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Bill Hill: Digital Democracy and the Declaration of Digital Independence

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Bill Hill is one of the Niners' favorite Microsoft personalities. He is also a legend around Microsoft and within the typography community. Bill spends most of his time thinking about how to make reading on a screen the best possible experience for human readers.

We wanted to find out what's on Bill's mind these days so we thought we'd have a chat with Bill and Lake Bill on crystal clear day was the perfect setting for learning about Bill's passion for enabling digital democracy. What's digital democracy? Well, watch and listen to find out. Bill has even written up a Declaration of Digital Independence.

Tune in. Bill Hill is on Channel 9 again!

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  • Thank you Charles and Bill.

    Great video.  Tongue Out

    Cool

  • ChadkChadk excuse me - do you has a flavor?
    oh my god. Bill hill!

    Im so watching this Big Smile

    Thanks, at last!
  • Christian Liensbergerlittleguru <3 Seattle
    Oh my god! I can't believe it. Bill Hill is back Smiley I'm watching the video RIGHT NOW!

    Thanks for Charles and Bill taking the time!
  • dahatdahat inanity makes my head hurt
    We missed you Bill!
  • CplCarrotCplCarrot Dust Puppy
    A new definition of frustration: Seeing a video you want to watch but finding that the global caching systems wont serve it up to you:s
    I can download it which at the Channel 9 Ultra HD size will take 2 Hrs + or wait for the caches to catch up. FRUSTRATING.
    Charlie
  • Christian Liensbergerlittleguru <3 Seattle
    CplCarrot wrote:
    A new definition of frustration: Seeing a video you want to watch but finding that the global caching systems wont serve it up to you
    I can download it which at the Channel 9 Ultra HD size will take 2 Hrs + or wait for the caches to catch up. FRUSTRATING.
    Charlie


    Bill Hill will make it to a cache near you soon. Just give him some time... he's doing his best, I'm so sure about that Wink
  • Martin Ennemosermawcc Make it so

    Great video, thanks. Favourite quote:

    "If you were the Bill Gates of the 15th century, you might have had twelve books."

  • I didn't know Bill was on the IE team now.
    Nice video Charles.

  • Jonathan MerriweatherCyonix Me

    I really enjoyed this video, Bill Hill is great.

  • Sven GrootSven Groot Don't worry... I'm a doctor.

    Great video.

    One thing I would like Bill to comment on is a recent post here that linked to an article that insinuated that MS's screen text display technologies (hinting, ClearType) are holding back the need for high-DPI displays. Any chance Bill is reading this and would care to give his thoughts on that?

    I also have to disagree with his assertion that eBooks were a success. Technologically, sure, but as someone who reads a lot of eBooks on my PocketPC, certainly not from an acceptance point of view. My current approach tends to be to buy a book in paper form, then download an illegal eBook version, because more often than not the books I want aren't legally available as eBooks. That's a shame I think.

    It's also something I've noticed here in Japan. Japanese people basically do one out of three things when they're in a train: sleep, read or play with their mobile phone. Even my phone, which is pretty much the cheapest phone you can get in Japan, has a high resolution display, it has eBook capability and I can even read comics on them. But they don't do it. When they're reading in the train, they use books (Japanese books seem to be made so you can easily read them with just one hand). When they're using their mobile, they're either playing a game or they're sending e-mails, they're not using them to read. Why is that?

  • A lot of the resistent towards moving newspapers, magazines, books, etc over to a digital distribution and reading environment comes from the same kind of resistence that Bill was talking about. There are still a lot of film photographers who believe that digital will never equal film. I'm sure that there were a lot of scribes and copyists who resisted the printing press.

    There has always been the problem of the established technologies fighting against the new stuff. This usually seems to be because of their perception of the new technology. Often they see a transition to new technology as being too difficult, too expensive, when it isn't any of those things.

    I do some amature photography, and I hang out at a couple of photography websites. There are a lot of professional photographers (not artists, but people who do weddings, portraits, etc...) who use film. Many of them don't want to use digital because they feel that it is too expensive and too complicated. Yet, those who use digital feel that film is too expensive and too complicated. Who is right? Ultimately neither is correct. Both mediums end up being about the same price in equipment and time. However, the real value of a digital workflow comes from being opened up to a universe of possibilities beyond anything film offers.

    Another reason why supporters of older technologies don't like newer ways of doing things is that they new ways are generally easier. Yes, they resist the democratization of media. Going back to the subject of photography, try going to a photography forum and reading what the film based photographers have to say. Many of them despise the idea of digital, because digital technology has made it possible for anyone to take photos and manipulate them into perfection. Digital has taken away the mystique of photography. Most PHD (Push Here Dummy) cameras can take great pictures without messing with shutter speed, aperature etc. Also the price of digital has basically put a powerful DSLR into the hands of anyone who wants one (me included). There are hundreds more silly reasons that some of these old fogeys give, so I won't list them all here. However, you can easily imagine ancient scribes ranting about the printing press making it so anybody could make a book.

    The same principle can be applied to print vs. digital. Bill really nailed the non-challenge of digital publishing, and why people are slow to adopt.

    I'm with Sven. Ebooks are a wonderful concept, but thus far they have been a failure. I think that part of the reason is that right now there is a lot of Not-Invented-Here going around. There is lots of hardware, and lots of eBook formats. It's probably going to take a while for the dust to settle.

    On the topic of eBooks, if Bill does happen to read this thread and for anybody else who reads eBooks: What ebook format/software would you recommend for various form factors? Obviously the best solution is going to allow you to buy one file and use it on any platform you want. Who's the best?

  • Bill has obviously never been to the C9 coffeehouse where anonymous trolls and gremlins with multi aviators are reinforced by the C9 Team.
  • Yes I listened to what he said, but Chaz didn't mention the coffeehouse where anyone can create a bunch of user names and be encouraged to create more.

    As I've said before by the end of next year we'll have more C9 members then there are people on planet Earth.

    Keep posting   e
  • Christian Liensbergerlittleguru <3 Seattle
    eagle wrote:
    Bill has obviously never been to the C9 coffeehouse where anonymous trolls and gremlins with multi aviators are reinforced by the C9 Team.


    Bill is targeting the anonymity problems in the video.
  • Peteshep Navision Peon
    Good to hear a Glaswegian talk about technology with such enthusiasm as Bill, always look forward to his videos to be honest. Just out of interest if Bill is about whereabouts in the east end did you grow up?

    Pete
  • Sven GrootSven Groot Don't worry... I'm a doctor.
    kettch wrote:
    On the topic of eBooks, if Bill does happen to read this thread and for anybody else who reads eBooks: What ebook format/software would you recommend for various form factors? Obviously the best solution is going to allow you to buy one file and use it on any platform you want. Who's the best?

    On the PocketPC, I prefer Microsoft Reader. Nice, legible text, all you need to use while reading is the "right" button to go to the next page, and it remembers where you were.
  • Sven Groot wrote:
    
    kettch wrote:
    On the topic of eBooks, if Bill does happen to read this thread and for anybody else who reads eBooks: What ebook format/software would you recommend for various form factors? Obviously the best solution is going to allow you to buy one file and use it on any platform you want. Who's the best?

