The READIN Family Album
(March 2005)


Jeremy's journal

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.

— Sir Francis Bacon

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Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Imparare a ſcriuere

Matthew's posting of an article about fonts at Google+ reminds me that I have not posted yet about the recent typeface change at READIN -- partly or mostly out of the conviction that it is not the sort of thing that would make any difference to anybody who is not me... But what are blogs for if not stuff that would make no difference to anybody but the author?

Lately I have been writing everything (everything I write on the computer that is not code) in Palatino Linotype, and finding that it is much easier on the eyes than any other typeface I have tried. (I do not love the numerals; but most of what I write in non-programming contexts is alpha characters.) So I modified the site's stylesheet to specify that typeface name as the primary choice; if you have the face installed (and it seems to be pretty standard-issue), that's how the site should render.

Giovambattista Palatino was an Italian calligrapher of the 16th C., who in 1556 wrote a manual of lettering styles. Hermann Zapf is a German typeface designer of the 20th C., who in 1948 named a set of faces after Sig. Palatino.

posted morning of February 12th, 2012: Respond
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Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Funny-looking Gary Shteyngart: referrers fun

5 years ago I illustrated a post about The Russian Debutante's Handbook with a funny-looking picture of Gary Shteyngart. Ever since then, I've had a steady trickle of Google hit referrals (why yes, I do check my referrals log rather obsessively; what makes you ask?), one or two nearly every day, looking for the text "funny looking Gary Shteyngart" or some close variation thereon. Always wondered why... He is funny looking to be sure; but --

My curiousity got the better of me today and after a little research I found that Shteyngart wrote a short note about his love-hate relationship with America for Granta 84, under the title "Funny-looking." So, one mystery solved and an entertaining read as well. Take a look -- the full text of the article is readable in Amazon's "Look Inside" feature. I scanned around the web to see if it was reprinted anywhere; the only place I found it was on a white supremacist site where (I guess -- did not really spend very long over there) it was reproduced to demonstrate the degeneracy and sickness of The Jew.

Speaking of Gary Shteyngart: he is giving a reading at Seton Hall next month! That should be fun.

posted evening of October 4th, 2011: Respond
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Saturday, June 19th, 2010


I do believe I've got it! favicon.ico is the image that gets displayed in the title bar of the browser (for browsers which support this capability, which is most of them) when a reader is looking at your web page. (Also it is used by things like rss readers as a visual way of identifying your site.) For a long time I have wanted to have a butterfly icon to go with the butterflies that are my background image and the butterfly at the top of the page*. Sort of an homage to Nabokov and to García Márquez; plus I just like the little things. For a long time I was using a shrunken-down version of the big butterfly; but at 16×16 pixels it did not (as Sylvia did not tire of pointing out) look particularly like a butterfly (); then I tried shrinking the butterfly image which is in the sidebar of Zembla; but again, it is too detailed to make a good icon (). I looked at some favicon library sites the other day and found a couple of nice butterflies but nothing that was exactly right for readin. But finally I found this butterfly, at the site of the (lamentably out of business) Brooklyn housewares store Nova Zembla:

Excellent! I shrank it down, added a little color, it seems just right to me:**

* If you are not seeing a butterfly at the top of the page, it is because I made that only show up on Firefox, Chrome and Safari -- I couldn't get msie to display it the way I wanted it to, those were the only browsers I tested on.

** (If you are not seeing the new butterfly icon, that may be because your browser has cached one of the old ones. Browsers seem to store favicon's in their cache longer than a lot of other files...)

posted morning of June 19th, 2010: Respond
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Wednesday, June 9th, 2010


An idea I just had which I think it would be fun to implement: a database table with favorite (striking or profound) brief lines from each book I read -- When you read the archive page for the book in question, those lines, or some randomized subset of them, would be displayed as part of the information in the left hand sidebar. Add to this a setting in the database for "current reading", the book or books that I'm currently reading/thinking about, and a set of lines from those books could be on the front page's sidebar. A little bit like the epigraphs I run at the top of the page, but a bit more fleeting, less a permanent part of the site. For instance I really liked the line, "He does not know -- nobody could know -- my immeasurable contrition, my weariness," from "The Garden of Forking Paths." But it really only seems meaningful in the context of that reading. (This would really free me up in terms of posting short quotations, too -- generally I try only to post a quotation when I have something in particular to say about it. And only to create a new epigraph when I find a really meaningful one. -- So this is a third way.)

Two notes about the translation of that line, * Thanks John for helping with the adjective, "immeasurable" sounds much better than "innumerable" or than "endless", and * Thanks Dr. Hurley for the repetition of "my" at the end, I was leaning towards just using "contrition and weariness" as being the closest thing in format to "contrición y cansancio" -- but somehow that doesn't sound quite right in English.

