Fedora Design Team Planet

HP, Linux and ACPI

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on July 14, 2019 05:35 PM
Majority of HP hardware running on Linux and even Microsoft reported an issue related to a non-standard compliant ACPI. Notable message below repeats at least three times on the boot:


4.876549] ACPI BIOS Error (bug): AE_AML_BUFFER_LIMIT, Field [D128] at bit offset/length 128/1024 exceeds size of target Buffer (160 bits) (20190215/dsopcode-198) 
[ 4.876555] ACPI Error: Aborting method \HWMC due to previous error (AE_AML_BUFFER_LIMIT) (20190215/psparse-529) 
[ 4.876562] ACPI Error: Aborting method \_SB.WMID.WMAA due to previous error (AE_AML_BUFFER_LIMIT) (20190215/psparse-529)


The bug is a known for years from which Linux kernel team are unable to fix without the help of vendor i.e. HP. Here is a compilation of reports:
 The good news is some errors seems harmless. Unfortunately, such errors displayed the quirks approach used by vendors to support Microsoft Windows system thus doing bad practice. One of case how such action lead to an issue to even the officially supported operating system on HP hardware.

The ideal will be for HP to provide a BIOS fix for their affected hardware and officially support the Linux ecosystem much like their Printing department. Linux Vendor Firmware Service will be a good start and so far Dell is the leader in that department. American Megatrends Inc, the company developing BIOS/UEFI for HP made the process easier so it is a matter to fully enable the support.

3 easy ways to sharpen skin with darktable

Posted by Maria "tatica" Leandro on June 24, 2019 12:55 PM

I was mostly an avid user of the Sharpen and RAW denoise modules before LGM, but folks were kind to teach me another way to get my sharpening, and since I tend to forget stuff, here are my notes on that.

Sharpen module:

As its name says, might be the easiest way to add that extra definition to your picture by enhancing the contrast around the edges. It’s not the strongest module available for this, since when you want to increase values a lot to get a better detail, it brings quite a lot of noise that you later have to fix with further modules. Each image need a different set of parameters, but I’ve felt quite comfortable with ranges around:

Radius: 3.2
Amount: 1.1

Depending on the amount of detail (or noise) I get on my final image, I like to push the Threshold up to 10 or something above if needed, or go with the Raw Denoise module for a small 0.003 or so.

Equalizer module:

Here comes the tricky. I work on the luma only to get the result I want, which is an increase of edge definition, a bit of denoise (quite a bit ’cause it’s too strong to work with the Equalizer) and I like the burn effect I get on different areas (I mostly work with portraits).

To get the sharpness I increase the curve on the fine (right) side up two levels.
To denoise I increase the bottom spline on the fine side as well. It barely shows, but it’s there. Don’t push this too far.
For the burn effect (take down the clarity) I take half level up the second spline on the Coarse side (left)

You can see a better sharpen result, and some nice burning effect over the shoulder and inside the clavicle.

Highpass:

This is probably as easy as the Sharpen module, with a few tweaks and a bit more control. It’s more defined and easier to predict the final result when looking to the edges definition and setting the blur or intensity of those. Remember that once you set your parameters, you have to apply a Softlight blend mode to see the result and not just the edge’s layer output. I feel quite comfortable when working with skin using this values:

sharpness: 25%
contrast boost: 35%
mask layer opacity: 80%

My personal workflow for skin now includes working with the equalizer module as well as highpass (yeah, forgot completely about sharpen module), but when comes to faces, I like to apply some parametric masks to the highpass module to define different sharpness levels through the skin (faces are trickier).

Here’s the final before/after using my personal combo (equalizer + highpass). Hope you find this useful, it was for me :)

Thx Pat for getting me into write again :)


This post has a nicer formatting that can be seen at it's original source at tatica.org , so feel free to hit the link and read better version!

Long Radio Silence

Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on April 18, 2019 07:20 PM

It’s been a while since I last posted here, so I thought I’d catch people up to what I’ve been doing.

Contract work

I am back to job hunting after a 6 month contract at a local Business to Business (B2B) Real-Time Location System (RTLS) startup. The position was not a great fit for my skillset, as it was astonishingly difficult to get access to customers and users and I was the only UX person there. There were other problems, too, but those were the two major ones.

That said, it was hugely helpful to be able to do full-time UX work at an actual company rather than on my own or with friends. I am much more confident in my skills than I was, and have slightly increased my visual design (in PowerPoint because that’s what the person doing UI work used) skills. I am also more able to explain why I do what I do. I got to explore the complications of B2B and lack of access to users, including using alignment personas. Still prefer to have access to users, though, since I am a researcher more than a designer!

Sadly, due to NDA, I cannot include what I did here in my portfolio. I knew this going in, but it’s still frustrating!

Job Hunting

GitLab

I got really close to a job offer from GitLab, where I’ve been volunteering. They are awesome people, but alas they went with someone else who had more experience. I suspect that I was their second choice, based purely on the timing of what happened when. I’m going to keep volunteering with them, having finally finished entering all the issues I found while helping with their accessibility Voluntary Product Assessment Template (VPAT) for which I got MVP.

InterSystems

I also got close to a position at a local healthcare company called InterSystems, but someone else was a better fit. They were pretty nifty people, although I did like GitLab better. I suspect that I may have been a second choice here, also, although I’m less certain than with GitLab.

BookBub

I have a call tomorrow with BookBub about a researcher position. I tried to figure out how big a team they have online and had a great deal of trouble locating information, so that will be part of what I find out tomorrow! I do know that I will be speaking with their head of design, and figure that there are probably other UX folks simply because researchers tend not to be brought in first. Honestly, even one other UX person — which the head of design clearly is — would be a huge improvement over the contract position and most of my existing work.

On the plus and interesting side, when they asked about availability they also mentioned their interest in making the interview as pleasant as possible. So I took the chance and asked if it was possible to have a video chat rather than a phone call because it’s much easier to have a good conversation if I can see who I speak to. This is especially the case given how little information is available through cell phones as compared to landlines. Pleasantly, they are happy to do a video chat! I shall have to remember to ask future interviewers if that is an option, because it does make a huge difference for me.

Looks like an interesting business concept and I’m an avid reader which… may or may not be good given that one wants to not forget that one is not the only or even ideal user as a researcher. Mind you, I do love interacting with users and learning what they need as well as finding out how well our design ideas work, so most probably I won’t fall into (or at least stay in?) that particular design trap.

Visual Design

When I was commenting on my desire to have a stronger sense of visual/graphic design the main UX guy at InterSystems specifically mentioned Robin Williams’ “The Non-Designer’s Design Book”, so I’m definitely going to play around with that one more.

I’ve also got a book by someone from UX Mastery, Rachel Reveley’s “Learn Graphic Design (Page by Page)”, so I’ll be playing with both books in the short term. I may end up a researcher, but it would be really useful to feel slightly less flaily about graphic design.

I did find it fascinating while at the company I contracted at that while I feel less certain about knowing how to make something look pretty, I definitely know how to make it more consistent and some basic theory about appearance once someone else has translated my low-fidelity design to something higher fidelity.

Volunteering

As I mentioned above, I plan to continue volunteering with GitLab, in part because they are, by far, the best experience I have had UX-based volunteering so far. Perhaps because everyone is remote, they are _very_ clear and transparent about stuff. They also respond pretty quickly to requests for clarification and information, which has not been the case at other places that I’ve tried to volunteer. When I asked if they wanted research help, the head of the research team was shocked — sounds like usually people want to do visual design, not research.

Hopefully I will be able to get experience on one of the two things about which I got feedback for missing: lacking in experience applying generative research techniques in the real world. I’ve asked about helping with that, and should hear back from their newly hired senior UX researchers once they have their feet under them and have something to include me in. The other thing I didn’t do enough of was ask questions: this is complex when there is a lot of information available about GitLab online! Nest time I’ll look at the past and pending research to see if there is anything that grabs my interest to ask about.

But, if you are interested in volunteering for GitLab, the term is actually ‘contribute’ not ‘volunteer’, and you can see more about that at their Contribute to GitLab page. If you are looking to help with research specifically, things get more complicated. I asked about research help during a public online meeting about the UX team and I’m not sure when another might be.

An Awesome Week

Posted by Sirko Kemter on April 16, 2019 07:29 AM

Last week was one of the most awesome weeks, I ever had. Even the start was not so successful, I tried to get my bicycle repaired. Unfortunately as I came to the bike store in my area they was bringing out the furniture as it got closed. But on friday I got it repaired what was quiet an adventure and took the whole afternoon. I had to visit 5 shops to find the right size, but the ugly thing came later finding somebody who fixes the tire on the wheel. Normally you find here each ten meters somebody who fixes tires but nobody wanted to do it. 1.5 hours searching to find one, but now I can use my bicycle again, what saves me a lot of time and money.
The best day was by far the wednesday, first I got confirmed that Open Development Cambodia will host the next Translation Sprint and even more they would host us month for month. After a short consultation with the most active translators, we will do starting May bi-monthly Translation Sprints. I had 3 weeks ago a meeting at Open Development Cambodia and they just wanted me to note down what Fedora is and what we doing, just for their sponsors. The meeting took me the whole day, not the meeting itself but getting there was one hour for me without bike and of course one hour back. But now after 6 months searching and dozens of unsuccessful meetings I finished it and the next sprint can happen. I already made all the necessary tickets and after Khmer New Year we will announce it.


But the best what did happen, that my Moneypool for a new laptop got filled in not even 12 hours after I did blog about it. That really makes me happy, but since then I am not sure if I shall leave it open or close it. In case one I could try to get a better used one or even a new one, if some more donations get in. I did look what I could get, Thinkpads of the T-serie are over 1000US$ but some Edge seems to be in reachable distance. I would go for one even I had bad experiences with an Edge before. So far I decided to leave it open as I cant buy one right now during the New Year holidays anyway and to my birthday are 14 days left. So if you want to donate, you can do, you even can leave me a comment as I am not sure about it.

After I found a place for the next Translation Sprint and even for the following ones, I have now more time and energy again to work on the next “Different Release Party” together with PNC. I hope this works out.

A new laptop is needed

Posted by Sirko Kemter on April 09, 2019 09:16 AM

In December the worst case did happen to me as I already did tell here, my laptop died during an event. Was really hard for me to deliver my talks and workshops at this event without one (luckily I had the slides already on my fp.o) Well he is back to life, but not really. He holds no power anymore and when I transport him I need several attempts to start him, he doesnt show then no BIOS so I need 5-10 attempts to start him. That he has no working battery anymore really hurts right now a lot, we have an drought wave here and the government switches the electricity off each day for 6 hours as they cant pay it. As I do not know when it comes, usually they change between starting morning and starting at lunch time, but on different times so I often loose what I am working on :( They plan to keep this power disconnections on until the end of the dry season in June.
I need a new working device, laptops are in Cambodia very expensive (even you have China around the corner) you get nothing really useful under 500$. I am aiming for a T440 which was availale for 530$. Why then 600EUR? Its simple Paypal wants always a small amount in fees already and at a certain point I have to make it to cash, means transferring it to my bank account which is in EUR and the conversion rates of Paypal are an impudence they have an around difference to the rate of 5 cents (means you get for each 100$ 5EUR less) thats why I collecting in EUR instead US$. So I get transferred it without furthermore loss and have to pay then only the fees the banks here want.

I thought that I can earn over the time a new one but that seems not the case, the electricity situation right now is a large setback and I already feel it in the pocket that I have lesser time to earn. The deficit is much higher as the “saved” costs for electricity, I have just a 2$ smaller electricity bill last month. Besides this there seems to be a conspiracy against me, my fan died to, also my phone just gave up to serve me and my bike needs a new tire after getting a nail into it, two weeks ago. So I never have a chance to save something. But I would like to continue with all my work but it becomes more and more harder, especially without an working laptop.

I did setup a while ago a moneypool on Paypal for collecting for my birthday gift. So maybe you can/want help me to finance my next working device. In case you want to use something else as Paypal contact me, I am sure we can work something out.

“You can ask me whatever you damn well please but I have never in my life had a student question my…

Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on February 15, 2019 07:49 PM

“You can ask me whatever you damn well please but I have never in my life had a student question my knowledge!”

That’s a sad state of affairs.

Even if one were to pretend briefly that your former professor wasn’t trying to silence and derail someone who has every reason to know more about this topic than her, no one — and I do mean no one — knows everything.

Never questioned by a student? That means no one is actually _thinking_ in your classes.

Fedora logo redesign update

Posted by Máirín Duffy on February 06, 2019 05:43 PM
<figure class="wp-block-image">Fedora Design Team Logo</figure>

As we’ve talked about here in a couple of posts now, the Fedora design team has been working on a refresh of the Fedora logo. I wanted to give an update on the progress of the project.

We have received a lot of feedback on the design from blog comments, comments on the ticket, and through social media and chat. The direction of the design has been determined by that feedback, while also keeping in mind our goal of making this project a refresh / update and not a complete redesign.

Where we left off

Here are the candidates we left off with in the last blog post on this project:

Candidate #1

Candidate #2

How we’ve iterated

Here’s what we’ve worked on since presenting those two logo candidates, in detail.

Candidate #2 Dropped

Based on feedback, one of the first things we decided to do was to drop candidate #2 out of the running and focus on candidate #1. According to the feedback, candidate #1 is closer to the current logo. Again, a major goal was to to iterate what we had – keeping closer to our current logo seemed in keeping with that.

Redesign of ‘a’

One of our redesign goals was to minimize confusion between the letter ‘a’ in the logotype and the letter ‘o.’ While the initial candidate #1 proposal included an extra mark to make the ‘a’ more clearly not an ‘o’, there was still some feedback that at small sizes it could still look ‘o’ like. The new proposed typeface for the logotype, Comfortaa, does not include an alternate ‘a’ design, so I created a new “double deckah” version of the ‘a’. Initial feedback on this ‘a’ design has been very positive.

Redesign of ‘f’

We received feedback that the stock ‘f’ included in Comfortaa is too narrow compared to other letters in the logotype, and other feedback wondering if the top curve of the ‘f’ could better mirror the top curve of the ‘f’ in the logo mark. We did a number of experiments along these lines, even pursuing a suggested idea to create ligatures for the f:

The ligatures were a bit much, and didn’t give the right feel. Plus we really wanted to maintain the current model of having a separable logomark and logotype. Experimenting like this is good brain food though, so it wasn’t wasted effort.

Anyhow, we tried a few different ways of widening the f, also playing around with the cross mark on the character. Here’s some things we tried:

  • The upper left ‘f’ is the original from the proposal – it is essentially the stock ‘f’ that the Comfortaa typeface offers.
  • The upper right ‘f’ is an exact copy of the top curve of the ‘f’ in the Fedora mark. This causes a weird interference with the logomark itself when adjacent – they look close but not quite the same (even though they are exactly the same). There’s a bit of an optical illusion effect that they seem to trigger. While this could be pursued further and adjusted to account for the illusion, honestly, I think having a distinction between the mark and the type isn’t a bad thing, so we tried other approaches.
  • The lower left ‘f’ has some of the character of the loop from the mark, including the short cross mark, but it is a little more open and more wider. This was not a preferred option based on feedback – why I’m not sure. It’s a bit overbearing maybe, and doesn’t quite fit with the other letters (e.g., the r’s top loop, which is more understanded.)
  • The lower right ‘f’ is the direction I believe the ‘f’ in this redesign should go, and initial feedback on this version has been positive. It is wider than the stock ‘f’ in Comfortaa, but avoids too much curviness in the top that is uncharacteristic of the font – for example, look at how the top curve compares to the top curve of the ‘r’ – a much better match. The length of the cross is pulled even a bit wider than the original from the typeface, to help give the width we were looking for so the letters feel a bit more as if they have a consistent width.

Redesign of ‘e’

This change didn’t come about as a result of feedback, but because of a technical issue – trying to kern different versions of the ‘f’ a bit more tightly with the rest of the logo as we played with giving it more width. Spinning the ‘e’ – at an angle that mimics the diagonal and angle of the infinity logo itself – provides a bit more horizontal negative space to work with within the logo type such that the different experiments with the ‘f’ didn’t require isolating the ‘f’ from the rest of the letters in the logotype (you can see the width created via the vertical rule in the diagram below.)

Once I tried spinning it, I really rather liked the look because of its correspondence with the infinity logo diagonal. Nate Willis suggested opening it, and playing with the width of the tail at the bottom – a step shown on the bottom here. I think this helps the ‘e’ and as a result the entire logotype relate more clearly to the logomark, as the break in the e’s cross mimics the break in the mark where the bottom loop comes up to the f’s cross.

(As in all of these diagrams, the first on the top is the original logotype from the initial candidate #1 proposal.)

Putting the logotype changes together

We’ve looked at each tweak of the logotype in isolation. Here is how it looks all together – starting from the original logotype from the initial candidate #1 proposal to where we’ve arrived today:

Iterating the mark

There has been a lot of work on the mark, although it may not seem like it based on the visuals! There were a few issues with the mark, some that came up in the feedback:

  • Some felt the infinity was more important than the ‘f’, some felt the ‘f’ was more important than the infinity. Depending on which way an individual respondent felt, they suggested dropping one or the other in response to trying to avoid other technical issues that were brought up.
  • There was feedback that perhaps the gaps in the mark weren’t wide enough to read well.
  • For a nice, clean mark, we wanted to eliminate the number of cuts to avoid it looking like a stencil.
  • There was some confusion about the mark looking like – depending on the version – a ‘cf’ or a ‘df.’
  • There was some feedback that the ‘f’ didn’t look like an ‘f’, but it looked like a ‘p’.
  • There was mixed feedback over whether or not the loops should be even sizes or slightly skewed for balance.