    On the PocketPC, I prefer Microsoft Reader. Nice, legible text, all you need to use while reading is the "right" button to go to the next page, and it remembers where you were.


    Thanks, that's kind of what I've been leaning towards.

    That reminds me of the first eBook reader software that I ever used. It was a program that ran on my TI-89. Somebody had come up with a really good font that somehow fit an incredible amount of text on the screen and you could make your own books from any text source. I used that when I was in school, and while traveling for a long time. I must have read dozens of books on it.
  • bill hillbill hill bill hill

    Quite the reverse, I think. ClearType will make it possible to give us all the resolution we need nfor human vision - without requiring crazy graphics processing.

    Here's my reasoning (which I've been evangelizing inside Microsoft for some time).

    Human visual acuity is about 600ppi.

    However, to go from ~100ppi screens today to 600ppi hardware means 36 times as much graphics processing (n-squared # of pixels).

    ClearType, however, by using the RGB subpixel triad, is a multiplier.
    So I have a 204ppi display in my office. With ClearType, it's as good as the best printed magazine. (forget the ultra-high-res imagesetting they use, that's really only required because the printing process is so lossy)

    Now, you can see how my screen could be made the tiniest bit better. But the cost of producing a screen that good, plus the graphics processing you'd need, puts you squarely into the Law of Dimishing Returns part of the curve. What I mean is, you can throw lots more in, but you get only tiny advances in quality out.

    That screen, from IBM, was a great purchase if you really need that much resolution for research. But it went on sale at $20,000, and even after several years never got below $6000.

    I believe a great compromise resolution is 180ppi + ClearType. That will give great text, not only for Latin-based languages, but East Asian languages like Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

    That's not too far above the 147ppi Dell's been shipping in Inspiron laptops for about eight years. So that's quite a reasonable step for the hardware folks to take.

    The real issue that's been holding back high-resolution displays is not ClearType.

    Website designers, and applications vendors (and Windows) have been assuming forever that all screens were about 96ppi.

    There are fixed pixel dimensions built into everything - websites, applications dialogs, etc etc. So, while text scales well, it often gets clipped. Or a website only take up one-quarter of the display on my 204ppi display because it's been designed for 1000 pixels wide, and my screen in 3840 x 2400...

    All of these things have to become resolution-independent. That means a lot of work by everyone. Line-of-business applications have the the same challenges.

    I have to say, the best-behaved application (or really, set of applications) at high dpi, is Microsoft Office. Since Office 2003 they've had full support for high resolution. So on my display it behaves perfectly, whether I'm using Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or anything else. The Office team did a great job, especially given the complexity of their task, with so many applications to rev. I really take my nhat off to those guys for showing the way.

    So don't blame ClearType for holding back improved resolution. We're at the forefront of the push!

    It's a big, complex ecosystem and can't be changed overnight.

  • bill hillbill hill bill hill
    I worked on MS-Reader, so I'm biased. But we did the best job we could to analyze the reading experience and build all that knowledge into the software.

    I love it on a PocketPC (Dell Axim v50 with 208ppi screen, which I think they stopped making), on a small TabletPC. Some of the TabletPC are too big and heavy for comfortable reading.
  • bill hillbill hill bill hill
    Lived in Shettleston for the first two years of my life. Moved to Pollokshaws untiol I was about 7. Then we moved back to the East End, to the Barlanark housing scheme. Lived there until I was about 18.
  • Sven GrootSven Groot Don't worry... I'm a doctor.
    bill hill wrote:
    So don't blame ClearType for holding back improved resolution. We're at the forefront of the push!

    Just to make it clear, I'm not saying that. I just saw an article that said that and was wondering what you thought. Thanks for answering, btw. Smiley

    I agree with your position, that it's lack of high-DPI support in Windows, applications, and the web that holds back high resolution displays. There's also a clear lack of knowledge here on the user side. So often I see misconfigured LCD screens. Just recently I came across someone who was running here 1600x1200 LCD screen at only 1280x1024! I noticed immediately of course, and pointed it out. When I corrected it, she responded "yeah that's much sharper, but now the icons and text are too small". So I go "then you use this setting to correct it" and changed the DPI. She didn't know that setting existed. And this was a PhD student in Computer Science!

    I definitely agree with your choice of eBook device. I have an Axim X51v and it's great. Big Smile
  • bill hillbill hill bill hill
    Exactly the problem. An LCD display is not like a CRT.

    A CRT has no pixel grid; a virtual grid is created by the graphics card which tells the electron guns which phoshors to hit.

    An LCD has a real grid. Put a designer's 10X magnifying loupe up to white on an LCD display, you'll see the R,G,B sub-pixels with black lines between them which are the wiring tracks.

    If your screen is supposed to be 1600 x 1200 and you run at anything else you get hardware scaling, rounding errors etc and it looks like crap.

    Having said that, people find the easiest way to make their icons and text bigger in Windows is to drop their resolution, and this is bad.

    That's our fault, and it's our job to make this easier and better for them.

    Expect this to improve in the future.
  • Christian Liensbergerlittleguru <3 Seattle
    If Bill Hill in the IE team means that the zoom feature will work properly and layout gets better I'm so happy.

    Right now it produces weird stuff - I mean it works from time to time, but try to zoom this website and hover over the "Forums" menu in the top: The popup shows up for like a second and is gone afterwards.


    Right now viewing websites on my notebook is just a pain in the a**. My resolution is 1920 x 1200. I usually have my browser window in window mode because otherwise there would be two issues:

    1) The website is like 500 pixel wide and doesn't fill the whole space, which means I have like a huge white or black piece on the right.

    2) The website fills up 100% of the with and each text line is incredible long. It's impossible to read.
  • LaBombaLaBomba Summer
    littleguru, that's why you get your email and web browser up side by side. or two browser windows up side by side. it's like having a dual monitor setup.......only on one screen Wink
  • LaBombaLaBomba Summer
    Say bill, how has text readablity improved in Vista over XP...
    were there any further cleartype enhancements?

    Running Vista Ultimate on a 22" inch wide-screen LCD, compared to the 19" inch LCD I had with XP, text looks the same to me.
  • figuerresfiguerres ???
    Nice!

    Bill, I wonder with your background in Type, reading and so on if while working on the IE team if you will be doing any work in layout and CSS ??

    I mean I know you will have to in the process of working on reading and type but for example your comments about the "1000 pixel layout" and my own experience in trying to learn how to use CSS and div's and such....

    I would *LOVE* to see some kind of CSS / HTML layout tools from MSFT to help developers write good layout for web apps (and for windows forms also).

    I know that a lot of it is in learning to not just start blasting tables in tables in tables ...  Big Smile

    But I have also found that the tools Just are not that great at helping us move from fixed layout and tables to CSS and clean html.

    VS 2008 looks like it's a good move, much better.


    and the stuff about reading and acceess to the text and meadia...
    Yeah,  I know I work with some smart folks but they just do not read!  It really makes me shake my head and wonder about what comes next!

    They wonder at the amount of stuff I know, ask how I can know all the stuff I know...

    and the push to read less... I think we have a paradox today that is kind of scary....   10,000,000 things we could read but no time to read them, watch the movie forget the book ...  seems to be more common all the time.

    what happens when that generation has children who need to be inspired to learn to read ?  if Mom and Dad don't seem to read how will Jimmy and Suzy learn to love to read ?

    sure they can pickup the bug other places but ....

