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Welcome in Markania

Well, it's "Welcome" isn't it?  Why does it look so strange?  Because it's written in my "handwriting font".   You should see the real thing!   My writing has always given me grief, it's pretty much illegible.  Mainly, I suspect, because I always seem to write very fast and it rapidly degenerates into a scribble.  I just can't be bothered forming all the fiddly little bits on the letters!  I'm much happier using a keyboard.  Making a font has been in the back of my mind for some time but recently (June '99) I found a shareware program, Softy, that let me design a TrueType font styled on my writing. Font sample

Why?  Well, it was an interesting exercise actually designing it.  I was pretty casual about it -- I just scribbled down the letters (trying not to think too hard about it) then converted their shapes into the control points which define the splines which form the contours of the characters.   I also discovered a little bit about TrueType fonts.  I didn't know that the font's "Hints" are actually in the form of code which is executed by the font engine.  It can make decisions on-the-fly about the way the characters are drawn (for example, when very small).   My font ("Markania") doesn't do anything that fancy, but it does finally allow me to write to people, using snail mail, in a form that's a little more personal than Times New Roman or some such, but actually legible.  There's little point in hand writing anything of any length because the recipient won't be able to read it.

Softy turned out to be one of those rare Shareware experiences where you try the software and decide, within a few minutes, that you'll have to register it (as opposed to the more frequent sort where you de-install/delete it within minutes).  It was immediately useful, without nagging me -- I was actually defining real font characters almost immediately.  It was quite exciting, installing my own TTF file and being able to select and use it in WordPad.  Well, I found it exciting.  The thing is, fonts are so very, very ubiquitous.  They're everywhere, and they're generally not thought of as a resource you and I have much control over, other than to add or remove them.  They have a bit of a mystique about them.

Softy's web home gave instructions for registration, saying that a cheque in US funds would be OK.  The author, Dave Emmett gave his address as the UK and I wasn't sure that he could clear a personal check from my US account over there, so I emailed him about it.  While waiting for a reply I found another site which talked about Softy.   In passing, it mentioned "the death of the author."  It turned out that David had died of cancer in August of '98.  At the time, I found this quite disturbing.   My first "Internet death."  It seems odd to see his web site still there, with its first-person content, and know that he's dead.  It's also odd to be using the software of a dead person.   Software is my business and I can't help wondering if any will form my legacy.

After I'm dead, will people still be using anything I've written?