Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • Here’s the best discussion I’ve yet seen on why Flash may never work well–or perhaps at all–on touchscreen devices like the iPad.
  • Most recent laser printers have Ethernet ports, and some older printers (like my Laserjet 2100TN) can accept a JetDirect network adapter. Installing a printer on a network port means you don’t have to worry about whether the machine it’s attached to is turned on. If you’d like to do this but you’re not a network geek, here’s the best XP-based step-by-step on the topic I’ve ever run across. Same tutorial for Windows 2000.
  • Bruce Baker passed me a link to a nice item on the issue of broadening publisher book production to allow all formats to be generated from a single master file. Follow and read the link to The New Sleekness as well. Pablo should take it down a notch; XML is not a markup language; it’s a general mechanism for creating markup languages, and what may happen eventually (perhaps in ten years or so) is a standard book-production markup language derived from XML and built into a new generation of word processors. Still, what nobody in either article mentions is the problem of pages verses reflowable, which is the 9 trillion pound gorilla in the business. If you don’t solve that problem, absolutely nothing else matters. (And it is not as easy to solve as some may claim–I’ve been thinking about it for several years now and see no solution whatsoever on the horizon .)
  • Kompozer 0.8b2 has been released. I just got it installed in a VM and will be poking at it in coming days. According to Kaz, most of the changes are code cleanups, but any progress on the editor is a fine, fine thing.
  • I’ve done model rocketry here and there over the (many) years, and I’ve seen some very odd things lofted on D engines. Back in high school, my friend George built a Harecules Guided Muscle (which was from the Beany & Cecil cartoon show) in the form of a big whittled balsa wood fist on a short, thick body. I’m amazed it flew as well as it did. Well, here’s a fire-’em-together pack of 8 rockets shaped and colored like Crayola crayons. The guy took his time (six years) but he did a great job–and created a spectacular Web page documenting the project.
  • We rarely go to WalMart, but last time we did, I picked up a bottle of Diet Mountain Lightning. It has nothing on Kroger’s Diet Citrus Drop, easily the best of all the Diet Mountain Dew clones I’ve ever had the opportunity to try.


  1. Dan says:

    Hi Jeff: Thanks for linking to my post at The Casual Optimist about workflow — I really appreciate it. I’m hoping to interview Pablo for the blog in the near future, so please feel free to chip in with your thoughts!

  2. Rich, N8UX says:

    I’ve recently taken a liking to Citrus Drop Extreme. Generic citrus with attitude.

    The beef I’m having with my eBooks is not only the quality of some of these EPUBs (atrocious), but what my B&N Nook does with them—specifically, what they’re passing off as full justification. The only rule it seems to follow is that it has to break at spaces between words. Hyphens and em-dashes are treated just like another character in a very long word, and italicized words cause the line to extend beyond the e-ink display, causing shaved letters on the right edge. I regularly see whole lines that consist of three or four words with gaping spaces.

    My Nook’s sub-par full justification (which can’t be turned off, BTW), combined with poor OCR performed on poor quality PDF book scans, makes me think we’re getting everything we paid for from Google’s public domain books. Purchased titles from B&N are better, but not by much. And as of a few days ago, the purchase price of everything on my ebook wish list has almost tripled! Norman Mailer’s “On God” went from $9.99 to $24.00.
    Ok, I’m trying to wrap my head around the “agency model”. I’m trying REAL hard. Heck, as an author, I would like to earn more from eBook sales. But I also want that eBook to be a quality product, to be read on quality readers that don’t break the reader’s wallet. I think “shovelware” is indeed an appropriate term to apply to what I’ve seen so far.

    The times they are a changin’—I only hope we don’t sacrifice things like properly proportioned text, and eye appeal of the printed page in the process. And that’s what I’m losing in the ereader experience right now.

    1. Rich, N8UX says:

      I should add that I’m not dumping on B&N, rather the two or three publishing houses that take credit for the eBooks I’ve purchased. I expect things will improve, however.

  3. Carrington Dixon says:

    My own experience is that the EPUBs I bought from Baen Books have been decent, and those I downloaded from Project Gutenberg have been barely worth what I paid for them. In fact, my usual method with PG is to download the HTML or TXT file and let Calibre build the EPUB. That doesn’t fix the OCR artifacts, but it does make the formatting a little more to my taste.

    At least, with non-DRMed ebooks, we have tools to fix those problems that exceed our threshold of pain. Which is part of the reason that most of my purchased ebooks have been from Jeff, C. J. Cherryh, and Baen Books.

  4. Brook Monroe says:

    There’s already a standard book-production mark-up language: SGML. HTML, and XML, and all the MLs you know of, were derived from SGML. So when, and if, a new language for book production derived from XML arrives, it will just be SGML all over again.

  5. Brook Monroe says:

    A note about Flash and the iPad – ordinary DHTML/Javascript websites that work via mouseovers won’t work either. I think there will be an interesting backlash when folks discover this.

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