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I have often found myself lacking any source of assurance that my TI-99/4A is in fact utilising Solid State Software - label maker to the rescue

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I was feeling whimsical today, and I got a little crafty. 

 

It doesn't quite pass for the real thing, but for now, I think I'll stick with with this addition to my TI-99 anyways.  Might use the label template elsewhere subsequently, in even more whimsical style (I mean, my cell phone does use Solid State Software, right? Everyone should know that, right?)

 

Poked around a bit to find the right font, and Aban Bold was the closest I could find to the label in question, though I did tweak it a bit.  Would be interested to know if anyone has looked in to this before, and knows either the font or another close match for the font.  Or if one has been created by the community.  The kerning on the text appears really tight.  Imitating original images, this is what I came up with:

 

 

image.thumb.png.ac3230400d18ed095c513e2443c4113d.png

 

 

 

image.thumb.png.de13d4ddcd4f5426c0d0f2a2c71e8741.png

 

Based of course on, e.g.,

 

image.thumb.png.e13eddaa9848ab513e457460864b8053.png

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That looks pretty good, at a glance at the photo I couldn't tell it wasn't genuine. ;)

 

I've always wanted to make a cartridge with an old style tube sticking up out of it, but fake tubes with a nice red glow were harder to come by than I expected. ;)

 

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I felt compelled to do a sided by side comparison.  It's almost a dead on match.  I actually like his better than the original, because it looks to be  in BOLD, which makes it a tad bit more noticable.  

 

Nice!.JPG.f31d2537fe0dc493994880d1bc305a28.JPG

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Thanks for the side-by-side comparison!  Couldn't do one myself, as I don't have a TI-99 with the original label, and was just working with web images. 

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Here it is with a couple of fonts from an old WordPerfect installation:

 

SolidStateSoftware.thumb.png.9a07814e2354995ff51e4be192ebda20.png

 

Top font is “Microgramma Medium Extended” and bottom font is “Square 721 Extended”.

 

Here they both are in bold:

 

SolidStateSoftwareB.thumb.png.6027c9034fe9770a23199dd761875f63.png

 

...lee

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Hmm..  I  bet I could make a quick and dirty font. (Fontforge should be sufficient... I could trace the outlines with my CAD software and import them.)  Do we have more resources for this font? (Need more use examples to get all glyphs and kerning pair data)

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On 10/11/2019 at 3:44 PM, wierd_w said:

Hmm..  I  bet I could make a quick and dirty font. (Fontforge should be sufficient... I could trace the outlines with my CAD software and import them.)  Do we have more resources for this font? (Need more use examples to get all glyphs and kerning pair data)

That's what I do when I can't find an exact font match when I want to reproduce something, except I trace the letters in Adobe Illustrator rather than CAD software. There's no need to make an actual usable font file from the tracing, though I did do that in one case when I was replicating an old screen printed T-shirt that I had as a kid in the '80s. Being able to type the letters made replicating the text layout easier, because some of the text was in an arch (Illustrator has tools for typing along an arched path). I used an ancient version of Fontographer if I remember right. It's just a matter of importing the Illustrator files; it can use them natively because modern fonts and Illustrator files are both vector; in some cases, the exact same vector language even (Postscript).

 

By the way, did some of them come without the white label strip above the number keys? I have one that doesn't have it (it doesn't have the "Solid State Software" label either), and I've seen pictures of others that didn't have it too, like this one. On mine, there's no adhesive residue to indicate that a label was ever there, plus the way the plastic is molded in that area is significantly different than on my other one which has both the label above the number keys and the Solid State Software label. 

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I prefer my CAD software for that, because I can use actual measurement constraints to assure the geometry of the curves is mathematically perfect. I can save it in a suitable format, then convert it to .AI with something like PStoEdit.

 

I can assure that the curves are EXACTLY where I want them in the glyph's EM space, I can make sure that the stem widths are EXACTLY the right spacing, that the tops of letters and the depths of descenders are EXACTLY right, etc. (this obsession with mathematical perfection is important, because of how truetype fonts do hinting instructions. Without that kind of perfection, you are gonna be working yourself to death making sane hint instructions for the different point sizes.)

 

Illustrator kinda just wings it.  The file format is useful as an import intermediary, but I prefer exact geometry. 

Edited by wierd_w

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34 minutes ago, wierd_w said:

I prefer my CAD software for that, because I can use actual measurement constraints to assure the geometry of the curves is mathematically perfect. I can save it in a suitable format, then convert it to .AI with something like PStoEdit.

 

I can assure that the curves are EXACTLY where I want them in the glyph's EM space, I can make sure that the stem widths are EXACTLY the right spacing, that the tops of letters and the depths of descenders are EXACTLY right, etc. (this obsession with mathematical perfection is important, because of how truetype fonts do hinting instructions. Without that kind of perfection, you are gonna be working yourself to death making sane hint instructions for the different point sizes.)

 

Illustrator kinda just wings it.  The file format is useful as an import intermediary, but I prefer exact geometry. 

You can do all of that with AI too, though AI doesn't necessarily have built-in tools for doing some of those things. There are various ways to get precise and consistent spacing, such as by setting the nudge value to the exact spacing you want, or by making squares of a given size to use as temporary spacers that you can snap to, or using the distribute spacing tool, etc. If you need a perfect arc you can just use the circle tool and then cut out a section of the circle to join into your tracing. If you have multiple letters that have parts which are supposed to be identical, you can copy and paste the identical sections to ensure they are identical (there are other ways too), and so on. I've done countless tracings in AI, many of which have included tracing letters/numbers/glyphs, both commercially and for myself, for about 16 years, and when you've spent that much time in AI you naturally find ways to work around its ostensible limitations.