    Looking forward to Internet Explorer The Hill Edition !  Big Smile
  • MinhMinh WOOH!  WOOH!
  • W3bboW3bbo Work hard; increase production; prevent accidents, and be happy.
    bill hill wrote:
    I worked on MS-Reader, so I'm biased. But we did the best job we could to analyze the reading experience and build all that knowledge into the software.


    I remember Reader on my first PDA, a HP Jornada 545. I can't say I liked it very much, the smallest font-size was too small for my tastes. The display was capable of smaller type, so why was it artifically limited to 12pt?

    bill hill wrote:
    I love it on a PocketPC (Dell Axim v50 with 208ppi screen, which I think they stopped making), on a small TabletPC. Some of the TabletPC are too big and heavy for comfortable reading.


    The Dell Axim VGA devices are 192dpi, not 208.

    BTW Bill, you make the claim of creating ClearType a while ago, and whilst it's true it's the first commercial implementation, the internets say that IBM first made it in 1988. What's the word on that?

    Ta!
  • figuerresfiguerres ???
    W3bbo wrote:
    

    BTW Bill, you make the claim of creating ClearType a while ago, and whilst it's true it's the first commercial implementation, the internets say that IBM first made it in 1988. What's the word on that?


    W3bbo: where ?  what is the source info?

    I found some references to some work on sub-pixel in 1988 but no details on IBM in that...

  • bill hillbill hill bill hill

    The postings by littleguru and LaBomba hit a hot button, and highlight something else which needs fixing on the Web.

    littleguru points out the problem, LaBomba a workaround which I use myself - Outlook email and Internet Explorer side-by-side - and which in fact I'm looking at right now.

    At the risk of boring Niners, I'll try to explain what's wrong, and how it can be fixed.

    Human beings (which I assume covers most C9 readers) need to read text that's between 9 and 13 points high at normal reading distance, and that's set in columns 55-65 characters wide.

    Not like to read, need to read.

    All humans are the same. We're all Africans, really. So far, despite extensive sampling, no human has ever been found who does not share the same DNA marker with a man who left Africa about 50,000 years ago. (Great book to read on this if you're interested is "The Journey of Man: A genetic odyssey" by Spencer Wells).

    The important point here is we all have the same visual system.

    Our peripheral and distance vision is where we triage information. We're homo sapiens v. 1.0, hunter-gatherer, so what's important here is "Is this a threat - or lunch?".

    The part of the eye that handles that is the parafovea, the area around a tiny part of our retina (0.2mm in diameter) called the fovea, which we use for high-resolution vision.

    It's the fovea we use for reading. The size of the fovea dictates the size of text we can read comfortably and easily. Our eyes are moving rapidly all the time as we read. The muscles moving the eye only deflect comfortably (without uncomfortable stretching or head turns) to the extent of about 55-65 characters wide at 9-13 points.

    Books are not the size they are by accident. They evolved over 5500 years of writing and reading. What worked best with human vision survived, what didn't work died along the way (there have been many experiments).

    The first Web browsers took zero account of any of this. So your choices were exactly as described: Scale your browser window to a size which works with your visual system, or make reading text like watching a game of tennis from the net line - line-lengths which are impossible to use.

    Problem is that the design community has been working for 35,000 years to the same law - what I call the First Law of Design: First determine the size of space you have to fill, then use that dimension to drive all of your design.

    The First Law is now broken, and people don't realize it yet. We live in a new world where you design one piece of content, but people may view it on many different devices with completely different characteristics (cellphone, laptop, flat-panel TV etc).

    In other words, we need a completely new paradigm for design: dynamic design for a world of dynamic content.

    Most designers on the Web are still trying to drag the old world of fixed dimensions into the new world where it doesn't work: hence we get websites desgned to fixed-pixel widths etc.

    The best reading experience I've seen on a screen so far - by a very long way - is the New York Times Reader. We used every technique typographers and designers have learned and developed over the 550 years since Gutenberg. Then we went beyond that by developing dynanmic layout which intelligently adapted the design to the device on which it was running.

    So you can look at the New York Times on your laptop (1600 x 1200), or your TabletPC in portrait mode display (1200 x 1600). The layout adapts to give you the optimal reading experience on each device. So the number of columns, say, changes automatically. It always fills the screen. The software even re-sizes the adverts to fit - pulling in more content to the ad if required. But it still looks and reads like the New York Times.

    Because it fills the screen, there are no distractions from reading. Which is why the two-windows-side-by-side option is only a workaround, not a true fix.

    I read the New York Times Reader every day. I wish all websites could be this easy to read. It's not perfect yet, it's still evolving. But it's miles ahead of the Web.

    I first got involved in hypertext in 1985 (long before there was a Web) when I wrote the software manual for Guide, the first hypertext program for the Apple Macintosh.

    I realized back then that fixing reading on a screen was a huge task, but it was critical.

    I first wrote about dynamic design at Microsoft in 1995 (the year I came). We developed some basic technology in this area in 1996. Things have been happening in many places (including the Reading layout View in Microsoft Word - which again is a long way from perfect, but at least is a start).

    It's been only 12 years. It takes longer than that to change 35,000 years of information design (the first cave paintings).

    My life's mission is to get us there. That's why I come to work. And it's why I came to Microsoft. Reading's a core human task. People spend more time at their computers reading than doing anything else.

    Make Windows and Microsoft applications like Internet Explorer and Office truly readable, and you change the world. Because you change the lives of a billion people who use them every day. And then open that up to the next billion...

    Bill Gates got that a long time ago. I sent him my "Digital Reading Dreams", and asked him for his thoughts.

    At the end of a detailed mail, he told me:

    "Keep on dreaming, and keep on forcing us to dream, too!"

    How cool is that?




  • bill hillbill hill bill hill
    Oh, yes. ClearType's on about version 8 now...

    Originally, we used ClearType only to fix the shape of the characters. But spacing between characters is just as important and shape for reading. That's more complicated to fix because layout engines have to be rev'd.

    WPF in Vista uses a version of CT we call Sub-Pixel Positioned ClearType.

    The biggest issue when we introduced CT at first was that CRTs were still dominant, so the Windows folks didn't want to turn it on by default (there were other compromises, too - like forcing CT metrics to be the same as the old GDI metrics so existing documents wouldn't reflow, which compromised quality, especially for some charcaters liike "i" and "l" - even more so when they occur together, which is often).

    In Vista CT is on by default.

    Vista also has a new set of fonts (Calibri, Cambria, Consolas etc - they all begin with "C") which were specifically designed to take advantage of everything we know about ClearType.

    It also has a new Japanese typeface - Meiryo - which we built without any bitmaps (quality East Asian normally need hundreds of thousands, because you have to do stroke-reduction on screen, since there aren't enough pixels to portray all the strokes).

    In Meiryo, we developed a new use of ClearType hinting to do stroke reduction. We then passed that on to the Windows International team, who used the same technique on Chinese and Korean.

    Meiryo's the best Japanese onscreen face anyone has ever created.

    These were our Vista projects.


  • bill hillbill hill bill hill
    Well we're not talking about future IE plans yet.

