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1 pixel by 5 pixel font (distractionware.com)
125 points by shard 1246 days ago | comments


boredguy8 1246 days ago | link

A good reminder for anyone doing sub-pixel tweaking: not all monitors are set up in the same orientation. This is completely illegible with my resolution at 1050 x 1680 (screen rotated 90°).

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pmjordan 1245 days ago | link

Gamma/colour temperature settings also affect this massively. It's nighttime here, and f.lux has dimmed my screen to make me sleepy. No chance of reading it. That said, I'm having severe trouble making it out even with f.lux disabled on all my screens. (30" Cinema HD, old 19" Iiyama - both with VA panels, and 13" MacBook - TN panel AFAIK)

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blahedo 1246 days ago | link

This font has the unusual property that zooming in (using e.g. Ctrl+ScrollWheelUp on a Mac) actually makes it less legible.

It does help you appreciate just how small we can make pixels, though. Given that we can make pixels so small, I wonder if there could be a market for B&W triple-resolution display? If I valued high-res over colour?

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praptak 1246 days ago | link

"This font has the unusual property that zooming in (using e.g. Ctrl+ScrollWheelUp on a Mac) actually makes it less legible."

Hrm, it's possible to write a zoom tool that emulates the LCD sub-pixel effects. I bet that people working on such technologies already use one, otherwise they'd lose their sight squinting at their monitors.

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pornel 1246 days ago | link

To me it was illegible until I darkened red and green channels (because blue is less perceptible)

http://imgur.com/lAszP.png

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jasonkester 1245 days ago | link

Still completely illegible on an iPad. Just an endless series of vertical blue lines with the occasional red dot. I think I made out an exclamation point a few paragraphs down, but that's it.

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ilbo 1244 days ago | link

Hold it with the home button to the right.

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makeramen 1245 days ago | link

wow thanks for that, I thought it was just my eyes/monitor this morning.

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silvertab 1246 days ago | link

I can figure out some of the words, but I wouldn't really call that font "legible".

Edit: Well, apparently I didn't even realize it was the lyrics to Never gonna give you up. Tells you how hard to read the font is! Once you know it though, the font suddenly becomes much easier to read!

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jerf 1246 days ago | link

This really depends on your display being exactly the same type as the author's. I have to just about rub my laptop screen on my nose, but once I do that all the words are perfectly legible for me. (I don't mean pleasantly legible, but I can definitely read it.) If you look at Cleartype or font smoothing controls, you can see how many types of LCD monitors there have been.

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shrikant 1246 days ago | link

My laptop screen must have some gigantic pixels. The "Error Establishing Database Connection" text looked pretty big to me.

Edit: Not trying to be a dick, but the site was down for me (and others, as reported by Down For Everyone...), so here's the Google cache: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:distrac...

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alanfalcon 1246 days ago | link

For anyone who isn't lucky enough to have an LCD screen that displays this message properly, I've take a couple of photos (because screenshots obviously wouldn't work) to show off how clever this is.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dafalcon/5204409225/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/dafalcon/5204413187/

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rthomas6 1245 days ago | link

I couldn't make out any words on the original image, looked at your example, and then when I looked at the original image again, it was perfectly legible. So, thanks!

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liuliu 1245 days ago | link

It also helped that people recognize English by words not by individual characters.

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potatolicious 1246 days ago | link

IPS monitor here - completely illegible. Not all monitors have the same subpixel properties?

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nene 1246 days ago | link

I think it could be made more legible by having a lowercase font instead. Most of us are accustomed to recognizing entire words by just the shape of them, but uppercase text doesn't provide much cues for such pattern-matching.

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silentbicycle 1246 days ago | link

Yeah, lowercase letters have a lot more visual cues - ascenders and descenders, more variation in width, etc.

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jcw 1246 days ago | link

I agree. In such a small font it would be easier to make n, m, and w look unique than N, M, and W.

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colinprince 1246 days ago | link

I thought I was immune to rick rolling!

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PedroCandeias 1246 days ago | link

Me too. But I have to hand it to the Op. This is one of the best Rick Rolls I have ever witnessed.

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andrewcooke 1246 days ago | link

that's neat (i can read it on my laptop screen no problems). years ago i tried to get a minimal font with no aliasing - it's 2 pixels wide (plus space) and visible at http://www.acooke.org/minimal/ and http://www.acooke.org/minimal/background.html (but this cleartype approach is more readable - mine requires a lot of effort (note that it's best to read mine at its smallest size - making it bigger does not help because it relies on using shapes that look like they're blurred out at small sizes))

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jcw 1246 days ago | link

I wouldn't say your font is completely readable, but each character is unique, so learning to read it would almost be like learning a new alphabet. Perhaps then one could read it fluently.

After working on it, can you easily read text in your font?

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andrewcooke 1246 days ago | link

It was some years ago. I don't remember ever being able to read it easily and certainly can't now. The letter "c" was (and is) the worst ("z" too, but it's hardly used) - the problem is that there are too many small letters for the central 4 pixels.

The best way I've found to "read" it is to learn "c" and then guess words given the context and easier letters...

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msarnoff 1245 days ago | link

I "discovered" this about 2 years ago. It's really only visible with a magnifying glass or camera with a good macro lens. http://msarnoff.org/millitext

I also made a web-based generator: http://msarnoff.org/millitextgen

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kujawa 1246 days ago | link

Goddamnit, rickrolled again!

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flawawa2 1246 days ago | link

All I see is are tiny pixel lines. Maybe some advanced rendering technology on my monitor ruins it?

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wildmXranat 1246 days ago | link

Did , did I just get rick rolled ?

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acgourley 1246 days ago | link

Reads fine on my mbp screen, I'm impressed.

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cytzol 1246 days ago | link

Interesting - I made it more legible by holding a camera up to the screen to magnify the pixels. And now I know what it says, I can read it normally.

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malkia 1245 days ago | link

EULA's should be written using this font :)

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rorrr 1246 days ago | link

It assumes your monitor sub-pixel layout is RGB, where in fact it can be BGR (reverse order), V-RGB (vertical RGB) and V-BGR (vertical BGR).

http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/subpixel.php

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ax0n 1246 days ago | link

Race to the bottom: You're doing it right.

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