 

When it comes to tracing letters/scripts which have bezier curves rather than just circular arcs (such as the Coca-Cola script logo), AI's pen tool is far better for that than anything in any CAD program (it's better than any other vector graphics program's version of the pen/bezier tool too, for that matter, in terms of overall functionality/usability). Also, most of the popular commercial fonts aren't of the geometric type (an example of a geometric font is Avante Garde, like the font used for the classic Adidas logo). Most of them, like Helvetica, use subtle bezier curves. For example, this is a closeup of the top right-hand corner of a capital letter R, Helvetica:

 

OOeEWsV.png

 

In any case, making an actual font file from the tracing isn't usually needed or even beneficial for reproductions, because you can just print out the tracing directly, either as the film positive in the case of a screen-printed reproduction or as the actual print in the case of a digitally-printed reproduction.

 

I can't remember if I've tried PStoEdit or not. I know I tried quite a few ways to convert AI/PDF files to .DWG the last time I was working in AutoCAD and wanted to use some of the elements that I'd created in AI. AI's own .DWG export function worked somewhat, but had issues. I eventually settled on pdf2cad, which is an expensive commercial product, but the free trial lasted long enough for the project, and it worked perfectly; zero issues.

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Dassault CATIA is my CAD of choice-- It is internally BSpline (and or NURBS) based, and is VERY precise. :P  It has several useful tools for manipulating spline curves, such as the "affinity" tool. (It lets you input a 32 bit precision floating point value, to precisely bias a curve according to an axis system-- User definable.) Instead of "control nodes" on bsplines, it uses a 32bit "tension" value for tangent lines.

 

 

(DWG is a terrible format btw. It uses quadratic curves instead of bsplines, and has a nasty habit of turning splines into polylines. Nasty nasty nasty.)

 

I usually use 2d IGES for 2d data exchange with CAD software for this reason.

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39 minutes ago, wierd_w said:

Dassault CATIA is my CAD of choice-- It is internally BSpline (and or NURBS) based, and is VERY precise. :P  It has several useful tools for manipulating spline curves, such as the "affinity" tool. (It lets you input a 32 bit precision floating point value, to precisely bias a curve according to an axis system-- User definable.) Instead of "control nodes" on bsplines, it uses a 32bit "tension" value for tangent lines.

When tracing, you're inherently going by eye rather than inputting values, because there's no way to know the exact mathematical values of say, a bezier curve in a raster image of a letter or number. A raster image isn't even particularly precise to begin with, especially one that's a photograph/scan of already-printed letters (as opposed to one that was created from scratch in a raster program such as Photoshop). When you zoom in on any raster image you quickly see that its outline is very vaguely defined and jagged, due to the nature of pixels, so human interpretation is necessary/inevitable when tracing with vector lines. Additionally, already-printed letters (scans of which being what you're normally working with when doing reproduction work) already have several generations of loss built into them, and your scan creates yet another generation of loss.

 

In some cases, such as with elements of letters that were obviously intended to be straight lines or circles / circular arcs, geometric perfection is easy to achieve with any vector or CAD program (though dimensional perfection is impossible using only information from a scan, because of the outlines of a raster image being vaguely defined), but you'll never get exact duplicates of the bezier curves that the original designer of the letter drew (except by pure one in a "zillion" chance) because the raster image you're working from isn't precise enough.

 

Since tracing of raster images is inherently done by eye with a fair dose of human interpretation, AI is plenty precise for that, and its pen tool is the ultimate tool (IMO) for tracing bezier curves and other irregular shapes by eye. Many, if not most, commercial fonts were drawn in AI to begin with. That's especially true for Postscript fonts, since AI was the original GUI for Adobe's Postscript language, which was the original standard language for creating modern vector fonts (as opposed to the old raster fonts which are rarely used anymore).

Edited by MaximRecoil

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Agreed, but consistency between glyphs is important all the same.  I can get pretty reasonable results all the same, and have perfectly parallel lines, perfectly consistent stem and stroke (even with curves!), etc.

 

Regenerating 2D and 3D data from old hand-drawn blueprints was one of my prior careers you see...  :P  (Also, reverse-flatpattern derivation.)

Edited by wierd_w

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On 10/18/2019 at 7:36 AM, MaximRecoil said:

 

By the way, did some of them come without the white label strip above the number keys? I have one that doesn't have it (it doesn't have the "Solid State Software" label either), and I've seen pictures of others that didn't have it too, like this one. On mine, there's no adhesive residue to indicate that a label was ever there, plus the way the plastic is molded in that area is significantly different than on my other one which has both the label above the number keys and the Solid State Software label. 

There were two types of tray for the white label strips. The original ones had you sliding the strip into it (held in place by the edges of the tray frame and sliding out to the right). These consoles also had the Solid State Software labels at the base of the cartridge port slot. Later, TI changed the tray to make it easier to change the strips when using programs that needed them. This type works more like an easel. The machines with this type of tray don't have the Solid State Software badging. One note: the keyboard strips were generally not glued in place, as you had to change them quite often to be able to identify the correct Function and Control key functions used by the program (and their purpose).

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On 10/11/2019 at 7:03 AM, Flojomojo said:

That's a pretty fancy way of saying "cartridge slot," and I like it. 

In fact, it's a carry-over from the 1977 TI-58/59 programmable calculators.

http://www.datamath.org/Sci/WEDGE/Modules.htm

 

In high school I got a TI SR-56 programmable and loved it. In college I dumped it for a TI-59 with mag cards. Later in college I dumped that for a microcomputer. I looked at the TI-99/4 but it was too pricey. I got an Atari 400 and never looked back. Well, I did look back when the -4A went on sale cheap, but I passed it up. A few years ago I looked back again and got a beige one cheap on eBay.

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