    But I did say in the interview that Dean, the IE GM, said to me "Come and help us make reading great!"

    So let's see what unfolds...

    Let me just say, since it's already a matter of public record,  that our first dynamic layout example at Microsoft back in 1996 involved innovative use of CSS.

  • bill hillbill hill bill hill
    The internets are wrong. Folks should read the patents. 
  • Tommy CarlierTommyCarlier Widen your gaze
    Thanks for the technical details about the human reading. A while ago I actually changed the style of my blog radically to increase readability. I use a font size that is bigger than what you usually find on blogs or websites (13pt). I also increased the line height a bit, and made the width of the content flexible, but with a maximum width of 35em. I think I got it right, but feel free to correct me.
  • For any kind of information regarding human reading i 'd recommend Bill's paper 'Osprey' from 1999.

    click here Thanks for this video!
  • bill hillbill hill bill hill
    Hi Tommy:

    I took a look at your blog. You've done a great job here, within the limitations of Web browsing today. Line length seems good.

    Maybe this is a personal preference, but I'd try tightening the line spacing just a little with that line length. Not much - don't do anything drastic - just experiment with very small decrements on what you have. You should know when you hit the sweet spot.

    The 13 point type is just a little too large for me. But people read at different distances from the screen, and they have different eyesight. Older people, or those with vision difficulties may want it even larger.

    Typeface, type size, line length, leading, margins, page size etc are all inter-related variables which have to be tuned to work together.

    I wrote about this in detail in my 1999 paper called "The Magic of Reading" (which I know is out there on the Web). I called the technology of type OSPREY, or Optimized Serial Pattern Recognition. Since I was out in the woods tracking a coyote when I had the realization, I tacked "EY" onto the end of the acronym.

    There's a set of OSPREY "sweet spots" for 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 point in which all the variables are tuned to work together (There are also sweet spots for people who need larger type).

    What you really want is not just to change the typesize, but change all the other variables related to it at the same time. That's what we did with MS-Reader, and that's why it's a good reading experience.

    On the Web, you can make the typesize bigger in the browser by choosing "make text larger", but nothing else changes.

    Anothe problem is you really want to not have as much unused space on the screen when the browser window's maximized. That's not as straightforward.

    These are not criticisms of what you've done. I think you've created a pretty good workaround for today's Web. So these are general criticisms of the environment in which we all have to work today.

    I'm thinking more in the area of what the Web needs to become,

    bill
  • bill hillbill hill bill hill
    While I'm on my soapbox:

    The two worst things you can do to people who're trying to read:

    1. Make them scroll. Designers and typographers have spent 550 years developing optimum combinations of line legnth, leading etc to avoid reading the same line twice. When you force people to scrooll, they always end up reading some lines twice which breaks the flow of meaning. That's why the New York Times Reader is paginated - there's no scrolling.

    2. Flashing things. Homo sapiens 1.0 has a visual system which makes movement a Priority0 interrupt: it takes precedence over everything else (because it's a survival mechanism). You can't stop it, it's totally automatic. So reading a website with flashing or moving stuff is like trying to read a book in a cage full of lions. Advertisers know all about the Pri0 interrupt - that's exactly why they do it...

    The Digital Declaration of Independence

    We hold this truth to be self-evident: That every human has an equal and unalienable right to the means to create, distribute and consume information to realize their full potential for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness - regardless of the country they live in, their gender, beliefs, racial origin, language or any impairments they may have
  • Christian Liensbergerlittleguru <3 Seattle
    bill hill wrote:
    At the risk of boring Niners, I'll try to explain what's wrong, and how it can be fixed.


    You never "bore" niners. If someone doesn't like to read your answers, s/he can just move along with the next reply Smiley

    And btw. thank you very much for your time and replying to the posts here! This is very much appreciated!
  • Christian Liensbergerlittleguru <3 Seattle
    bill hill wrote:
    The Digital Declaration of Independence

    We hold this truth to be self-evident: That every human has an equal and unalienable right to the means to create, distribute and consume information to realize their full potential for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness - regardless of the country they live in, their gender, beliefs, racial origin, language or any impairments they may have


    That's a very very noble declaration! I think that you made a very important point here.

    I assume that making general HTML pages better readable must be a hard task to achieve. I wonder what you guys have in your pocket to make that happen Smiley
  • Peteshep Navision Peon
    bill hill wrote:
    Lived in Shettleston for the first two years of my life. Moved to Pollokshaws untiol I was about 7. Then we moved back to the East End, to the Barlanark housing scheme. Lived there until I was about 18.


    East end boy, not far from that place I call Paradise Wink. Unfortunately I reside in the one of the areas twinned with Barlanark Sad, Drumchapel. Just until i finish the last year of my honours degree.

    Pete
  • Sorry if it's the wrong place, but a general question about Cleartype development:

    Are there any plans to make it work with and respond to different orientations? Yes it isn't as useful but it would have some benefit.

    LCD monitors in portrait mode would benefit (with a large screen in portrait mode one can read a4 pages without scrolling).

    So would the various pocket PCs with the keyboards that push out, which are always going between portrait and landscape mode. Windows mobile supports this very well except cleartype doesn't, and if it is on you end up with blurry coloured text.
  • figuerresfiguerres ???
    bill hill wrote:
    Well we're not talking about future IE plans yet.

    But I did say in the interview that Dean, the IE GM, said to me "Come and help us make reading great!"

    So let's see what unfolds...

    Let me just say, since it's already a matter of public record,  that our first dynamic layout example at Microsoft back in 1996 involved innovative use of CSS.



    I understand that you can't "Leak" things Smiley

    but I figured at least if you see the question and what at least one dev has struggled with then it has a chance of getting "on the radar" at msft Wink

    not that I do not think msft does not know about it.... but IMHO you are the sort of person to kick that to the "Next Level"

    PS:  I loved the stuff you said a while back about tracking, I walk to the office every day and try to scan the bushes and trees for stuff.
    I am in Tampa FL in an area that has some good green areas and see racoons, armadillos, deer, wild turkeys, vultures, ospreys, snakes, skinks, cuban anoles and other cirrters that live around me.
    several times I have stopped a jogger and pointed things out to them and watched them be amazed they were jogging past some of the larger cirtters with out knowing it Smiley
  • figuerresfiguerres ???
    bill hill wrote:
    While I'm on my soapbox:

    The two worst things you can do to people who're trying to read:

    1. Make them scroll. Designers and typographers have spent 550 years developing optimum combinations of line legnth, leading etc to avoid reading the same line twice. When you force people to scrooll, they always end up reading some lines twice which breaks the flow of meaning. That's why the New York Times Reader is paginated - there's no scrolling.

    2. Flashing things. Homo sapiens 1.0 has a visual system which makes movement a Priority0 interrupt: it takes precedence over everything else (because it's a survival mechanism). You can't stop it, it's totally automatic. So reading a website with flashing or moving stuff is like trying to read a book in a cage full of lions. Advertisers know all about the Pri0 interrupt - that's exactly why they do it...

