Saturday, April 28, 2012

SQL Developer needs better font support

Warning: nerdom ahead...

SQL Developer is a pretty damn good tool for Oracle development. It has one problem that I find rather jarring, though: its text display in the editor is terrible. I've finally figured out what it is. Text isn't anti-aliased in the editor. That's a pretty significant oversight for any software written since, oh, Windows 95 or thereabouts.
Here's an example of what I mean:

That's the same two queries in SQL Developer and Notepad++ (great little text editor; if you're not using it, you should be). They look very different even though they're using the same font. Without antialiasing, SQLDev is displaying the "m" in the "from" in the second query as a freakin' square! And look at the difference in the asterisk. So moving from one program where text is nicely rendered to SQL Dev where it's, well, not, is jarring and annoying.
To be fair, I suspect this is not a limitation of SQL Developer itself, but of the Java component being used to render the text. But really, Oracle owns both. If they want SQL Dev to be the IDE for an enterprise-grade database, really, it shouldn't make my eyes hurt.
And a shout-out to @thatjeffsmith for his interesting talk on SQL Developer this week.
(In Windows XP or so, Microsoft introduced support for ClearType fonts, which is a really cool technology that provides sub-pixel antialiasing at the cost of some chromatic distortion. Since then, Consolas has been my go-to font for when I need a fixed-width font. I originally thought this was that SQL Dev didn't have support for ClearType fonts, but it's more basic than that, even.)

Kris Rice shows how to enable AA fonts. Awesome, thanks! (I didn't even realize there was a .conf file.)

Sunday, April 01, 2012

A self-defeating tax?

A couple of weeks back, the Champaign City Council supported a resolution to force retailers to charge for disposable plastic bags, about $0.05 per bag. Personally, I think this is a really bad idea in support of a laudable goal.

Sure, it's good to reduce waste and litter in our community. But the only way a tax like this would work is if the fee is large enough to actually cause people to change their behavior. I don't know about you, but five or six bags adding up to an extra $0.25 on my grocery bill isn't going to make me go out of my way. (I do normally use reusable bags, but occasionally forget to bring them.) Anything under a buck, maybe $0.50 isn't going to register on my radar.
But then I noticed this quote from the mayor:
I don't know where we get extra money for education, unless we charge five cents for plastic bags, I guess.
So if the point of this tax is not to change people's behavior, but to raise money, maybe the whole point of placing the per-bag fee so low is so that it doesn't cause people to change their behavior, raising the amount of revenue.
Or am I just being paranoid?