Observations, on how to insert Unicode and Emojis into text, using a KDE 4 / Plasma 5.8 -based Linux computer.

One of the earliest ‘inventions’ on the Internet, were ‘Smilies’, which were just typed in to emails, and which, when viewed as text, evoked the perception of whichever face they represented. But, graphical user interfaces – GUIs – replaced simple text even in the 1990s, and the first, natural thing which developers coded-in to email clients was, the ability to convert typed, text-based smilies, into actual images, flowed with the text. Also, simple colon-parenthesis sequences were replaced with other, more varied sequences, which could be converted by some email clients into fancier images, than simply, smiling faces.

Actually, the evolution of the early Internet was slightly more complex than that, and I have even forgotten some of the real terms that were used to describe that History.

But there is an even more recent shift in the language of the Internet, which creates a distinction between Smilies, and ‘Emojis’. In this context, even many ‘Emoticons’ were really just smilies. Emojis distinguish themselves, in that these pictograms are represented as part of text in the form of Unicode values, of which there is such a large supply, that some Unicode values represent these pictograms, instead of always representing characters of the Earth’s many languages, including Chinese, Korean, Cyrillic, etc. What some readers might ask next could be, ‘Traditionally, text was encoded as 7-bit or 8-bit ASCII, how can 16-bit or 32-bit Unicode characters simply be inserted into that?’ And the short answer is, through either UTF-8 or UTF-16 Encoding. Hence, in a body of text that mainly consists of 8-bit codes, half of which are not normally used, sequences of bytes can be encoded, which can be recognized as special, because their 8-bit values do not correspond to valid ASCII characters, and their sequences complete a Unicode character.

One fact which is good to know about these Emojis is, that they are often proprietary, which means that they are often either the intellectual property of an IT company, or part of an Open-Source project. But the actual aspect of that which can be proprietary is, the way in which Unicode values are rendered to images.

What that means is that, for example, I can put the following code into my blog: 🤐 . That is also referred to as Unicode character ‘U+1F910′. Its length extends beyond 16 bits by 1 bit, and the next 4, most-significant bits are all 1’s, as expressed by the hexadecimal digit ‘F’. It’s supposed to be a pictogram of a deceased entity, as if that were stated correctly by a head which has had certain features crossed out. But for my blog, the use of such a code can be a hazard, because it will not display equally on Android devices, as it displays on iOS devices. And, on certain Linux computers, it might not be rendered at all, instead just resulting in a famous rectangle that seems to have dots or numbers inside it. This latter result will form, when the client-program could not find the correct Font, to convert this code into an image. (:3)

Those fonts are what’s proprietary. And, they also provide some consistency in style, between Android devices, OR between iOS devices, OR between Windows devices, etc.

Well, I began this posting by musing about the early days of the Internet. During those days, some users – myself included 😊  – did some things which were truly foolish, and which included, to put background images into our HTML-composed emails, and, to decorate documents with (8-bit) dingbat fonts, just because it was fun to pass certain fancier documents around, than POT. I don’t think there is really anything wrong with potential readers, who still put background images into their emails. What I mean is that many of my contacts today, prefer emails which are not even HTML.

This earlier practice, of using dingbat fonts etc., tended to play favourably into the hands of the tech giants, because the resulting documents could only be viewed by certain applications. And so today, I needed to ask myself the question, of how often the use of Emojis can actually result in a document, which the recipient cannot read. And my conclusion is that today, such an indecipherable outcome is actually rare. So, how I would put a long story short is to say, that Commercialism is back, riding on the desire of younger people to put more-interesting content into their messages, and perhaps, without some of the younger people being aware that when they put Emojis, they are including themselves as the software-disciples of one larger group or another. But that larger group mainly seems to be drawing its profits, from the ability of certain software to insert the images, rather than, the ability of only certain software to render them at the receiving end (at all). Everybody knows that, even though the input methods on our smart-phones don’t lead to massively good prose, they almost always offer a rich supply of Smilies, plus Emojis, all displayed to the sender using his or her own font, but later displayed to the recipient, using a potentially different font.

The way Linux computers can be given such fonts, is through the installation of packages such as ‘fonts-symbola’ and ‘ttf-ancient-fonts’, or of ‘fonts-noto‘… The main drawback of the open-source ‘Symbola’ font, for example, is simply, that it often gives a more boring depiction of the same Unicode character, than the depiction which the true Colour Noto Font from Google would give.

One interesting way in which Linux users are already in on the party is, in the fact that actual Web-browsers are usually set to download fonts as they are needed, even under Linux, for the display of Web-pages. Yet, email clients do not fall into that category of applications, and whether they render Emojis depends on whether these font packages are installed.

Hence, if the ability to send Emojis from a Linux computer is where it’s at, then this is going to be the subject of the rest of my posting. I can put two and two together, you know…

(Updated 7/31/2020, 15h10… )

Continue reading Observations, on how to insert Unicode and Emojis into text, using a KDE 4 / Plasma 5.8 -based Linux computer.

I now have Linux installed on my Google Pixel C tablet.

As the title of this posting suggests.

I used the Android app “UserLAnd“, which does not require root. The most recent versions of this app offer a VNC Server, which emulates an X-Server within the Linux system. And the implementation of VNC is ‘TightVNC’. Plus, the latest versions of this app offer a built-in VNC Viewer, that I find makes the most, out of the tiny icons that display on the high-res screen, as well as out of the fact that often, users will want to operate the GUI with their fingers, along with the physical keyboard that my Pixel C pairs with (:7) …

Screenshot_20190831-163643

The setup of this Linux Guest System is much easier than my earlier experience was because the basic Linux distribution, the desktop manager, and certain apps can all be installed just by tapping on a few icons. And then, using the ‘sudo apt-get’ command-line, additional Debian packages can be installed.

