1. 38
  1.  

  2. 25

    0x5. I like when the publication date is easy to find.

    Oh my gods yes this. SO many blogs, and even actual news sites, omit the publication date. Information goes stale quickly people, especially technical judgements and opinions. Please.

    1. 4

      Some pages even deliberately change the publication date so it always looks fresh and up-to-date for SEO.

      1. 2

        I’ve heard about that trick too. Does anyone know if it really works…?

        1. 2

          As far as I know, search engine tech has long since outsmarted simple content-based tricks like this (and e.g. keyword stuffing) to the point where “SEO” is an obsolete strategy compared to simply writing good content.

          1. 2

            The quality (or lack thereof) of Google’s results lately does make me question that assessment.

            1. 3

              Ha, well, yes, there is that, but at least this was the general aura of advice while I was adjacent to the field a couple of years ago. The odd time I have used Google recently it feels like it’s gone the other way, where the poor quality results are because it’s trying to be too clever and completely missing the mark.

              1. 2

                I’ve had, recently, searches where all the results, besides the one in the top, were malicious sites.

                1. 4

                  I’m not surprised! Google is a high-profile target, and you can game any algorithm if you can figure it out. I guess I’m saying any SEO advice aimed at legitimate websites is likely outdated at best and snake oil at worst.

                  1. 1

                    I suspect Google just doesn’t care about their search engine anymore, as they’re getting as much money as they want elsewhere than search.

    2. 12

      0x6. I like monospaced fonts.

      Unfortunately, I learned about kerning and kerning is impossible to do even decently with monospace fonts.

      1. 6

        Kerning is useless for monospaced fonts, almost by definition.

        Kerning is so that combinations like “AV” don’t have a wide space between them. AV will have that, because the horisontal space taken up by each character is the same.

        1. 3

          There are advantages to kerning, and you miss out on them with monospaced fonts. Obviously you gain other benefits while writing code with monospaced fonts, but fit prose? Not so clear.

        2. 5

          Ditto. Maybe it’s just me, but I find it very easy to lose my place when reading monospace text.

          1. 3

            So don’t do kerning? Not sure if there are any readability studies or something that you’re thinking about but as a programmer I am also happy to read articles in monospaced font.

            1. 17

              Monospaced fonts make prose objectively harder to read. They’re an inappropriate choice for body text, unless you’re trying to make a specific e.g. stylistic statement.

              1. 1

                Do you have any links for some studies about it? I’m wondering since you’ve used the objectively term, which I find confusing, since I’m not impacted by monospaced formatting at all. Film scripts are being written in monospaced script, books were written in it (at least in the manual typewriter days), I think this wouldn’t be the case if monospaced fonts would be objectively harder to read?

                1. 4

                  Do you have any links for some studies about it? I’m wondering since you’ve used the objectively term, which I find confusing, since I’m not impacted by monospaced formatting at all.

                  This is a subject that has been studied for a long time. A quick search turned up Typeface features and legibility research, but there is a lot more out there on this topic.

                  The late Bill Hill at Microsoft has a range of interesting videos on ClearType.

                  1. 2

                    Your first link was fascinating, thanks!

                  2. 1

                    Manuscripts and drafts are not the end product of a screenplay or a book. They’re specialized products intended for specialized audiences.

                    There are no works intended for a mainstream audience that are set in a monospaced typeface that I know of. If a significant proportion of the population found it easier to read monospaced, that market would be addressed - for example, in primary education.

                    1. 1

                      Market could prefer variable width fonts because monospaced are wider, thus impacting the space that is taken by the text, which in turn impacts production cost. This alone could have more weight for market preference than the actual ease of reading. Bigger text compression that is achieved by using variable width could improve speed of reading by healthy individuals, but that isn’t so obvious for people with vision disability.

                      Individuals with central loss might be expected to read fixed-pitch fonts more easily owing to the greater susceptibility of crowding effects of the eccentric retina with which they must read. On the other hand, their difficulty in making fixative eye movements in reading should favor the greater compression of variable pitch. Other low-vision patients, reading highly magnified text, might benefit from the increased positional certainty of characters of fixed pitch. Our preliminary results with individuals with macular disease show fixed pitch to be far more readable for most subjects at the character size at which they read most comfortably. (“Reading with fixed and variable character pitch”: Arditi, Knoblauch, Grunwald)

                      Since at least some research papers attribute superiority of variable width font to the horizontal compression of the text – which positively influences the reading speed and doesn’t require as many eye movements – I’m wondering if the ‘readability’ of monospaced typefaces can be improved with clever kerning instead of changing the actual width of the letters.

                      The reading time (Task 1) with the variable-matrix character design was 69.1 s on the average, and the mean reading time with the fixed-matrix character set was 73.3 s, t (8) = 2.76, p < 0.02. The difference is 4.2 s or 6.1% (related to fixed-matrix characters). (“RESEARCH NOTE Fixed versus Variable Letter Width for Televised Text”: Beldie, Pastoor, Schwarz)

                      The excerpt from the paper above suggests that the superiority of variable width vs monospaced isn’t as crushing as one could think when reading that human preference for variable width is an “objective truth”.

