Friday, December 14, 2007

Change and the truth

The fact is: the truth is plainly obvious to those who have willingness to accept it, and have the desire for something different. For example, I have my own problems, and plenty of them. Furthermore, I hide those problems from myself, and lie to myself that they had ever existed. Likewise, she's intelligent -- she knows the truth, and she lies to herself. And again, likewise, when "reminded," intellectually, of her real situation, she becomes obstinate and angry, much like a wounded animal that has been backed into a corner. I'm sure that the two of you also know the truths about your marriage and one another. But you've found some sort of minimally functional way of carrying on, without fully dealing with the real deep problems. I've often wondered why mental illnesses are so often associated with high intelligence, and perhaps it lies in the ability of brilliant minds to create such detailed and elaborate self-deceptions. All of us operate this way, until we have the overwhelming desire for change in our lives.

This change is borne in our convictions. In all of us, we have unwavering strengths and passions that God has blessed us with -- and these are the points where we can begin to battle evil in our lives. I know, from my own experience and counseling, that I will always have an overwhelming and irrational desire to seek approval from my father. This can be considered a negative attribute, but at the same time, a hidden strength. I can, and do, seek perfection in the tasks that I set for myself, to illustrate to others (and dad) that I am worthy of him. I am driven to repair that which is broken (so that, somehow, I will receive the approval, from my father, that I crave). But now that I am aware of this fault of mine, and I am now free of this burden. I can now challenge myself to mend the broken things, but instead of seeking approval and glory for myself, I can offer my time as a sacrifice that glorifies my heavenly Father, who has already fully accepted me, loved me, and blessed my life. And now I can kill the sinful need that I was born into -- sin passed on from my father's father, to my father, and then to me -- I can send it to the grave; I can name it Evil, and bury it at the foot of the cross, and pray that a new life and joy will fill my wicked heart that is so ignorant of the words from Psalm 139: "How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand."

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Best worship ever

I attended Holy Trinity church, served by Pastor Cwirla, today. What an amazing service. For those unfamiliar with Lutheran liturgical tradition, you should visit Holy Trinity -- the congregation adheres to it with passion and interest.

I completely broke down, crying, with a troubled spirit; I communed with the saints, and felt the Lord touch my life. Just simply wonderful. In retrospect, changes in my attitude alone in the midst of all of this seem remarkable to me. As absurd as it sounds, I came to church grumpy that my roommate and I didn't share the same ride to church; doing so, in my view, would have "saved time." Instead, he elected to drive with his girlfriend (-- and this made me angry?!?). I could barely pay attention to my confession and absolution. Scripture slowly worked its way in, and I was able to become aware of the gravity of my sins and the pains of my heart (this week, I broke up with my wonderful girlfriend of 2.5 years). I broke down. I sobbed, choked up; I tried to sing along with the hymns before I communed. Tears streamed down my face as I followed to the altar, knelt, and received the Word with the bread and wine with a heart that was as broken and contrite as ever I can remember. Furthermore, since I had not communed at Holy Trinity before, I was asked point blank, at the altar, by Pastor, what I believed -- and I confessed my faith in Christ, my baptism, and my knowledge of my own depravity. Simply recalling this series of events still evokes tears and a profound peace.

The Pastor gave an amazing exhortation concerning Christian freedoms -- free in Christ but slave to all -- but then had an even more fascinating Bible study.

I don't understand why his Bible study isn't jam-packed with interested parties. It simply astounds and amazes me that the two Bible studies that have blessed my life -- the one at Holy Trinity, and the one at Faith -- are not heavily attended by the congregants of each respective church. I simply do not understand why they would give up such an opportunity for learning and spiritual growth. I am personally excited and very interested in sharing this experience with others.

More than anything else, the lack of member attendance at these studies is... disturbing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Windows' ClearType Engine more accurate at 100dpi

Today I spent a lot of time figuring out how to generate a nice bitmap of a monospaced font that I can use as a font template in our mobile phone applications. In other words, I create a bitmap object of a font that has a fixed character width, and then I cut it up into little pieces (glyphs) that draw on the screen of the phone.

When I started out by rasterizing Lucida Console and measuring character widths, I was very surprised to find that the font's width seemed inconsistent. After closer inspection, I came to the conclusion that each character was, say, 12 pixels, plus a fractional pixel in width. This was quite surprising to me and left me a little perplexed, but then I remembered a few interesting tidbits about my history in desktop publishing.

I grew up with the Macintosh. The best thing about the Mac was that the output on paper closely resembled what was displayed on the screen; they were always more accurate. And today I remembered why: the screen resolution of the Mac was generally 72 pixels per inch.

72ppi is special. In typography, most small distances are measured in points which are 1/72 of an inch. This means that on the Mac, a 12-point monospace font generally display as 12 pixels in height. As far as I can tell, typographers seem to enjoy placing font features on a grid evenly divisible by points, so everything comes out very nice on the Mac because the font doesn't have to be so aggressively hinted.

Not true on the PC. Because of display devices increasing in resolution over time, a Windows machine generally defaults to a display resolution of 96 ppi. Since 96 is 133.3% larger than 72 ppi, we end up with this dangling third-of-a-pixel everywhere, and everything is now screwed up and we get this remainder that has to be accounted for -- probably by the font's author, who hand-tweaked the font's hinting.

This notion that Windows was off-kilter led me to determine something seemingly remarkable about how ClearType seems to work. After I rasterized Lucida Console and dropped the resulting bitmap onto a grid in The Gimp, I noticed this gradual misalignment that caused the font to adhere poorly to any pixel-based grid. And then I remembered these issues about display resolution.

After several tweaks of the Display Properties to change the screen resolution (which, in turn, resulted in multiple reboots of my system), I finally discovered a dots per inch value that just seems to work (terminology note: we use dots and pixels interchangeably). Apparently, Windows uses a 100ppi grid internally when rasterizing ClearType fonts, or something. Take a look at the bitmap of 12-point Lucida Console below. The grey text was screen-captured with my display resolution set to 103% of "normal size," or 99 DPI. The black text, which seems to be aligned to the grid much more reliably, was taken with my display resolution set to 104%, or 100DPI. Of course, things were much worse when I was using the windows default of 96 DPI.

Anyway, if you use Windows XP, I suggest you turn your DPI setting to 100 DPI if you use ClearType and do a lot of work in fixed width fonts (programming, data processing, etc.) Your eyes will thank you.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Quest for Scientific Pitch Notation

There appears to be a lot of conflicting information on the Internet regarding concert pitch and/or scientific pitch notation. I've experimented a little bit with spreadsheets, and I have found that a chromatic spectrum beginning at 440.0 Hz with note ratios of 1.05946 Hz minimizes calculation error. So far, the most accurate resource that I have found seems to be at this Wikipedia article about scientific pitch notation.