    The Digital Declaration of Independence

    We hold this truth to be self-evident: That every human has an equal and unalienable right to the means to create, distribute and consume information to realize their full potential for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness - regardless of the country they live in, their gender, beliefs, racial origin, language or any impairments they may have


    funny how that maps almost 100% to my bosses two complaints about web pages, when you post-back a web form that effect of the page "f;ashing"  and the scrolling that also happens when it's a tall page....  AJAX helps a lot with that....
  • bill hillbill hill bill hill
    Well, we have actually done the ClearType in portrait/ landscape thing, where the pixel striping is horizontal instead of vertical.

    TabletPCs know about this and change when you rotate them, I believe. I'll have to try and hook Greg Hitchcock into this discussion. Greg runs the ClearType and Readability Research team and knows more of the detail of implementation than me.

    There's still a lot of benefit, as you say, although vertical striping is better because we also get to use 300ppi spacing as well as fix character shapes.
  • bill hillbill hill bill hill
    The mountain lion word for jogger is "lunch"...

    Seriously though, it's great that you're a tracker.

    A family of wolves and a 175-pound male cougar taught me everything I needed to know about human perception.

    I live in cougar country. That 175-pound male once followed my trail back from where I'd found his family was denning to my front door. He just looked in the glass, scoped us out, stepped back and faded into the woods. "You know where I live, I know where you live..."

    I was taught wilderness and tracking skills by Jon Young, who was Tom Brown's student.

    When you go for a walk where I live, you'd better be paying attention. There are often cougars around. If you're jogging - especially with your iPod - you're not paying attention.

    In mountain lion world, if it runs, it's prey. They much prefer deer to people, but that doesn't do you much good if you're dead by the time he finds out you're not a deer. (Favorite kill method: a leap from the side, hit the deer in the shoulder with two front paws, break its neck instantly. It's all about economics. So minimize the effort and avoid the risk of being injured yourself by flying hooves).

    Now, one problem with mountain lions is that when young males grow up, Dad chases them off his territory. They have to find their own. Often they're very hungry at this point, and will eat anything.

    They also tend to wander into suburbia, where they have to be tranquilized and released in a wilder place. I have friend who does this for Fish and Wildlife in Washington.

    Once you've rediscovered your submerged wilderness perception, you see lots that other people never notice, as you say.

    And until you understand how that perception works, you'll never write software that's ideally suited for humans,

    bill

  • mejamie Niner since 2004

    ive had my eyes well up twice....half way through....

    edit:

    human network   +10

    home schooled  +interesting

    charles change topic back to paper books after amazing talk  -1

    its a time for dreams  +10

    non fixed space environment = wmf - the real one!  +1

    ie team?  +1

    no strokes!

     

  • figuerresfiguerres ???
    bill hill wrote:
    The mountain lion word for jogger is "lunch"...

    Seriously though, it's great that you're a tracker.

    A family of wolves and a 175-pound male cougar taught me everything I needed to know about human perception.

    I live in cougar country. That 175-pound male once followed my trail back from where I'd found his family was denning to my front door. He just looked in the glass, scoped us out, stepped back and faded into the woods. "You know where I live, I know where you live..."

    I was taught wilderness and tracking skills by Jon Young, who was Tom Brown's student.

    When you go for a walk where I live, you'd better be paying attention. There are often cougars around. If you're jogging - especially with your iPod - you're not paying attention.

    In mountain lion world, if it runs, it's prey. They much prefer deer to people, but that doesn't do you much good if you're dead by the time he finds out you're not a deer. (Favorite kill method: a leap from the side, hit the deer in the shoulder with two front paws, break its neck instantly. It's all about economics. So minimize the effort and avoid the risk of being injured yourself by flying hooves).

    Now, one problem with mountain lions is that when young males grow up, Dad chases them off his territory. They have to find their own. Often they're very hungry at this point, and will eat anything.

    They also tend to wander into suburbia, where they have to be tranquilized and released in a wilder place. I have friend who does this for Fish and Wildlife in Washington.

    Once you've rediscovered your submerged wilderness perception, you see lots that other people never notice, as you say.

    And until you understand how that perception works, you'll never write software that's ideally suited for humans,

    bill



    Yeah I know a bit about lions and about bears...

    I was born in centeral California -- Stockton, CA
    when I grew up there was not nearly as much housing and development aorund there...  if you look at a map to the east of stockton you will find lake comanche and some other man made lakes, I camped and fished there as a kid, also to the north is the lake tahoe area and to the south is  Yosemite.

    after high school I was in the California Conservation Corp. for about a year and a half.
    I was stationed at Klamath station, that was located where the Klamath River meets the pacific ocean, just south of the Oregon boarder.

    I worked for several months with a local Indian who was a National Parks seasonal worker, we did access road maint on an old logging road they were allowing to go back to the wild slowly...

    and in costal mountans to the east and south of the river we did some work also....

    Bears, Elk, deer were all very comon, I know I had a few times when I was out there that I would just stop and look around....
    that "I am beeing watched by something" would kick in ! Expressionless

    one time we took some redwood to an old indian lady who preserved the tribes last redwood lodge; she was amazing!
    she told us how they knew the seasons and what to harvest by observation of the cycles of nature, which plants signaled the next thing to find, fish, berryies, roots and so on....

    by the way bill stockton is *VERY* close to San Jose and San Francisico....  so I missed falling in the crowd there by just a few miles back when I was a teen in the late 70s  -- sometimes I have wondered what I'd be doing today if I had lived just a few miles over  Smiley


    well thanks, keep it up and perhaps some day we may be on  the same trail !


    PS:
    http://maps.live.com/?v=2&sp=Point.qxry334nsr15_Klamath%20Station%20CCC___&encType=1


    http://maps.live.com/?v=2&sp=Point.qxry334nsr15_Klamath%20Station%20CCC___~Point.qwcy7r4nzc6c_Bald%20Hills%20Road___&encType=1

    http://maps.live.com/?v=2&sp=Point.qxry334nsr15_Klamath%20Station%20CCC___~Point.qwcy7r4nzc6c_Bald%20Hills%20Road___~Point.qc3mq14xh010_Lake%20Comanche___&encType=1
  • It's good to know that tablet PCs adjust the cleartype when you switch to portrait mode because I've rotated regular desktop LCDs on their side then used the Nvidia rotate feature and cleartype becomes very messy.
    I'm assuming it's because Windows didn't know I rotated the screen so it never had a chance to adjust.

    I don't know if it's just me getting used to it but Cleartype on my 19" Trinitron CRT is actually pretty good in Vista. I never used Cleartype on my CRT in XP.

    I still use a CRT as my main display because of how well it adjusts to different resolutions and how even the brightness is from top to bottom.
    I just can't use Adobe Illustrator on a regular inexpensive LCD, it's hopelessly inaccurate. Maybe one of the high end models with better backlighting would suit me better. At the moment I only use my LCD as monitor #2 in a dual monitor setup.

    NOW, if we could have an OS behave the way many of us hoped for when we first heard about WPF an LONG time ago (then we quickly found out that it wasn't going to work that way) that uses scalable vector graphics for it's interface we could start using high ppi displays more comfortably.
    I know a guy with a 22" Dell LCD who runs it at 1024X768. :@grrr....
  • figuerresfiguerres ???
    dentaku wrote:
    It's good to know that tablet PCs adjust the cleartype when you switch to portrait mode because I've rotated regular desktop LCDs on their side then used the Nvidia rotate feature and cleartype becomes very messy.
    I'm assuming it's because Windows didn't know I rotated the screen so it never had a chance to adjust.

