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It's great to see the surge of user group activity in the TeX
community this fall. On October 20 the UK TeX Users Group
(UKTUG) held a day of classes in central London on using LaTeX.
On October 21 The Italian Users (GuIT) held their third annual
meeting in Pisa with a full day of presentations. See below for
reports from the organizers. The TUG 2006 conference was held
in Marrakesh, Morocco on November 9–11; see http://www.ucam.ac.ma/fssm/tug2006/,
and also a nice report with photos by Taco Hoekwater
file is about 6MB so may take a while to load).
This fall Charles Bigelow, known to the TeX community as co-designer of the Lucida fonts, begins a new position at the Rochester Institute of Technology. His first courses there will focus on typography in newspapers, and typography in mobile devices such as cell phones and PDA's. See below for more details.
If you have a news item about TeX, the TeX community, or anything related, please send it to the editors.
Bigelow studied typography with Zapf at RIT in 1979, so his appointment marks the continuation of an RIT tradition.
Bigelow is well known as a teacher and scholar. He taught digital typography at Stanford University from 1982 to 1997 and prior to that was a professor of typography at the Rhode Island School of Design. Among his numerous former students are noted type designers Carol Twombly, Gary Munch, and David Siegel.
He was chairman of the committee on Research and Education of the Association Typographique Internationale, an associate editor of Fine Print, and has published widely on various aspects of typography.
Bigelow's first course at RIT will analyze newspaper typography. "Newspapers are a window onto the world and also a doorway into typography," he writes in his course introduction. "Newspapers are the most complex typographic objects ever devised, but we throw them away at the end of the day. Having extracted the information we want, we have no further interest in the craft and art of displaying and conveying that information. By taking a closer look at newspapers, we gain a better understanding of the evolution of typography and its role in modern civilization, and also get front row seats at one of the most fascinating and important shifts in our literate culture - the current move from print to on-line journalism and its far-reaching effects on type design and document structure."
Bigelow's later courses at RIT will study typography on mobile devices (cell phones, PDA's, pocket PC's, etc.), and the relationship of typography to material culture: how typography helps create the visual experience of super markets and other emporia in our market-driven society. "Most studies of typography try to show only the 'best' designs, but that's less than one percent of what's out there. I want students to look at the other ninety-nine percent of typography, which dominates the visual texture of our lives. You walk into a supermarket and you can tell by the typography which boxes are breakfast cereals and which are laundry detergents, even if you don't know how read the labels. This is important: you don't want to pour Frosted Flakes into your washing machine or gulp down a bowl of Tide for breakfast. Typography helps us tell these products apart. Of course, you have to learn how to recognize the signs. That's what I want students to do, to become conscious of the subtle, or not so subtle, typographic hints that guide us through our lives."
Apart from his teaching, Bigelow's best known work in typography is probably the creation of the Lucida typeface family, the first font family designed to improve legibility on computer screens and low resolution laser printers. Co-designed by Kris Holmes, Lucida is the standard system interface font family on Apple OS X, and Lucida fonts are also found in Microsoft Windows, Sun Microsystem's Java, and other operating systems and applications. Lucida includes a broad range of characters and fonts for mathematical composition and is used for the journal "Notes of the American Mathematical Society" as well as other mathematical texts.
Bigelow & Holmes also created the TrueType versions of Apple's city fonts - Chicago, Geneva, Monaco, New York - and designed Apple Chancery, Apple Textile, and Apple Capitals. Microsoft's Windings font is also based on designs created by Bigelow & Holmes. Lucida Console is such a widespread font phenomenon in Windows that an English punk rock band has adopted the name "The Lucida Console".
"I'm more partial to the great Motown bands of the 60's", says Bigelow, a native of Detroit, "but the Motown music scene was a long time before Lucida, and it's interesting today to see how a stray bit of typography can morph into an entirely different aspect of pop culture."
by Onofrio de Bari, GuIT vice president
The third annual meeting of GuIT, the Italian TeX User Group, was held
on 21st October 2006 in Pisa, Italy. Because of all the activities
since GuIT was founded in 2004, we are pleased to see ourselves
rapidly reaching the level of interest that other European national
user groups receive in their countries. The founding of GuIT with a
charter, the publication of our journal, Ars TeXnica, and the
annual meetings are the result of very intense but gratifying work.