Here’s just a few snapshots of some of the variants we tried for the mark to try to play with addressing some of this feedback:

  • #1 is from the original candidate #1 proposal.
  • From #1, you can see – in part to address the concern of the ‘f’ looking like a ‘p’, as well as removing a stencil-like ‘cut’ – the upper right half of the loop is open as it would be in a normal ‘f’ character.
  • #2 has a much thinner version of the inner mark. #1 is really the thickest; subsequent iterations #3-#4-#5 emulate the thickness of the logotype characters to achieve some balance / relationship between the mark and type.
  • #3 has a straight cut in the cross loop. There are some positives to this – this can have a nice shaded effect in some treatments, giving a bit of depth / dimension to the loop to distinguish it from the main ‘f’ mark. However, especially with the curved cut ‘e’, it doesn’t relate as closely to the type.
  • #4 has a rounded cut in the loop, and also has shifted the bottom loop and cross point to make the two ‘halves’ of the mark more even based on feedback requesting what that would look like. The rounded loop relates very closely to the new ‘e’ in the logotype.
  • #5 is very similar to #4, with the difference in size between the loops preserved for some balance.

I am actually not sure which version of the mark to move forward with, but I suspect it will be from the #3-#4-#5 set.

Where we are now

So here’s a new set of candidates to consider, based on all of that work outlined above. All constructive, respectful feedback is encouraged and we are very much grateful for it. Let us know your thoughts in the blog comments below. And if you’d like to do a little bit of mix and matching to see how another combination would work, I’m happy to oblige as time allows (as you probably saw in the comments on the last blog post as well as on social media.)

Some feedback tips from the last post that still apply:

The most useful feedback is stated as a problem, not a solution. E.g., if you suggest changing an element, to understand your perspective it’s helpful to know why you seek to change that element. Also note that while “I don’t like X” or “I like Y” is a perfectly valid reaction, it’s not particularly helpful unless you can dig in a little deeper and share with us why you feel that way, what specific technical details of the logo (shape, contrast, color, clarity, connotation, meaning, similarity to something else, etc.) you think triggered the feeling.

Please also note this is not a vote. We would love your feedback in order to iterate and push the designs forward. If this was a vote or poll, we’d set one up using the proper software. We want feedback on why you like, don’t like, or otherwise react to what you see here. We are not going to tally “votes” here and make a decision based on that. Here is an example of a very productive and helpful set of feedback that resulted in a healthy back and forth with a new direction for the designs. Providing feedback on specific components of the logo is great brain food for making it better!

Update: I have disabled comments. I’ve just about reached my limit of incoming thoughtlessness and cruelty. If you have productive and respectful feedback to share, I am very interested in hearing it still. I don’t think I’m too hard to get in touch with, so please do!

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Fedora 30 – Supplemental Wallpaper

Posted by Sirko Kemter on February 05, 2019 11:47 AM

The submission phase for the Fedora 30 Supplemental Wallpapers ended a few days ago, now the voting is open and is until 25th. You have 16 choices you can make and are allowed to vote when you have CLA + 1 membership. This time we have not to many choices, just a bit above 50.  Here are my 3 favorites:

 

The voting process happens inside Nuancier so you can go now and vote, dont forget to claim the badge, its not given by hand.

Which new Fedora logo design do you prefer?

Posted by Máirín Duffy on January 09, 2019 08:39 PM
<figure class="wp-block-image">Fedora Design Team Logo</figure>

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Fedora design team has been working on a refresh of the Fedora logo. This work started in a Fedora design ticket at the request of the Fedora Project Leader Matthew Miller, and has been discussed openly in the ticket, on the council list, on the design-team list, and within the Fedora Council including at their recent hackfest.
In this post, I’d like to do the following:

  • First, outline the history of our logo and how it got to where it is today. It’s important to understand the full context of the logo when analyzing it and considering change.
  • I’d then like to talk about some of the challenges we’ve faced with the current iteration of our logo for the past few years, with some concrete examples. I want you to know there are solid and clear reasons why we need to iterate our logo – this isn’t something we’re doing for change’s sake.
  • Finally, I’d like to present two proposals the Fedora Design Team has created for the next iteration of our logo – we would very much like to hear your feedback and understand what direction you’d prefer us to go in.

Wait, you’re doing what?

Yes, changing the logo is a big deal. While the overarching goal here is evolving the logo we already have with some light touches rather creating something new, it’s a change regardless. The logo is central to our identity as a project and community, and even iterations on the 13-year old current version of our logo are really visible.
This is a wide-reaching change, and will affect most if not all parts of the Fedora community. If we’re going to do something like this, it’s not something to be done lightly. This isn’t the first (or second) time we’ve changed our logo, though!The final proposal of the Fedora logo from Nov 2005; lighter blue is darker, f's crossbar is much shorter

A history of Fedora’s logo, 2003 to 2019

I have been around the Fedora project since 2004, and for most of that time I’ve been the primary caretaker of the Fedora logo. I’m the author and maintainer of the current Fedora Logo Usage Guidelines document and created and maintain the Fedora Logo History page, and I have maintained the Fedora logo email request queue and lead the Fedora Design Team for most of the past 15 years. I’ve witnessed and took part in most of the decisions that have been made about our logo over the years. The information we’re going to go through for the most part should therefore be regarded as accurate, and where I thought it would be helpful I’ve linked to primary source documents below.
Here is the very first Fedora project logo used in Fedora Core 1 through Fedora Core 4, for at least two years (I believe a simple wordmark using an italic and extra bold / black version of a Myriad typeface):
Original Fedora logo, in a bold italic Myriad font
A couple of years later came the initial public proposal for a complete redesign from Matt Muñoz (at time time from CapStrat) in November 2005:

Original Fedora logo. Ends of the F's were much longer and curled, and the lighter blue color was brighter.

With some feedback back and forth, this was the final result:

The final proposal of the Fedora logo from Nov 2005; lighter blue is darker, f's crossbar is much shorter
You can see that:

  • The lighter Fedora blue used in the infinity symbol was darkened and made less cyan
  • The color of the ‘fedora’ text was originally in the dark blue and was swapped for the lighter blue in our current version (this actually results in poorer contrast.)
  • Both blues in the final version were shifted more towards purple from a cyan tint.
  • The shape of the ‘f’ in the infinity mark was changed too – the ends of the f were blunted and the crossbar of the f was made longer.
  • Proportionally, the Fedora infinity logomark was made smaller in proportion to the Fedora wordmark.

Note too, this was 2005, and we only had a handful of high-quality free and open source fonts available to us. This logo is designed with a proprietary font called Bryant (the v. 2 2005 version) designed by Eric Olson.  That is one of the reasons we decided to redesign the original sublogo design created for the Fedora logo, which looked like this:

These sublogos relied on the designer having access to Bryant, which would necessarily restrict how and who on a community design team (which was just forming at the time) could create new sublogos for the project. They also rely on having a wide palette of colors distinguishable yet harmonious with the brand, without an understanding how many sublogos there might actually be, so scaleability was an issue. (I would guess we have hundreds. We have sublogos for different teams, different geographical groups, lots and lots o’ apps…)
This is what the Fedora Design Team ended up creating as a replacement for this design, which uses the free & open source font Comfortaa by Johan Aakerlund (who kindly licensed it under an open source license at our request):
Fedora sublogo design - uses the FLOSS font Comfortaa alongside Fedora logo elements.
Note that even the current sublogo design shown above was not the only one we’ve used – we originally had a sublogo design that used the free & open source font MgOpen Modata created by Magenta, and that was in use for around four years (example design that used it.) We fully / officially transitioned over to Comfortaa (first suggested by design team member Luya Tshimbalanga) back around 2010. MgOpen Modata did not have support for even basic acute marks which was problematic for our global community, because on the design team, we felt the shape of the letters better coordinated with the shapes of the Bryant lettering in the logo. (We had considered multiple other FLOSS fonts as you can see in our initial requirements document for the change.)

This has to be said: A soapbox

I just want to say that the fact the design-team and marketing mailing lists among others have been on mailman for so many years, and because we have Hyperkitty deployed in Fedora, researching all of the specific facts, dates, and circumstances around the history of the logo was quick, easy, and painless and resulted in my being able to link you up to primary source documents (and jog my own memory) above with little effort. I was able to search 15 years of history across all of our mailing lists with one quick query and find what I was looking for right away. I continue to be acutely and deeply concerned about the recent Balkanization of our communications within the Fedora project, but am grateful that Hyperkitty ensured, in this case, that important parts of our history have not been lost to time.

I hope this history of the Fedora logo demonstrates that our logo and brand over time have not been static, nor is the logo we use today the first logo the project ever had. Understandably, the notion of changing our logo can feel overwhelming, but it is not something new to us as a project.

The challenges

The Fedora logo today probably seems benign and unproblematic to most folks, but for those of us who work with it frequently (such as members of the Fedora Design Team), it has some rough edges we deal with frequently. I would classify those issues as technical / design issues. Let’s walk through them.

Technical Issues

It doesn’t work at all in a single color

The Fedora logomark necessarily requires two colors to render:

  • a color for the bubble background
  • a color for the ‘f’
  • a color for the infinity

This makes a single-color version of the logo impossible. (Note single color means one color, not shades of grey.) This has caused us a number of issues over the year, from printing swag with the full logo on it when the vendors only allow single color on particular items (in these cases, we use only the ‘fedora’ wordmark and have to drop the infinity bubblemark, or pay much more money for multiple color prints) to causing issues with our ability to be iconified in libraries of Linux and open source project logos.
This recently caused an issue when an attempted one-colorization of our logo (the infinity symbol was dropped, against our guidelines) was submitted to font-awesome without our permission; because the distribution of that icon library is so wide and I didn’t want the broken logo proliferating, I had to work over my Christmas holiday to come up with a one-color version of the logo as a stopgap because that library doesn’t have a way of removing a logo once submitted.

The solution above is problematic. I say this having created it. It’s a hack – it’s using diagonal hash marks to simulate a second color, which doesn’t scale well and can cause blurriness, glitching, and artifacts on screen display, and also particularly at small sizes won’t work for printing on swag items (the hatch lines are too fine for screen printing processes to reproduce reliably across vendors.) It’s truly a stopgap and not a long-term solution.

It doesn’t work well on a dark background, particularly blue ones

You’ve probably seen it – it’s unavoidable. I call it the logo glow. If you want to put the Fedora logo on a dark background – particularly a dark blue background! – to get enough contrast to have it stand out from the background, you have to add a white keyline or a white ‘glow’ to the back of the logo to create enough contrast that it doesn’t melt into the background.
This is against the logo usage guidelines, by the way. It adds an additional, non-standardized element to the logo and it changes the look and character of the logo.
If you do a simple search for “fedora wallpaper” on an image search engine, these are the sorts of results you’ll turn up, exemplifying the logo flow – I promise I didn’t search for “fedora glow”:

Part of the reason the logo has bad contrast with dark backgrounds is because the infinity bubble is necessarily a dark color. This is related to the fact the logo cannot be displayed in one color. If our logo had a symbol that could be one-color, then display on a dark background is a fairly trivial prospect – you can invert the color of the logo to a light color, like white, and the problem is solved. Since the design of our logo mark requires at least two separate colors in a very specific configuration (you can’t swap the background bubble for a light color and make the infinity color dark), we have this challenge.
I have also seen third parties invert the logo to try to deal with this issue – this is against the guidelines and looks terrible, but perhaps you’ve seen it in the wild, too. On duckduckgo.org image search, this was in the first few hits for “fedora logo” today (note it also uses the wrong, original proposal ‘f’ shape from November 2005):

Typically on the design team we’ve dealt with this using gradients in a clever way, whether inside the dark blue bubble of the logo itself, in the background, or a combination of the two. Here is an example – you can see how we positioned the logo relative to the lighter part of the gradient to ensure enough contrast:

While this solution is workable and we’ve used it many times, it still results in artwork (sometimes even official artwork) ending up with the glow. The problem comes up over and over and constrains the type of artwork we can do. Also note the gradient solution will not work for printed objects, making it difficult to print a good-looking Fedora logo on a dark-colored t-shirt or any blue-colored item. The gradient solution is also far less reliable in web-based treaments of the logo across platforms, where we cannot guarantee where exactly within a gradient the logomark may fall across screen sizes.

It’s hard to center the mark visually in designs


The ‘bubble’ at the back of the Fedora logomark is meant to be a stylized speech bubble, symbolizing the ‘voice of the community.’ Unfortunately, it’s also a lopsided shape that is deceptively difficult to center. Visualize it as a square – three of its four edges are rounded, so if you center it programatically using HTML/CSS or a creative tool like Inkscape, visually it just won’t be centered. You don’t have to take my word for it; here’s a demonstration:


The two rounded edges on the right in comparison to the straight edge on the left makes the programmatically centered version appear shifted slightly to the left; typically this requires manually nudging the logomark to the right a few pixels when trying to center it against anything. The reason this happens is because the programmatic center is calculated based on the exact distance between the rightmost point of the image and the leftmost point. The rounded right side of the image has only one point in the horizontal center of the shape that sticks out the most, where as the straighter left side has many more points at the left extreme used in this calculation.
This is an annoying problem to keep on top of.

The ‘superscript’ logo bubble position makes the entire logo hard to position

One of the things that is unique about our current logo design that also causes confusion is the placement of the bubble relative to the “fedora” text.
The final proposal of the Fedora logo from Nov 2005; lighter blue is darker, f's crossbar is much shorter
It’s almost like a superscript on the text itself. While the logotype (text alone) has a typical basic rectangular shape, the bubble throws it off, pushing both the upper extreme and the right extreme of the shape out and creating some oddly-shaped negative space:

It’s almost like the shape of a hooved animal, like a cow, with the logomark as the head. The imbalanced negative space gives the logo a bit of a fragility in appearance, as if it could be tipped over into that lower right negative space. It also makes the logo extremely difficult to center both vertically and horizontally. Similarly to how we compensate for this as shown in the demo above for the logomark, we have to manually tweak the position of the full logo by eye to center it relative to other items both vertically and horizontally.
This impacts the creation of any Fedora-affiliated logo, sublogo, or partnership involving multiple logos (such as a list of sponsor logos on a t-shirt or on a conference program.)
It means our logo cannot be properly centered in a programmatic way. While those of us on the Fedora Design Team and other teams within Fedora are aware of the issue and compensate for it naturally, those less familiar with our logo, like other projects we may be partnering with or vendors, or even any algorithmic working of our logo (in an app or on a website) is not going to be aware of it. Our logo is going to look sloppy in these scenarios where automatic centering is employed, and for those who catch the issue, it’s going to demand more time and care that should not be necessary to work with the logo.
The position of the logomark is also so atypical that it’s been assumed to be a mistake, and some third parties have tried modifying it to a more traditional position and proportion to the logotype to ‘fix’ it. Here is an example of this I found in the wild (again, from close to the top of hits received from a duckduckgo.com image search for ‘fedora logo’):

The ‘a’ in ‘fedora’ can look like an ‘o’

The final proposal of the Fedora logo from Nov 2005; lighter blue is darker, f's crossbar is much shorter

Bryant is a stylized font, and the ‘a’ in Fedora has on occasion been confused for an ‘o.’ It’s not a major call-the-fire-department type of issue, just one of those long simmering annoyances that adds to everything else.

Technical Issues Summary

Ok, so… that was a lot of problems to walk through. These aren’t all obvious on the surface, but if you work with the logo regularly as many Fedora Design team members do, these are familiar issues that probably have you nodding your head. The more ‘special treatment’ our logo requires to look good, the more hacks and crutches we need to create to help it look good, means the less chance it’ll be treated correctly by those who need to use it who have less experience with it. No single one of these issues is insurmountable, but together they do all add up.
On top of that, there are two more challenges we deal with around our current logo. Let’s talk about them.

Other Challenges

Closed source font

For a very long time, I’ve personally been irked by the fact that a logo that in part represents software freedom, a logo that represents a community so dedicated to software freedom, is comprised of a wordmark with a closed, proprietary font. We have wanted to swap it out for a FLOSS font for a long time, and I’ve tried and failed to make that change happen in the past.
In historical context, it makes sense for a logo created in 2005 – even one for a FLOSS project – to make use of a closed font. In 2019, however, it makes less sense. There are large libraries of free and open source fonts out there now, including fontlibrary.org and google fonts, so the excuse of there not being enough high-quality, openly-licensed fonts available just no longer stands.
A logo is a symbol, and a logo using an open source font would better represent who we are and what we do symbolically.

