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DragonFly kernel List (threaded) for 2004-03
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Re: HEADS UP: Website Overhaul

From: David Cuthbert <dacut@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 11 Mar 2004 00:28:23 -0500

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Gary Thorpe wrote:
> Change the font settings for your browsers then. What is certain is that 
> you cannot predict (or even determine reliably and adjust) the client's 
> screen-size/resolution. There is no arguing this.

So that I have to scroll up/down all the time for each web page and see
20 lines per screen?  Ugh.

I'll hold on to those misused tables, thanks, until they fix HTML/web
browsers so that there's a "format this in a readable width" style

>> And preprocessing imposes no server load.  I preprocess the page once,
>> store the html file on the server.  Keep the original content and the
>> script in CVS.  Voila!
> Of course there is server load: storage for scripts and original 
> content, prcoessing to filter this original content each time it changes 
> etc. The server load is not imposed _each_ time the page is accessed, 
> but I never said it did, did I?

Now you're just being silly.

The load on the server is under a few CPU second for each change.  The
storage for the script is not much different than the storage for the
CSS page.

If I backported this to a C-64, then, yeah, it might become an issue.
I'd also remove all the comments because that makes it run faster. :-)

> Whoopie! Guess which communities articles are rated as being more 
> valuable in terms of citations?

Uh... I've never heard of anyone complaining about citations in any
field.  You just look at the last page of the paper and the references
are there.  What else do I need?

I guess that makes it harder to see "what papers have cited this paper,"
but I've never had a real need for that.  I'll know if a paper is widely
cited by looking at the authors. <shrug>

> Regardless of the answer to the 
> question, its not relevant. How can you tell if LaTex caught on in IEEE 
> or not though?

Maybe because I've coauthored or edited a number of IEEE articles in
many different settings?  (IBM, Seagate, CMU...)

> And more to the point: which community has the better quality of 
> articles? What do you think is the main factor in this?

Wow, I've apparently struck a nerve.

I find IEEE articles tremendously more useful because, being an EE,
I think of a lot of CS as fluff.  It's all about the content.

But apparently you've never used INSPEC.  It has all of the keywords,
abstracts, authors, titles, affilications, and a host of other stuff
for IEEE, ACM, APS, SPIE, and random other acronymed organizations'

> Yes, when I can plunk down several thousand dollars for Framemaker, I am 
> sure I will use it too! So much for free software.

Actually, it's only ~$700 for a single-user license; more expensive if
you want to use network-based licensing, though.  If you're serious
about writing articles that look good in print and don't want to fight
LaTeX, it's a wonderful investment.  The latest versions even generate
SGML and XML (which was previously an expensive add-on).

Similarly, if you're serious about publishing a magazine, InDesign or
QuarkXPress are hard to beat.

Not that I don't like free software; heck, that's why I'm here.  But the
best software is the software that gets the job done.  If someone wants
to write a free version of Frame, I'd be there in a heartbeat, eagerly
testing alphas and submitting bugfixes.

>> WYSIWYG only "sucks" if you misuse it, i.e., apply explicit formatting
>> instead of styles.
> Isn't that what WYSIWYG is???

No.  WYSIWYG refers only to the way interactive editing is handled.
LyX is also a WYSIWYG editor, but it definitely doesn't force you into
applying explicit formatting.

Word has handled styles since at least the Office 4.x days.  The later
versions even attempt to nudge you into using styles if you try to do
a lot of explicit formatting.  If all you have is prose, Word actually
isn't too bad.

The main issue with Word is that it doesn't handle figures or text boxes
well.  There's no easy way, for example, to specify that "manuscript
revision information and author affiliation information should be set in
a text box whose baseline is on the bottom of the first column on the
first page of the article."  I can create a text box for this, but if I
append too much text in there, it bleeds into the bottom margin.

Figures/frames/text boxes are anchored to a specific paragraph, which
is fine.  While I'm editing the document, though, the size of the
paragraphs wll change and sometimes they'll jump from one page boundary
to another.  When this happens, the associated figure (usually, though
sometimes nondeterministically) also jumps to that page.  Sounds like a
good idea in theory, but what ends up happening is that two figures will
often collide.  Depending on the text flow settings for the box, the
figures will either overlay each other, or one might get pushed off into
a margin or, worse, off the page (and lost forever, or until the text
reflows again and it decides to appear on the title page).

>> I'll let emacs' M-x auto-fill-mode fix the word wrap, and with the pre
>> tags, I'll be done in under 2 minutes.
> Emacs itslef is bloated: why does a text editor need 10+ MB of memory 
> when running? I suppose it's the golden rule of computing: why use less 
> when you can use more? Really, this is what the trend in web design is 
> about I think.

Now you're trash talking my religion, buddy... ;-)

I've tried to wean myself from XEmacs, but I've found myself addicted
to its c-mode and ease of extensibility (if you know Lisp, which I do).
If a brace doesn't line up as I would expect with c-mode's auto indent,
I know that I've made a fence-mismatch error (which is notoriously
difficult for a compiler to detect).

Plus I have M-f6 set up to automatically insert the boilerplate --
complete with filenames and dates filled in -- into my source files.

C-x v l shows me the log of the edits from version control, so I can
find the correct coworker to blame instantly for why this file isn't
compiling.  C-x v = tells me how I'm about to commit something that
will make someone else blame me.  All without firing up another tool.

Yeah, I've tried to go to others -- joe, jed, jove, eclipse, gedit,
kdevelop, vi, vim, cat > file.c -- but I keep finding myself returning
to XEmacs.

>>> Oh, and trying to control how it renders is pointless as you have 
>>> realized, so why bother trying to in the first place?
>> I thought gopher lost out to HTML+HTTP?
> Yes, it did. Why is that relevant? You cannot control the client's 
> rendering of HTML. All that a proper client can say is that it will 
> recognize the content and do _something_ wih it before presenting it to 
> the user.

My point is that gopher never caught on for a reason; Mosaic, and all
its pretty formatting, caught everyone's attention.

Of course I can't control the client's rendering of HTML, but why should
I should pander to the lowest common denominator?  "telnet www.yahoo.com
<RET>GET /<RET><RET>" is arguably a valid client, but I'm not going to
try to render things for it.

Launching nethack is a standards-compliant way of handling "#pragma" in
C.  It's also not terribly useful.

>> What on that page could possibly be improved for text-to-speech?  Or a
>> braille reader?
> It has no logical structure! The program cannot infer anything from the 
> page on its meaning or purpose. Would you write an essay or even an 
> advertisement without any structure?

Of course it has logical structure -- for a human.

I haven't searched the W3C spec, but I doubt there's a tag for "this
link goes to a page which documents source code and is probably not of
interest for non-developers."  Or one that says "this little bit of
legalese at the bottom of the page is rendered very small for a reason,
and a text-to-speech program should just say 'legal info' rather than
speaking it verbatim."

XML is nice, but the schemas only tell a program how to parse it.
Here's a document with an unfamiliar structure and its DTD.  Great.
So I can parse it.  If I'm an SQL and XSLT hacker, I might even be
able to format it into a database and store it somewhere for later
queries.  But if I'm mortal... uh, all I see is XML markup.

Style sheets?  Well, they let me see it in Mozilla.  Maybe IE, on a
lucky day.  SOL if you're on Lynx or are sight-impaired.  Just like
with HTML.

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