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Reblogged:Friday Hodgepodge

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Four Things

1. Thanks to Hacker News and The Verge I had a trip down memory lane in the form of their look back at Asus Eee PC-branded netbooks:
There were two products that arrived in 2007 that fundamentally changed computing: one, of course, was the iPhone. The second, obviously more important product was the $399 Eee PC 701. It originally ran a custom Linux operating system that reviewers loved (Laptop Mag's Mark Spoonauer said it was "ten times simpler to use than any Windows notebook") and was generally heralded as a new kind of computer with tremendous mass appeal. Spoonauer: "Pound for pound, the best value-priced notebook on the planet." [link omitted]
I bought one of these and and loved it.

The Verge piece argues that the netbook paved the way for the iPad, which is probably true in that most people used them to consume media.

But I found the form factor so useful for traveling -- and the iPad so not useful for so many of the things that I ended up using my netbook for -- that I would eventually buy a second netbook. And, when that bit the dust -- and that segment of the market had died -- I bought a Chromebook and installed Linux on it, with an assist from the wish-granting genie that is the internet. (I use an encrypted Micro SD card to have a decent amount of storage.)

It's five years old now and I use it far more often than the iPad I also own.

2. Illegible Work isn't just something an elementary teacher might write in red on a schoolboy's homework:
asemic.jpg
Asemic "writing" is beyond illegible! (Image by Marco Giovenale, via Wikimedia Commons, license.)
When James Scott uses the word legible, he doesn't refer to handwriting that is clear enough to read. He uses the word more broadly to mean something that is easy to classify, something that is bureaucrat-friendly. A thing is illegible if it is hard to pigeonhole. I first heard the term from Venkatesh Rao's essay "A Big Little Idea Called Legibility." [link omitted]
Cook, a consultant, goes on to note that much of his work is illegible.

He follows on with a crack about trying to search for his type of work on Google -- with terms that one wonders might cause more potential customers to land on his site.

3. The next time you want an electronic version of a classic that has passed into the public domain, know that Project Gutenberg is hardly the only game in town. A volunteer-driven, "low-profit LLC" project called Standard Ebooks is worth considering:
Standard Ebooks is a volunteer-driven effort to produce a collection of high quality, carefully formatted, accessible, open source, and free public domain ebooks that meet or exceed the quality of commercially produced ebooks. The text and cover art in our ebooks is already believed to be in the U.S. public domain, and Standard Ebooks dedicates its own work to the public domain, thus releasing the entirety of each ebook file into the public domain. All the ebooks we produce are distributed free of cost and free of U.S. copyright restrictions.
The landing page explains what makes them stand apart from other similar projects, including: modern typography, proofing and corrections, rich metadata, and support for some popular e-reader features (e.g., popup footnotes).

4. It's an oldy but a goody, and I found it one day when I was puzzled by a practice I see now and then and asked Why? The title just about says it all: Why do people (people) put numbers (numbers) in parentheses?

A sample:
I was reading an application for a grant program at our local library recently when I encountered a series of phrases that were couched in terminology that just set me afire with curiosity.

The author, who is a colleague of mine, had put Arabic numerals in parentheses after each mention of a number. For example:

The application shall be completed in three (3) parts, and with three (3) copies to be turned in by June 30, 2012.

I have always been irritated by this style of writing because it seems so insulting. Does the author think I'm stupid? Or do they think that I don't know my numbers?
I can't say, If you ever wanted to know where this came from, wonder no more, but I can still recommend the post for a good laugh.

-- CAV

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