Where we are now

“All right,” you must be thinking. “That’s a hell of a lot of problems. How can we possibly fix them?”
About three months ago, I had a conversation with our project leader Matthew Miller about these issues. He is familiar with all of them and thought maybe we should see if the Fedora Council and if our community would be open to a change. He kicked things off with a thread on the fedora-council list:
“Considering a logo refresh” started by Matthew Miller on 4 October 2018
From there, we agreed that since the initial reception to the idea wasn’t awful, he opened up a formal design team ticket and myself and the rest of the design team started working on some ideas. As we just wanted to address the issues identified and not make a big change for changes sake, I started off by trying the very lightest touches I could think of:

With these touches, you can see direct correlations with the issues we’ve walked through:

  1. The current logo
  2. Normalize mark placement – this relates to “The ‘superscript’ logo bubble position makes the entire logo hard to position” above
  3. Brighten colors – better contrast
  4. Open source font & Balance Bubble – the font change relates to “Closed source font” above, and balancing the bubble relates to “It’s hard to center the mark visually in designs” above
  5. Match bubble ‘f’ to logotype – so they feel related
  6. Attempt to make single color – failed, but tried to address “It doesn’t work at all in a single color” above
  7. Drop bubble – relates to both single color and imbalance of the bubble mark
  8. Drop infinity – another attempt to make one-color
  9. Another attempt at one-color compatible mark

We started working on infinity and f only designs to try to get away from using the bubble so we could have a one-color friendly logo. In order to give a bit more balance to this type of infinity-only mark, we tried things like changing the relative sizes of the curves of the infinity:

We tried playing with perspective:

And we tried all different types of creating a “Fedora-like” f:

These were all explorations in trying to tweak the logo we already had to minimize change.
We also had a series of work done on trying to come up with an new, alternative f mark that was less problematic but still looked ‘Fedora-ish’:

I invite you to go through Design Ticket #620 which is where all of this work happened, and you can see how this work unfolded in detail, with the back and forth between designers and community members and active brainstorming. This process took place pretty much entirely within the pagure ticket, so everything is there.

The Proposals

we need your help!
Eventually, as all great design brainstorming processes go, you have to pick a direction, refine it, and make a final decision. We need your help in picking a direction. Here are two logo candidates representing two different directions we could go in for a Fedora logo redesign:

  • Do you have a preference?
  • How do you feel about these?
  • What would you change?
  • Do you think each solves the issues we outlined?
  • Is one a better solution than the other?

The most useful feedback is stated as a problem, not a solution. E.g., if you suggest changing an element, to understand your perspective it’s helpful to know why you seek to change that element. Also note that while “I don’t like X” or “I like Y” is a perfectly valid reaction, it’s not particularly helpful unless you can dig in a little deeper and share with us why you feel that way, what specific technical details of the logo (shape, contrast, color, clarity, connotation, meaning, similarity to something else, etc.) you think triggered the feeling.

Please also note this is not a vote. We would love your feedback in order to iterate and push the designs forward. If this was a vote or poll, we’d set one up using the proper software. We want feedback on why you like, don’t like, or otherwise react to what you see here. We are not going to tally “votes” here and make a decision based on that. Here is an example of a very productive and helpful set of feedback that resulted in a healthy back and forth with a new direction for the designs. Providing feedback on specific components of the logo is great brain food for making it better!

Candidate #1

This design has a flaw in that it still includes a bubble mark, which comes with all of the alignment headaches we’ve talked about. However, its position relative to the logotype is changed to a more typical layout (mark on the left, a bit larger than it is now) and this design allows for the mark to be used without the bubble (“mark sans bubble”) in certain applications. Both variants of the mark are one-color capable.
The font is a modified version of Comfortaa that is hand-kerned and has a modified ‘a’ to lessen consfusion with ‘o’.
As the main goal here was really a light touch to address the issues we have, you can see that items like the Fedora remix logo and sublogos are only lightly affected: the ‘remix’ logo text is changed to Comfortaa, and the ‘fedora’ logotext in all sublogos is updated.
You can see in the sample web treatment, you can make some neat designs by clipping this mark on top of a photo, as is done under “Headline Example” with the latest Fedora wallpaper graphic.
This candidate I believe represents the least amount of change that addresses most of the issues we identified.

Candidate #2

As with candidate #1, the font is a modified version of Comfortaa that is hand-kerned and has a modified ‘a’ to lessen consfusion with ‘o’.
The mark has changed the ratio of sizes between the two loops of the infinity, and has completely dropped the bubble in the main version of the logo. However, as an alternative possibility, we could offer in the logo guidelines the ability to apply this mark on top of different shapes.
As with candidate #1, the main goal here was really a light touch to address the issues we have, you can see that items like the Fedora remix logo and sublogos are only lightly affected: the ‘remix’ logo text is changed to Comfortaa, and the ‘fedora’ logotext in all sublogos is updated.
This logo candidate is more of a departure from our current logo than candidate #1. However, it is a bit closer in design to the various icons we have for the Fedora editions (server, atomic, workstation) as it’s a mark that does not rely on contrast with another shape, it’s free form and stands on its own without a background.

We would love to hear your constructive and respectful feedback on these design options, either here in the blog comment or on the design team ticket. Thanks for reading this far!

Running ROCm on AMD Raven Ridge Mobile

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on December 29, 2018 08:15 PM
The HP Envy x360 Convertible powered with Ryzen 2500U turned out an impressive laptop for Fedora 29 despite some issues like lack of accelerometer driver for Linux kernel and some ACPI related problems seemly affecting majority of HP laptops.

AMD recently released ROCm 2.0 enabling the support of Raven Ridge Mobile for the first time. The installation has to be clean (remove beignet and pocl)  and requires additional dependency not found on Fedora repository, pth located on COPR. Once completed and rebooted, rocminfo should runs as follow:

/opt/rocm/bin/rocminfo 
=====================    
HSA System Attributes    
=====================    
Runtime Version:         1.1
System Timestamp Freq.:  1000.000000MHz
Sig. Max Wait Duration:  18446744073709551615 (number of timestamp)
Machine Model:           LARGE                              
System Endianness:       LITTLE                             

==========               
HSA Agents               
==========               
*******                  
Agent 1                  
*******                  
  Name:                    AMD Ryzen 5 2500U with Radeon Vega Mobile Gfx
  Vendor Name:             CPU                                
  Feature:                 None specified                     
  Profile:                 FULL_PROFILE                       
  Float Round Mode:        NEAR                               
  Max Queue Number:        0                                  
  Queue Min Size:          0                                  
  Queue Max Size:          0                                  
  Queue Type:              MULTI                              
  Node:                    0                                  
  Device Type:             CPU                                
  Cache Info:              
    L1:                      32KB                               
  Chip ID:                 5597                               
  Cacheline Size:          64                                 
  Max Clock Frequency (MHz):2000                               
  BDFID:                   768                                
  Compute Unit:            8                                  
  Features:                None
  Pool Info:               
    Pool 1                   
      Segment:                 GLOBAL; FLAGS: KERNARG, FINE GRAINED
      Size:                    16776832KB                         
      Allocatable:             TRUE                               
      Alloc Granule:           4KB                                
      Alloc Alignment:         4KB                                
      Acessible by all:        TRUE                               
  ISA Info:                
    N/A                      
*******                  
Agent 2                  
*******                  
  Name:                    gfx902                             
  Vendor Name:             AMD                                
  Feature:                 KERNEL_DISPATCH                    
  Profile:                 FULL_PROFILE                       
  Float Round Mode:        NEAR                               
  Max Queue Number:        128                                
  Queue Min Size:          4096                               
  Queue Max Size:          131072                             
  Queue Type:              MULTI                              
  Node:                    0                                  
  Device Type:             GPU                                
  Cache Info:              
    L1:                      16KB                               
  Chip ID:                 5597                               
  Cacheline Size:          64                                 
  Max Clock Frequency (MHz):1100                               
  BDFID:                   768                                
  Compute Unit:            11                                 
  Features:                KERNEL_DISPATCH 
  Fast F16 Operation:      FALSE                              
  Wavefront Size:          64                                 
  Workgroup Max Size:      1024                               
  Workgroup Max Size Per Dimension:
    Dim[0]:                  67109888                           
    Dim[1]:                  50332672                           
    Dim[2]:                  0                                  
  Grid Max Size:           4294967295                         
  Waves Per CU:            160                                
  Max Work-item Per CU:    10240                              
  Grid Max Size per Dimension:
    Dim[0]:                  4294967295                         
    Dim[1]:                  4294967295                         
    Dim[2]:                  4294967295                         
  Max number Of fbarriers Per Workgroup:32                                 
  Pool Info:               
    Pool 1                   
      Segment:                 GROUP                              
      Size:                    64KB                               
      Allocatable:             FALSE                              
      Alloc Granule:           0KB                                
      Alloc Alignment:         0KB                                
      Acessible by all:        FALSE                              
  ISA Info:                
    ISA 1                    
      Name:                    amdgcn-amd-amdhsa--gfx902+xnack    
      Machine Models:          HSA_MACHINE_MODEL_LARGE            
      Profiles:                HSA_PROFILE_BASE                   
      Default Rounding Mode:   NEAR                               
      Default Rounding Mode:   NEAR                               
      Fast f16:                TRUE                               
      Workgroup Max Dimension: 
        Dim[0]:                  67109888                           
        Dim[1]:                  1024                               
        Dim[2]:                  16777217                           
      Workgroup Max Size:      1024                               
      Grid Max Dimension:      
        x                        4294967295                         
        y                        4294967295                         
        z                        4294967295                         
      Grid Max Size:           4294967295                         
      FBarrier Max Size:       32                                 
*** Done ***

Interesting attention is the number of compute units for Vega8 (gfx902): 11 instead of 8 suggesting that Vega8 is nothing more than a cut-down Vega11.

ROCm OpenCL is also installed as seen below

/opt/rocm/opencl/bin/x86_64/clinfo 
Number of platforms:                 1
  Platform Profile:                 FULL_PROFILE
  Platform Version:                 OpenCL 2.1 AMD-APP (2783.0)
  Platform Name:                 AMD Accelerated Parallel Processing
  Platform Vendor:                 Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.
  Platform Extensions:                 cl_khr_icd cl_amd_event_callback cl_amd_offline_devices 


  Platform Name:                 AMD Accelerated Parallel Processing
Number of devices:                 1
  Device Type:                     CL_DEVICE_TYPE_GPU
  Vendor ID:                     1002h
  Board name:                     AMD Ryzen 5 2500U with Radeon Vega Mobile Gfx
  Device Topology:                 PCI[ B#3, D#0, F#0 ]
  Max compute units:                 11
  Max work items dimensions:             3
    Max work items[0]:                 1024
    Max work items[1]:                 1024
    Max work items[2]:                 1024
  Max work group size:                 256
  Preferred vector width char:             4
  Preferred vector width short:             2
  Preferred vector width int:             1
  Preferred vector width long:             1
  Preferred vector width float:             1
  Preferred vector width double:         1
  Native vector width char:             4
  Native vector width short:             2
  Native vector width int:             1
  Native vector width long:             1
  Native vector width float:             1
  Native vector width double:             1
  Max clock frequency:                 1100Mhz
  Address bits:                     64
  Max memory allocation:             6256727654
  Image support:                 Yes
  Max number of images read arguments:         128
  Max number of images write arguments:         8
  Max image 2D width:                 16384
  Max image 2D height:                 16384
  Max image 3D width:                 2048
  Max image 3D height:                 2048
  Max image 3D depth:                 2048
  Max samplers within kernel:             5597
  Max size of kernel argument:             1024
  Alignment (bits) of base address:         1024
  Minimum alignment (bytes) for any datatype:     128
  Single precision floating point capability
    Denorms:                     Yes
    Quiet NaNs:                     Yes
    Round to nearest even:             Yes
    Round to zero:                 Yes
    Round to +ve and infinity:             Yes
    IEEE754-2008 fused multiply-add:         Yes
  Cache type:                     Read/Write
  Cache line size:                 64
  Cache size:                     16384
  Global memory size:                 7360856064
  Constant buffer size:                 6256727654
  Max number of constant args:             8
  Local memory type:                 Scratchpad
  Local memory size:                 65536
  Max pipe arguments:                 16
  Max pipe active reservations:             16
  Max pipe packet size:                 1961760358
  Max global variable size:             6256727654
  Max global variable preferred total size:     7360856064
  Max read/write image args:             64
  Max on device events:                 1024
  Queue on device max size:             8388608
  Max on device queues:                 1
  Queue on device preferred size:         262144
  SVM capabilities:                 
    Coarse grain buffer:             Yes
    Fine grain buffer:                 Yes
    Fine grain system:                 Yes
    Atomics:                     No
  Preferred platform atomic alignment:         0
  Preferred global atomic alignment:         0
  Preferred local atomic alignment:         0
  Kernel Preferred work group size multiple:     64
  Error correction support:             0
  Unified memory for Host and Device:         1
  Profiling timer resolution:             1
  Device endianess:                 Little
  Available:                     Yes
  Compiler available:                 Yes
  Execution capabilities:                 
    Execute OpenCL kernels:             Yes
    Execute native function:             No
  Queue on Host properties:                 
    Out-of-Order:                 No
    Profiling :                     Yes
  Queue on Device properties:                 
    Out-of-Order:                 Yes
    Profiling :                     Yes
  Platform ID:                     0x7f3b9d3b9ed0
  Name:                         gfx902-xnack
  Vendor:                     Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.
  Device OpenCL C version:             OpenCL C 2.0 
  Driver version:                 2783.0 (HSA1.1,LC)
  Profile:                     FULL_PROFILE
  Version:                     OpenCL 1.2 
  Extensions:                     cl_khr_fp64 cl_khr_global_int32_base_atomics cl_khr_global_int32_extended_atomics cl_khr_local_int32_base_atomics cl_khr_local_int32_extended_atomics cl_khr_int64_base_atomics cl_khr_int64_extended_atomics cl_khr_3d_image_writes cl_khr_byte_addressable_store cl_khr_fp16 cl_khr_gl_sharing cl_amd_device_attribute_query cl_amd_media_ops cl_amd_media_ops2 cl_khr_subgroups cl_khr_depth_images cl_amd_copy_buffer_p2p cl_amd_assembly_program 

Notice again the number of compute units.

In term of applications, Blender will detect and use ROCm OpenCL. Unfortunately, the use of GPU Compute is very slow for rendering. Darktable, Gimp and Libre Office are able to use it as well.


Improving HP Envy x360 convertible on Linux: the missing accelerometer driver

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on December 19, 2018 06:37 AM
If you own an HP laptop equipped with AMD processor, you may find out the auto-rotation will not work as intended. It turned out that sensor is missing a driver not currently available on Linux kernel using the lspci -nn command from the terminal

03:00.7 Non-VGA unclassified device [0000]: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] Device [1022:15e4]
 
 
That driver in question is AMD Sensor Fusion HUB. Unfortunately, researching it turned out harder even on AMD own website. Bug is already filed without answer yet from one of AMD representative.

How Fedora’s Wallpaper Are Made

Posted by Sirko Kemter on December 07, 2018 05:47 AM

I am now member of the Design Team more then 10 years and had my hands in, in many off the fedora wallpaper. Over the years the Design Team developed a way to be creative and come up with a unique design for each release. This way was build around the release names, yes it became harder, how funnier the release names became. For Fedora 20 aka Heisenbug, there was no idea how this name could be represented. So this wallpaper was build with the number of the release 20 and his latin representation XX. Then the council disabled the code names, what put the Design Team into a little crisis, we tried to work furthermore with the numbers but except for Fedora 24 (which represents 24 hours of a day) not work. So a solution was needed.
Since Fedora 25 I running a small voting among the Design Team, giving a few names of inventors/discoverer. This is not the same as code names, as we use it only as an creative starting point. Nevertheless there are always people outside the team taking the vote (and they vote mostly just because they find the name cool and have no eye what can be done with)

 

Archimedes

Archimedes, Al-Battani and Armstrong been the choices for this version, and Archimedes won very clear. And so the wallpaper bases on a design of an archimedian spiral, maybe you can see it now.

 

Alexander Graham Bell

For Fedora 26 Charles Babagge, George Beauchamp and Alexander Graham Bell as inventor of the telephone been the choices and Bell won the voting. But how do you come from telephone to a line of trees? Take a closer look, the line of trees is nothing else as a waveform of a spoken word, here Fedora. Isnt that genius?

 

Jaques Cousteau

Jaques Cousteau came out as the favorite for Fedora 27, the other choices been Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot and Vladimir Nikolayevich Chelomey. And so the beautiful jellyfish design was created.

 

Emily C. Duncan

For Fedora 28, Mo requested the change one of the person shall be a woman (thats a bit problematic as there are lesser woman inventors outside. Since then we have 4 options to choose from. Giovanni de Dondi, Arvid Gerhard Damm, Georges Darrieus and Emily C. Duncan. Emily C. Duncan did win, the concept of the artwork bases of “information travelling down/up wires”.

 

Gertrude B. Elion

As I was not available for wrangling the Fedora 29 inspiration, Mo suggusted relative late to go with Gertrude B. Elion and so the wallpaper was made on a concept of hexagons representing cells.

 

Augustin-Jean Fresnel

For the upcoming Fedora version 30, we held the voting and there been Federico Faggin, Rosalind Franklin, Sandford Fleming and Augustin-Jean Fresnel the options. The team decided to go with Fresnel, so you can be curious with what we come up.

Some closing words, as I said before there are always people who read the mail on the list and vote, even they are not member of the team. That would be fine, but there is one thing, they always vote because they find the invention cool or the name but this doesnt help the Design Team. This is a two-sided thing I have spoken about this a while ago with Mo, the people have interest to “contribute” into such a voting but as said, its not helpful in this way for the team itself. I have an idea how to solve this problem, maybe there is room to hack the needed thing together during next GSoC.

Fedora Design Team Meeting, 4 Nollaig 2018

Posted by Máirín Duffy on December 04, 2018 08:37 PM

Fedora Design Team Logo

Today we had a Fedora Design Team meeting. Here’s what went down (meetbot link).

Freenode<>Matrix.org Issues

Tango Internet Group Chat, CC0 from openclipart.ogr

About half of the team members who participated today used matrix.org (e.g. the riot.im client). Unfortunately, we noticed an issue with bridging between these two networks today – both sides could see IRC comments, but matrix.org comments weren’t getting sent to IRC. ctmartin recognized the issue from another Fedora channel and figured out that if we added +v to the channel members using matrix, that would fix the issue. I am not sure if this is All Fixed Now or is going to be an ongoing Thing. But that is why our meeting started late today.

