Sites that use an infinite scroll to forward you from one story to the next, while restricting you to a number of articles per month. Thanks guys, that sure makes me want to subscribe.
Sorry about the silence. This is just a quick note to let you know that I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth. It’s just that the past couple of months have been kind of rough. Shadow, my dog (and our covergirl for this post) died in January. Yes, she was sixteen, the vet had told me to start saying my goodbyes over two years prior because her kidneys were failing, and so on, but it still hit me, and hit me hard. I’m getting back in the rhythm of things, but it’s been a struggle.
Okay, so this is about a rather silly encounter I had yesterday. In the grand scheme of things it didn’t even rate as ‘minor’, but it still bothered me: I was walking my dog when a woman approached me to ask for directions. I pointed her in the direction, but rather than leaving me alone, she told me she was an evangelist and started following me around. I tried to tell her that I really wasn’t interested, but no matter what I said I couldn’t shake her. From the outside I have to admit that the whole encounter was probably funny as hell, as I was basically going around in circles, but the last thing I wanted to do was to bring her home with me (a puppy would probably have had better luck). Anyway, in the end I told her that I respected her beliefs, but that I asked her to respect mine, and walked away (taking a rather long detour I could ill afford, as by then I really, really had to pee).
As I said, it was a trivial incident, but the thing is that the next time someone asks for directions I will probably be more inclined to keep going than to lend a hand. That was that woman’s ‘good deed’ for the day, her way of making the world a better place.
ARGH! That about covers my reaction to the latest Firefox update that was forced on me and millions of others in the past couple of days (that would be the jump from 42 to 43). So what’s my problem with the blasted thing? Basically that in their infinite wisdom the developing team saw it fit to option to undo a feature redesign that had first been foisted upon us back in version 33. I’m talking about the search bar’s redesign that left us stuck with a different input mechanism -and a really annoying grid of icons- rather than a drop down list of search engines. As I said, while the redesign had been around for about a year, up until a few days ago you could fix that one by going to about:config, and setting browser.search.showOneOffButtons to false. That is no longer an option.
Now, that grid looks very pretty… provided that you don’t have any search engines that don’t have a custom icon, and that you don’t have any that share the same icon(you want to be able to search wikipedia in more than one language? Good luck trying to figure out which one is selected. You want to have the option to search Project Gutenberg by either author or title? Ditto), but if the grid is not working for you, well, that’s just too bad… or at least that would be the case if you were left at the tender mercies of the development team. The good news is that that’s not necessarily the case. The bad news is that the solution calls for the use of an extension. I’m talking about Classic Theme Restorer, whose only reason for being is to… undo the damage these frequent updates do to the user experience (look for this option in the ‘General UI’ tab).
Don’t get me wrong, while I hate bloat -and I’m not too keen on change for change’s sake- I don’t want my user interface to be stuck in the last millennium, and there are plenty of new features I am actually grateful for. It’s just that there are some instances in which designers should realize that reversing the old ‘it’s not a bug, it’s a feature’ to read ‘it’s not a feature is a bug’ is not the best way to make a better product.
I admit I sometimes enjoy reading fanfiction. In fact that’s where I first got the writing bug, and while I agree that some (most?) of it can be pretty awful, there are some hidden gems that are well worth taking the time to actually find them. Anyway, this post is about one thing that’s driving me crazy. No, it’s not restricted to fandom, but that’s one place in which it is particularly noticeable. I’m talking about the proliferation of trigger warnings.
Yes, I understand that there are things some people might find disturbing, and there are some instances in which a heads up can come in handy, but lately these have been taken to the extreme. What some authors don’t seem to realize is that there is a very fine line between a trigger warning and a spoiler… and the same goes for author’s notes. If you want to apologize for not updating in a couple of years, fair enough, but if you want to go into detail about the intricacies of your writing process, or something else related to the story in question please, please, please put your author’s note at the end of the chapter, where it’s easier for your readers to skip it (and where chances are that they’ve already read the chapter in question and they’ll know what you are talking about) not at the beginning… and also, call me old-fashioned, but while there are a few warnings that are customary (major character death, rape/non-con, slash [i.e. same-sex pairing], and maybe explicit violence and child abuse), I believe that anything beyond that is bound to do more harm than good.
Okay, getting down from my soapbox now, it’s just that trigger warnings are a great way to trigger my rage. Just a warning.
Yesterday I was doing a bit of housecleaning in my bookmarks, and in addition to a million dead links I found a few old favorites that predate the advent of social media. Most of these have long since been abandoned (and in their pages too broken links are legion), but one thing that struck me was the care that went into putting them together, the depth of knowledge they contained… and the fact that they are ad free. Granted, many of these were/are maintained by universities, but the thing is that back when maintaining a site meant learning html, and an update was a major undertaking. It was something to be proud of, and it showed. That gave rise to sites such as:
Bibliotheca Augustana (world literature in the original language)
Visualizing Chaucer (one of a number of Robbins Library Digital Projects)
The Camden House (Sherlock Holmes)
The thing is that visiting those sites reminded me of what the web was like in the early days, and while there is no denying that social media has some advantages, the fact that pretty much anyone can post anything without giving it much thought hasn’t come cheaply. In fact my little trip down memory lane was a rather painful reminder of the web we lost as a result… and of the fact that easier isn’t always better.
So December is upon us, and with it comes the specter of the impending family gatherings, so I have a question: how do you deal with sticky people? No, I don’t mean the ones that stick to you like glue (though tips on how to deal with those would also be appreciated), but rather those that annoy you to the point that you want desperately to say something, only you know opening your mouth is bound to backfire (besides, it’s not like they ever listen), so you are reduced to replaying an imaginary conversation in your head time and time again.
Any tips on how to evict them from your mind, preferably before they drive you absolutely crazy?