Implementation: have a button or link on the editing view of the blog that is called "Add Quotation" or something similar -- clicking on it will bring up a dialog box or form where you can enter your quote and the book it is from -- then the the "current reading" books will be books for which I have either posted a quotation or a journal entry over the past say week or two.

posted evening of June 9th, 2010: 2 responses
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Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Character sets

At work, I've been involved in a project to support the full Unicode character set in a more-than-cursory way*, getting to understand wide characters and utf-8 much more fully than I ever did before; and finally I am thinking I want to encode READIN in utf-8. All this time it has been in ISO-8859-1, which works ok as long as I escape unsupported Unicode characters; but it seems like time to get with the program.

My question is, what's the easiest way to convert my data? A lot of posts have got characters like äöüæ... which are going to show up as garbage if I just change the encoding of the blog. I was thinking I would use mysqldump and use iconv to convert the data. But somehow the output from mysqldump is already encoded with utf8. Does this mean I can just rebuild the database from this output and I'll be good to go? I'm a little confused why mysqldump is not respecting the encoding in the database...

Well, restoring from the output of mysql-dump does not have the desired effect; characters that were ISO-8859-1 in the original db, that were UTF-8 in the dump, are converted back to ISO-8859-1 in the restore.

After further investigation, it seems like my original idea will work: although it looks to me like iconv is essentially double-encoding the characters that were transformed to utf-8 by mysqldump, when I load them back into mysql I get utf-8 characters. Not totally comfortable with this yet...

* (Previously our support for Unicode had consisted of walking through utf-8 strings looking for high-order characters we recognized, and flattening them to 7-bit ASCII.)

posted morning of March 13th, 2010: Respond
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Sunday, November first, 2009

Where do you come from?

I kind of enjoy watching the Google referrals that float by on the right-hand side of the blog under "Where You Came From" -- idly tracking the number of searches that are likely for something that would appear on the page they accessed (ibant obscuri sola sub nocte per umbram) versus words that seem no more related to what I've published here than they would to a page chosen at random from the web (+"dolly parton" ​+sneezed). Here are some popular queries over the last few months:

  • 13 views: q=what+do+hobbits+look+like
  • 14 q=stroszek+soundtrack
  • 16 q=movies+about+outcasts
  • 17 q=museum+of+innocence
  • 20 q=el+libro+talonario+translation
  • 20 q=of+love+and+other+demons+analysis
  • 22 q=codex+seraphinianus+download
  • 31 q=the+hamlet+faulkner
  • 33 q=readin
  • 39 q=gordita+beach

posted evening of November first, 2009: Respond

Thursday, August 20th, 2009


Perhaps you are a programmer; perhaps you use gdb to step through the programs you have written, looking for bugs; perhaps you have wondered why gdb will not let you examine the contents of the errno variable. Here's the deal: if you are typing print errno and getting the message Cannot access memory at address 0x8, it is because errno is not an actual variable; the compiler has replaced references to errno with *__errno_location() --

print *__errno_location()
will give you what you're looking for.

posted morning of August 20th, 2009: 5 responses

Friday, April 24th, 2009

(Relatively) Close to the metal

Neat-o, I found a new tool for testing stuff out! It is called netcat and it is essentially what I've always wished telnet would be. You can basically open up a socket and listen as the server or attach as a client, and see all the traffic from the other party, and type in the traffic from your side. Be sure to read the (brief) man page as the tutorial pages I've found on the web this morning all omit important information and leave you scratching your head as to what is going wrong.

The two things (at first glance) that nc has over telnet: primary point is that you can listen on a port, and thus emulate a server; telnet does not do this at all. Secondary advantage, the whole thing is much cleaner and simpler, and easier to run as a batch job; you don't have to learn escape characters or anything like that. Drawback is that error reporting is pretty minimal; but I can live with that.

posted morning of April 24th, 2009: Respond

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009


Hm, this is looking like a quiet time for the site. I'm not sure why exactly. But I think I will take a couple of days off.

posted morning of March 10th, 2009: Respond

Friday, February 13th, 2009

Do you read READIN?

I seem to have picked up several new readers in the last couple of weeks, bringing my total to the high single digits or low double digits. If you have recently started reading the site, and you don't mind if I know about it, please leave a comment on this post or at the Guestbook -- I'd love to know who I'm writing to. If you prefer to remain anonymous, no worries, disregard this post -- I understand that impulse as well.

(A brief rundown of this blog's history, from last spring, in case that interests you. Kind of dull frankly.)

posted morning of February 13th, 2009: 2 responses

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