If anybody has ideas on how to resolve this in a permanent way, I would very much appreciate your advice!

Fedora 30 Artwork

CC BY-SA 3.0, wikimedia commons "A Fresnel lens exhibited in the Musée national de la Marine"

For 5 Fedora releases now, the design team has been using a famous scientist / mathematician / technologist as the inspiration for the release artwork. We do this based on an alphabetical system; Fedora 30 is slated to be a person whose names begins with an “F.” Gnokii manages this process, and already set up and tallied the results for the design team-specific vote on which we chose from the following:

  • Federico Faggin (microprocessor)
  • Rosalin Franklin (DNA helix)
  • Sandford Fleming (Universal Standard Time)
  • Augustin-Jean Fresnel (fresnel lens)

As gnokii announced on our team mailing list, the inspiration for the Fedora 30 artwork will be Augustin-Jean Fresnel. He also gathered the following set of inspirational images, which all revolve around the design of the Fresnel lens, which we talked about in the meeting would be a good central focus / concept for the artwork, whether it’s a depiction of a lens itself or some form of study of the diffraction pattern (and “thin-film” rainbow effect”) that inspired its invention:

The action item we got out of this discussion is that we need to meet separately, a remote hackfest if you will, to work on the F30 artwork (as we typically do each release.) This will take place in #fedora-design on IRC (or Fedora Design on matrix.org.) If you are interested in participating, here is the whenisgood.net to organize a time for this event:

http://whenisgood.net/79qzs5s

Exploring a Fedora logo refresh

For the past few weeks we have been working with mattdm on exploring what a refresh of the Fedora logo might look like. This work has been ongoing in design ticket #620. There’s a few issues such a thing would aim to address – if you’ve ever worked with the current Fedora logo yourself, these should be pretty familiar (copy-pasta-ed from the ticket):

  • It doesn’t work well at small sizes
  • It doesn’t work at all in a single color
  • It’s hard to work with on a dark background
  • The “voice” bubble means it’s hard to center visually in designs
  • The Fedora wordmark is based on a non-open-source font
  • The “a” in the wordmark is easily mistaken for an o
  • The horizontal wordmark + logo with the “floated” trailing logo is challenging to work with

The general approach here is a light touch, and not an overhaul. Below are some of the leading concepts / experiments thus far:

The next step here that we discussed is for each concept, to create something like “style tiles” for each so we can better understand how each would play in context – how would it look like with our fonts, color palette, and what design elements would go with it. That process may surface some issues in the design of each which we’ll need to address.

After that, we’ll open up to broad community input – maybe a formal survey and/or maybe some mini IRC or video chat focus group sessions and see how folks feel about it, gather feedback, see which concept the broader community prefers and see if there are tweaks / adjustments we can make to iterate it based on the feedback we receive.

This is something we’ll continue to work on for the next few months. If you have feedback on the assets so far, please feel free to leave it in the comments here, but be nice please 🙂 and note this is still early stages.

Are you new to Fedora Design? Would you like to join?

This little ticket popped up in our triage during the meeting today, and is a good one for you to grab. It has a LibreOffice template you can use, or simply draw from for inspiration. Note the base font should be Overpass (free font, downloadable at overpassfont.org):

 

 

If that’s not your speed, we have a couple of other newbie tickets in our queue, check them out and feel free to grab one that piques your interest!

 

Fedora Podcast Website Design

terezahl, the Fedora Design team intern, has been working on a website design for the Fedora Podcast that x3mboy has created. She showed us a snapshot of her work-in-progress, and we gave her some feedback. Overall, it looks great, and we’re excited to see where it goes 🙂

That’s it folks!

If you are interested in participating in the Fedora 30 Artwork IRC Hackfest, please vote for a timeslot here, ASAP 🙂

http://whenisgood.net/79qzs5s

Enable stylus settings on HP Envy x360 Convertible

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on November 26, 2018 06:14 AM
Thanks to the tips from Peter Hutterer, the author of libinput and libwacom, enabling the configuration of the stylus for the HP Envy x360 Convertible is very simple. Create a table file i.e. elan-264c.tablet in this example using this template and look at the dmesg output like:

[    3.014612] input: ELAN0732:00 04F3:264C Pen as /devices/platform/AMDI0010:00/i2c-0/i2c-ELAN0732:00/0018:04F3:264C.0001/input/input15


 Now the name is found as an ELAN device, include the following information

# ELAN touchscreen/pen sensor present in the HP Envy x360 Convertible 15-cp0XXX 

[Device] 
Name=ELAN 264C 
DeviceMatch=i2c:04f3:264c 
Class=ISDV4 
Width=14 
Height=8 
IntegratedIn=Display;System 

[Features] 
Stylus=true 
Touch=true 
Buttons=0

Copy the new created file to /usr/share/libwacom/ path. Gnome Shell will automatically detect the new tablet file and display the new information. Below is the result:

Stylus configuration

Tablet information with calibration and display adjustement


Testing the stylus input


I pulled the new file to upstream who immediately accepted it. For user owning an HP touchscreen devices, expect your distribution to provide the updated linuxwacom package.

Since owning that 2-in-1 laptop, with the help of upstream, we have resolved the touchscreen issue and now the configuration of the stylus. Next challenge will be the Windows Hello like authentication currently available in the COPR repository for testing and contacting both upstream and GNOME team.

Touchscreen and stylus now working on HP Envy x360

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on November 25, 2018 07:27 AM
The Fedora version on kernel 4.19.3 includes a patch allowing both stylus and touchscreen to properly run on AMD processor based HP touchscreen thanks to the combined effort from Hans, Lukas and Marc for finding the root cause and testing the fix.

A few scary moment on HP Envy x360 15-cp0xxx Ryzen 2500U was a conflicting IRQ handling due to possibly booting on Windows 10 used to get all feature parity to Linx counterpart i.e. Fedora 29 in this case. Fortunately, power off somewhat did the trick. Since then, both stylus and touchscreen run without a hitch.

A minor issue was the Gnome Settings does not display information of both devices due to the missing data from Elan driver thus meaning no configuration possible like assigning buttons and no possible way to test touchscreen. Additionally, Gnome Shell assumed the battery still at 1% capacity and the bug is filed for that reason.

Detected Stylus displayed with incorrect battery status

Nevertheless, the stylus with some configurating runs smooth on applications like Gimp and Inkscape. For the touchscreen, Firefox for Linux lack proper onscreen keyboard. That will be continued...

Detailing the installation of AMD OpenCL rpm for Fedora

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on November 20, 2018 05:16 AM
Revisiting the previous blog and freshly reinstalling Fedora Design Suite due to a busted boot, I look at the official guideline from AMD Driver for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2 and write a way to improve the process of installing on Fedora 29 in this example.



Extracting the tarball contains the following:
  • amdgpu-install
  • amdgpu-pro-install symlink to amdgpu
  • doc folder
  • repodata folder
  • RPMS folder containing rpm package

Executing the command ./amdgpu-install -opencl=pal --headless sadly failed on Fedora on that line:

./amdgpu-install -y --opencl=pal --headless
Last metadata expiration check: 0:30:51 ago on Mon 19 Nov 2018 07:13:43 PM PST.
No match for argument: amdgpu


Upon closer look, the script failed to created a temporary repository on /var/opt/amdgpu-pro-local probably explaining why amdgpu metapackage name failed to display. Someone should investigate and provide a fix. At least, we find out Fedora support is available but unofficial.

Due to its design, Gnome Software only allows one click package per installation, not by selection, so terminal remains the logical option.

Learning the new version on AMD Radeon 18.40 driver no longer needs dkms for installing OpenCL, the process is much easier without requiring kernel-devel package. The following dependencies are now:
  • amdgpu-core (core metapackage)
  • amdgpu-pro-core (metapackage of amdgpu-pro)
  • clinfo-amdgpu-pro
  • libopencl-amdgpu-pro
  • opencl-amdgpu-pro-icd
Installing amdgpu-core alone causes dnf to complain about support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 due the script extracted from rpmrebuild -p -e command:

if [ $(rpm --eval 0%%{?rhel}) != "07" ] ; then
        >&2 echo "ERROR: This package can only be installed on EL7."
        exit 1
fi


Selecting all above dependencies overrides it and completes the installation despite a failure of a scriptlet from amdgpu-core.  OpenCL now available will be automatically detected by applications like Blender, Darktable,LibreOffice and Gimp.

We learned it is possible to install AMD version of OpenCL on Fedora. We also learn it is possible to retrace the spec file using rpmrebuild -e -p command. Additionally, we also find out  the open source amdpgu and the pro version can coexist.

 All test done on HP Envy x360 Ryzen 2500U with integrated Vega8 using Vega56 driver for CentOS 7.5 from the official AMD website.


Using AMD RX Vega driver OpenCL on Fedora 29

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on November 14, 2018 05:18 AM

The Raven Ridge APU is very capable processor to handle OpenCL inside some applications like Blender, Darktable and Gimp. Unfortunately, the current implementation from Mesa, clover, stuck to 1.3, is not supported. AMD released their driver 18.40 with OpenCL2.0+ targeting only Red Hat Enterprise Linux/Cent OS 6.10 and 7.5 in addition of Ubuntu LTS. The good new is the former rpm format can be used on Fedora.

The graphical part of Raven Ridge is Vega 8, basically a cut-down of Vega56 or Vega64 meaning choosing either driver for RX Vega.
The instruction is provided for extracting the rpm files but here is
 some requirements for OpenCL:
  • kernel-devel (provided by Fedora repository)
  • amdgpu-dkms
  • dkms
  • libopencl-amdgpu-pro
  • opencl-amdgpu-pro-icd
Once done, applications needing OpenCL will automatically detect the driver located on /opt/amdgpu/lib64. Blender will list as unknown AMD GPU and Darktable will enable it.

OpenCL from official AMD driver enabled on Darktable

Raven Ridge Vega8 listed as unknown AMD GPU detected

There is a ROCm version but it currently does not support the graphical side of Raven Ridge at this time. It will be great that someone will finally write a srpm for Fedora.

HP Envy x360 Convertible Ryzen 2500u update

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on November 09, 2018 02:39 AM
Nearly one month later, HP Envy x360 Convertible 15  powered by Ryzen 2500U is running smoother on kernel 4.19.0 with someissues:
  • The LED for the mute button failed to work suggesting a possible ACPI issue.
  • An unfortunate oversight from HP for not including a led for Num Lock button. 
  • The touchscreen function failed due to ACPI bug related to a mis-configuration of tables. Sadly, it affects all HP Envy touchscreen series equipped with AMD processors. Workaround made by an Arch user exists and no upstream Linux maintainers has picked up yet for clean up and improvment. The side effect would be an unfortunate false impression HP touchscreen with AMD processors is horrible.
  • The gyroscope needed to automatically rotate the screen depending of the position is broken possibly due to ACPI bug.

On the positive side, I was impressed by the modular adaptability  of HP Envy x360 upgrade wise thanks to the excellent HP documentation. The board can be replaced with the powerful version of Ryzen 7 APU. Adding memory turned out very easy once the procedure is fully followed.  Currently the upgrade has 16 GB RAM and a SSD 1TB storage drastically improving the overall performance. Granted the hardware is not mean for heavy 3D gaming but is powerful enough for visual editing and some 3D rendering.

The hardware overall is very capable 2-in-1 Linux machine once issues are ironed out hopefully as soon as possible. The users as community provided a suggestion, the ball is on the upstream maintainers/vendors themselves improving the solution so testers can verify.

Well, if nothing else, I’m having some trouble figuring out where to start.

Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on November 06, 2018 06:37 PM

Well, if nothing else, I’m having some trouble figuring out where to start.

I was originally hoping to use whatever the current styles and design patterns were to start the process, but it seems like they aren’t actually consistent or easy to find enough for this to be useful.

I’m also working on meeting with people who are likely to have the strongest opinions so that we can develop a brand style and business goals, as these seem like they would inform the design system.

Thanks!

In general, I recommend a few things:

Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on November 02, 2018 07:01 PM

In general, I recommend a few things:

See if there are any open source places that are looking for UX help. I’m currently volunteering with GitLab, for example. There are also things like Code For Boston — where are you located? Code for Boston, at least, is very much a thing you want to be able to attend weekly meetings for.

If you are willing to do both research and design of the non-visual sort (eg making mockups and prototypes), you may be able to find a friend who needs your help on a crazy idea they have.

Finally, check if you have any local UX groups — they may have useful ideas that are relevant to wherever you are. If you don’t, maybe try contacting your local governmental businesses and things like libraries about helping with their site.

Intro to UX design for the ChRIS Project – Part 1

Posted by Máirín Duffy on November 02, 2018 05:45 PM

(This blog post is part of a series; view the full series page here.)

What is ChRIS?

Something I’ve been working on for a while now at Red Hat is a project we’re collaborating on with Boston Children’s Hospital, the Massachusetts Open Cloud (MOC), and Boston University. It’s called the ChRIS Research Integration Service or just “ChRIS”.
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Rudolph Pienaar (Boston Children’s), Ata Turk (MOC), and Dan McPherson (Red Hat) gave a pretty detailed talk about ChRIS at the Red Hat Summit this past summer. A video of the full presentation is available, and it’s a great overview of why ChRIS is an important project, what it does, and how it works. To summarize the plot: ChRIS is an open source project that provides a cloud-based computing platform for the processing and sharing of medical imaging within and across hospitals and other sites.

There’s a number of problems ChRIS seeks to solve that I’m pretty passionate about:

  • Using technology in new ways for good.Where would we all be if we could divert just a little bit of the resources we in the tech community collectively put towards analyzing the habits of humans and delivering advertising content to them? ChRIS applies cloud computing, container, and big data analysis towards good – helping researchers better understand medical conditions!
  • Making open source and free software technology usable and accessible to a larger population of users.A goal of ChRIS is to make accessible new tools that can be used in image processing but require a high level of technical expertise to even get up and running. ChRIS has a plugin system is container-based, providing a standardized way of running a diverse array of image processing applications. Creating a ChRIS plugin involves containerizing these tools and making them available via the ChRIS platform. (Resources on how to create a ChRIS plugin are available here.)We are working on a “ChRIS Store” web application to allow plugin developers to share their ready-to-go ChRIS plugins with ChRIS users so they can find and use these tools easily.
  • Giving users control of their data.One of the driving reasons for ChRIS’ creation was to allow for hospitals to own and control their own data without needing to give it up to the industry. How do you apply the latest cloud-based rapid data processing technology without giving your data to one of the big cloud companies? ChRIS has been built to interface with cloud providers such as the Massachusetts Open Cloud that have consortium-based data governance that allow for users to control their own data.

I want to emphasize the cloud-based computing piece here because it’s important – ChRIS allows you run image processing tools at scale in the cloud, so elaborate image processing that typically days, weeks, or months to complete could be completed in minutes. For a patient, this could enable a huge positive shift in their care  – rather than have to wait for days to get back results of an imaging procedure (like an MRI), they could be consulted by their doctor and make decisions about their care that day. The ChRIS project is working with developers who build image processing tools and helps them modify them and package them so they be parallelized to run across multiple computing nodes in order to gain those incredible speed increases. ChRIS as deployed today makes use of the Massachusetts Open Cloud for its compute resources; it’s a great resource, at a scale that many image processing developers previously never had access to.

ChRIS UX

A diagram showing a data source at left with images in it. The images move right into a ChRIS block, from where they are passed further right into compute environments on the right. Within the compute environment block at the right, there are individual compute nodes, each taking an input image passed from ChRIS, pushing it through a plugin from the ChRIS store, and creating an output. The outputs are pushed back to ChRIS. On top of ChRIS are several sibling blocks - the ChRIS UI (red), the Radiology Viewer (yellow), and a '...' block (blue) to represent other front ends that could run on top.

I have some – but little experience – with OpenShift as a user, and no experience with OpenStack or in image processing development. UX design, though – that I can do. I approached Dan McPherson to see if there was any way I could help with the ChRIS project on the UX front, and as it turned out, yes!

In fact, there are a lot of interesting UX problems around ChRIS, some I am sure analogous to other platforms / systems, but some are maybe a bit more unique! Let’s break down the human interface components of ChRIS, represented by the red, yellow, and blue components on the top of the following diagram:

The diagram above is a bit of a remix of the diagram Rudolph walks through at this point in the presentation; basically what I have added here are the UI / front end components on the top. Must-see, though, is the demo Rudolph gave that showed both of these user interfaces (radiology viewer and the ChRIS UI) in action:

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During the demo you’ll see some back and forth between two different UIs. We’ll start by talking about the radiology viewer.

Radiology Viewer (and, what do we mean by images?)

Today, let’s talk about the radiology viewer (I’ll call it “Rav”) first. It’s the yellow component in the diagram above. Rav is a front end that can be run on top of ChRIS that allows you to explore medical images, in particular MRIs. You can check out a live version of the viewer that does not include the library component here: http://fnndsc.childrens.harvard.edu/rev/viewer/library-anon/

Through walking through the UX considerations of this kind of tool, we’ll also talk about some properties of the type of images ChRIS is meant to work with. This will help, I hope, to demonstrate the broader problem space of providing a user experience around medical imaging data.

Rav might be used by a researcher to explore MRI images. There’s a two main tasks they’ll do using this interface: locating the images they want to work with, then viewing and manipulating those images.