There is an interesting side effect to this project: When I give the command:

$ cat /etc/debian_version

I obtain the result ‘10.0‘. This would mean that the Linux version which I’m getting, is the new Debian / Buster, which none of my PCs nor my Laptop are even running. However, the repositories that I’m subscribed to are labelled ‘stable’. The CPU is an ‘arm64′. And the desktop manager I chose was ‘LXDE’. I installed a full productivity suite, including LaTeX. But, I found that three Linux applications did not run:

  • LyX – The graphical, WYSIWYM LaTeX Editor (:2).
  • Synaptic – A GUI for apt-get that makes it particularly easy to browse package-repositories, before selecting which packages to install.
  • Latexdraw‘ (:1) (:6).

Everything else I tried seems to work, including “LibreOffice”, “GIMP”, “InkScape”, “Firefox ESR”. On my own, without the aid of simple GUI-buttons, I was also able to install and run “Texmaker”, “Dia”, “Xfig”, “OpenClipArt”, “Maxima” and “wxMaxima”, the Computer Algebra System and its Graphics Front-End. Getting that last item to work properly actually required that I install the package ‘fonts-jsmath’.

The Linux Guest System is currently taking up 5.37GB of my internal storage, and I finally also found out how to share files between the Guest System and the Host System. Within the Guest System, if on the Host System the root of the user folders is ‘/root/<sdcard>’, then this Host System root is mounted at ‘/host-rootfs/<sdcard>’ (within the Guest System). This means that I can open a path directly to this folder in the file-manager ‘PCManFM’, and bookmark it. (:3)

(Updated 9/07/2019, 17h40 … )

Continue reading I now have Linux installed on my Google Pixel C tablet.

A simplified way to insert TikZ graphics into actual documents.

One of the observations I seem to be making is, that the technology-intensive part of the world is still using such tools as LaTeX, to typeset documents and vector-based graphics, such as Mathematical equations which I’ve included in previous parts of this blog, even though we know that GUI-based applications have existed for some time, that also typeset and do graphics…

I like ‘LaTeX’, even though I never learned the full syntax. LaTeX defines the document in a type of textual syntax. And there is even a system of TeX macros, which defines a sub-language called “TikZ”, that defines entire figures, sketches and plots, using a textual syntax.

Edit: Alternatively, there is a sub-language called “PSTricks”, which offers yet another way to do the same thing

And so a question which strikes me as important is, how to use these languages, even though I don’t know the syntax. And the answer is, ‘I use a GUI.’ That GUI mainly consists of the application ‘LyX’.

(Updated 3/07/2019, 17h55 … )

Continue reading A simplified way to insert TikZ graphics into actual documents.

Some Bugs of my LXDE-based Computer, ‘Klexel’

I wrote only yesterday, that I had set up a computer with the Linux desktop-manager ‘LXDE’, and that I had named that computer ‘Klexel’.

Well I’m finding out that this computer has a bug. If I leave it with its screen-locker locked for some time, and then unlock with my password, the unlock dialog seems to succeed, but only reveals a black desktop, with only the mouse-pointer visible.

I suspect that I know what causes this. The computer in question has an old ‘Intel 910′ graphics chip-set, and although it may be good the the chip-set is supported, that chip-set and its drivers have quirks. I do have OpenGL 1.4, which should be high enough a version. But it may be that ‘behind the screen-locker’, by the time I’ve unlocked the machine again, the ‘Compiz Fusion’ desktop compositor has crashed.

There are certain other quirks which point to a graphics chip problem:

  • The window title-bars sometimes don’t render, until I click in the region where the title-bar should be, in which case they reappear.
  • Wobbly Windows needs to be enabled, in order for me to be able to restore the title-bars in this simple way.

I found that a practical way to deal with this not-resuming from the screen-locker, may be, by setting the key-sequence <Ctrl>+<Alt>+<Backspace> just to kill the X-server, as it would do under KDE or Plasma 5, using the following customization. I can right-click on the Keyboard Layout Tray Icon, then left-click on “Keyboard Layout Handler Settings”, and then:

screenshot-from-2018-09-02-06-21-12_c

I have set 2 ‘setxkbmap Options':

  1. The Compose Key,
  2. The X-server kill key.

Killing the X- just prompts me for a log-in again.

Note:

There is some possibility that the Compiz crash, on resuming from a plain lock-screen, may have to do with the Compiz setting, to display a Splash Image. By default, Kanotix systems come with an animated Kanotix splash-screen, that may look nice on systems with stable graphics, and for the first few times the system is explored. We can change this splash-screen to something other than the Kanotix splash-screen.

But I have noticed that, just for Compiz to start the splash-screen, causes instability with the Intel 910 chip-set, even if it does work. So what may be happening, is that on resuming from the lock-screen, Compiz may be programmed to display the splash-screen, and doing so may be what crashes my session. And so for now, I’ve also disabled this feature, and will comment later, on whether having done so has fixed the crashes.

(Update 09/05/2018, 15h30 … )

(As of 09/02/2018 : )

Continue reading Some Bugs of my LXDE-based Computer, ‘Klexel’