Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Time for an update

Several interesting things happened over the last year, for sure, but the one thing that forces me to return to the blog is that I had to reboot my server today, after a mere 400 days.

While I am at it, here are a few photos from the year that was.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Another update!

What kind of a blog would it be, if I told you of rebooting my computer, but not about getting married?

So there you go. സുന്ദരന്‍ ഞാനും സുന്ദരി നീയും ചേര്‍ന്നിരുന്നാല്‍... :-)

Monday, December 06, 2010

After 636 days

That is how long it took my server to grind to a halt. I rebooted it today (that beats the previous record hands down).

Unfortunately, the department does not support the Redhat installations any more. There is a plan to change mine to CentOS, but I haven't quite acted on it. I guess I am waiting for the next intrusion before I upgrade.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

China, Israel

A sure way to never get around to making a blog entry is to plan on writing a long one. So let me instead just post a couple of photos to mark my two week-long trips in the latter half of May and first week of June, to Beijing and to Israel (Tel Aviv and Jerusalem). I might add more later.

First was Beijing, and the tourist highlight was a trip to the Great Wall. I went to the Juyongguan. With an excellent public transportation system (if one is willing to sit through rickety bus rides, that is) it wasn't too hard, despite a near zero ability to communicate, to find my way to Juyonggaun. [For the next person desperately scouring the interwebs to find their way to Juyongguan, here's how: I took the subway line 13 to Long Ze, then took bus no 20, and for the last short segment took a cab for 10RMB without bargaining; on the way back I took bus no. 68 (which I could have taken instead of number 20 on my way to the pass -- in fact number 68 goes all the way to the pass) to Long Ze, and subway line 13 from there. It is useful to look for directions in Google maps, so that you will have some idea of which way to walk to get to the bus from the subway station. I think it took over 2 hours in one direction.]

The Israel trip, less than week after returning from Beijing, was surprisingly hassle-free. The photos show a view of the old city of Jaffa (from the beach at Tel Aviv), and a couple of views in the old city in Jerusalem. The wall is the one that goes around the old city. The cafe (showing men playing board games) is the same one in front of which I got to witness some interesting action the night before.

To round off this entry, here is a photo from my train trip from Chicago Union Station to New York Penn Station, some time in April. The trip turned out to be as nice as I expected. I would have taken the train back to Chicago, if I didn't have to rush back to teach a class.

More photos here, here and here.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


The one good thing about having a blog is I can look up when various things happened. At least various things that happened when I still used to blog with some semblance of regularity. So that's how I know that it has been a little over two and a half years since I got my bike. A couple of days back I got new brake pads for it (no more putting my foot down to stop) and replaced my broken helmet. (I don't exactly know when I got that helmet -- probably about three years back; seems like a short life.)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy New Year

Forbidden City
This happens to be the first post in this blog in 2010. But the new year greetings are timely, if you follow the Chinese calendar. It's the year of the tiger, but I'll make do with this photo from my Beijing trip last month.

Talking of blog posts, the archives tell me that I made 35 entries in the first year of this blog (2005, and that is starting in May), 26 in 2006, 20 in 2007, 10 in 2008 and 5 in 2009. The latest trend suggests I'll post 2.5 entries this year.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Mac Malayalam

The promised Mac Malayalam font is available here for your reading pleasure.

It all (re)started when my brother recently bought a macbook pro. Used to the luxury of reading flawlessly rendered Malayalam unicode in Windows and Linux, the Mac experience must have been a little disappointing. The trouble is that Mac OS X doesn't fully support the advanced typography features in OpenType fonts, but instead expects you to use AAT fonts. Unfortunately, the only Unicode Malayalam fonts around (so far) have been all only OpenType.

Now, unlike in 2005, there's a little more information online about how to go about fixing the situation. If you have an (OpenType) font with all the requisite glyphs, then you just need to create a morph input file (MIF), and use tools provided by Apple to merge it into the original font and get an AAT font. Creating the MIF, with the documentation available online, seemed feasible. In particular, we came across Kedage, which suggested that it shouldn't be too hard to do it over a weekend.

Our first idea was to work with Kevin's pioneering Unicode font Anjali. Unfortunately, it turned out that Anjali doesn't explicitly contain all the glyphs it needs, but instead creates most of them by appropriately combining pairs of glyphs. It wasn't clear how to get that working with AAT. So we turned to Rachana (which thankfully was released under the GNU GPL a few years back). (In fact Anjali itself was based on Rachana, from before it became a Unicode font.) The new font RachanaMac.ttf is also, of course, under the GPL.

Finally, we took this opportunity to revive the old Malayalam keyboard. As it turned out, the keyboard was in great shape, and there was not much to alter (except for adding a GPL notice). We used inkscape to put together an icon (though the 16x16 version doesn't look that great) for the Malayalam keyboard. The above logo for the macmalayalam webpage was also created using inkscape.

[Update (Oct 14, 2009): I just came across another font via a Wikipedia article. From a quick look, their font does seem to work quite well, but it doesn't have nearly as many glyphs as Rachana has. So, our font effort is not entirely wasted :) ]

[Update (Jun 24, 2010): Apple recently released OS X 10.6.4 and it seems like it comes with a Malayalam unicode font! Unfortunately it is a bit buggy, and not the most beautiful of fonts.

But I am told that the iPhone withe new iOS4 renders it much better.]

[Update (Feb 25, 2011): Another set of fonts from Apple, for a variety of Indic languages including Malayalam, is available now (via m10lmac). While the Malayalam font doesn't have as many glyphs as Rachana (it has some conjuncts, but leaves out several including ones involving the "u" vowel symbol), it has a bold version.]