur, who was a great Shiva bhakta, but would not even utter the name of Panduranga and how Panduranga so beautifully opened his eyes!
  4. One can recite the whole of Jagadanandakaraka as ashtottara namavaLi! (I am trying to get the right count; I am certain there are close to a 100 namas!)

Obviously, Maharshi Valmiki was not satiated just by writing Srimad Ramayanam, he had to ‘sing’ it again in various verses as Tyagaraja, for the benefit of one and all!

Jaya Janakiprananayaka!

TATA Star Bazaar — good, but obnoxious

Been putting off writing this post for four months now. Better late than never, huh?

16-March-2008

Being a Sunday morning, we had planned to go out to Forum. Too early to eat at Gramin (wanted to post about this lovely restaurant too), we walked around a bit. Croma, the electronics store near forum had already caught my eye, and so did Star Bazaar. Though I am a big fan of TATA’s vis-à-vis Reliance (there’s a smart Reliance Mart that has come up on Bannerghatta Road (abt 2km past IIMB), that I liked a little better), what put me off (or drove me out) of this Bazaar was the obnoxious smell of meat cooking in the open. I have already seen my dose of non-vegetarianism in Bangalore and seen how it’s catching up across various quarters of India, but this was too much to put up with. It was even worse than walking across the Marry Brown corridor in Ispahani Centre (Nungambakkam, Chennai). Grrrr, why don’t people remember that there are still some (many?) vegetarians left behind in this nation? One thing the smell did was to drive me out, at least from the ground floor, which had a lot of provisions and groceries, to the first, which stocked more of clothing, as well as applicances and stuff. The clothing variety was good, but I would put Reliance Mart ahead, where you get decent looking polo T-shirts for 200 rupees! To give the devil it’s due, I did really like the way stuff was laid out in the first floor — and if I recall right, there was even a Landmark. But the moment I got back to the ground floor, the smell easily chased me out! All in all, I would not recommend STAR Bazaar, more as a retaliation, in principle, to their lack of respect for vegetarians!

That brings me to the whole issue of vegetarianism, an issue that requires much more discussion than I now have time for. I write this being provoked by the stupidest of Tamil magazines, which appears to be running a debate on whether vegetables are vegetarian [sic]?! The Indian concept of vegetarianism is quite different, from the Western viewpoint; it’s not just about animals and animal products. Food is only classified as saattvic, raajasic or taamasic — thus, while milk is classifed as a saattvic food, meat is classified as taamasic, as are onions, garlics or mushrooms (not that I even intend to equate anything with the himsa involved in producing meat). To add a point here, one must look back [and deep] into the rich tradition of our ancestors of atonement for killing (of microbes and tiny living beings, presumably) at the five places such as the cooking vessel, grinder/mixer, mincer etc (ammi, aattukkal, jalapatram etc) by the performance of the pancha mahayagnyas, and the vaishvadeva, to account for the ‘living’ vegetables etc. I am just giving a sketchy picture from the little I know here — do ask your [grand]parents for more fundaes🙂. Ok, have digressed enough. May vegetarianism be revived!

Another silly quip is the fact that they seal the plastic covers, as you leave the store! That’s disgusting, because it defeats the purpose of re-using plastic bags (postponing recycling or junking them outright), if you have to tear the sealed bag open when you get back home. Reliance was far better, using plastic wires to knot the bags.

Disclaimer: I am a bit intolerant towards molecules noxious to my olfactory system, but I believe this was too much. Nevertheless, pay a visit to STAR Bazaar — I hope they have improved, for their own good — and take your pick!