Re: any risk in moving to java 1.6

Eric Sosman <esosman@acm-dot-org.invalid>
Sun, 03 Dec 2006 12:01:11 -0500
Chris Uppal wrote:

RedGrittyBrick wrote:

Chris Uppal wrote:

Jacob wrote:

Isn't it time antialiased fonts are used by default? Why whould you
ever want non-antialiased fonts anyway?

Because antialiased body-text is the very handiwork of the Devil.

OK, You are anti-anti-aliasing,

Yes, I am. How could you tell ? <gin/>

but maybe you are pro-sub-pixel-rendering?

Not really. I don't like it and don't use it (except that Adobe Acrobat
Reader's interpretation of font hinting seems to require it to make any sense
at all of it's built-in PostScript fonts at the sort of text sizes I read at).
The only positive thing that can be said about sub-pixel antialising is that
it's less objectionable than whole-pixel antialising.

Could you explain in more detail what you find objectionable?

Two things.

One is that making (body) text blurry is bad/tiring for the eyes, in that it
removes the hard edges the eye needs to find a consistent focus. (You should
note that I have no medical training at all, let alone a speciality in the
physiology of the eye -- this is the opinion of a moderately informed amateur,
not a statement of some scientific consensus.) Blurring the text may make it
/prettier/ (or less ugly), but not more /readable/.

     My medical training is on a par with Chris', but I once
attended a lecture on this topic, given by a mathematician who'd
been consulting with some vision researchers. The lecturer had
done a lot of 2D Fourier analysis of visual fields, and filtered
them in various ways: Remove high-frequency components, remove
low-frequency components, add noise of various kinds, leave the
amplitudes alone but diddle the phases, and so on.

     One of the conclusions he reported was that the task of
reading printed material makes more use of high- than of low-
frequency components: You can filter out the low-frequency
information and leave a page of text readable, but if you take
out the high-frequency stuff it becomes much more difficult to
recognize letters and words. And guess what? The hard edges
that Chris likes produce high spatial frequencies, whereas an
averaging filter diminishes high frequencies and enhances low

     The lecturer also mentioned that serifs are particularly
high-frequency features of some fonts, leading to a conjecture
that sans-serif fonts might be less legible than their serif'ed
brethren. At the time he was unaware of any research to support
or refute the conjecture, but (1) he was the helpful mathematician
and not the vision researcher, and (2) things may have changed in
the intervening couple of decades.

Eric Sosman

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