User tasks: Locate images to work with

A PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) server is what a lot of medical institutions use to store medical imaging data. It’s basically the ‘data source’ in the diagram at the top of this post. End users may need to go retrieve images they’d like to work with in rav from a PACS server – this involves using some metadata about the image(s), such as record number, date, etc. to find the image then adding them to a selection of images to work with. The PACS server itself needs to be configured as well (but hopefully that’ll be set up for users by an admin.)

A thing to note about a PACS server is you can assume it has a substantial number of images on it, so this image-finding / filtering-by-metadata first step is important so users don’t have to sift through a mountain of irrelevant data. The other thing to note – PACS is a type of storage, which based on implementation may suffer from some of the UX issues inherent in storage.

Below is a rough mockup showing how this interface might look. Note the interface has been split into two main tabs in this mockup – “Library” and “Explore.” The “Library” tab here is devoted to the location of images for building a selection to work with.

User Task: View and configure selected images

Once you have a set of images to work with, you need to actually examine them. To work with them, though, you have to understand what you’re looking at. First of all, one thing that can be hard to remember when looking at 2D representations of images like MRIs – these images of the same object along 3 different axes. From one scan, there may be hundreds of individual images that together represent a single object. It’s a bit more complex than your typical 3D view where you can represent an object from say a top, side, and front shot – you’ve got images that actually move inside the object, so there’s kind of a 4th dimension going on.

With that in mind, there’s a few types of image sets to be aware of:

Reference vs. Patient
  • Normative / Atlas – These are not images for the patient(s) at hand. These are images that serve as a reference for what the part of the body under study is expected to look like.
  • Patient – These are images that are being examined. They may need to be compared to the normative / atlas images to see if there are differences.
Registered vs. Unregistered
  • Unregistered images are standalone – they are basically the images positioned / aligned as they came from the imaging device.
  • Registered images have been manipulated to align with another image or images via a common coordinate system – scaled, rotated, re-positioned, etc. to line up with each other so they may be compared. A common operation would be to align a patient scan with a reference scan to be able to identify different structures in the patient scan as they were mapped out in the reference.
Processed vs. Unprocessed
  • You may have a set of images that are of the same exact patient, but some versions of them are the output of an image processing tool.
  • For example, the output may have been run through a tractography tool and look something like this.
  • Another example, the output may have been segmented using a tool (e.g., using image processing techniques to add metadata to the images to – for example – denote which areas are bone and which are tissue) and look something like this.
  • Yet another example – the output could be a mesh of a brain in 3D space. (More on meshes.)
  • The type of output the viewer is working with can dictate what needs to be shown in the UI to be able to understand the data.
Other Properties
  • You may have multiple images sets of the same patient taken at different times. Maybe you are tracking whether or not an area is healing or if a structure is growing over time.
  • You may have reference images or patient images taken at particular ages – structures in the body change over time based on age, so when choosing a reference / studying a set of images you need some awareness of the age of the references to be sure they are relevant to the patient / study at hand.
  • Each image has three main anatomical planes along which it may be viewed in 2D – sagittal (side-side), coronal / frontal (front-back), and transverse / axial (top-bottom).

Once a user understands these properties of the image sets sufficiently, they arrange them in a grid-based layout on what I’ll call the viewing table in the center. Once you have an image ‘on the table,’ you can use a mouse scroll wheel or the play button to view the image planes along the axis the images were taken. This sounds more complex than it is – imagine a deck of playing cards. If you’re looking at a set of images of a head from a sagittal view, the top card in the deck might show the person’s right ear, the 2nd card might show their right eye in cross-section, the 3rd card might show their nose in cross-section, the 4th card might show their left eye in cross-section, the 5th card might show their left ear… so on and so forth. Rinse and repeat for front-to-back, and top-to-bottom.

You can link two images together (for example, a patient image that is registered to a normative image) so that as you step along the axis the images were taken in a given image set, the linked image (perhaps a reference image) also steps along, so you can go slice-by-slice through two or more images at the same time and compare at that level.

Below is a mockup I made with some suggestions to the pre-existing UI last fall with some of these ideas in mind (some, I learned about in the back and forth and discussion afterwards. 🙂 )

A little more information about Rav’s development

Rav as a codebase right now isn’t in active development. It was written using a framework called Polymer, but due to various technical considerations, the team decided the road ahead will involve rewriting the viewer application in React.

An important component used in the viewer that continues to be developed is called amijs. This is the specific component that allows viewing of the image files in the Rav interface.

In terms of UX design, a future version of Rav will likely be implemented using the UX designs we worked on for Rav as it is today. There is a UX issues queue for Rav in the general ChRIS design repo. Rav-specific issues are tagged. You can look through those issues to see some interesting discussions around the UX for this tool

What’s next?

I’m hoping to become a regular blogger again. 🙂 I am planning to do another blog post in this series, and it will focus on the main UI of ChRIS itself (the red block in the diagram at the top of this post.) Specifically, I’ll go through some ideas I have for the concept model of the ChRIS UI, which is honestly not complete.

After that, I plan to do another post in the series about the ChRIS store UI, which my colleague Joe Caiani is working on now with design created by my UX intern this past summer Shania Ambros.

Questions, ideas, and feedback most welcome in the comments section!

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The project in question was not, no.

Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on November 02, 2018 02:02 PM

The project in question was not, no. We ended up deciding that what he needed was more a visual designer than a researcher/interaction designer.

Do you have thoughts on design system creation for startups in the B2B space?

Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on November 01, 2018 04:50 PM

Do you have thoughts on design system creation for startups in the B2B space?

Fedora 29 Design Suite Lab available

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on November 01, 2018 12:39 AM
Fedora 29 Design Suite is available for downloading with latest stable release  applications including Gimp 2.10.6 among the features.
On the bad news side, Blender 2.79b on Fedora 29 has broken user interface due to compatibility issue related to python 3.7. Workaround will be installing from the flathub directory.

Next release will be interesting considering the structural change for the incoming Fedora 30 with the advent of flatpak packages.

Running HP Envy x360 Ryzen 2500U with SSD

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on October 23, 2018 04:29 AM
Replacing the 1TB 7200rpm HDD with a well reviewed  Samsung 860 EVO 1TB HDD turned out a drastic improvement in term of speed caught me by surprise.

Noticeable effect was the nearly five seconds boot straight to the login screen and the response time of opening and closing applications. Envy x360 Ryzen 5 feels snappy now.

On a side note, Windows 10 has a nice app called Windows Hello to authenticate with face similar to facial recognition founds on Android device. A similar open source application called howdy is available but not packaged for Fedora yet. 

Retiring ASUS X550ZE and greeting HP Envy x360 Ryzen 5

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on October 19, 2018 06:02 AM
My ASUS X550ZE reached its end of life due to hardware power issue after getting a lot of abuse. From that experience, I have learned a lot about dual Radeon graphic processors working in the open source world and I followed AMD graphic development since then.

Enter HP Envy x360 Convertible 15-cp0xxx Ryzen 5 marking the return to tablet PC. I originally intended to buy the Ryzen 7 version for more performance but the specification is very similar with only a sightly more powerful graphic processor as the difference on Ryzen 5. The model uses a 1 TB hard disk drive with 8 GB DDR4 RAM and I plan to upgrade to a 1TB solid state drive (Samsung Evo version looks suitable).

Installation

 Installing Fedora 29 Beta Design Suite was very smooth after shrinking the partition of Windows 10 and keeping Secure Boot enabled by default.

Post installation 

Some revealing issues:
  • Touchscreen and stylus mode is broken due to acpi bug preventing proper detection.
  • AMD Raven, the name of the APU, works fine but occasionally glitched on log out and reboot. At this time of writing, mesa version is 18.2.2.
  • Battery usage is adequate but has yet to take advantage on improvements currently for Intel based hardware. Running powertop sightly increased the time of battery usage.
The remaining details is on https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/User:Luya/Laptops/HP_Envy_x360


    1000 downloads of Scribus unstable in COPR Fedora 28

    Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on August 25, 2018 07:12 AM

    What a surprise to see 1000 download of Fedora 28 repository for Scribus Unstable! Thanks a million.

    Science Glyphs

    Posted by Sirko Kemter on June 15, 2018 01:06 PM

    Its a while ago since the last update here. What not means I dont do anything. Some months ago Martin Owens aka doctormo (from the Inkscape team) came to me and asked me if I could help to rework and extend a project he started, called science icons.https://gitlab.com/doctormo/glyphicons-science

    I started working on it a while ago. First I added the missing glyphs for microscope, atom, robot, telescope, satrun, radioactive and replaced the rocket one. Now I added also antenna (radio astronomy), galaxy, orbit, asteroid and observatory.

    On the end a font set with glyph icons for science shall be developed from it, a font set like fontawesome which you can use in apps around science projects. I think there is a lot in it.

    Lets see what I can do next. Next to the drawing and tiring node cleaning (what has to be done for glyphs) there is also a bit of organizational work behind.

    Bíonn gach tosach lag*

    Posted by Máirín Duffy on May 02, 2018 12:55 PM

    Tá mé ag foghlaim Gaeilge; tá uaim scríobh postálacha blag as Gaeilge, ach níl mé oilte ar labhairt nó scríbh as Gaeilge go fóill. Tiocfaidh sé le tuilleadh cleachtaidh.**

    Catching up

    I have definitely fallen off the blog wagon; as you may or may not know the past year has been quite difficult for me personally, far beyond being an American living in Biff Tannen’s timeline these days. Blogging definitely was pushed to the bottom of the formidable stack I must balance but in hindsight I think the practice of writing is beneficial matter what it’s about so I will carve regular time out to do it.

    Tá mé ag foghlaim Gaeilge

    This post title and opening is in Irish; I am learning Irish and trying to immerse myself as much as one can outside of a Gaeltacht. There’s quite a few reasons for this:

    • The most acute trigger is that I have been doing some genealogy and encountered family records written in Irish. I couldn’t recall enough of the class I’d taken while in college and got pulled in wanting to brush up.
    • Language learning is really fun, and Irish is of course part of my heritage and I would love to be able to teach my kids some since it’s theirs, too.
    • One of the main reasons I took Japanese in college for 2 years is because I wanted to better understand how kanji worked and how to write them. With Irish, I want to understand how to pronounce words, because from a native English speaker point of view they sound very different than they look!
    • Right now appears to be an exciting moment for the language; it has shed some of the issues that I think plagued it during ‘The Troubles’ and you can actually study and speak it now without making some kind of unintentional political statement. There’s far more demand for Gaelscoils (schools where the medium for education in all subjects is Irish) than can be met. In the past year, the Pop Up Gaeltacht movement has started and really caught on, a movement run in an open source fashion I might add!
    • I am interested in how the brain recovers from trauma and I’ve a little theory that language acquisition could be used as a model for brain recovery and perhaps suggest more effective therapies for that. Being knee deep in language learning, at the least, is an interesting perspective in this context.
    • I also think – as a medium that permeates everything you do, languages are similar to user interfaces – you don’t really pay attention to a language when you speak it if you’re fluent, it’s just the medium. Where you pay attention to the language rather than the content is where you have a problem speaking it or understanding it. (Yes, the medium is the message except when it isn’t. 🙂 )Similarly, user interfaces aren’t something you should pay attention to – you should pay attention to the content, or your work, rather than focus on the intricacies of how the interface works. I think drawing connections between these two things is at least interesting, if not informative. (Can you tell I like mashing different subjects together to see what comes out?)

    Anyway, I could go on and on, but yes, $REASONS. I’m trying to learn a little bit every day rather than less frequent intensive courses. For example, I’m trying to ‘immerse’ as I can by using my computers and phone in the Irish language, keep long streaks in the Duolingo course, listen to RnaG and watch TG4 and some video courses, and some light conversation with other Irish learners and speakers.
    Maybe I’ll talk more about the approach I’m taking in detail in another post. In general, I think a good approach to language learning is a policy I try to subscribe to in all areas of life – just f*ing do it (speak it, write it, etc. Do instead of talking about doing. Few things infuriate me more although I’m as guilty as anyone. 🙂 ) There you go for now, though.

    What else is going on?

    I have been working on some things that will be unveiled at the Red Hat Summit and don’t want to be a spoiler. I am planning to talk a bit more about that kind of work here. One involves a coloring book :), and another involves a project Red Hat is working on with Boston University and Boston Children’s Hospital.
    Just this week, I received my laptop upgrade 🙂 It is the Thinkpad Yoga X1 3rd Gen and I am loving it so far. I have pre-release Fedora 28 on it and am very happy with the out-of-the-box experience. I’m planning to post a review about running Fedora 28 on it soon!

    Slán go fóill!

    (Bye for now!)
    * Every beginning is weak.
    ** I’m learning Irish; I want to write blog posts in Irish, but I don’t speak or write Irish well enough yet. It’ll come with practice. (Warning: This is likely Gaeilge bhriste / broken Irish)

    Scribus 1.5.4 available in COPR repository

    Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on May 02, 2018 04:14 AM
    For users finding Scribus 1.4.7 lacking in features notably the complex text layout for Asian languages, Scribus 1.5.4 is available via COPR repository from Fedora 26 (soon reaching end of life) to Rawhide.  
    Additionally, a snapshot for the future 1.6.0 (currently 1.5.5) is also available for improving the experience to upstream.

    Fedora Infra Hackfest 2018

    Posted by Ryan Lerch on April 19, 2018 02:58 AM

    Earlier this month, I attended the 2018 edition of the Fedora Infra Hackfest. The hackfest was a meetup of members of the Fedora Infrastructure team, including also the developers that work on Fedora apps such as pagure and bodhi.

    Location

    The hackfest was held in Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA. As always, getting to these things for me is quite an adventure from down under, but the travel went smoothly. This was in part due to the organisational skills of Paul Frields, who organized the hackfest. The venue itself  — the University of Mary Washington — provided a great place to work on Fedora infrastructure.

    What we worked on

    Over the course of the week, many different elements of the Fedora infra were touched. A few of the big ticket infra items that were worked on were beginning to set up AWX for Fedora Infra, hacking on Infra’s Openshift instance, and rawhide gating in Bodhi. Most of these were items that i was not much help on, so I focused on some of the smaller items where I could help.

    Package Maintainer Docs

    On the first day, we all worked on the Package Maintainer documentation. These docs are currently all in the Fedora wiki, and provide information for new and current package maintainers on creating and updating Fedora packages. We went through the large list of docs in the wiki, and identified the ones that contained useful content. These were then converted to asciidoc, and moved into a newly created wiki. Using these as a base, we massaged these into a new set of documents, and started writing. Additionally, i did a quick pelican setup rendering asciidoc so we could easily view the rendered documents as we were writing. All the output from the Package Maintainer docs work is available in this repo.

    Bodhi Rawhide Gating

    As part of the bodhi rawhide gating work, Randy and I sat down to look at the Create Update form in Bodhi. This form is currently a bit strange, as it asks for a Package Name, but only uses that for finding builds, but the way the form is laid out, it appears to be a critical part of the form. We fleshed out a basic idea for how updates will appear in Bodhi when going through to rawhide, and added some extra discussion on how to tweak this form to make it easier to understand.

    Noggin

    We also brainstormed a name for the new front-end for CAIAPI — we came up with noggin. CAIAPI and Noggin will together be a new replacement for the current Fedora Account System. Patrick and I worked together to create a basic list of requirements, and an idea on how to implement the front end. I also spent some time creating the beginnings of Noggin — creating a basic application with theming support, and implementing a handful of the views (that are currently not hooked up to anything yet). Results from the hacking that i did on Noggin are already in the newly created Noggin repo.

    Vulkan now fully functional on ASUS X550ZE

    Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on April 15, 2018 07:18 PM
    South Island (Hainan) and Sea Island (Kaveri) functional with RADV


    Running Fedora 28 Design Suite post beta shows a nice surprise: Vulkan with RADV is fully functional on both South Island (Hainan) and Sea Island (Kaveri) cards on ASUS X550ZE laptop. amdgpu driver is needed to enable the feat in combination of boot parameter (cik.amdgpu_support=1 cik.radeon_support=0 si.amdgpu_support=1 si.radeon_support=0)

    Vulkan smoketest running on RADV
    Some minor issues need be to addressed like occasional glitches. Otherwise the performance is stable enough for dail use.

    A follow up on Fedora 28's background art

    Posted by Máirín Duffy on March 12, 2018 12:04 PM

    A quick post – I have a 4k higher-quality render of one of Fedora 28 background candidates mentioned in a recent post about the Fedora 28 background design process. Click on the image below to grab it if you would like to try / test it and hopefully give some feedback on it:
    3D render of the Fedora logo in blue fiber optic light strands against a black background. Image is angled with some blur and bokeh effects. the angling of this version is such that it comes from below and looks up.
    One of the suggestions I’ve received from your feedback is to try to vary the height between the ‘f’ and the infinity symbol so they stand out. I’m hoping to find some time this week to figure out how exactly to do that (I’m a Blender newbie 😳), but if you want to try your hand, the Blender source file is available.

    Marcela: I am not certain that teaching a large class would do what I’m wanting to do.

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on March 07, 2018 04:18 PM

    Marcela: I am not certain that teaching a large class would do what I’m wanting to do. The people I most want to help get into UX are also the people least likely to be able to afford to take UX courses.

    Fedora 28's Desktop Background Design

    Posted by Máirín Duffy on March 06, 2018 06:46 PM

    Fedora 28 (F28) is slated to release in May 2018. On the Fedora Design Team, we’ve been thinking about the default background wallpaper for F28 since November. Let’s walk through the Fedora 28 background process thus far as a sort of pre-mortem; we’d love your feedback on where we’ve ended up.

