Nov 12

Yee-ha! W00t! Excelsior!

I got email from Dr. Stanley Schmidt, the editor of Analog,
about an hour ago. The bad news was, he turned down the short story. The
good news was he accepted the fact article.

I’m going to be published in Analog!

/me does geeky victory dance

OK, so this is one of those things where if you don’t immediately
get why it’s wicked cool, no amount of explanation is likely to
enlighten you. I’ll just say I’ve been a science-fiction fan
for 35 years and Analog has always been the banner-bearer
for my kind of SF, the stuff with the rivets in it. I’ve wanted to
get published there when I grew up ever since I was 11 years old;
this is literally a childhood dream come true.

Oh. And Dr. Schmidt asked me to send him more fiction…

Nov 12

Possible outage today

The good folks at ibiblio.org are about to upgrade me from b2 to WordPress. There might be a short outage involved, and it’s possible the

new CSS will garble my pages. Any problems should be transient and fixed
within a few hours.

Nov 12

CSS designer cluelessness in a nutshell

The CSS designer for WordPress, the successor to the
b2 engine that I may be upgrading to shortly, responded to my previous
rant. In a generally thoughtful and responsive post, he said “But
even if [pixel sizes] are defined for fonts, does your browser not let
you easily resize this?”.

This, I’m afraid, is CSS designer cluelessness in a nutshell.

In particular, I should not have to do an explicit operation every
time to get the font sizes I want. In general, answers of the form
“you can override the designer’s preferences by jumping through hoops”
show the wrong attitude. This attitude clashes with the objective
reality of lots of different display devices out there.

It’s also bad human-factors engineering. As the user, my preferences
should be primary
— in font sizes as in all other things. That’s
how the Web is supposed to work, and CSS and web designers who don’t
get this are doing users a major disservice in order to gratify their
own egos.

Ultimately they’re shooting themselves in the foot, too — think about
what will happen over time as display sizes both average larger and
the size dispersion increases (e.g. cell phones and PDAs get WiFi at
the same time desktop displays go to 1600×1200 and higher).
Fixed-size fonts, in farticular, are going to be a bigger and bigger
lose as time goes on.

To the extent you think of yourself as a servant of the user, rather
than an artist whose job it is to make things pretty, that’s when your
designs will have real and lasting value. This is a hard lesson for
artists to learn, but it’s the only way to avoid filling the web with
designs that are gaudy, wearisome, and lose their utility as display
technology improves and becomes more various.