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Marking time

Marking time in November 2001

Wednesday 28 November 2001

20th century heritage conference

For the next few days I’ll be in Adelaide for the Australia ICOMOS annual meeting and 20th century heritage: our recent cultural legacy conference.

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Tuesday 27 November 2001

Readable text (again)

Jeffrey Zeldman has just argued the case for specifying web type in pixels, in A list apart: fear of style sheets 4. He says only two things always work: (1) Use pixels (not points, not ems, not percentages, not keywords) to specify your font sizes. Or: (2) Use nothing. He makes some good points, but he doesn’t convince me altogether.

Buried in the third page of the article is this: If you can get away with a looser type of design (as you can, for instance, in a personal diary, or an academic paper, or in the body text of a zine like ALA), so much the better. Most of us have to size the elements in our layouts, and most of us designers like it that way. Ah! Time for the designers to loosen up. Let the text flow! (I’ll try to keep it loose and flowing here, with font-size: 80%).

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Monday 26 November 2001

Indian pictures

I like these evocative photographs of India by Mark Tucker. They remind me of some of my own travelling pictures from 1972. No, I don’t claim to be in the same league.

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Sunday 25 November 2001

Mark time

Wait idly for something to occur, as in ‘We were just marking time until we received our instructions’. This idiom alludes to the literal meaning of marching in place to the time, or beat, of music. [Early 1800s].

—​from The American heritage dictionary of idioms by Christine Ammer.

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Saturday 24 November 2001

Readable text

I wrote to Andy Crewdson in April to thank him for the enjoyment I’d had from lines and splines, his typography weblog.

Font-size:

I told him I enjoyed the content and layout, but I found the text a bit small for easy reading​—​his style sheet specified Georgia at font-size: 11 px, giving an x height on my screen of slightly more than a millimetre. He replied:

Dear Peter,

Thanks very much for your email. I have in fact suspected for a while now that the type was too small
. I think I’ve become accustomed to it​—​there’s a definite trend (at least on the sites I read) toward small type on the web.

So, at your instigation, I’ve changed it to 12 pt Georgia. Looks fine to me.. and now that I think about it, I remember seeing someone link to my site with a similar comment attached about how the type was too small. I’d definitely rather err on the side of more legible than less.

Best,
Andy
I was pleased with Andy’s response, and interested in his observation of small type on sites he reads. Yes, I notice that sites with a focus on web design tend in that direction. Jason Kottke’s site has body text with font-size: 11px Verdana​—​he recently did a smart redesign of the obscure store and reading room and specified 11 pixel Georgia body type. Users’ comments on the redesign were generally positive, but quite a few people commented on the poor readability of the text. Some of these comments blamed the serifed type, but I think display size is the basic problem.

When web designers dictate points or pixels, they disable the normal browser control of type size. Why do designers insist? When they can’t know the state of the readers’ eyesight, or the state of their computers? Do they think everyone has a sharp young pair of eyes and a sharp young screen? If only!

For marking time I have specified Georgia at 80% of normal size, whatever it is. With a ‘relative’ specification like this, it will respond to browser text size settings​—​web designers are welcome to reduce the display size; grizzled old farts can do the other.

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Friday 23 November 2001

Stirring porridge

I enjoyed reading Dean Allen’s piece on how to eat porridge, which makes a case for porridge. I agree with him, except he didn’t do justice to stirring; to me porridge is better with some stirring by way of foreplay. It’s important for risotto too, for which I use a wooden spoon, but for porridge a spurtle is the right tool.

spurtle

And while I’m on the subject: Whatever has Jean Dewar done to Scottish cookery? Porridge with a raspberry coulis indeed!

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Thursday 22 November 2001

Anne Donald, this is for you

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetaur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum Et harumd und lookum like Greek to me, dereud facilis est er expedit distinct. Nam liber te conscient to factor tum poen legum odioque civiuda.

¶ Et tam neque pecun modut est neque nonor et imper ned libidig met, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed ut labore et dolore magna aliquam makes one wonder who would ever read this stuff?

¶ Bis nostrud exercitation ullam mmodo consequet. Duis aute in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. At vver eos et accusam dignissum qui blandit est praesent luptatum delenit aigue excepteur sint occae. Et harumd dereud facilis est er expedit distinct. Nam libe soluta nobis eligent optio est congue nihil impedit doming id Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, set eiusmod tempor incidunt et labore et dolore magna aliquam. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exerc. Irure dolor in reprehend incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

¶ Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse molestaie cillum. Tia non ob ea soluad incommod quae egen ium improb fugiend. Officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum Et harumd dereud facilis est er expedit distinct. If you play this backwards you will hear the one hundred and thirty names of Satan. Nam liber te conscient to factor tum poen legum odioque civiuda et tam. Neque pecun modut est neque nonor et imper ned libidig met, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed ut labore et dolore magna aliquam is nostrud exercitation ullam mmodo consequet. Duis aute in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. At vver eos et accusam dignissum qui blandit est praesent. Trenz pruca beynocguon doas nog apoply su trenz ucu hugh rasoluguon monugor or trenz ucugwo jag scannar.

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20th century heritage conference
Readable text (again)
Indian pictures
Mark time
Readable text
Stirring porridge
Anne Donald, this is for you

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