Blog : Posts tagged with 'fonts'


Curious problem

In which FP has an obscure font problem, in annoyingly specific circumstances

Only a day after the new garden blog went live, I found myself with a problem. This morning, I noticed a problem with it, on K’s PC. Moreover, it was only a problem on K’s PC. On her PC, in Firefox and in IE, the heading font was hugely oversized compared to the rest of the page. In Chrome, everything was fine.

Now, I’d tested the site in all of my browsers. On my Windows PC, running Window 7 just like K’s, there were no problems in any of the browsers I’d tried. On my Linux box, all fine; on my FreeBSD box, all fine. But on K’s PC, apart from in Chrome, the heading font was completely out. Whether I tried setting an absolute size or a relative size, the heading font was completely out.

All of the fonts on the new site are loaded through the Google Webfonts API, because it’s nice and simple and practically no different to self-hosting your fonts. Fiddling around with it, I noticed something strange: it wasn’t just a problem specific to K’s PC, it was a problem specific to this specific font. Changing the font to anything else: no problems at all. With the font I originally chose: completely the wrong size on the one PC. Bizarre.

After spending a few hours getting more and more puzzled and frustrated, I decided that, to be frank, I wasn’t that attached to the specific font. So, from day 2, the garden blog is using a different font on its masthead. The old one – for reference, “Love Ya Like A Sister” by Kimberly Geswein – was abandoned, rather than wrestle with getting it to render at the right size on every computer out there. The replacement – “Cabin Sketch” by Pablo Impallari – does that reliably, as far as I’ve noticed;* and although it’s different it fits in just as well.

* this is where someone writes in and says it looks wrong on their Acorn Archimedes, or something along those lines.

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Sometimes I Can Be Too Geeky For My Own Good

In which FP measures himself up

A scene from office life: me and Big Dave, sitting at our desks, beavering away. Big Dave is working on building a website around some of the printed advertorial bumpf our PR people have supplied.*

“What’s this font? Any idea?” says Big Dave.

“That’s Gill Sans,” says I, “I’m surprised you didn’t recognise it. It was heavily used by British Railways before they switched to Helvetica in the late 60s.”

“Aaah,” Big Dave replies, “that’s why you know about it.”

Cut to: later on in the day, as I’m sitting in the local chinese takeaway waiting for my order, I’m doing a bit of naval-gazing, pondering the proportions of my body.*** And I suddenly realise that one key dimension of it**** is, roughly, 4 feet, 8.5 inches. The distance between the rails on most railway lines, in other words. Sometimes I really am too geeky for my own good.

* yes, we know this is a horrible way to go about doing things. Our PR people don’t, though. They see themselves as the fount of all design knowledge, and any criticisms** get ignored.

** like “but that looks bloody awful.” We’re not that subtle.

*** Not purely out of self-obsession, you understand, but for a bespoke DIY project I’ve been thinking about.

**** The maximum distance between my wrists, if you’re really bothered. Obviously it’s a rough estimate – I wasn’t sat in the takeaway with a tape measure – but going by Leonardo’s proportions it should be the same as your height (5′ 9″ for me) minus the length of both hands (6.5″ each).

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