    I don't know if it's just me getting used to it but Cleartype on my 19" Trinitron CRT is actually pretty good in Vista. I never used Cleartype on my CRT in XP.

    I still use a CRT as my main display because of how well it adjusts to different resolutions and how even the brightness is from top to bottom.
    I just can't use Adobe Illustrator on a regular inexpensive LCD, it's hopelessly inaccurate. Maybe one of the high end models with better backlighting would suit me better. At the moment I only use my LCD as monitor #2 in a dual monitor setup.

    NOW, if we could have an OS behave the way many of us hoped for when we first heard about WPF an LONG time ago (then we quickly found out that it wasn't going to work that way) that uses scalable vector graphics for it's interface we could start using high ppi displays more comfortably.
    I know a guy with a 22" Dell LCD who runs it at 1024X768. grrr....


    I do think that the newer LCD displays with the DVI or HDMI cables are a *LOT* better with a DVI out video card then an older VGA cable attachment.

    for example i have a gateway wide screen 1600x1050 I think ... not at home right now to check that...

    it's using the DVI-D cable and is sweet as heck! very sharp and good colors.  now when I got it the thing only came with a vga cable....
    Uhhh.... that was CRA99y as heck!

    right now I have at work a sony laoptop and an external lcd via vga...  the laptop is great, the ext display is "ok" for checking stuff and long distance viewing but the details are hosed -- somehow the vga connection and vista can't figure out what to send to that display to makeit look right.  it's an older samsaung and I can't find a vista config file / inf file to set it up with...

    but heck the 1600x1050 big display I have at home was only about $400-500 bucks and that was a year ago...

    so I think the displays are getting better in price and features....
    now we gotta get the OS to use the GPU all the way !!!
    Smiley
  • BasBas It finds lightbulbs.
    With regards to the whole Wikipedia issue, I wonder what Bill's view (or anyone's, for that matter) on Citizendium is. From what I can gather, one of the co-founders of Wikipedia (a title now apparently heavily debated by Wikipedia's other co-founder, the Outlaw Jimbo Wales) left the Wiki-project and started an encyclopedia with identifiable authors and, apparently, expert reviewers of the material.

    I think it fits Bill's ideas about the freedom to consume information and the lack of reliability when it comes to Wikipedia, but I can't help but feel that there's something flawed about the idea.
  • figuerres wrote:
    
    I do think that the newer LCD displays with the DVI or HDMI cables are a *LOT* better with a DVI out video card then an older VGA cable attachment.

    for example i have a gateway wide screen 1600x1050 I think ... not at home right now to check that...

    it's using the DVI-D cable and is sweet as heck! very sharp and good colors.  now when I got it the thing only came with a vga cable....
    Uhhh.... that was CRA99y as heck!

    right now I have at work a sony laoptop and an external lcd via vga...  the laptop is great, the ext display is "ok" for checking stuff and long distance viewing but the details are hosed -- somehow the vga connection and vista can't figure out what to send to that display to makeit look right.  it's an older samsaung and I can't find a vista config file / inf file to set it up with...

    but heck the 1600x1050 big display I have at home was only about $400-500 bucks and that was a year ago...

    so I think the displays are getting better in price and features....
    now we gotta get the OS to use the GPU all the way !!!


    My problem with LCDs doesn't have anyting to do with crispness really. It's all about the horrible unevenness of backlighting systems.
    I think some of the really high end (expensive) ones use arrays of LEDs for the backlight to fix that problem but I've never seen one in real life.

    Of course you still have the problem with LCDs not running in non native resolutions well.
  • bill hillbill hill bill hill
    I took a look today.

    The randomness is appalling. Not to demean Shirley Chisholm, but is she really the most mportant subject in the past or present under the heading of "Politics"? The article on her is the only one under that heading so far "approved", which means the only one to have gone through the full process.

    Who made that decision? Or even worse, did no-one "decide", except the author and the people who reviewed it?

    It seems even worse than the committee which started out to design a horse, and ended up with a camel. Or equipping an infinite number of monkeys with typewriters and assuming you'll get Shakespeare.

    I don't buy it. How do I find the Shakespeare buried under the infinitely-large mound of other garbage generated on the way to it?

    Maybe it'll get better, but it doesn't inspire confidence.

    I'll stick with Britannica or Encarta, where I know someone decided what was important, subject matter-specialists were commissioned to write about it, and their work edited by professionals. People whose living depends on their performance.

    Would you follow the instructions of an Internet Brain Surgeon?
  • I think that at this point I prefer sources such as Wikipedia only for trivial things. Stuff like information on a band, reading up on a TV show, or data on fictional characters.

    If I'm doing serious research that may be consumed by others, I definitely want a more trusted source.

    Back on the subjust of readability, one thing that bothers me about IE is that there is not a consistent experience across devices. I might do a lot of work towards making my website read well on the desktop version, but I have to spend more time making sure that it also works on the pocket version. Alternatively I can make a different version that only gets shown to Pocket IE.

    Is any work being done to make the core engine of IE more consistent between the two versions? Obviously certain considerations have to be made for the smaller screen, but a more consistent experience would be very nice.
  • LaBombaLaBomba Summer
    That's the great thing about the internet Bill, you don't have to "buy it" if you don't want to...it might get shoved on your screen but the choice is still yours, to believe or not to believe. Naturally if your researching for something more important than your information should be based on a more verifiable source than an "internet wiki".

    But if your just looking for quick reference, say to back up an argument/discussion your having on a internet message board, than you can make use of a wikipedia, it's fast easy and convenient. Just like people using google, only what your looking for doesn't require you to wade thru 10-15 different pages.

    Wikipedia is randomness, because the stuff you look up on it will be random...it's not work related stuff, it's stuff you come across and want to know what it is, doesn't matter how obscure it is, chances are someone on the vast intarweb has come across it before and has typed up something and posted it to wiki.

    Not perfect, but it's not required to be, that's after all a rule of the internets.

  • BasBas It finds lightbulbs.
    bill hill wrote:
    I took a look today.

    The randomness is appalling. Not to demean Shirley Chisholm, but is she really the most mportant subject in the past or present under the heading of "Politics"? The article on her is the only one under that heading so far "approved", which means the only one to have gone through the full process.

    Who made that decision? Or even worse, did no-one "decide", except the author and the people who reviewed it?


    I think Wikipedia has the same amount of 'randomness', but because they have a much larger userbase, all that randomness added together actually results in a more complete set of articles.

    Of course, Citizendium presumably is more reliable, but with that reliability they're also limiting their userbase even further.

    What I like about Wikipedia is their wide variety of subjects. If I search for obscure subjects, like the Vectrex, or the Austerlitz Pyramid, Wikipedia provides articles, where Encarta and Britannica do not. Presumably because there are some random Vectrex fans or Austerlitz natives who felt that their own hobby deserved to be in an encyclopedia, whereas the editors of Encarta and Britannica apparently do not.