                      Also, the question was if monospaced fonts are really harder to read than variable fonts, not if monospaced fonts are easier to read. I think there are no meaningful differences between both styles.

                      1. 1

                        Market could prefer variable width fonts because monospaced are wider, thus impacting the space that is taken by the text, which in turn impacts production cost.

                        So it’s more readable and costs less? No wonder monospaced fonts lose out.

                        I’d love to read the paper you’ve referenced, but cannot find a link in your comment.

                        1. 1

                          So it’s more readable and costs less? No wonder monospaced fonts lose out.

                          Low quality trolling.

                          I’d love to read the paper you’ve referenced, but cannot find a link in your comment.

                          They could be paywalled. I’ve provided the name of papers plus authors, everyone should be able to find them on the internet.

                          1. 2

                            Low quality trolling.

                            What?! I put a lot of effort into my trolling!

                            (To be honest: you’re right and I apologize. It was a cheap shot).

                            I found the first paper (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2231111), and while I didn’t read it all I found a link to a font that’s designed to be easier to read for people who suffer from macular degeneration (like my wife). The font (Maxular), shares some design cues from monospaces fonts, but critically, wide characters (like m and w) are wider than narrow ones, like i.

                            That’s what I think is a big problem with monospaced fonts, at small sizes characters like m and w get very compressed and are hard to distinguish.

                2. 5

                  I also tried to code with a variable width font. It works ok with Lisp code but not the others. The tricky part is aligning stuff. You need elastic tabstops.

                  1. 1

                    Oh, wow. That’s a cool idea. Yeah, that might be enough.

                    1. 1

                      Very cool idea, but that means using actual tabs in a file, and I know a lot of programmers who hate tabs in files.

                      1. 1

                        Good point. I think the cases when different sized tabs would cause problems should also cause problems with a system like this.

                3. 9

                  Good list. I think another thing that’s really valuable is just adding a

                  <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">
                  

                  line to the header so that it doesn’t look horrible on mobile. Lots of people read on their phones, and it’s a one line way to make it look decent without thinking too hard!

                  https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Mobile/Viewport_meta_tag

                  1. 9

                    0xB. I dislike the comment area where people are rude and also serves the ego.

                    A thousand times this. This is why the only comment system I’ll ever put on my site will be echochamber.js

                    1. 5

                      Funny, but antisocial, as it’s effectively wasting the visitor’s time.

                      1. 1

                        For my blog, I have a comment area for people who want to leave a quick comment, even anonymously, but I also add backlinks to the discussions here, on Reddit, or on Hackernews. Often there is no need to comment because someone else discussed that it already before.

                      2. 6

                        Oh wow, I definitely recommend checking out some of the author’s other articles. The formatting is consistently beautiful everywhere, and the content is great, too. I really like how they incorporate images, graphics, and animations.

                        1. 4

                          Their game engine black-book series is pretty amazing in terms of going through how Wolfenstein 3D and Doom worked and were architected and ported. Highly fun reads.

                        2. 0

                          The WWW might seem hopeless, but there’s still Gopher.

                          There’s still some life in it, with gopher blogs and such. Plaintext is standard there. Much pleasant in contrast with web sites.

                          Gopherus is a nice, low-footprint, well-maintained gopher client.

                          1. 5

                            Gopher is an interesting protocol, but what’s stopping people from just writing bare HTML (eg Dan Luu’s site) instead? As an (IMHO) added benefit, you get reflowing text + inline images and text formatting.

                            1. 3

                              I love the video on that site. They show a 80286, to which our current machines are basically supercomputers. The machine boots fast (DOS FTW) and browsing gopherspace is nearly instant. Yet, here we are with our supercomputers burning cycles loading and running megabytes of Javascript just to view some pages. Many tabs with basic ‘web apps’ take hundreds of megabytes of memory.

                              It’s such a waste.

                              1. 1

                                I just compiled Gopherus on my Raspberry Pi 4. It’s much faster than a 286, cheaper when new, and requires less power to operate.

                                I don’t see why one cannot enjoy the fruits of Moore’s Law, instead of being nostalgic for a (crappy) past.

                                (My first computer was a 386 without a math coprocessor. That sucked)

                                1. 2

                                  I don’t see why one cannot enjoy the fruits of Moore’s Law, instead of being nostalgic for a (crappy) past.

                                  As someone who is currently working with old software on (emulated) old systems, rest assured that what we have now is better in many ways.

                                2. 1

                                  I have used it on a 386/25, which is faster but not that much. Gopherus supposedly works on 8088, as long as there’s ~400KB of free RAM for it to use, which most remaining PCs and XTs likely do have.

                                  I believe the only reason it isn’t actually instant is that the information is fetched from the Internet.

                              2. -10

                                fuck php