    November: Inspiration

    As of the past 3 releases, we choose a sequential letter of the alphabet and come up with a list of scientists / mathematicians / technologists to serve as an inspiration for the desktop background’s visual concept:
    F25's wallpaper - an almost floral blue gradiated blade design, F26 a black tree line reflected in water against a wintry white landscape (the trees + reflection resemble a sound wave), F27 a blue and purple gradiated underwater scene with several jellyfish - long tendrils drifting and twisting - floating up the right side of the image
    Backgrounds from Fedora 25, 26, and 27. 25’s inspiration was Archimedes, and the visual concept was an organic Archimedes’ screw. F26’s inspiration was Alexander Graham Bell, and the visual concept was a sound wave of a voice saying “Fedora.” F27’s inspiration was underwater researcher Jacques Cousteau, and the inspiration was transparency in the form of jellyfish.
    Gnokii kicked off the process in November by starting the list of D scientists for F28 and holding a vote on the team: we chose Emily Duncan, an early technologist who invented several types of banking calculators.

    December: First concepts

    We had a meeting in IRC (which I seem to have forgotten to run meetbot on 🙁 ) where we brainstormed different ways to riff off of Emily Duncan’s work as an inspiration. One of the early things we looked at were some of the illustrations from one of Duncan’s patents:
    Diagram etchings from 1903 Duncan calculator patent. Center is a cylindrical object covered in a grid with numbers and various mechanical bits
    Gnokii started drafting some conceptual mockups, starting with a rough visualization of an Enigma machine and moving to visuals of electric wires and gears:
    3D perspective alpha cryptography keys scrolling vertically in 3D space
    wires with bright sparks traveling along them atop a gear texture, black background
    wires with bright sparks traveling along them atop a gear texture, blue background
    During a regular triage meeting, the team met in IRC and we discussed the mockups and had some critique and suggestions which we shared in the ticket.

    February: Solidifying Concept

    After the holidays, we got back to it with the beta freeze deadline in mind. Note, we don’t have alpha releases in Fedora anymore, which means we need to have more polish in our initial wallpaper than we had traditionally in order to get useful feedback for the final wallpaper. This started with a regular triage meeting where the F28 wallpaper ticket came up. We brainstormed a lot of ideas and went through a lot of different and of-the-moment visual styles. Maria shared a link to a Behance article on 2018 design trends and it seemed 3D styles in a lot of different ways are the trend of the moment. Some works that particularly inspired us:

    Rose Pilkington’s Soft Bodies for Electric Objects

    Gently-textured pastel hues of bright cyan, orange, yellow, and pink in a softly gradiated set of flat but almost 3D like rounded abstract shapes

    Ari Weinkle’s Wormholes

    Almost psychedelic, cavelike, wavy environment made with cascading 3D ridges, orange and purple hued palette

    Ari Weinkle’s Paint waves

    Vibrant, rainbow hued, gracefully curving and spiraling super thick sculpted 3D paint with a ridged texture
    Both myself and terezahl, taking these inspirations as directions, started on another round of mockups.
    Terezahl created mockups, one which appears to be inspired by Pilkington’s work, based of the concept of 28’s being a triangular number:
    On top, a black to greenish blue shaded abstract composition with a floating triangle floating in front of a background with an inverse gradient. On bottom, rounded abstract shapes in purple, blue, and cyan jewel tones.
    I was inspired by Weinkle’s paint waves, but couldn’t figure out a technique to approximate it in Blender. Conceptually, I wanted to take gnokii’s wires with data ‘lights’ travelling down the wires, and have those lights travel down the ridges in an abstract swirled wave. I figured probably it would take some work with Blender’s particular system, since the mass of a character’s hair is typically created that way. I had never used Blender’s particle system before, so I took a tutorial that seemed the closest to the effect I wanted – a Blender Guru tutorial by Andrew Price:
    <iframe allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XPFJGkB4v9U" width="560"></iframe>
    As per the feedback I received from gnokii – the end result was too close to the output you’d expect from such a tutorial. I wasn’t able to achieve a more solid mass than the fiber optic strands, although they visually represented the ‘data light’ concept fork I was going for:
    Sparkling blue-hued fiber optic threads against a black background, their ends glowing light blue, with some blurring and bokeh effects - 3D rendered
    Time was short, so we ended up deciding to ship this mockup – as close to the tutorial as it was – in the F28 beta to see what kind of feedback we got on the look. Thankfully Luya was able to package it up for us with some time to spare! So far, the preliminary feedback we’ve gotten from folks on social media and/or who’ve seen it via Luya’s package for beta has been positive.

    March: Finalization

    Since the time-consuming work of building the platform in Blender from the tutorial is done, I’ve started playing around with the idea to see what kind of visuals we could get. The obvious, of course, is to work the Fedora logo into it. Fedora 26’s wallpaper had a sound wave depicting the vocalization of the word “Fedora” – I was trying to think of how to have the fiber optic ‘data’ show the same. Perhaps this is too literal. Anyhow, here are the two crowd favorites thus far:

    #3

    3D render of the Fedora logo in blue fiber optic light strands against a black background. Image is angled with some blur and bokeh effects

    #9

    3D render of the Fedora logo in blue fiber optic light strands against a black background. Image is angled with some blur and bokeh effects. the angling of this version is such that it comes from below and looks up.
    we need your help!
    Anyway, this is where you come in. Take a look at these. With the system built in Blender, we have a lot of things we can tweak easily – the angles, the lens / bokeh / focus, the shape / path of the strands (like how the latest renderings follow the Fedora f/infinity), the shape / type of object the strands are made of (right now long / narrow cylinders.) These kinds of tweaks are quick. Any ideas you have on a path forward here, or just simple feedback, would be much appreciated. 🙂

    If I didn’t have to earn money…

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on February 13, 2018 06:40 PM

    I was recently asked what I would do if I didn’t have to earn money.

    That was an interesting question, especially given that it’s difficult to say what that actually means. For example: If I don’t have to earn money, does that mean I’m able to do things that are more expensive than everyday things? Can I travel?

    I decided to interpret it as if I had enough to be comfortable. For me, that includes at least some travel.

    Season Matters

    The first thing that came to mind with this was the significant difference in my mental state in winter and summer. I’m functional in winter (seasonal depression and insomnia are treated, but not completely countered). I’m good in summer — even with the insomnia, since it’s better with enough light.

    So, ideally, I’d be doing something that feeds my soul (so to speak) in winter, and feeds my curiosity and enthusiasm and need for people in summer.

    Winter

    <figure><figcaption>Part of the eco tour at Mount Dora in Florida — so much sun!</figcaption></figure>

    Having just returned from a week in Florida to visit my parents, I think that I would want to spend at least some of the winter somewhere with sun. I’m so much more… awake. Aware. Happy. Human. It’ll fade, since it still is February in Boston, but it’s such a strong reminder. I think Florida winter light may be better (stronger? More direct?) than Boston summer light.

    So maybe in winter , I’d go somewhere bright for a few weeks to a month. And, overlapping or not, something involving animals. Whether it be spending time with lonely shelter animals, or helping out at a zoo or sanctuary, I find that doing something involving animals helps feed me in ways that help counteract the lack of light.

    <figure><figcaption>“I require surface area! It’s warmer than it’s been and I need warms!” — a turtle, also on the eco tour</figcaption></figure>

    Summer

    In summer, with better sunlight, I think I’d want to do two main things: Spend time outside in the sun, and teach UX to folks who cannot afford to pay for schooling.

    At the moment, I’d need to spend more time learning and practicing UX research and interaction design, and maybe more visual design. I’d want to have years of practice, and maybe do some teaching on the side. Once I feel a bit less like I’m too new to teach (which isn’t actually true; I just would want to know more to feel comfortable), I’d want to pass that knowledge on to those who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to get into UX. I’m already offering info to anyone who I know needs it, even though I am fairly new to UX. The fact that I tend to dive headfirst into anything I’m interested in means that — while I know there are gaps — I’ve learned a lot in the past two years of learning and practicing.

    I think I’d want to focus on Women and Racial/Ethnic Minorities in tech (especially black folks and latin@s), as they may well be interested in and skilled at the UX field, but may not have any way to pay for learning. Similarly, I’d bet a fair number of people who would be excellent UX practitioners have no idea that such a thing exists.

    Tech needs diversity, badly. Even if I ignore the fact that not having access to tech jobs means that there’s huge swaths of folks who aren’t making as much money as they could or need, diversity in a company means that there will be more people with different backgrounds looking at problems and the proposed solutions. There are far too many stupid mistakes and problems relating to thoughtlessness that would have a much better chance of being spotted if entire teams weren’t made of white, cis, men. It’s not their fault that they don’t spot problems, but different life experiences have a huge effect on how one thinks and the types of solutions one might suggest and implement. Refusing to admit that this is true is both short-sighted and self-centered.

    So, I’d want to teach. And since I find UX so fascinating, and that’s my focus and likely to stay that way, that’s what I’d want to teach.

    Always

    I need people. I need my family, my friends, and to interact with people I don’t already know in low-pressure environments.

    So I’d want to build in time to spend with my family and friends, and find ways to meet new people and learn who they are and what they think and what they want. Sure, that last part sounds a bit like User Research, but it’s more than that. People are fascinating. And if it’s low pressure to us both — which user research is not — I get the chance to get to know more people without anyone feeling pushed into it. Some parties are good for this, if there are quieter spaces so that conversation is possible.

    I need touch. Both with people I’m comfortable with and with animals who rely on me and who do not. That would need to be part of an ideal life, as well.

    I need to move. Walking is great, but often harder in winter due to weather and to seasonal depression making inertia stronger. Kayaking is shockingly fun, although my inflatable kayak is not heavy enough — I always feel like I’m going to fall out. Swimming is good, if I don’t have to deal with chlorine. I’m sure there are other things that easily and comfortable fill my need to move, but those are the first that come to mind.

    What would you do?

    If you didn’t have to earn money, what would you want to do?

    Update on Supplemental Wallpaper for Fedora 28

    Posted by Sirko Kemter on February 11, 2018 08:46 AM

    I used the weekend to moderate the supplemental wallpapers for Fedora 28. I did already check from time to time the sumissions and rejected the ones who break the guidelines, and started checking the legality of the ones with given references of the license.
    So far we have 124 submissions, but I rejected a lot (so far 18) this time for wrong aspect ration, some never will get that we dont accept submissions with the Fedora logo on it and unclear licenses, this time I rejected all who was not licensed with the same license as on Flickr or any other given reference. Before I always informed the submitter about this inconsistency, but there is to many of them now and it is very time consuming (some really think its just hitting a button inside Nuancier, I can assure you its not). 61 badges are so far awarded
    There might come some more submission as there is some time until 13th left. But dont think I can moderate you last minute submission, Pingou already added now finally the feature that we can have deadline for submission and the begin of the voting phase on different dates.

    some of my personal favorites so far:

    The contest is a time and resourcen devouring thing for me, I spend an average of 160-200 hours working time with it. I have to mention this also now, I have to live with just a mobile connection and this costs me serious traffic. I had to add volume on Sunday just to finishing it and that after spending already on saturday a lot of traffic for it. Ok mobile traffic is in Cambodia (for western view) very cheap, to add 500MB costs me just 0.30$ but there is a downside, if you topup here the money is only valid for usage during next 7 days, so using 30 cents from a dollar means, 70 cents stay and normally I just have 1$ a week costs for my subscription, so this money will be not used and on the end I paid 1$ for the add, except I use it for adding more. Currently a dollar, is a lot for me I also get a good meal for it but unfortunately a coffee (at least not a good one)

    Application process — redesign

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on December 17, 2017 02:09 AM

    I recently applied for a job somewhere, and found the initial application process confusing and dismaying.

    The reason, I think, is that it was not clear a) if the entire process actually happened, and b) what all I was actually submitting. So, I decided to take a bit of time and add some redesign to make things a little less confusing. I’ve also blurred out the company name for politeness’ sake.

    What did it look like at first?

    When you look at a job description, you get something like this (with a bright orange ‘apply now’ button that is not visible in this screenshot). This seems fine.

    <figure></figure>

    After you click Apply Now, you get an odd sort of thing about your personal data collection. I’m guessing this is because it’s a security company, but it reads all sorts of weird. Whatever, that’s not a huge deal.

    <figure></figure>

    Next, you get your first page of the application. I like that they remind you what you’re applying for!

    <figure></figure>

    If you upload your resume, your name and email are auto-filled. That’s cool, thanks! When you select ‘Next’, you get this:

    <figure></figure>

    Wait. What? We just jumped to questions about my nationality and my affirmative action status? What about my work experience? My education? A cover letter? Did the resume upload skip the need for work and education info? Maybe, let’s keep going.

    You might notice (I didn’t at the time) that this button says ‘Submit’, not ‘Next’. I didn’t grab a screenshot (and didn’t want to apply twice), but that’s the end of the application process. It thanks you, and it sends you email confirming your application.

    What? I don’t even know for sure what it sent! I don’t know how well it parsed my resume. I have no clue at this point what just happened.

    What would I fix?

    Ok, so that was all sorts of confusing. Enough so that last night as I was falling asleep, I was distracted by wondering what would help. I considered a progress indicator, as that would at least make the extreme brevity of the application not a surprise. I also wondered if they’d labeled the final button ‘Submit’, which they actually had. (but perhaps ‘Submit Application’ would have been a clearer signal!) Finally, right before I fell asleep, I realized that what I most missed was a summary of what I was about to submit.

    So, my version of the first page, with a progress bar added (using their font as detected by What Font and the same color as the next button for the progress indication):

    <figure><figcaption>Look! It’s the first step of three!</figcaption></figure>

    My version of the second page (which was the last in the previous version) also has a progress bar, and changed the button to say ‘Next’. Not sure why I couldn’t make the carets a little more visible when they are between things. And perhaps I need some sort of ‘completed’ indicator for the first step, like a checkmark.

    <figure><figcaption>Still a weird jump, but at least I had a chance to expect it.</figcaption></figure>

    Finally, I made the very barest of bones summary page (the progress bar, what one was applying for, and a brief statement about the summary page). I didn’t make the whole page, which means that I didn’t get to include a “Submit Application” button instead of just ‘Submit” or suggest ways to make it easy for people to change things they don’t agree with. The latter seems important, especially if it really is automatically interpreting the resume; perhaps offer inline editing?

    <figure><figcaption>Not entirely sure how to end progress bars of this type, but you get the point.</figcaption></figure>

    Summary

    I’m struggling with the visual design part of things, but at least I feel a little better about the weird application process, having “fixed” it (at least in theory).

    I’m not sure what happens if you don’t submit a resume in that first page (or if you use linkedin or something instead). It seems like it might be a kindness for them to tell you what submitting your resume (or associating with social media) did for you, so that it’s less confusing when it never asks about jobs or education.

    Also, Gravit Designer is a pretty nice tool for this purpose!

    Digital Ethics: Whose responsibility is it? (3/3)

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on December 05, 2017 04:58 PM

    UX folks may be in the best position to identify ethical issues in their companies. Should it be their responsibility?

    This is the final piece of the story I’ve been telling. It started with an explanation of some of the problems currently present in the implementation of UX practices. I then described various ethical problems in technology companies today.

    I will now explain how UX folks are uniquely situated to notice ethical concerns. I will also explain how, despite their unique perspective, I do not think that UX folks should be the gatekeepers of ethics. Much like UX itself, ethical considerations are too likely to be ignored without buy-in from the top levels of a company.

    Ethics and UX

    Ethics and user experience are tied together for a few reasons:

    • Folks who are working on the user experience of a piece of software will often have a good view on the ethics of it — if they stop to consider it.
    • UX folks are trained to see the impact of a product on people’s lives. We are a bridge between software and humans, and ethical concerns are also in that space.
    • Like UX, ethics needs buy-in throughout the company. It can otherwise be difficult or impossible to enforce, as ethical considerations can be at odds with short-term company priorities like shareholder profits or introducing convenient (but potentially problematic) features.

    Given that UX folks are in a great position to see ethical problems as they come up, it may be tempting to suggest that we should be the ones in charge of ethics. Unfortunately, as I described in an earlier section, many UX folks are already struggling to get buy-in for their UX work. Without buy-in at the top level, we are unlikely to have the power to do anything about it, and may risk our jobs and livelihoods.

    This is made worse by the fact that there are a lot of new UX folks in the Boston area. If they are on the younger side of things, they may not realize that they are being asked to do the impossible, or that they can push back. New UXers may also have taken out student loans, whether as an undergraduate student or to enable a career change into UX, thereby effectively becoming indentured servants who can’t even use bankruptcy to escape them.

    Even new and career-changer UX folks who have not taken out loans can feel like they can’t afford to annoy the company they’re working for. Given how few entry-level jobs there are — at least in the Boston area — it’s a huge risk for someone new to UX to be taking.

    The risk of pointing out ethical problems is even worse when you are talking about an ethnic minority or others who are in an especially vulnerable position, and who may also be more likely to notice potential problem-areas.

    Individual UX folks should not be the sole custodians of ethics nor of the commitment to a better user experience. Without buy-in at high levels of the company, neither of these are likely to work out well for anyone.

    Who should be in charge of software ethics?

    Who, then, should be the custodians of keeping software from causing harm?

    The UXPA Professional Organization

    The UXPA organization has a code of conduct, which is excellent. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really have much to do with the ethical concerns that have come up lately. At best, we have the lines “UX practitioners shall never knowingly use material that is illegal, immoral, or which may hurt or damage a person or group of people.” and “UX practitioners shall advise clients and employers when a proposed project is not in the client’s best interest and provide a rationale for this advice.” However, these are relevant to the problem at hand only if a UX practitioner can tell that something might cause harm, or if a client’s best interest matches up with the public’s best interest.