    Of course, this instantly raises the reliability alarm bells, but I find that a decent approach is checking Wikipedia first, because there's just a very high chance that an article exists for whatever you're looking for. Then, when you've found the information you need, see if you can verify it with more reliable sources.
  • jason818_253.33jason818_25​3.33 Yippi skippy

    I to have looked over that edge. It took all the strength I had to scrape my self off of the floor I had been sprawled on for the past 3 days to walk my self into a free clinic. I was extremely dehydrated and had pneumonia. They gave me fluid and strong anti biotic interveinously and let me go. I sat in the waiting room trying to gather enough strength to go home. I recovered. Im greatful to the the doctors, clinicians and nurses who gave me that day, more time.

  • ZippyVZippyV Fired Up
    How about we crank up the default dpi setting in the next version of Windows?
  • bill hillbill hill bill hill
    ZippyV wrote:
    How about we crank up the default dpi setting in the next version of Windows?


    It's more complex than that. What about the hundreds of millions of people in other parts of the world who may have to live with resolutions ~96ppi for years to come? Another arbitrary decision would create as many problems as it solved.

    Ideally, an LCD display should be running at its native resolution, and system dpi should be set to actual display dpi.

    This raises a number of issues. But people are very aware of them, and I've tried to do whatever I could to help raise that awareness.
  • Tommy CarlierTommyCarlier Widen your gaze
    Yesterday, we discovered some of the problems with a higher DPI: applications have to be designed to work with a higher DPI. We installed one of our applications on a PC with a DPI of 120, and some of the controls in our application had lost their text. We noticed that the windows and controls that did look good did not use absolute pixel coördinates and sizes, but used AutoSize and flexible layout (docking, TableLayoutPanel, FlowLayoutPanel).
  • bill hillbill hill bill hill
    TommyCarlier wrote:
    Yesterday, we discovered some of the problems with a higher DPI: applications have to be designed to work with a higher DPI. We installed one of our applications on a PC with a DPI of 120, and some of the controls in our application had lost their text. We noticed that the windows and controls that did look good did not use absolute pixel coördinates and sizes, but used AutoSize and flexible layout (docking, TableLayoutPanel, FlowLayoutPanel).


    Classic symptom!

    The text scales to the new dpi - but the pane it was in has been hard-coded with a fixed pixel dimension or fixed pixel position, and text gets clipped. In the worst cases text and UI can just disappear because it's now covered by something else.

    I've seen dialogs in some applications where you can't get out of the dialog, because you can't hit the "enter" or "cancel" buttons with a mouse - because you can't see them. If you know what you're doing, sometimes you can tab into them. But you NEVER want to put a customer in that situation.

    Believe me, if you think this is bad going to 120, try going to 204... OK, there aren't many displays at that res out there - but Dell's been shipping 147ppi Inspiron laptops for many years and that's a lot worse than 120 for these issues.

    It's the same problem with websites.

    If you have any fixed  pixel dimensions in your site, it's not future-proof. If it's been designed to be, say 1000 pixels wide, then your site covers only about half of the screen on a 147ppi laptop (1920 x 1200). So someone gets to stare at a load of unused white space.

    If you've used fixed-pixel dimensions to place things, you're in trouble.

    There are better ways to do it. Some sites use all the space available very well.

    I'd like to see more people understanding and exposing this issue, and future-proofing thier own sites.

    Until that happens, only techniques like zooming work to scale sites for high-dpi, or pixel-doubling (which only works if you have at least twice as many pixels on the display, so >192).

    And that means any bit-mapped graphics get scaled and look bad because of aliasing.
  • Mr. Hill, thanks for your fast response on portrait/landscape cleartype. Hope the ability to work with both extends soon to more microsoft OSes.
  • bill hill wrote:
    I'll stick with Britannica or Encarta, where I know someone decided what was important, subject matter-specialists were commissioned to write about it, and their work edited by professionals. People whose living depends on their performance.

    Would you follow the instructions of an Internet Brain Surgeon?

    No, but should one follow the conflicting instructions of all the papers in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Brain Surgery (intended to be fictitious)?
    Would you follow the dictates of the Brittanica article on ethics (Peter Singer I think, who says you should kill babies who are likely to be unhappy in life, among other things).
    You have to assess anything you read.
    For an encyclopedia you know that some committee has selected some guy with a particular name to write on a subject and has read through what he has written. For wikipedia you know that some guy has felt the urge to write something on the internet and no-one has corrected him as yet. Neither peice of information is especially useful. More useful for judging (for a person who has some capacity for this, that is; others may have to get by with authorities) is the nature of the writing itself. (Style, content, structure.)
    No source is authoritative: you can and must learn from unreliable sources.
  • Tommy CarlierTommyCarlier Widen your gaze
    It took me half a day to fix the DPI issues in our WinForms framework and in our application. I've discovered that it's actually not very hard to design a new Form (window) in a flexible way: just use one or more TableLayoutPanels for the global layout, and use AutoSize as much as possible. If you play with margins and paddings a bit, you can get some nice and clean results that scale very well.
  • bill hillbill hill bill hill
    TommyCarlier wrote:
    It took me half a day to fix the DPI issues in our WinForms framework and in our application. I've discovered that it's actually not very hard to design a new Form (window) in a flexible way: just use one or more TableLayoutPanels for the global layout, and use AutoSize as much as possible. If you play with margins and paddings a bit, you can get some nice and clean results that scale very well.


    Thanks for following up with this, Tommy!

    How do you feel about writing up your experience, the issues you found, and how you solved them?

    We can post a link to that here. I'm sure it would be very helpful to others, and maybe they have different experiences they could then document and share.

    That way we can all learn together and help each other. We could build up a body of knowledge and "lessons learned" which could help folks make their sites and applications future-proof.
  • Tommy CarlierTommyCarlier Widen your gaze
    I was already thinking of writing some articles and tutorials that explain how to use dynamic layout in Windows Forms, using some common examples like a replacement MessageBox, a Logon or connection dialog, etc... I'll post here when I've written something.
  • Kam VedBrat (http://blogs.msdn.com/kamvedbrat/default.aspx) has blogged a fair bit about high-DPI support in Windows. For those that don't know Kam he was instrumental behind the high-DPI support for both WPF and Win32 apps.

    For the Win32 side of things I'd recommend an article he linked to a while back (http://www.rw-designer.com/DPI-aware) that covers a great number of the common app issues.

    Ian.
  • Hi,

    I enjoyed hearing Bill Hill talk about the changes and advances in technology and the digital print world.  It was very informative.

    I would like to know though, where I can contact the Microsoft ClearType team and or the related IE team to discuss the ClearType feature.

    I'm in a different mindset for ClearType.  I personally hate it with a passion, because 95% of the text I read is black text, on a white background (or very close to that scenario).

    I'm not sure if my eyes are better than others (I don't yet wear glasses), but even on the highest resolution screens that I use daily, with ClearType turned on, all I can see is the blurry colors (red, blue, green) that appear along side the letters on screen.
     
     I physically have to squint my eyes so that the color "bleeds" into the black, so that my brain
     isn't cramping trying to un-blur the image.
     
     Its not just on curved letters, or angled letters either.  Even the lowercase letter "L" is a blur.
     
     Are their tools to only apply ClearType to fonts over 24pt in size? or only to text that is not close to black on white?
     
