Sunday
Mar232014

Look up when you play an FPS. You might have missed some cool ceilings.  

From the original thread on reddit, Apparently I don't look up enough when I play Deus Ex: Human Revolution because I missed some really unique ceilings.

The full list is here: http://imgur.com/a/FDAbV. Below are three that I particularly liked. Click on the images to see a larger version.

(Speaking of the topic of looking up, I did much more of that in Dishonored –  which plays just like DE:HR –  because Dishonored's “blink” ability will naturally start having you look for destinations to perch on well above your current position.)

VG7k5TJ

 

3KK9zSe

 

JKsonVI

 

 

Wednesday
Mar192014

Should you get a 4K or Ultra HD LCD Monitor for your PC?  

One-line Summary

If you have several thousand dollars you urgently need to get rid of, then yes. Otherwise wait (and it may not be a long wait).

 

What's got everyone talking

It started –  more or less –  with Dell's February announcement of two new Ultra HD Monitors. A quick summary:

And Dell isn't alone:

 

The Tempation

We simply haven't seen 4K reoslution in this price range. Compare them to the 30” HP ZR30w which offers 2560x1920 at around $1400. If you are a display enthusiast (as I am) this is a price point you can't ignore.

 

Why you should wait

Refresh rate: 60 Hz vs 30 Hz. Many of the current batch of 4K Monitors can only disply at 30 Hz when using their full resolution. Most majority of people are going to be used to getting 60 Hz out of their displays which results in a fluid, smooth experience as windows are scrolled or moved. With 30 Hz most people notice that everything seems “choppier” and this can prove very irritating. The reason for this is that these monitors only support the current HDMI 1.4 spec, not the soon-to-arrive HDMI 2.0 specification. (Note that the Samsung U28D590 is supposed to support 60 hz when using displayport)

Color accuracy. Check out this article and look at the color accuracy section. It's not acceptable if you care about your displays.

It isn't all about the hardware. Software support and compatibility matter. Windows and apps that run on Windows are catching up to dealing with High-DPI monitors like these 4K Displays. At these resolutions you'll almost always want to run with “High DPI Scaling” (or whatever it is officially called in Windows) enabled. However, apps take time to correctly handle these displays, and they still sometimes don't look right. Check out this description of how Visual Studio 2013 has improved its high-definition support and see how complex this can be. If you really do want to try one of these displays, turn on High DPI in windows and make sure you run your favorite applications –  you will likely find some don't respond well to it. This situation will eventually fix itself (for most applications) as enough developers start using this hardware an designing for it. If you are running older software –  you may find using these displays difficult.

Not all of the 4K displays are IPS. Looking at you, Samsung U28D590.

 

My Requirements for a 4K Monitor

When it's time (hopefully later in 2014) Here's my checklist:

  • IPS Panel. (Remember we hate TN displays)
  • LED Backlighting.
  • 1” Cabinet Depth
  • 3840x2160 at 60Hz (via DisplayPort and HDMI)
  • Built-in speakers that can play the audio via DisplayPort and HDMI connections
  • At 28” the cost needs to be about $700. (the basis of this cost is that it should replace my current favorite monitor the hp zr2740w –  which I believe is a fantastic high-end display at a great price)

 

Notes

 

Tuesday
Mar112014

Consolas vs Luculent  

A new challenger in the coding font wars appears; Luculent. (See this discussion on HackerNews for more fun).

For the record, I still think Consolas is not only a great-looking coding font, but is also the best-engineered one in existence. Having said, that Luculent is charming and quirky and cool. It's at least worth a try on your dev box.

Let's explore some specific sizes. All screenshots below were done with text in Notepad on Windows 8.1. The source code come from here.

Luculent 11pt

 

Snap00214

 

Luculent 10 point

Snap00215

 

Luculent 9pt

Snap00216

 

Luculent 8pt

Snap00217

 

Luculent 7pt

Snap00218

Now some if the problems become obvious.

Consolas 7pt

I Look Consolas it handles the same text at 7 pt below.

Snap00219

Comparison

A PDF with detailed comparisons is available here: http://1drv.ms/1cM24Wh

Snap00220

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Mar062014

Arial vs Clear Sans

This is Clear Sans - released in late 2013 by the Intel Open Source Technology Center Overal. It looks like a slightly more contemporary, humanist version of Arial. Overall, we can't see too much to get excited over. Do note that it comes with a very thin variant that Arial lacks.

Snap00258

 

PDF of the comparison is here: http://1drv.ms/1czPMjE

Glyph comparisons (Arial in blue, Clear Sans in red)

Snap00261Snap00262Snap00263

Snap00264Snap00265Snap00266

Snap00267

 

Thursday
Mar062014

Content-Adaptive Image Downscaling from Microsoft Research  

Recently revived on a reddit discussion, it's good to see that we can still do better at image downsampling –  an often neglected responsibility –  to which the ubiquity of bad thumbnail images on the web can attest.

Link to paper: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/kopf/downscaling/

Some samples from the paper:

 

Snap00256

 

Snap00257