    The code of conduct in question may not be specific enough, either: the main purpose of such a code of conduct is to offer practitioners a place to refer to when something goes against it. It is not clear that this code offers that opportunity, nor is it really a UX professional’s job to watch for ethics concerns. We may be best positioned, and we may be able to learn what to look for, but ethical concerns are only a part of the many tasks a UX professional may have.

    Companies Themselves

    A better question might be: how do we encourage companies adopt and stick to an ethics plan around digital products? Once something like that is in place, it becomes a _lot_ easier for your employees to take that into account. Knowing what to pay attention to, what areas to explore, and taking the time to do so would be a huge improvement.

    Maybe instead of asking UX folks to be the custodians of ethics (also here), we can encourage companies to pay attention to this problem. UX folks could certainly work with and guide their companies when those companies are looking to be more ethically conscious.

    I’m not at all certain what might get companies to pay attention to ethics, except possibly for things like the current investigation into the effects of Russian interference in our politics. When it’s no longer possible to hide the evil that one’s thoughtlessness — or one’s focus on money over morals — has caused, maybe that will finally get companies to implement and enforce clear, ethical guidelines.

    What do you think?

    What are your thoughts on how — or even if — ethics should be brought to the table around high tech?

    Thank you to Alex Feinman and Emily Lawrence for their feedback on this entry!

    Digital Ethics: Whose responsibility is it? (2/3)

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on December 01, 2017 02:31 PM

    UX folks may be in the best position to identify ethical issues in their companies. Should it be their responsibility?

    In the previous section, I described the state of UX practice at technology companies, and the need for high-level buy-in for successful UX integration.

    There is a concerning — and increasingly evident — lack of ethical consideration in the processes of most software companies. In this section, I will describe some of the ways in which this has recently become more apparent.

    Digital Ethics

    The software in our lives are not generally designed with our health and well-being in mind. This fact is becoming clear as Facebook, Google, and Twitter are in the spotlight relating to Russia’s interference with our elections and increasing political divides. Twitter has also typically been unwilling to do much about threats or hate speech.

    There is too much focus on engagement and creating addiction in users, and not enough on how things might go bad and appropriate ways to handle that.

    Internet of Things (IoT)

    There’s a proliferation of products in the Internet of Things (IoT) space, many of which are completely insecure and thus easily turned into a botnet, have the private information on them exploited, or hacked to be used as an information gathering device.

    Effects on Kids

    Some IoT devices are specifically targeted at kids, but few or no companies have put any effort into identifying how they will affect the development of the children who use them. Concerned researchers at the MIT Media Lab have begun to study the effects of intelligent devices and toys on kids, but this won’t stop the continued development of these devices.

    Similarly, it’s unclear how the use of devices that were originally aimed at adults — such as Alexa — will affect the kids in those houses. On one hand, it doesn’t involve screen time, which is no longer completely contraindicated for kids under two but is still wise to limit. On the other hand, we have no idea how those devices will answer questions they were not programmed to handle. Additionally, these devices do not encourage kids to use good manners — one of the important lubricants for the fabric of society. It’s hard enough to teach kids manners without having that teaching undermined by an intelligent device!

    Finally, consider how machine learning can result in some truly horrific scenarios (content warning: the linked essay describes disturbing things and links to disturbing graphic and video content).

    Someone or something or some combination of people and things is using YouTube to systematically frighten, traumatize, and abuse children, automatically and at scale, and it forces me to question my own beliefs about the internet, at every level.
    James Bridle · Writer and Artist

    Willful ignorance: Twitter and Equifax

    Similarly, we’ve seen the results of a focus on metrics and money over security and sanity. Twitter not only knew that there were spam and fake accounts from Russia and the Ukraine in 2015, but refused to remove them because

    “They were more concerned with growth numbers than fake and compromised accounts,” Miley told Bloomberg.”

    Equifax stores highly sensitive information about people in the US, and left security vulnerabilities open for months after being told about them. As a result, they had multiple security breaches, basically screwing over anyone whose data was stolen.

    <figure><figcaption>Yeah, no. You knew you had vulnerabilities!</figcaption></figure>

    Thoughtlessness: Google, Facebook, and Big Data

    Even without willful ignorance, thoughtlessness alone can easily be enough to put individuals, communities, and societies at risk.

    Considering the breadth of data that many companies are collecting on those who use their products, there is a worrying lack of thought given to the invasiveness of this practice and to how to safeguard the data in question. These companies often make poor choices in what information to keep, how to secure and anonymize the information, and who has access to that information.

    Some might say that having conversational devices like Alexa and Google Home are worth the privacy risks inherent in an always-on listening device. Others might suggest that it’s already too late, given that Siri and Google Now have been listening to us and our friends through our phones for a long time now.

    However, regardless of one’s thoughts on the timing of the concerns, the fact remains that tech giants have access to an amazing amount of information about us. This information is collected through our phones, through our searches and purchasing patterns, and sometimes through devices like the Amazon Echo and the Google Home Mini.

    Some companies are better than others, such as Apple’s refusal to break their encryption for the FBI, but it can be quite difficult to identify which and where companies are making the best choices for their customers privacy, safety, and sanity.

    Machine Learning

    Take machine learning (also known as AI), and the fact that companies are more interested in selling ads than considering the effects their software has on their customers:

    It’s not that the people who run, you know, Facebook or Google are maliciously and deliberately trying to make the country or the world more polarized and encourage extremism. […] But it’s not the intent or the statements people in technology make that matter, it’s the structures and business models they’re building. […] Either Facebook is a giant con of half a trillion dollars and ads don’t work on the site, it doesn’t work as a persuasion architecture, or its power of influence is of great concern. It’s either one or the other. It’s similar for Google, too.
    Zeynep Tufekci · Techno-sociologist

    One of the major problems with machine learning is that we have _no idea_ precisely what associations any particular algorithm has learned. The programmers of those algorithms just say whether the output those algorithms provide is good enough, and often ‘good enough’ doesn’t take into account the effects on individuals, communities, and society.

    I hope you begin to understand why ethics is a big concern among the UX folks I follow and converse with. At the moment, the ethics of digital products is a big free-for-all. Maybe there was a time when ethics wasn’t as relevant, and code really was just code. Now is not that time.

    In part 3, I’ll discuss the positioning of UX people to more easily notice these issues, and the challenges involved in raising concerns about ethics and ethical responsibility.

    Thanks to Alex Feinman, Máirín Duffy, and Emily Lawrence for their feedback on this thread!

    Digital Ethics: Whose responsibility is it? (1/3)

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on November 29, 2017 06:38 PM

    User Experience (UX) folks may be in the best position to identify ethical issues in their companies. Should it be their responsibility?

    This will be a multi-part story.

    In this first part, I’m going explain some of the problems inherent in the implementation of UX practices at technology companies today, to provide the background necessary to make my point.

    You can also skip ahead to part two, in which I talk about ethics in the tech industry today.

    First: Why do Businesses want UX?

    <figure><figcaption>Poor user experience = burning your money</figcaption></figure>

    Businesses are starting to realize that they need to incorporate UX to retain and increase their customer base. Discussions with Boston-area user experience folks suggests that companies have figured out that they need to have incorporated UX years ago, and that they’re behind.

    Many of those businesses are so new to UX that they don’t understand what it means. Part of the reason for this is that ‘UX’ is an umbrella term, typically including:

    • user research
    • information architecture (or IA)
    • interaction design (or IxD)
    • content specialists
    • visual design

    In addition, some UX teams include front-end developers, as it can otherwise be difficult to be certain that the developers implementing the interface have a basic understanding of user experience.

    <figure><figcaption>User Experience is complicated!</figcaption></figure>

    When looking for UX employees, some businesses end up throwing the kitchen sink into their job descriptions, or look for the extremely rare UX unicorn — someone skilled at all parts of UX as well as development. This unfortunately makes it approximately impossible that they will get what they need, or possibly that they will get any decent candidates at all.

    <figure><figcaption>Often, people expect the UX unicorn to be able to do all aspects of UX and write code. This version is more reasonable: to understand how coding works, even if you don’t do it.</figcaption></figure>

    Other employers prioritize visual or graphic design skills over the skills necessary to understand users, because they have gotten the impression that ‘making it pretty’ will keep their customers from leaving. Often the problem is at a much deeper level: the product in question was never designed with the user’s needs in mind.

    Successful UX needs high-level buy-in

    Unfortunately, UX professionals brought into a company without buy-in at the top level of the company nearly guarantees that the UX person will fail. In addition to their regular UX work, they will also be stuck with the job of trying to sell UX to the rest of the company. Without support from higher-ups in the company, it is nearly impossible for a single person to make the amount of change necessary.

    Surveying local people, I learned that being the only UX person in a small company or startup is probably doable, if the company understands the value you bring. There are fewer people to convince, and usually fewer products to deal with.

    However, being the only UX person in a big company will likely be an exercise in frustration and burnout. On top of the fact that you’re trying to do too many different things on your own , you’ve also got to try to keep the bigger picture in mind.

    Some important long-term questions include:

    • “What are the right strategic directions to go in?”
    • “Are the things that you are creating potentially going to cause or enable harm?”

    The second question brings us to the question of “who in high tech is thinking about the ethics of their creations?”. Unfortunately, too often, the answer is ‘no one’, which I will discuss in Part 2.

    Thank you to Alex Feinman and Máirín Duffy for their feedback on this article!

    Thinking With Type: Fonts

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on November 28, 2017 02:12 PM

    I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around the fonts section of the “Thinking With Type” book.

    I started by hunting for family trees for common font families. Failing to find those — likely because there’s an astonishing number of fonts out there — I started doodling around trying to get something on paper for myself.

    Without further ado, here’s my best approximation of the information in the section I’ve read, with some space available for further exploration. Mostly, I think I’m baffled by how one selects a font or font family, in part due to the sheer number of fonts out there, and in part because some require money. I’ll start out playing with with google fonts, because those seem to be specific for the web, and free. Open Sans seems to be a decent default, and Patternfly uses it.

    Font Categories

    “Thinking With Type” starts out by explaining the history behind fonts, and structures things by that history.

    Humanist (or Roman) fonts include what were originally the gothic and italic typefaces — these came from hand-written, script and body-based styles. These relied upon calligraphy and the movements of the hand.

    Enlightenment fonts were based on engraving techniques and lead type, and allowed for more flexibility in what was possible. This included both Transitional and Modern typefaces, which began the process of separating and modifying pieces of a letterform. Transitional started with Baskerville’s sharper serifs and more vertical axes. Modern went to an extreme with this, with Bodoni and Didot’s thin, straight serifs, vertical axes, and sharp contrast between thick and thin lines.

    Abstract fonts went even further in the direction of exaggerating the pieces of a letterform, in part because of the additional options available with industrialization and wood-cut type.

    Reform and Revolution were a reaction to the abstract period, in which font makers returned to their more humanist roots.

    Computer-optimized fonts were created to handle the low resolution available with CRT screens and low resolution printers.

    With the advent of purely digital fonts, creators of fonts started playing with imperfect type. Others created font workhorses using flexible palettes.

    <figure><figcaption>This is probably better named Font History!</figcaption></figure>

    Humanist Fonts

    Humanist fonts were based on handwriting samples.

    Gothic fonts were based on German writing, such as that of Gutenberg:

    <figure><figcaption>https://www.myfonts.com/fonts/alterlittera/gutenberg-a/</figcaption></figure>

    Whereas the Italic fonts were based on Italian cursive writing:

    <figure><figcaption>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italic_type</figcaption></figure>

    These were combined by Nicolas Jenson in 1465 into the first Roman typeface, from which many typefaces sprung:

    <figure><figcaption>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolas_Jenson</figcaption></figure><figure><figcaption>I don’t have much about the ones after Jenson.</figcaption></figure>

    Enlightenment Fonts

    With the Enlightenment period came experimentation.

    From the committee-designed romain du roi typeface, which was entirely created on a grid:

    <figure><figcaption>http://ilovetypography.com/2008/01/17/type-terms-transitional-type/</figcaption></figure>

    To the high contrast between the thick and thin elements from Baskerville, no longer strongly attached to calligraphy (the point at which you enter the Transitional period for fonts):

    <figure><figcaption>http://ilovetypography.com/2008/01/17/type-terms-transitional-type/</figcaption></figure><figure><figcaption>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baskerville</figcaption></figure>

    The Modern fonts from Bodoni and Didot further increased the contrast between thick and thin elements beyond Baskerville’s font.

    <figure></figure><figure><figcaption>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodoni and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didot_(typeface)</figcaption></figure><figure></figure>

    Abstraction Fonts

    In the abstraction period, the so-called Egyptian or Fat Face (now known as slab serifs) fonts came about. These were the first attempts at making type serve another function than long lines of book text, that of advertizing — otherwise known as display fontfaces.

    These took the extremes of the Enlightenment period and went to extremes with them, making fonts whose thin lines were barely there, and whose thick lines were enormous.

    <figure><figcaption>Egyptian, or Slab Serif, from http://ilovetypography.com/2008/06/20/a-brief-history-of-type-part-5/</figcaption></figure><figure><figcaption>Fat Face, from http://ilovetypography.com/2008/06/20/a-brief-history-of-type-part-5/</figcaption></figure>

    Reform and Revolution Fonts

    Font makers in the reform period reacted to the excesses of the abstraction period by returning to their historic roots.

    Johnston (1906) used more traditional letterform styles of the Humanist period, although without serifs:

    <figure><figcaption>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnston_(typeface)</figcaption></figure>

    The Revolution period, on the other hand, continued experimenting with what type could do.

    The De Stijl movement in particular explored the idea of the alphabet (and other forms or art) as entirely comprised of perpendicular elements:

    <figure><figcaption>Doesburg (1717), https://zaidadi.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/de-stijl-in-general/</figcaption></figure><figure><figcaption>Forgive the bright pink aspect of this. It’s my lighting!</figcaption></figure>

    Computer-Optimized Fonts

    The low resolution of early monitors and printers meant that fonts needed to be composed entirely of straight lines to display well.

    Wim Crouwel created the New Alphabet (1967) font type for CRT monitors:

    <figure><figcaption>http://luc.devroye.org/fonts-24196.html</figcaption></figure>

    Zuzana Licko and Rudy VanderLans created the type foundry Emigre, which includes Licko’s Lo-Res (1985) font:

    <figure><figcaption>https://www.myfonts.com/person/Zuzana_Licko/</figcaption></figure>

    Matthew Carter created the first web fonts in 1996 for Microsoft, Verdana (sans serif) and Georgia (serif):

    <figure></figure><figure><figcaption>From Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verdana and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_(typeface)</figcaption></figure>

    Imperfect Type

    With the freedom from the physicality of the medium (such as lead type or wood type) that came with computers, some font designers began experimenting with imperfect types.

    Deck made Template Gothic (1990), which looks like it had been stencilled:

    <figure><figcaption>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template_Gothic</figcaption></figure>

    Makela made the Dead History (1990) font using vector manipulation of the existing fonts Centennial and VAG Rounded:

    <figure><figcaption>https://www.emigre.com/Fonts/Dead-History</figcaption></figure>

    And Rossum and Blokland made Beowulf (1990) by changing the programming of PostScript fonts to randomize the locations of points in letters:

    <figure><figcaption>https://www.fontfont.com/fonts/beowolf</figcaption></figure><figure></figure>

    Workhorse Fonts

    Also during the 1990s, some folks were working on fonts that were uncomplicated and functional. Licko’s Eaves pair, with their small X-heights, are good for use in larger sizes:

    <figure></figure><figure><figcaption>https://www.emigre.com/Fonts/Mrs-Eaves (1990) and https://www.emigre.com/Fonts/Mr-Eaves-Sans-and-Modern (2009)</figcaption></figure>

    Smeijer’s Quadraat (1992) started as a small serif font, with various weights and alternatives (sans and sans condensed) added to the family over time:

    <figure><figcaption>https://www.fontfont.com/fonts/quadraat</figcaption></figure>

    Majoor’s Scala (1990) is another simple, yet complete, typeface family:

    <figure><figcaption>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FF_Scala</figcaption></figure>

    Finally, at the turn of the century, Frere-Jones created the Gotham (2000) typeface. Among other places, it featured prominently in Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential election campaign.

    <figure><figcaption>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gotham_(typeface)</figcaption></figure>

    Terminology

    In an effort to better remember various suggestions and terms used throughout the Font portion of Thinking With Fonts, I created a terminology sheet.

    <figure></figure>

    I’m most likely to forget that there’s multiple different items which can be understood to be quotes, and how to use them. Additionally, that larger X-heights are easier to read at small sizes.

    Common Fonts?

    I started making a list of common fonts, but quickly realized that this was a complex and difficult task. I’m including what I made for completeness, but it seems like a superfamily (like Open Sans) will be fine for most of my work.

    <figure></figure>

    What’s next for me in Typography and Visual Design?

    The book discusses Text next, after an exercise in creating modular letterforms on a grid. I’m looking forward to it, but I do need a break from it for now.

    I’ve started trying to mimic existing visual designs (from the collectui.com website), as many folks have suggested it’d be the best way to get a feel for what works and how to do it. I’ll likely talk more about that here, once I’m further along in that process.

    <iframe frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fupscri.be%2Ff51076%3Fas_embed%3Dtrue&amp;dntp=1&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fupscri.be%2Ff51076%2F&amp;image=https%3A%2F%2Fucarecdn.com%2Fa012775d-9666-4b2e-8ea6-c128f754667b%2F&amp;key=a19fcc184b9711e1b4764040d3dc5c07&amp;type=text%2Fhtml&amp;schema=upscri" width="800">https://medium.com/media/b85dfbb5286d8a25cf2e754b9462cf45/href</iframe>

    Thinking With Type: Fonts was originally published in Prototypr on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

    Visual Design: how does one learn it?