     In the mean time I've turned ClearType off, and the headaches have all gone away, but I would have to suspect by the ammount of effort
     that has gone into ClearType that there must be some benifit for the other scenarios, so I would like to know if I can use it there (or at least try it out)
     
     Thanks,

    Steve
  • bill hillbill hill bill hill
    steveWD wrote:
    Hi,

    I enjoyed hearing Bill Hill talk about the changes and advances in technology and the digital print world.  It was very informative.

    I would like to know though, where I can contact the Microsoft ClearType team and or the related IE team to discuss the ClearType feature.

    I'm in a different mindset for ClearType.  I personally hate it with a passion, because 95% of the text I read is black text, on a white background (or very close to that scenario).

    I'm not sure if my eyes are better than others (I don't yet wear glasses), but even on the highest resolution screens that I use daily, with ClearType turned on, all I can see is the blurry colors (red, blue, green) that appear along side the letters on screen.
     
     I physically have to squint my eyes so that the color "bleeds" into the black, so that my brain
     isn't cramping trying to un-blur the image.
     
     Its not just on curved letters, or angled letters either.  Even the lowercase letter "L" is a blur.
     
     Are their tools to only apply ClearType to fonts over 24pt in size? or only to text that is not close to black on white?
     
     In the mean time I've turned ClearType off, and the headaches have all gone away, but I would have to suspect by the ammount of effort
     that has gone into ClearType that there must be some benifit for the other scenarios, so I would like to know if I can use it there (or at least try it out)
     
     Thanks,

    Steve


    Sorry to hear about the problems you're having.

    Strange. Black text on a white background should be about the best case...

    There's clearly something going on here either with your display or your vision.

    First three questions to ask:

    1. Is your screen RGB or BGR? There are quite a few BGR screens out there. ClearType can look horribly colorful on them. 

    2. Are you running at native resolution? If you're running at non-native, that can also be pretty bad. Or it may be that your display is somehow funky or faulty. Once in a while we run across a strange one.

    3. Have you run the ClearType tuner? It's at:

    http://www.microsoft.com/typography/default.mspx

    That will also let you select RGB/BGR, BTW

    Assuming you've done all of those and are still not happy with what you see, we know there's a small percentage of people who don't get along with ClearType at all and have to turn it off. It's to do with the balance between an individual's color perception and their visual acuity. That's why we made the tuner - everyone's eyesight is different.

    The ClearType team continues to work this to understand the issues and hopefully make further improvements. The vast majority of people find it a huge benefit. I can't bear to read type on a screen with it turned off. I know you'd expect me to say that but it's true anyway - although I'm sure it's no consolation.

    The Cleartype team would like to find out more about your issues. If you're prepared to post your email address, they'll contact you.

    bill

  • Hi Bill,

    Sorry for the delay in replying, I was out of the country for a while.

    Yes, I've tried tinkering with the ClearType tuner tool, and each choice was no better than the first.

    I find it odd, that you indicate that black on white should be the best case scenario, because everyone I talk to indicates the same issue (and most of them do not notice it on colors as it blends better.

    Anyway, to help prove my point and visualize the issue, I've loaded the Google main page in IE7 with ClearType on, and ClearType off, taken a screenshot, then zoomed in on the image, and posted the images online (and with some luck) linked to them here.

    As you can clearly see in the ClearType shot, the text is blurred because of the pixel color offset. (as if I tried to save the non-cleartype image as a low level JPEG.

    Here's the zoomed image, without ClearType (400%):
    http://img214.imageshack.us/my.php?image=googlenocleartypezoomedpi7.png

    Notice how there is black for the text, navy for the hyperlinks, and white for the background.  The only anti-aliasing is on the bold "Web" text, using gray (between black and white) to smooth out the diagonal/curved portions of the text.

    Here's the zoomed image, with ClearType on (400%):
    http://img53.imageshack.us/my.php?image=googlecleartypezoomedwj2.png

    Notice now that *everything* is anti-aliased, but not with gray for the black text, and not with light blue, for the hyperlinks.

    Notice that the "I" in "Images" is now 2 pixels wide... 1 pixel of navy, and 1 pixel column of pink! (which on the blue, makes everything look a bit purple... it no longer even looks like navy)

    If you look at the black word search, it looks blurry... if you squit your eyes, it looks ok (since your mind helps crispen the image).  But under regular viewing, it looks like one of those raw 3D images that you need the red/green glasses on to merge the offset images.

    Note also that the colon ":" after Search, is no longer black at all, but a 2 pixel wide smear of orange and light blue!?

    The whole experience is ruined, as it looks like a printout of black text, on a printer that only has Cyan/Yellow/Magenta instead of a full CYMK cartridge.


    Now if there are magic settings with the cleartype tuner, then I'd love to see what they are, so I can apply them, but on my screen(s) (both CRT and LCD), at any resolution (always native, and never stretching the aspec ratio)


    Also, if your settings don't exhibit the issues I'm seeing, I would love to see a screen capture (@100%) is fine of what you see when viewing black/dark text on white.

    Cheers,
    steveWD
  • bill hillbill hill bill hill
    steveWD wrote:
    Hi Bill,

    Sorry for the delay in replying, I was out of the country for a while.

    Yes, I've tried tinkering with the ClearType tuner tool, and each choice was no better than the first.



    Hi Steve, thanks for responding.

    There definitely seems to be something weird going on here. I can see weirdness even in your non-ClearType screenshot, which makes me suspicious there's a hidden factor at work.

    In the black text in the non-CT example, character stems are different weights. This is normally due to a rounding error of the type that font hinting is designed to correct. You'd expect a rounding error like this if some kind of scaling's going on. It would not be nearly as noticeable in a non-ClearType case, but ClearType would really expose it because of the sub-pixel color manipulation.

    Even though you've set your monitor to native resolution, it could be something funky's going on in the hardware or driver. Or the scaling could be due to the 400% zoom you used (which is not likely because you're seeing the issues at 100%, and 400% should just quadruple all pixels - but in an investigation like this you have to rule out all possibilities, assume nothing).

    This is all just speculation until we know more - about the display, whether it's being addressed digitally or through an analog graphics port (one possible place scaling can happen), whether it has an odd pixel configuration, what graphics card and driver, what version of Windows you're running, etc.

    Be interesting to get to the bottom of this...

    This isn't the place to have that kind of detailed back-and-forth technical support conversation. I've asked Greg Hitchcock, who runs the ClearType team, for an alias you can mail. I know he'll want to see unzoomed screen shots, for instance.

    Once you drill down into the detailed implementation, he's the organ-grinder and I'm merely the monkey Smiley

    Thanks again for doing this.

    bill
  • bill hillbill hill bill hill
    Hi everyone:

    I've really enjoyed the conversations that have gone on on C9, especially when this video first posted.

    So much so I've decided to have another shot at blogging. I did set up an MSN Spaces site some time ago, posted two or three entries but left it pretty much undeveloped because I had lots of other things going on

    However, a few Niners have suggested they might actually visit a Bill Hill blog, so I'm resurrecting it.

    http://futureofreading.spaces.live.com/default.aspx
  • bill hillbill hill bill hill

    I'm trying an experiment.

    I have started a new blog at

    http://billhillsblog.blogspot.com/

    Please come and visit!

    bill

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