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Story presentation [message #3655] Fri, 10 June 2005 20:40 Go to next message
OtherEric  is currently offline OtherEric
Messages: 589
Registered: September 2003
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Well, most of the lead-in to this is over in the thread for Nathan's story, part two. I'm just going to give my opinion, and ask what other people think, since I'm genuinly curious.

I think Ellen has as close to an ideal story distribution format as I've ever seen. I don't particularly care for the PGP signature, but that's minor. The chapters are easily accessable, intelegently named, available in a zip file, and conveniently sized. More generally, I hate trying to read anything that takes more than about five minutes as HTML- it is just annoying, and hostile to stopping in the middle and coming back later. There are times when it's useful- if you want images with the story, or Rachel's instant translations- but more often than not, it just gets in the way of the story. Rachel said that she likes things nicely presented. Fair enough, and so do I. But, in my experience, the annoyance of the format outweighs any "Niceness" of presentation.

None of this should be considered a dig at Rachel's site, as such- it is very nicely done, IMO. I just don't want the other stuff getting in the way of the story. She's a lot better than a lot of places, in that regard.

So, what does everybody else think?
Re: Story presentation [message #3656] Fri, 10 June 2005 22:05 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Brooke  is currently offline Brooke
Messages: 695
Registered: August 2004
Location: Portland, OR
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Well, text is a bit smaller. I use html for a lot of my stuff because I use stuff like bold and underline.

The fancier HTML and worse yet *broken* (or broken in non-MS browsers) HTML is much more problematic.

The one thing I like about HTML instead of text is that when I make local copies (so I can re-read offline) I don't have to play games to avoid changing the files by accident, since the default result of clicking on them is to bring them up in an editor.

HTML at least comes up in a browser.
Re: Story presentation [message #3658] Fri, 10 June 2005 23:07 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sir Lee  is currently offline Sir Lee
Messages: 440
Registered: October 2003
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
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My take on long stories is just about the opposite of OtherEric's:

If it will take more than a few minutes to read it (my cutoff point is about 100 kb; smaller stories I read onscreen, or copy to my Palm), I prefer printing them and reading in a more comfortable place (like a hammock in the backyard...)

Besides avoiding a crick on my neck, my eyes thank me too. Even at the small point size I use to save paper (and storage space, I don't throw away the ones I like), paper is far more readable than a computer monitor. (The cost per page is not that high, because my printer is an ten-year-old but still serviceable LaserJet -- and I use the print-four-pages-in-one option).

And, when printing, HTML is quite useful -- I only have to tweak the styles a bit to fit my needs. I even created a number of macros in order to speed up conversion of plaintext files to HTML, but working from an existing HTML file is easier.

Sir Lee

[Updated on: Fri, 10 June 2005 23:09]


Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
Re: Story presentation [message #3659] Fri, 10 June 2005 23:22 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Brooke  is currently offline Brooke
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Registered: August 2004
Location: Portland, OR
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Sir Lee wrote on Fri, 10 June 2005 20:07

My take on long stories is just about the opposite of OtherEric's:

If it will take more than a few minutes to read it (my cutoff point is about 100 kb; smaller stories I read onscreen, or copy to my Palm), I prefer printing them and reading in a more comfortable place (like a hammock in the backyard...)

Besides avoiding a crick on my neck, my eyes thank me too.


I've got a nice handheld with a backlit screen. Works welkl for reading in bed. And works nicely on the bus and the like. With a 1 gig CF card. I can carry far more stories in it than I can carry in hardcopy format. Smile
Re: Story presentation [message #3661] Sat, 11 June 2005 08:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
rachel.greenham  is currently offline rachel.greenham
Messages: 290
Registered: November 2002
Location: Bristol, UK
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Sir Lee wrote on Sat, 11 June 2005 04:07

My take on long stories is just about the opposite of OtherEric's:

If it will take more than a few minutes to read it (my cutoff point is about 100 kb; smaller stories I read onscreen, or copy to my Palm), I prefer printing them and reading in a more comfortable place (like a hammock in the backyard...)