In particular, we are very happy to receive many requests from Italian
users to join GuIT and help with our efforts.
by Onofrio de Bari, GuIT vice president
The third annual meeting of GuIT, the Italian TeX User Group, was held on 21st October 2006 in Pisa, Italy. Because of all the activities since GuIT was founded in 2004, we are pleased to see ourselves rapidly reaching the level of interest that other European national user groups receive in their countries. The founding of GuIT with a charter, the publication of our journal, Ars TeXnica, and the annual meetings are the result of very intense but gratifying work. In particular, we are very happy to receive many requests from Italian users to join GuIT and help with our efforts.
The conference started with an introductory speech by Lance Carnes, editor of the PracTeX Journal, about PracTeX and what it means for regular TeX users. Next was Enrico Gregorio who spoke about category codes; in particular, he described an application he developed for entering math expressions by redefining LaTeX category codes and commands.
A paper on LaTeX tables by Lapo Mori, who could not attend in person, was presented by Maurizio Himmelman. He gave a detailed description of the problems that can arise when creating tables, and solutions supplied by numerous packages to solve these issues.
Kaveh Bazargan, of River Valley Technologies, gave a talk about mimicking the vertical grid spacing common in traditional typesetting with LaTeX. This was a very interesting subject, presented with "eye-candy" slides which caught everyone's attention.
In the afternoon it was time for me to give my talk, about GNU Emacs. I tried my best to make people aware of basic GNU Emacs editing features for LaTeX, and continued by analyzing features of sophisticated TeX and LaTeX environments such as AUCTeX and preview-latex.
Salvatore Palma presented the use of LaTeX to produce interactive mathematics tests for high schools. His results are impressive, and this subject will be developed further in the future.
GuIT president Maurizio Himmelmann closed the meeting with some brief remarks and thanked the speakers and organizers.
The level of attendance at the meeting was extremely satisfying. During the day about eighty people attended the conference. Thirty attendees were from outside Tuscany, who came by car, train or plane to attend the event; among them were Claudio Beccari (one of the first TeX users in Italy), Gianluca Gorni, and many others who will forgive me if I don't mention their names here.
As vice president of GuIT, I am very pleased to say that the scientific level of this year's meeting was extremely high. Most of all, speaking for all GuIT members, I want to say thanks to Lance Carnes, editor of The PracTeX Journal and Kaveh Bazargan of River Valley Technologies. Their contributions to the meeting were invaluable, not only for their presentations but also for their personal interest in our evolving user group.
I cannot omit, of course, to say thanks to the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies who provided the meeting facilities, and in particular to Prof. Giulio Bottazzi of the Laboratory of Economics and Management, without whose support this meeting would not have been possible.
Last but not least, as is often said in these cases, a big "thank you" to the GuIT staff and to the attendees. We have received and still receive emails of congratulation which encourage us greatly in what we are trying to do for the Italian and international TeX community. Our hope is to make GuIT an organization which will improve and grow in coming years.
UKTUG sponsors day of LaTeX
by Charles Goldie
The workshop focussed on using LaTeX to write technical documents, theses, books and articles. A major theme was using LaTeX better, for example to make it easier to collaborate and to re-use and revise documents. Centrepieces of the day were three major presentations,
Peter Flynn: "Sorry, Professor, the dog ate my thesis: how to expect the unexpected when using LaTeX",
Nicola Talbot: "Writing a thesis in LaTeX: hints, tips and advice",
Jonathan Fine: "Avoiding problems, solving problems, asking for help".
About 55 attended, essentially filling the room used for the plenary sessions. Groups on particular topics formed naturally in breakout sessions in between the presentations. Participants seemed to be a mixture of relative newcomers and experienced TeX-setters. Most found that what they gained from the workshop was commensurate with their input: asking a question or making a point forces you to formulate your thoughts clearly; then back come reactions, help, collateral information and the identification of others with similar concerns.
Presentations and background materials are on the web under http://uk.tug.org/events/. UKTUG expresses its heartfelt thanks to the three presenters for their contribution to the success of the day. The Group was encouraged by the outcome, and hopes to mount a further event or events on a similar model in the future.
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