Social experiment and rants about fonts

I am not the biggest fan of Web 2.0 social networking sites. While Web 1.0 social networking sites (of course, they never called themselves social networking sites back then) tend to be fairly simple and navigable, Web 2.0 social networking sites seem to either have a reputation of colorful pre-teens or overweighted professionals. Web 2.0 social networking sites tend to have nothing in common and try to break as many known knowns as possible. The only trend that they share is that they all try to cram as many things on one page as possible, something people like to call "Mashups".

Of course, on those closed systems mashups tend to be possible only in very limited and controlled ways. For example, while Facebook can import an external feed to its Notes section, there's no way to import an external photo album. Getting data in is also much easier than getting data out.

That said, sometimes usefulness can be found. I've used a number of RSS readers and finally settled on Google Reader, and it has a feature that allows you to star or share feed items. I've recently found out that it even allows me to export my starred or shared items. Ah, those beloved mashups!

The end result can be found on the lower right corner of this site. There's no easy way to get statistic about who click on those links, although I seem to remember a way to do that with Google Analytics which is not enabled by default. Judging by stats of this site's visitors (again, with Google Analytics) this new area has a chance of being helpful to some, as they will likely find what I found interesting, interesting. It's even aptly titled "Interesting Stuff".

Those of you who read this site through the feed will of course miss out. I suppose one could subscribe to my google reader's starred items' feed instead.

As I was trying to integrate that starred item mashup onto this site I fiddled with the font sizes in the CSS. I noticed that I have weird font-size all over the place just so that the menu headings and menu items would look the way I want them to. That seems quite silly, so I've taken most of them out and left only the relative sizes there. I also changed Firefox's default font size from 14px to 12px to better match my desktop settings (which is 10pt on 90dpi).

That created a problem though. Many websites take the default font size into account and adjust the font size down to enforce a particular design on web pages. Worse, some websites even do that on the main content (for example, Google News like to insert font size=-1 everywhere). After I decreased the default font size on Firefox some pages become unreadably small. I can set a minimum font size, but that would make correct uses of small font indistinguishable from incorrect uses.

Now that I think about it, this might have been why I hardcoded font sizes on this website. I probably got tired of zooming in all the time on other sites. I think I am trying to do the correct thing here though, so I will see how long this experiment is going to last before I can no longer stand it and change everything back.

While I was fiddling with font size everywhere I also realized GNOME by default assumes 96 dpi, while my real dpi is 90. This made fonts larger than they should. So I fixed that too, and changed the font size at the new/correct dpi to look comfortable on my eyes.

by khc on Fri Dec 5 21:50:33 2008 Permlink
Tags: computer rant