Besides avoiding a crick on my neck, my eyes thank me too. Even at the small point size I use to save paper (and storage space, I don't throw away the ones I like), paper is far more readable than a computer monitor. (The cost per page is not that high, because my printer is an ten-year-old but still serviceable LaserJet -- and I use the print-four-pages-in-one option).

And, when printing, HTML is quite useful -- I only have to tweak the styles a bit to fit my needs. I even created a number of macros in order to speed up conversion of plaintext files to HTML, but working from an existing HTML file is easier.

Sir Lee


Well, the XHTML source for these stories is very clean. Save out the "print-ready" version and make a stylesheet of your own if you like.


Rachel
Re: Story presentation [message #3663] Sat, 11 June 2005 10:49 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sir Lee  is currently offline Sir Lee
Messages: 440
Registered: October 2003
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
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rachel.greenham wrote on Sat, 11 June 2005 09:09

Well, the XHTML source for these stories is very clean. Save out the "print-ready" version and make a stylesheet of your own if you like.


Yeah, that's what I do. I prefer tweaking a (x)html file instead of working my way up from the plaintext.

About palmtops: yeah, I use mine too, a lot (although my old m505's screen is not as nice as the ones on newer models). And HTML is useful for that too -- you can convert the files easily (I use iSilo, but Plucker is free and works almost as well. There are other choices too...) and view it on the palmtop with (almost) full formatting.

The only thing I didn't find a satisfatory solution to is long stories with images. Printing tends to chop the images (oddly, the old Netscape 4.x used to handle this better than either Mozilla or IE) -- besides, I only own an old laser printer, which does not do colors at all --, the images lose a lot of detail on the palmtop, and reading onscreen takes me back to that old crick on the neck...

(Well, images and sounds. It might be feasible to convert the sound-enhanced version of Darkside's "Fury Saga" to a palmtop, but mine does not have good sound support and anyway I didn't bother to research it.)


Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
Re: Story presentation [message #3665] Sat, 11 June 2005 13:46 Go to previous messageGo to next message
OtherEric  is currently offline OtherEric
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Brooke: Interesting. One of the reasons I prefer text is because it does come up in an editor; not that I often do any editing other than deleting what I've already read.

Sir Lee: Well, in an ideal world I would probably print out copies as well. The main reasons I don't are cost and utter paranoia re: roommate.

Thanks for the input. Smile
Re: Story presentation [message #3666] Sat, 11 June 2005 16:34 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Amy!  is currently offline Amy!
Messages: 76
Registered: May 2005
Location: RTP NC
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Interesting.

Years ago, I went through a period of voraciously reading gutenberg project texts. This was, oh, mid-nineties. State of HTML was not-so-good, but there were decent word-processors about, and I had a bit more time on my hands than was good for me, and I got really, really, really tired of looking at monospace fonts. So I converted bunches of things (and with some, printed them out in book order, and other similar sorts of silliness).

The restrictions imposed by "ASCII text" as conventionally defined are fairly odious. No changes to emphasis or slant, no changes to size of fonts. Oh, there are conventions:
_underline_, *emphasis*, SHOUTING, but it's hard (for me) to hear a voice when that's all that's available for offering tone hints in the dialogue. Headings within the text are worse; the tools available are whitespace and the limited selection of ASCII dingbats. The closest you can get to distinguishing between en-dash, em-dash, and hyphen is to use double-dash for em-dash. That's apart from the restriction imposed by a seven-bit encoding, and the inability to associate an encoding other than ASCII with a text file in a portable fashion (I don't think you can do that with emacs codes, even). The HTML hack to specify a charset is ugly, but XHTML gives you that right in the XML decl.

I find ASCII text acceptable to read when presented in a decent font (not courier--please poke my eyes out with sticks first), but far from pleasant. The ability to use a graceful, eye-pleasing font (preferably one of my choice; Arial and Times are hideous choices for content, as a rule) and maintain the original intent (emphasis, strong emphasis, headers sized and spaced to separate blocks and let my brain catch its breath (ugh, what an image)) are nice.