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on November 22, 2017 12:44 AM

    A lot of companies out there seem to want UX visual design skills more than they want UX research skills. I’ve often felt like I’m missing something important and useful by not having a strong grounding in visual design, and have been searching far and wide for some ideas of how to learn it.

    One of the more interesting suggestions I have had relates to typography: many websites have typography and grid principles incorporated into them, so that is a good place to start. I’ve also had a number of suggestions to just make things, with pointers to where to get ideas of what to make. Below are the suggestions that make the most sense to me.

    Typography to start?

    A helpful fellow volunteer (Tezzica at Behance and other places — trained in graphic design with a UX aspect at MassArt) at the UX Fair offered me a number of useful ideas, including the strong recommendation that I read the book called “Thinking With Type”, by Ellen Lupton. This books is, if nothing else, a very entertaining introduction to the various types and type families. There is the history of various fonts and types, descriptions of the pieces of a piece of type, and examples both good and bad (she calls the latter “type crimes” and explains why they are type crimes). I’m only 1/3 of the way through it, so I’m sure there’s a lot more to it.

    Tezzica also suggested that I take the SkillShare course by the same author, Typography that Works. Given that I currently have free access, I am in fact doing that. Some of what we’ve covered, I knew from previous courses (grids, mostly), and some recapped a bit of what I’ve read in the book thus far. Reminders and different types of media are really useful.

    I’m unexpectedly bemused by the current section, in which we are to start designing a business card. While I found the ‘business card’ size in Inkscape, I’m not completely sure that I’m managing to understand how to make the text do what I want it to do. I suspect that a lot of visual/graphic design is in figuring out how to make the tools do what you want, and then developing a better feel for ‘good’ vs ‘bad’ with practice! (I’m currently playing with Gravit Designer, which is a great deal easier to use while still being vector graphics.)

    I’ve also had a chat with one of the folks I interviewed about getting a job in Boston, Sam, who had gotten a job between me talking to him and interviewing him. He also strongly suggested typography, and seems to have already worked through a lot of the problems I’m struggling with: not a lot of understanding of how visual design works, but a strong pull toward figuring it out.

    Another thing that Tezzica mentioned was assignments she’d had in school where basically they had to play around with type. In one, the challenge was to make a bunch of graphics which were basically combining letters of two different typefaces into a single thing, or a ‘combined letterform’.

    What do graphic design students do?

    Tezzica suggested that it would be useful to peruse Behance for students of RISD and MassArt and see where the samples look similar, and potentially identify the assignments from classes at those schools. I have thus far not been successful in this particular endeavor.

    Another possible way to find assignments is to peruse tumblr or pintrest and see if any old assignments or class schedules are still there. Also thus far unsuccessful!

    Both Tezzica and Sam suggested doing daily challenges (on Behance, since the accounts there don’t require someone else to invite you) using ideas from dailyui.co or dribble. Tezzica also suggested taking a look at common challenge solutions and seeing if there’s an interesting and different way to do it. Tezzica also pointed out the sharpen.design website and its randomized design prompts.

    Sam suggested taking a website that I like the look of, and trying to replicate it in my favorite graphic design tool (this will probably end up being Inkscape, even though it’s not as user-friendly as I’d like), and pointed out that it could go onto my portfolio with an explanation of what I was thinking while I did it.

    Coursework

    Tezzica suggested a Hand Lettering course by Timothy Goodman and a Just Make Stuff course by him and Jessica Walsh (this one being largely about ‘making something already’). She also suggested Nicholas Felton’s Data Visualization courses (introduction to data visualization, and designing with processing). Both are on Skillshare.

    Sam suggested I watch everything I can from John McWade on Lynda.com, and a graphic design foundations: typography course also on lynda.com.

    Other training methods

    Finally, Sam recommended taking screenshots and making notes of what I notice about sites that are interesting or effective and why.

    This reminds me a bit of my periodic intent to notice what design patterns and informational architecture categorization methods websites use.

    Mostly, I need to train my eye and my hand, both of which require practice. Focused practice, and I think between Sam and Tezzica, I have a good sense of where to go with it. At the moment, I’m focusing on the Thinking With Type book and course, as otherwise I’ll overwhelm myself.

    I’m a researcher and interaction designer who’s been teaching myself UX for nearly two years.

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on November 09, 2017 11:28 PM

    I’m a researcher and interaction designer who’s been teaching myself UX for nearly two years. I’ve recently started trying to learn IA, and have been looking for jobs in the Boston area for most of that time. I’m not really sure what I’m looking for from a mentor, other than perhaps sympathy for the amount of difficult finding a job has been and maybe connections? (https://suzannehillman.com — for the curious)

    What have I been doing lately?

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on October 25, 2017 07:56 PM

    I’ve been up to a lot of different things, focused mostly on increasing my chances of getting a job.

    Organizing my links

    I have a lot of UX-related links. They aren’t even all in the same place, as some are in bookmarks, some are in OneTab, and some are in email.

    To handle this problem, and to offer others the chance to benefit from them, I’ve been sorting them into Enboard pages:

    If anyone has any thoughts on how to better organize these, I’m all ears. Especially the UX Beginners one, as it’s becoming unwieldy.

    After I finish sorting the ones I have, I hope to ask some folks about their preferred terms for things and organization preferences (as per Information Architecture, aka IA) and improve the organization that way.

    Online Courses

    Skill Share

    I’ve been taking an IA course on skillshare (https://www.skillshare.com/classes/UX-Series-Designing-Web-Navigation/503660567/) which has been decent. Unfortunately, it appears that the course instructor isn’t paying attention to it anymore, so it’s not possible to get answers to questions or ask for broken things to be fixed. Even so, though, it has been useful guidance and practice.

    Skill share is free for a two month trial period, and if you get your friends to sign up, you get an additional free month per friend once they pay for their first month.

    O’reilly Safari

    I used the two week free trial of O’Reilly’s Safari to get a quick introduction to Sketch (https://www.safaribooksonline.com/library/view/working-with-the/9781491998748/). This was amazing, as it didn’t require me to do visual design as past of learning Sketch, and the instructor is excellent at making sure to explain things, including the need to be organized and prepared before jumping into Sketch.

    I also used it for Success Skills for Introverts (https://www.safaribooksonline.com/library/view/success-skills-for/9781491930700/) which was useful for concepts like:

    <figure><figcaption>Filling this out ahead of time makes it a lot easier to engage in quick, useful conversations. It also means that you have good back and forth, and are much more likely to make connections.</figcaption></figure>
    • Meeting preparation. Some of the things that hadn’t already occurred to me or I have trouble remembering included: asking if there is an agenda (to help keep things on track) and offering to make one if there is not, figure out something to say within the first 5 minutes of the meeting — aka the First Five Minute Rule (so you don’t get stuck in a position of never saying anything or being heard from), practice the heck out of your presentation (and make sure you say it aloud, whether to yourself or to a friend), and making sure you know why you’re there and what you can contribute. (https://www.safaribooksonline.com/library/view/success-skills-for/9781491930700/video217196.html)

    Joe Natoli’s Portfolio Course at Give Good UX

    Finally, I’m about halfway through an excellent, concrete and straightforward course which should help improve the user experience of my (and your!) portfolio (https://wispfox.wixsite.com/hillmanconsulting/portfolio — the one I’m working on, not yet official). It costs a bit under $90, which is not bad at all. https://learn.givegoodux.com/courses/enrolled/217467 — I’m at the point of starting to make changes based on this course and on feedback from someone I had a chat with from http://designmentors.org/.

    Unfortunately, I’m unable to make the live chat for the course, as I’ll be at AthenaHealth’s hackathon in Watertown (http://athenahackathon.com/).

    I’m planning to write up a Medium post about portfolios after I finish this course. Maybe it’ll help others more than most such articles seem to?

    What about Visual Design? And Quantitative Research?

    I’m also trying to figure out the best way for me to learn Visual/Graphic Design. I’m currently hunting through SkillShare’s offerings, to start something after I finish my current courses. I have some idea of the basic stuff from the Coursera course I took on Design Principles (https://www.coursera.org/learn/design-principles/home/week/2), but I’d like to have stronger skills for contexts like my portfolio and to be able to say that I have experience with basic visual design when job hunting. Many jobs in the Boston area want visual design skills and already have folks who do research.

    Similarly, I’d like to better understand how to incorporate my existing quantitative research skills from graduate school into my UX practice. At the moment, I’m perusing a PDF of “Measuring the User Experience” by Tom Tullis. Lots of people suggested it! I have also obtained “Quantifying the User Experience: Practical Statistics for User Research” by Jeff Sauro and James R. Lewis as I suspect that it’ll be useful for someone with a statistical background like myself.

    Projects

    Recycle Bot

    The Recycle Bot toy project I’m mentoring Radhika Sundararaman on is proceeding slowly. Our free Axure licenses expired before we did usability testing, so we translated it to InVision using screenshots from the Axure shares we’d published (you cannot access your Axure files when your license expires).

    We’ve since done a pilot test (with each other) and will be making some changes to our scripts and tasks. Due to the expiry of Axure, we won’t be making any of the obvious changes that came up during the pilot test.

    If I find time, I may see about adjusting some of what’s in InVision to be less inconsistent with itself. We hadn’t originally figured out how to make it possible for us both to work on the project in InVision at the same time, so I’d been talking Radhika through some of the problems and confusions she ran into (sadly without the option to see her screen and what she was trying to do). We since managed to share her prototype with me, but it’s a lot of work to change the screenshots after the fact.

    We’ll be looking for a few people to do usability sessions with soon, and in cases where they are people we know well, will see about having the other person work with them to avoid some bias.

    Newbies First Jobs in Greater Boston

    I’ve presented to the board, but they are currently focusing on the UX Fair that’s coming up early next month.

    Folks who weren’t at the meeting I presented at offered feedback on the summary I sent to the president of the board. This was a bit awkward for a couple of reasons:

    • I hadn’t realized that I was writing something to be shown to people who weren’t there, so it was much less well fleshed out than I would have liked.
    • I cannot reply to the list, so any replies I give go to the people I’m replying to, not everyone.
    • When I asked the president to forward one of my replies, I wasn’t cc’d. So I have no idea what, if anyone, was said in reply.

    That said, much of what they offered was useful. Some seemed to be assuming that I was focusing only on what I personally could do to get a job, when I’m hoping to help others as well. My current plan is to figure out how to follow-up on those points after the UX Fair.

    I’ve also emailed with the XX-UX folks in San Francisco, as they have a mentoring program going. I’m aiming to get an idea of what they are doing, have done, and what has been working for them. They did suggest that I needed two other folks to work with on the mentoring idea (or creating an XX-UX branch in Boston), which has been difficult. I’ve had people say they want to help out with this project, but they end up being too busy for one reason or another. Alas!

    PatternFly

    The user dropdown research I was doing with Patternfly has turned into research on UI specifications for standard menu design patterns (https://github.com/patternfly/patternfly-design/issues/464). I should be able to use some of the information I gathered on the user dropdown, and the results of this ought to be related to that work.

    Simmetri

    I’ve been chatting with a couple of guys who are working on a tool called Simmetri (http://simmetri.com/) to help non-developers create VR worlds. We met at MIT’s Reality, Virtually hackathon (http://www.realityvirtuallyhack.com/), which was otherwise not a good experience for me for reasons not MIT’s fault.

    I am _so happy_ this tool exists, and spent a couple of hours downtown a week or so ago offering them feedback on the things that tripped me up, and offered suggestions for areas where different organization was needed. The UI was initially based on Photoshop, which isn’t really an interface I’ve ever liked.

    I don’t know what the best practices are around designing a design tool, especially a 3-D design tool or one that is meant to connect with VR devices! I also would want to identify their competitors to figure out what their unique contribution in this space might be (and see what others have done for their interface).

    They are currently looking for funding (in the art/creative space) from friends and family, and indicated an interest in bringing me on if they get it. I typically would avoid a startup, but I _like_ these two guys a lot, and they seem like they’d be reasonable about the fact that I don’t know all pieces of the UX umbrella.

    Information Architecture on a friend’s game’s site

    I’ve not yet started this, in part due to the sheer number of other things I’m working on, and in part because I’d like to finish the IA course I’m taking. However, a friend has suggested that his site isn’t well organized and would like my help. I definitely like the idea of getting real IA experience, so that sounds good to me.

    This friend has already found a couple of people in his gaming group (using his system) who would be happy to talk to me. Very nice!

    Querki

    I’ve not forgotten this project! I have been a bit stumped about how to approach it after I finish up with some of the things I’m working on. I have an ok understanding of what it’s about and for, but no strong sense of the users and their needs (which may mean that I need to watch some of the users who are not the developer use it?), nor the best areas to tackle first.

    I think part of the problem is that it is a pretty nebulous concept (“support and encourage collaboration about and sharing of information within communities.”), which makes it more difficult to approach.

    I shall keep it in the back of my head, but for the meantime it’s on a back burner.

    Job Hunting

    Red Hat

    Looks like Red Hat is only looking for mid-level interaction designers, as they’ve got lots of junior and senior level people. At least based on the most recent opening I saw, this appears to mean at least 5 years of experience.

    I’ll keep my eye on their jobs, but it’s looking unlikely that I’ll be working in UX at Red Hat any time soon.

    Vitamin T

    I’m happy with Vitamin T as a recruiting agency. They talk to me when I indicate interest in a position they send me, quite quickly.

    No idea if it’ll go anywhere, but they’re passing my info along about a contract position in Waltham.

    The Creative Group

    I’m pretty happy with The Creative Group, too. They also want to talk to me when they have things that relate, and the person I most recently talked to specifically suggested that I get in touch if I see something I want to apply to. They may have contacts that I do not, and all.

    Other

    Job hunting is frustrating. I’ll have the two years most junior positions seem to want as of February. Maybe that’ll help.

    And I do need to finish updating my portfolio based on the course and the feedback I got from the designmentor.org guy.

    Networking

    I’ve been going to a decent number of UXPA and Boston Chi events, although not all of either of them. Getting home from Boston proper isn’t easy to do, since commuter busses have stopped by then.

    It’s really odd to have the major project I’m working on be the one about finding a first UX job. People ask me what I’m working on, and I find it a little awkward to talk about given that I am myself looking.

    I’ve given my card and suggested resources to lots of other newbies, though. I have a lot of info after almost two years of this! Too bad I’m not getting paid to help my fellow newbies. ;)

    I’ve also been using the #ux tag more on Twitter after attending the UX Careers Handbook presentation by Cory Lebson. Among many other things, he pointed out that it was a very useful way to be seen as involved with UX. I shall get that book at some point, because it does a good job of helping one keep track of the things involved in the job hunting process.

    I’m doing a lot of things!

    I sometimes forget. No wonder I feel overwhelmed at times.

    I think my focus needs to be threefold: Finish the IA course. Fix my portfolio and make it be the new official one. Finish up the project with Radhika.

    The portfolio part is definitely the most daunting piece. I’ve been working on that for so long! I guess it means I have a good grasp of what I’ve worked on?

    “The Designership”

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on October 12, 2017 12:06 AM

    “The Designership

    Will check that out!

    I’ve also been fond of UX Mastery, and the Junior UX Community slack.

    I’m in the middle of a career change, and turned 40 a week ago.

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on October 11, 2017 11:55 PM

    I’m in the middle of a career change, and turned 40 a week ago. I’ve been working on UX projects in my own time, and trying to get paid work in UX has been quite difficult. I think part of the problem is that there are a huge number of new UXers in the area I’m in, which makes it harder to stick out as worth someone’s time.

    Finding a mentor is _hard_!

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on October 11, 2017 11:50 PM

    Finding a mentor is _hard_!

    Then again, I’m not entirely clear on what a mentor is supposed to offer a mentee. I’m currently working on a simple project with someone currently in school for technical communications, which feels like mentoring even though I’ve not yet managed to get a paid UX position yet (I’m a career changer).

    Just a strange position to be in!

    Running Sapphire Radeon RX 560 on Fedora 27 beta (follow up)

    Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on October 09, 2017 05:45 AM
    Following the previous blog and some investigation, it turned out the kernel package from Mystro256 COPR repository based on agd5f kernel branch (one of AMD developers) resolves the blank screen issue. That could trigger a problem for users having a new AMD graphic hardware so perhaps a warning should be written on the release. Perhaps having one of contributors be part of kernel team bringing these improvement until those patches arrive to the mainline kernel for a better user experience.

    Past the issue, the desktop experience with Radeon RX 560 was tremendously improved compared to the retired GTX 460 v2. Gnome on Wayland on Fedora runs smooth showing how far the open source amdgpu driver went through compared to previous years. That was also the opportunity to run a vulkan based smoke test demo on RADV, which is a counterpart of glxgears.

    Overall the card is excellent once missing software are installed.

    Running Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 560 4GB on Fedora 27 Beta

    Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on October 08, 2017 07:08 PM
    I bought a Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 560 4GB to replace the broken Nvidia GTX 460 v2 after a long years of service. It is then my first ever dedicated AMD based video-card for a desktop.

    The boot sequence on Fedora 27 hit a problem: a plain blank screen suggesting the card is not yet supported. Looking at Phoronix website revealed one of possible requirement missed: LLVM 5.0 which is currently not available to Fedora repository save a failed built. I filed a bug report to address the issue. Hopefully that will land on time for the official release of Fedora 27.