Behdad Esfahbod's daily notes on GNOME, Pango, Fedora, Persian Computing, Bob Dylan, and Dan Bern!

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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McEs, A Hacker Life
Tuesday, January 14, 2014

GLyphy is an experiment in high-quality glyph rendering using OpenGL ES2 shaders.  It's a project of mine at Google that I never really publicly announced.

I worked on it mostly in 2011 and 2012.  The work was then stalled when I refocused on HarfBuzz, but also because there were no immediate target platform for it.  That has changed recently as mobile GPUs have caught up and can run GLyphy fairly well now.  So I'll be spending more time on it this year.

Last week at I presented GLyphy which was recorded.  The video is here.  And there's a mailing list for it.  The source for the slides are here.

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Sunday, January 05, 2014

In the Summer of 2003 I visited Ottawa for a Computer Science workshop.  Before getting there I also noticed that there's Ottawa Linux Symposium going on after my workshop, so I made it there, and stayed at Carlton's Leeds College.  It was my first Linux conference.  I knew no one.  I met Keith Packard for the first time.  The closing keynote was by Rusty Russel, and left me energized about the community.

Since then Free Software conferences have taken me to Montreal, Barcelona, Glasgow, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Canary Islands, Austin, Boston, San Francisco, Istanbul, Wroclaw, Vienna, Berlin, and Amsterdam,  among others.  I got to become part of a fantastic community.

Last night I arrived in Perth, Australia, home to the last major conference I wanted to speak at.

Today, at registration, I saw Keith, so went to say hi.  He asked:

  - You here to talk about your crazy glyph rendering stuff?
  - Yes, have you seen it?
  - Oh yeah, it's insane!

Then I headed to the first-timers' session run by Rusty.

Walking last night at University of Western Australia's Trinity college campus made me realize how much I had missed the Free Software conference scene, and made me feel great being here.  That, and the southern-hemisphere night sky.


Sunday, June 23, 2013
 Iran Presidential Election 2013 Vote Count per County

Just finished downloading the 125 pages of vote counts from the Ministry of Internal Affairs portal, massaged them into usable data and put into a public spreadsheet. Will add extra sheets for analysis in the coming days. Feel free to clone, do your own analysis, and share back with me to integrate. May Mebane run with it...


Thursday, November 22, 2012
 High-DPI, Subpixel Text Positioning, Hinting

What happens when an unstoppable bullet hits an impenetrable wall?

A while back I wrote a document about the interactions of high-density displays and font rendering options.  I just went ahead and made it public, so, enjoy!

High-DPI, Subpixel Text Positioning, Hinting

Update (July 18, 2013): It was brought to my attention that the document had disappeared. I have no idea how that happened, but I've uploaded it again. It also means that the URL has changed. :(

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011
 "Behdad's Calendar" now available at

Since is blocked in Iran these days, I went ahead and made my Iranian calendar thingy available at  Let me know if it doesn't work.

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Saturday, October 08, 2011
 In Montréal for “Boston” Summit

After a crazy Oktoberfest party in Kitchener last night, I woke up at 6:45 this morning, drove back to Toronto, took the ferry to the Island, took a Porter flight to Montréal, took the 747 downtown, took the 165 up to Queen Mary, walked up the hill to Polytechnique to arrive at the GNOME “Boston” Summit. Found Matthias, Owen, Ryan, and Andreas in the hallway, shook hands and received hugs, and felt right at home!

Inside, saw Colin and Marina among a few other familiar faces and many new ones. Marina explained that the reason she looks so sleepy is that she was blogging Ada Lovelace Day last night at 3am. Which of course reminded me that it was Finding Ada yesterday. So I thought I hereby list my own pick of women that I have had the pleasure to work with, and who, in my opinion, have made a lasting contribution to GNOME. Now I don't have to preach these awesome women to this crowd, so I'll just summarize my own experience with them in a two lines. In no particular order:

Marina Zhurakhinskaya has been critical to the Women Outreach Program success and happening in recent years, so for that alone she deserves a special mention. That's independent of she being part of the every-awesome GNOME Shell team. Plus, she's so nice and great to hangout with in person.

Stormy Peters wrote in her job application for the GNOME Executive Director as part of her responsibilities to be the "mom". And she delivered! It was a pleasure being on the board when she was in charge. Plus, she's so energetic she brightens everyone around her whereever she goes!

Karen Sandler is awesome in spite of being a lawyer! I have not had the opportunity to work with her in her new role, but at the Software Freedom Law Center, she was a great resource to the GNOME board, and much easier to get hold of than, well, other Free Software lawyers. Now, I did not actually know about her DJ hobby (check her website!) and wedding invitation until today. Waiting to run into her here to learn more :-D.

Rosanna Yuen is hard to find on Planet GNOME, and that's a shame. Many may not know her, she's sometimes better recognized as zana. Fortunately she's been making more regular appearance at GUADEC. Anyway, it's hard to imagine anything in the Board / Foundation level getting happened without her back-office work. She moves the money, she keeps the book, she knows what happened in the board five years ago! Plus, sometimes researches and books the venue for Boston Summit too.

At GUADEC this year, and at the Summit today I had the opportunity to meet a few young ladies rather new to the GNOME family: Pat, Kat, Meg, and Nohemi: you girls rock! I hope I blog about you for the years to come!

Went for lunch with Marina and Owen, had a great Thai chicken green curry, and talked food. I was thinking about a small project to hack on while at the summit and I thought I pickup rewrapping lines in vte / gnome-terminal upon width change. It's a well-defined well-contained problem, I have a design in mind, and one of the most common requests against vte. I passed my design past Owen, we agreed that it should work, and I hope that's what I'm going to hack on. Stay tuned!

I want to close by a picture of my favorite GNOME artist with the coolest hair style:

[Woah, long post! Been a while since I last did that...]

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011
 Events of significance for Sep 26 and Sep 27

1982: I was born.

1998: Google was born.

2011: My personal website was filtered in Iran.

2011: Roozbeh joined Google.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011
 Can I has intel tablet?

So I missed the intel party it seems. I assume the tablets are GLES2-ready and have a fair pixel density. If that is the case, I can make good use of one for OpenGL-based text rendering I'm experimenting with. If there are leftovers at the summit, I'd happily take one!

kthxbye :)

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Sunday, August 07, 2011
 Arrived at the Desktop Summit

Just got to the Desktop Summit in Berlin. It's lovely seeing everyone after two years.

I'm running Text Layout Summit August 9th to 12th, so come find me for some font and text chat!

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Thursday, May 26, 2011
 Contributor Agreements

It should be clear by now that I've gave up on blogging. Couple things I found worth writing down for da Nets today:

By way of GNOME Foundation Board of Directors election discussion I read the this LWN piece titled "Mark Shuttleworth on companies and free software". A couple remarks on it:

In other, more this-worldly, news, Bixi arrived in Toronto. It has become my favorite mode of transportation in downtown core.