HTML is easy to overdo, of course. Websites forced to 8-pixel sans-serif in 600-pixel wide (== narrow) columns come to mind. Using tricks to cover up the weakness of the content is a sin. But ...

... even handwriting is more expressive than ASCII text in monospaced fonts formatted for green-screen viewing on equipment from the seventies. It was cool in 1978. It's somewhat less exciting as my eyes grow to need new prescriptions every few years. sigh

Understandable that some folks prefer the text format, because of reading habits (OtherEric's technique of delete-as-you-read is interesting, in its own way). Lots more needs to be done to make reading on a computer (or handheld device) as pleasant as reading a book.

???? ?? ?????.

(can this thing cope with UTF-8? interesting question)

Amy!
Re: Story presentation [message #3667] Sat, 11 June 2005 19:11 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Brooke  is currently offline Brooke
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Location: Portland, OR
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OtherEric wrote on Sat, 11 June 2005 10:46

Brooke: Interesting. One of the reasons I prefer text is because it does come up in an editor; not that I often do any editing other than deleting what I've already read.


Well, trying to maintain "unedited" versions in case I want to give copies to friends is important.

Also, HPCs like my ancient Philips Velo have the advantage that if I turn it off while reading, when I turn it back on, everything is where I left it.

Or at least it did until the last upgrade I did. Sad

Re: Story presentation [message #3688] Sun, 12 June 2005 06:40 Go to previous messageGo to next message
rachel.greenham  is currently offline rachel.greenham
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Location: Bristol, UK
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sluggo wrote on Sun, 12 June 2005 03:08

The plain text files work great for me. I copy them to my pocket pc and read them where ever I have time. I usually convert HTML formated text to plain text so that I can get more text on the screen at once. When I copy formatted text, i'm never quite sure what I am going to see. Plain text always comes out the same.


Using the HTML and making your own stylesheet to make it display the way you like might work for you. If you do so, I can include a version with it on the site...


Rachel
Re: Story presentation [message #3690] Sun, 12 June 2005 07:23 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Brooke  is currently offline Brooke
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sluggo wrote on Sat, 11 June 2005 19:08

The plain text files work great for me. I copy them to my pocket pc and read them where ever I have time. I usually convert HTML formated text to plain text so that I can get more text on the screen at once. When I copy formatted text, i'm never quite sure what I am going to see. Plain text always comes out the same.


In most browsers, unles the HTML has (stupidly!) had an absolute font size hard coded into it, you can just tell the browser to make the font smaller. That'll get more per screen and rewrap accordingly.

It should be an option under View on the browser menu in the Pocket version of Explorer.
Re: Story presentation [message #3694] Sun, 12 June 2005 09:49 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sir Lee  is currently offline Sir Lee
Messages: 440
Registered: October 2003
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
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And, by the way, just by switching from a monospaced font (standard for working with plaintext, most text editors use Courier by default) to a proportional font will usually allow more characters per line AND improve readability.


Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
Re: Story presentation [message #3730] Tue, 14 June 2005 15:18 Go to previous message
Ellen Hayes  is currently offline Ellen Hayes
Messages: 684
Registered: September 2002
Senior Member
Some of the reasons for Tuck being in ASCII format, hard-coded-CR/LF-pairs are coincidence, but many of them are reasoned choices.

Most importantly, I have heard ONCE of someone being unable to read a chapter of Tuck. Not the case when using.... oh, anything else. I've had fits dealing with what other people's software decided was acceptable formatting for me, and I've had many further fits trying to convince people that maybe just because they could read it didn't mean that I could. HTML-mail is a case in point. So is MS Word. Don't get me fucking started on PDF... And most people don't know how to convert formats their software doesn't automagically cope with.

I didn't want to restrict my readers to the subset of those that were running my particular brand and version of software. I didn't want to have to deal with the complaints that someone couldn't read it, either.

I also have thought for a long time that if it's worth writing, the words will stand on their own, however they are rendered.


Ellen
nosig
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