Archive for February, 2008

Compose for typography

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Often, us artist-types need advanced typography when making artwork, laying out text, and fun things like that. How do you usually do it? For me, it’s either been launching a stupidly hard to find (and annoying to use) character picker or searching for some character on the Internet and copy/pasting it in. (Once in a while, I’ll make a really simple HTML page which has contains not much more than » or — or © — then open it up in Firefox and copy the resulting character).

Well, friends, there’s a better way! In discovering the compose key (thanks to many awesome volunteers) a couple weeks ago, I’ve been happily typing not just German characters, but some advanced typographical ones, too! It’s great for applications like Inkscape, which ordinarily seems to lack support for typing these sorts of things.

A quick primer (hit the compose key, then…):

  • or = ®
  • oc = ©
  • < < = «
  • TM (shift-tm) = ™
  • - - - = —
  • 12 = ½
  • ^2 = ²
  • c= = €
  • c/ = ¢
  • Y= = ¥
  • xx = ×
  • ?? = ¿
  • !! = ¡
  • <” = “
  • >” = ”
  • <´ = ‘
  • >´ = ’
  • -: = ÷
  • .< = ‹
  • .> = ›

These are just a few. In general, think of what the symbol looks like when combined with something else, and that’s probably what you need to type, after hitting the compose key.

To set this up in GNOME, open up keyboard preferences and go to the “layout options” tab and select “compose key position”. (I have mine set up for the “menu key”.)

(Update: Remapping keys in GNOME 3.2+ has since been moved to System SettingsRegion and LanguageLayoutsOptions…Compose key position → [select the key(s) you want for compose key])

(Update 2: Remapping keys in GNOME 3.6+ has since been moved to System SettingsKeyboardShortcutsTypingCompose key → [click and hold, and select the key you want for compose key from the dropdown])

In KDE, go to the keyboard layout in the KDE control center, click on the “Xkb options” tab, enable the “Enable Xkb options” option, then scroll through the list until you see the second “Compose Key Position” (the one with options under it in the tree). Enable it and the the key you wish to use.

For vanilla X, you can edit Xorg.conf and follow a mini-howto.

Anyway, when you use the compose key, you can instantly start typing various characters all over the place… not just in Inkscape (where it’s quite useful), but in Firefox, XChat, in IM conversations, etc.

Tablet fever; drawing on computer screens

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

Jakub just got a HUGE Wacom Cintiq tablet… and he has instructions on how to set it up for Linux (well, and the Mac too, but that’s just a sentence)!

It was just a few days ago when I rushed over to Sigi’s office to see his new baby Cintiq — and I must admit, it is quite dreamy, as far as tablets go.

Jakub’s new Cintiq is humongous, however… (judging from the pictures).

I suppose I should get my shiny newish Lenovo X61 laptop working with proper tablet support before dreaming of other tablety gadgets, though. (It 1/2 way works now — just need proper pressure support and cursor rotation + screen rotation working… getting something to work fully is the trick.)

The X61 might not have the resolution or as many levels of the Cintiq, but I can lug it around with me and use it on airplanes (if there’s enough room, turbulence-free air, and suitable battery life left).

I’m looking forward to seeing what Jakub and Sigi sketch up in the upcoming days (and should probably sketch some stuff myself too).

A few things I miss…

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

I’ve been in Germany for two weeks now, and I miss a few things already…

morning flight

First of all, my family and friends back home (of course!). It was great to spend quite a bit of time with my family, and I was able to visit a few friends before the big move. (Hopefully they’ll come to visit in the months ahead…)

Outside of that, I wasn’t able to bring my books, and I’m missing the Wii a little bit too (I’ll need an NTSC-compatible TV)… and… a power adapter for my 750 GB IOmega hard drive… the one that all of my photos are on! (What a thing to forget! Oops!)

Now you know why my flickr page has not been updated recently… (Well, that, and I ought to go out and shoot a few pics.)

So, I apologize for not posting any of my pictures on flickr recently… (:

With that, I’ll end this post with a few of my favorite recently uploaded photos.

two sea jellies

dark side of the SCAD sign

affectionate tulips

window full of rockets on a rainy day

View more of my photos at Flickr!

Squiggles and dots

Friday, February 1st, 2008

Dear “lazyweb“,

How do I type all those funny European squiggles and dots on the mere 26-letter US keyboard on my Lenovo X61 laptop in Linux? Searching Google and copy-pasting found characters is getting old pretty quickly. The correct way to type these characters is not obvious.

If it involves special scripts and downloading configuration files, I am not interested. How would one of those normal, non-geek user do this? I’d like to know the proper way.

(For “bonus points”, typing a Euro sign would be great too.)

Thanks in advance,
Umlautless in Deutschland