Nathan’s blog about software development, design and the people behind it.

Carrier has Arrived!

Written on October 8th, 2008

I would like to dedicate a post to my computer scientist friend, Josh Carrier. It was his Birthday yesterday; happy birthday Josh!

His brand new blog over at is fantastic; it details his work on many interesting and geeky subjects, including but not limited to: Robots, Linux, Artificial Intelligence and of course, Java. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Josh complete a skynet equivalent in the future (..without the apocalyptic tendencies, of course).

Speaking of Java; Josh is quite obsessive about Java. As a computer language guy myself, I find this to be a good thing (what can I say, Java is awesome). Josh uses Java for many of his projects, one of which included solving a complex tetris cube using the awesome power of distributed computing.

The distributed computing project was born one evening after Josh and his roommate purchased one of the tetris cubes and attempted to solve it by hand. The tetris cube puzzle itself is quite complex; before you even crack open the package, it challenges you with a slogan like “9,839 solutions, we dare you to find one!”.

After many days of trying to solve the cube, Josh became inspired to build a distributed computing system to help. He went on to build a solving client, and a central server (which worked with the clients, collecting stats and managing workloads). Running these clients on any processing power he could spare, he also enlisted the help of a number of his willing colleagues, myself included.

Leveraging my new dual-core, I joined “the collective” (as Josh liked to call it). A number of days, and a few billion iterations later, the group of about a dozen computers, using Josh’s software, solved the tetris cube. Interestingly enough, it was my own AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ (absolutely shameless plug for AMD) which ended up finding the first solution to the puzzle. It was certainly a fun project to be involved with.

Congratulations to Josh on his new blog; I find it excellent how our humble network of geek blogs is gaining more momentum every day.

Posted in Java, People, Programming

Dina Programming Font in TTF format

Written on October 7th, 2008

For a long time now, Dina has been my favorite programming font. I find it crisp, clean and very readable for the amount of pixel space it takes up (wide bowls, no unnecessary serifs). It’s certainly a nice change from Courier New. In my opinion, a great programming font is just as important as any other tool in the programmers toolbox.

Unfortunately, Dina does have one big pitfall. It’s only available in the bitmap based .fon format, which is notorious for bad portability. Incompatible on anything but Windows, and even some Windows applications will not read this format (Sun’s Java Netbeans IDE for example does not support it).

After a long day of various hacks and adjustments, I was able to convert the Dina font to a working TTF format. You can now benefit from the fruits of my labor using the link below:

Dina truetype font pack

Here is a preview for your viewing pleasure:

For those interested, this is a screenshot from the Netbeans IDE. I have been recently giving Netbeans and Eclipse a test drive in preparation for my upcoming developments in Java.

Posted in Download, Programming, Typography